Oklahoma Bar Launches Investigation to Determine if Trump’s EPA Chief Lied Under Oath

by Nadia Prupis – EPA chief told Congress he only conducted official attorney general business on professional email account, but document dump showed otherwise. The Oklahoma Bar Association on Thursday opened an investigation into whether Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt lied to Congress under oath. Pruitt has been asked to respond to the inquiry, which will look into possible ethics violations stemming from his confirmation hearing in January, when he testified that he only ever used his professional email account to conduct official business while serving as Oklahoma attorney general. Following the investigation, the association’s Professional Responsibility Commission will determine whether to take disciplinary action against Pruitt. The probe was launched in response to a formal ethics complaint (pdf) filed by the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and University of Oklahoma law professor Kristen van de Biezenbos. Pruitt’s testimony was proven false after a lawsuit filed in February by...

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Trump Wants to Slash Medical Research Funding to Help Pay for Border Wall

by Deirdre Fulton – Deep and immediate cuts to National Institutes of Health and other agencies would amount to “throwing progress out the window”. Lawmakers, scientists, and advocacy groups are decrying President Donald Trump’s proposed cuts to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), saying they represent another broken campaign promise and a “heartless” attack on critical medical research. In keeping with his war on science, Trump’s “skinny budget” released earlier this month outlined a 20 percent cut to the NIH; a specific proposal put forth this week would cut an additional $1.23 billion from the agency’s 2017 fiscal year budget. The reduction is part of $18 billion in cuts Trump is requesting “from medical research, education, and other programs for the remainder of the current fiscal year to finance construction of a border wall and build up the military,” as Bloomberg reported. According to STAT: he NIH cuts would wipe $50 million...

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DEA Seized $4 Billion From People Since 2007. Most Were Never Charged with a Crime

by C.J. Ciaramella – A new government watchdog report finds the DEA grabs cash just for the sake of grabbing cash, raising civil liberties concerns. The Drug Enforcement Administration seized more than $4 billion in cash from people suspected of drug activity over the last decade, but $3.2 billion of those seizures were never connected to any criminal charges. A report by the Justice Department Inspector General released Wednesday found that the DEA’s gargantuan amount of cash seizures often didn’t relate to any ongoing criminal investigations, and 82 percent of seizures it reviewed ended up being settled administratively—that is, without any judicial review—raising civil liberties concerns. In total, the Inspector General reports the DEA seized $4.15 billion in cash since 2007, accounting for 80 percent of all Justice Department cash seizures. Those figures do not include other property, such as cars and electronics, which are favorite targets for seizure by...

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Russia’s New Protest Generation (VIDEO)

by Roman Dobrokhotov – In Russia a new generation of discontented youth has come of age. Last Sunday mass demonstrations took place in almost 100 Russian cities. They were the biggest since the 2011-2012 protest wave, called the “snow revolution”. But if the last time election fraud was what provoked the people’s anger, this time it was an investigation into Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev’s alleged corruption practices. The investigation was conducted by the Anti-Corruption Foundation headed by Alexei Navalny, a prominent Russian opposition figure who has announced his intention to run in the 2018 presidential elections. Russian police detain hundreds at anti-corruption demonstrations Just a few months ago, no one would have believed that a corruption investigation could provoke mass protests across the country. Not expecting such a massive turnout, the authorities tried to stop the protesters from gathering. State media and law enforcement warned against going out into the streets,...

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New Data Deliver Good News for Health Care and Bad News for Speaker Ryan’s Tax Reform Plan

by Harry Stein and Alex Rowell – Shortly after Congress’ failed attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, new budget data confirm the sustainability of the federal government’s major health care programs. These budget data also illustrate a major hurdle for the tax reform plan advocated by House Republican leaders. This new information comes from the Congressional Budget Office, or CBO, and it includes updated projections for the cost of federal programs; tax revenue levels; budget deficits; and economic variables such as gross domestic product, or GDP. The projected costs of federal health care programs have fallen dramatically since the passage of the ACA. Despite false claims to the contrary, federal health programs are not facing a “death spiral” of exploding costs. The United States has more than enough economic capacity to continue to sustain these programs in the future; repealing the ACA would have instead used American...

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Arkansas Sued Over Plan to Execute 8 Men in 10 Days Using a Drug that Doesn’t Work

by Kira Lerner – An attorney says we’re likely to see botched executions. Eight men are set to be executed during a ten-day period next month before Arkansas’ supply of an ineffective sedative expires. Arkansas has not gone through with capital punishment in 12 years, despite having 34 inmates waiting on death row. But after courts cleared the way last summer for the state to keep hidden its sources for execution drugs, Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) said recently he is ready to move forward. It will be the busiest month for the death penalty in a single state since the United States reinstated capital punishment in 1977. But this week, inmates filed two separate lawsuits against the state, arguing that the execution plan is “cruel and unusual.” In a complaint filed Monday, the eight men claimed that the compact schedule threatens their right to effective counsel. According to the lawsuit, Hutchinson...

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The Ultimate Sign That Trump is in Full-On Desperation Meltdown Mode

by nailbender – So a few days ago I posted a story on this site when Trump made a dizzying — even given his legendary flip-foppery —  180 degree positional-about-face: after his AHCA  Debacle (which, in itself, made some kind of early-Presidential-term record for massive, self-induced failure) he immediately and bewilderingly placed the blame for his legislative catastrophe on the Democrats…for somehow, apparently, scuttling a bill that not even the bluest dog among them would have voted for; but then very next day he drops all mention of the Dems as his Nemesis and gives that truly high honor to the “Freedom Caucus” (a euphemism for “American Nazis Without Insignia”). My diary didn’t get much traction, but it does at least point out something that ties in with the flurry of OMGWTF that is spattered all over the WH Portico. Before I explain, let me just lay down a one-sentence rundown...

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Inside the Rotten Repeal of HB2

by Lindsay Gibbs – HB2 is dead, but its anti-LGBT legacy lives on in North Carolina. On Thursday, the North Carolina Senate voted 35–12 to repeal House Bill 2, the anti-LGBT legislation that most notably banned transgender individuals from using the bathroom corresponding with their gender identity. Hours later, after a rousing debate, the House of Representatives also confirmed the repeal by 70–48; hours later, it landed on Gov. Roy Cooper’s (D) desk, and the simple stroke of a pen, the controversial legislation that had cost North Carolina millions of dollars, made it one of the most anti-LGBT states in the country, and directly led to the demise of Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, was dead at long last. But notably, none of the legislators or advocacy groups that had been fighting for the bill’s repeal for over a year were celebrating. “It’s a disappointing day,” Rep. Price Harrison (D) told ThinkProgress....

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On This Day, Mar 31, 1889 – The Eiffel Tower Opens

On March 31, 1889, the Eiffel Tower is dedicated in Paris in a ceremony presided over by Gustave Eiffel, the tower’s designer, and attended by French Prime Minister Pierre Tirard, a handful of other dignitaries, and 200 construction workers. In 1889, to honor of the centenary of the French Revolution, the French government planned an international exposition and announced a design competition for a monument to be built on the Champ-de-Mars in central Paris. Out of more than 100 designs submitted, the Centennial Committee chose Eiffel’s plan of an open-lattice wrought-iron tower that would reach almost 1,000 feet above Paris and be the world’s tallest man-made structure. Eiffel, a noted bridge builder, was a master of metal construction and designed the framework of the Statue of Liberty that had recently been erected in New York Harbor. Eiffel’s tower was greeted with skepticism from critics who argued that it would...

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Trump Taps Bush-Era Official Who Defended Mega-Merger as Antitrust Chief

by Nadia Prupis – Makan Delrahim once said he didn’t see maligned AT&T/Time Warner merger as “major antitrust problem”. President Donald Trump on Monday nominated his former lawyer and current White House counsel Makan Delrahim to serve as antitrust chief—potentially putting a man who once said there was nothing wrong with the AT&T/Time Warner mega-merger in charge of reviewing competition for the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Delrahim previously served as deputy assistant attorney general from 2003 to 2005 under then-President George W. Bush. If confirmed by the Senate this time around, the corporate lawyer and lobbyist will serve as assistant attorney general for the DOJ agency that approves or rejects mergers and acquisitions and investigates companies for potential anti-competition threats. Delrahim’s prospective boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is generally seen as merger-friendly. Delrahim said in an interview with a Canadian television program last year that he didn’t see a problem...

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Checkpoints Now Include Mouth Swabs To Check If You’ve Smoked Weed Days Ago

by: Justin Gardner / The Free Thought Project – The mouth swab test can give positive results even if the person did not use cannabis that day, but this “evidence” is still admissible in court. San Diego, CA – On St. Patrick’s Day, California’s southernmost metropolis decided to debut a roadside test for those suspected of driving under the influence of cannabis. Several “sobriety checkpoints” were set up throughout the city with the standard invasions of privacy, but this time they added a mouth swab test known as the Drager 5000. If a cop suspects a driver of being high, they request that he or she take the mouth swab test, and perhaps a field sobriety test as well. They’re trying to gather evidence to incriminate you, although the mouth swab test is not mandatory. The Drager 5000, already in use in other countries and cities such as Los Angeles and...

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Paul Manafort, Former Trump Chairman, Under Investigation for Money Laundering

by Mark Sumner – Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort provides a wide range of services to his clients. For Vladimir Putin, Manafort put together a $10 million-a-year plan to influence American politics and slant news coverage. For Viktor Yanukovych’s pro-Russian Party of Regions, Manafort landed both the presidency of Ukraine and arranged protests that provided an excuse for the invasion of Crimea. He also lobbied for his clients in the United States while failing to register as a foreign agent. For Manafort, at home in Trump Tower, it’s built up a nice pile of what his daughter called blood money. Apparently among the services that Manafort offered his clients was laundering money looted from Ukraine through accounts in notoriously shady Cypriot banks.  And it’s this last “service” that’s getting some fresh scrutiny. Banking sources said some transactions on Manafort-associated accounts raised sufficient concern to trigger an internal investigation at a Cypriot bank into...

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White House’s Explanation for Kushner’s Secret Meeting with a Russian Banker Unravels

by Aaron Rupar – The White House says it was about diplomacy. The bank says it was all business. On Monday, the New York Times broke news about a previously undisclosed December meeting between Jared Kushner and Sergey Gorkov, head of Vnesheconombank, a state-owned Russian bank that is still under American sanctions placed on it by the Obama administration in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea. The meeting occurred as Kushner, who was still head of Kushner Companies at the time, was looking for investors to redevelop the Manhattan office building he paid $1.8 billion to purchase in 2007. But White House spokesperson Hope Hicks told the Times that Kushner, who now serves as President Trump’s senior adviser, met with Gorkov to talk diplomacy — not to try and strike a business deal. “Members of presidential transition teams routinely meet with foreign officials,” the Times reported, paraphrasing an interview with Hicks. “Part of...

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Nunes’ Sources Revealed: White House Lawyer and Michael Flynn Flunkie who Trump Kept in Place

by Mark Sumner – The New York Times has tracked down the people who slipped info to Devin Nunes, and the reason he was never, ever going to reveal his sources seems clear enough. A pair of White House officials played a role in providing Representative Devin Nunes of California, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, with the intelligence reports that showed President Trump and his associates were incidentally swept up in foreign surveillance by American spy agencies. The two sources turn out to be Michael Ellis, a lawyer in the White House Counsel’s office who used to work with Nunes at the House Intelligence Committee, and Ezra Cohen-Watnick, who is the Senior Director for Intelligence at the National Security Council. If you’re thinking that Cohen-Watnick’s name in this pairing redeems Nunes’ statement that he had gathered his secret info from an intelligence official, note that Cohen-Watnick is in his...

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More Americans Are Drowning Financially in Underwater Nation

by CHUCK COLLINS – 20% of Americans have zero or negative net worth—and that number is growing. Are you or a loved one having trouble staying afloat? You’re truly not alone. While the media reports low unemployment and a rising stock market, the reality is that almost 20 percent of the country lives in “Underwater Nation,” with zero or even negative net worth. And more still have almost no cash reverses to get them through hard times. This is a source of enormous stress for many low and middle-income families. Savings and wealth are vital life preservers for people faced with job loss, illness, divorce, or even car trouble. Yet an estimated 15 to 20 percent of families have no savings at all, or owe more than they own. They’re disproportionately rural, female, renters, and people without a college degree. But the underwater ranks also include a large number of people who appear...

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British Government Takes Next Steps Towards Brexit (VIDEOS)

London to outline immediate plans towards leaving the European Union as EU reacts to the triggering of Article 50. The British government on Thursday introduced legislation known as the Great Repeal Bill – a crucial part of its next steps towards leaving the European Union. The move comes the day after UK Prime Minister Theresa May set the wheels of  Brexit in motion by invoking Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty,  officially triggering talks to leave the bloc. Thursday’s bill repeals the European Communities Act 1972 and effectively ends the supremacy of European law in the Britain, transferring all EU laws currently in force onto the UK statute book. It will ensure the UK leaves the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. The bill will come into force on the day the UK leaves the EU. On the current two-year timetable that will be in March 2019. MPs...

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Round Two of Republican Incompetence and Humiliation? Welcome to Tax Reform

by Hunter – Fresh off their humiliating display of incompetent healthcare “reform” (by which they meant a tax cut for rich people), Donald Trump and the Republican Party alike are moving on to their next big agenda item: tax reform. This will also consist of a tax cut for rich people. And like the attempt to strip health insurance from millions, this too is shaping up to be a fiasco of their own making. The problem, in short, is that Actual Tax Reform is hard. Very hard. And since nobody in the Republican Party is interested in doing a decent job of it, by which we mean taking suggestions from the opposition party as to reforms that both sides agree are needed, they’ll be seeking to pass “tax reform” legislation through reconciliation, an avenue that lets them dodge a Democratic filibuster in the Senate. That requires, according to reconciliation rules, that the bill...

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On This Day, March 30, 1950 – Harry Truman Denounces Joe McCarthy

1950 –President Harry Truman denounces Senator Joe McCarthy as a saboteur of U.S. foreign policy.  This was the reaction of President Harry Truman to Loyalty Investigation, “News Conference at Key West,” March 30, 1950 Q. Do you think that Senator McCarthy can show any disloyalty exists in the State Department? The President. I think the greatest asset that the Kremlin has is Senator McCarthy. Q. Would you care to elaborate on that? The President. I don’t think it needs any elaboration—I don’t think it needs any elaboration. Q. Brother, will that hit page one tomorrow! Q. If you think we are going to bust down the fence on what you have got later, that’s a pretty good starter. Q. Mr. President, could we quote that one phrase, “I think the greatest asset the Kremlin has is Senator McCarthy”? The President. Now let me give you a little preliminary, and...

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2 Former Christie Aides Sentenced to Jail time for Their Role in Bridgegate

by Adam Peck – One chapter closes, but the story is still unfolding almost four years later. Bill Baroni and Bridget Anne Kelly, two former senior officials in New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s administration, were given 24 and 18 month jail sentences respectively for their roles in the 2013 Bridgegate saga. The shutdown of several lanes leading onto the George Washington Bridge, the most heavily trafficked bridge in the United States connecting Manhattan to northern New Jersey, was allegedly an act of political retribution against the city’s mayor Mark Sokolich for failing to endorse Christie’s reelection bid. Kelly was the author of an infamous email that triggered the closures. “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” Kelly wrote, just before the shutdown caused a week of chaos on the surface roads of Fort Lee. Baroni was appointed by Christie to serve as deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New...

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With House GOP Vote, Internet Privacy Is Officially Kaput

by Lauren McCauley – With Trump poised to sign into law, resolution will dismantle ‘years of privacy protection that people have had in this country’. Despite widespread popular outcry, House Republicans on Tuesday voted to strip citizens’ of their right to privacy online, selling out the American public to the deep-pocketed telecom industry. With 215 voting for and 205 against, 15 GOP representatives joined the Democrats in opposing the S.J. Res. 34, a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to repeal the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) privacy provision. Six Republicans and three Democrats abstained. Roll call here. Open internet and privacy advocates immediately condemned the resolution, now poised to become law pending a likely signature President Donald Trump. Laying out the implications of the vote, Nathan White, senior legislative manager at Access Now, declared, “Congress today voted to sell off your privacy and your security online.” “Your internet service provider can see...

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MoveOn.org Files Complaint Against Rep. Nunes for Violation of the Espionage Act

by mlarson59 – Anna Galland, Executive Director of MoveOn.org, submitted a complaint to the Office of Congressional Ethics on Tuesday, stating: THE UNAUTHORIZED DISCLOSURE OF CLASSIFIED INFORMATION BY CHAIRMAN NUNES FOR WHAT APPEAR TO BE BLATANTLY POLITICAL PURPOSES IS NOT MERELY A POLICY MATTER OR A MATTER ABOUT THE CHAIRMAN’S IMPARTIALITY IN CONDUCTING THE BUSINESS OF HIS COMMITTEE. IT IS A MATTER THAT IMPLICATES THE INTEGRITY OF THE HOUSE AND ITS PROCEDURES AND ROLE IN THE PROPER HANDLING OF CLASSIFIED INFORMATION THAT IS, OF COURSE, CRITICAL TO ENABLE THE HOUSE AND ITS COMMITTEES TO PERFORM THEIR LEGISLATING AND OVERSIGHT FUNCTIONS IN NATIONAL SECURITY. The essence of the complaint is the following sequence: THE EXISTENCE OF AN APPLICATION FOR FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE SURVEILLANCE UNDER THE FOREIGN INTELLIGENCE SURVEILLANCE ACT, 50 U.S.C. §§1801 ET SEQ.—WHAT CHAIRMAN NUNES REFERRED TO AS “WARRANTS”—IS, OF COURSE, CLASSIFIED, AND DISCLOSURE OF THE INFORMATION ITSELF CAN BE MADE ONLY...

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Trump Administration Decides Trump isn’t Violating His Government Lease. They’re Wrong

by Laurel Raymond – “It is harmful to the integrity — and thus credibility — of GSA, the Presidency, and federal procurement process.” Trump’s downtown DC hotel has emerged as one of the starkest symbols of his conflicts of interest, a literal landmark to Trump’s kleptocracy and a central property in Trump’s violation of the emoluments clause. And, shortly after the election, government ethics experts pointed out one even more basic way Trump’s ownership of the hotel poses a problem: he appears to be in clear violation of the terms of the lease itself. The Trump organization, which Trump still owns, leased the Old Post Office building from the government in 2012. Included in that lease is a standard provision against corruption that stipulates that no “elected official” can be part of the lease or reap any benefit from it. With his election, Trump became both the owner of the hotel and the highest elected...

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Sanctuary Cities ‘Stand Resolute’ in Face of Threatened Funding Cut-Off

by Nadia Prupis – Officials from country’s largest urban centers strategized on sheltering undocumented immigrants after White House announced plan to withhold federal aid. Sanctuary cities are refusing to back down in the face of the Trump administration’s crackdown on immigration, which was codified on Monday after Attorney General Jeff Sessions threatened to cut off funding for states and cities that shelter undocumented residents. Officials from many of those jurisdictions met in New York on Tuesday to discuss how to fight the plan—the second consecutive day of brainstorming from leaders of some of the country’s biggest urban centers, as Reuters noted. The strategy session brought in attendees from California, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington state, Wisconsin, and elsewhere. It was preceded by the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD), a left-leaning advocacy group, releasing a guide and toolkit on protecting undocumented immigrants. The blueprint, published last week, aims to help local-level policymakers “create...

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Makers of Fake Planned Parenthood Baby Parts Video Slapped With 15 Felony Charges

by April Hamlin – Two anti-abortion activists are facing 15 felony charges after they secretly filmed themselves trying to buy aborted fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood. (In case you missed it, these attempts were unsuccessful because, duh. But that didn’t stop them from editing this video footage and then using it to claim that the women’s health provider was selling baby parts. They weren’t.) State Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced the charges against David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt on Tuesday. The Associated Press reports: The allegations say the pair filmed 14 people without permission between October 2013 and July 2015 in Los Angeles, San Francisco and El Dorado counties. One felony count was filed for each person. The 15th was for criminal conspiracy to invade privacy. According to Becerra, Daleiden and Merritt created a fictitious biomedical research company, which they then lied about in order to convince representatives of Planned Parenthood to meet with them...

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Gaza: Israel’s War Drums are Getting Louder (VIDEO)

by Tareq Baconi – Israel is entertaining another round of fighting on the besieged strip. On Friday, a senior member of Hamas’s military wing, Mazen Faqha, was assassinated in the Gaza Strip by armed gunmen. It was an assassination tactic not seen in Gaza for at least a decade. Faqha was a leading member of Hamas’ al-Qassam Brigades in the West Bank. In 2003, he was sentenced to life imprisonment in Israel for his role in planning attacks following Israel’s assassination of Salah Shehadeh, then al-Qassam’s leader. Faqha was set free in the prisoner-exchange deal that released Gilad Shalit in return for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in 2011. He was delivered from prison straight to the Gaza Strip, where he resided until his death. The timing and the tactic of Faqha’s killing raise questions about the possibility of another conflagration between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Palestinian factions in Gaza agree...

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On This Day, March 29, 1979 – JFK Assassination Ruled a Conspiracy

1979 – The Committee on Assassinations Report issued by U.S. House of Representatives stated the assassination of President John F. Kennedy was the result of a conspiracy. I. Findings of the Select Committee on Assassination in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy Lee Harvey Oswald fired three shots at President John F. Kennedy. The second and third shots he fired struck the President. The third shot he fired killed the President  Scientific acoustical evidence establishes a high probability that two gunmen fired at President John F. Kennedy. Other scientific evidence does not preclude the possibility of two gunmen firing at the President. Scientific evidence negates some specific conspiracy allegations The committee believes, on the basis of the evidence available to it, that President John F. Kennedy was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy. The committee was unable to identify the other gunmen or the extent of...

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Release of Arctic Methane “May Be Apocalyptic,” Study Warns

by Dahr Jamail, Truthout | Report – A scientific study published in the prestigious journal Palaeoworld in December issued a dire — and possibly prophetic — warning, though it garnered little attention in the media. “Global warming triggered by the massive release of carbon dioxide may be catastrophic,” reads the study’s abstract. “But the release of methane from hydrate may be apocalyptic.” The study, titled “Methane Hydrate: Killer Cause of Earth’s Greatest Mass Extinction,” highlights the fact that the most significant variable in the Permian Mass Extinction event, which occurred 250 million years ago and annihilated 90 percent of all the species on the planet, was methane hydrate. In the wake of that mass extinction event, less than 5 percent of the animal species in the seas lived, and less than one-third of the large land animal species made it. Nearly all the trees died. Methane hydrate, according to...

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Mexican Archdiocese: Companies That Help Build Trump’s Wall Are “Traitors”

by Deirdre Fulton – ‘The wall is a monument of intimidation and silence, of xenophobic hatred’. Denouncing President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall between Mexico and the United States as “an open threat that violates relations and peace,” the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Mexico City said Sunday that companies who profit from its construction are “traitors to the homeland.” The country’s largest archdiocese made the charge in an editorial (Spanish) published in its weekly newsletter, Desde la fe. A spokesman said the editorial represented the views of the diocese. “Joining a project that is a serious affront to dignity, is to shoot yourself in the foot,” the editorial declared. “The wall is a monument of intimidation and silence, of xenophobic hatred.” It continued: “Any company with the intention to invest in the wall of the fanatic Trump would be immoral, but above all, its shareholders and owners should be considered traitors...

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With a Daily Dial, Police Reach Out to Seniors

by Jenni Bergal – Living alone can be tough for seniors. Some don’t have family nearby to check on them, and they worry that if they fall or suffer a medical emergency and can’t get to the phone to seek help, no one will know. That’s why hundreds of police agencies in small towns, suburbs and rural areas across the country are checking in on seniors who live alone by offering them a free automated phone call every day. Police officials say the computerized calling systems, which are fairly inexpensive and easy to use, provide an important service to a growing senior population that is expected to reach 65 million by 2025. Already, nearly half of women age 75 and older live alone. And advocates for older adults say telephone check-in programs can help seniors remain independent in their homes and give them — and their family members — peace of...

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Trump’s Awkward Meeting with Angela Merkel just got More Cringeworthy

by Laurel Raymond – Trump reportedly handed the Chancellor an invoice for what he thinks Germany “owes” NATO and the U.S. President Donald Trump’s meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel was always going to be awkward. Trump rode to office on a wave of nationalistic populism and has openly slammed NATO, one of the key alliances binding the U.S. and Germany, while Merkel has been a staunch defender of the global world order. During his campaign, Trump even levied Merkel’s name as an insult, sneering that his opponent Hillary Clinton wanted to be “America’s Angela Merkel.” Nonetheless, Trump took to Twitter the day after the chilly meeting to defend his “GREAT meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel” despite “FAKE NEWS” claiming otherwise, before reiterating his claim Germany owes NATO money for its defense — a claim that is profoundly ignorant of how NATO works. Now, the Times of London is reporting that Trump went a...

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13 More Editorials Calling for a Special Prosecutor

by RandomNonviolence – As of March 7, there had been 20 editorial calls for a special prosecutor. Here are 13 more editorials since then: The Fresno Bee: Russia-Trump probe is in chaos, and Rep. Devin Nunes is to blame By our yardstick, Rep. Devin Nunes had a terrible week fulfilling his duties as chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. In fact, the performance of the Tulare Republican was so inept and bewildering that a fellow Republican, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, told MSNBC’s Greta Van Susteren on Wednesday that a bipartisan special select committee should investigate Russia’s meddling into the 2016 presidential campaign. … … Bring on the bipartisan special select committee – as was done with Benghazi – and a special prosecutor. Merced (CA) Sun-Star: Schiff rises, Nunes falters in Russia probe … It’s more proof that to get to the bottom of possible links between Trump associates and...

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Contrary to Spin, Trump Slashing Energy Jobs With New Executive Order

by Nika Knight – “These facts make it clear that Donald Trump is attacking clean energy jobs purely in order to boost the profits of fossil fuel billionaires.” As the Trump administration brags that Tuesday’s executive order to dismantle Obama-era climate regulations will create coal industry jobs, new employment data from the Department of Energy (DoE) demonstrates how misguided that claim is. Clean energy employs many more Americans than the fossil fuel industry, and economic forecasts show that the trend will continue, according to a Sierra Club analysis published Monday of the DoE’s 2017 U.S. Energy and Employment Report (pdf) released earlier this year. “Clean energy jobs, including those from solar, wind, energy efficiency, smart grid technology, and battery storage, vastly outnumber all fossil fuel jobs nationwide from the coal, oil and gas sectors. That includes jobs in power generation, mining, and other forms of fossil fuel extraction,” the Sierra Club...

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Complications of the Border Wall Project Increasingly Apparent

by Abstract668 – As the deadline for initial concept papers for Trump’s wall approaches (Wednesday, March 29, 4 pm without specifying the time zone),  we are finally starting to read about some of the problems that will be encountered if an actual contractor tries to build an actual wall. The Washington Post today listed three obstacles to the wall project: money, geography, and legal challenges. You can read the full story by Alicia Caldwell here. To those of us familiar with federal contracting procedures and federally-funded construction projects, the Post story just scratches the surface of the barriers facing this pipe-dream. Money. As Caldwell points out, Trump promised that Mexico will pay for the wall. We all know that was a five-Pinocchio lie. Let’s assume that Trump himself is not going to pay for it (he doesn’t even pay the carpet companies who outfit his hotels!) In order for federal funds...

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Kansas Lawmakers Just Dared Sam Brownback to Veto Medicaid Expansion

by Alan Pyke – Bill heads to right-wing governor’s desk with wide bipartisan majorities — but not veto-proof ones. A bill to expand Medicaid eligibility under Obamacare passed the Kansas Senate on Tuesday morning, setting up a showdown with arch-conservative Gov. Sam Brownback (R). Brownback is philosophically opposed to the expansion, which in-state analysts estimate would cover 150,000 currently uninsured people. But with the state’s budget in disastrous shape because of his “real, live experiment” with right-wing tax policy over the past several years, Republican allies have already begun to break stride with the governor. Brownback has 10 days to decide what to do. His administration this week reiterated opposition to expanding the state’s Medicaid program, known as KanCare. But the governor himself has stayed mu, Alliance for a Healthy Kansas head David Jordan told ThinkProgress. “His staff put out oppositional statements yesterday, but he wouldn’t answer the question himself as to what...

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On This Day, March 28, 1979 – Three Mile Island Reactor Nears Meltdown

1979 – At 4 a.m. on March 28, 1979, the worst accident in the history of the U.S. nuclear power industry begins when a pressure valve in the Unit-2 reactor at Three Mile Island fails to close. Cooling water, contaminated with radiation, drained from the open valve into adjoining buildings, and the core began to dangerously overheat. After the cooling water began to drain, emergency cooling pumps automatically went into operation. Left alone, these safety devices would have prevented the development of a larger crisis. However, human operators in the control room misread confusing and contradictory readings and shut off the emergency water system. The reactor was also shut down, but residual heat from the fission process was still being released. By early morning, the core had heated to over 4,000 degrees, just 1,000 degrees short of meltdown. As the plant operators struggled to understand what had happened, the...

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TV Coverage of Climate Fell 66 Percent During a Record-Setting Year for Global Warming

by Joe Romm – Trump’s budget targets federal funding of PBS, the one network with the most climate coverage. In 2016, the major networks’ coverage of climate change dropped by two thirds compared to 2015. In fact, climate coverage last year was close to its lowest levels since 2009, according to a new analysis by MediaMatters of the evening and Sunday news programs that air on ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox. This drop is despite historic wildfires, extreme weather events like Hurricane Matthew, and month after month of record-breaking global temperatures. And, of course, there was a presidential campaign between two people who have diametrically opposed views on the gravest preventable threat to the United States and the world. During the campaign, the major networks spent no time examining the climate policy differences between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump — despite their vast disagreement on domestic action, the Paris climate agreement, and whether...

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Donald Trump Plans to Make Jared Kushner America’s Unelected, Unapproved, Uncontrolled CEO

by Mark Sumner – If you’ve been waiting for the moment when Donald Trump hands over power … good news! But Trump isn’t officially placing his magic marker scrawl on a resignation. It’s just that, after two whole weeks of trying to get a health care bill passed, he’s tired of all this talking to people and trying to make compromises. So it’s time to shake up America. President Trump plans to unveil a new White House office on Monday with sweeping authority to overhaul the federal bureaucracy and fulfill key campaign promises — such as reforming care for veterans and fighting opioid addiction — by harvesting ideas from the business world and, potentially, privatizing some government functions. Because, as the old saying goes, if at first you don’t succeed, sell it off. The fact that government is not anything at all like business, has never bothered Republicans. So it’s not unexpected...

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Michael Flynn Discussed Illegal Kidnapping of Exiled Turkish Dissident

by Alan Pyke – Flynn was one of Trump’s key advisers when he talked about “a covert step in the dead of night to whisk this guy away.” President Donald Trump’s messy pile of international relations scandals and conflicts of interest gained a salacious new development straight out of a novel on Friday. Former Trump national security aide Michael Flynn discussed the hypothetical kidnapping of exiled Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen from his Pennsylvania home with senior Turkish government officials in September, the Wall Street Journal reports. Word of the conversation comes from former CIA head James Woolsey, who told the Journal he was alarmed by the brainstorming around “a covert step in the dead of night to whisk this guy away,” an operation which would violate U.S. law. Flynn, through a spokesman, denied ever discussing such a plan. The conversation was “open-ended thinking on the subject” rather than a detailed tactical discussion...

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Why Spend $54 Billion More on the Pentagon? To Start a War, Obviously

by JOHN FEFFER – The president wants to put the U.S. on a permanent war footing to sustain his unpopular presidency. So, let me see if I’ve got this right. North Korea has been pushing its ally China to rein in the United States. Pyongyang is worried that Washington is about to launch a preemptive attack, so it has tried to use whatever minimal amount of influence it has to persuade China to use its considerable economic leverage with the United States to get those knuckleheads inside the Beltway to listen to reason. Or maybe I misheard the report on the radio. How about this: As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump promised to stop reckless U.S. military interventions overseas, like the one he so disliked (after it failed) in Iraq. So, as president, he is withdrawing all troops from Syria, reducing U.S. military presence in Asia, and pulling the United States...

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DOJ to Crack Down on Sanctuary Cities by Denying and Clawing Back Federal Grants

by Zack Ford – At Monday’s White House press briefing, Press Secretary Sean Spicer turned the podium over to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who announced a plan to cut Office of Justice Programs grants to sanctuary cities — those that choose not to turn over undocumented immigrants to federal officials for deportation. “Today I’m urging states and local jurisdictions to comply with these federal laws, including 8 U.S. Code § 1373,” Sessions explained. That law states that no government entity can restrict sharing information with the Immigration and Naturalization Service regarding individuals’ citizenship or immigration status. “Moreover, the Department of Justice will require that jurisdictions seeking or applying for Department of Justice grants to certify compliance with 1373 as a condition of receiving those awards.” Not complying with 1373, Sessions warned, could “result in withholding grants, termination of grants, and disbarment or ineligibility for future grants.” He added that the Department of Justice...

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Nunes Went to White House Grounds the Night Before Bizarre Disclosure, Met with Source

by Josh Israel – Did the Intelligence chairman get his secret information from the Trump White House? Trump was seemingly out of options. At a public hearing last Monday, Trump’s claim that President Obama had “tapped” Trump Tower was definitively debunked. Donald J. Trump  ✔@realDonaldTrump How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy! 7:02 AM – 4 Mar 2017 Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) emerged a couple of days later with a bizarre announcement that he “recently confirmed that on numerous occasions the intelligence community incidentally collected information about US citizens involved in the Trump transition.” Nunes has been under fire for his press conference and his decision to brief President Trump before even discussing the matter with his own committee. Trump and his administration crowed that the announcement vindicated his widely debunked claims that President Obama had...

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The Real Reason Why Obamacare Now Has a 54% Approval Rating

by smirking – CNN had an eye opening story yesterday that’s been flying under the radar and really deserves to be given a lot more attention. In his article The cruel double standard that may have saved Obamacare, John Blake explores a very simple rationale for why Obamacare is suddenly gaining in popularity. The face of Obamacare is now white.  More Americans now realize Obamacare helps millions of working class whites and that it’s not — as once portrayed by conservatives — a form of welfare pushed by the first black president to help people of color, historians and scholars say. The media landscape is filled with images of the furrowed brows of anxious white residents at congressional town halls who fear they will suffer if they lose Obamacare, says Judy Lubin, a sociologist and adjunct professor at Howard University in Washington. This makes sense to me. This makes more sense to me than...

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Jared Kushner Met with Head of State-Controlled Russian Bank Linked to Espionage

by Aaron Rupar – He didn’t disclose the meeting, even to other White House staff. Jared Kushner, senior adviser to President Trump and his son-in-law, will be interviewed by the Senate Intelligence Committee about his pre-inauguration contact with Russian officials. Earlier this month, the New York Times reported that Kushner and Michael Flynn — who was ousted from his role as Trump’s national security adviser after it was revealed he had misled Vice President Pence about his pre-inauguration communications with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak — met with Kislyak in December. But the Times now reports that in addition to that meeting, Kushner had a previously undisclosed meeting with the head of a Russian bank that was hit with sanctions by the Obama administration. The meeting between Kushner and Vnesheconombank chief Sergey Gorkov occurred at Kislyak’s behest, according to the White House. At the time of his meeting with the Russian banker, “Kushner had not yet stepped...

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On This Day, March 27, 1866 – Andrew Johnson Vetoes Civil Rights for Blacks

1866 – U.S. President Andrew Johnson vetoed the civil rights bill, which later became the 14th amendment. A little over a month after becoming president, Johnson began executing his plan for reconstructing the South. Johnson pardoned all rebels except Confederate leaders. He also restored all rebel property except for slaves. Finally, he authorized each rebel state to call a convention of white delegates to draw up a new constitution. Once completed, a new state government could then be formed, and the state could apply for readmission to the Union. During the summer of 1865, the rebel states held their constitutional conventions, followed by elections to choose state and federal government representatives. None of the new state constitutions allowed the black freedmen to vote. President Johnson himself opposed the idea of ex-slaves voting. “It would breed a war of races,” Johnson said. When Congress finally met in early December, the...

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Alex Jones Apologizes for Promoting ‘Pizzagate’ Conspiracy

by Aaron Rupar – Fake news has consequences. Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones has apologized to a Washington, D.C., restaurant owner for disseminating a conspiracy theory that motivated one of his fans to open fire inside the Comet Ping Pong pizza joint. In a video published on Friday, the man the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as “certainly the most prolific conspiracy theorist in contemporary America” addresses Comet Ping Pong owner James Alefantis and says, “In our commentary about what had become known as Pizzagate, I made comments about Mr. Alefantis that in hindsight I regret, and for which I apologize to him.” Jones — who believes that the September 11 attacks, Oklahoma City bombing, Sandy Hook school shooting, and Boston Marathon bombings were all inside jobs — acknowledges there’s no evidence supporting the notion that Comet Ping Pong is or ever was at the center of a pedophilia ring involving some of Hillary Clinton’s closest...

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Trump Appears to Make Bizarre, Backhanded Call for Paul Ryan to Step Down

by Ian Millhiser – The president seems to want Fox News to do his dirty work. The President of the United States briefly took on a non-traditional role as publicist for a Fox News show Saturday night. Donald J. Trump  ✔@realDonaldTrump Watch @JudgeJeanine on @FoxNews tonight at 9:00 P.M. 10:41 AM – 25 Mar 2017 Host Jeanine Pirro had barely begun her show before Trump’s tweet took on new significance. “Paul Ryan needs to step down as speaker of the house,” she proclaimed at the very beginning of her “opening statement” segment at the top of the show. “The reason? He failed to deliver the votes on his healthcare bill.” Jeanine Pirro  ✔@JudgeJeanine “Paul Ryan needs to step down as speaker of the house.The reason? He failed to deliver the votes on his healthcare bill.” #openingstatement 9:21 PM – 25 Mar 2017 What followed was a 6 minute rant against the embattled...

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Tell the Truth and Shame the Devil

by Michael Winship – Wednesday’s craziness from House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes proves more than ever that we need an independent probe of Trump and Russia immediately. There was so much smoke being blown in Washington on Wednesday you could probably see it from the International Space Station. And it all seemed to come from a single polluter: Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), chair of the House Intelligence Committee. His pants were burning from one end of Pennsylvania Avenue to the other. Nunes seems to prefer serving the constituency of One Who Temporarily Lives in the White House over paying attention to the American people who need some answers: the facts about Russia’s interference with the 2016 election; about whether or not members of Donald Trump’s campaign team colluded with Russian intelligence to support and encourage that interference; and broadly, what’s up with Donald Trump’s business connections to Russian kleptocrats over...

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Trump has Telegraphed What is Next

by acadia – We all knew what Trump’s Plan B was if the healthcare bill failed, even if he said there was no Plan B. I made this comment 12 days ago in one of the many posts on the healthcare bill: If this bill fails, that is definitely where Trump wants to head — restart the lawsuit, and claim Obamacare is imploding, all the Democrats’ fault. I bet if I searched comments I could find hundreds of you who said the same thing. If the bill failed Trump was going to blame Democrats and try to help Obamacare “implode.” We even knew the exact language he would use. How did we know this? Trump told us  . . . repeatedly. We don’t need all the insider accounts now when he was saying this at rallies and to anyone who would listen.  At the same time, he said a few other...

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‘We’re Just Getting Started’: Trumpcare Slain, Resistance Eyes Next Battles

by Jon Queally – Spectacular failure of Republicans to pass Trumpcare is time to ‘double-down’ on resistance, not gloat. While President Donald Trump on Saturday used a single tweet to tell the American people both “Do not worry!” and “Obamacare will explode,” the Trump resistance movement was being urged not to gloat over Friday’s “epic failure” of the Republicans’ attempt to pass their ‘slash and burn’ healthcare law but instead focus on organizing for the crucial battles ahead. Acknowledging their defeat on healthcare (while fecklessly trying to blame Democrats), Trump and his team on Friday said they would now place their focus on passing a controversial budget package and moving ahead with a major tax reform plan. And with the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch still unattained, the president’s opponents—both in Congress and in the streets—were balancing their elation over Friday’s healthcare outcome with acknowledgement that much hard work...

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Is Boris Epshteyn a Russian Agent?

by GregLwood – Boris Epshteyn, an official in the White House press office…is leaving his job, according to three people with knowledge of the move. The departure was treated with some mystery. Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, would not comment on the reason… (New York Times 3/25/17) Is Epshteyn’s departure directly linked to Trump’s exploding Russia scandal? Consider the following. Russia’s Federal Security Service (the FSB) often recruits Western businessmen by obtaining compromising material (“kompromat”) during tours and junkets to Russia.  Russian intelligence has used this iconic recruitment technique for over fifty years. Epshteyn worked with the Russian government in 2013 to promote investment in Russia to the American business community.  His actions fit tightly with the FSB model described above. The Russia-born investment banker and attorney moderated a panel at an October 2013 conference in New York City called “Invest in Moscow!” The panel was mainly comprised of...

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