Abraham Lincoln’s Warning About American Demagogues Like Trump

by Joe Romm – Lincoln argued that only “reason” and “a reverence” for the law could stop them. On Saturday, President Donald Trump compared himself to “Abraham Lincoln and many of our greatest presidents.” On his inauguration, Trump chose to be sworn in on the so-called “Lincoln bible” — the same one Honest Abe was sworn in on — because he was “inspired by Lincoln’s words,” Quartz reported. On Presidents’ Day, though, it’s worth remembering that Trump is the anti-Lincoln (and anti-Washington). Indeed, he is not just the demagogue Founding Fathers like Alexander Hamilton warned us about. He is exactly the demagogue Lincoln himself warned us about. At Gettysburg in 1863, Abraham Lincoln famously asked whether a nation “conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal … can long endure.” But Lincoln’s concern about the fate of the Republic — and the danger of a demagogue just like Trump — dates much earlier. Way back...

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Iraqi Forces Push Into ISIL-Held Southern Mosul

Troops backed by jets battle their way to Mosul airport, as US defence chief arrives in Baghdad on unannounced visit. Iraqi security forces have pushed into the southern outskirts of Mosul on the second day of a new offensive to drive ISIL fighters from the city’s western half, as US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis arrived in Baghdad on an unannounced visit. Iraqi forces backed by jets and helicopters battled their way to Mosul airport on Monday as they prepared to take on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group’s stronghold in the city’s west bank. “The federal police has resumed its advance … Our cannons are targeting Daesh defence lines with heavy fire,” federal police chief Raed Shaker Jawdat said, using and Arabic acronym for ISIL, also known as ISIS. INSIDE STORY: Will the latest Iraqi offensive mean the end of ISIL in Mosul? (25:10) The main...

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General H.R. McMaster Selected to Replace Michael Flynn as National Security Advisor

by Mark Sumner – Donald Trump found a way to get around the problem of ex-generals and admirals refusing to take his call. After reports that former Vice Admiral Robert Harward turned down an offer of the national security position, and other names were rumored to take themselves out of the running before they could even get an offer, Donald Trump fastened on the one sure way to fill the role: Give it to an active duty officer. President Trump picked Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, a widely respected military strategist, as his new national security adviser on Monday, calling him “a man of tremendous talent and tremendous experience.” McMaster genuinely is highly regarded, both as an officer and a historian. Of particular interest is McMaster’s book Dereliction of Duty that covers the early years of the war in Vietnam. The theme of the book is that John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson had little respect for...

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Merkel: ‘Islam is not the Source of Terrorism’ (VIDEOS)

Both Merkel and US Vice President Mike Pence attend key security conference in Munich with Russia high on the agenda. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said Islam is not the source of “terrorism” and that cooperating with predominantly Muslim states in the fight against it is vital. Merkel, who has been critical of US President Donald Trump’s attempt to impose a temporary travel ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries, was speaking on Saturday at the Munich Security Conference, with US Vice President Mike Pence in the audience. “I think, those countries, first and foremost have to give a contribution. Because only in this way we would be able to convince people that it is not Islam that is the source of terrorism. But a falsely understood Islam,” she said. “I expect from religious authorities of Islam to find strong language in order to delimitate peaceful Islam from terrorism committed...

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Defence Secretary Jim Mattis: Not in Iraq to Seize Oil

Jim Mattis arrives on unannounced visit to Iraq as Pentagon considers acceleration of military campaign against ISIL. US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, on an unannounced visit to Iraq, said the United States does not intend to seize Iraqi oil, shifting away from an idea proposed by President Donald Trump that has rattled Iraq’s leaders. Mattis arrived in Baghdad on Tuesday, as the battle to oust the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group fighters from western Mosul moved into its second day, and as the Pentagon considers ways to accelerate the campaign against ISIL in Iraq and Syria. Under the president’s deadline, Mattis has just a week to send Trump a strategy to ramp up the fight and defeat ISIL. And any plan is likely to depend on US and coalition troops working with and through the local forces in both countries. “We’re going to make...

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New Study Confirms Just How Racially Discriminatory Voter ID Laws Truly Are

by Stephen Wolf – We’ve always suspected it, but now new academic research confirms it: Strict voter ID laws do indeed disproportionately lower turnout among Latino, black, and Asian voters compared to whites, which of course benefits conservatives and the Republican Party. The authors of this new study found that strict ID laws—where registered voters must show a photo ID to have their vote count, and no exceptions are permitted—depressed Latino turnout rates the most, followed by black and Asian-American turnout, yet white turnout was largely unaffected.  Those findings held true even when researchers accounted for a variety of other factors, and they were even more acute in primaries. That latter point is critical because many states and cities hold elections for important races such as city council seats, judgeships, and even state constitutional amendments at times other than November general elections. It also means voter ID can make even Democratic...

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Norway Pledges Millions to Growing Anti-Trump Global Abortion Fund

by Nadia Prupis – “At a time when has come under pressure, a joint effort is particularly important” Norway has joined a growing international initiative to counter President Donald Trump’s global anti-abortion measure, signed in January. Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg announced over the weekend that the country would pledge an additional $10 million to support U.S.-backed charities overseas that provide information on abortion—which are now cut off from financial support from the U.S. under Trump’s “global gag rule,” also known as the Mexico City Policy. Trump instituted the funding ban as one of his first moves in office. The Netherlands launched the international fund in response, warning that the ban would cause a shortfall of $600 million over the next four years and put women’s lives at risk around the world. “Norway plays a leading role in the work to promote global health, and is one of the...

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London’s Mayor Wants to Deny Trump a State Visit Due to His ‘Cruel’ Immigration Policies

by Ian Millhiser – Parliament is scheduled to debate whether Trump deserves state honors. On Monday, British parliamentarians will debate whether President Trump should not receive the honors accorded a foreign leader during a state visit, thanks to a petition calling for Trump’s visit later in the year to be downgraded. London Mayor Sadiq Khan is backing the petitioners. Trump’s immigration policies, Khan said, are “cruel.” The mayor cited Trump’s “ban on people from seven Muslim-majorities countries” as a particular outrage. Trump issued an executive order prohibiting many people from these seven nations from entering the United States. Though the White House claims this order is intended to protect national security, even some of Trump’s advisers have stated openly that it’s real purpose is to act as a kind of “Muslim ban.” The executive order currently is not in effect, thanks to multiple court decisions halting it in whole or in part....

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On This Day, Feb. 20, 1993, Fire Engulfs Nightclub During Great White Show

The most famous contract rider in rock-and-roll history may be the one Van Halen used that stipulated that “There will be no brown M&M’s in the backstage area, upon pain of forfeiture of the show, with full compensation.” The most tragic contract rider in history, on the other hand, was the one sent ahead to the small bars and nightclubs on the 2003 tour of  “Jack Russell’s Great White,” the touring remnant of the group behind late-80s hits like “Once Bitten, Twice Shy.” That rider led, in a very direct way, to the deaths of 100 concert-goers in The Station nightclub fire in West Warwick, Rhode Island, on this day in 2003. Even in its heyday, Great White was no Van Halen. Yet one can be sure that the contract rider enumerating their onstage and backstage needs circa 1988 must have looked rather different from the one they were...

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This Isn’t Just Trump. This Is Who the Republicans Are (VIDEO)

by Dave Johnson – So far President Donald Trump has signed very few bills. One lets coal companies dump waste into streams. Another lets oil companies bribe foreign dictators in secret. Now he is moving to block a Labor Department “fiduciary rule” that requires financial advisers to act in the best interests of their clients when advising on retirement accounts. Here’s the thing: this isn’t just Trump doing this. The Republican-controlled House and Senate passed those two bills, and the Republicans have been fighting that fiduciary rule tooth and nail. It’s not just Trump, Republicans as a party are using Trump to engage in a general assault on protections from corruption, pollution, corporate fraud and financial scams. This is who they are. “We Just Need A President To Sign This Stuff” This is not just Trump. What we are seeing happening to our government is the end result of a decades-long...

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Major Outdoor Retailers Boycott Utah over Threats to Sell off Public Lands

by Jenny Rowland and Nicole Gentile – “It is important to our membership, and to our bottom line.” After countless attempts by Utah politicians to sell off or abolish national parks, forests, and national monuments, the world’s largest outdoor gear show has decided to take its business out of the state. “Outdoor Industry Association will continue to support the efforts of Outdoor Retailer to seek a new home for the trade show,” Amy Roberts, executive director of the Outdoor Industry Association, said in a statement. “It is important to our membership, and to our bottom line that we partner with states and elected officials who share our views on the truly unique American value of public lands for the people and conserving our outdoor heritage for the next generation.” After 20 years of hosting the bi-annual outdoor retailer show in Salt Lake City, organizers of the show finalized their decision to move...

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Media Bites Back: Newspaper Threatens Lawsuit for GOP Senator Calling Them “Fake News”

by SemDem – “Fake News” is a very real thing. It is the publication of hoaxes, propaganda, and disinformation purporting to be real news with the deliberate intent to mislead. Many fake news websites originate from Russia, Macedonia, and Romania. What it is NOT is an editorial from a respected, established newspaper entitled “Better open records”, which supports a bill to give journalists better access to government records. The Daily Sentinel, which is the local newspaper for Grand Junction, CO, urged moving forward with the bill and called on State Senator Ray Scott to quit delaying the bill and bring it up for a vote.  Their exact words were: “We call on our own Sen. Scott to announce a new committee hearing date and move this bill forward.” This is how Ray Scott responded: On Twitter, he said: We have our own fake news in Grand Junction… On Facebook, he said: The very liberal...

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NYT: AG Sessions Must Appoint Special Prosecutor for Trump-Russia Ties

by Andrea Germanos – ‘The need for an independent actor who can both investigate and prosecute criminal wrongdoing in the executive branch is clear,’ Times editorial board writes. The New York Times has called for a special prosecutor to lead an impartial investigation into possible ties between the Trump administration—”which seems uninterested in telling the truth in matters large and small”—and Russia. The Times editorial board writes the scope of a potential investigation expanded sharply in the last four days, with the firing of Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn, for lying to the White House about his contacts with the Russian ambassador, and the news that members of the Trump campaign’s inner circle were in repeated contact with Russian intelligence agents last year, at the same time that Russia was actively attempting to swing the election to Mr. Trump. The calls for investigations into the potential links have swelled,...

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Trump Invents Fake Attack on Sweden (VIDEO)

by Ian Millhiser – An even greater tragedy than the Bowling Green massacre. “We got to keep our country safe!” President Trump warned at a rally in Melbourne, Florida on Saturday night. He told a horror story about a Northern European nation that “took in large numbers” of refugees and is now facing “problems like they never thought possible.” “Look at what happened last night in Sweden!” Trump told his audience. “Sweden! Who would believe this, Sweden?” Trump is right to wonder who would believe his tale of innocent Swedes cowering before a grave new threat, because as multiple journalists and at least one former Prime Minister of Sweden pointed out not long after Trump’s remarks, there was no attack on Sweden Friday night. Carl Bildt ✔@carlbildt Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking? Questions abound. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-sweden-terror-lie_us_58a8f397e4b045cd34c263d3 … 2:40 AM – 19 Feb 2017 Donald Trump Appears To Make Up Sweden...

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With Mulvaney in Place, Budget Office Preps ‘Hit List’ on Public Programs

by Nadia Prupis – National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities, Office of National Drug Control Policy, and Americorps are among targets meant to showcase ‘waste’ of taxpayer funds. With Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) confirmed to lead the White House budget office, the Trump administration is getting ready to follow through on plans to slash major domestic programs, the New York Times reported Friday. Work on President Donald Trump’s first budget proposal has been delayed as Republicans worked to get Mulvaney—known for his unyielding stances on safety net programs—approved as head of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Now, his office has targeted nine popular and critical programs to axe, according to an early internal OMB memo obtained by the Times. The so-called “hit list” includes, in part, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the...

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On This Day, Feb 19, 1970, The Chicago Seven Sentenced

The Chicago Seven (formerly the Chicago Eight–one defendant, Bobby Seale, was being tried separately) are acquitted of riot conspiracy charges, but found guilty of inciting riot. The eight antiwar activists were charged with the responsibility for the violent demonstrations at the August 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. The defendants included David Dellinger of the National Mobilization Committee (NMC); Rennie Davis and Thomas Hayden of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS); Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, founders of the Youth International Party (“Yippies”); Bobby Seale of the Black Panthers; and two lesser known activists, Lee Weiner and John Froines. The defendants were charged with conspiracy to cross state lines with intent to incite a riot.  Attorneys William Kunstler and Leonard Weinglass represented all but Seale.  The trial, presided over by Judge Julius Hoffman, turned into a circus as the defendants and their attorneys used the court as a...

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Republicans Hustle to Shield Trump as Demands for Russia Inquiry Grow

by Nadia Prupis – Meanwhile, some experts say there is a case for appointing a special prosecutor. Republicans are dismissing the mounting call to thoroughly investigate the Trump campaign’s connection with Russian intelligence, and party leadership is seemingly pushing for members to fall in line behind the president amid growing outrage. House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) on Wednesday accused Democrats of “politicizing” the issue and told Politico he would not alter the panel’s ongoing Russian probe. “The Democrats can play their politics all they want; they’re welcome to do that, this is Washington,” Nunes said. “But as far as I’m concerned, we will continue to investigate the Russian activity like we’ve done for many years.” Nunes and ranking committee Democrat Adam Schiff, also of California, announced plans in January to investigate Russia’s alleged influence on the 2016 election—but that was before President Donald Trump’s national security adviser Michael Flynn stepped...

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Keystone XL Developer Files Pipeline Application in Nebraska

by Samantha Page – TransCanada is expected to try to use eminent domain for parts of the route. TransCanada just took another step toward getting its beleaguered Keystone XL pipeline back on track: the oil company filed an application Thursday with a Nebraska agency for route approval. The move is the first state-level application for the company since President Donald Trump signed an executive memorandum in January directing the State Department to review the pipeline’s federal application within 60 days. TransCanada submitted its new application to the State Department on January 26. “This application has been shaped by direct, on-the-ground input from Nebraskans,” Russ Girling, TransCanada’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “The thousands of Nebraskans we have met over the last eight years understand the value of this project and what it means to the state. As we have said consistently, safety and a respect for the environment remain our...

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As the Wheels of the Trump Juggernaut Come Off

by TODD GITLIN – Cracks in Republican Senate servility are beginning to show, while right-wing media hang tough. Say this for Donald Trump: He sets records. It took more than a year of Warren G. Harding’s administration before the Teapot Dome scandal of 1921-22 brought down his Interior secretary for taking a massive oil company bribe. A half-century later, it took two years to expose the immensity of the Watergate crimes and force the conspirators out of their White House holes. It took almost that long for the Reagan administration Iran-Contra revelations to pour forth in the mid-‘80s, though that scandal left the enfeebled incumbent in place. Now, congressional Republicans’ marriage of convenience to the crackpot showman of Fifth Avenue shows signs of post-honeymoon stress. For in just four weeks, Trump has breathlessly caught up with his predecessors in power abuse. Having crashed into a big, beautiful wall, he is, by...

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Hispanic Dems Blast ‘Dictatorial Shenanigans’ at Meeting With ICE (VIDEO)

by Deirdre Fulton – “After attending the ICE meeting it’s hard not to conclude that President Trump has started his mass deportation plan,” says Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas. Two members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Reps. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) and Norma Torres (D-Calif.), said they were asked to leave a meeting Thursday between lawmakers and the top U.S. immigration official, while others said they were barred entry in the first place. Gutiérrez and Torres both expressed incredulity after being kicked out of the meeting between lawmakers and acting Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) director Thomas Homan—one of them by an aide to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and the other by a GOP lawmaker himself. The meeting, requested by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to discuss the recent uptick in immigration raids and detentions, was originally scheduled for Tuesday—but ICE canceled at the last minute, saying too many people had expressed interest...

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McCain Delivers Brutal, Thinly-Veiled Rebuke of Donald Trump (VIDEO)

by Aaron Rupar – Speaking in Germany, McCain criticized Trump’s “turn away from universal values” and “hardening resentment” toward Muslims. During his speech to the Munich Security Conference on Friday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) delivered a stinging rebuke of President Trump — without ever mentioning his name. McCain began with a veiled critique of Trump’s “America first” approach. Referring back to the Germans who founded the conference in the wake of World War II, McCain said they “did not assume the West would survive, because they had seen its near annihilation. They saw open markets give way to beggar-thy-neighbor protectionism, and the poverty that imposed. They saw a world order fracture into clashing ethnic and nationalist passions, and the misery that wrought.” “From the ashes of the most awful calamity in human history was born what we call the West — a new, and different, and better kind of world order … one based not on blood-and-soil...

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Immigrants are Fleeing the United States to Seek Refuge in Canada (VIDEO)

by Tara Culp-Ressler – Some of them are crossing the border on foot in freezing conditions. A growing number of immigrants who initially sought refuge in the United States are now fleeing to Canada — and, in many cases, are risking frostbite to make it across the northern border on foot. Immigrant advocates say desperate people are being driven away from the U.S. thanks to the fear and uncertainty sparked by President Donald Trump’s policies — including, recently, an executive order that temporarily halts refugee resettlement from Syria and bars people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. Nine asylum-seekers from Sudan, including four children, barely made it across the Canadian border on Friday in an exchange that was captured by a photographer from Reuters. After a cab dropped off the group near the border line in Champlain, New York, they dodged a U.S. border patrol officer trying to examine their passports, climbed...

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Senate Confirms “Worst, Most Dangerous Administrator in EPA History”

by Andrea Germanos – With fossil fuel industry ally Scott Pruitt now in charge, now ‘begins the fight of a lifetime to protect public health, our environment, climate stability, and even the simple sanctity of the EPA itself.’ Portending risks to “the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the planet we love,” the U.S. Senate on Friday confirmed Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The 52-46 vote comes a day after an Oklahoma judge said Pruitt was in violation of the state’s Open Records Act and ordered the release of thousands of emails between his office and fossil fuel companies. Senate Democrats said that warranted a delay on Pruitt’s confirmation, but Republicans pushed the vote ahead. Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Joe Manchin, (D-W.Va.) joined Republicans to vote in favor of Pruitt; thus, wrote Esquire‘s Charles Pierce, “we must assume that two Democratic...

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Undeterred by Lawmakers in Hiding, the Resistance Prepares for Recess (VIDEO)

by Lauren McCauley – New video and guide from the Indivisible Movement gives practical advice for February town halls. Since the GOP-led Congress took power last month, leaders that have supported President Donald Trump’s controversial cabinet choices or have worked to eliminate affordable healthcare have had to face crowds of angry voters. Now, with February’s congressional recess on the horizon, the resistance is gearing up to confront lawmakers on their home turf to let them know how the American public views Trump’s agenda. While many elected officials are planning to hold town halls next week, reportedly more than 200 Republican legislators are skipping out. According to data compiled by Legistorm and reported by Vice News on Thursday, “or the first two months of the new Congress, the 292 Republicans have scheduled just 88 in-person town hall events—and 35 of those sessions are for Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin.” In comparison, during...

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On This Day, Feb. 18, 1967, J. Robert Oppenheimer Dies

On February 18, 1967, J. Robert Oppenheimer, the “father of the atomic bomb,” dies in Princeton, New Jersey, at the age of 62. An expert in quantum theory and nuclear physics, he was enlisted into the fledgling U.S. atomic weapons program in 1941. In 1942, the “Manhattan Project,” as the program became known, was greatly expanded, and Oppenheimer was asked to establish and direct a secret laboratory to carry out the assignment. He chose Los Alamos, a site in the New Mexico desert that he had visited earlier in life, and together with some of the world’s top physicists began work on the bomb. On July 16, 1945, the world’s first atomic bomb was exploded at the “Trinity” test site in Alamogordo, New Mexico, and only three weeks later the United States dropped the first of two bombs on Japan. Over 200,000 Japanese eventually perished as a result of...

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Trump Preparing to Open New Front in His Dangerous, Misguided War on Immigrants

by Silva Mathema, Rachel West, and Shawn Fremstad – President Donald Trump is actively considering opening a new front in his war on immigrants through another hastily drafted and vaguely worded executive order. Drafts of this new order have been leaked to various press outlets and offer a worrying look into the administration’s complete disregard for commonsense immigration policy. If issued, the order would expand the focus of the administration’s anti-immigrant campaign beyond unauthorized immigrants, refugees, and Muslims—groups that Trump’s campaign and administration have already targeted extensively—to include green card holders—also known as lawful permanent residents, or LPRs—living in the United States. It would also affect potential immigrants seeking visas to lawfully enter the United States to reunite with family members. Under the draft order, individuals who are otherwise eligible for green cards could be denied admission to the United States if they could conceivably become eligible for any kind of...

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Kurt Eichenwald: European Allies have Intel on Trump, Too

by blue aardvark – Article is here. As part of intelligence operations being conducted against the United States for the last seven months, at least one Western European ally intercepted a series of communications before the inauguration between advisers associated with President Donald Trump and Russian government officials, according to people with direct knowledge of the situation. Our allies are willing to investigate. Our own Congress? Not so much. The foreign agency is also gathering electronic and human source information on Trump’s overseas business partners, at least some of whom the intelligence services now consider to be agents of their respective governments. These operations are being conducted out of concerns that Russia is seeking to manipulate its relationships with Trump administration officials as part of a long-term plan to destabilize the NATO alliance. Our President has business partners who are Russian agents seeking to destabilize NATO. But hey, what about the...

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Saudis Plan $2 Trillion IPO to End Their ‘Dangerous’ Addiction to Oil

by Joe Romm – Saudi Aramco will go public to monetize its oil reserves before demand peaks and price collapses for good. What does a country do when in its entire economy is built around a natural resource that the world is starting to shift away from? In the case of Saudi Arabia, they plan their own shift off oil — financed by the world’s largest initial public offering (IPO) of stock, some 5 percent of Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil company. Last year, deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman announced the plan to take Aramco, which the Saudis value at some $2 trillion, public. Last month, the Financial Times reported those plans are on track for an IPO next year, noting that Saudi advisers say a successful IPO “is essential to the deputy crown prince’s radical efforts to wean the kingdom off oil through his Vision 2030 programme.” Credit: Financial Times The...

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$300 Million Dollar Potential Conflict Of Interest Between Trump And Deutsche Bank Emerges

by Whitney Webb – The massive German bank faces huge potential fines from the US government following federal probes into conflicts of interest between them and President Trump. According to Trump biographers Michael Kranish and Marc Fisher – authors of the recent publication “Trump Revealed” – Trump has long relied on a unique bargaining tool as leverage with banks: his personal guarantee. Using his name as leverage, he has repeatedly negotiated better terms worth hundreds of millions of dollars in loans to his Trump Organization, a Trump-owned private real estate development company owning and operating several properties, hotels and casino resorts among other businesses Bloomberg reported. This has been especially true of Deutsche Bank, Germany’s largest bank as well as one of the world’s most insolvent banks – largely believed to be on the brink of collapse. As a result of this unique agreement with one of its highest profile clients,...

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When an Admiral Describes Taking a Top Gov’t Job as ‘a sh*t sandwich’, We’ve got Trouble

by Meteor Blades – It’s being reported that retired Vice Adm. Robert Harward told a friend that chaos and dysfunction in the White House meant that Donald Trump’s offer to make him national security adviser amounted to “a shit sandwich.” Harward turned Trump down Thursday, adding to the pr*sident’s woes in the wake of Michael Flynn’s forced departure from that post. Fred Kaplan at Slate lays out succinctly where things stand: The rejection is stunning in several ways that go well beyond the scope of Trump’s personal sensitivities. First, it is very unusual—almost unheard of—for a senior military officer, retired or otherwise, to turn down a request from the commander-in-chief. Second, and largely for that reason, by rejecting the offer Harward has provided cover to other officers, and to civilian national-security analysts with a similar sense of patriotic duty, to turn down this president, too. Service, in this case, is not its own reward and...

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Immigrant Communities Battle New Anti-Sanctuary-City Bills in Red States

by Candice Bernd, Truthout | Report – Emboldened by President Trump’s executive order withholding federal funds from “sanctuary” jurisdictions, Republican-dominated state legislatures are seeking to deny their own state funds to counties or cities refusing to comply with federal immigration authorities. Several states, including Tennessee, Florida, North Carolina, Iowa, Idaho and Pennsylvania have introduced measures that would require police agencies to hold anyone in custody until US Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE) can determine if they should be deported, or potentially lose state funding. Some states are going even farther than that. In Ohio, state lawmakers introduced a bill that would hold local officials accountable for crimes committed by undocumented immigrants in the officials’ sanctuary jurisdictions. Legislators in Colorado have introduced legislation that would let victims of particular crimes committed by undocumented immigrants sue the politicians who supported a sanctuary designation. Alaska and Maine are now reportedly considering similar...

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For the Insurance Lobby, Old Habits Are Hard to Break

by Maura Calsyn, Kellan Baker, and Topher Spiro – Before the passage of the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, the health insurance industry was like the Wild West, where anything goes. Health insurance companies could discriminate against the old and the ill, keep the sick quarantined in separate pools, and deny coverage for some of the most essential benefits. If insurers did not deny coverage to the old and sick altogether, they restricted their benefits or charged them exorbitant premiums. During the initial rollout of the ACA, however, the insurance industry partnered with both consumer groups and the Obama administration. Their efforts helped increase enrollment and smoothed a difficult first open enrollment period. Over the next few years, insurers continued to engage with consumer groups and the administration to address issues that arose as implementation continued. But with the future of the ACA uncertain, it turns out that old habits are...

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Trump on Whether His Campaign Team Coordinated with Russia: ‘Nobody that I know of’

by Hunter – Here’s all the times Trump was asked about contact between his staff and Russia during that very, very strange press conference. As you can see, his answers varied from denying the premise of the questions to denying that he himself had anything to do with Russian contacts, without ever vouching for the notion that nobody on his staff did. Answer one: Fake news! TRUMP: And, you know, you can talk all you want about Russia, which was all a, you know, fake news, fabricated deal, to try and make up for the loss of the Democrats and the press plays right into it. In fact, I saw a couple of the people that were supposedly involved with all of this — that they know nothing about it; they weren’t in Russia; they never made a phone call to Russia; they never received a phone call.It’s all fake news....

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Republicans Finally Unmask Their Healthcare Agenda – And it Isn’t Patient-Centered

by Donna Smith – If you have been inclined to trust in any way that the Republicans in Congress or the Trump-Pence-Ryan regime intend to make things better for you and your family in terms of healthcare policy, think again and stop wondering.  The plan is simple.  They will protect and enhance the insurance companies and other profit centers in healthcare.  No matter how many ads they purchase or how much message tweaking they do, patients are not at the center of the Republican plans. From an article in The Hill this morning, “The Trump administration on Wednesday proposed a regulation aimed at ‘stabilizing’ the ObamaCare marketplace by making changes favorable to insurers…” Just a bit lower in the article, we see the glaring, shocking reality of what the Republicans think of those in need of healthcare.  “The regulation requires people enrolling through extra sign-up periods outside of the normal time...

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On This Day, Feb. 17, 1966, Brian Wilson’s Masterpiece Takes Root

From the very beginning, the Beach Boys had a sound that was unmistakably their own, but without resident genius Brian Wilson pushing them into deeper waters with his songwriting and production talents, songs like “Surfin’ Safari” and “Surfin’ U.S.A.” might have been their greatest legacy. While the rest of the band toured during their mid-60s heyday, Wilson lost himself in the recording studio, creating the music for an album—Pet Sounds—that is widely regarded as one of the all-time best, and a single—”Good Vibrations”—on which he lavished more time, attention and money than had ever been spent previously on a single recording. Brian Wilson rolled tape on take one of “Good Vibrations” on February 17, 1966. Six months, four studios and $50,000 later, he finally completed his three-minute-and-thirty-nine-second symphony, pieced together from more than 90 hours of tape recorded during literally hundreds of sessions. Brian Wilson began “Good Vibrations” that...

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Trump Walks Back Years of U.S. Foreign Policy in the Middle East (VIDEO)

by E.A. Crunden – The president says he “could live with either” a one-state or two-state solution. The two-state solution as we know it may be over. Speaking during a press conference Wednesday alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Donald Trump failed to commit his support for a future Palestinian state, saying that he “could live with either” a one-state or two-state solution and that he would defer to whatever solution might be preferred by both parties. “I’m looking at a two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like,” Trump said. “I’m very happy with the one that both parties like. I could live with either one.” Trump’s comments are an ominous sign that a shift is coming, and a dramatic shift away from decades of U.S. foreign policy. Broad bipartisan support exists for the two-state solution and few U.S. presidents have seen fit to rock...

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Southern Poverty Law Center Finds Disturbing Growth in Anti-Muslim Hate Groups in 2016

by Adrienne Mahsa Varkiani – “Trump’s election has been absolutely electrifying to the radical right,” says the SPLC. The number of anti-Muslim hate groups increased almost three-fold in 2016, according to a new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center. The SPLC’s quarterly census of hate groups found that anti-Muslim hate groups increased from 34 in 2015 to 101 last year. Mark Potok, a Senior Fellow at the SPLC, pointed to Trump’s rhetoric about Muslims and his election victory to explain some of the increase in anti-Muslim hate across the country. “I think the most important factor probably driving the growth of these groups, in the states at least, has been Donald Trump and his campaign: his vilification of Muslims; his description of them as so dangerous that we need to keep them out of the country; his idea that we have to form a registry, Nazi-esque registry, in which we’re going...

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‘It is in Trump’s Interest to Keep the Iran Deal Alive’

by Omid Khazani – Trump’s presidency offers both threats and opportunities to Iran, says former senior Iranian diplomat. The fate of the diplomatic channel between Iran and the United States, established for the first time in four decades during the nuclear deal negations in 2015, is fraught with uncertainty, according to a former senior Iranian diplomat. “The fate of the direct diplomatic channel absolutely depends on the new US government, the rhetoric they will use and actions they will take,” said Sadegh Kharazi, who served twice as Iran’s deputy foreign minister and the head of its UN mission from 1989 to 1995. “Should such belligerent, anti-Iran rhetoric continue, the channel will be history,” Kharazi, who is known to be a foreign policy heavyweight in Tehran, told Al Jazeera. Iran and the United States have engaged in tit-for-tat exchanges since US President Donald Trump signed an executive order on January 27 banning nationals temporarily from seven Muslim-majority...

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U.S. Solar Installations Jumped 95 Percent Last Year

by Samantha Page – There was more solar capacity added in 2016 than any other type of electricity generation. If humanity wants to have any chance of slowing the rapid warming of the climate, people need to stop burning fossil fuels — but no one wants to go without electricity. That’s why it’s encouraging that U.S. solar installations nearly doubled last year, increasing 95 percent over 2015’s installations, and adding 14,626 megawatts (MW) of photovoltaic electricity generation capacity to the U.S. grid, according to preliminary data from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). All segments — residential, non-residential, and utility-scale — saw growth from 2015 to 2016. The non-residential sector includes community solar and commercial installations The report notes that 22 states added more than 100 MW of solar capacity last year — a new record. Minnesota, Maryland, New Jersey, and Massachusetts were all mentioned as rising solar powerhouses in the report. The geographical diversity (California,...

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Carter Page, at Center of Trump Russian Investigation, Writes Letter to DOJ Blaming Hillary

by PlinytheWelder – This just keeps getting weirder… From a story in The Intercept CARTER PAGE, briefly a foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, sent a peculiar, rambling letter this week to the Department of Justice, asking it to review “the severe election fraud in the form of disinformation, suppression of dissent, hate crimes and other extensive abuses led by members of Mrs. Hillary Clinton’s campaign and their political allies last year.” Page is reportedly one of several targets of a counterintelligence investigation by the FBI into possible links between Trump associates and Russian officials. This is looking like panic mode. They must know that more is coming out and will try to drown it in a flood of BS (alternative facts). To begin with, it is addressed to the voting section of the Justice Department’s civil rights division, which is charged exclusively with enforcing federal laws that protect the right to vote. It then...

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New York Attorney General Reviewing Request to Bring Action to Dissolve Trump Organization

by Kira Lerner – An alternate legal route, when impeachment isn’t possible. Non-profit advocacy group Free Speech for People has asked New York’s attorney general to investigate whether to file a lawsuit to revoke the charter of The Trump Organization for violating state business laws. In a letter to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the group and four attorneys said that the attorney general’s office has the power to revoke the corporate charter from Trump’s organization, which has violated laws that prohibit the president from receiving payments from foreign governments. Schneiderman’s press secretary Amy Spitalnick told ThinkProgress that the attorney general’s office will review the letter. In an FAQ document, Free Speech for People and attorneys Jonathan S. Abady, Andrew G. Celli, Jr., Ben T. Clements, and Fordham University School of Law Professor Jed Shugerman explain how Schneiderman could bring about a lawsuit. “Under Section 1101 of New York’s Business Corporation Law,...

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#FreeDaniel: Community United in Outrage After ICE Detains ‘Dreamer’ With No Criminal Record

by Nika Knight – ‘Seattle stands with Daniel and we will not back down until he is free.’ U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has arrested and detained a ‘Dreamer,’ or an undocumented immigrant brought to the U.S. as a young child and given permission to live and work legally in the country, stunning civil rights defenders nationwide and provoking fierce local opposition. While President Donald Trump has issued a draconian anti-immigrant executive order that appears to have set in motion a sharp increase in ICE raids nationwide, the arrest of Daniel Ramirez Medina in Seattle last week marks the first detention of an immigrant allowed to live and work legally in the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program since Trump took office. “Arresting a young DACA recipient with deep roots in our country is not only cruel and outrageous but an affront to our core principles...

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On This Day, Feb 16, 1959 – Castro Sworn In

On February 16, 1959, Fidel Castro is sworn in as prime minister of Cuba after leading a guerrilla campaign that forced right-wing dictator Fulgencio Batista into exile. Castro, who became commander in chief of Cuba’s armed forces after Batista was ousted on January 1, replaced the more moderate Miro Cardona as head of the country’s new provisional government. Castro was born in the Oriente province in eastern Cuba, the son of a Spanish immigrant who had made a fortune building rail systems to transport sugar cane. He became involved in revolutionary politics while a student and in 1947 took part in an abortive attempt by Dominican exiles and Cubans to overthrow Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo. In the next year, he took part in urban riots in Bogota, Colombia. The most outstanding feature of his politics during the period was his anti-American beliefs; he was not yet an overt Marxist....

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Puzder Out: Fast Food CEO Drops Nomination to Head Labor Dept. (VIDEO)

by Andrea Germanos – ‘This is welcome news for working people.’ Fast-food CEO Andy Puzder, President Donald Trump’s pick to head the Labor Department, withdrew his nomination Wednesday afternoon. “While I won’t be serving in the administration, I fully support the President and his highly qualified team,” Puzder said in a statement. An unnamed source close to Puzder said to CBS News ahead of his formal statement that it was unlikely he would sit for his Senate confirmation hearing scheduled for Thursday because “I think he’s very tired of the abuse.” RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of National Nurses United, welcomed the news on Twitter, writing, “Puzder felt abused? Try working for him!” RoseAnn DeMoro  ✔@RoseAnnDeMoro Andrew Puzder to withdraw his nomination: http://huff.to/2l987uj  U ‘n I did it! Puzder felt abused? Try working for him! #WednesdayWisdom 2:53 PM – 15 Feb 2017 His nomination drew fierce opposition, as fast food workers have said...

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Study Shows that in Over 40 Years of Data there is no Link Between Immigration and Increased Crime

by Walter Einenkel – There are numerous reasons why Trump’s and the Republican administration’s Muslim ban security policy is erroneous. But one conservative talking point for decades has always been that immigration means crime as “undesirable” people come into our country with their “undesirable” ways. If you look on any conservative news feed it is awash in horror stories of “illegal immigrants,” or “refugees” molesting women and girls, murdering people at gas stations, and the like. When Donald Trump kicked off his presidential campaign, he famously did so by calling undocumented Mexicans living in our country rapists and drug dealers. A University of Buffalo-led study has pored over decades of data and come out with very quantifiable evidence that these kinds of statements are simply false. “Our research shows strong and stable evidence that, on average, across U.S. metropolitan areas crime and immigration are not linked,” said Robert Adelman, an associate professor of...

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Trump is Reportedly Preparing a New Muslim Ban. It Looks Like More of the Same

by Adrienne Mahsa Varkiani – Families are still left in limbo as the courts battle it out and Trump weighs issuing a new order. The Muslim ban is facing a series of legal challenges, just a little over two weeks since President Donald Trump first signed it. Trump has been confident that he will win Washington v. Trump, one of the most prominent cases thus far, but last week he also said that he may simply rewrite the ban. Still, it’s not guaranteed that even a revised version of the ban will survive judicial scrutiny. “We will win that battle. The unfortunate part is that it takes time statutorily, but we will win that battle,” Trump told reporters on the way to Florida on Friday. “We also have a lot of other options, including just filing a brand new order.” When asked what changes there might be in a new executive order,...

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Apple CEO Wants Schools to Help Fix the World’s Fake News Problem

by Lauren C. Williams – In Telegraph interview, Tim Cook said battling fake news needs to be “ingrained in the schools” because “it’s killing people’s minds.” For Apple CEO Tim Cook, fake news isn’t just a social media phenomenon, it’s a societal problem that needs to be addressed in every corner of our culture, starting with the education system. “It has to be ingrained in the schools, it has to be ingrained in the public,” Cook told the UK’s Telegraph in an exclusive interview. “There has to be a massive campaign.” The rise of fake news is a “short-term thing” that people don’t want, Cook said, emphasizing that a problem which is “killing people’s minds” can only be solved by educating children who will then push their parents to act. “It’s almost as if a new course is required for the modern kid, for the digital kid,” he said. “In some ways...

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Trump’s Ineptitude Causes Huge Drop In Investment, Future Of Our Nation Is In Peril

by Stephen D Foster Jr – America’s creditors are now thinking twice about investing in our nation because Donald Trump’s policies have turned us into a bigger credit risk. On Election night, as the returns came in favoring Trump for president the stock market took a hit and the dollar dipped in value. It soon bounced back but markets around the world and in the United States are nervous about what will happen as long as Trump continues to push an economic policy that significantly lowers taxes on the rich, slashes regulations, boosts spending like never before, and antagonizes American and foreign businesses. Trump’s escalation of confrontations with Iran and China, along with European fear of an invasion by Russia have also left the future of the world economy in doubt. Trump has been erratic, paranoid, and quick to whine on Twitter and has shown a willingness to attack businesses that...

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Intel Community to Trump: “Now we go nuclear. He will die in jail.”

by Frank Vyan Walton – In the last two days the Drumpfter Fire that is currently raging in the White House seems to have hit a flashpoint with the sudden resignation of NSA Advisor Michael Flynn and then the revelation by the New York Times that several members of the Trump campaign were in regular contact with Russian Intelligence during the election. WASHINGTON — Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials. American law enforcement and intelligence agencies intercepted the communications around the same time they were discovering evidence that Russia was trying to disrupt the presidential election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee, three of the officials said. The intelligence agencies then sought to learn whether the Trump campaign...

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The Worst Case Scenario if Supreme Court Nominee, Neil Gorsuch, is Confirmed

by Ian Millhiser – A child-exploiting, racist, security state hellscape. So how bad could Neil Gorsuch be? As is turns out, when trying to assess President Donald Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court, this isn’t an especially easy question to answer. We know that Gorsuch placed the rights of religious conservatives ahead of the rights of women seeking birth control coverage. We know that he took highly unusual steps in an attempt to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood. We know that he wants to consolidate power in the federal judiciary at the very moment that Republicans are seizing control over that branch of government, and that such a newly empowered judiciary would have the power to slash and burn labor and environmental regulations. We also know that Gorsuch was a great admirer of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative icon. Indeed, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee says that he...

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This Virginia County Denied a Permit to Build a Mosque: It Doesn’t Pass the Smell Test

by Rebecca Guterman – In Culpeper County, Virginia, some parcels of land have soil that make installing a septic system untenable. Unfortunately for the Islamic Center of Culpeper, they bought just such a parcel of land to build their mosque on. The solution, however, was straightforward. All they had to do was request a routine “pump and haul” permit from the county to remove sewage from the site. In April 2016, the county denied the Islamic Center’s permit request, and that denial doesn’t pass the smell test. Since 1992, Culpeper County has received 26 commercial or religious use applications for this permit, including nine from churches. It has approved all but one — that’s right, a request from the Islamic Center of Culpeper. The county’s denial of the routine permit request came after local residents inundated officials with opposition calls and emails that disparaged Muslims and made references to terrorism...

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Trump Advisers were in Contact with Russia Throughout the Campaign

by Mark Sumner – It shouldn’t be shocking news at this point. After all, Russian officials were bragging about it just two days after the election. Russia said it was in contact with President-elect Donald Trump’s team during the U.S. election campaign, despite repeated denials by the Republican candidate’s advisers that any links existed.  Trump’s team not only denied it at the time, they’ve been denying it ever since. We’re not just talking about Michael Flynn chatting up the Russian ambassador, but what was described as “quite a few” people in nearly continuous contact. Now that connection has been confirmed from the other end. Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials. Not only are there are records of the Trump team...

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We Must Know the Truth

by BILL MOYERS AND MICHAEL WINSHIP – This is the worst scandal involving the White House and a foreign power since Iran-Contra. Demand the facts. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: there MUST be an investigation by an independent, bipartisan commission of Russia’s ties to Donald Trump and his associates and that nation’s interference in our elections. Emphasize independent and bipartisan. That commission must have full subpoena power to call witnesses and make them testify under oath or risk prosecution. Hearings must be held out in the open, and televised live for the nation and the world to see. That’s what a democracy is all about. The resignation of national security advisor Michael Flynn makes such an inquiry even more imperative. On Friday, winging his way to Mar-a-Lago on Air Force One, Trump told the press he knew nothing about the previous night’s Washington Post report that Flynn had...

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On This Day, Feb. 15, 1946 – Major League Baseball Gets First Female Scout

1946 – Edith Houghton, at age 33, was signed as a baseball scout by the Philadelphia Phillies becoming the first female scout in the major leagues. There are different accounts about why Houghton got the job. Some say she bowled over the Phillies’ president, Robert Carpenter, with an uncanny grasp of the game. Others mention the scrapbook she brought along, bulging with newspaper clippings documenting her impressive career as a player in the 1920s and ’30s on the women’s national baseball circuit known as the Bloomer Girls league. Philadelphia sportswriters, bitter at the team’s decade-long swoon at or near the bottom of the standings, said the Phillies had hired her simply because they had nothing to lose. Named to the Phillies’ scouting corps by owner R. R. M. Carpenter, Jr., after the Second World War, when the Phillies transformed themselves from habitual last-place finishers to 1950 National League champions...

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In a Brutal Interview, Kellyanne Conway Struggles to Defend Trump and Flynn on Russia Scandal

by Jen Hayden – Speaking with Matt Lauer on The Today Show, master deflector Kellyanne Conway struggled to get through an interview about why Donald Trump didn’t fire Michael Flynn the moment the Justice Department informed the president that Michael Flynn had not been truthful about his comments to the Russian ambassador in December. In fact, that Flynn had been actively undermining President Obama as he levied new sanctions against Russia for their role in the U.S. elections. You know things are bad when Kellyanne Conway struggles to come up with a coherent defense of Trump’s actions. Watch as Conway gets backed into a corner and can’t seem to muster the energy to punch her way out. Video and full transcript are below: LAUER: Yesterday afternoon on MSNBC, you said that Michael Flynn “enjoyed the full confidence of the president.” Sean Spicer later said the president was evaluating the situation. And then Michael Flynn...

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Half-Brother of Kim Jong-un ‘Killed’ in Malaysia

Kim Jong-nam reportedly poisoned at Kuala Lumpur airport by female North Korean operatives, S Korean media says. The half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has been killed in Malaysia, South Korean media reported, with one TV station saying he was attacked at the country’s main airport with poisoned needles. Officials in South Korea and Malaysia on Tuesday could not confirm the death of Kim Jong-nam. Malaysian police said a North Korean had been taken sick at Kuala Lumpur International Airport and since died. A senior security source told Al Jazeera that Malaysian police “strongly” believe the deceased individual was Kim Jong-nam. In a statement, Malaysian police said the 46-year-old dead man was travelling on a passport under the name Kim Chol. “Kim Jong-nam has been known to travel using a fake name,” Al Jazeera’s Florence Looi, reporting from the airport in Kuala Lumpur, said. She added that the body of...

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Anthropocene Math in the Age of Trump: Humans Are Running Out of Time to Save the Climate

by Nika Knight – Industrialized societies are changing the climate 170 times faster than natural forces. As the Trump administration and Republicans in power in Congress set to work destroying environmental regulations, scientists have added urgency to the resistance with a simple new equation that shows the staggering effect human activity has had on the climate. Their findings? Humans have altered the climate 170 times faster than natural forces. In fact, the equation revealed that industrial societies pack the same climate punch as an asteroid strike. Professor Will Steffen of the Australian National University and Owen Gaffney of the Stockholm Resilience Centre devised the “Anthropocene equation” and published their findings in The Anthropocene Review Friday. The equation demonstrates that while natural forces dominated the climate for 4.5 billion years, in only the past six decades, humans have become the main drivers of climate change, as the Guardian notes. Perhaps the researchers’ most frightening...

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Is Donald Trump Already Sick Of A Job He Never Really Wanted?

by News Corpse – Three weeks. While it may seem like a year, that’s all that’s gone by since Donald Trump was sworn in as President of the United States of America. And the chaos that has characterized his short reign is unprecedented. Trump entered the White House with the worst approval rating of any president on record. And it has actually gone down from there. So, reporting from Politico that Trump is “vexed” by the challenges and scale of government doesn’t come as a surprise. He has shown little interest in transitioning from being a private businessman to a national leader. His absence from security briefings, and his fixation on image and polling, reflect a man who isn’t taking his job seriously. However, Politico’s opening paragraph perfectly describes this cognitive disconnect: “Being president is harder than Donald Trump thought, according to aides and allies who say that he’s growing increasingly frustrated...

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What did Trump Know About Flynn’s Talks With Russia, and When did He Know it?

by Mark Sumner – There’s something about the words “full confidence.” In any administration, the fact that someone has to come out and say that a cabinet officer has the full confidence of the president is enough to let you know that there are very good reasons for that position to be in doubt. When the person on the receiving end of that “confidence” is carefully hiding out of public sight, then it’s a pretty good bet there are packing boxes being unfolded. For Michael Flynn, it was Kellyanne Conway who delivered the full confidence speech following his heartfelt apology — pointedly delivered over the phone — to Mike Pence. So what was coming next seems almost obvious. On the surface, Flynn’s apology should have been enough. If the extent of his sins was bobbling his statement to Pence, when he had given some vague response to a question on the topic of sanctions, it would have...

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North Dakota Bills Could Strip Dakota Access Pipeline Protesters of Their Rights

by Carimah Townes – Standing Rock protesters face five new threats. Over the weekend, veterans flocked to Standing Rock to shield Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) protesters from law enforcement — the second time they’ve done so in recent months. But North Dakota lawmakers are now planning to radically constrict the right of DAPL opponents, including veterans, to demonstrate against the project. There are currently four bills in the state’s House and Senate that create new criminal penalties for acts of protest or heighten existing penalties. And there is a fifth bill that could put demonstrators in physical danger. HB 1193 turns a misdemeanor offense into a felony if the offense is “done intentionally to cause direct or indirect economic harm in excess of one thousand dollars to the government or to a person.” HB 1203 states that drivers who “negligently” injure or kill people obstructing traffic will not be responsible for the damage caused....

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Michael Flynn Out: From Trump’s “Full Confidence” to Midnight Resignation

by Jon Queally – Having served just 24 days, US national security advisor quits after secret talks with Russian diplomat raise too many questions for him to answer The idea that lawmakers in congress will continue to pursue a probe into the Trump administration’s dealings with Russian officials was confirmed by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), who last week filed a “resolution of inquiry” to investigate President Trump’s ongoing conflicts of interest, which would include possible business dealings with Moscow and political ties to the Kremlin during last year’s election. In a pair of tweets overnight, Nadler indicated the latest developments, including Flynn’s surprise resignation, only bolster the case for a formal congressional investigation: Less than one month into office, President Donald Trump’s controversial national security advisor, Michael Flynn, abruptly resigned Monday night following revelations he had discussed sanctions with a high-level Russian official and then misinformed White House staff, including Vice President...

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Despite Lying to the Senate, Trump’s Treasury Pick is Confirmed

by Bryce Covert – Mnuchin oversaw a bank that has been accused of breaking a number of laws. Steve Mnuchin, former Goldman Sachs partner and CEO of mortgage lender OneWest, was confirmed to be the next Treasury Secretary on Monday night. The confirmation came despite the fact that Mnuchin appears to have lied to the Senate about practices at OneWest, and despite evidence that the bank broke foreclosure laws and anti-discrimination laws under his leadership. The Senate vote was nearly along party lines, with all Republicans voting in favor plus Democrat Joe Manchin (WV), and all the rest of the Democrats plus two independents voting against. After his Senate hearing, Mnuchin was asked directly about whether OneWest robo-signed foreclosure documents, or had officials rapidly sign off on them without adequately reviewing or verifying them as required by law, thus potentially speeding up the foreclosure process. In his written response, he said, “OneWest...

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On This Day, Feb. 14, 1946 – ENIAC, The First Electronic Computer, is Unveiled

1946 – ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) was unveiled. The device, built at the University of Pennsylvania, was the world’s first general purpose electronic computer. Hailed by The New York Times as “an amazing machine which applies electronic speeds for the first time to mathematical tasks hitherto too difficult and cumbersome for solution,” the ENIAC was a revolutionary piece of machinery in its day. In 1942, physicist John Mauchly proposed an all-electronic calculating machine. The U.S. Army, meanwhile, needed to calculate complex wartime ballistics tables. Proposal met patron. The result was ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer), built between 1943 and 1945—the first large-scale computer to run at electronic speed without being slowed by any mechanical parts. ENIAC glowed with an unprecedented 18,000 vacuum tubes. To keep so many working simultaneously, Engineers created strict circuit design guidelines to maximize reliability. They ran extensive tests on components and avoided pushing them...

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Mississippi Replaces Lethal Injection With Firing Squad, Gassing, And Electrocution

by Whitney Webb – The southern state’s use of lethal injection drugs has been called into question, leading its house of representatives to approve new, similarly controversial measures. The death penalty in Mississippi, realized primarily through lethal injection since 1984, is now being reviewed by the state legislature. House Bill 638 proposed a revision to the death penalty by amending the original 1972 code (section 99-19-51). The amendment retains lethal injection as the first option for execution. If lethal injection is found unconstitutional, nitrogen hypoxia will be used. Firing squad will be the third option, and electrocution the fourth. The amendment passed the Mississippi House of Representatives in a 75-43 vote. According to the Republican House Judiciary B Committee Chairman Andy Gipson, House Bill 638 is a consequence of lawsuits filed by “liberal, left-wing radicals”. One of these “radicals” is attorney Jim Craig, who is suing Mississippi over lethal injection...

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The Federal Election Commission Just Told Trump They’re Done With His ‘Voter Fraud’ Lies

by Rika Christensen – Trump is still beating his “widespread voter fraud” drum, and it hasn’t escaped the notice of the Federal Election Commission. Now it seems their frustration has overflowed, because one of the commissioners finally demanded that Trump produce his evidence. Ellen Weintraub, the commissioner in question, issued a formal statement on the matter after Trump told the Senate that thousands of people were bussed from Massachusetts to New Hampshire on Election Day. Apparently those people who were bussed to New Hampshire to vote against him are why he and Kelly Ayotte lost. Weintraub didn’t mince words in her statement. She said: “The scheme the President of the United States alleges would constitute thousands of felony criminal offenses under New Hampshire law… …The President has issued an extraordinarily serious and specific charge. Allegations of this magnitude cannot be ignored.”  She’s right – if there really is this kind of...

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A Psychological Portrait of President Trump

by César Chelala – Last October, before he was elected President of the U.S., I, among others, put forward the hypothesis that Mr. Donald Trump was a narcissist. I based my interpretation on the fact that he fulfilled practically all the criteria included in the classification of narcissism established by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). This is the standard classification of mental disorders used by mental health professionals in many countries all over the world. The symptoms of this syndrome include the following: Grandiosity; fantasies of power and personal attractiveness; self-perception of being unique; needing constant admiration form others; sense of entitlement; exploitation of others for personal gain; intensely envious of others and pompous and arrogant demeanor. His behavior at the time, which became even more evident since becoming President, only confirmed this hypothesis. More recently, however, John D. Garner, a practicing psychotherapist who advised psychiatric residents...

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Oklahoma and Wyoming Republicans Agree Women Aren’t People

by Laura Clawson – Republicans in Wyoming and Oklahoma are starting to drop the pretense that they consider women to be human beings. In Wyoming, the state Senate is considering three bills that would restrict women’s abortion rights. Two of them are being considered by the agriculture committee. said the labor and health committee is busy with a number of bills and the ag group had more time to thoroughly vet them. Allegations that women are being equated to cattle are ridiculous, the Riverton Republican said. Dude, you’re the one who handed the job of limiting what medical care women can get to the agriculture committee. In Oklahoma, Rep. Justin Henry isn’t trying to be even that subtle as he pushes a bill requiring women to get male approval for abortion. He’s ranking women somewhere below cattle: Ultimately, he said, his intent was to let men have a say....

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For America’s Sake, We Need Answers about Russia. Now.

by MICHAEL WINSHIP – Donald Trump’s embrace of Russia and Vladimir Putin and that country’s interference with our election could drag democracy to an early grave. These first weeks of the Trump White House have felt like one of those tennis ball machines run amok, volley after volley shooting at us in such rapid fire that often the only reaction is to grimace and duck. Outrage after outrage, imperial pronouncement after pronouncement, lie after lie; it’s just one damned, fast and furious, flawed thing after another. All of this is confusing and distracting and of course, that’s precisely what they want. As the old saying goes, if you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit. It easily distracts us from the real issues, diverting our eyes from those important things that have to be closely examined and resolved if we’re to continue trying, at least, to behave like a...

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No, Trump Doesn’t Have a Plan to Reduce Cost of his $21 Billion-Plus Border Wall

by Aaron Rupar – U.S. taxpayers are on the hook for Trump’s increasingly expensive vanity project. The projected cost for President Donald Trump’s border wall continues to rise, and Trump has no good plan to contain it. On Thursday, Reuters reported that the border wall will be much more expensive than the $10 billion figure Trump repeatedly cited during his campaign or the $12–$15 billion cited by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) last month. “Trump’s ‘wall’ along the U.S.-Mexico border would be a series of fences and walls that would cost as much as $21.6 billion, and take more than three years to construct,” Reuters reported, citing a U.S. Department of Homeland Security document the outlet obtained. And it could end up costing even more than that. “Bernstein Research, an investment research group that tracks material costs, has said that uncertainties around the project could...

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Chaffetz says Paid Protesters are Hounding Him. Reporters Can’t Find a Single One

by Aaron Rupar – The Republican from Utah won’t accept that his constituents are fed up. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) says paid protesters were among the thousand-plus people who gave him a raucous, negative reception at a town hall in Salt Lake City on Thursday. The crowd chanted “shame!” and “do your job.” It was “more of a paid attempt to bully and intimidate” than a reflection of the feelings of his constituents, Chaffetz told the Deseret News. “Chaffetz said he will continue to make himself available to voters but may now avoid providing a venue ‘for these radicals to further intimidate,’” the paper adds. But reporters who were at the event and interviewed attendees say they found no evidence anybody was paid to be there. Eric Bradner  ✔@ericbradner I was there and interviewed many members of the audience. None I spoke with were paid, and all I met were from Utah....

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Hundreds of Pilot Whales Refloat After Mass Strandings

More than 200 beached pilot whales free themselves at high tide and swim away amid mass strandings on South Island. At least 200 whales stranded on a remote New Zealand beach managed to refloat themselves at high tide on Saturday and return to sea, but conservation officials warned the beachings may not be over. More than 650 pilot whales beached themselves along Farewell Spit at the tip of the South Island in two separate mass strandings over the past several days. On Thursday, volunteers managed to refloat nearly 100 of the stranded pilot whales. About 350 whales have died, including 20 that were euthanised. Hundreds of volunteers from farmers to tourists have spent days at the beach dousing the whales with buckets of water to keep them cool and trying to refloat them. “People seem to have an emotional attachment to marine mammals,” said Department of Conservation spokesman Herb...

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On This Day, Feb. 13, 1633 – Galileo Galilei Arrives in Rome to Face the Inquisition

1633 – Galileo Galilei arrived in Rome for trial before the Inquisition. Galileo’s belief in the Copernican System eventually got him into trouble with the Catholic Church. A committee of consultants declared to the Inquisition, a permanent institution in the Catholic Church charged with the eradication of heresies, that the Copernican proposition that the Sun is the center of the universe was a heresy. Because Galileo supported the Copernican system, he was warned by Cardinal Bellarmine, under order of Pope Paul V, that he should not discuss or defend Copernican theories. In 1624, Galileo was assured by Pope Urban VIII that he could write about Copernican theory as long as he treated it as a mathematical proposition. However, with the printing of Galileo’s book, Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, Galileo was called to Rome in 1633 to face the Inquisition again. Galileo was found guilty of heresy...

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Defending Trump Voter Fraud Delusions, Stephen Miller Again Lies to the American Public

by Hunter – It’s Sunday, which means the new American administration is overtly lying to the public on television again. Today’s propaganda effort was devoted to assuring American citizens that our national elections are, in fact, almost unimaginably corrupted. This is being done, by members of the new leader’s team, for two reasons. The first is because their boss lost the popular vote and, because he is an unstable and easily infuriated little man-child, will tolerate no explanation other than invisible foul play. The second is as propaganda effort; the white nationalist elements of Trump’s staffers and cabinet have a plan to widely roll back the rights of non-white voters in this nation. If that requires falsely telling Americans that their own election system has been, all this time, so corrupt that they were foolish to ever trust the results then that is what rat-faced traitor to his nation Stephen Miller will...

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Step One to Impeachment? One Congressman’s Probe Targets Trump’s Conflicts of Interest

by Nika Knight – “Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) filed a ‘resolution of inquiry’ that amounts to the first legislative step toward impeachment.” New York Rep. Jerrold Nadler has made use of an obscure legislative tool that would force a floor debate on President Donald Trump’s potentially unconstitutional conflicts of interest—a move widely seen as an initial step toward impeaching Trump. Nadler, a Democrat, on Thursday “filed a ‘resolution of inquiry’ that amounts to the first legislative step toward impeachment,” wrote co-founder of RootsAction.org Norman Solomon in an op-ed for Common Dreams. A resolution of inquiry is “a relatively obscure parliamentary tactic used to force presidents and executive-branch agencies to share records with Congress. Under House practice, such a resolution must be debated and acted upon in committee or else it can be discharged to the House floor for consideration,” explains the Washington Post. The resolution (pdf) filed by Nadler specifically calls...

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Trump in Freefall as Disapproval Rate and Support for Impeachment Soar

by Deirdre Fulton – ‘Support for impeaching Trump has crept up from 35 percent two weeks ago, to 40 percent last week, to its 46 percent standing this week.’ Two new polls reflect poorly on President Donald Trump’s brief tenure in the Oval Office, with one showing his administration is tarnishing Americans’ view of U.S. popularity around the world, and another finding voters are already evenly divided on the issue of impeaching the president. The Gallup poll released Friday finds Americans believe the world at-large sees the U.S. more unfavorably (57 percent) than favorably (42 percent)—the worst assessment of the country’s image in almost 10 years. “The 42 percent favorable rating is one of the lowest since Gallup began asking this question in 2000 and may be attributable to the election of Trump, whose sometimes controversial statements and actions have rankled several world leaders,” the polling outfit wrote. (Credit: Gallup) According...

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