Monday, April 30, 2018

Trump's Hated Migrant caravan ... Just Frightened Homeless People Looking for a Little Compassion

Protesters gather at the US-Mexico border fence at a beach in Tijuana, Mexico, 29 April 2018
                 The caravan of Central American migrants arrived at the border town of Tijuana on Sunday

With many tears and much trepidation, the migrants prepared to set off on foot for the final short stage of their long journey to the US border. The patience of the many children among their number was striking - although perhaps weariness was the real explanation.
One little girl stood quietly as a woman fixed the child's hair for an interview at the border which could determine the direction of her life. A small boy in an oversized checked coat sucked his fingers and gazed around at the crowd as he sat on a man's shoulders. A baby in a blue onesie and a little girl clutching a doll were also watching and waiting.
President Donald Trump says these families are putting the United States in peril. The migrants themselves insist they are fleeing danger, not bringing it with them.
A mother and her sleeping son in the Mexican border town of Tijuana, 29 April 2018
"Anna", 25, says she escaped Guatemala with her two-year-old son because she feared the boy's father was going to kill him.
"It was hard," she told me in Spanish. "We suffered on the way."
She trembled as she spoke and tears ran down her face. Her little boy squirmed in her arms.
"Thank God we're here," she said. "Many people have supported us, have helped us - but it hurts to leave my country."
That is a common sentiment among the migrants. There is pride and patriotism here, tinged with regret and distress. The blue and white stripes and stars of the Honduran flag were proudly on display and the national anthem of Honduras was proudly belted out.
"My country is beautiful," says Maritza Flores, 38, from El Salvador. "Beautiful places, but there is a lot of crime.
"We leave our countries under threat. We leave behind our home, our relatives, our friends."
Ms Flores has been with the caravan since it set off from the southern tip of Mexico. She is travelling with her daughters, aged six and three.
"We had to bury some of our relatives before we left," she says, wiping a tear from her face.

A woman and two children pose for a photo near the US-Mexico border, 29 April 2018
                                       Maritza Flores says her father was killed before she joined the caravan

After a long pause she adds: "My father was one of them. He was tortured."
"Many people think we left because we are criminals. We're not criminals - we're people living in fear in our countries. All we want is a place where our children can run free - where they're not afraid to go out to the shops."
This has been a journey beset with trauma. It has also been a long one, with the section through Mexico alone covering 2,000 miles (3,200km) from Tapachula on Mexico's southern border to Tijuana in the north. "Anna" and her son had already travelled for three weeks before joining the caravan.

Months in detention

On a breezy Sunday afternoon some 200 of the migrants, including dozens of children, were driven in buses to the beach for a final rally before they decided whether or not to head for the busiest port of entry in the US and try to seek asylum. This is not an easy decision, despite President Trump's assertion that the caravan members come to the border "because they know that once they get here they can walk right into our country".
This did not prove to be accurate.

Protesters gather at the US-Mexico border fence at a beach in Tijuana, Mexico, 29 April 2018

Protesters gathered at both sides of the border fence on the Pacific coast

Nor is it the experience of many Central Americans seeking asylum. Most have their claims rejected. They often spend months in detention. They risk being deported to the country from which they are fleeing. Parents are terrified of being separated from their children, although the US authorities say that only happens if a crime like child trafficking is suspected.
On the beach in Tijuana, where a metal fence separating California and Baja California runs into the foaming Pacific Ocean, protesters rallied on both sides on Sunday morning, determined to drown out the words of Donald Trump. At the sea-washed gates of the world's most-powerful nation, the president's opponents said they wanted to see a United States built on compassion not hostility.
"Regretfully, this president doesn't have a heart," said one of the protesters, Christina Felipe Ramirez, 67.
"This president is the devil. He is a president descended from immigrants but he won't put his hand on his heart and understand that we immigrants also have the right to be here. Because we are more from here than he is, because he is not from this continent, we are from this continent."

An uncertain fate

By the time the rally was over and the migrants were preparing to take the final few steps to the border, word was seeping through that there was a problem.

Protesters holding a Spanish banner, which reads "diversity without borders", Tijuana, Mexico, 29 April 2018
                          There was a final rally before some migrants entered via the San Ysidro border crossing

The US authorities were arguing that they didn't have the room, didn't have the resources to handle the asylum claims. Defiant, desperate, the migrants pushed on anyway. As they neared the frontier, the organizers of the caravan placed those they deemed the most vulnerable at the front of the queue: women, children and transgender people.
And then they were off - disappearing into the bright tunnels and white corridors of the San Ysidro border crossing, the busiest in the United States, their fate uncertain.
Something of a stalemate followed. The handful of migrants who had made it through the Mexican side of the border vanished from sight, the others were left to hunker down on the concrete.
And so this day in the caravan ended like so many others - with nothing more than American dreams.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Koreas make nuclear pledge after historic summit

Shaking hands across the border between North and South Korea 
 A bit of Korean pomp and ceremony
The leaders of North and South Korea have agreed to work to rid the peninsula of nuclear weapons, after holding a historic summit.
The announcement was made by the North's Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in of South Korea after talks at the border. The two also agreed to push towards turning the armistice that ended the Korean War in 1953 into a peace treaty this year.
The summit came just months after warlike rhetoric from North Korea.
Speaking at a banquet after Friday's talks, Mr Kim hailed the progress he said had been made.
"We bade farewell to the frozen relationship between North and South Korea, which was a nightmare. And we announced the beginning of a warm spring to the world," he said.

What is in the agreement?

Details of how denuclearization would be achieved were not made clear and many analysts remain sceptical about the North's apparent enthusiasm for engagement.
An issue for the North is the security guarantee extended by the US, a nuclear power, to South Korea and Japan and its military presence in both countries.
Previous inter-Korean agreements have included similar pledges but were later abandoned after the North resorted to nuclear and missile tests and the South elected more conservative presidents.
Mr Kim said the two leaders had agreed to work to prevent a repeat of the region's "unfortunate history" in which progress had "fizzled out".
"There may be backlash, hardship and frustration," he said, adding: "A victory cannot be achieved without pain."

Apparently there were some lighter moments
Other points the leaders agreed on in a joint statement were:
  • An end to "hostile activities" between the two nations
  • Changing the demilitarized zone (DMZ) that divides the country into a "peace zone" by ceasing propaganda broadcasts
  • An arms reduction in the region pending the easing of military tension
  • To push for four-way talks involving the US and China
  • Organizing a reunion of families left divided by the war
  • Connecting and modernizing railways and roads across the border
  • Further joint participation in sporting events, including this year's Asian Games
The commitment to denuclearization does not explicitly refer to North Korea halting its nuclear activities but rather the aim of "a nuclear-free Korean peninsula".
The two countries have also agreed to seek international support to reach this goal, the joint statement says.

Signing the joint Declaration


What do China and the US say?

China later praised the political determination and courage of both leaders and said it hoped the momentum could be maintained.
US President Donald Trump also welcomed the news, tweeting that "good things are happening".
Mr Kim is due to meet Mr Trump in the coming weeks. Speaking in Washington, Mr Trump said the meeting would take place in one of two countries under consideration and vowed he would not be "played" by the North Korean leader.
"We will come up with a solution and if we don't we'll leave the room," he said.
New US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo - who earlier this month travelled secretly to Pyongyang to meet Mr Kim - said his impression was that Mr Kim was serious about reaching a deal.
"The economic pressure put in place by this global effort that President Trump has led has led him to believe that it's in his best interest to come to the table and talk about denuclearisation," he said, speaking at a Nato meeting in Brussels.

How did Friday's summit unfold?

The leaders were met by an honour guard in traditional costume on the South Korean side. The pair walked to the Peace House in Panmunjom, a military compound in the DMZ.
Mr Kim then invited the South Korean president to step briefly across the demarcation line into North Korea, before the pair stepped back into South Korea - all the while holding hands.
It was an apparently unscripted moment during a highly choreographed sequence of events.
            Mr Kim and his wife Ri Sol-ju (L) sat with Mr Moon and his wife Kim Jung-sook (R)

The two leaders spoke together during a session broadcast live on South Korean TV.
Mr Kim jokingly apologized to Mr Moon for repeatedly forcing him to get up early because of the North's missile and nuclear tests.
"I heard you [President Moon] had your early morning sleep disturbed many times to attend National Security Council meetings," he said. "I will make sure that your morning sleep won't be disturbed."
"Now I can sleep in peace," Mr Moon replied.
Mr Kim also acknowledged that the North's infrastructure lagged behind that of the South.
"I'm worried that our transport situation is bad so it may discomfort you, it may be embarrassing [for me] if you visit North Korea after living in the South's environment," he said.

After separating for lunch, the two leaders took part in a tree-planting ceremony using soil and water from both countries.

Mr Kim travelled in a car surrounded by jogging bodyguards

They later attended a banquet where Mr Kim was expected to be served the Swiss potato dish rösti - a nod to his time studying in Switzerland - along with the North's signature dish of cold noodles, and a North Korean liquor.
Mr Kim was accompanied for the symbolic discussions by nine officials, including his powerful sister, Kim Yo-jong. So far there has been no mention of the summit's outcome on North Korean TV.

How did we get here?

Few had predicted a development like this, as North Korea continued its nuclear and missile tests and stepped up its rhetoric through 2016 and 2017.  The rapprochement began in January when Mr Kim suggested he was "open to dialogue" with South Korea.
The following month the two countries marched under one flag at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics, held in the South.
South Koreas react while watching images of the inter-Korean summit
South Koreans celebrate

Mr Kim announced last week that he was suspending nuclear tests.
Chinese researchers have indicated that North Korea's nuclear test site may be unusable after a rock collapse.
 Wait ... what ?? Was it a rock slide that brought on this sudden change of heart? Who knows what goes on in the mind of megalomaniac ? Don't forget he poisoned his own brother for some obscure reason. This good guy, peacemaker image does not sit well over the war mongering dictator image we have always known and hated.. Time will tell his real intentions.

Guess who's taking credit for the summit ?


Thursday, April 26, 2018

Well done President Macron .. But is the Bromance Over ??

Related image

French President Emmanuel Macron  used his speech to the joint houses of the US Congress to denounce nationalism and isolationism. Mr Macron said such policies were a threat to global prosperity.
The speech was widely interpreted as a thinly veiled attack on President Donald Trump's America First agenda. Mr Macron also raised differences on global trade, Iran and the environment, seemingly in contrast to the warm bonhomie of his visit so far. The French president was given a three-minute standing ovation as he took his place in the chamber for his speech. He hailed the "unbreakable bonds" of the US and France, forged in "liberty, tolerance and equal rights"

He has developed a strong relationship with President Trump, and is in Washington as the first foreign leader to be afforded a US state visit by the Trump White House. But the French president's comments showed that the pair do not agree on all subjects.Mr Macron said isolationism, withdrawal and nationalism "can be tempting to us as a temporary remedy to our fears. But closing the door to the world will not stop the evolution of the world. It will not douse but inflame the fears of our citizens".
He added: "We will not let the rampaging work of extreme nationalism shake a world full of hopes for greater prosperity." Mr Macron said that the US had invented multilateralism and now needed to reinvent it to create a new 21st Century world order. He said the UN and the Nato military alliance might not be able to fulfil their mandates and assure stability if the West ignored the new dangers arising in the world.

Macron has provided a masterclass to other world leaders on how to handle Donald Trump - you cuddle up close, you flatter where necessary - but you use that to allow you to pack a big punch.
He also spoke about the very special relationship between France and the US, a move that might have had some in Downing Street choking on their tea.

In a cleverly crafted speech, he started with the entente between himself and the US president that some said was just too cordial. But then came the punches - and they were hard-hitting jabs, taking direct aim at Donald Trump's policy agenda. On free trade, on the importance of science, on inequality - and Mr Trump's America First policies.

Then he audaciously borrowed Donald Trump's Make America Great Again slogan to talk about the environment, and the importance of the climate change agreement the US has pulled out of. He said it was time to make the Earth great again.
The speech was punctuated by applause and cheering. This was an important moment in the US Congress. Emmanuel Macron has emerged as a world leader who offers a competing and sharply different world vision to the US president - while all the time maintaining a bonhomie with him. That's quite a political feat.

On trade, Mr Macron said that "commercial war is not the proper answer", as it would "destroy jobs and increase prices", adding: "We should negotiate through the World Trade Organization. We wrote these rules, we should follow them."
Mr Trump has in the past said that trade wars are good and easily won. He has taken on Europe and China with new tariffs, saying the US has suffered from unfair trade practices.

On another issue of difference, Iran, Mr Macron said his country would not abandon a nuclear deal with Tehran that was agreed by world powers when President Barack Obama was in office but which Mr Trump has branded "terrible".
Mr Macron said: "This agreement may not address all concerns, and very important concerns. This is true. But we should not abandon it without having something more substantial instead."
But he added: "Iran shall never possess any nuclear weapons. Not now. Not in five years. Not in 10 years. Never."
On the environment, he said by "polluting the oceans, not mitigating CO2 emissions and destroying biodiversity we are killing our planet. Let us face it, there is no Planet B".
Donald Trump last year withdrew the US from the Paris global climate accord, another landmark Obama achievement, saying it was a "very bad deal for the US". The accord, signed by nearly 200 countries, aims to cut damaging emissions.
Mr Macron's wide-ranging address highlighted numerous political and cultural links, citing American Revolutionary War officer Marquis de Lafayette, writer and feminist Simone de Beauvoir, Abraham Lincoln, author Ernest Hemingway, the founder of French romanticism François-René Chateaubriand and both Presidents Roosevelt.
His quoting of Franklin D's "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself" drew one of his biggest applauses.

How did the Congress speech go down?

Senior House Democrat Adam Schiff said Mr Macron had offered "more of a direct contradiction of the president than I was expecting". "There were more than a few uncomfortable moments on the [Republican] side of the aisle."
Republican Senator Jeff Flake said the speech was "very contrary to Trumpism, very much contrary to an America First agenda".
But Republican House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy denied there was any rebuke.
"He said in there that he believes in free and fair trade. That's exactly what the president asked for," he said.

Mr Macron stuck to his guns and made it clear he did not buy into Trumpism, in spite of  the much publicized 'bromance' between the two men. Mr Trump's reaction to the speech has, so far, not been reported. Mr Macron, I hope your heart isn't broken when 'The Donald' dumps you for Kanye West.

Comey's City Hall

I'm only halfway through it.
Okay, he is a little pompous and self righteous but he is aware of it. He is a real guy with an interesting story and admits to making many mistakes. But, overall, I would trust him and take his word over Trump's. Maybe by the time I finish the book I might feel differently. All the exerpts I read or heard on the media were taken out of context. So I decided to form my own opinion. My suggestion is read the book before you  form yours.
 I still think he should not have broken protocol on Hillary Clinton's emails right before the election, in spite of his rationalizing. He harmed her. Just my humble opinion.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Van Plows Down Toronto Sidewalk, Killing 10 in ‘Pure Carnage’

Toronto tragedy bonds city in blood. But no one will say the word ‘terrorism’ 
Police inspect a Ryder van suspected of being involved in the collisions injuring numerous people at Yonge and Finch. (Courtesy of Warren Toda, EFE, EPA)
Nine people are dead after a van plowed into pedestrians in Toronto on Monday. The driver, was in custody after leaving a trail of destruction stretching up to a mile, according to authorities. (Image courtesy of YouTube)

A sneaker. A purse. A tiny backpack. A cellphone.
Personal possessions scattered along the path of a rampaging, careering white van, the maniacal and homicidal man at the wheel purposefully mowing down pedestrians. Heartbreaking artifacts now of a weaponized vehicle attack.
And the bodies. My God, the bodies were everywhere.
Two near a pharmacy south of Finch, one at Yonge and Empress, one close to Parkview. One dragged behind the van. Ten dead ( latest count), 15 injured, many critically.
A trail of blood and wreckage stretching from Finch to Sheppard on a sunny afternoon in Toronto while people were strolling and enjoying the first warm spring day of the year. A day when apparent random terrorism struck the city.
Any fanciful notion that we are far away from the dogs of war unleashed, from the seething corners of the world where hatred fulminates, buffered from European capitals, from American metropolises where mayhem has been inflicted down through these recent years — that comforting thought died on Monday.
An abomination of a day.

How naive we have been, whistling by the graveyard as carnage was wrought in Manchester, in Nice, in Paris, in Orlando, in London, in Madrid, in Toulouse, in Barcelona, in Istanbul, in Berlin, in Stockholm, in Boston. On and on in this new normal. When it’s not guns and makeshift bombs, it’s knives and axes and the thousands of pounds of lurching vehicle steel. Into a promenade crowd, into a Christmas market, into a pop concert, into the subway. When it’s not a clash of civilization ideology or the desecration of a religion, it’s the madness of a nihilist shooter bristling with assault weapons — Las Vegas, Parkland, Sandy Hook.
Maddened or mesmerized or mentally ill. And how can you even sift the difference anymore?
On Monday, the horror rose on its hind legs in Toronto, up onto the sidewalk along the city’s main artery, the pulsing core of North York.

The bedlam began around 1:10 p.m., the van racing helter-skelter, banging into bus shelters and fire hydrants, mailboxes and benches, but mostly, according to stunned witnesses, mounting the curb and dead-aiming at people. Young people, including students. Old people, basking in rare April warmth.
Hours later, in ghastly scenes along the miscreant’s route, lifeless bodies still lay on the ground, tarps thrown over them.

How many fearful families, unable to reach loved ones, must have scoured those photographs of victims, straining to recognize a shoe, a hoodie, an outstretched arm. Please don’t let it be, don’t let it be …
And the countless many who saw it unfold, from the driver of a TTC bus who raised the first alarm, to other motorists who slammed on their brakes to avoid colliding with the erratic van, to scores of pedestrians jumping out of the way, running for their lives.
“I thought someone had a heart attack,” one driver who found himself close to the van told CP24. “Oh my God. Oh my … it wasn’t a heart attack. This person was intentionally doing this, he was killing everybody. I’m going to be sick … I stopped at Empress, he was just going on … all the way down to Yonge and Sheppard, I seen people get hit, one by one … They went down one after another. An old lady, crumpled. I seen a stroller split in half … flying in the air. Ah man, I can’t believe this. Oh my God. The most gruesome … a woman’s leg … blood all over. Ah man, ah man.”
Another bystander: “It was indiscriminate. He was hitting whoever he could hit. He was hitting innocent people.”
And yet another driver who said he actually caught a glimpse of the suspect, through the window. “He looked really angry. But he also looked scared.’’
Rebuking himself, the man admitted, for not ramming the vehicle when he had the chance. “I regret not doing that. I’m not sure it’s legal. But if I could have stopped him, I wish I would have.”
Screams, chaos, shattering glass raining. some rushing forward to perform CPR, others frozen where they stood with fear. Because you never know how you’ll react and Lord willing you’ll never have to find out.
 We put our faith in the vast apparatus of national security and shared intelligence agencies, but the lone attacker keeps slipping through, the very randomness of it nearly impossible to avert. The bitter and radicalized individual who never appears as even a blip on the radar. The mentally deranged. The fanatic.
But of course, as the hours wore on, not a single elected official, not a senior cop, allowed the word “terrorism” to cross their lips. Not Mayor John Tory, not the police chief.
(Federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said Monday evening: “The incident that happened here on the street behind us was horrendous but it does not appear to be connected in any way to national security.”)
Promptly Tory leapt to the next phase, reminding that Canada is admired for its peaceful multiculturalism.
 Know what? We don’t need reminding, any more than we did, collectively mourning, after the horrific mass shooting of Muslims at the Islamic Cultural Centre in Quebec City last year and heart felt condolences don't do much to heal the horror and the loss
The motive of the killer may be unknown, the suspect’s ideology unclarified, if such exists.
But we’ve seen the footage captured on phone video.

A remarkably composed cop, standing mere feet from the suspect where his battered van came to a halt near Sheppard, the man extending his arm, stiff, with something in his hand that could have been a firearm. (It was apparently a cellphone but wielded like a gun.)
“SHOOT ME! SHOOT ME! KILL ME!’’ he yelled.
All the fingerprints of suicide by cop.
But the officer didn’t shoot and the suspect dropped to his knees, flinging his arms in the air.
The cop de-escalated the melodrama, moving in to take the suspect down, cuffing him. On a day of many heroes, that brave cop is at the top of the list, along with the many first responders, paramedics and hospital resources stretched to the limits.
No identifying him, except that the officer is a veteran with 32 Division. Because this is a country, unlike the U.S., laggard in releasing any information.
“He’s shaken up by the whole thing, and shaken up by the magnitude,” Mike McCormack, president of the Toronto Police Association, told reporters.


The Star confirmed the suspect is Alek Minassian, 25, taken into custody. Forensic teams are now faced with the monumental task of processing a crime scene that extends for two kilometres, numerous points of impact to meticulously cull for evidence, to reconstruct a frenzied attack .
For block after block, cops ministered to the shaken and comforted the traumatized, scared-witless kids, senior citizens, merchants who ventured cautiously outside.
We are bonded in blood and tragedy now.

Michael Bloomberg Offers $4.5m of His Money to Pay US Shortfall in Paris Climate Deal

Michael Bloomberg
 Michael Bloomberg says he hopes the US will rejoin the climate agreement

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg says he will pay $4.5m  to cover the lapsed US financial commitment to the Paris climate accord. He said he had a responsibility to help improve the environment because of President Donald Trump's decision to pull out of the deal. The withdrawal was announced last June and sparked international condemnation.
It will make the US in effect the only country not to be part of the Paris accord. The Paris agreement commits the US and 187 other countries to keeping rising global temperatures "well below" 2C above pre-industrial levels.
"America made a commitment and, as an American, if the government's not going to do it then we all have a responsibility to do our part," Mr Bloomberg said on CBS.
"I'm able to do it. So, yes, I'm going to send them a cheque for the monies that America had promised to the organization as though they got it from the federal government."
His charity, Bloomberg Philanthropies, offered $15m to cover a separate climate change shortfall last year. It said the money would go to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

In January, President Trump said the US could "conceivably" return to the deal if it treated America more fairly.
"It's an agreement that I have no problem with but I had a problem with the agreement that they (the Obama administration) signed," he told reporters.
Mr Bloomberg said he hoped that by next year Mr Trump will have reconsidered his position on the deal.
"He's been known to change his mind, that is true," he said. "America is a big part of the solution and we should go in and help the world stop a potential disaster."

What is in the Paris climate agreement?

The deal unites all the world's nations in a single agreement on tackling climate change for the first time in history.
Coming to a consensus among nearly 200 countries on the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions is regarded by many observers as an achievement in itself and has been hailed as "historic".
As well as the limit on global temperatures, it includes a limit on the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by human activity and a requirement for rich countries to help poorer nations by providing "climate finance".

Mr Trump, your country is one of the biggest contributors to the 'greenhouse  effect', so it stands to reason that you should shoulder your share of the responsibility and not expect the rest of the world to carry your burden of carbon and to try to compensate for it.

Paris agreement: Without Trump, will US cities tackle climate?

sign made to look like an alarm clock, that says "Wake up to climate change"
People protested outside the White House after President Trump announced the US would pull out of the Paris accord 

As soon as US President Donald Trump announced his withdrawal from the Paris climate change agreement, governors and mayors of places including Washington, New York and California banded together to uphold the commitments in it.

How much can they do on a local level?

There's plenty they can do - but it won't make up what's lost.
The Democratic governors of the three states say they represent 10% of US greenhouse gas emissions combined, and one in five Americans. Their United States Climate Alliance is designed to "convene US states committed to upholding the Paris Climate Agreement and taking aggressive action on climate change".
In California, legislators voted to get 100% of the state's energy needs from renewables by 2045. It followed in the footsteps of Hawaii, Portland and Salt Lake City, which have similar targets.
And mayors representing 82 cities and 39 million Americans have written an open letter pledging to increase their commitment to renewable energy and electric cars, and "adopt, honour, and uphold the commitments to the goals enshrined in the Paris Agreement".
One report suggests that if all US cities participated, they could contribute 6% of the greenhouse gas savings the world needs to stick to the target.
Under the Paris agreement, the US had agreed to:
  • cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 1.6 billion tonnes by 2025
  • contribute up to $3bn in aid to poorer countries through the Green Climate Fund
The cut in greenhouse gas emissions was part of a global effort to keep temperature rises below 1.5C (3.5F) above pre-industrial levels. If the US pulls out and other countries do not adjust their plans, that target will not be met, which would raise the risks of flooding, extreme weather including heat waves, and changes to freshwater patterns and food production.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Can Trump pardon his way out of the Mueller probe? This law professor says no.

This forgotten line in the Constitution might prevent Trump from abusing his pardon power.
By Sean  Apr 19, 2018
President Donald Trump at a roundtable event for the Republican $1.5 trillion tax cut package on April 16, 2018, in Hialeah, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images
There are plenty of reasons to think President Donald Trump might try to pardon his way out of special counsel Robert Mueller’s crosshairs.

In March, the New York Times reported that a lawyer for Trump discussed the possibility of pardoning former advisers Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn with their lawyers. The goal, presumably, was to persuade them that they didn’t need to cooperate with Mueller because he’d spare them jail time regardless of whether they were convicted. Trump’s recent pardon of former Bush administration official Scooter Libby, as well as his pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio last year, would also show Mueller targets like Manafort that Trump is willing to use his powers to protect his allies.

But if Trump is considering using his pardon power to undercut Mueller’s Russia probe, he might be overlooking a clause in the Constitution that expressly forbids it. This, at least, is the argument Fordham law professor Jed Shugerman made in a column for the Washington Post last month.

According to Shugerman and his co-author, Ethan J. Leib, the Constitution says that the president cannot pardon people for the purpose of self-protection, which means he cannot pardon himself or others in order to shield himself from a criminal investigation. Nor can he use the pardon power to serve his own financial interests.

Their argument is based on a line in the Constitution known as the “take care clause,” which imposes specific obligations on the president. The clause, Shugerman and Leib argue, mandates that the president “execute” the laws in such a way as to advance the public interest and not the president’s private interests.

I reached out to Shugerman to find out more about the take care clause and why he thinks it could stop Trump from abusing his pardon power.

A lightly edited transcript of our conversation follows.

Sean Illing :
I’ve heard time and again that the president has virtually unlimited pardoning power. Is that wrong?

Jed Shugerman:
I think the key thing is what people mean by the word “virtually.” Yes, people have typically understood the pardon power as “almost unlimited” or “almost absolute,” but it would be inaccurate to say that it’s totally unlimited or totally absolute. The Supreme Court has made fairly clear that Congress cannot limit the pardon power; any limits on the pardon power have to come from the Constitution itself because that’s where the pardon power comes from. So yes, presidential pardon power is quite broad, but there are constitutional limits.

Sean Illing:
Let’s talk about the limits outlined in Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution. What’s the clause in there that forbids a president from using pardons to protect himself from an investigation?

Jed Shugerman:
This is a famous line of the Constitution that’s called the “take care clause.” It says the president “shall take care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” The key phrase that people have overlooked in that line is what it means to be “faithfully executed.” That same line also comes up in the oath that the president takes; it’s the only oath in the Constitution that is spelled out word for word, and it says the president shall “faithfully execute” the laws. The founders knew what they were doing when they used this language, but over time we’ve missed the original significance of it.

Sean Illing
Why is it significant?:

Jed Shugerman:
This language comes directly from fiduciary documents from the 17th and 18th centuries. Fiduciary duties still come up today in the context of corporate boards, trusts, wills, and other legal documents that impose obligations on people to act in the best interests of the people they’re serving. A fiduciary duty means you can’t serve your own personal interests over the interests of your client or company or, in the case of the president, your country.

For example, the executor of a will or estate cannot line his own pockets to the detriment of the estate or the beneficiaries. A CEO or a corporate board cannot embezzle money from the corporation to the detriment of corporate interests. So when the framers of the Constitution adopted this language from fiduciary law, they were drawing from those core legal principles.

Sean Illing:
So in the same way a lawyer or a CEO must act in the best interests of her client or company, a president is compelled by the Constitution to execute the laws in such a way as to protect the best interests of the people?

Jed Shugerman:
That’s absolutely right.

Sean Illing :
How difficult might it be to make a legal argument that the president was acting solely in his own “self-interest”? If the president pardons himself, that seems pretty clear-cut. But if he’s pardoning other people, it may not be so simple even if it’s more or less apparent that he’s acting out of self-interest.

Jed Shugerman :
This is the million-dollar question. So let’s start with the core question about whether a president can pardon himself. Clearly, a self-pardon is a breach of fiduciary duty because it’s manifestly self-interested. But if a president managed to do this, the following administration could try to prosecute the president, which would force a court to examine that president’s self-pardon and decide whether or not it was invalid on the grounds that it violated his fiduciary duty to serve the best interests of the people over himself. Similarly, if a president pardons co-conspirators in a crime, the next administration could challenge those pardons in court by claiming they were invalid for the same reasons.

Sean Illing:
All of this makes sense to me, and it’s certainly a plausible reading of the Constitution, but has this ever been tested in court?

Jed Shugerman:
No. This is an argument that is based on historical research that unearths the background of the Constitution’s text, but that background has been lost over time as we’ve started to talk differently about the Constitution. But the argument I’m making is perfectly in line with the language and intent of the Constitution.

Sean Illing:
If we accept the claim that the president has an obligation to act for the right reasons, which is to say in the interests of the people, and not of himself, he seems to have already crossed this line by firing Comey because of the Russia investigation (which he actually admitted). We also know that Trump’s personal lawyer floated the possibility of pardoning Manafort and Flynn, presumably to influence their decisions to cooperate with Mueller.

Jed Shugerman:
I want to repeat something you said, which is exactly right. The faithful execution language of the Constitution mandates that presidents and other officials must act for the right reasons and not for self-interest against the public interest. This also applies to the firing question.

Most people don’t realize that the Constitution never explicitly mentions the power to fire. This was a gap in the Constitution that had to get worked out by the first Congress. So we’re making the argument that the Constitution’s language regarding faithful execution has to be considered when we have only an implicit understanding that the president has the power to fire.

So the way this would work with, say, Mueller, is that Mueller and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein could go to a court and get an injunction to prevent their firing by the president based on this argument about faithless execution. Comey could have done that too, but that ship has already sailed. But I think someone like Mueller could argue that he’s conducting a legitimate criminal investigation and therefore should be protected from being fired by the subject of that investigation.

Sean Illing:
Do you think this argument will be tested in court?

Jed Shugerman:
No, I don’t. Mainly because Mueller has been careful and strategic in the ways that he’s protected the investigation even in the event that he’s fired. For example, the recent Michael Cohen raid was handed over to the Southern District of New York, so even if Mueller is fired, there’s now a basis for another office to continue the investigation and perhaps to broaden it to state-level crimes, which are shielded from presidential pardons. So there are enough failsafes against his firing that I doubt he’d ever need to test this argument in court.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

When they were young ... Barbara and George Bush

Image result for images of Barbara bush as a young teen
Newly-elected U.S. Rep. George Bush flashes a winner's smile as his wife, Barbara, gives him a victory kiss following his 1966 election to a seat in from the 7th district in Texas.

See George and Barbara's love story told in photos. Photo: Jerry Click, Houston Chronicle / Houston Post files

Barbara Bush, the 'enforcer' of a political dynasty, is dead

Yahoo News      HOLLY BAILEY      Apr 17th 2018 
Former first lady Barbara Bush, one of only two women in American history to have been both the wife and the mother of a U.S. president, died in her home in Houston on Tuesday at the age of 92.

Known for her shock of white hair and trademark pearls, Barbara Bush was quickly branded the nation’s “grandmother in chief” when her husband, President George H.W. Bush, ascended to the White House in 1988. But her matronly appearance and polite disposition concealed a sharp tongue and devilish wit that she later became known for, as she increasingly stepped forward as her husband’s defender during his presidency and a rough-and-tumble reelection campaign that he ultimately lost to Bill Clinton.

While her husband was the linchpin of a multigenerational political dynasty, Bush provided much of the steel in the family. Forgoing a career of her own to take care of her kids and support her spouse’s political ambitions, she once said, “My career was my family.” She was of a generation where women were largely defined by their fathers and whom they married, but as the times changed, so did she, gradually showing more of the strong personality that led her kids to lovingly describe her as “the enforcer.”

Born Barbara Pierce, she was raised in the tony New York City suburb of Rye, the third of four daughters born to Pauline and Marvin Pierce, a prominent magazine publisher whose titles included McCall’s, one of the first publications aimed at women.

Barbara was 16 and home on vacation from Ashley Hall, a posh South Carolina boarding school, when “the handsomest man I ever saw” approached her at a Christmas dance. George H.W. Bush, who introduced himself as Poppy, was a 17-year-old senior at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., and lived in nearby Connecticut. He couldn’t waltz, so the two sat and talked and “haven’t stopped talking since,” she later said. A year and a half later, as George prepared to head off to World War II, they became engaged, and in 1945, when he was on leave from his assignment flying bombing missions over the Pacific, they wed. “I married the first boy I ever kissed,” she said.

Just 19, Barbara dropped out of Smith College and followed her husband on what would become a storied career taking him from the East Coast to West Texas and overseas. She was an eager partner in her husband’s career, which took her to environments far removed from her prim upbringing, like Midland, Texas — an oil town that would become as important in Bush family lore as Kennebunkport, Maine, home of the family’s seaside retreat. Along the way, the couple would raise four sons — George W., Jeb, Neil and Marvin — and a daughter, Dorothy.

But the Bushes also suffered terrible loss. In 1953, just a few months after their son Jeb was born, their second child, Robin, was diagnosed with leukemia — a disease for which there were few treatments at the time. The girl died two months before her fourth birthday, an ordeal that sent 28-year-old Barbara into depression and caused her reddish-brown hair to turn white, something she concealed for years using hair dye.

Struggling to overcome her grief, Barbara relied heavily on her husband and eldest son, George W., until one day when she heard her son tell a friend he couldn’t play because his mother needed him. “That started my cure,” she told her husband’s biographer Jon Meacham. “I realized I was too much of a burden for a little 7-year-old boy to carry.”

As her husband began his political ascent, which included a stint in Congress, time as head of the Republican Party, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, ambassador to the United Nations and the U.S. envoy to China, Barbara followed, but stayed mostly behind the scenes, taking care of the family. But she edged more into the spotlight when her husband decided to run for president in 1980, joining him on the road as a trusted companion and his most enthusiastic cheerleader in ways that often conflicted with her image as a docile housewife.

According to the Boston Globe, Barbara once barged into the paper’s New Hampshire bureau ahead of the 1980 primary demanding to know why reporters weren’t covering a press conference her husband was holding downstairs. Like a stern mother, she eventually marched a reporter and editor down to her husband’s event, which they covered.

During the 1984 campaign, she made waves when she slapped back at Geraldine Ferraro, the Democratic vice presidential nominee, for attacking her husband. Asked about her opinion of Ferraro, Bush told reporters, “I can’t say it, but it rhymes with rich.” (Afterward, she called and apologized to Ferraro, saying, “The poet laureate has retired.”)

But as she became more visible in her husband’s career, she became a target for jokes about her appearance. She had stopped dying her hair — joking that she just couldn’t get it that “perfect brown.” That prompted some to say she looked more like her husband’s mother than his wife — an insult friends say she found particularly wounding, though she didn’t let on in public.

On the campaign trail and later as first lady, she made light of the comments about her appearance, once dryly recalling how she saw a photographer frantically waving to “get that lady out the way” because he was trying to take a “beautiful picture” of Bush and his family, only to realize he was talking about her.

At the White House, Barbara Bush initially forged a more traditional role as first lady, embracing pet projects like promoting literacy and downplaying her political profile.

While she pointedly said she did not see herself as a “co-president” and often tried to steer clear of policy matters, Bush made clear that she had a mind of her own and was willing to express it to her husband. “I tell George what I think and no one else,” she told the Associated Press in 1988.  Her husband, in turn, branded his wife with the nickname “Miss Frank.”

During the 1992 campaign, Bush emerged as one of her husband’s fiercest defenders on the campaign trail. She took on commentators who assailed her husband as a “wimp” and “out of touch” and presented him as a good and decent public servant who had been unfairly maligned by Clinton and other opponents.

For the first time, she also broke with her husband politically. She weighed in on issues like abortion, which she said should be a “personal choice” for women, and gun control, admitting that she was for it, while her husband was not. That year she delivered a primetime speech at the Republican National Convention — a first for any first lady in history in what has since become tradition for both parties.

Though her husband lost, Barbara Bush continued her role as a blunt grandma right into private life and in her kids’ political campaigns, as they tapped her as a greater asset than their father. When her oldest son, George W. Bush, began his ascent up the political ladder, first as governor of Texas and then as the nation’s 43rd president, he often told reporters that he had inherited his “daddy’s eyes” and his “mama’s mouth.”

Bush’s passing brings an end to one of the most epic romances in politics. The couple celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary in early January. She leaves behind five kids, 14 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren .
Condolence to the family and  friends 
RIP  Mrs. Bush  you were a great  'Lady.'...
Shadow  & Witchy

Monday, April 16, 2018

You have to wonder if impeachment is a possibility

It could end this way
Image result for funny animated Trump cartoon

SOOO, What About Comey

Image result for comey images

Maybe he seems a little pious, slightly pompous and seemingly naïve over the Hillary Clinton emails and the role he played in determining the outcome of the election.  He's not afraid to make personal comments about Donald Trump - orange face, white half-moon eyes and (not unusually small) hands.
 But is he a liar???  About the, now famous, dossier, he said,
"I honestly never thought these words would come out of my mouth, but I don't know whether the current president of the United States was with prostitutes peeing on each other in Moscow in 2013,"  in an interview with ABC News.
Well if you don't know, then don't say it. Mr Trump has enough sins on his soul without you, slyly, intimating he has others.
So why is Comey doing that in a "nudge, nudge, wink, wink" way in his interview with George Stephanopoulos? It makes him look like a bitter man. There were a couple of other asides about the Trump's marriage that seemed rather unworthy of a man of Comey's stature
Comey has no need to act this way.  Remaining quiet and depending on his reputation and many years of service to his country to speak for him  would have served him much better.
One thing most people seem to agree on, however, is that  James Comey is not a liar, especially on the stuff that really matters, that is the key.
If it ever comes to an impeachment process against President Trump (something, interestingly, Comey says he hopes doesn't happen - his argument was that it was the American people who elected him; it should therefore be the American people who boot him from office), then his testimony could prove vital.
In the interview, he asserts there is "certainly some evidence" that Donald Trump obstructed justice in asking the former FBI chief to see a way of dropping the case against Michael Flynn, the former national security advisor (Flynn has since pleaded guilty to one charge of lying to the FBI).
Comey thought it so unusual that he was having one-on-one meetings with the president, without the attorney general or chief of staff present, that he took notes of the meetings, committed to paper and dated - either in the form of an aide-mémoire to himself, or in a memorandum to colleagues. Why this matters is that in a court case, an FBI officer's contemporaneous note is admissible as evidence. Just like a recording of the conversation.
Are we to believe that the serving head of the FBI deliberately fabricated these notes because he knew sooner rather than later he was going to be fired, and these could then be used to help bring an obstruction of justice case against the sitting president? Very, very unlikely.
Comey is an ambitious, proud and status-conscious kind of guy. He wanted to keep his job - but self immolation was never part of his plan. In the interview he talks about flying back from the West Coast immediately after he'd been unceremoniously fired. You could see the memory of that still caused him pain.
But proving he is a liar is a key element to Republican strategy at the moment. That is the way you draw his sting. The argument from the White House is that Comey is "known to be a leaker and a liar" - a phrase used by the president; a phrase used by his press secretary, Sarah Sanders. A campaign is underway to discredit him as much as possible to discount his book as trash and make him seem unreliable if and when he is called as a witness.

The evidence, as they see it, is his changing explanation for re-opening the Hillary Clinton email investigation. And giving testimony initially to Congress that the president had not sought to interfere over the treatment of Flynn. They also accuse Comey of leaking classified emails.
The president tweeted that he will go down in history as the worst ever director of the FBI. Well, let's see. He will certainly go down as one of the most controversial - excepting J Edgar Hoover.
His behaviour over the Hillary Clinton emails is highly questionable- for both Republicans and Democrats alike - although for different reasons. And they show the worst of Comey. He announces she's not going to be prosecuted for her use of a private email server when she was Secretary of State, but then added a stern rebuke for her behaviour, saying she'd been extremely careless. FBI directors normally don't say anything. That was grandstanding.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders speaks to the media from the White House Press Briefing Room in Washington DC, USA, 13 April 2018. Earlier 
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders has impugned Comey from the podium

Then two weeks before polling day - two weeks! - he announced he was reopening the investigation because of the discovery of a new hoard of emails. It totally transformed the closing stages of the campaign, and led to a massive reverse in the polls. But he made that announcement before looking at what those emails were.
And then just days before polling, he exonerated candidate Clinton. So what the hell was that all about? Maybe his reasoning was flawed. But most don't doubt his sincerity when he says he felt he had no other course of action open to him. He told Congress a few months back that it left him feeling mildly nauseous to think that he could have affected the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. On the contrary, it must have weighed heavily on his mind back then, and now, even more.
 Ultimately, it may come down to a question of who do you believe: the president or his former FBI director?
One has a lousy track record of, how can one put this, making assertions that don't bear close scrutiny.  For example: the false claims that Obama wasn't born in the US, therefore was illegitimate as president, that Muslims in New Jersey cheered when the twin towers came down in 2001, that the crowds for his inauguration were bigger than Obama's, that three million people voted illegally and that his was the biggest electoral college victory since Reagan - I could go on. His former communications director, Hope Hicks told a congressional hearing that one of her jobs was to tell "white lies" for the president.
The other was previously known as a pretty honest fellow. The president has called Comey a slimeball. . But to neutralize him completely, Donald Trump has to undermine his credibility, and prove he's a liar. That hasn't happened yet, so for the moment the 6ft 8in former FBI director can still walk tall.
And that makes him dangerous to the administration.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Goodbye Paul

Image result for cartoon image paul ryan

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Bill Cosby : 'He tried to force himself into my mouth'

Disturbing day of testimony by one of Bill Cosby's alleged victims who said he promised to help her career but instead drugged her with 'prop' wine
Bill Cosby's sexual assault retrial in Norristown, Pennsylvania, started on Monday
His defense lawyer Tom Mesereau delivered his opening statement on Tuesday
He claimed accuser Andrea Constand took advantage of Cosby's loneliness over his son's murder to gain his trust before framing him for sexual assault 
Heidi Thomas took the stand later in the day Tuesday and gave a similar account to Constand's
She said Cosby lured her with the promise of career coaching and that instead she was drugged and sexually assaulted

The first of five women called as witnesses for the prosecution in Bill Cosby's retrial at a Pennsylvania court told how she lost consciousness after one sip from a glass of wine given to her.

Heidi Thomas says she awoke in a bed to find Cosby trying to force himself into her mouth. She is one of the many accusers whose story the jury did not hear at Cosby's trial in June as Judge Steven T O'Neill permitted only one other accuser to take the stand.

Now Thomas has alleged in court that Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her in circumstances strikingly similar to those alleged by Andrea Constand.
The disgraced comedian, Bill Cosby's sexual assault retrial is expected to last about a month at Montgomery County Courthouse +5
The disgraced comedian, Bill Cosby's sexual assault retrial is expected to last about a month at Montgomery County Courthouse .
Heidi Thomas accused Bill Cosby of drugging her and sexually assaulting her in 1984, during her testimony on Tuesday
Heidi Thomas accused Bill Cosby of drugging her and sexually assaulting her in 1984, during her testimony on Tuesday 

Thomas (pictured in 1984) says Cosby lured her with the promise of career coaching. He had her go over dialogue for the part of an intoxicated woman, allegedly drugged her and sexually assaulted her +5
Thomas (pictured in 1984) says Cosby lured her with the promise of career coaching. He had her go over dialogue for the part of an intoxicated woman, allegedly drugged her and sexually assaulted her 

Cosby arrives with heightened security for day two of retrial
Thomas described the image of the actor forcing himself into her mouth as 'the most graphic' of the 'snapshots' of memory that she retains from a four day period in April 1984, during which Cosby allegedly lured her to his remote ranch house in Nevada on the promise of mentoring her only to drug and assault her.

Her memory of those days is all but blank save for a few disturbing images.

She said, 'The next snapshot his head was at the head of the bed, my head was at the foot of the bed and I heard his voice saying - he always referred to himself in the third person, he was either Mr C or 'Your Friend.'

'Your friend is going to cum again,' and I remember thinking 'How did I get here? This isn't what I'm here for. And that's that snapshot.'

Thomas was 24-years-old and an actress and model signed to JF Images in Denver when her agent told her that 'an icon in the entertainment world wanted to mentor promising talent.'

Speaking clearly she told of her excitement on learning that the person who had sought her out having seen her headshots and commercial images was Bill Cosby.

The court was shown pictures of Thomas at the time - with loose tumbles of blonde hair and glossy bangs, beautiful, ambitious for a career in acting and, by her own admission, 'a little nobody from Colorado.'

She recalled as 'surreal' her first telephone conversation with the man to whom she repeatedly referred as Mr C.

She said, 'There was a set time (for the call) I was at home and sure enough there he was, Bill Cosby on the line and it was surreal - the voice I heard on TV was on the other end of my phone.

'He was very kind and very personable and basically said he was looking forward to working with me that I had come highly recommended and was looking forward to giving back to the industry that had given him so much and this was his way of doing that.'

Cosby spoke with both of her parents and, she said, 'I don't know what was said but basically I was going to be heading out have my flight paid for my hotel room paid for by my agency and they would take care of everything for me to receive this training.'

A ripple of laughter moved through the courtroom as a photograph of Thomas with her father the day she left on that trip was displayed for the court.

She explained that the far right of the photograph - stuck into a scrapbook she compiled at the time - was covered by a postcard because beneath it was her ex-boyfriend who had showed up uninvited to wave her off and he was, she said 'on the way out.'

On arriving in Nevada Thomas was picked up from the airport by a driver but instead of being driven to a hotel in the city as she had expected they headed to a remote ranch house.

She said, 'I was told (by the driver) that we were here because Mr Cosby is an athlete. He likes to run and this keeps the paparazzi away.

'He has space fresh air, privacy…it was loaned to him by a friend. And this was going to be where the coaching would take place.

'I had no reason not to believe this.'

Nervous and excited she said, 'I rang the doorbell and the door opens and it's Bill Cosby and he's casual and got his sweats on and just as friendly and personable and genuine and, 'Come on in.'

'I realized very quickly the driver had my bags and was told to show me to my room that was the first I knew oh I guess I'm staying here.'

Cosby told her to change into something more comfortable, which she did, before joining Cosby in the kitchen for what she assumed would be the start of her acting lessons.

She recalled doing a monologue that didn't impress Cosby but that she was not offended or surprised given how inexperienced she was.

She said, 'Then he said 'Heidi let's try a cold read. '

'I'm looking at this script and I realize the person I'm meant to be playing is intoxicated.

'Because I was meant to be intoxicated I remember leaning on the table a bit and he still didn't act very impressed.

'He said 'Heidi have you ever been drunk?' I said no not really.

'He said, 'Then how do you expect to play a part if you're handed a script like this?

'I said, 'Well I've seen my fair share of drunk people I've been a cocktail waitress.'

'He basically said that's not going to work for you. If you were to drink what would you drink?

'I said maybe a glass of white wine.'

Her testimony was eerily similar to that of Kelly Johnson who worked at Cosby's agency and testified in the last trial that he drugged her after asking her to cold read the part of an intoxicated woman though she was not an actress.

Thomas (from a file photo in 2016) is the Denver woman who claims she was assaulted by Cosby when she was a 24-year-old-aspiring actress and met him in Reno, Nevada. She testified Tuesday the comedian knocked her out with a potent glass of wine and forced her to perform oral sex +5
Thomas (from a file photo in 2016) is the Denver woman who claims she was assaulted by Cosby when she was a 24-year-old-aspiring actress and met him in Reno, Nevada. She testified Tuesday the comedian knocked her out with a potent glass of wine and forced her to perform oral sex

Cosby arrives for his sexual assault trial, Tuesday, April 10, 2018, at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa +5
Cosby arrives for his sexual assault trial, Tuesday, April 10, 2018, at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Norristown, Pa

Thomas, who does not drink, recalled Cosby placing a glass in front of her though she didn't see him pour it.

She took just one sip she said. 'The next thing [I remember] is the most graphic. I remember waking up on a bed I had my clothes on he did not. I was lying down and he was forcing himself in my mouth.'

Thomas's memory of the next four days is patchy but she remembered feeling sick and heading downstairs where a female cook offered her breakfast but she was too sick to eat.

Instead she walked the grounds with her instamatic camera and took photographs of the trip that was meant to have been so exciting.

The court saw those pictures - interiors of Cosby's home and the grounds - that she had also kept in her scrapbook.

Her actual recollections are hazy and disjointed. She remembered sitting next to Cosby as he drove his car. She remembered meeting the Temptations back stage at a show with him.

She remembered feeling sick and shaky in the bathroom of the ranch house.

And she remembers feeling guilt and blame. She wondered what she had done wrong. She assumed she must have been somehow responsible for what had happened.

Thomas said it never occurred to her to tell her agent and she couldn't bear to tell her parents.

She said, 'I felt I must have said something that was misunderstood.'

After she'd returned home to Denver, Thomas began to feel very strongly that she wanted to 'fix it.'

She said, 'Your reputation is everything. It's easy enough to be accused of sleeping yourself to the top. It's horrible.

'I needed to fix this I needed to find out what I said, what I did.'

She remembered that Cosby, with whom she had spoken a handful of times on the telephone before traveling to Nevada, had said he would be her mentor.

She said, 'He said that I could call anytime if I had questions and concerns so I finally decided I was going to take him up on this office.'

Two months had passed when she made that telephone call. She did not get to speak directly to Cosby but was told he was performing in St Louis and assured that if she traveled she would have time to speak with him one on one.

She paid for her hotel, she paid for her flight - again photographs of that trip were displayed for the court.

But Thomas said that it gradually became apparent that the one on one time she had hoped for, to make sense of what had happened in Reno, was not going to happen.

Eventually as a dinner to which she was invited along with several others of his entourage wound down she asked Cosby's driver and valet whom she remembered from Reno to take her camera and take her picture with Cosby.

She said, 'I handed my camera to them and they took my picture and the flash went off and he wasn't very happy.

'At that point it was pretty clear I wasn't going to get answers so I really didn't care if he was happy or not.'

In the following years Thomas said she drifted away from show business.

She married her now husband of 31 years, whom she had just started dating at the time of the alleged assault though they had met several years earlier.

She substituted dreams of fame for dreams of family.

She went onto have three daughters with him and now works as a music - piano and vocals - teacher and pianist.

She did not tell her husband about what happened with Cosby for several years after their marriage - she said she could not remember exactly when she did.

She said, 'I don't think it was denial. I'd told a psychologist about it. I think I just wanted to move on.'

Bliss took Thomas back through her theatrical ambitions and trip to Reno in painstaking detail. She asked Thomas if she took a big sip or a 'little girl sip' of wine.

Thomas replied that she knew she was a 'lightweight' as she really didn't drink.

Thomas once more described waking far from the kitchen in which she had taken that sip of wine, in a bed with Cosby 'on top of her and forcing himself into her mouth.'

She repeated her memory of waking again to find her head at the foot of the bed and hear him refer to himself as 'your friend' and tell her he was going to 'cum again.'

As she did so Cosby who listened intently tilted his head back and appeared to nod.

Bliss will continue her cross examination tomorrow morning.

There will be five women testifying at Bill Cosby's retrial.

That is a big increase from the first trial, where there were just two women who took the stand - plaintiff Andrea Constand and Kelly Johnson.

Constand will be taking the stand once again, and this time be joined by Janice Baker-Kinney, Janice Dickinson, Chelan lasha, Lisa-Lotte Lublin and Heidi Thomas.

Prosecutors had been hoping to have 13 women testify alongside Constand to speak to a pattern of behavior exhibited by the defendant.

Cosby, 80, has been accused of drugging and raping over 40 women.