Trump contradicts himself

During the campaign Donald Trump proclaimed that he was a friend to the LGBT community, but this still isn’t surprising:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has reversed a three-year-old Justice Department policy that protected transgender workers from discrimination under federal law.

In a memo to his US attorney offices and agency heads, Sessions said that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not protect transgender people from workplace discrimination by private employers and state and local governments.

‘‘Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination encompasses discrimination between men and women but does not encompass discrimination based on gender identity per se, including transgender status,’’ Sessions wrote in the memo dated Wednesday.

Trump lies all the time so you should never trust what he says and he has surrounded himself with cultural warriors (Pence, Sessions, …).

Republicans always claim that they are against abortion but won’t go against contraception. You can trust them about as much as you can trust Trump:

The Trump administration issued a rule Friday that sharply limits the Affordable Care Act’s contraception coverage mandate, a move that could mean many American women would no longer have access to birth control free of charge.

The new regulation, issued by the Health and Human Services Department, allows a much broader group of employers and insurers to exempt themselves from covering contraceptives such as birth control pills on religious or moral grounds. The decision, anticipated from the Trump administration for months, is the latest twist in a seesawing legal and ideological fight that has surrounded this aspect of the 2010 health-care law nearly from the start.

And then there’s foreign policy. North Korea is a mess, especially now that it has nuclear weapons, so it’s a great time to try to pull out of the treaty with Iran that has kept Iran from developing nuclear weapons:

But Trump, after twice certifying the deal, has warned his aides that he would not do so again. As a result, the administration is looking for ways to claim Iran is in violation of the “spirit” of the accord, even if it has complied with inspection criteria.The International Atomic Energy Agency has said that Iran was in compliance. When the agency has found minor violations, they have been quickly fixed.

This will indeed isolate a country but it might not be the US:

Britain, France, and Germany, all signatories to the agreement, are watching Trump’s deliberations with deepening concern. Diplomats from the three countries, as well as from the European Union, met with dozens of senators this week to warn them that if the United States withdrew, Europe would not follow.

Trump has no problem with being inconsistent:

The United States is poised to permanently lift sanctions on Sudan, US officials said on Thursday, recognizing the long-estranged country’s progress on human rights and counterterrorism after decades of war and abuses.

Sure, Sudan has done a lot more worse things than Iran but … Trump just doesn’t like Iran.

For fun (if you like worrying about nuclear war):

‘‘You guys know what this represents?’’ Trump asked. ‘‘Maybe it’s the calm before the storm. Could be the calm, the calm before the storm.’’

‘‘What storm Mr. President?’’ one reporter shouted. ISIS? North Korea? Iran?

‘‘You’ll find out,’’ the president said.

Finally, via Kevin Drum, let’s look back at that IRS scandal where they targeted the Tea Party groups. Here’s KD’s summary:

In total, the IRS audited 111 left-wing groups and 19 right-wing groups based on BOLO criteria. (It’s unclear how the “healthcare” category broke out between left and right.)

The vast majority were left-wing groups, but the IRS was being so unfair to the TEA Party groups.


It seems North Korea might now have nuclear weapons small enough to put on rockets:

A report in The Washington Post on Tuesday went further. The newspaper said U.S. intelligence officials have assessed that a decade after North Korea’s first nuclear test explosion, Pyongyang has produced nuclear weapons for ballistic missile delivery, including by intercontinental missiles — the type capable of reaching the continental U.S.

Luckily we have a calm and rational person for our President:

‘‘North Korea had best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen,’’ Trump said during a briefing on opioid addiction at his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey.

We are so fucked.

Thailand and Korea

There are two big problems in the world that on inspection are even worse than they appear:

In Thailand, there has been a 2 month demonstration to try to bring down the government with a government crackdown ending it:

The death toll from a week of violence rose to 53 people killed, including 15 on Wednesday alone, and 399 people wounded, the vast majority of them civilians.

Dozens of fires were also set by the protesters. The situation was pretty bad, but could have been much worse (and was actually expected to be worse). The problem is that nothing has been resolved and that both sides seem to believe that the only way to resolve their grievances is with massive demonstrations (that’s the way the yellow shirts forced the removal of the previous government). That’s a recipe for disaster.

South Korea has now formally accused North Korea:

On Thursday morning in Seoul, the South Korean government presented forensic evidence, including part of a torpedo propeller with what investigators believe is a North Korean serial number.

They said it proved that the underwater explosion that shattered the 1,200-ton corvette, the Cheonan, in March near a disputed sea border with the North was caused by the detonation of a torpedo.

North Korea denies this, but it now seems very likely that it’s true. This is bad by itself, but it really looks bad when you wonder why North Korea did this. They must have known they would be caught and in that case they would have to deny it and respond as they did:

North Korea dismissed the findings as a fabrication and warned that it would wage “all-out war” if it were punished, North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency reported.

So what exactly did they hope to gain? Do they want a war (it could be this was done by a rogue captain–would think the North would admit to this?)?

World News 9/26/08

Just because our economy may be on its way to a meltdown, doesn’t mean I can’t talk about stuff happening in other parts of the world.

  • The first could be an even worse problem. It seems that CO2 levels are increasing faster than expected. Developing countries now account for half of the CO2 released, which means the rich countries better start helping them with their energy use (as in, give/sell them less polluting technology). It also seems that the oceans and other carbon sinks are taking in less than they have been. Why does it seem all the errors are conservative (meaning the problem may be worse than thought)?
  • It seems that Somali pirates are more organized than their government. This time they might have bitten off a bit more than they expected:

Somalia’s notorious pirates have staged perhaps their most brazen attack yet, seizing a Ukrainian ship in the Indian Ocean full of arms bound for Kenya’s military, including dozens of battle tanks, maritime and diplomatic officials said Friday.

Somalia’s 1,880-mile coastline is infested with pirates, and they have been striking with increasing impunity, grabbing everything from private sailing yachts to oil tankers. They then usually demand millions of dollars in ransom for the ships and their crews.

Somali officials say the pirates are growing in numbers, with more than 1,000 gunmen at their disposal, and they have evolved into a sophisticated organized crime ring with their headquarters along the rocky shores of northern Somalia. There is even a pirate spokesman (who could not be reached on Friday).

According to the Russian Interfax news agency, a Ukrainian state arms exporter shipped 33 tanks, a significant amount of ammunition and grenade launchers to Kenya, all in line with Ukrainian law.

So either the pirates are going to get snagged (both the US and Russian navies are on their way) or they could become their own government. One thing that I find weird is that a Ukrainian ship carrying this much fire power didn’t have that big of a crew, even though they were sailing through what was known to be pirate infested waters.

  • North Korea has decided to act up again (I wonder if this has anything to do with the leader’s alleged stroke?). They now say they are ready to restart their nuclear program.
  • Governor Palin is actually using the ‘Alaska is next to Russia, so I’m a foreign policy expert argument’. One problem is that she doesn’t seem to think meeting with Russians is all that important:

Opportunities abound for Alaska governors to engage in Russian diplomacy, with the state host to several organizations focusing on Arctic issues. Anchorage is the seat of the Northern Forum, an 18-year-old organization that represents the leaders of regional governments in Russia, as well as Finland, Iceland and Canada, Japan, China and South Korea.

Yet under Palin, the state government — without consultation — reduced its annual financial support to the Northern Forum to $15,000 from $75,000, according to Priscilla Wohl, the group’s executive director. That forced the forum’s Anchorage office to go without pay for two months.

Palin — unlike the previous administrations of Gov. Frank Murkowski and Gov. Tony Knowles — also stopped sending representatives to Northern Forum’s annual meetings, including one last year for regional governors held in the heart of Russia’s oil territory.

  • I haven’t talked about Burma for awhile. It’s not any better. What’s amazing is how little is know about the leader:

Perhaps the most detailed information on him was published 27 years ago, when Myanmar’s military was marginally more accessible. It fits on one sheet, half the size of a piece of photocopy paper, and is the most complete résumé available of Myanmar’s ruler: Than Shwe was born near Mandalay in 1933 in the rural heartland of what was then British-administered colonial Burma, it says. He completed secondary school but never attended college. He worked as a postal clerk before joining the army, where he was trained in psychological warfare and fought in numerous battles against insurgents.

I’m not sure if it’s a good or bad thing that he doesn’t believe in trying to form a cult of personality.

9/29 Update: Well now, the Somalia pirate thing has become even more interesting:

Meanwhile, the controversy over where exactly the tanks were going has heated up again.

Two Western diplomats in Nairobi, a maritime official and the pirates themselves said the arms were headed for Sudan or other neighboring countries, not Kenya, as the Kenya government has repeatedly claimed.

One of the diplomats, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said there may have been a secret arms deal in which Kenya would be a transit point for the weapons to be taken by train from the port of Mombasa and then out of the country.

“I can tell you these tanks were not for Kenya,” the diplomat said.

And since there is an arms embargo against Sudan, this is a bit of a problem for Kenya (there seems to be some wiggle room, so it might not be technically illegal but it’s obviously not going to be appreciated by many countries if true).

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