Beltway Insider: Trump/Iran; California Wildfires; Austria/Somalia; Ophelia; AMPAS; Clinton

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California Governor Jerry Brown, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris met with residents of hard hit Santa Rosa, California, where nearly two-thirds of this largest city in the famed Sonoma County  Wine Country, has been destroyed by raging wildfires.

According to Gallup, President Trump job approval, over the past week, decreased by two percentage points to 40% of those polled who approve of his effectiveness as President and those who disapprove of his effectiveness as President increased four percentage points to 54%.

Trump Squashes Iran Nuke Deal

President Donald Trump announced this week he intend to void the heavily negotiated Iranian Deal crafted under the Obama Administration and negotiated by former Secretary of State John Kerry, and the P5 +1 leaders of the United Nations in favor of a "clear-eyed assessment" of its effectiveness.

Effectively stating the same goals, as his predecessor, Trump indicated his strategy would be to "confront the Iranian regime's hostile actions and to ensure that Iran never, and I mean never, acquires a nuclear weapon."

Throughout the Iranian negotiations and then Senate Democrats repeatedly blocked the Republican disapproval resolution of the Iran nuclear deal. The long standing relationship with the United States only ally in the region, Israel, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, "the United States has no grater friend than Israel." The Iranian deal was a blow to that friendship.

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"First, we will work with our allies to counter the regime's destabilizing activity and support for terrorist proxies in the region. Second, we will place additional sanctions on the regime to block their financing of terror. Third, we will address the regime's proliferation of missiles and weapons that threaten its neighbors, global trade, and freedom of navigation," President Trump said.

While these goals are considered of the utmost importance as with most of the recent changes proposed by the president they have met with serious push back from Senate leaders and others. It is expected changes to the Iranian deal will result in the same.

Wildfires Still Rage in Northern California; 6,000 Homes Destroyed; 40 Dead; Hundreds Missing

California Governor Jerry Brown, along with both democratic senators, Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, held a Town Hall meeting in the Northern California city of Santa Rosa, after touring the devastation that left them at a loss for words.

Nearly two-thirds of Santa Rosa, the largest city in the famed Sonoma County Wine Country, has been destroyed by raging wildfire.  

The Governor expressed heartfelt condolences and spent the next three hours talking with about 2000 residents. He explained he had sent President Trump a lengthy letter requesting Federal Aid and in response the President has declared the effected counties Federal disaster areas making them eligible for federal assistance. A FEMA office has opened.

The Governor also made it clear, when talking of the substantial loss of life, "people need to leave when they are told."

Residents still under Evacuation Warnings may consider sleeping in shifts, having supplies and cherished items pre-packed, with medicines, pet food, water, flashlights, batteries, and any supplies needed should they be ordered to flee.

Hell Week

After a week of unprecedented wild fires marching across the once lush Northern California landscape, the harsh reality is setting in as entire neighborhoods in hard hit Sonoma are decimated; Many Napa Vineyards are totally destroyed; Mendocino scorched.

Fueled by high winds, nearly forty fires broke out on Sunday, October 8, as downed power lines from Pacific Gas & Electric Company, (PG&E) ignited deadened trees, brush and tinder, and are being investigated as the cause of the devastating fires.

This firestorm was cruel and indiscriminate: social economic, race, religion the fire equalized all and crossed all boundaries and barriers. Fire Chiefs and Battalion members out fighting the numerous pop up fires spawned by the sparks and high winds returned to their neighborhoods to find their homes completely incinerated. The all-consuming fire left ash, charred remnants of households, and if they were lucky some small memento of better days.

The damage is catastrophic. Not simply in Sonoma, neighboring Napa and Mendocino. The major hotel chains catering to tourists who would escape to the beauty of California's Wine Country didn't fare any better.

Paradise Ridge Winery in Santa Rosa destroyed in what was called the Tubbs Fire; Fountaingrove Inn in Santa Rosa also victim of the Tubbs Fire; Hilton Sonoma Wine Country in Santa Rosa also totally destroyed in the Tubbs Fire;

The Historic Fountaingrove Round Barn, built in 1875 by Thomas Lake Harris, the founder of the region, survived great earthquakes, torrential rains, every natural disaster and possible inclement weather combination imaginable was no match for the Tubbs Fire that consumed every building, structure, home in its path.

The Luther Burbank Center for the Performing Arts in Santa Rosa partially destroyed in the Tubbs Fire; Willi's Wine Bar in Santa Rosa, established in 1886, gone; Sweet T's on Stagecoach Road, also destroyed; Cricklewood Restaurant, in business over 40 years, locally owned, unrecognizably ruined, soot, ash, charred remnants.

The owners of the Cricklewood restaurant, Michael and Lynette O'Brien, who also lost their home, all their possessions and managed to save their cats and some clothing, posted this on Facebook, "We are shell shocked, heartbroken, and beyond sad. We didn't grab the reservations book on our way out . . so we can't call you personally to let you know we aren't there. Sorry about this abrupt ending to 42 years of being a part of your lives. We love you and will miss you. The outpouring of love and concern has been overwhelming. Thank you all so much."

National chains like Applebee's, Arby's and McDonald's were also destroyed in the Santa Rosa Tubbs Fire; K-Mart gutted.

The California Cannabis Industry, set for legalization beginning January, 2018 has suffered a devastating blow to the crops, along with the Vineyards that dot the once lush countryside, seven North Bay cannabis farms have been completely destroyed in the fires.

The region that produces the world's most delicious wines also serves nearly 10,00 cannabis farms. In Sonoma County growers are facing a devastating first harvest with a small number of farms, possibly 50, totally wiped out.

As with the vineyards, Harvest carries the farmer throughout the year.


Only the Sulphur Fire, of the six named fires in Sonoma, Napa and Mendocino Counties appears to be nearly contained at 60%; The devastating and catastrophic Tubbs Fire is at 44% containment; the Atlas Fire is at 45%; The Redwood, Nuns and Pocket Fires barely contained at 20%; 10% and 5% respectively.

Decimated Santa Rosa is still under mandatory evacuation orders with the fire inching closer to the eastern portion of the city.

The Napa Valley didn't escape the insatiable rage as the fire ravaged the world renown Wine Country totally or partially damaging nearly two dozen vineyards. The Signorelli Estate Winery has been completely destroyed.

Austria Elects The Youngest Leader in its History

Sebastian Kurz, 31,  head of The Austrian People's Party, in what is being called a stunning upset has won the majority of seats in the Austrian legislative election, gaining 14 seats and winning the role of Austrian Chancellor.

Kurz, who is considered a member of the new conservative party, or the Alt-right, built a coalition on strengthen immigration requirements and reform, increased border control, and restrictions on services offered to new immigrants. The people responded and propelled the youngest politician in its history into office.  

The Austrian Party system has been struggling and evolving over the last six months leading up to the election. This election was marred by negative Facebook campaigns, dirty campaigning and infighting.

In the end Kurz's People's Party won 61 seats and gained 14 new seats and 31.4% of the vote; The Freedom Party of Austria lead by Heinz-Christian Strache won 53 seats and 27.4% of the vote increasing his party's control by 16 seats; the Social Democratic Party, led by Christian Kern, earned 26.7% of the vote, neither gain nor lost any seats retaining the previous 52.

Somalia Truck Bomb Kills 276; Injures 300

Somalia is still reeling from Saturday's truck bomb, the worst in the nation's history,  in the center of two busy intersections known as K5 in Mogadishu, outside a hotel and near government offices, upscale restaurants and shops.

The force of the blast has left the city center in ruins. The sheer number of dead, many burned beyond recognition, have drained local hospital services. Working to save the living, the hospitals are in short supply of both medical professionals and supplies.

The explosion of this magnitude would cause catastrophic injury including loss of limbs, which doctors have indicated was the main injury of many of the patients transported to the hospital. Other injuries would be cause by objects turning into projectiles.

The al-Qaeda linked terrorist group, Al-Shabab have been named by the Somalia's President, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmaajo, as the perpetrators of the blast. The group has not claimed responsibility.

The scene was chaos, streets littered with debris, soot, ash, small fires still burning, cars gutted and consumed, gaping holes in neighboring buildings, blood, pools of deep red congealing blood and other points the same red splatter.

The world governments are unilaterally condemning the Mogadishu Bombing.

The spokesperson for Turkish President Erdogan's Ibrahim Kalin has indicated the Turkish government will be sending supplies to the people of Somalia.

The truck, which has not been identified in size, was loaded with explosives. Within hours, a smaller second explosion went off in a separate section of the city. The devastation was far less, two including the driver of the vehicle died.

Hurricane Ophelia Expected to Make Landfall in Ireland

Hurricane Ophelia, Atlantic based hurricane and the 15th named Hurricane for this season, was once headed for the eastern seaboard and took a left turn headed out toward cooler water and is now set to slam into the Irish coastline Monday.

Officials have issued an Amber Wind Warning for Northern Ireland predicting dangerous storm surge driven by gale force winds and heavy rain for Monday and Tuesday. Residents in the directly affected areas are warned to be prepared for power outages and flooding.

Harvey Weinstein

The Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science, the elected Governors who managed the working of each particular branch within the academy rank and file categories, held an emergency meeting this week to discuss the fate of Harvey Weinstein.

The outcome not really unexpected; if there had been any doubt the meeting would have been delayed.

What did happen ended three decades of Harvey Weinstein's well documented tirades, outbursts and verbal abuse and the less documented although widely known sexual harassment and sexual assaults.

Wildfires Rage On in Northern California; 3,500 Homes Destroyed; Hundreds Missing

By his own admission he made between ten and fifteen settlements to accessors to squash any accusation from being made public. Oddly, Mr. Weinstein can't remember the exact number of payments he made to his accusers. Not unusual for a serial abuser, he would be more likely to remember the amount of the settlement as opposed to the name of the victim.

At the end of the day, The Academy Governors Board of Directors voted by more than the necessary 2/3 majority to oust Mr. Weinstein putting an end to an era of accepted abuse and quiet cover-ups.

Post Script

With The Academy ousting Mr. Weinstein, they have backed themselves against a proverbial wall. Some Academy Members are notorious for voicing their own criminal behavior and expect the invitation of membership to remain constant, permanent and without issue even when the allegations are revolting.

It's too early to tell just what the Academy Governors will do to addresses other egregious and alleged criminal activity.

As for Mr. Weinstein, the allegations from his accusers continue to mount with more women, on two continents coming forward with all too familiar stories. The issue now becomes criminal and civil. Will there be prosecution.

Without rape tests completed the Prosecutor will not move against Mr. Weinstein.

They may convene a Grand Jury, in some jurisdiction somewhere, to determine if enough evidence is present to appease both sides and the Grand Jury is made up of voting citizens who will hear the evidence and make a decision. A prosecutor can absolve himself of responsibility by allowing a Grand Jury to have the final say.

The other option is civil penalty: a preponderance of evidence 51% is all the accusers will need to move a civil jury. The way to cripple the giant is too take his money.

Most of the women have already received settlements. What is left? What is the rightful punishment and demand? Jail? Death? Yes. Yes, to both. It is absolutely the right reaction to want him held accountable for his actions.

To face criminal and civil penalty; to be prosecuted and sentenced to the limits the law will allow. And it is okay to think about his death. It is not okay to act on those thoughts. Therefore the only action left are the courts and the slow moving due process.

When in a war one needs to know the tools, tactics and strategy of the enemy to ensure one does not fall into the traps. Setting oneself up for allegations of mental instability by initiating Donald Trump Twitter rants or using social media to slam or shame insignificant events with vicious ad hominem attacks only devalues the effort and brings into question the mental stability of the aggressor.

Hillary Clinton

Former Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary R. Clinton is in talks with Columbia University, in New York City, where the former Secretary of State, is considering a professorship.

For more information on President Donald Trump:

Sources:,, Mercury news

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