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“Late Term Abortion”

The Washington Post points out there is no precise medical or legal definition of “late-term,” and “many doctors and scientists avoid that language, calling it imprecise and misleading.”

The Daily Beast also notes that only 1.3 percent of abortions are performed after 21 weeks of gestation, and the idea that a woman can get an abortion moments before giving birth is “not how medical care works.”

The use of “dog whistles” aka “coded” labels has been common for many years but until recently has been out of the mainstream of conversation. The current administration aided by a neer do well Congress has brought these “coded” statements and words to common use. Along with this common usage the administration has trashed agreements put in place to prevent war and improve trade. Tariffs (taxes) put in place to offset the “tax” policy that was supposed to benefit everyday Americans and threats to bad actors who were in a state of containment with the approval of our now alienated allies. The administration has in a few years undermined our economy, foreign affairs and put us on an isolation footing all because of “dog whistles”.

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Politics

Robert Reich,The Guardian 5 hours ago
In retrospect, what’s most disturbing about “Sharpiegate” isn’t Trump’s clumsy effort to doctor a National Weather Service map or even his brazen move to get the same agency to lie on his behalf.
Related: Republican Trump challengers warn of totalitarian drift in party
It’s how utterly petty his motive was. We’ve had presidents trying to cover up a sexual liaison with an intern and a botched burglary, but never have we had one who went to such lengths to cover up an inaccurate weather forecast. Alabama being hit by a hurricane? Friends, this is not rational behavior.
Trump also cancelled a meeting with the Taliban at Camp David. The meeting was to have been secret. It was scheduled for the week of the anniversary of 9/11. He cancelled it by tweet.
Does any of this strike you as even remotely rational?
Before that, Trump cancelled a state visit to Denmark because Denmark wouldn’t sell Greenland to the US. Hello? Greenland wasn’t for sale. The US no longer buys populated countries. The state visit had been planned for months.
He has repeatedly told senior officials to explore using nuclear bombs to stop hurricanes hitting the US. He believes video games cause mass shootings. He thinks climate change is no big deal.
No president has ever been sent packing. Nixon resigned because he saw it coming. Trump would sooner start a civil war
He says trade wars are “good and easy to win”. He insists it’s Chinese rather than US consumers who pay his tariffs. He “orders” American firms to stop doing business in China.
He calls the chairman of the Federal Reserve an “enemy”. He retweets a comedian’s sick suggestion that the Clintons were responsible for the suicide of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
I think we have to face the truth that no one seems to want to admit. This is no longer a case of excessive narcissism or grandiosity. We’re not simply dealing with an unusually large ego.
The president of the United States is seriously, frighteningly, dangerously unstable. And he’s getting worse by the day.
Such a person in the Oval Office can do serious damage.
What to do? We can vote him out of office in 14 months’ time. But he could end the world in seven and a half seconds.
There’s also the question of whether he’ll willingly leave.
With rumors flying that Trump might exchange him for another lapdog, who knows? Maybe Pence will discover some cojones
Can you imagine the lengths he will go to win? Will he get Russia to do more dirty work? Instruct the justice department to arrest his opponent? Issue an executive order banning anyone not born in the US from voting? Start another war?
By the time the courts order him to cease whatever unconstitutional effort he’s making to remain in office, the election may be over. Or he’ll just ignore the courts.
It’s almost too late for an impeachment. Besides, no president has ever been sent packing. Nixon resigned because he saw it coming. Trump would sooner start a civil war.
Also, being unstable is not an impeachable offense.
Two Republicans who have announced primary challenges to him have suggested another possibility: the 25th amendment.
Former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld recently tweeted that Trump is “a clear and present danger” to the US, with the hashtag “#25thAmendment”. Former Illinois representative Joe Walsh says the amendment should be “looked at”.

Last February, former deputy director and acting director of the FBI Andrew McCabe said officials in the Department of Justice had discussed using the 25th.
Ratified in 1967, it allows the vice-president to become “acting president” when “the vice-president and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or such other body as Congress may by law provide” declare a president incapacitated.
The only attribute Vice-President Mike Pence has displayed so far is sycophancy: most recent illustration, overnighting at Trump’s golf resort in Ireland. But with rumors flying that Trump might exchange him for another lapdog, who knows? Maybe Pence will discover some cojones.
Another problem: the amendment doesn’t define who “principal officers” are and the constitution never mentions the word “cabinet”. If Trump thought a revolt was brewing, he’d fire everyone instantly.
I wouldn’t completely rule out the 25th amendment, but the only thing that’s going to get Pence and a majority of Trump’s lieutenants to pull the plug before Trump pulls it on them may be so horrific that the damage done to America and the world would be way beyond anything we’ve experienced to date.
Which is to say, be careful what you wish for.
Pray that we make it through the next 14 months. Then do everything in your power to remove this man from office.
Robert Reich, a former US secretary of labor, is professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley and the author of Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few and The Common Good. He is also a columnist for Guardian USA.

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Where is the money that was taken from the Pentagon budgets? MA.

Ellie Bufkin 7 hrs ago, The Examiner

The Trump administration reportedly canceled three projects to build parts of the barrier wall at the U.S. southern border in Arizona and California. A Friday court filing by the legal team representing the Trump administration in a civil suit indicated funds for the three construction projects were insufficient to continue building.

The lawsuit, filed against the president and several Cabinet members in February, accuses the administration of illegally declaring a state of emergency in order to obtain funding for the border wall. The Center for Biological Diversity and several other environmental organizations are named as plaintiffs in the case.

“Of the 58 times presidents have previously declared emergencies under the National Emergencies Act, none involved using the emergency powers to fund a policy goal after a president failed to meet that goal through foreign diplomacy (having Mexico pay for the wall) or the congressional appropriations process,” the original complaint said. “Never before has a president used the emergency powers granted to him by Congress in such a manner.”
The lawsuit calls for the president and his administration to cease construction of the barrier at the southern border, citing concerns for wildlife.
“Of particular concern to Plaintiffs and their members, border barriers prevent the passage of wildlife, and could result in the extirpation of jaguars, ocelots, and other endangered species within the United States,” it reads. “The use of funds for such barriers that on information and belief are directed at least in part to investigating and where relevant prosecuting organized criminal activities related to illegal wildlife trafficking further harms Plaintiffs’ interests in protecting and preserving biological diversity.”
The Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental activist group, boasts on their website that they have sued the Trump administration and the president personally 158 times.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection did not immediately respond to the Washington Examiner’s request for comment on the matter.

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Thanks To Garry Trudeau.

Doonesbury Comic Strip for September 15, 2019

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By CALVIN WOODWARD and HOPE YEN, Associated Press
1 hr ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — The country described by the Democrats running for president is mired in child poverty, riven with economic unfairness and broken in its approach to health care, crime and guns. The country presented by President Donald Trump is roaring and ascendant — and, hey, how about those moderating prescription drug prices?

The reality, of course, is more complex than this tale of two nations.
After three turns on the debate stage by the Democratic candidates, it’s become clear that for the most part they hew to actual statistics and other fundamentals more closely than does Trump, who routinely says false things and repeats them as if willing them into being.
That’s not to say the Democrats are beacons of accuracy. Some will use older statistics when newer ones don’t suit their argument or give a selective reading of history when that fits the story they want to tell. Sometimes what they don’t say speaks loudly, as when they won’t acknowledge the cost of their plans or the likely tax hit on average people.

GUNS
TRUMP: “Democrats want to confiscate guns from law-abiding Americans so they’re totally defenseless when somebody walks into their house with a gun.” — remarks Thursday to House Republicans in Baltimore.

THE FACTS: That’s a vast overstatement. No Democratic candidates have proposed stripping all guns from Americans. One of the top 10 candidates, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, has proposed confiscating assault-type weapons such as the AK-47 through a mandatory buyback program.
___
MIGRANTS
JOE BIDEN, on the treatment of migrants in his time as Barack Obama’s vice president: “We didn’t lock people up in cages.” — Democratic presidential debate Thursday.
THE FACTS: Yes they did.
The “cages” — chain-link enclosures inside border facilities where migrants have been temporarily housed, separated by sex and age — were built and used by the Obama administration. The Trump administration has been using the same facilities.

Democrats routinely accuse Trump of using cages for migrant children without acknowledging the same enclosures were employed when Biden was vice president.
___
HEALTH CARE
BERNIE SANDERS: “Every study done shows that ‘Medicare for All’ is the most cost-effective approach to providing health care to every man, woman and child in this country.” — Democratic debate.
THE FACTS: No, not every study.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said in a report earlier this year that total spending under a single-payer system, such as the one proposed by Sanders, “might be higher or lower than under the current system depending on the key features of the new system.”

Those features involve details about payment rates for hospitals and doctors, which are not fully spelled out by Sanders, as well as the estimated cost of generous benefits that include long-term care services and no copays and deductibles for comprehensive medical care.
A report this year by the Rand think tank estimated that Medicare for All would modestly raise national health spending, the opposite of what the Vermont senator intends.
Rand modeled a hypothetical scenario in which a plan similar to legislation by the Vermont senator had taken effect this year. It found that total U.S. health care spending would be about $3.9 trillion under Medicare for All in 2019, compared with about $3.8 trillion under the status quo.
Part of the reason is that Medicare for All would offer generous benefits with no copays and deductibles, except limited cost-sharing for certain medications. Virtually free comprehensive medical care would lead to big increases in the demand for services.
___
TRUMP: “Our ambitious campaign to reduce the price of prescription drugs has produced the largest decline in drug prices in more than 51 years.” — remarks at North Carolina rally Monday night.
THE FACTS: He’s exaggerating his influence on drug prices, which haven’t fallen for brand-name drugs, the area that worries consumers the most.
Most of his administration’s “ambitious campaign” to reduce drug prices has yet to be completed. Major regulations are in the works and legislation has yet to be passed by Congress. A rule requiring drugmakers to disclose prices in TV ads has been blocked for now by the courts.
Harsh criticism of the industry — from Trump and lawmakers of both parties in Congress — may be having some effect, however.
The Commerce Department’s inflation index for prescription drug prices has declined in seven of the past eight months, which is highly unusual. That index includes lower-cost generic drugs, which account for 90% of prescriptions filled in the U.S. Prices for generics have been declining under pressure from big drug distributors.
For brand-name drugs, though, a recent analysis by The Associated Press shows that on average prices are still going up, but at a slower pace. The cost of brand-name drugs is what’s most concerning to consumers, with insured patients facing steep copays for some medications.
The AP analysis found that in the first seven months of 2019, drugmakers raised list prices for brand-name medicines by a median, or midpoint, of 5%.
That does reflect a slowing in price increases. They were going up 9% or 10% over those months the prior four years. But it’s not a decrease in actual prices. There were 37 price increases for every decrease in the first seven months of 2019. Pricing data for the AP analysis came from the health information firm Elsevier.
___
ELIZABETH WARREN, asked whether her health plan would mean higher middle-class taxes: “We pay for it, those at the very top, the richest individuals and the biggest corporations, are going to pay more. And middle-class families are going to pay less. That’s how this is going to work. … Look, what families have to deal with is cost, total cost.”
THE FACTS: That’s a dodge.
The senator from Massachusetts did not answer back-to-back questions about whether middle class taxes would go up from her version of Medicare for All.
It’s a given that consumers will pay less for health care if the government picks up the bills. But Sanders is almost alone among the candidates who support Medicare for All in acknowledging that broadly higher taxes would be needed to pay for that universal coverage. He would consider, and probably not be able to avoid, a tax increase on the middle class in exchange for health care without copayments, deductibles and the like. “Yes, they will pay more in taxes but less in health care,” he said in a June debate.
Some rivals, including Warren, have only spoken about taxing the wealthy and “Wall Street.” Analysts say that’s not going to cover the costs of government-financed universal care.
___
ECONOMY AND TRADE
TRUMP: “How do you impeach a President who has helped create perhaps the greatest economy in the history of our Country?” — tweet Friday.
THE FACTS: “Perhaps” is a rare bit of modesty in this frequent boast by Trump but he is still wrong in claiming the U.S. has its best economy ever.
In the late 1990s, growth topped 4% for four straight years, a level it has not reached on an annual basis under Trump. Growth reached 7.2% in 1984. The economy grew 2.9% in 2018 — the same pace it reached in 2015 under Obama — and hasn’t hit historically high growth rates.
The unemployment rate is near a 50-year low of 3.7%, but the proportion of Americans with a job was higher in the 1990s. More Americans are now out of the workforce, taking care of children or relatives, or going to school, while others became discouraged about their job prospects and stopped looking. The government doesn’t count people as unemployed unless they are actively searching for jobs. Wages were rising at a faster pace back then, too.
___
TRUMP, on China’s economy. “By the way, China is having the worst year they’ve had now in 57 years, OK? Fifty-seven.” — remarks Wednesday in meeting on e-cigarettes.
TRUMP: “They’ve had now the worst year in 57 years.” — North Carolina rally on Monday.
THE FACTS: That’s not true. China is far from the impoverished disaster of a half century ago, when it was reeling from the massive famine caused by Mao Zedong’s radical economic policies and heading into the chaos of the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s.
China’s economy is indeed slowing from Trump’s taxes on Chinese imports, as well as its own campaign to constrain runaway debt. The International Monetary Fund expects the Chinese economy to grow 6.2% this year. That’s the slowest growth for China in nearly 30 years. But it’s still markedly faster than U.S. growth.
Since overhauling its economy in the late 1970s, China has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, established a growing middle class and surpassed Japan to become the world’s second-biggest economy.
___
TRUMP: “Hundreds of billions of dollars have been and are coming into our country in the form of tariffs, and China is eating the cost.” — North Carolina rally.
THE FACTS: Americans are also eating the cost.
As he escalates a trade war with China, Trump refuses to recognize that tariffs are mainly, if not entirely, paid by companies and consumers in the country that imposes them.
In a study in May, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, with Princeton and Columbia universities, estimated that tariffs from Trump’s trade dispute with China were costing $831 per U.S. household on an annual basis, before tariffs were recently escalated. Analysts also found that the burden of Trump’s tariffs falls entirely on U.S. consumers and businesses that buy imported products.
A report last month by JPMorgan Chase estimated that tariffs would cost the average American household $1,000 per year if tariffs on an additional $300 billion of U.S. imports from China proceed in September and December. Trump has since bumped up the scheduled levies even higher, probably adding to the U.S. burden.
___
BERNIE SANDERS: “We have the highest child poverty rate of almost any country on Earth.” — Democratic debate.
THE FACTS: This oft-repeated line by the Vermont senator is an exaggeration.
There are nearly 200 countries in the world, many with people living in extreme poverty that most Americans would struggle to fathom. Poverty is also a relative measure in which someone who is poor in one nation might look rather prosperous in another.
But the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development updated its child poverty report in 2018. The United States had an above average level of child poverty, but it was not at the bottom of the 42 nations listed in the report. The United States still fared better than Russia, Chile, Spain, India, Turkey, Israel, Costa Rica, Brazil, South Africa and China.
___
TRUMP: “We passed the largest package of tax cuts and reforms in American history.” — North Carolina rally.
THE FACTS: His tax cuts are nowhere close to the biggest in U.S. history.
It’s a $1.5 trillion tax cut over 10 years. As a share of the total economy, a tax cut of that size ranks 12th, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. President Ronald Reagan’s 1981 cut is the biggest, followed by the 1945 rollback of taxes that financed World War II.
Post-Reagan tax cuts also stand among the historically significant: President George W. Bush’s cuts in the early 2000s and Obama’s renewal of them a decade later.
___
TRUMP: “More Americans are working today than ever before in the history of our country.” — North Carolina rally.
THE FACTS: Yes but that’s driven by population growth. A more relevant measure is the proportion of Americans with jobs, and that is still below record highs.
According to Labor Department data, 60.9% of people in the United States 16 years and older were working in August. That’s below the all-time high of 64.7% in April 2000.
___
VETERANS
TRUMP: “We passed something they wanted to do for half a century: We passed VA Choice.” — North Carolina rally.
THE FACTS: It was Obama who won passage of the Veterans Choice program, which gives veterans the option to see private doctors outside the VA medical system at government expense. Congress approved the program in 2014, and Obama signed it into law. Trump expanded it.
___
EL PASO
BETO O’ROURKE, former U.S. representative from Texas, on last month’s mass shooting in El Paso: “Everything that I’ve learned about resilience, I’ve learned from my hometown of El Paso, Texas, in the face of this act of terror, that was directed at our community, in large part by the president of United States. It killed 22 people, and injured many more, we were not defeated by that. Nor were we defined by that.” — Democratic debate.
THE FACTS: Nobody has claimed that Trump “directed” the shooting. Earlier in the debate, O’Rourke had said the shooter was “inspired to kill by our president.” It is hard to know for sure what led the gunman to open fire inside a Walmart in El Paso, killing 22 people. The suspect posted a manifesto online before the shooting that echoed Trump’s comments on immigration. Yet the suspect said his own views “predate Trump and his campaign for president.”
The screed spoke of what the suspect called a “Hispanic invasion of Texas,” railed against immigrants and warned of an imminent attack. Nearly all of the victims had Latino last names.
The suspect purchased the gun legally, according to El Paso’s police chief.
___
RUSSIA INVESTIGATION
KAMALA HARRIS, on Trump: “The only reason he has not been indicted is because there was a memo in the Department of Justice that says a sitting president cannot be charged with a crime.” — Democratic debate.
THE FACTS: We don’t know that it’s the only reason. Former special counsel Robert Mueller didn’t go that far in his report on Russian intervention in the 2016 election and obstruction of justice.
Harris, a California senator, is referring to a Justice Department legal opinion that says sitting presidents are immune from indictment. Mueller has said his investigators were restrained by that rule, but he also said that they never reached a determination as to whether the president committed a crime.
In Mueller’s congressional testimony in July, he said his team never started the process of evaluating whether to charge Trump.
___
Associated Press writers Josh Boak, Christopher Rugaber, Colleen Long, Michael Balsamo, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar and Mary Clare Jalonick in Washington and Amanda Seitz in Chicago contributed to this report.
___
Find AP Fact Checks at http://apne.ws/2kbx8bd

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The GOP apparently has been conned and is willing to still drink the “kool aid” that TOTUS is providing or is the party using TOTUS as a “hat” to cover their own misdeeds? MA.

By Caroline Kelly, CNN 7 hrs ago

All three Republican primary challengers lambasted state GOP leaders — and President Donald Trump — for opting to cancel their 2020 presidential primary elections in a show of support for the President.

“In the United States, citizens choose their leaders,” former Rep. Mark Sanford of South Carolina, former Rep. Joe Walsh of Illinois and former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld said in a Washington Post op-ed on Friday.
“The primary nomination process is the only opportunity for Republicans to have a voice in deciding who will represent our party,” they added. “Let those voices be heard.”

Their pushback comes after party leaders in Kansas, South Carolina and Nevada canceled their Republican primaries, with Arizona expected to make it official over the weekend. The scrapped primaries pose a further obstacle for the long-shot challengers, already fighting the incumbent President, who, according to a CNN/SSRS Poll, has an 88% approval rating among Republicans.
It is not unprecedented for state Republicans or Democrats to decide not to hold a presidential primary when an incumbent is running essentially uncontested. In South Carolina, a key early primary state, Republicans decided to nix their presidential primaries in 1984 and 2004, when Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush were up for their second terms, while state Democrats skipped their contests in 1996 and 2012, with Bill Clinton and Barack Obama running for reelection.
“Each of us believes we can best lead the party. So does the incumbent. Let us each take our case to the public,” the three GOP candidates wrote on Friday. “The saying ‘may the best man win’ is a quintessential value that the Republican Party must honor if we are to command the respect of the American people.”
“Cowards run from fights,” they added, in a thinly veiled jab at Trump. “Warriors stand and fight for what they believe. The United States respects warriors. Only the weak fear competition.”
The trio pointed to the roiling Democratic primary underway in arguing that ideological challenges are a focal point of not only American government, but also the Republican Party.
“Do Republicans really want to be the party with a nominating process that more resembles Russia or China than our American tradition?” the group writes. “Under this President, the meaning of truth has been challenged as never before. … Do we as Republicans accept all this as inevitable? Are we to leave it to the Democrats to make the case for principles and values that, a few years ago, every Republican would have agreed formed the foundations of our party?”
The three candidates also cited the risk of costly legal challenges to the states, predicting that they would likely exceed the costs of hosting the primaries. Walsh told CNN after South Carolina’s decision on Saturday that he would “fight legally and all other options” to challenge the states.
“Let us spend the next six months attempting to draw new voters to our party instead of demanding fealty to a preordained choice,” the three wrote. “If we believe our party represents the best hope for the United States’ future, let us take our message to the public and prove we are right.”

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CON
/kän/
informal
verb
verb: con; 3rd person present: cons; past tense: conned; past participle: conned; gerund or present participle: conning
persuade (someone) to do or believe something, typically by use of a deception.
“I conned him into giving me your home number”
synonyms:
swindle, defraud, cheat, trick, fleece, dupe, deceive, rook, exploit, squeeze, milk, bleed; More
fool, take advantage of, mislead, delude, hoax, hoodwink, bamboozle, string along;
embezzle;
informaldo, sting, diddle, fiddle, swizzle, swizz, rip off, take for a ride, pull a fast one on, pull the wool over someone’s eyes, put one over on, sell a pup to, take to the cleaners, bilk, gull, finagle, gazump;
informalstiff, euchre, bunco, hornswoggle;
archaiccozen, sharp;
raremulct
“she was jailed for conning her aunt out of £500,000”

noun
noun: con; plural noun: cons
an instance of deceiving or tricking someone.
“a con artist”
synonyms:
swindle, deception, trick, racket, bit of sharp practice, fraud.

The American people are the victims.

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It is well documented that TOTUS is no more than a Well known “Con Man” on a scale much larger than Bernie Madoff except he gives nothing back! MA.

Valentina Caval 13 hours ago

The United States and China have been battling on trade for more than a year now. The tariffs started slowly. In the first few months of the war, President Donald Trump placed tariffs on less than 3% of Chinese imports, but by December 15 the president plans to hit nearly everything the U.S. imports from China.
Despite rising tensions in recent months, Trump has said he wants a trade deal before his reelection bid in 2020. He has also insinuated that Beijing may be holding out for a Democratic candidate. In a speech in Baltimore Thursday night, the president mocked Democratic presidential candidate and former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.
“Whoa boy. He’s a furious kind of a guy. Great guy. [Chinese President Xi Jinping is] dying to see…he wants Sleepy Joe,” Trump said, referring to Biden. “Could you imagine those two guys in a room…”
But despite Trump’s comments, former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci thinks China is actually hoping for a Trump win in the 2020 presidential.
“You have an orange rag doll, Donald J. Trump, and you have a Doberman pinscher, China, shaking the rag doll,” Scaramucci said on Yahoo Finance’s On the Move. “And then what they’re going to do in a couple months, they’re going to throw that rag doll into the corner, and they’re going to cut a deal with him because they absolutely want Trump to be reelected.”
So why does China want Trump to remain president of the U.S.? Trump is damaging the U.S. and undermining the country’s global standing, according to Scaramucci. Trump is ‘burying the U.S.’
Trump has repeatedly said China wants a deal with the U.S. On Thursday, he said he preferred a to get a “whole deal” with China but did not rule out the possibility of an interim deal.
The trade tensions between the two countries have rocked global markets. In early August, stocks plunged after Trump announced — through a series of tweets— that he planned to place an additional 10% tariffs on $300 billion worth of imports from China. The word “tariff” has been mentioned in Trump’s tweets 165 times across 95 days, according to Barron’s, and on those days the S&P 500 fell by an average of 0.05%.
Earlier this month, Trump labeled China “the enemy” and just a few days later he claimed China officials had called him in a pursuit of a trade deal, but China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied any calls.
“He is disrupting the global alliance and bringing down the international trading system. And he is hurting our hard and soft power and our standing,” Scaramucci said. “Literally, the way he acts is a full-blown embarrassment on the global stage. He’s stumbling and bumbling along. The Chinese is laughing. This guy’s burying the U.S.”
Valentina Caval is a producer for Yahoo Finance’s On the Move.

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The current administration with its revolving door cabinet and advisors is set to be deluged with lawsuits ranging from State to Federal during and after serving. The wide range of executive orders, ill-considered Tax reforms, immigration laws and rules on tariffs will weigh heavily in the upcoming election.TOTUS has allowed the influence of bad actors from other countries to be inserted into our government and politics through his tweeting and off-hand comments when meeting Foreign dignitaries. MA
Israel accused of planting mysterious spy devices near the White House

By Daniel Lippman 1 hr ago
But unlike most other occasions when flagrant incidents of foreign spying have been discovered on American soil, the Trump administration did not rebuke the Israeli government, and there were no consequences for Israel’s behavior, one of the former officials said.

The miniature surveillance devices, colloquially known as “StingRays,” mimic regular cell towers to fool cell phones into giving them their locations and identity information. Formally called international mobile subscriber identity-catchers or IMSI-catchers, they also can capture the contents of calls and data use.

The devices were likely intended to spy on President Donald Trump, one of the former officials said, as well as his top aides and closest associates — though it’s not clear whether the Israeli efforts were successful.
President Trump is reputed to be lax in observing White House security protocols. POLITICO reported in May 2018 that the president often used an insufficiently secured cell phone to communicate with friends and confidants. The New York Times subsequently reported in October 2018 that “Chinese spies are often listening” to Trump’s cell-phone calls, prompting the president to slam the story as “so incorrect I do not have time here to correct it.” (A former official said Trump has had his cell phone hardened against intrusion.)
By then, as part of tests by the federal government, officials at the Department of Homeland Security had already discovered evidence of the surveillance devices around the nation’s capital, but weren’t able to attribute the devices to specific entities. The officials shared their findings with relevant federal agencies, according to a letter a top DHS official, Christopher Krebs, wrote in May 2018 to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).
Based on a detailed forensic analysis, the FBI and other agencies working on the case felt confident that Israeli agents had placed the devices, according to the former officials, several of whom served in top intelligence and national security posts.
That analysis, one of the former officials said, is typically led by the FBI’s counterintelligence division and involves examining the devices so that they “tell you a little about their history, where the parts and pieces come from, how old are they, who had access to them, and that will help get you to what the origins are.” For these types of investigations, the bureau often leans on the National Security Agency and sometimes the Central Intelligence Agency (DHS and the Secret Service played a supporting role in this specific investigation).
“It was pretty clear that the Israelis were responsible,” said a former senior intelligence official.
An Israeli Embassy spokesperson, Elad Strohmayer, denied that Israel placed the devices and said: “These allegations are absolute nonsense. Israel doesn’t conduct espionage operations in the United States, period.”
A senior Trump administration official said the administration doesn’t “comment on matters related to security or intelligence.” The FBI declined to comment, while DHS and the Secret Service didn’t respond to requests for comment.
But former officials with deep experience dealing with intelligence matters scoff at the Israeli claim — a pro forma denial Israeli officials are also known to make in private to skeptical U.S. counterparts.
One former senior intelligence official noted that after the FBI and other agencies concluded that the Israelis were most likely responsible for the devices, the Trump administration took no action to punish or even privately scold the Israeli government.
“The reaction … was very different than it would have been in the last administration,” this person said. “With the current administration, there are a different set of calculations in regard to addressing this.”
The former senior intelligence official criticized how the administration handled the matter, remarking on the striking difference from past administrations, which likely would have at a very minimum issued a démarche, or formal diplomatic reprimand, to the foreign government condemning its actions.
“I’m not aware of any accountability at all,” said the former official.
Beyond trying to intercept the private conversations of top officials — prized information for any intelligence service — foreign countries often will try to surveil their close associates as well. With the president, the former senior Trump administration official noted, that could include trying to listen in on the devices of the people he regularly communicates with, such as Steve Wynn, Sean Hannity and Rudy Giuliani.
“The people in that circle are heavily targeted,” said the former Trump official.
Another circle of surveillance targets includes people who regularly talk to Trump’s friends and informal advisers. Information obtained from any of these people “would be so valuable in a town that is like three degrees of separation like Kevin Bacon,” the former official added.
That’s true even for a close U.S. ally like Israel, which often seeks an edge in its diplomatic maneuvering with the United States.
“The Israelis are pretty aggressive” in their intelligence gathering operations, said a former senior intelligence official. “They’re all about protecting the security of the Israeli state and they do whatever they feel they have to to achieve that objective.”
So even though Trump has formed a warm relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and made numerous policy moves favorable to the Israeli government — such as moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, ripping up the Iran nuclear deal and heavily targeting Iran with sanctions — Israel became a prime suspect in planting the devices.
While the Chinese, who have been regularly caught doing intelligence operations in the U.S., were also seen as potential suspects, they were determined as unlikely to have placed the devices based on a close analysis of the devices.
“You can often, depending upon the tradecraft of the people who put them in place, figure out who’s been accessing them to pull the data off the devices,” another former senior U.S. intelligence official explained.
Washington is awash in surveillance, and efforts of foreign entities to try to spy on administration officials and other top political figures are fairly common. But not many countries have the capability — or the budget — to plant the devices found in this most recent incident, which is another reason suspicion fell on Israel.
IMSI-catchers, which are often used by local police agencies to surveil criminals, can also be made by sophisticated hobbyists or by the Harris Corporation, the manufacturer of StingRays, which cost more than $150,000 each, according to Vice News.
“The costs involved are really significant,” according to a former senior Trump administration official. “This is not an easy or ubiquitous practice.”
Among professionals, the Israeli intelligence services have an especially fearsome reputation. But they do sometimes make mistakes and are “not 10 feet tall like you see in the movies,” a former senior intelligence official noted.
In 2010, the secret covers of a Mossad hit team, some of whom had been posing as tennis players, were blown after almost 30 minutes of surveillance video was posted online of them going through a luxury Dubai hotel where they killed a top Hamas terrorist in his room.
Still, U.S. officials sometimes have been taken aback by Israel’s brazen spying. One former U.S. government official recalled his frequent concern that Israel knew about internal U.S. policy deliberations that were meant to be kept private.
“There were suspicions that they were listening in,” the former official said, based on his Israeli counterparts flaunting a level of detailed knowledge “that was hard to explain otherwise.”
“Sometimes it was sort of knowledge of our thinking. Occasionally there were some turns of phrase like language that as far as we knew had only appeared in drafts of speeches and never been actually used publicly, and then some Israeli official would repeat it back to us and say, ‘This would be really problematic if you were to say X,’” said the former official.
Back when the Obama administration was trying to jump-start negotiations with the Palestinians, for example, the Israelis were eager to get advance knowledge of the language being debated that would describe the terms of reference of the talks.
“They would have had interest in what language [President Barack] Obama or [Secretary of State John] Kerry or someone else was going to use and might indeed try to find a way to lobby for language they liked or against language that they didn’t like and so having knowledge of that could be advantageous for them,” the former official said.
“The Israelis are aggressive intelligence collectors, but they have sworn off spying on the U.S. at various points and it’s not surprising that such efforts continue,” said Daniel Benjamin, a former coordinator of counterrorism at the State Department and now director of the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding at Dartmouth.
He recalled once meeting with a head of Mossad, the premier Israeli intelligence agency. The first thing the official told Benjamin was that Israel didn’t spy on the U.S.
“I just told him our conversation was over if he had such a low estimate of my intelligence,” Benjamin said.
Israeli officials often note in conversations with their American counterparts — correctly — that the U.S. regularly gathers intelligence on Israeli leaders.
As for Israel’s recent surveillance of the White House, one of the former senior U.S. intelligence officials acknowledged it raised security concerns but joked, “On the other hand, guess what we do in Tel Aviv?”

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Apparently “Botch McConnell” does not have the same enthusiasm for running the Senate as he had when President Obama was in office. He has stalled legislation because he either did not want to fight for legislation or he is afraid of criticism from TOTUS. It is time for: Botch” to go as he is not good for the country as he has aided and abetted a loose cannon of a Leader. MA.

Alexander Bolton 9 hrs ago
President Trump and his Republican allies are conflicted over whether to move forward with expanded background checks, a proposal that has overwhelming public support but risks a clash with the National Rifle Association and other Second Amendment advocates ahead of the 2020 election.

The overwhelming majority of the Senate GOP conference is already on the record as opposing a compromise measure to expand background checks sponsored by Sens. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), which the Senate defeated in 2013 and 2015.

But many of them are likely to flip if Trump endorses a proposal to strengthen background checks, an idea that has consistently garnered strong ratings in public polls.

“I can tell you that there are Republican senators who were not here in 2015, the last time we had a vote, who are interested in this. There are Republican senators who were here and voted ‘no’ and they are rethinking,” Toomey said.
Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), who was elected to the Senate last year, on Tuesday said he is open to expanded background checks.
“I’m interested in that as well as long as it doesn’t cross the threshold of impacting a law-abiding citizen in any way in terms of how he or she might want to access a weapon,” he said.
White House officials told Senate Republicans on Tuesday they are working on a package of proposals to address gun violence after several mass shootings rocked the nation over the August recess.
White House legislative affairs director Eric Ueland has told GOP leaders the proposal could come as soon as this week.
One Republican senator who voted against Toomey-Manchin six years ago told The Hill that he would consider changing his position.
“Ninety-five percent of the transfers at gun shows are not between individuals, they’re with dealers. When people go to gun shows, they’re prepared to have a background check and they do it instantly. Background checks at gun shows are most often the rule,” the senator said. “As much as I support the Second Amendment, I just cannot understand how it’s that much of an intrusion to have a background check between individuals.”
Toomey and other advocates of expanded background checks note that National Rifle Association chief executive Wayne LaPierre testified before the House in 1999 in favor of universal background checks, a position the gun rights group has since abandoned.
Toomey, who has been in regular contact with the president, on Tuesday said the president has expressed a willingness to strengthen background checks and described Toomey’s proposal as having the most “resonance” and the best chance of becoming law.
“I’ve spoken with the president repeatedly, probably a half a dozen times by now,” Toomey told reporters. “The president has been very engaged. He’s been very receptive.”
“He is open to doing something in this space and from my conversations with him and confirmed by his staff, he has not yet made a decision regarding exactly what he’s going to support,” he said.
GOP leaders on Monday said Trump is expected to get a full briefing on policy options as soon as Thursday and then make his recommendation to Capitol Hill Republicans about what he’s willing to support.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other Republican lawmakers are waiting for a sign from Trump before taking a position on expanded background checks.
“We’re waiting for something we know if it passed would actually become law, and until the White House gives us some indication of what the president is willing to sign, we’re waiting to see what it looks like,” McConnell said.
Asked whether he personally thought it reasonable to mandate background checks for all commercial gun sales, McConnell replied, “I’m going to wait and assess the proposal that actually could become law.”
White House officials at this point are mulling whether to include background checks legislation in a bigger package along with several other proposals addressing gun violence, according to senators familiar with the negotiation.
Other proposals under consideration include so-called red-flag legislation, which would allow courts to temporarily confiscate weapons from individuals considered dangerous, and a bill sponsored by Toomey and Sen. Christopher Coons (D-Del.) that would require law enforcement officers to be notified when someone fails a background check while attempting to purchase a gun.
Toomey said he is working with GOP colleagues to address their concerns about his old legislation.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who represents Parkland where 17 people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018, said on Tuesday there are concerns that expanded background-check requirements would make it tougher for nondealers to sell their guns online.
“I haven’t voted for it in the past,” he said. “I have concerns throughout that I have expressed in the past, in particular about putting an undue burden on an everyday person who’s not in the business of selling guns.”
Rubio said he’s worried about requiring a nondealer who wants to sell a gun “to potentially go out and undertake a background check they’d be liable for.”
“The NICS system is not an easy-to-access system,” he said of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
One possible change to the Toomey-Manchin proposal would make it easier for individuals who live in remote rural areas to obtain background checks through federally licensed firearms dealers.
Democrats, meanwhile, are trying to pressure McConnell to bring to the Senate floor a gun-violence package that passed the House in February.
“Enough is enough. Too many Americans are losing their lives to gun violence. It’s time to bring H.R. 8, the House-passed, bipartisan universal background checks bill to the floor for a vote,” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday.
McConnell dismissed the Democrats’ call for action as a political “stunt” because Trump has already said he will veto the House bill.
“For months, what I have said consistently is let’s see if we can actually make a law here. And making a law when you have divided government is challenging,” McConnell said. “My members know the very simple fact that to make a law you have to have a presidential signature.”

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A misspelling got TOTUS a lesson in civility. MA

Julie Zauzmer 9 hrs ago

The Rev. Jonathan Carl glanced at Twitter and laughed out loud in disbelief.

© ASSOCIATED PRESS President Donald Trump speaks with reporters before departing on Marine One from the South Lawn of the White House, Monday, Sept. 9, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
The president of the United States had just tweeted at him, a Baptist pastor in Kentucky who up until now hadn’t had any reason to be the subject of national attention. And President Trump was, online, in public, out of the blue, insulting him.
The president had mixed up Jonathan Carl, the Kentucky minister with fewer than 375 Twitter followers, with Jonathan Karl, the ABC News reporter whose journalism had ruffled the feathers of the commander in chief. a screenshot of a social media post: The screenshot that the Rev. Jonathan Carl took when he saw that the president had tweeted at him by mistake
© Screenshot by Jonathan Carl/Screenshot by Jonathan Carl The screenshot that the Rev. Jonathan Carl took when he saw that the president had tweeted at him by mistake
Carl’s laughter soon turned into concern. Trump had called Carl a “lightweight reporter.” And some of Trump’s ardent fans weren’t happy with Jonathan Carl — not realizing that he wasn’t Jonathan Karl.

The “drive-by tweet” brought on “intense vitriol and hatred,” Carl said. He was suddenly experiencing what many of Trump’s intended Twitter targets go through almost daily: a barrage of infuriated tweets from Trump’s followers.
The pastor stopped laughing. And on Monday, a week after his evening as a sudden Twitter target, he published an open letter to Trump.
“Although I was an accidental casualty caught in the cross-fire of your ‘lightweight’ tweet, your attack was very purposeful and hurtful. Many others, whether American citizens or global citizens, feel wounded and hurt by the shrapnel and side-effects of your ongoing Twitter attacks,” Carl wrote in his letter.
He hurled the same insult back at Trump that Trump had mistakenly leveled at him — but then turned it into a theological point. “Let’s be honest, you are a lightweight too,” Carl wrote. “We all are. God is the only heavyweight who knows it all and gets it right all the time.”
He pleaded with the president: “Please don’t make the Twitter-universe such a dark and depressing place. It shouldn’t be a place to argue, fight, or jockey for position. We can disagree and debate without childish name-calling. You can make Twitter a better place.”
Carl, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Washington Post, is the lead pastor at South Fork Baptist Church in Hodgenville, Ky. According to an online biography, he is an Iraq War veteran, holds a PhD from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and is raising three daughters with his wife.
His church is part of the Southern Baptist Convention — the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, and one of its most Republican-leaning. Sixty-four percent of Southern Baptists described themselves as “conservative” to Pew Research Center, and 9 percent described themselves as “liberal.” Last year, Vice President Pence showed up as a surprise guest at the denomination’s annual convention, where he thanked more than 9,000 attendees from churches “to the Southern Baptist Convention for the essential and irreplaceable role you play in America.”
But Carl didn’t mince words for the president. “Your heart must be in a dangerous place to have such a consistent flow of defamation and disrespect towards so many,” he said.
He interspersed his own comments throughout the letter with quotes from Abraham Lincoln, a president who never got to use Twitter but still came up with plenty of bon mots. Carl said that he passes Lincoln’s birthplace, which is now a National Park Service site, in his church’s town of Hodgenville, almost every day on his commute.
Perhaps Lincoln would not have been overly fond of Twitter, based on one 1861 quotation that Carl selected from the great emancipator: “I am rather inclined to silence, and whether that be wise or not, it is at least more unusual nowadays to find a man who can hold his tongue than to find one who cannot.”

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