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 on: January 12, 2019, 04:45:36 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from The Washington Post…

The oceans are warming faster than we thought,
and scientists suggest we brace for impact

2018 was the warmest year on record in the oceans, the third in a row.

By ANGELA FRITZ | 5:25PM EST — Friday, January 11, 2019

The planet's oceans are actually warming 40 to 50 percent faster than the most recent report from IPCC has predicted. — Photograph: iStock.
The planet's oceans are actually warming 40 to 50 percent faster than the most recent report from IPCC has predicted. — Photograph: iStock.

THE OCEANS are warming faster than climate reports have suggested, according to a new synthesis of temperature observations published this week. The most recent report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change made what turned out to be a very conservative estimate of rise in ocean temperature, and scientists are advising us to adjust our expectations.

“The numbers are coming in 40 to 50 percent [warmer] than the last IPCC report,” said Kevin Trenberth, a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research and an author on the report, published in Science Magazine on Thursday.

Furthermore, Trenberth said, “2018 will be the warmest year on record in the oceans” as 2017 was and 2016 before that.

Oceans cover 70 percent of the globe and absorb 93 percent of the planet's extra heat from climate change. They are responsible for spawning disasters like hurricanes Florence and Maria and generating torrential rainfall via meteorological processes with names like “atmospheric river” and “Pineapple Express”.

Sea level is rising with observable consequences along the East Coast and around the world, both physically and financially. Trenberth and his colleagues say if society continues to emit greenhouse gas at its current rate, oceans will rise one foot by the end of the century on top of the rise expected from melting land ice on Greenland and Antarctica.

Scientists have started to pin down how climate change is loading the dice on extreme weather. After Hurricane Harvey, researchers found the storm's deadly and costly effects were probably made worse by warmer oceans. And, as The Washington Post reported in December, “a drought in East Africa that left 6 million people in Somalia facing food shortages was caused by dramatic ocean warming that could not have occurred without humans' impact on the environment.”

After several studies published over the past couple of years, some of which included errors that needed to be corrected and published for the record, “we felt the need to do a more general assessment,” said Trenberth.

The scientists combined four data sets to paint a picture of what has been happening in the oceans since 1991. Trenberth and his co-authors say ocean heat content, which is a measure of the warmth of the water down to about 2,000 meters, is a “great metric for measuring global warming” because the data isn’t as erratic as the temperature on land, and it captures much more of the planet.

In the process, they discovered something interesting: Their data agrees with what the climate models were predicting. “Oh, maybe the models have more credibility than we thought,” Trenberth said, tongue firmly in cheek.

As the planet warms, models have proven an invaluable tool. It's not enough to say the climate is changing — scientists want to know how it is going to change in the future. Yet these models are one of the preferred targets of climate change skeptics. They appeared to miss the so-called global warming hiatus between 1998 and 2013. At the time, scientists posited there wasn't really a hiatus, but that the heat was simply building up in the oceans, or that there was a data collection issue. They were right, but that didn't save the models from criticism.

This synthesis suggests the models are doing just fine. In fact, in the oceans, they are performing even better than expected, and have marched in lockstep with the extreme ocean heating observed by thousands of temperature-collecting floats all over the world. If climate models have actually performed well in the past, it gives scientists more confidence in their predictions for the future.

Trenberth said their comparatively concise article published on Thursday “highlights some of the developments that have occurred since the last IPCC report,” which came out in 2014. The previous one came out in 2007.

Articles like the one in Science are helpful to remind people of the advances that happen in science between the big, sweeping reports, said Tom Di Liberto, a climatologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The IPCC reports have research deadlines at least a year before they are published; science in the most recent report may have been done six to eight years ago and “there's a whole lot of stuff that has happened since then,” Di Liberto said.

“It speaks to the broader issue of science communication,” he continued. “Science works slower than the way we communicate now.”

Looking forward, there are two scenarios scientists are working with. The low-emissions scenario that the Paris climate change agreement was built around is no longer realistic, Trenberth said. The high-emissions, business-as-usual scenario will probably continue until about 2040, in his opinion, but eventually society will figure out how to manage the crisis.

“Yes, we need to try and stop emitting greenhouse gas. But the inertia is large,” Trenberth said. “Therefore the climate is going to continue to change.” He believes adaptation is the way forward, rather than geo-engineering, which is “not thought out well at all and problematic.”

Di Liberto agrees that we're already feeling the effects, but he sees things changing in society, too.

“We've spent too much time and effort on people who may not be convinced” that climate change is real and important, he said. “But now there seems to be this grass-roots movement of young people who care. I don't remember a time like this.”


Angela Fritz is an atmospheric scientist who knew from a young age that weather was her true calling. After receiving a Batchelor of Science in meteorology from Valparaiso University and a Master of Science in earth and atmospheric science from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Fritz worked as a meteorologist at CNN in Atlanta and Weather Underground in San Francisco. She is The Washington Post's deputy weather editor.


 on: January 12, 2019, 04:14:33 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

Hehehe … the “emperor with no clothes” will be seething with rage and will chuck his toys out of the cot again…

from The New York Times…

F.B.I. Opened Inquiry Into Whether Trump
Was Secretly Working on Behalf of Russia

The investigation, whose fate is unclear, led counter-intelligence investigators
to consider an explosive question: whether the president's actions
constituted a possible threat to national security


Following President Donald J. Trump's firing of James B. Comey as F.B.I. director, the bureau grew increasingly concerned about whether the president's actions constituted anti-American activity. — Photograph: Sarah Silbiger/The New York Times.
Following President Donald J. Trump's firing of James B. Comey as F.B.I. director, the bureau grew increasingly concerned about whether
the president's actions constituted anti-American activity. — Photograph: Sarah Silbiger/The New York Times.

WASHINGTON D.C. — In the days after President Trump fired James B. Comey as F.B.I. director, law enforcement officials became so concerned by the president's behavior that they began investigating whether he had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests, according to former law enforcement officials and others familiar with the investigation.

The inquiry carried explosive implications. Counter-intelligence investigators had to consider whether the president's own actions constituted a possible threat to national security. Agents also sought to determine whether Mr. Trump was knowingly working for Russia or had unwittingly fallen under Moscow's influence.

The investigation the F.B.I. opened into Mr. Trump also had a criminal aspect, which has long been publicly known: whether his firing of Mr. Comey constituted obstruction of justice.

Agents and senior F.B.I. officials had grown suspicious of Mr. Trump's ties to Russia during the 2016 campaign but held off on opening an investigation into him, the people said, in part because they were uncertain how to proceed with an inquiry of such sensitivity and magnitude. But the president's activities before and after Mr. Comey's firing in May 2017, particularly two instances in which Mr. Trump tied the Comey dismissal to the Russia investigation, helped prompt the counter-intelligence aspect of the inquiry, the people said.

The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, took over the inquiry into Mr. Trump when he was appointed, days after F.B.I. officials opened it. That inquiry is part of Mr. Mueller's broader examination of how Russian operatives interfered in the 2016 election and whether any Trump associates conspired with them. It is unclear whether Mr. Mueller is still pursuing the counter-intelligence matter, and some former law enforcement officials outside the investigation have questioned whether agents overstepped in opening it.

The criminal and counter-intelligence elements were coupled together into one investigation, former law enforcement officials said in interviews in recent weeks, because if Mr. Trump had ousted the head of the F.B.I. to impede or even end the Russia investigation, that was both a possible crime and a national security concern. The F.B.I.'s counter-intelligence division handles national security matters.

If the president had fired Mr. Comey to stop the Russia investigation, the action would have been a national security issue because it naturally would have hurt the bureau's effort to learn how Moscow interfered in the 2016 election and whether any Americans were involved, according to James A. Baker, who served as F.B.I. general counsel until late 2017. He privately testified in October before House investigators who were examining the F.B.I.'s handling of the full Russia inquiry.

“Not only would it be an issue of obstructing an investigation, but the obstruction itself would hurt our ability to figure out what the Russians had done, and that is what would be the threat to national security,” Mr. Baker said in his testimony, portions of which were read to The New York Times. Mr. Baker did not explicitly acknowledge the existence of the investigation of Mr. Trump to congressional investigators.

No evidence has emerged publicly that Mr. Trump was secretly in contact with or took direction from Russian government officials. An F.B.I. spokeswoman and a spokesman for the special counsel's office both declined to comment.

Rudolph W. Giuliani, a lawyer for the president, sought to play down the significance of the investigation. “The fact that it goes back a year and a half and nothing came of it that showed a breach of national security means they found nothing,” Mr. Giuliani said on Friday, though he acknowledged that he had no insight into the inquiry.

The cloud of the Russia investigation has hung over Mr. Trump since even before he took office, though he has long vigorously denied any illicit connection to Moscow. The obstruction inquiry,  revealed by The Washington Post a few weeks after Mr. Mueller was appointed, represented a direct threat that he was unable to simply brush off as an overzealous examination of a handful of advisers. But few details have been made public about the counter-intelligence aspect of the investigation.

The decision to investigate Mr. Trump himself was an aggressive move by F.B.I. officials who were confronting the chaotic aftermath of the firing of Mr. Comey and enduring the president's verbal assaults on the Russia investigation as a “witch hunt.”

A vigorous debate has taken shape among some former law enforcement officials outside the case over whether F.B.I. investigators over-reacted in opening the counter-intelligence inquiry during a tumultuous period at the Justice Department. Other former officials noted that those critics were not privy to all of the evidence and argued that sitting on it would have been an abdication of duty.

The F.B.I. conducts two types of inquiries, criminal and counter-intelligence investigations. Unlike criminal investigations, which are typically aimed at solving a crime and can result in arrests and convictions, counter-intelligence inquiries are generally fact-finding missions to understand what a foreign power is doing and to stop any anti-American activity, like thefts of United States government secrets or covert efforts to influence policy. In most cases, the investigations are carried out quietly, sometimes for years. Often, they result in no arrests.

Mr. Trump had caught the attention of F.B.I. counter-intelligence agents when he called on Russia during a campaign news conference in July 2016 to hack into the emails of his opponent, Hillary Clinton. Mr. Trump had refused to criticize Russia on the campaign trail, praising President Vladimir V. Putin. And investigators had watched with alarm as the Republican Party softened its convention platform on the Ukraine crisis in a way that seemed to benefit Russia.

Other factors fueled the F.B.I.'s concerns, according to the people familiar with the inquiry. Christopher Steele, a former British spy who worked as an F.B.I. informant, had compiled memos in mid-2016 containing unsubstantiated claims that Russian officials tried to obtain influence over Mr. Trump by preparing to blackmail and bribe him.

The F.B.I. investigated whether the firing of Mr. Comey was a national security threat following President Donald J. Trump's dismissal of Comey. — Photograph: Erik S Lesser/European Pressphoto Agency/via Shutterstock.
The F.B.I. investigated whether the firing of Mr. Comey was a national security threat following President Donald J. Trump's dismissal of Comey.
 — Photograph: Erik S Lesser/European Pressphoto Agency/via Shutterstock.

In the months before the 2016 election, the F.B.I. was also already investigating four of Mr. Trump's associates over their ties to Russia. The constellation of events disquieted F.B.I. officials who were simultaneously watching as Russia's campaign unfolded to undermine the presidential election by exploiting existing divisions among Americans.

“In the Russian Federation and in President Putin himself, you have an individual whose aim is to disrupt the Western alliance and whose aim is to make Western democracy more fractious in order to weaken our ability, America's ability and the West's ability to spread our democratic ideals,” Lisa Page, a former bureau lawyer, told House investigators in private testimony reviewed by The New York Times.

“That's the goal, to make us less of a moral authority to spread democratic values,” she added. Parts of her testimony were first reported by The Epoch Times.

And when a newly inaugurated Mr. Trump sought a loyalty pledge from Mr. Comey and later asked that he end an investigation into the president's national security adviser, the requests set off discussions among F.B.I. officials about opening an inquiry into whether Mr. Trump had tried to obstruct that case.

But law enforcement officials put off the decision to open the investigation until they had learned more, according to people familiar with their thinking. As for a counter-intelligence inquiry, they concluded that they would need strong evidence to take the sensitive step of investigating the president, and they were also concerned that the existence of such an inquiry could be leaked to the news media, undermining the entire investigation into Russia's meddling in the election.

After Mr. Comey was fired on May 9, 2017, two more of Mr. Trump's actions prompted them to quickly abandon those reservations.

The first was a letter Mr. Trump wanted to send to Mr. Comey about his firing, but never did, in which he mentioned the Russia investigation. In the letter, Mr. Trump thanked Mr. Comey for previously telling him he was not a subject of the F.B.I.'s Russia investigation.

Even after the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, wrote a more restrained draft of the letter and told Mr. Trump that he did not have to mention the Russia investigation — Mr. Comey's poor handling of the Clinton email investigation would suffice as a fireable offense, he explained — Mr. Trump directed Mr. Rosenstein to mention the Russia investigation anyway.

He disregarded the president's order, irritating Mr. Trump. The president ultimately added a reference to the Russia investigation to the note he had delivered, thanking Mr. Comey for telling him three times that he was not under investigation.

The second event that troubled investigators was an NBC News interview two days after Mr. Comey's firing in which Mr. Trump appeared to say he had dismissed Mr. Comey because of the Russia inquiry.

“I was going to fire Comey knowing there was no good time to do it,” he said. “And in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself — I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story. It's an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should've won.”

Mr. Trump's aides have said that a fuller examination of his comments demonstrates that he did not fire Mr. Comey to end the Russia inquiry. “I might even lengthen out the investigation, but I have to do the right thing for the American people,” Mr. Trump added. “He's the wrong man for that position.”

As F.B.I. officials debated whether to open the investigation, some of them pushed to move quickly before Mr. Trump appointed a director who might slow down or even end their investigation into Russia's interference. Many involved in the case viewed Russia as the chief threat to American democratic values.

“With respect to Western ideals and who it is and what it is we stand for as Americans, Russia poses the most dangerous threat to that way of life,” Ms. Page told investigators for a joint House Judiciary and Oversight Committee investigation into Moscow's election interference.

F.B.I. officials viewed their decision to move quickly as validated when a comment the president made to visiting Russian officials in the Oval Office shortly after he fired Mr. Comey was revealed days later.

“I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Mr. Trump said, according to a document summarizing the meeting. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That's taken off.”


Adam Goldman reports on the F.B.I. for The New York Times and was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2018 for national reporting on Russia's meddling in the presidential election. Previously, he covered national security for The Washington Post and worked on the investigative team at the Associated Press, where he and his colleagues revealed the New York Police Department's Muslim spying programs. Their reporting on the department won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. Adam is the co-author of Enemies Within: Inside the NYPD's Secret Spying Unit and bin Laden's Final Plot Against America He lives in Washington D.C.

Michael S. Schmidt is a Washington correspondent for The New York Times who covers national security and federal investigations. He was part of two teams that won Pulitzer Prizes in 2018 — one for reporting on workplace sexual harassment issues and the other for coverage of President Donald Trump and his campaign's ties to Russia. For the past year, Michael's coverage has focused on Robert S. Mueller III's investigation into Mr. Trump's campaign and whether the president obstructed justice. From 2012 to 2016, Michael covered the F.B.I., Department of Homeland Security and the Pentagon. Michael spent 2011 in Iraq chronicling the last year of the American occupation. From 2007 to 2010, he covered doping and off-the-field issues for the sports section. He started his career at The N.Y. Times in 2005 as a clerk on the foreign desk. Michael has broken several high profile stories. Among them was that former F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, wrote a series of memos on how the president asked for his loyalty and tried to interfere with the F.B.I.'s investigations. Mr. Mueller was appointed after those disclosures. Michael was first to reveal the fact that Hillary Clinton exclusively relied on a personal email account when she was secretary of state. In sports, he broke the stories that Sammy Sosa, David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez had tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs and wrote about the treatment of young baseball players in the Dominican Republic who were exploited by American investors and agents. In 2017, Michael co-authored the stories that outlined how the former Fox News host, Bill O'Reilly, paid off a series of women who made sexual harassment allegations against him. For that coverage, he won the Livingston Award for national reporting, which recognizes the best work of journalists under the age of 35. Michael is a graduate of Lafayette College.

Nicholas Fandos is a reporter in The New York Times' Washington bureau covering Congress.

• A version of this article appears in The New York Times on Saturday, January 12, 2019, on Page A1 of the New York print edition with the headline: “F.B.I. Investigated If Trump Worked For The Russians”.


Related to this topic:

 • Robert Mueller and His Prosecutors: Who They Are and What They've Done

 • Everyone Who's Been Charged in Investigations Related to the 2016 Election

 • How the Mueller Investigation Could Play Out for Trump

 • The Russia Investigation Is Complicated. Here's What It All Means.

 • Code Name Crossfire Hurricane: The Secret Origins of the Trump Investigation


 on: January 12, 2019, 02:34:04 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

I see America's national terrorist organisation, the NRA, is at it again…

from The Seattle Times…

Semi-automatic rifle ban for teens is a win for sanity

One provision of the new state ban on rifles for teens that especially maddens the gun
enthusiasts is the ban on the sale of semi-automatic rifles to anyone under the age of 21.

By DAVID HORSEY | 10:42AM PST — Friday, January 11, 2019

BY A wide margin, state voters approved a gun-control initiative in the last election. Now that the law has gone into effect, it is being challenged in court by the National Rifle Association and the Second Amendment Foundation in the hope of annulling the will of the people of Washington.

One provision of the new law that especially maddens the gun enthusiasts is the ban on the sale of semi-automatic rifles to anyone under the age of 21. It is that part of Initiative 1639, however, that was key to winning the support of a majority of voters. That majority had seen too many troubled teenage boys with hidden grudges and powerful weapons walk into schools to gun down innocent students and teachers. To them, a ban seemed like the sanest thing to do, while unrestricted access to firearms looked like lunacy, not liberty.


• See more of David Horsey's cartoons at The Seattle Times HERE.


 on: January 11, 2019, 11:55:52 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

 on: January 11, 2019, 11:04:44 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

ROFLMAO … Trump got caught out by his own bullshit. What a stupid wanker & dropkick he is.

from The Washington Post…

‘The story keeps changing’: Trump falsely asserts he never
promised Mexico would directly pay for the border wall

The president's mendacity over how he planned to fund his
top campaign promise has boxed him in during shutdown fight.

By DAVID NAKAMURA | 6:55PM EST — Thursday, January 10, 2019

Since 2015, President Donald J. Trump has proposed no fewer than thirteen ways Mexico would pay for a southern border wall. — Photograph: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post.
Since 2015, President Donald J. Trump has proposed no fewer than thirteen ways Mexico would pay for a southern border wall.
 — Photograph: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post.

IT WAS a foundational promise of Donald Trump's historic presidential campaign: Mexico would pay for his 2,000-mile border wall. But as he desperately fights for $5.7 billion in taxpayer money for the project, Trump now claims he never said Mexico would directly foot the bill.

“Obviously, I never said this, and I never meant they're going to write out a check,” the president told reporters on Thursday at the White House.

He did say it — at least 212 times during his campaign and dozens more since he took office. And he put it in writing — in a March 2016 memo to news outlets that was then posted on his campaign website.

Specifically, Trump threatened to cut off billions of dollars in remittance payments from Mexican nationals in the United States to families in their home country. That, he proclaimed, would pressure the Mexican government to cough up “a one-time payment of $5-10 billion” for the wall.

Some observers said at the time that the plan would not work, and the Trump administration never tried to enact it. But 2½ years later, with parts of the federal government shut down for three weeks in a budget impasse over Trump's wall, the episode illustrates how his routine application of falsehoods, exaggerations and lies in service of political combat has come back to burn him.

First, then-Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto openly defied Trump and canceled two scheduled visits to the White House, one in 2017 and the other in 2018, in retaliation for Trump's demands that Mexico pay for the wall.

“Mexico will not pay for any wall,” he stated. His successor, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, has shown no willingness to change course.

The Republicans who controlled Congress over the past two years never made funding the wall with taxpayer money a priority.

And now during the shutdown, the White House is searching far and wide for potential pots of money it can tap as the president considers declaring the situation at the border a national emergency — a move that is sure to kick off a legal battle and inflame political tensions.

“The story keeps changing by the day — like everything,” said Cecilia Muñoz, a vice president at New America, a liberal think tank, who served as a White House domestic policy adviser under President Barack Obama. Of Trump's original plan for funding the wall, she added: “They had no earthly idea how they would get Mexico to do that, so they came up with an idea to try to pass the laugh test, which they didn't do.”

Trump and his aides have floated other ideas to pressure Mexico to pay — canceling visas or increasing fees for consular services for Mexicans, and taxing imported goods at 20 percent.

Most recently, Trump has resorted to arguing that Mexico will indirectly pay through a revised trade deal that his administration signed with Mexico and Canada. But that deal has yet to be ratified by Congress, contains no provisions earmarking money for the wall, and economists have doubted whether it would significantly increase revenue flowing to the U.S. treasury.

“Obviously, they're not going to write a check,” Trump said of Mexico on Thursday, before leaving Washington D.C. for a tour of a Border Patrol station in McAllen, Texas. “But they are paying for the wall indirectly, many, many times over, by the really great trade deal we just made.”

News fact-checkers have poked holes in Trump's assertions. And Democrats have not been swayed, confident that the president's strategy of shutting down the government for a publicly funded border wall is a political loser.

“Today is Thursday. That means @realDonaldTrump is lying, again,” Representative Ted Lieu (Democrat-California) wrote on Twitter, referring to Trump's claim about Mexico. “Hard for Democrats to negotiate with @POTUS when he makes stuff up, changes his mind on a whim and lies repeatedly.”

Trump has been promising that Mexico would pay for a wall since before he was a candidate for the White House, and the vow figured prominently in his June 16, 2015, campaign announcement.

“I will build a great, great wall on our southern border,” he declared that day at Trump Tower in New York. “And I will have Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.”

What might have seemed a preposterous boast from a vanity candidate became a staple of his campaign rallies, where supporters chanted “Build the wall!” Trump would often add: “Who's going to pay for the wall?” The crowd would respond: “Mexico!”

By the spring of 2016, after he had emerged as the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination, Trump was under pressure to explain how he would make good on the promise.

In the two-page policy memo, the Trump campaign described using powers under the Patriot Act to compel U.S. financial institutions to block personal remittances to Mexico, which totaled more than $20 billion a year.

Such money is an important source of income for many families in Mexico and other Latin American countries, experts said, and gives those countries' economies a boost. For example, Muñoz recalled that officials from El Salvador cautioned the Obama administration not to end temporary protected status for tens of thousands of Salvadoran nationals living in the United States because sending them home would cut off those funds and seriously disrupt El Salvador’s economy.

“My first reaction was, ‘That sounds counterproductive’,” said Andrew Selee, president of the Migration Policy Institute. “Mexican migration [to the United States] is dropping in part because Mexican migrants are sending money home so more Mexicans can have a dignified life.”

Cutting off such a flow would potentially disrupt their lives and result in more migration from Mexico to the United States, he added.

Experts also said it was highly unlikely that Mexican officials would have acquiesced to what would essentially be a ransom demand from the Trump administration.

“No, it would have launched a trade war,” said Manuel Orozco, an expert on migration and remittances at the Dialogue, a think tank that promotes democratic governance in Latin America. “If they tried to stop national assets in the U.S., the home country would do something retaliatory, and the implications would be far more devastating for the U.S. business sector than to Mexico.”

White House officials did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

In March 2017, Representative Mike D. Rogers (Republican-Alabama) introduced legislation to impose a 2 percent fee on electronic remittances to Mexico and other Latin American countries — with the funds going toward Trump's border wall. The fee would have applied to individuals, not businesses, and would have covered U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents and undocumented immigrants.

“I have long supported the border wall, which will protect Americans,” Rogers said in unveiling the bill, which gained several co-sponsors. It was referred to the House Financial Services Committee, where it languished. A spokeswoman for Rogers did not respond to a request for comment.

Ironically, since Trump's election, remittance transfers have skyrocketed. In 2017, the amount of cash Mexicans in the United States sent home reached an all-time high at nearly $27 billion, an increase of nearly 9 percent from 2015.

Experts cited several factors, including that migrants were so fearful of Trump's threats to crack down on immigration that they increased their transfers.

Looking back, Selee said the Trump campaign was “scrambling to figure out how Mexico would pay for the wall. It was a policy solution to a political statement.”


David Nakamura started at The Washington Post as a summer intern in 1992. After four years as a sports reporter, he moved to the local news staff and wrote about education in Virginia and Maryland and city government in the District. In 2004, he was part of a team that uncovered high levels of lead contamination in Washington D.C. tap water, a series that won the 2005 Selden Ring Award for investigative reporting. He has reported from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Japan.


Related to this topic:

 • VIDEO: The many ways Trump said Mexico would pay for the wall

 • VIDEO: Trump visits Texas in effort to boost argument for border wall

 • Analysis: Trump claims he never said Mexico would cut a check for the wall. Let's go to the tape.


 on: January 11, 2019, 09:44:50 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from The Washington Post…

Raging, weakened Trump is running out of options

Trump is not getting his way, but he's projecting manly action, with the help of Fox News.

By GREG SARGENT | 10:28AM EST — Thursday, January 10, 2019

When asked on January 10 if he would declare a national emergency, President Donald J. Trump said, “If this doesn't work out, I'll probably will do it, maybe definitely.” — Photograph: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post.
When asked on January 10 if he would declare a national emergency, President Donald J. Trump said, “If this doesn't work out,
I'll probably will do it, maybe definitely.” — Photograph: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post.

PRESIDENT TRUMP departed this morning to visit the southern border as part of his floundering effort to sell his wall, but he doubts it will do any good. In private, he reportedly groused that “it's not going to change a damn thing,” but added that he'd been talked into it by his communications advisers, including Bill Shine, who just happens to also be a former executive at Fox News.

It's telling that Shine in particular advised this trip, and in that context, Trump's gripe contains a real insight: The trip is clearly less about rallying public support that might pressure Democrats to relent on the wall — since that won't work — and more about projecting what might be called optics of manly action. A former Fox executive surely understands that what Trump's supporters need to see right now is Trump appearing to act decisively, that is, appearing to take control of events.

Yet it's increasingly obvious that Trump's gestures of action are largely empty ones — and not just on the wall. This is evident on two of the biggest running stories right now — Trump's flirtation with declaring a national emergency to build the border barrier without congressional authorization, and his legal team's noisy public threats to try to quash public release of the special counsel's findings.

Trump just raged on Twitter against Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (Democrat-New York), describing him as “Cryin Chuck”, while denying reports that he slammed the table before storming out of a meeting with Democrats. At that meeting, Trump made no headway, but now he's compensating for it by publicly lashing out with juvenile name-calling, which is supposed to show his supporters that he's “fighting”.

Trump may very well declare a national emergency to build the wall. But new reporting indicates that even if he does, it's not even remotely clear how much of his wall he'd get from it. As Charlie Savage details in a must-read piece, there are multiple legal obstacles standing in his way. It isn't just that the presidential declaration itself would face a legal challenge that would go all the way to the Supreme Court; it would also face multiple lawsuits from landowners along the border.

As one legal expert puts it to Savage: “We're going to be in 2020 before this is resolved.” It very well might get blocked by then, but even if Trump did prevail on all these fronts, it's unclear how much wall he'd have time to add before his re-election campaign, if any. And of course, he might lose, which would mean a Democratic president would halt the project.

Still, the act of declaring of a national emergency to force the wall issue would itself likely drive his supporters into a state of delirium. Which, for Trump, would be the real point of it. This is also the real point of threatening to do it.

Trump and Republicans take themselves hostage

Trump also just raged at the media for supposedly exaggerating Republican splintering over his shutdown strategy, insisting there is “GREAT unity” among them. For Trump supporters, any whiff of weakness or failure on his part can be instantly dispelled by a tweet describing it as a “fake news” fabrication (which also has the virtue of portraying him as “fighting”).

But the reality is quite different. The Washington Examiner's David Drucker reports that even some Republicans believe Trump's position is weakening, and they have discerned a flaw in his strategy. These Republicans point out that behind the scenes, the administration is taking steps to mitigate the impact of the shutdown on real people, such as keeping tax refunds and food stamps flowing, which they say illustrates that the shutdown is rebounding on Trump.

As one GOP strategist puts it: “Republicans have pulled a gun and taken themselves hostage. When you're mitigating the negative impacts against yourself, you have a political problem.”

Meanwhile, Politico reports that even people in the White House believe this dynamic is unlikely to change, because they recognize that Democrats have zero incentive to give him his way.

Sorry, Trump. Mueller's findings will become public.

On another front, The Washington Post reports that Trump's legal team has hatched a new strategy to prevent portions of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's imminent report from seeing the light of day. The idea is to exert executive privilege to argue that Trump's confidential discussions with advisers detailed in the report should not be released, which Democrats fear could limit what the public learns about Trump's efforts to obstruct justice.

Justice Department regulations stipulate that the attorney general has discretion to decide how much of the findings to reveal to Congress, and Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani is loudly threatening to demand that Trump's team sees the report even before the attorney general makes the call. But even if Trump's pick for attorney general gets confirmed and sides with Trump, House Democrats will be able to subpoena the findings. And one legal expert tells The Post it's very likely the courts would rule for public release, as befell Richard Nixon.

But here again, the threat of action by Giuliani has its own obvious importance, conveying to Trump's supporters that his team is at war with Mueller.

The grand illusion

Now, none of this means these actions won't have an impact. They will. The crucial distinction here is that, even if they don't produce the outcomes Trump wants, they will still cause great harm. As historians Kevin Kruse and Julian Zelizer detail, this goes to the heart of the “imperial presidency,” which former presidents like Barack Obama and George W. Bush did empower in their own ways, but which has broken new frontiers under Trump.

Kruse and Zelizer note a fascinating paradox about Trump's imperial presidency: He is shredding norms in a way that will damage our institutions, while also not getting a great deal of what he wants. Yet crucial to his grand illusion is creating the impression that his norm-shredding is producing results: “The imperial presidency is, in many ways, propped up by media partisans who insist that the naked emperor has glorious new clothes”.

Have a look at what “Fox and Friends” aired this morning:

Trump is not making headway on his wall, and he probably can't stop public release of Mueller's findings. But the media partisans are busy putting glorious new clothes on the naked emperor.


Greg Sargent writes The Plum Line blog for The Washington Post, a reported opinion blog with a liberal slant — what you might call “opinionated reporting” from the left. He joined The Post in early 2009, after stints at Talking Points Memo, New York Magazine and the New York Observer. He lives in Maryland with his wife, son and daughter.


Related to this topic:

 • VIDEO: Trump says he ‘probably’ will declare an emergency if there's no wall deal

 • VIDEO: Trump on Mexico paying for the wall: ‘Obviously they're not going to write a check’

 • Sister Norma Pimentel: Welcome to the border, Mr. President

 • Pelosi knows the magic word for beating Trump: ‘No’

 • Trump treats the border like a natural disaster. He even dresses the part.

 • Alyssa Rosenberg: Trump tried to play a normal president on television. The result was very strange.

 • The Washington Post says: Congress gave the president too many powers. Now it must scale them back.


 on: January 11, 2019, 05:21:35 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

from The Washington Post…

Trump's nothingburger speech

The networks got conned.

By NENNIFER RUBIN | 6:50PM EST — Tuesday, January 08, 2019

The president's address to the nation on immigration was littered with falsehoods he's said before. — Photograph: Meg Kelly/The Washington Post.
The president's address to the nation on immigration was littered with falsehoods he's said before.
 — Photograph: Meg Kelly/The Washington Post.

THE ONLY THING surprising about President Trump's address from the Oval Office on Tuesday night was how totally unnecessary and un-newsworthy it was. Trump did not declare he was reopening the government. He did not issue an “emergency” declaration. He did not even offer any new arguments for a border wall that voters say they don't want for a crisis that doesn't exist. Instead, he delivered a weak, unconvincing promise to sit down with Democrats. Never has he looked so helpless and small.

In short, the president snookered the networks into giving him free time to commune with his base. They should not make that mistake again.

The speech, again not surprisingly, was delivered in a wooden cadence. Without a cheering campaign-style rally filled with his cult followers, his words fell flat, and he seemed to lack energy. Another rally might have worked better.

Again, as anticipated, the speech was littered with falsehoods. He claimed there was a growing crisis along the U.S-Mexico border, though illegal crossings are a fraction of what they were in 2000. He bemoaned the influx of heroin, but didn't mention that the vast majority of heroin doesn't come over the border but through airports and other ports of entry. He claimed the wall would be paid for by NAFTA 2.0, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, but that's bunk, and no official has adequately explained how it would work. He falsely claimed that Democrats would not fund border security. In fact, they have offered $1.3 billion. Perhaps his weirdest statement was to claim that African Americans and Hispanics are the groups hurt most by illegal immigration.

Calling it a "humanitarian crisis — a crisis of the heart and a crisis of the soul,” the president did shy away from phony claims about terrorists. But a humanitarian crisis, of course, won't be solved by a wall. Refugees will still come to have their status adjudicated.

It’s difficult to imagine Trump would change the mind of any voter not already devoted to his cause and immunized against reality. To the contrary, one wonders whether Republican members of the House, voting this week on separate bills to reopen departments of the government that have been shut down, will think, “That's all he’s got?” If so, be prepared for a substantial number of them to abandon Trump and vote with Democrats when individual spending bills come to the House floor.

Had Democrats anticipated such a nothingburger speech they might have delivered a simple message in a few seconds: “The president said nothing new. He can't hold the country hostage. Open the government. Mr. President. Real people are being hurt.” Instead, they made a number of now familiar points: Democrats do favor border security; the wall is an expensive, counterproductive solution in search of a problem; and the only crisis is one of governance, which Trump created all by himself.

However, the Democratic leaders were able to get off a fair number of zingers. “Sadly, much of what we have heard from President Trump throughout this senseless shutdown has been full of misinformation and even malice,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Democrat-California) began. “The President has chosen fear. We want to start with the facts.” She reminded the audience that Trump had created the shutdown: “President Trump has chosen to hold hostage critical services for the health, safety and well-being of the American people and withhold the paychecks of 800,000 innocent workers across the nation — many of them veterans. He promised to keep the government shut down for ‘months or years’ — no matter whom it hurts. That's just plain wrong.” They also debunked the claim that Democrats did not want border security. “We all agree that we need to secure our borders, while honoring our values: we can build the infrastructure and roads at our ports of entry; we can install new technology to scan cars and trucks for drugs coming into our nation; we can hire the personnel we need to facilitate trade and immigration at the border; and we can fund more innovation to detect unauthorized crossings,” Pelosi said. She correctly stated that this was a humanitarian challenge, but that Trump had made it worse.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (Democrat-New York) picked up from there. “We don't govern by temper tantrum. No president should pound the table and demand he gets his way or else the government shuts down, hurting millions of Americans who are treated as leverage.” He continued: “There is bipartisan legislation — supported by Democrats and Republicans – to reopen government while allowing debate over border security to continue. There is no excuse for hurting millions of Americans over a policy difference.” He closed with a plea to reopen the government.

This may have been the only modern presidential address where the response was better than the president's. Taking a step back, it's difficult to figure out why Trump did this. When Republicans bolt, it will seem even more like a personal rebuke than it would be had he not given the speech. His weak performance is unlikely to reduce Democrats' resolve; in fact, they may see him on the ropes and believe him more vulnerable for a knockout.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Republican-Kentucky) is going to have a hard time continuing to shirk responsibility for the shutdown. His members were antsy before, and the lack of clear direction from the president is likely to raise their anxiety level still further. McConnell says he is waiting for Trump to make his position clear. By now, he should know it's a fruitless endeavor. Maybe it is time for McConnell to get serious, put a bill on the Senate floor and dare Trump to veto it. Otherwise, the government will remain closed for a good deal longer.


Jennifer Rubin writes reported opinion from a center-right perspective for The Washington Post. She covers a range of domestic and foreign policy issues and provides insight into the conservative movement, the Republican Party and threats to Western democracies. Rubin, who is also an MSNBC contributor, came to The Post after three years with Commentary magazine. Prior to her career in journalism, Rubin practiced labor law for two decades, an experience that informs and enriches her work. She is a mother of two sons and lives in Northern Virginia.


Related to this topic:

 • VIDEO: Trump's full address to the nation on border security

 • VIDEO: Schumer and Pelosi's full response to Trump's border address

 • VIDEO: Trump and Deocrats spar over shutdown messaging, border wall

 • VIDEO: Fact-checking President Trump's Oval Office address

 • Fact-checking President Trump's Oval Office address on immigration

 • Trump's prime-time address on the border wall shutdown, annotated

 • Did Trump's Oval Office address change anything?

 • Trump's Oval Office address was a pure propaganda opportunity. Networks shouldn't allow it next time.


 on: January 11, 2019, 12:34:27 am 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

 on: January 09, 2019, 11:47:01 pm 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

 on: January 09, 2019, 10:10:12 am 
Started by Kiwithrottlejockey - Last post by Kiwithrottlejockey

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