Tag Archives: Trump

Trump scraps academic EPA air pollution panel

The head of EPA in the Trump administration has scrapped the academic EPA air pollution panel that has dominated the agency’s air quality control standards for decades.

Andrew Wheeler, the acting chief of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), yesterday fired a panel of scientific experts charged with assisting the agency’s latest review of air quality standards for particulate matter. He also scrapped plans to form a similar advisory panel to aid in a recently launched assessment of the ground-level ozone limits.

Those steps, coupled with Wheeler’s previously announced decision to concentrate authority in a seven-member committee made up mostly of his appointees, quickly sparked objections that the agency is intent on skewing the outcome of those reviews in favor of industry.

…Under the Clean Air Act, EPA is supposed to review the adequacy of the standards for particulate matter, ozone and four other common pollutants every 5 years with help from outside experts. While the seven-member committee, officially known as the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC), has the lead in the process, the [scrapped] review panels are supposed to provide additional know-how in assessing the relevant scientific literature, which can span a variety of academic disciplines.

Essentially the acting administrator is continuing the effort of the former EPA head, Scott Pruitt, to de-emphasize the domination of the leftist academic community in these matters. Naturally, the academics are screaming, but then, screaming has recently become the left’s only debating point in all matters of national discussion.

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Competing proposals for military space operations

Turf war! Even as Trump is pushing for a new Space Force, the military bureaucracy is proposing competing proposals for rearranging its space bureaucracy.

Some of the details are a bit in the weeds but the following lays out some of the basics

Griffin and Wilson take very different approaches.

In her memo, Wilson suggests the Space Development Agency should be organized under the existing Space Rapid Capabilities Office and that it should be geographically and organizationally connected to U.S. Space Command. She recommends using “existing structures designed and chartered to acquire capabilities rapidly, rather than establishing new structures.”

Griffin is proposing a new D.C.-based agency with a staff of 112 government personnel that would report to him initially, but eventually would shift to the control of a new assistant secretary of defense for space, an office that would first have to be approved by Congress.

In Wilson’s plan, the Space Development Agency and other acquisition organizations would transition to the new Department of the Space Force. She pointedly pushes back on the idea of having an assistant secretary of defense for space or a Space Development Agency that reports to that office. She argues that such a setup would create additional bureaucracy that would be removed from the operators who use and maintain the equipment.

Griffin, a former NASA administrator, seems more focused in his proposal in transitioning the military towards using private commercial assets rather than building its own, but his apparent love for building his own empire might work against that stated goal.

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Air Force estimates Space Force cost at $13 billion for first 5 years

Pork! Air Force has now released its first estimate for establishing a Space Force, with an estimated cost of $13 billion for first five years.

A copy of the Air Force memo was obtained Monday by The Associated Press. The memo says the first-year cost of a Space Force would be $3.3 billion, and the cost over five years would be an estimated $12.9 billion.

As I have said, this is nothing more than pork. At this stage all that needs to happen is a reorganization that would put all space activities in a single office in the Air Force. This is also what the Air Force has wanted to do. Creating a whole new military branch at this time is overkill, and will merely result in too much bureaucracy, for only one reason, to spend money.

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Trump unclassifies FISA warrants, interviews; orders release of unredacted FBI text messages

Trump has today unclassified both the FISA Carter Page application and the FBI interviews connected with that application. He also ordered the release, unredacted, of all FBI text messages of James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and Bruce Ohr.

This information I think is going to demonstrate that the certain people at the FBI have been running an anti-Trump/pro-Democratic Party operation, concocting a false claim of Russian-Trump collusion in order to remove a duly elected President. Moreover, comparing the previously released redacted text messages with the unredacted messages is almost certainly going to reveal that someone at the FBI has acting to obstruct the investigation.

I wonder if anyone will ask the question “Who?”

I should also point out that Trump himself could have read these documents whenever he wanted. He doesn’t need to declassify them to see them, and form judgements from them. Moreover, the redactions only apply to the public, not to Trump. He could have seen this anytime, and acted immediately, if he had chosen.

Instead, he chose to wait and wait, and then release this now, at a moment when all eyes are aimed at the fake scandal being perpetrated by the Democrats against his Supreme Court nominee.

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Trump administration to shutter PLO office in DC

As part of its hard-nosed approach to PLO intransigence, the Trump administration has decided to shut down the Palestinian offices in DC.

National security adviser John Bolton is expected to announced Monday that the U.S. will shutter the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) office in Washington, D.C., The Wall Street Journal reported. “The Trump administration will not keep the office open when the Palestinians refuse to start direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel,” Bolton is expected to say, according to a draft of his speech reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

This is on top of cutting off all U.S. funding to the PLO.

Though I like this decision, as it ends U.S. support for these terrorist organizations, I doubt it will do anything to change PLO policy. The petty dictators who are in charge of Palestinian affairs, the PLO and Hamas, require the selling of hatred of Jews and Israel to survive. Everything else they have done has bankrupted the lives of the people living in the West Bank and Gaza. The second they change their tune, the people there might suddenly realize how bad their leadership is, and could very well string them up, much as the Italians did to Mussolini at the end of World War II.

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Democratic Congressman to immigration officials: “When the worm turns you will not be safe.”

They’re coming for you next: An Arizona Democratic congressman yesterday threatened immigration officials for any work they might do to enforce the immigration laws passed by Congress.

“If you are a US government official and you are deporting Americans be warned,” the tweet read. “When the worm turns you will not be safe because you were just following orders. You do not have to take part in illegal acts ordered by this President’s administration.”

Not surprising, this was done on that sewer of brainlessness called Twitter.

First of all, no Americans have been deported. The Trump administration has simply been doing exactly the same thing that both the previous Bush and Obama administration had done, demand a verification that certain individuals near the Mexican border are really American citizens before issuing a passport, as per the law.

I repeat, they’re coming for you next. Comments like this only reveal what these fascists really want to do, destroy whoever might stand in the way of their obtaining of power.

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Trump cancels federal employee pay raise

President Trump today used his power under federal law to cancel this year’s scheduled federal employee pay raise of 2.1% as well as a 25% increase for “localities”.

In a letter to House and Senate leaders, Trump wrote that he’d decided “across-the-board” pay raises as well as locality pay raises for civilian federal workers in 2019 would be frozen. “I have determined that for 2019, both across‑the‑board pay increases and locality pay increases will be set at zero,” he wrote. “These alternative pay plan decisions will not materially affect our ability to attract and retain a well‑qualified Federal workforce,” Trump added.

In the letter, Trump said a 25.7-percent pay raise for localities, as well as a 2.1-percent pay increase for across-the-board pay, both scheduled for January 2019, would add billions to the federal deficit. Specifically, he pointed to the scheduled locality pay raise as costing $25 billion. “We must maintain efforts to put our Nation on a fiscally sustainable course, and Federal agency budgets cannot sustain such increases,” Trump wrote in the letter.

This is what has made Trump different than every president since Reagan. He is willing to do things that shake up the status quo that are also falsely considered risky by the Washington political class. This will not hurt him politically in the least, despite what you will hear the pundits on the bankrupt mainstream media say. If anything, it will strongly help him and his political allies, as the American taxpaying public has been for many years disgusted with the overpaid federal workforce that has an amazing ability to regularly screw up any job they are given.

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Trump administration cuts $200 million of Palestinian aid

The Trump administration today announced an additional $200 million cut of Palestinian aid.

“At the direction of President Trump, we have undertaken a review of U.S. assistance to the Palestinian Authority and in the West Bank and Gaza to ensure these funds are spent in accordance with U.S. national interests and provide value to the U.S. taxpayer,” the department said. “As a result of that review, at the direction of the president, we will redirect more than $200 million … originally planned for programs in the West Bank and Gaza.”

“This decision takes into account the challenges the international community faces in providing assistance in Gaza, where Hamas control endangers the lives of Gaza’s citizens and degrades an already dire humanitarian and economic situation,” the notice said, without providing additional details.

As long as the terrorist leadership in Gaza and the West Bank refuse to accept the right of Israel to exist, they simply do not deserve any American aid. This is a reasonable position, and it is also one that follows laws that Congress itself has passed.

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Trump administration goes all in for LOP-G

The swamp wins! In a speech today Vice President Mike Pence made it clear that the Trump administration is giving its full endorsement to the construction of the Lunar Orbiting Platform-Gateway (LOP-G), as well as SLS and Orion. These big boondoggles, which will trap us in lunar orbit while the Chinese set up lunar bases and take possession of the surface and its resources, are going forward, with both the president’s support as well as Congress’s.

Providing further evidence that the Trump administration has bought into these projects, in his introduction of Pence NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine gave a big public endorsement to the executive secretary of the National Space Council, Scott Pace, a man who has been a big supporter of these projects of the bureaucracy. Pace believes we need these projects, despite the fact that they have been under construction for two decades, have cost an ungodly amount, and have literally flown nowhere.

Pence also said that they intend to have the space force a reality by 2020, and also hinted that the Trump administration is making a careful review on the future of ISS.

Overall, the speech was a big endorsement for government space, in every way, with the private sector designed not to lead as free Americans following their personal dreams but to follow, servants of the desires of the government and its wishes.

If you want to listen to about 30 minutes of pro-government promotion, I expect it will be posted here at some point.

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Trump EPA proposes new power plant climate rules

The Trump administration has now proposed a revision to the climate rules established by the Obama administration to limit carbon dioxide releases at power plants.

President Donald Trump’s administration released a plan today to regulate carbon dioxide emissions at power plants, undercutting a much broader effort by former President Barack Obama to slash planet-warming gases.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposal would give states wide latitude for determining how to cut greenhouse gases from the power sector, a key contributor in the U.S. to climate change. The proposed rule is far narrower than the Obama plan, which sought to cut emissions across the power sector rather than only at individual plants.

On the campaign trail in 2016, Trump promised to repeal Obama’s rule, called the Clean Power Plan. His administration stopped short of that today and is instead offering a weakened alternative to avoid a potentially damaging defeat in court.

Based on the article and the actual proposal [pdf], I am far from convinced this change reduces regulation that much. It appears to shift the regulation to the states, but whether this simplifies things for power plant operators is very doubtful.

Not surprisingly, the Democrats and various leftist environmental groups oppose the change. Expect lawsuits, since it is absolutely forbidden for any subsequent president to ever change policies set by past Democratic presidents.

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Liberal media tries to dox jurors in Manafort case

They’re coming for you next: A coalition of partisan liberal news outlets, including The Washington Post, The New York Times, the Associated Press, CNN, NBC, Politico and BuzzFeed, this week asked that the names and addresses of the jurors in the Manafort trial be released to the public.

The judge today denied the request, noting that he has received death threats and does not want to expose the jurors to similar threats.

Let’s be clear about this: The only reason these Democratic Party advocates disguised as news sources want this information is so that they use it to attack the jurors should they acquit Paul Manafort. This wouldn’t change this particular juror decision, but it would put all future jurors on notice: Don’t you dare rule in a manner the left opposes or you will face retribution and harsh payback.

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An update on Trump appointments to the federal circuit courts

Link here. The article provides a very clear status report on the number of remaining vacancies nationwide, and the politics that explain the nomination status for the 9th circuit court.

The Senate has confirmed a record 24 new circuit court judges nationwide in 20 months — with two more nominees scheduled for votes this week. But Trump has made far less progress in the jurisdiction he criticizes the most: the liberal-leaning U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, including California and eight other Western states.

Since Trump took office, the Senate has confirmed only one 9th Circuit judge — in Hawaii — leaving seven openings. A nominee in Oregon was abruptly withdrawn last month when it became clear he lacked the votes for Senate approval. And Trump has yet to even nominate anyone for the three vacancies in California, partly because of a standoff with Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris.

But there are signs that the administration is beginning to set its sights on the 9th Circuit, likely triggering a bruising fight with Democrats. For one thing, Trump is running out of vacancies in other circuits, particularly in conservative states where confirmation is easier. “They’ve been focusing on lower-hanging fruit,” said Ilya Shapiro, a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute. “After a while there are only so many seats to fill.”

More than half of the 13 vacancies remaining nationwide are on the 9th Circuit.

It appears to me that the Trump administration strategy has been to hold off in these liberal states until after the November election, betting that the Democrats will lose seats in the Senate and thus have less ability to block these nominations. This is a risky but reasonable strategy, considering the number of vulnerable Democratic Senators up for election in states Trump won handily in 2016.

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Trump revokes Brennan’s security clearance

As threatened last week, President Trump today revoked the security clearance for former CIA director and anti-Trump CNN talking head John Brennan.

President Trump on Wednesday revoked the security clearance of former CIA director John Brennan, citing his “erratic conduct and behavior.” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, reading a statement from the president, said Mr. Brennan “leveraged his status as a former high-ranking official” to make false charges against the administration.

Mr. Trump’s statement began, “As the head of the executive branch and commander-in-chief, I have a unique constitutional responsibility to protect the nation’s classified information, including by controlling access to it. Today in fulfilling that responsibility, I’ve decided to revoke the security clearance of John Brennan, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency.”

The president said Mr. Brennan’s actions have “exceeded the limits of any professional courtesy.”

I’m not sure what difference this will make, as it seems a large percentage of the people who work for the CIA are as partisan as Brennan, will gladly leak any information to him that might harm Trump, and know that they likely face no consequences because the law seemingly does not apply to those allied with the Democrats.

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FBI fires anti-Trump agent Peter Strzok

The FBI today finally fired anti-Trump agent Peter Strzok from his job at the FBI.

This action is far too little, and maybe far too late. What we really need is a complete house-cleaning, with a fresh set of new faces in charge at the FBI and the Department of Justice. What we have gotten so far has merely been the removal of a tiny handful of players while many of the big cheese remain in power.

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Russian lawmaker threatens to block sale of Russian rocket engines to ULA

In response to new U.S. sanctions, a Russian lawmaker has now threatened to block the sale of the Russian RD-180 rocket engine that ULA uses in its Atlas 5 rocket.

Russian lawmaker Sergei Ryabukhin, who heads the budget committee in the upper house of the Russian parliament, responded to the new sanctions by vowing: “The United States needs to finally understand that it’s useless to fight with Russia, including with the help of sanctions.”

According to the Russian news agency RIA, Ryabukhin found a place to hit Washington where it’s soft: the rocket engine. Losing access to the RD-180 would make American access to space—something Donald Trump desires enough to create a separate military service branch devoted to it—much more complicated. The engine helps get everything from satellites to astronauts into orbit.

More details here.

If Russia does this they will be shooting themselves in the foot. ULA is their only customer for the RD-180 engine. Without those sales, they would cut themselves off from one of the few remaining international space contracts they still have, further bankrupting their dying space industry. Furthermore, the U.S. has many other options even if the Atlas 5 can no longer fly. ULA might suffer until it can get a replacement engine, but in the meantime the Falcon Heavy is now available to replace it, at less cost.

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Pence outlines Trump administration’s plans for Space Force

In a speech today vice president Mike Pence laid out the Trump administration’s plans for eventually establishing a new Space Force branch in the military.

The first step would be to create a U.S. Space Command by the end of the year, a new combatant command that would have dedicated resources, be led by a four-star general and be tasked with defending space, the way the Pentagon’s Pacific Command oversees the ocean. The Pentagon will also begin pulling space experts from across the military and setting up a separate acquisitions office, dedicated to buying satellites and developing new technology to help it win wars in space.

…In his speech, Pence acknowledged the difficulties in standing up a new service, and said the Pentagon would create an Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space, a new top level civilian position reporting to the Secretary of Defense “to oversee the growth and expansion of the sixth branch of service.”

The new command and reorganization “should be budget neutral,” Scott Pace, the executive secretary of the National Space Council, said in an interview. “However, going forward there probably will need to be an increase in resources to buy improved capabilities and more warfighters as the Space Force matures.”

The White House has pushed for Congress to invest an additional $8 billion in national security space systems over the next five years. [emphasis mine]

The highlighted sentences explain everything. The fundamental goal here is not really to improve the country’s space defenses. The real goal is to funnel more money into the federal bureaucracy.

Reorganizing how the Defense Department runs its space operations makes great sense. And it appears the Defense Department has been moving to do so in the past few years. This push for a Space Force now however has nothing to do with that reorganization, as indicated by the opposition in Defense to Trump’s proposed Space Force. To quote the article again:

The creation of a Space Force has met with opposition, inside and out of the Pentagon. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in a memo last year to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) he opposed “the creation of a new military service and additional organizational layers at a time when we are focused on reducing overhead and integrating joint warfighting functions.”

They don’t need it right now, and it will only grow their bureaucracy unnecessarily, which will actually interfere with their effort to streamline and reorganize its space operations.

This effort by Trump to create this new bureaucracy illustrates why he is not the conservative some people imagine him to be. He might shrink the government in some places (EPA), but he is eager to grow it elsewhere. And the last thing we need now is a bigger federal government in any department. None function well, and they all cost too much and are sucking the life out of the American dream.

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Yesterday’s election

The elections that took place yesterday indicated both good and bad things for the future of the United States. First, every socialist candidate who was endorsed and campaigned-for by socialist and Democratic candidate for Congress Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was defeated. It appears that Americans are not yet convinced that socialism, a nice word for communism and its centrally-controlled society, is the way to go.

At the same time, her candidates did get a lot of votes in every one of their primary races. From this we can surmise that Democratic Party voters are increasingly enthusiastic about the idea of a full government take over of all aspects of our society, including the end of private property and capitalism, as advocated by Ocasio-Cortez. In the past such candidates would not have been able to garner more than a handful of votes. That has changed, and in a bad direction.

Similarly, it appears that the conservative Republicans supported by Trump were almost all winners. Yet, most won by the skin of their teeth. Worse, supporters of the Democratic Party almost immediately questioned the legitimacy of these wins, with some claiming that it could only have happened because of Russian interference.

Expect more of this in the future. It really appears that most Democrats truly believe that all decent people agree with them, and that only racists and bigots or Russian plants vote against Democratic candidates. If they win back power in any election they are going to move to oppress their opponents. They’re coming for you next.

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More problems for Mueller in Manafort trial

The first trial by Robert Mueller’s special council investigation (supposedly about Russia collusion during Trump’s election) is not going well so far for Robert Mueller.

1. The trial of Paul Manafort has nothing to do with Russian collusion. In fact, after more than a year of investigation Mueller has yet to find any evidence of collusion.
2. Mueller might not be able to call his star witness, without which the judge told him he does not have a case.
3. Mueller’s attempt to demonize Manafort for living the high life went over very badly with the judge.
4. And today, the judge called an early recess, after apparently losing patience with the prosecution for its errors and attempts to slip improper testimony to the jury.

In general, the Mueller prosecuting team has looked like a clown show, both in the Manafort case as well as in its case against a Russian company that surprised Mueller by actually showing up in court. I don’t know yet if they will get a guilty verdict in the Manafort case, but to my eye it increasingly looks like they won’t. And if Mueller fails here, his entire investigation, which has appeared like a fraud from the start, will be discredited in plain sight.

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Federal court allows attacked Trump supporters to continue lawsuit against San Jose

The Ninth Circuit Court has ruled that a lawsuit by injured Trump supporters against San Jose and seven of its police officers can proceed.

A three-judge panel unanimously affirmed U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh of the Northern District of California’s 2017 ruling denying the city of San Jose’s efforts to dismiss the suit against seven police officers. The plaintiffs say the officers channeled them into a violent crowd on June 2, 2016, as they exited a rally for then-presidential candidate Trump at the McEnery Convention Center. Rally-goers say they were punched and pelted with eggs while nearby law enforcement officers did nothing to protect them.

“We find the officers violated clearly established rights and are not entitled to qualified immunity at this stage of the proceedings,” Senior Judge Dorothy Wright Nelson wrote for the panel, which also included Judges Andrew Kleinfeld and William Fletcher. “Being attacked by anti-Trump protesters was only a possibility when the attendees arrived at the rally,” Nelson wrote. “The officers greatly increased that risk of violence when they shepherded and directed the attendees towards the unruly mob waiting outside the Convention Center.”

The panel also declined to block the 20 plaintiffs’ claims against San Jose, which Koh allowed to stand, saying it lacked jurisdiction to consider that portion of the city’s appeal.

Unfortunately, the big fish will get off scott free.

The suit originally named San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia and Mayor Sam Liccardo. Liccardo was dropped as a defendant from an amended version of the suit in November 2016 and Koh’s ruling dismissed claims against Garcia.

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Mob gathers and attacks pro-Trump demonstraters in Hollywood

They’re coming for you next: When a pro-Trump group decided to gather at the now destroyed star of Donald Trump at the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a mob quickly formed cursing them, then threatening them, then attacking them physically.

The video at the link is a little unclear once the fighting starts about who is fighting who. What is clear is that a mob very clearly wanted to shut down a pro-Trump demonstration, and was very eager to use violence to make that happen.

This is not the America I grew up in. The idea that someone would attack someone else, merely because of their opinion, was inconceivable in the culture of my youth. And when it did happen, it was quickly condemned, by everyone. Now, such behavior is celebrated.

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Congress nixes Space Force, for now

You can put your decoder rings back in the attic! The Defense authorization for fiscal year 2019 that has now been negotiated between the House and Senate does not include any mention of Trump’s proposed “Space Force.”

President Trump himself has taken center stage in advocating for a Space Force. While the terms Space Corps and Space Force are sometimes used interchangeably, Space Corps notionally refers to an entity with the Air Force while Space Force is separate from the Air Force. Trump made clear last month what he wants: “We are going to have the Air Force and we are going to have the Space Force. Separate but equal.”

The President cannot accomplish that on his own, however. Congress must authorize and fund a new service. Because of the attention Trump is bringing to the issue, one question was whether the NDAA conference committee might say something about it even though the House- and Senate-passed bills did not.

The answer is no. While the conference report adopts the House provision requiring creation of a U.S. Space Command within USSTRATCOM to carry out joint space warfighting and addresses a number of other space issues, it does not require creation of a Space Force or Space Corps (or another alternative, a Space Guard similar to the Coast Guard). The conference report does require the Secretary of Defense to develop a space warfighting policy and a plan that identifies joint mission-essential tasks for space as a warfighting domain (Sec. 1607).

In other words, Congress has punted, for the moment. They have not said no to the idea, but they also are not ready to create a new armed force devoted expressly to fighting war in space.

Makes sense to me. A military force in space is going to be necessary, without question and especially because of the terms imposed on us by the Outer Space Treaty. It just isn’t the time yet for such a thing.

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North Korea’s actions post-summit remain unclear

Two stories today highlight for me the murky state of North Korea’s nuclear bomb program.

The first story is originally from the Washington Post, which might not want to say good things about Trump’s foreign policy efforts with North Korea. The second story however is from the French news service AFP, which also has no kind thought’s about Trump.

So, we really do not have a clear idea yet whether North Korea is shutting down its nuclear bomb and missile program. What we do know for certain is that since November 28, 2017 North Korea has conducted no ballistic missile tests. Prior to that date they were launching test missiles at a rate of two to three a month, for years. North Korea might not be completely dismantling its missile and nuclear program, but it has at least ceased its most bellicose behavior since Trump’s diplomatic effort.

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New FISA release confirms Obama and FBI illegally conspired to spy on Trump

Working for the Democratic Party: The release this weekend of the heavily redacted FISA application that apparently began the Russian collusion investigation at the FBI has confirmed that the warrant was obtained under false pretenses, and that Obama and FBI illegally used it to justify spying on Trump and the campaign of their political opponent.

Several takeaways noted in the article:

  • Peter Strzok is a liar, though this is hardly news
  • The FISA warrant hung entirely on the claim that Carter Page was working as a spy for the Russians, but two years later he has never been charged with any crimes, suggesting that his name was used merely as a tool to open the spying operation on Trump and the Republicans.
  • The FISA warrant was almost entirely dependent on the fake dossier that had been produced as opposition research by the Clinton campaign, paid for by Clinton campaign dollars, and was not verified then, and remains unverified now. In fact, it remains an absurd tissue of lies and falsifications that should never have been brought before a judge.

More here, including the fact that it appears the warrant application was far too dependent on news stories from partisan Democratic press outlets, information that is unverified and unacceptable to use as justification for a warrant to spy on any American, no less a presidential candidate, and by the opposing party as well.

Even more here, including showing that James Comey is also a blatant liar.

The first link above sums up as follows:

The FBI’s use of flimsy and uncorroborated evidence to support spying on Page, combined with the fact that a 3-month extension was granted despite the fact that it was obvious by June, 2017 he wasn’t a Russian agent, will most certainly embolden those, like President Trump, who have called the entire Russia investigation a “witch hunt.”

The second link also adds:

What I really want to know is the identity of the judge who signed off on the surveillance of Carter Page, based on such flimsy grounds. Some are speculating that he must be from Hawaii.

That judge should be removed from office.

Moreover, the entire FISA law should be repealed. It is unconstitutional, and designed to encourage the abuse of power by those in power. Not enough people are saying this, but it really is the fundamental takeaway from this whole scandal. Just because Obama abused the law does not mean Republicans won’t. It must be repealed.

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Trump administration proposes revisions to Endangered Species Act

The Trump administration has proposed some regulatory revisions to Endangered Species Act that would scale back somewhat its sometime draconian powers.

The proposed regulatory changes are both technical and consequential. One, for instance, bears the deceptively dull title of “elimination of blanket 4(d) rule” (E&E News PM, 4 April). The ESA prohibits the “take” of species designated as endangered, while Section 4(d) of the law allows the agency to establish special regulations for threatened species. In 1978, FWS used this authority to extend the prohibition of take to all threatened species. This is known as the “blanket 4(d) rule.”

Take covers a wide range of actions, including those that “harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap, capture or collect” a threatened or endangered species. This blanket 4(d) rule for threatened species can be modified by a species-specific 4(d) rule.

Conservatives and private-property advocates have previously sought to scale back the blanket 4(d) rule, which they say erases what should be a meaningful distinction between threatened and endangered species. The proposal would cover only future listings. “Some of our regulations were promulgated back in 1986, and frankly, a great deal has been learned by the agencies administering the act and by the public,” Deputy Interior Secretary David Bernhardt told reporters today.

Another change would establish that the “foreseeable future” definition used in making ESA listing decisions extends only so far as officials “can reasonably determine that the conditions posing the potential danger of extinction are probable.”

A potentially key change involves critical habitats, which are areas important for recovery of a species. Sometimes an area can be considered important for recovery even when it is not currently occupied by the species in question. Under the new proposal, FWS and NOAA Fisheries will designate unoccupied critical habitat only when the occupied areas are inadequate to ensure the conservation of the species or if inclusion of unoccupied areas would yield certain other specified benefits.

In some “rare” cases, officials say, there may be no critical habitat designated.

The article above, from the journal Science, shocked me by its reasonable discussion of these proposed changes. I had expected an anti-Trump screed, similar to the original version of this Daily Mail article from yesterday. Today it reads more reasonably, but yesterday the article was far more devoted to airing opposition to the Trump proposals.

No matter. There is madness out there, it has taken possession of the entire anti-Trump community. It won’t make a difference how reasonable the administration’s proposals might be, there will be over-the-top declarations about the evils of these proposals and how they will destroy everything.

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A science journal describes how evil Trump is destroying EPA

Link here.

If you have no idea why we have Trump, and why we are likely to get more of him, read this article from the science journal Nature. It is a carefully written screed, written entirely from the point of view of those hostile to Trump and his effort to rein in the EPA’s regulatory culture. No one is interviewed to give the Trump perspective, and even if some had been, the author is so certain that Trump is evil and wrong in his efforts that I am sure the Trump perspective would have been misinterpreted, or even slandered. (This I am sure is why the article says that EPA management did not “respond to requests to comment on the article’s allegations.” The allegations were already set. Nothing anyone said from the administration would change those conclusions.)

Still, I am certain the author could have gotten opinions from some of the skeptical scientists whom the Trump administration has brought in to advise EPA. None however were interviewed.

What is most embarrassing about the article is its description of two of the main changes the Trump administration has imposed on EPA to widen and make more transparent the scientific work it does. First,
» Read more

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Trump picks Kavanaugh for Supreme Court

Link here. Kavanaugh’s track record places him no worse than middle-of-the-road Kennedy, whom he replaces, but more likely leaning more to the right. How far will remain for time to decide.

Expect a lot of slander, over-the-top attacks, and vicious opposition from the left, based not on facts but on their insane thirst for power, now certain to shrink significantly.

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Justice Department lets Imran Awan walk

The swamp wins! The Department of Justice this week made a plea deal with former House IT specialist Imran Awan, allowing him to walk away free on probation.

Federal prosecutors on Tuesday entered a plea deal with Imran Awan, ringleader of the Pakistani family at the center of the House IT scandal, and in the process defied President Donald Trump and explicitly contradicted congressional investigators who described the group as “an ongoing and serious risk to the House of Representatives.” In a statement to the court, Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors said they “found no evidence that [Imran] illegally removed House data from the House network or from House members’ offices, stole the House Democratic Caucus server, stole or destroyed House information technology equipment, or improperly accessed or transferred government information.”

The prosecutors told the court they would not object if Awan received probation, and they agreed to drop fraud-related charges against his wife. The deal means Awan is free to leave the country and won’t face prosecution in connection with his congressional employment.

The DOJ announcement flew directly in the face of Trump’s June 7, 2018, tweet saying, “Our Justice Department must not let Awan & Debbie Wasserman Schultz off the hook. The Democrat I.T. scandal is a key to much of the corruption we see today. They want to make a ‘plea deal’ to hide what is on their Server. Where is Server? Really bad!”

Trump is by law the boss of the Department of Justice, but prosecutors there continue to act as if they are in charge and the president is merely an annoyance who must be bypassed. Moreover, these prosecutors appear to have been working entirely in league with House Democrats to squash this investigation, from the beginning. Because Trump did not take control, they have now succeeded.

I should add that this case demonstrates clearly that Trump is not really acting to drain the swamp. He is cleaning out a few select agencies (EPA), but allowing the rest to remain, with the worst being Justice and the FBI. Trump is essentially a transitional president. The question remains: What are we transitioning to? To me, it increasingly appears we are transitioning to the fall of our democratic government and the freedom it formerly gave to all citizens, equal before the law. And that I write this on Independence Day is more than tragic.

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First look at Trump’s short list for Supreme Court

Link here. Two different news sources of from opposite sides of the political spectrum come up with the same short list of five names:

  • Brett Kavanaugh, DC Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Amul Thapar, 6th Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Amy Coney Barrett, 7th Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Thomas Hardiman, 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Raymond Kethledge, 6th Circuit Court of Appeals

Hardiman and Kethledge were also on Trump’s shortlist from which he picked Neil Gorsuch, and Hardiman’s background then made him, for me, a weak choice.

Kethledge was not given much attention in the previous nomination discussion, but the link above takes a quick look at one of his court decisions that suggests he could be a “wild card.” This is the kind of appointment I fear, because all too often such appointments immediately shift leftward, like Souter and Kennedy, once appointed.

It is clearly early in this process. More information will surely be forthcoming on these, and maybe other candidates.

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Federal police remove protesters blocking Portland ICE building

Federal police today removed the protesters and their tent city that was blocking the entrance to the ICE building in Portland.

Though the action was generally peaceful, and did not interfere with protesters and tents not located on federal property, eight people were arrested.

What bothers me most about these protests is their hypocrisy and ignorance. The immigration law that the Trump administration is following was passed during the Bush administration, and was administered in much the same way by Obama. The only significant thing that Trump is doing different is that he has not been releasing illegals on their own recognizance.

Thus, the outrage by these protesters is purely partisan, has nothing really to do with any issue of right and wrong, and is aimed at gaining power, nothing more. That it is based on pure ignorance and an obvious and irrational hatred of Trump makes it even more disgraceful.

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North Korea upgrading nuclear research facility

Satellite photos indicate that North Korea has been upgrading its nuclear research facility, despite its public claims that it is eliminating its nuclear program following Kim Jong Un’s meeting with Trump earlier this month.

The satellite photos indicate that North Korea is quickly progressing on several adjustments to the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center.

The improvements include a new cooling water pump house, multiple new buildings, completed construction on a cooling water reservoir and an apparently active radiochemical laboratory. It is unclear whether the reactor is still in operation, the report said.

38 North notes that North Korean nuclear officials are expected to proceed with “business as usual” until Kim orders official changes to procedure.

News reports have focused so far on the defusing of North Korea’s anti-American propaganda machine, but that’s just empty words. Upgrading this nuclear facility tells us what they really plan on doing.

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