10,000 on ignore, Book 194, The Days of Reckoning, Part 53.....

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ten Thousan Marbles

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ATHENS, Greece (AP) — The top U.S. military officer said Friday that calls he made to his Chinese counterpart in the final stormy months of Donald Trump's presidency were “perfectly within the duties and responsibilities” of his job.

In his first public comments on the conversations, Gen. Mark Milley said such calls are “routine” and were done "to reassure both allies and adversaries in this case in order to ensure strategic stability.” The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff spoke to The Associated Press and another reporter traveling with him to Europe.

Milley has been at the center of a firestorm amid reports he made two calls to Gen. Li Zuocheng of the People’s Liberation Army to assure him that the United States was not going to suddenly go to war with or attack China.

Descriptions of the calls made last October and in January were first aired in excerpts from the forthcoming book “Peril” by Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa. The book says Milley told Li that he would warn Li in the event of an attack.

Milley on Friday offered only a brief defense of his calls, saying he plans a deeper discussion about the matter for Congress when he testifies at a hearing later in September.

“I think it’s best that I reserve my comments on the record until I do that in front of the lawmakers who have the lawful responsibility to oversee the U.S. military,” Milley said. “I’ll go into any level of detail Congress wants to go into in a couple of weeks.”

Milley and U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin are scheduled to testify Sept. 28 before the Senate Armed Services Committee, in what initially was going to be a hearing on the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan and the chaotic evacuation of Americans, Afghans and others from that country.

Now, however, Milley is expected to face tough questioning on the telephone calls, which came during Trump’s turbulent last months in office as he challenged the results of the 2020 election. The second call, on Jan. 8, came two days after a violent mob attacked the U.S. Capitol in an effort to prevent Congress from certifying Joe Biden's White House victory.

A special House committee that is investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol has asked for details about Milley’s calls. U.S. Reps. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., leaders of the committee, have also sought records related to the November election, the transfer of power from Trump to Biden and the riot.

Milley was appointed Joint Chiefs chairman by Trump in 2019 and has remained in that post in the Biden administration. As chairman, Milley is the top military adviser to the president and to the defense secretary.

The White House and the Pentagon chief have said they continue to have full trust and confidence in Milley.

The new book says Milley, fearful of Trump’s actions late in his term, twice called his Chinese counterpart to assure him that the U.S. was not going to attack China. One call took place on Oct. 30, four days before the American election. The second call was on Jan. 8, less than two weeks before Biden’s inauguration and two days after the insurrection at the Capitol by supporters of Trump.

Some U.S. lawmakers have said Milley overstepped his authority, and they have called for Biden to fire him. Trump blasted Milley as treasonous, called him “a complete nutjob” and said Milley “never told me about calls being made to China.”

Biden told reporters after the disclosures in the book that “I have great confidence in Gen. Milley.”

Milley’s office, in a statement this week, said the calls were intended to convey “reassurance” to the Chinese military and were in line with his responsibilities as Joint Chiefs chairman.

The statement from Milley spokesman Col. Dave Butler also said that the calls were “staffed, coordinated and communicated” with the Pentagon and other federal agencies......
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Sackler family’s OxyContin liability settlement victory short-lived as DOJ steps in
Walter Einenkel

At the beginning of September, Federal Judge Robert Drain signed off on a bankruptcy settlement that would give the Sackler family immunity from any liability litigation in perpetuity. The family behind Purdue Pharma, which produces OxyContin, had been spending all of the legal fees on getting such a deal as it protects the many billions the family has made for being the financial beneficiaries of an opioid crisis that they helped to create and promote over the last couple of decades. The deal also includes the Sackler family paying out about $4.3 billion of the tens of billions they are estimated to have made off of OxyContin. Conservative estimates of the financial costs of the opioid epidemic are more than a quarter trillion dollars.

On Wednesday, the Department of Justice filed a motion to block the implementation of this settlement. NPR reports that the attempt by the Justice Department “signaled they are concerned some provisions of the Purdue Pharma bankruptcy plan might be implemented quickly, complicating an appeal.” And while many of the 21 states who have been fighting for a better settlement the last couple of years have relented due to the financial resources the Sackler family has that allows it to draw out an expensive legal battle, Connecticut, Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Washington State still plan on filing appeals.

.........
U.S. Trustee William Harrington argued that the block was needed because his department believes a higher court will overturn the settlement on appeal. According to the The Wall Street Journal, Harrington “is advancing several legal arguments to overturn the deal, including that the settlement is unconstitutional because it effectively deprives people of their right to take the Sacklers to court.” Harrington himself wrote: “The Sackler family’s attempt to hold [Purdue’s] reorganization hostage unless the non-debtor releases are imposed does not justify taking third parties’ property … without their consent, adequate notice, or any opportunity to be heard.”

Drain’s September ruling wasn’t as much of a surprise as it was a profound disappointment. In June, Drain pushed the deal forward past objections concerning the wide-ranging reach of the immunity clauses the Sacklers’ lawyers were maneuvering for. The extent of the immunity granted could spread through to dozens of family members, hundreds of financial trusts, companies, consultants, and other “entities associated with the Sacklers.”

Earlier this week, Drain defended his decision, saying: “I did not become a judge to get things wrong. I’ve tried as hard as I can throughout my 28-year career to get things right.” Unfortunately, Drain seems to have failed in his 11th hour. Now, the Justice Department hopes that the judge will at least pause his decision while an appeal is mounted.

At the time, Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson released a statement saying: “This order lets the Sacklers off the hook by granting them permanent immunity from lawsuits in exchange for a fraction of the profits they made from the opioid epidemic — and sends a message that billionaires operate by a different set of rules than everybody else. This order is insulting to victims of the opioid epidemic who had no voice in these proceedings — and must be appealed.” He also cited an opinion piece in The New York Times by the man who wrote Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty, Patrick Radden Keefe:


The Sacklers proposed to pay the $4.5 billion out over nine years. Their current fortune is estimated to be at least $11 billion. Conservatively, with interest and investments, this means they can expect a 5 percent annualized rate of return on that fortune. If that’s the case, they’ll be able to pay the fine without even touching their principal. When they’re done paying in 2030, they will probably be richer than they are today.

Over the past couple of years, the Sacklers have offered a sliding scale of billions and billions of dollars, each time pleading their innocence and demanding immunity from any further possible lawsuits that may come their way. Whether they have offered $10 billion or $18 billion, it has never included more than $4 billion of the Sackler family’s actual wealth. It has been very clear from the outset that the move into bankruptcy court for Purdue Pharma was made in order to limit the family’s liability and protect the wealth they have created off of millions of people’s misery. To put things into perspective, back in October 2019, Virginia doctor Joel Smithers was sentenced to 40 years and fined $86,000 for reportedly prescribing “more than half a million doses of oxycodone, hydromorphone, fentanyl and other opioids to patients for years.”

The Sackler family has not faced any justice even remotely like what was handed down to Smithers. The closest the company ever came was pleading guilty to “criminal charges that they misled regulators, doctors and patients about the drug’s risk of addiction and its potential to be abused,” and paying out around $600 million in fines back in 2007. The entire reason why OxyContin became such a raging success for Purdue was the false claim that it wasn’t addictive or habit-forming. The promise that OxyContin’s slow-release technology meant longer pain relief while lowering the threat of most powerful narcotics’ issues of addiction and abuse meant big money fast for the Sacklers.

By many accounts, the Sackler family’s psychological welfare is tied up with believing that they aren’t drug dealers who have exploited the need for pain relief to make billions while killing hundreds of thousands of people, and ruining the lives of millions more. Kathe Sackler reportedly told a class-action lawyer during a deposition that OxyContin is “a very good medicine and it’s a very effective and safe medicine.” This kind of self-serving delusion mirrors the denying and lying of the lawmakers in the Sackler family pocket, like perennially
concerned Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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France recalls its ambassadors to the United States and Australia over submarine dispute


France has recalled its ambassador from the United States as an expression of its unhappiness with this week’s announced U.S. agreement to sell nuclear-powered submarines to Australia.

Brian Aggeler, the acting U.S. ambassador in Paris, was called to the Foreign Ministry there Friday and informed that France’s representative, Ambassador Philippe Etienne, was returning home indefinitely for consultations over the U.S. action and the French response.

France called the secretly negotiated submarine deal, which effectively cancelled a $66 billion Australian agreement to buy diesel-powered French submarines, “unacceptable” and “incomprehensible.”

Explainer: Why the French are so furious at the Biden administration over a derailed submarine deal

In a statement Thursday, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the agreement, about which France said it was not informed in advance, reminded it of something President Donald Trump would have done.

The French ambassador from Australia was also recalled.......
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Trump's Impotent and Insane Letter Asking Georgia to 'Decertify' the 2020 Election
News Corpse

The madness of wannabe king Donald Trump continues to swirl down the drain of irrelevancy. His obsession with having decisively lost the 2020 presidential election to Joe Biden is gnawing away at what's left of his diseased brain. And his persistently reckless behavior is likely to foment violent insurrection, just as it did on January 6th.

This week Trump expressed his emphatic support for the insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol eight months ago. He gushed that "Our hearts and minds are with the people being persecuted." By which he meant the Constitution-hating rioters who attacked Congress and injured more than 140 police officers.

On Friday, CNN reported that the district attorney of Fulton County, Georgia, Fani Willis, is quietly proceeding with the criminal investigation into Trump's election interference. According to CNN...

"[C]riminal investigators in the state have been quietly conducting interviews, collecting documents and working to build a line of communication with congressional investigators as they aim to build a case against the former President for his alleged attempts to overturn the state's 2020 election results." [...]

"Willis was investigating potential crimes, including 'solicitation of election fraud, the making of false statements to state and local governmental bodies, conspiracy, racketeering, violation of oath of office and any involvement in violence or threats related to the election's administration.'"

As the walls close in around Trump, he is reacting just as one would expect a malignant narcissist to react. He posted a rambling, run-on tweet via his spokes-shill, Liz Harrington (whose proxy Trump tweeting is violating Twitter's rules against circumventing a ban). It was rife with fear and the sort of inane bombast that is his hallmark. Trump said that...

"Large scale Voter Fraud continues to be reported in Georgia...43,000 Absentee Ballot Votes Counted in DeKalb County that violated the Chain of Custody rules, making them invalid. I would respectfully request that your department check this and, if true, along with many other claims of voter fraud and voter irregularities, start the process of decertifying the Election, or whatever the correct legal remedy is, and announce the true winner. As stated to you previously, the number of false and/or irregular votes is far greater than needed to change the Georgia election results. People do not understand why you and Governor Brian Kemp adamantly refuse to acknowledge the now proven facts, and fight so hard that the election truth not be told. You and Governor Kemp are doing a tremendous disservice to the Great State of Georgia and to our nation - which is systematically being destroyed by an illegitimate president and his administration. The truth must be allowed to come out. Thank you for you attention to this matter."

From the outset, Trump's tweet was a ludicrous mangling of reality. There has been no "Large scale Voter Fraud" whatsoever. And all of Trump's 60+ attempts to prove it were laughed out of court. Also, no legal process for "decertifying" the election exists anywhere but in the imaginations of Trump and his cult followers. Trump's assertion that there were more "false and/or irregular votes" than needed for him to win is a figment of the same twisted imaginations.

Finally, Biden was and is the winner of the election and is the legitimate President. But that didn't deter Trump from predictably throwing an infantile and ultra hyperbolic swipe at Biden who is working hard to undo Trump's much more literal efforts to destroy the nation by undermining the people's faith in democracy and inciting hostility and sedition.

The case in Georgia that is so frightening to Trump stems from his threatening phone call to Georgia election officials last January. Trump called Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and pressured him to "find" the extra votes needed for Trump to win the state. "I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have," Trump demanded. The whole conversation was recorded and Trump is heard explicitly pressuring Raffensperger, and even threatening to charge him with criminal acts, if he doesn’t comply with Trump’s flagrantly unlawful ultimatum.

Now Trump thinks that this "respectful" letter to Raffensperger will somehow cause the Georgia results to be declared invalid making Trump the victor. Which is just the latest evidence that he is irredeemably insane and incapable of rational thought. The only thing this lie-riddled, pitiful and futile letter accomplishes is exposing how scared he is of the long overdue consequences of his unlawful acts.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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"You’re all ****ed!" Yet another perfect example of the inspiring leadership of Pres. Donald Trump
GimpyOlNorman

Another amusing disturbing anecdote from to the soon-to-be-issued Bob Woodward/Robert Costas tome Peril…

June 1, 2020. A certain wanna-be dictator posing as the President of the United States pressured his Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper, to order federal troops into the nation’s capitol.

Why?

Peaceful Black Lives Matter marchers protesting the murder of George Floyd were approaching Lafayette Square. After taking ridicule for hiding away in a protective bunker, Trump was planning a photo op to show his strength. But the demonstrators he had characterized on Twitter as “thugs” were getting way too close to the White House.

His justification?

A more than two-century-old statute entitled The Insurrection Act.

The Insurrection Act of 1807 is a United States federal law that empowers the President of the United States to deploy U.S. military and federalized National Guard troops within the United States in particular circumstances, such as to suppress civil disorder, insurrection, or rebellion.
Perhaps Esper was aware of The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, which specifically limited the use of federal military forces for law enforcement within the U.S. and codified an amendment that requires a president to issue a written proclamation to insurgents to disperse before invoking his Insurrection Act power.

Regardless, according to Woodward and Costas, after Esper announced his opposition to Fat Mussolini’s proposed show of force, our classy, authoritarian-loving ex-president railed at his Defense Sec…

“You took away my authority? You’re not the president. I’m the goddamn president!”

Trump then turned to the rest of his team to continue his scolding…

“You’re all ****ed up,” he shouted at them. “Everybody! You’re all ****ed! Every one of you is ****ed up!”

The orange gas bag then utilized the Park Police to disperse the demonstrators. You know... so he could pose for photos in front of St. John’s Church holding a borrowed Bible aloft.

Sigh… Just imagine how proud Christians must be! And, doncha miss that confident, manly, take-charge leadership style?

No? Me neither.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Vaccine advisers to the US Food and Drug Administration voted unanimously Friday to recommend emergency use authorization of a booster dose of Pfizer's vaccine six months after full vaccination in people 65 and older and those at high risk of severe Covid-19.

Members of the FDA's Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee also informally advised the FDA to include health care workers or others at high risk of Covid-19 exposure in the EUA.

Earlier, the advisers had rejected a broader application to approve the use of booster doses of Pfizer's vaccines in everyone 16 and older six months after they are fully vaccinated.

Members of the committee expressed doubts about the safety of a booster dose in younger adults and teens, and complained about the lack of data about the safety and long term efficacy of a booster dose......
 

McCloudersportLion

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That head duck by Maryland is goofy there, if you keep your mask up you land on Scotch Murphy with 147 pounds