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Veterans Group Sues to Block VA Shadow Rulers

"A liberal veterans group is suing to block the influence of three outside advisers who have been secretly influencing the Department of Veterans Affairs from Mar-a-Lago, President Donald Trump’s private club in Palm Beach, Florida.

ProPublica reported last week that the advisers — Marvel Entertainment chairman Ike Perlmutter, West Palm Beach doctor Bruce Moskowitz and Washington lawyer Marc Sherman — have been shaping VA personnel and policy decisions despite having no official role or relevant expertise.

The trio, sometimes referred to as the “Mar-a-Lago Crowd,” is failing to disclose its activities as required by federal law, according to a lawsuit filed today in federal court in Washington, D.C., by VoteVets, a liberal activist group that says it represents 500,000 supporters.

The Federal Advisory Committee Act, or FACA, is a Watergate-era sunshine law that requires federal agencies to inform the public when they consult outside experts. VoteVets wants a judge to order the Mar-a-Lago Crowd to disclose records of its activities and cease influencing the VA until it complies with the law. The suit also asks that future meetings of the group be opened to public participation and that minutes of its meetings be kept.

“This group has been operating in the dark,” said Will Fischer, VoteVets’ director of government relations. “Our goal in bringing this lawsuit is to bring these activities to light and make sure our members, veterans and military families are able to see what’s going on with our VA and the people directing the activities of our VA.”
Revoke my security clearance, too, Mr. President

William H. McRaven, a retired Navy admiral, was commander of the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command from 2011 to 2014. He oversaw the 2011 Navy SEAL raid in Pakistan that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

"Dear Mr. President:

Former CIA director John Brennan, whose security clearance you revoked on Wednesday, is one of the finest public servants I have ever known. Few Americans have done more to protect this country than John. He is a man of unparalleled integrity, whose honesty and character have never been in question, except by those who don’t know him.

Therefore, I would consider it an honor if you would revoke my security clearance as well, so I can add my name to the list of men and women who have spoken up against your presidency.

Like most Americans, I had hoped that when you became president, you would rise to the occasion and become the leader this great nation needs.

A good leader tries to embody the best qualities of his or her organization. A good leader sets the example for others to follow. A good leader always puts the welfare of others before himself or herself.

Your leadership, however, has shown little of these qualities. Through your actions, you have embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage and, worst of all, divided us as a nation.

If you think for a moment that your McCarthy-era tactics will suppress the voices of criticism, you are sadly mistaken. The criticism will continue until you become the leader we prayed you would be."
The Polling Station / Re: Six favourite lesser known Piano concertos.
« Last post by kyjo on Today at 02:38:57 PM »
I don't know how obscure my choices are, but anyway here it goes:

Pfitzner - Piano concerto in E flat major
Paderewski - Piano concerto in A minor
Elmas - Piano concerto No. 3
Sgambati - Piano concerto in G minor
Kilar - Piano concerto
Castelnuovo-Tedesco - Piano concerto No. 2 in F major

Bonus choice:
Feinberg - Piano concerto No. 3 in C minor

I'd say those are obscure enough!  ;) I know the Paderewski and Castelnuovo-Tedesco concerti which I enjoy greatly, as well as the Sgambati which I don't think as highly of.
General Classical Music Discussion / Re: What are you listening to now?
« Last post by Traverso on Today at 02:32:10 PM »
The Siebe Henstra section of this pretty wonderful collection...this music is nearly all new to me and I'm finding a lot to enjoy

Indeed a fine collection. :)
Trump's military parade is now estimated to cost $92 million – $80 million more than earlier estimate

"Donald Trump's military parade this fall is shaping up to cost $80 million more than initially estimated.
The Department of Defense and its interagency partners have updated their perspective cost estimates for the parade, according to a U.S. defense official with firsthand knowledge of the assessment. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The parade, slated for Nov. 10, is estimated to cost $92 million, the official said. The figure includes $50 million from the Pentagon and $42 million from interagency partners such as the Department of Homeland Security. An initial estimate last month pegged the prospective cost for the parade at $12 million.

A Pentagon spokesman said in an email to CNBC that the Defense Department expects to make an announcement soon, but he would not comment further. The White House referred questions to the Defense Department."
Trump lashes out against US news outlets defending press freedom

"The US Senate unanimously adopted a resolution on Thursday affirming support for a free press and declaring that “the press is not the enemy of the people”.

The non-binding resolution approved by voice vote was a rebuke to Trump who for more than 18 months has frequently called reporters “the enemy of the people”.

The resolution “reaffirms the vital and indispensable role that the free press serves to inform the electorate, uncover the truth, act as a check on the inherent power of the government, further national discourse and debate, and otherwise advance the most basic and cherished democratic norms and freedoms of the United States”.

The Globe quoted its local founding father John Adams, who was born and died in Massachusetts and became America’s second president and said: “The liberty of the press is essential to the security of freedom.”

Trump responded by doubling down on his attacks, in a Twitter tirade on Thursday morning.


"The publications running editorials on Thursday included the New York Times, Chicago Sun-Times, Philadelphia Inquirer and Miami Herald.

The Globe’s editorial page proposed last week that newspapers respond in unison to the escalating attacks.

“This relentless assault on the free press has dangerous consequences,” the Globe wrote in its editorial.

“The greatness of America is dependent on the role of a free press to speak the truth to the powerful.”

A quarter of Americans and nearly half of Republicans now agree with the view that the president should be able to close news outlets for bad behavior, according to a recent poll quoted in the Globe."
General Classical Music Discussion / Re: Purchases Today
« Last post by SurprisedByBeauty on Today at 02:00:15 PM »
Ah yes - Virgil Thomson - a composer so mediocre he is best (if not only) remembered for a dig at an infinitely more talented one

He made that dig in his role as a superior wit, not an inferior composer, though.
The Diner / Re: What TV series are you currently watching?
« Last post by milk on Today at 01:58:57 PM »
Rewatching The Pacific these days and HBO’s American version of the comedy Getting On. Laurie Metcalf and Co. are brilliant in GO and the show is hilarious and masterful. I’m not sure how I feel about the Pacific. It’s good but there’s diminishing returns in war epics. Still, there are some scenes that give you a bit of a sense of what storming a beach was like. The character of Sledge (and real-life person) is great.
General Classical Music Discussion / Re: Purchases Today
« Last post by Roasted Swan on Today at 01:56:28 PM »
Sorry, can't resist a good Lennie-the-composer dig. Though none surpass the dig that -- I think -- Virgil Thomson (or maybe someone else; Tim Page told it to me and I forgot over my joy of the morsel) took:

"Leonard Bernstein can do anything he doesn't put his mind to."

Ah yes - Virgil Thomson - a composer so mediocre he is best (if not only) remembered for a dig at an infinitely more talented one 
General Classical Music Discussion / Re: What are you listening to now?
« Last post by Gordo on Today at 01:55:22 PM »
Haydn: Symphony in D, H.I No.31 - "Horn Signal"

Marvelous composition and interpretation. I thought I needed to rest, but immediately came the mesmerizing adagio of the symphony No.34... Just one more.  :)
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