Category Archives: Current Political Affairs

FMR FBI DIR COMEY: CRIMINAL LEAKER!

Comey’s private memos on Trump conversations contained classified material
thehill.com

More than half of the memos former FBI chief James Comey wrote as personal recollections of his conversations with President Trump about the Russia investigation have been determined to contain classified information, according to interviews with officials familiar with the documents.

This revelation raises the possibility that Comey broke his own agency’s rules and ignored the same security protocol that he publicly criticized Hillary Clinton for in the waning days of the 2016 presidential election.

Comey testified last month he considered the memos to be personal documents and that he shared at least one of them with a Columbia University lawyer friend. He asked that lawyer to leak information from one memo to the news media in hopes of increasing pressure to get a special prosecutor named in the Russia case after Comey was fired as FBI director.

“So you didn’t consider your memo or your sense of that conversation to be a government document?,” Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) asked Comey on June 8.  “You considered it to be, somehow, your own personal document that you could share to the media as you wanted through a friend?”
“Correct,” Comey answered. “I understood this to be my recollection recorded of my conversation with the president. As a private citizen, I thought it important to get it out.”

Comey insisted in his testimony he believed his personal memos were unclassified, though he hinted one or two documents he created might have been contained classified information.

“I immediately prepared an unclassified memo of the conversation about Flynn and discussed the matter with FBI senior leadership,” he testified about the one memo he later leaked about former national security adviser Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.

He added, “My view was that the content of those unclassified, memorialization of those conversations was my recollection recorded.”

But when the seven memos Comey wrote regarding his nine conversations with Trump about Russia earlier this year were shown to Congress in recent days, the FBI claimed all were, in fact, deemed to be government documents.

While the Comey memos have been previously reported, this is the first time there has been a number connected to the amount of the memos the ex-FBI chief wrote.

Four of the memos had markings making clear they contained information classified at the “secret” or “confidential” level, according to officials directly familiar with the matter.

A spokesman for the FBI on Sunday declined to comment.

FBI policy forbids any agent from releasing classified information or any information from ongoing investigations or sensitive operations without prior written permission, and mandates that all records created during official duties are considered to be government property.

“Unauthorized disclosure, misuse, or negligent handling of information contained in the files, electronic or paper, of the FBI or which I may acquire as an employee of the FBI could impair national security, place human life in jeopardy, result in the denial of due process, prevent the FBI from effectively discharging its responsibilities, or violate federal law,” states the agreement all FBI agents sign.

It adds that “all information acquired by me in connection with my official duties with the FBI and all official material to which I have access remain the property of the United States of America” and that an agent “will not reveal, by any means, any information or material from or related to FBI files or any other information acquired by virtue of my official employment to any unauthorized recipient without prior official written authorization by the FBI.”

Comey indicated in his testimony the memos were in his possession when he left the bureau, leaving him in a position to leak one of them through his lawyer friend to the media. But he testified that he has since turned them over to Robert Mueller, a former FBI chief and now spearheading the investigation about possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

It is not clear whether Comey as director signed the same agreement as his agents, but the contract is considered the official policy of the bureau. It was also unclear when the documents were shown to Congress whether the information deemed “secret” or “confidential” was classified at the time Comey wrote the memos or determined so afterwards, the sources said.

Congressional investigators had already begun examining whether Comey’s creation, storage and sharing of the memos violated FBI rules, but the revelation that four of the seven memos included some sort of classified information opens a new door of inquiry into whether classified information was mishandled, improperly stored or improperly shared.

Ironically, that was the same issue the FBI investigated in 2015-16 under Comey about Clinton’s private email server, where as secretary of State she and top aides moved classified information through insecure channels.

Comey ultimately concluded in July 2016 that Clinton’s email practices were reckless, but that he could not recommend prosecution because FBI agents had failed to find enough evidence that she intended to violate felony statutes prohibiting the transmission of classified information through insecure practices.

“Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of the classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information,” he said in a decision panned by Republicans and embraced by Democrats.

Now,congressional investigators are likely to turn their attention to the same issues to determine if Comey mishandled any classified information in his personal memos.

In order to make an assessment, congressional investigators will have to tackle key questions, such as:

Where and how were the memos were created, such as whether they were written on an insecure computer or notepad.

Where and how the memos were stored, such as inside his home, his briefcase or an insecure laptop.

Were any memos shown to private individuals without a security clearance and did those memos contain any classified information.

When was it determined by the government that the memos contained classified information, before Comey took them and shared one or after.

One avenue for answering those questions is for a panel like Senate Intelligence, House Intelligence or Senate Judiciary to refer the matter to the Justice Department’s internal watchdog, the inspector general, or to the Director of National Intelligence and its inspector general, aides said.

COMMENT – Former FBI Director James Comey’s odd and risky behavior,  complete with a trail of written leaks of classified material found in his “memos” warrant a full FBI CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION. The level of corruption throughout practically every government agency is a testament to the success of Obama’s deep-state goal of subverting the United States from before he took office.

Obama’s tenure in the White House should also be fully investigated for the sake of the republic.

 

CENTRAL AMERICA CRUMBLING

Caught between their own country’s corrupt ineptitude and the innate desire for a peaceful existence to provide for their families.

Thought: Purchase guns and ammo with the US$8,500 otherwise paid to coyote smugglers, the same cartel bastards who make your life miserable. You can buy an AR-15 carbine in the US for less than $500 now, and a .45 pistol for $350. So what’s your excuse? If you organize with other “bullied types” such as yourself, you can wipe out the chingadero chupacabras, enslave their bitches for your own benefit. War is war, be bold. When your country is overrun by a$$holes, you need to become a merciless a$$hole yourself. Kill these bastards at night, in their sleep.

  1. Surround the place
  2. Shoot the sleepy guard
  3. Burn it to the ground
  4. Shoot anyone trying to escape

I’m certain you can buy some acreage in Honduras or Guatemala for a few hundred US dollars. Grow  something, make something, sell it. That’s exactly what Americans do! Kill any bastard that dares to steal from you, or harm your family.  Stay home where you belong. America is not a destination for cowards.

Mr Fuentes & daughter

Eswin Josué Fuentes and his daughter, Andrea Belen, in their one-room house in Choloma, Honduras. He said he had canceled plans to have a smuggler get them into the United States. Credit Adriana Zehbrauskas for The New York Times

CHOLOMA, Honduras — His bags were packed, and the smuggler was ready. If all went well, Eswin Josué Fuentes figured he and his 10-year-old daughter would slip into the United States within days.

Then, the night before he planned to leave, he had a phone conversation with a Honduran friend living illegally in New York. Under President Trump, the friend warned, the United States was no longer a place for undocumented migrants.

Shaken, Mr. Fuentes abruptly ditched his plans in May and decided to stay here in Honduras, despite its unrelenting violence and poverty. He even passed up the $12,000 in smuggler fees that his sister in the United States had lined up for the journey.

“I got scared of what’s happening there,” Mr. Fuentes said.

While some of Mr. Trump’s most ambitious plans to tighten the border are still a long way off, particularly his campaign pledge to build a massive wall, his hard-line approach to immigration already seems to have led to sharp declines in the flow of migrants from Central America bound for the United States.

From February through May, the number of undocumented immigrants stopped or caught along the southwest border of the United States fell 60 percent from the same period last year, according to United States Customs and Border Protection — evidence that far fewer migrants are heading north, officials on both sides of the border say.

Residents in a poor neighborhood of San Pedro Sula, Honduras, which has gang activity and is one of the most violent cities in the world.

Inside the United States, the Trump administration has cast a broader enforcement net, including reversing Obama-era rules that put a priority on arresting serious criminals and mostly left other undocumented immigrants alone. Arrests of immigrants living illegally in the United States have soared, with the biggest increase coming among those migrants with no criminal records.

The shift has sown a new sense of fear among undocumented immigrants in the United States. In turn, they have sent a warning back to relatives and friends in their homelands: Don’t come.

The message is loud and clear here in Honduras. Manuel de Jesús Ríos Reyes, 55, stood in the unforgiving sun outside a reception center for deportees from the United States. His wife, who tried to cross the American border illegally in March, was on an incoming flight.

Families waiting for loved ones outside a reception center for deportees flown from the United States to San Pedro Sula.
Mindful of the warnings from the United States, Mr. Ríos had urged her not to go. “She didn’t pay attention,” he recalled. “Now she’s here. Thank God, she’s alive.”

If his wife talks about trying to cross again, he said, he will redouble his pleas. “Ah, my love,” he planned to tell her. “Stay here.”

Many in the Central American countries known as the Northern Triangle — El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras — appear to be doing just that. Those nations have accounted for many of the undocumented immigrants who have tried to cross the American border in recent years. Now the wariness about Mr. Trump’s immigration policies is palpable, the impact visible.

Migrant smugglers in Honduras say their business has dried up since Mr. Trump took office. Fewer buses have been leaving the northern Honduran city of San Pedro Sula bound for the border with Guatemala, the usual route for Honduran migrants heading overland to the United States. In hotels and shelters along the migrant trail, once-occupied beds go empty night after night.

Marcos, a migrant smuggler based near San Pedro Sula, said that last year he had taken one or two groups each month from Honduras to the United States border. Since Mr. Trump’s inauguration, however, he has had only one client. He blames Mr. Trump.

“People think he’s going to kick everyone out of the country,” Marcos said, asking that his full name not be published because of the illegal nature of his work. “Almost nobody’s going.”

Instead, many potential migrants in the Northern Triangle are choosing to sit tight and endure the poverty and violence that have driven hundreds of thousands to seek work and sanctuary in the United States in recent years.

Juan Ángel Pérez, 31, an unemployed factory worker in the northern Honduran city of Villanueva, had planned to head overland to the United States in June and had lined up a smuggler for $8,500. But after speaking with his sister, an undocumented immigrant in North Carolina, he decided against it.

“She said, ‘Think about it very carefully because the situation is getting more difficult,’” Mr. Perez recalled last week. “I was scared of losing the money.”

“If I stay here, life is complicated,” he said, “and if I go there, it’s complicated. I’m between the sword and the wall.”

Instead of going to the United States, some are migrating within their own countries in search of opportunity and safety, or they are seeking to move elsewhere in Latin America and even to Europe or Asia.

Around midnight, Roberto, 24, sat on the grimy steps outside the main bus station in San Pedro Sula, waiting for a night bus bound for Guatemala City. His intended destination was Mexico — at least for now. In time, he hoped to press on to the United States, but now was not the moment — “because of the current policies” under Mr. Trump, he said.

“Every day, it’s on the news” here in Honduras, Roberto said, asking that his last name not be used because he planned to sneak into Mexico illegally. “People are being deported every day.”

He chuckled uncomfortably at the thought of paying a lot of money to a smuggler to reach the United States, only to be detained and deported once he got there. “Imagine paying and losing everything,” he said.

Experts in the region warn that the decline in migration could put additional pressure on Central American countries, increasing competition for work, which is already in short supply, and potentially driving more people into the criminal gangs that have terrorized the region.

Mr. Trump is also proposing to cut American assistance for the sorts of economic and social development programs that seek to alleviate the poverty and violence that have compelled so many people to flee their homes.

The president’s proposed budget for the 2018 fiscal year would slash economic assistance to Central America by 42 percent from 2016 levels, according to an analysis by the Washington Office on Latin America, a research group.

“The effect on judicial reform, job creation and violence prevention efforts would be severe,” the organization said.

Since abandoning his plan to migrate with his daughter to the United States, Mr. Fuentes, a widower, has not found work here in the violent northern city of Choloma or in nearby San Pedro Sula.

Every morning he awakes with his daughter, Andrea Belen, at dawn in their one-room cinder block house. He walks Andrea to a friend’s house, where she waits until it is time to go to school, then he heads into the city and spends the day knocking on doors and asking for a job. As tough as their life is, though, he does not regret canceling the journey to the United States.

“I have to think about my daughter,” he said. “You don’t want to make a mistake.”

Because much of the migration to the United States from the Northern Triangle is illegal and undocumented, its precise volume is hard to pin down.

But the decline in migrants heading north has been registered at many points along the way. The Mexican authorities recorded a 56 percent drop in the number of undocumented immigrants detained in their country — many of them presumably on their way to the United States — in the first four months of the Trump administration, compared with the same period last year.

The drop was stark among Hondurans. Nearly 9,000 were detained in Mexico from February to May, compared with more than 18,600 during the same period last year.

“Fewer Hondurans are being detained because fewer are leaving,” María Andrea Matamoros, vice minister for foreign relations in Honduras, told reporters last month.

That said, the two general populations of migrants — those principally fleeing poverty and those principally fleeing violence — seem to be responding in different ways.

Honduras has one of the highest homicide rates in the world, and many people fleeing the violence continue to leave Honduras in significant numbers, experts say.

“There isn’t an institution in the country that can protect them,” said Sister Lidia Mara Silva de Souza, national coordinator of the Human Mobility Pastoral in Honduras and a member of the Scalabrinian missionary order.

According to the United Nations, more people from the Northern Triangle filed for asylum through the Department of Homeland Security in the first three months of this year than during the same period last year.

An increasing number of Northern Triangle residents have also filed for asylum in other countries, particularly Mexico, migration experts said. Some who might have sought sanctuary in the United States have gone elsewhere, citing Mr. Trump’s policies.

The stream of Central American migrants like Mr. Fuentes, who are principally fleeing poverty, has dropped significantly, immigrants’ advocates say.

For generations, the migration of people from Central America seeking work elsewhere has served as a safety valve for the region, relieving pressure on the labor market and public services. Now, community leaders in Honduras fear that with fewer people migrating in search of opportunities in the United States, poverty will worsen and criminal gangs will find new recruits.

“People don’t have an opportunity to work in this country,” said Daniel Pacheco, an evangelical pastor in a gang-controlled sector of San Pedro Sula, one of the most violent cities in the world. “We’re very worried.”

Still, many here do not think the decrease in migration will endure for too long. The hardships of life in Honduras are too many, the government’s solutions are too few — and the allure of the United States is too great.

“The smoke of fear will drop, the migration will return,” said Sister Valdete Wilemann, who runs a center at the San Pedro Sula airport where Honduran migrants are processed after being deported from the United States.

The dream of going to the United States is “the culture,” she said. “You’re not going to rid Hondurans of that.”

Now, isn’t that a pathetic statement? That “the dream of Hondurans is to go to the United States?” GET WEAPONS, KILL BAD PEOPLE AT HOME is the better solution.

CNN LIARS’ CLUB – BIG LOSERS

CNN war with Trump gets personal
thehill.com

President Trump’s war with CNN took an even more personal turn on Tuesday after the White House used its press briefing to tout a hidden camera video calling the cable news network’s coverage of the Russia controversy “bullshit.”

The undercover video from conservative sting artist James O’Keefe showed a CNN producer questioning the network’s coverage and suggesting important stories had been buried to keep the focus on Trump and Russia.

At Tuesday’s press briefing, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders encouraged viewers to watch the O’Keefe video, calling it “a disgrace to all of media, all of journalism.”
She also took a dig at CNN President Jeff Zucker, saying the sensationalism and disregard for facts was “coming directly from the top.”

CNN is standing by the producer, John Bonifield, who covers health and medicine from the network’s headquarters in Atlanta. In a statement, the network said “diversity of personal opinion is what makes CNN strong.”

“We welcome it and embrace it,” a spokesperson told The Hill.

A CNN source told The Hill that the tempest over the video will pass, saying it was recorded after an undercover conservative operative approached Bonifield claiming to have had a history of personal hardships and asking to be taken in to a mentoring program.

“It’s silly, it’s been spun up as something it’s not,” the CNN source said. “He’s a health unit producer in Atlanta. He has nothing to do with Washington politics or the investigative unit.”

The video appeared at a difficult moment for CNN, however, which was just forced to retract a story alleging that one of Trump’s associates had improper dealings with a Kremlin-backed bank. The episode led three of CNN’s reporters to resign and reinforced the notion among many conservatives that the network is hell-bent on taking Trump down.

On a Tuesday morning conference call with CNN officials, Zucker stressed that the network has to “play error-free ball” going forward, as all their mistakes will be magnified.

“He’s been saying it for months, it’s just unfortunate because there is no more room for mess-ups,” a second source at CNN told The Hill.

The feud between Trump and CNN, smoldering for years, had already intensified before the firings and O’Keefe video.

It pits against one another two men with a long history: Zucker was the head of NBC when Trump hosted his hit reality show “The Apprentice.”

Conservative media outlets such as Breitbart News are now agitating for Zucker’s removal, while Trump let the insults fly on Tuesday.

“Fake News CNN is looking at big management changes now that they got caught falsely pushing their phony Russian stories,” Trump tweeted. “Ratings way down!”

“CNN just posted it’s most-watched second quarter in history,” the network’s communications department shot back. “Those are the facts.”

According to Nielsen’s second quarter ratings, released on Tuesday, CNN is up 10 percent year-over-year in prime time and 25 percent overall. It is running third overall in the cable wars, behind Fox News but also MSNBC, the openly liberal outlet that has seen a dramatic 86 percent spike in prime-time ratings.

The new round of controversy has rekindled a briefly dormant cable news war between Fox News and CNN, with top talent from both outlets basking in the failings of the other.

Last week, CNN anchor John King likened Fox News’s “Fox & Friends” to “state TV.”

This week, Fox News anchors Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson are flooding the airwaves with coverage of CNN’s controversies, returning the favor after CNN leaned into reporting of former Fox anchor Bill O’Reilly, who left the network amid a slew of sexual harassment allegations.

“Hey CNN, when will you fire Zucker?” Hannity tweeted. “He has destroyed the network with lies and VERY FAKE NEWS.”

CNN has been registering small acts of protest against the administration by focusing on Trump’s treatment of the press, with chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta leading the charge in demanding more on-camera briefings.

The network sent a courtroom sketch artist to do a rendering of White House press secretary Sean Spicer at an off-camera briefing last week. Spicer has repeatedly ignored questions from Acosta and chided him in a tense off-camera exchange on Monday.

“There’s no camera on, Jim,” Spicer said as Acosta shouted questions at him.

CNN has displayed chyrons at the bottom of the screen accusing the president of lying and is airing a television ad with footage of anchors lecturing White House officials and musing about Trump being impeached. Earlier this year, CNN refused to run a Trump campaign ad because it cast the mainstream media as “fake news.”

The network has absorbed withering criticism from the right for its relentless focus on Russia and overwhelmingly negative coverage of Trump. A Harvard study found that CNN’s coverage of Trump was negative 93 percent of the time over the course of his first 100 days in office.

CNN has also taken a hit from other controversies; it cut ties with comedian Kathy Griffin for taking a photo with a fake severed head meant to look like Trump. CNN also canceled a series with documentary maker Reza Aslan after he cursed at the president over Twitter.

CNN also recently had to walk back a report authored by its top network talent, including anchor Jake Tapper and political analyst Gloria Borger, stating that former FBI Director James Comey would refute Trump’s claims that he was not the target of an investigation.

In testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Comey confirmed that he told Trump three times that he was not the target of an investigation.

“I think this is the day when the left rues ever coming up with the phrase ‘fake news,’ because now we have the evidence,” Trump adviser Sebastian Gorka said Tuesday on a Breitbart podcast. “We have the consequences of systematic generation of fake news happening at the epicenter of one of the places that was producing the most of it.”

The CNN source responded: “They’ve made it fairly clear they view this as a war. We view it as determination to seek truth and hold the powerful accountable regardless of how difficult they try to make it.”

GLOBAL ECONO-CRASH VERY LIKELY

Next global crash could arrive ‘with a vengeance’

A new financial crisis is brewing in the emerging economies and it could hit “with a vengeance”, an influential group of central bankers has warned.

Emerging markets such as China are showing the same signs that their economies are overheating as the US and the UK demonstrated before the financial crisis of 2007-08, according to the annual report of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS).

Claudio Borio, the head of the BIS monetary and economic department, said a new recession could come “with a vengeance” and “the end may come to resemble more closely a financial boom gone wrong”.

The BIS, which is sometimes known as the central bank for central banks and counts Bank of England Governor Mark Carney among its members, warned of trouble ahead for the world economy.

It predicted that central banks would be forced to raise interest rates after years of record lows in order to combat inflation which will “smother” growth.

The group also warned about the threat poised by rising debt in countries like China and the rise in protectionism such as in the US under Donald Trump, City AM reported.

Chinese corporate debt has almost doubled since 2007, now reaching 166 per cent of GDP, while household debt rose to 44 per cent of GDP last year.

In May, Moody’s cut China’s credit rating for the first time since 1989 from A1 to Aa3 which could potentially raise the cost of borrowing for the Chinese government.

The BIS’s credit-to-GDP gap indicator also showed debt, which is seen as an “early warning indicator” for a country’s banking system, is rising far faster than growth in other Asian economies such as Thailand and Hong Kong.

“Brexit will make Britain worse off, Bank of England chief Carney says.”

The world economy is still recovering from the financial crisis and the euro crisis which followed it in 2010.

The UK is said to be experiencing a “lost decade” as productivity and wages have flatlined.

LIB-FASCIST PERSECUTION FAIL

Court Dismisses Charges Against Pro-Life Activists, For Now

David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt now face only 1 of original 15 felony charges in California related to undercover videos about fetal tissue procurement.

6:02 PM, JUN 23, 2017 | By CHARLOTTE ALLEN

Even in famously abortion-friendly California there is justice for abortion foes. On June 21, the San Francisco County Superior Court threw out 14 of the 15 felony counts that California Attorney General Xavier Becerra had brought against David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, the anti-abortion activists who had made widely circulated undercover videos of Planned Parenthood officials haggling and joking over the compensation they expected to receive for supplying the organs of fetuses aborted at Planned Parenthood clinics to for-profit “tissue-procurement” companies.

I wrote about the case for THE WEEKLY STANDARD shortly after Becerra lodged the felony charges on March 28, and it seemed to me more persecution than prosecution. California law forbids the recording of conversations without the consent of all parties involved, so Becerra, a former Democratic congressman from Los Angeles, assigned a separate criminal count to each of 14 secretly recorded conversations that Deleiden and Merritt, posing as tissue-procurers themselves, had had with high-level Planned Parenthood employees at restaurants, abortion conventions, and other venues during 2013 and 2014, and also with the CEO of StemExpress, a Placerville, California, tissue supply firm, that had partnered at the time with some of Planned Parenthood’s Northern California clinics to retrieve fetal body parts onsite. For the statute in question, California Penal Code Section 632, prosecutorial discretion allows charges to be brought as either felonies or misdemeanors. Becerra went the felony route. His aim seemed to be to put Daleiden and Merritt behind bars for as long as legally possible; each separate felony conviction for violating Section 632 could entail a year in state prison plus a hefty fine.

There were always legal issues that could have stood in the way of automatic Section 632 convictions for the pair: How much expectation of privacy—an essential element of a violation of the anti-recording law—did the alleged victims really have in the public places where the conversations occurred, for example. But what really killed the greater part of Becerra’s case, at least for now, was his office’s insistence on keeping secret such key information as the names of the alleged Planned Parenthood victims. Superior Court Judge Christopher Hite ruled that those 14 charges were simply legally insufficient. “The complaint did not provide Merritt with the minimum notice required by the Constitution and California law as to what she supposedly did wrong, so that she can mount a proper and vigorous defense,” her lawyer, Mat Staver of LibertyCounsel said.. “The complaint was also vague and full of inconsistencies.”

Hite gave Becerra’s office until mid-July to file a revised and more detailed complaint, and it will be interesting to see whether the attorney general’s obvious solicitude for the delicate feelings of Planned Parenthood officials will outweigh his obvious desire to throw the book at Daleiden and Merritt. There is also that 15th count: a conspiracy charge against the pair stemming from their use of a former StemExpress employee’s password to log into StemExpress’s email account so as to learn the ins and out of fetal organ procurement.

Daleiden and Merritt had set up a fake corporation they called BioMax Procurement Services, complete with its own website, and they had obtained driver’s licenses for themselves under fictitious names—all so they could set up a vendor’s booth at a National Abortion Federation convention in San Francisco in 2014 and gain the confidence of the Planned Parenthood.

DEMOCRAT LIES BACKFIRE

“THERE WILL COME A TIME WHEN YOUR LIES, DECEIT AND FALSE ACCUSATIONS COME BACK AT YOU, FORCE-MULTIPLIED”  – M Souza

“Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. ”

Dems push leaders to talk less about Russia
thehill.com

Frustrated Democrats hoping to elevate their election fortunes have a resounding message for party leaders: Stop talking so much about Russia.

Democratic leaders have been beating the drum this year over the ongoing probes into the Trump administration’s potential ties to Moscow, taking every opportunity to highlight the saga and forcing floor votes designed to uncover any business dealings the president might have with Russian figures.

But rank-and-file Democrats say the Russia-Trump narrative is simply a non-issue with district voters, who are much more worried about bread-and-butter economic concerns like jobs, wages and the cost of education and healthcare.

In the wake of a string of special-election defeats, an increasing number of Democrats are calling for an adjustment in party messaging, one that swings the focus from Russia to the economy. The outcome of the 2018 elections, they say, hinges on how well the Democrats manage that shift.

“We can’t just talk about Russia because people back in Ohio aren’t really talking that much about Russia, about Putin, about Michael Flynn,” Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) told MSNBC Thursday. “They’re trying to figure out how they’re going to make the mortgage payment, how they’re going to pay for their kids to go to college, what their energy bill looks like.

“And if we don’t talk more about their interest than we do about how we’re so angry with Donald Trump and everything that’s going on,” he added, “then we’re never going to be able to win elections.”

Ryan is among the small group of Democrats who are sounding calls for a changing of the guard atop the party’s leadership hierarchy following Tuesday’s special election defeat in Georgia — the Democrats’ fourth loss since Trump took office. But Ryan is hardly alone in urging party leaders to hone their 2018 message.

Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.) has been paying particularly close attention to voters’ concerns because he’s running for governor in 2018. The Russia-Trump investigation, he said, isn’t on their radar.

“I did a 22-county tour. … Nobody’s focusing on that,” Walz said. “That’s not to say that they don’t think Russia and those things are important, [but] it’s certainly not top on their minds.”

Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) delivered a similar message, saying his constituents are most concerned with two things: dysfunction in Washington and the Republicans’ plans to repeal ObamaCare. The controversies surrounding Trump, he said, don’t tally.

“We should be focused relentlessly on economic improvement [and] we should stay away from just piling on the criticism of Trump, whether it’s about Russia, whether it’s about Comey. Because that has its own independent dynamic, it’s going to happen on its own without us piling on,“ Welch said.

“We’re much better off if we just do the hard work of coming up with an agenda. Talking about Trump and Russia doesn’t create an agenda.”

The intrigue over Russian meddling in the 2016 elections and potential collusion with Trump’s campaign has engulfed Capitol Hill since even before the president was sworn in. Both the House and Senate Intelligence committees have launched investigations, and the Justice Department has named a special counsel, former FBI Director Robert Mueller, to lead a third probe.

Democrats have gone out of their way to keep the spotlight on the evolving investigations. Reps. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) are trumpeting legislation to create an independent panel, like the 9/11 Commission, to conduct a fourth investigation.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has repeatedly used her press briefings and cable news appearances to raise questions about Trump’s “political, personal and financial” ties to Moscow.

“What do the Russians have on Donald Trump?” she asked earlier this month in a common refrain.

And the Democrats, who have few opportunities to force votes on the House floor, have spent a lot of energy pushing proposals that would require Trump to release his taxes, which many Democrats suspect will expose business ties between Trump and Russia. The latest such vote was Wednesday, marking the 10th time this year Democrats have forced the issue.

“It’s important for us to have the returns on tax reform, it’s important to have it on the Russia investigation,” Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), the ranking member of the Ways and Means Committee’s tax subpanel, said on the floor.

Democratic leaders have defended their focus on the Trump-Russia affair, arguing that it’s not a distraction from the local economic issues that resonate in their districts.

“We can walk and chew gum at the same time,” Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.), vice chairman of the Democratic Caucus, said Wednesday.

But even some leaders are ready to acknowledge that the Russia investigation alone won’t lead to a Democratic comeback.

“As much as I think people in Washington tend to focus on the issues of Russia, and the president and the Republicans’ inability to get much of anything accomplished, … we need to focus on the local issues,” said Rep. Joseph Crowley (N.Y.), chairman of the caucus.

“That’s what gets Democrats elected.”

A recent Harvard-Harris poll reveals the risks inherent for the Democrats, who are hoping to make big gains — or even win back the House — in 2018. The survey found that while 58 percent of voters said they’re concerned that Trump may have business dealings with Moscow, 73 percent said they’re worried that the ongoing investigations are preventing Congress from tackling issues more vital to them.

“While the voters have a keen interest in any Russian election interference, they are concerned that the investigations have become a distraction for the president and Congress that is hurting rather than helping the country,” said Harvard-Harris co-director Mark Penn.

With that in mind, many Democrats said they’re going out of their way to focus on the economy — and downplay the Russia saga — when they’re at home.

“If you see me treating Russia and criticisms of the president and things like that as a secondary matter, it’s because that’s how my constituents feel about it,” said Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.).

“I don’t think anybody wants to give a pass to illegal or unethical activity,” he added. “But in life we all have priorities, and the first priority for my constituents is to their families — as it should be.”

US GOVT SPENT MORE THAN RECORD TAX REVENUE

$240,418,000,000: Feds Collect Record Taxes in May; Still Run $88,246,000,000 Deficit
www.cnsnews.com

 

(CNSNews.com) – The U.S. Treasury hauled in $240,418,000,000 in total taxes in the month of May, setting a record for inflation-adjusted tax revenues for that month of the year, according to the Monthly Treasury Statement released this week.

Record taxes collected

Despite these record revenues, however, the federal government still ran a deficit of $88,426,000,000 in May—because it spent $328,844,000,000 in the month.

In the first eight months of fiscal 2017 (October through May), the federal government hauled in $2,169,160,000,000 in total taxes and spent $2,602,013,000,000—thus, running a deficit of $432,853,000,000. Fiscal 2017 will end on Sept. 30, 2017.

Prior to this year, fiscal 2006 held the record for most federal taxes collected in the month of May. That year, the Treasury collected $232,837,160,000 (in constant 2017 dollars) during May.

The third largest tax haul the federal government ever achieved in the month of May was last year (fiscal 2016), when the Treasury collected $228,814,030,000 (in constant 2017 dollars.)

While the $240,418,000,000 that the Treasury collected this May set a record for federal tax revenues in the month May, federal tax collections in the first eight months of fiscal 2017 (October through May) did not set a record.

That distinction is still held by fiscal 2016—the last full fiscal year of President Barack Obama’s tenure.

In October through May of fiscal 2016, the Treasury collected $2,179,362,400,000 in total tax revenues (in constant 2017 dollars). That was $10,202,400,000 more than the $2,169,160,000,000 that the Treasury collected in October through May of this fiscal year.

(Tax revenues were adjusted to constant 2017 dollars using the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator.)

The $240,418,000,000 in taxes the federal government collected in the month of May 2017 equaled approximately $1,572 for each of the 152,923,000 people the Bureau of Labor Statistics said had a job in the United States during the month.

The $88,246,000,000 deficit the Treasury ran during May equaled approximately $577 for each of the 152,923,000 people with a job.

OPEN WARFARE DECLARED ON CONSERVATIVES

This List Of Attacks Against Conservatives Is Mind Blowing
dailycaller.com

Advice to Conservative Patriots: Carry a tactical pocket knife with you at all times. With some practice, you can fend off and survive an attack by a small mob by inflicting painful injury.

A wave of liberal rage has marked the last 11 months since the rise and subsequent election of President Donald Trump.

Antifa protestors clad in black masks shut down college campuses, destroy property and indiscriminately attack those they disagree with, whether women or the elderly. Meanwhile, CNN fires Kathy Griffin for taking photos with a bloody replica of the president’s decapitated head.

Amid this backdrop, The Huffington Post publishes an article calling for the execution of Trump and “everyone assisting his agenda.”

Then, shots ring out as a man gorged on media hysteria attempts to slaughter Republican congressmen while they practice for a charity baseball game.

The aggression since Trump’s nomination is difficult to enumerate, but nevertheless, The Daily Caller News Foundation poured over media reports to compile a close but non-exhaustive list of violent acts against conservatives in months following the Republican National Convention.

In creating the list, TheDCNF reviewed numerous articles detailing attacks against conservatives and Trump supporters. Only incidences of violence and threats of violence where the perpetrators were clear are included in the report, excluded are events where the instigator was difficult to discern.

Attacks Over Time:

 

July 2016:

-A Hillary Clinton supporter lights a flag on fire and attacks a Trump supporter in Pittsburgh.

-Trump supporters sue San Jose after protesters jumped on cars, stole hats, fought and threw eggs at them.

August 2016:

-Anti-Trump protesters attacked Trump supporters in Minneapolis, Minn., and beat an elderly man. Protesters also attacked Trump’s motorcade.

–A Tennessee man was assaulted at a garage sale for being a Trump supporter.

-A Trump supporter in New Jersey was attacked with a crowbar on the street.

September 2016:

-Protesters in El Cajon, Calif., chased and beat up a Trump supporter.

October 2016:

-A GOP office in North Carolina was firebombed and spray painted with “Nazi Republicans get out of town or else.”

November 2016:

-A high school student was attacked after she wrote that she supported Trump on social media. The perpetrator ripped her glasses off and punched her in the face.

-The president of Cornell University’s College Republicans was assaulted the night after Trump won the election.

-Students protesting Trump punched and kicked a Maryland high school student wearing a Make America Great Again hat.

-A high school student was arrested in Florida after he punched a classmate for carrying a Trump sign at school.

-A 24-year-old was reportedly attacked on a New York subway for wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat.

-A group of black men in Chicago attacked a white man while raging against Trump.

-High school students in Rockville, Md., physically assailed another student for supporting Trump, kicking him while he was on the ground.

-At a California high school, a student yelled to a Trump-supporting student, “You support Trump. You hate Mexicans” before beating the girl.

-An anti-bullying ambassador who supported Black Lives Matter was arrested after shoving a 65-year-old man to the ground.

-A Texas elementary school student was beaten by his classmates for voting for Trump in a mock election.

-Two men punched and kicked a Connecticut man who was standing with an American flag and a Trump sign.

-A high school student in Florida punched another student who was holding a Trump sign.

-A man was murdered in Georgia after an argument about whether Trump would deport a Hispanic man.

December 2016:

-A Trump supporter was beaten and dragged by a car.

-Trump supporters were attacked at a rally in Richmond, Va.

January 2017:

-A Trump supporter was knocked unconscious after airport protesters repeatedly beat him on the head.

-A Trump supporter was attacked after putting out a fire started by anti-Trump protesters.

-Trump supporters were beaten in Oregon.

February 2017:

-California GOP Rep. Tom McClintock had to be escorted to his car after a town hall. At least four tires were slashed outside the town hall.

-Protestors knocked a 71-year-old female staffer for California GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher unconscious during a protest outside the representative’s office.

–Milo Yiannopoulos speech at the University of California-Berkeley was cancelled after rioters set the campus on fire and threw rocks through windows. They also attacked those who came to the event.

March 2017:

-Angry protestor at Middlebury College rushed AEI scholar and political scientist Charles Murray and professor Allison Stranger. Stranger was grabbed by the hair and shoved, sustaining injuries.

April 2017:

-A parade in Portland, Ore.,was canceled after threats of violence were made against a Republican organization.

-Protesters shut down Ann Coulter’s UC Berkeley speech over safety fears.

May 2017:

– Republican Rep. Tom Garrett’s, his family and his dog were targeted by repeated death threats.

-FBI agents arrested a person for threatening to shoot Arizona Republican Rep. Martha McSally.

-Police in Tennessee charged a woman for allegedly trying to run GOP Congressman David Kustoff off the road.

-Police in North Dakota ejected a man after he became physical with GOP Rep. Kevin Cramer at a town hall.

June 2017:

-James Hodgkinson opened fire on a congressional GOP baseball practice, injuring five, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise.

-New York GOP Rep. Claudia Tenney received an email threat that read, “One down, 216 to go,” shortly after the shooting at the Republican congressional baseball practice.

-A man driving a white Malibu reportedly fired several shots at a man driving a truck displaying a “Make America Great Again” flag in Indiana.

COMMENT

TRUMP “INFORMS” N KOREA TO RELEASE COMATOSE STUDENT

Trump is a president like no other, at least not since Republican President Teddy Roosevelt

University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier, said to be in a coma, released from North Korea
www.washingtonpost.com

TOKYO — University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier, who had been detained in North Korea for 17 months, was to arrive home in Cincinnati on Tuesday night in a coma — his family stricken yet relieved to have him back, but his return a harbinger of more difficulties in the already-tense relationship between Pyongyang and Washington.

After a senior State Department official flew to Pyongyang to demand the 22-year-old’s release on humanitarian grounds, he was flown out in a medical evacuation. His parents and siblings were waiting for him at a municipal airport in Cincinnati.

“We get to see our son Otto tonight,” Fred Warmbier said in an interview Tuesday morning after his son was evacuated. “We’ll be relieved to have him home and are looking forward to surrounding him with people who love him.”

Warmbier’s parents hadn’t heard from or seen him since he was sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labor in March last year for attempting to steal a propaganda poster at the end of a five-day tour of North Korea.

But amid the relief, there were also new questions about what happened to him: How did a healthy young man fall into such a deep coma? The North Korean government told his parents that food poisoning was to blame. And how does the Trump administration respond?

Three other American citizens are being detained in North Korea, at a time when Kim Jong Un has been firing missiles and threatening to strike the United States. President Trump has been vowing to exert “maximum pressure” on North Korea to make it abandon its nuclear weapons program but has also dangled the prospect of talks with Kim, whom he called a “smart cookie.”

Warmbier was flown out of North Korea on the same day that Dennis Rodman, the controversial former basketball star, arrived for his fifth visit to Pyongyang.

Officials involved in securing Warmbier’s release told The Washington Post that it had nothing to do with Rodman’s trip to Pyongyang, calling it a “bizarre coincidence” that might have been a deliberate ploy from North Korea to distract from Warmbier’s condition.

“Dennis Rodman had nothing to do with the release of Mr. Warmbier,” said Heather Nauert, a State Department spokeswoman, adding that the government was “thankful” that he would soon be home in his parents’ arms.

She also reiterated the State Department’s travel advice against going to North Korea, with which the United States has no diplomatic relations.

“Let me reiterate this: We strongly, strongly suggest that Americans do not go to North Korea,” Nauert said.

At the time of his arrest, Warmbier had been on an organized New Year’s tour in North Korea, a five-day stopover on his way to Hong Kong for a study-abroad trip.

But on his final night in Pyongyang — New Year’s Eve — he apparently went to a staff-only floor of his hotel and attempted to take down a large propaganda sign lauding the regime. He was charged with “hostile acts against the state.”

Surrounded by North Korean guards, Warmbier delivered a highly scripted “confession” that appeared to have been written for him, and after an hour-long sham trial in March 2016, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison with hard labor.

He had not been seen in public since, and Swedish diplomats, representing U.S. interests, had been denied consular access to him. Officials involved in negotiations to free Warmbier and another American citizen being detained were told they were being treated as prisoners of war.

During a secret meeting in Oslo last month with Joseph Yun, the State Department’s special representative for North Korea, high-level North Korean officials agreed that Swedish diplomats in Pyongyang would be allowed to visit the four Americans imprisoned by the North.

But in Pyongyang, the Swedes were allowed to see only one detainee, and it wasn’t Warmbier.

As the Americans continued to push for the Swedish diplomats to see all four, North Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations urgently requested a meeting with Yun in New York, according to Trump administration officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity about the still-secret arrangements. There, North Korean officials told Yun about Warmbier’s condition.

He informed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who consulted with the president, the officials said.

Yun was instructed to prepare to travel to Pyongyang with the intention of bringing Warmbier back to the United States. A medical team and aircraft were organized, and North Korea was informed that a delegation would travel there.

“It wasn’t a situation where they asked,” one official said of the U.S. representatives. The North Koreans “were informed that the airplane would land, American and medical officials would get out.”

Yun was under orders, which the official said came directly from Trump, to demand to see Warmbier immediately, and, “if he was in bad shape,” to demand his immediate release and evacuation on the plane’s return flight to the United States.

Yun arrived in Pyongyang early Monday with two American physicians. They were immediately taken to Warmbier. Yun insisted on Warmbier’s immediate release on humanitarian grounds, officials said, and the North Koreans agreed.

Tillerson called Trump at 8:35 a.m. Tuesday to inform him that Warmbier was on an airplane en route to the United States, an official said. The last instruction the president left Tillerson was: “Take care of Otto,” the official said.

The Warmbier family said they were informed that North Korean officials had told American envoys that their son became ill with botulism soon after his show trial.

The North Korean account, the family said, claimed Warmbier then fell into a coma after being given a sleeping pill. The Warmbiers said they were told their son has remained in a coma since then.

There was no immediate confirmation from U.S. officials of North Korea’s description of his illness — including whether he was stricken with botulism, a potentially fatal disease that is caused by a toxin but is not usually associated with loss of consciousness. U.S. officials in touch with Yun and medical personnel declined to say whether Warmbier remains in a coma or to make any comment on his current medical condition.

North Korean representatives at the United Nations did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

North Korea has woefully inadequate medical care, and it is not clear how North Korean doctors had been caring for Warmbier for more than a year in an unconscious state.

Warmbier was to have graduated last month had he not been detained.

“While the entire University of Virginia community is relieved to learn of Otto’s release from North Korea, we are deeply concerned and saddened to learn from his family that he is in a coma,” U-Va. President Teresa A. Sullivan said in a statement Tuesday.

Annabella Vagonis, a family friend from Reston, Va., whose daughter was close with Warmbier at U-Va., said, “We were at turns incredulous, shocked, surprised, joyful and sad, all kind of emotions within a nanosecond of each other when we got the news this morning.

“We are so incredibly joyful that he is finally coming home. We are concerned about his overall health and not knowing the details of his being in a coma. We’re hopeful that with the excellent medical care that he’ll receive that we’ll receive some good news once they examine him. “

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) called Warmbier’s arrest and trial “unnecessary and appalling,” while lawmakers from Virginia also denounced North Korea’s actions.

The other three Americans detained by North Korea remain there.

A former Virginia resident and naturalized American citizen, Kim Dong-chul, was arrested shortly after Warmbier on accusations of espionage and was sentenced to 10 years with hard labor.

In April and May, North Korea detained two other Korean Americans, both of them affiliated with the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, a private institution run by Korean American Christians.

Previous detainees have been released after visits from high-profile Americans, including former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. But efforts to persuade North Korea to release the men now held had not been successful until Warmbier’s release Tuesday.

DeYoung reported from Washington. Susan Svrluga in Cincinnati, and David Nakamura and Jenna Portnoy in Washington contributed to this report.

CHINA VS. JESUS

Christian church DESTROYED as Chinese police drag worshippers into street and beat them
www.express.co.uk

“While no doubt the envy of US Democrats, China will lose, Jesus will prevail.” – M Souza

Fascist-Communists

Violence broke out in Shanggiu in Henan province after 300 police officers and officials demolished the Shuangmiao Christian Church—which was under construction.

Officers dragged out around 40 Christians with one worshipper comparing the brutal scenes to the Japanese invasion of China during the Second World War, according to charity China Aid.

Eight Christians remain in custody following the incident amid a crackdown on churches by the communist regime.

China Aid said: “During the demolition, officials beat dozens of church members, pushing them to the ground and twisting their hands.

“The church was completely razed, and a church member likened the scene to the Japanese invasion of China during World War II.

“Of the 40 Christians seized, eight are still in custody, and the cases of Shuangmiao Christian Church pastor Zhang Di and the church’s vice director, Lü Yuexia, were recently transferred to the Procuratorate, which will decide whether or not to formalise their arrest.”

The Supreme People’s Procuratorate is the highest agency in China responsible for prosecutions.

According to churchgoers Xi Jinping’s Communist Party ordered the church to be destroyed after branding the building an “illegal structure”.

Party officials were sent to the church to search the building and belongings of people on site.

China Aid said the party confiscated phones and other personal property, damaged closets, smashed offering boxes, and stole laptops, money, and jewellery.

The demolition came as row between the church and government escalated over allegations the church refused to pay a £450 arbitrary road usage fee.

Pastor Zhang Di was summoned for questioning last month and accused of assaulting police officers and attacking a village official.

Church leaders are urging the government to release the pastor and churchgoers. They are also calling for police linked to the investigation to be punished.

The Chinese Communist Party has launched a major crackdown on religion in recent months in an attempt to oppress religious freedom and exercise control.

Churches not sanctioned by the government have been put under surveillance with hundreds of Christians arrested for disturbing public order for offences such as holding bible study groups and displaying crucifixes outside their homes.

There have been reports of Christians being banned from praying, singing hymns, crosses removed from buildings and people arrested for attending church services.