Who is Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee Pick Neil Gorsuch?

by Ian Millhiser – What you need to know about Trump’s extraordinarily conservative nominee for the Supreme Court. Judge Neil Gorsuch is Republican nobility — the son of Anne Gorsuch Burford, who spent her brief tenure as President Reagan’s EPA administrator cutting staff and gutting anti-pollution regulations before resigning amidst scandal. More than three decades after his mother’s resignation, Gorsuch now has the opportunity to wage an even more wide-ranging crusade against federal regulation. Gorsuch is President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court seat Senate Republicans held open until Trump could fill it. And his record suggests that he will become big business’ dream justice. In a 2016 lecture at Case Western Reserve law school, Gorsuch spoke of his profound admiration for the conservative jurist Trump tapped him to replace, Justice Antonin Scalia. When Gorsuch learned of Scalia’s death, “I was taking a breather in the middle of a ski run with little on...

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Experts on Authoritarianism say Trump’s Presidency is Getting Even Worse

by Justin Salhani – One scholar described Steve Bannon’s role in the administration as “pretty terrifying.” Donald Trump has been president for just over a week, and experts on authoritarianism are already expressing serious concern about a number of policy decisions and executive orders made by the new administration. After a few eventful days filled with new executive orders, ThinkProgress followed up last week’s survey of academics with some new questions for America’s authoritarianism scorecard. Here’s what they said: President Trump is disturbingly similar to candidate Trump. Robert Paxton, the Mellon Professor Emeritus of Social Science at Columbia University: “It’s hard to say we are on track to establish a fascist dictatorship. Alternative forces are still there. Though there’s not much doubt of the desire of Trump to govern as dictator.” Sheri Berman, a political scientist at Barnard College: “I watched interview. I don’t understand why I’m still stunned,...

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Jeff Sessions Once Praised Sally Yates for the Trait that got her Fired

by Alan Pyke – Donald Trump’s would-be Attorney General complimented his predecessor for saying she wouldn’t comply with illegal demands. When Sally Yates decided the law does not support President Donald Trump’s travel ban for Muslim-majority countries and instructed Department of Justice officials not to defend it in court, Trump was angry enough to fire her. In the White House statement blasting her for it and announcing her replacement, administration officials also urged the Senate to swiftly confirm Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) as the next Attorney General. But at Yates’ 2015 confirmation hearing, Sessions himself pressed her to agree that the DOJ has a responsibility to resist White House actions that are unlawful. Watch: “Do you think the Attorney General has a responsibility to say no to the president if he asks for something improper?” Sessions asked. “f the views a president wants to execute are unlawful, should the Attorney General or...

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Over 1,700,000 Sign UK Petition Against Trump—then House of Commons Jumps in and Pummels Him

by Leslie Salzillo – The massive protest against Donald Trump’s Muslim and Syrian refugee ban, that exploded across the country Friday night, has made its way across the pond to thousands in the UK who also took to the streets. The predominant protest is against Trump’s Muslim ban itself, but there are also protests against Prime Minister Theresa May and how she handled her visit with Trump last week, some suspecting she was aware of the upcoming ban as she held his tiny hands. And there are protests against Trump’s upcoming trip to the UK for an official state visit. Masses of people simply want no part of him, and especially do not want him to be received by the Queen or the Prince of Wales. Here is a short 2 ½-minute video of some of the UK street protests against Trump: Nicola Slawson with The Guardian reports an online petition calling for Donald Trump to be...

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The GOP Effort to Repeal and Replace Obamacare Isn’t Going Very Well

by Peter Suderman – New polls show the health law’s popularity rising as Republicans struggle to come up with a plan. Republicans have finally figured out how to do something that President Obama never managed: make Obamacare more popular. The trick, it seems, is threatening to repeal it. Throughout Obama’s presidency, the health law struggled in the court of public opinion, with nearly every poll showing that more people opposed the law than supported it. Now several recent polls show the law rising in popularity as Republicans begin the process of unwinding it. Approval ratings for the health law rose from 41 percent at the beginning of the year to 47 percent at the end of January, according to a Morning Consult poll released this morning. That tracks with an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released earlier this month, which found that 45 percent of the public thinks that the law...

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Trump and Bannon’s “America First”

by Robert Reich – Donald Trump has reorganized the National Security Council – elevating his chief political strategist Steve Bannon, and demoting the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Bannon will join the NSC’s principals committee, the top inter-agency group advising the President on national security. Meanwhile, the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will now attend meetings only when “issues pertaining to their responsibilities and expertise are to be discussed,” according to the presidential memorandum issued Saturday. Political strategists have never before participated in National Security Council principals meetings because the NSC is supposed to give presidents nonpartisan, factual advice. But forget facts. Forget analysis. This is the Trump administration. And what does Bannon have to bring to the table? In case you forgot, before joining Donald Trump’s inner circle Bannon headed Breitbart News, a far-right...

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Suspect Detained in Deadly Quebec Mosque Shooting (VIDEO)

by Jillian Kestler-D’Amours – Canadian police detain one man as Muslim leaders call for greater protection of their community after shooting attack. Canadian police have said only one of two men initially detained in connection to a Quebec City  mosque shooting – which killed six people – is now considered a suspect. The second man, who was initially reported as a second suspect, was now considered a witness, provincial police said on Monday. Authorities did not provide additional information about the identity of the suspect, or about the possible motive behind the shooting that left six worshippers dead and at least eight wounded at the Islamic Cultural Centre. Another 12 people attending evening prayers sustained minor wounds, according to a local hospital spokesperson. The attack shocked people across Canada and sent ripples through the country’s Muslim community. Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, condemned the shooting as a “terrorist attack on Muslims in a...

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Democrats Boycott Hearings of Two Cabinet Nominees (VIDEO)

by Laurel Raymond – Republicans, meanwhile, labelled the action “unprecedented” obstructionism. Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee are boycotting the confirmation vote on President Donald Trump’s nominees Steve Mnuchin, for Treasury Secretary, and Tom Price, for Secretary of Health and Human Services. The boycott means that Democrats have delayed the confirmation vote of these two Trump nominees. Democrats don’t have enough votes to block Trump’s nominees — they can be confirmed with a simple majority alone, which Republicans have the numbers for. But the committee can’t vote without a quorum, and that requires at least some Senate Democrats to attend. Democrats said they were motivated to blocking the vote by reports in recent days that contradict the nominees’ sworn testimony before the committees. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) specifically said that Trump’s nominees had lied to senators in their confirmation hearings. “We’re not going to this committee today because we want the committee to...

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FOX News Quickly Reports on Moroccan Muslim ‘Suspect’ in Mosque Shooting—it was a White Nationalist

by Walter Einenkel – When a suspect or suspects were originally being reported as having been captured by Canadian police, Fox News quickly went to work doing what they do best—lying and being hateful. Fox News  ✔@FoxNews Suspect in Quebec mosque terror attack was of Moroccan origin, reports show http://fxn.ws/2k9is8W  12:31 PM – 30 Jan 2017 This was based on early reports confusing the person who called the police with the person murdering Muslims in was Muslim and from Morocco. This turned into reports that there were two suspects, the Muslim from Morocco, and a white nationalist. Sean Spicer did what Fox News does. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer exploited the attack to justify President Trump’s ban on immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries. “It’s a terrible reminder of why we must remain vigilant and why the President is taking steps to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to our nation’s safety...

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Monday Night Massacre as Trump Fires Acting AG and Replaces ICE Director

by Jon Queally – Calling refusal to enforce Muslim ban a “betrayal,” Republican president fires Acting Attorney General Sally Yates and also replaces Acting Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. And Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) tweeted: Democratic lawmakers were among those quick to condemn President Trump. With a reference to the Saturday Night Massacre that took place during the Watergate scandal under President Richard Nixon, the hashtag #MondayNightMassacre came alive on Monday night after President Donald Trump fired acting Acting Attorney General Sally Yates and accused her of “betrayal” for refusing to enforce a controversial immigration order targeting Muslims and refugees. At the same time, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) John Kelly, announced in a statement that Daniel Ragsdale, the acting director of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), was being replaced  by Thomas D. Homan. Less than an hour after the ACLU congratulated Yates on Monday...

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Keystone XL Opponents Promise Trump a Mass Mobilization ‘On a Scale Never Seen’

by Deirdre Fulton – Trump “declared war on indigenous nations”—and now they’re ready to fight back. With his order to revive the Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline, President Donald Trump “has declared war on Indigenous nations across the country,” one Cheyenne River Sioux organizer said Monday. But he’ll be met by a fierce native resistance movement that “will not back down,” said the organizer, Joye Braun, on a press call organized by the Indigenous Environmental Movement (IEN). Trump signed executive orders last week advancing the controversial KXL and Dakota Access (DAPL) pipelines, prompting widespread outrage and vows of bold resistance from the Indigenous activists, climate campaigners, and countless others who have fought against both projects. What that opposition will look like came into sharper focus on Monday. “Make no mistake: resistance to the toxic Keystone XL pipeline will only grow stronger,” declared Dallas Goldtooth, IEN’s Keep it in the Ground organizer. “We...

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On This Day, Jan, 31, 1917 – Germany Announces Unrestricted Submarine Warfare

1917 – Germany announced its policy of unrestricted submarine warfare. As early as 1915, Admiral von Pohl had wanted neutral shipping in the so-called ‘war zone’ (the English Channel and the rest of the water around the United Kingdom that then included the whole of the Irish coastline) attacked. He believed that the sinking of a few neutral merchant ships at the start of a campaign of unrestricted submarine warfare would be enough to scare off most ships from trading with Britain. However, on this occasion Pohl was not listened to for two reasons. The first was that the U-boat fleet was simply not big enough to execute a successful campaign against the numerous merchant ships that sailed around the British coast as in February 1915, there were only 21 U-boats available in total. At times only 4 U-boats patrolled the British coastline as some were in for repairs...

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How to Cut Infrastructure Costs in Half

by Ellen Brown – Americans could save $1 trillion over 10 years by financing infrastructure through publicly-owned banks like the one that has long been operating in North Dakota. President Donald Trump has promised to rebuild America’s airports, bridges, tunnels, roads and other infrastructure, something both Democrats and Republicans agree should be done. The country needs a full $3 trillion in infrastructure over the next decade. The $1 trillion plan revealed by Trump’s economic advisers relies heavily on public-private partnerships, and private equity firms are lining up for these plumbing investments. In the typical private equity water deal, for example, higher user rates help the firms earn annual returns of anywhere from 8 to 18 percent – more even than a regular for-profit water company might expect. But the price tag can come as a rude surprise for local ratepayers. Private equity investment now generates an average return of about 11.8%...

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Donald Trump’s Demolition Derby

by BILL MOYERS – In just a few days, Donald Trump seems to have set out to wreck government and turn over the remains to his plutocrat friends. We’re a week into the Trump administration and it’s pretty obvious what he’s up to. First, Donald Trump is running a demolition derby: He wants to demolish everything he doesn’t like, and he doesn’t like a lot, especially when it comes to government. Like one of those demolition drivers on a speedway, he keeps ramming his vehicle against all the others, especially government policies and programs and agencies that protect people who don’t have his wealth, power or privilege. Affordable health care for working people? Smash it. Consumer protection against predatory banks and lenders? Run over it. Rules and regulations that rein in rapacious actors in the market? Knock ‘em down. Fair pay for working people? Crush it. And on and on. Trump...

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Drug Distributors Penalized For Turning Blind Eye In Opioid Epidemic

by Charles Ornstein – The middlemen between drug companies and pharmacies have been hit recently with fines for their role in not calling out suspicious transactions. “They’re like the quarterback. They distribute the ball,” a former DEA supervisor said. As the toll of the opioid epidemic grows, scores of doctors have lost their licenses and some have gone to prison. Pharmacies are being sued and shuttered. Pharmaceutical manufacturers are under investigation and face new rules from regulators. But penalties against companies that serve as middlemen between drug companies and pharmacies have been relatively scarce — until recently. In the past month, two major drug distributors, also known as wholesalers, have formally agreed to pay millions of dollars to settle claims that they failed to report suspicious orders for controlled substances to the Drug Enforcement Administration, as required by law. McKesson Corp., the largest such company in the U.S., last week agreed...

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Ex-Breitbart Alt-Nazi Promoter Steve Bannon is Author of Trump’s Executive Orders

by Frank Vyan Walton – Steve Bannon has no previous government experience.  Steve Bannon is not an attorney.  But Steve Bannon is apparently now the author of the fiats from on high  that are tumbling out of the Trump White House like a pile of rocks smashing their way down a hill. Two of Donald Trump’s senior advisors — neither of whom has any previous government or legal experience — have reportedly been writing executive orders without any input from the agencies they would affect. Aides told Politico that Steve Bannon, the president’s chief strategist, and Stephen Miller, the senior White House advisor for policy, have made almost no effort to consult with federal agency lawyers or lawmakers as they wrote executive orders. Bannon, the former chairman of Breitbart, and Miller, a Republican political operative who’s written most of Trump’s major speeches, are writing many of the orders based on ideas...

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Trump Creates ‘Constitutional Crisis’ as Travel Ban Enforced in Defiance of Court Orders

by Nika Knight – ‘We have a constitutional crisis today’ Chaos reigns in the wake of President Donald Trump’s sweeping executive order banning immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees from around the world. No fewer than five courts have issued emergency stays limiting the order’s power since Saturday. The most far-reaching court decision, issued Sunday morning by Judge Allison Burroughs and Magistrate Judge Judith Dein in Massachusetts, goes so far as to call for a total halt to detentions of anyone targeted by the travel ban. Yet agents with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) on Sunday defied the judiciary and continued to enforce Trump’s travel ban, despite immigration lawyers and even members of Congress pleading with them to enforce the federal courts’ decision. “Rogue Customs and Border Patrol agents continue to try to get people on to planes,” International Refugee Assistance Project director...

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Congress Is Opening the Door to ‘Alternative Facts’ in Budget Policy

by Harry Stein – Shortly after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway claimed that false statements coming from the White House were actually “alternative facts.” The new administration’s disregard for the truth is concerning on many levels, but it is particularly problematic for sound budget policy, which requires an honest evaluation of the cost of new legislation and the nation’s overall fiscal health. Data from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, or CBO, is the main bulwark against false budget information. But lawmakers can always choose to use misinformation instead of CBO data. Moreover, if Congress follows through on its apparent plans to pass temporary tax and health measures, the resulting fiscal ambiguity will also make CBO data more nebulous. A lack of clarity in CBO data makes it easier for dishonest politicians to claim their fiscal falsehoods are actually just alternative facts. President Barack Obama took office...

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How the Last “Voter Fraud” Investigation Took Down GOP Atty-Gen Alberto Gonzales. NYT “Must-read.”

by FischFry – A few days ago, I wrote a diary about the announcement of the investigation of so-called “voter fraud.” I was responding to some well-voiced concerns that the ‘investigation’ would lead to unprecedented voter suppression. My thesis was that I thought it was more likely that this would blow up in the GOP’s face — or, at most, end in a dull thud. That diary disappeared quickly with little comment. I won’t steer you there (really I won’t, but the link is here) but I do want you to check out a new piece in The New York Times, that reviews the “U.S. Attorney Firings” scandal, which recalls the last time a GOP President demanded an investigation into what were bogus voting fraud reports. In an Op-Ed piece — Voting Fraud Inquiry? The Investigators Got Burned Last Time — Michael Waldman traces the history of this hunt for voting unicorns. W’s first A-G, John Ashcroft,...

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On This Day, Jan 30, 1798 – First Brawl Breaks Out on House Floor

1798 – The first brawl in the U.S. House of Representatives took place. Congressmen Matthew Lyon and Roger Griswold fought on the House floor. On the morning of February 15, 1798, pandemonium broke out on the floor of the United States House of Representatives. Without warning, Federalist Representative Roger Griswold of Connecticut strode across the chambers to where his colleague Matthew Lyon was sitting preoccupied with some correspondence. Cursing him as a “scoundrel,” Griswold pounded the Vermont Republican’s head and shoulders with a thick, hickory walking stick. Federalist Representative George Thacher of Massachusetts witnessed and later recalled the attack: “I was suddenly, and unsuspectedly interrupted by the sound of a violent blow I raised my head, & directly before me stood Mr. Griswald laying on blows with all his mightupon Mr. Lyon, who seemed to be in the act of rising out of his seat Lyon made an...

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