Monday, May 31, 2021

The LuLac Edition #4, 528, May 31st, 2021


The LuLac Edition #4,527, May 31st, 2021


Friday, May 28, 2021

The LuLac Edition #4,526, May 28th, 2021



Ted Wampole makes the announcement with Tony Brooks, WB City Council President looking on. (Photo: LuLac archives)

 This summer the Luzerne County Tourist Promotion Agency presents on land and right near the water, Rockin’ the River”. The three concerts will be held on consecutive Fridays starting July 16th, July 23rd and July 30th.  The concerts will be held at the River Common complex.

 Last year the series went on the road due to the pandemic. We’re glad to have them back. 



Yesterday was the birthday of Hubert Humphrey, one of the best Presidents we never had. Humphrey was a person who changed the face of America with his respect for the dignity of all men. 

 HHH was the 38th vice president of the United States from 1965 to 1969. He twice served in the United States Senate, representing Minnesota from 1949 to 1964 and 1971 to 1978. As a senator he was a major leader of modern liberalism in the United States. As President Lyndon Johnson's vice president, he supported the controversial Vietnam War. An intensely divided Democratic Party nominated him in the 1968 presidential election. He lost the election to Republican nominee Richard Nixon.




 Many of former President Donald Trump's political appointees got a nasty surprise when they left the government: A big tax bill.

“If the indebtedness is not paid in full within 30 calendar days, we intend to forward this debt to the Department of Treasury, Treasury offset program, for further collection,” reads one letter to a former White House official, demanding she pay $1,500.

That has left some shocked and angry.

One former official called her $1,300 bill “unacceptable,” saying she and her colleagues “gave our time and effort to this agency and this is how we’re getting paid back.”

Said another, asked to pay almost $1,200: “It’s just a very unfortunate situation.”

It’s a little-noticed addendum to Trump’s much-criticized plan last summer to prime the economy.

In August, he issued an executive order allowing employers to put off paying their workers’ share of the 12.4 percent Social Security tax for the rest of the year. The idea was to boost consumer spending by putting more money in the pockets of millions.

But the initiative was widely rejected by private sector employers, in part because they feared workers would be unprepared to pay the money back.

It was mandatory, though, for federal employees making less than $4,000 per biweekly paycheck, and the government began implementing it in September.

Trump said many times he expected Congress to eventually forgive the debts. Lawmakers didn’t do that, though they did agree to give people more time to pay the money back.

They didn’t and once again everything Trump touched has turned to crap. (Politico, LuLac) 



Representative Cartwright (Photo: LuLac archives) 

Representative Matt Cartwright (D-PA-08) and Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) introduced the Climate Change Health Protection and Promotion Act, legislation that will help improve America’s public health response to climate change by supporting research, health impact monitoring and preparation in the health sector and directing the Secretary of Health and Human Services to develop a National Strategic Action Plan to assist health professionals in preparing for and responding to the public health effects of climate change.

 Also co-leading the bill in the House of Representatives are Reps. Doris Matsui (D-CA-06), Salud Carbajal (D-CA-24) and Brad Schneider (D-IL-10). Additional Senate co-sponsors are Sens. Brian Schatz (D-HI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).

 “Our changing climate has an impact on the air we breathe, water we drink, food we eat and so much more, and with that comes consequences for our health,” said Rep. Cartwright. “We need a playbook for addressing these growing challenges. This bill is a significant step towards safeguarding our environment and public health, protecting our communities and saving in health care costs.”

“Climate change is making people and the planet sicker, and we need a national treatment plan to address the worst effects,” said Sen. Markey. “The pandemic has illuminated the threat of new infectious diseases at a terrible cost, storms are stronger and more frequent, and extreme weather and air pollution continue to cost us lives and livelihoods. The toll has been highest in the Black and Brown communities, and we need to address these inequities and prepare our health system for the continued and escalating effects of the climate crisis. I thank Rep. Cartwright for his continued partnership on legislation that recognizes that the public health impacts of climate change demand immediate action.”

"Climate change is the defining fight of our lives, and its consequences continue to have far reaching effects on our environment and our public health," said Rep. Matsui. "Every American deserves to breathe clean air, drink clean water and live in a community that prioritizes their health and well-being. That’s why we must make significant steps to better understand the relationship between climate change and health – creating a targeted national action plan to ensure the safety of our loved ones. This legislation will allow us to chart a comprehensive course forward with our state and local partners to improve our nation’s preventative public health infrastructure and respond to the public health impacts of climate change.”

“The scientific community is sounding the alarm on our narrowing window to address the impacts of climate change and we cannot be caught flat-footed,” said Congressman Carbajal. “We must provide our public health agencies, and the community groups they help inform, with the tools to address and prepare for these risks. This report will help us in that important effort and I thank Mr. Cartwright for his action to help protect our public health.”

 “Understanding the public health effects of climate change and preparing our health system to respond is a matter of critical strategic importance,” said Rep. Schneider. “We must prepare for the long-term threat of climate change on our health and wellness. This bill is a commonsense step to better understand and address the problem, and I thank Sen. Markey and my colleagues Reps. Cartwright, Matsui, and Carbajal for their leadership on this issue.”

 Specifically, the Climate Change Health Protection and Promotion Act would:

 Provide technical support to state and local health departments to develop preparedness plans and conduct community outreach

Enhance forecasting and modeling, track environmental and disease data and expand research capacity to better understand the relationship between climate change and health

Prioritize communities who have been harmed by the disproportionate impacts of the climate crisis due to environmental injustices

Enhance domestic and international tracking capacity for infectious diseases and environmental health indicators

Develop a coordinated research and preparedness agenda on climate and health

Require health impact assessments to determine how current and proposed laws, policies, and programs would protect against the health impacts of climate change





SENATOR BOB CASEY (Photo: LuLac archives) 

 U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and John Cornyn (R-TX) released a statement on their joint amendment to the United States Innovation and Competition Act.

 “We have seen the cost of relying on communist countries, like China, for critical supplies. Our amendment, the National Critical Capabilities Defense Act, will require companies to disclose proposed offshoring of critical supply chains and capabilities to foreign adversaries, like China and Russia. Our proposal will ensure the PPE shortages we saw at the start of the pandemic don’t happen again and that we are not reliant on foreign adversaries for items that are critical to our national security.”

 The National Critical Capabilities Defense Act

 The Amendment would establish a whole-of-government process to screen outbound investments and the offshoring of critical capacities and supply chains to foreign adversaries, like China and Russia, to ensure the resiliency of critical supply chains. The amendment will ensure the U.S. has greater visibility on supply chain vulnerabilities and that we can respond to the needs of our Nation and those who may call on us in times of crisis.

 The interagency committee, led by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) along with the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. Department of Defense, will oversee the review process for capacities deemed “critical” to the U.S. The committee would focus on outbound investment or offshoring of critical capacities, supply chains, domestic production and manufacturing to foreign adversaries. That is, the committee would not review outbound investments and supply chains to allied countries. Specific provisions ensure multilateral engagement, supply chain resiliency and the free and fair flow of commerce to Nations and sectors that abide by a rules-based trading system. The proposal would also establish a process to conduct ongoing evaluation of critical supply chains.

 The review process could produce recommendations to the President to take remedial action under existing authority, such as support to domestic industry, including increased research and development investment, utilization of manufacturing institutes, and provides authority, under limited circumstances, to mitigate or halt outbound investments.







This week's show features excerpts from Monday's Luzerne County Election Bureau meeting with Council.

Tune in Sunday morning at 6 on 94.3 The Talker; 6:30 on The Mothership 1340/1400 am, 100.7 and 106.7 fm; and at 7:30 on The River 105 and 103.5.





Our 1987 logo.

Robin Ventura set a college baseball record with hits in 57 games….. North American Philips Company unveils compact disc video…….Tony Tucker TKOs Buster Douglas in 10 for heavyweight boxing title…… Saul Ballesteros drives 3 golf balls off Mt McKinley, Alaska….at the  Stanley Cup Final, Northlands Coliseum, Edmonton, AL: Edmonton Oilers beat Philadelphia Flyers, 3-1 to win title 4 games to 3: Oilers' 3rd SC….. In one of the densest concentrations of humanity in history, a crowd of 800,000+ packed shoulder-to-shoulder onto the Golden Gate Bridge and its approaches for its 50th Anniversary celebration and this week in 1987 the number one song in LuLac land and America was “Diamonds” by  Herb Alpert.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

The LuLac Edition #4,525, May 26th, 2021



Our “Write On Wednesday” logo

This week we focus on the investigations of  the former President, Donald Trump and the possibilities of his legal problems. The other day, a Grand Jury was to be impaneled to look at the Trump business. Much talk about a Trump candidacy in 2024 is on the back burner but a lot will depend on whether charges will be filed against him, his family or company. Even though I believe an indicted Trump would have his supporters, I don’t think the legal system would allow that. Trump, as a former President is a big target and one does not aim  at some like that in a cavalier manner. This story from NBC News tells us that much.



While former President Donald Trump is doing all he can to remain public and relevant after his election loss, there's one thing he undoubtedly wishes people would ignore: the mass of criminal investigations that have been building momentum since the end of his presidency. Freed from the legal and practical concerns about indicting a sitting president, a number of prosecutors' offices have been charging ahead with criminal investigations of Trump, his organization and his associates.

Last week, New York Attorney General Letitia James confirmed that her office is pursuing a criminal investigation of the Trump Organization. In the past few months, the Manhattan district attorney has finally obtained the Trump Organization's financial documents from its accountants, a district attorney in Georgia is investigating criminal allegations that Trump tried to illegally influence the election results in the state, and federal prosecutors in Washington, D.C., may be looking into whether Trump should be charged with playing a role in the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. Recently, the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan also executed search warrants at the home and offices of Rudy Giuliani, Trump's personal attorney, based on allegations that Giuliani engaged in illegal lobbying on behalf of a foreign government. These reports of subpoenas, search warrants and witness interviews have put what are typically confidential investigations squarely in the public view.

Given all this activity, many Americans may well be wondering why Trump hasn't been criminally charged with ... well, something.

A criminal case generally falls into one of four categories. There are small cases brought against small targets (most of the thousands of criminal cases filed every day), big cases brought against small targets (think the Oklahoma City bombing), small cases brought against big targets (Martha Stewart's prosecution for lying about an insider trade that saved her about $50,000) and big cases brought against big targets (such as Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., who was convicted of bribery in 2009 and sentenced to 13 years).

A former president of the United States is unquestionably a big target and therefore falls into either category three or four. But there are risks to both approaches.

Let's assume a prosecutor wants to pursue a category four case — that is, a big case against Trump. Such a case would be likely to involve complex financial transactions, such as those resulting in huge, questionable tax refunds to the Trump Organization, a focus of New York's attorney general and Manhattan's district attorney.

The problem is that complexities can open the door to potential defenses in a criminal trial. Putting aside the enormous task of collecting, analyzing and summarizing all of the documents (a job that the Manhattan DA's office has wisely outsourced to an expensive consulting firm), the prosecution must also prove criminal intent, which can be challenging when the target heads a large organization. In fact, the typical defense offered by tax evaders — "my accountants prepared my returns and I just signed them" — hasn't gone unnoticed by Trump, who has already pointed out that his tax returns were prepared by "among the biggest and most prestigious law and accounting firms in the U.S." It could be a heavy lift to convict a former president of any kind of business fraud when he has surrounded himself with lawyers and accountants.

That is why the cooperation of those same lawyers and accountants can be essential to obtaining a criminal conviction. Michael Cohen, Trump's convicted former attorney, is enthusiastically cooperating against his former boss, and there is immense pressure on Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, to do the same. But both men come with considerable baggage — Cohen is a convicted felon, and Weisselberg is under investigation of allegations of tax misdeeds of his own — that might impair their credibility at trial.

So if a big category four case includes too many problems, should prosecutors consider charging a smaller case from category three — for example, a single misstatement on a bank loan application? Such a charge could perhaps come out of the New York state and Manhattan probes.

Maybe, but bringing a small case against a big target carries its own risks. Such cases leave the impression, perhaps unfairly, that either the defendant isn't being prosecuted for the full scope of his or her illegal conduct or that the defendant is being singled out for prosecution simply because he or she is a high-profile person. Neither takeaway seems particularly satisfying.

In fact, it's possible that all of the above concerns played roles in the apparent decision by New York federal prosecutors not to pursue charges against Trump over allegations that he made "hush money" payments to Stormy Daniels; the Federal Election Commission has similarly declined to take any action regarding those payments.

And finally, what about Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol or Trump's phone call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, which may have violated Georgia election laws?

Both would be big cases, but they would also be politically charged cases, and therein lies another problem for prosecutors. Prosecutors know a criminal charge isn't a conviction. There is a world of difference between obtaining a criminal indictment, which requires only "probable cause," and a criminal conviction, which requires a finding that the defendant is "guilty beyond a reasonable doubt." The latter is, for good reason, the highest burden of proof that exists in our legal system.

Prosecutors know they should bring criminal charges only if they believe they can convict the defendant; to operate under any other standard would be unethical. That is true no matter who the defendant is, but in the case of a high-profile defendant, prosecutors aren't likely to file charges unless they are as certain as humanly possible that they will be able to obtain a conviction. And because prosecutors must convince an unanimous jury of 12 ordinary citizens that a defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, bringing a politically charged or divisive case puts that certainty further out of reach.

Which brings us back to the question: With all these investigations hanging over his head, will Donald Trump ever be charged with a crime?

We know this: For a former U.S. president to be convicted of a crime, the prosecutor's case must be substantial, the evidence overwhelming and the jury unbiased. The most likely scenario is that the Trump Organization will be criminally charged with a financial crime (yes, organizations themselves can be charged and criminally fined if convicted). And if the New York prosecutors have enough documentary and testimonial evidence that Donald Trump knew about those financial crimes, they would be likely to bring charges against the former president, as well.

That's a high hurdle for them to clear. But if they don't make it, it won't be for lack of trying.