Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Meet Prince Charming

What do you mean he looks like Stalin?

"When Tinder and Cupid fail, matchmakers find their niche" by Dugan Arnett Globe Staff  March 20, 2018

In an ever-busier and more harried world, Americans have shown a willingness to outsource an expanding list of life tasks — laundry, dog-walking, grocery-shopping.

And also, apparently, the eternal search for love.

Thanks in no small part to growing frustrations with the hassles of online dating, a niche — and seemingly outdated — occupation has quietly managed to claim a piece of the increasingly digitized dating market: the modern-day matchmaker.

“If you’ve ever used dating apps, you know that it can really be like a full-time job,” says Hannah Orenstein, whose experience as a matchmaker in New York City serves as the inspiration for her upcoming novel, “Playing With Matches.”

As online dating’s popularity has skyrocketed in recent years — use among young adults (who admitted it) nearly tripled between 2013 and 2015, according to the Pew Research Center — it’s also developed into something of a Wild West, say those who’ve participated, rife with annoyances and potential pitfalls.

Aside from the general concerns that come with meeting strangers online, frustration abounds, from hours spent swiping left or right to online conversations that never evolve into face-to-face meet-ups.

“The amount of time I spent was infinite relative to the number of dates I’d go on,” says one middle-aged man in the Boston area, who tried online dating after his divorce, and before eventually turning to a matchmaker. “A big part of the time you spend on those sites is sort of weeding out really low-quality dates, people that clearly aren’t going to match up.”

What matchmakers offer, then, is convenience — handling everything from identifying dates to vetting dates to scheduling where and when two people will meet.

“I tell people I’m kind of like a headhunter for their love life,” says Jill Vandor, a longtime matchmaker at Boston-based LunchDates who says that firm has seen an influx of clients looking for a more personal touch. “All you’ve got to do is get dressed and show up.”

And unlike online dating, they never arrive at a date surprised by who’s sitting across from them.

Before eventually hiring a matchmaker, one local woman remembers arriving at a first date with someone whose online photos showed a man of around 50. Reality proved him to be closer to 70.

With a matchmaker, she says, “if they say they are introducing me to a 58-year-old attorney with three kids who lives in Arlington, that’s who I’m meeting.”

In a lot of ways, the job is the same as it’s always been. It can be pricey, ranging from a few hundred dollars for some services to tens of thousands for others. And it typically trends older, with many clients around middle-age.

But it’s also evolved considerably from the days of the old-fashioned Yente from “Fiddler on the Roof.” 


While intuition and gut feelings certainly help, they say, today’s matchmakers have an array of tools at their disposal designed to match their clients with Prince (or Princess) Charming. There are databases to be searched. They scour local meet-ups, yoga classes, even subway cars in search of potential matches.

Just don't do it for certain political purposes.

In a modern-day twist, some even hit the dating apps so their clients don’t have to; during her time as a matchmaker with Tawkify, Orenstein would scour the online dating world in search of promising matches for clients.

Many matchmakers, too, have become de facto dating coaches.

After a date, they’ll interview both parties about how it went, then spend time with their client going over behaviors he or she might improve. If a man spends too much time talking about an ex, he may hear about it the next day.

Matchmaking may rank among the oldest professions, but it hasn’t always enjoyed vast social acceptance. Before the stigma of dating assistance dissipated in recent years, Vandor remembers attending weddings for clients who didn’t want anyone to know how they’d found one another. “I’d be sitting at the misfits table,” she says. “And I had my little story about how I knew this person.”

Hope you have a Wingman!

Today, though, some online dating sites are toying with options that bring a little of the matchmaker spirit to the process. Apps such as Wingman are designed solely for allowing users to suggest dating candidates for their friends, while more traditional apps, including Tinder, now feature a “recommend-for-a-friend” option.

And while it’s true that the matchmaking industry probably isn’t going to supplant online dating any time soon — in a 2009 national survey of couples, Stanford sociology professor Michael J. Rosenfeld found that only 1.5 percent of couples met through a traditional matchmaking service — some say that there’s plenty of room for everyone in an ever-evolving dating world.

Is it just me or..... 

“Dating is difficult for everybody,” says Orenstein. “And people are always going to look for alternatives to make it easier.”


I've got to hurry. Have a date tonight. Going to the Harvard Club.

"Women say director James Toback assaulted them at Harvard Club of New York" by Deirdre Fernandes Globe Staff  March 20, 2018

The women said they didn’t complain to the Harvard Club management or any employees at the time. Nor did they immediately report the incident to police.

The club and the university said that they do not condone the alleged behavior and that the club has rules to ensure the safety of members and guests. The Globe could not reach the longtime member, Harvard University alumnus, and movie director James Toback, who has been accused by hundreds of women of sexual harassment, for comment. But Toback has denied the allegations against him.

One of the women, Mary Sullivan, now 55, was an aspiring actress in New York in the mid-1980s. She described running into Toback on the street after she left a meeting with a prospective manager near the Theatre District. Toback, she said, invited her for lunch at the Harvard Club.

But lunch became just a drink and then a request to go upstairs to a private room for an audition. The audition never happened.

Instead, when Sullivan, then 22, got into the room, Toback told her he wanted to masturbate in front of her, according to her letter and a subsequent interview with the Globe.

I'm going to stop it there because that was when I didn't want to read anymore. I'm posting the rest as a service to you. 

He kept blocking her way out of the room, and out of fear for safety and to placate him, she said she let him. When he was done, she left the room, rushed to a nearby staircase, and walked out of the club.

“All I was thinking was getting out of the building and trying to walk across the lobby with any sort of dignity and not being noticed,” Sullivan, who now lives in Iowa, said in a phone interview. “There needs to be some reckoning and some accountability. . . . He decided to set up his base of operations there.”

In another letter, a woman described a similar incident in November 2012 when Toback took her to his private room at the club for an audition, asked her to remove her clothes so he could see what she looked like in front of a camera, and masturbated in front of her. Toback insisted on taking the woman home and threatened her with harm if she told anyone about what happened, the woman wrote in the letter.

Nearly 400 women, including actresses Rachel McAdams and Selma Blair, have accused Toback of sexual misconduct after a Los Angeles Times story last October about the writer and director’s behavior. Many alleged that Toback approached them on the street and tried to pick them up, sometimes on multiple occasions. Others have said he asked them lewd questions or bragged about his sexual conquests. Some allege that he assaulted them, or, as in Sullivan’s case, forced them to watch him masturbate.

The Los Angeles district attorney’s office is reviewing five cases against Toback to determine whether to pursue criminal charges. The Manhattan district attorney’s office, which encouraged women last fall to call the office’s sex crimes hotline number about Toback, declined to comment.

In the aftermath of the stories last fall, Toback, who directed such films as “The Pick-Up Artist” and “Harvard Man,” and was nominated for a writing Oscar for “Bugsy,” repeatedly denied the allegations. Toback told media outlets that for the last 22 years, he has suffered from diabetes and a heart condition that requires medication and made it “biologically impossible” for him to participate in the activities described by his accusers.

Toback’s agent, who dropped him after the allegations came to light in October, did not have a way to reach Toback and a telephone number listed in a public database was disconnected.

Toback’s membership at the Harvard Club was terminated in 2017, Michael Holland, the club’s president, said in a statement. He declined to say whether it was in response to the Los Angeles Times story about the director.

“We are saddened to hear of these reports, and the Club has conducted an internal investigation,” Holland said. “Behavior of that manner is simply not tolerated at the Harvard Club.”

The club, which operates as a nonprofit, declined to comment on the results of the investigation, whether its management had received any complaints about Toback, and if it had made changes to its practices or security.

The Harvard Club of New York, founded in 1865, is the wealthiest of numerous private organizations created for the university’s alumni and faculty across the country. It is an independent nonprofit with its own board of directors. The annual dues cost up to $2,000. Members have access to a gym, restaurants, and overnight rooms. Harvard University’s presidents and deans have stopped at the club for events and to speak to alumni groups. While Harvard doesn’t own or control the club, the informal links between the institutions are extensive. A few years ago, the former president of the club went on to lead the university’s advisory board.

Toback, a 1966 Harvard graduate, was, by his own telling in interviews and magazines, at the club frequently. He batted around ideas for a project over lunches and dinners with actor Alec Baldwin at the club, gave interviews to trade publications in the main sitting area, and rented rooms there.

But the women say that his membership and access to the Harvard Club was also Toback’s bait — as much as his promise to help them with their careers and his friendships with big-name actors — to coax them into meeting him.

Annie Hughes was a 26-year-old singer who had aspirations to be in films when Toback saw her in 1982 on a Manhattan street. He told her he was a director, worked with the actress Nastassja Kinski, and gave Hughes his number. When she called him later, Hughes said he invited her to lunch at the Harvard Club.

“It’s the Harvard Club, how could that not be fine?” said Hughes, who now lives in Wisconsin, and she remembered buying a dress for the meeting. “It’s impressive and it’s public. As far as doing everything right, I did everything right.”

When Toback offered to give her a tour of the club, Hughes said she agreed. Toback, she said, took her though a service hallway at the club and then pushed her against the wall and tried to kiss her. Hughes said she put her hands against Toback’s chest, locked her elbows, and tried to keep him at bay. He kept leaning his body toward her and trying to convince her that she should give in and that he could help her career, Hughes said.

Hughes said she told Toback loudly to “stop” and recalls it reverberating in the hallway. She eventually shoved him and ran out of the hallway, she said.

Hughes said the club should have noticed a pattern with Toback over the years.

In fact, in 1989, Spy magazine outlined how Toback picked up women on New York City streets, suggesting auditions and asking them to meet him at the Harvard Club, sometimes for drinks in the lobby, sometimes in his room there. He would quickly turn the conversation to a sexually graphic topic, according to the article.

As recently as 2012, Gawker, the now-defunct online news site, detailed Toback’s use of the Harvard Club to entice young women to meet with him.

And why is Gawker now defunct?

The club’s management can’t “plead ignorance,” said Sullivan, who said she wanted an apology from the club and an understanding of whether the club did anything to curb Toback’s behavior or if it has procedures in place to prevent similar incidents.

Toback traded on the Harvard brand and the club’s reputation for years, said Victoria Balfour, a victims rights advocate and New York freelance writer who helped the five women put together their letters for the Harvard Club and Faust.

Balfour said she was verbally harassed by Toback on the streets in New York, and he invited her to the Harvard Club, but she never went.

Neither the club nor the university has provided a full accounting of how they addressed Toback’s behavior over the years, Balfour said.

The university responded to the women’s February letters last week only after The Boston Globe made an inquiry.

Melodie Jackson, a spokeswoman for Harvard, said officials from Harvard have contacted the club to learn more about the situation and what steps have been taken.

“We were deeply saddened to learn of these disturbing allegations and the resulting pain that has been caused to so many,” Jackson said in a statement. The club “is reinforcing its safety and security measures.”

For Sullivan, who said she had a recurring dream about being in a stairway and trying to find a secret passage out, the response from the Harvard Club and the university has remained short on details and unsatisfactory.

“It’s past time when they can stay silent,” she said.....


That dog Toback’s behavior seemed to go unchecked for decades between 1980 and 2012, and former President Drew Faust gets a pass.

Meanwhile, back on page B9:

"Speaker DeLeo says House non-disclosure agreements included laid-off staff" by Matt Stout Globe Correspondent  March 20, 2018

As many as 15 former House employees who were laid off in 2009 signed nondisclosure agreements after being shown the door, Speaker Robert A. DeLeo’s office has disclosed.

But the Winthrop Democrat did not address why the House sought the controversial agreements — which it has since waived — or why it did for some employees and not others.

The disclosure came after DeLeo last week offered discrepant figures when asked about the House’s use of nondisclosure clauses. His office had previously said 33 outgoing House employees have been offered a “small” severance payment “in exchange for executing a written agreement” since 2010.

But when pressed on the figures on Friday, he told reporters there’s been “about 18 of them, really, that could be looked at.”

The difference, his office said, involved the 15 agreements it signed with employees who were laid off in December 2009 but with whom discussions “continued” into January 2010. DeLeo’s staff included them in the initial count “to be intellectually honest,” spokesman Seth Gitell said. 

That would be a first for a Beacon Hill politician.

DeLeo on Monday did not address questions about why laid-off employees would need a nondisclosure agreement, saying: “It was just in the natural course of business there. And that’s what we had done.”

“If folks do not wish to sign those agreements, they don’t have to sign those agreements,” he added.

The use of the agreements came under fire amid a House debate over its handling of harassment complaints, with Representative Diana DiZoglio decrying them last week as “silencing tactics.” The speaker’s office has said none of the NDAs were signed to settle sexual harassment complaints.

There was a big roar to begin with but the pre$$ placement is becoming more like an echo.

At the time, officials said the 28 staffers were being laid off amid an economic downturn. But the move wasn’t without controversy then: Several lawmakers fumed that they were not consulted or forewarned before the employees were escorted from the building by uniformed guards.

Fortunately, it didn't affect operations.

Then-Representative William G. Greene, a Billerica Democrat, went a step further, calling his lost staff “retribution” after he supported DeLeo’s rival in that year’s leadership fight.


Bunch of whores, if you know what I mean.

Let me get you a ride home:

"Uber driver charged with raping woman in car in Boston" by Travis Andersen Globe Staff  March 19, 2018

An Uber driver allegedly raped an intoxicated female passenger in his car in Boston over the weekend and told police, “I know I’m in trouble, I had sex with her,” prosecutors said Monday.

The allegations were disclosed during the arraignment of Ranjan Thapa, 26, in Roxbury Municipal Court. He entered the courtroom handcuffed with his coat pulled over his head, and a not-guilty plea was entered on his behalf to a charge of rape. Thapa was held on $10,000 cash bail.

His public defender, Josh Raisler Cohn, said outside court that Thapa is “absolutely asserting his innocence.”

Authorities allege Thapa preyed on a woman who was so incapacitated that she could barely speak to investigators soon after the alleged rape.

She had been visiting a college friend Saturday evening, and the two became separated while they were drinking at a South Boston bar, a Boston police incident report said.

She should have smoked pot instead, despite the health warnings.

Assistant Suffolk District Attorney Myriam Feliz said an Uber was called for the woman, and a bouncer had to escort her to Thapa’s vehicle when he pulled up shortly after 11:10 p.m.

Then at some point after midnight, Thapa tried to drive around Northeastern University police officers who were conducting a traffic stop on Hemenway Street, authorities said.

Thapa told the officers “his passenger was drunk,” had urinated in his car, and wouldn’t tell him where she wanted to go, the report said. The officers noted the woman was “reclined in the [front] passenger” seat with her pants unzipped and partially pulled down, according to the report.

Feliz said Thapa told police at the scene, “I know I’m in trouble, I had sex with her.” The police report said the woman was “unable to communicate” on Hemenway Street and still couldn’t talk to investigators at a city hospital early Sunday.

Thapa later gave an interview to Boston police investigators, claiming the woman “refused to put her seat belt on” in his car and appeared drunk, the report said.

“He further stated that at some point the victim did put her feet up on the dashboard, pulled down her pants, and urinated on his front passenger seat,” the report said.

I'm sure the forensic tests will be able to determine the truth of that.

Thapa claimed the woman began grabbing him and saying she “wanted to [expletive] him,” the filing said. He told police they had intercourse twice, once on the driver’s seat and again on the front passenger seat, according to the report.

Didn't the airbag deploy?

Feliz said Thapa told investigators he accepted the woman’s advances because he hadn’t “been with a woman in several years.” He also told police, “I knew I shouldn’t have done it. I knew I’d get in trouble,” Feliz said.

Raisler Cohn noted during the hearing that Boston police released his client after his interview early Sunday at the South End district station.

He returned to the station several hours later at the request of police, Raisler Cohn said.

Thapa’s cooperation suggests a “person who’s innocent of this crime,” his lawyer said. “He cooperated fully with the police investigation.”

Raisler Cohn said his client insists he had a “totally consensual encounter” with the woman.

The police report said Thapa was initially released because “detectives were unable to speak with the victim.” They called Thapa back to the station early Sunday afternoon after the woman told investigators during their second visit to the hospital that she had “no memory of what happened to her,” never ordered an Uber Saturday night, and “had no idea how she got in the car,” the report said.

I'm starting to think booze should be banned like they want to ban guns.

In a brief statement, Uber said the company is cooperating with law enforcement.

“What police describe is deeply troubling,” the statement said. “The driver has been removed from the app, and we stand ready to assist the Boston Police Department with their investigation.”

A man who identified himself as Thapa’s brother-in-law declined to discuss the case before the hearing started.

“He’s a decent guy, regular guy,” the man said. “A simple guy.”

Thapa is due back in court on April 17.


I suppose she should consider herself lucky.

You know what the answer is, right?

"Woman struck and killed by self-driving Uber vehicle" by Felicia Fonseca Associated Press  March 19, 2018

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — A self-driving Uber vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian in a Phoenix suburb in the first fatality involving a fully autonomous test vehicle, prompting the ride-hailing company Monday to suspend all road-testing of such autos in the United States and Canada.

Maybe not.

Depending on who is found to be at fault, the accident could have far-reaching consequences for the development of self-driving vehicles, which have been billed as potentially safer than human drivers.

The Volvo was in self-driving mode with a human operator behind the wheel when a woman walking outside a crosswalk in Tempe on Sunday night was hit, police said. The woman, identified as Elaine Herzberg, 49, died at a hospital.

I just can't help but wonder if it were someone else would it be getting this amount of attention.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi expressed condolences on his Twitter account and said the company is working with local law enforcement on the investigation, but Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao also has said technology and automobile companies need to allay public fears of self-driving vehicles, citing a poll showing that 78 percent of people fear riding in autonomous vehicles.

The number of states considering legislation related to autonomous vehicles gradually has increased each year, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In 2017 alone, 33 states introduced legislation.

California is among those that require manufacturers to report any incidents to the motor vehicle department during the testing phase. As of early March, the agency received 59 such reports.

In Boston, officials have asked local self-driving car companies to halt their ongoing testing in the Seaport District in the wake of the Arizona accident.

The companies, Optimus Ride and nuTonomy, are both based in Boston and have been testing their technology in the city under an agreement with local officials.

“As a precautionary measure, we have temporarily asked Nutonomy and Optimus Ride to pause their autonomous vehicle testing programs on public streets in Boston,” said Gina Fiandaca, commissioner of the Boston Transportation Department. “The Boston Transportation Department will be working with both companies to review their safety procedures to ensure each program can move forward.”

Time to turn around.

NuTonomy declined to comment, and Optimus Ride did not immediately respond to a request to comment.

The companies are required to have two employees in the vehicle during all tests on public roads, one of whom is a “safety driver” to take over control of the car as needed. NuTonomy since last year has been offering a limited number of passengers rides around the neighborhood as part of a test with ride-hail company Lyft.

Neither company has reported an accident or serious safety issue on Boston’s streets. In reports to the city, each has said that drivers take over in certain situations, such as when encountering unexpected construction sites or when traffic is directed by a police officer.....


Maybe these will make up for it:

"Claire’s, the teen jewelry chain, files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection" by Tiffany Hsu New York Times   March 19, 2018

NEW YORK — For four decades Claire’s jewelry chain has been a fixture at malls and shopping centers, piercing the ears of millions of American teenagers. But the company, which says it has pierced more than 100 million ears worldwide, is now struggling financially, with a heavy debt burden. And like so many other retailers, it is looking for help in US Bankruptcy Court.

On Monday, Claire’s filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Delaware, hoping to shed $1.9 billion in debt and close some underperforming stores. The chain, which said it operates in 99 percent of US malls, selling low-priced cubic zirconia jewelry and other accessories, was purchased by the private equity firm Apollo Global Management for $3.1 billion in 2007.

Weren't they fined $53 million over that?

Claire’s called the filing an attempt to restructure its balance sheet, not its operations. The company, which earned $29 million in profit last year and $1.3 billion in revenue, said it was far healthier than fellow retailers that have also turned to bankruptcy — a growing list that includes mall regulars such as Gymboree, and the Limited, Payless Shoes.

Toys ‘R’ Us, which often carried Claire’s products, said last week that it would liquidate or sell all of its 730 stores in the United States. Burdened with debt from a leveraged buyout in 2005, the toy giant struggled to adjust quickly enough to fast-changing consumer tastes and e-commerce encroachment.

That's enough to make you whine.

But Claire’s, which presents itself as “A Girl’s Best Friend,” is hoping for a happier transition. The chain said its ear-piercing business is Amazon-proof, because customers must show up in person for the service.

In a regulatory filing, the company acknowledged that mall traffic is declining and that it planned to close some of its underperforming stores and renegotiate leases. The chain, which also owns the Icing brand — a jewelry chain targeting older shoppers — projected that its total store count in North America would slide to 1,400 in 2022, from 1,641 in 2016.

Claire’s said it secured $135 million in debtor-in-possession financing and support for its debt-slashing plan from top-priority debtholders such as Elliot Management and Monarch Alternative Capital hedge funds. Apollo owns 97.7 percent of Claire’s, which had $2.1 billion in long-term debt at the end of 2017.

Claire’s said it was up to date with its vendor payments and had “ample liquidity.” It plans to emerge from bankruptcy in September, before the critical holiday season.

The print ends as if it is still business as usual, and maybe it is.

“We will complete this process as a healthier, more profitable company, which will position us to be an even stronger business partner for our suppliers, concessions partners, and franchisees,” Ron Marshall, Claire’s chief executive, said in a statement.

The bankruptcy, which Claire’s said would not disrupt store operations, follows several drastic moves by the company in recent years to adjust its debt load and shake up its management ranks. Marshall, along with the company’s chief financial officer, has been in his role for less than two years.

The budget accessories business is a difficult one, driven by promotions and assailed by competition from online merchants, discount chains such as Walmart, and fast-fashion brands such as H&M, said Marshal Cohen, chief retail analyst at NPD Group, a market research firm. Companies targeted by leveraged buyouts are often further constrained.

“When they get saddled with all of this debt, it really limits their ability to stay on top of the game and ahead of the curve, so they end up playing catch-up and lose their relevance in a market where relevance is critical,” he said.

But Claire’s seems strong enough to recover from bankruptcy, Cohen said.

“Claire’s at least is not behind the eight ball yet — they can still regain momentum,” he said. “They just have to recognize that consumers have changed in a dramatic way.”

Claire’s, based in Hoffman Estates, Ill., traces its history to the founding of a chain of wig stores in the South in 1961. In 1973, the company blended with Claire’s Boutiques, a small accessories chain in the Midwest, creating Claire’s Stores.

The company began piercing ears in 1978. Last year, in the United States, it performed the service 3.5 million times.


The card says "From Harvey?"

Believe it or not, I got stood up.

I wonder where is the Globe's Prince Charming?

The New Stalin

Who else?

"Putin’s victory puts him closer to becoming leader for life" by Anton Troianovski Washington Post  March 19, 2018

MOSCOW — On paper, Vladimir Putin’s victory gave him a new six-year term as president.

Good thing games, 'er, elections aren't decided on..... wait, Russia uses paper.

Maybe the U.S. could learn someth.... arggghhh!

But some of his most visible allies quickly signaled they saw it as a mandate for something greater than that: leader of the Russian people, rising above politics at a time when the country’s very existence is threatened by an aggressive West.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky, a nationalist presidential candidate who supports Putin, predicted on national television that ‘‘these elections were the last ones.’’ And a parade of pro-Kremlin commentators, politicians, and officials claimed that Putin’s victory represented nothing less than the unity and determination of a people under siege.

Think of it as a Polish mindset.

The Kremlin even gave some credit to foreign nations for the outpouring of support for 65-year-old president. Ella A. Pamfilova, chairwoman of the Central Election Commission, said pressure on Russia from Western leaders helped to generate the 77 percent support for Putin.

They interfered?

“Our people always unite when the chips are down,” Pamfilova said on television, in what appeared to be a reference to what Britain has said was a Russian nerve agent attack on one of its former spies, Sergei V. Skripal, and his daughter in Salisbury, England.

She said Western leaders, whom she did not name, “contributed to the consolidation and unification of our people.”

Konstantin Gaaze, an independent political analyst, said the election could be a turning point for Russia. ‘‘The road to presidency for life, or some other kind of lifetime post as the country’s leader, opened today,’’ he said.

Russia’s constitution would bar Putin from running again in 2024. But for months, there has been speculation in Moscow that Putin will either change the constitution to allow him to run yet again — or create a new office that would turn him into a supreme national leader.

You remember what happened the last time a guy thought that, right? 

From Germany, if I remember correctly.

In the wake of Sunday’s election, which the government said drew a 68 percent turnout, that speculation has burst into the open. Zhirinovsky, a staple of Russian politics since he first ran for president in 1991, told the Interfax news agency that he now expects Putin to follow the lead of Chinese President Xi Jinping, who recently abolished presidential term limits in his country.

Then he must be arrested!

Maybe Venezuela could help!

On a state television talk show Sunday evening, Zhirinovsky said that because voters seem uninterested in electing a different leader, ‘‘we should get rid of elections.’’

The growing talk of a Putin lifetime presidency is being accompanied by increasingly dire rhetoric about Russia’s confrontation with the West.

International fury over the poisoning of Skripal, these allies say, is only the latest in a series of Western attempts to keep Russia down. Olympic doping, Syria, Ukraine, hacking, and election interference all fall into that category, too.

Komsomolskaya Pravda, the country’s best-selling tabloid, said Putin had won an enormous new electoral mandate stemming from a ‘‘colossal demand for a response to the piled-up grievances’’ that Russians have against the West.

What the hell do you think I'm reading everyday?

Overall, Putin received 56.4 million votes out of more than 110 million eligible voters, the most ever cast for a Russian president. The closest runner-up was Pavel N. Grudinin from the Communist Party with 11.78 percent, followed by Vladimir V. Zhirinovsky, a right-winger, with 5.65 percent. Ksenia A. Sobchak, the only woman, won just 1.68 percent.

They would call that a landslide over here.

Leaders of the observation mission for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said the extensive coverage of Putin by state news media gave him a significant advantage over his opponents.

Tell it to Ron Paul!

Observers also said they received reports of many election irregularities, including pressuring of workers to vote, stuffing of ballot boxes with extra ballots, and discrepancies in ballot numbers.

The lying never ends!!! 


So what else are they lying about (or distorting, at best, which isn't really saying much)?

"EU condemns attack on spy as Britain slams ‘absurd’ Russia denials" by Lorne Cook Associated Press  March 20, 2018

BRUSSELS — On a visit to Warsaw, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said there was significant evidence pointing to Russia’s responsibility in the poisoning, and that the duty now lies with Moscow to prove that it wasn’t involved.

How do you prove a negative when they won't share any "evidence?"

British military officials said Monday that a vehicle was removed from the village of Durrington, 10 miles north of Salisbury, as part of the inquiry into the poisonings. A road in Durrington was closed off and tents were put up as the military and police searched for more clues. 


Little LATE, isn't it? I mean, if there were nerve agents and stuff. It's been what, two weeks?

In fact, all we have ever seen is the cops sealing off the area immediately after the alleged attack without any hazmat protection or anything. Later we get, what, staged photographs and video to fill in the narrative? One wonders what they are really doing under this cover.

Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, remain in critical condition in a Salisbury hospital more than two weeks after the attack.

British media reported that investigators believe the vehicle seized Monday had been used to transport Yulia Skripal from the airport when she arrived in Britain a day before the attack.

Who else was exposed to it then and where did it go?

‘‘What people can see is that this is a classic Russian strategy of trying to conceal the needle of truth in a haystack of lies and obfuscation,’’ said British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

This IS growing ‘‘increasingly absurd.’’ 

I'll get to the greatest lie in world history later. 

Experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the world chemical weapons watchdog group, on Monday took samples of the nerve agent found in England for independent testing.

The Kremlin said Monday that Britain will have to offer proof to back up its claim of Russia’s involvement in the poisonings — or apologize.

President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said that the ‘‘slanderous anti-Russian flow coming from Britain is inexplicable, unfounded, and driven by unclear motives.’’

Putin on Sunday dismissed the British accusations as ‘‘nonsense,’’ but said that Moscow is ready to cooperate with London in the investigation.....

Knowing all the while London is not interested.


NATO stands united with Britain, what a surprise.

"Britain and EU agree on transition plan as Brexit talks continue" by Stephen Castle New York Times  March 19, 2018

LONDON — British and European Union negotiators agreed Monday on the terms of a 21-month transition period to keep Britain inside Europe’s economic structures and to avoid an economically damaging “cliff edge” departure when the country quits the bloc next March.

The deal, however, depends on a broader agreement on Britain’s withdrawal, due to be finalized this year, which is by no means certain.

One of the main sticking points in those talks is the effort to avoid creating a hard border between Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, and Ireland, which will remain in the European Union.

The transition accord was announced Monday at a news conference in Brussels by David Davis, Britain’s main negotiator, and his EU counterpart, Michel Barnier, who described it as a “decisive step” toward an orderly withdrawal, or Brexit.

To achieve the accord, the British government retreated from an earlier pledge and conceded that EU citizens who arrived in Britain during the transition period would have the same rights as those already in the country.

Talk in Britain about quitting the EU’s fisheries policy next year has also evaporated, with Prime Minister Theresa May accepting that the standstill transition meant full compliance with current rules.

What kind of example is that setting when the Russian bear is pounding on the door?

Even so, Barnier made it clear that the transition agreement could not be considered legally binding until after ratification of a wider agreement on withdrawal, which negotiators hope to reach in the fall.

EU leaders are expected to endorse plans for the transition when they meet in Brussels on Thursday and Friday, clearing the way for detailed talks on a future trade relationship.

Even though it is not legally binding, the transition agreement is seen as important for May’s government, which has been eager to offer assurances to businesses to help mitigate uncertainty over Brexit.....

Once you get in, you can't get out, which is why I say no, no, no, to war and all the other agenda-pushing stuff to be found in my pre$$.


Related: "The British pound rose and European stocks slumped after Britain and the European Union said they are getting closer to a deal that will complete Britain’s departure from the EU in March 2019....."


The problem is now France?

"French consulate worker is accused of smuggling guns from Gaza" By David M. Halbfinger New York Times   March 20, 2018

JERUSALEM — A Frenchman working at his country’s consulate in Jerusalem was charged Monday with smuggling guns into the West Bank from Gaza, as Israelis braced for more violence in the Palestinian territories after two deadly attacks and the destruction of two border tunnels over the weekend. 

Looks like a set-up or complete charade to me!

Israel’s internal security service, the Shin Bet, said that Romain Franck, a French citizen, had “cynically exploited” lenient scrutiny of diplomatic vehicles to smuggle 70 pistols and two assault rifles on five trips from Gaza through the Erez crossing.

Franck, 24, obtained the weapons from a Gaza man employed at the French cultural center there, drove them into Israel — the Shin Bet released a photo of an SUV it said Franck had used — and then delivered them to the West Bank, where they were sold to illegal arms dealers, the security service said.

Yeah, how is that investigation regarding the attempted assassination of the Palestinian Prime minister going anyway? Kinda got dropped down the old memory hole.

Eight others were also arrested in connection with the smuggling operation, including a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem who works as a security guard at the French Consulate.

Franck took part in the smuggling for financial gain and without the knowledge of his superiors, the security service said.


A spokesman for the French Embassy in Tel Aviv said that French authorities had met with Franck and had extended consular protection to him, but that officials had taken the case very seriously and had closely cooperated with Israeli investigators. He declined to describe Franck’s duties at the consulate.

The arrests came amid a flurry of speculation in the Israeli news media about a possible escalation in Israeli-Palestinian violence after two lethal attacks over the weekend left three Israelis dead — two soldiers and a civilian.

On Friday in Mevo Dotan, a Jewish settlement near the northern West Bank city of Jenin, a 26-year-old Palestinian man ran down four Israeli soldiers, killing two and seriously wounding the others, in what the Shin Bet said was a deliberate attack. The suspect in the attack, Ala Qabha, who was hospitalized for his injuries, confessed under interrogation, the Shin Bet said.

I'm sorry, but confessions elicited under torture lack credibility and must be thrown out.

Qabha lived in nearby Bartaa, of which part is in Israel and the rest in the West Bank, and had spent two years in Israeli prisons, local reports said.

As is common practice, the military raided Qabha’s home, marked it for demolition and suspended the Israeli work permits of members of Qabha’s extended family, who number in the dozens, officials said.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman also renewed his call for legislation making it easier for military courts to impose the death sentence on Palestinians convicted of terror attacks.

We got a president who says the same thing about drug dealers.

In the second episode, Adiel Kolman, a 32-year-old father of four from Kochav Hashahar, a West Bank settlement east of Ramallah, was fatally stabbed at the Lions’ Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem on Sunday.

His assailant, identified as Abd el-Rahman Bani Fadel, 28, a father of two from Aqraba, outside Nablus in the West Bank, was shot and killed by a police officer. He had just entered Israel on a five-day permit and was looking for work, officials said.

We can see where this is going. 

Maybe you hold on to all those Eritreans, 'eh?

Nor was it quiet on the Gaza front over the weekend: After bombs were detonated near the border fence Thursday and again Saturday, causing no injuries, Israel hit targets in Gaza from the air and ground. Israel announced a day later that it had destroyed two tunnels from Gaza into Israel.

They didn't even say airstrikes, and they are keeping it quiet though!


C'mon, who is really under the coat?

Meanwhile, next door:

"Turkey vows to widen offensive to eastern Syria, Iraq" by Sarah El Deeb Associated Press  March 19, 2018

BEIRUT — Turkey’s president on Monday vowed to expand military operations across northern Syria and even into neighboring Iraq after his forces drove Syrian Kurdish fighters from the northern Syrian town of Afrin.

Turkey views the Syrian Kurdish militiamen as terrorists because of their links to Kurdish insurgents fighting inside Turkey.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkish troops and allied Syrian forces would now press eastward toward the Euphrates River. Those areas are controlled by US-backed Syrian Kurdish forces, and US troops are stationed there.

We could soon be at war with Turkey.

‘‘We’ll continue this process until we completely abolish this corridor,’’ Erdogan said. Turkey first launched military operations in Syria in 2016, and Erdogan has repeatedly said it will not allow a ‘‘terror corridor’’ along its border.

In the north, Turkish troops could cross into Iraq to drive out Kurdish militants from the region of Sinjar, if the Iraqi government does not act against militants in the area, Erdogan said.

Turkey contends the region is becoming a headquarters for outlawed Kurdish rebels who have been fighting an insurgency in Turkey’s southeast since 1984.

‘‘One night, we could suddenly enter Sinjar,’’ Erdogan said.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry, in messages sent to the UN Security Council and secretary general on Monday, called on Turkey to withdraw its forces immediately from Syrian territories.

In a separate development, Syrian President Bashar Assad’s office released videos showing the president driving himself to visit his forces at the battle for eastern Ghouta, just outside the capital, Damascus. Other drivers on the road Sunday gave no indication of knowing who was behind the wheel of the Honda sedan.

Actually, it's not a separate development. If it were, it wouldn't be in the article. The punch line is the pre$$ describing Assad's drive like it was some U.S. official sneaking into Afghanistan.

Assad’s forces battling for control of eastern Ghouta appear close to clinching one of their most significant victories against rebels in seven years of civil war.

On Monday, the European Union’s top diplomat criticized Turkey over its military offensive, calling on Ankara to work to halt the fighting in Syria.

Federica Mogherini said in Brussels that international efforts in Syria should be aimed at ‘‘de-escalating the military activities and not escalating them.’’ In reference to the Afrin offensive, she said: ‘‘I am worried about this.’’


I don't recall them being as worried about this:

"In 2003, President George W. Bush ordered the start of war against Iraq. (Because of the time difference, it was early March 20 in Iraq.)"

Iraqi clocks must not matter or were destroyed.

That was 15 years ago today, folks, and not one retrospective comes in the Jewi$h War Pre$$. Bush's war crimes, the lies, the enabling collusion of the ma$$ media in it, all down the memory hole.

"Dunford visits Afghanistan to review US military campaign" Associated Press  March 19, 2018

BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan — The top US military officer visited Afghanistan on Monday to evaluate the military campaign and ensure new American advisory teams and an upgraded Afghan Air Force are on target as the next fighting season with the Taliban looms.

General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he wants to understand the goals for the coming months so that the US-led coalition can develop ways to measure progress in the fight.

Dunford told reporters traveling with him that he seeks a discussion about measures of effectiveness. A key question, he said, is how the United States will know that it’s where it needs to be in implementing the Afghans’ plan.

The idea of benchmarks for progress in the Afghan war has been simmering for several months as the Pentagon looks to end America’s longest war. Measuring success will be a key part of White House discussions this summer when President Trump looks for a one-year assessment of his new regional strategy.

Last August, a reluctant Trump had to be persuaded to inject new US troops to the war, now in its 17th year.

Just like Obama had to be in his first year! 

This is a rerun! Next thing is they will be saying we will be out in 2012, then 2014, then 2016, 'er, 2020, 2022, 2024, then he's gone.

Dunford, who commanded US and coalition forces in Afghanistan from February 2013 to August 2014, said a major focus will be ensuring General John Nicholson, the top US commander in Afghanistan, has the resources he needs.

Dunford’s visit comes on the heels of a two-day stop in Afghanistan last week by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis amid talk of a renewed push to get Taliban fighters to the peace table with the Afghan government.....

Translation: the Empire is begging for an agreement to officially end the fighting.


What is left unsaid is Afghanistan's proximity to Russia and China's soft Central Asian underbelly. That's why we are never leaving.

RelatedSoldier in bloody Niger mission had warned of gaps, defense officials say

Meanwhile, the genocide is over in Sudan.

Also seeRecord flooding in Croatia as storms batter Europe a section of Albania that has been flooded for two weeks amid a late cold snap.

Of course, focusing on that would undercut the narrative:

"The blaze comes amid increasing concern about extreme bush fires in southern and eastern Australia, with climate change and a paucity of rainfall believed to be behind the lengthening of the fire season from October through March....."

Not California?

6 months after Mexico quake, some still camp outside homes Not everyone has moved on, and most everyone has a cough, especially the children are often battling colds

Severe storms roar through Southeast

Foot of snow could fall in region this week

They are blaming the mysterious cigar-shaped object hovering out over the SpaceBelt?


"In New Hampshire, Trump calls for getting tough on drug dealers" by Joshua Miller Globe Staff  March 19, 2018

MANCHESTER, N.H. — Ramping up his rhetoric and policy proposals, President Trump on Monday called for the death penalty for opioid traffickers and zeroed in on Boston and Lawrence for their so-called sanctuary city policies that protect illegal immigrants.

Speaking in a state ravaged by the opioid crisis, Trump called for broadening public awareness about addiction and expanding access to treatment and recovery efforts. But his main focus was on stiffer law enforcement efforts.

“We can have all the blue ribbon committees we want, but if we don’t get tough on the drug dealers, we’re wasting our time,” he said at a Manchester Community College gymnasium. “And that toughness includes the death penalty.”

I'm opposed to the death penalty for several reasons, the least of which are the imperfections (to put it kindly) of the AmeriKan JU$tU$ $y$tem combined with my valuing of all life during the days of endless, mass-murdering wars.

Trump took aim at cities that have limited local cooperation with federal immigration authorities, mentioning Boston and Lawrence — two communities where the majority of residents are minorities — by name and saying “ending sanctuary cities is crucial to stopping the drug addiction crisis.” Trump repeated his call for Congress “to block funds for sanctuary cities and to close the deadly loopholes,” he said, drowned out by applause from about 500 people.

RelatedWoman charged with helping 6 who illegally crossed into US

The Republican raised the prospect of stepping up Department of Justice lawsuits against opioid manufacturers, pledged to cut nationwide opioid prescriptions by one-third over the next three years, and said he’s working with Congress to plow $6 billion in new federal spending into prevention, enforcement, and treatment. He also called to the podium parents who lost their son to an overdose so they could tell their tragic story.

He is treading dangerous ground there regarding certain powerful special interests, and I'm surprised he wasn't criticized for using the families as political props.

Trump’s speech meandered and included riffs on building the wall on the border with Mexico; the sky-high prices of prescription drugs; and the economy, but his most animated emphasis was on tougher penalties — the toughest — for “the big pushers, the ones that are really killing so many people,” as he put it.

I'm sure he means the big pharmaceuticals and their executives, right?


"As if Aegerion Pharmaceuticals didn’t have enough problems. In January, a federal judge penalized the Cambridge biopharmaceutical company for improperly marketing a cholesterol drug, and required some of the $40.1 million that Aegerion agreed to pay to go to the company’s victims. Now a Washington, D.C.-based watchdog group says an Ivy League professor who helped invent the drug in question, Juxtapid, never disclosed taxpayers’ role in his work when he obtained six patents, as required by federal law. Less than a week ago, the watchdog group wrote a similar letter to federal officials complaining that Gilead Sciences Inc., a California-based biotech, had failed to disclose that one patent on its blockbuster hepatitis C drug, Sovaldi, had been developed with the use of taxpayer funds. In contrast to Gilead, Aegerion has been a profoundly troubled company......"

Time for lunch (on the NIH, of course)!

The president recalled conversations he said he has had with unnamed foreign leaders, performing both sides of the dialogue in his account to the crowd.

“How’s your drug problem?” Trump said, recounting his question.

“We don’t have much of a drug problem,” these leaders reply, according to the president’s telling.

“What do you mean you don’t have a drug problem?”

“Well, we don’t have!”

“I say, ‘How come?’ ”

“We have zero tolerance for drug dealers!”

“I said, ‘What does that mean?’ ”

“That means we have the death penalty for drug dealers. We don’t have a drug problem.”

Trump then returned to his own voice.

“Take a look at some of these countries where they don’t play games: They don’t have a drug problem,” Trump said, bemoaning court cases in the United States that, he said, last 10 years only to free the alleged criminal at the end.

“We got to be tough. We have to be smart. We have to change the laws, and we’re working on that right now,” he said.

We have to remember the CIA is the biggest drug smuggler and drug loot bolsters the bottom lines of banks (saved them from the 2008 crisis, in fact). That's why Afghanistan had a record harvest this past year.

Trump has previously praised President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, who has embraced extrajudicial killings of people suspected of drug offenses.

We kind of already have all that, BLM, without the drugs.

Specialists, however, say it’s unclear if the death penalty for traffickers would be constitutional in the United States.

The president also announced a new White House website — crisisnextdoor.gov — and an ad campaign aimed at making youths terrified about the dangers of drugs to stop them from ever using them.


“When young people see the commercials, they’ll say ‘I don’t want any part of it,’ ” the president said. “That’s the least expensive thing we can do, where you scare them from ending up like the people in the commercials.”

DARE I say we have been there before?

Before the speech, Trump stopped at a fire station in Manchester, part of the Safe Station program, which allows people struggling with addiction to ask on-duty firefighters for help without fear of getting arrested.

“You save a lot of lives,” Trump told assembled firefighters and officials, touting the program as a national model....

I'm told it is “a giant step forward.”


What do you mean my license is no good and why do I need more paperz than any illegal?

Time to step back:

"Trump to hire lawyer who pushed theory that Justice Department framed the president" by Maggie Haberman and Michael S. Schmidt New York Times   March 19, 2018

MANCHESTER, N.H. — President Trump hired longtime Washington lawyer Joseph E. diGenova on Monday, adding an aggressive voice to his legal team who has pushed the theory on television that the FBI and Justice Department framed Trump.

DiGenova, a former US attorney, is not expected to take a lead role. But he will serve as an outspoken player for the president as he has endorsed the notion that a secretive group of FBI agents concocted the Russia investigation as a way to keep Trump from becoming president.

“There was a brazen plot to illegally exonerate Hillary Clinton and, if she didn’t win the election, to then frame Donald Trump with a falsely created crime,” he said on Fox News in January. He added, “Make no mistake about it: A group of FBI and DOJ people were trying to frame Donald Trump of a falsely created crime.”

It was about protecting her and will be dismissed out of hand, but this is the basic, and consistent, conspiracy.

Little evidence has emerged to support that theory.

Now that is NYT chutzpah!

Earlier this month, Trump did not tell his lawyers that he was in discussions with another Washington lawyer, Emmet T. Flood, about representing him. Flood represented former President Bill Clinton during his impeachment proceedings.

DiGenova is law partners with his wife, Victoria Toensing. Toensing has represented Sam Clovis, the former Trump campaign cochairman, and Erik Prince, founder of the security contractor Blackwater and an informal adviser to Trump.....



"The University of Cambridge Psychometrics Centre took one look at my life on Facebook and concluded that I am both liberal and politically libertarian, contemplative and competitive, artistic but with a strong interest in engineering. Combined with the evidence that Russian conspirators used Facebook advertising in an effort to influence the race toward Trump, it starts to feel like the American who had an outsized hand in the presidential election was Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. The credit or blame for Trump’s election should still fall to the 62,984,825 American voters who backed him, not foreign conspirators. But that doesn’t let Facebook off the hook. The company’s anything-for-a-buck business practices made it easy for the Russians to secretly feed voters a toxic stew of lies and distortions....." 

All I can say is it takes one to know one. Wow!

"Facebook’s stock plunged 6.8 percent Monday, its worst loss in four years, leading a rout among technology companies. The social media company’s stock fell following reports a data-mining firm that worked for the Trump campaign improperly obtained data on 50 million Facebook users. Investors wondered if companies like Facebook and Alphabet will now face tighter regulation. Daniel Ives, head of technology research for GBH Insights, said Facebook is in crisis and will have to work hard to reassure users, investors, and governments. ‘‘This is a defining moment for them,’’ he said....."

Time to cover your Face?

"Facebook security chief quits amid conflicts with executives" by Globe news services March 19, 2018

NEW YORK — Facebook’s chief information security officer, Alex Stamos, will leave the company after disagreements over how the social network should deal with its role in spreading disinformation, The New York Times reported, citing current and former employees briefed on the matter.

What do you think I'm finding on the news rack every morning?

Stamos had been a strong advocate inside the company for investigating and disclosing Russian activity on Facebook, often to the consternation of other top executives, including Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer, according to current and former employees who asked not to be identified.

Facebook also has been under fire since The Guardian and The New York Times last week detailed how Cambridge Analytica, a British firm led by Alexander Nix, used an app to obtain user data on 50 million people without their knowledge in order to subject them to political propaganda.

Federal Election Commission data show that Cambridge Analytica, which is funded in part by billionaire financier Robert Mercer, a supporter of Donald Trump, earned $5.9 million in 2016 for its services from the campaign to elect Trump president.

Cambridge also earned $5.8 million from Senator Ted Cruz’s failed presidential campaign.

In total, Cambridge Analytica earned more than $16 million from 2014 to 2016 from nearly 20 Republican candidates and political committees.

Facebook suspended the company from using its services Friday, hours before the reports came out.

Facebook’s stock closed down 6.8 percent Monday, its worst single-day fall since 2014.


Stamos would be the first high-ranking employee to leave Facebook since controversy erupted over disinformation on its site. His departure is a sign of heightened leadership tensions at the company.

The paper's disinformation is no longer controversial because the lies and distortions are expected.

After his day-to-day responsibilities were reassigned to others in December, he said he would leave. He was persuaded to stay through August to oversee the transition because executives thought his departure would look bad, the current and former employees said. He has been overseeing the transfer of his security team to Facebook’s product and infrastructure divisions. His group, which once had 120 people, now has three, the employees said.

You gotta laugh, hey. It's ALL ABOUT IMAGERY and ILLUSION with them!

Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, Sandberg, and other company leaders have struggled to address a growing set of problems, including Russian interference on the platform, the rise of false news, and the disclosure of Cambridge Analytica’s harvesting of data.

Facebook did not immediately have a comment Monday. A British television station broadcast video Monday apparently showing the head of the data analysis firm Cambridge Analytica, which worked for President Trump’s 2016 campaign, talking about using bribes, traps involving sex workers and other unethical tactics to swing elections around the world. The broadcast by Channel 4 News offered no evidence that such methods were used during Cambridge Analytica’s work for the Trump campaign, which paid the firm at least $6 million

Now why would the Globe edit out that? Because that is how the $tring-pullers control Congre$$ (think Hastert, Foley, Menendez, Conyers, Franken, etc, etc)?

And add this instead:

EU and US officials continued to demand answers from both Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. Britain’s information commissioner said she will seek a warrant to access Cambridge Analytica’s servers because the British firm had been ‘‘uncooperative’’ in her investigation.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey has opened a civil investigation into Facebook, according to her spokeswoman Emalie Gainey. The inquiry seeks to examine the nature of the data, how the data was used, and what policies, if any, were violated.


Of course, leftist thuggery is okay (it was a gesture of goodwill).

As for the AG's office:

"The state Supreme Judicial Court has been petitioned to throw out another 11,000 drug cases potentially tainted by the Amherst drug lab scandal. If the court agrees with a brief filed last week, the number of convictions dismissed due to misconduct by former chemist Sonja Farak and two former prosecutors could approach 19,000, potentially rivaling the number vacated in the Annie Dookhan scandal. Farak pleaded guilty in early 2014 to stealing from narcotics samples for her own use and analyzing samples while impaired. It took another two years to uncover that Farak’s on-the-job drug use stretched back several years, even before she joined the Amherst lab in 2004. The delay was due in large part to unethical behavior by two former state prosecutors, Anne Kaczmarek and Kris Foster, a judge ruled last summer. Kaczmarek and Foster, who worked under former attorney general Martha Coakley, withheld key evidence taken from Farak’s car. The judge deemed their deception “a fraud upon the court.” The latest brief filed by Public Counsel Services and the civil liberties union asked the SJC to impose fines against Kaczmarek, Foster, and the attorney general’s office to “deter future prosecutorial misconduct.” The separate Dookhan drug lab scandal resulted in the dismissal of more than 21,000 cases in 2017....."

And we are supposed to trust her office as she grandstands against Trump. 

"A group of former students defrauded by for-profit colleges is claiming in court that the Education Department illegally obtained and used their Social Security data to limit their student loan relief. A motion filed by several former Corinthian students over the weekend claims that the agency had obtained the figures from the Social Security Administration in violation of several laws as well as the Constitution....."

Yeah, they exploited millions yet it is hardly talked about when YOUR OWN GOVERNMENT does that to you and not the Trump campaign or the Russians!

Of course, the school-funding battles date back to last Sunday

See ya' in court:

"Supreme Court keeps revised Pa. congressional map in place" by Mark Scolforo Associated Press  March 19, 2018

HARRISBURG, Pa. — In other matters Monday:

■ The Supreme Court agreed to decide whether federal immigration law gives the government the power to indefinitely detain any noncitizen it is considering deporting if the person previously committed crimes.

Immigration law says that if noncitizens commit a crime for which they can be deported, the government should take them into custody for potential removal when they’re released from prison or jail. A person detained immediately can be held indefinitely.

The government argues the same is true if the person is released and then later detained for possible removal.

The US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled that noncitizens not promptly detained must be given the opportunity to be released on bond. The Department of Homeland Security is seeking to reverse that ruling.

■ The high court rejected a challenge to Arizona’s death penalty law. The justices let stand the convictions and death sentences of Abel Daniel Hidalgo, who is in a federal prison in Arizona serving life sentences for two other killings.

■ The justices decided to leave in place a ruling that revived two federal lawsuits stemming from the lead-tainted water crisis in Flint, Mich.

Remember that?

The high court declined to get involved in the cases, returning them to the trial court to move forward.....


"Democrats reject immigration deal as budget deadline nears" by Andrew Taylor Associated Press  March 19, 2018

WASHINGTON — Capitol Hill Democrats have rejected a White House bid to extend protections for so-called Dreamer immigrants in exchange for $25 billion in funding for President Trump’s long-sought border wall as Washington talks on a $1.3 trillion catchall spending bill hit a critical stage on Monday.

The bipartisan measure is loaded with political and policy victories for both parties. Republicans and Trump are winning a long-sought budget increase for the Pentagon, while Democrats obtain funding for infrastructure, the opioid crisis, and a wide swath of domestic programs.

The bill would implement last month’s budget agreement, providing 10 percent increases for the Pentagon and domestic agencies. Coupled with last year’s tax cuts, it heralds the return of trillion-dollar budget deficits as soon as the budget year starting in October.

While most of the funding issues in the enormous measure have been sorted out, fights involving a number of policy ‘‘riders’’ — so named because they catch a ride on a difficult-to-stop spending bill — continued into the weekend.

As is typical, many or most of the policy riders were melting away.

For example, an effort to add a plan to revive federal subsidies to stabilize the individual health insurance market and help the poor cover out-of-pocket costs under President Barack Obama’s health law appeared to be failing. A complicated dispute involving abortion was at fault.

I swear they use abortion to block what they don't want to fund, in this case your health care.

Trump told two Republican senators on Saturday that he supports adding proposals to a huge spending bill that would provide billions in federal subsidies to insurers to help curb health care premium increases.

Republican Senators Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Susan Collins of Maine spoke to Trump for an hour on Saturday in a call initiated by the two lawmakers, the sources said.

Alexander and Collins are among Republicans backing proposals to revive payments to insurers that Trump halted last fall that reimburse the carriers for reducing out-of-pocket costs for many low-earning customers. Those reductions are required by the Obama health law, and insurers have made up for the lost federal payments by boosting premiums.

They would also create a $30 billion, three-year reinsurance program that states could use to help insurers afford to cover their most seriously ill, expensive consumers.

Both proposals are in trouble because Democrats oppose GOP provisions that would forbid the federal payments from being used to help pay for insurance policies that provide abortion.

And Republicans appeared likely to fail in a bid to fix a glitch in the recent tax bill that subsidizes grain sales to cooperatives at the expense of for-profit grain companies, several aides said.

Efforts to use the measure as a vehicle to extend protections for young immigrants under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival, or DACA, program appeared likely to fail, aides said. Trump killed the Obama-era program in September, but a court decision has essentially left it in place, for now.

The White House had revived the idea in recent days — offering on Sunday a 30-month extension of DACA protections in exchange for $25 billion for Trump’s border wall — but Democrats demanded protections for a broader pool of immigrants than had signed up for DACA, a request denied by GOP negotiators.

Chances for a behind-the-scenes effort to strengthen Capitol Hill procedures for dealing with workplace harassment complaints also appeared to be fading, aides in both parties said, casting responsibility on Senate Republicans for favoring a more narrowly drawn approach than legislation that passed the House last month.

OMG, ladies!!

Trump, meanwhile, has privately threatened to veto the whole package if a $900 million payment is made on the Hudson River Gateway Project, a priority for Schumer. Trump’s opposition is alarming Northeastern Republicans such as Peter King, a House member from New York who lobbied Trump on the project at a St. Patrick’s luncheon in the Capitol on Thursday.

The Gateway Project would add an $11 billion rail tunnel under the Hudson River to complement deteriorating, century-old tunnels that are at risk of closing in a few years. It enjoys bipartisan support among key Appropriations panel negotiators on the omnibus measure who want to get the expensive project on track while their coffers are flush with money..... 


I'm sensing a primary challenge:

"Unlike previous two-term incumbents, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, Trump has fostered such a hostile political climate that some Republicans — typically unwilling to speak ill of a sitting GOP president -— have no qualms about visiting the state and talking trash about the incumbent. That’s exactly what happened last week when conservative columnist Bill Kristol and Arizona Senator Jeff Flake traveled to New Hampshire, delivering blistering critiques about how the president wasn’t really a conservative and how they hope someone would challenge Trump in the primary. Kristol is headed to Iowa soon. Whether Trump actually faces a challenge remains an open question. When Flake was testing his message on Friday in Manchester, he received a standing ovation from a business-minded crowd of mostly Republicans. He was quick to note that the “odds are long” that he’d run in 2020. But remember, Flake wouldn’t need to win the primary to deeply damage Trump’s reelection chances. Even the threat of a challenge — from Flake or anyone else — could force Trump to spend the coming months playing to the New Hampshire GOP masses rather than his own base. His reelection may depend on it....."

Look at the Globe hoping and praying out of hate, even going so far as to dredge up the PNAC war-monger Bill Kristol!

Yeah, maybe she will win this time!


Brother of shooting suspect arrested

Students say 1 million expected at marches against gun violence

They are now dragging San Bernardino into it even!

Florida university campus opens days after 6 die in bridge collapse

The state just OK’ed $205 million to rebuild it.

US student found dead in Bermuda after intense search

"A bomb threat to a Chicopee middle school led to the arrest Sunday of an 11-year-old girl who previously attended the school, according to local police. The Chicopee police Facebook account was inundated around 6 p.m. Sunday with messages from parents that included copies of the threat to Dupont Memorial Middle School the girl made on Snapchat, Officer Michael Wilk, a department spokesman, said Monday morning. Police had investigated the threat and arrested the girl, who no longer lives in Chicopee. “She claimed it was a hoax, but obviously we don’t take these things lightly,” he said. There will be additional police on the middle school campus on Monday to help reassure parents, he said, though authorities believe there is no credible threat to the school. Wilk said the swift reaction of students and parents to the Snapchat posting showed that public safety campaigns are having the intended effect....."

Mind f***s usually do.

Speaking of mind f***s:

Austin on edge as police seek out ‘serial bomber’

Last I heard he was headed for Kentucky in a boat.


This next item will make you want to puke:

"Baker defends budget chief’s hiring of friends, says they’re ‘qualified’" by Matt Stout Globe Correspondent  March 20, 2018

Governor Charlie Baker, who campaigned on a pledge to root out cronyism in state government, gave a vigorous defense Monday of his budget chief, Michael Heffernan, and a slew of well-connected associates that Heffernan hired, including campaign donors and fellow Wellesley Country Club members.

In a testy exchange with reporters, Baker said he has “full confidence” in Heffernan, a former Republican candidate for treasurer whom Baker first installed as commissioner of the Department of Revenue and, last year, elevated to his Cabinet as secretary of administration and finance.

Before he was promoted, Heffernan, according to a Globe report, hired a half-dozen friends and colleagues to high-paying jobs in the revenue department.

Baker had vowed on the campaign trail in 2014 to give Beacon Hill “strong medicine” on patronage hiring, and, emboldened by a scandal in the Probation Department, declared that “who you know is more important than what you know.”

The DOR employees, he argued Monday, aren’t the same.

“Every single one of those people was qualified to do their job,” Baker said at the State House, adding: “So we’re going to outlaw people from Wellesley from working in the administration?

“I don’t have a problem with people who are qualified from working in our administration. In fact, I think that should be our objective. What I have a problem with is people who aren’t qualified.”

In some cases, Heffernan’s hires played golf at the same country club as their boss or donated to his failed campaign for state treasurer.

Among them was 59-year-old Philippe M. Mauldin, who now serves as the $140,000-a-year chief of staff to Heffernan’s hand-picked replacement atop DOR. Mauldin, formerly of Fidelity Investments, lives two homes away from Heffernan in Wellesley.

Heffernan also tapped another Wellesley resident, William McNamara, who — like Heffernan — plays golf at the Wellesley Country Club. The 55-year-old, also once of Fidelity, now serves as deputy commissioner for legislative affairs and policy director at a salary of $141,000 per year.

Most of them are retired bankers who now have a state check going into their account as well as taxpayer-funded pension and health benefits.

Baker bristled at questions about the hires, saying many of them took the jobs because they were “public-spirited” after respected careers in the private sector.

That approval rating has gone to his head!

“Now we’re getting to the point where we’re saying that people who aren’t from government, aren’t in government and never served in government, somehow are cronies?” he said.


Globe is ruining the party.

UPDATE: 20 state troopers face possible discipline in overtime scam probe

Maybe that no down-payment home will have to become a short-term rental.

"The nation’s unemployment rate remained unchanged in February, but there was one bright spot many economists weren’t expecting: an influx of retail jobs. In all, retailers added 50,300 jobs in February — four times the number from the month before. One reason for the gains, economists said: Americans are increasingly renovating their homes instead of buying new ones, helping create thousands of retail jobs at companies like Home Depot and Lowe’s. ‘‘This is a housing repair and remodeling story — and not just because of the recent hurricanes and fires,’’ said Diane Swonk, chief economist at professional-services firm Grant Thornton. ‘‘In many cases, people are realizing it’s cheaper and easier to add on to their homes than to buy new ones.’’ Low housing supply and high costs, particularly in larger cities, are prompting prospective buyers to think twice before buying a house, Swonk said. Other factors, such as rising interest rates and changes to mortgage-related tax credits, are also contributing to their decisions."

Added on a front porch, did ya'?

"In Nahant, a seaside research center has turned into a bitter battleground" by Michael Levenson Globe Staff  March 19, 2018

NAHANT — East Point, a spectacular rocky bluff that juts into the Atlantic Ocean and was once home to Henry Cabot Lodge’s estate and a World War II bunker, has turned into a bitter battleground.

In an ironic twist, residents assert the institute dedicated to protecting vulnerable coastal communities will instead ruin the natural beauty of East Point — one of Nahant’s most cherished spots — and make the state’s smallest town feel more like a heavily traveled college campus.

Jim Dolan, a retired high-tech worker who raised five children in Nahant, said he is so angry at Northeastern’s “total disrespect and total disregard” for the town he’s ready to set fire to the master’s degree he earned from the university in the 1970s.

“How about if we get everyone from Nahant who has a Northeastern degree to go to the board of directors meeting and burn them all?” Dolan said. “I don’t do that lightly. I’m a big education guy. But having a university take a position to not honor its neighbors is unconscionable.”

Such is the intensity of the opposition in Nahant, a one-square-mile peninsula that is home to 4,000 residents and has been a haven for wealthy families since the 19th century.


Last week, the bad blood reached a boiling point when Northeastern canceled a lecture at the center titled, “Nitrogen: Friend or Foe? Effects of Fertilization on a New England Salt Marsh.” University officials feared that residents who had been posting hostile messages on social media would disrupt the talk.

“It’s been really hard coming through town, the town that I’ve been driving through for 30 years, seeing such hostility,” said Geoffrey Trussell, the center director, who has worked there for three decades, studying ocean predators.

The fight is not the only one Northeastern is waging as it expands.

In Roxbury, residents protested the construction of a 20-story student housing tower, arguing it would exacerbate gentrification. Burlington residents, meanwhile, are battling Northeastern’s plan to build a 104,000-square-foot addition to its homeland security research institute, saying it will ruin an adjacent park.

But officials in Burlington and Boston have been generally supportive of those projects, unlike the selectmen in Nahant, who have hired an outside law firm to fight Northeastern in court, as soon as the university seeks a building permit.

On paper, at least, it would be a lopsided contest between a North Shore town with an $11 million annual budget and a Boston-based university with more than 20,000 students and an endowment of about $750 million.

Good thing games, 'er, you know.....

But Enzo Barile, chairman of the Nahant Board of Selectmen, said, “The town is ready to do battle, and we’ve got plenty of people ready to it, so that’s what we’re going to do.”

Frustrated with the opposition, Northeastern has launched a direct-mail campaign to persuade Nahanters to support the expansion. The first mailing, an answer to frequently asked questions, started arriving in mailboxes Monday.

“In most communities, when we have plans to build a new building, we work very closely with elected officials and other town officials,” said Michael Armini, Northeastern’s senior vice president for external affairs. “Here, we have learned that we need to communicate directly with the residents and work directly with the residents. The normal approach didn’t work.”

They only use you when they need you, people.

Nearby Lynn and Salem have each expressed interest in bringing the expansion project to their waterfronts, if Nahant succeeds in blocking the project.

Some Nahanters view the offers as a win-win solution, saving their coastline while bringing a much-needed economic boost to an urban area.

But Northeastern says it wants to remain on East Point and will explore “all legal options” to expand on its property, if the town rejects its permits.

“Universities take the long view,” Armini said. “We’ve been here for over 50 years; we look forward to being here for over 50 years more.” 

Even with the sea levels rising?

The $50 million expansion on such a picturesque bluff is designed to help Northeastern attract academic talent from across the world so it can compete with Stanford, the University of California Santa Cruz, and other top coastal sustainability programs.

The center has already grown dramatically since six years ago, when it had just four professors. It now employs 51 people — 20 faculty, 20 staff, and 11 postdoctoral scientists. After the expansion, it would employ 87 people — 40 faculty, 25 staff, and 22 postdoctoral students.

The new facility would wedge two stories and a basement onto the side and top of a concrete bunker that housed two anti-submarine guns during World War II. It later served as a Nike missile site during the Cold War.

The site, in a low-lying section of East Point, is intended to hide the building from view as much as possible, Trussell said.

But residents argue the facility will spoil the vistas on East Point, which has a popular walking trail; threaten migratory birds that land on the bluff; and bring traffic and noise to a quiet town that has no gas station, traffic lights, or grocery stores.

Josh Mahoney, a local lobsterman, said the seawater that the center pumps into its research tanks and discharges back into the ocean has already warmed the waters off East Point, scaring away lobsters. He said the problem will only get worse if the center expands.

“They want to attract scientists from all over the world, and say, ‘Look! Come study here at Northeastern. We preach coastal sustainability.’ Yet they’ve destroyed the coastal sustainability right here in their hometown,’” Mahoney said.

Trussell said the center has shelved plans to expand its pumping capacity on East Point, and he noted that the ocean is warming because of climate change — not discharge from the center’s research tanks.

“You’re talking with a bunch of environmentalists here; we’re not interested in destroying the environment,” Trussell said.

He said the facility will actually address some of the most pressing problems facing coastal communities, such as overfishing, pollution, sea-level rise, and storm surge.

“This is not only for the benefit of Northeastern, and not only for the benefit of Nahant,” Trussell said. “But it’s also for the benefit of society at large, because the issues we are tackling are fundamentally important.”

Now let's calculate your carbon tax payment, shall we?