Sunday, August 19, 2018

Last Call For The Coaled Hard Truth For Kentucky

Kentucky coal jobs are never coming back, and when Donald Trump promised the people of this state that he would bring them back, he lied to us, plain and simple, in order to get our votes.

Personal income has gone down in several Eastern Kentucky counties where coal employment has been decimated in recent years, according to a report from the Appalachian Regional Commission.

In Harlan County, for instance, per capita market income fell from $13,053 in 2015 to $12,579 in 2016, while in Perry County it dropped from $19,726 in 2015 to $19,043 in 2016, the most recent year covered in the ARC’s calculations.

Pike, Knott, Bell, Breathitt, Leslie, Letcher and Johnson also were among the Eastern Kentucky coal counties that saw a drop in per capita market income.

The declines were a factor in income in Appalachian Kentucky losing ground in comparison to the U.S. level.

Per capita market income in Appalachian Kentucky equaled 48.3 percent of the national level in 2015, but that fell to 46.8 in 2016, according to the ARC report.

Nationally, the income figure went up in 2016 to $40,679, but in Kentucky’s Appalachian counties, it edged down from $19,204 in 2015 to $19,022 in 2016.

That was the lowest level of any area in Appalachia, which the federal government defines as covering all of West Virginia, about half of Kentucky and parts of 11 other states

Per capita market income is a measure of an area’s total personal income not counting transfer payments such as public assistance, according to the ARC report.

Coal jobs in Eastern Kentucky have plummeted from 14,619 in 2011 to 3,909 in the second quarter of this year, according to the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet.

Studies have cited competition from cheap natural gas for electricity generation as the biggest factor in coal’s decline, though other factors have played a role, including efforts to beef up environmental rules in the Obama administration and the rise of renewable energy such as wind power.

There has been no significant increase in coal jobs in Kentucky under President Donald Trump

And there never will be, Kentucky.  Coal jobs are never, ever, ever coming back. Stop voting for the party that wants to give our money to billionaires.

You Never Go The Full Orwell, Rudy

We've finally reached the point where Donald Trump's lawyer is on TV telling the world literally that "truth isn't truth" anymore.

President Donald Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani said Sunday that a 2016 meeting at Trump Tower between top Trump campaign officials and a Russian government ally could not be evidence of collusion even though the intention of the meeting was to get damaging information on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press," Giuliani brushed aside the idea that special counsel Robert Mueller could rely on the meeting for any possible charges against the president.

"It turned out to be a meeting about another subject and it was not pursued at all. Any meeting in regards to getting information about your opponent is something any candidate's staff would take," Giuliani said on "Meet the Press."

"The president of the United States wasn't at that meeting, he didn't know about that meeting, he found out about it after. By the time he found out about it, it was nothing. If this is their case for collusion, good luck Mueller."

It's not, any everyone knows there's far more evidence against Trump, but we play the kayfabe game anyway.  It's all professional wrestling.

Giuliani also threw more cold water on the prospect of the president testifying in the special counsel's investigation, arguing he wants to avoid Trump getting "trapped into perjury."

"When you tell me that, you know, he should testify because he’s going to tell the truth and he shouldn’t worry, well that’s so silly because it’s somebody’s version of the truth, not the truth," he said.

"Truth isn't truth,"
Giuliani added, pointing to the accusations that Trump discussed the investigation into his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, in a meeting with then-FBI director James Comey, who Trump later fired.

"Donald Trump says: I didn't talk about Flynn with Comey. Comey says: You did talk about it. So tell me, what the truth is?

Up is down, black is white, and the truth is what Dear Leader Trump says it is, citizen.  Anything else is Fake News.

Sunday Long Read: Anything But Vanilla

The BBC has put together this week's Sunday Long Read on one of the oldest flavorings in the world, vanilla. In remote Madagascar villages, vanilla beans are more precious than gold - or lives sometimes -- and thieves and criminals know it.  The demand for natural vanilla in products has skyrocketed in the last few years, and that's put a major commodity squeeze on the beans and their producers.

A barefoot farmer is making his way through a forest.

Quiet drops of rain tumble steadily through the night, picked out in the light from his torch.

The rusty machete he holds isn’t for cutting down vines or chopping away stubborn branches - it is a defence against thieves.

Lots of other men - farmers like him - are out in the rain, patrolling the forest. For the past three months, they have left their homes every night and made the long journey into the plantations to protect their crop.

But this is not an illegal coca plantation, or anything like it. In fact, these farmers are growing a crop whose name is a byword for something boring.

The men need weapons to guard against robbers who roam the countryside looking for one thing - Madagascan vanilla.
It’s easy to see the raised pattern of dots on the smooth green skin of the pods.
They show that these vanilla vines belong to Leon Charles.

"That’s my name. My nickname - people here call me Baba.”

Leon is with his wife, Oristin, in their garden, where they grow coffee and vanilla in the village of Ambanizana, at the edge of the Masoala National Park, in the north-east corner of Madagascar.

It’s a hard place to get to - there are no roads to speak of. From the island’s capital, Antananarivo, it takes two flights, two hours on a speedboat and another 30 minutes in a canoe to reach Ambanizana.

The village is full of music. Upbeat dance melodies blare through the sheer, pink curtain covering the doorway of Leon’s home - a rectangular, wooden structure with a peaked roof.

Here, the forest meets the sea and the high humidity, shade, and moderate temperatures make it perfect for growing vanilla.

Each vine that Leon prunes holds pods - also known as beans - that will eventually retail for more than $150 (£120), once they are dried.

To deter theft, all the farmers in the surrounding area are stamping their names, or sometimes serial numbers, on to individual pods while they’re still on the vine. Even when the pods are dried, the markings can be made out.

Leon was robbed before last year’s harvest - and it was devastating for his family. “I was working in my [nearby] rice field when they quickly took advantage in order to steal,” he says. “I was so sad, I even cried, because we lost everything. I didn’t have money to send the children to school. Our household has been experiencing hardship for a whole year.”

But it could have been even worse.

 It's a good story, and one of the oldest in history: the 21st century spice trade is still all about scarcity, quality, and exploitation.  And it's the poor subsistence farmers who always lose in the end.

It's Mueller Time, Con't

I do remember saying back last September that White House counsel Don McGahn should cooperate with Special Counsel Mueller regarding his investigation:

And given Trump's long, long history of screwing his employees whenever it becomes slightly inconvenient for him personally, if I were Don McGahn I'd strongly consider rolling over on Trump before I ended up with a very long federal prison sentence.

Guess what we just found out over the weekend?

The White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, has cooperated extensively in the special counsel investigation, sharing detailed accounts about the episodes at the heart of the inquiry into whether President Trump obstructed justice, including some that investigators would not have learned of otherwise, according to a dozen current and former White House officials and others briefed on the matter.

In at least three voluntary interviews with investigators that totaled 30 hours over the past nine months, Mr. McGahn described the president’s furor toward the Russia investigation and the ways in which he urged Mr. McGahn to respond to it. He provided the investigators examining whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice a clear view of the president’s most intimate moments with his lawyer.

Among them were Mr. Trump’s comments and actions during the firing of the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, and Mr. Trump’s obsession with putting a loyalist in charge of the inquiry, including his repeated urging of Attorney General Jeff Sessions to claim oversight of it. Mr. McGahn was also centrally involved in Mr. Trump’s attempts to fire the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, which investigators might not have discovered without him.

For a lawyer to share so much with investigators scrutinizing his client is unusual. Lawyers are rarely so open with investigators, not only because they are advocating on behalf of their clients but also because their conversations with clients are potentially shielded by attorney-client privilege, and in the case of presidents, executive privilege.

“A prosecutor would kill for that,” said Solomon L. Wisenberg, a deputy independent counsel in the Whitewater investigation, which did not have the same level of cooperation from President Bill Clinton’s lawyers. “Oh my God, it would have been phenomenally helpful to us. It would have been like having the keys to the kingdom.”

Mr. McGahn’s cooperation began in part as a result of a decision by Mr. Trump’s first team of criminal lawyers to collaborate fully with Mr. Mueller. The president’s lawyers have explained that they believed their client had nothing to hide and that they could bring the investigation to an end quickly.

Mr. McGahn and his lawyer, William A. Burck, could not understand why Mr. Trump was so willing to allow Mr. McGahn to speak freely to the special counsel and feared Mr. Trump was setting up Mr. McGahn to take the blame for any possible illegal acts of obstruction, according to people close to him. So he and Mr. Burck devised their own strategy to do as much as possible to cooperate with Mr. Mueller to demonstrate that Mr. McGahn did nothing wrong.

It is not clear that Mr. Trump appreciates the extent to which Mr. McGahn has cooperated with the special counsel. The president wrongly believed that Mr. McGahn would act as a personal lawyer would for clients and solely defend his interests to investigators, according to a person with knowledge of his thinking.

In fact, Mr. McGahn laid out how Mr. Trump tried to ensure control of the investigation, giving investigators a mix of information both potentially damaging and favorable to the president. Mr. McGahn cautioned to investigators that he never saw Mr. Trump go beyond his legal authorities, though the limits of executive power are murky.

I'm not sure who leaked this, but it's pellucid clear that McGahn has been in the process of saving his own ass for the last nine months. The phrases "including some that investigators would not have learned of otherwise" and "investigators might not have discovered without him" should be giving Trump a heart attack right now, because it seems to me this is the biggest rollover yet on Trump himself.

Remember, McGahn threatening to quit as WH counsel was the reason why Trump was stopped from firing Mueller 14 months ago. Bloomberg's Tim O'Brien said as much eight months ago that McGahn not only leaked the NY Times story in January about Trump attempting to fire Mueller, but that McGahn's cooperation with Mueller was a distinct possibility.

If McGahn is now in Mueller's crosshairs, he might have decided that the simplest solution is to cooperate with the probe and turn over information in exchange for gentler treatment. In that scenario, McGahn becomes the source, directly or indirectly, of all kinds of interesting stuff for investigators and the media to ponder.

The timeframe of the NY Times story this weekend matches up with McGahn being the leaker then.  It makes a lot of sense that he would also be the leaker now, especially if McGahn felt Mueller was in trouble again.

Of course, there's the very real possibility that McGahn is cooperating to not only protect himself from the obstruction investigation, but to insulate himself from the Russia conspiracy investigation as well. As Marcy Wheeler reminds us, McGahn's days prior to being WH counsel at the FEC meant McGahn was the deciding vote to kill a 2011 investigation into Trump's 2012 campaign PAC run by Michael Cohen, with help from Roger Stone.

There's a reason why McGahn is Trump's White House counsel, in other words.

Stay tuned.

Related Posts with Thumbnails