Saturday, October 14, 2017

UK targets Eurovision viewers

UK targets Eurovision viewers to counter Russia’s ‘infowars’


Britain is seeking to counter a cold war-style “information war” by investing in a range of projects, from “rebranding” Ukraine to influencing Russian speakers in Baltic states.
The UK’s efforts have included hiring M&C Saatchi – the advertising agency synonymous with Tory election campaigns – to run a project with the Foreign Office to rehabilitate Britain’s ally Ukraine, including using social media to target viewers of the Eurovision Song Contest, which was hosted by Kiev this summer.
The Foreign Office is also funding nascent programmes to identify how Britain can influence Russian-speaking minorities in Baltic states – regarded as a potential flashpoint between Nato and a resurgent Russia. Another initiative will invite Russian journalists to “themed tours” of the UK.


The funding is a response to an increasingly muscular “infowars” campaign in which Russia-backed media outlets have been accused of seeking to meddle in the EU referendum as well as elections in the US, France and Germany. Tim Duffy, UK group chairman of M&C Saatchi, said it was company policy not to comment on government contracts. However, partially redacted documents give an insight into the £100,000 contract, under which the agency works with Foreign Office teams, Britain’s embassy in Kiev and Ukrainian government officials.
English-speaking tourists, investors and media, including CNN and the BBC, were listed as the intended audience for the project to rehabilitate Ukraine’s reputation, which opinion polls said tended to be negative. Part of the brief stipulated that the project should identify political and economic success stories and “show that Ukraine is a viable and successful country– despite recent issues with Russia and the annexation of Crimea”.
Britain’s broader package of assistance to Ukraine, which is engaged not just in a bitter conflict with Russian-backed separatists but also a propaganda war with the Kremlin, included £2.4m to help the Kiev government improve its communications strategy.
The Observer has established that the money came from the £1bn-plus conflict, stability and security fund (CSSF), a source so secret that a committee of senior MPs and peers meant to be scrutinising it have been denied access to the names of the 40 countries where it is spent. Other CSSF-funded projects in eastern Europe this year included nearly £1m on “target audience analysis” aimed at Russian-speaking minorities in Baltic states.



Separately, the Reuters Foundation has been awarded an £80,000 contract to deliver themed tours to Russian journalists and “online influencers”. “The main objective is to use British expertise to support and develop quality journalism in Russia by enabling Russian journalists and on-line influencers to develop skills and capacity while contributing to a greater understanding of UK journalistic standards and ethics,” the contract adds.
Another major research project by the Open University and the University of Manchester into the influence of RT – the Kremlin-backed media outlet formerly known as Russia Today – was launched last Thursday in London.

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The launch of the Reframing Russia project was told by Ellen Mickiewicz, from Duke University in North Carolina, that while RT often appeared to be inept and hamfisted, its influence should not be underestimated. James Nixey, head of the Russia and Eurasia programme at Chatham House went further, claiming that the Russian government believed that it was at war and western governments were only now waking up to that.
Professor Stephen Hutchings, who is leading the research project, told the Observer that it was worth remembering that the FCO used to fund the BBC World Service, including its Russian-Language arm until 2014, when a toll was taken by cuts.
“The timing could not have been more unfortunate, with 2014 being the year in which the Ukraine crisis flared up,” he added.
He said that recent contracts appeared “are in some ways an attempt to compensate and play ‘catch-up’ in light of the growing concern in the FCO and defence communities about Russia’s extensive ‘propaganda’ operation.”

Many ESC fans from all over the world are so very sad because we lost Joy Fleming - one of the best singers ever. 


Betty MacDonald fan club founder Wolfgang Hampel sings  'Try to remember' especially for Betty MacDonald fan club organizer Linde Lund at Vita Magica September

you can join 


Betty MacDonald fan club


Betty MacDonald Society  


Vita Magica  


Eurovision Song Contest Fan Club 




on Facebook



Vita Magica Betty MacDonald event with Wolfgang Hampel, Thomas Bödigheimer and Friedrich von Hoheneichen


Vita Magica 


Betty MacDonald 

Betty MacDonald fan club 


Betty MacDonald fan club on Facebook


Betty MacDonald forum  

Wolfgang Hampel - Wikipedia ( English ) 

Wolfgang Hampel - Wikipedia ( English ) - The Egg and I 


Wolfgang Hampel - Wikipedia ( Polski)   

Wolfgang Hampel - Wikipedia ( German )

Wolfgang Hampel - LinkFang ( German ) 

Wolfgang Hampel - Academic ( German )

Wolfgang Hampel -   

Wolfgang Hampel - DBpedia  ( English / German )

Wolfgang Hampel - people check ( English ) 

Wolfgang Hampel - Memim ( English )

Vashon Island - Wikipedia ( German )

Wolfgang Hampel - Monica Sone - Wikipedia ( English )

Wolfgang Hampel - Ma and Pa Kettle - Wikipedia ( English )

Wolfgang Hampel - Ma and Pa Kettle - Wikipedia ( French ) 


Wolfgang Hampel - Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle - Wikipedia ( English)

Wolfgang Hampel in Florida State University 

Betty MacDonald fan club founder Wolfgang Hampel 

Betty MacDonald fan club interviews on CD/DVD

Betty MacDonald fan club items 

Betty MacDonald fan club items  - comments

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Betty MacDonald fan club organizer Linde Lund  


Betty MacDonald fan club organizer Greta Larson

Friday, September 1, 2017

Betty MacDonald and Happy September



 Image may contain: text



Betty MacDonald fan club fans,

welcome September!

September will be a very exciting month for Betty MacDonald fan club fans with many activities.

More info will come soon.

We are working on Betty MacDonald fan club newsletter September with new fascinating facts.

If you join us a follower of Betty MacDonald fan club blog during September you'll get a special Betty MacDonald fan club surprise.

Tell us your email-address, please.

Thanks a million for your support and interest!

Happy September!

Many greetings

Linde, Astrid, Greta and Lund family

you can join 


Betty MacDonald fan club


Betty MacDonald Society  


Vita Magica  


Eurovision Song Contest Fan Club 




on Facebook



Vita Magica Betty MacDonald event with Wolfgang Hampel, Thomas Bödigheimer and Friedrich von Hoheneichen


Vita Magica 


Betty MacDonald 

Betty MacDonald fan club 


Betty MacDonald fan club on Facebook


Betty MacDonald forum  

Wolfgang Hampel - Wikipedia ( English ) 

Wolfgang Hampel - Wikipedia ( English ) - The Egg and I 


Wolfgang Hampel - Wikipedia ( Polski)   

Wolfgang Hampel - Wikipedia ( German )

Wolfgang Hampel - LinkFang ( German ) 

Wolfgang Hampel - Academic ( German )

Wolfgang Hampel -   

Wolfgang Hampel - DBpedia  ( English / German )

Wolfgang Hampel - people check ( English ) 

Wolfgang Hampel - Memim ( English )

Vashon Island - Wikipedia ( German )

Wolfgang Hampel - Monica Sone - Wikipedia ( English )

Wolfgang Hampel - Ma and Pa Kettle - Wikipedia ( English )

Wolfgang Hampel - Ma and Pa Kettle - Wikipedia ( French ) 


Wolfgang Hampel - Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle - Wikipedia ( English)

Wolfgang Hampel in Florida State University 

Betty MacDonald fan club founder Wolfgang Hampel 

Betty MacDonald fan club interviews on CD/DVD

Betty MacDonald fan club items 

Betty MacDonald fan club items  - comments

Betty MacDonald fan club - The Stove and I  

Betty MacDonald fan club groups 


Betty MacDonald fan club organizer Linde Lund  


Betty MacDonald fan club organizer Greta Larson


Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Betty MacDonald and The Egg and I

egg_finnish_1947_paperback_FRONT

Betty MacDonald fan club fans,

you can join Betty MacDonald fan club on Facebook.

Thank you so much in advance for your support and interest.

If you join Betty MacDonald fan club blog as a follower during May you'll receive a very special Betty MacDonald fan club Welcome gift.



That's a beautiful book cover of Betty  MacDonald's The Egg and I.


egg_finnish_1947_paperback_FRONT

Do you know the language?


Send us a mail, please and you might be our next Betty MacDonald fan club  surprise winner.

Good luck!

Have a very nice Wednesday

Fred


you can join 

Betty MacDonald fan club

Betty MacDonald Society  

Vita Magica  

Eurovision Song Contest Fan Club 

on Facebook



Vita Magica Betty MacDonald event with Wolfgang Hampel, Thomas Bödigheimer and Friedrich von Hoheneichen

Vita Magica 

Betty MacDonald 

Betty MacDonald fan club 

Betty MacDonald fan club on Facebook

Betty MacDonald forum  

Wolfgang Hampel - Wikipedia ( English ) 

Wolfgang Hampel - Wikipedia ( English ) - The Egg and I 

Wolfgang Hampel - Wikipedia ( Polski)   

Wolfgang Hampel - Wikipedia ( German )

Wolfgang Hampel - LinkFang ( German ) 

Wolfgang Hampel - Academic ( German )

Wolfgang Hampel -   

Wolfgang Hampel - DBpedia  ( English / German )

Wolfgang Hampel - people check ( English ) 

Wolfgang Hampel - Memim ( English )

Vashon Island - Wikipedia ( German )

Wolfgang Hampel - Monica Sone - Wikipedia ( English )

Wolfgang Hampel - Ma and Pa Kettle - Wikipedia ( English )

Wolfgang Hampel - Ma and Pa Kettle - Wikipedia ( French ) 


Wolfgang Hampel - Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle - Wikipedia ( English)

Wolfgang Hampel in Florida State University 

Betty MacDonald fan club founder Wolfgang Hampel 

Betty MacDonald fan club interviews on CD/DVD

Betty MacDonald fan club items 

Betty MacDonald fan club items  - comments

Betty MacDonald fan club - The Stove and I  

Betty MacDonald fan club groups 


Betty MacDonald fan club organizer Linde Lund  


Betty MacDonald fan club organizer Greta Larson

Betty MacDonald, Peter Sieruta and global warming

Betty MacDonald in the living room at Vashon on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post.
Betty MacDonald

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mrs. piggle wiggle, hello_english_cassette_FRONT























Pippi, you're the best. 





























Hello 'Pussy' it's Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and Pippi Longstocking: 

The global reaction has been fierce and almost exclusively in favor of keeping the United States in the 2015 agreement. In Europe last week, world leaders privately implored you not to bolt.

President Emmanuel Macron of France told reporters that he urged you not to make a “hasty decision.” Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany called her discussions with you “very difficult, if not to say very dissatisfying.”

The global pressure campaign continued on Tuesday with the speech by Mr. Guterres at New York University. While not specifically mentioning you in his speech, the secretary general of the United Nations referred to “those who might hold divergent perspectives” as he called for all countries to fulfill the promises they made. After the speech, in answer to a question from the audience, Mr. Guterres said he hoped that the United States would stick to the deal, or that American businesses would if the government did not.
“It is absolutely essential that the world implements the Paris Agreement — and that we fulfill that duty with increased ambition,” Mr. Guterres said. “The real danger is not the threat to one’s economy that comes from acting. It is, instead, the risk to one’s economy by failing to act.”

Monday, March 13, 2017

Betty MacDonald, a couple and a further window

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mrs. piggle wiggle, hello_english_cassette_FRONT
Pippi, you're the best.     

Hello 'Pussy' it's Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and Pippi Longstocking: 



Democrats are criticizing you for firing U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, saying it is a further window into your character and an effort to sideline critical voices in the judicial branch.






Do you have any idea why we feel so ashamed? I do!  
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 plague_English_1994_paperback_FRONT
  
Should I remain in bed, leave my country or fight against the dragon?

( see also the story by Wolfgang Hampel
' Betty MacDonald: Nothing more to say ' )
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plague_German_1952_hardcover_bookjacket - cleaned_FRONT

The Egg and I Film Illustration























 


Click images for alternate views
Bildergebnis für Betty MacDonald Christmas
Betty MacDonald in the living room at Vashon on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post.
Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle author Betty MacDonald on Vashon Island
<p>Time Out of Mind (1947) - avec Betty et Don MacDonald et Phyllis Calvert</p>

Betty and Don MacDonald in Hollywood

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Betty MacDonald's mother Sydney with grandchild Alison Beck
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Kein automatischer Alternativtext verfügbar.

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Betty MacDonald fan club fans,

you can join Betty MacDonald fan club on Facebook.

Thank you so much in advance for your support and interest.
  
Many Betty MacDonald  - and Wolfgang Hampel fans are very interested in a Wolfgang Hampel CD and DVD with his very funny poems and stories.

We are going to publish new Betty MacDonald essays on Betty MacDonald's gardens and nature in Washington State.

Tell us the names of this mysterious couple please and you can win a very new Betty MacDonald documentary. 



 


 


Betty MacDonald fan club honor member Mr. Tigerl is beloved all over the World.

We are so happy that our 'Casanova'  is back.


I'd like to visit Betty MacDonald's paradise on Vashon Island. 

Onions in the Stew is my favourite.  
 


March is a very exciting month for Betty MacDonald fan club fans with several contests for example Betty MacDonald fan club birthday contest.

We already got many birthday cards.

Don't miss Betty MacDonald fan club birthday contest, please.

Betty MacDonald fan club birthday card contest is really a great idea.



The winner who sent the best and most original birthday card will be Honor guest of the next International Betty MacDonald fan club event.  



Deadline: March 24, 2017



A Betty MacDonald fan club birthday exhibit with many very special birthday cards by Betty MacDonald's family and friends.


You'll be able to see wonderful cards for Betty MacDonald with very touching messages for example by her daughter Joan MacDonald Keil or her good friend Monica Sone.  


There will be a Betty MacDonald fan club birthday event DVD available.


We'll have several International Betty MacDonald fan club events  in 2017.




We got very interesting new info for updated Betty MacDonald biography.

Betty MacDonald fan club founder Wolfgang Hampel and Betty MacDonald fan club research team are going to include all these new details and info in updated Betty MacDonald biography.

More info in Betty MacDonald fan club newsletter March.

If you'd like to join Betty MacDonald fan club you only have to press the join button on Betty MacDonald fan club blog.


New Betty MacDonald fan club fans will receive a special Betty MacDonald fan club Welcome gift during March.  

Send us your email address to our contact address, please.


Wolfgang Hampel's Vita Magica February was outstanding and so was Vita Magica Betty MacDonald event with Wolfgang Hampel, Thomas Bödigheimer and Friedrich von Hoheneichen


 
We are going to publish some new Betty MacDonald fan club interviews  by Betty MacDonald fan club founder Wolfgang Hampel.
 

Wolfgang Hampel and Betty MacDonald fan club research team are working on an updated Betty MacDonald biography.
 


This very new Betty MacDonald biography includes all the results we got during a very successful Betty MacDonald fan club research which started in 1983.

You'll be able to find unique Betty MacDonald treasures in our Betty MacDonald biography.

Betty MacDonald biography includes for example interviews with Betty MacDonald, her family and friends.

We got many letters by Betty MacDonald and other family members even very important original ones.


Our goal is to publish a Betty MacDonald biography that shows all the details of Betty MacDonald's life and work but also to present her fascinating siblings.

Dear Betty MacDonald fan club fans let us know please what you are interested most in a future Betty MacDonald biography.  

Do you prefer an e-book or a so called real book?
 
Vita Magica by Wolfgang Hampel is really fascinating and very interesting.



Wolfgang Hampel and Friends of Vita Magica visited Minister of Science of Baden-Württemberg, Theresia Bauer in Stuttgart.

They visited Landtag and had a great time there.
 

Do you have any books by Betty MacDonald and Mary Bard Jensen with funny or interesting dedications? 


If so would you be so kind to share them?


Our next Betty MacDonald fan club project is a collection of these unique dedications.


If you share your dedication from your Betty MacDonald - and Mary Bard Jensen collection you might be the winner of our new Betty MacDonald fan club items.


Thank you so much in advance for your support.



 


http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_vqvrCz_OYTo/S7hJGYQaymI/AAAAAAAAFIw/W--wXFF912Y/s1600/M7a



 


 


 


 


 


 


 


Thank you so much for sending us your favourite Betty MacDonald quote.


You'll be able to read more info during February.

We are so glad that our beloved Betty MacDonald fan club honor member Mr. Tigerli is back.

New  Betty MacDonald documentary will be very interesting with many new interviews.

Alison Bard Burnett and other Betty MacDonald fan club honor members will be included in Wolfgang Hampel's fascinating project Vita Magica.







Betty MacDonald fan club founder Wolfgang Hampel interviewed Betty MacDonald's daughter Joan MacDonald Keil and her husband Jerry Keil.

This interview will be published for the first time ever.



New Betty MacDonald documentary will be very interesting with many interviews never published before.


We adore Betty MacDonald fan club honor member Mr. Tigerli 


Thank you so much for sharing this witty memories with us.


Wolfgang Hampel's literary event Vita Magica is very fascinating because he is going to include Betty MacDonald, other members of the Bard family and Betty MacDonald fan club honor members.

It's simply great to read Wolfgang Hampel's  new very well researched  stories about Betty MacDonald, Robert Eugene Heskett, Donald Chauncey MacDonald, Darsie Bard, Sydney Bard, Gammy, Alison Bard Burnett,  Darsie Beck, Mary Bard Jensen, Clyde Reynolds Jensen, Sydney Cleveland Bard, Mary Alice Bard, Dorothea DeDe Goldsmith, Madge Baldwin, Don Woodfin, Mike Gordon, Ma and Pa Kettle, Nancy and Plum, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and others.

 


Linde Lund and many fans from all over the world  adore this funny sketch by Wolfgang Hampel very much although our German isn't the best.

I won't ever forget the way Wolfgang Hampel is shouting ' Brexit '.

Don't miss it, please.

It's simply great!

You can hear that Wolfgang Hampel got an outstandig voice.

He presented one of Linde Lund's favourite songs ' Try to remember ' like a professional singer.

Thanks a million!

Betty MacDonald fan club honor member Mr. Tigerli  and our 'Italian Betty MacDonald' - Betty MacDonald fan club honor member author and artist Letizia Mancino belong to the most popular Betty MacDonald fan club teams in our history.

Their many devoted fans are waiting for a new Mr. Tigerli adventure.

Letizia Mancino's  magical Betty MacDonald Gallery  is a special gift for Betty MacDonald fan club fans from all over the world.


Don't miss Brad Craft's 'More friends', please. 

Betty MacDonald's very beautiful Vashon Island is one of my favourites.


I agree with Betty in this very witty Betty MacDonald story  Betty MacDonald: Nothing more to say by Wolfgang Hampel.

I can't imagine to live in a country with him as so-called elected President although there are very good reasons to remain there to fight against these brainless politics.


Democrats are criticizing President Donald Trump for firing U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, saying it is a further window into the character of Mr. Trump and an effort to sideline critical voices in the judicial branch.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York), who represents the state in which Bharara is based, said he was “caught off guard” by the announcement and that Bharara will be “sorely missed” in New York.






Don't miss these very interesting articles below, please.

Did dinosaurs fart their way to extinction?



We don't know what those other cycles were caused by in the past. Could be dinosaur flatulence, you know, or who knows? - Dana Rohrabacher


Lately, it appears Trump has gone back into the field to drag in a whole new bunch of State contenders. 

My favorite is Representative Dana Rohrabacher of California, a person you have probably never heard of even though he’s been in Congress since the 1980s and is currently head of the prestigious Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats.
Rohrabacher is also a surfer and former folk singer who once claimed global warming might be connected to “dinosaur flatulence.” 

Did dinosaurs fart their way to extinction?



I think the future dinosaur flatulence will be the behaviour of 'Pussy' and his very strange government.

Poor World!    Poor America! 

Don't miss these very interesting articles below, please.


The most difficult case in Mrs.Piggle-Wiggle's career


mrs. piggle wiggle's magic_korean_2011_hardcover_FRONT



Hello 'Pussy', this is Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. 

You took calls from foreign leaders on unsecured phone lines, without consultung the State Department. We have to change your silly behaviour with a new Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle cure. I know you are the most difficult case in my career - but we have to try everything.......................




















Betty MacDonald fan club founder Wolfgang Hampel sent his brilliant thoughts. Thank you so much dear Wolfgang! 

Betty MacDonald: Nothing more to say

Copyright 2016 by Wolfgang Hampel

All rights reserved 


Betty MacDonald was sitting on her egg-shaped cloud and listened to a rather strange guy.

He said to his friends: So sorry to keep you waiting. Very complicated business! Very complicated!

Betty said: Obviously much too complicated for you old toupee!

Besides him ( by the way the  First Lady's place ) his 10 year old son was bored to death and listened to this 'exciting' victory speech. 

The old man could be his great-grandfather.

The boy was very tired and thought: I don't know what this old guy is talking about. Come on and finish it, please. I'd like to go to bed.

Dear 'great-grandfather' continued  and praised the Democratic candidate.

He congratulated her and her family for a very strong campaign although he wanted to put her in jail.

He always called her the most corrupt person ever and repeated it over and over again in the fashion of a Tibetan prayer wheel.

She is so corrupt. She is so corrupt.  Do you know how corrupt she is? 

Betty MacDonald couldn't believe it when he said: She has worked very long and very hard over a long period of time, and we owe her a major debt of gratitude for her service to our country.

Afterwards old toupee praised his parents, wife, children, siblings and friends. 

He asked the same question like a parrot all the time:

Where are you? Where are you? Where are you?
I know you are here!

Betty MacDonald answered: No Pussy they are not! They left the country.

They immigrated to Canada because they are very much afraid of the future in the U.S.A. with you as their leader like the majority of all so-called more or less normal citizens. 

By the way keep your finger far away from the pussies and the Red Button, please.


I'm going to fly with my egg-shaped cloud to Canada within a minute too.

Away - away - there is nothing more to say! 


Real vs. Ersatz







I am neither Christian enough nor charitable enough to like anybody just because he is alive and breathing. I want people to interest or amuse me. I want them fascinating and witty or so dul as to be different. I want them either intellectually stimulating or wonderfully corny; perfectly charming or hundred percent stinker. I like my chosen companions to be distinguishable from the undulating masses and I don't care how. - Betty MacDonald




Daniel Mount wrote a great article about Betty MacDonald and her garden.

We hope you'll enjoy it very much.

I adore Mount Rainier and Betty MacDonald's outstanding descriptions

Can you remember in which book you can find it?

If so let us know, please and you might be the next Betty MacDonald fan club contest winner. 

I hope we'll be able to read Wolfgang Hampel's  new very well researched  stories about Betty MacDonald, Robert Eugene Heskett, Donald Chauncey MacDonald, Darsie Bard, Sydney Bard, Gammy, Alison Bard Burnett,  Darsie Beck, Mary Bard Jensen, Clyde Reynolds Jensen, Sydney Cleveland Bard, Mary Alice Bard, Dorothea DeDe Goldsmith, Madge Baldwin, Don Woodfin, Mike Gordon, Ma and Pa Kettle, Nancy and Plum, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and others - very soon.

It' s such a pleasure to read them. 

Let's go to magical Betty MacDonald's  Vashon Island.



Betty MacDonald fan club organizer Linde Lund  and Betty MacDonald fan club research team share their recent Betty MacDonald fan club research results.

Congratulations! They found the most interesting and important info for Wolfgang Hampel's oustanding  Betty MacDonald biography.

I enjoy Bradley Craft's story very much.  


Don't miss our Betty MacDonald fan club contests, please. 

 
You can win a never published before Alison Bard Burnett interview by Betty MacDonald fan club founder Wolfgang Hampel. 

Good luck!  

This CD is a golden treasure because Betty MacDonald's very witty sister Alison Bard Burnett shares unique stories about Betty MacDonald, Mary Bard Jensen, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle and Nancy and Plum. 





Wolfgang Hampel's Betty MacDonald and Ma and Pa Kettle biography and Betty MacDonald interviews have fans in 40 countries. I'm one of their many devoted fans. 


Many Betty MacDonald  - and Wolfgang Hampel fans are very interested in a Wolfgang Hampel CD and DVD with his very funny poems and stories.


We are going to publish new Betty MacDonald essays on Betty MacDonald's gardens and nature in Washington State.
 

Betty MacDonald fan club honor member Mr. Tigerl is beloved all over the World.

We are so happy that our 'Casanova'  is back.



Betty MacDonald fan club founder Wolfgang Hampel and Betty MacDonald fan club research team are going to share very interesting info on ' Betty MacDonald and the movie The Egg and I '. 

Another rare episode (from March 21 1952) of the short-lived comedy soap opera, "The Egg and I," based on best selling book by Betty MacDonald which also became a popular film.

The series premiered on September 3, 1951, the same day as "Search for Tomorrow," and ended on August 1, 1952. 

Although it did well in the ratings, it had difficulty attracting a steady sponsor. This episode features Betty Lynn (later known for her work on "The Andy Griffith Show") as Betty MacDonald, John Craven as Bob MacDonald, Doris Rich as Ma Kettle, and Frank Twedell as Pa Kettle.


Betty MacDonald fan club exhibition will be fascinating with the international book editions and letters by Betty MacDonald.

 
I can't wait to see the new Betty MacDonald documentary.

Enjoy a great breakfast at the bookstore with Brad and Nick, please.


Wishing you a very good start today,
Sandra  




Dare we face the question of just how much of the darkness around us is of our own making? - Betty MacDonald



Don't miss this very special book, please.




Vita Magica Betty MacDonald event with Wolfgang Hampel, Thomas Bödigheimer and Friedrich von Hoheneichen

Vita Magica 

Betty MacDonald 

Betty MacDonald fan club 

Betty MacDonald fan club on Facebook

Betty MacDonald forum  

Wolfgang Hampel - Wikipedia ( English ) 

Wolfgang Hampel - Wikipedia ( English ) - The Egg and I 

Wolfgang Hampel - Wikipedia ( Polski)   

Wolfgang Hampel - Wikipedia ( German )

Wolfgang Hampel - LinkFang ( German ) 

Wolfgang Hampel - Academic ( German )

Wolfgang Hampel -   

Wolfgang Hampel - DBpedia  ( English / German )

Wolfgang Hampel - people check ( English ) 

Wolfgang Hampel - Memim ( English )

Vashon Island - Wikipedia ( German )

Wolfgang Hampel - Monica Sone - Wikipedia ( English )

Wolfgang Hampel - Ma and Pa Kettle - Wikipedia ( English )

Wolfgang Hampel - Ma and Pa Kettle - Wikipedia ( French ) 


Wolfgang Hampel - Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle - Wikipedia ( English)

Wolfgang Hampel in Florida State University 

Betty MacDonald fan club founder Wolfgang Hampel 

Betty MacDonald fan club interviews on CD/DVD

Betty MacDonald fan club items 

Betty MacDonald fan club items  - comments

Betty MacDonald fan club - The Stove and I  

Betty MacDonald fan club groups 


Betty MacDonald fan club organizer Linde Lund  


Betty MacDonald fan club organizer Greta Larson

Betty MacDonald fan club fan Heiderose Teynor 

Rita Knobel Ulrich - Islam in Germany - a very interesting ZDF  ( 2nd German Television ) documentary with English subtitles 



Today in Trump: March 13, 2017




President Donald Trump listens during a meeting on healthcare in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Friday, March 10, 2017.
Evan Vucci, AP

Trump Schedule 

President Trump is at the White House.

What you missed yesterday

Democrats blast Trump for firing U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara

Democrats are criticizing President Donald Trump for firing U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, saying it is a further window into the character of Mr. Trump and an effort to sideline critical voices in the judicial branch.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-New York), who represents the state in which Bharara is based, said he was “caught off guard” by the announcement and that Bharara will be “sorely missed” in New York.

Rand Paul: Conservatives “not going to vote for” GOP health care plan

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) hasn’t been shy about his issues with the Republican health care overhaul plan -- and on Sunday, he said congressional conservatives are “not going to vote for it.”
“Right now I think there’s a charm offensive going on -- everybody’s being nice to everybody because they want us to vote for this, but we’re not going to vote for it,” Paul told CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
Paul said House Speaker Paul Ryan is pitching the health care bill as a “binary choice” between his overhaul plan and Obamacare as it currently stands -- and isn’t interested in negotiating with the more conservative members of his party.

Paul Ryan says he hasn’t seen anything to support Trump’s wiretapping claims

House Speaker Paul Ryan said in an interview airing Sunday that he has not seen anything to suggest former President Obama wiretapped President Donald Trump during the 2016 election -- but that what Mr. Trump tweets is “outside of [his] control” and that the congressional investigation will clear up the truth.
“That’s outside of my control, what is tweeted or what isn’t tweeted. We’re focused on health care. The president’s focused on health care,” Ryan said in an interview with CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “I think he’s frustrated with this whole thing about Russia. I think he’s frustrated with selective leaks coming from parts of government that malign his campaign.”

Putin aide says Russia is frustrated with Trump administration

The spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin is expressing frustration with the inconclusive first two months of relations between Moscow and the Trump administration
The election of President Trump, who had spoken admiringly of Putin and called for improved US-Russia relations, had raised hopes in the Kremlin. But Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says there are no signs of progress yet. 

“Face the Nation”

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont; and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, appear on “Face the Nation” with host John Dickerson Sunday.

Lawmakers demand evidence for Trump’s wiretap claim

The House intelligence committee is asking the Trump administration for evidence that the phones at Trump Tower were tapped during the campaign as its namesake has charged.
President Donald Trump asserted in a tweet last week: “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” He continued the allegation against former President Barack Obama in other tweets but offered no evidence.

Schedule

The president is at the White House.




Revised Trump travel ban gets first legal blow










AFP
WASHINGTON 

President Donald Trump's revamped travel ban is facing its first major legal setback, after a federal judge halted enforcement of the directive that would deny US entry to the wife and child of a Syrian refugee already granted asylum.
In a preliminary restraining order issued Friday that applies only to the Syrian man and his family, US District Judge William Conley in Wisconsin said the plaintiff"is at great risk of suffering irreparable harm" if the directive is carried out. The man chose to remain anonymous because his wife and child are still living in war-wracked Aleppo.
The order marked the first ruling against the revised directive, which temporarily closes US borders to all refugees and citizens from six mainly-Muslim countries.
It denies US entry to all refugees for 120 days and halts for 90 days the granting of visas to nationals from Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Sudan. The new order, unveiled Monday, is due to go into effect March 16. Lifting an indefinite Syrian refugee travel ban and reducing the number of blacklisted countries by removing Iraq, it replaces a previous iteration issued in January that was blocked in federal court."The court appreciates that there may be important differences between the original executive order and the revised executive order issued on March 6, 2017," Conley wrote.
"As the order applies to the plaintiff here, however, the court finds his claims have at least some chance of prevailing for the reasons articulated by other courts."
He set a hearing for March 21. In another legal challenge, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a complaint on behalf of several refugee assistance groups over the controversial executive order.
The suit alleges that the new executive order violates the constitutional protection of freedom of religion in that it is"intended and designed to target and discriminate against Muslims, and it does just that in operation."

U.S.

Trump’s New Travel Ban May Be Hard to Beat. But States Are Trying.














Attorney General Bob Ferguson of Washington, in Seattle on Thursday, said President Trump’s new travel ban was less sweeping than the original, “but that does not mean it has cured its constitutional problems.” Credit Jason Redmond/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
President Trump’s executive order banning travel from six predominantly Muslim countries faced a new front of opposition from the states on Thursday, as the attorney general of Washington announced that he would seek to block the order from taking effect next week.
Backed by several fellow Democratic attorneys general, Bob Ferguson of Washington said he would ask a federal district judge, James Robart, to extend an order freezing the first version of Mr. Trump’s travel ban and apply it to the updated restrictions the White House unveiled on Monday.
In a news conference on Thursday, Mr. Ferguson acknowledged that Mr. Trump’s updated order was less sweeping than its predecessor. But he argued that the travel restrictions remained “effectively a Muslim ban,” with many of the same legal weaknesses as the first version.
“It’s fair to say that the revised executive order does narrow the scope of who’s impacted by it in an adverse way,” Mr. Ferguson said. “But that does not mean it has cured its constitutional problems.”




His announcement in Seattle opened a new phase in the legal battle over Mr. Trump’s attempt to sharply limit travel to the United States from a group of majority-Muslim countries — including Syria, Libya and Iran — as a collection of Democratic-leaning states that attacked the first ban increasingly mass their efforts behind Mr. Ferguson’s litigation.

Among the attorneys general backing Mr. Ferguson on Thursday were Eric T. Schneiderman of New York and Maura Healey of Massachusetts, both of whom dropped separate litigation against Mr. Trump to join Mr. Ferguson’s suit, and Ellen F. Rosenblum of Oregon. Mr. Ferguson and his colleagues, along with Attorney General Lori Swanson of Minnesota, are expected to file updated complaints aimed at taking down the new travel order in the coming days.
The attorney general of Hawaii, Doug Chin, who is also a Democrat, filed a separate lawsuit earlier this week challenging the constitutionality of Mr. Trump’s adjusted order and asking a different court to prevent it from going into effect.
The White House has projected confidence that Mr. Trump’s decree will survive the scrutiny of courts, after the rollout of his initial travel ban ended in a series of embarrassing legal defeats last month.

Sean Spicer, Mr. Trump’s chief spokesman, told reporters on Thursday that the White House was “very comfortable” with the defensibility of the new order. He said the administration was not concerned about the challenge filed by Hawaii.
Mr. Trump and his advisers have presented the travel regulations as an effort to protect national security and insist they are not motivated by religious discrimination, though Mr. Trump campaigned on banning Muslim travelers from entering the country.

“We feel very confident with how that was crafted and the input that was given,” Mr. Spicer said of the new order.
Still, the renewed legal assault on Mr. Trump’s policy could drag his administration into another messy court battle, even as Mr. Trump has tried to shift his attention away from the travel ban and toward a complex and politically fraught overhaul of the health care system.


In redrawing Mr. Trump’s executive order on travel from the Middle East, the administration had hoped to eliminate many of the vulnerabilities that doomed the first version. Federal courts imposed a national freeze on its implementation, prompting Mr. Trump to attack the judiciary — and Judge Robart specifically — in an outburst on Twitter.

Aiming to head off another courtroom quagmire, Mr. Trump explicitly exempted several categories of travelers from the revised ban, including green card holders and people with other existing visas, and eliminated a provision that would have given special treatment to Christians.

It also removed Iraq from the list of countries covered and got rid of a permanent ban on refugee admissions from Syria. And rather than taking immediate effect, like the first presidential decree, the new order has an effective date of March 16.

But Mr. Ferguson said Washington State would argue in court that it should be up to a judge, not Mr. Trump, to decide if his new policy can go into effect, given that a court blocked the implementation of a similar executive order while litigation unfolds.
Allowing Mr. Trump’s new order to go into effect, Mr. Ferguson said, could lead to a “game of whack-a-mole,” in which the president could answer any court’s rebuke by making modest tweaks to his own policy and then hastening to implement it.

Among Democratic attorneys general, there is broad consensus that Mr. Trump’s new order may be more difficult to fight in court. Mr. Ferguson repeatedly acknowledged that it would affect fewer people than the earlier order, while insisting that there was clear evidence that Mr. Trump intended the restrictions to function as a crackdown on Muslim travelers.
Mr. Ferguson said his office was in touch with a number of people and institutions that would be harmed by the new ban, including public universities and Washington residents with family overseas, in crafting its case against the executive order. Noah Purcell, the solicitor general of Washington State, said there had also been “conversations with businesses in Washington” about the order’s impact on the state.
Mr. Purcell also suggested that the state would highlight comments from Trump administration officials describing the new travel ban as a modest revision, to show that it was intended to dispense with legal challenges without meaningfully changing policy.
He appeared to be alluding in part to a statement from Stephen Miller, a senior aide to Mr. Trump, who said on television that the new ban would have the same “basic policy outcome” as the previous version.
Hawaii’s attorney general also cited Mr. Miller’s statement in his complaint challenging the new ban.



























Politics

White House Officials Say Trump Isn’t Target of Any Investigation















 
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters on Wednesday: “There is no reason that we have to think the president is the target of any investigation whatsoever.” Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times
WASHINGTON — White House officials declared on Wednesday that President Trump was not the target of an investigation, five days after Mr. Trump himself raised the prospect with an unsubstantiated claim that his predecessor ordered the wiretapping of Trump Tower.
After first refusing to disavow Mr. Trump’s allegations, made in a series of Twitter posts, and instead calling for Congress to investigate them, the press secretary, Sean Spicer, told reporters, “There is no reason that we have to think the president is the target of any investigation whatsoever.”
Mr. Spicer’s statement, which he read from a sheet of paper that was handed to him at the end of his briefing, reinforced the conundrum Mr. Trump’s tweets have created for the White House: Either the president’s assertions are baseless, or he may have implicated himself in a government investigation of contacts between his presidential campaign and Russia.
Until Wednesday, Mr. Spicer had steadfastly declined to discuss Mr. Trump’s assertion that former President Barack Obama ordered wiretap surveillance of Trump Tower — an act that Mr. Trump condemned as a scandal comparable in scale to McCarthyism or Watergate.




Early into Wednesday’s briefing, Mr. Spicer stuck to the policy he has followed since the storm broke over Mr. Trump’s posts. Asked whether the president was the target of a counterintelligence inquiry, he replied: “I think that’s what we need to find out. There’s obviously a lot of concern.”

















 
President Trump during a meeting at the White House on Tuesday. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times
But after an aide slipped Mr. Spicer a note, he circled back to clarify that “there is no reason to believe there is any type of investigation with respect to the Department of Justice.” The press secretary insisted he was not disavowing the president, who posted his tweets early on Saturday morning from Mar-a-Lago, his resort in Palm Beach, Fla.
“The tweet dealt with wiretaps,” Mr. Spicer said. “The other is an investigation. They are two separate issues.”

While the F.B.I. is conducting a wide-ranging counterintelligence investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election, there is no public evidence that Mr. Trump is a target. The Justice Department defines “target” as someone whom investigators have substantial evidence against and who is likely to be indicted.

Current and former officials have said repeatedly that although they were concerned about intelligence suggesting meetings between associates of Mr. Trump’s and Russian officials, they have developed no evidence of collusion between Mr. Trump’s campaign and Russia’s hacking efforts. Mr. Spicer cited the former director of national intelligence, James R. Clapper Jr., who last Sunday made that point on the NBC program “Meet the Press.”
But Mr. Clapper also said he had no knowledge the government had sought a warrant from a foreign intelligence court to install a wiretap in Trump Tower. On Saturday, the director of the F.B.I., James B. Comey, asked the Justice Department to publicly reject Mr. Trump’s claim that his agency had wiretapped his phones. The department has refused to do so.

Mr. Spicer complained bitterly about news media coverage of ties between Mr. Trump and Russia, saying it was fueled by leaks from anonymous sources, none of which had been substantiated.

“It’s interesting how many times this fake narrative gets repeated over and over and over again,” he said. “And yet no evidence has ever been suggested that shows the president has anything to do with any of the things that are being said. It’s a recycled story, over and over and over again.”

The problem for the White House is that Mr. Trump fueled this week’s cycle of stories himself. On Wednesday, the top Republican and Democrat on the Senate’s Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism asked the F.B.I. and the Justice Department for evidence that the government had sought legal permission to tap Mr. Trump’s phones.
The request came in a letter from Senators Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, and Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island, to Mr. Comey and the acting deputy attorney general, Dana Boente. Mr. Boente is overseeing the Russia inquiry because Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from any cases involving the Trump campaign and Russia, after acknowledging he met with Russia’s ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak.

“We request that the Department of Justice provide us copies of any warrant applications and court orders — redacted as necessary to protect intelligence sources and methods that may be compromised by disclosure, and to protect any ongoing investigations — related to wiretaps of President Trump, the Trump campaign or Trump Tower,” the senators wrote.



With no evidence of wiretaps emerging, the White House has been forced into a defensive communications strategy. It has curtailed Mr. Trump’s appearances before cameras, where reporters could ask him about his claims. Mr. Spicer held his briefing on Monday without TV cameras, though on Tuesday and Wednesday, he answered questions at length and before the cameras.
On Tuesday, the administration sent the secretary of homeland security, John F. Kelly, on CNN, where he, too, provided no evidence of any wiretapping. However, Mr. Kelly said, “if the president of the United States said that, he’s got his reasons to say it.”







Donald Trump has 'no regrets' about accusing Barack Obama of wiretapping, says Sean Spicer



Donald Trump has "no regrets" about accusing his predecessor of wiretapping Trump Tower, the White House press secretary has insisted.
Sean Spicer said that Mr Trump's explosive allegations over the weekend still stood, and that the president would now wait for investigations to run their course.

Asked whether it was not a waste of time and money for congressional and senatorial committees to investigate Mr Trump's baseless allegations, Mr Spicer replied that it was "not about new proof". 
 
The White House press secretary devoted much of his press conference to detailing Monday night's proposal for a new Republican healthcare plan.
He also sought to clarify Mr Trump's accusation that Mr Obama had made “another terrible decision” to release prisoners from Guantanamo Bay - and wrongly stating official figures to justify his attack.
In a day which was designed to be all about the Republicans’ much-vaunted healthcare plans, Mr Trump started the day by claiming that 122 “vicious” Guantanamo inmates had returned to the battlefield, “released by the Obama administration”. 
In fact, only nine of the 122 were released under Mr Obama’s administration, according to the September report by the Director of National Intelligence.
The vast majority - 113 – were released by George W Bush.



And the Twitter storm came, as ever, during the morning breakfast shows. Mr Trump appeared at times to be live-tweeting Fox News, joining in the conversation with their Twitter handle @FoxAndFriends.
He then launched a defence of his six-week old administration, amid a series of reports at the weekend detailing blazing, expletive-filled rows within the Oval Office, and staff members being “grounded” in Mr Trump’s fury.
“Don't let the FAKE NEWS tell you that there is big infighting in the Trump Admin. We are getting along great, and getting major things done!” he tweeted.
He also then went on to express his support for the Republican plans to repeal and replace the hated Obamacare health system, which were unveiled on Monday night.

Democrats reacted with predictable anger, pointing out that there was no detail on how the scheme would be paid for and saying it would harm poorer Americans.
“Trumpcare doesn’t replace the Affordable Care Act, it forces millions of Americans to pay more for less care,” said Chuck Schumer, the Democrat leader of the senate.
More worryingly for the Republicans, many within their own party expressed concerns. Rand Paul, the high-profile Kentucky senator, described it as “Obamacare light,” saying it did not go far enough.
The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, also described it as “flawed”, and on Tuesday night the Freedom Caucus, a group of around 30 hard-liners in the House who criticised earlier versions of the bill, will meet to discuss the health-care bill, and consider presenting a list of demands to Republican leaders.


Jason Chaffetz, the Utah congressman who is chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, made a clumsy defence of the plan, and brushed off the suggestion that it could lead to less coverage for low-income Americans.
“Americans have choices, and they have got to make a choice,” he said. “So maybe rather than getting that iPhone they just love, that they want to go spend hundreds of dollars on, maybe they should invest in their own health care. They’ve got to make those decisions themselves.”
A new iPhone currently costs around $700 (£575). But a year of health insurance for an individual is over $6,000, meaning that an iPhone is only slightly more than one month of insurance.


Donald Trump's travel ban: President facing new legal threat as FBI investigate 300 refugees for links to Isil



President Donald Trump on Monday signed a long-awaited new travel ban as it emerged that the FBI is investigating 300 people admitted as refugees for links to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. 

The ban was immediately met with threats of legal action. Eric Schneiderman, New York's attorney general, said he was scrutinising the new order and stood ready to challenge it.

“While the White House may have made changes to the ban, the intent to discriminate against Muslims remains clear,” he said. “This doesn’t just harm the families caught in the chaos of President Trump’s draconian policies – it’s diametrically opposed to our values, and makes us less safe.”
 
Mr Trump signed the executive order into effect on Monday following conference calls from his staff explaining the provisos in the law.


At the same time, the department of homeland security told congressmen that the FBI was investigating 300 people admitted as refugees for links to the so-called Islamic State. The 300 refugees were part of 1,000 counterterrorism investigations involving Islamic State or individuals inspired by the militant group, congressional sources said. No details were given as to the cases, or the time frame.


But the news was clearly timed to boost support for Mr Trump’s ban.
According to his executive order, all refugee arrivals will be stopped for a period of 120 days. Unlike in the previous text, Syrian refugees are not singled out for a permanent ban on entry.
Furthermore, citizens from six countries will, from March 16, be prevented from entering the United States, unless they have previously been granted a visa.




Iraq has been dropped from the list of six countries – now only citizens of Iran, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya and Yemen are banned.  
And the new ban does not priorities entry for “persecuted minorities” – a proviso which critics said unfairly blocked the entry of Muslims.
Mr Trump’s first attempt to implement a travel ban, in January, was a chaotic series of announcements, clarifications, wrongful detentions, protests and court cases that culminated in an appeals court ruling that it was unlawful. Nigeria - a country not on the list - on Monday warned its citizens not to travel to the US after many were sent home at the airport.
But this time round the administration was determined to ensure that the roll-out of the ban was smooth.
Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state, on Monday used a press conference to reassure US allies that the measures would be implemented in an “orderly” way.
“As threats to our security continue to evolve and change, common sense dictates that we continually reevaluate and reassess the systems we rely upon to protect our country,” he said. “While no system can be made completely infallible, the American people can have high confidence we are identifying ways to improve the vetting process and thus keep terrorists from entering our country.




“To our allies and partners around the world, please understand this order is part of our ongoing efforts to eliminate vulnerabilities that radical Islamist terrorists can and will exploit for destructive ends.”
He explained that the decision to drop Iraq from the list of countries was due to an “intense review” of security procedures, and a realisation that the state department and the government of Iraq were already working on a rigorous screening programme.
Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, then laid out why the government felt the ban was necessary, stating that “the majority of people convicted in our courts for terrorism-related offenses since 9/11 came here from abroad.”
He added: “The department of justice believes that this executive order, just as the first executive order, is a lawful and proper exercise of presidential authority.”
John Kelly, the homeland security chief, said: “Unregulated, unvetted travel is not a universal privilege, especially when national security is at stake.”
The roll-out was greeted with approval by most Republicans – even those who initially criticised the first attempt.
Paul Ryan, speaker of the house, praised it while Lindsey Graham, a Republican senator known for his scathing response to many of Mr Trump’s actions, said he thought it would withstand legal challenges.
"It's drafted in a fashion as to not be a religious ban, but a ban on individuals coming from compromised governments and failed states,” he said. “This executive order will help achieve President Trump’s goal of making us safer."




Bob Ferguson, the attorney general for Washington state - who successfully challenged Mr Trump's initial travel ban in court – said the president "has capitulated on numerous key provisions blocked by our lawsuit."


They include banning legal permanent residents, visa holders and dual citizens from entering the country, as well as explicit preferences based on religion.
But critics of the travel ban were not impressed by the new wording. Amnesty International described it as “wrong-headed and counter-productive.”





Ben Carson tries to clarify slave comments




Ben Carson, the new secretary of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), is facing a backlash after referring to slaves brought to the United States against their will as "immigrants", writes Chris Graham.
In an introductory speech to staff at the HUD after he was confirmed by the Senate last week, Mr Carson shared anecdotes from his past career as a neurosurgeon and praised immigrants who worked long hours to build a better life for their children.


Politics

Trump, Offering No Evidence, Says Obama Tapped His Phones





 
President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald J. Trump on Inauguration Day. Mr. Trump has praised Mr. Obama repeatedly since taking office. But on Saturday, he called his predecessor a “bad (or sick) guy.” Credit Damon Winter/The New York Times
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — President Trump on Saturday accused former President Barack Obama of tapping his phones at Trump Tower the month before the election, leveling the explosive allegation without offering any evidence.
Mr. Trump called his predecessor a “bad (or sick) guy” on Twitter as he fired off a series of messages claiming that Mr. Obama “had my ‘wires tapped.’” He likened the supposed tapping to “Nixon/Watergate” and “McCarthyism,” though he did not say where he had gotten his information.



A spokesman for Mr. Obama said any suggestion that the former president had ordered such surveillance was “simply false.”
During the 2016 campaign, the federal authorities began an investigation into links between Trump associates and the Russian government, an issue that continues to dog Mr. Trump. His aides declined to clarify on Saturday whether the president’s allegations were based on briefings from intelligence or law enforcement officials — which could mean that Mr. Trump was revealing previously unknown details about the investigation — or on something else, like a news report.




But a senior White House official said that Donald F. McGahn II, the president’s chief counsel, was working to secure access to what Mr. McGahn believed to be an order issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court authorizing some form of surveillance related to Mr. Trump and his associates.
The official offered no evidence to support the notion that such an order exists. It would be a highly unusual breach of the Justice Department’s traditional independence on law enforcement matters for the White House to order it to turn over such an investigative document.
Any request for information from a top White House official about a continuing investigation would be a stunning departure from protocols intended to insulate the F.B.I. from political pressure. It would be even more surprising for the White House to seek information about a case directly involving the president or his advisers, as does the case involving the Russia contacts.
After the White House received heavy criticism for the suggestion that Mr. McGahn would breach Justice Department independence, a different administration official said that the earlier statements about his efforts had been overstated. The official said the counsel’s office was looking at whether there was any legal possibility of gleaning information without impeding or interfering with an investigation. The counsel’s office does not know whether an investigation exists, the official said.
Last month, Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff, came under fire for asking a top F.B.I. official to publicly rebut news reports about contacts between Trump campaign officials and the Russian government.
Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, said in a statement that the “White House counsel is reviewing what options, if any, are available to us.” Mr. McGahn did not respond to a request for comment. He was traveling on Saturday to Florida to join the president at his estate, Mar-a-Lago.
The president’s decision on Saturday to lend the power of his office to accusations against his predecessor of politically motivated wiretapping — without offering any proof — was remarkable, even for a leader who has repeatedly shown himself willing to make assertions that are false or based on dubious sources.
It would have been difficult for federal agents, working within the law, to obtain a wiretap order to target Mr. Trump’s phone conversations. It would have meant that the Justice Department had gathered sufficient evidence to convince a federal judge that there was probable cause to believe Mr. Trump had committed a serious crime or was an agent of a foreign power, depending on whether it was a criminal investigation or a foreign intelligence one.
Former officials pointed to longstanding laws and procedures intended to ensure that presidents cannot wiretap a rival for political purposes.
“A cardinal rule of the Obama administration was that no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the Department of Justice,” said Kevin Lewis, a spokesman for Mr. Obama. “As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen.”
Mr. Trump asserted just the opposite in a series of five Twitter messages beginning just minutes before sunrise in Florida, where the president is spending the weekend.
In the first message, the president said he had “just found out” that “Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower” before the election. Mr. Trump’s reference to “wires tapped” raised the possibility that he was referring to some other type of electronic surveillance and was using the idea of phone tapping loosely.

The president was adamant in conversations with several people throughout the day on Saturday that he believed he was right about the wiretaps, according to three people with direct knowledge of those conversations.
Two people close to Mr. Trump said they believed he was referring to a Breitbart News article, which aides said had been passed around among his advisers. Mark Levin, a conservative radio host, had also embraced the theory recently in a push against what right-leaning commentators have been calling the “deep state.”
The Breitbart article, published on Friday, claimed that there was a series of “known steps taken by President Barack Obama’s administration in its last months to undermine Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and, later, his new administration.” Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s chief strategist, once led Breitbart News.
If Mr. Trump was motivated to take to Twitter after reading the Breitbart article or listening to Mr. Levin, he was using a presidential megaphone to spread dark theories of a broad conspiracy aimed at undermining his presidential ambitions, and later his presidency.
Even with the Breitbart article circulating, several of Mr. Trump’s advisers were stunned by the president’s morning Twitter outburst. Those advisers said they were uncertain about what specifically Mr. Trump was referring to; one surmised that he may also have been referring to a months-old news report about a secret surveillance warrant for communications at his New York offices.
One senior law enforcement official from the Obama administration, who has direct knowledge of the F.B.I. investigation into Russia and of government wiretapping, said that it was “100 percent untrue” that the government had wiretapped Mr. Trump. The official, who asked for anonymity to discuss matters related to investigations and intelligence, said the White House owed the American people an explanation for the president’s allegations.
Ben Rhodes, a former top national security aide to Mr. Obama, said in a Twitter message directed at Mr. Trump on Saturday that “no president can order a wiretap” and added, “Those restrictions were put in place to protect citizens from people like you.”



 
Mr. Trump claimed the Obama administration ordered the phoned at his building in New York tapped. Credit Victor J. Blue for The New York Times
The House and Senate Intelligence Committees are moving forward with their own investigations into Russia’s efforts to influence the election, and they have said they will examine links between Mr. Trump’s associates and the Russians.
Senator Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware, said on Friday that he believed there were “transcripts” that would help document those contacts, though he said he had not yet seen them.
“There are transcripts that provide very helpful, very critical insights into whether or not Russian intelligence or senior Russian political leaders — including Vladimir Putin — were cooperating, were colluding, with the Trump campaign at the highest levels to influence the outcome of our election,” Mr. Coons told Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC. “I believe they exist.”


In a written statement on Saturday, a spokesman for Mr. Coons said that the senator “did not imply that he is aware of transcripts indicating collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.” The spokesman, Sean Coit, said Mr. Coons had “simply stated that a full review of all relevant transcripts and intelligence intercepts is necessary to determine if collusion took place.”
The New York Times reported in January that among the associates whose links to Russia are being scrutinized are Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s onetime campaign chairman; Carter Page, a businessman and foreign policy adviser to the campaign; and Roger Stone, a longtime Republican operative who said he was in touch with WikiLeaks at one point before it released a trove of emails from John D. Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, last August. Mr. Stone later said he had communicated with WikiLeaks through an intermediary.
Mr. Trump appeared on Saturday to suggest that warrants had been issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. He claimed that the Obama administration had once been “turned down by court” in its supposed efforts to listen in on conversations by Mr. Trump and his associates.



In the fall, the F.B.I. examined computer data showing an odd stream of activity between a Trump Organization server and Alfa Bank, one of Russia’s biggest banks, whose owners have longstanding links to Mr. Putin. While some F.B.I. officials initially believed that the computer activity indicated an encrypted channel between Moscow and New York, the bureau ultimately moved away from that view. The activity remains unexplained.

There is no confirmed evidence that the F.B.I. obtained a court warrant to wiretap the Trump Organization or was capturing communications directly from the Trump Organization.
During the transition, the F.B.I. — which uses FISA warrants to eavesdrop on the communications of foreign leaders inside the United States — overheard conversations between the Russian ambassador to the United States and Michael T. Flynn, whom Mr. Trump had named national security adviser.
Mr. Trump has pointedly and repeatedly questioned in conversations how it was that Mr. Flynn’s conversations were recorded, and wondered who could have issued a warrant.

After The Washington Post reported that Mr. Flynn and the ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, had discussed sanctions that the Obama administration had just imposed on Russia, Mr. Flynn was pushed out of his post by the White House because he had lied to Vice President Mike Pence about the nature of the calls.
The Breitbart article cited mainstream news reports and concluded — going beyond the public record — that the Obama administration had “obtained authorization to eavesdrop on the Trump campaign; continued monitoring the Trump team even when no evidence of wrongdoing was found; then relaxed the N.S.A. rules to allow evidence to be shared widely within the government.”

Mr. Levin, a day earlier, railed about what he called a “much bigger scandal,” claiming — again with no proof — that Mr. Obama and his aides had used “the instrumentalities of the federal government, intelligence activity, to surveil members of the Trump campaign and put that information out in the public.”
Several senior members of Mr. Trump’s White House staff did not respond to an email requesting on-the-record responses to more than a half-dozen questions about Mr. Trump’s Twitter posts.

Representative Adam B. Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, denounced the “willingness of the nation’s chief executive to make the most outlandish and destructive claims without providing a scintilla of evidence to support them.”

Even some Republican lawmakers questioned Mr. Trump’s accusations. Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska issued a statement demanding that the president reveal everything he knows about any wiretaps or warrants.
“The president today made some very serious allegations, and the informed citizens that a republic requires deserve more information,” Mr. Sasse said, adding that “we are in the midst of a civilization-warping crisis of public trust.”
Taping calls seems to hold a spot in Mr. Trump’s consciousness. He spent many years taping his own phone calls as a businessman. During the campaign, Mr. Trump’s staff members told reporters they feared that their offices were being bugged.

But Mr. Trump’s latest allegations represented a sharp change in his tone toward Mr. Obama.
The current president has frequently spoken about how much he admires Mr. Obama for the gracious way he handled the transition. But since taking office, Mr. Trump has frequently clashed with the intelligence agencies over the Russia inquiries, including efforts to examine the attempts by that country to influence the presidential election and the contacts between Mr. Trump’s aides and the Russian government.
In recent days, the president has appeared increasingly angry about leaks of information that he believes are coming from law enforcement and intelligence officials who are holdovers or recently departed from Mr. Obama’s administration.
People close to Mr. Trump have described him as determined to stop those people from sabotaging his administration. One adviser said on Friday that the president had been discussing a possible plan to try to prevent leaks from occurring. The adviser declined to elaborate on what the plan might entail.
Two senior administration officials said Mr. Trump had tried for two days to find a way to be on an offensive footing against the news articles resulting from leaks; one person close to Mr. Trump said his explosive claim was a result of that.

Mr. Trump’s mood was said to be volatile even before he departed for his weekend in Florida, with an episode in which he vented at his staff. The president’s ire was trained in particular on Mr. McGahn, his White House counsel, according to two people briefed on the matter.

Mr. Trump was said to be frustrated about the decision by Jeff Sessions, his attorney general, to recuse himself from participating in any investigations of connections between the Trump campaign and Russia. Mr. Trump has said there were no such connections. Mr. Trump, who did not learn that Mr. Sessions was recusing himself until after the decision was made, told aides that it gave an opening to his critics on the Russia issue.


Continue reading the main story


Will Russia connection become the Trump administration's Watergate?

As more details emerge of meetings with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and TV hosts have a field day, the scandal seems unlikely to disappear soon
Donald Trump flew out of Washington on Friday but was unable to leave a gathering storm of allegations, intrigue and unanswered questions about his ties to Russia behind him.
The US president’s joint address to Congress this week was well received but was rapidly overshadowed by revelations that his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, had twice spoken with the Russian ambassador during last year’s presidential election.
As it has emerged that other members of the Trump campaign – including his son-in-law Jared Kushner – also met with the ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, the Kremlin connection seems destined to be the putative scandal that will not go away for the White House.





The relentless drip-drip of evidence has prompted comparisons with the Watergate affair that felled President Richard Nixon. It has also become regular sport for comedians on late-night TV. In Florida, the president was due to visit a school and meet Republican leaders on Friday but Democrats kept up the pressure in Washington. They argued that Sessions’ meetings with the ambassador contradicted his own sworn statements to Congress during his confirmation hearing. Sessions claimed on Thursday that he met the ambassador in his capacity as a senator, not as a campaign surrogate. On Friday, the White House tried to steer criticism of Trump associates and their meetings with Russian officials away, by drawing parallels with Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, who was photographed meeting with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, in 2003. In a characteristic diversionary tactic, Trump tweeted an old photo of Schumer and Putin smiling and snacking together with the message: “We should start an immediate investigation into @SenSchumer and his ties to Russia and Putin. A total hypocrite!” Schumer swiftly replied: “Happily talk re: my contact w Mr. Putin & his associates, took place in ’03 in full view of press & public under oath. Would you &your team?


Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer)
Happily talk re: my contact w Mr. Putin & his associates, took place in '03 in full view of press & public under oath. Would you &your team? https://t.co/yXgw3U8tmQ
March 3, 2017
Speaking to reporters, the White House deputy press secretary Sarah Sanders echoed the president: “I mean Chuck Schumer sitting and having drinks with Putin and that’s not a news story, but apparently a volunteer for a campaign bumping into one at a conference where there’s, again, dozens of other ambassadors is newsworthy.” Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, said the attorney general’s decision to recuse himself from an investigation into Russian-backed hackers’ interference in last year’s presidential election did not go far enough. “Everybody knew that there was something completely out of order that was going on, so for him to say, well, I was just meeting with him in the normal course of a senator meeting with an ambassador, the Russian ambassador, everybody knew was hacking our system is beyond naive,” she told an event organised by Politico in Washington. “It’s almost pathetic. It’s almost pathetic. “So he did not tell the truth, and now it has come out that he did not tell the truth, and now what you see is there are other people in the Trump administration who have met with the Russian ambassador, in view of some one of the biggest intelligence officers of the Russian government, in Washington DC.” Some US media reports have suggested that Kislyak acts as a spy recruiter, a charge that Moscow has ridiculed as paranoia.

Pelosi added: “So this recusal is an admission that something went on but it’s not sufficient. There are two things. One is the recusal as a surrogate of then candidate Trump’s campaign and having communication with the Russian government knowing they were hacking our system. That’s what the recusal is about, however narrow it is. “The other part of it is the possibility of perjury, which is punishable by law for anybody else. Certainly we should have that be standard for the highest-ranking law enforcement person in our country.” Sessions, who was the first senator to endorse Trump for president, told his confirmation hearing in January that he “did not have communications with the Russians” and did not know of any by other campaign staff. Democrats have variously called on him to recuse himself from all potential investigations, retestify before Congress, resign or be charged with perjury, while demanding an independent commission to investigate. Richard Blumenthal, senator for Connecticut, urged the embattled attorney general to return to the Senate judiciary committee to “testify under oath” about the conversation at his office with Kislyak. “I’d like him to explain what was said during that September 8 meeting,” Blumenthal told MSNBC’s Morning Joe program. “And what came of it, and also what other meetings there may have been, because if he misled us as to that meeting, what other meetings might he also have failed to disclose?”The congressman Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, has called for Sessions to quit, saying he “clearly misled” the Senate about contacts with Russian officials, and demanded that a special prosecutor be appointed.

Schiff also accused the FBI director, James Comey, of withholding crucial information about its investigation into Russian meddling in the election, and raised the prospect of subpoenaing the agency. “I would say at this point we know less than a fraction of what the FBI knows,” the California Democrat told reporters after a briefing with Comey. “I appreciate we had a long briefing and testimony from the director today, but in order for us to do our investigation in a thorough and credible way, we’re gonna need the FBI to fully cooperate, to be willing to tell us the length and breadth of any counterintelligence investigations they are conducting. At this point, the director was not willing to do that.” Speaking to Fox News on Thursday evening, Sessions, a former senator from Alabama, reiterated that he did not discuss the campaign with Kislyak. “When I campaigned for Trump, I was not involved with anything like that,” he said. “You can be sure.” Despite the conclusions of US intelligence agencies, Sessions refused to say whether Putin favoured Trump over Hillary Clinton in the presidential race. “I have never been told that,” he told the host, Tucker Carlson. “I don’t have any idea, Tucker – you’d have to ask them.”


Trump has consistently denied business or political ties with Russia but has also been conspicuously reluctant to criticise Putin and raised the prospect of reviewing sanctions against the country. Opponents argue there is circumstantial evidence that Trump colluded with Moscow to help his campaign but definitive proof has remained elusive. Last month Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was forced to resign amid controversy over his discussions with Kislyak in late December. On Thursday, it emerged that Kushner joined Flynn at a private meeting with the ambassador at Trump Tower in New York. Another campaign aide, Carter Page, did not deny meeting Kislyak during the Republican national convention. And the Wall Street Journal reported that Trump’s son, Donald Jr, was probably paid at least $50,000 for an appearance late last year at a French thinktank whose founder and wife have strong ties to Russia. Trump, meanwhile, said that Sessions was the target of a “witch-hunt” and declared his “total” confidence in him. He tweeted: “This whole narrative is a way of saving face for Democrats losing an election that everyone thought they were supposed to win. The Democrats are overplaying their hand. They lost the election, and now they have lost their grip on reality.”

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Donald Trump and the Russia connections: From Jeff Sessions' contacts with ambassador to 'campaign's intercepted calls with Moscow spies'







Traditional Russian wooden dolls depict Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin
 
Traditional Russian wooden dolls depict Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin Credit: AP
Less than a month into his tenure, Donald Trump's White House became embroiled in scandal as questions swirl about links between his campaign staff and Russian officials.
So far, the controversy has claimed one political scalp, with the resignation of Michael Flynn as National Security Adviser on the grounds that he misled the vice president about his contacts with a Russian ambassador.

Now, the Attorney General Jeff Sessions is facing calls to resign after it emerged he had two conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States during the presidential campaign season last year.
 

Some senior Republicans have issued their boldest challenge with a vow to get to the bottom of the matter, while Democrats have demanded an independent probe. 
Yet even from early on in the Republican's bid to be president, Russia and its leader Vladimir Putin have loomed large.
From warm words between leaders to a salacious dossier compiled by a former MI6 agent, here are the links to Russia that have overshadowed both Mr Trump's  candidacy and his presidency. 

The Trump and Putin 'bromance'

It was in the midst of the Republican primaries, with Mr Trump's place as the party's frontrunner for the nomination far from assured, when eyebrows were raised at the warm words exchanged by the Russian leader and the Republican presidential candidate.
Speaking after an annual televised press conference in December 2015, Mr Putin said the Republican candidate was "a very outstanding man, unquestionably talented". 
"It's not up to us to judge his virtue, that is up to US voters, but he is an absolute leader of the presidential race," he added.
Show more
Asked how he how felt about the praise coming from "a man who kills journalists, political opponents and invades countries", Mr Trump said: "He’s running his country, and at least he’s a leader, you know, unlike what we have in this country."
The following month, Mr Trump defended Mr Putin after a British public inquiry found the Russian president "probably" sanctioned the assassination of Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko in London. Mr Trump waded into the case saying he had seen "no evidence" of Mr Putin's involvement, adding: "They say a lot of things about me that are untrue too."
The bromance continued after Mr Trump won the Republican nomination, suggesting in July he would be open to forming a partnership with Mr Putin to tackle the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil). 
"When you think about it, wouldn't it be nice if we got along with Russia...Wouldn't it be nice if we got together with Russia and knocked the hell out of [Isil]?" he said.
Mr Trump made headlines again in September when he compared Mr Putin favourably to Barack Obama. "The man has very strong control over a country," Mr Trump said of the Russian leader. "It's a very different system and I don't happen to like the system, but certainly, in that system, he's been a leader, far more than our president has been a leader."
Mr Trump said he felt he could get along with the Russian president, and was glad to have received a compliment from him. "Well I think when he called me brilliant, I'll take the compliment, okay?" Mr Trump said. "Look, it's not going to get him anywhere. I'm a negotiator."
Having won the election in November, the then president-elect continued to woo his Russian counterpart, praising Mr Putin as "very smart" for not engaging in a tit-for-tat row with the US over the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats accused of espionage. 
Instead of taking retaliatory action, Mr Putin said: "Further steps towards the restoration of Russian-American relations will be built on the basis of the policy which the administration of President D. Trump will carry out."

Jeff Sessions recuses himself from Russia probe

Just three weeks after being confirmed as the country's attorney general, Mr Sessions faced calls to resign after it emerged he had two conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States during the presidential campaign season last year.
Mr Sessions, an early supporter of President Donald Trump and a policy adviser to the Republican candidate, did not disclose those communications at his confirmation hearing in January when asked whether "anyone affiliated" with the campaign had contact with the Russians.
“I’m not aware of any of those activities,” he responded. “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians.”

Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said "there was absolutely nothing misleading about his answer."
As attorney general, Mr Sessions oversees the justice department, including the FBI, which have been leading investigations into Russian meddling and any links to Mr Trump's associates.
Mr Sessions insisted he had done nothing wrong and was acting in his capacity as a senator. But he said he was happy to follow the counsel of his ethics advisers at the department of justice who said he should step aside from the FBI’s investigation.
Nancy Pelosi, the house Democratic leader, led calls for his resignation.  "Jeff Sessions lied under oath during his confirmation hearing before the Senate," Ms Pelosi said in a statement released on Thursday. "Sessions is not fit to serve as the top law enforcement officer of our country and must resign."

Michael Flynn and the lifting of sanctions

In the biggest blow to Mr Trump's nascent presidency, his National Security Adviser Michael Flynn resigned after it emerged he held secret talks with Russia before entering the White House
Mr Flynn admitted in his resignation letter he took several calls with the Russian ambassador to the US before entering the White House, which is potentially illegal under the 1799 Logan Act.
Mr Flynn, who has argued for closer ties with Russia, has acknowledged being paid to give a speech and attend a lavish anniversary party in December 2015 for the state-controlled RT television network in Moscow, where he sat beside Mr Putin. But he hasn't said who wrote the check or for how much. An RT video from the Moscow event showed Mr Flynn rising during a standing ovation following the Russian leader's address.
According to the Washington Post, Mr Flynn "privately discussed US sanctions against Russia with that country’s ambassador to the United States during the month before President Trump took office."
As president-elect, Mr Trump suggested he scrap the sanctions - imposed by the Obama administration in late December in response to Moscow's alleged cyber attacks - if Moscow proves helpful in battling terrorists and reaching other goals important to Washington. "If you get along and if Russia is really helping us, why would anybody have sanctions if somebody's doing some really great things?" he told the Wall Street Journal.

Trump campaign's 'contacts with Russian spies before election'

Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Mr Trump's presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, the New York Times reported, citing four current and former US officials.
US law enforcement and intelligence agencies intercepted the communications around the same time they were discovering evidence that Russia was trying to disrupt the presidential election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee, three of the officials said, according to the Times.
The intelligence agencies then sought to learn whether the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians on the hacking or other efforts to influence the election, the newspaper said. The officials interviewed in recent weeks said they had seen no evidence of such cooperation so far, it said.
However, the intercepts alarmed U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies, in part because of the amount of contact that was occurring while Mr Trump was speaking glowingly about Mr Putin.
The Associated Press reported in August that Mr Manafort helped a pro-Russian Ukrainian political party secretly move $2.2 million to two major Washington lobbying firms. The transfers were reportedly set up using a non-profit organisation - to obscure the Ukrainian party's attempts to influence US policies.
Mr Trump tweeted on Wednesday morning that the accusations were "merely an attempt to cover-up the many mistakes made in Hillary Clinton's losing campaign".
He added: "Information is being illegally given to the failing @nytimes & @washingtonpost by the intelligence community".

Paul Manafort

Hired in March to shore up Mr Trump's primary campaign team, Mr Manafort only lasted until August and was a divisive figure from the start.  

However, it was his business dealings in Russia and Ukraine that ultimately led to his resignation as campaign chairman.


US law requires lobbying firms to register and report in detail to the Justice Department any ties to foreign political parties or leaders.
Furthermore, the Ukrainian National Anti-Corruption Bureau claimed a secret ledger showed Mr Manafort had been earmarked $12.7 million in off-the-books cash payments from the pro-Russian political party of Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine's former president.
Mr Manafort called the allegations "unfounded, silly, and nonsensical". Yet the damage was done.

The former MI6 spy's dossier

Arguably the most explosive reports concerning Mr Trump's dealings in Russia was a dossier compiled by a former MI6 agent that emerged in January, shortly before he was due to enter the White House.
The file was compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele and was initially funded by anti-Trump Republicans, and later by Democrats.
The 35-page document alleges the Kremlin colluded with Mr Trump’s presidential campaign and that the Russian security services have material that could be used to blackmail him, including an allegation that he paid prostitutes to defile a bed that had been slept in by Barack and Michelle Obama.
Mr Trump said the publishing of the report was "something Nazi Germany would have done" and called the dossier "fake news" and "phony stuff".
It also meant his already strained relationship with the intelligence community deteriorated further. "I think it was disgraceful, disgraceful that the intelligence agencies allowed any information that turned out to be so false and fake out there," he said. 

Carter Page

A foreign policy adviser to Mr Trump during the campaign, Mr Page resigned in September after a number of reports about his links to Russia. 
The former adviser to Gazprom, Russia's state gas behemoth, raised eyebrows last July when he blasted the United States for showing "hypocrisy" towards Russia, during an address in Moscow. Page said the US and other Western countries unfairly vilified Russia for its problems, including corruption, which he said was just as easily found at home.
The New York Times has reported that FBI agents examined last summer numerous possible links between Russians and members of Mr. Trump’s inner circle, including Mr Page and Mr Manafort, as well as computer activity between the Trump Organisation and an email account at a large Russian bank, Alfa Bank.
Donald Trump's campaign explicitly denied a claim the Trump Organisation used a private server to communicate with Alfa Bank
One of Mr Sessions' conversations with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak occurred at a July event on the sidelines of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. At that same event, the ambassador also spoke with Mr Page, a person with knowledge of the discussion told AP.
In an interview with MSNBC, Mr Page said: "I never met him anywhere outside of Cleveland."



Politics

President Trump, an Unlikely Champion of Affordable Child Care




 
Snack time at the Willard Community Center child-care program in Lincoln, Neb. Credit Kristin Streff/The Journal-Star, via Associated Press
In his address to Congress Tuesday evening, President Trump leaned on some of his standard crowd pleasers: immigration, jobs, terrorism.
But he also revived one of his more surprising proposals, first introduced on the campaign trail last year: “My administration wants to work with members of both parties to make child care accessible and affordable,” he said.
That rhetoric makes Mr. Trump sound more like Hillary Clinton than Ronald Reagan. And a potential debate over child-care policy could offer the rare opportunity for the president and Democrats to cooperate — or at least have a dialogue — over the coming year.
Mr. Trump is not the first Republican president to demonstrate an interest in child-care policy. During his 1968 campaign, Richard Nixon promised to expand access to government-funded day care. But three years later, influenced by the rise of the Christian right, Mr. Nixon vetoed the only universal child-care bill to pass Congress.



Those without wages, like unemployed single parents seeking work or attending job training, would not benefit from the Trump subsidies and are underserved by existing programs. The Child Care and Development Block Grant was created in 1996 as part of welfare reform and was intended to help the poorest parents afford day care. Those benefits currently reach only one out of every 10 eligible children, according to the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Despite its limited reach, the Trump plan is expensive. An analysis by the Tax Policy Center found it would cost $115 billion over 10 years, most likely making it a nonstarter for Republicans. The proposal also offers little to the working poor, a potential problem for Democratic champions of child care, like Nancy Pelosi and Bernie Sanders. The average annual benefit would be just $10 for families earning $10,000 to $30,000 a year, according to the Tax Policy Center.
It is difficult to square President Trump’s child-care plan with his other budget priorities. Carrie L. Lukas, managing director of the conservative Independent Women’s Forum, supports Mr. Trump’s efforts to help families with child-care costs. But “he also talked about the need for tax simplification,” she said, “which is inconsistent with using deductions” as a social policy strategy.

Still, Ms. Lukas is enthusiastic about some aspects of the Trump proposal, including the fact that married couples with one stay-at-home parent would be able to claim the same tax deduction as many dual-income couples whose children are enrolled in child care. That is an unusual element of the plan; after all, parents who care for their children at home do not incur costs for day care tuition or nanny salaries.

Traditionally, many European nations that enacted government-supported child care had the goal of encouraging maternal employment. More working women means more tax revenue, and better, more accessible child care helps convince parents that they can afford to have more children, who in turn will become future taxpayers supporting the welfare state.

That is not a conservative vision. “It shouldn’t be about pushing to get people into 9-to-5 jobs and kids into day care,” Ms. Lukas said. “That’s not an appropriate role for government. I’ve got five kids, and there are a lot of nonworking parents in my community. They are not only taking care of their own kids, but they are volunteering at school.”
Though she describes herself as a “a libertarian conservative type of person,” Ms. Lukas enrolled her own children in Germany’s government child-care system when the family was stationed in Berlin for her husband’s job. The day care centers “were very expensive for taxpayers,” she said, but she was impressed by the quality of the staff, whose training is subsidized by the German government. “It’s a very serous profession, a very respectable career to pursue,” Ms. Lukas said. “That’s not always the case in America.”
Indeed, the median salary of an American child care worker is about $20,000 a year, a problem the Trump plan does not address.

Elaine Maag, senior research associate at the Tax Policy Center, said the president’s proposal would not “increase the amount of child care available, nor will it increase the quality of care that low-income families will be able to access.” However, Ms. Maag said she was willing to give the president at least a little credit. “I would characterize the plan as identifying an important problem,” she said.



Donald Trump's Congress speech (full text)













Betty MacDonald fan club fans,

we share a very special gift by beloved and very popular Betty MacDonald Fan Club Honor member Letizia Mancino.


We know you'll enjoy it as much as we do.

Thanks a Million, dear Letizia Mancino.


You are an outstanding writer and artist.

We are so proud and happy to have you with us.

Letizia writes: One should not underestimate Wolfgang Hampel’s talent in speedily mobilizing Betty MacDonald’s friends.

We agree. Thank you so much dear Wolfgang Hampel for doing this. You founded Betty MacDonald Fan Club with four members.

Now we have members in 40 countries around the world. A dream came true.

Mary Holmes did an excellent job in translating this great story. 


Thank you so much dear Mary Holmes. 


We are really very grateful.

All the best to Letizia, Wolfgang and Mary and to all Betty MacDonald Fan Club fans from all over the world!

Lenard 






Following in Betty’s footsteps in Seattle:

or some small talk with Betty

Copyright 2011/2016 by Letizia Mancino
All rights reserved
translated by Mary Holmes

We were going to Canada in the summer. “When we are in Edmonton”, I said to Christoph Cremer, “let’s make a quick trip to Seattle”. And that’s how it happened. At Edmonton Airport we climbed into a plane and two hours later we landed in the city where Betty had lived. I was so happy to be in Seattle at last and to be able to trace Betty’s tracks!

Wolfgang Hampel had told Betty’s friends about our arrival.
They were happy to plan a small marathon through the town and it’s surroundings with us. We only had a few days free. One should not underestimate Wolfgang’s talent in speedily mobilizing Betty’s friends, even though it was holiday time. E-mails flew backwards and forwards between Heidelberg and Seattle, and soon a well prepared itinerary was ready for us. Shortly before my departure Wolfgang handed me several parcels, presents for Betty MacDonald's friends. I rushed to pack the heavy gifts in my luggage but because of the extra weight had to throw out a pair of pajamas!

After we had landed we took a taxi to the Hotel in downtown Seattle. I was so curious to see everything. I turned my head in all directions like one of the hungry hens from Betty’s farm searching for food! Fortunately it was quite a short journey otherwise I would have lost my head like a loose screw!
Our hotel room was on the 22nd floor and looked directly out onto the 16-lane highway. There might have been even more than 16 but it made me too giddy to count! It was like a glimpse of hell! “And is this Seattle?” I asked myself. I was horrified! The cars racing by were enough to drive one mad. The traffic roared by day and night.
We immediately contacted Betty MacDonald's friends and let them know we had arrived and they confirmed the times when we should see them.

On the next morning I planned my first excursion tracing Betty’s tracks. I spread out the map of Seattle. “Oh dear” I realized “the Olympic Peninsula is much too far away for me to get there.”
Betty nodded to me! “Very difficult, Letizia, without a car.”

“But I so much wanted to see your chicken farm”

“My chickens are no longer there and you can admire the mountains from a distance”

But I wanted to go there. I left the hotel and walked to the waterfront where the State Ferry terminal is. Mamma mia, the streets in Seattle are so steep! I couldn’t prevent my feet from running down the hill. Why hadn’t I asked for brakes to be fixed on my shoes? I looked at the drivers. How incredibly good they must be to accelerate away from the red traffic lights. The people were walking uphill towards me as briskly as agile salmon. Good heavens, these Americans! I tried to keep my balance. The force of gravity is relentless. I grasped hold of objects where I could and staggered down.
In Canada a friend had warned me that in Seattle I would see a lot of people with crutches.

Betty laughed. “ It’s not surprising, Letizia, walking salmon don’t fall directly into the soft mouth of a bear!”
“ Betty, stop making these gruesome remarks. We are not in Firlands!”

I went further. Like a small deranged ant at the foot of a palace monster I came to a tunnel. The noise was unbearable. On the motorway, “The Alaskan Way Viaduct”, cars, busses and trucks were driving at the speed of light right over my head. They puffed out their poisonous gas into the open balconies and cultivated terraces of the luxurious sky- scrapers without a thought in the world. America! You are crazy!
“Betty, are all people in Seattle deaf? Or is it perhaps a privilege for wealthy people to be able to enjoy having cars so near to their eyes and noses to save them from boredom?”

“When the fog democratically allows everything to disappear into nothing, it makes a bit of a change, Letizia”

“ Your irony is incorrigible, Betty, but tell me, Seattle is meant to be a beautiful city, But where?”

I had at last reached the State Ferry terminal.

“No Madam, the ferry for Vashon Island doesn’t start from here,” one of the men in the ticket office tells me. ”Take a buss and go to the ferry terminal in West Seattle.”
Betty explained to me “The island lies in Puget Sound and not in Elliott Bay! It is opposite the airport. You must have seen it when you were landing!”
“Betty, when I am landing I shut my eyes and pray!”

It’s time for lunch. The weather is beautiful and warm. Who said to me that it always rains here?
“Sure to be some envious man who wanted to frighten you away from coming to Seattle. The city is really beautiful, you’ll see. Stay by the waterfront, choose the best restaurant with a view of Elliott Bay and enjoy it.”
“Thank you Betty!”

I find a table on the terrace of “Elliott’s Oyster House”. The view of the island is wonderful. It lies quietly in the sun like a green fleecy cushion on the blue water.
Betty plays with my words:
“Vashon Island is a big cushion, even bigger than Bainbridge which you see in front of your eyes, Letizia. The islands look similar. They have well kept houses and beautiful gardens”.

I relax during this introduction, “Bainbridge” you are Vashon Island, and order a mineral water.

“At one time the hotel belonging to the parents of Monica Sone stood on the waterfront.”
“Oh, of your friend Kimi!” Unfortunately I forget to ask Betty exactly where it was.

My mind wanders and I think of my mountain hike back to the hotel! “Why is there no donkey for tourists?” Betty laughs:

“I’m sure you can walk back to the hotel. “Letizia can do everything.””

“Yes, Betty, I am my own donkey!”

But I don’t remember that San Francisco is so steep. It doesn’t matter, I sit and wait. The waiter comes and brings me the menu. I almost fall off my chair!
“ What, you have geoduck on the menu! I have to try it” (I confess I hate the look of geoduck meat. Betty’s recipe with the pieces made me feel quite sick – I must try Betty’s favourite dish!)
“Proof that you love me!” said Betty enthusiastically “ Isn’t the way to the heart through the stomach?”

I order the geoduck. The waiter looks at me. He would have liked to recommend oysters.
“Geoduck no good for you!”
Had he perhaps read my deepest thoughts? Fate! Then no geoduck. “No good for me.”

“Neither geoduck nor tuberculosis in Seattle” whispered Betty in my ear!
“Oh Betty, my best friend, you take such good care of me!”

I order salmon with salad.

“Which salmon? Those that swim in water or those that run through Seattle?”

“Betty, I believe you want me to have a taste of your black humour.”

“Enjoy it then, Letizia.”

During lunch we talked about tuberculosis, and that quite spoilt our appetite.

“Have you read my book “The Plague and I”?”

“Oh Betty, I’ve started to read it twice but both times I felt so sad I had to stop again!”

“But why?” asked Betty “Nearly everybody has tuberculosis! I recovered very quickly and put on 20 pounds! There was no talk of me wasting away! What did you think of my jokes in the book?”

“Those would have been a good reason for choosing another sanitorium. I would have been afraid of becoming a victim of your humour! You would have certainly given me a nickname! You always thought up such amusing names!” Betty laughed.

“You’re right. I would have called you “Roman nose”. I would have said to Urbi and Orbi “ Early this morning “Roman nose” was brought here. She speaks broken English, doesn’t eat geoduck but she does love cats.”

“Oh Betty, I would have felt so ashamed to cough. To cough in your presence, how embarrassing! You would have talked about how I coughed, how many coughs!”

“It depends on that “how”, Letizia!”

“Please, leave Goethe quotations out of it. You have certainly learnt from the Indians how to differentiate between noises. It’s incredible how you can distinguish between so many sorts of cough! At least 10!”

“So few?”

”And also your descriptions of the patients and the nurses were pitiless. An artistic revenge! The smallest pimple on their face didn’t escape your notice! Amazing.”

“ I was also pitiless to myself. Don’t forget my irony against myself!”

Betty was silent. She was thinking about Kimi, the “Princess” from Japan! No, she had only written good things about her best friend, Monica Sone, in her book “The Plague and I”. A deep friendship had started in the hospital. The pearl that developed from the illness.
“Isn’t it wonderful, Betty, that an unknown seed can make its way into a mollusk in the sea and develop into a beautiful jewel?” Betty is paying attention.

“Betty, the friendship between you and Monica reminds me of Goethe’s poem “Gingo-Biloba”. You must know it?” Betty nods and I begin to recite it:


The leaf of this Eastern tree
Which has been entrusted to my garden
Offers a feast of secret significance,
For the edification of the initiate.

Is it one living thing.
That has become divided within itself?
Are these two who have chosen each other,
So that we know them as one?

The friendship with Monica is like the wonderful gingo-biloba leaf, the tree from the east. Betty was touched. There was a deep feeling of trust between us.
“Our friendship never broke up, partly because she was in distress, endangered by the deadly illness. We understood and supplemented each other. We were like one lung with two lobes, one from the east and one from the west!”
“A beautiful picture, Betty. You were like two red gingo-biloba leaves!”

Betty was sad and said ” Monica, although Japanese, before she really knew me felt she was also an American. But she was interned in America, Letizia, during the second world war. Isn’t that terrible?”

“Betty, I never knew her personally. I have only seen her on a video, but what dignity in her face, and she speaks and moves so gracefully!”

“Fate could not change her”

“Yes, Betty, like the gingo-biloba tree in Hiroshima. It was the only tree that blossomed again after the atom bomb!”

The bill came and I paid at once. In America one is urged away from the table when one has finished eating. If one wants to go on chatting one has to order something else.
“That’s why all those people gossiping at the tables are so fat!” Betty remarks. “Haven’t you seen how many massively obese people walk around in the streets of America. Like dustbins that have never been emptied!” With this typically unsentimental remark Betty ended our conversation.

Ciao! I so enjoyed the talk; the humour, the irony and the empathy. I waved to her and now I too felt like moving! I take a lovely walk along the waterfront.

Now I am back in Heidelberg and when I think about how Betty’s “Princessin” left this world on September 5th and that in August I was speaking about her with Betty in Seattle I feel very sad. The readers who knew her well (we feel that every author and hero of a book is nearer to us than our fleeting neighbours next door) yes we, who thought of her as immortal, cannot believe that even she would die after 92 years. How unforeseen and unexpected that her death should come four days after her birthday on September 1th. On September 5th I was on my way to Turkey, once again in seventh heaven, looking back on the unforgettable days in Seattle. I was flying from west to east towards the rising sun.



Ein lyrisches Portrait von Hilde Domin
Anne MacDonald Canham

 




 









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Is this Mr. Tigerli?


Dare we face the question of just how much of the darkness around us is of our own making? - Betty MacDonald
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Betty MacDonald