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

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

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

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

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Leading Opponent of LGBT Civil Rights to Lead Civil Rights Office

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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UK Police: Eight Arrests Over Westminster Attack

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

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Why Jeff Sessions is Threatening to Crack Down on Marijuana

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Eccentric Millionaire Returns Manhattan Building to American Indians

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

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Roger Stone’s Russian Alibi Falls Apart

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

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How Slashing the NEA Would Damage the US Economy

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

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A White House Without Rules

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

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North Korea ‘Fails’ in New Missile Test: South

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

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

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

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FBI Investigating Breitbart and InfoWars for Possible Russian Collusion

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

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

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

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Rebels Launch Second Damascus Attack in Three Days

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

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Poll Shows America Really Does Not Like You, Donald Trump

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

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

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

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An Orgy of Unnecessary Cruelty

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

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Rex Tillerson to Skip NATO Meeting, Visit Russia Instead

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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ISIL After Mosul: Insurgency and Rivalry

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

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A Lawyer Sues President Trump Over His Financial Disclosure

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

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

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

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The Management of Unleashed Insanity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Failures of the American Health Care Act

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

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

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

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RIP: Chuck Berry, Dead at 90

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

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Turtle Found Covered in Barnacles and Leeches Receives Epic Sendoff

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

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Why Trump won’t Quit. He can’t

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

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

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

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Trump’s War on the Truth Tellers

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

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Department of Justice to Appeal Maryland Ruling Against Muslim Ban 2.0

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

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Budget Will Drive Up Republican Voters’ Energy Bills

by Joe Romm – Two key programs that help the elderly and rural poor reduce their energy bills will be cut. President Trump’s new federal budget continues a remarkable pattern of being gratuitously cruel to his own voters. The just-released budget zeroes out the two major programs designed to help low-income and elderly Americans deal with energy costs: the Department of Energy (DOE)’s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). “Families receiving weatherization services see their annual energy bills reduced by an average of about $437, depending on fuel prices,” according to DOE data. In 2010, the program saved low-income families a whopping $2.1 billion. Cutting it will save $121 million. The program, though, is targeted toward low-income Americans, “especially low-income persons who are particularly vulnerable such as the elderly, the disabled, and children.” There is a huge...

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White House Morons Tout Satirical Piece Shedding Proposed Budget – You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

by durrati – Think Progress: “This week, the White House began sending out an official email newsletter, “Your 1600 Daily,” to promote video clips of the president, pertinent news articles or endorsements, and other items of note happening that day. On Friday, there was an odd inclusion at the bottom, where normally one can find friendly headlines from Fox News, Breitbart, or other conservative outlets that have become media safe harbors for the administration. One of the two featured articles was a parody piece titled “Trump’s budget makes perfect sense and will fix America, and I will tell you why,” written by Alexandra Petri, who writes satirical pieces for the Washington Post’s lighthearted ComPost blog.” And what did the very witty Ms. Petri write that the editors of (Not)Your 1600 Daily mistook for glowing endorsement? “Some people are complaining that the budget proffered by the Trump administration, despite its wonderful macho-sounding name, is too...

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Trump, Ryan Budgets will Kill More Americans Per Year than all Muslim Extremist Attacks Combined

by Hunter – Meals on Wheels. How far do you have to get down the scale of ideological depravity before your pen lands on Meals on Wheels as the thing you need to get rid of to buy those last two more Tomahawk cruise missiles that will finally make America a super-duper-dominant world power again. That’s only one part of the Trump budget that directly targets the poorest Americans, of course. It also cuts home heating assistance, so those same seniors will have a chance to freeze to death before starving. It takes an axe to EPA efforts to clean up pollution, which will have a disproportionate effect on the air and water of those neighborhoods surrounding those worst polluters. While that will likely result in an uptick in everything from childhood asthma to cancer, the Trump budget also slashes medical research funding in an apparent effort to ensure nobody does...

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On This Day, Mar 19, 2003 – War in Iraq Begins

On this day in 2003, the United States, along with coalition forces primarily from the United Kingdom, initiates war on Iraq. Just after explosions began to rock Baghdad, Iraq’s capital, U.S. President George W. Bush announced in a televised address, “At this hour, American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger.” President Bush and his advisors built much of their case for war on the idea that Iraq, under dictator Saddam Hussein, possessed or was in the process of building weapons of mass destruction. Hostilities began about 90 minutes after the U.S.-imposed deadline for Saddam Hussein to leave Iraq or face war passed. The first targets, which Bush said were “of military importance,” were hit with Tomahawk cruise missiles from U.S. fighter-bombers and warships stationed in the Persian Gulf. In...

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On This Day, Mar 18, 1999 – Three Women are Murdered at Yosemite

On this day in 1999, the bodies of Carole Sund and Silvina Pelosso are found in a charred rental car in a remote wooded area of Long Barn, Califonia. The women, along with Sund’s daughter Juli, had been missing since February when they were last seen alive at the Cedar Lodge near Yosemite National Park. Juli Sund’s body was found thirty miles away a week after the car was found. The mysterious disappearance of the three women had drawn national attention and landed them on the cover of People magazine. Compounding the mystery, Carole Sund’s wallet had been found on a street in downtown Modesto, California, three days after they had disappeared. Police and the FBI initially focused their investigation on Eugene Dykes, Michael Larwick, and a group of methamphetamine users in Northern California. However, all these leads went up in smoke in July when Joie Ruth Armstrong, a...

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Public Support for Modern-Day Jails is Remarkably Low

by Carimah Townes – Very few people believe jail should be punitive. Approximately 12 million people are held in jail each year in the United States. The majority of them are nonviolent offenders and people detained for their inability to pay bail. But as the country braces for President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ crackdown on crime, few Americans agree with how jails are being used. According to a new poll conducted by Zogby and released by the MacArthur Foundation on Thursday, the public widely favors alternatives to jail. Out of 3,007 people surveyed across the country, 62 percent of respondents support rehabilitation for nonviolent offenders instead of locking them up to prevent future crimes or using jail as a form of punishment. About 75 percent preferred rehabilitation for nonviolent offenders with mental illness. The poll also found that few Americans support pretrial detention for people who can’t afford bail....

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The Unfixable Problem with Trump’s Muslim Ban

by Ian Millhiser – If you’re going to flout the Constitution, don’t brag about it. Wednesday evening, a federal judge in Hawaii temporarily halted President Trump’s latest attempt to keep many foreign nationals from six predominantly Muslim nations from entering the United States. Judge Derrick Watson’s temporary restraining order is the first chapter in a long saga of litigation that is likely to end at the Supreme Court. Should Judge Watson’s reasoning be embraced by higher courts, however, it is far from clear that Trump can fix the fundamental error Watson identifies with Trump’s efforts to keep many Muslims out of the United States. If you plan to unconstitutionally target a group of people because of their faith, it’s a good idea not to run around the country announcing this fact. Trump lawyer’s, as Watson notes, relied heavily on the fact that Trump’s executive order restricting travel from six Muslim nations is...

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Can Customs and Border Officials Search Your Phone? These Are Your Rights

by Patrick G. Lee – Recent detentions and seizures of phones and other material from travelers to the United States have sparked alarm. We detail what powers Customs and Border Protection officials have over you and your devices. This story has been updated to add that Customs and Border Protection agents must have probable cause of wrongdoing to make stops outside the 100-mile border zone within which they have broad search powers. A NASA scientist heading home to the U.S. said he was detained in January at a Houston airport, where Customs and Border Protection officers pressured him for access to his work phone and its potentially sensitive contents. Last month, CBP agents checked the identification of passengers leaving a domestic flight at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport during a search for an immigrant with a deportation order. And in October, border agents seized phones and other work-related material from...

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White House Apologizes to Britain for False Wiretapping Allegations

by Zack Ford – Noooooo, British intelligence didn’t bug Trump Tower either. The White House has apologized to Britain and promised it will no longer reiterate conspiracy theories about British intelligence working against President Trump. During Thursday’s press briefing, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer read through a litany of news stories that he argued gave credence to President Trump’s baseless accusation that President Obama wiretapped — or “wiretapped” — Trump Tower during the election. The corroborating “evidence” included remarks made by Fox News’ Judge Andrew Napolitano, who — humoring Trump’s claims — suggested that Obama could have used a foreign intelligence service to avoid a paper trail — and that, if he did, he “more likely than not” used the British intelligence agency GCHQ to conduct that supposed surveillance. The GCHQ, like U.S. intelligence agencies, rarely comments on its own activities, but in this case, it responded that such allegations are “utterly ridiculous” and “should be ignored.” U.S. National Security Adviser...

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Europe’s Extreme Right is Losing Elections but Still Reshaping Politics

by Justin Salhani – Experts say Geert Wilders’ ideas are now mainstream in the Netherlands. European politicians emitted a collective sigh of relief Wednesday, as nativist right-winger Geert Wilders’ Freedom Party succumbed in the polls to center-right incumbent Mark Rutte in Dutch elections. With two more crucial European elections later this year in France and Germany, Wilders’ loss has placated fears of a right-wing populist surge. Cas Mudde  ✔@CasMudde Pro Tip: French presidential elections are even less representative of “European trend” than Dutch parliamentary elections. –> 10:37 AM – 16 Mar 2017 Wilders’ electoral loss will be cited as a crucial victory (much like the defeat of his party’s namesake in Austria) against a strain of right-wing and nativist populism that gifted the world a Donald Trump presidency and the UK’s decision to depart from the European Union. But proclamations of greater trends are typically flawed. While populists may not have...

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Israel Carries Out Air Strikes Inside Syria (VIDEO)

Fighter jets bomb multiple targets, prompting Syrian retaliation with ground-to-air missiles, Israeli army says. The Israeli army says its aircraft have carried out several strikes inside Syria overnight, prompting Syrian forces to retaliate with ground-to-air missiles, one of which was intercepted. It was one of the most serious incidents between the two countries, which remain technically at war, since civil war broke out in Syria in March 2011. In response of Thursday night’s attack, the Syrian government deployed air defence systems and fired a number of missiles towards Israeli jets, Israeli daily Haaretz reported. None of the missiles struck the jets, the army said, though one of the projectiles was intercepted by Israel’s Arrow missile defence system north of Jerusalem, according to Haaretz. “Overnight … aircraft targeted several targets in Syria,” an Israeli army statement said. “Several anti-aircraft missiles were launched from Syria following the mission and aerial...

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Michael Flynn Took Money from Russia While He Held a Top-Secret Clearance

by Frank Vyan Walton – Following up on a previously reported story that the doubly fired Michael Flynn took $40,000 from Kremlin funded RT News in 2015, it now appears that he also took that and even more Russian money while he held a Top-Secret Security Clearance. RT paid $45,386 for Flynn and his son, Michael Flynn Jr., to fly to Moscow to speak at the English-language network’s 10th anniversary celebration, where he dined at the same table as Russian President Vladimir Putin and Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein. Flynn’s speaking agency, Leading Authorities, took a 25 percent commission for the payment, which left $33,750 for the retired U.S. Army general. Other documents obtained by the congressional committee show Flynn was paid $11,250 each by a Russian air cargo company and a Russian cybersecurity company, reported the Wall Street Journal. The cargo company had been suspended as a United Nations vendor...

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Beyond the Acid-Filled Jacuzzi: Sinister Truths About Bannon’s Fascism

by Alexander Reid Ross, Truthout | News Analysis – Stephen Bannon is an enigmatic man. According to The Washington Post’s well-traveled report, he is so difficult to pin down that he effectively had no fixed address during the three years before becoming Trump’s top adviser. Although Bannon filed for residency in Florida, evidence shows that he may not have lived there. Some speculate that he may have claimed residency in Florida to avoid California’s high taxes. However, his ex-wife apparently did live at his declared home, and the landlord reported some doors in the house dead-bolted, some doors missing entirely, and the Jacuzzi destroyed and “covered in acid.” Further reports indicate that Bannon was paid $376,000 from 2012-2015 for 30 hours of work a week by an anti-Clinton media company funded by Robert Mercer and connected to the Koch brothers called Government Accountability Institute at the same time as he...

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On This Day, Mar 17, 1776 – British Evacuate Boston

On this day in 1776, British forces are forced to evacuate Boston following General George Washington’s successful placement of fortifications and cannons on Dorchester Heights, which overlooks the city from the south. During the evening of March 4, American Brigadier General John Thomas, under orders from Washington, secretly led a force of 800 soldiers and 1,200 workers to Dorchester Heights and began fortifying the area. To cover the sound of the construction, American cannons, besieging Boston from another location, began a noisy bombardment of the outskirts of the city. By the morning, more than a dozen cannons from Fort Ticonderoga had been brought within the Dorchester Heights fortifications. British General Sir William Howe hoped to use the British ships in Boston Harbor to destroy the American position, but a storm set in, giving the Americans ample time to complete the fortifications and set up their artillery. Realizing their position...

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UN Report: Israel has Established an ‘Apartheid Regime’

by Ben White – Report breaks new ground on the UN’s examination of the situation in occupied Palestine by using the word ‘apartheid’. A new United Nations report accuses Israel of having established “an apartheid regime that oppresses and dominates the Palestinian people as a whole”. The publication comes amid renewed debate about whether, through its settlement policy and rejection of Palestinian self-determination, the Israeli government is creating – or even has already created – a de facto “one-state”, which critics warn would constitute a form of apartheid. It urged governments to “support boycott, divestment and sanctions activities and respond positively to calls for such initiatives”. The report – Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid – was commissioned and published by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) and launched in Beirut. John Reynolds, a lecturer in law at the National University of Ireland,...

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Donald Trump… Leaker-in-Chief?

by Tim Koechlin – Donald Trump and his associates have spent much of the past year deflecting questions about Trump’s stubborn refusal to release his taxes. What is Trump hiding? Embarrassing business relationships in Russia or elsewhere? Debts that might indicate conflicts of interest? Or maybe this billionaire’s tax payments have been embarrassingly meager. Or maybe Trump’s fortune – like his inaugural crowd and his stubby hands – isn’t nearly as big as he’d like us to believe. So, when MSNBC‘s Rachel Maddow announced on Tuesday that “we’ve got Donald Trump’s tax returns,” and that she would share them on Tuesday’s edition of The Rachel Maddow Show, the buzz among eager left-wingers was deafening. Finally, the truth about Trump would be revealed. After an excruciatingly long set up, Ms. Maddow (and her guest, the journalist David Cay Johnston) shared two pages of Donald Trump’s 2005 federal tax return. These two pages,...

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Where Free Speech Ends, Ignorance Begins

by Michael Winship – At the risk of sounding like a geezer complaining about “these kids today,” back in my college days, when it came to points of view we were unhesitatingly exposed to literature, teachers and on-campus speakers covering the ideological waterfront. In one instance, the student body was addressed by civil rights activist and comedian Dick Gregory, radical Irish activist Bernadette Devlin and the conservative writer and critic Russell Kirk — all in the course of a week or so. Such variety was a common occurrence, and freewheeling, open discussion was encouraged. We didn’t always like or agree with a lot of what we heard or read — from time to time there were vehement protests — but all of it was invaluable. None of us were harmed in the making of our education. So I was appalled the other day when I read about the attempt by Republican...

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“Morally Obscene” Trump Budget Proposal Stands to Make America Cruel Again

by Deirdre Fulton – Environment, public education, worker protections, and cultural institutions all stand to lose under Trump’s “cruel” budget blueprint.   Meals on Wheels. Amtrak. Teacher training, after-school, and summer educational programs. The National Endowment for the Arts. The Appalachian Regional Commission. The National Institutes of Health (NIH). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). All these initiatives and agencies—plus many more—face cuts or wholesale elimination under President Donald Trump’s proposed “skinny budget,” officially unveiled Thursday. Meanwhile, the blueprint calls for increases in military spending, border and immigration enforcement, and money for charter and private schools. The Washington Post has a comprehensive breakdown, with graphics, here. The document was variously denounced as “an all-out assault on our planet;” “dirty and dangerous;” “cruel;” and “unacceptable.” “President Trump’s budget is morally obscene and bad economic policy,” declared Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). “It will cause devastating pain to the very people Trump promised to help...

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Top Sens on Intel Committee: ‘No Indication’ Trump Tower was Bugged

by Nadia Prupis – “Now that you’ve acknowledged that Trump falsely accused a former president of a felony, what are you going to do about it?” asked ThinkProgress editor Judd Legum. The Republican and Democratic leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee said Thursday there is no indication that Trump Tower was ever the “subject of surveillance” by the U.S. government. Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and ranking Democrat Mark Warner (Va.), who are also leading an investigation into Russia’s alleged involvement with the presidential election, issued a one-sentence statement that read, “Based on the information available to us, we see no indications that Trump Tower was the subject of surveillance by any element of the United States government either before or after Election Day 2016.” President Donald Trump earlier this month accused former President Barack Obama of “wiretapping” Trump Tower. Burr and Warner’s conclusion follows a similar statement by House Intelligence Committee...

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House Dems Send Educational Materials to Help Scott Pruitt Get a Grip on Basic Climate Science

by Andrea Germanos – “It’s clear that you need to read the enclosed reports.” Given the lack of understanding of basic climate science Scott Pruitt displayed on a recent appearance on CNBC, 33 House Democrats have sent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) head educational materials to help him get a grip on established facts. Speaking last week to the network’s “Squawk Box,” Pruitt sparked the ire of climate groups—and contradicted his own statements to the U.S. Senate—when he said, “I would not agree that is a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.” “As Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt must understand these non-controversial concepts,” a press statement from Rep. Earl Blumenauer (Ore.) states. Blumenauer, along with 32 of his House colleagues including Reps. Raul Grijalva (Ariz.), Barbara Lee (Calif.), Mark Pocan (Wis.), and Jan Schakowsky (Ill.) sent to Pruitt a brief letter as well...

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Death Spiral, Debunked: Facts Undercut Major Argument for GOP Healthcare Plan

by Deirdre Fulton – Republicans’ major argument to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act appears to be, well, bunk. Republicans have spun a lot of stories in their desperate attempt to sell the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare—and among their favorites is the narrative that the law is “imploding,” in a “death spiral,” or otherwise doomed to fail. There are two problems with that argument. First of all, Obamacare is not, in fact, “collapsing.” And secondly, to the extent the ACA is experiencing problems, much of the blame can be placed directly at the feet of Republicans and the insurance companies to whom they are beholden. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis released this week on the GOP’s replacement plan, the American Healthcare Act (AHCA), further exposes the “death spiral” talking point as a myth: “According to the budget office,” the New York Times wrote Wednesday, “the...

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5 Things to Watch in President Trump’s Skinny Budget

by Harry Stein and Scott Nathan – President Donald Trump is preparing to release the first budget proposal of his administration. While this budget likely will only provide limited details on President Trump’s plans—thus why it is nicknamed the “skinny budget”—it will still give the American people a clear look at Trump’s policy agenda and the priorities of his new administration. The skinny budget will not address taxes, and it will only address discretionary spending, the programs that Congress funds in annual appropriation bills. Discretionary spending comprises about one-third of federal spending, and it does not include major programs such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. In fiscal year 2018, after a two-year hiatus as a result of the 2015 budget deal, discretionary programs will once again be threatened by harsh spending caps known as sequestration. In the past, lawmakers have passed temporary bipartisan budget agreements to provide equal increases for...

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On This Day, Mar 16,1988 – Reagan Orders Troops into Honduras

As part of his continuing effort to put pressure on the leftist Sandinista government in Nicaragua, President Ronald Reagan orders over 3,000 U.S. troops to Honduras, claiming that Nicaraguan soldiers had crossed its borders. As with so many of the other actions taken against Nicaragua during the Reagan years, the result was only more confusion and criticism. Since taking office in 1981, the Reagan administration had used an assortment of means to try to remove the leftist Sandinista government of Nicaragua. President Reagan charged that the Sandinistas were pawns of the Soviet Union and were establishing a communist beachhead in the Western Hemisphere, though there was little evidence to support such an accusation. Nonetheless, Reagan’s administration used economic and diplomatic pressure attempting to destabilize the Sandinista regime. Reagan poured millions of dollars of U.S. military and economic aid into the so-called “Contras,” anti-Sandinista rebels operating out of Honduras and...

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Judge Temporarily Halts Trump’s Revised Muslim Ban Hours Before it Goes into Effect

by Adrienne Mahsa Varkiani – “Nothing of substance has changed.” A Hawaii judge ordered a temporary restraining order on President Donald Trump’s revised Muslim ban on Wednesday, just hours before it was set to go into effect. The ban, which is a revised version of a similar executive order Trump signed just one week into office, suspends all refugee resettlement for 120 days and blocks the entry of nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen for at least 90 days. It also limits the number of refugees the United States will accept in 2017 to 50,000–60,000 less than originally planned under Obama. The ban was set to take effect at 12:01 a.m. U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson heard Hawaii’s case, which the state filed by itself. The state argued that the ban violates the First Amendment’s establishment, as it is essentially a Muslim ban, and it also hurts...

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Former Virginia Mayor Could Get 40 Years After Pleading Guilty to Trading Meth for Sex (VIDEO)

by April Hamlin – The former mayor of Fairfax City in Virginia is facing up to 40 years in prison after he pled guilty to trading crystal meth for sex. Richard “Scott” Silverthorne entered a guilty plea to one charge of distributing methamphetamine on Monday. This shocking story began in August of 2016 when Silverthorne was arrested. Police say they got a tip that he was using a website to set up casual sexual encounters and distribute meth. An undercover officer set up a fake profile on the site and Silverthorne took the bait. In just days he had responded to the undercover officer and arranged to meet him at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in McLean, Virginia. The police set up a sting operation and busted him when he gave the undercover cop two grams of meth. During the raid, police arrested Silverthorne and two other men. Silverthorne was released on his own...

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Top Trump Aide Accused of Breaking Criminal Conflict of Interest Law

by Deirdre Fulton – ‘This marks the latest in an already too-long list’ of potential violations, says ethics watchdog. Another member of President Donald Trump’s inner circle may have blurred ethical lines, this time by breaking criminal conflict of interest laws. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint Tuesday with White House counsel Don McGhan, accusing assistant to the president and director of strategic initiatives Christopher Liddell of improperly participating in meetings that took place between Trump and companies in which Liddell held millions of dollars in stock. According to CREW: Criminal law prohibits a federal employee like Liddell from participating personally and substantially in any particular matter to which, to his knowledge, he has a financial interest. On January 23rd, Liddell participated with Trump in a meeting with business leaders from 12 companies, including 10 in which Liddell appears to have held stock worth approximately $2.1 million:...

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A Timeline: Russia and Trump

by STEVEN HARPER – Investigative reporters have begun to flesh out the Trump/Russia timeline. To keep everything in one location, here’s an updated summary (so far). Trump’s efforts to develop business in Russia date to 1987. In 1996, he applied for his trademark in that country. Discussing ambitions for a Trump hotel in 2007, he declared, “We will be in Moscow at some point.” 2002: Russian-born Felix H. Sater and his company, Bayrock Group — a Trump Tower tenant — began working with Trump on a series of real estate development deals, one of which became the Trump SoHo. Another development partner in Trump SoHo was the Sapir Organization, founded by Tamir Sapir, a Russian immigrant born in the Republic of Georgia who left the Soviet Union in 1973. 2005: In a sworn deposition in 2008, Sater testified that Trump gave Bayrock Group an exclusive deal to develop a...

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Paul Ryan is an Epic Failure

by Ian Millhiser – Trumpcare was a big test for Ryan, and he failed. Let’s briefly take stock of Speaker Paul Ryan’s career. Elected to Congress in 1998, Ryan spent most of his first decade as a backbencher. His most ambitious proposal in those early years was a plan to privatize Social Security that even the Bush White House labeled as “irresponsible.” Then he became the highest-ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee and, later, a committee chair. In these roles, Ryan revealed his two great talents — convincing his fellow Republicans to vote for laissez-faireproposals that had no chance of becoming law, and convincing Beltway pundits and reporters that he was some kind of policy wonk. By the time Ryan’s reputation as the conservative movement’s Great Wonk convinced presidential candidate Mitt Romney to choose Ryan as his running mate, Ryan was the primary sponsor of just two bills that actually became law. One...

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IOM: 525 Refugees Die at Sea in First Few Weeks of 2017

by Anealla Safdar – Number of drowned in Mediterranean from January to early March higher than last year, raising alarm among rights groups. More refugees have died in the Mediterranean over the first nine weeks of this year compared with the same period in 2016, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). From January 1 to March 9, at least 521 people drowned while attempting to cross the treacherous sea compared with 471 in the same period a year ago. At least another four refugees died on Friday, bringing the 2017 death toll to 525 people, according to IOM. The figures raised alarm on Tuesday among human rights organisations, which have repeatedly called for safer passages. The rising deaths came as the number of people making the dangerous crossing from Libya more than doubled, with 13,439 arriving in Italy compared with 5,273 a year earlier. IOM spokesman Flavio Di Giacomo...

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