Monday, June 4, 2018

Last Call For It's Mueller Time, Con't

Donald Trump is on the Twitter warpath again, signaling his imperial presidency is about to take a very dark and authoritarian turn, and soon.

President Trump declared Monday that the appointment of the special counsel in the Russia investigation is “totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL!” and asserted that he has the power to pardon himself, raising the prospect that he might take extraordinary action to immunize himself from the ongoing probe. 
In a pair of early-morning tweets, Mr. Trump suggested that he would not have to pardon himself because he had “done nothing wrong.” But he insisted that “numerous legal scholars” have concluded that he has the absolute right to do so, a claim that vastly overstates the legal thinking on the issue. 
In fact, many constitutional experts dispute Mr. Trump’s position on his pardon power, an issue for which there has been no definitive ruling. 
Mr. Trump did not elaborate in the tweets about the legal basis for his claim that the appointment of Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel in the Russia case, was unconstitutional. In that tweet, he insisted that “we play the game because I, unlike the Democrats, have done nothing wrong!”

For many months after Mr. Mueller’s appointment last year, Mr. Trump avoided directly challenging the special counsel. His lawyers at the time argued that the best way to bring the probe to an end was to cooperate fully and avoid public criticism. 
But that strategy changed after Mr. Trump overhauled his legal team, and in recent weeks, the president and his new attorneys have become openly dismissive of Mr. Mueller and his team of prosecutors. 
Still, Monday’s tweets by the president went further than before in attempting to undermine the legal basis for the investigation into whether people on Mr. Trump’s campaign colluded with Russian meddling during the election, and whether anyone in the administration tried to cover up their activities. 

It's only a matter of time before he fires Rosenstein and/or Mueller.  I keep saying that November may be our only chance, but at this rate he's going to declare himself dictator well before the election.

The Jordan Rules

Massive anti-austerity protests in Jordan over the last week have resulted in King Abdullah sacking PM Hani Mulki and calling for the formation of a new government in an effort to tamp down tensions in the country.

Jordan’s King Abdullah on Monday asked Omar al-Razzaz, a former World Bank economist, to form a new government after Hani Mulki resigned as prime minister following the country’s biggest protests in years, a ministerial source said.

The move appeared aimed at defusing popular anger over planned tax hikes that have brought thousands of people onto the streets in the capital Amman and other parts of Jordan since last week. Razzaz was education minister in Mulki’s government. 
Jordan, a staunch U.S. ally that has a peace treaty with Israel, has remained stable through years of regional turmoil. 
Police chief Major General Fadel al-Hamoud said security forces had detained 60 people for breaking the law during the protests and 42 security force members had been injured, but protests remained under control.

“Rest assured, Jordan is a safe and secure country, and things are under control,” said Major General Hussein Hawatmeh, head of the Gendarmerie security department, appearing along with Hamoud at a news conference. 
Public anger has grown over government policies since a steep general sales tax hike earlier this year and the abolition of bread subsidies, both measures driven by the International Monetary Fund
Political sources earlier said Abdullah had summoned Mulki for an audience in the king’s palace.

In a sign the tax hikes could be shelved, the Petra news agency, citing the speaker of parliament, said lawmakers were on course to ask the king’s permission to hold an exceptional session, with a majority demanding the changes be withdrawn. 
Mulki, a business-friendly politician, was appointed in May 2016 and given the responsibility of reviving a sluggish economy and business sentiment hit by regional turmoil. The tax increases have caused his popularity to plummet. 
The protests widened on Saturday after Mulki refused to scrap a bill increasing personal and corporate taxes, saying it was up to parliament to decide.

The IMF fiddling with economies is not always a good thing, in fact, it rarely is.  King Abdullah is cagey enough to understand what's going on however and he's more than happy to throw his technocrats under the bus to save his own neck.  But Jordanian protesters know what they're doing in the post-Arab Spring age of social media, too.

Jordanians involved in the anti-government protests in opposition to the draft income tax law appear to be well-organized, mature in their approach and focused on specific goals. 
The demonstrations started on Wednesday in Amman, organized by professional unions against the draft tax laws required by the International Monetary Fund. 
But unlike in the protests staged in Jordan in 2011 at the height of the Arab Spring, observers said most participants are not ideological and the protests are not limited to just men
Hiba Obeidat, who took part in the 2011 demonstrations, told Arab News that the current protests reflect a young population that has matured. 
This is different from the first Arab Spring. Participants want to make sure that the mistakes of 2011 are not repeated
“Participants want to be sure no external group hijacks the current protests, as happened in the Arab Spring when the Muslim Brotherhood benefitted from the protests of the largely secular participants.

And they got results, and quickly.  Would that the US worked that way these days.  Or ever.

The Maria Massacre: Los Olvidados Muertos

The shocking report last week that the true death toll in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria last September exceeded that of Hurricane Katrina or 9/11 is something America is no longer being silent on, and if Democrats have any heart, they absolutely need to pound the Trump regime on its devastating failure that cost thousands of American lives.

Days after a new study from researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health estimated that the death toll from Hurricane Maria may be as high as 4,645 people, mainly because of delayed medical care, hundreds of protesters gathered on Saturday in the shadow of the United Nations to demand that the international organization audit the number of casualties.

The Puerto Rican government is reviewing its official death toll from the storm, which it said in December was 64.

“If it were 5,000 kittens, there would be outrage,” said Elizabeth Yeampierre, executive director of Uprose, a Latino organization in Brooklyn. “If it was 5,000 dogs, there would be outrage. If it was 5,000 blonde-haired, blue-eyed women, there would be outrage.”

The protest was organized by the Collective Action for Puerto Rico, a coalition of faith-based and labor organizations. Protesters held signs saying “Puerto Rican lives matter” and “If you are not angry you are not paying attention.”

They took off their shoes as a symbol of the people who died as a result of the storm but who were not immediately counted, and called for more attention to be paid to the hurricane’s aftermath in the form of more assistance for people still struggling on the island as hurricane season begins.

“Sisters and brothers in this country forget that the people of Puerto Rico are our fellow Americans,” said Linda Sarsour, who was one of the lead organizers of the Women’s March in Washington. “They deserve to be treated just like any American in any part of this country.”

United Nations officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trump failed Puerto Rico, and thousands died as a result.  Period.  And there's every reason to believe that the actual death toll could be higher.

Researchers behind the study, which was published on Tuesday in The New England Journal of Medicine, visited close to 3,300 randomly selected households across Puerto Rico. They found that 38 people from those households died in the months after the storm.

Using their independent estimate of the number of deaths, researchers calculated the mortality rate after the hurricane and compared it with mortality rates from 2016. Researchers found a 62 percent increase in the mortality rate from Sept. 20, 2017, when the hurricane hit, through Dec. 31, 2017, compared with the same time period in 2016.

The study found that the official death toll of 64 was a “substantial underestimate of the true burden of mortality after Hurricane Maria,” and that the estimated 4,645-person death toll could exceed 5,000.

Puerto Rican officials said in December that they planned to revise the official death toll, counting direct and indirect storm deaths. The commonwealth commissioned a study on Hurricane Maria deaths from the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University, which is expected to release the first part of its review this summer.

No matter how you estimate it, the reality is that the "official" death toll of 64 is one of most mendacious government lies in existence. Los Olvidados Muertos, the Forgotten Dead, will not be forgotten any longer.

Especially in November.


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