Proving perjury is dependent on willful intent, according to laws and court precedents.
Last night’s Real Time with Bill Maher had no Hollywood celebrities, but Maher’s panel of pundits, reporters and environmentalist activists touched on major issues of substance that people are concerned about such as climate change.
Yet it was Maher’s closing argument in his New Rules segment that made a point of urging Democrats to elevate some flawed but effective candidates to compete with the “pussy grabber” currently in office.
Using some notable Democratic sexual scallywags like Eliot Spitzer, John Edwards, and Anthony Weiner, Maher lauded some of their “alpha male” qualities and urged people to overlook their scandalous personal lives.
Of the uneven playing field for the two parties, Maher said: “Trump supporters just make a different calculation they say, ‘no I don’t like cheating and pussy grabbing but hey this ain’t a friendly fight.’ ”
He continued: “[This] for the soul of the country …and since it is Democrats should be allowed to put our alpha pervs back on the board. We don’t have the luxury anymore to mess around with milquetoast Democratic politicians who don’t move people. [former Democratic vice presidential candidate] Tim Kaine is a nice guy but he’s a kind of boring beta male. This made the Democrats the designated driver party. As ridiculous as Trump is he does come off as an alpha, that’s why he paints his face the color of a baboon’s ass! It shows dominance.”
“So if Trump is indeed the new normal, if it’s now perfectly fine for the American president to be Bill Cosby with a super PAC, Then Democrats have to go all out too and that means [Eliot] Spitzer and that means [Anthony] Weiner and by the way, next time he runs… MORE Anthony Weiner… he’s Carlos Danger! F*** yeah! Own that sh**,” urged Maher.
“Carlos Danger, a Latino Jew whose tanned, rested and fully erect at all times…and restoring Weiner…I mean Danger! That would send the message. although wait…maybe there’s still someone even worse and by worse, I mean better. John Edwards that’s right John Edwards. Yes, I know left his sick wife to have an affair with Peter Frampton…We should be able to put OUR alpha pervs back on the board!”
In the opener, Maher always circles back to the sins of the Trump White House. He said: “This Russian spy novel we’ve all been reading, turns out to be a real page-turner doesn’t it?
He added: “The national security advisor has to step down because we found out he was lying about talking to the Russians. Now our attorney general this week, a thousand-year-old cracker named Jeff Sessions, he had to recuse himself from the investigation, and you know, Trump said ‘I don’t know anybody,’ does Trump know anyone who doesn’t talk to the Russians? It’s like six degrees of Kevin Putin!”
Top of the show interview and Trump supporter Jeffrey Lord charms Bill, sort of.
Maher opened noting Lord’s affable reputation. He said: “This [media] is a small circle the media I talk to, people you talk to, people the Washington people like you who come out here [and] everybody says you’re the nicest guy in the world. Genteel, polite, what do you see in Donald Trump? Because to me, he’s not just the most vulgar politician we’ve ever had right? To me he’s the most vulgar human being.”
An unlikely “star” of the evening was the academic who sounded the warning alarm about Trump’s reign of terror on the US environment.
Mid-show guest Bill McKibben, author, educator, environmentalist, and Co-founder of 350.org, plainly spoke of the facts and challenges those fighting for clean water, air and fossil fuel lobbyists are facing in the hostile political environment that denies climate change.
McKibben gave a partial litany of worrisome rollbacks for those studying and trying to control man-made climate change.
He said: “The level of just complete corruption from the fossil fuel industry that marks this administration is like nothing we’ve ever seen.”
He said: “Here’s a lot of that going around earlier this afternoon the EPA under Mr. [Scott] Pruitt announced they would budget cuts, leaked out. Not only are they going to cut by 97% the amount of money they’re spending to try and improve water quality in the great lakes which finally begun to improve, same thing at San Francisco Bay Puget Sound, Chesapeake Bay…good thing that no one lives in any of these places!
McKibben was enthused about the coming marches planned in Washington D.C..
After noting the “silver lining of the resistance” which appeared in huge numbers in Los Angeles for the women’s march, he said: “On April 22nd, the Scientists March and [then] on April 29th is the Climate March in Washington D.C. ”
The recent phenomenon of Oklahoma’s frequent earthquakes was also discussed. He said of Oklahoma, a region of the USA famous for tornadoes, now more seismically unstable than California: “Oklahoma for as long as we have known, was seismically inert and as stable as it was a possible to be. Now it shakes a lot more than California, it’s the most seismically active place on the continent because we’ve done nothing but frack it for the last 10 years and force all this water back underground into wells on the faults.”
The New Rules urged Democrats to get over their “bad boys” and wake up: “We need our loudmouth kick ass new yorker who’s up all night on social media… the Democrats need to resurrect Eliot Spitzer and Carlos Danger, aka Anthony Weiner.”
He said of the political sex scandals of yore: “All the Democrat horn dogs have to go live on a farm but the Republican hound is allowed up on the furniture in the Oval Office. Who cares if Eliot Spitzer wanted a bust a nut so what? He also wanted to bust bankers and insider traders and did!… We need balls!”
Overtime bonus: The White House correspondents’ dinner, “it’s bullshit, a dumb thing,” says Maher:
Real Time will Bill Maher airs Fridays at 10:00pm ET on HBO.
President Donald Trump’s Russia problem becomes more distracting and disturbing each day. Who do we find out today has lied? Who actually did speak to Russian officials? And what about Trump’s finances?
Within 24 hours of The Washington Post’s story on Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ undisclosed meetings with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, Sessions recused himself from the multifaceted Russia investigation and faced calls to step down from his job altogether. His problems are far from over.
He first will need to go back before the Senate Judiciary Committee and be grilled under oath about his testimony, both oral and written. Senators will want to know how Thursday morning he could disclaim that he had meetings and by the afternoon be describing Kislyak’s mood (“testy”) during a discussion about Ukraine. They will want to take him line by line through his testimony, pushing him to explain how he left the impression that he had no contacts with any Russians during the campaign.
“There really ought to be a higher standard for the attorney general of the United States than whether he violated the letter of the law in his testimony to Congress,” says Matthew Miller, who was the Justice Department’s director of public affairs for the Obama administration. “Even if you take Sessions at his word, which many people don’t, he still had ample opportunity to correct his initial statement in his follow-up answers. And not only did he not correct his statement, he misled the committee, and it’s hard to conclude that was anything other than intentional.”
Several parts of Sessions’ story simply do not add up. At his Thursday news conference, for example, he noted he had been at his job for three weeks and did meet with ethics officers: “In fact, on Monday of this week, we set a meeting with an eye to a final decision on this question. And on Monday, we set that meeting today. So this was a day that we planned to have a final discussion about handling this,” he said. “I asked for their candid and honest opinion about what I should do about investigations, certain investigations. And my staff recommended recusal. They said that since I had involvement with the campaign, I should not be involved in any campaign investigation. I have studied the rules and considered their comments and evaluation. I believe those recommendations are right and just.”
That opens up even more questions. When did Sessions first meet with ethics officials, and why did he announce a decision only after The Post’s story broke? It should not have taken this long for him to recuse himself; the conflict was obvious. “The rules are clear as day and it shouldn’t have taken more than five minutes to conclude he needed to recuse himself,” Miller observes. “What he needs to answer now is whether he was briefed on the substance of the underlying investigation, and, if so, did he discuss it at all with the White House?” (If he took any action on the investigation or conveyed any information to the White House, the investigation is tainted.)
Taking a step back from Sessions, the number of connections between the Trump team and the Russians that we now know about increases daily. Beyond Michael T. Flynn and Sessions, we now know, according to USA Today, that two other Trump advisers, J.D. Gordon and Carter Page, spoke to Kislyak at a diplomatic conference in connection with the Republican National Convention in July. (“The newly revealed communications further contradict months of denials by Trump officials that his campaign had contact with officials representing the Russian government.”) The report also seems to cast doubt on the claim that Page wasn’t part of the Trump team. The connection also re-raises the question as to how the RNC platform was changed to delete support for supplying Ukraine with weapons, something for which the Trump team falsely denied responsibility.
That’s not all. The Wall Street Journal reports:
“President Donald Trump’s eldest son was likely paid at least $50,000 for an appearance late last year before a French think tank whose founder and his wife are allies of the Russian government in efforts to end the war in Syria.
“Donald Trump Jr. addressed a dinner on Oct. 11 at the Ritz Hotel in Paris, hosted by the Center of Political and Foreign Affairs. Its president, Fabien Baussart, and his Syrian-born wife, Randa Kassis, have cooperated with Russia in its drive to end the Syrian civil war, according to U.S., European and Arab officials.
“In December, Mr. Baussart formally nominated Russian President Vladimir Putin for the Nobel Peace Prize.”
This only underscores how little we know about the Trumps’ personal and financial ties to Russia. We are in the dark because Trump refuses to release his tax returns and/or end ownership of his businesses. His sons continue to run his businesses, including international opportunities. Trump keeps insisting that he has no dealings or financial activity “in” Russia, but we know he sought out deals. Moreover, back in 2008, Donald Trump. Jr. was quoted as saying, “Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.” As late as 2015 Trump lawyer Michael Cohen was still looking for deals for his client. The potential for corruption, influence-peddling and financial impropriety — even if nothing untoward has already occurred — is real.
Congress should demand three things: full disclosure of Trump’s tax returns and all financial dealings with Russian players (in or outside Russia); a complete list of all contacts and financial arrangements of Trump family members and campaign associates with Russian officials (before and after the inauguration); and appointment of a special prosecutor with full subpoena powers. Without these basic steps, the Trump presidency will operate under a cloud of suspicion, and Republicans will be seen as enabling corruption and foreign interference in our government. How do we know whether Trump or his advisers are compromised without these three essential items? We don’t. The longer Trump and the Republicans hide the ball, the more Americans will conclude that Russia has “something” on the president and/or someone on his team.
A century ago, in August 1917, somebody neatly recorded in a new ledger the very first object donated to a new museum: “Life Buoy, Lusitania, sunk by German Submarine 7 May 15. Presented by L Sharpe Esq USA.”
The Imperial War Museum, whose creation was authorised by the government on 5 March 1917, now has 32.7m objects in its collection, and the stained and battered buoy – kept as a souvenir by a man whose life it saved when 1,198 others were lost – remains one of the stars.
It had pride of place in the first temporary exhibition, at the Royal Academy in January 1918, and in every display at sites including Crystal Palace – where 3 million visitors came between 1920 and 1924 – before the museum found a permanent home in 1936 in the former Bethlehem mental hospital in Lambeth.
The idea for a museum recording the wartime experiences of casualties and survivors, officers and factory workers was first suggested by Sir Alfred Mond in a letter to the Times when Britain was still recovering from the horrors of the Battle of the Somme and, unknowingly, on the brink of another calamity, Passchendaele.
“Even with the war still raging, it was recognised that this was something special, the Great War,” Richards said. “It wasn’t something happening to other people far away, like the Boer war, it touched every household in the country, and from the start there was an ambition not just to make it a memorial but to capture that experience.”
Mond, later Lord Melchett, was an industrialist, a son of German Jewish immigrants, and as commissioner of works a member of Lloyd George’s wartime government. He followed up his letter with discussions with the government, and became chair of the new museum. It was first known as the National War Museum, and then – because India, Australia, New Zealand and Canada were anxious their experience should be included – became the Imperial War Museum.
Its archives include the diary – touchingly spelled “Dairy” on the cover – of the first director, Martin Conway, who went to France to have lunch with Commander-in-Chief Douglas Haig and discuss collecting straight from the battlefields.
Lunch within sound of the guns was “chops, cold meat on sideboard, and a tart or so” and coffee served outside under the trees. Richards notes that Conway was impressed, not to say smitten, by Haig, “a tall and fine looking man, with great attractiveness, a charming smile and expression full of sympathy and much lambent play.”
The field trip after lunch demonstrated that finding artefacts would be easy: “Boots with feet in them were several times met with … shell cases, shell fragments, fuses, helmets, bayonets, broken rifles, rifle ammunition cast aside, all sorts of stuff. I am sorry that I did not pick up a Bosch helmet with vizor complete which we saw.”
The museum sent leaflets to units on active service, and to institutions at home, seeking “equipment, arms, books, documents, original letters, models, personal souvenirs, photographs of officers and men especially those who have won distinction”, and brilliantly had a note asking for donations printed on the back of every ration book. Objects and documents poured in, including a photograph and memorabilia of Major Arthur Septimus Conway, who was killed in Belgium on 17 June 1917 – and who was Martin Conway’s cousin.
When the Lusitania sank in the space of 30 minutes off the south coast of Ireland, the casualties included 128 US citizens, a disaster that helped bring the US into the war. The museum’s head of documents, Tony Richards, has gone through the passenger records and found the entire Sharpe family, parents and young son, who all survived and for whom the buoy must have been an extraordinarily precious souvenir. A century later, their gift is displayed in the museum’s first world war gallery.
The benefits of exchange traded fund investing — getting cheap exposure to a broad universe of stocks — can be diminished by eliminating companies based on subjective criteria.
Serving both God and money has long been an aim of fund companies that exclude “sin stocks” of companies dealing in tobacco, guns, gambling and the like in their investments.
Now, two new exchange traded funds offer a conservative evangelical — what is called “biblically responsible” — tilt to that investing approach. The funds explicitly say in their regulatory filing that they will avoid buying shares in companies that have “any degree of participation in activities that do not align with biblical values.
Issues investing — some call it “socially responsible investing,” which includes the “ESG” (environmental, social and governance) style of investing — has been a hot business in recent years. Major investors like the pension fund behemoth known as CalPERS have made it a part of their philosophy, even though the strategy has costs in lost investment opportunity. Last year, for example, CalPERS re-endorsed its ban on tobacco stocks, though staff recommended the opposite.
The concept has made its way to exchange traded funds, or ETFs, which have been popular with mom-and-pop investors because they are a low-cost, tax-efficient way to invest in a broad index — more often than not, the Standard & Poor’s 500. As a category, exchange traded funds have ballooned in recent years, amassing $2.6 trillion. And the opportunity to create niche products seems to be boundless.
“The minority are a success, and the majority are flops,” said Ben Johnson, the director of ETF research at Morningstar. “It’s spaghetti slinging.”
The new funds would hardly be the first religion-oriented investment products. An earlier group of funds tracking Baptist, Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist and, more generally, Christian, values came out in 2009 but folded in 2011 with just $2 million, Morningstar said.
There are also the $790 million iShares MSCI KLD 400 Social ETF and the $500 million iShares MSCI USA ESG Select ETF, which look for stocks of companies with good labour policies or sustainable and renewable products. There are also long-standing mutual funds, such as the $927 million Domini Impact Equity fund.
The benefits off exchange traded fund investing — getting cheap exposure to a broad universe of stocks — can be diminished by eliminating companies based on subjective criteria. And academic studies have concluded that sin stocks perform better as a group than stocks of virtuous companies, at least before factoring in the extra risks to investing in companies that are frequent targets of litigation and boycotts.
Greg Richey, who lectures on finance at California State University San Bernardino, developed a portfolio of 65 sin stocks and tracked them from 1996 to 2016, finding an average annual return of 11 per cent.
Once taking variables like litigation and boycott risk into account, the gains disappear, he said. Also, “the definition of vice keeps changing.”
Pensions and other institutions are asking fund companies for ways to invest that avoid these risks, said Jay Jacobs, the director of research for Global X Funds, which has $4.5 billion under management.
Last year, Global X introduced a fund that adheres to the values of the Roman Catholic Church, and it has taken in $87 million in assets, according to Morningstar. The idea came from conversations with clients that invest on behalf of Catholic groups and foundations, which follow the guidelines set out by the church, he said.
This week, Inspire Investing, based in Hollister, California, introduced the two biblically responsible funds, a small- and medium-size company fund and a large-company fund called Inspire Global Hope Large Cap ETF.
The large-company fund tracks an Inspire-created index of 400 companies it screened to match its investment criteria, which follow conservative Christian values, Netzly said.
Shares of Berkshire Hathaway, whose chief executive, Warren E. Buffett, has been a major donor to Planned Parenthood, would not make the cut, he said. Nor would Apple, Netzly said, claiming that pornography can be purchased through iTunes. (An Apple spokesman said pornography is not permitted.)
Companies like Amazon that have publicly supported gay marriage also would not pass muster. “Any company that takes a hard-line approach” to the issue would not pass the test, Netzly said.
On the other hand, shares of Tesla Motors and Under Armour would.
U.S based Campbellsville University has announced a $30 million five-year empowerment plan for education in Africa. The intervention fund is being deplored to the continent to develop a network with educational partners in both public and private sectors …