POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 82: FLOTUS IS MISSING !

Week 81 of this presidency: Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

June 2, 2018 https://medium.com/@Amy_Siskind/week-81-experts-in-authoritarianism-advise-to-keep-a-list-of-things-subtly-changing-around-you-so-4995c7fcd890

This week, Trump is pushing for meetings with North Korea and Russia, while aggressively confronting some of our closest allies, Canada, Mexico, and the European Union with an ill-planned, unprovoked trade war — reminiscent of a theme we’ve covered at The Weekly List: Trump cozying up to authoritarian regimes and alienating our democratic allies. As noted before, this new world alignment, distancing our country from our democratic allies, benefits and empowers Russia.

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Los Angeles, CA – based street artist, PLASTIC JESUS, began circulating these last week. 
  1. WAPO reported the number of migrant children held in custody without their parents has surged 21% in the past month up to 10,773 under the Trump regime’s new policy of “zero tolerance.”
  2. A Health and Human Services official said shelters are at 95% capacity, and as the agency prepares to add thousands of new bed spaces in the coming weeks, the agency is exploring housing children on military bases.
  3. In Texas, Dennis Rivera-Sarmiento, a “quiet kid” and an undocumented Honduran immigrant was flagged for deportation by ICE after a schoolyard scuffle with a girl who bullied him. He was released from detention after efforts by the school, community, and lawyers.
  4. ICE still classifies schools as “sensitive locations” where enforcement actions are generally prohibited, but a pronouncement by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in Week 80 may open the door to more referrals.
  5. Advocates also note that in the era of Trump, ICE makes arrests of parents picking up children at school, and in some cases, school disciplinarianshave helped to build ICE cases against students.
  6. Houston Chronicle reported on a leaked photo image which shows dozens of immigrants in orange jumpsuits with their hands and feet shackled, undergoing a “mass trial” in Pecos, Texas.
  7. The mass trial comes as the Trump regime implements its zero-tolerance policy announced by Jeff Sessions which orders prosecutors to criminally charge 100 percent of immigrants entering the country illegally.
  8. VICE reported, as the Trump regime ramps up separating parents from children, the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) has quietly informed organizations it is cutting a federal program in place for decades that helps at least 1,000 immigrant minors each year.
  9. ORR will no longer fund organizations representing unaccompanied minors in immigration court. In the past two weeks alone, 658 kids were divided from their mothers and fathers as they crossed the border.
  10. BuzzFeed reported a Salvadoran mother who applied for asylum on May 2 as part of a caravan of Central Americans, and passed the first steps of the process, said her sons ages 2 and 7 were taken away from her on May 8.
  11. She was given no explanation, “The official said you have 10 minutes to say goodbye…they kept asking me why they were leaving me. I couldn’t tell them why.” Her sons were placed in the care of the federal government in New York.
  12. On Friday, WAPO reported the number of migrants attempting to cross illegally into the U.S. remained high in May, despite implementation of the regime’s zero-tolerance measures and deployment of the National Guard.
  13. In the coming days, the Department of Homeland Security will release the numbers of May arrests along the Southwest border. Trump has used thismeasure to gauge the success of his hard-line immigration policies.
  14. Midwest farmers are becoming desperate for workers. In Week 80, Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said the Department of Homeland Security would issue 15,000 seasonal guest-worker visas. Border agents said families and teenagers traveling alone make up most of the increase this spring.
  15. The New England Journal of Medicine published a Harvard study on mortality in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, estimating 4,645 may have died, many from delayed medical care. The official death count is 64.
  16. The report also found the mortality rate remained high as of the end of December 2017, with roughly one-third of the deaths attributed to delayed or interrupted health care.
  17. Researchers from Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health and other institutions who conducted the study for a cost of about $50,000 said the territory’s government refused to provide data to them.
  18. The Harvard numbers make Hurricane Maria the single most deadly natural disaster in modern America. NPR noted the federal government had three times as many people on the ground in Texas (Harvey), and twice as many in Florida (Irma).
  19. National Nurse United, the largest union for registered nurses, said the study confirmed what nurses who went to the island witnessed: residents “left to die” by a federal response that “failed its own American citizens.”
  20. NBC News reported the mountain areas of Puerto Rico are still living in desperation, one sign reads, “We need light!” Puerto Ricans told NBC, “we are suffering here,” and “we feel like we’ve been forgotten.”
  21. On Friday, the Puerto Rico Institute of Statistics (PRIS) filed a lawsuit to compel Puerto Rico’s public officials to publish in an open source way preliminary and daily updates about deaths in Puerto Rico.
  22. In Week 47, Trump praised his regime’s relief response as “incredible,”bragging “only 16 people are known to have died,” many less than Katrina(1,833 deaths). Trump has made no mention of Puerto Rico in many months.
  23. On Saturday, Trump lashed out at the Mueller probe, saying, “whole Russia Probe is Rigged,” and attacking the “13 Angry Democrats,” a reference to Mueller’s team. Mueller is a Republican and others on his team owe their jobs to Republican presidents.
  24. Trump also tweeted, “#SPYGATE & CONFLICTS OF INTEREST!” andasking when the 13 will “reveal their disqualifying Conflicts of Interest?” saying, “the only Collusion is with the Dems, Justice, FBI & Russia.”
  25. On Sunday, Rudy Giuliani said on “State of the Union” that Trump’s use of “Spygate” is a PR tactic to sway public opinion and avoid impeachment, “Members of Congress…are going to be informed a lot by their constituents.”
  26. On Sunday, in a series of tweets, Trump attacked Obama for doing nothing “about the so-called Russian Meddling” because Obama thought Hillary would win. Trump has not acknowledged Russian meddling.
  27. Trump also asked why the “13 Angry Democrats” have not investigated “Crooked Hillary Clinton” and her “ many crimes, much Collusion with Russia?” adding, “Rigged Investigation!”
  28. Trump sent a strange tweet, “Who’s going to give back the young and beautiful lives (and others) that have been devastated and destroyed by the phony Russia Collusion Witch Hunt?” saying they came to Washington DC with “stars in their eyes” and “ went back home in tatters!”
  29. On Sunday, Sen. Marco Rubio told “This Week” that he sees “no evidence” to support Trump’s claims that the FBI spied on his campaign, saying the FBI was, “investigating individuals with a history of links to Russia.”
  30. On Sunday, Rubio also told “Face the Nation” that Congress would take steps to challenge Trump and prevent ZTE from operating in the U.S., saying China uses companies like ZTE for espionage.
  31. On Monday, Memorial Day, Trump sent a tone-deaf tweet, saying “those who died for our country would be very happy,” saying “Best economy in decades, lowest unemployment numbers for Blacks and Hispanics EVER.”
  32. On Monday, Trump also attacked Sally Yates in a tweet, quoting Jonathan Turley on Fox News, “Sally Yates is part of concerns people have raised about bias in the Justice Dept. I find her actions to be really quite unbelievable.”
  33. On Monday, NYT reported with “Spygate,” Trump, who has trafficked in conspiracy theories for decades, is again using elaborate, unproven theories to erode public trust, and his efforts are having an effect.
  34. Critics worry Trump is sowing distrust in institutions, and in undermining the idea of objective truth, creating widespread suspicions of the government and news media. Some Republicans have joined Trump in spreading conspiracy theories.
  35. On Monday, WAPO reported that increasingly in the White House, Trump is unilaterally making decisions. Key roles like communications director, formerly held by Hope Hicks, remain unfilled.
  36. In recent months, Trump has unofficially performed the roles of many other senior staffers, leaving those employees to carry out his decisions. Staffers also focus on trying to curb Trump’s most outlandish impulses.
  37. Warring factions within the regime are largely gone, and replaced by solo players seeking to win favor with Trump. Remaining staffers say they “get” Trump.
  38. On Tuesday, Rep. Trey Gowdy, who attended the classified briefing last week, told Fox News the FBI was not “spying” on the Trump campaign, saying “the FBI did exactly what my fellow citizens would want them to do.”
  39. Judge Andrew Napolitano, a close ally of Trump, also appeared on Fox News and agreed with Gowdy, saying of the spy accusations, “There is no evidence for that whatsoever.”
  40. On Wednesday, Gowdy told “This Morning,” that Trump’s lawyers “have an obligation to go share with him” what lawmakers learned, repeating “Russia’s intentions toward our country were the target.”
  41. On Friday, Politico reported that Gowdy is under fire from his GOP colleagues for challenging Spygate. Trump allies have been branding him gullible or clueless backer of the intelligence community.
  42. Gowdy, who in the past shouldered politically explosive investigations led by the Republican Party, now finds himself getting little support from his House colleagues.
  43. A federal court blocked DeVos’s Department of Education from paring back a loan relief program for defrauded students at failed Corinthian College. The agency under DeVos has shown leniency for for-profit education scams.
  44. DeVos had said some students would only get a part of their federal student loan forgiven, based on their earning. The court said the agency’s use of Social Security Administration data violates the Privacy Act.
  45. Politico reported that Sinclair Broadcasting, forced to sell two dozen television stations to comply with federal ownership rules, is making side-deals which allows it to continue to dictate programming at four stations.
  46. John Bolton tapped Fred Fleitz as National Security Council chief of staff. Fleitz last worked at the Center for Security Policy, designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group for espousing espouses anti-Muslim conspiracy theories.
  47. Trump appointed Diane Foley to help manage the federal government’s family-planning program at DHS. Foley, an anti-science religious fundamentalist is also staunchly anti-choice.
  48. In her new role, Foley will be a primary overseer of Title X, the federal program that provides subsidized contraception and screenings for cancerand STIs for low-income Americans.
  49. On Friday, a judge in Des Moines, Iowa temporarily blocked the nation’s most restrictive abortion law, which bans most abortions if a fetal heartbeat can be detected.
  50. On Sunday, California Women’s head basketball coach Lindsay Gottlieb was confronted by a Southwest Airline employee at the Denver Airport,and asked to prove that her biracial son was hers.
  51. In Northern California, Jonathan McConkey, a pilot and certified flight instructor and his assistant, Kelsi Hoser, tried to kidnap a Chinese student and send him “back to China.” Police foiled the plot.
  52. On Thursday, HuffPost reported a Washington, DC judge dismissed felony charges against 10 people arrested while protesting Trump’s inauguration, saying the government prosecutors withheld evidence.
  53. The government withheld undercover videos that James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas had turned over. The judge called it a “serious violation,” and said the government is barred from bringing charges in the future.
  54. WSJ reported that Deutsche Bank’s U.S. operations were secretly downgraded by the Federal Reserve about a year ago, saying the bank is in “troubled condition,” a rare censure for a financial institution.
  55. The punitive action by the Fed means U.S. overseers have a say in Deutsche Bank’s U.S. hiring and firing, and also has pressured the bank to improve controls and oversight.
  56. On Thursday, the largest federal employee union sued the Trump regime, saying his executive order in Week 80 which severely restricts the time employees can spend on union activity violates the First Amendment.
  57. The FBI issued an urgent bulletin for people with a home or small office internet router to turn it off and on in order to thwart the spread of foreign malware, called VPNFilter, is linked to Russia.
  58. More than half a million devices worldwide have been compromised so far. The Justice Department has linked the malware to a hacking group including the Sofacy Group, apt28, fancy bear, and sandworm.
  59. On Wednesday, a U.S. judge dismissed two lawsuits by Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab that sought to overturn bans on the security software maker’s products in U.S. government networks.
  60. The bans were issued last year after U.S. officials said the software products could enable Russian espionage and threaten national security. Kaspersky is a graduate of the KGB, and has ties to the Kremlin.
  61. A federal study conducted by DHS found signs of sophisticated surveillance devices for intercepting cell phone calls and texts operating near the White House and other sensitive locations in Washington, DC.
  62. The study was prompted by a Sen. Ron Wyden pushing for a more aggressive response to cellular system insecurity. The study suggests foreign intelligence agencies are using sophisticated technology to spy on U.S. officials.
  63. On Tuesday, Trump held a rally in Nashville. Trump continued his focus on M-13 gang members, leading the crowd in chants to call them “animals,” and saying of Rep. Nancy Pelosi,“She loves MS-13, can you imagine?”
  64. Trump also incited the crowd onto chants of “lock her up!” evoking “Crooked Hillary,” and tried to get the crowd to boo George W. Bush.
  65. He also said Mexico was going to pay for The Wall, made factually incorrect and embellished statements on a number of topics, and falsely accused unnamed people of “infiltrating” his campaign.
  66. NYT listed the crowd size as 1,000 in Nashville. Trump complained Wednesday, tweeting, “The Failing and Corrupt @nytimes…This is the way they demean and disparage. They are very dishonest people.”
  67. On Wednesday, NYT issued a correction of its crowd-size estimate for the Trump rally, saying “the fire marshall’s office estimated that approximately 5,500 people attended the rally.”
  68. On Tuesday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said of the Mueller probe to reporters, “it’s called passing water through a sieve” — a Russian expression that means flogging a dead horse.
  69. On Tuesday, NYT reported on a confrontation between Sessions and Trump at Mar-a-Lago, after Sessions flew down in March 2017 to ask a pressing question on the travel ban after Trump refused to take his calls.
  70. Trump berated Sessions, and pressured him to reverse his decision to recuse himself. Mueller’s team is investigating Trump’s public and private attacks on Sessions, and efforts to get him to resign.
  71. Mueller’s team interviewed Sessions at length in January, as well as other current and former White House staffers. Eight of Mueller’s 49 questions for Trump relate to why he tried to get Sessions to reverse his recusal.
  72. On Wednesday, in a tweet, Trump said he wished he had had picked someone else as attorney general, and not Sessions.
  73. On Wednesday, late in the evening, Trump quoted his ally Joe diGenova, who appeared on Fox News, tweeting “The recusal Of Jeff Sessions was an unforced betrayal of the President of the United States.”
  74. On Thursday, Trump quoted Gowdy in his tweets about firing Sessions, “Sessions should have shared these reasons for recusal before he took the job, not afterward.”
  75. On Thursday, Axios reported Trump pressured Sessions to reverse his recusal on at least four times, three times in person and once over the phone. Officials say the four interactions happened throughout 2017, including at the end of the year.
  76. Trump reportedly told Sessions he would be a “hero” to conservatives if he did the “right thing” and reversed his recusal. Trump also urged him to investigate Hillary Clinton.
  77. On Wednesday, NYT reported Andrew McCabe wrote a confidential memo last spring in the chaotic days after James Comey was fired, detailing a conversation he had at the Justice Department with Rod Rosenstein.
  78. The memo reportedly describes that Trump originally asked Rosenstein to reference Russia in his memo, including that he was not under investigation. Rosenstein said this was unnecessary and did not include it.
  79. In a court filed update on Tuesday, Barbara Jones, the special master appointed by the judge in the Michael Cohen case, said prosecutors have released 300,000 pieces of potential evidence to prosecutors seized from Cohen.
  80. So far, 252 items have been flagged as privileged. Jones will make a recommendation to the court about that material by June 4. She also released one million files from three of his cell phones on Wednesday.
  81. On Wednesday, Jones said she had received “data from a video recorder, two computers, and mobile storage devices” that “includes various video, electronic communications and documents” in the last two weeks.
  82. Prosecutors said the government was piecing together documents from a paper shredder seized during the Cohen raid, noting “absent a search warrant, these records could have been deleted without record.”
  83. Cohen attorney’s said they have received 3.7 million files, of which 1.3 million have been turned over to Jones. The judge set a June 15 deadline for Cohen’s lawyers to determine what is privileged and turn over the rest.
  84. On Wednesday, Russian dissident journalist Arkady Babchenko sent shock waves around the world when he appeared at a news conference in Ukraine, less than 24 hours after being reported as dead.
  85. On Wednesday, CNN reported that the Senate Intelligence Committee is divided along party lines as to whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia, making it unlikely the committee will reach a consensus.
  86. Daily Beast reported the Senate Intelligence Committee sent a document request to Roger Stone last week, and plans to call him in for an interview. Stone said he has “already begun to think about what to wear.”
  87. On Friday, NBC News reported Jared Kushner’s close friend, hedge fund manager Rick Gerson, is under investigation by Mueller’s team for a meeting with UAE’s Crown Prince Mohammed in Seychelles in January 2017.
  88. The meeting took place less than two week before Trump’s inauguration, and around the time Erik Prince met with Russian and UAE officials. Prince Mohammed has close ties to George Nader, who organized the meeting.
  89. Gerson had met Nader weeks earlier at a secret meeting with Prince Mohammed, Kushner, Michael Flynn, and Steve Bannon at the Four Seasons in New York. UAE’s ambassador to the U.S., Yousef Otaiba, also attended.
  90. On Thursday, Trump quoted Rush Limbaugh, tweeting, “If they were really concerned about the Russians infiltrating a campaign (hoax)…Why not tell Trump?” Trump was warned by U.S. intelligence in August 2016.
  91. On Thursday, WAPO reported the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office recently interviewed Comey as part of an investigation of into whether his deputy McCabe lied to federal agents, and should be charged with a crime.
  92. The Justice Department Inspector General referred the case after accusing McCabe in April of misleading investigators and Comey four times, three of which were under oath, about authorizing a disclosure to the WSJ.
  93. On Thursday, Trump continued his lie about Spygate, tweeting, “the corrupt Mainstream Media is working overtime not to mention the infiltration of people, Spies (Informants), into my campaign!”
  94. Trump also contradicted his own statement to Lester Holt in Week 26 about his rationale for firing Comey, tweeting, “Not that it matters but I never fired James Comey because of Russia!”
  95. Trump also contradicted what he said about firing Comey to Lavrov and Kislyak in the Oval Office in Week 26: “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”
  96. On Thursday, the Justice Department said the Mueller probe spent $4.5 million on between October 2017 and March 2018. The Justice Department spent another $5.5 million on supporting the investigation.
  97. Including prior expenditures, both direct and indirect, for the first six months, this brings total spending to $16.7 million. Mueller team’s cost is $7.7 million to date. Previous special counsels did not report indirect costs.
  98. In Week 80, Trump called the special counsel a “$20,000,000 Witch Hunt,” in a tweet. Kenneth Starr spent more than $52 million investigating Bill Clinton.
  99. On Friday, Trump tweeted, “A.P. has just reported that the Russian Hoax Investigation” cost “over $17 million, and going up fast.” The AP said it did not report the costs are going up, and that $9 million would have been spent absent the Mueller probe.
  100. On Saturday, Trump attacked the Mueller probe, parroting Dan Bongino on “Fox & Friends” — “$17 million spent, it’s a scam Investigation…We now know there was Russian collusion, with Russians and the Democrats.”
  101. Politico reported Trump lashed out at Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, saying he’s “past his prime” and “no longer a killer.” Ross has been increasingly marginalized by Trump, and barred from making trade deal decisions.
  102. On Wednesday, Trump threatened sweeping tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, Mexico, and the European Union, saying those U.S. trading partners failed to agree to a range of demands.
  103. Politico reported a carefully organized trade policy process put together by Rob Porter for coordination between Cabinet officials and senior aides is not being followed. Instead, Trump is deciding himself.
  104. Prior to Trump’s announcement on Thursday, following whipsawing statements from factions within the regime warring over global trade policy, Trump had grown impatient with lack of action.
  105. On Thursday, Trump imposed tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum from the European Union, Canada, and Mexico, an action which will further strain diplomatic relationships and provoke retaliation.
  106. On Thursday, Mexico and the European Union announced steps to retaliate. European leaders also vowed to proceed with a complaint to the World Trade Organization.
  107. Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau said, “Over the past 150 years, Canada has been America’s most steadfast ally,” adding the tariffs are “an affront” and the idea that Canada could be considered a national security threat to the U.S. “inconceivable.”
  108. On Friday, Canada filed a challenge with the World Trade Organization, and said it will request a panel under the North American Free Trade Agreement. Canada said it will “closely collaborate with the European Union.”
  109. On Friday, Reuters reported Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was isolated at the G7 meeting in Canada over tariffs. French finance minister Bruno Le Maire said “we are going to have a G6 plus one.”
  110. On Tuesday, ABC canceled “Roseanne” after Roseanne Barr sent a series of vitriolic and racist tweets, first at Chelsea Clinton, and later at Valerie Jarrett, saying of Jarrett, “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj.”
  111. In an exchange with Chelsea, Roseanne sent anti-Semitic tweets about George Soros, a Holocaust survivor, calling him a Nazi “who turned in his fellow Jews 2 be murdered in German concentration camps & stole their wealth.”
  112. On Wednesday, Trump ripped Disney CEO Bob Iger for apologizing to Jarrett, but not him: “he never called President Donald J. Trump to apologize for the HORRIBLE statements made and said about me on ABC.”
  113. Trump, however, did not directly address Roseanne’s tweets, or condemn them in any way.
  114. At the daily briefing, when asked about Trump’s non-comment, press secretary Sarah Sanders said, “No one is defending what she said,” adding Trump is “simply calling out media bias,” and is owed an apology.
  115. Trump again demanded an apology from Iger, still without commenting on Roseanne’s words, tweeting, “Iger, where is my call of apology? You and ABC have offended millions of people, and they demand a response.”
  116. Iger and Trump have been on bad terms since Iger left Trump’s business advisory council after Trump pulled out of the Paris climate agreement. Iger has also been critical of Trump for ending DACA.
  117. On Wednesday, reality TV star Kim Kardashian West met with Trump and Kushner at the White House to advocate for a pardon for Alice Marie Johnson, 63, a woman serving a life sentence for drug offenses.
  118. Kardashian West posed for photos in front of the West Wing before entering. Trump tweeted about the meeting along with a photo, saying, “Great meeting…talked about prison reform and sentencing.”
  119. On Thursday, Trump pardoned conservative commentator and outspoken critic of the Obama administration, Dinesh D’Souza, who was convicted in 2014 of funneling illegal campaign contributions, tweeting D’Souza “was treated very unfairly by our government!”
  120. In 2014, D’Souza voluntarily pled guilty to making illegal contributions, admitted he knew what he did was against the law, and apologized for his conduct. The judge found no unfairness.
  121. Experts noted that D’Souza faced charges in the Southern District of New York, same court where Cohen faces possible campaign-finance violations and other possible crimes.
  122. Roger Stone called the pardon “a signal to Mike Flynn and Paul Manafort and even Robert Mueller,” adding “the special counsel has awesome powers, as you know, but the president has even more awesome powers.”
  123. D’Souza did not apply for a pardon through the Justice Department office, as would be typical. Trump told reporters “nobody asked me to do it,” saying he has never met D’Souza, but has seen him on television.
  124. Trump also said he is considering commuting Rod Blagojevich’s sentence and pardoning Martha Stewart, and has already pardoned Joe Arpaio, Kristian Saucier, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, and Jack Johnson.
  125. New York Attorney General Barbara Wood issued a statement of rebuke, saying, “Trump’s latest pardon make crystal clear his willingness to use his pardon power to thwart the cause of justice, rather than advance it.”
  126. Wood also called on state lawmakers to close a loophole in New York’s double jeopardy law to ensure people who break New York law could not “evade accountability” through “a strategically-timed pardon” by Trump.
  127. On Wednesday, Ivanka dropped off a White House conference call with press in advance of “White House Sports and Fitness Day,” after a reporter asked about Chinese trademarks being awarded to her fashion brand.
  128. On Thursday, comedian Samantha Bee apologized for calling Ivanka Trump a “feckless cunt” on her TBS show in a segment criticizing Ivanka for her silence on the regime’s separating children from parents at the border.
  129. On Thursday, Sanders condemned Samantha Bee’s words as “vile and vicious,” and urged executives at Time Warner and TBS to act, citing “explicit profanity about female members of this administration.”
  130. On Friday, Trump tweeted that Samantha Bee should be fired, “Why aren’t they firing no talent Samantha Bee for the horrible language used on her low ratings show?” TBS and CNN are owned by Time Warner.
  131. On Friday, Trump broke decades of protocol, tweeting about the jobs reports before the release. Treasury yields moved sharply higher within seconds of his tweet. Trump was briefed on the numbers Thursday night.
  132. At 7:21 a.m., Trump tweeted, “Looking forward to seeing the employment numbers at 8:30 this morning.” At 8:30 a.m., the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced the numbers.
  133. On Friday, Bloomberg reported that two South Korean firms have bought $100 million in junior debt on a Citigroup deal for a New Jersey residential building partly owned by Kushner Cos.
  134. Prior to receiving the Citigroup loan in early 2018, shortly after the bank’s CEO met with Kushner at the White House, Kushner Cos and its partner had trouble finding a firm to refinance more than $180 million of loans.
  135. Kushner drew scrutiny in Week 26 when his sister mentioned him by name and the EB-5 visa program, visas which allow immigrants a path to a green card for investing $500,000, to market the loan to Chinese investors.
  136. Daily Beast reported ZTE hired Bryan Lanza, a veteran of the Trump 2016 presidential campaign who works for Mercury Public Affairs, a powerhouse lobbying and public relations in Washington DC, on May 14.
  137. NBC News reported on a new U.S. intelligence assessment which concluded North Korea does not intend to give up its nuclear weapons, contrary to Trump’s public statements as he tries to get the summit back on track.
  138. The CIA report says Kim Jong Un, in a peaceful gesture towards Trump whose love of fast-food burgers is well known, may instead offer to open a Western hamburger franchise in Pyongyang as a show of goodwill.
  139. Foreign Policy reported Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with North Korea’s Kim Yong Chol, a four-star army general and former military intelligence chief. Chol has served three regimes, and helped groom Kim Jong Un.
  140. Kim Young Chol is linked to some of the country’s highest-profile military operations, including two deadly attacks in 2010 that killed 50 South Koreans and an alleged 2014 cyberattack on Sony Pictures.
  141. The meetings, which took place in New York, was the highest-level visit to the U.S. by a North Korean in 18 years. The two had dinner together on Wednesday, then formal talk on Thursday morning.
  142. On Friday, with little public notice, Trump met with Kim Yong Chol in the Oval Office for over an hour. Afterwards, Trump told reporters that the June 12 summit in Singapore is on, despite canceling it in Week 80.
  143. Trump also showed reporters a letter from Kim Jong Un delivered by Kim Young Chol, and said it was “ a very nice letter” and “very interesting.” Trump later admitted that he had not opened the letter yet.
  144. Asked by a reporter if Kim Jong Un is committed to denuclearization, Trump said, “Yeah, I think so. He’d like to see it happen.” The June 12 meeting will be North Korea’s first-ever summit with a U.S. president.
  145. On Friday, WAPO reported cash-strapped North Korea is requiring that a foreign country pick up Kim Jong Un’s $6,000 hotel bill for the summit in Singapore. The Trump regime is trying to find a discrete way to do so.
  146. On Friday, WSJ reported the White House is preparing for a potential summit between Trump and Putin of Russia. Jon Huntsman, the U.S. ambassador to Russia, is working to arrange the meeting.
  147. Politico reported on a recent closed-door fundraiser for Trump, at which he bragged to donors, using classified information, about a February skirmish between U.S. troops and Russian mercenaries in Syria.
  148. The New York City fundraiser was attended by about 100 of Trump’s top-dollar supporters. Trump reportedly shared the strikes may have been as brief as “10 minutes” and took out 100 to 300 Russians.
  149. In an op-ed, former CIA director John Brennan said he would speak out until integrity returns. Brennan fears Trump’s lying, “mean-spirited and malicious behavior, and his self-absorption” will be emulated by young people.
  150. Brennan, who served four presidents, said Trump “has shown highly abnormal behavior by lying routinely,” and “intentionally fueling divisions in our country,” and actively working to degrade our institutions.
  151. On Saturday, Trump attacked Brennan, citing “Fox & Friends” guest Dan Bongino in a tweet, “no single figure in American history has done more to discredit the intelligence community than this liar.”
  152. WAPO reported emails released as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit by the Sierra Club, show Scott Pruitt spent $1,650 of taxpayer money on 12 customized fountain pens.
  153. Emails released as part of a FOIA request by the Environmental Defense Fund and the Southern Environmental Law Center, and provided to APreveal cooperation between Pruitt’s Environmental Protection Agency and climate-change deniers.
  154. John Konkus, the EPA’s deputy associate administrator, emailed with Heartland Institute seeking suggestions for scientists and economists who reject man-made climate-change, for an EPA public hearing in 2017.
  155. Emails from Konkus and the EPA’s Liz Bowman with Heartland also complain about critical coverage from media such as the Post and AP, and celebrating a reporter leaving the Times, “Ding Dong, the Witch is Dead.”
  156. On Friday, the Hill reported Williams & Jensen, the firm chaired by J. Steven Hart, who along with his wife rented a condo to Pruitt, did in fact lobby the EPA on behalf of three clients last year.
  157. Hart left the firm in April after the fallout from the condo rental. Williams & Jensen then hired outside counsel to comb through its disclosure filings from 2017 and 2018, and filed 14 amendments to Hart’s forms.
  158. NYT reported in December, at one of the biggest games of the University of Kentucky basketball season, Pruitt and his son were given courtside seats belonging to Joseph W. Craft III, a billionaire coal executive.
  159. Craft has engaged in an aggressive campaign to reverse the Obama administration’s environmental crackdown on the coal industry. He and his wife also donated $2 million to Trump’s candidacy and inauguration.
  160. Agency records show Pruitt met with Craft at least seven times during his first 14 months as head of the EPA. Coal companies have welcomed what they consider a sea of change under the Trump regime.
  161. On Friday, Trump left for Camp David but First Lady Melania Trump did not accompany him. Melania has not been seen publicly since May 10, and has missed several joint appearance that would be typical for a first lady.
  162. A tweet from the @FLOTUS Twitter account this week read, “I see the media is working overtime speculating where I am,” adding I am “great” and “working hard” — terms commonly used by Trump on Twitter.
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New York City, February 2018
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2 thoughts on “POLITIKS OF GRAFFITI 82: FLOTUS IS MISSING !

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