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I've finally decided this is the story to keep our eyes on this week - as it will be ongoing next week:


Just listen and read.

We were not originally planning to go to the Clint border facility outside of El Paso, Texas, because it’s an adult facility, and the facility historically has had a relatively small occupancy, maximum of 104. However, we received reports last week that children appeared to be moving to this facility. And so what we did was we added it to our list of visits. And when we got there on Monday morning, we were immediately given a roster showing that there were over 350 children at this facility. And then, when we scanned the roster, we were taken aback by the number of very young children at this facility. There were over a hundred young children who were being kept there. And so, we immediately asked the guards to start to bring us the youngest children and also the children who had been there the longest. We also saw that there were about a half a dozen child mothers and their infants. And so we asked the guards to also bring us those children.

When the children walked into the conference room, we couldn’t believe what we were seeing. They were sick. They were coughing. They had runny noses. They were filthy dirty. And they immediately started to describe the level of hunger that they were experiencing. They told us that they were being fed nothing but the same meals three times a day, and they weren’t really meals. These are Frankenfood; these are highly processed chemical foods. In the morning, they are given instant oatmeal, a packet of Kool-Aid and a cookie. For lunch, they are given instant soup, a cookie and another packet of Kool-Aid. And then, for dinner, they’re given a frozen burrito in a plastic wrapper, similar to what you would see at a gas station. And some of the children complained that the burritos were often not thoroughly cooked. And then they also, at that point, are given another cookie and a Kool-Aid. Young children are being given this meal. Child mothers are being given this meal. And so, the children, on a routine basis, said that they were hungry.

On top of that, the children started to describe rooms in which there were 25, 50, a hundred children. One boy said that when he first arrived there, there were over 300 children in a room. When we talked to the Border Patrol officers who are running this facility, they reported to us that the facility had recently undergone an expansion, but we couldn’t figure out where that expansion was. So, after that first day of interviewing, we drove around the facility, and we saw a metal warehouse with no walls. And we couldn’t believe that that possibly could be the expansion. But when we talked to the Border Patrol officers the next day and started to talk to the children about where they were being kept, we found out that, in fact, that one warehouse was allegedly what had given them an additional capacity of 500 additional children.

So, then what happened was, is we started to talk about the children, and we asked them, “Who is taking care of you?” And we found out that, in fact, nobody is—virtually no one is taking care of these children directly, that they are locked up in these cells 24 hours a day. There are open toilets in many of these cells. There’s no soap, no way to wash their hands. They’re being fed in these cells the processed instant foods that I described for you earlier. And many of them are being forced to sleep on concrete because of a shortage of beds and mats and sleeping space. Children described sleeping on concrete floors. They described sleeping on cement blocks—not just the older children, but we heard of infants, toddlers, preschoolers, school-age children who are having to sleep on the floor.

To make things worse, as we were trying to call in the youngest children, because we were especially concerned about the vulnerabilities of certain elements of this population, we found out that there were a number of children that they could not bring to us because they were so sick. And so we started to count the number of children who apparently were sick at this facility and had been quarantined, and we estimated that at least 15 children that we knew about were in quarantine during the time that we were there. And when we finally got access to these children by telephone, we learned about the conditions in these quarantine facilities, which were just horrendous. These very sick children, with high fevers, are being put on the floor, on mats, largely unsupervised, locked up together for days at a time. They’re being brought the same foods that are being fed to everybody else at the facility, despite the fact that they’re very sick.

They also have someone who is coming there twice a day to check their fever and to give them any medications that are needed, but there’s nobody really caring for these children in the quarantine areas, despite their severe illness. Now, keep in mind that many of the children who have died in these Border Patrol facilities in recent months died from influenza, which is very, very rare in a developed country like the United States. But as you can see, these are not conditions that you would expect to see in the United States.

AMY GOODMAN: So, do you believe some children can die there?

WARREN BINFORD: Absolutely. And that’s why, after the second day of interviewing these children, we called up—we had a high-level, very urgent meeting in my hotel room and said, “What are we going to do about this? Because somebody is going to die.” And so, we called up the attorneys who are in charge of this case, described what we were seeing, and then asked them what they wanted us to do about it. And for the first time in over 20 years of doing these visits, they told us to go ahead and go to the media, so that we could get these children out of this facility as quickly as possible.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the lice and the lice combs?

WARREN BINFORD: Yes. Yes, yes. So, let me tell you about this incident, because this was especially concerning. This visit was really originally scheduled for just three days. And what ended up happening was, when I was there on Wednesday, we started to hear from several children that there was an incident that had happened in one of the cells. And what the story was, was that there was a lice outbreak in one of the cells. Six of the children were found to have lice. Those six children were given lice shampoo, and then the other children were given two lice combs and told to pass those around and brush their hair with the lice combs in order to make sure that they, too, didn’t have lice or, if they did, that the lice were being pulled out by the lice combs. Now, sharing lice combs, we all know, is something you never do with a lice infestation. But this is, in fact, what happened.

But then the story gets worse, because one of the little kids lost the comb, and the guards hit the roof. They yelled at the children and berated the children. They scared the children. They made the children cry. And then they took out all of the children’s bedding. They took out the mats. They took out the blankets and told them that as punishment for losing that comb, that they were going to have to sleep on the concrete that night. We could not believe that the guards really were going to do what they had threatened to the children that they would do. And so, we arranged to come back the next day, specifically to interview those children and find out if they had been made to sleep on the floor last night or if it was just an empty threat meant to scare the children. And, in fact, we heard from multiple children that they in fact were forced to sleep on the floor that night in this cold cell, you know, on the cold concrete.

AMY GOODMAN: So, the AP is reporting 1-year-old, 2-year-olds, 3-year-old, dozens more under 12.


Miss Drake

My husband, Jim, used to say one cannot tell what is the important story for this week or month or even this year until after much more time has gone by.  Someone, I believe in the early 20th century, said we cannot opine on the significance or results of the French revolution as yet. But human life is short and 4/5s of mine is over.

So I must choose and write again (three weeks after the WW1 espionage act is about to be used to imprison and silence Assange for the rest of his life) to say that it appears that the US (gov't under Trump, which means Bolton, Pompeo, Richardson and all those who will obey them) may be seeking to create an excuse to go to war with Iran. If this does not happen, it's because no one but the US wants a war with Iran -- no one in the region (excluding maybe Saudi Arabia and Netanyahu's Israeli gov't).

Trump and Co have thus far failed to effect a coup in Venezuela, but this is a greater danger as Iran is an old, powerful real nation (not the result of lines drawn by the colonialist winner of WW1) with strong natural resources and a trading marketplace others want to engage with (though at the cost of US sanctions they hesitate ... )

The only news outlet to explain precisely what is said to have happened in the Gulf of Hormuz, and how this probably excludes Iran as an actor in the attack on Japanese and Norwegian tankers is DemocracyNow.org.   Judy Woodruff and the PBS team accepted the idea that it was probably Iran -- without any evidence. The evidence suggests the hit came from the air, and that Iran's involvement was as a group of people trying to rescue those in danger of losing their lives.

Do read the transcript: some excerpts: Vijah Prasad:

"People who look closely at the oil business understand that 50% of the world’s oil goes through the Gulf of Hormuz. They understand that, you know, carrying oil is a dangerous activity. All kinds of things happen. There are accidents. There’s piracy. There are a series of quite common risks faced by oil tankers. Iran is not one of those high on the list as far as risk assessors are concerned. And yet, of course, this is the first thing the United States government has said, as you said, without any evidence. So, within a few hours and without any evidence, the United States government once more provoking some sort of response from Iran, perhaps, or at least to try to galvanize public opinion to believe that Iran is a threat to the world.

What’s really important here is, yes, the fact that Shinzo Abe, the first Japanese prime minister to visit Iran in 41 years, he goes to Iran shortly after the Iranian foreign minister visited him in Japan. In fact, Mr. Zarif visited Shinzo Abe in his home. They had a very important conversation, where Shinzo Abe said that the Iranian nuclear deal is a factor of stability for West Asia. You know, this goes directly opposed to the Trump administration’s view. And what’s very important here is we’re not talking about a country that’s far from the American orbit. This is Japan, a reliable ally of the United States, which is not only reliant upon Iranian oil but understands that the warmongering in West Asia is going to be very bad, not only for Eurasia, but for the world. And I think we need to understand that as Shinzo Abe is in Japan [sic], this attack or this, you know, sabotage, or whatever it is—

It’s not only Japan saying this, Amy; it’s also the Europeans. The Europeans are very keen that the U.S. not break fully from this Iran deal. The Germans, in fact, have been looking for an alternative mechanism for payments. You know, India, which was one of the largest purchasers of Iranian oil, had to back off because of these new, very tight sanctions put in place by the U.S. government. But the Indians are also not that interested in this new approach by the Trump administration. They would like to continue to buy oil.

In fact, it’s a kind of isolation that the United States is facing ... "


There is a second story I want to call attention to, also reported by DemocracyNow.org and (this time) other outlets and media: it seems that "shortly before the Ecuadorean government handed over Julian Assange to the British police, the International Monetary Fund provided Ecuador with a loan of $4.2 billion, and there was also a commercial package of about $6 billion, so a total of $10 billion was transferred to the Ecuadorean government by the auspices of the IMF." So Lenin Moreno took a bribe?

I focused on Assange three weeks ago; tonight I focus on Ola Bini, jailed without bail and without charges on the same day (April 11th) that Assange was taken from the embassy and put in a British prison.

Again Vijah Prasad:

"Ola Bini is a programmer who spent most of his life trying to create tools to help human rights activists create a shield against surveillance by governments. People who are in the tech world might know the programs called the Tor Browser or Enigmail. These things were developed by Ola. He moved to Ecuador partly because he felt that with the government of Rafael Correa, it would be a good place to do the kind of work he was doing—precisely the opposite of what people are alleging of him, that he broke into this, that and the other government materials. In fact, the opposite: He would create shields to prevent governments from breaking into the kind of databases held by human rights defenders. You’ve got to remember that in the Snowden—Edward Snowden’s revelations, he said that the NSA had been routinely attacking the servers of human rights and other civil society organizations. It was precisely Ola’s mission in life to protect those organizations.

He was picked up on April 11th at Quito airport, while he was on his way to an advertised martial arts training course in Japan. He’s been held in prison for two months. There have been two hearings. No bail has been allowed. And no charge has been put forward. The prosecution in Ecuador has made it seem like a sinister thing that Ola has many computers and Zip drives and so on. You know, when I travel to places, I carry about 10 to 12 Zip drives. That’s because I keep a Zip drive for each story. It’s got nothing in it to seem to be something, you know, sinister or bizarre. These are things that software developers have. They tried to make him seem like a sinister character.

I was even told by another reporter that people were asking if Ola was the code cracker for Julian Assange, which he of course was not, and could not have been the code cracker at all when the materials passed on by Chelsea Manning came to the WikiLeaks organization. You know, that was one of the allegations that was floating around, not put on paper. Ola only met Julian when he was already in the Ecuadorean Embassy, long after the revelations of—very important, crucial revelations that came from Chelsea Manning, also now in prison ... ".

I hope no one needs to have explained to him or her why it is crucial for the safety of everyone of us indivdually that gov'ts be required to produce charges, cause (habeas corpus) for someone to be imprisoned, that the charges be spelled out at a minimum.

Miss Sylvia Drake

On the Espionage Act

This was an act passed in 1916 to stifle dissent against World War One. It was first used most famously against Eugene V Debs; it was under this act the Rosenbergs were killed. Wikipedia explains the act's original context, purpose and history very well: note that it was this act under which Daniel Ellsberg was accused:


Obama revived the act and used it against John Kiriakou for exposing the US gov't torture program:


James Risen in the New York Times gave the recent history:


And now it is being used to indict Julian Assange, says Martha Gessen in the New Yorker:


The Guardian explains that the Trump administration has crossed another line in indicting a journalist:


And finally for those who like a YouTube here is Scahill from the Intercept:

Miss Drake
To those who read this blog by coming here, or because I link it to face-book, twitter, or listserv communities I'm on: I'm off on another time away; a second time to Cornwall. I still have not given up on writing a book on Winston Graham and his Poldark novels, and even have a title: A Matter of Genre. I liked Cornwall the last time I went (later one summer two years after Jim died) and Road Scholar goes to very different places there and I know from previous experience, I'll learn a lot. Thus far they have been pleasant, safe experiences, and this time a friend I made last time will be taking the same journey with me.

So what shall I say here for the last time for at least three weeks -- by the time I settle back in and am at peace again, it'll be three weeks. I find it important that the other night Judy Woodruff actually looked distressed. I cannot know why and it might be that she had just heard upsetting news about a friend or member of her family she cares about, but I felt it was the result of the news show she had just curated (in effect). She is usually so controlled, I asked myself was this the cumulative effect of just weeks of this regime or that night. I cannot say.

This is labeled TV in American: an Autobiography - -she has been on TV as a reporter since the 1970s

Perhaps the cumulative effect: Trump is now trying to run the US federal gov't and through his powers across it as a dictatorship. He has decided with the present attorney general, Barr, and other corrupt flunkies and murderous monsters (Elliot Abrams [particularly evil man, involved in death squads in the 1980s], Pompeo, Bolton] and the courts now loaded with partisan reactionaries, he can get away with this. He will just ignore congress. He will obey no subpeonas and has ordered his subordinates to ignore these (especially McGrath), give no information whatever is asked. When he lost the budget fight, and congress refused to give him billions for a counterproductive symbolic wall, he went to the defense agency, and ordered them to give him the money. He is having this attorney general go to court to declare ACA unconstitutional and thus throw 33 million people at least off medical insurance. It's not enough that he has gutted the funding of ACA and the courts and his phony EPA are allowing drug companies to charge unpayable horrifying amounts for desperately needed medicine (epclusa which I used to get rid of hepatitis C cost the taxpayer a cool $38,000 for 3 bottles) and companies like Monsanto to pour carcinogens across the countryside.

A typical story of working conditions and pay today: Uber and Lyft.

He is lawless, attempting a lawless dictatorship. That night she had had Jerry Nadler on the PBS reports saying he had no choice but to hold Barr in contempt of court, and yes he had faith that finally in the courts, the judges would have the conscience to back him and compell Barr to come to the congress. She got beyond the punishment of a big fine, and they did touch on two different branches of gov't sending two different marshalls with guns, one to put someone in prison and the other to stop this.  Note some of the corporate supports the idea this is a political game (e.., The Wall Street Journal is one). In the case of the symbolism of these sports teams, now many of the white people in the Red Sox are going shamelessly to the white house, while the blacks stay away. I say that anyone who turns up to that place in such circumstances allows him or herself to be counted as a racist, and utterly indifferent to humanity, but there they are, going there, photographed as if this is honorable. Mrs Trump has told her by her jacket that she doesn't care and no one cares -- it seems not enough do who have the power to do something.

The human effect of this man is devastating millions of people. Right now his seething bigotry has destroyed thousands of lives literally (death) and by slow time in Puerto Rico and he is determined to and succeeding in making the island a wasteland.  His greed and love of violence is now starving out and turning the lights over millions in Venezuela; he has tried coups but his group of thugs is apparently too incompetent and unpopular there. He is bullying every country in the world by his stranglehold on banks to stop having any trade or reciprocal agreements with Iran, with threats of retaliation. Of course he vetoed congress's passed demand the war we are enabling Yemen (carried on by the Saudis) to stop.

Stacey Abrams

We will elect him out, you say? that gets me to my most important story this week: voter suppression, gerrymandering, and cheating with no courts to stop this is working. In Georgia Stacey Abrams lost by a sliver of people according the public formula produced by these methods. Who doubts that she really won? Well the false governor and the women-haters have now passed a bill whereby the minute a highly sophisicated machine can detect a sound that is declared a heartbeat, any abortion is illegal. This happens well before a woman might know she is pregnant. If she crosses state lines to have an abortion, she is declared a criminal and will be subject to exradiction back and a 10 year prison sentence. The analogy with the Dred Scott decision that an enslaved person must be dragged back into enslavement once he or she has escaped by anyone who knows this is clear.

If he loses the 2020 election, will he get out? He will have done much of the damage he set out to do: gov't agencies are emptied of employees. But now he is at risk himself of going to jail as his own fraudulent behavior over several decades has been made more or less public.

So this is where we are as of the week of May 12, 2019.

People want hope: why you should back Sanders' and AOC's Loan Shark Prevention Act: cap interest rates, and re-launch the Postal Savings Bank

Capping credit card interest rates at 15%, which the Fed may increase if needed for a period of 18 months to preserve the safety and soundness of banks

Relaunching the Post Office Bank, which would offer basic services, such as checking and savings accounts as well as loans

The title of the bill is a well-deserved poke in the eye to the financial services industry. While a Post Office Bank has been presented as a solution both to payday lenders as well as the high level of “unbanked” individuals, it can also be taken as a criticism of the credit card industry.

And it’s hardly radical to propose a credit card interest rate cap. None other than that great American socialist, Republican senator Al D’Amato, did so in 1990

People need joy: On PBS, William Branham had a comforting and desolating visit with film series on Antartica and the state of penguins -- two species going extinct and one surviving:https://www.pbs.org/newshour/press-releases/four-part-pbs-newshour-series-warnings-from-antarctica-to-debut-in-april-2019

I watched it and it's very good, touching.

If you are a member of PBS (I'm a member of WETA) you can probably watch the series on one of their websites.

Miss Drake
So, if you can't see yourself reading this dense often abstract text where whole pages are blacked out, here is it is pictured,

And then brief advice:  from Truthdig:


A preface: you should really read the report or one of the good newspaper accounts: the Washington Post devoted three sections to the report; it is wholly on line with redactions obvious.

The analysis is by Bill Blum, former judge and death penalty defense attorney

The important conclusions:  first three:

Do not trust anything Attorney Barr has said about the report.

Mueller did not find there was no evidence of conspiracy. Nor did he make any finding on the misnomer of collusion.

Trump did not cooperate with special counsel

Mueller Declined to Make a Formal Finding on Obstructions because of the Justice department's policy against indicting a sitting president.
Nonetheless, he concluded the president could not be exonerated of ostruction.

Mueller did not request Barr to draw his own conclusins on obstruction.That decision should be left to congress by means of an
impeachment investigation.

Not atypical representation.

Now having read some of it despite the narrow point of view Mueller took as the perspective of his task, it sheds light on the political world and justice system  David Cole in the New York Review of Books seems to me to be the best commentary on the report's contents and how something urgent should be done by congress:  An Indictment in All but Name. Heads of topics:

The report establishes beyond doubt that a foreign rival engaged in a systematic effort to subvert our democracy ...

The report portrays a consistent pattern of deception and repeated efforts to impede the Mueller investigation.

Mueller also reveals that Trump directed White House Counsel Don McGahn to fire the special counsel on accusations of conflict of interest that Trump knew were groundless, and after this was reported by The New York Times, Trump instructed McGahn to lie about it.

The fact that a sitting president cannot be indicted does not mean that he cannot be called to account by other means. And some form of accountability is essential. What Trump has already done is profoundly damaging to the institution of the presidency and our system of justice, but we will make it worse if we collectively fail to demand a reckoning. ...

I prefer to think not just  what was happening to his own stone home, but several stories significant for different reasons and of different weight or emotional temperature occupied the mind of our gargoyle this week:

Trump vetoed an attempt to stop the slaughter and slow destruction of the Yemenese people and what's left of their society (in order for his donors to sell more guns and in order to encourage and support the horrifying Saudi regime); more people sickening and some who will end up maimed permanently in some way or die of measles because the authorities will not insist that parents vaccinate their children lest the interfere with parental rights (so one story said was part of the motive for not insisting on vaccination before a child is let into public school)

The arrest of Julian Assange (who has committed no crime, who is an Australian citizen) and possible extradiction to the US, hard upon the re-arrest of Chelsea Manning, again put into solitary confinement, so an all-out attack direct on freedom of the press begun since the time of the Arab spring continues - this includes outright massacre, imprisonment, torture;

and poignantly, the chance burning down of the central part of Notre-Dame de Paris.

On The imprisoning and extradiction of Julian Assange. An active threat by all sort of gov't groups to stop freedom of the press, headed by the power of a US group.

Noam Chomsky:


Daniel Ellsberg:


Bruce Shapiro from the Nation:


On the measles epidemic I have Roald Dahl:

Roald Dahl on Measles: "Olivia, my eldest daughter, caught measles when she was seven years old. As the illness took its usual course I can remember reading to her often in bed and not feeling particularly alarmed about it. Then one morning, when she was well on the road to recovery, I was sitting on her bed showing her how to fashion little animals out of coloured pipe-cleaners, and when it came to her turn to make one herself, I noticed that her fingers and her mind were not working together and she couldn’t do anything.
'Are you feeling all right?' I asked her.
'I feel all sleepy,' she said.
In an hour, she was unconscious. In twelve hours she was dead.
The measles had turned into a terrible thing called measles encephalitis and there was nothing the doctors could do to save her. That was...in 1962, but even now, if a child with measles happens to develop the same deadly reaction from measles as Olivia did, there would still be nothing the doctors could do to help her. On the other hand, there is today something that parents can do to make sure that this sort of tragedy does not happen to a child of theirs. They can insist that their child is immunised against measles.
...I dedicated two of my books to Olivia, the first was ‘James and the Giant Peach’. That was when she was still alive. The second was ‘The BFG’, dedicated to her memory after she had died from measles. You will see her name at the beginning of each of these books. And I know how happy she would be if only she could know that her death had helped to save a good deal of illness and death among other children."
Roald Dahl, 1986

And on the burning down of the central nave of Notre Dame, the collapse of the spire:

The New York Times general newstory and historical background:


Intelligent thoughtful informed article by Philip Kennicott, an art and architectural critic and historian:


On Notre Dame de Paris: I was there -- in 1969, one freezing cold January by myself. I spent two hours in the church and came as close as I ever have (not very or not for long) to having some kind of religious experience. I remember it as cold and quiet. There were not many tourists there that freezing cold day. Jim and I with Izzy visited twice more in later years (2002, winter & again summer) but it was not the same. I heard the news quickly: it is part of a world village mentalite: I was in a class around 3 o'clock and one man held up his cell phone to tell us Notre-Dame was burning down. At first it was not quite credited. Each time I looked on line or watch a TV segment i the news, the experience brought tears to my eyes

Still, what's interesting about Notre Dame insofar is only in the last hundred years has it been seen as a lieu de memoire for the people of Paris, or wider France or any other wide group. It was a church, a Catholic church and identified (rightly at the time) as a supporter of the ancien regime. Thus it was attacked; statues of Biblical kings were destroyed. This is not to say its long history, central place, and significant religious art was not recognized for the revolutionary councils tried to coopt it and hold ceremonies for the supreme being and a cult of reason.  I believe (not sure) that it was part of the restoration of the Bourbons. Maybe Louis-Philippe too?  It has been a place this kind of numinous ceremony is held.  In 1870 it was regarded as a symbol of repression and attacked but after WW2 when De Gaulle returned to Paris, he spoke at Notre Dame.

Over on a groups.io list I run (TrollopeandHisContemporaries) we had planned (before this poignant event) to read Hugo's Notre Dame de Paris this fall. A group of us are watching Andrew Davies' superb serial adaptation on PBS, and have decided to go on to Notre Dame this fall and maybe summer 2020 read Les Miserables. I've hunch we might find in the material about the book, that it was this book that helped make this building the central cultural symbol it became. I read the book in an abridged edition in an English translation when I was 15; I read it in the original French in my twenties. I have seen the remarkabl movie with Charles Laughton and Maureen O'Hara, but never read the book since or seen any other movie. So now fall will have a special meaning for me and I hope others on the list.

This is especially meant for US people who get little news, much less accurate or informative about what Brexit is like on the ground, walking through the grassroots (as people with no power are called). It's from a friend who lives in the Republic of Ireland: We might ask oursevles, why not another referendum, this time one so much better informed than the last, and with so many more voting, we ask. I also include stories about the literature published for the bigoted hateful Brexiers and a story of their threatened and executed violence:

 I said to him in an email letter:

It looks like Theresa May has no conscience and she will just let the UK crash out of the EU -- by which I mean she could hold another referendum if she had courage and conscience - her stone face below.

To which he replied:

"The British House of Commons is utterly undecided.  Each of the major parties is split into two or three camps and the Commons cannot decide on _any_ course of action.  There is now a 55% plus group in UK who don't want Brexit; this is said  to be also the general view in the Commons, but they have all talked themselves into the position that "the referendum expressed the voice of the people" and to do anything else "would be a negation of democracy".  They have even extended this to mean that a second referendum would also be a negation of democracy, forgetting that the fist referendum was on a question simply to go or stay, as if this was simply a matter of leaving a club - you don't pay your subscription and walk away.  Any second referendum would be better informed, except that the Brexiteers are better manipulators of false information and would shout down any facts.

They are also seriously concerned that a second referendum, or a general election if one occurred, would devastate the British political scene - none of the seats could be relied upon to maintain their usual political colour, so no one can predict the outcome, in the sense that in an election one knows that of the 650 seats there will be roughly equal quantities of Labour and Tory, with a sprinkling of Independents.  If they now had an election they cannot see the usual political equilibrium being maintained, and they are scared of one.

Also, now starting to be publicised in the papers and spoken publicly what was previously mentioned only in whispers, is that any delay, any referendum, a general election, even an "unsatisfactory" Brexit ("unsatisfactory" varying according to where one stood on Brexit or Remain) is very likely to give civil unrest - police departments have all had riot squads in training, ditto military.  Some of the popular newspapers (the English nationalist press, such as Daily Mail, Daily Express, Sun and others) have suggested that failure to approve the "Deal" is justification for insurrection.

Members of Parliament have been publicly advised by House of Commons security detail to take taxis home, not to travel alone, and other sensible security precautions.

Personally, if I were May, I'd write a withdrawal of the Brexit letter to the EU, send it off privately; then, when it had been delivered, go to the Palace and ask for a General Election to be called and be driven at high speed to a waiting airplane and go and sit in the sun for some years.  The convention in UK is that an incoming government is _not_ bound by any undertakings of the outgoing government; however, they have elevated the referendum from "an expression of desire" into "a statement of intent" and turned it into holy writ.  They need something like a long lingering illness of the Queen, on which all can centre, to distract them, give a breathing space, and then allow a reconsideration. "


May hangs in there until the Brexit happens, and then she will be shoved aside.

I'll add the fear of violence: the Brexiters are made from the same cloth as Trump's working class base:  The Guardian summed up the explicit demand that all empathy and normal human feelings for other people be repressed in the literature of this Nazi-like movement: 
No need to burn intelligent, humane, informed books when the establishment which also gave us austerity, neollberal destruction of social opportunities, housing, transportation, also prints lots of this vile material.  What the elite Tories are hoping for is an opportunity to destroy all regulations that get in the way of their cutting compensataion for employees and making millions from destroying companies

I was struck by the difference in mood between the pro-Brexiters and anti-Brexiters in demonstrations. Unlike Woodruff on PBS who does not show demonstrations (not yellow jackets, nothing whatever about Macron's giving oodles of money to the rich, trying to end social services and helps, firing people), Amy Goodman does regularly.  The pro-Brexiters look and act angrily, sullenly; the anti-Brexiters have speeches and demonstrate peacefully - many many more of anti-Brexiters -- millions this weekend.

Well here is a story of these Brexiters planting bombs on railways

The Southern Poverty Law center has equivalent stories (real news) of behavior of the Trump working class base: he promised the people in West Virginia, they'd keep and get more coal jobs. Nothing like that; instead GMU and Seas lays off millions and pays their executives sweet-heart retirement bonuses.  Meanwhile Trump cuts off heathcare for the elderly in the spreading requirement that the ancient work.
One reason for the suicide of a few now of those who survived the massacre at Parkland is they have realized, after being ignored, then jeered at, that a segment of the US population is glad of these massacres, glad to see intimidation and killing. It's similar to the shock of those taken to extermination and concentration camps, made hostage or treated to torture of various sorts in US prisons. It's hard to carry on with any trust, any hope in humanity. You become like Gloucester in Shakespeare's Lear.

Posted by Sylvia Drake

In praise of public libraries

A wonderful article, from the NYRB, by Sue Halperin, in the April 18th, 2019 issue, appropriately open to the public and the best thing you could read of general application anywhere this week: Take the time to read it.

Libraries have saved my life, from the 52nd Street Branch on Fifth Avenue, to "my" beloved Folger (from where four of my original projects and writing emerged -- now on my website), and the Library of Congress (just this summer once again). I was also a regular at the Leeds City public library. When I'm not going ot the library (as I did not keep up at the Brotherton in Leeds University) you know something is wrong.

I had forgotten about Wiseman's:  Ex libris .... I long to see it

He teaches you about how social life comes into being by exposing before you the working of the institutionsbehind these, how they function, come into being, sustain themselves, go to pieces, become corrupt or struggle on.
Sometimes the week's truly important story is one which throws a new kind of light onto what we knew already. I think for this week it's the story printed by the Washington Post as written by Marc Fisher, with Michael E. Miller ad Karen Heller contributors. I'll cut to the chase so that if you don't want to bother read the details, you can get at least the significance of this. It's probably online in more than one place and other writers will have discussed it too.

A group of high level teachers, officers and headmaster at the New York Military Academy, a prestigious expensive military boarding school, in 2011 upon being put under pressure to deliver his transcript to wealthy alumni friends of Trump, knowing that one of their students who had an appalling record is about to become a public figure who will come under every kind of scrutiny instead of releasing this to the public so as to warn the public against what this man was and is, or thinking to themselves, this will be found out and it will look better if we are the agents of the truth, frantically hide it - by moving it to a place that the public cannot reach. We are told in the story that Trump is the only student for whom this has been done.

Why this extraordinary action if it is extraordinaray:  securely secreting it away? because they passed him? because they are now afraid of him?  because they hope for some money or favor from his administration. They are quoted in the story as leery (afraid) of his "friends." Trump apparently (it's said in said story by someone in the school) had some kind of "special status" and the school (like so many American schools) is in a precarious economic position.

We are told that in this same year 2011 the school's leadership openly discusses selling the 113 acre campus and shutting it down. Some representatives visit Trump at his Manhattan office asking for 7 million. Someone spills a Diet Coke on Trump's cream rug and Trump screams a curse at them. Trump wants to know what he gets for this $7 million. The promise to name a program, building or the whole school after Trump. He is not impressed. He tells them "the school has had a good run." In other words, shut the place down. Apparently 10 years earlier Trump had been asked for a cash donation after Trump offered to pay to build a building in honor of a coach, Theodore Dobias, whom Trump claimed was "this man he loved." In the event Trump didn't give anyone a dime. He also had Cohen (now we know who he is) tell them Trump "would love to have enough money so he could bulldoze it."

I don't know which is the more revealing moment or utterance in the story: the venality, meanness and dereliction of any duty on the part of the members of the school throughout. The one out-of-character detail is what must be part of the explanation for this hiding:   the time some of this students' teachers must've written the truth down about him, about his character and what he did in the social life of the school; they must've given him the awful grades he deserved --  though because his father was such an enormous contributor they passed him.  In 2001 and again 2011 the cool nastiness, blunt scorn and sneering of Trump, his desire to destory the place so frankly expressed out of spite, revenge and resentment? In Michael Moore's under-rated Fahrenheit 11/9, his major thesis is that Trump could not have taken power, would not have been possible (the TV con-man whom public media made into a god of reality show cruelty -- ho ho what fun to fire, to humiliate people) without numerous groups in our society paving the way, paying for it, praying for it and now keeping him in power.

The general story's actuating motives include fear, show us how threat works and how people respond with nervous fear for themselves, and the reaction of the place they work for and the customers who come to it.

How did this kind of focus emerge on a grade transcript in such an anti-intellectual country where Trump's base support, both working class and super-rich are anything but concerned with good grades? Trump himself as usual the unthinking lying insulting braggart, so resentful of Obama, the gentleman, black, highly intelligent hard-working student, insulted Obama by demanding he "shows his records." The purpose of this was to suggest Obama was lying about his school records. Apparently in 2012 Trump insinuated Obama was not qualified for admission to Columbia where he finished his undergraduate degree nor Harvard where he graduated "magna cum laude." Trump offered to give $5 million in charity if Obama released his transcripts.

Either he or someone else he pays realized that the spontaneous reation of Obama or his people would be to ask to see Trump's records. A few names: the headmaster at the time was Evan Jones, and it was Jeffrey Coverdale, the superintendent who came to Jones with the demands and threats. Now Coverdale does confirm this story and says he was the person who refused to give the copy of these grades to Trump and his people: "I moved them elsewhere on campus where they could not be released. It's the only time I ever moved an alumnus's records." They were secured where "no staff could get them." People had been making inquiries. Coverdale won't say where "he hid Trump's records or identify the people who ordered him to pull them out of the school's files." Coverdale quoted:  "I don't want to get into anything with these guys. You have to understand, these were millionaires and multimillionaires on the board, and the school was going through some troubles. But to hear 'You will deliver them to us?' That doesn't happen. This was highly unusual."

Evan Jones is the second person quoted by Fisher in the story. He too would not "disclose the contents of the transcript." Jones works for Coverdale and also says "it was the only time in his career that I ever heard of someone's records being removed ... But people were fearful of whatever call was made from Mr Trump's friends. I was told we're getting a lot of heat from this."

The newsstory appeared on March 6,2019, pp 1 and 8. Why did it surface again or now? During the interrogation of Cohen on TV he told the House Oversight and Reform Committee his "job was to attack Trump's critics and defend his reputation." One instance of this was when Trump "ordered him 'to threaten his high school, his colleges, and the College Board to never release his grades or SAT scores."

The story includes how Trump often boasts he was a "stellar student," "first in my class" at the University of Pennsylvania Wharton business school." Trump has boasted that he did very well "under the military system," and learned and did more than "guys that go into the military."  His parents sent him to this school because "I was a wise guy, and they wanted to get me in line."  The reporters' research: Trump's name does not appear on any honor list or as receiving any academic prize. Trump loved to compete with others by having the cleanest room or best-made bed. He was known as  "prominent baseball player" who bought "women" to the campus and showed them round (like so many objects).

No one working at the school, connected to it, has responded to any requests from the Post for comments.

Other information (such as it is):

This New York Military Academy closed down in 2015 and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, but was quickly re-opened "after a non-profit entity led by a Chinese investor, Vincent Mo, bought it at an auction, and said he would pay off the school's $16 million debt.

Cohen said he sent threatening letters to other schools Trump attended, "warning that 'we will hold your institution liable' if any of his records were released. In his letter to the president of Fordham University, where Trump spent his first two years studying business administration, Cohen demanded that the records be 'permanently sealed' and said any release was 'criminality" which will lead "to jail time."

A Fordham person confirmed the school received the letter, and a phone call from the Trump campaign and said "the university was bound by federal law not to reveal any student records without Trump's permission."  A spokesman for the University of Pennsylvania declined to comment."

Trump often offers to give money for charities and never does. The So. District of NY has caught him and his family using a charitable organization they set up as a front to gather money for themselves.


I realize many people might not think this an important story but I do because it just tells so much about Trump's methods and the phenomena his successes are made of.

If we could read any of these they would probably tell us Trump cannot understand what he reads beyond say a fourth or fifth grade level. But that is not the most important element in this newspaper report.

Miss Drake
The first in a while: this time in video, from New Zealand public TV


Today a report from New Zealand, tells a tale of the same kind of corruption that led to Brexit. The Leavers spent well beyond what the law allowed, plus took monies the Brits _are not supposed to take_. It's only in the US that bribery is come to be defined as free speech. Now May came to power on Brexit so that is why she will not hold a referendum. She cares more about herself than millions of people. the same group of people who engineered Trump's win -- Bannon, the criminal types from Israel, the same names that are cited when collusion with Russia is talked about and who Jared Krushner met are the same people who Boris Johnson and Neil whatever his name that slime goes by were all involved in putting huge amounts of well targeted money on Brexit. We were all right to be astonished the day after Brexit and the day after Trump "was elected." And in the UK you can''t get an investigation going because of the parliamentary system and the BBC has not gone near this material.

Only a tiny percentage made for the win for Brexit and a sizable number of people in both cases were prevented from voting (the US) or didn't vote (the UK).

Miss Sylvia Drake

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