L.A. Times Lauds “Auntie Maxine” Waters. “She has put politeness aside.”

by durrati – I don’t know about you, but, for me, good black women exude moral authority in a way that, for …uh…reasons, men simply cannot match, no matter the greatness of their deeds. Our own Denise Oliver Velez  has written brilliantly about many of them. Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Dr. Dorothy Height, Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King, Lena Horne, Shirley Chisholm, Barbara Jordan, and many others have a quality in their visage that I can’t quite put my finger on – a glare of surety and purpose that I, and I assume other lessor mortals, recognize and ever so slightly cringe in response to…like a child caught in mischief. The L.A. Times has a great piece up now on perhaps our best present iteration of the phenomenon,  Rep. for South L.A. “Auntie” Maxine Waters. In “How Maxine Waters became ‘Auntie Maxine’ in the age of Trump.” The Times writes that millennials have been caught...

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Doing Less Time: Some States Cut Back on Probation

by Teresa Wiltz – In Georgia, one in 16 adults is on probation. That’s almost four times the national average. And offenders there spend more than twice as long on probation as in the rest of the country, sometimes as long as 20 years or life. Meanwhile, probation officers juggle as many as 400 cases at a time. The state is looking to change all that. At the behest of Republican Gov. Nathan Deal, who has focused his efforts on revising the state’s criminal justice system, Georgia lawmakers passed a probation reform bill in March. The bill would, among other things, shorten probation sentences and reduce the caseloads of probation officers who are spread thin. If Deal signs the bill as expected, the new law will go into effect July 1. Georgia joins several other states that are looking for ways to reduce the time that offenders spend on probation or...

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Company Behind Dakota Access Pipeline Spills Over 2 Million Gallons of Drilling Fluids into Ohio Wetlands

by Natasha Geiling – Energy Transfer Partners has twice spilled drilling fluids into “pristine” Ohio wetlands this month. Energy Transfer Partners — the company behind the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline — has spilled drilling fluid into two pristine Ohio wetlands this month, according to information reported to the Ohio EPA. The spills were not related to the Dakota Access Pipeline, and instead occurred while Energy Transfer Partners was constructing a different pipeline that would stretch 710 miles from Appalachia to Ontario, Canada, according to the Washington Post. Drilling fluid is used to cool equipment and is not toxic, but it is often mixed with substances like clay, making it mud-like in texture and viscosity. Environmental groups worry that because of that texture, a large enough spill could essentially smother wildlife and ecosystems in the wetlands. According to Energy Transfer Partners’ reporting to the Ohio EPA, the company spilled as much as 2 million gallons of drilling...

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Carter Page says He’s the Real Victim of the Trump-Russia Scandal

by Esther Yu Hsi Lee – He previously compared himself to Martin Luther King Jr. Former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page considers himself a “victim” of a civil rights violation because the U.S. government is looking into his alleged ties with Russian intelligence and the Kremlin. Page — who was investigated for his connections to Russian intelligence — claimed Tuesday that U.S. surveillance on him was based on a “dodgy dossier” a federal judge used to find probable cause to issue a warrant of surveillance. The “dodgy” source comes from the now-infamous intelligence dossier that includes explosive allegations about President Donald Trump and his campaign. U.S. investigators have been able to corroborate some details of the dossier, including about a dozen conversations between senior Russian officials and other Russian individuals, CNN reported, on the same days and locations described in the 35-page document written by an ex-British spy. “Chris, the main reason is the fact...

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Trump’s Foreign Policy is Incoherent

by E.A. Crunden – From Syria to Russia, the administration doesn’t seem to agree on its messaging — or who should deliver it. In an email seen by the New York Times, diplomats requested that United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley aides use cues from Tillerson’s department when making comments, especially on high-profile topics. Her remarks should be “re-cleared with Washington if they are substantively different from the building blocks, or if they are on a high-profile issue such as Syria, Iran, Israel-Palestine, or the D.P.R.K. ,” the email read. The article noted that neither the State Department nor the United States mission at the United Nations had responded for comment. Tensions between the former South Carolina governor’s bolder approach to foreign policy and Tillerson’s more reserved method have been on the rise for some time. Haley, outspoken on foreign policy and firm in her stances, has drawn...

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White House to ‘Roll Out Red Carpet’ for Murderer Duterte

by Deirdre Fulton – President Donald Trump reportedly spoke with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday. Just a few weeks after he congratulated autocratic Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on a controversial referendum win, U.S. President Donald Trump invited Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte—who has presided over a violent “war on the poor” in his country and is the subject of a mass murder complaint before the International Criminal Court (ICC)—to the White House. A statement from the White House Press Office said the two leaders spoke on Saturday but gave no indication of when the visit might occur. Since his inauguration in June 2016, Duterte has overseen an anti-drug campaign dubbed “Operation Double Barrel” that, according to Human Rights Watch, “has targeted suspected drug dealers and users ostensibly for arrest but in practice has been a campaign of extrajudicial execution in impoverished areas of Manila and other urban areas.” The rights group said last month that “Duterte’s...

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Seoul Rejects Trump Demand it Pays for Missile System (VIDEO)

$1bn THAAD defence system in South Korea guarding against threats from North Korea will be operational ‘within days’. South Korea’s government has brushed aside US President Donald Trump’s suggestion that it should pay for a $1bn missile defence system the two allies are installing in South Korea to guard against threats from North Korea. The first components of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system have already been delivered and set up at a former golf course in South Korea – infuriating China – at a time of heightened tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programmes. Top US officials have said THAAD will be operational “within days”. “I informed South Korea it would be appropriate if they paid. It’s a billion-dollar system,” Trump said in an interview with the Reuters news agency. “It’s phenomenal. It’s the most incredible equipment you’ve ever seen – shoots missiles right out of the sky,” said...

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Climate Denial Textbooks, Coming Soon to a Public School Near You

by Dartagnan –  It’s bad enough that a hateful propaganda site like Breitbart News has its sordid tentacles entwined with the critical mental functions of the current White House occupant. It’s even worse when one of its featured columnists mates with a right-wing think tank to spawn poison aimed at our children in the public schools. The Heartland Institute is a tool of major fossil fuel producers and the Koch Brothers network of polluters salivating to maximize their profits with a clueless, malleable dupe like Donald Trump in the White House and a compliant Congress eager to serve them. Heartland propaganda is at the core of the climate denial industry which still seeks to convince the American public that there is some type of “debate” among scientists about the science of climate change. The latest well-funded salvo from this noxious organization comes in the form of a thin, glossy book, titled...

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Roger Goodell Says Medical Marijuana Might Not Be Safe Enough For Grown Men Who Hurt Each Other For a Living

by Mike Riggs – Football is more dangerous than pot. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell isn’t ready to take medical marijuana off the league’s list of banned substances because the drug might be “negative to the health of our players,” he told ESPN on Friday. More from the man who suspended Buffalo Bills offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson–who’s undergone two surgeries related to Crohn’s disease–for 10 games as a result of his medical marijuana use: “I think you still have to look at a lot of aspects of marijuana use,” Goodell said. “Is it something that can be negative to the health of our players? “Listen, you’re ingesting smoke, so that’s not usually a very positive thing that people would say. It does have addictive nature. There are a lot of compounds in marijuana that may not be healthy for the players long term. All of those things have to be considered. “And...

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On This Day, Apr, 30, 1945 – Adolf Hitler Commits Suicide

On this day in 1945, holed up in a bunker under his headquarters in Berlin, Adolf Hitler commits suicide by swallowing a cyanide capsule and shooting himself in the head. Soon after, Germany unconditionally surrendered to the Allied forces, ending Hitler’s dreams of a “1,000-year” Reich. Since at least 1943, it was becoming increasingly clear that Germany would fold under the pressure of the Allied forces. In February of that year, the German 6th Army, lured deep into the Soviet Union, was annihilated at the Battle of Stalingrad, and German hopes for a sustained offensive on both fronts evaporated. Then, in June 1944, the Western Allied armies landed at Normandy, France, and began systematically to push the Germans back toward Berlin. By July 1944, several German military commanders acknowledged their imminent defeat and plotted to remove Hitler from power so as to negotiate a more favorable peace. Their attempts...

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Trump’s First 100 Days

by ANDREW BACEVICH, SISTER SIMONE CAMPBELL, ANGELA GLOVER BLACKWELL, SIMON JOHNSON, AND MIKE LOFGREN – Moyers’ guests weigh in on the import or impotence of the early days of the Trump administration. Everybody is talking about the first 100 days of Donald Trump’s presidency. You can take a quiz from The New York Times, scroll through 100 days worth of tweets and video at The Washington Post or peruse lists of executive orders and other markers. We asked some former guests to tell us whether or not it’s been all they expected. Impulsive, Erratic, Unprincipled Rest assured, fellow citizens: US foreign policy during the Trump era won’t be guided by a commitment to “America First,” whatever Donald Trump himself may have meant when he revived that loaded phrase. Yet here’s the bad news: With “America First” now in the discard pile, we are left with a president who gives little evidence...

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Tesla’s Solar Roof To Cost Less Than A Regular Roof – Even Before Energy Production, Says Elon Musk

by Fred Lambert/Electrek – Solar energy is already competitive in several markets and while the price of the solar roof could be more expensive than a regular roof as an upfront investment, those electricity savings would quickly add up and made the product competitive with normal roofing solutions. Elon Musk made quite the announcement in November 2016. During the special shareholders meeting to approve the merger with SolarCity, which they approved by 85%, he said that he was coming back from a meeting with the SolarCity engineering team about the solar roof and that he now feels confident that they could deliver the product at a lower cost than a regular roof – even before energy production. That’s different from what the company was claiming before the meeting was held. And it’s an incredibly bold claim since if it turns out to be true, no homeowner would have any reason not...

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Trump Taps Leading Anti-Abortion Activist for Health and Human Services Role

by Casey Quinlan – Americans United for Life calls Charmaine Yoest “public enemy #1” for abortion rights organizations. President Donald Trump has tapped a well-known anti-abortion activist, Charmaine Yoest, for the position of assistant secretary of public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services. Yoest is a senior fellow at American Values, a conservative group that says it opposes a “culture of death,” and the former president of Americans United for Life. AUL’s work has been key to moving anti-abortion bills forward on the state level, since it claims to have offered state lawmakers 32 different kinds of anti-abortion model legislation, according to its website. An Arkansas law requiring doctors to perform abortions to describe the physical characteristics of the patient’s unborn child at the time of their abortion, for example, is based on AUL’s “Women’s Right to Know Act.” Much of the law’s language on what doctors should...

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Facebook Releases Plan to Halt Government Manipulation of the Platform

by Lauren C. Williams – The social network is working around the clock to stop the spread of misinformation and manipulation of public discussions. Facebook is taking a hard stance against the weaponized use of fake news. In a security report the social network released Thursday, the company named “information operations” or strategic actions governments and individuals use to distort public opinion as one of the platforms biggest challenges. Unlike clicks-for-pay scams and hacks, information operations, which can amplify false news through fake accounts, are complex and not easily deterred. But Facebook said it will use machine learning and artificial intelligence to better identify and eliminate fake accounts that amplify false stories for political influence. The 2016 presidential election, which saw multiple controversies around fake news and politically motivated hacks, was the impetus for the cybersecurity report and revealed evidence that larger disinformation campaigns were in play. “During the 2016 U.S....

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Sanctuary Cities Explained

by GAIL ABLOW – The administration can’t define “sanctuary cities,” but it’s ready to punish them anyway. Last week Attorney General Jeff Sessions targeted nine jurisdictions — New Orleans; Philadelphia; Las Vegas; Miami; Milwaukee; New York City; the state of California; Chicago and Cook County, IL — demanding proof, by the end of June, that they have not illegally blocked communications between local law enforcement and federal officials regarding the immigration status of inmates, or they stand to lose federal funds for police force equipment, training and data collection. The demand implies they are all “sanctuary cities,” but no one in the administration has provided a clear definition of what that designation means. A number of mayors from across the country headed this week to the Justice Department in Washington, DC to ask Sessions directly. From what we have learned, there may still be no clear answer. What is a sanctuary...

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Trump on Presidenting: ‘I Thought it Would be Easier.’

by Mark Sumner – Donald Trump had North Korea all figured out … until Chinese President Xi Jinping gave him a ten minute lesson in the history of the region. Trump was ready to destroy NAFTA … until Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau gave him a ten minute talk on the damage such a move would generate for the regional economy. Thanks to other world leaders stepping up to take Trump’s tiny hand and guide him forward in baby steps, the world has so far avoided irreversible disaster. But all this learning and not just doing the first thing that comes to mind … it’s all so hard. President Donald Trump on Thursday reflected on his first 100 days in office with a wistful look at his life before the White House. “I loved my previous life. I had so many things going,” Trump told Reuters in an interview. “This is more work than in...

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On This Day, Apr 29, 1974 – Nixon Announces Release of Watergate Tapes

On this day in 1974, President Richard Nixon announces to the public that he will release transcripts of 46 taped White House conversations in response to a Watergate trial subpoena issued in July 1973. The House Judiciary committee accepted 1,200 pages of transcripts the next day, but insisted that the tapes themselves be turned over as well. In his announcement, Nixon took elaborate pains to explain to the public his reluctance to comply with the subpoena, and the nature of the content he planned to release. He cited his right to executive privilege to protect state secrets and stated that the transcripts were edited by him and his advisors to omit anything “irrelevant” to the Watergate investigation or critical to national security. He invited committee members to review the actual tapes to determine whether or not the president had omitted incriminating evidence in the transcripts. “I want there to...

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Trump Picked an Unfortunate Day to Tout how Ethical His Administration has Been

by Aaron Rupar – Trump’s “100 Days of Accountability” release would be funny if it wasn’t so sad. As part of an ongoing effort to put a positive spin on President Donald Trump’s unfortunate first 100 days in office, the Trump administration on Thursday blasted out a press release touting “President Trump’s 100 Days of Accountability.” The release ticks off a number of things Trump claims to have done to follow through on his campaign promise to “drain the swamp” — a promise he was undermining just two days after the election by stocking his transition team with lobbyists. Team Trump sent out this email on the same day news broke that Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, is under investigation by the Defense Department’s inspector general for taking money from foreign governments without permission — even after he had been specifically warned not to. When the topic came up during Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s...

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The Democratic Party Officially Supports a $15 Minimum Wage

by Bryce Covert – It’s now the party consensus. Nearly five years ago, a group of fast food workers went on strike in New York City, demanding they be paid at least $15 an hour. The demand seemed pretty idealistic at the time. But the movement that one-day strike spawned experienced another huge victory on Wednesday: Democratic Party leaders announced that they will soon introduce a bill to raise the minimum wage across the entire country to $15 an hour. Just two years ago, that was not the party line. In 2015, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and Rep. Robert Scott (D-VA) put forward a bill to raise the wage to $12 an hour. It was Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Democratic Reps. Keith Ellison (MN) and Raúl Grijalva (AZ) who introduced a $15 minimum wage a few months later. While Sanders backed a $15 wage in his bid for the party’s...

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Paul Ryan Caught in a Vise Squeeze Between Trump and the Freedom Caucus

by Kerry Eleveld – The White House can’t figure out what’s going wrong. From the health care debacle to keeping the government funded, Donald Trump has been a steady force on one end of Pennsylvania Avenue while Paul Ryan flails all over the place. Politico writes: The Wisconsin Republican’s failure last month to persuade his conference to pass his Obamacare replacement plan forced the White House to intervene. On top of that, the most critical piece of his tax reform plan has been dismissed by many Republicans. The setbacks threaten to relegate the speaker to playing a backup role to the White House in the looming debate over tax reform, the speaker’s longtime pet issue. Okay, please, please let the White House take the lead on tax reform. As GOP Rep. Dave Camp said in an article handicapping their chances for tax success following the Trumpcare fail: “Health care is 20 percent of...

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5 Facts About the Death Penalty

by DAVID MASCI – Capital punishment is legal in a majority of U.S. states, including in two states – California and Nebraska – where voters decided to retain it in the 2016 election. Nationally, however, public support for the death penalty has fallen in recent years, as has the number of executions. The death penalty has been back in the news recently as Arkansas carried out its first execution since 2005 – one of eight inmates the state originally planned to put to death over the course of 11 days this month. Courts have since intervened and temporarily halted some of the executions. As the debate over the death penalty continues in the U.S. and worldwide, here are five facts about the issue: 1 The annual number of U.S. executions peaked at 98 in 1999 and has fallen sharply in the years since. In 2016, 20 inmates were executed, according to the...

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Red Flags as Trump Team Dodges on Tax Plan’s Impact on Middle Class

by Lauren McCauley – Scant on details, critics say this is a massive tax break for corporations that the White House is determined to label a ‘middle-class tax cut’. Members of President Donald Trump’s team are having a hard time defending his new tax plan and, when asked directly if it will benefit the middle class, have exhibited a pattern of strategic avoidance. Appearing on ABC‘s “Good Morning America”Thursday morning, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin repeatedly ducked when asked if the tax overhaul would benefit middle class families. When asked by host George Stephanopoulos what “a middle class family that makes 60k a year can expect in tax cuts,” Mnuchin demurred. When pressed further if he could “guarantee that no one in the middle class is gonna pay more,” he said that’s “absolutely” the objective, but added: “I can’t make any guarantees until this thing is done and on the president’s desk.”...

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‘Oh, come on’: Supreme Court Justices Incredulous at Justice Department Immigration Argument

by Laura Clawson – It, uh, doesn’t sound like the Trump-Sessions Justice Department is going to prevail in its argument to the U.S. Supreme Court that citizenship can be revoked over any misstatement or failure to disclose at all, however minor, that a person included (or didn’t include) on their citizenship application. Yes, Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg were all vocally skeptical. But there was also this, from Chief Justice John Roberts: “Some time ago, outside the statute of limitations, I drove 60 miles an hour in a 55-mile-an-hour zone,” the chief justice said, adding that he had not been caught. The form that people seeking American citizenship must complete, he added, asks whether the applicant had ever committed a criminal offense, however minor, even if there was no arrest. “If I answer that question no, 20 years after I was naturalized as a citizen, you can knock on my door...

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Flynn was Warned Against Accepting Foreign Payments, but He did it Anyway (VIDEOS)

by Laurel Raymond – The former National Security Adviser got payouts from the Turkish and Russian governments. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) just released three damning new documents on former Trump administration National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. The documents, provided by the Department of Defense, show that the Pentagon warned Flynn in 2014 that he could not legally take money from foreign governments without getting permission in advance. The same documents also confirm that Flynn did not ask for permission before taking payments — emoluments — from Russia. Flynn, despite the warning, accepted the payments and failed to disclose them on his application for security clearance in 2016. He similarly failed to disclose his lobbying on behalf of the Turkish government. “These documents raise grave questions about why General Flynn concealed the payments he received from foreign sources after he was warned explicitly by the Pentagon,” said Cummings, who is the ranking member of the House Oversight...

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Opposition to Trumpcare 2.0 Swells

by Casey Quinlan – The American Medical Association said it opposes the Republican health care bill. The opposition to Trumpcare is growing. The American Medical Association, American Hospital Association, and Catholic Health Association were the latest groups to voice their opposition to the bill on Thursday. GOP senators, moderate House Republicans, and Democrats are also either critical of or totally oppose the latest version of Trumpcare. With the proposed addition of an amendment championed by Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), and thus named the MacArthur amendment, Republican leaders won the support of far-right conservatives in the Freedom Caucus but may have lost the support of moderate Republicans. The amendment, which was announced on Tuesday, would essentially eliminate protections for people with pre-existing conditions. MacArthur is a co-chair of the Tuesday Group, a 50-member moderate Republican group, but did not negotiate with the group’s blessing, Politico reported. Some moderate Republicans oppose the rollback of...

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On This Day, Apr 28, 1967 – Muhammad Ali Refuses Army Induction

On April 28, 1967, boxing champion Muhammad Ali refuses to be inducted into the U.S. Army and is immediately stripped of his heavyweight title. Ali, a Muslim, cited religious reasons for his decision to forgo military service. Born Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr., in Louisville, Kentucky, on January 14, 1942, the future three-time world champ changed his name to Muhammad Ali in 1964 after converting to Islam. He scored a gold medal at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome and made his professional boxing debut against Tunney Husaker on October 29, 1960, winning the bout in six rounds. On February 25, 1964, he defeated the heavily favored bruiser Sonny Liston in six rounds to become heavyweight champ. On April 28, 1967, with the United States at war in Vietnam, Ali refused to be inducted into the armed forces, saying “I ain’t got no quarrel with those Viet Cong.” On June...

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New Poll has Very Bad News for the NRA

by Alyson Chadwick – While it may not come as much of a surprise that the leadership at the National Rifle Association (NRA) has a different opinion on gun control than the average American, what is surprising is that same leadership holds a different opinion than the American gun owner. According to a new poll, at least 67 percent of gun owners in the United States believe that the organization has changed its mission from one promoting gun safety to one dominated by professional lobbyists. They say the NRA has been “overtaken by lobbyists and the interests of gun manufacturers and lost its original purpose and mission.” The NRA of today looks very different from what it looked like before. In fact, for most of its history, it supported, and even wrote, gun control legislation. Adam Winkler, author of Gunfight: the Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America, wrote, “Historically, the leadership...

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A Primer: Just What is Net Neutrality — and Why All the Fuss?

by THERESA RILEY AND JOSHUA HOLLAND – Here’s what you need to know about the fight for an open Internet. The battle over net neutrality is once again heating up. But not everyone has followed this somewhat complicated issue. Here, then, is a primer for understanding what’s at stake in the fight for an open Internet. Just what is net neutrality anyway? Net neutrality is a principle that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) – and the regulators that oversee them — treat all Internet traffic the same way. The idea is to keep the net free and open, giving users equal access to any website or application. net neutrality would prevent companies that provide Internet access from blocking or slowing down traffic to or from specific sites in much the same way as a phone company has to put through your call, regardless of whom you’re calling. Timothy Lee has a simple...

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Donald Trump: US to Renegotiate NAFTA, Not Scrap It (VIDEOS)

US, Mexico and Canada agree to renegotiate NAFTA – hours after rumours of new executive order to leave the trade pact. US President Donald Trump has told the leaders of Mexico and Canada that he will not pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), just hours after administration officials said he was considering a draft executive order to do just that. The White House on Wednesday made the surprise announcement in a read-out of calls between Trump, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “President Trump agreed not to terminate NAFTA at this time and the leaders agreed to proceed swiftly, according to their required internal procedures, to enable the renegotiation of the NAFTA deal to the benefit of all three countries,” the White House statement said. “It is my privilege to bring NAFTA up to date through renegotiation,” Trump said in...

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Why We Can’t Ever Compromise Over Controlling Women’s Bodies

by SemDem – To state the obvious:  with the GOP in power, it has been a very rough time for women. A misogynistic, serial sexual predator won the White House. Hard-fought rights that all of us thought were settled decades ago are suddenly in peril.  Attacks on birth control, reproductive freedom, and women’s health care were just the beginning.  Trump even recently found time to revoke the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Act, which means the return of those awful forced arbitration clauses for sexual harassment. (Fox News rejoiced.) The attack is on all fronts, from the president, from Congress, and now, a new Supreme Court Justice who said women are manipulators and wants to away their rights.  It gets worse at the state level.  Unchecked rightwing zealots in state legislatures—who openly admit believing that rape is God’s will and that women should regard their bodies as nothing more than hosts–have flooded the docket with bills regulating uteri. Yet through the nonstop parade of the outrageous, there has been...

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US Wants to Bring North Korea to ‘Path of Dialogue’ (VIDEOS)

Diplomacy still the preferred option but military action also on the table, US lawmakers are told at the White House. The United States wants to bring North Korea back to the “path of dialogue” over its nuclear weapons programme and will use diplomatic measures and additional sanctions to increase pressure on it. After briefing senators in a highly unusual meeting at the White House on Wednesday, Pentagon chief Jim Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats issued a statement that toned down military rhetoric and urged the international community to help find a solution to North Korea’s nuclear programme. President Donald Trump aims to “pressure North Korea into dismantling its nuclear, ballistic missile, and proliferation programs by tightening economic sanctions and pursuing diplomatic measures with our allies and regional partners”, the statement read. Trump calls for tougher sanctions on North Korea “We are...

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‘Goldman Sachs Populism’: Trump Tax Plan Benefits Ultra-Wealthy—Like Him

by Deirdre Fulton – Chorus vows to fight regressive tax plan ‘tooth and nail’. President Donald Trump unveiled his latest giveaway to corporations and the ultra-wealthy on Wednesday, with a tax plan that would, according to one analyst, “personally help Trump enormously.” The proposal, as outlined by Goldman Sachs alums and Trump administration officials Gary Cohn and Steven Mnuchin at the White House, would cut tax rates for businesses from (a rarely paid) 35 percent to 15 percent—a plan described this week by former Labor Secretary Robert Reich as “truly dumb.” Trump’s package would also involve a “pass-through” tax cut on business income that is currently taxed at the business owners’ individual income tax rates rather than the corporate rate. Such a tax cut is also a centerpiece of House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) “Better Way” plan, and as the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) notes, “would overwhelmingly benefit...

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The “100 by ’50 Act” Cannot Become Our “North Star”

by Ezra Silk – On Tuesday, Senators Jeff Merkley and Bernie Sanders are scheduled to introduce the “100 by ’50 Act,” billed as “the most ambitious piece of climate legislation Congress has ever seen.” 350.org’s Jason Kowalski has expressed hopes that the symbolic bill, which aims to build a 100% renewable energy economy by 2050, will become the “North Star” of the climate movement. Yet the April 17th draft of the bill is incremental, non-comprehensive, and fails to meet the challenge of this historic moment. It’s time to go back to the drawing board. We need a true climate emergency bill grounded in climate truth. #1: This bill will not solve the climate crisis. In a blog post for 350.org, Senator Jeff Merkley acknowledged as much: “This legislation isn’t designed to solve the crisis on its own, but to put forward a clear way to end the primary driver of global...

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Hate Group Leader: Our allies ‘are now very well placed’ in the Trump Administration

by Gabe Ortiz – Yes, Donald Trump’s presidential campaign emboldened white supremacists and extremists, with a wave of hate crimes sweeping the nation in the immediate days following his popular vote loss to Hillary Clinton. White nationalists like Steve Bannon and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have found a new home in the administration, and as the New York Times recently noted, a number of lesser known but equally deplorable anti-immigrant voices have joined right alongside them: Mr. Trump’s senior White House adviser, Stephen Miller, worked tirelessly to defeat immigration reform as a staff member for Senator Jeff Sessions, now the attorney general. Gene P. Hamilton, who worked on illegal immigration as Mr. Sessions’s counsel on the Judiciary Committee, is now a senior counselor at the Department of Homeland Security, the parent agency of the Border Patrol and ICE, where Mr. Feere is working. Julia Hahn, who wrote about immigration for Breitbart — with headlines like “Republican-Led...

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On This Day, April 27, 1989 – Student protesters take over Tiananmen Square

  1989 – Student protestors took over Tiananmen Square in Beijing. April 27, 1989 is arguably the most glorious day of the 1989 student movement. On this day, hundreds of thousands of college students in Beijing walked out of their campuses, despite that the demonstration was canceled at the last minute under the pressure and in the face of the new People’s Daily editorial which accused their movement as a deadly turmoil. The Chinese government condemned the protests as a “counter-revolutionary riot”, and has prohibited all forms of discussion or remembrance of the events since. Due to the lack of information from China, many aspects of the events remain unknown or unconfirmed. Estimates of the death toll range from a few hundred to the thousands. 1509 – Pope Julius II excommunicated the Italian state of Venice. Venice had taken control of the cities of Faenza, Rimini and Ravenna to extend...

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Ivanka’s Factory In China Pays $62 For a 57-Hour Week — Busted, Ivanka!

by ursulafaw – Karma does seem to be amusing itself at Ivanka Trump’s expense this week.  Here she is in Germany touting what a great feminist and family man her father is, while being booed and hissed — and you can add to that that Ivanka’s just gotten busted for paying sweatshop wages in China. The Washington Post reports that inspectors with the Fair Labor Association found dozens of violations of international labor standards during an audit of a factory in China owned by the G-III Apparel Group — which owns the rights to manufacture and distribute Ivanka’s fashion line. The newspaper noted the timing of the inspectors’ report, “comes as the president’s daughter has sought to cast herself as both a champion of workplace issues and a defender of her father’s “buy American, hire American” agenda.” Workers at a factory in China used by the company that makes clothing for...

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Great Barrier Reef Reaches “Terminal Stage” as CO2 Levels Rise at Record Rate

by Dahr Jamail, Truthout | Report – I’ve been writing these climate dispatches every month for over three years, and each successive dispatch becomes more difficult to write than the last, as the impacts of anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) become increasingly severe. Species, ecosystems, glaciers, sea ice and humans themselves continue to absorb and pay for this human experiment of industrialization gone horribly awry. Many are paying with their very existence. Two months ago, I spent some time researching and writing in Australia. I visited the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), where I reveled in the majesty of intact towering coral structures flourishing with marine life. Yet I was also devastated during this visit — again and again, I happened upon bleached out and silently dead areas of barren coral wasteland, which not long ago teemed with living beings. Roughly 20 percent of the coral on the outer reef were...

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First 100 Days: Trump and the Degradation of the Presidency

by Robert Reich – Trump’s failure to accomplish little or any of his agenda during his first 100 days is striking. But we should not forget the vast harm he has done in this comparatively short time – especially his degradation of the presidency. From early in the Republic, we have looked at the office of the president as a focal point for the nation’s values. Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and his Teddy’s fifth cousin, Franklin, are studied by school children as both exemplars of what it means to be president and of the moral authority of the office. It is not merely what these men accomplished, but how they did it; not just their policies but their positive effects on the institutions of democratic governance. True, many of our presidents have fallen short of those ideals. But our disappointments in them largely reflect the high expectations we...

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Repealing Obamacare Could Violate International Law. UN Letter Never Made it to Congressional Leadership

by First Amendment – The United Nations delivered a 5-page letter to the Trump administration warning them that stripping healthcare from millions of people could violate international law. Interestingly enough no one in the House and Senate leadership knew about this letter until today, even though they should have been advised per the letter. www.washingtonpost.com/… The United Nations has contacted the Trump administration as part of an investigation into whether repealing the Affordable Care Act without an adequate substitute for the millions who would lose health coverage would be a violation of several international conventions that bind the United States. It turns out that the notion that “health care is a right” is more than just a Democratic talking point. A confidential, five-page “urgent appeal” from the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner on Human Rights in Geneva, sent to the Trump administration, cautions that the repeal of the Affordable Care Act could put the United States at odds with its international...

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North Korean Artillery and the Concept of “Flattening Seoul” – a Breakdown

by Rei – You hear it often: if war in Korea were to break out, Seoul would be flattened. Not because of a nuclear strike, but because of North Korean artillery.  North Korea is estimated to have (depending on the analysis and definitions) 8600-12000 artillery pieces, dug in and defended against a first strike. At one round per minute, they could fire at least five hundred thousand rounds per hour, quickly reducing Seoul to a heap of rubble. Is this actually the case?  Let’s break it down. First off, can North Korea actually hit Seoul? Image: GlobalSecurity The above map shows the range of various types of North Korean artillery fired from the closest point on the DMZ. It quickly becomes clear that the vast majority of them aren’t actually in range of Seoul. Only the M-1978 (since modified to the M-1989) actually is. This is a large, rather unwieldy system...

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No, Jeff Sessions, You can’t Just Strip Funding from ‘Sanctuary Cities’ to Hurt Immigrants

by Ian Millhiser – Will someone please introduce the attorney general to a lawyer? The Justice Department threatened to cut off grant funding to eight cities on Friday — unless those cities provide more support to federal officials trying to crack down on undocumented immigrants. But DOJ’s threat is unconstitutional and is highly unlikely to survive a lawsuit. In fact, the Justice Department’s threat against these eight cities appears to be so amateurish and so poorly aligned with longstanding Supreme Court precedent that it raises serious questions about whether the threat was properly vetted. At issue is funding for so-called “sanctuary cities,” a term that’s often used for cities that choose not to cooperate with federal efforts to arrest immigrants. Under the Supreme Court’s “anti-commandeering doctrine,” the feds cannot order a state or local government to participate in a federal program. Thus, while a state or municipality may voluntarily agree to have its police...

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Cummings and Chaffetz Reveal ‘Major Problem’: Appears Flynn Committed a Felony

by April Hamlin – Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Elijah Cummings (D-MD) dropped a bombshell on Tuesday morning. During a press conference, they announced what Cummings described as a “major problem” for the Trump administration: it looks like former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn committed a felony. “We received a response from the White House refusing to provide any of the documents we requested,” Cummings said. “The White House has refused to offer a single piece of paper in response to this committee’s bipartisan request.” According to the congressman, classified military documents have revealed that Flynn failed to disclose payments he received from foreign governments before he became Trump’s National security advisor. “This is a major problem,” Cummings said. “I believe these documents should be declassified to the fullest extent possible without compromising sources or methods,” he added. Cumings also noted that Flynn’s illegal actions could land him in prison for up...

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On This Day, April 26, 1865 – Union Troops Track Down and Kill John Wilkes Booth

1865 – John Wilkes Booth is killed when Union soldiers track him down to a Virginia farm, 12 days after he assassinated President Abraham Lincoln. Twenty-six-year-old Booth was one of the most famous actors in the country when he shot Lincoln during a performance at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C., on the night of April 14. Booth was a Maryland native and a strong supporter of the Confederacy. As the war entered its final stages, Booth hatched a conspiracy to kidnap the president. He enlisted the aid of several associates, but the opportunity never presented itself. After the surrender of Robert E. Lee’s Confederate army at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, on April 9, Booth changed the plan to a simultaneous assassination of Lincoln, Vice President Andrew Johnson, and Secretary of State William Seward. Only Lincoln was actually killed, however. Seward was stabbed by Lewis Paine but survived, while the...

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Rush Limbaugh and iHeart Radio in Financial Jeopardy. The End is Nigh!

by pentupnrgy – Limbaugh may finally be history! After all the consumer boycotts of products airing on Limbaugh’s nationally syndicated hate filled spew show, they may finally have worked: The parent company of iHeartCommunications, which syndicates programs by conservative talk-show hosts Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, appears to be headed toward bankruptcy.  In a statement filed last week with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the federal agency charged with regulating companies that offer investments to the public, iHeartCommunications’ parent company, iHeartMedia Inc., said that it had “substantial doubt” that it would be in business by the middle of next year. www.salon.com/… Being in an expensive, dying and controversial industry isn’t good for stock prices, which is why in 2008, iHeartCommunications became a wholly owned subsidiary of iHeartMedia in a $24 billion stock buyout transaction initiated by Bain Capital, the investment firm for which past GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney labored for...

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The Top 7 Ways the Trump Administration is Attacking Science at the EPA

by Myriam Alexander-Kearns and Alison Cassady – The core mission of the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, “is to protect human health and the environment.” As part of that mission, the agency works to ensure that “national efforts to reduce environmental risk are based on the best available scientific information.” During the first four months of 2017, President Donald Trump, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, and their allies in Congress have proven themselves hostile to the role of science in achieving the agency’s mission but all too willing to heed the requests of polluters. Here are the top seven ways in which science is already under siege at the EPA. 1. Administrator Pruitt rejected decades of science to keep a dangerous pesticide on the market Chlorpyrifos is a common agricultural pesticide that causes neurological harm in children who were exposed to it in utero. In 2016, the EPA’s scientists concluded that the...

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New York Times: FBI Director Comey Blew Up Election in Effort to ‘Shield’ FBI From Criticism

by Hunter – The New York Times has a deep-dive into Comey’s FBI suggesting what we’ve long suspected; Comey’s letter to Congress “informing” them that the FBI had “new” information in the long-running hunt for something damning in Hillary Clinton’s emails was done not out of high-minded concern for the country but two considerably less noble concerns; distrust of Democrats in the Justice Department—especially Attorney General Loretta Lynch—and protecting the department itself from criticism. Fearing the backlash that would come if it were revealed after the election that the F.B.I. had been investigating the next president and had kept it a secret, Mr. Comey sent a letter informing Congress that the case was reopened. He most emphatically did not, of course, acknowledge that his FBI was actively investigation the Donald Trump campaign for potential collusion with Russian hacking efforts. The public deserved to know that the FBI was investigating the next president—but...

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Neil deGrasse Tyson on the Threat of Science Denial (VIDEOS)

by BILLMOYERS.COM STAFF – Neil deGrasse Tyson says that when you have people who don’t know much about science denying it and rising to power, it’s a recipe for the complete dismantling of our democracy. Just in time for Earth Day, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson releases a short film on Facebook that he says “may be the most important words I have ever spoken.” It’s already been viewed nearly 20 million times. DeGrasse Tyson highlights some of the points he made in his three-part series of conversations with Bill Moyers in 2014, which explored a variety of topics, including the beauty of the scientific method in the search for truth, the value of innovations in science and technology in the ascendency of America, and how political debates about established science are delaying critical conversations about the best ways to combat climate change. “You have not fully expressed your power as a...

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Brace for Government Shutdown as Republicans Face Impossible Tasks

by Mark Trahant – Can President Donald J. Trump and the Republicans actually govern? As we near the 100th day mark the answer has been a loud “no.” So far. This week the Congress and the president will once again try for wins to fund the government, repeal the Affordable Care Act, extra money for Defense, and to construct a wall on the southern border. A nearly impossible order. The House of Representatives does not have a governing coalition. There remains, essentially, three parties: Republicans, Democrats, and the Freedom Caucus. Two of these three groups must work together in order to pass any legislation. And to complicate the politics even more, many of the Republican members are already worried about their own re-election, so they might not support their own party’s leaders. Especially if that deal is sanctioned by the Freedom Caucus. Yet Speaker Paul Ryan told his caucus Saturday...

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In Its Rush to Kill, Arkansas May Have Executed an Innocent Man

by Cassandra Stubbs, Director, ACLU Capital Punishment Project – Ledell Lee’s first hard-knock moment came even before he was born. His mom, 16 and on her third pregnancy by a man years older than she was, drank and smoked through his pregnancy. Because of her substance abuse, Ledell was born with a fetal alcohol syndrome disorder, a medical condition that left him with brain dysfunction and intellectual disability. Twenty-eight years later in 1993, Ledell Lee was arrested for the murder of Debra Reese. And on Thursday night, just before midnight, the state of Arkansas killed Ledell in a gross miscarriage of justice. From the beginning, Ledell proclaimed his innocence and wrote to everyone he could think of, beseeching lawyers to fight for him. His journey through the legal system consisted of an unbroken chain of drunk, conflicted, and grossly incompetent attorneys. No one who represented Ledell ever looked at...

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Republicans Starting to Sweat Fallout From Potential Obamacare Sabotage

by Joan McCarter –   Democrats are feeling a renewed vigor over Obamacare, whose public approval rating keeps climbing as popular vote loser Donald Trump’s approval rating slides ever downward. While their prospects seem to be looking up, Republicans face a complicated and ugly future on the law—and the threats Trump keeps making to sabotage it. President Trump is threatening to cut off federal subsidies that benefit middle class Americans who access health insurance through the Affordable Care Act—unless Senate Democrats agree to fund a security wall along the Southern border.Congressional Republicans have little desire to prop up Obamacare. But these subsidies, or “Cost Sharing Reductions,” flow to perhaps hundreds of thousands of Americans who live in districts represented by Republicans considered soft targets for the Democrats in 2018. If Republicans and the Trump administration don’t finance the subsidies in a spending bill that must pass by April 28 to avoid...

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The Senate Investigation into Trump-Russia is a Hot Mess

by Aaron Rupar – And so is the House’s, and so is the DOJ’s… About two months ago, news emerged that Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) had made calls to reporters as part of a White House-directed effort to tamp down reports about contact between Trump campaign members and Russian intelligence officials. That news rightfully drew into question Burr’s ability to oversee an impartial investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. In late March, however, Burr and Senate Intelligence Committee held a joint news conference where they portrayed themselves as ready to work together in a bipartisan effort to get to the bottom of Trump’s Russia ties. But on Monday, both the Daily Beast and Yahoo reported that the Senate investigation of Trump-Russia is a mess, in large part because Burr is obstructing things. Burr’s committee “has yet to issue a single subpoena for documents or...

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On This Day, April 25, 1953 – Watson and Crick Propose Double Helix DNA Structure

1953 – Dr. James D. Watson and Dr. Francis H.C. Crick suggested the double helix structure of DNA. In the early 1950s, the race to discover DNA was on. At Cambridge University, graduate student Francis Crick and research fellow James Watson (b. 1928) had become interested, impressed especially by Pauling’s work. Meanwhile at King’s College in London, Maurice Wilkins (b. 1916) and Rosalind Franklin were also studying DNA. The Cambridge team’s approach was to make physical models to narrow down the possibilities and eventually create an accurate picture of the molecule. The King’s team took an experimental approach, looking particularly at x-ray diffraction images of DNA. In 1951, Watson attended a lecture by Franklin on her work to date. She had found that DNA can exist in two forms, depending on the relative humidity in the surrounding air. This had helped her deduce that the phosphate part of the molecule was on the...

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Trumpism and the Danger of Willful Ignorance

by DarkSyde – A useful example of the willful ignorance spreading among conservatives as exemplified by Trump. Here, conservatives changed their opinion on a simple yes or no question based solely on the party in control of the WH. It is a good bet that many who changed their mind would vehemently deny they ever held any other view on the matter. Humans are all born ignorant. We may mature into the most knowledgeable creatures on Earth, but at the start, we’re about as intellectually helpless as any mammal on the eutherian side of a marsupial. Sadly, many of us stay relatively ignorant our whole lives, mostly not by choice. But for a few, ignorance is willful, intentional, and terminal. Trumpism carries that further: What is key though is to understand that this is not just ignorance. Ignorance is just the first stage of Trump’s fairly advanced problem. He is not only ignorant but clearly unaware...

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Teens Who Engage in ‘Sexting’ Should Not Be Prosecuted as Sex Offenders

by Amy Roe, Senior Writer, ACLU of Washington – In an early episode of the television series “Girls,” Adam sends Hannah a photo of his penis and then a text message: “SRY that wasn’t for you.” Hannah and her friends debate the intention of Adam’s actions, but one thing is clear: The explicit photo he sent isn’t unusual, and it certainly isn’t criminal. Had he lived in the state of Washington, been under 18 — and, of course, been a real person — Adam might have been branded a sex offender. In Washington, minors who engage in the common teen behavior known as sexting can be prosecuted under the state’s child pornography law. To suggest that a juvenile who sends a sexually explicit selfie is a victim of his own act of child pornography is absurd, but that’s exactly what a trial court in Spokane County has done. When...

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100 Days of Deconstruction: Part 3

by STEVEN HARPER – Across the federal government, Trump is determining the country’s fate. The first 100 days of deconstruction set the stage for 1,360 that will follow. Trump promised to be a transformational leader. It wasn’t an idle threat. He has assembled an unprecedented governmental wrecking crew. This is the third installment on Trump’s a unique combination of kleptocracy and kakistocracy that is reshaping America in ways that most of voters won’t like. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Don’t let the symbolic American missile strike on a Syrian airfield, dropping the “Mother of All Bombs” on tunnels in Afghanistan or threats directed at North Korea distract from a central fact: Trump is Putin’s President. Former ExxonMobil Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson is a player in the resulting saga. After Trump announced his choice for secretary of state, former Russian Energy Minister Vladimir Milov said that Tillerson was a “gift for...

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Who are Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron? (VIDEOS)

by Shafik Mandhai – The far-right female National Front leader will go head-to-head with the 39-year-old favourite to win the presidency. Who is Emmanuel Macron? Few could have asked for a better start to a political career than the French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron. The current frontrunner is a graduate of elite National School of Administration, which produces the country’s top civil servants and counts three French presidents among its alumni. Macron will be hoping to make it number four in May. As things stand, he looks best positioned to fend off the far-right candidacy of Marine Le Pen, who he is predicted to easily beat in a second round runoff – if the polls are correct. France election: Voters cast ballots in first round After graduating, Macron worked as a financial inspector at the Ministry of Economy before joining Rothschild & Cie bank as an investment banker. Politically, he was a...

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Obama From the Rearview Mirror

by Robert Borosage – Barack Obama’s stature will grow ever more impressive in the rearview mirror. We already miss his dignity, his grace, and his intelligence. His presidency was largely a competent, no-drama, scandal-free administration, and it will only gain in esteem as we gag on a presidency rotting, like a fish, from the head down. Donald Trump may be intent on repealing everything Obama accomplished, but he will inevitably ennoble him in the process. Photo credit: Pete Souza / White House Meanwhile, the predictable flood of Obama retrospectives has begun filling magazine racks and libraries. In his last months in office, Obama himself devoted no small amount of time making his case in interviews and in an extended farewell tour. A presidential memoir is in the works. But none of these are likely to celebrate Obama as fiercely as the early entry provided by Jonathan Chait, a columnist...

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2016 was a Horrible Year for Anti-Semitic Hate Crimes. 2017 is Much Worse

by Jack Jenkins – 2016 was a banner year for anti-Jewish hatred. New data suggests incidents of anti-Semitic hatred have spiked compared to this time last year, an ominous shift that advocates say signals a multi-year increase of vitriol directed at American Jews. According to a report published on Monday by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), 541 anti-Semitic incidents have occurred so far this year — an 86 percent increase compared to the same period in 2016. This includes 161 highly-publicized bomb threats made against Jewish Community Centers and schools beginning in January. The FBI and foreign authorities recently arrested two different men — one in Missouri and one Israel — suspected to be the main culprits behind the various waves of threats that sparked mass evacuations at Jewish institutions across the country. But even excluding the bomb threats, the numbers for 2017 are unsettlingly high. Overall, the report says 380 “harassment incidents” have already occurred this year...

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Trump’s AP Interview: Unhinged, Bombastic, and “[Unintelligible]”

by Nadia Prupis – President sits down with Associated Press to rail against the media, dismiss his 100-day threshold, and discuss his broken pledges. President Donald Trump spoke with Associated Press journalist Julie Pace on Friday, and the transcript of the interview, released Sunday night, shows the president as bombastic and unstable, alternately dismissing his 100-day threshold and boasting about his accomplishments during that time. The interview comes as public trust in the White House plummets, a grassroots resistance movement to the administration builds, and Trump reverses or pivots his stance on numerous campaign pledges, including the promise to call China a “currency manipulator.” During the interview with Pace, the president displayed many of his trademark sensitivities, particularly his anger at the media, which he described as “fake” multiple times. At one point he referred to CBS‘ “Face the Nation” as “Deface the Nation.” He also refuted the idea that he...

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EPA Considers Gutting Regulations on Lead Contamination

by Mike Ludwig, Truthout | Report – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent out a notice on Wednesday announcing a series of upcoming public meetings in which it will consider gutting rules and regulations meant to protect the public from lead and hazardous chemicals, including training programs designed to prevent children from being exposed to lead paint. The notice went out at 2:30, just as EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt was meeting with residents of a neighborhood in East Chicago, Indiana, that has been contaminated with lead for decades. Six weeks after beleaguered residents petitioned his agency to take emergency action to protect them from lead contamination in their drinking water, Scott Pruitt was visiting East Chicago as part of the kick-off tour for his term as administrator of the EPA. “That timing is discouraging, obviously,” said Debbie Chizewer, an attorney at an environmental law clinic at Northwestern University who...

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On This Day, April 24, 1948 – The Berlin Airlift Starts

  1948 – The Berlin airlift began to relieve the surrounded city. When the blockade by the USSR began, the Soviets rejoiced, because they believed the Western powers had only one option, to leave Berlin.  But they underestimated the West airlift supplies.  Gen. Clay called upon General Curtis E. LeMay, commander of USAFE and asked him if he could haul supplies to Berlin.  LeMay responded, “We can haul anything”.  Two days later Gen. LeMay called upon Brig. Gen. Joseph Smith, Commander of the Wiesbaden Military Post, and appointed him Task Force Commander of an airlift operation estimated to last a few weeks.  The only US aircraft initially available were 102 C-47’s and 2 C-54 Skymasters.  On June 26, the first C-47’s landed at Tempelhof Airfield, foreshadowing the great operation that was to come.  Smith dubbed the mission “Operation Vittles”, because he said “We’re haulin‘ grub.”  The British called their...

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On This Day, April 23, 1778 – Harry Truman Gives Hell to the Soviet Union

1945 – Less than two weeks after taking over as president after the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman gives a tongue-lashing to Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov. The incident indicated that Truman was determined to take a “tougher” stance with the Soviets than his predecessor had. When Roosevelt died of a massive stroke on April 12, 1945, Harry S. Truman took over as president. Truman was overwhelmed by the responsibilities so suddenly thrust upon him and, particularly in terms of foreign policy, the new president was uncertain about his approach. Roosevelt had kept his vice-president in the dark about most diplomatic decisions, not even informing Truman about the secret program to develop an atomic bomb. Truman had to learn quickly, however. The approaching end of World War II meant that momentous decisions about the postwar world needed to be made quickly. The primary issue Truman faced...

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House Oversight Committee Calls on Trump’s Business to Prove He’s not Violating the Constitution

by Aaron Rupar – Trump promised to donate profits from foreign governments to the U.S. Treasury, but there’s no proof he’s following through. Days after a lawsuit accusing President Trump of violating the Constitution’s “emoluments clause” added more plaintiffs, the House Oversight Committee is requesting the Trump Organization turn over documents detailing what processes Trump’s business has implemented, if any, to make sure the president isn’t profiting from foreign governments who want to curry favor with him. On Friday, the Oversight Committee sent a letter to Sheri Dillon — the lawyer who detailed how Trump planned to avoid conflicts of interest during a January 11 news conference — asking her to detail how that plan is being implemented by no later than May 12. The Constitution prohibits presidents from accepting “any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.” But the Trump International Hotel has taken money...

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SCOTUS Says States Have No Right to Money Taken Based on Overturned Convictions

by Jacob Sullum – If making people prove their innocence to get their property back violates due process, what about civil forfeiture? This week the Supreme Court ruled that Colorado has no right to keep fines, fees, court costs, and restitution it extracts from criminal defendants whose convictions are later reversed. By forcing people to prove their innocence before they can get back property that is rightly theirs, the Court said, Colorado has been violating the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of due process. The Institute for Justice, which filed a brief in the case emphasizing that the presumption of innocence is an essential aspect of due process, makes a compelling argument that civil asset forfeiture routinely violates that principle. The Court’s decision in Nelson v. Colorado, which was joined by seven justices (Clarence Thomas dissented, and Neil Gorsuch joined the Court too recently to participate), came in response to challenges by Shannon...

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Polls: People Don’t Know Trump’s Infrastructure Plan Is a Scam

by Dave Johnson – Polls show that the public likes President Trump’s plan to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure. That’s because they think he actually plans to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure. He doesn’t. Not hardly. Not by a long shot. In fact… Infrastructure Spending Is Popular Polls show the public really likes it when Trump says he plans to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure. Gallup: Trump Family Leave, Infrastructure Proposals Widely Popular, Americans are far more likely to agree than disagree with President Donald Trump’s proposals to require companies to provide family leave for parents of a newborn and to spend $1 trillion on infrastructure. CNN: CNN/ORC poll: Most back boost in infrastructure spending, oppose growing military budget, Trump’s most popular budget proposals include reducing taxes for middle-class Americans (84% approve) and increasing spending on infrastructure (79% approve). So the public wants our government to spend money fixing up our infrastructure. But we...

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It’s Time to Legalize Marijuana and Abolish the Drug Czar

by Mike Ludwig, Truthout | News Analysis – With its lengthy name and familiar acronym, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws is one of the oldest pro-legalization lobbies on Capitol Hill, and the group is tired of waiting for a good drug czar to come around. So, NORML is asking the White House to abolish the position altogether, just as President Trump is reportedly preparing to appoint Rep. Tom Marino of Pennsylvania to the office. Marijuana legalization proponents have plenty of problems with Marino becoming the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), the position informally known as “drug czar,” but that’s not the only reason NORML wants the entire “anti-science” agency closed. The ONDCP has long been a center of command for the war on drugs, a bloody and chaotic conflict that is widely seen as a costly failure. Unfortunately for NORML and...

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100 Days of Trump—Bans, Bombs, and Chocolate Cake

by Mark Sumner – Donald J. Trump  ✔@realDonaldTrump No matter how much I accomplish during the ridiculous standard of the first 100 days, & it has been a lot (including S.C.), media will kill! 6:50 AM – 21 Apr 2017 The idea of the “first 100 days” as a measure of presidential accomplishment emerged during FDR’s first term. Faced with an economy in collapse, soaring unemployment, and institutions failing on all fronts, Roosevelt began his term with incredible vigor. He gathered his cabinet together on the afternoon following the inauguration and began work that day. In that 100 days that followed, FDR picked up the fallen country, put it on its feet, and aimed it in a new direction. He signed 15 major pieces of legislation. Within a week of the inauguration, the Emergency Banking Act reopened banks. The government then stepped in to help farmers. Then school kids. Then to...

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Jeff Sessions Decries Nonexistent New York Murder Epidemic

by Alan Pyke – A Justice Department press release denounces “gang murder after gang murder” in a city enjoying an historically low murder rate. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has more power over how American law is enforced than any other single living human being, is concerned about New York City. The nation’s largest population center continues to see “gang murder after gang murder,” Sessions’ office said in a statement Friday, attributing the putative murderpocalypse to the city’s commitment to humane treatment of undocumented immigrants: Brad Heath ✔@bradheath DOJ says New York City is “soft on crime.” 2:32 PM – 21 Apr 2017 Eight and a half million people live in New York City. New York City had 335 murders in 2016. That is down from 352 in 2015. It is the second-lowest murder rate in New York City history, tied with 2013 and just behind 2014’s all-time low of 333. Shootings,...

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Group of Mental Health Professionals Warn Trump’s State ‘Putting Country in Danger’

by Andrea Germanos – Despite professional rule barring them from doing so, psychological experts have argued that “too much is at stake to be silent any longer” A group of mental health professionals gathered at Yale University Thursday to discuss what they believe is their duty to warn the public of the “danger” posed by President Donald Trump. The “Duty to Warn” event was attended by roughly two dozen people and was organized Dr. Bandy Lee, assistant clinical professor in the Yale Department of Psychiatry, the CTPost writes. Lee called the mental health of the president “the elephant in the room,” and said: “Colleagues are concerned about the repercussions of speaking.” Yale did not sponsor the event, and said that conference-goers were expected to follow the Goldwater Rule. Enacted in 1973, it bars psychiatrists from giving their professional opinion on the mental health of a person they have not met. The American...

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Trump Abruptly asks Pro-Gun Control Surgeon General to Resign

by Bryce Covert – His views may have clashed with Trump’s extreme gun rhetoric on the campaign trail. The Trump administration asked U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy, an Obama administration appointee, to resign his role on Friday and quickly moved his deputy, Rear Adm. Sylvia Trent-Adams, into the role. The resignation is somewhat unusual. A White House spokesperson told the New York Times that Murthy was asked to leave “after assisting in a smooth transition into the new Trump administration.” But employees at the Department of Health and Human Services told the Times they were surprised by the unusually abrupt departure. While it’s not unprecedented, Murthy’s four-year term would have normally ended at the end of this year. The full reasons for the Trump administration’s request that he step down aren’t clear. But one clue may lie in Murthy’s views on gun control. These views were immediately apparent after President Obama...

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On This Day, April 22, 1970 – US Comes Together to Celebrate First Earth Day

1970 – Earth Day, an event to increase public awareness of the world’s environmental problems, is celebrated in the United States for the first time. Millions of Americans, including students from thousands of colleges and universities, participated in rallies, marches, and educational programs. Earth Day was the brainchild of Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin, a staunch environmentalist who hoped to provide unity to the grassroots environmental movement and increase ecological awareness. “The objective was to get a nationwide demonstration of concern for the environment so large that it would shake the political establishment out of its lethargy,” Senator Nelson said, “and, finally, force this issue permanently onto the national political agenda.” Earth Day indeed increased environmental awareness in America, and in July of that year the Environmental Protection Agency was established by special executive order to regulate and enforce national pollution legislation. Loads of chemicals and hazardous wastes have...

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The Trump Doctrine

by ROBERT REICH – Though his foreign policy seems arbitrary and inconsistent, a pattern has emerged to explain Donald Trump’s worldview and how the US will carry it out. What’s the “Trump Doctrine” of foreign policy? At first glance, foreign policy under Trump seems inconsistent, arbitrary and devoid of principle. A few weeks ago, even before the airstrike on Syria, Trump communications director Mike Dubke told Trump’s assembled aides that international affairs presented a messaging challenge because the Trump administration lacks a coherent foreign policy. “There is no Trump doctrine,” Dubke declared. I think Dubke is being grossly unfair. Of course there’s a Trump Doctrine. You just have to know where to look for it. The Trump Doctrine began to emerge when Trump issued his travel bans (both the first and second) on predominantly Muslim countries. But he notably excluded predominately Muslim countries where Trump has business interests. So under what might...

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Cities, States Seek to Protect Immigrants’ Data from Federal Officials

by Jen Fifield – In the face of stepped-up deportation efforts, many unauthorized immigrants worry that state and local programs that are designed to help them could instead be used by federal agents to identify and expel them from the country. About a dozen states have created special driver’s license programs for people who can’t prove U.S. citizenship, and more than a dozen cities have started identification programs so that unauthorized immigrants and others can complete tasks such as opening bank accounts, enrolling their children in school and receiving government services. Under the programs, most of which were created in the last five years, state and local government agencies have reviewed and perhaps retained millions of documents with personal information about the applicants, such as their names, addresses and foreign identification numbers. Although there has always been a risk that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) could request the documents, immigration...

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Kentucky Coal Company Announces Plans to Build the State’s Largest Solar Farm

by Natasha Geiling – The company says the farm will give jobs to displaced coal miners. A Kentucky coal company announced this past Tuesday that it is planning to build a solar farm on a reclaimed mountaintop removal coal mine and that the project would bring both jobs and energy to the area. Berkeley Energy Group, the coal company behind the project, billed it as the first large-scale solar farm in the Appalachian region, which has been hit hard by the decades-long decline in the U.S. coal industry. The company, in partnership with EDF Renewable Energy, is currently conducting feasibility studies for the project on two reclaimed strip mines, both located in the eastern part of the state. Berkeley Energy Group estimates that the solar farm could produce as much as 50 or 100 megawatts of electricity, which would be five to ten times the size of Kentucky’s largest solar farm. Berkeley...

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100 Days of Deconstruction: Part Two

by STEVEN HARPER – Through key cabinet appointments, Trump is gutting federal agencies that have improved citizens’ daily lives in ways that most Americans will no longer take for granted. Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment. — STEVE BANNON TO HISTORIAN RON RADOSH ON NOV. 12, 2013 (ACCORDING TO RADOSH) Beware of the enemy within. With respect to the US government, the ultimate inside job is well underway. Through key cabinet appointments, Trump is gutting federal agencies that have improved citizens’ daily lives in ways that most Americans will no longer take for granted. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos In her confirmation hearing, billionaire Betsy DeVos made the world painfully aware that she isn’t an educator or expert in curriculum. She’s not familiar with the decades-old Individuals with Disabilities Act, or the fraudulent...

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