December 3, 2017

Posted by orrinj at 5:33 PM


Operative Offered Trump Campaign 'Kremlin Connection' Using N.R.A. Ties (NICHOLAS FANDOS, DECEMBER 3, 2017, NY Times)

A conservative operative trumpeting his close ties to the National Rifle Association and Russia told a Trump campaign adviser last year that he could arrange a back-channel meeting between Donald J. Trump and Vladimir V. Putin, the Russian president, according to an email sent to the Trump campaign.

A May 2016 email to the campaign adviser, Rick Dearborn, bore the subject line "Kremlin Connection." In it, the N.R.A. member said he wanted the advice of Mr. Dearborn and Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, then a foreign policy adviser to Mr. Trump and Mr. Dearborn's longtime boss, about how to proceed in connecting the two leaders.

Russia, he wrote, was "quietly but actively seeking a dialogue with the U.S." and would attempt to use the N.R.A.'s annual convention in Louisville, Ky., to make " 'first contact.' "

No one can be surprised the NRA is anti-American.

Posted by orrinj at 5:25 PM


Trump, Defending Himself After Flynn Guilty Plea, Says F.B.I. Is in 'Tatters' (Michael D. Shear, Dec. 3, 2017, NY Times)

In an extraordinary attack on the top law enforcement body in his own government, Mr. Trump accused the F.B.I. and its career investigators of having a bias against him.

He said in a tweet that the agency's reputation was in ruins because of Mr. Comey's tenure, during which the F.B.I. conducted what he called the "phony and dishonest" investigation into the private email server used by his rival in the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton.

...for pursuing a fake inquiry; it was a congressional referral.

Posted by orrinj at 8:32 AM


Posted by orrinj at 8:10 AM


'There can be no second Putin': Russia looks to prospect of future without Vladimir as sources say he has considered quitting (Oliver Carroll, 18 November 2017, Independent)

From interviews with academics, government and near-government players, some anonymous, The Independent can reveal a picture of intense uncertainty at the heart of power.

It is a picture that shows the President's grip on the Kremlin to be as strong as ever - but only because it needs to be.

Vladimir Putin is, sources say, tired. And he is reluctant to engage in a major national election - again. The campaign will be reduced to a bare minimum; there will be no repeat of the exhausting test of the 2011-2012 elections, when Mr Putin declared his candidacy six months early. [...]

Squaring the digital narrative with the analogue reality of an ageing leader is where things get difficult. The recession may be over, but most Russians have experienced four years of declining real terms income. There has been a fundamental shift in public mood that, according to polls, favours change over stability.

The Kremlin has not been able to agree on a serious programme of reform in response, says Valery Solovei, a professor of the Moscow State Institute for International Relations. Indeed, the election offer has already been scaled back. Rather than projecting a confident future, the promise is now on improving productivity and efficiency.

"There is a growing sense that this election is less about the future, as it is about the end," said Mr Solovei.

Gleb Pavlovsky, a former Kremlin advisor and head of the Effective Politics Foundation, told The Independent that the regime was entering a "terminal" phase. "Whichever way you play it, this campaign is about transitioning to a post-Putin Russia," he said.  

Sanctions and Syria could hardly have worked out better.

Posted by orrinj at 7:51 AM


Trump alters story on why he fired Flynn (CALVIN WOODWARD and KEN THOMAS, 12/02/17, AP)

Doing so suggests the president knew at the time that Flynn had done something that is against the law, and therefore the investigation could not be as frivolous as he's been portraying.

It's also unclear how he would know that, if information about Russian contacts had not reached him, as he has been implying in his own defense.

Flynn left the White House in February, only acknowledging that he had given an incomplete account to Pence of his conversations with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. After Trump forced Flynn out, he asked FBI Director James Comey to end the bureau's probe in the matter, according to Comey's account. Comey refused, and Trump fired him, too.

Posted by orrinj at 7:44 AM


Trump pulls United States out of UN migration pact (Deutsche-Welle, 12/03/17)

The non-binding declaration includes a set of pledges to protect migrants, foster migrant integration, develop guidelines on the treatment of vulnerable migrants and strengthen global governance of migration, among other issues.

Always fun when the nativists pretend it is not immigration they object to, just the current imbalance of where they come from. Then the hood slips...

Posted by orrinj at 7:31 AM


Study: One-third of U.S. Workers Will Be Replaced by Robots by 2030 (Danielle Paquette, 12/03/17, The Washington Post)

Over the next 13 years, the rising tide of automation will force as many as 70 million workers in the United States to find another way to make money, a new study from the global consultancy McKinsey predicts.

....not determine how it should be distributed.

Posted by orrinj at 7:21 AM


Ireland by Train (Patti Nickell, 12/03/17, Lexington Herald-Leader)

There is something about trains that has captivated me since childhood. Maybe it's the gentle rocking back and forth as it crisscrosses the country; maybe it's the mournful sound of the train's whistle in the night, with its promise of places yet to be seen -- and perhaps, best of all, it's the knowledge that I'm not squeezed into a seat on a plane.

Alas, living in the U.S., I'm not able to indulge my passion for trains much, which makes it all the more wonderful when I'm somewhere where I can. That most recent somewhere was Ireland, and the train wasn't your common garden variety type, but the Belmond Grand Hibernian.

Officially launched in August of 2016, the Grand Hibernian is a sister train of other Belmond acquisitions, the Venice-Simplon Orient Express and the Royal Scotsman. Often referred to as "country houses on rails," they embody the very essence of luxurious train travel.

I left Dublin's Heuston Station for a two-night Taste of Ireland tour (north to Belfast on the first day and south again to Cork on the second), but there is also a four-night Loughs and Legends, or the two itineraries can be combined for a real Irish adventure.

I found that many of those onboard didn't really care where they were going; it was the train itself that was the appeal.