By Robert A. Vella

I spent yesterday renegotiating with my cable provider.  To summarize:

  • They raised my monthly charges by 45%.
  • I requested a reduction in services to offset the increase which they couldn’t accommodate.
  • I informed them that unless a solution could be found, I would cancel some or all of my services.
  • They found a service package which I “qualified for” at 9% higher than my previous rate.
  • I accepted their solution.

Back to the grindstone.  Here’s today’s news roundup:

From:  House overcomes GOP objections and clears disaster bill

House Democrats finally managed to pass a $19.1 billion disaster relief bill Monday, sending the measure on to President Donald Trump, who is expected to sign it.

The 354-58 vote came after Republican conservatives blocked the bill from advancing on three separate occasions while lawmakers were away on a week-long recess — an appropriately acrimonious legislative finale after months of partisan discord.

Once it’s signed into law, the bill will unlock billions of dollars in grant funding and reimbursement cash for communities still recovering from hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, extreme flooding, wildfires and typhoons.

From:  Trump Wins Ruling in House’s Border Wall Suit

WASHINGTON — President Trump ended a losing streak in court clashes with the House on Monday, as a federal judge rejected the Democrat-controlled chamber’s lawsuit seeking to stop him from using emergency powers to build a wall along the southwestern border.

Judge Trevor N. McFadden of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, who was appointed by Mr. Trump, ruled that the House could not show that it had suffered the sort of injury that gave it standing to sue.

The ruling will not have any immediate practical consequences because other groups have already secured an order blocking Mr. Trump from proceeding. But if other courts accept Judge McFadden’s reasoning, the House’s litigation options will narrow as it battles the president on several fronts.

Related story:  Anti-Trump protesters flood London streets

From:  As more tariffs loom, experts warn consumers to brace for impact

Experts say U.S. tariffs on Mexican goods, coupled with steeper levies on Chinese imports, will raise the price on everything from fruit and vegetables to cars and some electronic gadgets in the U.S.

The heightened trade tensions comes as signals point to a slowing U.S. economy. Analysts also fear the conflict with Mexico could hinder passage of the USMCA, the trade pact the Trump Administration endorses as a replacement NAFTA.

As President Donald Trump escalates his trade war by threatening new tariffs on Mexico and expanding levies on Chinese imports, experts warn that the chances of a sharp slowdown or even a recession within the next year are climbing.

See also:

Senate Republicans Weigh Overruling Trump on Mexico Tariffs

Mexico Cracks Down on Migrants, After Pressure From Trump to Act

From:  Report: Blacks, Latinos at risk of undercount in 2020 census

With the 2020 census count less than a year away, a new report says undercounting certain populations will be likely, despite the best efforts of the U.S. Census Bureau, nonprofits and state and local officials to encourage participation.

Nationwide, the decennial census could fail to count anywhere from 900,000 to 4 million people, with blacks, Hispanics and children younger than 5 most vulnerable to being overlooked, according to estimates released Tuesday by the Urban Institute.

Florida, California, Georgia, New York, Nevada, Texas and New Mexico have the highest risk for undercounting, according to the Urban Institute, a think tank that conducts social and economic research.

Related story:  House Dems to hold Barr, Ross in contempt over census question

From:  Figure linked to Trump transition charged with transporting child pornography

A key witness in former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian election interference has been charged with transporting child pornography last year, according to court documents.

George Nader, who has a previous conviction on such charges, was charged in federal court in Virginia and is expected to make an initial court appearance in New York.

Nader played an unusual role as a kind of liaison between Trump supporters, Middle East leaders and Russians interested in making contact with the incoming administration in early 2017.

Related story:  Judge orders Paul Manafort to be transferred to New York City’s notorious Rikers Island

From:  Nation’s most ambitious project to clean up nuclear weapons waste has stalled

The Energy Department’s most environmentally important and technically ambitious project to clean up Cold War nuclear weapons waste has stalled, putting at jeopardy an already long-delayed effort to protect the Columbia River in central Washington.

In a terse letter last week, state officials said the environmental project is at risk of violating key federal court orders that established deadlines after past ones were repeatedly missed.

Two multibillion-dollar industrial facilities intended to turn highly radioactive sludge into solid glass at the Hanford nuclear site have been essentially mothballed. Construction was halted in 2012 because of design flaws and Energy Department managers have foundered in finding alternatives, state officials said in the letter that threatens new litigation.

18 thoughts on “Tuesday News Roundup (no theme)

  1. “Oh, who can screw your country; bury it in debt; wrap it in a tariff and then claim that he’s all that???…The Trumpy man can! The Trumpy man can cause he mixes it with hate which makes his world go ’round!”

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t know, bro. Wish I did, though. From the article:

      WASHINGTON — The strange objects, one of them like a spinning top moving against the wind, appeared almost daily from the summer of 2014 to March 2015, high in the skies over the East Coast. Navy pilots reported to their superiors that the objects had no visible engine or infrared exhaust plumes, but that they could reach 30,000 feet and hypersonic speeds.

      “These things would be out there all day,” said Lt. Ryan Graves, an F/A-18 Super Hornet pilot who has been with the Navy for 10 years, and who reported his sightings to the Pentagon and Congress. “Keeping an aircraft in the air requires a significant amount of energy. With the speeds we observed, 12 hours in the air is 11 hours longer than we’d expect.”

      In late 2014, a Super Hornet pilot had a near collision with one of the objects, and an official mishap report was filed. Some of the incidents were videotaped, including one taken by a plane’s camera in early 2015 that shows an object zooming over the ocean waves as pilots question what they are watching.

      “Wow, what is that, man?” one exclaims. “Look at it fly!”

      Liked by 3 people

      • I know. WHAT are these things?! One article I read said they are neurological disturbances suffered by the pilots who are seeing them and not really there. Really? I CAN SEE THEM ON THE FILM!!! Bloody figure out what they are! I wanna know, people! I wanna know!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Drones of some sort, perhaps? The LEAST likely thing is space aliens or the like, IMO. I’ll hold that view on such phenomena only when empirical evidence shows me that, indeed, that is the case. I’m sure, once we know what it is, we’ll say, “Oh, but OF COURSE that’s what those are, duh! We shoulda seen it sooner!” But, in the mean time, WTF are those things?

          Liked by 2 people

        • Absolutely, cameras and radars don’t experience “neurological disturbances.”

          There are many fascinating aspects of this phenomenon including psychology and sociology. First of all, most people instantly think “aliens” when they hear the term “UFO” when in fact it simply means “unidentified flying object.” Why that cognitive leap is so common probably has a lot to do with pop culture (e.g. sci-fi movies). Secondly, the idea that someone or something might have vastly superior technology to ours is obviously unsettling for many people because it lays bare our human insecurities and directly challenges our widespread beliefs in god(s).

          Even scientists can fall into this mental trap. The great Carl Sagan, whom I regard as the most evolved human I’ve ever observed, correctly asserted that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” However, he never said that we shouldn’t investigate UFOs. Scientific curiosity mandates research into this phenomenon, and its conclusions should be governed by the scientific process. Verifiable facts are important, subjective opinions are not.

          The aphorism “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” urges us to keep an open mind about UFOs. If vastly superior technology is responsible for some of these sightings, then it’s understandable why conclusive evidence would be difficult to obtain especially for the general public. The only conclusion I can state with confidence is that some of these sightings cannot be explained by the most qualified people among us, and I think that is quite astonishing.

          Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, that’s typical. Cable providers are playing self-serving games with their customers. They know that most people won’t challenge them, so they try to extract as much money as possible. When some customers do challenge them, they do whatever is necessary to keep them for fear of losing business.

      Liked by 1 person

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