AUGUST 4, 2017

PRESIDENT Trump’s week in review:

RUSSIA sanctions passed by Congress with veto proof majority and signed by Trump.  Putin expels 750 diplomats from Russia; many were Russian locals, not from U.S.

PRESIDENT Trump calls for ban on transgenders in military, shortcutting 6 month study by 5 months and surprising Pentagon.  (The WEEK, August 4, 2017.)

CHIEF of Staff Rience Priebus fired by Scaramucci even before Scaramucci technically on payroll; Scaramucci had started his own job just 10 days ago.

SCARAMUCCI then fired the day Trump appoints John Kelly to Chief of Staff position and after Scaramucci called a magazine to use dirty language to create demeaning visual pictures of Priebus and Bannon.

Although Trump continues to rail at Sessions for recusing himself (Sessions) from Russian investigations, conservatives rally to Sessions’ defense stating there will be no hearings on a successor to Sessions, while Georgia (where Sessions was a senator contemplates whether he can simply return to his senate position.

New Chief of Staff General Kelly apparently called Sessions to assure Sessions his job is safe.  Widespread hopes Kelly will bring structure and stability to White House.

SPECIAL Counsel goes to grand jury – particulars of charges and investigation still unknown.  (NBC/BBC, August 3, 2017.)

PRESIDENT Trump states he has all encompassing powers to pardon, including himself and even for wrongs not yet committed or known.  (The WEEK, August 4, 2017, L.A. Times, etc.)

CONVERSATIONS of President Trump with other foreign leaders released to press, consequences could include foreign leaders hesitation to speak with Trump (or other presidents), or, alternatively, they put on show for their own constituents.

PERCENTAGE of Trump voters who say they’d vote for Trump again increases from 82% to 88% in July.  (The WEEK, August 4, 2017.)

FACING increased backlash from states smarting over allegations they allow illegal voting, Trump’s “election fraud commission”, created to root out illegal voting finding distinct lack of cooperation from states and 3 separate lawsuits.  (The Economist, July 22, 2017.)

The commission originates in President Trump’s unsupported allegations 3 million people voted illegally in 2016 election.  Would our nation’s problem be too many are interested in politics.

SECRETARY of State has filled 2 of 24 Assistant Secretary positions and 1 of 6 Undersecretary positions.

In other news:

FAILURE to repeal Obamacare shows Republican party “internally divided and incapable of governing”.  (The Economist, July 22, 2017.)  Methinks some rejoice too soon.  On other bills Republicans may find alliances with centrist Democrats which offset any division in the Republican party.

Perhaps now Congress can focus on the problems of Obamacare, such as insurers leaving the exchanges, increasing premiums which make insurance unaffordable for some, thus leading to the campaign for plans with lesser coverage.

AFFORDABLE Care Act health care insurance rates in California to increase average of 12.5% as Anthem pulls out of some areas.  (Los Angeles Times, August 2, 2017.)

2 M Americans addicted to opioids, according to interim report of White House panel stating there is a “national emergency”.   Panel reports more funds needed to fight fentanyl abuse.  (NBC News, Nightly Business Report, July 31, 2017.)

UNDER category “you don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone”, perhaps 50+% of Americans, but less than 60%, vote in national elections.

-Throughout the country of Poland “hundreds of thousands” marched “night after night” to prevent a new law reducing independence of judicial system.

-And in a non-binding poll where 1/3 of the country gave their names and fingerprints before voting, 98% (okay, maybe just 90%), “voted” against changing the Venezuelan constitution.  (The WEEK, August 4, 2017.)

NAMI (National Association on Mental Illness) provides written information and instruction for those with loved ones with mental illness.  While our blogger is not at liberty to divulge any personal email addresses you can look up NAMI.  The course materials are excellent and the 13 week course recently offered in Woodland Hills, CA was simply excellent.

TEEN suicide – especially among girls – shows an “alarming rise”.  (NBC News, August 3, 2017.)

CONVICTED of involuntary manslaughter after encouraging her boyfriend to get back in the car and commit suicide via carbon monoxide, woman (she was 17 at the time), receives sentence of 2 ½ years, 15 months are mandatory.  (NBC News, August 3, 2017.)

Now, if she had been an illegal immigrant the sentence could perhaps have more closely rivaled the 10 years your blogger thinks more appropriate.  Naturally, the young lady appears distraught and remorseful.  But this sentence fails to send a message to internet bullies and others who push the vulnerable to their limit.  Nor is it the first national case of suicide resultant to social media.

However, Amanda Knox writes “Involuntary manslaughter is when a drunk driver crashes into another vehicle…Encouraging your boyfriend for follow through with his own death wish should not qualify…Carter wrongfully convicted of involuntary manslaughter…if we ignore the mental health factors that lead to suicide, we do nothing to prevent it…”  (Los Angeles Times, August 4, 2017.)

Nevertheless, not as if she were “encouraging” him to finish high school or college.  While a minor, she knew what she was doing even if her not fully formed brain failed to fully appreciate that she was helping him do what he could not do on his own.  No doubt, many consider suicide in darkest periods of their lives; fortunately for them, Carter not their girlfriend.

Knox correct on 1 point; involuntary manslaughter in applicable here.  Should be voluntary manslaughter.  She pressured him to get back into the car after his self-preservation instincts told him “no”.  She knew and planned the result, this was no accident.  Nor is Carter’s mental health an excuse.

LOS Angeles awarded 2028 summer Olympics.  City Council approval required for acceptance.  (Los Angeles Times, August 2, 2017.)

LOS Angeles faces future fiscal crisis as pensions costs expected to rise to $1.32 B in 2019.  City estimates each 1% raise in pay costs city $22 M in pension costs per year.  Other budget burdens include 30 year plan to fix sidewalks and program to help disabled renters $20 M per year for 10 years.    Reduced earnings on pension fund assets expected to reduce revenues $100 M per year.

Union staff insist their members need raises.  (Los Angeles Times, August 3, 2017.)  They’re just doing their job.  Samuel Gompers, founder of the American Federation of Labor said “what do we want? More.  And what do we want when we get it?  More.”

Concurrently, former Mayor Villaraigosa, who approved 25% in wage increases during his tenure, and  at the end of his term and said the unions should give some of the as raises back as he literally walked out the city hall door for the last time, is now running for governor.

Newsom supported by the pot lobby. (Los Angeles Times, July 28, 2017.)   Villaraigosa indebted to the unions.  Hollywood goes 2 to 1 with campaign dollars to Newsom.  Anyone else?  Is there an environmentally protective and economically sensible Democrat?  Much as one wishes “yes”, probably not.

CAL Tech professor resigns after internal investigation re: sexual harassment.  (Los Angeles Times, August 3, 2017.)

BILLIONS of dollars of privately issued student loan debt challengable because private issuers don’t have a paper trail showing they bought or otherwise obtained the debt and the right to collect it.  Consult an attorney about your student loan debt, but keep paying it in the meantime.  (The WEEK, August 4, 2017, Los Angeles Times, etc.)

USC Med school dean partied in his office, not just outside the school.  Result: “groundswell of opposition” by fellow staff objecting to his renewal.  (Los Angeles Times, July 30, 2017.)

WELLS Fargo being investigated by New York regulator after allegedly requiring auto purchase borrowers to buy unnecessary additional insurance when they finance auto purchases.  (Los Angeles times, August 2, 2017.)

NATIONAL Guard still attempting collection of earlier re-enlistment bonuses, despite earlier promises not to.  (Los Angeles Times, August 2, 2017.)

NOT surprisingly, there is a system of “doomsday” bunkers to shield government operations in event of nuclear attack.  (The WEEK, August 4, 2017.)  More surprising will be if North Korea doesn’t have a similar system.

GAS storage resumes at Aliso Canyon site, WITH 28% capacity limit.  (Los Angeles Times, August 1, 2017.)

ILLEGAL immigrant arrested for 2 – 20 year old driving violations while dropping off 12 year old daughter at school.  He could be deported by August 7th after being here for 25 years.  (Los Angeles Times, August 1, 2017.)  There is a point where such arrests cross the line from law enforcement to national origin discrimination; wherever it is, that line has been crossed.

35% lower risk of dementia for those eating Mediterranean or similar diet, emphasizing fish and vegetables over red meat and carbohydrates.  (The WEEK, August 4, 2017.)

GAIN 11 pounds and increase long term risk of diabetes 2 by 30%, high blood pressure by 14% and cancer by 6%.  (The WEEK, August 4, 2017.)

FAILURE to buckle up in back seat endangers co-riders in both front and back seats.  (NBC, August 3, 2017.)

AFTER 3 years in bond market exile, the Greek government issued $3.5 B in 5-year bonds at 4.625%.  (The WEEK, August 4, 2017.)

BRITAIN to ban sale of gas and diesel cars by 2040.  (The WEEK, August 4, 2017.)  Such laws provide concrete incentives to invest in research, as did the mileage standards adopted by California in the past.

VENEZUELA economy collapses with price of oil.  There are an estimated 4,500 sex workers from Venezuela in neighboring Columbia, which recently extended  work visas to these (presumably, mostly), women.  (The Economist, July 22, 2017.)

BREXITEERS minimize harm from withdrawal from European Union as negotiations begin.  Leaver Michael Gove had said “the day after we vote to leave we have hold all the cards”.

Britain badly prepared for Brexit negotiations as conservative party weakened by last election.  Both sides of debate in Britain in crisis mode; “Remainers” wanting a do-over and “Leavers” arguing for an exit without any deal beforehand, if necessary.  (The Economist, July 22, 2017.)

BLOOMBERG notes that 25% of 10.5% increase in S & P 500 is due to 5 tech stocks: Amazon, Facebook, Google, Netflix and Apple.  Meanwhile, European stock market’s “Euro 100” is up $17.8% in dollar terms.  (The Economist, July 22, 2017.)  As always, heck in with your financial adviser before making any changes.

YOUR blogger once read “corrections don’t come from what we know, but from something that seems to come out of left field”, or something similar.  It’s probably your life savings or inheritance for your children.  Talk to your broker before making changes or decisions. (What was that about the Special Counsel going to the Grand Jury??)


Writer and actor Sam Sheppard died of ALS, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, at age 73.

Maryam Mirzakhani, world’s leading female mathematician and only women to ever win a Fields award (something like a Nobel prize in math).  Perhaps someday her sex will not be relevant to her accomplishment – after all, we don’t say “the world’s leading male mathematician”.  Like Einstein before her, her initial teachers thought she lacked “aptitude”.


The times are so newsworthy it has become impossible, due to limitations of space, time, energy and ability to cite all matters worthy of mention.  I apologize in advance for any oversights, grammatical or other errors.  According to some readers, I make more than my share of them.

Note: Citations generally refer to material before the citation.  Comments after a citation are generally my own.  Citations are not necessarily the only news sites your blogger has seen reporting on a story or issue.

I focus my practice on probate, estate planning and conservatorships, with some mediation.  You can reach me through the website at “BrianSheppardLaw.com” or at “[email protected]”.

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