Key to Trump-Ukraine call: Untangling the factions in Ukraine

By Tatiana Prophet
Updated 9/26/2019 6:27 pm
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that Hunter Biden joined the Burisma board in April 2016. It was actually April 2014. Back to Facts regrets the error.

The phone call with new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is meaningless – until you sort through what’s actually going on in Ukraine.
The phone call with new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is meaningless – until you sort through what’s actually going on in Ukraine.

Ukraine has had its ample share of political violence, scandal and even poisoning (see the famous poisoning of Viktor Yushchenko during the Orange Revolution of 2004). With an ideal climate for farming, Ukraine was long the breadbasket of Europe. As such it has been periodically overshadowed and menaced by Imperial Russia and Soviet Russia. To read articles out of context, it appears the political retributions have no end in this country. No wonder they elected an outsider recently, TV personality Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Here is a brief summary of the situation with Joe Biden, best told by the former vice president himself. On January 23, 2018, Biden appeared at an event held by the Council on Foreign Relations.

10 reasons Central Americans are fleeing by the tens of thousands

Journey through the eyes of José


When José was 8 years old, he and his family fled the farm in northern Honduras where he was born, the ninth of 11 children. It was there that they had raised pigs, chickens, beans, corn, jalapeño peppers and tomatoes.

That was 1999.

“Everything was beautiful then,” he said. “Everything is beautiful being around animals.”

By age 11, after trying to survive with his mother in the big city of San Pedro Sula but finding no work, José moved to Guatemala to live with older siblings. He hadn't yet found his place, so he decided to try his luck in Mexico, where as a preteen he rented from his brother and drove a tricycle taxi. Finally, at age 14, he spent six months on the slow train through Mexico, and even though he couldn’t swim, braved the Rio Grande, to find a life on the “Other Side.”

7 things you're not hearing about Stormy Daniels

Suits, settlements and strip teases


Stormy Daniels filed a defamation suit against President Donald Trump in a New York court Monday, for a tweet in which he called the composite sketch of the man she described as threatening her a "con job." (Seriously? We are living in an alternate reality, folks.)

Sometimes it's really hard to follow exactly how many lawsuits and countersuits there are.

Following are items not generally being discussed in the virtual salons and coverage of a 2006 affair between porn actress Stormy Daniels, aka Stephanie Clifford, and the current President of the United States, Donald Trump.

1. 'PUSSYGATE' HOOK. Stormy Daniels was motivated to contact the media after the release of the Access Hollywood audio during the presidential campaign.

Facebook unmasked

How a lax policy for third-party apps
Finally unleashed the wrath of the crowd


Remember Farmville? Mafia Wars? Flixster? How about the one that tells you what percent a$$hole you are? You probably remember consenting to sharing personal information in exchange for playing a game or getting a laugh – or being told you are the Mother of Dragons, perhaps? And you probably remember laughing at your uncle or neighbor who said “No, thanks. I don’t like putting my info out there. That's how they get you."

That sentiment is probably best expressed by the fictional character of Doug on Saturday Night Live's "Black Jeopardy," who responds to the answer "the iPhone wants your thumb print for protection" with: "What is 'I don't think so, that's how they get you.' "

The technology in question is not iPhone security, but Doug's fears are starting to sound a lot more like reality, with the bombshell St. Patrick’s Day revelations by The New York Times that a voter profiling firm had acquired personal data in 2014 that was collected with a “harmless” third-party app on Facebook.

Seven things you're not hearing about guns in America

Photo: Gosford Anglican Church in Australia's Central Coast made waves in America and on social media after the Valentine's Day massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.


Every time a mass shooting terrorizes our national psyche, we turn to social media to vent our anger that we haven’t already stopped these real-life horror films from happening.

We are caught in a loop of memes, whistles and signals. Gun rights advocates immediately send thoughts and prayers to the victims, sentiments which gun reform advocates see as insincere.

Trumped up trickle-down: How hype clouds the tax issue


A fool and his money are soon parted. But the deceived and their political self-determination are parted over and over again. Often, it’s the self-deceived politicians who lead their deceived supporters around the same old problems. Especially when it comes to taxes – because the topic is so damn complicated.

Yet understanding the basic issues around taxes and the economy doesn’t have to be painful. Perhaps the first reality we must acknowledge is that economics – and taxes – are not a binary proposition: up/down, yes/no, good/bad.

What happened when JFK lowered taxes?


Conservatives generally seize on the notion that John F. Kennedy cut taxes.

Liberals tend to scoff at this idea, stating why the situation was different.

Let’s examine the facts, looking for balance. It was 1960, and the country was in the middle of a recession caused mainly by the Fed raising the funds rate sharply (they were concerned about inflation as GDP growth in 1959 had been 6.9 percent.

Comey tapes: Rage, awe and WTF


It's June 2017, six months into Donald Trump's unprecedented presidency, and he is still keeping everyone guessing like Willy Wonka disappearing behind a two-foot door.

The latest topic opened in May, after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, and as most everyone remembers, the President tweeted that there might be tapes of conversations between the two men.

Or did he?

This question is where the parallel universes of rage, awe and WTF diverge, never to meet.

Steak or garnish? 6 jaw-dropping moments from the Comey-Trump show


James Comey is the anti-Trump, and it appears many -- who are tired of this strange theater that has overtaken our political arena –- hope he is the antidote. He is everything that Trump is not. He speaks in sentences of 20 words or more. He rattles off impeccable syntax and manages to elucidate adult FBI topics for listeners of all stripes. He is polite, deferential, and especially now that he is no longer in government, very willing to answer questions (except ones that would give an impression that anybody at all was innocent in the Trump investigation – in case he had a “duty to correct”).

So from Wednesday, when he released his prepared written testimony, to Thursday when he verbally recounted several Orson Welles-worthy scenes set in the Oval Office, the nation was riveted.

The brains of Americans on both sides pleaded: Give us something new! Anything to relieve the tedium of “officials familiar with the matter” telling us in our nation’s top papers, yet again, that this investigation is being conducted, oh yes, being conducted every day -- but never appearing to give us any sort of, well anything to digest.

So were we satisfied? Most of us have something to munch on. There’s brain food for both sides. And as would be expected, one man’s steak is another man’s garnish.

Facts on Comey firing: Lost in speculation


The whirlwind of relevant reportage on the exit of erstwhile FBI director James Comey all started with an article posted late Monday night by the news site Pro Publica, quoting two anonymous sources as saying that Comey gave inaccurate testimony last week before a Senate committee regarding Huma Abedin's handling of State Department e-mails.

"According to two sources familiar with the matter -- including one in law enforcement -- Abedin forwarded only a handful of Clinton emails to her husband for printing -- not the "hundreds and thousands" cited by Comey," wrote Peter Elkind, special to Pro Publica.

Pro Publica, tagline "News in the public interest," has already garnered four Pulitzer prizes in its short tenure since its founding 2008. Headquartered in Manhattan, by its own account it's a nonprofit consisting of 50 journalists on staff. Board members are a who's who of established media and business leaders, and a main donor is banker Herbert Sandler, who is also the founding chairman.

Cinco de Mayo: an American tradition


As you tip up your discounted Corona for Cinco de Mayo, learn a little about the nation you are celebrating, and why you celebrate this holiday. No, it's not the Independence Day of our neighbor to the south.

Cinco de Mayo is now celebrated on a much larger scale in the United States than in Mexico, because in Mexico, it is secondary to their Independence Day, which is September 16.

Brenda Hernandez, born in Los Angeles but whose family is from the state of Jalisco, said she was not celebrating tonight.

"I celebrate the independence of Mexico, but that's in September," she said. "That was just a Mexican victory by Puebla over France," she added, referring to the Fifth of May.

It feels good to call Trump a moron, but in this case it's wishful thinking


On Monday, SiriusXM published a blog post in advance of the release of journalist Salena Zito's interview with President Donald Trump, in which he appeared to not know that President Andrew Jackson died 16 years before the Civil War began.

“I mean, had Andrew Jackson been a little later you wouldn’t have had the Civil War,” Trump said. “He was a very tough person, but he had a big heart. He was really angry that he saw what was happening with regard to the Civil War, he said ‘There’s no reason for this.'”

It's incomprehensible that even someone who is not as intellectual as most of our past presidents would not know important details about a man he admires and seeks to emulate. And it's also incorrect.

Syria: Who's lying?

Tough talk on Syria from the US and Russia. But what does the evidence say?


The world watches four players in the latest act of the tragic implosion of a proud people in an ancient place, home to some of the world's earliest civilizations. The players are two heads of state and their ambassadors. None of these actors are from this beautiful country, yet they hold its fate in their hands. Two on each side of a former Cold War -- both with diametrically opposing views on the crisis.

Enter stage left, United States President Donald Trump and his ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley. Both are certain that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has used chemical weapons in the ongoing six-year civil war, including on April 4 that reportedly killed 72, including 20 children. This "certainty" prompted Trump to order a cruise missile attack on the airfield from which the U.S. claims the chemical attacks originated.

"Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children," he said in an address to the nation after the missile attack. "It was a slow, brutal death for so many. Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this wholly barbaric attack. No child of God should suffer such horror."

There was a collective groan from many libertarians who had supported Trump for president on the basis of his opposition to unnecessary wars, but now saw him as buying into the "neocon/neolib" narrative of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Ambassador Haley, for her part, presented the absence of Assad in power as a prerequisite for peace.

"We don't see a peaceful Syria with Assad in there," she told Jake Tapper on CNN four days after the reported attack, adding that two other priorities were defeating ISIS and removing Iran's influence from Syria as well.

What a contrast to the message being put out by Syria's ally and protector, Vladimir Putin, entering stage right, and his deputy ambassador to the U.N, Vladimir Safronkov. Both say Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has never used chemical weapons, including on April 4 in a reported sarin gas attack in the rebel stronghold of Idlib. In fact, Putin went so far as to call the attacks "staged" at a news conference on Tuesday with Italian President Sergio Mattarella in Moscow.

A brief history of privacy

1914 President Woodrow Wilson signs into the law the Federal Trade Commission Act creating the FTC, heir to the Bureau of Corporations created by President Theodore Roosevelt.
The act declares unlawful unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce, and empowers the commission to issue “cease and desist” orders to corporations engaged in such behavior. Exemptions are banks, air carriers and “common carriers” which were regulated by the 1887 Interstate Commerce Act, amended by Congress in 1910 to include interstate telephone companies.
1934 President Franklin Roosevelt signs the Communications Act on June 19. It replaces the Federal Radio Commission with the Federal Communications Commission, expanding jurisdiction over both wired and wireless communication. The act is codified into law as Chapter 5 of Title 47 of United States Code
. It regulates telephone and telegraph common carriers and their rates, allocates radio frequencies and licenses radio operators.

Battle of the Broadbands: Privacy is dead. Long live privacy!


As the volatile news month of March came to a close, it was hard to miss the latest gut punch: the Republicans in Congress just killed Internet privacy. And in case there was any doubt, the law they signed killed it for good. Americans who heard or read about it were breathless at the effrontery.

“It totally wipes out privacy protections for consumers on the Internet,” said Menlo Park, Calif., Democratic Rep. Anna Eshoo on the House floor, whose remarks were widely quoted. “I don’t want anyone to take my information and sell it to someone and make a ton of money off of it just because they can get their mitts on it.”

So now, because congressional Republicans are greedy, the fact that you bought a dildo online is going to be sold to the highest bidder.

Spy agencies spying on people? Unthinkable!

By Tatiana Prophet
FOX News columnist Judge Andrew Napolitano, in using an anonymous source to make allegations about government wiretapping, has become the main actor in an international incident. He has also garnered criticism from media counterparts, including Slate magazine and CNN Money.

"Enter James Bond," Napolitano wrote in a column on March 16, referring to the British agency Government Communications Headquarters.

A change in the wind

PACIFIC PALISADES, Calif. – Gabino González was finishing up repairing a small wall where a tree had fallen after rainstorms in this Los Angeles suburb, mere minutes from the beach.

As he finished cleaning up the job site, he pulled out his cell phone and said, “Este es mi dádi, this is my daddy.” Then, with difficulty, he added: “Mi vida es esto, my life is this.” In the photo is a vaquero, a cowboy on a horse, who he said works out in the country in the state of Hidalgo. His father is 78 years old, and he has not seen him in six years.

Routine operation or crackdown?

About 160 foreign nationals from a dozen countries were arrested in Southern California last week, during a national operation that arrested 680 people nationwide in Chicago, New York, San Antonio and Atlanta.

In a conference call last Friday with the media, Field Office Director David Marin said the agency began planning this raid before any executive orders by President Donald Trump. But suspicion is high on the part of immigrant advocates, especially after a tweet in which Trump himself referred to the operation as a crackdown on criminals.

The election, by the numbers

So many post mortems have been written. But one of the starkest post mortems of the 2016 presidential election is the simple pie chart. The pie chart shows how the country is divided -- yes, in a bipolar way, of left versus right, but also in thirds. There were an unprecedented number of non-voters in this election -- a full 32 percent of those registered.