Wednesday, May 31, 2017


The film, "Norman" stars Richard Gere and is funded through Israeli interests. Go see it. It is enjoyable with a fair amount of humor. It is about the choices that are before a person and the unmeasured morality that accompanies them. It is worth the cost of the ticket. 
May 31, 2017
By Elizabeth Warren

Betsy DeVos recently completed her 100th day as Secretary of Education, and the resistance to her agenda has spread across this country like wildfire.

Last week, Secretary DeVos and President Trump's Department of Education released a budget that would upend the student aid program and make it much harder for students to afford college and repay their student loans. At the same time, the head of the federal student aid office abruptly resigned amid reports of political meddling by DeVos.

With the educational and financial futures of millions of people hanging in the balance, here's a place to start scrutinizing Secretary DeVos.

Early in the Obama administration, Congress gave full ownership of the federal student loan portfolio to the Department of Education, removing middlemen from the program and cutting out the profits that private banks skimmed off the system. This was a brave move that required standing up to some very powerful banks and private businesses that wanted to keep on skimming....

DeVos did not submit an ethnics document to the US Senate confirmation committee before her public questioning.

January 20, 2017
by Danielle Douglas-Gabriel

The Senate Committee (click here) on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions has postponed the vote on Trump’s education pick Betsy DeVos, hours after receiving the completed ethics review for the Michigan billionaire.

The committee vote, originally scheduled to take place Tuesday has been rescheduled for Jan. 31 at 10 a.m., according to a statement from the HELP committee chairman Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.). The announcement arrived after the Office of Government Ethics, an agency that examines nominees’ financial disclosures and resolves potential conflicts of interest, released its long-awaited report Friday. Alexander said he wants to give each Senator on the committee time to review the documents.

Ethics Director Walter M. Shaub Jr. had said a full vetting of extremely wealthy individuals, such as DeVos, could take weeks, if not months, much to the chagrin of Senate Democrats who wanted to review it before DeVos’s confirmation hearing, which took place Tuesday evening....

Are the ethics documents STILL being reviewed from Trump's billionaires?

Governor Brownback's economy failed and now Republicans are afraid to admit it.

Speaker Pelosi should be making example of the Kansas EXPERIMENT that has brought the state to the brink of disaster with nearly a half a trillion per year deficit.

Brownback and the Kansas Republicans have been buying votes. That is what this amounts to. He stayed in office at the expense of the budget and now it has to be paid back and the Kansas Republicans don't want to admit they have been deceiving the people about the truth of the issues facing the state.

May 20, 2017
By Jonathan Shorman

...House Majority Leader Don Hineman, R-Dighton, (click here) would not comment after the failed vote....

...In the Senate, Democrats joined with moderate Republicans and some members of Senate Republican leadership to move the bill across the line, but the vote total was short of the 27 votes that would have been needed to override a veto by Brownback.

"We need to get Kansas back on a somewhat structurally balanced budget," said Senate Majority Leader Jim Denning, R-Overland Park.

Denning said the bill could make the state budget "semi-stable."

"At the end of the day, we’ve got to start some place. It’s the 102nd day of the session, people (are) wondering what the heck is going on," said Sen. Tom Holland, D-Baldwin City.

The bill the Senate passed Tuesday would have raised more than $1.2 billion over the next two fiscal years by ending Brownback’s tax exemption for roughly 330,000 business owners and boosting income tax rates.

It would have restored a third income tax bracket eliminated in Brownback’s 2012 tax cuts.

Tax rates would have begun to increase this year. The rates would have been phased in, rising first to 2.9 percent, 4.9 percent and 5.2 percent.

By tax year 2018, the tax rates would have risen to and remained at 3.1 percent for the lowest bracket, 5.25 percent for the middle rate and 5.7 for the highest rate.

The Sales Tax and Revenue Bond Financing Act, referred to as STAR bonds, would also have been extended under the proposal.

Kansas faces a budget shortfall of roughly $900 million over two years. That does not include any additional education spending that lawmakers may approve as part of a new school funding formula....              


This is not the Taliban. Afghanistan has a very deadly history. War is almost as common place as diversity of cultures.

This is a peculiar bombing that murdered four journalists.

May 31, 2017

The appalling bomb blast (click here) in Kabul yesterday emphasised how fragile Afghanistan’s search for peace has become. The country has settled into an uneasy equilibrium that the insurgents find easy to disturb far too often, and the army is unable to take the fight to the remote valleys where the government’s authority does not run. The Afghan army has some major internal issues as it wrestles with high casualties and a steady stream of desertions as individual soldiers make their own decisions on their future. Their morale is low as they have been worn down by the long grind of years of military struggle against insurgents that seems to continue without end as the Taliban and its allies still control over a third of Afghan territory....

Afghanistan's History of War (click here) The West has never successfully won a war in Afghanistan. Neither has Russia. China has the most accepted approach in exploiting rare minerals. It would seem as though everyone is in agreement about making money.

I have no idea if the deaths of four BBC journalists has anything to do with the bombing in Great Britain that saw its military deployed in the streets, but, Daesh is desiring an invasion of sorts into Europe. If Afghanistan is seen as a greater threat it will relieve the pressure on entering Europe.

NATO has tow threats, that of Daesh in Europe, primarily where nuclear capacity is available and Russia that does not want to end the border wars with Ukraine. Both demand attention and there is little time for increasing a war footprint in Afghanistan. The Afghan military has had plenty of time to establish a worthy military.

If there is to be an escalation of any military presence, I would think it would be Libya. Drones perhaps.

...Britain's domestic security agency of MI5 is currently tackling 500 terror investigations and watching some 3,000 suspects. Putting one person under surveillance is expensive, requiring as many as 30 officers. That type of surveillance also requires a high threshold of suspicion that a suspect could turn to violence. British security officials say at least five terror plots in Britain have been thwarted in the past two months, although they have not released details of the plots....

The Brits are busy. I hardly think a further deployment into Afghanistan is wise. The Taliban are not allies of Daesh. Quite the opposite. There are however mixed reviews about the two groups.

April 26, 2017
By Shadi Khan Saif
Kabul, Afghanistan

Nearly 100 Taliban and pro-Daesh militants (click here) have been killed in fighting in northern Afghanistan, police said Wednesday.

Sporadic fighting in the Darzab district of Jowzjan province is ongoing, Rahmatullah Turkistani, a spokesman for the Afghan National Police, told Anadolu Agency.

He said a total of 91 militants had been killed in clashes over the kidnapping of drug smugglers who were to pay the Taliban as part of an opium deal.

“The clashes erupted when group of armed Taliban attacked Daesh militants [to secure] the release of three drug smugglers who came here to pay 10 million afghanis [$14,780] to the Taliban for a deal,” Turkistani said.

Raza Ghafori, a spokesman for the provincial administration, confirmed the casualties and said the Taliban had borne the brunt of the losses....

Ethnic cleansing has never been a priority for the Taliban as it is Daesh. 77

September 10, 2015

The Afghan Taliban (click here) has condemned the killing of 13 people belonging to the minority community as a plot to “breed fault lines.” The statement seems to be an apparent dig targeted at Daesh (the Islamic State), as the Syria and Iraq based group struggles to gain a foothold in the South Asian country partly because of the absence of a deeply sectarian environment. 

A few days ago, gunmen killed 13 Hazaras after dragging them from their vehicles in the relatively calm northern Balkh province -- in a rare attack as attacks targeting minority groups are not characteristic of violence in Afghanistan....

In my opinion, the attack on Kabul is a method to open still yet more war fronts and reduce presence elsewhere.

Trump abandoning NATO is simply opening the door to Daesh in The West and forcing a similar scenario to European outcomes during the rise of Hitler. The EU needs to assess it's alliance and seek others such as the Post Soviet states to join an alliance. Ukraine has very stealthy military men and women. They know everything there is about nuclear weapons and a great deal about Russia. With Ukraine as an ally Europe should have no worries. Sincerely.

France is capable of defending the EU from nuclear attack and even initiate if necessary. If France seeks intelligence about Russian nuclear capacity and design, the experts in Ukraine are fantastic allies. Ukraine and it's experts deserve the protection of the current NATO.

Ukraine is proceeding with it's future unafraid. Europe should be interested in recent proceedings. The judicial decision makes the 'stake' for Putin's political party "on the ropes." It seems as though Russia has more problems than having an entertainer compete on a Ukraine stage.

May 31, 2017

Moscow (Sputnik) — It adds that Kiev (click here) had also opened enforcement proceedings in the amount of $6.9 billion and a $632.6-million execution fee.

"On May 12, 2017, Gazprom received through the Gazprom representative office in Kiev the decisions of the Department of State Executive Service of the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine on… the arrest of Gaztransit shares belonging to Gazprom," the report states.

In mid-May, the Ukrainian supreme economic court dismissed the appeal of Russian energy giant Gazprom which demanded a reversal of the decision of lower courts on enforced recovery of around $6.4 billion in fines in favor of Ukraine....

Imagine that, Gazprom a monopoly. Ukraine's former Soviet state is more than interesting to most who view the border war as a breach by so called Russian rebels of signed agreements.

March 24, 2017

...This week, (click here) Russia and Ukraine's years-long legal row over gas prices and delivery terms took a new turn, with Naftogaz chief commercial officer Yuri Vitrenko revealing that Gazprom may claim up to $80 billion from Kiev at arbitration hearings in Stockholm. The Russian energy company initially sued Naftogaz in 2014, making the claim that Kiev had not paid for supplies it had received in 2013 and 2014, and switching the country to a prepayment scheme. Ukraine responded with a counter-suit, demanding a retroactive revision of prices, and that Gazprom compensate Naftogaz for sums it allegedly overpaid....