Politics

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

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

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The Democratic Party Officially Supports a $15 Minimum Wage

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

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

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

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5 Facts About the Death Penalty

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Opposition to Trumpcare 2.0 Swells

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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First 100 Days: Trump and the Degradation of the Presidency

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Brace for Government Shutdown as Republicans Face Impossible Tasks

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

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

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

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Republicans Starting to Sweat Fallout From Potential Obamacare Sabotage

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

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The Senate Investigation into Trump-Russia is a Hot Mess

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

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Trumpism and the Danger of Willful Ignorance

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

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100 Days of Deconstruction: Part 3

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

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

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

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Obama From the Rearview Mirror

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

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

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

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

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

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EPA Considers Gutting Regulations on Lead Contamination

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Trump Abruptly asks Pro-Gun Control Surgeon General to Resign

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

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The Trump Doctrine

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

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

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

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100 Days of Deconstruction: Part Two

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

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This Earth Day, Defeating Trump is Job One

by Libero Della Piana – This Earth Day, we face a climate threat greater than ever before. And he lives in the White House. On the campaign trail, President Donald Trump consistently mocked climate science and promised to gut policies protecting our communities, natural resources and the environment. He called climate change “a hoax” invented by the Chinese government. In and out of office, Trump has been consistently at odds with scientific evidence and consensus on climate change. His is also at odds with public opinion, which increasingly acknowledges and understands the threat of global climate crisis. Despite its failures to advance a legislative agenda, the Trump Administration has successfully used executive orders, rule changes in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other agencies, and the use of the Congressional Review Act to undo crucial protections of air, water and the environment. Trump’s greatest achievement thus far may very well be turning...

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Trump/RyanCare 3.0: GOP’s Zombie Healthcare Plan Keeps Getting Worse

by Deirdre Fulton – Under reported ‘compromise,’ States could gut protections for those with pre-existing conditions. It’s “red alert” time on healthcare, according to one observer, amid reports that some congressional Republicans think they have a deal—and it’s even worse than the last one (which was itself crueler than its predecessor). The Huffington Post reported Wednesday: The deal, brokered between House Freedom Caucus chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Tuesday Group co-chairman Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.), would allow states to get waivers eliminating the so-called community rating provision—the rule that prohibits insurers from charging higher premiums to people with pre-existing conditions. In order to obtain the waiver, states would have to participate in a federal high-risk pool or establish their own, and satisfy some other conditions. In exchange for that conservative concession, the amendment would reinstate the Essential Health Benefits that were already taken out of the bill—though, again, states could waive those...

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Prosecutors Open Terror Investigation into Paris Attack (VIDEOS)

French decision follows deadly Champs Elysees attack on police, just three days before first round of presidential vote. French prosecutors have opened a terrorism investigation into an attack in the Champs Elysees shopping district in Paris where an armed man killed one policeman and seriously injured two people. President Francois Hollande said he was “convinced” a “terrorism” investigation was the correct approach to the incident before the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group claimed responsibility for Thursday’s attack via its Amaq website. Hollande promised “absolute vigilance, particularly with regard to the electoral process” as France braces itself for the first round of a presidential election on Sunday. French television networks reported that the attacker was a 39-year-old French national and was known to anti-terrorism police. Police said the attacker had been convicted in 2005 of three counts of attempted murder – two of them against police officers. Raids...

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Not Running for Re-Election, Chaffetz Will be Lame(r) Duck Oversight Chair

by Deirdre Fulton – House Oversight chair’s decision not to run in 2018 described as “a big victory for the Trump resistance over one of administration’s chief enablers” U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), a polarizing conservative figure and primary target of the resistance, announced Wednesday that he won’t run for re-election in 2018. As chair of the House Oversight Committee, Chaffetz investigated Planned Parenthood as well as former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s role in responding to the 2012 Benghazi attack and use of a private email server while she was Secretary of State. His doggedness did not appear to apply to the GOP; earlier this year, as the Associated Press reports, he “drew fire from Democrats after saying he would not investigate Trump’s sprawling business empire, given that he had promised before the 2016 election that he would investigate Clinton ‘for years’ if she was elected.” Indeed, his refusal...

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New Research Shows Trump’s Border Wall Will be Even More Worthless than We Thought

by Rika Christensen – “Build the wall! Build the wall!” Supposedly nobody builds better walls than Donald Trump, and the government is already hard at work acquiring the land and materials necessary to build a wall that’s likely to do nothing to stop people from crossing the southern border. Now, a new study shows that the border wall may also be more a more unjustified waste of money than ever. Illegal immigration has been falling since 2007, but this latest bit of research out of the University of California, San Diego, says it will continue to fall. It’s partly because of Obama – contrary to what xenophobic conservatives say, Obama did not favor or enable an open border. He made stemming the flow of immigrants a priority of his administration. The right wing is pissed because he also worked to protect people who were already here. However, the biggest causes of...

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UK’s Snap Elections: The Corbyn Factor

by Richard Seymour – Will the snap elections in the UK be the end of Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn? In the week leading up to France’s elections, Prime Minister Theresa May has ordered a snap general election for June 8 in Britain. May is out to neutralise a few problems. First of all, the Crown Prosecution Service is looking at prosecutions affecting two dozen Conservative MPs. That number is greater than her parliamentary majority of 17. Second, May’s administration is hamstrung by its weak majority, as witnessed in a recent U-turn over an attempt to raise taxes for the self-employed. Above all, May is out to finish the left-wing opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn. UK: Theresa May announces plans for June snap election Indeed, the election looks dire for Corbyn, currently at 25 percent in the polls. But why does it seem so much worse than that of France’s radical left presidential candidate,...

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America’s Addiction to War (VIDEO)

by Andrew Mitrovica – War brings supposedly disparate parts of the US together to rally around the flag, yellow ribbons and even Donald Trump. Eventually, the truth reveals itself. And so it was after President Donald Trump – a still surreal phrase to put to paper – elected to bomb a mostly vacant Syrian airstrip in supposed response to the slow, suffocating murder of children by Bashar al-Assad’s murderous regime. The Pentagon-supplied images of Tomahawk cruise missiles bursting into the night sky triggered a near orgasmic reaction among the same band of US cable TV network-approved geopolitical “experts” and journalists-in-name-tag-only who gush with unbridled excitement each time flashy weapons go bang in the night. You’ll recall that not too long ago, this giddy, easily impressed lot, joined by rancorous Democrats on Capitol Hill, were universally repulsed by the same dangerous demagogue they recently applauded on Twitter, TV and elsewhere as a...

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In Memoriam: Bill O’Reilly’s Career

by Adam Peck – Looking back through a decade’s worth of ThinkProgress coverage of Fox News’ chief bully. Of all the racists, Islamophobes, misogynists, homophobes, and all-around hateful bigots ThinkProgress has chronicled since our inception 11 years ago, none have provided such a steady stream of nonsense as William James O’Reilly Jr. And so it is with mixed emotions that we must report the premature and yet also long-overdue demise of Mr. O’Reilly’s career. It was 42 years old. O’Reilly’s career came into this world on local television, where he quickly earned a reputation as an irritable showman. A job offer from the syndicated television gossip program Inside Edition provided O’Reilly’s career with a bridge from local nuisance to national embarrassment in the early 1990’s. But it was at Fox News Channel, then a fledgling cable news network developing an obsession with Bill Clinton’s libido, that O’Reilly’s star was born. During his...

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The Other Trump Scandal—the Effort to Justify Trump’s Tweets by Manufacturing Evidence

by Mark Sumner – What caused Devin Nunes to run around in a way that makes chicken sans head seem like a model of control? According to Ryan Lizza at the New Yorker, nothing at all. The congressmen and their aides were shown a binder of two to three dozen pages of highly classified intercepts, mostly transcripts of conversations between foreign government officials that took place during the Presidential transition. These intercepts were not related to the heart of the committee’s Russia investigation. In fact, only one of the documents had anything to do with Russia, according to an official who reviewed them. What the intercepts all had in common is that the people being spied on made references to Donald Trump or to Trump officials. That wasn’t even clear, though, from reading the transcripts. The names of any Americans were concealed, or “masked,” the intelligence community’s term for redacting references...

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‘Payout Time’: Exxon Seeks Waiver From U.S. Sanctions to Drill in Russia

by Nika Knight – “Exxon applied for waiver from sanctions on Russia. Among departments who must approve: State Department, run by company’s ex-CEO” Exxon is applying for a waiver from the U.S. Treasury Department to bypass U.S. sanctions against Russia and resume offshore drilling in the Black Sea with the Russian oil company Rosneft, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. Among those charged with deciding to grant the permit is Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the former CEO of Exxon who previously oversaw the company’s Russia operations. Rebecca Ballhaus  ✔@rebeccaballhaus Exxon applied for waiver from sanctions on Russia. Among depts who must approve: State Dept, run by company’s ex-CEO https://www.wsj.com/articles/exxon-seeks-u-s-waiver-to-work-in-russia-despite-sanctions-1492620677 … 1:09 PM – 19 Apr 2017   “Ka-ching! Payout time,” tweeted Rachel Maddow in response to the Wall Street Journal report. Rachel Maddow MSNBC ✔@maddow Ka-ching! Payout time.https://goo.gl/Zv9pT1  1:52 PM – 19 Apr 2017 Exxon Seeks U.S. Waiver to Resume Russia Oil...

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Trump’s ‘Buy American’ Executive Order has no Weight Without Congress

by Lauren C. Williams – President Donald Trump signed his 23rd executive order Tuesday, which aims to overhaul one of the most contentious parts of the American immigration system: high-skilled visas. The “Buy American, Hire American” executive order emphasizes enforcement of “Buy American laws” that will encourage government agencies and Americans to buy and hire American. The main thrust of the order calls on cabinet secretaries to implement administrative changes and produce reports that identify potential abuses of the H-1B visa program, which awarded 85,000 work visas this year to foreign knowledge workers through a lottery system, and look for ways the government can only award contracts to American business owners. Regarding immigration, the order doesn’t address the administration’s main criticisms of the H-1B program, such as exploitatively low pay and replacing the lottery system to guarantee recipients are the best candidates for the positions. It also carries little weight on...

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Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly Proposes Fewer Pot Arrests in Drug War

by Esther Yu Hsi Lee – More than 260,000 immigrants were deported for drug offenses in a five-year period. Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly said Sunday that marijuana is not a “factor in the drug war” and that the solution is “not arresting a lot of users.” The “War on Drugs”— one that has largely focused on the cross-border import of controlled substances such as marijuana, methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine produced in Latin American countries and transported into the United States — has resulted in the arrests of hundreds of thousands of people for marijuana possession. In turn, these arrests have triggered severe immigration consequences because of the punitive legislation that grew out of this country’s “War on Drugs” policies. During an appearance on Meet The Press with Chuck Todd, Kelly de-emphasized the role marijuana plays in the “drug war,” instead placing the blame on Mexican-produced methamphetamine and heroin, and cocaine...

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100 Days of Deconstruction

by STEVEN HARPER – At CPAC, Steve Bannon declared that key members of Trump’s Cabinet were “selected for a reason.” In the first 100 days of Trump’s presidency, that reason has become clear. Editor’s Note Donald Trump may be a racist, misogynist, sexual predator, liar and bully, but he is still president of the United States, and we underestimate him at the nation’s peril. Viewed in isolation, his policies seem idiosyncratic and incoherent. Viewed in context, they reveal a strategy to plunder the government of what is profitable to Trump’s family and minions and leave what remains smoldering in the ruins. This series — “100 Days of Deconsruction” — seeks to provide that context. If Trump succeeds, little of what makes America great survives. But knowledge is power, so read these essays and keep fighting in this decisive battle for our country’s heart and soul. Their author, Steven J. Harper, produced...

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The FBI Takes the Steele Dossier of Trump–Russia Connections Seriously, Which is Serious Trouble for Trump

by Mark Sumner – Testimony that FBI Director James Comey delivered in January, information that Harry Reid wanted to make public before the election, and part of the information that led the FBI to get a FISA warrant on Trump adviser Carter Page, all appear to have the same source. The FBI last year used a dossier of allegations of Russian ties to Donald Trump’s campaign as part of the justification to win approval to secretly monitor a Trump associate, according to US officials briefed on the investigation. That source is the “dossier” put together by former British intelligence operative Christopher Steele, who originally assembled the information to assist one of Trump’s Republican opponents. President Obama and Donald Trump were briefed on the contents on the memos in January, but it now appears that the FBI took the information seriously enough to use it as the basis of investigation months earlier. The...

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5 Questions the Trump Administration Needs to Answer About the Border Wall

by Jenny Rowland and Philip E. Wolgin – In the U.S.-Mexico border region, an area that stretches nearly 2,000 miles, decisions about border security affect the daily lives of roughly 12 million people. The United States already has 653 miles of border fencing, and much of the rest of the border is comprised of the Rio Grande or located in some of the country’s most inhospitable locations, where a wall would be impractical and unnecessary. In addition to fencing, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, or DHS, uses an array of surveillance and technology to monitor the border in real time. Yet both as a candidate and as president, Donald Trump has repeatedly called for the construction of a “big, fat, beautiful wall” along the entire U.S.-Mexico border. The administration recently concluded a request for proposals from firms to construct the wall, and it has already started to send out notices...

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Steve Bannon’s Plans for Revenge are Legion. They Include Running Against Trump in 2020

by ursulafaw –    Depending upon which school of thought you subscribe to, either everyone at the White House has kissed and made up and Uncle Steve will continue to rule the roost, or, Bannon is a dead man walking and Trump is just waiting for the First 100 Days milepost to be passed to bring down the Sword of Damocles, exploring the prospect of Bannon being fired is terra incognita, like so much of the Trump phenomenon. Whichever way you look at it, Donald Trump did make the statement last week about Steve Bannon, “I like Steve.” History tells us that Trump saying that he likes somebody is the kiss of death. Vanity Fair cited these examples: “If Trump genuinely likes you, you’re “brilliant” or “a great guy.” By contrast, “like,” in Trump-speak, means “dead to me.” Just ask Newt Gingrich (“I like Newt”), Chris Christie (“I like Chris a...

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As Push for Trump’s Taxes Gains Steam, Promised GOP Tax Overhaul Falters

by Nika Knight – “If doesn’t release his returns, it is going to make it much more difficult to get tax reform done.” As millions of Americans file their tax returns, and days after tens of thousands of marched to demand that President Donald Trump make his tax returns public, the president is still refusing to release his returns. On Monday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer reiterated the claim that Trump can’t release his taxes because they are under audit, a statement immediately refuted by tax experts. As Steven Rosenthal, senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution, told Salon: “There is no legal impediment to somebody who is under audit releasing taxes and the IRS audits every single president and vice president on their tax returns. If he continues to follow the policy of not releasing his tax returns while under audit, then we’ll...

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Trump Touted ‘Armada’ He was Sending to North Korea While it was Sailing in Opposite Direction

by Aaron Rupar – The White House is blaming the Defense Department for the mistake. The armada Trump bragged about sending to North Korea last week was actually headed in the opposite direction, according to a new report from the New York Times. In an interview with Fox Business that aired on April 12, President Trump declared that the United States was “sending an armada” to deal with the threat posed by the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un’s refusal to stop testing weapons. Trump said,  “We are sending an armada, very powerful. We have submarines, very powerful. Far more powerful than the aircraft carrier.” Trump’s comments came on the heels of news reports that the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson strike group was headed toward North Korea — news seemingly confirmed by a strike group spokesman. The day before Trump’s Fox Business interview aired, Press Secretary Sean Spicer also seemed to confirm the strike...

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Energy Secretary Targets Wind, Solar After Overseeing Renewables Explosion as Texas Governor

by Mark Hand – Rick Perry wants answers to baseload generation retirements. U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry didn’t mention renewable energy by name. But his request for the Department of Energy (DOE) to investigate how federal subsidies boost one form of energy at the expense of baseload generation was clearly meant as a swipe at wind and solar energy resources. In an April 14 memo to his chief of staff, a copy of which DOE provided to ThinkProgress, Perry directed the agency to look at the extent to which “continued regulatory burdens, as well as mandates and tax and subsidy policies, are responsible for forcing the premature retirement of baseload power plants.” Perry previously served as governor of Texas where he led an expansion of renewable energy sources across the state. Texas leads the nation in wind-powered generation capacity with more than 18,500 megawatts, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration....

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Who Could’ve Known a Muslim Ban Would Devastate U.S. Tourism?

by Kerry Eleveld – Too bad Chinese president Xi Jinping didn’t get 10 minutes to explain the complications of Donald Trump’s Muslim ban to him before he decided to wreck the U.S. tourism industry. Trump’s ban isn’t just depressing travel from the 6-7 majority-Muslim nations his order targeted, it’s also inspired a drop off in travel from Europe and Asia as well as our neighbors, Canada and Mexico. Abha Bhattarai writes: The cancellations came quickly and in rapid succession. Within days of President Trump’s first executive order restricting travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries, a number of European travel groups pulled their plans, amounting to a loss of 2,000 overnight stays for Hostelling International USA. The result was a wave of withdrawals. “Getting those cancellations all at once, that was startling,” said Russ Hedge, chief executive of HIU, which oversees 52 hostels across the country. “We’ve never seen something like that.” ...

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Theresa May Calls Snap General Election for June 8

Theresa May will go to parliament on Wednesday and seek early election because of disunity in politics. British Prime Minister Theresa May called for an early general election to be held on June 8, 2017, in a surprise announcement on Tuesday as Britain prepares for delicate negotiations on leaving the European Union. May said she will go to parliament on Wednesday to seek approval for the early election. “We need a general election and we need one now. We have at this moment a one-off chance to get this done … before the detailed talks begin,” May said, speaking in front of 10 Downing Street. “I have concluded that the only way to guarantee certainty and stability for the years ahead is to hold this election,” she said. May added that the UK needed an election because other parties are opposed to the Brexit plans to leave the EU. May had...

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‘New Step in Long Walk to Freedom’: Palestinian Prisoners Launch Mass Hunger Strike

by Deirdre Fulton – As many as 1,500 political detainees are taking part in the demonstration demanding ‘freedom and dignity’. Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails began a hunger strike on Monday, protesting dismal conditions as well as “Israel’s inhumane system of colonial and military occupation.” Some said as many as 1,500 political prisoners in six jails across Israel were participating in the open-ended strike, commemorating Palestinian Prisoners’ Day and coming ahead of June’s 50-year anniversary of the 1967 Six Day War, when the occupation began. Solidarity rallies were also taking place in the occupied cities of Ramallah, Hebron, and Nablus. According to the human rights and prisoner advocacy organization Addameer, which is urging global solidarity with the detainees, “the hunger striking prisoners’ demands include: family visits, proper medical care, end to Israel’s practice of detaining Palestinians without charge or trial in so-called administrative detention, and stopping the use of...

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Trump’s Five Worst Tax Secrets, Revealed

by Richard Eskow – Thousands of demonstrators marched on Saturday to demand that Donald Trump release his tax returns. But, barring an unexpected surprise – a W2 form issued by Vladimir Putin, or a 1099 from mafia boss Anthony ‘Fat Tony’ Salerno – we already know Trump’s ugliest tax secrets. We will reveal those secrets… … right after this break. Many readers will recognize this reference to Rachel Maddow’s televised release of Trump’s 2005 tax return, The MSNBC host kept her viewers in suspense for a total of 84 minutes before learning that Trump paid an effective federal tax rate of 24 percent that year. That was considered an anticlimax. It even led some observers that Trump might have leaked the return himself, since many people had assumed that Trump hadn’t paid any federal taxes at all for years. That gets us to Trump’s first terrible tax secret: his tax return for that year...

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French Presidential Elections: What You Need to Know

Candidates must convince voters they are best placed to solve the economic and security issues facing the country. France heads to the polls in two rounds of voting on April 23 and May 7 to elect a new president who will inherit a country looking for change, and a population that is increasingly intolerant of politicians who fail to deliver on their promises. Like his predecessor, Nicolas Sarkozy, Francois Hollande’s presidency lasted just one term. The incumbent opted not to stand for re-election amid low approval ratings. A French president can serve for a maximum of two five-year terms. Eleven candidates will compete in the first round of the election. It is widely expected that none of them will win an outright majority of 50 percent in the first round, meaning a runoff vote is almost certain. The two top contenders will go through to a decisive second round on...

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Reaching Impeachment Critical Mass

by Hank Edson – 1. Regaining Our Common Sense Two things are inhibiting our exercise of common sense as a self-governed people: First, the cancer of our corporate media monopoly has ravaged the culture of the democratic process in our nation.  Among the many symptoms of this lethal disease is its projection of normalizing false narratives that reek of the body public’s corruption and decay. For example, of all places, National Public Radio just ran a lengthy segment examining the numerous instances in which Donald Trump has this week proven himself a liar and a fraud by advancing policies in direct conflict with his campaign platform and campaign promises.  Throughout the piece, the NPR journalists discussed how Trump was “learning on the job,” how these self-contradictions represented a possible shift to the political center, and how during the campaign, “Trump needed to say” one thing, and as President, he “needed to...

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Just WTF is “Retroactive Registration” as a Foreign Agent?

by ProudlyLiberal – There have been at least two recent incidents where foreign agents of Russia (who, by law, are required to register with the Attorney General within 10 days of becoming such an agent) have “retroactively registered”.  It must be noted that these registrations have been filed only because each individual’s dealings with Russia have become public and the individuals are under Federal investigation by the FBI, House Permanent Committee on Intelligence and the Senate. Of course the two who have (or will soon) register retroactively are Michael Flynn, the fired National Security Adviser and Paul Manafort, the apparently peripherally-involved chairman of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.  In Flynn’s case, the actions causing registration occurred in 2015 and 2016, and in Manafort’s the activities we know about today that require registration are for his work on lobbying for Putin on the subject of Ukraine from 2012-2014. Carter Page insists he has never been a foreign...

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Sanders and Perez to Launch Nationwide ‘Come Together & Fight Back’ Tour

by Nadia Prupis – ‘At a time of massive income and wealth inequality and a shrinking middle class, we need a government which represents all Americans.’ Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Democratic National Committee (DNC) chair Tom Perez will kick off a multi-state tour in Maine on Monday, where they are expected to outline the progressive plan to strengthen the party, bolster grassroots activism, and resist President Donald Trump. “At a time of massive income and wealth inequality and a shrinking middle class, we need a government which represents all Americans, not just Wall Street, multi-national corporations, and the top 1 percent,” Sanders and Perez said in a joint statement. The circuit is officially named the “Come Together and Fight Back” tour. Sanders won Maine’s presidential caucuses by nearly two-thirds when he ran in the 2016 primaries against Hillary Clinton. The tour is expected to take him and Perez through Maine,...

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With Few Exceptions, Trump is Mired in Unconscious Incompetency

by alterego55 – With Few Exceptions, Trump is Mired in Unconscious Incompetency: stuck on the bottom rung of the Competency Ladder. Many years ago I worked at the 40th largest company in the world. As a manager, I received the benefit of attending seven week long management training courses in organizational development. They told us the training was equivalent to an MBA education. I have no way of verifying that claim, but I can absolutely say I gained a lot of knowledge that benefitted me greatly throughout the rest of my career. One of the concepts they taught us was the Competency Ladder which qualitatively describes four different levels of competency ranging from totally incompetent to highly competent as a subject or skill is learned. There are a number of different names and representations for the same concept: The Four Stages of Learning, The Competency Matrix Quadrant Analysis as diagrammed above, and others. The four...

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Four Conservative Healthcare Analysts on Why Trump/Ryancare Stinks so Bad

by Joan McCarter – Let’s start your holiday weekend off with some fun. And what could be more fun than laughing at conservative health care experts trying to make excuses for why Republicans have totally failed at crafting a decent replacement for Obamacare? From the laughable to the delusional, here we go. Starting with my favoritest of all. Republicans just didn’t give themselves enough time A decade ago, the Democrats also had conflicting health-care ideas, squabbling over single-payer and a public option, but they worked it out in legislation, says Dan Holler, the vice president of communications for Heritage Action for America. “That’s not something that was capable of happening in 17 days” for Republicans, he said. The rush to pass the AHCA “was a misread of where the conference was.” All together now: SEVEN YEARS!!!! They had SEVEN YEARS!!!! But, says American Enterprise Institute guy James Capretta, they just “didn’t give themselves...

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Will China Intervene in North Korea? (VIDEOS)

by Salvatore Babones – If China intervenes in North Korea, it would not to be to save Kim Jong-un. North Korea is in the headlines – again. For a small, poor country of 25 million people, it sure does make a lot of news. This time it’s the perennial issue of nuclear testing. North Korea has tested five nuclear devices since 2006. Donald Trump is in no mood to allow a sixth. Just days before his Florida summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Trump vowed that “if China is not going to solve North Korea, we will.” Then just after the summit he backed up his pledge by ordered an aircraft carrier strike group to the region. North Korea showcases new missiles at military parade Most people agree that North Korea is a problem. Aside from its nuclear tests, it also stands accused of state-sponsored counterfeiting of foreign currencies, the industrial-scale manufacture and...

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The Republican Civil War is the Best Thing Happening

by Mark Sumner – Donald Trump may feel that his legislation-free first 100 days were beautiful, wonderful, and the best ever, but he’s the only one. What the rest of the Republican Party is seeing is falling support, ineffective leadership, and internal strife. Some Capitol Hill Republicans have envisioned the nightmare scenario for 2017, and it goes like this: No ­ObamaCare repeal. No tax reform. No trillion-dollar infrastructure package. No border wall. As it turns out, Republicans have their obstructionism refined to razor sharpness, but the time they dedicated to actually thinking through workable alternatives to existing laws is restricted to the length of time it takes to say “It’ll be easy.” While many Republicans hold out hope the ­ObamaCare repeal bill will be revived, skeptics say the GOP infighting during last month’s healthcare collapse may have poisoned the well for future big-ticket legislative deals. It’s not just drafting laws that Republicans...

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Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Visits are the Ultimate Grift: The More He Vacations, the More He Profits

by Laura Clawson – No reasonable person would say presidents don’t have the right to vacation a little. It’s a stressful job and they’re never fully off the job anyway. But there’s “a little” and there’s “28 percent of the time, in such a way as to profit yourself.” Guess which category Donald Trump is in? (And in fact, he attacked President Obama for vacationing—saying “If you’re in the White House, who wants to take a vacation?”—but that’s covered by the “no reasonable person” clause above). Yes, 28 percent of the time: … since his January inauguration, President Trump has spent seven of 13 weekends at his Palm Beach, Florida estate. According to NBC News’ estimates by Sunday Trump will have spent 28 percent of his term traveling to or staying at Mar-a-Lago. Trump hosted his second world leader at the “winter White House” last weekend, with Chinese President Xi Jinping joining Trump for meetings Thursday and Friday....

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DHS Secretary John Kelly: A Single DUI Could Lead to Deportation Proceedings

by Esther Yu Hsi Lee – During an interview on Sunday’s Meet the Press with host Chuck Todd, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly affirmed that the Trump administration will aggressively convict immigrants as criminals and deport people previously deemed as non-priorities under the Obama administration. Now, even a single conviction for driving under the influence could be considered a serious enough offense that triggers the deportation proceeding, Kelly said in response to Todd’s question to “define a criminal.” SEC. JOHN KELLY: It is fair to say that the definition of criminal has not changed, but where on the spectrum of criminality we operate has changed. CHUCK TODD: So can you give me an example of somebody that wasn’t deported before that you’re deporting now? SEC. JOHN KELLY: Well, someone, as an example, with multiple DUIs. Even a single DUI, depending on other aspects, would get you into the...

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Israeli Government Is Petrified of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement

by Mark Karlin, Truthout | Interview – The following is an interview with Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace and the editor of On Antisemitism: Solidarity and the Struggle for Justice. Mark Karlin: How is the charge of antisemitism used to smear critics of the Israeli government and its ignoble policies toward Palestinians? Rebecca Vilkomerson: As Tony Lerman’s contribution to the On Antisemitism book explores, Israel and its advocates have worked hard to portray criticism of the state of Israel as the “new antisemitism.” However, using the charge of antisemitism to shut down legitimate criticism of Israeli policies diminishes the meaning of the term and makes it harder to combat the real thing. In our advocacy work for Palestinian rights, we must always be vigilant for cases of real antisemitism directed against Jewish people — as opposed to protest against the Israeli state — just as...

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Dept of Ed Hires Anti-Civil Rights Crusader to Protect Student’s Nonexistent Civil Rights

by Steven Singer – Candice Jackson is a victim of oppression. When she was attending Stanford University in the mid-1990s, a minority calculus tutoring group refused to help her because she was white. Sure she could probably afford to pay for private tutoring, but it was the point of the  thing. She came from a family where both parents ran medical practices. Her dad, Dr. Rick Jackson, even unsuccessfully ran for Congress. You know – just like black families redlined into the ghetto and struggling to find work because of their African-sounding names. Why shouldn’t the limited amount of tutoring spaces serve her as well as people from traditionally less privileged backgrounds? White lives matter, ya’ll. “I am especially disappointed that the University encourages these and other discriminatory programs,” she wrote in the Stanford Review. “We need to allow each person to define his or her own achievements instead of assuming...

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