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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Steve Bannon is Cleaning House. He Posted a “Shit List” in WH War Room and Paul Ryan is Toast

by ursulafaw – The GOP has a united Republican government — and they still can’t govern. That is the takeaway from yesterday’s stunning loss, where Republicans decided to withdraw their repeal bill rather than face the humiliation of public defeat on live television.  Whose political career is going to the guillotine for this debacle? Who has Steve Bannon declared would be gone by Spring? If you said Paul Ryan, you’re right. The implosion of Paul Ryan’s career has been building for quite some time. The Speaker of the House is a con artist and his attempt to foist “ObamaCare 0.5” i.e. a half baked version of the original, off on the public as a new and improved product, failed spectacularly and a price will be paid. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has been following Paul Ryan for a number of years and Krugman just put another nail in Paul Ryan’s...

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“A loser president.” Dan Rather Hits Him Where it Hurts

by Sidof79 – Dan Rather has logged another entry into his brilliant and composed, yet scathing criticism of our so-called President.  I’ll get right to it. Loser. That’s a word that Donald Trump fears being called more than any other. It is a word that he has wielded with relish against his enemies. But if the health care bill goes down in defeat, and at this point that is still a big if, Mr. Trump will be seen as a loser, and so will his new cheerleader Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. A loser president. It’s a moniker that every president dreads, but especially President Trump. It strikes at the very essence of his being. It is why he rails away at conspiracy theories about voter fraud. Once you are seen as a loser in Washington your enemies are emboldened and your allies become skittish. Power can evaporate faster than dew...

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On This Day, March 26, 1943 – Nazis Begin Mass Transportation of Jews to Auschwitz

1942 – The Nazis began mass transportation of Jews to Auschwitz in Poland. People were transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau by trains, from all over Nazi-occupied Europe. They were generally sent in freight cars or cattle trucks. Often they travelled for days without toilet facilities and with nothing to eat or drink. Originally, the railway cars arrived at the old ramp of Birkenau, 1 km southeast of the entrance gate. From May 1944 they continued into Auschwitz II (Birkenau / Brzezinka) itself, along a specially constructed spur. The majority of the people, sent in these transports, were murdered in gas chambers directly on arrival. Their names never appeared in the camp records, so that it is very difficult to determine precisely how many perished from these transports. Those the SS deemed fit for work were not murdered immediately but were used as slave labourers. They were given striped prison clothing and a prisoner...

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James Jackson Charged with Murdering Timothy Caughman (VIDEO)

Baltimore resident with ‘intent to kill as many black men as he could’ plunged sword into 66-year-old Timothy Caughman. A white supremacist who stabbed a 66-year-old black man to death with a sword in New York has been charged with second-degree murder as a hate crime. James Harris Jackson, who killed Timothy Caughman on Monday, was charged on Thursday after he told police that he had hated black men for at least 10 years. “His intent was to kill as many black men here in New York as he could,” prosecutor Joan Illuzzi said as the 28-year-old was arraigned. “The defendant was motivated purely by hatred.” Caughman was bent over a rubbish bin around the corner from his home, gathering bottles, when Jackson plunged a two-foot sword into his chest and back and walked off, prosecutors said. A bleeding Caughman staggered into a police station and later died at a hospital....

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Dear Mom: About Your 50 Year Nursing Career & Medicaid… This Woman’s Letter Pummels the GOP

by Leslie Salzillo – I didn’t write this. I wish I did. The way this woman levels Republicans is stunning. The author is Betsy Anderson and it’s a letter addressed to her mother with a blind copy to the GOP and all Americans. Ms. Anderson cuts straight to core and heartlessness of the GOP and it should be required reading in Congress and in all forms of the media. It’s also a perfect example of how well social media can work — when it works. Betsy Anderson took to Facebook and spoke out on March 16, 2017. Susan, a friend of mine posted Besty’s post in a group where another friend of mine, John, from VoteVets.org saw it. He posted it into another Facebook group where I first saw it. (And if you followed all that…) now I get to post it on Daily Kos where it stands a good chance of being read by the multitudes. For Betsy’s sake, the...

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J&J Pulls Ads From YouTube Over ‘Offensive’ Videos

Johnson & Johnson the latest company to drop ads over fears content may appear alongside ‘terrorism’ and hate videos. US healthcare conglomerate Johnson & Johnson has become the latest company to suspend all digital advertising on YouTube over concerns its ads may have appeared on channels that broadcast offensive videos. J&J said on Thursday it wanted to ensure that its product advertising did not appear on channels that promote “offensive content”, a day after AT&T, Verizon, and several other major advertisers suspended their digital ads after discovering their brands had been appearing alongside videos promoting violence and hatred. “We are deeply concerned that our ads may have appeared alongside YouTube content promoting terrorism and hate,” AT&T said in a statement. “Until Google can ensure this won’t happen again, we are removing our ads from Google’s non-search platforms.” Google, YouTube’s parent company, has come under intense scrutiny for ads appearing alongside videos...

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Two Months In, Trump Breaking Every Vow to ‘Drain the Swamp’: Report

by Nadia Prupis – President ‘has shown himself to be everything that on the campaign trail he expressed to hate about Washington—a self-dealer more interested in helping his friends and big donors than creating a democracy’ Surprising no one, a new report out Wednesday finds that President Donald Trump has broken his campaign promise to “drain the swamp” at every turn, and has instead turned the government over to corporate interests and enriched his bottom line. The joint report from advocacy groups Public Citizen and Every Voice analyzes the two months since Trump took office and concludes that the new administration is mired in corruption and conflicts, while the president himself has hired the very figures he claimed he would fight—big-money donors, lobbyists, and Wall Street executives. In fact, the administration has failed to live up to even its own “painfully inadequate” ethics standards, the groups said. That includes refusing to...

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‘Earth is a Planet in Upheaval’: World Meteorological Organization Issues Dire Climate Warning

by Joe Romm – “Truly uncharted territory” 2016’s record-warming continues in 2017 with Jan-Feb 2017 the second hottest on record after 2016. CREDIT: NOAA Humanity is “now in truly uncharted territory,” thanks to CO2-driven climate change, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) warned Tuesday. The WMO’s annual “State of the Global Climate in 2016” paints a dire picture for humanity: record CO2 levels, record warming, record drop in both Arctic and Antarctic sea ice, and record high sea levels. Severe droughts “brought food insecurity to millions in southern and eastern Africa and Central America.” NOAA reported this month that the record-smashing warming of 2016 continued into 2017. In this country, “there were 11,743 daily warm temperature records broken or tied” in February alone. Globally, it was the second hottest February and January-February on record after 2016. “Earth is a planet in upheaval due to human-caused changes in the atmosphere,” as University of Arizona...

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‘Follow the Facts’: Top Dem Demands Independent Trump-Russia Commission (VIDEO)

by Jon Queally – Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, says credibility must be restored. Matching a growing popular demand, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee on Saturday urged Congress to create an independent commission to investigate the possible role that members of President Donald Trump’s campaign or transition teams may have had with alleged Russian interference in last year’s presidential election. In a video message released on Twitter, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) informed his colleagues why he believes new revelations—coupled with the recent troubling behavior of Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), who chairs the House Intelligence Committee—make a nonpartisan, independent commission necessary. Watch: The American people demand – and deserve – the truth. Congress must create an independent commission to #FollowTheFacts on Russia. pic.twitter.com/aa3SmJ7pRI — Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) March 25, 2017 Though serious questions remain regarding the depth and veracity of the government’s...

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Coal Giant to Receive Award for Bankruptcy Deal that Screwed Over its Workers

by Natasha Geiling – The country’s second-largest coal supplier, fresh off bankruptcy, will receive the “Restructuring Deal of the Year” award. It’s been a wild year for Arch Coal, the country’s second-largest producer of coal. In January, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy; less than a year later, they won approval for a restructuring deal that allowed them to cut millions in debt from their books and emerge relatively unscathed. On Thursday night, as part of the 2017 Distressed Investing Event, Arch Coal will receive an award for that deal, despite the fact that the restructuring benefited company executives while leaving workers and the environment worse off. “Arch Coal shed hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars in debt by short-changing both their commitments to worker health care and pensions and their environmental cleanup obligations,” Mary Anne Hitt, director of Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, told ThinkProgress. “Economically their prospects...

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Gibberish Is the White House’s New Normal

by TODD GITLIN – The bad art of the non sequitur. Once upon a time, there were presidents for whom English seemed their native language. Barack Obama most recently. He deliberated. At a press conference or in an interview — just about whenever he wasn’t speaking from a text — his pauses were as common as other people’s “uh’s.” He was not pausing because his vocabulary was impoverished. He was pausing to put words into sequence. He was putting phrases together with care, word by word, trying out words before uttering them, checking to feel out what they would sound like once uttered. It was important to him to words in order because he did not want to be misunderstood. That president valued precision, in no small part because he knew he lived in a world where every last presidential word was a speech act, a declaration with consequence, so that...

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House Intelligence Committee Chairman Abruptly Cancels Open Hearing on Russia

by Judd Legum – Key Democrat calls it an effort to “choke off public info.” Congressman Devin Nunes (R-CA), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, has abruptly canceled a public hearing scheduled for next Tuesday with former DNI director James Clapper, former CIA Director John Brennan, and former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates. The hearing is part of the committee’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election, including whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian operatives. The ranking member of the Committee, Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA), characterized Nunes’ decision as an effort to choke off public information about the inquiry. Adam Schiff ✔@RepAdamSchiff BREAKING: Chairman just cancelled open Intelligence Committee hearing with Clapper, Brennan and Yates in attempt to choke off public info. 11:16 AM – 24 Mar 2017 Tuesday’s hearing was a continuation of a hearing on Monday which featured FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Mike...

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On This Day, March 25, 1911 – Fire Breaks Out at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company 

1911 – In New York City, 146 women were killed in fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Company in New York City. On Saturday, March 25, 1911, a fire broke out on the top floors of the Triangle Shirtwaist factory. Firefighters arrived at the scene, but their ladders weren’t tall enough to reach the upper floors of the 10-story building. Trapped inside because the owners had locked the fire escape exit doors, workers jumped to their deaths. In a half an hour, the fire was over, and 146 of the 500 workers—mostly young women — were dead. The shirtwaist makers, as young as age 15, worked seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. with a half-hour lunch break. During the busy season, the work was nearly non-stop. They were paid about $6 per week. In some cases, they were required to use their own needles, thread, irons...

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Trump Reacts to Failure: We Were so Close, it’s all the Democrats’ Fault, and Obamacare is Exploding

by Joan McCarter – You might have expected popular vote loser Donald Trump to have a temper tantrum after the failure of Trumpcare, but he seemed pretty calm—albeit seriously deluded—during a brief press conference from the Oval Office. He led off with the most ludicrous of lies: “We were very close.” They weren’t very close. They were at least 30 (and as much as 50) votes away. “Very close.” Who’s fault was this? “We had no Democrat support. We had no votes from the Democrats. They weren’t going to give us a single vote, it’s a difficult thing to do.” So it’s the Democrats’ fault that the bill failed. What’s going to happen now? “I’ve been saying for the last year-and-a-half that the best thing we can do politically speaking is let Obamacare explode, it is exploding right now.” I think the losers are Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer because now they own Obamacare. They own...

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Memo to FBI: If Team Trump and Putin Colluded, any Money Trail Likely Involves Oil

by Joe Romm – Russia sold off one-fifth of its state-owned oil giant in December, but we still don’t know who bought it all. As the FBI investigates possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, one aspect merits closer examination: the $11 billion post-election sale of 19.5 percent of the Kremlin-controlled oil giant Rosneft. If there was an actual quid pro quo between Trump officials and the Russian government, it may well involve that sale for two reasons. First, prior to the election, “most industry watchers had written off the chances of a foreign investor being found for Rosneft,” as Fortune explained at the time. But electing someone who had vowed to improve relations with Russia appears to have changed the economic landscape. Second, as Reuters has detailed, Russian President Vladimir Putin managed to sell off this “oil jewel without saying who bought it.” In this post, I’ll attempt to connect...

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Leading Opponent of LGBT Civil Rights to Lead Civil Rights Office

by Ian Millhiser – Earlier this week, according to a statement by several progressive groups*, President Donald Trump appointed Roger Severino, a leading anti-LGBT activist, to lead the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Civil Rights. In doing so, Trump potentially gives Severino an opportunity to dismantle civil rights protections he criticized as a staffer at the conservative Heritage Foundation. Although Severino apparently was appointed without a formal announcement, his bio page at Heritage now states that he “is no longer a staff member at The Heritage Foundation.” In 2016, for example, Severino co-authored a Heritage report criticizing proposed Obama administration rules preventing discrimination against transgender patients within the health care system. Protecting trans people against such discrimination, Severino warned, would “penalize medical professionals and health care organizations that, as a matter of faith, moral conviction, or professional medical judgment, believe that maleness and femaleness are biological realities to...

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Growing a Spine? Schumer Sets Stage for Gorsuch Filibuster (VIDEO)

by Nika Knight – Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced opposition to right-wing Supreme Court nominee, setting stage for filibuster showdown. After weeks of outcry and public calls for Senate Democrats to “grow a spine” and filibuster President Donald Trump’s right-wing Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch, Democrats finally appear to be listening. On Thursday, after three days of Senate Judiciary Committee testimony, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced that he could not support Gorsuch’s nomination and indicated that he would join a filibuster against the nominee. “He will have to earn 60 votes for confirmation,” Schumer said. “My vote will be no.” “His career and judicial record suggest not a neutral legal mind but someone with a deep-seated conservative ideology,” Schumer said: Democrats have complained throughout Gorsuch’s testimony that the conservative judge has been eliding questions and refusing to explain his judicial philosophy in concrete terms. When pressed...

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On This Day, March 24, 1989 – The Exxon Valdez Runs Aground

1989 – The Exxon Valdez spilled 240,000 barrels (11 million gallons) of oil in Alaska’s Prince William Sound after it ran aground. On March 24, 1989, the tanker Exxon Valdez, en route from Valdez, Alaska to Los Angeles, California, ran aground on Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska. The vessel was traveling outside normal shipping lanes in an attempt to avoid ice. Within six hours of the grounding, the Exxon Valdez spilled approximately 10.9 million gallons of its 53 million gallon cargo of Prudhoe Bay crude oil. Eight of the eleven tanks on board were damaged. The oil would eventually impact over 1,100 miles of non-continuous coastline in Alaska, making the Exxon Valdez the largest oil spill to date in U.S. waters. The response to the Exxon Valdez involved more personnel and equipment over a longer period of time than did any other spill in U.S. history. Logistical...

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‘There’s a Smell of Treason in the Air’

by MICHAEL WINSHIP – FBI and NSA chiefs verify a Russia probe and refute the president’s claims as Republicans scramble to pretend the “drip, drip, drip” hasn’t started. Monday’s hearing of the House Intelligence Committee was proof positive of the absolute need for both a special prosecutor and an independent, bipartisan commission with subpoena power to conduct a full investigation of the Trump campaign’s connections with Russian intelligence — as well as Russia’s multipronged attack on our elections and Trump’s business connections with that country’s oligarchs. And it’s proof more than ever that even if we get that prosecutor and inquiry, a free and independent press may be the only real way to ever get to the bottom of what ranking committee member Adam Schiff said may represent “one of the most shocking betrayals of our democracy in history.” Just as FBI Director James Comey officially revealed for the very first...

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US Ditches Human Rights Hearing in ‘Unprecedented Show of Disrespect’

by Nadia Prupis – ACLU had planned to drill officials on immigration, DAPL, and Muslim ban, but representatives from various departments never showed. The U.S. failed to show up to a human rights hearing in an “unprecedented show of disrespect to the international community,” the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said Tuesday. In a surprise move, the government ditched a hearing with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), an arm of the Organization of American States, where the ACLU had planned to drill officials on the Trump administration’s crackdown on immigration; its ban on travelers from six Muslim-majority countries; and the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), among other issues. The civil rights group had filed an emergency request for the meeting in February, after President Donald Trump signed an executive order that banned travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries. That order, as well as its follow-up mandate, issued last month, have since...

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Trump’s America: Two Coal Plants Announce Closures in Ohio, Layoffs at Carrier Factories in Indiana

by Jen Hayden – Remember when Donald Trump appeared in Indiana to announce he’d saved 1,100 jobs at that Carrier and United Technologies were planning to send to Mexico? A refresher from early December: “But I will tell you that United Technologies and Carrier stepped it up and now they’re keeping — actually the number’s over 1,100 people, which is so great, which is so great …. I just noticed — I wrote down because I heard it — since about six years ago, 260 new federal regulations have passed, 53 of which affect this plant. Fifty-three new regulations. Massively expensive and probably none of them amount to anything in terms of safety or the things that you’d have regulations for.” His fans cheered and chanted, hailing their king of bankruptcy for saving all those jobs. Except, as the Washington Post later mentioned, those numbers were—the jobs and the regulations— false. This week significant...

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Trump Defends Three of His Biggest Lies in New Time Magazine Interview

by Aaron Rupar – “I have articles saying it happened.” In a new Time magazine cover interview, President Trump defends three of the most notorious lies he’s told since beginning his presidential campaign in June 2015. Trump repeated his false claims that American Muslims celebrated on 9/11, that millions of illegal votes were cast in the 2016 presidential election, and that President Obama wiretapped him last fall. The interview, which was conducted on Wednesday by Time Washington Bureau Chief Michael Scherer, focuses on how Trump “has handled truth and falsehood in his career.” But the vast majority of the piece consists of Trump trying to defend blatant falsehoods by offering new ones. Throughout the interview, Trump’s defense when confronted with one of his lies is to shift blame to the media. Brian Stelter ✔@brianstelter “I have articles saying it happened.” http://ti.me/2mXMSvI  8:41 AM – 23 Mar 2017 At one point, Scherer...

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UK Police: Eight Arrests Over Westminster Attack

Prime minister says suspect was born in Britain, as police arrest eight in probe into deadly attack near UK parliament. The suspect of a deadly attack outside the UK parliament in London was British-born, Prime Minister Theresa May has said, as police arrested eight people after several overnight raids across the country. In a statement to the House of Commons on Thursday, May said the attacker was once investigated by intelligence officers over concerns of “violent extremism”. “He was a peripheral figure,” she said. “The case is historic, he was not part of the current intelligence picture.” Earlier on Thursday, police said eight people had been arrested after raids on six homes in London, Birmingham and other parts of the country in their probe into the attack, in which a man ploughed into pedestrians in a car and then went on a stabbing spree before being shot dead. Mark Rowley, acting deputy...

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Why Jeff Sessions is Threatening to Crack Down on Marijuana

by Mike Ludwig, Truthout | Report – Attorney General Jeff Sessions told a gathering of law enforcement officials in Richmond, Virginia last week that legalizing marijuana would not make the United States “a better place,” and he is “astonished” by the suggestion that cannabis could be used to combat the nation’s “heroin crisis.” Two days later, New Mexico — which has suffered from by high rates of opiate-related deaths for years — moved to do just that. On Friday, New Mexico’s legislature approved a bill that would make patients diagnosed with opiate disorders eligible for the state’s medical marijuana program. The idea already has the blessing of the state’s Medical Advisory Board, and if approved by the governor, New Mexico would become the first state to specifically to put opiate disorders on its list of conditions that can be treated with cannabis products. A growing field of research suggests...

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The Secret Service has Requested an Extra $60 Million for Trump Family Travel and Protection

by Jen Hayden – No money for Meals on Wheels, no money for health care, endless money for the lifestyles of the rich and infamous: The U.S. Secret Service requested $60 million in additional funding for the next year, offering the most precise estimate yet of the escalating costs for travel and protection resulting from the unusually complicated lifestyle of the Trump family, according to internal agency documents reviewed by The Washington Post. Nearly half of the additional money, $26.8 million, would pay to protect President Trump’s family and private home in New York’s Trump Tower, the documents show, while $33 million would be spent on travel costs incurred by “the president, vice president and other visiting heads of state.” Additional funding was already rejected once in the short time Trump has been in office: A person familiar with internal Secret Service budget discussions said the requests for additional funding, prepared in...

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Climate Kids Demand Feds Turn Over ‘Wayne Tracker’ (aka Rex Tillerson) Emails

by Andrea Germanos – “When looking for evidence of a cover-up, emails from Rex Tillerson’s pseudonym about climate change are just the kind of evidence the court needs to see.” Lawyers representing youth in a landmark climate lawsuit are demanding to see the emails Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sent using the alias “Wayne Tracker” while serving as CEO of ExxonMobil. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office made the claim of the email alias last week in a court filing as part of its investigation into the oil giant’s climate cover-up. The filing said Tillerson used the “Tracker” account to discuss climate change and other matters from at least 2008-2015. In the youths’ case, as Common Dreams wrote, the 21 “co-plaintiffs argue that by failing to act on climate change, the U.S. government has violated the youngest generation’s constitutional rights and their rights to vital public trust resources.” Their legal...

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On This Day, Mar. 23, 1919, Mussolini Founds the Fascist party

Benito Mussolini, an Italian World War I veteran and publisher of Socialist newspapers, breaks with the Italian Socialists and establishes the nationalist Fasci di Combattimento, named after the Italian peasant revolutionaries, or “Fighting Bands,” from the 19th century. Commonly known as the Fascist Party, Mussolini’s new right-wing organization advocated Italian nationalism, had black shirts for uniforms, and launched a program of terrorism and intimidation against its leftist opponents. In October 1922, Mussolini led the Fascists on a march on Rome, and King Emmanuel III, who had little faith in Italy’s parliamentary government, asked Mussolini to form a new government. Initially, Mussolini, who was appointed prime minister at the head of a three-member Fascist cabinet, cooperated with the Italian parliament, but aided by his brutal police organization he soon became the effective dictator of Italy. In 1924, a Socialist backlash was suppressed, and in January 1925 a Fascist state was...

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‘Beyond Irregular’: GOP Intel Chair, Devin Nunes, Under Fire for Bizarre Trump Briefing

by Jon Queally – Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) excoriated by colleagues and intelligence experts for skirting protocols and taking newly obtained information straight to Trump. The ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee on Wednesday said the “beyond irregular” behavior of the committee’s Republican chairman has “underscored the imperative of an independent investigation” into Russian interference in last year’s election—comments that capped off a series of explosive Capitol Hill developments surrounding a controversy that refuses to die. “The chairman needs to think about which role he wants to play here. Is he going to play a role as surrogate for the administration or is he going to play a role of leading an independent investigation? He can’t do both.” —Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.)Rep. Devin Nunes of California, the Republican chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, came under fire later by congressional colleagues after he went outside normal protocols by...

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Eccentric Millionaire Returns Manhattan Building to American Indians

by Amelia Kinney – Jean-Louis Goldwater Bourgeois plans to return his small part of Manhattan to the Lenape Indians by transforming the building into prayer house. Jean-Louis Goldwater Bourgeois, 76, plans to transfer the deed of his $4m West Village House to the Lenape American Indian tribe, also known as the first Manhattanites. The house was purchased under the Goldwater Bourgeois family name in 2006 for $2.2m. An architectural historian and activist, Goldwater Bourgeois told the NY Post “I have a romance with the history of the city, and I have been generally appalled that the land that the city is on has been taken by whites.” He went further to say, “This building is the trophy from major theft. It disgusts me.” Goldwater Bourgeois is referring to the Lenape’s original inhabitation of Mannahatta, meaning “land of many hills”. Original correspondences show Dutch traders purchased the land from the Indians...

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Roger Stone’s Russian Alibi Falls Apart

by Laurel Raymond – Stone keeps referencing ‘independent’ information he had on Podesta — but the article he says proves it is based on Wikileaks. Trump ally Roger Stone is one of the more colorful characters in the President’s arsenal. He wore a top hat and morning coat to Trump’s inauguration. He has a Nixon tattoo between his shoulder blades. He’s a weekly guest host on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ radio show. And now, he’s under FBI scrutiny for possibly colluding with the Russian election hacking to help boost President Donald Trump’s campaign — a charge he vehemently denies. The allegations stem from a series of actions of Stone’s, but chiefly rest on a prediction Stone made in August that it would “soon be Podesta’s time in the barrel.” Roger Stone @RogerJStoneJr Trust me, it will soon the Podesta’s time in the barrel. #CrookedHillary 10:24 AM – 21 Aug 2016 A little over a month...

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How Slashing the NEA Would Damage the US Economy

by Paul Bonin-Rodriguez and Charlotte Channing, Truthout | Op-Ed – Despite the National Endowment for the Arts’ vital role in the US economy, in February, Trump announced that his proposed 2018 budget would eliminate the agency. While the NEA has been on the target list for the right wing for ages, with so much else at stake, it’s hard to imagine that the left wing will take this on as a priority in its resistance efforts. The final budget proposal is promised to be out within weeks, which leads us to ask, what would life be like without the NEA? Fifty years ago, Congress voted to authorize the National Endowment for the Arts based, in part, on a notion that a great US followed from an enlightened and unfettered citizenry. The authorizing legislation observed that: “Democracy demands wisdom and vision in its citizens. It must therefore foster … access to the...

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A White House Without Rules

by ELIZA NEWLIN CARNEY – The Trump administration’s most troubling conflicts involve the president’s closest advisers, employees the White House argues operate entirely outside the ethics laws. So many ethics complaints have now been lodged against the Trump administration that it’s getting hard to keep track. The billionaires running Cabinet agencies, the White House advisers accused of self-dealing, and the president’s own failure to divest from his increasingly lucrative business holdings have all drawn so much notice that Americans may be tempted to tune out. But the story of Trump administration ethics conflicts is not going away, and every new revelation sheds disturbing light on a White House culture that celebrates self-enrichment, and that treats the president’s inner circle as literally exempt from the rules that lay out a precise code of conduct for executive branch officials. The White House’s freewheeling attitude toward presidential advisers, in particular, poses special dangers and...

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North Korea ‘Fails’ in New Missile Test: South

South Korean and US officials say they have detected a failed missile launch attempt by North Korea. A new North Korean missile test appeared to have ended in failure, according to South Korean and US officials. The reported failed launch on Wednesday came during large-scale annual military drills involving US and South Korean forces that the North has called a rehearsal for an invasion. Seoul’s defence ministry said in a statement that Pyongyang fired one missile from an air base in the eastern port of Wonsan but the launch was believed to had failed. “We are in the process of analysing what type of missile it was,” it added. The statement came after Japan’s Kyodo news service, citing an unidentified government source, said the North might have launched several missiles and that they were a failure. A US military spokesman also said they had detected a failed North Korean missile launch attempt, with...

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ICE Agency is Publicly Calling out Counties that don’t Detain Immigrants for Deportation

by Esther Yu Hsi Lee – It’s a ‘name and shame’ game. The Trump administration is beginning to fulfill its promise to name and shame so-called “sanctuary cities” where local law enforcement officials arrest immigrants and do not turn them over to the federal immigration agency for potential deportation proceedings. The Department of Homeland Security publicly released its first-ever weekly report showing that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency issued a total of 3,083 detainer requests between January 28 and February 3 to detain arrested immigrants for deportation proceedings. The report included a list of all the counties and jurisdictions that had declined a total of 206 federal detainer requests. ICE criticized the lack of cooperation as an assault to public safety. “When law enforcement agencies fail to honor immigration detainers and release serious criminal offenders, it undermines ICE’s ability to protect the public safety and carry out its mission,”...

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FBI Investigating Breitbart and InfoWars for Possible Russian Collusion

by ericlewis0 – From McClatchy, via Raw Story: WASHINGTON — Federal investigators are examining whether far-right news sites played any role last year in a Russian cyber operation that dramatically widened the reach of news stories — some fictional — that favored Donald Trump’s presidential bid, two people familiar with the inquiry say. Operatives for Russia appear to have strategically timed the computer commands, known as “bots,” to blitz social media with links to the pro-Trump stories at times when the billionaire businessman was on the defensive in his race against Democrat Hillary Clinton, these sources said. The bots’ end products were largely millions of Twitter and Facebook posts carrying links to stories on conservative internet sites such as Breitbart News and InfoWars, as well as on the Kremlin-backed RT News and Sputnik News, the sources said. Some of the stories were false or mixed fact and fiction, said the sources, who...

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On This Day, Mar 22, 1947 -Truman Orders Loyalty Checks of Federal Employees

In response to public fears and Congressional investigations into communism in the United States, President Harry S. Truman issues an executive decree establishing a sweeping loyalty investigation of federal employees. As the Cold War began to develop after World War II, fears concerning communist activity in the United States, particularly in the federal government, increased. Congress had already launched investigations of communist influence in Hollywood, and laws banning communists from teaching positions were being instituted in several states. Of most concern to the Truman administration, however, were persistent charges that communists were operating in federal offices. In response to these fears and concerns, Truman issued an executive order on March 21, 1947, which set up a program to check the loyalty of federal employees. In announcing his order, Truman indicated that he expected all federal workers to demonstrate “complete and unswerving loyalty” the United States. Anything less, he declared,...

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Rebels Launch Second Damascus Attack in Three Days

Government forces and rebels engaged in fresh fighting as rebel offensive near Jobar neighbourhood enters third day. Syrian rebels stormed a government-held area in northeastern Damascus for the second time in three days, sources on both sides said, pressing the boldest assault on the capital by opposition fighters in several years. The spokesman for one of the main rebel groups involved in the attack said the new offensive began at 0300 GMT, targeting an area rebel fighters had seized from government control on Sunday before being forced to retreat. “We launched the new offensive and we restored all the points we withdrew from on Monday. We have fire control over the Abassiyin garages and began storming it,” Wael Alwan, spokesman of rebel group Failaq al-Rahman, told Reuters. Syrian government hits back at rebels after Damascus assault Failaq al-Rahman rebels are fighting alongside fighters from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and...

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Poll Shows America Really Does Not Like You, Donald Trump

by Nika Knight – After release of “cruel” budget, TrumpCare, and unsubstantiated wiretapping claims, president’s approval rating drops to lowest yet. Gallup has released the latest numbers from its tracking poll of President Donald Trump’s approval ratings, and things (again) don’t look good for the president. Only 37 percent of respondents approve of Trump, an historic low for the poll. A whopping 58 percent disapprove of his actions in office so far. Image via Gallup Poll Last month, Trump’s approval rating in the Gallup poll was 42 percent—which was also a record low for the poll at the time. The plummeting approval ratings come as Trump faces a firestorm of criticism on multiple fronts. Many Americans, including Trump voters, are reacting with dismay to his “morally obscene” budget that seeks to slash funding to a myriad of public agencies—from Meals on Wheels to PBS—while boosting the military’s budget by $60 billion;...

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Former Police Chief Detained at JFK. Meet the 21st Century Gestapo

by Sidof79 – Hassan Aden, former Police Chief of Greenville, NC, arrived at JFK airport on his way back from Paris with his family.  This is where the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP, aka Trump’s Gestapo) allegedly detained him, telling him that “someone on the watch list was using his name as an alias.” “On all of my prior trips, I was greeted by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officers with a warm smile and the usual, ‘Welcome home sir’,” he said.  … “I was in a room with no access to my mobile phone to communicate with my wife and family about what was happening, my movements were restricted to a chair, and they had my passport, and he had the audacity to tell me I was not being detained,” Aden said. You are free to go, but we have your passport, your phone…and you can’t...

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An Orgy of Unnecessary Cruelty

by Robert Reich – The theme that unites all of Trump’s initiatives so far is their unnecessary cruelty. 1. His new budget comes down especially hard on the poor – imposing unprecedented cuts in low-income housing, job training, food assistance, legal services, help to distressed rural communities, nutrition for new mothers and their infants, funds to keep poor families warm, even “meals on wheels.” These cuts come at a time when more American families are in poverty than ever before, including 1 in 5 children. Why is Trump doing this? To pay for the biggest hike in military spending since the 1980s. Yet the U.S. already spends more on its military than the next 7 biggest military budgets put together. 2. His plan to repeal and “replace” the Affordable Care Act will cause 14 million Americans to lose their health insurance next year, and 24 million by 2026. Why is Trump doing...

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Rex Tillerson to Skip NATO Meeting, Visit Russia Instead

by Mark Sumner – On Monday, the Director of the FBI revealed that there was an active investigation into collusion between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russian intelligence. But what no one got around to asking was whether the FBI was checking for ongoing collusion between the Trump regime and his pal Vladimir. Because in the list of things you can do to show you don’t have a soft spot for Russia, item number one might be this. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson plans to skip a meeting with NATO foreign ministers next month in order to stay home for a visit by China’s president and will go to Russia later in April, U.S. officials said on Monday, disclosing an itinerary that allies may see as giving Moscow priority over them. Chief among the items that have made people concerned about Trump’s obsequious attitude toward Russia is his frequent threats to weaken or...

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Five Reasons Moderate Democrats Should Oppose Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court

by Richard Eskow – After a contentious start to Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court nomination hearings, Senate Democrats are struggling with what the New York Times calls “two options: Get out of the way or get run over.” But Democrats have a third option, one that should attract moderate “centrists” as well as more liberal senators: Fight. Sen. Michael Bennet, a Colorado Democrat, received some criticism for introducing Gorsuch to the Senate at the start of today’s hearing. Bennet’s action was defensible: in normal times, it’s Senate protocol for senators to introduce nominees from their home state. Colorado’s other senator, Republican Cory Gardner, also introduced Gorsuch. But these are not normal times, and Democrats need to recognize that. Donald Trump, and the Republican Party in general, have succeeded by ignoring “normal” behavior and the protocols of the past. Nobody’s suggesting that Democrats should behave like Republicans, but it’s no longer...

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New York Attorney General Hires Attorney to go After Trump Full Time

by Mark Sumner – While Donald Trump is busy live-tweeting fresh outbreaks of paranoia to the intelligence committee hearing, he might want to check out the other news. New York state’s attorney general, to date one of the most vocal antagonists of President Donald Trump, is preparing to escalate his office’s litigation against the president’s administration. New York AG Eric Schneiderman isn’t just a ‘vocal antagonist’ of Trump, he’s the guy who brought Trump to heel over Trump University. The guy who caught multiple violations at the Trump Foundation. The guy kos declared one of the most important resistance leaders over the next four years. Schneiderman joined in the case against Trump’s Muslim ban, and it’s not all he has in mind. In addition to challenging White House policies in court, Mr. Schneiderman’s office is expected to explore whether it has any standing to pursue cases that hinge on the Constitution’s emoluments clause, according to people familiar...

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Meet Julia, the First Muppet on ‘Sesame Street’ with Autism (VIDEOS)

by Jessica Goldstein – “Sesame Street’ stands for inclusion and acceptance.” The first thing children watching Sesame Street might notice about Julia, the new Muppet on the block, is that she doesn’t want to make eye contact with Big Bird. Sesame devotees — which is to say, toddlers, kids, and their parents — might recognize Julia from her previous appearances on digital Sesame platforms, including ebooks. They’ll already know that Julia is a four-year-old with autism. But for viewers who will meet Julia for the first time when she makes her broadcast debut on April 10, Julia might seem unusual. Then again, maybe not: One in 68 children is diagnosed with autism. Maybe Julia will not seem unusual at all. Maybe she’ll seem totally, completely familiar. “When something is this prevalent, it’s something we have to step up to,” Sherrie Westin, Executive Vice President for Global Impact and Philanthropy at Sesame Workshop, said by phone....

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On This Day, Mar. 21, 1980, Carter Announces Olympic Boycott

On this day in 1980, President Jimmy Carter announces that the U.S. will boycott the Olympic Games scheduled to take place in Moscow that summer. The announcement came after the Soviet Union failed to comply with Carter’s February 20, 1980, deadline to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan. The Soviet military invaded Afghanistan in 1979 to reinforce the country’s communist regime against Islamic rebel forces. In a statement made after the invasion, Carter rebuked the Soviet Union, specifically Premier Leonid Brezhnev, and decried the invasion as a deliberate effort by a powerful atheistic government to subjugate an independent Islamic people that he called a stepping stone to control over oil supplies.” Brezhnev dismissed Carter’s statements as bellicose and wicked. The invasion threatened to revive the Cold War, which, during the late 1970s, had appeared to undergo a temporary thaw.  Carter said his opinion of the Russians has changed...

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ISIL After Mosul: Insurgency and Rivalry

by Alia Brahimi – As the battle for Mosul reaches its final stages, what we are witnessing is ISIL’s transformation, not its demise. “The battle now is in the final stages,” Iraqi Prime Minister Hayder al-Abadi said on March 14 of the government offensive to retake Mosul from ISIL. “They are cornered, and if they will not surrender they will definitely get killed.” While the impending combat threatens to be circuitous and uncertain – involving, as it will, fighting among civilians in the narrow streets and alleyways of the Old City – Abadi’s confidence about the final outcome appears to be warranted. But what will be the broader repercussions of Mosul’s liberation for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS)? Back to insurgency WATCH: More than 76,000 flee Mosul’s war zone (2:30) Firstly, on the tactical level, ISIL will continue to devolve into an insurgency –...

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A Lawyer Sues President Trump Over His Financial Disclosure

by Casey Quinlan – A lawyer filed a case in federal court on March 14 which claims that Americans have not received accurate information about President Donald Trump’s debts. Attorney Jeffrey Lovitky, based in Washington, D.C., said Trump’s May 2016 financial disclosure mixes personal liabilities with business liabilities, Politico reported. Lovitky wrote in the complaint: The purpose of these disclosure requirements is to allow members of the public to make informed judgments as to whether candidates for federal office have financial conflicts of interests that may impair their ability to faithfully execute their duties as public servants. In an interview with Politico, Lovitky said, “If you just look at the statement on its face, all those liabilities are assumed to be personal liabilities, but I just do not think that’s the case. I have information that says otherwise.” Lovitky is not seeking damages. He asked the court to declare last year’s...

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No Charges for Florida Prison Guards who Allegedly Locked Mentally Ill Black Man in Scalding Shower

by Natasha Geiling – Darren Rainey, a schizophrenic man serving time for cocaine possession, died in 2012. In June of 2012, 50-year old Darren Rainey, a schizophrenic man serving time for cocaine possession, died in the Dade Correctional Institution. According to prison witnesses and civil rights groups, Rainey died after guards locked him in a shower for two hours with water at 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Nurses who examined Rainey said that he had burns over 90 percent of his body — and that his skin fell off at the touch. According to an autopsy report released in January by the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner, Rainey died from “complications of schizophrenia, heart disease and ‘confinement’ in the shower.” On Friday, more than four years after Rainey’s death, the office of Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle stated that they would not be seeking charges against the four correctional officers allegedly involved in Rainey’s death. “The shower...

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The Management of Unleashed Insanity

by TODD GITLIN – Trump perfects the role of Propagandist-in-Chief. Richard Nixon lied about wars and cover-ups, but otherwise his evasions and spins were in the mainstream of American political discourse. He was not in the regular practice of calling black white. By the end of his second term, Ronald Reagan was so mentally impaired as to make it unclear what he knew and when. But the present situation, a regime that systematically assaults truth, is unprecedented. One critical mass of citizens, Trump’s true believers, live in a mental universe composed of falsehoods poured steadily into their eyes and ears by a kept propaganda system, a system of untruth which they either affirm or, one way or the other, make their peace with. A second critical mass, the systematic resisters and doubters, is troubled beyond measure, but they are, for the moment, after years of default, powerless. Trump’s gamble is that...

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Rep. Adam Schiff’s Short Speech Crisply lays out the Evidence Connecting Trump and Russia

by Laurel Raymond – Think of it as congressional SparkNotes. When news began trickling out, months ago, that Russia may have tried to influence the American election, the actual news in the U.S. quickly became something akin to a Cold-war era spy novel. There’s now a vast web of circumstantial evidence and questions surrounding the Trump administration’s alleged contacts with Russian state actors during the campaign, most of which leaked out over months. And for many people, the web of allegations and the Trump administration’s frequently shifting official story has been very difficult to follow. On Monday, FBI director James Comey testified in front of the House Intelligence committee as part of Congress’ ongoing investigation in the matter. Before his testimony, the committee’s ranking Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff (CA) laid out of all of the circumstantial evidence that has built up so far connecting the Trump campaign to Russian state actors...

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East Chicago’s Pleas for Clean Drinking Water Go Unanswered as Trump Moves to Weaken EPA

by Mike Ludwig, Truthout | Report – Environmental justice is on the chopping block at the Environmental Protection Agency, and that doesn’t bode well for communities like East Chicago, Indiana, where the agency recently discovered that drinking water is contaminated with lead. Nearly three weeks ago, a number of East Chicago churches and community groups petitioned the EPA to take emergency action and protect the majority-Black community from lead poisoning, which can cause a long list of health problems, especially in children. As of Tuesday, the local leaders and their environmentalist allies had yet to hear back from the agency. The EPA’s inaction in East Chicago comes as Trump’s administration considers massive budget cuts that could crush the agency’s environmental justice program, which is supposed to ensure the fair treatment of low-income communities, Native communities and people of color under environmental law. The agency’s environmental justice office is slated...

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Trump Budget: UN Sounds Alarm over Foreign Aid Cuts (VIDEOS)

Spokesman says reduction of US contribution to UN could ‘undermine the impact of longer-term reform efforts’. US President Donald Trump is seeking to reduce his country’s contribution to United Nations programmes, as part of cuts to funding of US diplomacy and foreign aid in his administration’s budget proposal. The spokesman for UN chief Antonio Guterres reacted fiercely to the plans on Thursday, saying “abrupt funding cuts can force the adoption of ad hoc measures that will undermine the impact of longer-term reform efforts”. In its budget the Trump administration stated its intention to “reduce or end funding for international organisations whose missions do not substantially advance US foreign policy interests”. This includes slashing funding for the State Department and USAID, its foreign aid agency, and shifting money towards the military with a $54bn increase in defence spending “The secretary-general fully subscribes to the necessity to effectively combat terrorism but believes that it...

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The Failures of the American Health Care Act

by Jeffrey A. Singer – Here are the problems with the House plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. From the time it was enacted, most Americans disliked the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Republicans, promising to “repeal and replace” Obamacare, rode the wave of public dissatisfaction to repeated election victories. The GOP took the House of Representatives in 2010, the Senate in 2014, and the White House in 2016, largely capitalizing on the skyrocketing premiums, rising deductibles, and disappearing choices that characterize Obamacare. Now, as Republicans control both Congress and the White House, they finally have the chance to deliver on their promise. And not a minute too soon. Because the mandates that Obamacare places on health insurance have sent our health insurance system into a death spiral. Premiums continue to soar as insurance companies are pulling out of the market, leaving consumers with fewer and...

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On This Day, Mar. 20, 1965, LBJ Sends Federal Troops to Alabama

On this day in 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson notifies Alabama‘s Governor George Wallace that he will use federal authority to call up the Alabama National Guard in order to supervise a planned civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery. Intimidation and discrimination had earlier prevented Selma’s black population–over half the city–from registering and voting. On Sunday, March 7, 1965, a group of 600 demonstrators marched on the capital city of Montgomery to protest this disenfranchisement and the earlier killing of a black man, Jimmie Lee Jackson, by a state trooper. In brutal scenes that were later broadcast on television, state and local police attacked the marchers with billy clubs and tear gas. TV viewers far and wide were outraged by the images, and a protest march was organized just two days after “Bloody Sunday” by Martin Luther King, Jr., head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). King...

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RIP: Chuck Berry, Dead at 90

Here are the opening paragraphs of The Washington Post’s obituary: Chuck Berry, the perpetual wild man of rock music who helped define its rebellious spirit in the 1950s and was the sly poet laureate of songs about girls, cars, school and even the “any old way you choose it” vitality of the music itself, died March 18 at his home in St. Charles County, Mo. He was 90. St. Charles County police announced the death in a Facebook post on its Website, saying officers responded to a medical emergency at Mr. Berry’s home and administered lifesaving techniques but could not revive him. No further information was available. “While no individual can be said to have invented rock and roll, Chuck Berry comes the closest of any single figure to being the one who put all the essential pieces together,” reads Mr. Berry’s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame...

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Turtle Found Covered in Barnacles and Leeches Receives Epic Sendoff

by Amelia Kinney – Hundreds cheered as a rescued Loggerhead turtle named Poppy returned to the wild. A crowd of five hundred gathered last weekend to watch the release of a loggerhead turtle named Poppy back into the wild. According to the Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach, “Poppy was found floating near Hutchinson Island last October covered in barnacles and leeches. Initial bloodwork showed anemia, hypoglycemia and overall poor health due to starvation”. Poppy spent almost six months at the turtle rehabilitation center, receiving much-needed treatments. IUCN’s Red List classifies the loggerhead sea turtle as a species vulnerable to extinction. National Geographic attributes this consistent population decline to “pollution, shrimp trawling, and development in their nesting areas”. Sea turtles are especially vulnerable to ocean pollution, as they often mistake floating plastic bags for jellyfish. Aside from releasing toxic compounds, ingested plastics can cause “intestinal blockage, reduced nutrient absorption and malnutrition,...

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Why Trump won’t Quit. He can’t

by Otteray Scribe – There has been widespread speculation, complete with polls and betting pools, whether Trump will last six months or a year. There has been speculation whether he might resign, or be removed from office by Congress. I do not have any inside information, and even if I did, I would not reveal it. However, I am not an amateur armchair analyst.  I have been doing what I do for more than four decades, and in that time, I have met some interesting people.  The word “interesting” is used in the broadest sense of the word.  Suffice it to say that in some circles, they don’t care for me at all. During my almost half century of forensic work, I have encountered some of the most dangerous and cunning people you never want to meet. I have learned a lot from them. That leads up to what I am...

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Paul Ryan’s Role in Russian Espionage Against Democrats in 2016 House Races

by SemDem – Paul Ryan is everywhere these days hocking Trumpcare.  It infuriates me because there is almost no one politician I have as little respect for as Ryan. He is smarmy, but thinks of himself as a stud.  He tells everyone he’s a “policy wonk”, but doesn’t understand fundamental concepts–like how insurance works.  He fancies himself a master politician, but has never once been able to build a coalition to get, well, anything passed.  If I count that one post office he named in 2000 or that one tax modification on hunting arrows in 2004, I can bring his grand legislative successes to….. two.  Somehow I doubt Trumpcare will be his third. As a politician, Paul Ryan is a complete and utter failure. But he’s so much more than just another failed politician.  And it’s way past time for Democratic politicians to start calling him what he truly is: Paul Ryan is damn...

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Trump’s War on the Truth Tellers

by Robert Reich – Trump and his White House don’t argue on the merits. They attack the credibility of the institutions that come up with facts and arguments they don’t like. They even do it preemptively. Last week, White House press secretary Sean Spicer warned that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office couldn’t be trusted to come up with accurate numbers about the costs and coverage of the Republicans’ replacement for the Affordable Care Act. “If you’re looking at the CBO for accuracy, you’re looking in the wrong place,” he said. So what’s the right place? The Oval Office? Bear in mind the director of the CBO is a Republican economist and former George W. Bush administration official who was chosen for his position by the Republican Congress in 2015. No matter. The White House is worried about what the CBO will say about Trumpcare, so it throws the CBO under the bus...

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Department of Justice to Appeal Maryland Ruling Against Muslim Ban 2.0

by Nadia Prupis – ‘We look forward to defending this careful and well-reasoned decision in the appeals court,’ said ACLU’s Omar Jadwat. The Trump administration on Friday filed papers to appeal a ruling that blocked the president’s revised travel ban, setting up a new legal showdown over the executive order that opponents have called “Muslim ban 2.0.” Attorneys for the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed federal papers in Maryland, one of the two states that issued rulings against President Donald Trump’s executive order this week. Judges in that state and Hawaii both found that the memo, which blocks entry to the U.S. for travelers from six majority-Muslim countries, was unconstitutional and violated the religious freedom clause of the First Amendment. The DOJ only appealed Maryland’s decision. Had the department challenged the ruling in Hawaii, the appeal would have gone to the same San Francisco court that rejected the original version of...

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