The horticulturist in the Google doodle

I’m staying away from most headlines out of news exhaustion, so today I’m posting about Gertrude Jekyll (no relation to Robert Lewis Stevenson’s fictional doctor).

Gertrude, born 174 years ago, was THE garden designer of her age,

Born in 1843, Jekyll was a British horticulturist, garden designer, artist and writer who created more than 400 gardens in Europe in the US and wrote 15 books and more than 1,000 magazine articles on garden design. To honor Jekyll, described as “a premier influence in garden design,” Google created a lush and colorful landscape doodle Wednesday to celebrate Jekyll’s contribution on her 174 birthday.

Her own house, Munstead Wood, has a glorious garden you can read about in Gertrude Jekyll at Munstead Wood, which is back in reprint after twenty years (and will make a great holiday or housewarming gift).

The house at Munstead Wood was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, who also designed the Lutyens bench (see photo on the right). Jekyll and Lutyens collaborated frequently over the years, and she had started the 15-acre garden before he designed the Arts and Crafts style house in 1897.

Gertrude had fourteen full-time gardeners doing the maintenance.

My first trip tp England, nearly forty years ago, was a pilgrimage of sorts to locales related to Arts and Crafts, William Morris, and the Pre-Raphaelites. I didn’t make it to Munstead Wood, but did enjoy other breathtakingly beautiful Jekyll gardens.

In case you wonder, I lack gardening skills and became even more discouraged some 25 years or so ago. I bought a dozen hosta for a shady part of the back yard and enthusiastically spent all day preparing the clay soil and planting them.

The next morning I looked out the window and they were gone.

The deer had eaten them down to the roots.

Gertrude and her fourteen needed a 10′ fence.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog

Thankfulness

Thankfulness is not the same as gratitude.

Thankfulness involves appreciativeness, gratitude is the act of being thankful. You must appreciate something in order to be thankful, which brings in the act of gratitude.

Our first President, George Washington, at the request of Congress, established the first Thanksgiving Day for the purpose of “acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

Let’s look closely at those words.

Acknowledging with grateful hearts

A human being recognizes a good, appreciates it, and does do with gratitude.

the many signal favors of Almighty God
As we are created by God and endowed with “certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government
Not only to establish a form of government, but a government, as defined in the Declaration of Independence, that is “deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,” not a government that imposes its will upon its people.

for their safety and happiness.
Safety in a country where all citizens are equal under the law, and pursue happiness in liberty.

If you are of a certain age, you may be thinking, “I heard this in grade school.” Yes, I know I’m sounding like a fifth grader going over a history homework.

Sadly, a great many adults have forgotten, and a lot of young people are never taught, the most basic of lessons: Thankfulness is inherent in the American spirit.

And yes, the Founding Fathers chose their words very carefully.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog

Ladies and gentlemen

In the late 1960s the counterculture set out to destroy societal mores. Free love, legal abortions at any point in the pregnancy, drug use, destruction of the establishment, damn the consequences.

The 60s generation rebelled against their parents’s standards where men were expected to be gentlemen and women ladies.

I was not one of the anti-establishment crowd. Even back then I didn’t see the use of tearing down society . . . for what? Some 10 years ago, my son, who at that time was the same age I was during the Summer of Love, asked me where I was during Woodstock, and all I could answer was, “probably at home preparing for the SATs.”

Now the headlines have discovered sexual harassment.

My Facebook feed popped up some posts by women SJW activists who blame white men. Their default stance is to blame the patriarchy, Western Culture, and white men, regardless of the fact that it is Western, Judeo-Christian values codified and enforced by (mostly) white men that have brought about women’s equality under the law.

It’s worth pointing out that SJWs characteristically do not hold the individual responsible. If Charlie Rose, age 75, allegedly strips down and makes unwelcome advances, the patriarchy’s to blame and not that Charlie is allegedly a perv.

There’s another problem: Andrew Klavan mentions that

the New York Times, a former newspaper, now has a tip line where you can complain about something sexual someone famous did to you back in the day.

Klavan continues,

USA Today has a running list of Hollywood sexual offenders and I was reading through it and came upon the charges against Dustin Hoffman. The now 80-year-old Hoffman is accused of talking dirty to one woman and inviting another woman on a date some 30-odd years ago. And you know what? I don’t care. Not even a little. I think Harvey Weinstein, assuming he’s guilty, should go to prison for what he did and I think what Hoffman allegedly did shouldn’t even be mentioned in the papers. When they’re both on the same list, the whole list becomes a moral blur.

Human life is complicated. Sexuality is one of the most complicated parts of human life. Some people make errors, other people corner you in the basement and bang off in front of you, and still other people tell lies. If any voice can be raised against any man and illicit the same level of outrage, all voices will eventually blend into a silence of obscurity and indifference — and that’s a kind of silence that’s very difficult to break.

There’s yet another problem, about which a Facebook friend posted: “The system of the social left, both apparatus and reflex, is structured to be distributed and unpredictable.” The aim is not toleration, respect for women, or encouraging strong moral men to protect women.  The proximate step may be to generate fear and confusion, but the ultimate goal is control.

As it always has been.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog

Curbelo’s not “Hispanic” enough, says CHCaucus

The 30 members of the all-Democrat Congressional Hispanic Caucus denied Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo’s membership, since to the Caucus you’re not “Hispanic” enough unless you are a liberal:

CHC Chairwoman Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.) said the group’s decision wasn’t just based on the Dream Act but also Curbelo’s support for Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare and the GOP tax bill.

“Many of those votes in this climate gave members who voted no, and maybe other members, pause about whether or not this was a good time for changing membership,” Lujan Grisham told reporters after the meeting.

I’m sure the Dems are not pleased that Curbelo won in Hillaryland, too.

But I digress.

Never mind that there’s a new member of Congress; if you’re not a Dem, you’re not welcome,

In a statement after the decision, group spokesman Carlos Paz tried to dispel the notion that the CHC should admit Curbelo simply because he is Hispanic.

“This vote reflects the position of many of our members that Rep. Curbelo and his record are not consistent with those values,” Paz said.

I’m of two minds on this. On the one hand, I believe there’s no such thing as Hispanic. On the other hand, policy making comes through alliances.

Either way, it’s useful that the Caucus again shows itself as a group of partisan hacks.

Several Florida Republicans walked out years ago over differences on Cuba policy and formed their own group, the Congressional Hispanic Conference.

The Congressional Black Caucus accepted Republican Mia Love as a member.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus ought to make it official and rename itself as the Democrat Hispanic Caucus.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog

Menendez, the unmentioned scandal

A sitting U. S. Senator is on trial for corruption and is involved in a sex scandal, but you wouldn’t know it.

Robert Menendez, (D-NJ) is on trial for 12 counts of bribery and corruption; his co-defendant, Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen, is on for 11 counts. The jury is deadlocked but will resume deliberations today.

CNN touched on four of the charges:

Official Act #1: Visas for Friends
Official Act #2: The Dominican Port Security Contract
Official Act #3: US Scanning Equipment Donation to the Dominican Republic
Official Act #4: Attempt to resolve Melgen’s $8.9 million billing dispute

The trial is new, but I was posting on How Bob Menendez sponsored a bill that would have benefited his biggest political donor four years ago. Four and a half years ago I was already saying that The real scandal in the Menendez story… is the relationship between Miami ophthalmologist Solomon Melgen and Menendez.

Back then the media was not interested in corruption charges involving Democrats goings-on, least of all in the Dominican Republic. Things changed when Menendez became ranking member of the Committee on Foreign Relations.

The Obama administration was displeased by Menendez’s positions on the Iran deal, Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, and by

Menendez’s support of dissidents from countries other than Cuba: He vigorously supports the State of Israel against Iran-sponsored Hamas in Gaza, which also figures in his support of international sanctions against the Iranian nuclear program – sanctions that Ecuador and Venezuela attempt to help Iran avoid.

Most of this was ignored. I know from experience (having blogged on LatAm for 13 years) that news involving overseas transactions generally elicit eyes glazing over.

Hawever, sex sells, so the headlines mentioned that he liked the ‘newest and youngest’ prostitutes. The missing hos turned up, and apparently were not underage in Dominican Republic law.

The legal issue was, and is, as Glenn Reynolds pointed out then, a

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Billion With a ‘B’: Did Menendez Provide Special Favors to HookerGate Donor? “Follow the money – if Melgen had a billion-dollar contract at stake, his ‘friendship’ with Senator Menendez was obviously more than a mere social acquaintance, which doesn’t necessarily mean that it was illegal for Menendez to pressure the administration to help Melgen enforce his Dominican port security contract. But how and why does a Florida opthalmologist become an international port-security mogul?”

The fact remains that the media would rather not cover the trial, and guess who’s to blame,

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Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog

Lather, rinse, repeat

I normally focus on Latin American news, but two stories have prominently popped up in my news feed during the last couple of days: the Roy Moore sex accusations, and the Trump-didn’t-take questions-in-China tale.

The Roy Moore story (or as Scott Johnson calls it, The Moore miasma) is astonishing, not the least because of the timing. Moore had been suspended twice from the state’s Supreme Court: the first in 2001 for refusing to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from the Alabama Judicial Building, the second in 2016 for directing probate judges to continue to enforce the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. It defies belief that the accusers would not have felt they could come out and expose events that took place nearly four decades ago only until a couple of weeks before this upcoming election.

I do not know if Moore is guilty. I do not know if or how the allegations could be proven or disproven. But no matter the facts, I expect this story to remain prominently in the top headlines for a while, especially if Moore wins.

The media will pick and choose.

As it did, for instance, with the Trump-didn’t-take questions-in-China story: Pres. Trump did not take questions from the media after a press conference. Streiff describes the media outrage,

CNN, naturally, ran a story in which they claimed that Trump broke from decades of tradition by participating in a news conference with a Chinese president in which there were no questions.

A few hours later, this, from a CNN article:

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to reflect neither Trump nor President Barack Obama took questions alongside his Chinese counterpart during their first visit to the country. A previous version misstated that Obama had.

By then,

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Streiff, again,

So you can have your journalistic hit job and claim the moral high ground by tweeting and publishing a correction no one will read.

And then it’ll happen again.

JD sums it up:

What concerns me is the intellectual dishonesty and blatant manipulation these news outlets embrace.

That is what I keep in mind every time I read any news at all.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog

The cartels and their false gods

Drug cartels have a full panoply of false gods.

The best-known in the wide-ranging and impressive array is Our Lady of the Assassins, made famous by a popular novel that was later made into a movie. She’s also known as Santa Muerte, a grim reaper figure which even turned up in Breaking Bad,

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GjFN2gZ90SQ&w=500&h=280]

The most recent is The Infant Huachicolero, essentially a baby Jesus with a jerry can, an image promoted by gangs in Puebla, Mexico. Huachicoleros illegally tap oil pipelines, stealing fuel for cheap resale – a business which, according to the BBC, has become Mexico’s second-biggest organized crime after drug trafficking.

A Google search for religious imagery and drug cartels yields almost 250,000 results, among them Know Your Narco Saints: The Religious Iconography of the Drug Trade

Some of these figures are true “Narco-Saints,” forthright patrons of illegal acts. Others are simply saints that narcos pray to, holy figures asked to intercede in unholy doings. Even Jesus and Mary are not considered beyond the pale.

It’s hardly surprising that cartels would be willing to exploit this tradition of the Catholic Church for their purposes. For instance, San Ramon Nonato (Saint Raymond Nonnatus), patron saint

of the the secrecy of the confessional, of priests keeping their mouths shut. In narco culture, that secrecy is extended to more secular arenas. Namely, police interview rooms and witnesses boxes at the courthouse. “If you get arrested you’re gonna pray to this saint hoping that your witness or whoever is gonna testify against you will be silent and keep the secret of your dirty deed,” says Garza. Petitioners sometimes offer padlocks at San Ramon’s altar, or place tape across his mouth.

How better to broadcast the message “keep your mouth shut”?

Juliette points out for the need to fill the space of your soul, and she quotes Mark Steyn’s essay, The Triumph of Amoral Will, (emphasis added)

A republic requires virtue, and the decline of virtue is accompanied necessarily by the decline of the concept of evil, and its substitution by exculpatory analysis of the “motives” of evil. A more useful conversation would be on what it takes to remove the most basic societal inhibition – including the instinctive revulsion that would prevent most of us from taking the lives of strangers, including in this case eighteen-month-old babies.

Like at the cartels,

That inhibition is weaker in the dar al-Islam, because of Islam’s institutional contempt for “the other” (unbelievers) but also because of the rewards promised in the afterlife. Thus, violence is sanctioned by paradise. That is the precise inversion of our society, and yet the weakening of inhibition seems to be proceeding here, too.

“One should not underestimate the effectiveness of cultural pressures,” Steyn states. Whether in dar-al-Islam or narcostates or anywhere, when the culture eliminates virtue, a republic cannot sustain itself.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog

Cowards at war

Yesterday afternoon a jihadist mowed down dozens of people in Lower Manhattan, killing eight and injuring eleven. Five of the dead were Argentinians celebrating a 30th class reunion.

Yesterday’s terrorist massacre was one more incident where cowards attack the unarmed, unaware, helpless public for the cause of a “holy” war against infidels . . . who cannot defend themselves.

Sayfullo Saipov arrived in the United States in 2010. The native of Uzbekistan came legally under a Diversity Visa:

The DV program makes up to 50,000 immigrant visas available annually, “drawn from random selection among all entries to individuals who are from countries with low rates of immigration” to the U.S., according to the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services website. Applicants must prove they have a clean criminal record, have a high school diploma or its equivalent, or have at least two years of work experience within the past five years in order to qualify.

Uzbekistan

is a large, majority-Muslim country located north of Afghanistan that gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Since then, the country has been ruled by an authoritarian dictator who placed firm controls on how his citizens practice religion and who can attend mosques. This harsh environment has caused many young Uzbeks to flee the country and look for opportunities abroad, and some have appeared in Syria fighting for the Islamic State group, experts say.

We should not have a program that brings extra Uzbeks to the U.S. in the name of “diversity” or for any other purpose.

Saipay was known to the authorities. The NYT reports (emphasis added),

Three officials said he had come to their attention as a result of an unrelated investigation, but it was not clear whether that was because he was a friend, an associate or a family member of someone under scrutiny or because he had been the focus of an investigation.

Over the last two years, a terrorism investigation by the F.B.I., the Department of Homeland Security, the New York Police Department and federal prosecutors in Brooklyn resulted in charges against five men from Uzbekistan and one from Kazakhstan of providing material support to ISIS. Several of the men have pleaded guilty. It is unclear whether Mr. Saipov was connected with that investigation.

Saipay left a note swearing alliance to ISIS.

Is he part of an active ISIS cell in Brooklyn, then?

UPDATE
Linked to by Stumbling Block. Thank you!

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog

Some of My Best Friends Are Catholic

by baldilocks

Many of my Facebook friends – most of whom are conservatives — are arguing about controversies of recent vintage and of this particular day: whether or not to continue watching the NFL, whether Christians should allow their children to take part in Halloween festivities or participate in those festivities themselves. I find it amusing, as I do with most purse fights.

But today is also another anniversary: the 500th anniversary of the day on which Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, signaling, in hindsight, the Protestant Reformation. I put up a short status noting the occasion and received not one bit of blowback from my Catholic friends like Fausta or our host!  Not one bit of purse fight. I’m almost disappointed!

Seriously, I love that noting this event in 2017 is almost mundane, especially since the split between the two parts of Christianity generated lots of bloodshed all those centuries ago and did so for some time in the previous century.

The evolution of this relationship between Catholics and Protestants was exemplified by the fact that, when my great-aunt was alive, I would drop her off for Mass at St. Brigid Catholic Church in South Central LA, continue on to my Protestant non-denominational church in Glendale, then, when my church’s service was over, come back to retrieve her.

Having read a lot about theology and church history, one overarching theme seems inescapable to me – every church denomination is capable of falling into error, division and even violence because we forget these things: that God believes in freedom and that our primary commandments are to love Him and each other. I, for one, don’t want to forget.

God bless the peace between His children and Happy Reformation Day …

And thank you, my Catholic friends, for the love and for the reconciliation.

Also, this seems like a good place to put a link to Peter’s book, The Perfect Protestant and Catholic Prayer.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel tentatively titled Arlen’s Harem, will be done one day soon! Follow her on Twitter and on Gab.ai.

Please contribute to Juliette’s JOB:  Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep the latter going and COFFEE to keep her going!

Or hit Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar in the name of Independent Journalism!

Math is white privilege?

There’s a math education professor at the University of Illinois who thinks “math perpetuates white privilege,”

“On many levels, mathematics itself operates as Whiteness. Who gets credit for doing and developing mathematics, who is capable in mathematics, and who is seen as part of the mathematical community is generally viewed as White,” Gutierrez argued.

Gutierrez also worries that algebra and geometry perpetuate privilege, fretting that “curricula emphasizing terms like Pythagorean theorem and pi perpetuate a perception that mathematics was largely developed by Greeks and other Europeans.”

If she thinks algebra and geometry are tough, she’s never struggled through calculus.

Sure enough: according to her faculty profile she does not have a degree in math and is not a math teacher. Instead, she has a Ph.D. in “Curriculum and Instruction,”

and focuses on equity issues in mathematics education, paying particular attention to how race, class, and language affect teaching and learning

Ah.

Gutierrez believes that

Math also helps actively perpetuate white privilege too, since the way our economy places a premium on math skills gives math a form of “unearned privilege” for math professors, who are disproportionately white.

Or Chinese or Indian, like several I know.

But I digress.

As a marketing and economics major in college, I had to take several semesters of statistics and calculus. Not being particularly gifted in those disciplines, I had to knuckle down: Stay focused in class, work through all the problems in the textbooks, do all the homework, and study for every test.

I could blame someone else for my frustration when I didn’t get “A” grades  and call it a “microagression” (not that the word existed then). The fact is that math is hard. It took hard work.

I have known men with exceptional faster-than-a-calculator math skills (no, I’ve not yet met women with that skill). The rest of us, regardless of race, ethnic origin or sex, have to apply ourselves. That’s why sciences are disciplines

training to act in accordance with rules; drill:

It is by no means “unearned privilege.” Maybe she ought to try it.

Jaime Escalante was very successful teaching math to “unteachable” students. The students had to do the work. His work was not only to teach, but to motivate. Escalante respected his students enough to demand that they live up to their potential.

Escalante didn’t believe in politically correct excuses.

Rather than take Escalante’s approach, Gutierrez wants math teachers to develop a sense of “political conocimiento,” mixing Spanglish while shifting away from “math developed by white people.” Never mind that quadratic equations were developed by the Egyptians, and that the Chinese were doing calculus by the 11th century B.C. Identity politics reigns supreme.

“Are we really that smart just because we do mathematics?” she asks, further wondering why math professors get more research grants than “social studies or English” professors.

The simple answer is that you can’t BS your way out of math. In a technology-based world, math skills command a premium.

I mourn for the students affected by Gutierrez’s mindset.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog

It’s official: the Dems paid for the Trump-Russia dossier

And the WaPo‘s anonymous sources say so:  Fusion GPS was paid by Marc E. Elias, a lawyer acting on behalf of the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee,

Fusion GPS hired dossier author Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer with ties to the FBI and the U.S. intelligence community.

Elias and his law firm, Perkins Coie, retained the firm in April 2016 on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the DNC.

How much? It’s unclear how much money went to Fusion GPS directly, but according to campaign records, the Hillary campaign paid Elias’s firm $5.6million legal fees from June 2015 to December 2016, while the Post states that the DNC paid Perkins Coie $3.6million in ‘legal and compliance consulting.’ Roughly $9 million. Under campaign rules, I assume that the amounts can be verified.

According to the post, there were three sources of funding.

The unknown first client:
The Post’s anonymous sources claim that (emphasis added)

Prior to that agreement, Fusion GPS’s research into Trump was funded by a still unknown Republican client  during the GOP primary.

IF the first client actually exists (and I’m not the only skeptic) it’ll be interesting to find out who the Republican (or not?) was, and why (s)he stopped funding it. Was there “no there, there “? Were they outbid by the Dems?

The second: Hillary/DNC,
Either way,

The Clinton campaign and the DNC through the law firm continued to fund Fusion GPS’s research through the end of October 2016, days before Election Day.

Aaron Blake notes that Steele was only funded by Democrats.

The third: The FBI, who apparently offered, but didn’t, pay
The Daily Mail reports that After the election the FBI agreed to pay Steele to continue gathering intelligence, but they reneged when he was identified. Paul Mirengoff explains,

The agreement reportedly was reached before the election. If Clinton won, as the parties to the agreement probably expected, the FBI would take over financial responsibility for the apparatus she was funding in order to discredit her political opponent, even after he was defeated. If Trump won, the FBI would take over financial responsibility for trying to discredit the president-elect.

My doubts:
Ace wants to know who the first client is, as Fusion fights a congressional subpoena to avoid disclosing that information,

But the first remains hidden — and if Fusion prevails in court, it will remain hidden.
. . .
Someone really doesn’t want Fusion to be compelled to open up its books and client list.

As I said above, IF the first client really exists, it may not be a Republican , because,

someone wishing to obscure the actual client would, of course, put out that kind of disinformation, anonymously.

Be that as it may,  while both sides paid Fusion GPS, Steele was only funded by Democrats, and Fusion GPS had the Kremlin as a client for . . . wait for it . . . a smear campaign against Russian whistleblower Sergei Magnistsky.

When asked about the original Russia collusion story, Hillary’s talking point/bromide – repeated by her minions on cable news interviews – is “it’s been debunked.”

This is a huge story, undoubtedly. We’ll see what kind of coverage it gets from the same reporters Hillary lied to, and what Congress does about it.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog

Who wanted to meet with the Russians? Bill Clinton

John Solomon and Alison Spann continue their reporting on the Clintons and Rosatom, the original Russia collusion story,
Bill Clinton sought State’s permission to meet with Russian nuclear official during Obama uranium decision

As he prepared to collect a $500,000 payday in Moscow in 2010, Bill Clinton sought clearance from the State Department to meet with a key board director of the Russian nuclear energy firm Rosatom — which at the time needed the Obama administration’s approval for a controversial uranium deal, government records show.

Arkady Dvorkovich, a top aide to then-Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and one of the highest-ranking government officials to serve on Rosatom’s board of supervisors, was listed on a May 14, 2010, email as one of 15 Russians the former president wanted to meet during a late June 2010 trip, the documents show.

Hillary was Secretary of State back then, but the State Department dragged its feet for a week or two, and apparently Bill decided to not meet with the 15 Russians on his list.

Rather, Bill cut to the chase (emphasis added),

Bill Clinton instead got together with Vladimir Putin at the Russian leader’s private homestead.

Back then Dmitri Medvedev was president of Russia, but

The head of Rosatom boasted in the report that the Uranium One deal was part of a larger Putin strategy to strengthen “Russia’s prestige as a leader of the world nuclear industry.”

Cornering one-fifth of the U.S.’s uranium supply fit nicely into that strategy, and with State Department approval, no less.

If that was not damning enough, Bill was allegedly wanting to use the trip for the $500,000 speech

to try to help a Clinton family relative “grow investments in their business with Russian oligarchs and other businesses,”

because apparently it wasn’t enough that the Clinton Foundation received $145 million in contributions from Uranium One shareholders. The Clinton relatives wanted in on Russia.

Never mind that being a Russian oligarch ain’t what it used to be,

Putin’s policy of “de-offshoring” has imposed such cumbersome controls on the business leaders of the 1990s that most have sold off their assets in Russia and decamped to London or Monaco. This trend has been accelerated by Russia’s lack of any real property rights, which has enabled the Kremlin to cut Russia’s wealthy down to size at will, often targeting the most law-abiding among them.

It makes you wonder if the emphasis would shift from “oligarchs,”  to  “other businesses,” whatever those may be.

I can’t figure out a reason for the Clintons’ boundless greed, other than perhaps they want to become the next George Soros.

They may get there yet.


Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog

The original Russia collusion story: Uranium

In case you missed it while people hashtag “#MeToo“, John Solomon and Alison Spann report that in 2009 the FBI uncovered Russian bribery plot before Obama administration approved controversial nuclear deal with Moscow, Rosatom’s purchase of Uranium One.

Russia and the Clintons:

They also obtained an eyewitness account — backed by documents — indicating Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow, sources told The Hill.
. . .
The Obama administration’s decision to approve Rosatom’s purchase of Uranium One has been a source of political controversy since 2015.

That’s when conservative author Peter Schweitzer [sic] and The New York Times documented how Bill Clinton collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in Russian speaking fees and his charitable foundation collected millions in donations from parties interested in the deal while Hillary Clinton presided on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.

How much? US$145 million.

Russian bribes and kickbacks endangering national security:

The case also exposed a serious national security breach: Mikerin had given a contract to an American trucking firm called Transport Logistics International that held the sensitive job of transporting Russia’s uranium around the United States in return for more than $2 million in kickbacks from some of its executives, court records show.

One of Mikerin’s former employees told the FBI that Tenex officials in Russia specifically directed the scheme to “allow for padded pricing to include kickbacks,” agents testified in one court filing.

Russia gets the uranium:

In 2011, the [Obama] administration gave approval for Rosatom’s Tenex subsidiary to sell commercial uranium to U.S. nuclear power plants in a partnership with the United States Enrichment Corp. Before then, Tenex had been limited to selling U.S. nuclear power plants reprocessed uranium recovered from dismantled Soviet nuclear weapons under the 1990s Megatons to Megawatts peace program.

“The Russians were compromising American contractors in the nuclear industry with kickbacks and extortion threats, all of which raised legitimate national security concerns. And none of that evidence got aired before the Obama administration made those decisions,” a person who worked on the case told The Hill, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution by U.S. or Russian officials.

Regarding that 2011 approval, Ed Morrissey notes that there were two deals: Rosatom’s 2010 purchase of Uranium One, and the 2011 “approval for Rosatom to vastly expand its sales of uranium inside the US through its Tenex subsidiary.”

The DOJ did nothing for years (emphasis added):

Rather than bring immediate charges in 2010, however, the Department of Justice (DOJ) continued investigating the matter for nearly four more years, essentially leaving the American public and Congress in the dark about Russian nuclear corruption on U.S. soil during a period when the Obama administration made two major decisions benefiting Putin’s commercial nuclear ambitions.

Solomon and Spann point out that

Then-Attorney General Eric Holder was among the Obama administration officials joining Hillary Clinton on the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States at the time the Uranium One deal was approved. Multiple current and former government officials told The Hill they did not know whether the FBI or DOJ ever alerted committee members to the criminal activity they uncovered.

That smells like a political cover-up of the first magnitude.

Indeed, today  Solomon and Spann report that

An American businessman who worked for years undercover as an FBI confidential witness was blocked by the Obama Justice Department from telling Congress about conversations and transactions he witnessed related to the Russian nuclear industry’s efforts to win favor with Bill and Hillary Clinton and influence Obama administration decisions, his lawyer tells The Hill.

John Hinderaker asks,

who supervised the Russia investigation? Rod Rosenstein. Who was the FBI director when the Russia probe began in 2009? Robert Mueller. Who was running the FBI when the case ended with a whimper and an apparent cover-up? James Comey.

Rosenstein and Muller should resign over conflict of interest, but I’m sure they will not.

And these are not the only players in the case. Last year I posted on the Clinton’s Colombian Fondo Acceso partner Frank Giustra, whose mining company merged with three Kazakhstan mining companies, after which it was acquired by Rosatom. Guess who authorized that,

Because uranium is a strategic asset, the sale required (and received) approval from multiple U.S. agencies, including the Department of State, then run by Hillary Clinton.

Last night in Sean Hannity’s show (35 minutes into the video) Peter Schweizer, author of Clinton Cash, explained that Hillary knew that the Russians were trying to corner the uranium market, that the donations to the Clinton Foundation were hidden, and, as if things weren’t bad enough, that “Uranium One, now owned by Rosatom, is actually exporting yellowcake from the United States,” when the uranium is supposed to stay in the U.S.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has launched a probe into the case.

Don’t hold your breath on this story making it to the front pages.

UPDATE

Two and a half years ago at Da Tech Guy: Oh look, the guy behind the Clinton uranium deal was also the guy behind the Clinton FTA deal

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog

Has anyone gone to the movies recently?

While the Harvey Weinstein culture wars play out, I made a quick survey among friends, and asked, “When was the last time you went to see a movie in a theater?”

Out of ten people, only two had been to a movie theater in 2017. Three hadn’t been to a cinema for so long they didn’t even remember whether it was 5 years ago or longer. One replied,  “When Nixon was president.”

When I asked, “When was the last time you watched a movie at home?” nine of the ten had watched at least one film in the past week (the Nixonian had watched three) and the one who hadn’t was away on a business trip with no spare time.

I don’t know if this is because of our demographic (all surveyed are at least 40 years old), but you don’t go out on a limb when you surmise that the film industry will greatly continue to influence popular culture for the foreseeable future, regardless of cinema attendance.

Andrew Klavan believes that the whole Hollywood system is built to keep the silence.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75omGz0NTYs&w=400&h=225]

Klavan adds,

“One of my big beefs against feminism is that it tells men that it’s sexist for them to feel protective towards women, so all you’ve left after that, is Harvey Weinstein and all the men that are too weak to stand up against them.”

It’s not just Hollywood.

Years ago I audited a class at Princeton University on the history of the American musical. One day a guest speaker, whose own show had been on Broadway, came for a question-and-answer session. When asked about the casting couch, he replied, “go for it.”

Auditors at PU are like children in Victorian times, “seen but not heard,” so I did not have the opportunity to express my disgust. I wonder what some of the parents dishing out $60,000+/yr for their PU student would think of the speaker encouraging their expensively-educated children to prostitute themselves.

Hollywood may have lost the right to lecture anyone, but Michelle Goldberg wants to get rid of the men, “If there must be bosses, fewer of them should be men.” In case you must put up with men, they should be gay, because,

Obviously, female bosses can be abusive and can create cultures where abusive behavior toward underlings is tolerated. But women may face less harassment at companies with fewer straight men at the top.

What about men being harassed by gay men, men harassed by women, or women harassed by lesbians, then? I guess she’d just stick to “If there must be bosses, fewer of them should be men” as a cure-all.

Goldberg suffers from what I call toxic feminism, which solves nothing.

The answer to evildoing by predators is integrity and respect – and law-abiding good men (and women) who stand against the predators and their enablers.

Now. that would be a long-term win in the culture wars.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog

Will NAFTA expire after five years?

As you may recall, now-President Trump went to Mexico during last year’s campaign, and, after he took over the press conference, both Pres. Peña Nieto and he stated that NAFTA should be renegotiated.

If you look up the history of NAFTA, you find:

The United States commenced bilateral trade negotiations with Canada more than 30 years ago, resulting in the U.S.-Canada Free Trade Agreement, which entered into force on January 1, 1989. In 1991, bilateral talks began with Mexico, which Canada joined. The NAFTA followed, entering into force on January 1, 1994.

Considering the changes in technology and global markets that have taken place during the past 23 years, it’s not unreasonable to take a second look at the treaty.

The next round of talks starts today (emphasis added)

One provision designed with that objective is a “sunset” clause that would force Nafta’s expiration in five years unless all three countries act to renew it, said people briefed on the plan.

Other proposals, these people said, would weaken or eliminate the mechanisms aimed at settling disputes between the three countries and curbing the unilateral threats and sanctions that frequently roiled trade ties in earlier years.

More importantly,

None of the U.S. proposals would alter the specific trade terms that have spurred a quarter-century of commercial integration between the U.S., Mexico and Canada, such as tax-free trade across borders.

The Trump administration’s goal appears to be to reduce the incentive to outsource by watering down the pact and reduce its influence on American companies through measures such as undoing the current policy of treating the three economies – Canada, U.S, Mexico – as one, narrowing the amount of U.S. federal spending to the same dollar amount as the trading partners (“dollar for dollar”), and requiring that some products contain not just a certain level of Nafta-regional content, but U.S.-specific content.

This goal goes hand-in-hand with the administration’s deregulation strategy to improve U.S. manufacturing. And, as the WSJ said in the above article, “None of the U.S. proposals would alter the specific trade terms.”

Since the new round of talks starts today, this of course does not mean that is what NAFTA will look like at the end.

However, I would love to see – if only once – an international treaty with an actual sunset clause.

A woman can dream.

Fausta Rodríguez Wertz writes on U. S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog