Bluster, brag and diplomacy

“In the world of diplomacy, some things are better left unsaid.”, Lincoln Chafee

I was glad there was a summit between North Korea’s President Kim Jung-un and Donald Trump.   They signed an agreement to work towards “denuclearization” of the Korean peninsula.  That’s a positive step forward.   North Korea released 3 American prisoners prior to the summit.  More good news.

Donald Trump went to Grand Falls, Montana fora “Make American Great Again” rally.  Notably absent from Trump’s entourage was Ryan Zinke,  Secretary of the Interior, who served in Congress representing Montana.  Known as Scott Pruitt’s evil twin,  he immediately cosied up to the fossil fuel industry.   Like Pruitt, he is under investigation by the Office of Inspector General for his spending. See link below.

Trump was right on message,  slammed the media in general as being dishonest and fake. (note, last I looked, Trump statements were rated “true” about 5% of the time according to Politico).   He endorse US senator candidate Matt Rosendale,  and bashed his opponent, current Senator Jon Tester.  Tester had discovered that the President’s nominee for the VA Secretary Ronnie Jackson,  was known as the “candy man” for over prescribing medications and there was evidence that Jackson was drinking on the job.   Hearings were postponed and then cancelled as Trump withdrew the nomination.

No mention of Scott Pruitt, who had just moments before, was forced  to resign amid a slew of scandals.  It would explain why Ryan Zinke,  Secretary of Interior,  wasn’t there.

Since Mike Pompeo was in North Korea,  it was time for Trump to start bragging at he got the prisoners free without spending 1.8 billion dollars like Obama had done, and the peace treaty with North Korea.  All bluster and brag – and on top of it untrue.

This  was an old Republican allegation – and a false claim right  from the get-go.  A payment of 400 million dollars was made to Iran.  It wasn’t ransom, but Iran’s money which we had frozen, after the overthrow of the Shah of Iran. in 1979.   Iran’s claim was valid, and they were chasing after the US in World Court.   They wanted 10 billion from the US.  We couldn’t really keep holding on to their money. What we did, was make the payment only after Iran had released American prisoners.   There was no bargaining for prisoners, but the timing looked bad. See links below.

Then Trump launched into how the North Korea problem was a slam dunk because he was the man in charge.   It was this very old, muy macho stunt, with the US Space Force, which I guess is supposed to intimidate people around the globe  every time they look up at the sky.

Trump:  “But we signed a wonderful paper saying they’re going to denuclearize their whole thing. It’s going to all happen.”

Per CNN – see link below:  This statement was made yesterday, in a 2020 campaign rally.   Crowds loved it. Trump’s assertion that North Korea has agreed to denuclearize and that “it’s going to all happen” is a massive overstatement of the facts. What Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signed in Singapore last month was a sort of outline of an agreement. There was nothing binding in it. And this week we got word that satellites have picked up what looks to be more construction at a ballistic missile site in North Korea. So yeah, this version of the North Korea story via Trump misses some major points.

Then came Mike Pompeo claim that the meetings were “productive.”   The reason why Kim Jong Un signed the agreement with Trump was  because he considers South Korea to be a nuclear power, due to the US bases in South Korea, and that we have nuclear weapons ready to defend South Korea.  Of course, we’re not going to trade our bases for nuclear disarmament in the North.  But of course,  to make the summit look like a success for both leaders, the word “denuclearization”  was left undefined.

North Korea had had enough.   This meeting was not productive.  North Korea charged that the US was pushing a “unilateral and gangster-like demand for denuclearization”  and called Pompeo’s remarks, “deeply regrettable.”

Politics is one thing,  diplomacy another.   His bragging about how great a negotiator is, may in the end, cause the talks to fail.

 But, if there is one take away from the Grand Falls, Montana rally,  it is that Donald Trump is trying to set some kind of Guinness book of records, for the most lies in less than an hour.  And his only competition is himself.

Stay tuned,
Dave

https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/obama-bribed-iran-400-million-to-release-u-s-prisoners/

http://time.com/4441046/400-million-iran-hostage-history/

Scott Pruitt is out – no time to celebrate

This land is your land, this land is my land
From the California to the New York island
From the Redwood Forest, to the gulf stream waters
This land was made for you and me

Beautiful words by Woody Guthrie.   Donald Trump has a different definition of “you and me.”

Anyone who believes the Environmental Protection Agency  will change its course, now that Scott Pruitt is out, better think again.  It’s going to get worse under former coal industry lobbyist Andrew Wheeler.   The Clean Air and Clean Water Acts provide the necessary authority to establish standards and preserve the environment.  But they don’t go into particulars.   This is left to the rules and regulations of the EPA.   The laws give the EPA authority to enforce their rules, but exactly how vigorously rules are enforced is up to the EPA.

Trump’s agenda is simply to eliminate everything done by Obama.   But, by the time the destruction is done, he’ll roll back rules dating back to the Nixon administration.  Probably the single most harmful one, is the plan rollback car emission standards.   This hurts most people who live in urban areas, the elderly and health impaired individuals.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Andrew Wheeler,  the fossil fuels lobbyist now making (undoing) policies:

https://www.npr.org/2018/07/06/626525274/get-to-know-andrew-wheeler-ex-coal-lobbyist-with-inside-track-to-lead-epa

This land is made for Exxon,  Murray Coal and Dow Chemical.

See link below (it has been updated to July 2018):

 

 

Trade Wars – What doesn’t work

“Trade wars are good, and easy to win”  Donald Trump March 2, 2018 tweet

Trump would like to pressure China into respecting intellectual property.  A lot of folks who understand free trade say this is fair and right.   Trade wars using tariffs don’t work.  In fact, the outcomes are so absolutely predictable, the other country will retaliate.  We have a 34 billion dollar tariff against China, so they impose equal tariffs against us.   Their and our exporters get hurt.  Does any country gain leverage on trade disputes by first imposing tariffs?   What tariffs have done is to end trade discussions between countries.   Policy changes can’t proceed while trade wars are in progress.   So, the idea of waging war and peace doesn’t work.  And leverage would work if one country is feeling real pain and the other is not.  But, this isn’t the case, and our pain is very apparent to voters.  China doesn’t have voters, so their tolerance is as high as the leaders want to go.

Really dumb.

Stay tuned,

Dave

PS.  I’m working on another blog called Presidential lies and myths.    Trump’s tweet on trade wars is a myth and it’s a whopper.   Lies usually have some false statistic associated with them, most notably with immigration and the economy.

 

 

 

 

World Cup Soccer

If you’ve been missing your loved one for the past week or so, because he/she said they were going to a friend’s house to watch the game, I have written this blog for you.

Futbol, football, soccer – it is the world’s sport.   The word goal is pronounced G O O O O O O L. There are millions of fanatic fans of this sport.  They paint their faces, carry all kinds of annoying “musical” instruments, and scream at television sets across the globe.  It’s great.

The World Cup began with teams from 32 countries, at least one representative from each continent (well except Antarctica).   The first series of games (round of 16)  eliminated half the countries using a point system.   Out of the game are a slew of countries which were underdogs:  Australia, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Senegal  and Nigeria. If Nigeria had won, all 51 countries in Africa would celebrate for weeks.  Africa will celebrate anyway.   I thought Mexico would enter the semi-finals.

Now we are in the quarter finals. with games as follows:  July 6,  Uruguay x France  (morning) ,  Brazil x Belgium (afternoon),  July 7: Sweden x England (morning),  Russia v. Croatia (afternoon).   The morning and afternoon stuff is just for those in my time zone (Eastern US).  Others likely will have to tape the first game.

So, after Friday, we will know the 4 teams headed for the semi-finals.  Who does the world want to win?  I think Brazil and Uruguay.   And Croatia, because they seem to be happy and nobody knows where this country is  (except its in Eastern Europe) or their language. And Sweden because nobody expects them to win.  What country does the world not want to win?   I think Russia.  It’s because of mean spirited Putin.  But the Russians definitely know how to  party and they are very friendly.  Just, they aren’t a third world country.  My guess is Belgium v. Brazil for the finals.  Personally, I’m rooting for Brazil.   I can always update this post after the cup is over, to show how brilliant I was at picking the winner.

On July 15, 2018,  the final match takes place starting at 11:00 am.  The FIFA website http://www.fifa.com is excellent on details.

Your loved ones may re-appear sometime after this.  If not, then maybe they left for other reasons or are still hung over.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

 

Replacing Justice Kennedy

There’s battle lines being drawn
Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong
Young people speaking their minds
Getting so much resistance from behind

Buffalo Springfield,  1966

They were talking about civil rights marches, and protests against the Vietnam war.   It wasn’t about the changes in the Supreme Court.  This might be a bit harsh, but voters in 2016, who did not want a Supreme Court run be conservatives, should have voted for Hillary Clinton.  Trump gets to chose who he wants and they will be highly regarded judges, according to most sources.   The Democrats will have no wiggle room to suggest that his nominee is not qualified to be a Supreme Court judge.

The four top names are,  Amy Coney Barrett,  Thomas Hardiman,  Brett Kavanaugh and Amul Thapar,  all of whom have the stamp of approval of conservative legal organizations, like the Federalists.   Kennedy sided with the progressive judges in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), upholding Roe v.  Wade, the famous case which legalized abortion.   Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, legalizing same sex marriages (Obergefell v. Hodges, 2015).   But,  Kennedy also sided with the conservatives when he wrote Citizens United v. FEC (2010) which through the free speech rights of corporations, allowed for massive campaign spending by corporations in the 2016 election.

Justice Kennedy was often a key vote.   In this last term,  on the close votes, he seemed more incline to agree with conservatives, including the most recent case which decided that Trump’s travel ban (note Travel Ban III) was within his authority and legal.

Judge Kennedy was 81 years old.  Could more retirements be announced?  The oldest judges, Ruth Ginsburg, 85 years old,  and Stephen Breyer, 79 years old,  still seem pretty spry.    They are the more liberal judges.

Trump wants a young Judge, who is espouses a conservative philosophy, suitable to the Republicans and likely will not change once he is on the court.   For this reason,  I believe the next Supreme Court nominee will be Brett Kavanaugh.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

 

 

Peter Strzok

Most of  Peter Strzok professional career has been spent working for the FBI.  His primary mistake was sending text message to Lisa Page, Special Counsel to the FBI  using a cell phone issued by the FBI.  Their phone messages were discovered, and Peter Strzok was taken off the Mueller investigation.   There were about 7,000 text messages between Page and Strzok and a small fraction of these emails had disparaging comments about Trump.

The Inspector General made a thorough investigation of the Hillary email scandal, and found no bias on the part of Peter Strzok.    Of course Strzok and Page were trying to keep their affair a secret.  The comments were meant to be part of a very  private conversation.    With the release of the text messages, it has become the most public affair ever, and great fodder for Fox News.

Unfortunately,  Strzok’s days at the FBI are probably numbered.  He is likely an excellent FBI investigator, and did nothing wrong in both the email scandal and the Russian probe.    But, the obvious political heat makes him a hot potato.

He is scheduled to testify on Wednesday in a closed session of the House Intelligence Committee, whose chairman Devin Nunes has been in lockstep with Trump.  This committee likely leaked all of Strzok’s text messages before the DOJ decided to release them.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Strzok

 

Rob Rogers – Cartoonist, Fired for attacking Donald Trump

Ego deflating political humor is good, but with Rob Rogers, it is superb.   With Trump, his ego had expanded slightly larger than a Goodyear blimp, so the target was so much out in front.  Hitting it was no problem, but with Rob Rogers, it was his aim that was so perfect.

See links:

http://robrogers.com/category/archive/

There’s several pages of cartoons, the link to page through them is at the top of each page.

http://robrogers.com/2018/06/19/support-rob-on-patreon/

FBI Honesty and Integrity

I’ve been working my way through the 500 pages of the Inspector General report, and at the same time, listening to FBI Christopher Wray and the Inspector General Michael Horowitz in the congressional hearing.   Occasionally, I listen to Fox News nonsense, to hear Lou Dobbs and Ed Rollins tell me what a horrible state we are in with subversive Democrats pulling the strings, operating in some deep state cabal.

Cabal:   a secret political clique or faction. “a cabal of dissidents” synonyms: clique, faction, coterie, cell, sect, junta, camarilla;

We were doing just fine with James Comey, as Director of the FBI, and Christopher Wray is also very capable. I’ve included Director Wray’s biography.   I think Trump believed he could change the course of the Russian investigation with Comey, and was upset when this wasn’t working.  He won’t have any better success with Wray and can’t afford to fire Wray.

The chief complaint against FBI Director Comey was excessive transparency.  His disclosure to Congress in October 2016  of reopening the email scandal likely  hurt Hillary Clinton’s chances of being elected.   Director Wray spoke about the need for balancing  two essential competing requirements – the need to keep the Congress’s oversight committees informed on FBI work in general, and the need to keep FBI sources and methods confidential during an ongoing investigation.   I call this the simultaneous need for transparency and opaqueness.   At some point, he will be accused of concealment of vital information sought by Congress.  It’s all part of the job.

Finally,  the texting stuff between FBI Special Counsel Lisa Page and FBI agent Peter Strzok.    In hindsight,  the chief crime in all this, was their decision to use FBI issued cell phones to carry on personal conversations.   They did this because they were in a relation and did not want their spouses to know.   In one exchange on Aug. 8, 2016, according to the IG report, Page wrote, “[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!” Strzok’s response: “No. No he’s not. We’ll stop it.”    It should be remembered this was supposed to be a personal  private conversation, and joking, exaggeration  or excessive chutzpah are allowed.   The inspector general conducted over 100 interviews,  and ultimately cleared Page and Strzok of any political bias in the decisions they were involved in.

Revealing the personal chatter between these two individuals gets pretty silly at some point.  It was a relationship for god sake- they were sharing intimate secrets and passions.    Peter Strzok by August 2016,  had potentially damning information on Trump’s campaign officials, but it was complicated and highly circumstantial.   If he wanted to, he could have done severe damage to Trump’s campaign.    He and everyone at the FBI kept a tight lid on what they knew at the time.   Strzok chose opaqueness,  as any other decision would compromise his professionalism at the FBI.  Yet, partisan Republican are going after Strzok  big time, because he was part of the Mueller investigation, and the only one they have some dirt on.   He is the Director of Human Resources at the FBI, so there is nothing in his current work they can attack.

Everyone in the FBI is entitled to personal political opinions.  They can love or hate the current or future president.   But, what will not be repeated for a long time, is personal conversations on government issued cell phones.   There is spying on employees at work in private businesses, and cellphones become much more of a liability than an asset.

Director Comey would have been blasted by Republicans for concealment of critical information, had he not gone public with his announcement in July 2016,   Loretta Lynch was also routinely attacked by Fox News and conservatives in Congress in 2016, for what appeared to be a rubber stamp of Comey’s clearing Clinton of wrongdoing.   There wasn’t a winning option in all of this.

Trump has gone off into another orbit on this, saying the IG report exonerates him of firing Comey and that Comey’s conduct was criminal.  Wrong on both accounts.  The firing of Comey was pretty close to obstruction of justice, as Trump was asking for Comey’s loyalty in the investigation of Michael Flynn.   That’s why Comey was fired and not his excessive transparency in July 2016.

What the IG didn’t find is likely why the Democrats are embracing the report.   The IG found no evidence that the political bias of FBI agents had any role in the investigation.   The email investigation was done thoroughly by the FBI.

Bottom line:  All evidence points to an honest and hardworking FBI in 2016, 2017 and we still have one today.

Stay tuned,

Dave

See link below:

Factcheck.org: Trump Misleads on IG Report

Christopher Wray

Director Wray – Wikipedia:

Wray joined the government in 1997 as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia. In 2001, he moved to the Justice Department as Associate Deputy Attorney General and Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General.[10]

On June 9, 2003, President George W. Bush nominated Wray to be the 33rd Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Criminal Division of the Justice Department. Wray was unanimously confirmed by the Senate on September 11, 2003.[11][12][13] Wray was Assistant Attorney General from 2003 to 2005, working under Deputy Attorney General James Comey. While heading the Criminal Division, Wray oversaw prominent fraud investigations, including Enron.[10][14] In March 2005, Wray announced that he would resign from his post.[15] His last day at the Justice Department was on May 17, 2005.[citation needed]

In 2005, Wray received the Edmund J. Randolph Award, the Justice Department’s highest award for public service and leadership.

 

 

Lie of the year 2018

I think it’s a sure win for Trump.   It’s only mid-year, but there are really a slew of them, which really put him over the top.  The FBI embedding secret agents within the Trump campaign qualified for a “Pants on Fire”  award.   But, then came the Trump’s administration policy change to separate children from their parents,  and blame it on a law passed by Democrats,  really blew past prior lies.   Here is the post:

A “horrible law” requires that children be separated from their parents “once they cross the Border into the U.S.”  Donald Trump,  May 28, 2018.

Politifact says:  “We rate this statement False.”

Here’s the truth from Politifact.

But there is no law that mandates separating children from their parents. Trump’s own administration devised a policy to that effect.

So what is Trump talking about?

Whenever parents are charged with a federal misdemeanor (entry without inspection in this case), or awaiting trial, they are placed in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service. Children cannot go to jail, so they are transferred to the custody of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement. They are then placed with relatives, juvenile detention centers or foster care. That’s a longstanding Homeland Security policy, DHS told us.

Before the Trump administration, immigrants entering illegally as families were rarely prosecuted, said Sarah Pierce, an associate policy analyst of the U.S. Immigration Program at the Migration Policy Institute. Instead, immigrants were held in family detention centers until they were sent to appear before an immigration court or deported.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced on April 6 the Homeland Security Department would now be referring all illegal border crossings to the Justice Department for prosecution. Facing criminal charges, parents would go to detention centers, leaving their children unaccompanied.

It’s the decision to prosecute parents that is causing the separations.

“That’s a choice they have made that’s largely different from what other administrations have done,” said Peter Margulies, an immigration law and national security law professor at Roger Williams University School of Law.

When we asked for evidence of policies separating families, the White House referred us to items determining what happens to unaccompanied immigrant minors. But none of the children in question would be deemed unaccompanied if the Trump administration did not decide to prosecute their parents.

The 1997 Flores Settlement Agreement, for example, calls for the release of unaccompanied minors to family members or sponsors who can care for them as their immigration case is resolved. The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, which Trump has wrongly called “a Democrat rule,” determines that unaccompanied minors be transferred to Health and Human Services custody.

The White House argued such policies encourage parents to send their children into the United States, knowing they will be promptly released.

“The cruel and inhumane open borders policies of the Democratic Party are responsible for encouraging mass illegal migration, enabling horrendous child smuggling, and releasing violent MS-13 gang members into American communities,” White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said in an emailed statement.

The Trump administration may believe that Democrats are responsible for policies that encourage illegal border crossing, but we found no law mandating that children be separated from their parents.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Link:

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2018/may/29/donald-trump/trump-blames-democrat-own-policy-separating-family/

May 24, 2018 was a rapid fire series of lies  by Donald Trump on immigration on the Trump friendly “Fox and Friends”

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2018/may/24/donald-trump-made-8-misleading-claims-about-immigr/

 

 

 

 

Inspector General’s Report

The link below is the full 500+ report, which as I predicted, is being reported very differently by Republicans and Democrats.    Fox News headline is:  “Disaster for Comey”  with the implication that whatever is bad for Comey,  makes the FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton look bad.   They further go on to say “Trump breaks silence with damning IG report, say it vindicates move to fire FBI boss.”

The New York Times headline avoided the same adjectives, such as bombshell (seen on Fox News)  but reported “FBI Faulted in Clinton Case.”   They mention the  part of the report that Democrats like –  the conclusion that political opinions of some at  FBI involved in the Clinton email investigation  did not influence the outcome.

So, both Republicans and Democrats can reach different conclusions.   And, finally the reason most Americans will not bother to read it (beyond laziness), is best summed up by one blogger:, “The IG is just as crooked as the rest of the FBI and DOJ.”   So,  paranoid conspiracy bloggers don’t need to read and can just troll the internet for big conspiracy advocates.

The IG’s conclusions are based on the information as given in the 500 pages of documentation.   I think that’s pretty good.

2016_election_final_report_06-14-18_0

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

 

The Inspector General’s Report on DOJ’s handling of Clinton’s emails

The Inspector General’s report is over 500 pages long, and the average American is likely not going to read any of it.  So,  Republicans and Democrats are going to have a field day, finding their favorite sentences.   If they don’t find what they want, they will invent some things.

I won’t be commenting on the report right away.  I like to wait until the dust settles.

But to give folks an inkling of what’s coming up from the pundits, here are my predictions:

Republicans:  It is a scathing indictment of the FBI rife with political corruption, which did everything they could so Hillary Clinton could get elected.

Democrats:   The report shows the FBI, for the most part, did a thorough and complete investigation.   The disclosure of results should have been done differently.

 A lot of the focus will be on Comey’s  four announcements, which helped and hurt Clinton as follows:   (1) Opening the investigation in mid 2015 (hurt Clinton), (2) Declaring she did nothing criminal in July 2016 (helped and hurt Clinton, because he added her handling of top secret documents was extremely sloppy)   (3) Re-opening the investigation just before the election (hurt Clinton),  (4) Closing the investigation on October 29, 2016 (helped Clinton).

Rob Rosenstein criticized Comey both for actions that hurt Clinton and helped her.    He claimed that Comey had “usurped” the authority of DOJ when he said that no reasonable prosecutor would file criminal charges against Hillary Clinton.   Rumors right now are that the IG report will reach similar conclusions.   I personally think “usurp”  is too strong, and didn’t take into account the massive campaign waged by Trump every day she was the target of an FBI investigation.

Best to wait for the report, and ignore the noise which is “full of sound and fury.”   (thanks WS).

Stay tuned,

Dave

What keeps democracies working?

I think it’s a fair question.    I think two pillars of a working democracy are a system of laws, in which no one is above or has special privileges  and freedom of the press.  Where democracies are failing, there is almost a universal attempt to silence dissent, usually by jailing journalists.  Access to the internet, particularly sites like mine, are banned.

This doesn’t happen in the US.   We may have a president who regularly bashes certain newspapers, such as the Washington Post or the New York Times, but this is strictly politics.  Commentary he does not like, he refers to as lies.  Those reporting the news,  in an inquisitive manner, are not failing.  They are working hard to get their facts straight.

Democracy was at work when the Miami-Herald wanted documents about the failed FIU bridge.  It wasn’t  headline news.  The Miami-Herald is  seeking release of many documents from the state government  including minutes of  meetings of involved parties prior to the collapse of the FIU bridge.  There were reports of cracks appearing in the bridge about 10 days before the installation.  The judge will decide in two weeks (around June 21) and whatever the decision, the state may either appeal the decision or comply.   Our judiciary branch,  not the legislature nor the executive branch, has the final word on the rights of people. Certain information can not be disclosed by government.   Any document related to the National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) investigation of the FIU accident is considered confidential and the Miami-Herald is only asking for documents prior to the investigation.

Countries with failing democracies, resort to use of the police and their military, to suppress dissent.   It is our system of laws which protect us from being thrown in jail or otherwise intimidated for our beliefs.   The system is imperfect and sometimes misunderstood.  The police and FBI  must use all means of investigation at their disposal, which includes legal wiretap and informants.  It is not spying on our citizens, but doing its job in crime enforcement.

This same system of laws may mean that certain information is not made public.  The media is always filing Freedom of Information Act requests, and when the governments refuse, they go to court.   It is our system working to have these clashes.   I don’t like Judicial Watch (JW) because of their strongly Republican bias and frequently politically motivated headlines, but I respect their constitutional right to seek release of information from government.

I would add a third pillar to democracy which is an informed and participating public.   We’re not doing too good here.  Only 43% of Americans voted in our last election.  We can do better.

In sum, democracies need a system of law for everybody, freedom of the press, and an informed and participating public to keep working.

My New York Times (print copy) just came, and my Washington Post is waiting to be opened.  Sorry Donald – Got to go.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Luna – all’s fair in love and war

And in divorce.   Particularly if your name is Farhad Akhmedov,  a Russian billionaire, who married Tatiana Akmedova in 1993.   The Luna is a yacht, but as today’s New York Times describes it, “With a spa, a swimming pool, two heliports, and room for 18 guests, the Luna is more like a floating villa than a yacht.”  It is worth about 500 million dollars. It has been awarded to Farhad’s ex-wife in 2016, but she’s been unable to gain possession of the yacht.

The divorce war began in 2013, when Tatiana filed for divorce in the UK.  All seemed to be settled in December 2016, when the High Court ordered poor Fakhad to pay his ex-wife, the equivalent of $646 million dollars.   When he refused, and the judge could not force payment,  he ordered him to turn over the yacht to his ex-wife.

It’s not like burying the family jewels in a coffee can somewhere on a farm.  This thing is huge – 380 feet long.    Just in case of any attack, it has an anti-missile detection system, an anti-drone system and bulletproof windows and bombproof doors.    Almost forgot the mini-submarine, and the 8 relatively smaller boats that it carries.

Fakhad’s assets are incredible, with houses in France and England, a private plane and a couple of helicopter.  His net worth is pegged at 1.4 billion dollars.

The Luna went from  Germany, to Norway and finally Dubai.   In Germany, it underwent a 50 million dollar refit.  Once it got to Dubai, it was impounded by authorities.

Farhad had challenged the divorce in a number of ways.  He claimed he was already divorced in Russian court, but the UK court found the documents were forged.  He transferred ownership to a handful of companies controlled by Farhad and his allies, in the Isle of Man, Panama, and Liechtenstein.  Finally the yacht ended up in a family trust with the name Straight.  UK Judge Haddon-Cave stated the trust was “the antithesis   of its name.”  Cute.  On April 19, 2018, he ordered the yacht to be given to Tatiana, so Farhad handed her the keys and wished her well.

Ok, the last bit about handing over the yacht never happened.  Instead, Farhad is going to the Dubai courts, hoping for  a judgment that says the British order to transfer the yacht is unenforceable in Dubai.   His trump card:  he claims to be Muslim.  His wife is Christian.  Yet his wife claims he’s not a practicing Muslim, however he has given generously to restoration of mosques.     Farhad want this to be considered a matrimonial issue to be decided by local Shariah law in Dubai, which could go bad for Tatiana.

All eyes are on the Dubai courts. The Court of Appeal of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) said that the country’s lower court had no power to seize the ship – and agreed with lawyers acting for the family trust which owns the yacht on May 10, 2018.   The yacht isn’t going anywhere right now as a further court hearing will be held in July 2018 in Dubai.   I’m certain what Farhad wants is for the courts to accept his line, that the marriage was dissolved in Russia back in 2000.  It’s pretty crazy as they were together for 13 years following the divorce.

Tatiana is ready  to settle out of court while  Farhad wants to win at all costs.  His lawyer stated, “He (Farhad) would rather see the Luna rot in the Dubai heat than see it handed over to Tatiana.”

Dubai is hot in July – and even hotter inside the courthouse, where the Luna could end up (a) Sold by Tatiana,  (b) Back to Farhad, or (c) A rusted old yacht at the bottom of the sea.

Links:

https://www.superyachtfan.com/superyacht/superyacht_luna.html

Daily Mail: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5713091/Billionaire-oligarch-centre-UKs-costliest-divorce-wins-latest-battle-ex-wife-yacht.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farkhad_Akhmedov

https://www.irishtimes.com/business/financial-services/russian-billionaire-s-400m-superyacht-given-to-former-wife-in-divorce-case-1.3467568

 

US-North Korea Summit Cancelation

Trump may uncancel the Summit.   But when he did cancel it, he wanted to make sure to point the blame at North Korea.  At least, that is what President Trump wanted to hear from other world leaders.   And of course, none of them are saying this.

President Moon of South Korea, said the cancellation of the Summit was regrettable.  Others have said leaders in Seoul are perplexed.

It was Churchill’s famous quote,  “To jaw-jaw is always  better than war-war.”  If history has shown us anything, it is that long term enemies can first learn to co-exist, and then become friends.  It doesn’t happen overnight.  Animosity doesn’t have to end in bloodshed.

Nobody really knew how the planned summit was going to turn out.    Many experts on North Korea seemed surprised at Kim Jong Un  sudden  willingness to seek some kind of discussion on nuclear disarmament and reconciliation with South Korea after showing so much hostility and threats mainly to the US.    From their perspective,  they were achieving parity with South Korea, which they consider to be a nuclear power, given the strong military  support from the US.

Certainly,  much of the credit for bringing North Korea  leader to the summit goes to  the  newly elected South Korean President Moon Joe-in.    The invitation by President Moon to the Olympic games was the first real diplomatic outreach.   This was followed by the inter-Korean summit, in April 27, 2018, which was the first summit in eleven years, and the first time President Moon and Chairman Kim have met in person.

The cancellation seems outright weird and dumb.   Weird is the right word, because it has to do with an exchange of words between Vice President Pence that North Korea could end up like Libya (North Korea could follow the Libyan model)  really made no sense.    This weird Libyan comment started with John Bolton, then Donald Trump and then Pence said the same thing.    The leader of Libya was killed in 2011 by his own people in the city of Sirte,  during the Libyan civil war.   However, there was covert aerial support by NATO including the US  in spotting the convoy that Qaddafi was in.

The actions taken by the US and our European allies, in support of the Libyan civil war, have nothing in common with nuclear disarmament.    Qaddafi had already given up his nuclear program and dismantled terrorist training sites in 2003.  The Bush administration took Libya off of the list of  state sponsored supporters of terrorism.   This was an enormous help to the Qaddafi regime.  Many (including myself) believe Qaddafi did this for economic reasons.    I also believed he was becoming more worried about unrest in eastern part of the country, centered around Benghazi, as a potential future threat.  Benghazi is where the first hostilities broke out in 2011.

The intervention in Libya occurred after UN Resolution 1973 (17-Mar-2011) during the Obama administration, was presumably to protect civilian lives.  At the time, it was highly likely that Qaddafi would have bombed Benghazi and other cities which were rebelling against his authority.   If he had bombed Benghazi, a city with a population of over 600,000 inhabitants, the death toll would have been enormous.  Putin and others were highly critical of the US implementation of the Resolution, as we used it as a rationale to bomb Qaddafi’s compound in Tripoli, late in 2011.

Many consider Hillary Clinton’s support of the intervention in Libya, and demonstrations against Putin in Moscow 2011 as the reason for Russia’s interference in US elections in 2016.   The Arab Spring uprisings were against many autocratic regimes, including the Russian government.

The aftermath of the civil war and  Libya’s “Arab Spring” rebellion, is a long drawn out disaster, and none of relates to North Korea.   I think the only fair take away message from Libya, is that the outcome of intervention, can be very unpredictable.

Perhaps what is so obvious to the North Korean regime, is the “Iran Model”  where the US unilaterally pulled out of a nuclear disarmament deal, even though Iran was in compliance.

The day the talks were cancelled, the New York Times printed a story, about how China would likely be the greatest beneficiary as more acceptance of North Korea with other countries, is not in their game plan.

Diplomacy requires careful driving, and a clear focus on acceptable outcomes.   Mike Pence following John Bolton’s inflammatory rhetoric is the quickest way to veer off the road and slam into a telephone pole.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

 

 

 

Sunday’s tweet storm

There was some speculation that this tweet storm was coming.  The weather in Washington was poor over the weekend, so no golf for the Donald.   Theses tweets included  name calling (crooked New York Times) and unfounded allegations all centered around the Mueller investigation, and the media.  It reminds me why I subscribe to the New York Times, because it provides hard facts, often taken from court filings.  Revealing the name of the FBI informant is a diversion, and it won’t work, as all law enforcement depends on keeping sources confidential.

A totally open investigation, where confidential information in FISA warrants and names of informants, is given to the public, not only can ruin this investigations, but severely limit future investigations.

Mueller has obtained either indictments or guilty pleas for key campaign officials:

Paul Manafort, under house arrest awaiting trial, Trump’s campaign manager, June to August 2016,  Faces many charges, including financial fraud, conspiracy against the US, failure to register as a foreign agent working for Ukraine.

Rick Gates,  plead guilty to financial fraud and lying to investigators, Trump’s deputy campaign manager, worked as number 2  along with Manafort, and then continued after the election, in planning the inauguration ceremonies.  His cooperation with the Mueller investigation may uncover more Russian links.

General Michael Flynn,  pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.  Joined Trump’s campaign in February 2016 as a foreign policy adviser.  Trump appointed him National Security Adviser, a position he held for 24 days until resigning as facts surface on his contacts with Russian officials which he had lied about to Vice President Pence.  He is cooperating with the Mueller investigation.

The list goes on.  George Papadopoulos,  former campaign foreign policy advisor,  has also plead guilty to lying to FBI agents and is also cooperating with the Mueller investigation.

This is white collar crime, involving bank fraud, conspiracy with Russian agents,  campaign finance violation and money laundering.  It must be investigated and prosecuted.  The investigation is not completed, but the tweets say one thing:  Donald Trump is scared of what is likely to be revealed.  When you’ve got nothing to defend yourself, you can always pound the table.  Or send your TV lawyers to Fox News to do it for you.

Keep informed.  It’s a complex story, and not everything will connect up.   It will take time for Mueller to complete the investigation.  See links below on the tweet storm and summaries of the investigation.   And kudos to the New York Times,  Washington Post (I subscribe to both newspapers) and Wikipedia (send in your donation today!).

Stay tuned,

Dave

 Checking Facts: 11 false things Donald Trump said in 5 tweets Sunday morning

Wikipedia: Special Counsel investigation (2017–present)

(Getting results, slow but sure)

Vanity Fair: RICK GATES COULD BE MORE DANGEROUS THAN TRUMP’S ALLIES THOUGHT 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rick_Gates_(political_consultant)