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Gender: Male
Hometown: America's Finest City
Current location: District 50
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 13,366

Journal Archives

Trump blows up compassionate image portrayed at RNC

Speaker after speaker at last week’s Republican National Convention painted a benign portrait of President Trump as compassionate, citing his call to a surgery patient and long-ago visit to a theme park, seeking to soften his image as racist and belligerent.

Trump has spent nearly every day since blowing up the kinder, gentler version.

He compared a cop who shot a Black man to a golfer who chokes and misses “a three-foot putt,” shared a fringe conspiracy theory that the nation’s protests are an organized coup against him, and described Black Lives Matter, a driving force in the movement for racial justice, as a “Marxist organization” that is “bad for Black people.”

He reposted a baseless theory that the coronavirus has killed only 9,000 Americans and not 184,000. He warned darkly about “thugs” in “black uniforms” boarding a plane somewhere. And he has defended a 17-year-old charged with killing two protesters with a military-style rifle in Kenosha, Wis., suggesting it was self-defense.


L.A. is about to declare a fiscal emergency. That could mean pay cuts for city workers

Two months ago, the Los Angeles City Council hatched a plan for weathering its latest financial crisis: Give thousands of city employees up to $80,000 to retire, and hope the savings would be enough to avoid pay cuts for other city workers.

Now, with the budget outlook still grim, and interest in employee buyouts falling shy of initial hopes, the city’s elected leaders have decided to pursue both strategies: paying workers to leave their jobs, while reducing salaries 10% for many who remain.

The council is scheduled to vote Wednesday to give buyouts to an estimated 1,277 employees and clear the way for more than 15,000 workers to begin furloughs, or one unpaid day off every two weeks.

To carry out the furloughs, the council must approve a declaration of fiscal emergency establishing that the city has sustained a major hit to its sales taxes, hotel taxes and other revenue. That type of declaration is L.A.'s first since 2012, when the city was clawing its way out of the last recession.


Kyle Rittenhouse is Trump's type of rule-breaker

Opinion by Molly Roberts

Presidents aren’t supposed to like vigilantes. At least, they aren’t supposed to like them out loud.

The right wing assembled with alacrity to make a folk hero of 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse after the shooting suspect allegedly killed two men in Kenosha, Wis., with an AR-15-type assault rifle that he illegally brought to a public protest to “protect property.” This in itself wasn’t surprising, even if it was shocking. The fever swamps are known and named for being feverish — and besides, those who say we’re headed down a dark path aren’t really right. We are, rather, just where we’ve always been.

Wasn’t it only months ago that three armed White guys gunned down an unarmed Black man going for a jog, and the presiding prosecutor tried to justify it by saying the shooters reasonably suspected Ahmaud Arbery of burglary? Wasn’t it only a few years ago that George Zimmerman gunned down 17-year-old Trayvon Martin and pleaded exactly what Rittenhouse’s defenders are asserting now: self-defense? Wasn’t it only last century that thousands of White people lynched thousands of Black people, claiming that they, too, were protecting themselves and theirs?

What’s new isn’t that this is happening. What’s new is that the president is volunteering defenses for an act of vigilantism: “I guess it looks like he fell, and then they very violently attacked him,” President Trump said Monday evening. “He would have been — probably would have been killed.” The accused’s lawyers say, similarly, that their client “exercised his God-given, constitutional, common law and statutory law right to self-defense.” But that’s their job; it is not the president’s.


More evidence of Trump's subservience to Putin -- and we still don't know why

Opinion by Max Boot

Former prime minister Theresa May’s chief of staff just described to a British newspaper how President Trump exploded in anger when he heard, during a 2017 meeting with May, that Russian President Vladimir Putin had requested a call with him that had not been completed. The president reportedly shouted at his national security adviser: “If Putin wants a call with me you just put him through!”

What is it with Trump and Russia? Why is the “America first” president so eager to cater to the anti-American dictator of Russia? That is the central mystery of the Trump administration. Almost every day, there are fresh signs of Trump’s subservience to Putin.

Trump still hasn’t upbraided Putin over reports that a Russian intelligence unit placed bounties on the heads of U.S. troops in Afghanistan — even though the White House had known about the purported payments for many months before the New York Times broke the news on June 26. Trump admitted to Jonathan Swan of Axios that he didn’t even mention the issue in one of his regular phone calls with Putin. (A source told CNN that the congenial Putin-Trump conversations sound like “two guys in a steam bath.”)

Nor has Trump had anything to say about reports that last week a Russian armored vehicle in Syria rammed a U.S. armored vehicle, injuring seven U.S. soldiers. You would think a president who lauds himself as a champion of “our incredible Military” would at least rhetorically defend U.S. troops. But, while Trump focused on the supposed menace of China in his convention speech, he was entirely silent about Russia.


John Brennan: Trump will suffocate the intelligence community to get reelected

John Brennan is a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency. His memoir, “Undaunted,” will be published in October.

As America’s intelligence professionals seek to carry out their responsibilities to brief Congress on foreign efforts to interfere in this November’s election, they face far greater challenges than ever before in striking the right balance between sharing intelligence with Congress and preventing its misuse.

In 2016, I was fortunate to work for a president and with a director of national intelligence who had no personal or partisan agendas that affected the ability of the intelligence community to fulfill its statutory obligations to keep Congress “fully and currently informed” on national security matters, including Russian interference in our elections.

In 2020, however, the situation is far different, as President Trump has shown utter contempt for the independence, objectivity and apolitical integrity of the intelligence community. And, since he has made no secret of his intention to do whatever necessary to stay in office beyond January 2021, there should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that he will attempt to suffocate the flow of any intelligence to Congress that could upend his ruthless ambition.

Which is why it is so worrisome that Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe, in his position for only three months, informed Congress on Friday that lawmakers will from now on receive election-related intelligence primarily through written intelligence products rather than in oral briefings.


Trump keeps walking into Joe Biden's trap

Opinion by Jonathan Capehart

In a powerful speech in Pittsburgh on Monday, Joe Biden nestled into his comfort zone. The Democratic presidential nominee is never more clear, direct or impassioned than when the disaster that is President Trump and the moral authority of the office are the focus of his attention. What’s stunning is that the president happily feeds Biden’s fire.

With a mantra of “Do you really feel safer under Trump?” Biden laced into Trump over the president’s record and the damage he has done to our country. And Biden zeroed in on the president trying to fear-monger his way to a second term. “Mr. Trump, you want to talk about fear? Do you know what people are afraid of in America? Afraid they’re going to get covid,” Biden said. “They’re afraid they’re going to get sick and die. And that is in no small part because of you.”
He also pointed out that “the murder rate right now is up 26 percent across the nation this year under Donald Trump.”

And then Biden hammered Trump for his moral offenses against the American people. “We’ve arrived at a moment in this campaign, we all . . . knew we’d get to. The moment when Donald Trump would be so desperate, he’d do anything to hold on to power,” said Biden. “Donald Trump has been a toxic presence in our nation for four years. Poisoning how we talk to one another, poisoning how we treat one another, poisoning the values this nation has always held dear, poisoning our very democracy.”

Most importantly, rather than run away from a fight with Trump over the violence in some American cities, Biden took it and the president head-on. “Donald Trump looks at this violence and he sees a political lifeline,” Biden said. He unequivocally denounced those committing violence and accused Trump of inciting it.


Trump is too loony even for Laura Ingraham

Opinion by Jennifer Rubin

President Trump, during an interview on Monday with Fox News’s Laura Ingraham, a spin artist for the president and a purveyor of anti-immigrant sentiment, claimed that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is controlled by mysterious people. (Disclaimer: I am an MSNBC contributor.)

In concocting his tale, Trump fantasized of “people that you’ve never heard of, people that are in the dark shadows.” Ingraham, as though trying her best to stop his self-immolation, responded, “That sounds like conspiracy theory.” No luck. Trump continued: “They are people that are on the streets, they’re people that are controlling the streets. We had somebody get on a plane from a certain city this weekend. And in the plane, it was almost completely loaded with thugs, wearing these dark uniforms, black uniforms, with gear and this and that.” This is simply bonkers.

Ingraham then stopped him from digging himself a deeper hole when he suggested police who kill unarmed people are akin to a golfer missing a three-foot putt. “But they choke, just like in a golf tournament, they miss a three-foot [putt],” Trump said. Ingraham leaped in: “You’re not comparing it to golf, because that’s what the media [would say].” In other words, actual reporters would recognize what he was saying was morally offensive and so lacking in self-awareness as to suggest Trump cannot even fake normal behavior.

Trump had no one around him on Tuesday to stage an intervention, so he repeated his gibberish: "A person was on a plane, said there were about six people like that person, more or less, and what happened is the entire plane filled up with the looters, the anarchists, rioters — people that were obviously looking for trouble,” Trump insisted. “And the person felt very uncomfortable on the plane.” He added: "This would be a person you know. So I will see whether or not I can get that person. I’ll let them know, and I can see whether or not I can get that person to speak to you,” he said. “This was a firsthand account of a plane going from Washington to wherever.” “Wherever” is the sort of filler you use when your lie becomes too absurd to add anymore detail.


Trump flies to Kenosha but lands on Planet Zog

Opinion by Dana Milbank

President Trump took off on Air Force One on Tuesday morning on his way to Kenosha, Wis. He landed on Planet Zog.

In real life, protests (some peaceful, some violent) erupted after police shot Jacob Blake, a Black man, seven times in the back. A Trump-supporting militia member allegedly gunned down three of the protesters, killing two of them.

But in the imaginary Kenosha that Trump created Tuesday afternoon at an invitation-only “roundtable” — in a high school cafeteria serving as a government “command center” — things were quite different.

There was no pandemic in this Kenosha; at his suggestion, everybody in the roundtable took off their face masks. There was no right-wing violence. (I heard no mention of the killings by the Trump-backing extremist.) There was no such thing as police brutality (Trump quickly swept aside any such notion). And there were hardly any Black people (only two of the 23 in the room).

It quickly became clear that the pair, a pastor and his wife, were to be seen rather than heard. James Ward, who said he is the pastor to Blake’s mother, was asked by Trump to offer a prayer, then offered to discuss “the real pain that hurts Black Americans.” Trump wasn’t interested.


Facebook takes down Russian operation that recruited U.S. journalists

Source: Washington Post

Facebook takes down Russian operation that recruited U.S. journalists, amid rising concerns about election misinformation Complete Headline

The social media giant acted against a small network of pages and accounts that directed users to a fake left-leaning news site called Peace Data

Facebook took down a small network of fake accounts and pages associated with Russian operatives that had recruited U.S. journalists to write articles targeting left-leaning readers on topics such as racial justice, the Biden-Harris campaign, and President Trump’s policies, the company said Tuesday.

The network of 13 fake accounts and two pages was in its early stages of attempting to build an audience, Facebook said, which the company argued was evidence of its growing effectiveness at targeting foreign disinformation operations ahead of the 2020 election. The actions emerged as a result of a tip from the FBI and was one of a dozen operations tied to the Russian Internet Research Agency, or individuals affiliated with it. The company has taken action on since the last presidential election, when IRA-backed pages amassed millions of views on the platform. The pages had about 14,000 followers.

“They’ve gotten better at hiding who they are, but their impact has gotten smaller and smaller,” said Facebook’s Head of Security Policy Nathaniel Gleicher, of the foreign operations.

In addition, Facebook also took down a disinformation network associated with a U.S. public relations firm that the company said had spent millions to target users primarily in Latin America. The firm had previously advised foreign clients that used Facebook, according to news reports.

Facebook said the Russian operatives created fictitious personas on Facebook to direct people to a new site called Peace Data, which billed itself as a “global news organization” whose goal was to “to shed light on the global issues and raise awareness about corruption, environmental crisis, abuse of power, armed conflicts, activism, and human rights.”

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2020/09/01/facebook-disinformation-takedown/

Trump administration rolls back Obama-era rule aimed at limiting toxic wastewater from coal plants

Power plant discharge ranks as the largest source of toxic water pollution in the United States

The Trump administration on Monday weakened a 2015 regulation that would have forced coal plants to treat wastewater with more modern, effective methods in order to curb toxic metals such as arsenic and mercury from contaminating lakes, rivers and streams near their facilities.

In a statement, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler said that the final rule’s “flexible, phased-in” approach would make it easier for the coal industry to comply while also protecting the environment. Three years ago the Trump administration delayed the Obama-era rule — which the EPA had estimated would keep 1.4 billion pounds of pollutants out of U.S. waterways each year — before replacing it with a scaled-back version.

“Newer, more affordable pollution control technologies and flexibility on the regulation’s phase-in will reduce pollution and save jobs at the same time,” Wheeler said.

Power plants represent the largest industrial source of toxic wastewater pollution around the country.

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