Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for June 14th, 2017

Special counsel is investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice, officials say

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Things are moving right along, aren’t they? Of course, Trump publicly admitted on national television that he obstructed justice, in everything but using the actual words. He said he fired Comey and had the Russia investigation in mind when he fired him. It’s pretty obvious that he didn’t fire Comey to facilitate or help the Russia investigation, but to the contrary. And Trump ask various people (Comey and two others) to stop that Flynn investigation.

I don’t think obstruction of justice will be difficult to prove.

And I don’t think Marc Kasowitz’s bluster will take him very far. The United States has very deep pockets indeed. Throwing up a bunch of countersuits will not help any more than bluster and threats: the United States also has a lot of lawyers…

We’re coming to a Saturday Night Massacre moment, if we make it to Saturday night.


Written by LeisureGuy

14 June 2017 at 5:38 pm

Workflowy mayo

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I’ve been using Workflowy a lot, and it’s turning out to be surprisingly useful.

It’s an outliner that you run in your browser, and it’s free. Its operation is in general intuitive, but it has some special tricks, so click “Help” and watch all the little 1-minute videos. You can space them out: they’re in order of relative importance and usefulness.

You have just one giant outline, but if you click the bullet for any item, then you get the outline of that item as the main heading, and all the children beneath, with a diagram at the top that allows you to back out by clicking on the level you want.

I in fact just used it after a phone call with TYD in which we exchanged cooking discoveries and ideas, and one thing I contributed was my experience in making mayo with an immersion blender in the little plastic beaker you get with it. The recipe makes one cup, and it is so easy and quick that I no longer buy mayo at all, just make up a cup and use it. When it’s gone, make another cup.

So that’s the node I’m going to share to (a) let you know how I make mayo and (b) let you get a feel for what Workflowy is like.

Again, I have just one giant outline, any level of which can be clicked to make it the top of an outline with its children beneath. Making mayo is just one node way down in my one giant outline, and I’m sharing it with you. Because sharing is fun, as our moms used to say.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 June 2017 at 5:22 pm

Posted in Recipes, Software

Wow: Contra Costa County district attorney is charged with perjury and theft of campaign funds

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If you’ve been following the various ways that the criminal justice system has become corrupted beyond belief, then this report is big news.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 June 2017 at 5:13 pm

Posted in Law, Law Enforcement

Trump Tells Mayor Of Sinking U.S. Island Not To Worry About Climate Change

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Obviously, the island is not sinking, though it looks that way. Instead, the ocean is rising. Chris D’Angelo reports in the Huffington Post:

President Donald Trump, apparently confirming his disregard for the risks of global climate change, reportedly told the mayor of a small Chesapeake Bay island that could soon disappear to erosion and rising seas that there’s no cause for concern.

Trump phoned James “Ooker” Eskridge, the mayor of Tangier, Virginia, on Monday, a few days after CNN aired a story about the impacts of climate change on the island in the middle of the bay, The Daily Times in Salisbury, Maryland, reports.

Trump “said not to worry about sea-level rise,” Eskridge told the newspaper. “He said, ‘Your island has been there for hundreds of years, and I believe your island will be there for hundreds more.’”

It’s a bold claim, even for a longtime climate-change nonbeliever who has dismissed the phenomenon as “bullshit” and a Chinese “hoax.”

Since 1850, nearly 70 percent of Tangier’s landmass has been lost, according to a 2015 study by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers scientists. Those scientists predict that in as little as 25 years, erosion and rising seas will sink much of the remaining land, forcing residents to abandon their island homes.

Today, the historic crabbing community is home to about 450 people. The population is overwhelmingly Republican, with roughly 87 percent of island residents who cast a ballot in the 2016 election voting for Trump.

CNN highlighted the voting numbers in its report, likely triggering Trump to reach out to the mayor.

Eskridge told The Daily Times that after introducing himself, Trump said, “You’ve got one heck of an island there,” and “I’ve just got to talk to that guy.” The mayor said he responded by telling Trump just how much island residents appreciate him.

“This is a Trump island; we really love you down here,” Eskridge said he told the president.

Trump also reportedly urged Eskridge not to worry about the negative response from the CNN report.

Eskridge acknowledged to CNN the threat climate change poses to the island’s future, saying, “We’re running out of land to give up.” But he puts his trust in Trump, and said the island would welcome any assistance the president might provide.  . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 June 2017 at 2:49 pm

Trump White House Stays Quiet as Russia Flouts North Korea Sanctions

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Dan De Luce and Elias Groll write in Foreign Policy:

Trump administration officials and lawmakers are increasingly concerned that Russia is stepping up trade with North Korea in defiance of international sanctions, jeopardizing a U.S. effort to pressure Pyongyang over its nuclear and missile programs.

The White House, however, has yet to call out Russia publicly for its dealings with North Korea.

Russia is filling a gap left after China began to scale back some trade with North Korea in response to pressure from the Donald Trump administration, and has already replaced China as the top supplier of jet fuel for North Korea. Moscow also signed an agreement in March with Pyongyang to import more North Korean workers and opened a ferry line last month out of Vladivostok that carries passengers and cargo to the deeply isolated regime.

“It’s something we need to watch closely if we’re serious about turning the screws economically on North Korea,” one administration official told Foreign Policy.

The White House is concerned about Russia helping the North gain access to jet fuel and cash, but China remains North Korea’s crucial lifeline. “It will take some doing for the Russians to back-fill all of what China supplies,” the official added.

Russian support for North Korea presents a dilemma for a White House that has sought to isolate Kim Jong Un’s regime and improve relations with Moscow. The Russian moves undercut attempts to inflict economic punishment on North Korea for its nuclear program and missile development, and present yet another obstacle to closer ties between Washington and Moscow.

While the Trump administration has not publicly challenged Russia’s trade with North Korea, senior officials have hinted at the issue. Speaking to reporters last month, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley praised China for enforcing the sanctions regime but noted that “other countries are trying to fill that void.”

“If you are a country that is supplying or supporting North Korea, we will call you out on it,” Haley said. So far, however, the White House has not publicly rebuked Moscow.

The magnitude of Russian support to North Korea remains difficult to quantify, but South Korean experts have in recent months observed a significant uptick in trade between the two nations, said Go Myong-hyun, a research fellow at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies, a Seoul-based think tank. . .

Continue reading.

I hope Tillerson’s on top of this. Unfortunately the State Department currently has many unfilled positions. And, of course, the Trump Administration is friendly with Russia.

Note also: “North Korea Is About to Test a Missile That Can Reach Trump Tower.” I certainly wish we had a full-time president, and one who knew foreign policy.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 June 2017 at 1:57 pm

Democratic Congress Members Raise Alarm About Security at Trump Properties

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Democrats seem to be more on top of national security issues than Republicans. Jeff Larson reports in ProPublica:

Two dozen House Democrats have sent a letter to White House counsel Donald McGahn, warning that digital security holes at the Trump Organization’s clubs and hotels are risks to national security and the secrecy of classified information.

“The White House must act immediately to secure the potentially sensitive information on these systems,” said the letter, which was signed by 24 Congress members and went to McGahn last week.

Their concerns were in response to an article published last month by ProPublica and Gizmodo that documented the cybersecurity vulnerabilities at properties the president has frequented since being elected. Our reporting found unencrypted login pages, servers running outdated software, accessible printers, and Wi-Fi networks that were open to anyone close enough to access them.

We were able to detect vulnerable networks at Mar-a-Lago — Trump’s “Southern White House” — from a small motorboat about 800 feet from the club on Florida’s Intracoastal Waterway. We also found open Wi-Fi networks at the grounds of the Trump golf courses in Bedminster, New Jersey, and accessible Wi-Fi-enabled printers at Trump’s course in Sterling, Virginia.

“To leave these networks unsecured undermines our national priorities and the trust the American people place in the Office of the President,” the letter warned.

The White House and the Trump Organization did not comment on the letter.

Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., the letter’s author, said the vulnerabilities revealed by our story demand immediate action, but he’s received no response from the administration so far. “It needs to be addressed quickly. Potentially every minute something is leaking,” he said. “It is too late to close the henhouse after the foxes come in.”

Since becoming president, Donald Trump has spent time at his clubs on most weekends and has met with foreign dignitaries like Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago.

In February, members of Mar-a-Lago posted pictures of a dinner meeting between Trump and Abe on the patio of the club. Cybersecurity experts warned that sophisticated hackers could turn guests’ cellphones into clandestine listening devices if they gained access to the networks at the club.

Hackers may not need to travel to each of the Trump Organization’s clubs and hotels in order to gain access. We found that the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C., was hosting a server running software that is more than a decade old and is still accessible from the internet.

After we notified the company that administers the Trump clubs’ websites about our findings, they disabled an insecure login page that lead to a database of sensitive information that we found on Mar-a-Lago’s website. However, the company, called Clubessential, has not locked down its customer documentation website, which includes usernames and passwords to internal accounts and is accessible to anyone with an internet connection.

Clubessential did not respond to a request for comment. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 June 2017 at 1:41 pm

The Trump administration detests the Congressional Budget Office. Here’s why it’s important.

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Philip Joyce reports in the Washington Post:

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is under attack again.

Trump’s Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Mick Mulvaney, recently said that “the time of CBO has probably come and gone,” noting that there are plenty of other places, including the OMB itself and Washington think tanks, that can estimate the costs of policies. Mulvaney is far from the first official to disagree with the CBO’s numbers, but he is one of very few people who want to get rid of the CBO altogether. He joins former House speaker Newt Gingrich, who has been trying to gut the CBO for decades. In fact, a 1995 argument by Gingrich that the agency should be cleaned out prompted The Washington Post, in an editorial, to remind readers of the important role that CBO had played as “an excellent skunk” at the “congressional picnic.”

The problem for Congress — even a Republican-dominated Congress — is that the CBO is useful. The CBO was created intentionally to strengthen the Congress in its battles with the president, which have happened both when the president and Congress are dominated by different parties and when there is unified rule.

The CBO is the product of fights over budgets

The CBO was created as part of the congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974, which looked to resolve what Allen Schick has called the “seven-year budget war” over who shaped the budget process. This act reasserted Congress’s role in budgeting, including budget committees in each house, and a new agency — the CBO — that would serve as a nonpartisan source of numbers and analysis. Without the CBO, Congress would have had to depend on OMB — which works directly for the White House — for economic and budgetary figures which it needs to participate in budget making.

The first director, Alice Rivlin, was appointed in February 1975 and had to build the agency, including its capacity to estimate costs and make forecasts, from scratch. Rivlin also made the crucial decision that CBO would not make policy recommendations, as she was concerned that doing so might make the nonpartisan role untenable. Rivlin, who was a lifelong Democrat, described herself as a “card carrying middle of the roader.”

The eight subsequent directors (five nominal Republicans — including current director Keith Hall — and three nominal Democrats) have followed Rivlin’s lead as centrist and professional voices in budget and economic debates. My own research on CBO — based on the only book-length history of the agency — suggests that the CBO has put Congress on a more equal footing with the president, changed how policymaking works through cost estimates, and helped federal budget making become more open and transparent.

The CBO has helped Congress challenge the arguments of presidents

Since its early days, the CBO has poured cold water over the optimistic policy arguments of Democratic and Republican presidents. Jimmy Carter’s energy policy and Ronald Reagan’s supply side economic estimates both fell victim to CBO analyses. When Reagan tried to get Senate Republicans to remove Alice Rivlin as director (the law provides that either chamber can remove a CBO director by majority vote), Majority Leader Robert Dole and Senate Budget Committee Chairman Pete Domenici refused, understanding that such an action would be an attack on the independence of Congress.

The CBO has continued to cause controversy over presidential policy initiatives. It challenged  Clinton administration estimates of the fiscal effect of its “reinventing government” revisions and George W. Bush administration claims about the cost of adding a prescription drug benefit to Medicare. The Obama administration and CBO clashed over the employment effects of the Affordable Care Act and the job effects of a proposed increase in the minimum wage. In both cases, the White House went on the offensive to challenge the CBO analysis.

It has helped Congress estimate the costs of legislation

The CBO provides Congress with an objective source of information on the cost of individual pieces of legislation. Before it was created, the committees or groups proposing changes in policy often estimated the costs and were sometimes exuberantly optimistic.

For the past quarter-century, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

14 June 2017 at 12:09 pm

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