Thursday, February 17, 2022

Last Call For Orange Meltdown, Con't

Yet another significant legal loss for Donald Trump this week as a NY judge ordered him and Ivanka and Junior to turn over evidence to the NY Attorney General's office and to sit for depositions in the civil trial against him.
The New York attorney general can question Donald J. Trump and two of his adult children under oath as part of a civil inquiry into his business practices, a judge ruled on Thursday, rejecting the former president’s effort to block the interviews.

The inquiry by the attorney general, Letitia James, and a parallel criminal investigation led by the Manhattan district attorney are examining whether Mr. Trump improperly inflated the value of his assets to receive favorable loans.

Lawyers for the Trump family had sought to prohibit Ms. James, a Democrat, from interviewing Mr. Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump. They had argued that she was politically biased against Mr. Trump and was inappropriately using her civil inquiry to aid the district attorney’s criminal investigation, which she is also participating in.

But the judge, Arthur F. Engoron, wrote that “this argument completely misses the mark.”

He ruled in favor of Ms. James’s lawyers, who had asked that the former president and the two adult children be interviewed in the next three weeks. The order also requires that the former president provide the attorney general with documents she sought in her subpoena.

“Today, justice prevailed,” Ms. James said in a statement, adding, “No one is above the law.” The Trump Organization did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The ruling does not mean that Ms. James will automatically receive the answers she is seeking. Mr. Trump and his children can invoke their constitutional right to not incriminate themselves, as Mr. Trump’s other adult son, Eric Trump, did when questioned by the attorney general’s office in October 2020. The Trump family can also appeal the decision.

The judge’s decision followed a fiery virtual hearing in State Supreme Court on Thursday, during which lawyers for Mr. Trump and the attorney general made their cases. Several times, Mr. Trump’s lawyers became so heated that Judge Engoron and his law clerk had to call for a timeout — raising their hands in the shape of a “T,” a gesture more often seen at a sporting event than in a courtroom.

Although Ms. James had signaled in court papers that she had amassed significant evidence against Mr. Trump’s family business — she has accused the Trump Organization of engaging in “fraudulent or misleading” practices — she has said that she needs to question Mr. Trump and his children before determining her next move.

Mr. Trump and his children sought to block the questioning, and Ms. James responded in a court filing last month, arguing that there was “heightened need” for testimony from the three family members. She said that by questioning them, she would be able to determine who was responsible for the misstatements and omissions that the organization made in its financial documents.

Because Ms. James’s inquiry is civil, she cannot bring criminal charges. If she finds evidence of criminal wrongdoing, she can file a lawsuit against Mr. Trump, his organization or others involved in the business. In last month’s filing, Ms. James said that her lawyers had not yet reached a final decision on a lawsuit but argued that “the grounds for conducting the investigation are beyond reproach
The judge agreed with NY AG Tish James, saying in his ruling that there was "copious evidence" of possible financial fraud committed by the Trump Organization.
Of course, the Trump lawyers plan to appeal in order to keep Trump and his kids from having to give depositions for as long as they can. They have to, because the moment the clock runs out and they have to sit under oath, things start going very badly for all of them. 

Trump increasingly has to run for President in 2024, if only to dodge the ruinous legal consequences unless he wins.

Ukraine In The Membrane, Con't

As I've been saying for weeks now (and so has the Biden administration who has far better intel than little ol' me) any Russian invasion of Ukraine would be preceded by a false flag pretext for war in which Russian troops would enter the country in order to "protect Russian interests and human rights" in the pro-Russian Caucasus and Donbas areas of Ukraine that Russian troops already occupy and have occupied for eight years now.

Unfortunately, we've reached that stage today.

Ukraine's military and the Russian-backed separatists it has battled for eight years in the country's eastern Donbas region both accused the other side of opening fire on Thursday in violation of ceasefire agreements that have been shaky, at best, since they were signed seven years ago.

As the reported shelling raised tensions — and despite Russia's claims to be pulling forces back from Ukraine's borders — the Biden administration said "evidence on the ground" showed Russia was "moving toward an imminent invasion" of its neighbor.

The United States and its NATO partners have dismissed Moscow's assertions of an initial force drawdown along Ukraine's northern, eastern and southern borders, saying that President Vladimir Putin's military appears, in reality, to be bolstering troop numbers, not reducing them.

America and its allies have also warned for weeks that Russia could try to stage a "false-flag" incident — including a faked attack by Ukrainian forces on the rebels in Donbas — to use as a pretext to invade Ukraine. On Thursday, amid the claims of shelling from both sides, NATO Secretary Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance was "concerned" that Russia was trying to do just that.

With U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken making an unscheduled stop in New York on Thursday to address a Security Council meeting requested by Ukraine, a senior State Department official echoed Stoltenberg's concerns about possible Russian preparations to fabricate a pretext for an invasion.
The playbook should seem eerily familiar here. It's the same one Dubya used to invade Iraq after 9/11. 

Putin's not a stupid man. He knows what works and what he can get away with, and increasingly it looks like he's going to invade in the days ahead. The question was always what NATO's response would be, and frankly there's no appetite here in the States to defend Ukraine with US troops.

Not after, well, two decades in Afghanistan (and 12 years in Iraq).

Hold on, folks. Things just got serious.

School Of Hard Right Knocks, Local Edition, Con't

Here in Kentucky, Republicans are trying to figure out just how racist and bigoted they want public schools to be forced to be, with a number of competing bills to stop the dreaded "Critical Race Theory" from ever being forced down kids' throats or something, despite it definitely not being taught anywhere in this damn state. The results are laughably unconstitutional bills that not only make teaching the sobering failures of American history impossible, the latest state Senate bill actually mandates indoctrination of right-wing Republican dogma.

In response to outcry over "critical race theory," a top Kentucky Republican filed a bill outlining what and how kids should be taught about the nation's history.

Touching on themes from measures in the House aimed at eradicating "CRT" from classrooms, Senate Bill 138 clarifies that teachers can discuss historical events such as slavery and oppression but should note such things ran counter to the country's founding values.

It would also prohibit schools from requiring educators to discuss current events with students or participate in race-related training.

The bill from Sen. Max Wise, a Campbellsville Republican who chairs the chamber's education committee, says lessons should be consistent with a set of American principles.

Among them are the values that all people are created equal and individuals are not responsible for things those of the same race or sex did. People should be judged by their character, not their race or sex, the bill says.

Students should be taught slavery, segregation and racial discrimination are "contrary to the fundamental American promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," it says, but blaming racial disparities solely on the nation's history is "destructive to the unification of our nation."

Teachers would need to remain consistent with the notion that any American can succeed when they are "given sufficient opportunity and is committed to seizing that opportunity through hard work, pursuit of education, and good citizenship," the bill continues.

The measure's tone is "a little more positive" than two bills filed in the House aimed at curbing how teachers discuss race, Angela Billings, a spokeswoman for the Senate Republicans, said.

It doesn't preclude conversations from happening, she said, but provides some parameters for them.

The House bills sparked outcry from educators, who said the broad list of banned topics would block them from teaching the ugly parts of the country's history.

SB 138 attempts to address those concerns, saying the bill should not limit "impartial" instruction on controversial topics and the oppression of marginalized groups.

But school districts would not be allowed to require teachers to discuss controversial public policy topics or current events with students. Educators who do take on these conversations would be required to do so from "diverse and contending perspectives" without deferring to any perspective.

"It is clear from the bills that continue to be introduced that the Republican-led legislature is intent on limiting discourse about the realities of our history," KY 120 United-AFT, a group of educators and public employees, said in reaction to the bill. "We do not have to wonder whose reality counts when we see this kind of legislation."

If passed, around two dozen historical documents and speeches would be required to be taught in middle and high school history classes.

Many of them — including the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and court opinions in Brown v. Board of Education — are likely already taught. Others, including Ronald Reagan's 1964 "A Time for Choosing" speech, are a little less common.
So yes, next year Kentucky classrooms will be filled with "America is the greatest nation that ever existed", Reagan's awful anti-government, anti-Black speeches, and GOP doctrine. Current events like the fact these kids will grow up in increasingly worse climate events and mass shootings? Nobody would dare.
There's your "indoctrination", folks.
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