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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