U.S. Politics

10 things you need to know today: January 1, 2017

Yasin Akgul/Getty Images

THE WEEK

1. At least 39 killed in Istanbul nightclub attack
Armed attackers opened fire in an Istanbul nightclub just after midnightSunday, according to Turkish officials. At least 39 people were killed and another 40 were injured. Several hundred people were reportedly packed into the Reina nightclub for New Year’s celebrations when multiple gunmen “rained bullets” on the crowd, according to Istanbul Governor Vasip Sahin, who called the incident a “terror attack.” The Obama administration strongly condemned the murders. “That such an atrocity could be perpetrated upon innocent revelers, many of whom were celebrating New Year’s Eve, underscores the savagery of the attackers,” said National Security Council representative Ned Price. The gunman remains on the loose as of Sunday afternoon in local time.

Source: The New York Times, Reuters

2. Trump suggests secret knowledge and handwritten messages to deal with hacking
Speaking with reporters during the New Year’s Eve celebration at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, President-elect Donald Trump said he has knowledge about alleged Russian hacking that others lack and suggested archaic communication methods for top security. “You know, if you have something really important, write it out and have it delivered by courier, the old-fashioned way,” he said. “Because I’ll tell you what: No computer is safe.” Trump, who rarely uses computers, also said he knows “a lot about hacking. And hacking is a very hard thing to prove, so it could be somebody” other than Russia who attempted to interfere in the U.S. election. “I also know things that other people don’t know, and so they cannot be sure of the situation,” he added, indicating that he will share his secret information on “Tuesdayor Wednesday.”

Source: The Hill, Associated Press

3. U.N. Security Council unanimously endorses Syria cease-fire deal
The United Nations Security Council on Saturday voted unanimously to endorse the Syrian cease-fire deal negotiated by Russia, Iran, and Turkey. That agreement was reached Thursday between the Bashar al-Assad regime and Syrian rebel groups who previously controlled parts of the then-besieged city of Aleppo; the truce is tenuously holding. The U.N. resolution calls for “rapid, safe and unhindered” delivery of humanitarian aid throughout Syria and also endorses scheduled peace talks in Kazakhstan.

Source: NBC News, BBC News

4. North Korea claims to be close to testing long-range missiles
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Sunday claimed his government is nearly ready to do a test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile, a major development in his nuclear agenda if successful. Preparations for the test have “reached the final stage,” Kim said, leading to speculation that a new test may be scheduled around his birthday on Jan. 8. This new technological prowess, he argued, will help North Korea “resolutely smash the enemies’ despicable and vicious moves to dampen the pure and ardent desire of the people for the [Workers’ Party of Korea] and estrange the people from it.”

Source: Reuters, Associated Press

5. Federal judge blocks enforcement of transgender, abortion-related ObamaCare rule
A federal judge in Texas on Saturday granted a temporary injunction against enforcement of an ObamaCare rule concerning abortion and transgender patients. The Affordable Care Act prohibits “discrimination on the basis of gender identity and termination of pregnancy,” a provision U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor said likely runs afoul of freedom of conscience protections guaranteed in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The plaintiffs in the case object that the rule forces “them to perform and provide insurance coverage for gender transitions and abortions, regardless of their contrary religious beliefs or medical judgment.”

Source: Reuters, The Hill

6. Pope Francis mourns Istanbul attack, prays for peace in New Year’s address
Pope Francis on Sunday gave his annual New Year’s address to about 50,000 people in St. Peter’s Square, mourning Sunday’s deadly terror attack in Istanbul, Turkey, and expressing hope for a more peaceful 2017. “Unfortunately, violence has stricken even in this night of good wishes and hope. In sorrow, I express my closeness to the Turkish people. I pray for the many victims and for the wounded and for the entire nation in mourning,” he said. Still, the “new year will be good in the measure in which each of us, with the help of God, tries to do good, day by day,” Francis charged. “That’s how peace is created.”

Source: The Washington Post, Reuters

7. 23 killed, dozens injured in Indonesian ferry fire
The Zahro Express, a tourist ferry operating near Jakarta, Indonesia, caught fire Sunday with about 250 people aboard. The blaze, which quickly spread over the whole boat, is believed to have been caused by a short on a power generator. Some 23 people were killed and dozens more hospitalized for their injuries. “All passengers panicked and ran up to the deck to throw floats into the water,” said one survivor. “In a split second, the fire becomes bigger coming from where fuel is stored.”

Source: BBC News, Reuters

8. Donald Trump wishes Happy New Year to his enemies
President-elect Donald Trump sent out his well-wishes for the new year via Twitter Saturday morning, expressing his hope that even the haters will have a good 2017. “Happy New Year to all,” he wrote, “including to my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don’t know what to do. Love!” Revelers welcomed 2017 around the globe Saturday night, celebrating the end of a year few believe has been good for the world.

Source: The Week, Associated Press

9. Mariah Carey walks off stage during NYE show
Singer Mariah Carey walked off stage from her headline performance in Times Square Saturday evening after experiencing technical difficulties. When the audio track to which she was lip syncing malfunctioned, Carey stopped performing and asked the audience to sing the lyrics for her. “I’m trying to be a good sport here,” she said. “It is what it is. It just don’t get any better,” Carey added as the error persisted. Then she left the stage. Carey’s staffers were also reportedly confused about the night’s events, asking organizers of “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest” what time the ball would drop.

Source: CNN, Yahoo Music

10. M*A*S*H actor William Christopher dies at 84
Actor William Christopher, best known for his portrayal of Father John Mulcahy on M*A*S*H and AfterMASH, died Saturday of non-lung small cell carcinoma in his California home. He was 84. Aside from his role on what is still the most-watched scripted television series of all time, Christopher appeared in Murder, She Wrote, The Andy Griffith Show, and Days of Our Lives, among other series and films. A native of Illinois, he broke into show business on Broadway in the 1960s. He is survived by his wife of more than half a century and their two sons.

Source: Variety, ABC 7 Los Angeles

U.S. Politics

Trump kicks biographer off golf course

donald_trump_golf_ap.jpg

President-elect Donald Trump, pictured in 2012, ejected biographer Harry Hurt III on Friday from Trump International Golf Club at West Palm Beach.

POLITICO

Harry Hurt had written a critical book about the president-elect.

President-elect Donald Trump on Friday ejected from his West Palm Beach golf course one of his most critical biographers, Harry Hurt III, who had been preparing to play in a foursome with billionaire mega-donor David Koch.

Hurt is the author of “Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump,” a 1993 book that revealed among other things that Trump was accused of “rape” by his ex-wife Ivana Trump in a sworn deposition during their divorce proceedings.

Donald Trump has denied the allegation, as well as other parts of the book, and Ivana Trump herself later said that she did not intend for her use of the word “rape” to be interpreted in “a literal or criminal sense.”

On Friday, Hurt approached Trump on the practice tee at Trump International Golf Club, and congratulated him on his victory in last month’s presidential election, according to an account that Hurt posted on Facebook on Saturday.

Trump responded by criticizing Hurt’s biography as untrue, to which Hurt replied “It’s all true,” according to both Hurt’s Facebook post and a transition official who was briefed on the incident, but did not want to be identified discussing a testy exchange involving the president-elect.

Trump told Hurt “you’re out of here,” according to the transition official, while Hurt wrote on Facebook that Trump told him it was “inappropriate” for him to play at the club.

David Koch could be reached for comment, and the Trump transition team declined to comment.

Hurt told POLITICO in an interview that he approached Trump “out of courtesy and respect for the office of the President of the United States … I support the office of the President of the United States, and I sincerely hope that Donald Trump will look after the interests of the United States with the same passion as he has looked after his business interests heretofore.”

The various accounts given to POLITICO diverge after the initial interaction between Hurt and Trump.

Hurt’s Facebook post says that Trump “had his security detail escort Hurt, Koch, and their playing partners to the parking lot,” and that Koch “was appalled,” and criticized Trump as “petty” and “vulgar.”

Another member of the Hurt-Koch foursome, fellow GOP donor John M. Damgard, told POLITICO that neither he nor Koch were privy to Hurt’s exchange with Trump, and that Hurt didn’t recount it to them in any detail.

“Harry just said he had been asked to leave,” said Damgard, a former president of the Futures Industry Association who has a house in Palm Beach. “I thought he was kidding. And then I learned that there had been some previous bad blood between them from back in the ‘90s apparently,” Damgard said, adding, “Unbeknownst to us, he had written a book or an article that was critical of Trump.”

So, Damgard continued, “rather than exacerbate something that wasn’t going to go very well, we just decided to get into the car and leave.”

A Koch associate told POLITICO that when Hurt returned from his exchange with Trump, he offered to take an Uber home and allow the rest of the foursome to continue playing without him.

“And David said, ‘No, we came as a foursome and we’ll leave as a foursome,’” said the Koch associate, who was briefed on the incident.

Koch is a member of the golf club, said his associate, adding that Koch and Hurt are “golfing buddies” who have “known each other for years.” The associate said that the final member of the foursome was someone invited by Hurt who boasts of having a scratch handicap and may have been giving golf lessons to the person.

The Koch associate said Hurt had only approached the president-elect “as a courtesy.”

And Damgard said, “Harry was with a young lady who was a friend and he thought it would be fun to introduce her to the president-elect.”

But the transition official described Hurt as “trying to instigate,” and said that, instead of leaving after the exchange with Trump, the biographer returned to his foursome as they waited to tee off.

“The course security actually had to go and tap him on the shoulder and tell him to leave,” said the transition official. Koch protested that Hurt was part of his foursome, said the transition official, who said that security informed Koch that he could either leave with Hurt or play without him.

Damgard denies this, saying, “We had no interaction with security.”

And Hurt told POLITICO “There was nobody tapping me on the shoulder, nobody forcing me out.” He said the reason he did not leave immediately after Trump asked him to do so was that “We had to go collect our stuff.”

Hurt said he posted his account on Facebook “to have a true factual narrative of what happened when I was there between Donald Trump and me.” He said “I knew that this story was going to get out and that there are a lot of people, such as the Trump transition people … who were going to take different facts and twist them and say things that were not true.”

But the transition official suggested Hurt was looking for publicity. “The courtesy would have been to just tee off with David Koch and keep to yourself,” said the official. “He could have easily teed off with Koch, and nobody would have said anything.”

Instead, Koch’s foursome left and played at Emerald Dunes, which Hurt described in his Facebook post as “a much, much better golf course than Trump International.”

Damgard, on the other hand, said that Trump’s West Palm Beach course is “one of [Koch’s] very favorite golf courses,” adding, “if he had thought that there would have been an incident, he would have done whatever he could to avoid it.”

The Koch associate said that Koch “will continue to golf” at the Trump course, and didn’t anticipate that the incident would pose any problems between Koch and the president-elect.

But Trump and Koch have recent history.

Koch, a billionaire industrialist, with his brother Charles Koch spearheads arguably the most influential network of donors and advocacy groups on the right. But the brothers sat out the presidential election out of distaste for both Trump and his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

Charles Koch once likened the choice between Trump and Clinton to choosing between cancer or a heart attack. Trump in turn boasted that the Kochs could not influence him because he didn’t “want their money or anything else from them.”

When Trump and David Koch encountered one another last week at the president-elect’s luxury Mar-A-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Trump referenced the brothers’ sitting out the campaign, according to a transition team source.

U.S. Politics

Trump’s Poor. And Putin knows it.

Image result for donald trump you re fired

Newsweek

The following report is a reprint from Daily Kos.

DAILY KOS

We tend to flag, or at least strongly resist speculation here, especially when one speculates as to facts that might support a theory. But, with respect to key aspects of Trump’s business status, and the potential conflicts with the Office of the President, we must speculate, because he simply won’t provide the facts to questions that must get asked.

So, I’m going to speculate, thus;

Trump is not only, “not a billionaire,” he carries so much debt that, relative to his hard assets, he’s poor, especially with respect to cash flow through cash intensive investments such as resorts, etc, where one has to pay large monthly bills to keep the lights on and the greens, well — green. In any given quarter, Trump faces situations where he doesn’t have the cash to keep up “appearances” and must borrow cash, at whatever rate, to maintain the cloak of worth, I mean wealth …I mean, the wealth that makes up his self-worth.

I’m not a CPA. I’m a lawyer, but not one with any business experience. This is truly a layman’s “speculation” and experts here can tell me that I’m wildly wrong – which would be good. I look forward to learning. But, let’s start putting some real easy facts all in one place, ones we all agree don’t even need citation at this point.

1. We know that he promised to “self-fund” his campaign, and yet not only did he not “self-fund” it, he charged HUGE fees to his campaign to use Trump property. We also know that he never had anywhere near enough campaign money. From the beginning, the “Billionaire” had the “poorest” campaign.

2. He promised to donate all that money made in one evening to veterans groups, and had not done so when checked-in on, months later. (This is part of the larger pattern, a “Foundation” that he never paid money into, and hadn’t paid a lot of real money out of, one under criminal investigation. Most true billionaires have real foundations with real people who really help various causes because it helps business. It’s more polite to be worth billions if one can point to the appearance of “doing good” and yet Trump can’t even do that).

3. Upon winning the presidency, one of the first things he did was set up cash cow, meet/greets with his sons and various other tawdry behavior.

4. Even as President-Fucking-Elect he sells tickets to his New Years Eve party. Yet another potential conflict boil-up.

4. We know he took risks that could get a guy thrown in jail — paying off the Florida Attorney General $20,000 to drop the investigation into his Trump U and when he did it, he did so in yet another way that could get a guy thrown in jail — having his “charity” pay for it.

5. By the way, just what the fuck is a “billionaire international real estate developer” doing even setting up something as stupid as a “U” to begin with? Never mind “Trump Steaks” – Unless one simply needs easy cash?

My point is, at every single point where he could have simply made his life easier by “not charging” or “avoiding a conflict” or “staying out of jail,” he’s gone with the move that carried the most risk but picked up five figures, over and over. No, I don’t think it all can be blamed on being short-fingered.

Which leads to two relevant questions. Speculation. What if, the real reason that Trump can’t “divest” himself of his business interests is because “divestment” would leave bare that he still owes more money than he has? He’s insolvent.  What if he’s willing to put up with dancing the “Presidents can’t have conflicts” line because the alternative is “My debts outweigh my assets. I’m not rich, once one has stripped away the 757 and gold toilet, and I’m not willing to do that.”

Of course, I’m speculating, and I’m not a CPA or CFP. And, of course, you can simply read what people who are, actually, CPAs and valuation experts, people at Bloomberg, and see what they think (they still think he’s rich, but note his debt doubled). But, Bloomberg basis its findings on something I’m not willing to trust — Trump’s reports, and specifically, they trust he’s accurately reported his debts. I find my lying eyes far more trustworthy. I scan the landscape and cannot escape one fact. Trump takes ruinous risks, monthly, to pick up $10K here or $20K there.

He has to. He’s poor.

And Putin knows it, and can prove it.

I’m speculating. Our President-Elect is free to “prove” me wrong.

By 4CasandChlo

U.S. Politics

Is There a Russian Coup Underway in America?

THE RESISTANCE – Keith Olbermann

That’s the question Keith Olbermann asks on his December 12, 2016 broadcast of THE RESISTANCE. (See video below).

I understand that some TFC readers who may be more right leaning would believe that Keith Olbermann is nothing more than a modern day, hyperbolic “Chicken Little” screaming a warning about the sky is falling. When in fact it’s not.

However, there is something amiss in New York City at Trump Towers as well as Washington DC.

Trump’s people are clever enough to keep him at a distance from any appearance of impropriety  but Trump’s tweets tell a different story.   (ks)

KEITH OLBERMANN – The Resistance: December 12, 2016