The crime wave in Eureka and Humboldt continues to grow unabated

The crime wave of theft, home invasions, assaults, even homicides, continues to reign here locally.  Every other day we continue to read about violence and predation in our communities.  The Examiner has also found and posted about, the overwhelming amount of unreported crimes happening in our communities, especially in the Cannabis industry.(see links at the bottom)  The forecast is only expected to get worse as the local cannabis economy goes through its painful realignment. We believe the Times-Standard story today about the overnight closers of Safeway store is yet another sign of how bad it’s getting.

Small signs on the front doors of the Safeway store in Eureka let customers know about its new open hours. Shaun Walker — The Times-Standard

Safeway stores cut back on hours, stores see hundreds of calls for service from local law enforcement

Safeway shoppers on Tuesday were greeted with signs on some entrances stating the grocery stores will no longer be open 24/7.

“New store hours,” a green sheet of paper taped to the inside of a sliding glass door of the Eureka Safeway reads. “Opens 5 p.m. daily … Closed 1 a.m. daily.”

“Our store operations are continuously reviewed and adjusted where needed based on observations from our division management and customer feedback. We recently modified the hours of operation at over 80 locations throughout the Northern California division,” Safeway Northern California spokeswoman Wendy Gutshall wrote in an email to the Times-Standard on Tuesday.

“As an ongoing effort, we evaluate and adjust our store operations based on observations from division management, customer feedback, seasonal activity and a variety of other variables that impact our operations,” she later wrote in response to a question about why the hours were adjusted.

It’s not just the Eureka store that won’t be open 24/7. According to Gutshall, the Arcata location will now be open daily from 6 a.m. to 2 a.m., the Fortuna branch will be open daily from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. and the McKinleyville store will be open from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m.

It is unclear whether crime played a role in the company’s decision.

“We have had 378 responses to Safeway in [the last] year,” Fortuna Police Department office supervisor Robin Paul said.

She added that 57 of those calls in 2017 were for theft and the others were for vandalism or other emergencies.

“We responded over there 469 times and those were petty thefts, disturbances, unwanted subjects, reckless driving, all sorts of things,” Arcata Police Department Lt. Bart Silvers said about calls for service at the Safeway.

Those calls came in between January and December last year between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m., he said.

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office’s jurisdiction covers both the Eureka Safeway on Harris Street and the McKinleyville Safeway along Central Avenue.

Sheriff’s office public information officer Samantha Karges said “a lot” of the calls for service at those Safeway stores are outside of their new closing hours.

“A lot of the time, our deputies go out there and Safeway doesn’t want to press charges,” Karges said.

In 2017, deputies were called out to the Eureka Safeway 150 times total but only 17 times between the hours of 1 and 5 a.m. The most common call for service there was for unwanted subjects.

In 2017, deputies responded to the McKinleyville Safeway 133 times including eight times between the hours of 1 and 5 a.m. Unwanted subjects make up the most calls in the McKinleyville location as well, according to information sent by Karges. Hunter Cresswell can be reached at 707-441-0506.

Small signs on the front doors of the Safeway store in Eureka let customers know about its new open hours.

http://www.times-standard.com/general-news/20180109/local-safeway-stores-are-no-longer-247

Past posts about the crime wave:

MILL’S PARTING GIFT FOR THE COMMUNITY; A BUSINESS DISTRICT CRIME WAVE

Remember back in April 2016 when the Examiner posted: BRILLIANT! HUMCPR AND CHIEF MILLS MOVE THE DEVILS PLAYGROUND TO OLD TOWN Well those chickens have come home to roost and grown in numbers A trip into old town and even many parts of downtown is like running the gauntlet. Stabbings, shootings and widespread thievery and vandalism.  […]

05.08.15

by tuluwat examiner

THE CRIME WAVE “TIPPING POINT” IS HERE, NOW

The Crime Wave has gotten so bad recently that The Humboldt Bay Fire Department has to wait for the Eureka Police to secure the scene for them so that they can begin fire suppression activities or life saving measures! When seconds count, cops may be minutes away and unable to make the scenes safe for […]

07.10.14

by tuluwat examiner

CRIME WAVE = MORE TAXES?

Public Safety is the reason being cited by the City of Eureka, The Humboldt County Board of Supervisors and the City of Fortuna for sales tax measures being placed on the November ballot. The Examiner has been posting about the Crime Wave that has been sweeping Eureka and Humboldt County since we started this blog […]

09.26.17

by tuluwat examiner

SURPRISE! CRIMEWAVE RAGES ON IN HUMBOLDT COUNTY

Is anyone surprised that the crime wave numbers increased last year in Humboldt?  Here at the Examiner, the only surprise from the recent statistics is that the crime rate wasn’t up more than 25%.  However considering a lot of people have given up reporting violent crimes including marijuana robberies, the “real” crime rate is actually […]

04.08.15

by tuluwat examiner

CRIMEWAVES, FLOPHOUSES AND SLUMLORDS……BUSINESS IS GOOD IN EUREKA

In a press release Monday it was reported The Humboldt County Drug Task Force and members of the Eureka Police Department’s Problem Orientated Policing unit, conducted a bust at a Floyd Squires owned fleabag apartment building in Eureka.  Was this newsworthy? Well yes and no, given the common prevalence of drugs and crime that […]

01.14.15

by tuluwat examiner

IT’S 2015 AND OUR LOCAL VIOLENT CRIME-WAVE CONTINUES

Take a look at this morning’s Times-Standard newspaper.  Once again, what’s brought to light is the continued rise in violent confrontations taking place in Humboldt County. Yesterday, there were 3 stabbings in the county. Eureka is at the center of most of this wave of violence.  However, the city has a Police Department that’s going […]

07.31.14

by tuluwat examiner

EUREKA DON’T BELIEVE YOUR LYIN’ EYES! NOTHIN’ TO SEE HERE. POLICE CHIEF SAYS THERE’S NO CRIMEWAVE

Guess what citizens of Eureka….you are all WRONG! You believed that a quarter of cars and houses in your neighborhood being burglarized meant property crime was going up. WRONG!!! You thought that the numerous articles about violent crimes and murders was a sign that violent crime was going up. WRONG!!! You thought that driving down […]

02.20.14

by tuluwat examiner

CRIMEWAVE? WHERE’S THE MEASURE O $$$

Measure O was passed by voters in 2010, the Supplemental Transaction and Use Tax has generated just under $4 million annually for the city of Eureka, and is expected to provide over $4 million in 2014— a critical lifeline for the city’s public safety and other programs. So where has all that money gone? It […]

05.10.16

by tuluwat examiner

FABRICATE CRIME STATS TO BURNISH CITY’S IMAGE?

Here in Eureka with have the Andy Mill’s campaign to clean up crime…….on paper anyway. Our illustrious chief of police has embarked on a plan of reducing the impact of Eureka’s crime wave by make all of us believe that crime is really down. Just ask anyone in any Eureka neighborhood if crime is down […]

11.30.15

by tuluwat examiner

ACTUAL CRIMES UP! CRIME RATE DOWN? THE ANDREW MILLS JUGGERNAUT CONTINUES, AS EPD SINKS

 

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El Caudillo Yanqui: Portrait of a man in serious cognitive decline

Trump’s New York Times Interview Is a Portrait of a Man in Cognitive Decline

Esquire’s Charlie Pierce:

“I don’t care whether Michael Schmidt was tough enough. We’ve got bigger problems”

On Thursday, El Caudillo del Mar-A-Lago (Trump) sat down with Michael Schmidt of The New York Times for what apparently was an open-ended, one-on-one interview. Since then, the electric Twitter machine–and most of the rest of the Intertoobz–has been alive with criticism of Schmidt for having not pushed back sufficiently against some of the more obvious barefaced non-facts presented by the president* in their chat. Some critics have been unkind enough to point out that Schmidt was the conveyor belt for some of the worst attacks on Hillary Rodham Clinton emanating from both the New York FBI office and the various congressional committees staffed by people in kangaroo suits. For example, Schmidt’s name was on a shabby story the Times ran on July 23, 2015 in which it was alleged that a criminal investigation into HRC’s famous use of a private email server was being discussed within the Department of Justice. It wasn’t, and the Times’ public editor at the time, the great Margaret Sullivan, later torched the story in a brutal column.

Other people were unkind enough to point out that the interview was brokered by one Christopher Ruddy, a Trump intimate and the CEO of NewsMax, and that Ruddy made his bones as a political “journalist” by peddling the fiction that Clinton White House counsel Vince Foster had been murdered, one of the more distasteful slanders that got a shameful public airing during the Clinton frenzy of the 1990s. Neither of those will concern us here. What Schmidt actually got out of this interview is a far more serious problem for the country. In my view, the interview is a clinical study of a man in severe cognitive decline, if not the early stages of outright dementia.

Over the past 30 years, I’ve seen my father and all of his siblings slide into the shadows and fog of Alzheimer’s Disease. (The president*’s father developed Alzheimer’s in his 80s.) In 1984, Ronald Reagan debated Walter Mondale in Louisville and plainly had no idea where he was. (If someone on the panel had asked him, he’d have been stumped.) Not long afterwards, I was interviewing a prominent Alzheimer’s researcher for a book I was doing, and he said, “I saw the look on his face that I see every day in my clinic.” In the transcript of this interview, I hear in the president*’s words my late aunt’s story about how we all walked home from church in the snow one Christmas morning, an event I don’t recall, but that she remembered so vividly that she told the story every time I saw her for the last three years of her life.

In this interview, the president* is only intermittently coherent. He talks in semi-sentences and is always groping for something that sounds familiar, even if it makes no sense whatsoever and even if it blatantly contradicts something he said two minutes earlier. To my ears, anyway, this is more than the president*’s well-known allergy to the truth. This is a classic coping mechanism employed when language skills are coming apart. (My father used to give a thumbs up when someone asked him a question. That was one of the strategies he used to make sense of a world that was becoming quite foreign to him.) My guess? That’s part of the reason why it’s always “the failing New York Times,” and his 2016 opponent is “Crooked Hillary.”

Bat Shit Crazy wannabe despot

In addition, the president* exhibits the kind of stubbornness you see in patients when you try to relieve them of their car keys—or, as one social worker in rural North Carolina told me, their shotguns. For example, a discussion on healthcare goes completely off the rails when the president* suddenly recalls that there is a widely held opinion that he knows very little about the issues confronting the nation. So we get this.

“But Michael, I know the details of taxes better than anybody. Better than the greatest C.P.A. I know the details of health care better than most, better than most. And if I didn’t, I couldn’t have talked all these people into doing ultimately only to be rejected.”

This is more than simple grandiosity. This is someone fighting something happening to him that he is losing the capacity to understand. So is this.

“We’re going to win another four years for a lot of reasons, most importantly because our country is starting to do well again and we’re being respected again. But another reason that I’m going to win another four years is because newspapers, television, all forms of media will tank if I’m not there because without me, their ratings are going down the tubes. Without me, The New York Times will indeed be not the failing New York Times, but the failed New York Times. So they basically have to let me win. And eventually, probably six months before the election, they’ll be loving me because they’re saying, “Please, please, don’t lose Donald Trump.” O.K.”

In Ronald Reagan’s second term, we ducked a bullet. I’ve always suspected he was propped up by a lot of people who a) didn’t trust vice-president George H.W. Bush, b) found it convenient to have a forgetful president when the subpoenas began to fly, and c) found it helpful to have a “detached” president when they started running their own agendas—like, say, selling missiles to mullahs. You’re seeing much the same thing with the congressional Republicans. They’re operating an ongoing smash-and-grab on all the policy wishes they’ve fondly cultivated since 1981. Having a president* who may not be all there and, as such, is susceptible to flattery because it reassures him that he actually is makes the heist that much easier.

So, no, I don’t particularly care whether Michael Schmidt was tough enough, or asked enough follow-up questions. I care about this.

“I’m always moving. I’m moving in both directions. We have to get rid of chainlike immigration, we have to get rid of the chain. The chain is the last guy that killed. … [Talking with guests.] … The last guy that killed the eight people. … [Inaudible.] … So badly wounded people. … Twenty-two people came in through chain migration. Chain migration and the lottery system. They have a lottery in these countries. They take the worst people in the country, they put ‘em into the lottery, then they have a handful of bad, worse ones, and they put them out. ‘Oh, these are the people the United States. …” … We’re gonna get rid of the lottery, and by the way, the Democrats agree with me on that. On chain migration, they pretty much agree with me.”

We’ve got bigger problems.

No Shit!

Far more than a witch hunt the “real” criminal investigation now includes the RNC

Michael Isikoff, chief investigative correspondent for Yahoo News

Steve Bannon’s eyes lit up. Several months before he left his job as a senior White House adviser last August, Bannon was talking to President Trump about the brewing political storm over the Justice Department investigation into his campaign’s alleged ties to the Kremlin. Suddenly, Trump had an inspiration. He looked straight at Bannon, jabbed at him with his finger and uttered the phrase that would become the slogan of the White House pushback against the Russia probe: “Witch hunt!”

Brilliant, thought Bannon, as he later related the exchange to colleagues.

Ever since, it is a phrase Trump has returned to time and again — and repackaged with typical Trumpian hyperbole. “This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!” Trump tweeted last May after ex-FBI director Robert Mueller was appointed as Justice Department special counsel to oversee the probe.

But now, as Trump prepares to end his first year in office, the witch hunt narrative may have outlived its usefulness. Mueller’s investigation has expanded and gained serious traction: The president’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and Manafort’s chief deputy, Rick Gates, have been indicted. His former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, has pleaded guilty and is now a cooperating witness. So too is a former foreign policy adviser, George Papadopoulos, who has admitted lying to the FBI about repeated contacts with alleged Russian cutouts who had offered the Trump campaign “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of “thousands of emails.”

As described by sources familiar with various aspects of the investigation, the Mueller probe is fast approaching a critical crossroads. The president’s lawyers, Ty Cobb and John Dowd, are pressing Mueller to wind down the investigation and exonerate their client, which they have assured the president will happen by early next year.

But the sources familiar with the probe say that such a rapid conclusion is — as one put it — “fanciful.” Mueller and his team, they say, are pursuing new leads, interrogating new witnesses and collecting a mountain of new evidence, including subpoenaed bank records and thousands of emails from the campaign and the Trump transition.

In just the last few weeks, his prosecutors have begun questioning Republican National Committee staffers about the party digital operation that worked with the Trump campaign to target voters in key swing states. They are seeking to determine if the joint effort was related to the activities of Russian trolls and bots aimed at influencing the American electorate, according to two of the sources.

In what is potentially another ominous sign for the White House, the lawyer for Jared Kushner, the president’s son in law and senior adviser who was in charge of the campaign’s digital operation, recently began searching for a crisis public relations firm to handle press inquiries — a step frequently taken by people who believe they may be facing criminal charges. (Kushner has denied all wrongdoing, and his lawyer, Abbe Lowell, has said he is cooperating with the Mueller investigation.)

Even if the new lines of inquiry don’t result in additional indictments — something unknowable at this point — the new material all but guarantees the Mueller investigation will stretch on for months, if not years, likely provoking Trump to revisit his decision not to fire the special counsel.

And if the president does take that step, many lawmakers and legal veterans say, it will cause a political explosion unlike any the capital has seen in decades. “It will be cataclysmic,” said Richard Ben-Veniste, a former Watergate prosecutor who lived through the so-called Saturday night massacre when President Richard Nixon fired special prosecutor Archibald Cox. “It will create a constitutional crisis.”

In the meantime, the president’s allies are mounting a ferocious attack on Mueller’s team — pointing to tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to Hillary Clinton and other Democrats by the special counsel’s prosecutors, and to text messages disparaging Trump by FBI agent Peter Strzok, whom Mueller has since moved off the investigation. They are also gunning for top FBI officials, especially deputy director Andrew McCabe, who they believe began a counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign’s links to the Russians last year based in part on the controversial dossier prepared by a former British spy and funded as “opposition research” by the Clinton campaign.

“Everything points to the fact that there was an orchestrated plan to try to prevent Donald Trump from being the next president of the United States,” said Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, in a recent television interview in which he vowed to subpoena senior FBI agents about the origins of the probe.

But for Democrats, the attacks on Mueller and the FBI are a distraction tactic meant to obscure how much has already been uncovered about the Trump team’s contacts with the Russians. Back in January, when the issue first starting getting political traction, the president and his top aides denied that he and his campaign had any connections to Moscow. “I have nothing to do with Russia,” Trump tweeted at the time.

Since then,’s team and congressional investigators have detailed numerous contacts, meetings and email exchanges between Trump’s campaign and Russian-connected operatives and officials that were unknown to the public when voters went to the polls in November 2016. Jeff Sessions, the Trump campaign’s chief national security adviser, met with the Russian ambassador at a hotel reception and later in his Senate office. Papadopoulos met with a Russia-connected professor and a woman introduced as “Putin’s niece” in an effort to set up a summit between Trump and the Russian president. And most famously, Donald Trump Jr., Kushner and Manafort all met in Trump Tower with a delegation of Russians who they believed had derogatory information on Hillary Clinton — including “official documents” — that came straight from the highest levels of the Kremlin.

“Just from what’s been made public, it’s pretty clear the Trump campaign and family were willing and eager to work with the Russians,” said Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., a member of the House Intelligence Committee. “They showed almost no restraint in engaging with the Russians to see what they had to offer on their opponent. It was a ‘whatever it takes’ mentality.”

Whether all this adds up to “collusion” — the sensational charge of active collaboration between the Trump campaign and Moscow that was first laid out in the controversial dossier commissioned by the Clinton campaign — is far from clear. But for Swalwell and quite a few others, it is already clear that the Russian probe has been far more than a witch hunt.

https://www.yahoo.com/news/mueller-probe-outgrows-witch-hunt-phase-100045988.html

More MICHAEL ISIKOFF Russia reporting:

Russian Doping Whistleblower Says He Fears For His Life

Heard on All Things Considered

NPR’s Robert Siegel speaks with Michael Isikoff, chief investigative correspondent for Yahoo News about Grigory Rodchenkov, the whistleblower in the Russian doping scandal. Rodchenkov fled to the U.S. and says he now fears for his life.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Two years ago, Grigory Rodchenkov fled Russia for the United States. He didn’t come empty-handed. Rodchenkov gave details of a massive state-run doping campaign that helped Russian athletes win big in the 2014 Sochi Olympics. His cooperation was instrumental in the International Olympic Committee’s decision to ban Russia from the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. Well now, Rodchenkov fears Russia wants him dead, as reported by our guest Michael Isikoff, who is chief investigative correspondent for Yahoo News. Welcome to the program once again.

MICHAEL ISIKOFF: Good to be here.

SIEGEL: And first, where is Grigory Rodchenkov, and what have you learned about him?

ISIKOFF: Well, we know that Grigory Rodchenkov somewhere in the United States, but he’s under the Federal Witness Protection Program. And in fact, because there are genuine concerns about threats to his life, his own lawyer has not even been able to communicate with him over the past week or so. That lawyer, Jim Walden, told me that he was recently informed by a U.S. government official that he should assume that there are Russian agents in the United States looking for Mr. Rodchenkov and that significant enhancements needed to be made in his security protections.

SIEGEL: Is it fair to say that Rodchenkov knew a lot about the Russian doping program because he in fact was doing it?

ISIKOFF: Well, he was the mastermind of the Russian doping program. He supervised it, but he did so under the direction of the Russian Olympic Committee and with the assistance of the FSB, the Russian secret police.

SIEGEL: The idea that there might be Russian agents looking for the now underground Grigory Rodchenkov, it raises the question of he’s not challenging Vladimir Putin as president of Russia, he didn’t send us nuclear secrets or tell us where Russian submarines are – how big a deal is disclosing the Russian athletic doping program?

ISIKOFF: This is a huge deal for Russia and for Vladimir Putin personally. The Sochi Olympics were a showcase for him. He took great pride in the fact that Russian athletes dominated those Olympics, winning more than 30 medals. And to have that prestige robbed from Russia, it was a huge embarrassment for Putin.

SIEGEL: When you’ve asked the Russian government about this, about the notion that Rodchenkov might be targeted by agents in the U.S., what are they saying?

ISIKOFF: Well, they have not responded to the specific information that Jim Walden, Rodchenkov’s lawyer, provided to me, but they have made clear that they view Rodchenkov as a criminal. They’ve filed criminal charges against him. They have demanded he be returned to Russia by the United States. And the former head of the Russian Olympic Committee has said that Rodchenkov should be executed the way Stalin would have done.

SIEGEL: So the Russians say they want to prosecute Rodchenkov, but if Rodchenkov enjoys witness protection here in the U.S., the implication is he is of some use to American prosecutors.

ISIKOFF: Exactly. One of the interesting things his lawyer, Mr. Walden, told me is that federal prosecutors are conducting investigations that could lead to criminal charges against Russian Olympic officials. These could be racketeering charges. And the idea would be that Americans who participated in the Olympics, the American Olympic Committee, American companies such as NBC, which broadcast the Olympics, would have been defrauded by this doping scheme.

SIEGEL: Michael Isikoff, chief investigative correspondent for Yahoo News, thanks.

ISIKOFF: Thank you.

A dreadful year of Trump, but there is some cause for hope

Trump’s first year was even worse than feared

Grit your teeth. Persevere. Just a few more days and this awful, rotten, no-good, ridiculous, rancorous, sordid, disgraceful year in the civic life of our nation will be over. Here’s hoping that we all — particularly special counsel Robert S. Mueller III — have a better 2018.

Many of us began 2017 with the consoling thought that the Donald Trump presidency couldn’t possibly be as bad as we feared. It turned out to be worse.

Did you ever think you would hear a president use the words “very fine people” to describe participants in a torch-lit rally organized by white supremacists, neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan? Did you ever think you would hear a U.S. ambassador to the United Nations thuggishly threaten that she would be “taking names” of countries that did not vote on a General Assembly resolution the way she wanted? Did you ever think the government of the world’s biggest military and economic power would reject not just science but also empiricism itself, preferring to use made-up “alternative facts” as the basis for major decisions?

We knew that Trump was narcissistic and shallow, but on Inauguration Day it was possible to at least hope he was self-aware enough to understand the weight that now rested on his shoulders, and perhaps grow into the job. He did not. If anything, he has gotten worse.

By all accounts, Trump spends hours each day watching cable news, buoyed by the shows that blindly support him — “Fox & Friends,” “Hannity,” a few others on Fox News — and enraged by those that seek to hold him accountable. His aides have had to shorten and dumb down his daily briefings on national security in an attempt to get him to pay attention. Members of his Cabinet try to outdo one another in lavishing him with flowery, obsequious praise that would embarrass the Sun King.

Trump and his enablers have waged a relentless war against truth in an attempt to delegitimize any and all critical voices. He wields the epithet “fake news” as a cudgel against inconvenient facts and those who report them. Can a democracy function without a commonly accepted chronicle of events and encyclopedia of knowledge? We are conducting a dangerous experiment to find out.

To understand how deviant the Trump administration is, consider this: Since its founding, the nation has treasured civilian control of the military as a restraint on adventurism. Now we must rely on three generals — Trump’s chief of staff, his national security adviser and his secretary of defense — to keep this rash and erratic president from careering off the rails.

Trump’s Republican allies in Congress, who have the power to restrain an out-of-control executive, have rolled over in passive submission. Many see clearly Trump’s unfitness but continue to support him because they fear the wrath of his hardcore base and see the chance to enact a conservative agenda. History will remember this craven opportunism and judge it harshly.

I haven’t even mentioned Trump’s nepotism — installing his daughter and son-in-law as high-ranking advisers, with portfolios they are in no way qualified to handle — or his inability to staff the executive branch with the best-and-brightest types who customarily serve. The Trump administration is not only transgressive, it is also mediocre.

The year has been terribly depressing — but not paralyzing. Let’s end on a more positive note.

The day after Trump’s inauguration, a much larger crowd descended on Washington for the Women’s March, an immense show of resistance. That passion might eventually have faded away, but all evidence suggests it has not. If anything, it seems to have intensified.

In November, Democrat Ralph Northam won the governor’s race in Virginia, a purple state, by a surprisingly big nine-point margin. His coattails were long enough to elect so many Democrats to the state House of Delegates that control of the chamber is still undecided pending recounts. And then on Dec. 12, Democrat Doug Jones defeated Republican Roy Moore in a special election for a U.S. Senate seat — in Alabama, of all places, one of the most Republican states in the nation.

These races were not about D’s vs. R’s. They were about sanity vs. insanity, reason vs. chaos. They were about Trump, and he lost.

So Godspeed to the Mueller investigation, but let him worry about that. The rest of us — Democrats, independents, patriotic Republicans — should work toward the November election. Our duty is to elect a Congress that will bring this runaway train under control.

by Eugene Robinson Opinion writer Washington Post

Here’s your lump of coal and twist of the knife from the Donald

Trump kicked off his holiday weekend at Mar-a-Lago Friday night at a dinner where he told friends, “You all just got a lot richer,” referencing the sweeping tax overhaul he signed into law hours earlier.  Trump directed those comments to friends dining nearby at the exclusive club — including to two friends at a table near Trump’s who described the remark to CBS News — as he began his final days of his first year in office in what has become known as the “Winter White House.”

Trump has spent many weekends of his presidency so far at the “Winter White House,” where initiation fees cost $200,000, annual dues cost $14,000, and some of the most affluent members of society have the opportunity to interact with the president in a setting while many Americans cannot. This weekend, the president arrived after signing the most consequential legislation, and arguably, the greatest achievement, of his presidency thus far.

For months, the White House and congressional Republicans have looked to tackle tax reform, a feat some critics deemed too challenging after Republicans’ failure to find a compromise on health care. But on Wednesday, the Senate and House, in that order, passed what Trump has deemed the “biggest in history” tax cut and reform bill.

Trump and White House have emphasized repeatedly that the tax legislation is targeted as a tax break for the middle class.

On Saturday when asked for comment, the White House reiterated the benefit of the new law to the middle class.

But critics point out that some aspects of the GOP tax overhaul — such as the doubling of the cap for the estate tax break and lowering of corporate and S-corporation taxes — disproportionately benefit the most affluent Americans. The president has said the tax bill is “not good” for him personally, although that statement is difficult to assess when he has declined to release his tax returns.

Trump himself on Sept. 13 — long before the bill was finalized — said the wealthy would not benefit from the GOP tax overhaul.

“The rich will not be gaining at all with this plan. We are looking for the middle class and we are looking for jobs — jobs being the economy,” Trump said.

Still, the tax overhaul is a legislative victory for the president, as he completes his first year in office and ends out the year at Mar-a-Lago.

Trump spent some of Saturday golfing with friends and pro golfers Jim Herman, Daniel Berger, Justin Thomas and his father at Trump International Golf Club.

edited from:
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/trump-mar-a-lago-christmas-trip/

FBI and Mueller’s team following the conspiracy and the money all the way to Cyprus

The FBI has asked officials in Cyprus for financial information about a defunct bank that was used by wealthy Russians with political connections and has been accused by the US government of money laundering, two sources have told the Guardian.

The request for information about FBME Bank comes as Cyprus has emerged as a key area of interest for Robert Mueller, the US special counsel who is investigating a possible conspiracy between Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and the Kremlin.

People familiar with the FBI request told the Guardian that federal investigators and the US Treasury approached the Central Bank of Cyprus in November seeking detailed information about FBME, which was shut down this year.

One person familiar with the FBI request said it appeared to be connected to Mueller’s ongoing examination of Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign manager who was indicted in October, and money that flowed between former Soviet states and the US through Cypriot banks.

The Central Bank of Cyprus, which in 2014 placed FBME under administration in a direct response to US action and obtained full access to the bank’s data, declined to comment. The US special counsel’s office also declined to comment.

FBME has vigorously denied accusations that it has been a conduit for money laundering and other criminal activity.

The owners, Lebanese brothers Ayoub-Farid Saab and Fadi Michel Saab, issued a statement following a series of recent critical articles about the bank and denied all wrongdoing.

Bloomberg reported last week that FBME was the subject of two US investigations: one into the bank’s credit card unit, and another into alleged laundering of money from Russia. Bloomberg said the Russia-related investigation, which is being led by the US attorney’s office in New York, was connected to a flow of illegal Russian funds into the New York real estate market.

FBME, previously known as the Federal Bank of the Middle East, was based in Tanzania but about 90% of its banking was conducted in Cyprus. A report by the US Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) in 2014 said the bank was an institution of “primary money laundering concern”.

The report found that the bank was evading efforts by the Central Bank of Cyprus to supervise its activities, and that FBME was facilitating money laundering, terrorist financing, transnational organised crime, fraud, sanctions evasion, weapons trading and political corruption.

A 2014 internal report by the Central Bank of Cyprus about FBME that was obtained by the Guardian found that FBME had banking relationships with several Russians who were considered to be politically sensitive clients and that about half of the bank’s clients were Russian nationals, including Vladimir Smirnov, who is close to Putin, and Aleksandr Shishkin, a member of Putin’s political party.

FBME was subjected in 2016 to what is known as a “fifth special measure”, a hard-hitting US regulatory tool that was established after the 9/11 attacks to address law enforcement concerns in the banking sector. The move prohibited the bank from doing business in the US or using US dollars, and barred US banks from opening or using any bank accounts on FBME’s behalf. In effect, it shut the bank down. FBME has challenged the decision but US courts have so far upheld the move.

It is not clear why Mueller and his team of investigators appear to be interested in FBME’s financial data. But it indicates that the special counsel is continuing to examine money flows from Cyprus.

Manafort has pleaded not guilty to charges that he laundered millions of dollars through foreign banks as part of a scheme to hide his work for political parties in Ukraine. He is accused of funnelling the funds through foreign shell companies, including many that were based in Cyprus.

Manafort’s attorney, Kevin Downing, has called the charges, including those related to his use of offshore accounts, “ridiculous”.

A spokesman for FBME bank told the Guardian that Manafort was never a client of FBME.

Mueller’s team has separately issued a subpoena for information from Deutsche Bank. According to a person close to the bank, the subpoena was issued in the autumn. The German bank is Trump’s biggest lender.

Deutsche also worked as a correspondent bank for FBME. Internal emails seen by the Guardian show that executives from both banks were in contact in 2014 discussing accounts that were “on the radar” of US law enforcement.

Deutsche Bank said in a statement: “We severed our relationship with FBME in 2014 and have added more than 1,000 anti-financial crime staff in recent years to make our business safer and increase our controls.”

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/dec/24/fbi-investigates-russian-linked-cyprus-bank-accused-of-money-laundering

It’s been a whole year, so let’s review the “15-point guide to surviving authoritarianism”

Predictions in a Polish journalist’s 15-point guide to surviving authoritarianism proved frighteningly accurate after Trump’s first year

Nearly a year ago, intuitively recognizing the Trump administration’s authoritarian aspirations, Polish journalist and activist Martin Mycielski wrote “Year 1 Under Authoritarianism.” In those early, nerve-racking days following Trump’s inauguration, the piece was shared across social media, an ominous portent of what was to come. The document — helpfully subtitled, “What To Expect?” — offered a list of predictions and warnings about Trump’s first year in office, and exhortations to fight back at every turn. In his introduction, published just days after Trump’s inauguration, Mycielski noted the article was based on his own experience in Poland, where extreme-right nationalists have taken over the government, and in a recent ugly demonstration, the streets. The piece should be read as an instructive manual of sorts, culled from firsthand observation of the “populists, authoritarians and tinpot dictators” leading right-wing movements across Europe.

“With each passing day, the [Polish] government is moving the country further away from the liberal West and toward the authoritarian models of the East,” Mycielski wrote. “Hundreds of thousands have protested against every illiberal, unlawful step. Every time we believed it couldn’t get any worse. We were wrong. This is why we want you, our American friends, to be spared the shock, the awe, the disbelief of this happening to you. Let’s hope history proves us wrong and the US wakes up in time…[H]ope for the best, but prepare for the worst.”

Mycielski’s “survival guide” has only become more disturbingly relevant with time, its predictions proved frighteningly accurate. Like Umberto Eco’s guide to fascism, it presciently notes the actions and attitudes that now unquestionably define this presidency; the lies and obfuscation of truth, racist fear-mongering, historical revisionism, purposeful chaos and anti-First Amendment agenda. Manipulation and malice are the Trump regime’s forte. (To see how quickly a country can be remade by a charlatan and his abettors, go back and review some of the earliest entries from Amy Siskind’s weekly list tracking changes under Trump. It’s all pretty scary, especially seeing it unfold in real time.)

But if there’s any hope, it will only come from recognizing the reality of what’s happening here, how much damage is being done, how much earth already scorched. The year has somehow flown by, yet seemed interminable. It’s good to remember the very big, very frightening picture before us, how far we’ve already come, and to consider what recourse we have with complicit and corrupt forces standing in the way. — Kali Holloway

Here is Mycielski’s 15-point guide to surviving authoritarianism.

  1. They will come to power with a campaign based on fear, scaremongering and distorting the truth. Nevertheless, their victory will be achieved through a democratic electoral process. But beware, as this will be their argument every time you question the legitimacy of their actions. They will claim a mandate from the People to change the system.

Remember — gaining power through a democratic system does not give them permission to cross legal boundaries and undermine said democracy.

  1. They will divide and rule. Their strength lies in unity, in one voice and one ideology, and so should yours. They will call their supporters patriots, the only “true Americans.” You will be labelled as traitors, enemies of the state, unpatriotic, the corrupt elite, the old regime trying to regain power. Their supporters will be the “people,” the “sovereign” who chose their leaders.

Don’t let them divide you — remember you’re one people, one nation, with one common good.

  1. Through convoluted laws and threats they will try to control mainstream media and limit press freedom. They will ban critical press from their briefings, calling them “liars,” “fake news.” They will brand those media as “unpatriotic,” acting against the People (see point 2).

Fight for every media outlet, every journalist that is being banned, censored, sacked or labelled an “enemy of the state” — there’s no hope for freedom where there is no free press.

  1. They will create chaos, maintain a constant sense of conflict and danger. It will be their argument to enact new authoritarian laws, each one further limiting your freedoms and civil liberties. They will disguise them as being for your protection, for the good of the people.

See through the chaos, the fake danger; expose it before you wake up in a totalitarian, fascist state.

  1. They will distort the truth, deny facts and blatantly lie. They will try to make you forget what facts are, sedate your need to find the truth. They will feed “post-truths” and “alternative facts,” replace knowledge and logic with emotions and fiction.

Always think critically, fact-check and point out the truth, fight ignorance with facts.

  1. They will incite and then leak fake, superficial “scandals.” They will smear opposition with trivial accusations, blowing them out of proportion and then feeding the flame. This is just smokescreen for the legal steps they will be taking toward totalitarianism.

See through superficial topics in mainstream media (see point 3) and focus on what they are actually doing.

  1. They will propose shocking laws to provoke your outrage. You will focus your efforts on fighting them, so they will seemingly back off, giving you a false sense of victory. In the meantime they will push through less “flashy” legislation, slowly dismantling democracy (see points 4 and 6).

Focus your fight on what really matters.

  1. When invading your liberal sensibilities they will focus on what hurts the most — women and minorities. They will act as if democracy was majority rule without respect for the minority. They will paint foreigners and immigrants as potential threats. Racial, religious, sexual and other minorities will become enemies to the order and security they are supposedly providing. They will challenge women’s social status, undermine gender equality and interfere with reproductive rights (see point 7). But it means they are aware of the threat women and minorities pose to their rule, so make it your strength.

Women and minorities should fight the hardest, reminding the majority what true democracy is about.

[Editor’s note: This is a rare moment where I believe Mycielski gets it wrong. People of color and women of all races are doing all they can; existence is itself political, but many have already gone above and beyond, taking key roles in resisting. They cannot be expected to “fight the hardest.” We need the people with the most privilege to step up and use their powers for good.]

  1. They will try to take control of the judiciary. They will assault your highest court. They need to remove the checks and balances to be able to push through unconstitutional legislation. Controlling the judiciary they can also threat anyone that defies them with prosecution, including the press (see point 3).

Preserve the independence of your courts at all cost; they are your safety valve, the safeguard of the rule of law and the democratic system.

  1. They will try to limit freedom of assembly, calling it a necessity for your security. They will enact laws prioritizing state events and rallies, or those of a certain type or ideology. If they can choose who can demonstrate legally, they have a legal basis to forcefully disperse or prosecute the rest.

Oppose any legislation attempting to interfere with freedom of assembly, for whatever reason.

  1. They will distort the language, coin new terms and labels, repeat shocking phrases until you accept them as normal and subconsciously associate them with whom they like. A “thief,” “liar” or “traitor” will automatically mean the opposition, while a “patriot” or a “true American” will mean their follower (see point 2). Their slogans will have double meaning, giving strength to their supporters and instilling angst in their opponents.

Fight changes in language in the public sphere; remind and preserve the true meaning of words.

  1. They will take over your national symbols, associate them with their regime, remake them into attributes of their power. They want you to forget that your flag, your anthem and your symbols belong to you, the people, to everyone equally. Don’t let them be hijacked. Use and expose them in your fight as much as they do.

Show your national symbols with pride; let them give you strength, not associate you with the tyranny they brought onto your country.

  1. They will try to rewrite history to suit their needs and use the education system to support their agenda. They will smear any historical or living figure who wouldn’t approve of their actions, or distort their image to make you think they would. They will place emphasis on historical education in schools, feeding young minds with the “only correct” version of history and philosophy. They will raise a new generation of voters on their ideology, backing it with a distorted interpretation of history and view of the world.

Guard the education of your children; teach them critical thinking; ensure their open-mindedness and protect your real history and heritage.

  1. They will alienate foreign allies and partners, convincing you that you don’t need them. They won’t care for the rest of the world, with their focus on “making your country great again.” While ruining your economy to fulfill their populist promises, they will omit the fact that you’re part of a bigger world whose development depends on cooperation, on sharing and on trade.

Don’t let them build walls promising you security instead of bridges giving you prosperity.

  1. They will eventually manipulate the electoral system. They might say it’s to correct flaws, to make it more fair, more similar to the rest of the world, or just to make it better. Don’t believe it. They wouldn’t be messing with it at all if it wasn’t to benefit them in some way.

Oppose any changes to electoral law that an authoritarian regime wants to enact — rest assured it’s only to help them remain in power longer.

And above all, be strong, fight, endure and remember you’re on the good side of history.

EVERY authoritarian, totalitarian and fascist regime in history eventually failed, thanks to the PEOPLE.

— With love, your Eastern European friends

https://www.rawstory.com/2017/12/predictions-in-an-activists-15-point-guide-to-surviving-authoritarianism-proved-frighteningly-accurate-after-trumps-first-year/