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...

Read More...


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...

Read More...


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...

Read More...


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,...

Read More...


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...

Read More...


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...

Read More...


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...

Read More...


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....

Read More...


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...

Read More...


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...

Read More...


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...

Read More...


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...

Read More...


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...

Read More...


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...

Read More...


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...

Read More...


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...

Read More...


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...

Read More...


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...

Read More...


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...

Read More...


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...

Read More...