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Flying Under the Radar or In Case You Missed It on the News

By Feux Follets following x   2018 Mar 8, 5:30am 1,036 views   46 comments   watch   sfw   quote     share    

Looking past the rhetoric and campaign promises here are a few things flying under the radar on the way to make America great again.

AP Exclusive: Transport safety rules sidelined under Trump

A dozen transportation safety rules under development or already adopted have been repealed, withdrawn, delayed, or put on the back burner since Trump took office last year. There have been no significant new safety rules approved during that time.

The sidelined rules would have, among other things, required states to conduct annual inspections of commercial bus operators, railroads to operate trains with at least two crew members and automakers to equip future cars and light trucks with vehicle-to-vehicle communications to prevent collisions.

In most cases, the rules are opposed by powerful industries. The political appointees running the agencies that write the rules often come from the industries they regulate.

Many of the rules were prompted by tragic events.


For the EPA, “reform” means giving industry what it wants.

The 2013 disaster in West, a town of just 2,800, began with a fire at the local fertilizer plant, highlighting safety gaps at thousands of facilities nationwide that use or store high-risk chemicals.

It took the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency nearly four years after that to issue a rule intended to prevent such accidents — a move strenuously opposed by industry groups such as the American Petroleum Institute.

Just a week after the rule was issued, Donald Trump was sworn in as president. Businesses tried again, asking for a delay of the requirements. This time, they got what they asked for.

The EPA has granted more than a few private-sector wishes lately under the guise of regulatory reform. Roughly 62 percent of the agency’s “deregulatory” actions completed in Administrator Scott Pruitt’s first year and 85 percent of its planned initiatives match up with specific industry requests, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis.

These changes targeted requirements ranging from air-pollution limits for oil and gas operations to water-pollution restrictions on coal-fired power plants.



Interior Department wants to lower royalties that offshore oil and companies pay.

Last week the Interior Department's Royalty Policy Committee issued a recommendation suggesting that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke lower royalty rates for offshore oil and gas drilling on seabed owned by the US government. I

f Zinke approves the recommendation, royalties from offshore drilling would drop from 18.75 percent to 12.5 percent, the lowest royalty rate permitted by the federal government.

The Institute for Policy Integrity, a non-profit group at the New York University School of Law, noted in a statement (PDF) that President George W. Bush raised the royalty rate from 12.5 percent to 18.75 percent in the hopes of raising $8.8 billion over 30 years.

The Institute wrote in a statement this week that lowering the royalty rate back down to 12.5 percent "would be an irresponsible change that would deliver an unjustified windfall to private industry at the expense of the public."


How $250,000 Can Help Secure a Pollution Loophole at the E.P.A.

The gravel parking lot at the Fitzgerald family’s truck dealership here in central Tennessee was packed last week with shiny new Peterbilt and Freightliner trucks, as well as a steady stream of buyers from across the country.

But there is something unusual about the big rigs sold by the Fitzgeralds:

They are equipped with rebuilt diesel engines that do not need to comply with rules on modern emissions controls. That makes them cheaper to operate, but means that they spew 40 to 55 times the air pollution of other new trucks, according to federal estimates, including toxins blamed for asthma, lung cancer and a range of other ailments.

The special treatment for the Fitzgerald trucks is made possible by a loophole in federal law that the Obama administration tried to close, and the Trump administration is now championing.

The trucks, originally intended as a way to reuse a relatively new engine and other parts after an accident, became attractive for their ability to evade modern emissions standards and other regulations.

The survival of this loophole is a story of money, politics and suspected academic misconduct, according to interviews and government and private documents, and has been facilitated by Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, who has staked out positions in environmental fights that benefit the Trump administration’s corporate backers.



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7   Feux Follets   ignore (1)   2018 Mar 8, 1:17pm   ↑ like (2)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

America - we are all Kansas now.
8   Feux Follets   ignore (1)   2018 Mar 13, 4:47pm   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

Equifax and other credit reporting companies could get surprising benefits in Senate banking deregulation bill.

The bipartisan Senate bill includes requirements that Equifax and the other credit reporting companies allow people to freeze and unfreeze their files for free and provide free credit monitoring for active-duty members of the military.

But as the bill nears final approval in the Senate this week, its main sponsor, Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), has proposed an amendment with provisions that would offset some of the new requirements for Equifax and the other two major credit reporting companies, Experian and TransUnion.

The amendment would prohibit active duty military from suing credit-reporting companies regarding any problems with the free credit monitoring.

Chi Chi Wu, a staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center, said that, if approved, the provision would be the first time federal law would prohibit a consumer's right to sue regarding their credit reports.

"We think that would be a bad precedent," she said. "It's especially a bad precedent given that this is a right being given to service-members."

Equifax also could get another benefit in an arcane change to the bill designed to open competition for credit scores used for mortgages purchased by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which are under federal government conservatorship.

Crapo's amendment would insert a provision proposed last summer by Sens. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) that would require the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which regulates Fannie and Freddie, to create a process to validate and approve new credit scoring models.

Equifax, Experian and TransUnion jointly own VantageScore, a competitor to San Jose's Fair Isaac Corp., the company behind the FICO score now used by Fannie and Freddie.

Consumer advocates have called for updated credit scoring models that are fairer to minorities. But they noted that FHFA in December issued a formal request for input on the agency's credit score requirements and the Senate bill's proposed provision could upend that process.

It appears to be an attempt to set up a better runway to help them take over the credit-scoring market," Mike Litt, consumer campaign director for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, said of the credit reporting companies.

An FHFA spokeswoman declined to comment.

9   Feux Follets   ignore (1)   2018 Mar 14, 2:09am   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

Democrats Offer Last-Minute, Pretend Defense of Fair Lending Laws, as They Prepare to Weaken Them.

Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., has offered an amendment essentially striking a controversial provision from bipartisan bank deregulation bill S.2155 that would limit tools prosecutors use to detect mortgage lending discrimination, while acknowledging that the amendment probably wouldn’t get a vote — and wouldn’t be necessary for his ultimate support.

At issue is Section 104, which exempts all banks and credit unions issuing 500 mortgages or less a year from enhanced Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, or HMDA, data requirements used to identify lending discrimination. This would cover 85 percent of all regulated mortgage lenders from the new requirements, which were part of the Dodd-Frank Act.

The 17 members of the Democratic caucus who support S.2155 have taken significant heat from their colleagues over this measure, which critics believe would deeply damage fair lending enforcement by making the new HMDA data incomplete and unreliable. The subprime crisis, which disproportionately fell on black and brown borrowers, proved that new data for housing discrimination was necessary, but this provision would wipe that away.

Kaine, the former vice presidential nominee who began his career as a fair lending attorney, issued a statement today praising S.2155, arguing that it improves current law through a targeted approach to assist community banks. But he added this:

The bill is a compromise, and I think it can be improved in certain respects. The legislation currently requires that banks writing 96 percent of American mortgages must comply with elevated Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) reporting requirements. I have filed an amendment to the bill to require even more banks to provide enhanced data on mortgages, and I hope we will get the opportunity to vote on this change.

Kaine’s amendment would indeed require more banks to provide data. In fact, it would lower the exemption threshold from banks issuing 500 mortgages a year to 100. That’s where the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau put the threshold in its initial HMDA final rule for open-ended loans like home equity lines of credit; for traditional mortgages the threshold was to be 25 loans. But the Kaine amendment did roll back the threshold significantly, going almost as close as a senator can to saying to his opponents, “You were right and I was wrong.”

The four lead Democratic senators who coauthored S.2155 — Sens. Jon Tester, D-Mont.; Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.; Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.; and Mark Warner, D-Va. — cosponsored the amendment, agreeing that effectively nullifying Section 104 would be the right move.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., needs those Democrats on the bill to get to 60 votes. If the Democrats on the Banking Committee backed away, other Democrats would follow and Republicans would need to deal. Why aren’t they doing it?

Tester, Donnelly, and Heitkamp are all facing re-election in states Trump won handily, and where he is still popular. The last line of Kaine’s press release tells you everything about this effort: “I hope we will get the opportunity to vote on this change.” That is not a promise to get a vote on the amendment, nor is it a definitive statement that the amendment would be a condition of Kaine’s support. It just means Kaine and his fellow Democrats introduced an amendment he suspects won’t ever see the Senate floor.

If these Democrats were truly interested in reversing Section 104, they could have simply endorsed the amendment from Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., which reads, simply, “Strike Section 104.” Whether those or any amendment will get votes this week is still being negotiated.

Furthermore, Democratic supporters could have demanded that either Sen. Cortez Masto’s amendment or their own get into the substitute amendment, a set of corrections and additions to the bill released last week. Instead, Section 104 of the substitute includes a fig-leaf alteration mandating bank compliance with enhanced data if they receive a low rating in two successive Community Reinvestment Act examinations. CRA exams come, at most, once every three years, and over 97 percent of banks pass the test — so this would affect almost no lenders, and not for years after any lending discrimination ensued.

The Senate moved to end debate on the substitute amendment Monday evening by a 66-30 count. There were no defections from Democratic supporters from the first test vote last week. That means Kaine, Tester, Donnelly, Heitkamp, and Warner all closed debate on the substitute, without demanding the change to the HMDA provision they all claim to want. As the lead supporters of the bill on the Democratic side whose votes are needed to overcome a filibuster, achieving the change is easily within their capabilities.

Kaine gave the entire game away on Monday when asked directly about the amendment by Brian Cheung of S&P Global Market Intelligence. He admitted, “I don’t need my amendment to pass” to support the underlying bill. “I think the bill is solid as it is,” Kaine added.

In other words, Kaine wants to tell allies that he “fought” to reverse the fair lending provision. His running mate’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, has a term for the political maneuver. It’s called being “caught trying.”

The Intercept asked Sen. Kaine’s office to clarify his position. They have not yet responded.

In a related development, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., has introduced a one-line amendment to eliminate the “Citigroup carve-out,” which allows custodial banks to reduce their leverage requirement. There’s been a question over whether Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase, which have custodial business lines but aren’t primarily custodial banks, could take advantage of the reduction. But Corker’s amendment eliminates the provision entirely.


Your representatives of both parties working for the best interests of their constituents - the financial industry.

The Winning and MAGA is getting overwhelming now.

Is Reagan coming back from the dead next ?
10   Feux Follets   ignore (1)   2018 Mar 24, 11:25am   ↑ like (3)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

‘Female-Led’ Company Didn’t Build Collapsed Bridge.

Q: Is the firm that built the pedestrian bridge that collapsed in Miami “a female-led construction company,” as claimed in some viral stories?

A: No. The company is run by six brothers, and 11 of its 92 management employees are females.

11   Feux Follets   ignore (1)   2018 Mar 24, 11:25am   ↑ like (4)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

None of these stories is legit, even though they were shared widely on social media.

NOT REAL: Female-led construction company was responsible for deadly bridge collapse

THE FACTS: Munilla Construction Management, the company that built the fallen bridge, deactivated its social media pages Sunday after it received threats against employees after a false report about a female-led crew. MCM said its management team of 92 people includes 11 women. Conservative sites such as Squawker and Dangerous reported women led the team that constructed the bridge that collapsed March 15 at Florida International University, suggesting the collapse occurred because women built the structure.

NOT REAL: Court Orders Obama to pay $400 million in restitution

THE FACTS: A satire site falsely claimed a federal appeals court ordered the former president to pay $400 million in “restitution” to the United States for money supposedly lost in a transaction with “hard-liners” in Iran. The Daily World Update article cites a nonexistent West Texas Federal Appeals Court for the 33rd District; there is no federal appeals court in Texas. It names three people as federal judges who are not on the U.S. bench: Gary Jones, Amanda Perry and Kris Weinshenker. The story includes made-up quotes from the fictional judges’ opinion that disparage Obama.

NOT REAL: Florida passes bill legalizing recreational use of marijuana

THE FACTS: A Florida official said the state Legislature has not legalized the recreational use of marijuana. The website yourdailyideas.com, in a story circulating online out of Orlando, reported lawmakers “past bills to legalize the use of marijuana” to “jump-start the economy.” The Legislature is based in the capital, Tallahassee. A majority of Florida voters approved an amendment in 2016 for the legalization of marijuana use for medical purposes, but lawmakers could not agree on a bill in the next session.

NOT REAL: NASA admits to spraying Americans with lithium and other chemicals

THE FACTS: The space agency has made no such statement, despite the false claim of several websites that NASA has “confessed” to “dosing Americans” with lithium and other chemicals. NASA explains on its website that it uses the materials for wind experiments launched on sounding rockets to the upper atmosphere. The agency says the metals used — barium, lithium and aluminum compounds — are also used in fireworks. It compares its tests to releasing a harmless dye into a river or stream.

This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

12   jazz_music   ignore (2)   2018 Mar 27, 4:59pm   ↑ like (2)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

Bullshit rules the day. The majority of Americans ABSOLUTELY prefer bullshit to news.

Sources like Fox and InfoWars make no substantial claim to be news, yet they are preferred source of news for the majority of America.

All other bureaus that actually meet the qualifications to call themselves news are regarded as fake news because Trump says so.

This is our reality.
13   Feux Follets   ignore (1)   2018 Mar 27, 5:03pm   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

jazz_music says
This is our reality.

This is our reality because this is the limitation of the average attention span as well as interest in something other than self.
14   TwoScoopsOfDragonEnergy   ignore (1)   2018 Mar 27, 5:36pm   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

Feux Follets says

The 2013 disaster in West, a town of just 2,800, began with a fire at the local fertilizer plant, highlighting safety gaps at thousands of facilities nationwide that use or store high-risk chemicals.

It took the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency nearly four years after that to issue a rule intended to prevent such accidents — a move strenuously opposed by industry groups such as the American Petroleum Institute.

Freakin' Obama.
15   Strategist   ignore (1)   2018 Mar 27, 7:49pm   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

jazz_music says
Bullshit rules the day. The majority of Americans ABSOLUTELY prefer bullshit to news.

Sources like Fox and InfoWars make no substantial claim to be news, yet they are preferred source of news for the majority of America.

All other bureaus that actually meet the qualifications to call themselves news are regarded as fake news because Trump says so.

This is our reality.

Feux Follets says

This is our reality because this is the limitation of the average attention span as well as interest in something other than self.

It's not reality, because the News Media is mostly liberal.
16   Feux Follets   ignore (1)   2018 Mar 28, 5:25am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

Strategist says
It's not reality, because the News Media is mostly liberal

The "reality" is the average American has the attention span of a fruit fly and like Potus will react to whatever shiny object catches their eye for a fleeting moment, make a snap decision about whatever before retreating back into total self absorption.
17   Feux Follets   ignore (1)   2018 May 3, 1:13am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

"Who the hell is this person?" Trump’s Mar-a-Lago pal stymies VA project.

The intercession of a well-connected Florida doctor infuriated those overseeing the $16B contract.

A West Palm Beach doctor’s ties to Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago social circle have enabled him to hold up the biggest health information technology project in history — the transformation of the VA’s digital records system.

Dr. Bruce Moskowitz, an internist and friend of Trump confidant Ike Perlmutter, who advises the president informally on vet issues, objected to the $16 billion Department of Veterans Affairs project because he doesn’t like the Cerner Corp. software he uses at two Florida hospitals, according to four former and current senior VA officials. Cerner technology is a cornerstone of the VA project.
With the White House’s approval, Moskowitz has been on two or three monthly calls since November with the contracting team responsible for implementing the 10-year project, according to two former senior VA officials. Perlmutter, the Marvel Entertainment chairman, has also been on some of the calls, they said.

Many doctors and health IT experts are skeptical of the VA deal — especially after the problem-ridden implementation of a similar system at military hospitals.

However, the involvement of Moskowitz and Perlmutter, which has not previously been reported, infuriated clinicians involved in the VA project, including former Secretary David Shulkin, according to one of the sources, a former senior VA official. Several officials said they thought contract negotiations had been wrapped up earlier this year and had no idea why the project was being held up.

“Shulkin would say, “Who the hell is this person who practices medicine in Florida and has never run a health care system?” said the source. He said Moskowitz’s involvement was one of the irritants in Shulkin’s dealings with other White House-appointed officials, which contributed to his being fired March 28.

Much More: https://www.politico.com/story/2018/04/30/trump-doctor-health-technology-508297
18   Feux Follets   ignore (1)   2018 May 3, 1:15am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

Oil refinery owned by Carl Icahn's CVR Energy scores a waiver from EPA, saves millions of dollars

Carl Icahn, a billionaire and former adviser to President Donald Trump, has received a waiver exempting one of his oil companies from paying tens of millions of dollars in costs related to a federal biofuels law.

Two industry sources told Reuters that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency granted a so-called "financial hardship" waiver to Sugar Land-based petroleum refiner CVR Energy Inc. (NYSE: CVI).

The move allows the company to avoid payments on an Oklahoma facility and sidestep the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard program, which requires refiners to mix billions of gallons of biofuels into the nation’s gasoline and diesel each year as a way to cut air pollution, reduce petroleum imports and support corn farmers.

Icahn, who stepped down from his adviser position last August, owns an 82 percent stake in CVR.

The company confirmed last week a $23 million profit in the biofuels credit market in the first quarter of 2018 due to what it called a lower RFS obligation.

It's an unusual return for a refiner that has no biofuel blending facilities, the report continued.

More: https://www.bizjournals.com/houston/news/2018/05/01/oil-refinery-owned-by-carl-icahns-cvr-energy.html
19   Feux Follets   ignore (1)   2018 May 3, 1:20am   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

This Old Trump Tweet Is Coming Back to Haunt Him — Because, Well, Just Read It


And in related news: “I’ll Choose the Best People For My Administration”

Candidate for President, Donald Trump, 9/15/16; Verbatim interview (below) with hedge fund manager John Paulson on CNBC

One of the most remarkable things about Donald Trump is that his threats and his promises have about the same credibility—none! It is more likely the tooth fairy will slip you a ten.

Q: What would be your criteria in choosing your senior administrators?

Trump: Track record. Great competence. Love of what they’re doing. How they’re getting along with people. References. I mean no different when you’re running a company and hire top people. No different. You need people with heart also.

It’s probably the one thing you need in government that they don’t have in business quite as much [laughing]. You need some but not a lot. You need people that are truly, truly capable. So much has to do with past history, how’ve they done, how’s it all worked out, you understand what I mean by that. And we have to get the best people. We no longer can be so politically correct. We do things today, ya know, people are afraid to walk, they’re afraid to talk, they can’t speak, they’re afraid they’re going to say the wrong word, they’ll be shunned from society. Don’t worry. It’ll only last for about a week if that happens. It’s not that bad. But we have to stop being so politically correct.

We need to get the best and the finest and if we don’t, we’ll be in trouble for a long period of time and maybe never come out of it.

Much More: https://www.whatthortoldme.com/ill-choose-best-people-administration/
20   Feux Follets   ignore (1)   2018 May 3, 1:21am   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

John Bolton: 'Libya model' for North Korea under consideration

White House national security adviser John Bolton is not ruling out a "Libya model" of denuclearization for North Korea.

The statement came from Bolton on Sunday, when he made multiple television appearances to address the recent inter-Korea summit.

On Face the Nation, Bolton told CBS' Margaret Brennan that the Trump administration is looking into the Libya model of 2003-04.

The Libyan program was dismantled during the presidency of George W. Bush. The process involved the transfer of Libyan nuclear equipment to a facility in the United States.

During the Obama administration, Col. Moammar Gadhafi was toppled from power and later killed by local rebel forces.

Analysts have said denuclearization helped undermine Gadhafi, and North Korea has often claimed Libya is an example of why the reclusive regime would never opt to denuclearize.

But as Kim Jong Un turns a new leaf, Bolton said Washington will consider different options.

If Kim "has made a strategic determination that North Korea would be better off without nuclear weapons, then I think we have got something to talk about, and I think the president would be eager to capitalize on the opportunity," Bolton said.

Bolton then added the administration is not naïve.

"A lot is going to ride on this meeting with Kim Jong Un," he said.

Critics say Bolton's suggestion could sow distrust with North Korea ahead of the Trump-Kim summit.

China, a key stakeholder in denuclearization, told former deputy secretary of state Antony J. Blinken the "Libyan model did not inspire confidence in Pyongyang."

"I would be very concerned that the combination of Libya and then Trump tearing up the Iran agreement sends exactly the wrong message to Kim Jong Un and undermines whatever hope exists for negotiations," said Blinken, a former Obama administration official, according to The New York Times.

21   Feux Follets   ignore (1)   2018 May 14, 2:52pm   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

Back in April of this year...

For-profit colleges struggle despite assist from Betsy DeVos. For-profit colleges are struggling, but the Trump administration is trying to save the day with fewer regulations and a freeze on Obama-era rules.


Fast Forward to May...

DeVos dismantles college fraud probes.

A Department of Education team that had looked into fraud and abuse by for-profit colleges has been dismantled to the point that it has "effectively killed investigations" into institutions where top hires of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos once worked, The New York Times reported.


What a swamp draining administration we have !

Who would have thought this kind of looking out for the average American was possible ?

Not sure how much more winning the average American can take...
22   Feux Follets   ignore (1)   2018 May 14, 4:53pm   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

Trump Condo Owners Can Remove President’s Name From Building, Judge Says

A New York judge has ruled that residents of a Trump-branded condo are allowed to remove President Donald Trump’s name from the outside of the building, after his organization threatened to sue the condo committee.

Judge Eileen Bransten said Thursday that Trump Place, at 200 Riverside Boulevard on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, has no legal obligation to display the name as part of its license agreement, attorney Harry Lipman, who represented the owners, confirmed for HuffPost.

According to a copy of the residents’ complaint obtained by HuffPost, the legal battle over the giant brass-finished lettering on the building’s exterior ignited shortly after Trump’s inauguration in 2017.

That February the building’s residents voted 158-59 to remove Trump’s name. The owners expressed concern that keeping it may cause “increased security risks and associated costs, real estate value diminution, and antipathy to the Licensor,” the complaint stated.

The following month, DJT Holdings LLC, which is owned by Trump’s family, sent a letter threatening the building’s condo board.

The letter warned that removing the name’s would be a breach of the license agreement and result in legal action to “not only prevent such unauthorized action, but to also recover the significant amount of damages, costs and attorney’s fees,” according to the complaint.

The board, responding to the letter, determined that it no longer had a position on whether the name should be removed but decided to seek legal action to determine whether keeping it was mandatory.

The board’s complaint argued that its license agreement did not require that the name be displayed and that it granted the board “permissive right” to use it, “should the board choose to do so.”

Bransten sided with the residents.

Attorney Lawrence Rosen, who represented DJT Holdings in court and did not immediately respond to a request for comment, told The New York Daily News that the company will review the judge’s decision.

Trump’s name has come down from three other New York buildings, including what is now 160 Riverside Boulevard Apartments, formerly also named Trump Place, not far from 200 Riverside.

His name has also been removed from hotels in New York, Panama and Toronto.

23   Feux Follets   ignore (1)   2018 May 17, 3:20am   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

How Rusal escaped the noose of U.S. sanctions. They were supposed to be the toughest sanctions the United States had ever imposed on a Russian oligarch. Seventeen days later, Washington watered them down.

On April 23, the U.S. Treasury eased restrictions on billionaire Oleg Deripaska’s aluminum company Rusal (0486.HK). Instead of barring Rusal from international markets, which is what the United States originally intended to do, the Treasury suggested it might lift the sanctions altogether.

Washington’s change of course says a lot about the leverage held by the supply chain of a widely-used commodity such as aluminum. It also suggests the Trump administration is hard-pressed as it juggles international economic battles it has opened on various fronts, including with China and Iran.

Several European governments, including Germany and France, lobbied Washington to back down, according to more than a dozen U.S. and EU officials and industry sources who spoke to Reuters.

Multinationals Rio Tinto and Boeing also appealed to the U.S. Treasury, seeking a softening of the terms on Rusal.

All made the same argument, the sources said: a squeeze on the largest producer of aluminum outside China would hit businesses around the world, disrupting production of myriad goods from car and planes to cans and foil, and putting jobs at risk.

Rusal and Rio Tinto declined to comment.

A spokesman for Boeing denied on Wednesday that the company had lobbied the U.S. Treasury on the matter, saying: “Boeing did not lobby the Treasury Department on Rusal.”

More: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-sanctions-rusal-insight/how-a-russian-aluminum-giant-escaped-the-noose-of-u-s-sanctions-idUSKCN1IG3G6
24   Feux Follets   ignore (1)   2018 May 17, 3:43am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

The House is scheduled to vote next week to exempt community banks from the Volcker Rule, a key post-crisis regulation meant to prevent banks from speculating for profit with deposits insured by the federal government.

The bill, authored by Rep. French Hill, R-Ark., would match one of the provisions in the Senate-passed bipartisan banking bill, and go a little bit beyond it.

House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling is holding out for negotiations with senators over which of the two chambers’ bills should be sent to President Trump. The Texas Republican wants to add more bipartisan House-passed bills to the mix, while senators, worried that they could lose the 17 Democratic “yes” votes with any more provisions, have pushed for the House to simply approve their bill.

25   Onvacation   ignore (2)   2018 May 17, 7:30am   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote        

Trump Derangement Syndrome, it's real!

Some people even think Trump is stupid.
26   RafiMaas   ignore (0)   2018 May 17, 8:38am   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

Onvacation says
Trump Derangement Syndrome, it's real!

Some people even think Trump is stupid.

While others know he's stupid.
27   justme   ignore (0)   2018 May 17, 9:13am   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

Excellent thread with lots of facts and calling out the fake news. A lot of the facts are really disturbing, but at least we get to know what is going on and what we are dealing with.

Keep up the good work.
28   Feux Follets   ignore (1)   2018 May 18, 5:07pm   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

An Air Force base in North Dakota that is missing some military explosives is now also searching for a machine gun.

The M240 machine gun was discovered missing during a routine weapons inventory at Minot Air Force Base on Wednesday. Lt. Col. Jamie Humphries says no amunition is missing.

Air Force Global Strike Command leaders have directed an inventory of weapons in response.

The base also is missing a container of ammunition for an automatic grenade launcher. It fell off a vehicle on an American Indian reservation on May 1, and searches failed to turn up any trace of it. The military has offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to recovery.

29   Feux Follets   ignore (1)   2018 May 18, 5:09pm   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

Rudy Giuliani Just Conceded That the President Can Commit Obstruction of Justice !

Rudy Giuliani said Friday that a president can hypothetically obstruct justice, contradicting a former member of President Donald Trump’s legal team and wading into a thorny legal debate.

In an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo Friday morning, the former New York City mayor was asked if the president can be found to have obstructed justice under the law.

“He can,” he answered.

That contradicts an position taken in December by Trump attorney John Dowd, who has since left the legal team, that a president “cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer.”

It’s an important legal question as special counsel Robert Mueller’s team starts its second year of investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Some Trump critics argue that the president’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, among other actions, could be seen as obstructing an agency investigation.

For legal experts, the issue boils down to two separate questions: can the president actually engage in obstruction and, if so, can the president be prosecuted for the crime while in office?

More: http://time.com/5282334/rudy-giuliani-obstruction-justice-president/
30   Onvacation   ignore (2)   2018 May 18, 5:15pm   ↑ like (2)   ↓ dislike (1)   quote        

RafiMaas says
While others know he's stupid.

That's what I'm talkin' about.
Underestimate Trump and join all the other losers.
31   jazz_music   ignore (2)   2018 May 19, 10:11am   ↑ like (3)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

The irony of Trump is truly not to be underestimated.
32   bob2356   ignore (1)   2018 May 19, 10:40am   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

Feux Follets says

Interior Department wants to lower royalties that offshore oil and companies pay.

Last week the Interior Department's Royalty Policy Committee issued a recommendation suggesting that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke lower royalty rates for offshore oil and gas drilling on seabed owned by the US government. I

Not only cutting royalties but selling oil leases at fire sale prices. The art of the deal is apparently to sell as much as possible at the bottom of the market for huge discounts. . The art of the deal should be to hold leases off the market until demand is high again and companies pay top dollar. Is the deal for the oli companies or the citizens? No fair googling the answer.
33   Feux Follets   ignore (1)   2018 May 19, 12:36pm   ↑ like (3)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

@Onvacation - Even though you are on ignore, thanks for bumping my thread !
34   Aphroman   ignore (2)   2018 May 19, 2:42pm   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

Why bother having laws when criminals don’t respect them?

However we must support Republicans in staying strong with their War on Drugs, because fuck blacks and liberals. Very smart! Almost as Smart as it is American, what with all the Freedom and Liberty, for all.
35   Kakistocracy   ignore (0)   2018 May 20, 4:35am   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

What Scott Pruitt’s been doing while you weren’t looking. As the public fixates on the EPA chief's travel habits, he's making it easier for industry to pollute.

Pruitt is making it easier for coal plants and other industrial facilities to avoid New Source Review altogether. Since he became EPA administrator, he has issued several “guidance documents” addressing the topic. One, in December 2017, instructs state and federal regulators not to second-guess companies’ pollution estimates, which determine whether they must apply for permits. Another, in March of this year, offers a new interpretation of a formula that could result in lower pollution estimates – and fewer permits.

The guidance isn’t binding. But Pruitt signaled last month that the EPA plans to start a rulemaking that would revamp parts of New Source Review. In an October 2017 document the agency regurgitated industry arguments for such an overhaul – namely, that the program is burdensome and delays changes to facilities that would benefit the environment.

Complaints about New Source Review aren’t new. Under George W. Bush, the EPA tried to do some of the same things Pruitt is attempting – with some of the same staff. William Wehrum, a lawyer who heads the Office of Air and Radiation under Pruitt, helped lead these efforts under Bush.

Businesses have been largely supportive. Companies from BP America to Koch Industries requested some of these changes in written comments filed with the EPA last year. The National Environmental Development Association’s Clean Air Project, a coalition that includes Koch, cited New Source Review among “regulations that impose mammoth costs on U.S. manufacturers with little or no environmental benefit.”

36   Kakistocracy   ignore (0)   2018 May 20, 4:42am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

No one seems to know how Team Trump managed to spend $107 million in donations for his inauguration.

The president’s inaugural committee, which is supposed to be a nonprofit organization, brought in $107 million in donations and used nearly all of it, far exceeding the money spent by Barack Obama in 2009 ($55 million) and in 2013 ($43 million).

As has been revealed across several reports stemming from the release of the Trump Inaugural Committee's tax return, the excess of funds may have been used for more than just trying and failing to convince Paul Anka to perform "My Way" at the Inaugural Ball.

On Monday, MSNBC's Ari Melber discussed the news with Steve Kerrigan, the president and CEO of Obama's 2013 inaugural committee. Kerrigan explained that because, unlike with campaign finances, there is very little oversight of inaugural funds, the committee could have been used to funnel money. "They either totally mismanaged the $107 million they raised, or they treated it as it can be treated because of the loose transparency requirements around it: as an opportunity to have a slush fund," Kerrigan explained.

Greg Jenkins, who oversaw George W. Bush's 2005 inaugural committee, was similarly perplexed about how Trump's committee could have spent $107 million on inaugural events. "It’s inexplicable to me," he told ProPublica. "I literally don’t know. They had a third of the staff and a quarter of the events and they raise at least twice as much as we did. So there’s the obvious question: Where did it go? I don’t know."

37   Kakistocracy   ignore (0)   2018 May 20, 4:44am   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

Consumes a sixth of America’s annual discretionary spending - the United States has spent at least $2.8 trillion on counterterrorism since 9/11

A bipartisan group of national security and budget experts convened by the Stimson Center estimated in a new report on May 16 that the cumulative tally is at least $2.8 trillion, and that the annual spending rate — while less than it used to be — still amounts to about 15 percent of the nation’s discretionary budget.

The pace has slowed since 2008, when counterterrorism expenditures by the State, Defense, Homeland Security and other federal departments reached an estimated $260 billion — or 277 percent more than the rate in 2002, the report said. In 2017, that annual spending rate stood around $175 billion.

But there’s still a lot of uncertainty surrounding these tallies, partly because no one in the government is assigned to produce an official account of all that spending. And it’s clear that what can be gleaned from public documents about U.S. counterterrorism activities doesn’t include classified spending, and also that some military, intelligence and domestic security spending lies in a gray zone with multiple purposes.

Luke Hartig, one of the report’s authors and a former senior director for counterterrorism at the National Security Council under the Obama Administration, suggested at a panel discussion at the Stimson Center that the absence of transparency was partly deliberate.

“Transparency would force harder questions about appropriations” from Congress, Hartig said. While the relatively low number of attacks and casualties does not equate to a tiny threat, Hartig said, “it still merits the question of whether $2.8 trillion is the optimal amount of resources it takes to mitigate that threat.”

38   Feux Follets   ignore (1)   2018 May 26, 3:38am   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

Mussels in Puget Sound testing positive for opioids.

The growing use of opioids is showing up in an unexpected place -- the waters of the Puget Sound, specifically the marine life that lives there, scientists say.

Researchers at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife said that for the first time, mussels living in parts of the Puget Sound are testing positive for oxycodone, a prescription drug used to alleviate pain in humans.

Trace amounts of the opioid were detected in mussels near Bremerton's shipyard and Elliot Bay.

But diners don't have to worry about contaminated mussels ending up on their plates. Researchers took clean mussels from Penn Cove on Whidby Island and placed them in cages in Puget Sound, where they took in trace contaminants from their new home after two or three months.

The transplanted locations aren't near any commercial shellfish beds.

The opioids ended up in the sound through human sewage which is processed by wastewater management systems that can't filter out drugs. And it's not just opioids that end up in water, drugs like antidepressants and chemotherapy are detected in the mussels, too.

39   Feux Follets   ignore (1)   2018 May 26, 3:39am   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

Russia Just Fired a Surface to Air Missile Further Than Anyone Before and No One Noticed.

Russia has test-fired a surface-to-air missile 50 miles further than anyone has before, U.S. intelligence sources have revealed.

With little fanfare, Russia successfully used the S-500 surface-to-air missile system to hit a target 299 miles away, which is 50 miles further than any known test, CNBC reported.

Moscow says that the system can intercept hypersonic missiles, drones and stealth warplanes like the F-22 and the F-35 and would allow it to destroy targets at near space range. The test used a modified version of the missile used in the S-300V4 surface-to-air system.

40   Feux Follets   ignore (1)   2018 May 26, 3:41am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

Is Shingles Contagious? People who have never had chickenpox are at risk for developing the illness if they come in contact with a shingles patient’s blisters.

Q. Is shingles contagious?

A. Shingles, the painful and blistery rash that arises when the chickenpox virus becomes reactivated, can be contagious, but only for people who are not already immune to chickenpox. Those who have never had chickenpox or been vaccinated against it are at risk for developing chickenpox — not shingles — if they come in contact with fluid from the blisters of a shingles patient.

The blisters are contagious until they crust over, “and people should keep them covered,” said Dr. Pritish K. Tosh, an infectious disease specialist with the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

He noted that it’s important to “make sure people who are at risk not come in contact with these lesions.” Those at risk include anyone who has never had chickenpox or has not yet been vaccinated. Special caution should be taken with pregnant women or those with a compromised immune system, who may not know whether they are immune to the disease.

41   Feux Follets   ignore (1)   2018 May 26, 3:44am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

What Scott Pruitt’s been doing while you weren’t looking. As the public fixates on the EPA chief's travel habits, he's making it easier for industry to pollute.

Nearly a quarter of the nation's coal-fired power plants in 2017 lacked pollution controls limiting emissions of lung-damaging sulfur dioxide even though some of their counterparts have been using the controls for almost 40 years.

Federal data show this disparity. It leaves communities like Labadie, Missouri, exposed to stubbornly high levels of the pollutant even as emissions nationwide have plummeted. Some power-plant operators have exploited a 1977 congressional loophole to avoid installing the controls, environmentalists say. Now, as the public focuses on multiple investigations into U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt’s spending habits and personnel choices, Pruitt is moving swiftly to grant one of industry’s major policy wishes: He’s making it easier for plant operators to sidestep equipment upgrades in the future.

Pruitt is making it easier for coal plants and other industrial facilities to avoid New Source Review altogether. Since he became EPA administrator, he has issued several “guidance documents” addressing the topic. One, in December 2017, instructs state and federal regulators not to second-guess companies’ pollution estimates, which determine whether they must apply for permits. Another, in March of this year, offers a new interpretation of a formula that could result in lower pollution estimates – and fewer permits.

Businesses have been largely supportive. Companies from BP America to Koch Industries requested some of these changes in written comments filed with the EPA last year. The National Environmental Development Association’s Clean Air Project, a coalition that includes Koch, cited New Source Review among “regulations that impose mammoth costs on U.S. manufacturers with little or no environmental benefit.” Ameren Services said the program’s “mechanisms are highly inefficient and the case-by-case application of obtuse and ill-written terms through guidance documents causes uncertainty, delay, and frustration for construction of new facilities or technology improvements at existing facilities.”

42   Feux Follets   ignore (1)   2018 May 27, 6:10am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

Trump Slams Media For Concocting Official Who Actually Ran His White House Briefing !

Matthew Pottinger has been identified as the senior White House official quoted in a report from The New York Times about President Donald Trump’s proposed—and then canceled— meeting with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un.

Trump previously accused the newspaper of making up the quote and using "phony sources."

43   Feux Follets   ignore (1)   2018 May 27, 6:13am   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

And Now for Some Crises That Are Completely Different ! As the Trump administration struggles to keep track of the usual hotspots, major trouble is brewing in forgotten corners of the world.

Take, for example, the Aegean Sea, where Greek and Turkish warplanes routinely engage each other in a long-running dispute over territory and airspace.

Then there is Bosnia and Herzegovina. Yes, the Balkans are back, and with the same ethno-nationalist chauvinism that tore the region apart a quarter of a century ago.

If war doesn’t break out in the Aegean or in the Balkans, it might in the Red Sea and Horn of Africa. The Egyptians are at loggerheads with the Ethiopians over the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which threatens a 1950s treaty that gives Egypt the bulk of the Nile River’s water.

Then there is the presence of Emirati forces — Egyptian allies — in Eritrea. The Eritreans have fought two wars with Ethiopia since they formally seceded from it in 1993. Reports earlier this year that Egypt deployed forces to the Emirati base in Eritrea added another destabilizing dimension to the Horn of Africa, where there are three conflicts playing out: Egypt vs. Ethiopia over Nile water, Egypt vs. Sudan over Nile water and territory, and Qatar (with Turkey) vs. Egypt (with the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain) over, well, everything. The deterioration of any one of them could trip the other two into violence, wreaking havoc in the area and among countries that can ill afford conflict. It would also impact international trade given that the Red Sea feeds into and out of the Suez Canal.

44   Feux Follets   ignore (1)   2018 May 27, 6:15am   ↑ like (0)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

Jared Kushner Laughed as Trump Used Made Up Hispanic Names to Discuss Immigrants Committing Rape, Murder: Report

President Donald Trump used made up Hispanic names as he predicted that his supporters would react with delight if he threw criminal immigrants out of the United States in a manner to match his rhetoric on the campaign trail, according to a Washington Post report Thursday. The scene is said to have played out in the Oval Office shortly after his inauguration last year, the night before his first speech to Congress.

Also in attendance were the president’s son-in-law, and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, as well as senior policy adviser Stephen Miller. Both laughed at Trump’s use of fake Hispanic-sounding names and description of potential crimes, like rape and murder, they could commit, The Post reported.

45   Feux Follets   ignore (1)   2018 May 27, 6:18am   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor closed indefinitely.

Damage to the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu is worse than expected, so it will remain closed indefinitely, officials said.

Boat transportation to the attraction was suspended May 6 after one of the vessel operators noticed a crack on the outside of the memorial, Hawaii News Now reported.

Engineers are working to figure out possible long-term solutions.

"The amount of time needed to implement the repairs is unknown, but the [National Park Service] will continue to provide information to the public as our team of specialists works together to restore access as soon as possible," memorial staff said Friday in a news release.

Other areas of the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center remain open.

46   Feux Follets   ignore (1)   2018 May 27, 6:25am   ↑ like (1)   ↓ dislike (0)   quote        

As computers get harder to crack, thieves are pillaging mailboxes.

•"Mail fishing" is on the rise across the country, according to law enforcement officials.

•Here's how to keep your correspondence safe.

Josefina Gomez Pando, 83, dropped a check for $112 into a blue mailbox on a corner on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Then she proceeded to her doctor's appointment.

Her check would never make it to the mailman.

That's because someone else, most likely using a sticky rat trap attached to the end of a string, fished her check right back out of that mailbox.

And then they wrote a new one for $3,500.

"I pay all my bills by mail  —  around 30 checks a month," said Pando, who owns three buildings in New York City. "This never happened to me."

Mailboxes increasingly are a target for criminals

"Mail fishing" is when people use tools to retrieve envelopes out of the blue mailboxes lining the streets, and it's on the rise, according to law enforcement officials.

"It's doubled over the last two years, at least," said Lt. John Grimpel, a spokesman for the New York City Police Department.

Mail fishers are not unique to Manhattan either. Mail is under siege in Texas, Florida, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Colorado and California, among other places.

More: https://www.cnbc.com/2018/05/25/as-computers-get-harder-to-crack-thieves-are-pillaging-mailboxes.html

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The Housing Trap
You're being set up to spend your life paying off a debt you don't need to take on, for a house that costs far more than it should. The conspirators are all around you, smiling to lure you in, carefully choosing their words and watching your reactions as they push your buttons, anxiously waiting for the moment when you sign the papers that will trap you and guarantee their payoff. Don't be just another victim of the housing market. Use this book to defend your freedom and defeat their schemes. You can win the game, but first you have to learn how to play it.
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