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Archive for September, 2019

Today is the last day of my second year of retirement…  And, life is still good!
My parents always told me that people will never know how long it takes you to do something.  They will only know how well it is done.
  —  Anonymous
It normally takes seven to seven and a half years of retirement for the average American to “recover” all of the funds paid into their Social Security retirement funds during their forty odd years of work.  After that, it’s all gravy…  Just sayin’.
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On This Day In:
2018 Year One, Done!
2017 First Day Of Retirement!
2016 Revere And Criticize
2015 Global Climate Change May Test This Statement
2014 Adaptability Won
2013 Disappeared
2012 Fuller
Life On The Range
More Classics
2011 Stoned Again?
2010 Insubordination… And That’s Why I Love Her!
Losing – Week One

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Over the weekend, my cousin Tony (from Arizona) dropped in for a little business (on Monday) and a quick weekend visit with friends and family (us).  I hadn’t seen my cousin since 1971!  (That’s 48-odd years!! for you math challenged readers.)  Anyway, we went out to lunch and to support my brother-in-law who was playing in a “teachers” band at a charity event (and beer tasting).  He teaches music in one of the local school districts and he’s part of a orchestra of teachers from the various school districts in the Oakland, California area.
In the group photo you see (L to R): me, my wife (Hilary), my cousin (Tony), my mother (Carmen), my nephew (Kyle) and my sister (Carmen).
In this photo are: me, Hil and Kelly (a friend of my nephew).
The music was good and lively.  The beer and wine tasting was excellent.  (I was told…  I was driving.)  And, a great time was had by all.  I made my cousin promise not to wait another 48 years to visit us again and he promised he wouldn’t.
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On This Day In:
2018 Intensity Doesn’t Make It Correct
HF2: 1940’s Grapes
2017 Proof Sits In The Oval Office
2016 Tragic Determinism
2015 Maybe It Should Be Clearer
2014 Make It Your Strength
2013 Four Score
2012 The Ruler
2011 Forever
2010 Just Cuz
How Do You Mend A Broken Heart?
It’s Alive!! (3rd Pair Shoe Review)

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The image above is a plaque in one of the pubs located in Liverpool, England – which my wife visited on her latest trip to spend time with her mum and family…
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On This Day In:
2018 Intensity Doesn’t Make It Correct
HF2: 1940’s Grapes
2017 Proof Sits In The Oval Office
2016 Tragic Determinism
2015 Maybe It Should Be Clearer
2014 Make It Your Strength
2013 Four Score
2012 The Ruler
2011 Forever
2010 Just Cuz
How Do You Mend A Broken Heart?
It’s Alive!! (3rd Pair Shoe Review)

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Cowardice asks the question – is it safe?  Expediency asks the question – is it politic?  Vanity asks the question – is it popular?  But conscience asks the question – is it right?  And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular; but one must take it because it is right.
  —  Martin Luther King, Jr.
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On This Day In:
2018 Intensity Doesn’t Make It Correct
HF2: 1940’s Grapes
2017 Proof Sits In The Oval Office
2016 Tragic Determinism
2015 Maybe It Should Be Clearer
2014 Make It Your Strength
2013 Four Score
2012 The Ruler
2011 Forever
2010 Just Cuz
How Do You Mend A Broken Heart?
It’s Alive!! (3rd Pair Shoe Review)

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Only love can be divided endlessly and still not diminish.
  —  Anne Morrow Lindbergh
They are not dead who live in the hearts they leave behind.
  —  Native American Proverb
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On This Day In:
2018 Smiling If Not Laughing
2017 Chilled And Smooth
2016 But Sometimes You Have To Stand In Front
2015 The Key Shift
2014 Remember ISIS / ISIL?
2013 What Have You Done Lately?
2012 B8
2011 I’m Definitely Not In Control

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The first of many?   …  Special Representative for Ukraine: Kurt Volker resigns.
The starting list:
While I’m 99% positive an impeachment trial of #CriminalDonald will fail in the Senate (Thank You, “Moscow Mitch” McConnell), it will be interesting to see what effect the Republican cowardice in the face of Presidential criminal activity will have on the elections in November 2020.  And to think, there was once a time when I could admire (not support or agree with, but admire) a principled Republican (Barry Goldwater, Howard Baker, Everett Dirksen).   Dwight Eisenhower, Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt (Republicans and Presidents I could agree with) must be turning over in their graves.
I recall an image from my childhood (“Weeping Lincoln”- Bill Mauldin’s famous cartoon about the JFK assassination) and, somehow, it seems equally appropriate today:

A Criminal In The Oval Office:  Another Reason To Cry

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On This Day In:
2018 Very Few
2017 Or The Candidate Who…
2016 The Happiest People
2015 Jumping Into The Dark
2014 I Would Be Sillier
2013 It Keeps Happening Anyway
2012 Take Time
2011 A Mother’s Lesson
2010 3rd Pair – Shoe Review (DOA and Final)

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If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day, so I never have to live without you.
  —  Winnie the Pooh
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On This Day In:
2018 Very Few
2017 Or The Candidate Who…
2016 The Happiest People
2015 Jumping Into The Dark
2014 I Would Be Sillier
2013 It Keeps Happening Anyway
2012 Take Time
2011 A Mother’s Lesson
2010 3rd Pair – Shoe Review (DOA and Final)

Read Full Post »

[The following is the declassified whistleblower complaint on President Donald Trump and Ukraine.  It has been released and is available from several public and news sources on the internet.  Note:  The document footnotes which are contained in the original document appear at the end of this “text” version.  —  KMAB]
Dear Chairman Burr and Chairman Schiff:
I am reporting an “urgent concern” in accordance with the procedures outlined in 50 U.S.C. §3033(k)(5)(A).  This letter is UNCLASSIFIED when separated from the attachment.
In the course of my official duties, I have received information from multiple U.S. Government officials that the President of the United States is using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.  This interference includes, among other things, pressuring a foreign country to investigate one of the President’s main domestic political rivals.  The President’ s personal lawyer, Mr. Rudolph Giuliani, is a central figure in this effort.  Attorney General Barr appears to be involved as well.
  –  Over the past four months, more than half a dozen U.S. officials have informed me of various facts related to this effort.  The information provided herein was relayed to me in the course of official interagency business.  It is routine for U.S. officials with responsibility for a particular regional or functional portfolio to share such information with one another in order to inform policymaking and analysis.
  –  I was not a direct witness to most of the events described.  However, I found my colleagues’ accounts of these events to be credible because, in almost all cases, multiple officials recounted fact patterns that were consistent with one another.  In addition, a variety of information consistent with these private accounts has been reported publicly.
I am deeply concerned that the actions described below constitute “a serious or flagrant problem, abuse, or violation of law or Executive Order” that “does not include differences of opinions concerning public policy matters,” consistent with the definition of an”urgent concern” in 50 U.S.C. §3033(k)(5)(G).  I am therefore fulfilling my duty to report this information, through proper legal channels, to the relevant authorities.
  –  I am also concerned that these actions pose risks to U.S. national security and undermine the U.S. Government’s efforts to deter and counter foreign interference in U.S. elections.
To the best of my knowledge, the entirety of this statement is unclassified when separated from the classified enclosure.  I have endeavored to apply the classification standards outlined in Executive Order (EO) 13526 and to separate out information that I know or have reason to believe is classified for national security purposes.  (1)
  –  If a classification marking is applied retroactively, I believe it is incumbent upon the classifying authority to explain why such a marking was applied, and to which specific information it pertains.
I. The 25 July Presidential phone call
Early in the morning of 25 July, the President spoke by telephone with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.  I do not know which side initiated the call.  This was the first publicly acknowledged call between the two leaders since a brief congratulatory call after Mr. Zelenskyy won the presidency on 21 April.
Multiple White House officials with direct knowledge of the call informed me that, after an initial exchange of pleasantries, the President used the remainder of the call to advance his personal interests.  Namely, he sought to pressure the Ukrainian leader to take actions to help the President’s 2020 reelection bid.  According to the White House officials who had direct knowledge of the call, the President pressured Mr. Zelenskyy to, inter alia:
  –  initiate or continue an investigation (2) into the activities of former Vice President Joseph Biden and his son, Hunter Biden;
  –  assist in purportedly uncovering that allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election originated in Ukraine, with a specific request that the Ukrainian leader locate and turn over servers used by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and examined by the U.S. cyber security firm Crowdstrike,(3) which initially reported that Russian hackers had penetrated the DNC’s networks in 2016; and
  –  meet or speak with two people the President named explicitly as his personal envoys on these matters, Mr. Giuliani and Attorney General Barr, to whom the President referred multiple times in tandem.
The President also praised Ukraine’s Prosecutor General, Mr. Yuriy Lutsenko, and suggested that Mr. Zelenskyy might want to keep him in his position.  (Note: Starting in March 2019, Mr. Lutsenko made a series of public allegations – many of which he later walked back — about the Biden family’s activities in Ukraine, Ukrainian officials’ purported involvement in the 2016 U.S. election, and the activities of the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv.  See Part IV for additional context.)
The White House officials who told me this information were deeply disturbed by what had transpired in the phone call.  They told me that there was already a “discussion ongoing” with White House lawyers about how to treat the call because of the likelihood, in the officials’ retelling, that they had witnessed the President abuse his office for personal gain.
The Ukrainian side was the first to publicly acknowledge the phone call.  On the evening of 25 July, a readout was posted on the website of the Ukrainian President that contained the following line (translation from original Russian-language readout):
  –  “Donald Trump expressed his conviction that the new Ukrainian government will be able to quickly improve Ukraine’s image and complete the investigation of corruption cases that have held back cooperation between Ukraine and the United States.”
Aside from the above-mentioned “cases” purportedly dealing with the Biden family and the 2016 U.S. election, I was told by White House officials that no other “cases” were discussed.
Based on my understanding, there were approximately a dozen White House officials who listened to the call — a mixture of policy officials and duty officers in the White House Situation Room, as is customary.  The officials I spoke with told me that participation in the call had not been restricted in advance because everyone expected it would be a “routine” call with a foreign leader.  I do not know whether anyone was physically present with the President during the call.
  –  In addition to White House personnel, I was told that a State Department official, Mr. T. Ulrich Brechbuhl, also listened in on the call.
  –  I was not the only non-White House official to receive a readout of the call.  Based on my understanding, multiple State Department and Intelligence Community officials were also briefed on the contents of the call as outlined above.
II. Efforts to restrict access to records related to the call
In the days following the phone call, I learned from multiple U.S. officials that senior White House officials had intervened to “lock down” all records of the phone call, especially the official word-for-word transcript of the call that was produced — as is customary — by the White House Situation Room.  This set of actions underscored to me that White House officials understood the gravity of what had transpired in the call.
  –  White House officials told me that they were “directed” by White House lawyers to remove the electronic transcript from the computer system in which such transcripts are typically stored for coordination, finalization, and distribution to Cabinet-level officials.
  –  Instead, the transcript was loaded into a separate electronic system that is otherwise used to store and handle classified information of an especially sensitive nature.  One White House official described this act as an abuse of this electronic system because the call did not contain anything remotely sensitive from a national security perspective.
I do not know whether similar measures were taken to restrict access to other records of the call, such as contemporaneous handwritten notes taken by those who listened in.
III. Ongoing concerns
On 26 July, a day after the call, U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker visited Kyiv and met with President Zelenskyy and a variety of Ukrainian political figures.  Ambassador Volker was accompanied in his meetings by U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland.  Based on multiple readouts of these meetings recounted to me by various U.S. officials, Ambassadors Volker and Sandland reportedly provided advice to the Ukrainian leadership about how to “navigate” the demands that the President had made of Mr. Zelenskyy.
I also learned from multiple U.S. officials that, on or about 2 August, Mr. Giuliani reportedly traveled to Madrid to meet with one of President Zelenskyy’ s advisers, Andriy Yermak.  The U.S. officials characterized this meeting, which was not reported publicly at the time, as a “direct follow-up” to the President’s call with Mr. Zelenskyy about the “cases” they had discussed.
  –  Separately, multiple U.S. officials told me that Mr. Giuliani had reportedly privately reached out to a variety of other Zelenskyy advisers, including Chief of Staff Andriy Bohdan and Acting Chairman of the Security Service of Ukraine Ivan Bakanov. (4)
  –  I do not know whether those officials met or spoke with Mr. Giuliani, but I was told separately by multiple U.S. officials that Mr. Yermak and Mr. Bakanov intended to travel to Washington in mid-August.
On 9 August, the President told reporters: “I think [President Zelenskyy] is going to make a deal with President Putin, and he will be invited to the White House.  And we look forward to seeing him.  He’s already been invited to the White House, and he wants to come.  And I think he will.  He’s a very reasonable guy.  He wants to see peace in Ukraine, and I think he will be coming very soon, actually.”
IV. Circumstances leading up to the 25 July Presidential phone call
Beginning in late March 2019, a series of articles appeared in an online publication called The Hill.  In these articles, several Ukrainian officials — most notably, Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko — made a series of allegations against other Ukrainian officials and current and former U.S. officials. Mr. Lutsenko and his colleagues alleged, inter alia:
  –  that they possessed evidence that Ukrainian officials — namely, Head of the National Anticorruption Bureau of Ukraine Artem Sytnyk and Member of Parliament Serhiy Leshchenko — had “interfered” in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, allegedly in collaboration with the DNC and the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv; (5)
  –  that the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv — specifically, U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, who had criticized Mr. Lutsenko’ s organization for its poor record on fighting corruption — had allegedly obstructed Ukrainian law enforcement agencies’ pursuit of corruption cases, including by providing a “do not prosecute” list, and had blocked Ukrainian prosecutors from traveling to the United States expressly to prevent them from delivering their “evidence” about the 2016 U.S. election; (6) and
  –  that former Vice President Biden had pressured former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in 2016 to fire then Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin in order to quash a purported criminal probe into Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian energy company on whose board the former Vice President’s son, Hunter, sat. (7)
In several public comments, (8) Mr. Lutsenko also stated that he wished to communicate directly with Attorney General Barr on these matters. (9)
The allegations by Mr. Lutsenko came on the eve of the first round of Ukraine’s presidential election on 31 March.  By that time, Mr. Lutsenko’s political patron, President Poroshenko, was trailing Mr. Zelenskyy in the polls and appeared likely to be defeated.  Mr. Zelenskyy had made known his desire to replace Mr. Lutsenko as Prosecutor General.  On 21 April, Mr. Poroshenko lost the runoff to Mr. Zelenskyy by a landslide.  See Enclosure for additional information.
  –  It was also publicly reported that Mr. Giuliani had met on at least two occasions with Mr. Lutsenko: once in New York in late January and again in Warsaw in mid-February.  In addition, it was publicly reported that Mr. Giuliani had spoken in late 2018 to former Prosecutor General Shokin, in a Skype call arranged by two associates of Mr. Giuliani. (10)
  –  On 25 April in an interview with Fox News, the President called Mr. Lutsenko’s claims “big” and “incredible” and stated that the Attorney General “would want to see this.”
On or about 29 April, I learned from U.S. officials with direct knowledge of the situation that Ambassador Yovanovitch had been suddenly recalled to Washington by senior State Department officials for “consultations” and would most likely be removed from her position.
  –  Around the same time, I also learned from a U.S. official that “associates” of Mr. Giuliani were trying to make contact with the incoming Zelenskyy team. (11)
  –  On 6 May, the State Department announced that Ambassador Yovanovitch would be ending her assignment in Kyiv “as planned.”
  –  However, several U.S. officials told me that, in fact, her tour was curtailed because of pressure stemming from Mr. Lutsenko’s allegations.  Mr. Giuliani subsequently stated in an interview with a Ukrainian journalist published on 14 May that Ambassador Yovanovitch was “removed … because she was part of the efforts against the President.”
On 9 May, The New York Times reported that Mr. Giuliani planned to travel to Ukraine to press the Ukrainian government to pursue investigations that would help the President in his 2020 reelection bid.
  –  In his multitude of public statements leading up to and in the wake of the publication of this article, Mr. Giuliani confirmed that he was focused on encouraging Ukrainian authorities to pursue investigations into alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 U.S. election and alleged wrongdoing by the Biden family. (12)
  –  On the afternoon of 10 May, the President stated in an interview with Politico that he planned to speak with Mr. Giuliani about the trip.
  –  A few hours later, Mr. Giuliani publicly canceled his trip, claiming that Mr. Zelenskyy was “surrounded by enemies of the [U.S.] President… and of the United States.”
On 11 May, Mr. Lutsenko met for two hours with President-elect Zelenskyy, according to a public account given several days later by Mr. Lutsenko.  Mr. Lutsenko publicly stated that he had told Mr. Zelenskyy that he wished to remain as Prosecutor General.
Starting in mid-May, I heard from multiple U.S. officials that they were deeply concerned by what they viewed as Mr. Giuliani’s circumvention of national security decision making processes to engage with Ukrainian officials and relay messages back and forth between Kyiv and the President.  These officials also told me:
  –  that State Department officials, including Ambassadors Volker and Sondland, had spoken with Mr. Giulianiin an attempt to “contain the damage” to U.S. national security; and
  –  that Ambassadors Volker and Sandland during this time period met with members of the new Ukrainian administration and, in addition to discussing policy matters, sought to help Ukrainian leaders understand and respond to the differing messages they were receiving from official U.S. channels on the-one-hand, and from Mr. Giuliani on the other.
During this same timeframe, multiple U.S. officials told me that the Ukrainian leadership was led to believe that a meeting or phone call between the President and President Zelenskyy would depend on whether Zelenskyy showed willingness to ” play ball” on the issues that had been publicly aired by Mr. Lutsenko and Mr. Giuliani.  (Note: This was the general understanding of the state of affairs as conveyed to me by U.S. officials from late May into early July.  I do not know who delivered this message to the Ukrainian leadership, or when.)  See Enclosure for additional information.
Shortly after President Zelenskyy’ s inauguration, it was publicly reported that Mr. Giuliani met with two other Ukrainian officials: Ukraine’s Special Anticorruption Prosecutor, Mr. Nazar Kholodnytskyy, and a former Ukrainian diplomat named Andriy Telizhenko.  Both Mr. Kholodnytskyy and Mr. Telizhenko are allies of Mr. Lutsenko and made similar allegations in the above-mentioned series of articles in The Hill.
On 13 June, the President told ABC’ s George Stephanopoulos that he would accept damaging information on his political rivals from a foreign government.
On 21 June, Mr. Giuliani tweeted: “New Pres of Ukraine still silent on investigation of Ukrainian interference in 2016 and alleged Biden bribery of Poroshenko.  Time for leadership and investigate both if you want to purge how Ukraine was abused by Hillary and Clinton people.”
In mid-July, I learned of a sudden change of policy with respect to U.S. assistance for Ukraine.  See Enclosure for additional information.
ENCLOSURE: Classified appendix
(U) CLASSIFIED APPENDIX
(U) Supplementary classified information is provided as follows:
(U) Additional information related to Section II
According to multiple White House officials I spoke with, the transcript of the President’s call with President Zelenskyy was placed into a computer system managed directly by the National Security Council (NSC) Directorate for Intelligence Programs.  This is a standalone computer system reserved for codeword-level intelligence information , such as covert action.  According to information I received from White House officials, some officials voiced concerns internally that this would be an abuse of the system and was not consistent with the responsibilities of the Directorate for Intelligence Programs.  According to White House officials I spoke with, this was “not the first time” under this Administration that a Presidential transcript was placed into this codeword-level system solely for the purpose of protecting politically sensitive — rather than national security sensitive — information.
(U) Additional information related to Section IV
[Redaction]  Note: This section begins with a classified body of text and includes an associated classified footnote.
I would like to expand upon two issues mentioned in Section IV that might have a connection with the overall effort to pressure the Ukrainian leadership.  As I do not know definitively whether the below-mentioned decisions are connected to the broader efforts I describe, I have chosen to include them in the classified annex.  If they indeed represent genuine policy deliberations and decisions formulated to advance U.S. foreign policy and national security, one might be able to make a reasonable case that the facts are classified
  –  I learned from U.S. officials that, on or around 14 May, the President instructed Vice President Pence to cancel his planned travel to Ukraine to attend President Zelenskyy’ s inauguration on 20 May; Secretary of Energy Rick Perry led the delegation instead.  According to these officials, it was also “made clear” to them that the President did not want to meet with Mr. Zelenskyy until he saw how Zelenskyy “chose to act” in office.  I do not know how this guidance was communicated, or by whom.  I also do not know whether this action was connected with the broader understanding, described in the unclassified letter, that a meeting or phone call between the President and President Zelenskyy would depend on whether Zelenskyy showed willingness to “play ball” on the issues that had been publicly aired by Mr. Lutsenko and Mr. Giuliani,
  –  On 18 July, an Office of Management and Budget (OMB) official informed Departments and Agencies that the President “earlier that month” had issued instructions to suspend all U.S. security assistance to Ukraine.  Neither OMB nor the NSC staff knew why this instruction had been issued.  During interagency meetings on 23 July and 26 July, OMB officials again stated explicitly that the instruction to suspend this assistance had come directly from the President, but they still were unaware of a policy rationale.  As of early August, I heard from U.S. officials that some Ukrainian officials were aware that U.S. aid might be in jeopardy, but I do not know how or when they learned of it.
FOOTNOTES:
1.  Apart from the information in the Enclosure, it is my belief that none of the information contained herein meets the definition of “classified information” outlined in EO 13526, Part 1, Section 1.1.  There is ample open-source information about the efforts I describe below, including statements by the President and Mr. Giuliani.  In addition, based on my personal observations, there is discretion with respect to the classification of private comments by or instructions from the President, including his communications with foreign leaders; information that is not related to U.S. foreign policy or national security — such as the information contained in this document, when separated from the Enclosure — is generally treated as unclassified.  I also believe that applying a classification marking to this information would violate EO 13526, Part 1, Section 1.7, which states: “In no case shall information be classified, continue to be maintained as classified, or fail to be declassified in order to: (1) conceal violations of law, inefficiency, or administrative error; [or] (2) prevent embarrassment to a person, organization, or agency.”
2.  It is unclear whether such a Ukrainian investigation exists.  See Footnote #7 for additional information.
3.  I do not know why the President associates these servers with Ukraine.  (See, for example, his comments to Fox News on 20 July: “And Ukraine.  Take a look at Ukraine.  How come the FBI didn’t take this server?  Podesta told them to get out.  He said, get out.  So, how come the FBI didn’t take the server from the DNC?”)
4.  In a report published by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) on 22 July, two associates of Mr. Giuliani reportedly traveled to Kyiv in May 2019, and met with Mr. Bakanov and another close Zelenskyy adviser, Mr. Serhiy Shefir.
5.  Mr. Sytnyk and Mr. Leshchenko are two of Mr. Lutsenko’s main domestic rivals.  Mr. Lutsenko has no legal training and has been widely criticized in Ukraine for politicizing criminal probes and using his tenure as Prosecutor General to protect corrupt Ukrainian officials.  He has publicly feuded with Mr. Sytnyk, who heads Ukraine’s only competent anticorruption body, and with Mr. Leshchenko, a former investigative journalist who has repeatedly criticized Mr. Lutsenko’s record.  In December 2018, a Ukrainian court upheld a complaint by a Member of Parliament, Mr. Boryslav Rozenblat, who alleged that Mr. Sytnyk and Mr. Leshchenko had “interfered” in the 2016 U.S. election by publicizing a document detailing corrupt payments made by former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych before his ouster in 2014.  Mr. Rozenblat had originally filed the motion in late 2017 after attempting to flee Ukraine amid an investigation into his taking of a large bribe.  On 16 July 2019, Mr. Leshchenko publicly stated that a Ukrainian court had overturned the lower court’s decision.
6.  Mr. Lutsenko later told Ukrainian news outlet The Babel on 17 April that Ambassador Yovanovitch had never provided such a list, and that he was, in fact, the one who requested such a list.
7.  Mr. Lutsenko later told Bloomberg on 16 May that former Vice President Biden and his son were not subject to any current Ukrainian investigations, and that he had no evidence against them. Other senior Ukrainian officials also contested his original allegations; one former senior Ukrainian prosecutor told Bloomberg on 7 May that Mr. Shokin in fact was not investigating Burisma at the time of his removal in 2016.
8.  See, for example, Mr. Lutsenko’s comments to The Hill on 1 and 7 April and his interview with The Babel on 17 April, in which he stated that he had spoken with Mr. Giuliani about arranging contact with Attorney General Barr.
9.  In May, Attorney General Barr announced that he was initiating a probe into the “origins” of the Russia investigation.  According to the above-referenced OCCRP report (22 July), two associates of Mr. Giuliani claimed to be working with Ukrainian officials to uncover information that would become part of this inquiry.  In an interview with Fox News on 8 August, Mr. Giuliani claimed that Mr. John Durham, whom Attorney General Barr designated to lead this probe, was “spending a lot of time in Europe” because he was “investigating Ukraine.”  I do not know the extent to which, if at all, Mr. Giuliani is directly coordinating his efforts on Ukraine with Attorney General Barr or Mr. Durham.
10.  See, for example, the above-referenced articles in Bloomberg (16 May) and OCCRP (22 July).
11.  I do not know whether these associates of Mr. Giuliani were the same individuals named in the 22 July report by OCCRP, referenced above.
12.  See, for example, Mr. Giuliani’s appearance on Fox News on 6 April and his tweets on 23 April and 10 May.  In his interview with The New York Times, Mr. Giuliani stated that the President “basically knows what I’m doing, sure, as his lawyer.”  Mr. Giuliani also stated: “We’re not meddling in an election, we’re meddling in an investigation, which we have a right to do …  There’s nothing illegal about it …  Somebody could say it’s improper.  And this isn’t foreign policy — I’m asking them to do an investigation that they’re doing already and that other people are telling them to stop.  And I’m going to give them reasons why they shouldn’t stop it because that information will be very, very helpful to my client, and may turn out to be helpful to my government.”
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On This Day In:
2018 Looking Into Golf
Goin’ Yard
2017 Improvise
2016 Got Leisure?
2015 It’s Been Hurtin’ For Quite A While Now
2014 Curious Talent
2013 Eureka
2012 Slow Me
2011 He Said What?!?
2010 Gritty
3 and 3
Just A Hunch
Wall Street – Movie Review
2nd Pair – Shoe Review (Aborted and Final)

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Instead of allowing our kids to beat themselves up when things don’t go their way, we might all pause to question a culture that has taught them that being anything less than overwhelmed is lazy, that how they perform for others is more important than what actually inspires them and that where they go to college matters more than the kind of person they are.
The point is not to give our kids a pass on working hard and doing their best.  But fantasizing that they can control everything is not really resilience.  We are harming our children by implying that they can bend life to their will, and as students walk across commencement stages this year, we would be wise to remind them that life has a way of sucker-punching us when we least expect it.  It’s often the people who learn to say “stuff happens” who get up the fastest.
  —  Rachel Simmons
From her opinion / editorial: “Tell kids the truth: hard work doesn’t always pay off
Appearing in Time Magazine, dtd: 1 July 2019
Online at: https://time.com/5593706/hard-work-achievement-mindset/
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On This Day In:
2018 Looking Into Golf
Goin’ Yard
2017 Improvise
2016 Got Leisure?
2015 It’s Been Hurtin’ For Quite A While Now
2014 Curious Talent
2013 Eureka
2012 Slow Me
2011 He Said What?!?
2010 Gritty
3 and 3
Just A Hunch
Wall Street – Movie Review
2nd Pair – Shoe Review (Aborted and Final)

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For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.
  —  Nelson Mandela
[Found at one of the blogs I (used to) follow: “A Not So Jaded Life
Unfortunately, it appears the site has been deleted at WordPress.com  —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2018 Relative Imagination
2017 Thank You, Senator McCain (So Far Anyway)
2016 What About Friends?
2015 It Tastes Good To Me
2014 Others’ Footsteps
The Not-So-Modern Samurai
2013 Doin’
2012 A Lover
2011 What Have We Found Here
Words

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…The onus is always on us, we the oppressed, to challenge a system that wants to conserve its traditions and traditional values.  We come to understand that if we want to be included in the American conversation, we have to work twice as hard while being told that we’re lazy, or that the government gives us money, and then told that we’re angry if we bring up the problem of racism in public spaces or when it doesn’t feel like the right time.  So we keep putting off these conversations, or we’re having them on the Internet, where it’s too easy to be anonymous and therefore cruel and selfish.  It’s like car drivers behaving dangerously on the road, simply because they’re hidden behind metal, glass and distance.  In our more personal online spaces we fill our feeds exclusively with people we agree with.  If there is conflict below a post or tweet it never feels like a conversation – only like road rage.
So if we can’t seem to find ways to talk in person, or online, when and where and how do we talk?  I think a novel is a kind of conversation.  Both the writer and the reader bring their experience to the page.  The reader’s experiences and ideas can be reshaped, challenged, changed.  I know, I’m a writer, so of course I think the answer is books, but I think reading books is a good place to start thinking about and understanding people’s stories you aren’t familiar with, outside your comfort zone and experience.  A novel will ask you to walk in a character’s shoes, and this can build empathy.  Without empathy we are lost.  I tend to read mostly novels and have come to understand the world better through the lens of novels.  When someone else’s world is different from our own, we see how we are the same.  We not only become more empathetic to their experience but we see how we are equal.  We also see how much upper-middle-class white male writing has been the only thing taught in schools, the only experience for so long – most of the time anyway.  I think institutional change can come by teaching women, teaching writers of color.  We will all be better for it.  I like that novels ask us without seeming to ask us to think about other people, to understand the many-storied landscape of this country we live and die in – with or without truly knowing or understanding them.
  —  Tommy Orange
Excerpt from his editorial / opinion piece: “What Novels Can Teach Us
Appearing in: Time Magazine, dtd: 5 November 2018
Online at:  https://time.com/5434396/tommy-orange-novels-conversations/
Online the article is titled: “How to Talk To Each Other When There’s Little Common Ground
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On This Day In:
2018 And Pay In Full
2017 If Only
2016 Equal Justice
2015 Not Enough
2014 Are You Even Listening?
2013 Namaste
2012 Looking Up
2011 Et Tu Brute?

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The Age Of Adaline” (2015)  —  movie review
This movie is a SciFi-Fantasy / Drama / Romance movie starring: Blake Lively as Adaline Bowman; Michiel Huisman as Ellis Jones; Harrison Ford as William Jones (Ellis’ father and 1960’s lover of Adaline); Kathy Baker as Kathy Jones (Ellis’ mother); and, Ellen Burstyn as Flemming Bowman (Adaline’s daughter).
Adaline is born on New Year’s Day in 1908.  She grows up, marries, becomes widowed and is then in a car crash / lightening strike which she survives (altered) with the gift of immortality.  She is stuck at 29 years old for another 80 (odd) years.  In order to avoid discovery, she moves every few years, changes her name and avoids close relationships.  Meanwhile, her daughter – Flemming – grows up and eventually ages into an old woman.
Shoot to the present (2015) and Adaline (now called Jenny) attends a New Year’s Party and meets Ellis Jones.  Over the next few days they fall madly in love and blah, blah, blah – lots of Hallmark moments.
Ellis invites Jenny to meet his parents and “it’s a small world, after all”, Ellis’ father (William Jones) is a former flame of Jenny’s (Adaline’s) from 50 years ago.  More blah, blah, blah.  Adaline’s “true” identity is discovered by William.  Jenny / Adaline flees the house, is in a car accident, blah, blah, blah… Jenny / Adaline is saved and reverted to a “normal” (i.e. aging) person, … and happily ever after.
So, is this movie any good?  Does it work as a SciFi-Fantasy?  Does it work as a Drama / Romance?  To paraphrase “Gladiator“: was I not entertained?  Yes.  Well, okay.  Yes.  And, yes.  SciFi-Fantasy doesn’t really have to make sense.  It just has to offer a reason to get from “A” to “B”.  It does.  And, then it gets you from “B” back to “A” at the end of the movie.  It doesn’t matter how realistic it (the science) is.  Only that they tried to give an explanation.
Drama / Romance?  Yes.  It’s a simple Hallmark – meet, fall in love, test of love, love wins out, happily ever after movie, and, I’m good with that.  I didn’t really know what to expect going in, but as these movies go, it wasn’t bad.  In fact, yes, I was entertained.  Yes, both Lively and Huisman are very attractive and good in their roles, but I particularly liked Ford, Baker and Burnstyn in their roles.  They sold, if not carried, the movie for me.
Final recommendation: Strong recommendation.  Two young, beautiful people fall madly in love and live happily ever after.  What’s not to like?  A final note: there is a satellite shot that pans from outer space into California, then the Bay Area, then San Francisco which I’ve dreamed of for decades.  It was nice to FINALLY see it in a movie!  I’d have given the movie a good review for that shot alone.
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On This Day In:
2018 Seeking To Make A Difference
2017 Happy BD, Bec!
2016 BD Quotes
2015 Princess
2014 Optional
2013 Happy Birthday, Rebecca
2012 Be Not Old
2012 National League Western Division Champions!!!
2011 What Kind Of Work Do You Do?
2010 Another Loser… And Come November

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Happy Birthday, Bec!
We hope we have given you enough love to make you courageous, enough education to make you wise, and enough strength to make you kind.
We love you always,
Mum and Dad

XXX
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X

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On This Day In:
2018 Seeking To Make A Difference
2017 Happy BD, Bec!
2016 BD Quotes
2015 Princess
2014 Optional
2013 Happy Birthday, Rebecca
2012 Be Not Old
2012 National League Western Division Champions!!!
2011 What Kind Of Work Do You Do?
2010 Another Loser… And Come November

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…We are in a political moment where we find ourselves on opposite sides of what feels like an unbreachable gulf.  I find myself annoyed by the hand-wringing about how we need to find common ground.  People ask how might we “meet in the middle,” as though this represents a safe, neutral and civilized space.  This American fetishization of the moral middle is a misguided and dangerous cultural impulse.
The middle is a point equidistant from two poles.  That’s it.  There is nothing inherently virtuous about being neither here nor there.  Buried in this is a false equivalency of ideas, what you might call the “good people on both sides” phenomenon.  When we revisit our shameful past, ask yourself, Where was the middle?  Rather than chattel slavery, perhaps we could agree on a nice program of indentured servitude?  Instead of subjecting Japanese-American citizens to indefinite detention during WW II, what if we had agreed to give them actual sentences and perhaps provided a receipt for them to reclaim their things when they were released?  What is halfway between moral and immoral?
When we revisit our shameful past, ask yourself, Where was the middle?
The search for the middle is rooted in conflict avoidance and denial.  For many Americans it is painful to understand that there are citizens of our community who are deeply racist, sexist, homophobic and xenophobic.  Certainly, they reason, this current moment is somehow a complicated misunderstanding.  Perhaps there is some way to look at this – a view from the middle – that would allow us to communicate and realize that our national identity is the tie that will bind us comfortably, and with a bow.  The headlines that lament a “divided” America suggest that the fact that we can’t all get along is more significant than the issues over which we are sparring.
Many people understand politics as merely a matter of rhetoric and ideas.  Some people will experience wars only in news snippets, while the poor and working class that make up most of our volunteer army will wage war, and still others far and not so far away will have war waged upon them.  For the people directly affected, the culture war is a real war too.  They know there is no safety in the in-between.  The romance of the middle can exist when one’s empathy is aligned with the people expressing opinions on policy or culture rather than with those who will be affected by these policies or cultural norms.  Buried in this argument, whether we realize it or not, is the fact that these policies change people’s lives.
As Americans, we are at a crossroads.  We have to decide what is central to our identity: Is the importance of our performance of national unity more significant than our core values?  Is it more meaningful that we understand why some of us support the separation of children from their parents, or is it more crucial that we support the reunification of these families?  Is it more essential that we comprehend the motives of white nationalists, or is it more urgent that we prevent them from terrorizing communities of color and those who oppose racism?  Should we agree to disagree about the murder and dismemberment of a journalist?  Should we celebrate our tolerance and civility as we stanch the wounds of the world and the climate with a poultice of national unity?
For the people directly affected, the culture war is a real war too.
  —  Tayari Jones
Excerpts from her Opinion / Editorial: “The Myth Of The Moral Middle
Appearing in: Time Magazine, dtd: 5 November 2018
Online at:  https://time.com/5434381/tayari-jones-moral-middle-myth/
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On This Day In:
2018 Schedule, Please
2017 No Hope For #DumbDonald
2016 Do Something
2015 What Are You Making Now?
2014 Like Fire Burning In My Heart
2013 Oh Yes He Can!
2012 Enquiries
2011 The Prize: Understanding
2010 Can You Tell My Scanner Works?
Rebecca – The Early Years
James – The Early Years
Brothers By Another Mother

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Rage is a dangerous emotion, not simply because it can be destructive but because it can be so easily satisfied with cheap targets.  Like my friend who picks fights online, I’m a veteran.  I know people who have been injured or killed overseas.  I’ve seen the damage bombs wreak on the bodies of innocent civilians.  And, yes, it fills me with rage.  But if that rage is to mean anything, it means I cannot distract myself with the illusion of adjudicating past wrongs with artfully phrased put-downs.  In a world where we are still at war, the most important question is, What do we do now?  There the moral certainty of my rage must be met with humility about the limits of my knowledge.
  —  Phil Klay
From his Opinion / Editorial: “The Enduring Emptiness Of Our Public Rage
Appearing in: Time Magazine, dtd: 5 November 2018
Online at: https://time.com/5434373/phil-klay-american-public-rage/
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On This Day In:
2018 Even Tiny Progress
2017 Real Conservatism
2016 The Business Of Life
2015 Alone Again, Naturally
2014 Agreed
2013 Smile From Your Heart!
2012 Like You
2011 Got Days?
2010 K9 Humor – Has Anyone Seen My Setter? (Must read!!)
A Longer Blog Than You Want To Read (Probably)
2009 Back and Forth and Round Again…

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