Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News

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Tuesday, December 05, 2017

... from people who failed background checks. Federal authorities sought to take back guns from thousands of people the background check system should have blocked from buying weapons because they had criminal records, mental health issues or other problems that would disqualify them. A USA Today review found that the FBI issued more than 4,000 requests last year for agents from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives to retrieve guns from prohibited buyers. It's the largest number of such retrieval requests in 10 years, according to bureau records -- an especially striking statistic after revelations that a breakdown in the background check system allowed a troubled Air Force veteran to buy a rifle later used to kill 26 worshipers at a Texas church last month. read more

Monday, December 04, 2017

America's most affluent shoppers are capable of spending big this holiday season. They may just require a bit of coaxing. That's the view of Neiman Marcus Group Inc. Chief Executive Officer Karen Katz, whose typical customer is a well-heeled woman. "Her balance sheet is in very good shape," Katz told Emma Chandra on Bloomberg Television. It's "really a matter of how emotionally she feels about things, and she seems to be in a good place right now." The holiday season comes ahead of a potential tax overhaul that has been touted as a way to give consumers a boost in take-home pay. The National Retail Federation said over the weekend that shoppers are already spending more this holiday season in anticipation of a tax cut.

US and South Korean forces have begun their regular joint aerial drills in an apparent show of force against North Korea. US Forces in South Korea say this year's exercise is the largest ever, with more than 230 aircraft taking part. They say state-of-the-art F-35 and F-22 stealth fighters are joining the drills for the first time. South Korean defense ministry spokesperson Moon Sang-gyun told reporters on Monday that the 2 nations had just kicked off the 5 days of drills, called "Vigilant Ace." Moon said the drills are aimed at improving the capabilities of the countries' air forces to carry out coordinated operations in wartime. In the exercise, the US and South Korean forces are to simulate the interception of aircraft intruding into territorial air space. They will also practice attacks on mobile ballistic missile launchers and other ground targets.

he UK and EU have failed to reach an agreement to move to the next stage of Brexit talks, Theresa May has said. The prime minister said differences remain on a "couple of issues". She said talks would reconvene "before the end of the week" and she was "confident we will conclude this positively". The BBC's Laura Kuenssberg said the deal had been "sunk" by the DUP, which reacted angrily to reports of concessions on the Irish border issue. Mrs May is understood to have broken off from talks with European Commission President Jean Claude Junker to speak to Arlene Foster, after the DUP leader had held a press conference saying her party "will not accept any form of regulatory divergence" that separates Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK. read more

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Obamacare has led to higher costs and fewer health insurance options for millions of Americans. How has it impacted you? Share your story with the President.


Trump Plans Waiver on Moving U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem

...President Donald Trump will sign a waiver delaying the move of the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv while declaring the contested city the capital of Israel, according to a person familiar with the decision.

Reports that Trump would unilaterally declare Jerusalem to be the capital and begin moving the embassy there fueled warnings from Middle East and European leaders saying it would undermine peace efforts and potentially generate protests across the region. The president is "pretty solid in his thinking" on the issue, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said, and will make an announcement Wednesday.

The president's decision to sign the waiver would be in keeping with moves by his predecessors going back 20 years under a federal law that declares an undivided Jerusalem to be the Israeli capital.

Trump called Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan's King Abdullah on Tuesday to tell them of his decision. Both governments said Trump told their leaders that he intends to move the embassy, though no timelines were provided. The White House announced the calls, but spokespeople for Trump did not immediately confirm the Palestinian and Jordanian accounts....


Who gets the tax cuts?

The Senate bill in blue and white...


Summary - by 2027, the top 0.6% will get over 60% of the tax cuts, while those in teh $20k to $40k range will be paying more taxes.

Sessions argued in Clinton impeachment that presidents can obstruct justice

...Donald Trump's personal lawyer argued Monday that, as the nominal head of federal law enforcement, the president is legally unable to obstruct justice. But the exact opposite view was once argued by another senior Trump lawyer: Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

In 1999, Sessions – then an Alabama senator – laid out an impassioned case for President Bill Clinton to be removed from office based on the argument that Clinton obstructed justice amid the investigation into his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

"The facts are disturbing and compelling on the President's intent to obstruct justice," he said, according to remarks in the congressional record.

Sessions isn't alone. More than 40 current GOP members of Congress voted for the impeachment or removal of Clinton from office for obstruction of justice. They include Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell – who mounted his own passionate appeal to remove Clinton from office for obstruction of justice – Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr, who was a House member at the time....

Looks like negotiations fell through today.

Brexit Breakthrough Fails as Irish Allies Flex Muscle With May

...London and Brussels failed to clinch a long-sought breakthrough on Brexit after a series of dramatic twists that saw a tentative deal derailed by the delicate question of the Irish border....

The Irish border was always going to be an intractable challenge that would require political will on all sides. The invisible border now is only possible because both Northern Ireland, which is part of the U.K. and the Republic of Ireland are members of the EU's single market and customs union. When the U.K. leaves the EU, Northern Ireland goes with it....

Another possible sticking block was the role of the European Court of Justice. The ECJ has totemic importance for the Brexit backers in May's Conservative Party, who see it as a symbol of lost sovereignty.

On the EU side, it's a possible deal-breaker as the veto-wielding European Parliament has made clear the court must have a role in protecting the rights of EU citizens living in the U.K. after Brexit. ...

Interview on NRP's Morning Edition with Preet Bharara, former United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York

About 2:43 into the four minute podcast, Mr Bharara says the following:

... I have a lot of experience with John Dowd ... He represented some high profile people in cases before my office. And he said then, as he's saying now, a lot of incorrect, mistaken and, on occasion, ludicrous things, so I don't put a lot of stock in it. ... The mere fact that the President is the President doesn't immunize him from an accusation of obstruction...


Ya know, I've been thinking along those lines lately.

From what I've been reading, support for BRExit seems to be dropping as more and more of the ramifications become more widely known.

Frankfurt, Germany has been a winner so far.

Frankfurt prepares for Brexit: 'It has put extra wind into our sails'

...Recently praised by the chief of Goldman Sachs, Germany's financial capital is in pole position to gain banking jobs from the UK.

Peter Ferres, founder-headteacher of Frankfurt's Metropolitan school, knows a thing or two about London bankers: he used to be one. For seven years, Ferres worked as a managing director for Credit Suisse in the City, marshalling billion-dollar stock market flotations of emerging market companies.

In 2005, he chucked in his career in the Square Mile. After completing a teacher training course, he headed to Frankfurt's Rödelheim district to found one of the city's 13 international private schools.

Ten years later, the City is catching up with the German ex-banker again: in the wake of Britain's vote to leave the European Union, he is on a daily basis fielding calls from London financiers whose employers are considering moving parts of their operation to Germany. Some banks have already block-booked places for the new year at the school where means-tested fees range from €1,800 to €11,500 a year.

Which banks and how many places, the headteacher is not allowed to say, but it has been enough to give him confidence to further expand the school: over the next two years, the Metropolitan is building an additional 10 classrooms.

"Frankfurt was booming anyway, but Brexit has put extra wind into our sails," he says. "Probably even if Corbyn were to get elected tomorrow and decide to overturn the vote."...

Frankfurt's gain is the UK's loss, and that realization is beginning to sink in within the UK.

US, South Korea kick off five days of stealth jet drills

... The North Korean regime was quick to denounce the joint US-South Korea drills, labelling them an "all-out provocation."

Pyongyang's state news agency KCNA warned on Sunday that the drills would push the peninsula "to the brink of nuclear war," although such language is commonplace in the North because the country views these regular military exercises south of its border as preparations for an invasion.

Over the weekend, North Korea's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country called Trump "insane," while KCNA, citing a military spokesperson, said the Trump administration was "begging for nuclear war by staging an extremely dangerous nuclear gamble on the Korean peninsula". ...

I ran across this interesting Op-Ed piece. It puts forth an interesting viewpoint...

Maybe Trump knows his base better than we do

...Watching the Republican tax plan race through Congress, one is reminded of a big apparent difference between President Trump's program and other populist movements in the Western world. In the United States, Trump is leading something that is best described as plutocratic populism, a mixture of traditional populist causes with extreme libertarian ones.

Congress's own think tanks -- the Joint Committee on Taxation and the Congressional Budget Office -- calculate that in 10 years, people making between $50,000 and $75,000 (around the median income in the United States) would effectively pay a whopping $4 billion more in taxes, while people making $1 million or more would pay $5.8 billion less under the Senate bill. And that doesn't take into account the massive cuts in services, health care and other benefits that would likely result.

Martin Wolf, the sober and fact-based chief economics commentator for the Financial Times, concludes, "This is a determined effort to shift resources from the bottom, middle and even upper middle of the U.S. income distribution toward the very top, combined with big increases in economic insecurity for the great majority."

The puzzle, Wolf says, is why this is a politically successful strategy....

The rest of the Op-Ed goes on to explain why it may be a successful strategy, and is an interesting read.

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