Evidence emerges that Blackwater’s Erik Prince managed a backchannel communications link with Putin for the Trump campaign

And here I thought that maybe Amway heiress Betsy DeVos got the job as Secretary of Education because, she offered to supply Trump properties with light bulbs and laundry detergent.

Yeah, according to the Washington Post, it looks as though Betsy DeVos’s brother, Erik Prince, the founder of the covert private military entity Blackwater, and friend of Steve Bannon’s, was involved in establishing a backchannel between Trump and Putin. I don’t suppose we’ll ever know why Trump chose DeVos, who many agree was the least qualified cabinet nominee in American history, to be his Secretary of Education, but it seems plausible to me that it was done, at least in part, in recognition of the family’s work on behalf of the Trump campaign… Speaking of which, as I understand it, we still don’t have a satisfactory answer as to why, a computer server at Russia’s Alfa Bank was apparently in communication with both a remote Pennsylvania office of the Trump Organization and Spectrum Health, a medical facility chain that Betsy DeVos’s husband Dick serves as chairman of the board for, prior to the election… The deeper you dig, the darker it gets.

As for the mention of sanctions in the Washington Post article, I wonder if they’re referring to the sanctions levied during the Obama administration that stopped Russian drilling in the Arctic. If so, all of the pieces may finally be falling into place… I mean, it’s conceivable that this secret meeting between Erik Prince and a Russian close to Putin on the Seychelles islands was about the steps that would have to be taken before the Trump administration could justify the lifting of sanctions, right? In other words, this secret meeting may not have primarily been about Russia’s relationship with Iran, but about the U.S. sanctions keeping Putin from what could be a $500 billion oil exploration deal with Exxon, right? And, if that’s the case, the whole narrative begins to make sense… The Russians helped Trump get elected in exchange for the lifting of sanctions, and, then, a few weeks prior to the inauguration, Erik Prince set up a secret meeting in the Indian ocean to discuss how those sanctions could be lifted. Makes sense to me.

Posted in Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Fuller Cut’s “Read to a Barber” program makes the ABC Evening News

While I really loved Jennifer Guerra’s piece for National Public Radio this past October about the “Read to a Barber” program at The Fuller Cut, there’s nothing like seeing our local barbers on network television, talking about what they’ve been doing to encouraging Ypsilanti’s kids to read… If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the video from ABC News, followed by an excerpt from the accompanying story.

The children who visit one particular barbershop in Michigan get more than just fresh cuts when they visit; if they want to, they can receive lessons in reading, in African-American history and in self-confidence.

For a year, the Fuller Cut barbershop in Ypsilanti, Michigan, outside of Ann Arbor, has been offering a Read to a Barber program. The deal is simple: The child reads to the barber and he gets $2 off his cut. The catch: He also has to explain what he’s read and answer some questions from the barber or his caretaker.

“It really has taken off, better than expected,” said Fuller Cut owner Alex Fuller. “It’s hard to explain when you see these kids reading, learning about, you know, African-American heroes, and just seeing their faces light up — and I think the money’s a good incentive too.”

Fuller, born and raised in Ypsilanti, has owned Fuller Cut since 2002. It was Ryan Griffin, another barber at the shop, who came to Fuller with the idea. Griffin said that he’d gotten inspired after reading about some barbers doing a similar program in Harlem, New York; Tampa, Florida; and Iowa.

“The first thing that came to my head was, ‘That’s responsible!’ …I just realized that was so responsible,” Griffin said. “That’s how a barbershop can become a pillar of the community.”

He said the idea seemed like an easy task to pull off, so he brought it to Fuller, whose reaction was, “Let’s get some bookshelves!”

“I went down to the thrift store, found two shelves, two shelves for $10 bucks, spray-painted them, you know. Got my wife involved. She was excited. She made some posters and the kids, it’s just been great,” Fuller said…

How incredibly cool is that?

[The Fuller Cut is located at 307 Ecorse Road, in Ypsilanti, Michigan.]

Posted in Ypsilanti | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

I chose the mime

I had two Facebook “friend” requests today… and I never thought that I’d utter these words, but I chose the mime.

I’m tempted, on occasion, to “friend” one of the ample-breasted, duck-faced young women who approach me each day online. I’m curious as to how the men posting on their behalf would go about trying to separate me from what money I have left. Would they ask me to send them airfare, so that they might come to Ypsilanti and visit me in person? Would they ask me to send money so that they might be able to buy even skimpier lingerie? I’m tempted… but, at least this time, I chose the mime.

How weird would it be if, because of this choice of mine, the requests from these fake, ample-breasted, duck-faced young women in swimsuits and lingerie immediately stopped, only to be replaced by requests from fake, ample-breasted, duck-faced mimes?

OK, blogging break is over. I need to get back to cleaning Landline Creative Labs now….

Oh, speaking of mimes, did you ever see those photos of Robin Williams taken in San Francisco in 1974? I was never a huge fan of either miming or Williams, but the idea that someone just happened across these photos after almost four decades, and just noticed that Williams was one of the mimes, if that’s what really happened, is really cool.

Posted in Mark's Life | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Introducing the new Landline couch

Thanks to our friends at Salt City Antiques, Landline Creative Labs now has a couch that doesn’t make people recoil in horror.

Posted in 209 Pearl | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Michael “Lock Her Up” Flynn tries to cut a deal to avoid getting locked up himself

Well, if the Wall Street Journal can be believed, the investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election might be poised to break wide open. According to an article just posted by the Journal, General Michael Flynn, who served as Trump’s National Security Advisor until it became public knowledge that he’d lied about his communications with Russian operatives prior to Trump’s inauguration, has offered to testify in exchange for immunity. That’s right. Michael “lock her up” Flynn, who, not too long ago, said that immunity equals guilt, has requested immunity from prosecution in exchange for his testimony.

More interesting than the fact that Flynn has offered to testify in exchange for immunity, though, is the fact that, as least as of right now, it doesn’t look as though investigators have taken him up on the offer… which would lead one to believe that they either don’t feel that Flynn will give them what they want, or they’ve already got enough evidence against the administration that they don’t need him. Or, maybe, they’ve just decided to make him sweat for a while, considering the very real possibility of serving hard time in federal prison for lying to the FBI. Either way, it looks like the next few weeks are going to be incredibly interesting.

The question, it seems to me, isn’t whether or not someone will flip, but who will flip first… Let’s remember, not only Flynn, but Paul Manafort, Carter Page, and Roger Stone have all offered to testify as well. Sure, they could all lie under oath, but it only takes one of them to either lose their nerve, or make a mistake, for the whole thing to come crashing down, and, looking at these guys, I don’t think they’ve got got what it takes to keep up the lie. I mean, Carter Page looked like he was about to piss his pants last night, and he was just talking with the friendly folks at Fox News.

For what it’s worth, according to CNN Senior White House Correspondent Jeff Zeleny, the White House isn’t talking. “Sean Spicer tells me the White House has no comment tonight on Michael Flynn immunity offer,” Zeleny just said on Twitter.

Posted in Politics, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

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