US

Why We Need Sanctuary Cities

by Robert Reich – California lawmakers have just passed “sanctuary state” legislation – the first state since Oregon, which 30 years ago passed a law preventing state agencies from targeting undocumented immigrants solely because of their illegal status. Other states should follow California’s and Oregon’s lead. Since January, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered immigration authorities to target “public safety” threats, federal arrests of undocumented immigrants have increased by over 37 percent. California is home to an estimated 2.3 million unauthorized immigrants. California’s law limits the authority of state and local law enforcers to communicate with federal immigration authorities, and prevents officers from questioning or holding people depending on their immigration status or immigration violations. But it still allows federal immigration authorities to enter county jails to question immigrants, and allow police and sheriffs to share information on people who have been convicted of serious crimes. This is a fair balance. Sanctuary...

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Corker: Virtually All Senate Republicans Know Trump is a Liability. Impeachment Coming?

by Karen Wehrstein – This morning the New York Times quotes Republican Senator Bob Corker saying that Trump’s insane shooting-off-at-the-mouth on foreign policy could start WWIII, that Trump needs constant babysitting by staff to contain him, and that almost every Republican senator knows damn well how volatile and dangerous he is.  (Emphases mine): In an extraordinary rebuke of a president of his own party, Mr. Corker said he was alarmed about a president who acts “like he’s doing ‘The Apprentice’ or something.” “He concerns me,” Mr. Corker added. “He would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation.” … Mr. Trump poses such an acute risk, the senator said, that a coterie of senior administration officials must protect him from his own instincts. “I know for a fact that every single day at the White House, it’s a situation of trying to contain him,” Mr. Corker said in a telephone interview. There’s a run-down...

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Mike Pence Spent a Million Dollars to Watch One Minute of a Football Game—and You Paid for it

by Mark Sumner – Just last week, four actual American soldiers died in Niger, in an attack likely organized by the regional branch of al Qaeda. If you were unaware of these deaths, or even that there were Americans on the ground in Niger — where the United States is helping to train government forces to fight terrorist incursions — that’s understandable. Because among the things at the top of Donald Trump’s list of important events, actual soldiers actually dying … doesn’t count. Instead, Trump has focused on athletes leading a peaceful protest against the ongoing killing of African-Americans by police, and the failure of the justice system to hold these police responsible for their actions. By portraying a pose usually reserved for honoring an injured player as a sign of disrespect toward the flag, the nation, and the military, Trump has created a fresh racial injustice to heap on top of the original. In service of this...

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Trump’s Calling Democrats About Healthcare Now

by Addy Baird – Chuck and Nancy may strike again. President Trump looks to be turning to new allies to pass a health care bill after Senate Republicans failed yet again to pass a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare last week. “I called Chuck Schumer yesterday to see if the Dems want to do a great HealthCare Bill,” Trump tweeted Saturday morning. “ObamaCare is badly broken, big premiums. Who knows!” Donald J. Trump  ✔@realDonaldTrump I called Chuck Schumer yesterday to see if the Dems want to do a great HealthCare Bill. ObamaCare is badly broken, big premiums. Who knows! 8:17 AM – Oct 7, 2017 Trump has been friendlier with Schumer, the Senate minority leader — as well as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi — in recent weeks. Last month, the trio struck a deal on a short-term debt limit increase. Pelosi and Schumer also said they struck a deal with Trump to...

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Sotomayor Made the Pro-Gerrymander Lawyers Gibber

by ksmoore777 – Slate’s Mark Stern provided enjoyable commentary about Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s contribution to last Tuesday’s oral arguments in Gill v. Whitford, the case examining the constitutional limits to political redistricting.  While her fellow Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, went after preening idiot Gorsuch, Sotomayor honed in on Wisconsin’s lawyers. Stern describes as the “highlight of the hour” Sotomayor’s simple, practical and direct question:  “Could you tell me what the value is to democracy from political gerrymandering?  How does that help our system of government?” Helluva good question.  How does gerrymandering help? Stern reports that Erin E. Murphy, the attorney representing Wisconsin’s (very gerrymandered) State Senate, could only offer “word salad” in response. I don’t think that … districting for partisan advantage has no positive values.  I would point you to, for instance, Justice Breyer’s dissenting opinion in which has an extensive discussion of how it can actually do good things for our system to have districts drawn...

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Gaping Holes in Gun Background Check System

by macguru – Gun store manager Christopher M. Sullivan of Guns and Guitars, who sold some of the weapons to the gunman who killed 58 and wounded over 500 people in Las Vegas last week made a statement. The gist of it was that he was sorry about the casualties, but his store performed all of the procedures required by law. And he is most likely correct. The laws governing background checks have holes in them a Mac truck could zip through without rifling the willows on the side of the road. The system has no trip points where any Federal agency is notified if, for instance, anyone buys an excessive number of firearms, anyone buys a particularly deadly form of weapon of mass destruction, (AK-47, AR-15, sniper rifles, hundreds of rounds of ammo, large ammo clips, etc.). No trip points for buying guns over a long period, no alerts if one...

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Memo to Tillerson About the Moron

by Robert Reich – To: Rex Tillerson From: Robert Reich Subject: The Moron I can understand why you feel Washington is a place of “petty nonsense,” as you said Wednesday when you called a news conference to rebut charges that you called Trump a moron last summer after a meeting of national security officials at the Pentagon. I’m also reasonably sure you called him a moron, which doesn’t make Washington any less petty. You probably called him a moron because almost all of us out here in the rest of America routinely call him that. But you’re right: There are far more important issues than the epithet you likely used to describe your boss. On the other hand, your calling him a moron wouldn’t itself have mushroomed into a headline issue – even in petty Washington – if there weren’t deep concerns about the President’s state of mind to begin with....

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Mueller’s Investigators Met With Author of the Russian Dossier That Continues to Dog Trump

by Kerry Eleveld – The Senate Intelligence panel made news Wednesday when its leaders said they had been unable to interview the author of the salacious Trump/Russia dossier, but CNN reported Thursday that the special counsel’s team succeeded in meeting with former MI-6 officer Christopher Steele. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators met this past summer with the former British spy whose dossier on alleged Russian efforts to aid the Trump campaign spawned months of investigations that have hobbled the Trump administration, according to two people familiar with the matter. Information from Christopher Steele, a former MI-6 officer, could help investigators determine whether contacts between people associated with the Trump campaign and suspected Russian operatives broke any laws. The news comes on the heels of recent reports that Mueller’s team was looking into the dossier. Also notable in CNN’s report is the fact that U.S. intelligence agencies, particularly the CIA, took the dossier more seriously than has previously been thought....

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California Sends Strong Rebuke to Trump Administration, Becomes ‘sanctuary state’

by Esther Yu Hsi Lee – “The passage of SB54 has been the answer to our prayers for our community.” California on Thursday became a so-called “sanctuary state,” limiting who the state and local law enforcement agencies can detain and transfer on behalf of the federal immigration agency. Named the California Values Act (or SB 54) and set to take effect in January 2018, the law would provide discretion to state and local law enforcement to cooperate with federal immigration authorities when they detain a suspected undocumented immigrant. The law, in part, strictly limits local law enforcement agencies’ collaboration with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency officials to only conviction cases and not during arrests. It also ensures immigrants are notified about their civil rights before ICE can interview them, stops law enforcement agencies from contacting ICE for translation services for monolingual immigrants, prevents the deputization of local law enforcement officers as immigration law enforcers,...

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Expose on Breitbart Proves the ‘alt-right’ is Just a Euphemism for White Supremacists

by Luke Barnes – Email between Steve Bannon, Milo Yiannopolous, and his sources show how Breitbart thrived on pushing a racist agenda. The far-right website Breitbart has spent a good portion of the last few months trying to distance itself from racist, xenophobic, and misogynistic causes. In the wake of the violent white supremacist and Neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Steve Bannon went on 60 Minutes to disavow the ultra-racist groups. Bannon, a former top adviser to President Donald Trump and former Breitbart CEO, returned to the site after leaving the White House in August. “They are absolutely awful,” he said. “There’s no room in American politics for that, there’s no room in American society for that.” Breitbart has repeatedly claimed that it is merely representing a populist, grassroots conservative movement that helped get Trump elected, and is not a platform for white nationalists. “We think there’s a lot of disenfranchised people out there...

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‘This Attack Is a New Low’: Trump Blasted for Rolling Back Birth Control Mandate

by Jessica Corbett – “Today’s outrageous rules by the Trump administration show callous disregard for women’s rights, health, and autonomy.” Update: In response to the Trump administration’s decision to roll back the federal birth control mandate, the American Civil Liberties Union announced that it is filing a lawsuit to challenge the interim final rules issued on Friday by the Department of Health and Human Services and other federal agencies. “The Trump administration is forcing women to pay for their boss’s religious beliefs,” said ACLU senior staff attorney Brigitte Amiri. “We’re filing this lawsuit because the federal government cannot authorize discrimination against women in the name of religion or otherwise.” The lawsuit is being filed on behalf of ACLU members as well as Service Employee International Union-United Health Care Workers West (SEIU-UHW) members, who could lose their contraception coverage under the administration’s new rules. “With the stroke of a pen, the Trump administration has...

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America has a Skewed Perception of What Qualifies as Terrorism

by Jack Jenkins – Researchers say Americans react differently depending on a perpetrator’s race, religion, and methods. By many metrics, Monday’s horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada — which left nearly 60 people dead and hundreds wounded — followed the agonizingly familiar patterns of America’s endless string of mass shootings. But one thing was different. As many observers on social media pointed out with deepfrustration, law enforcement negated the possibility that the shooter is a “terrorist” with alarming speed — especially when compared to other recent attacks in which the suspected perpetrator was a Muslim or a person of color. Authorities have thus far held firm in their assessment that there isn’t enough evidence to label suspected shooter Stephen Paddock a terrorist in the literal sense, dismissing claims by extremist group ISIS that the shooter was acting on their accord. Erin Kearns, a terrorist expert and professor of criminology at the University of Alabama, said this is...

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DOJ Rescinds Policy Protecting Transgender People From Workplace Discrimination

by Zack Ford – Discrimination based on gender identity will no longer be considered discrimination based on sex. The Department of Justice will no longer argue that workplace protections on the basis of sex protect transgender people from discrimination. That’s according to a new memo from Attorney General Jeff Sessions obtained by BuzzFeed Thursday. The new policy reverses a policy put in place in 2014 by then-Attorney General Eric Holder. The fundamental question is whether denying someone employment based on their gender identity (i.e. being transgender) constitutes discrimination on the basis of that person’s “sex,” as protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Holder held that trans people fall under that category, but Sessions has now reversed that and declared they no longer enjoy such protections. “Title VII does not prohibit discrimination based on gender identity per se,” Sessions writes, according to BuzzFeed. Under his view, the law only covers discrimination between “men and...

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Anti-Abortion Republican Just Aborted Himself From Office

by Conover Kennard – U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, a staunch ‘pro-life’ Republican representing Pennsylvania’s 18th District, has resigned after being caught in a scandal which involves adultery and encouraging his mistress to get an abortion. After Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) was caught being a hypocrite of the highest order, he announced his resignation on Thursday after announcing his plan to retire after 2018. “This afternoon I received a letter of resignation from Congressman Tim Murphy, effective October 21,” Speaker Paul Ryan said in a statement. “It was Dr. Murphy’s decision to move on to the next chapter of his life, and I support it.” Well, it wasn’t exactly Murphy’s decision really. House GOP leaders and senior Republicans pressured Murphy to step down, according to Politico. GOP sources familiar with Murphy’s thinking said the married man initially believed he could weather the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story revealing he had encouraged an abortion in texts he...

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Trump Wants $1.6 Billion for the Border Wall. That Covers Just 74 Miles

by Jim Hightower – All this for a boondoggle project most Americans continue to oppose. How much of your money does Donald Trump want to pour into his xenophobic fantasy of erecting an impenetrable wall on our Mexican border? The big-businessman-turned-president insists he doesn’t care about costs — just build it! That seems to be a very un-businesslike approach, but then, it’s not his money, is it? For those of you who do care, one measure of what the total tab might be is that he’s demanding $1.6 billion from Congress to start construction. How much wall will that buy? Seventy-four miles. Now, how long is that U.S.-Mexican border he wants to seal off? One thousand, nine-hundred miles long. Tony Webster / Flickr So, $1.6 billion down — and only 1,826 miles to go. And let’s not even get into the cost overruns, fraudulent billings, shoddy materials, and other scams that the...

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How Russia’s Fake Social Media Accounts Propelled Donald Trump

by Casey Michel – Here are some of the fake accounts, misleading memes, and real events that helped propel Trump. Part 1 of a series. More than a month after Facebook and Twitter announced they had identified hundreds of fake accounts and thousands of ads secretly run by Russian state agents, the American public is still largely in the dark as to what the ads and accounts contained, what messages they pushed, or even how they framed policy debates and viewed presidential candidates. We know, for instance, that these fake Russian accounts offered $100,000 to Facebook for approximately 3,000 ads — and potentially thousands more — while specifically targeting swing states like Michigan and Wisconsin. When Facebook revealed the ad sales to congressional investigators (after dismissing concerns in the lead-up to the election), Virginia Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) said these accounts were but “the tip of the iceberg.” We also know that Facebook, which says 10 million users viewed these Russian ads, has...

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IRS Rewards Equifax With Multi-million Dollar Fraud-prevention Contract After Massive Data Breach

by Luke Barnes – The breach exposed the personal data of more than 145 million Americans. Credit monitoring firm Equifax has been awarded a $7.25 million no-bid contract to help prevent fraud, despite the fact that the company is reeling from a security breach that exposed the personal data of more than 145 million Americans. The breach, which was discovered in July but not made public until September, is believed to be one of the largest identity thefts in American history. Credit card numbers, names, addresses, driver’s license and Social Security numbers were all exposed, enabling hackers to buy and sell the information over the internet for years to come. But despite this massive cyber-security lapse, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) still awarded the company a multi-million dollar contract on September 30 — the last day of the fiscal year — to “verify taxpayer identity and to assist in ongoing identity verification and...

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Senate Investigation Update: ‘Collusion is still an open question,’ but Russian Interference is Sure

by Mark Sumner – Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr and ranking Democratic member Mark Warner appeared on Wednesday to give an update on the committee’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. While the committee was not ready to give definitive answers on any topic, they indicated that they were very close to closing out a few issues. An example: the original intelligence assessment indicating that Russia was behind actions to steal and distribute Democratic emails was accurate. While most of the focus was on the extent of the investigation to this point—over 100 interviews, over 100,000 documents, thousands of hours of evaluation—there were several points on which Burr and Warner would not give a definitive statement. In particular, when it comes to the central issue of whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian officials, Burr would only say that the issue of collusion was “still open.” Burr had effusive praise...

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Mental Illness Rates are Spiking, and its Victims Feel Forgotten by the Trump Administration

by Lindsey Weedston – “I’m worried that Trump’s America doesn’t have a place for people like me.” The first week of October marks the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ (NAMI’s) Mental Illness Awareness Week. Nine months into Donald Trump’s presidency — and nearly one year after his victory sparked a flurry of self-care and self-help articles — the new normal is taking a toll on Americans, and there’s still no sign of change in our policies. Nicole Nadeau, a 26-year-old from Georgia, suffers from severe anxiety, which, she says, became noticeably worse after Trump became president. After Trump’s “grab ‘em by the pussy” comments during his campaign, Nicole was “terrified that it would be more alright for women and men to be sexually assaulted” — a fear aggravated by her disorder. “The first month after he was brought into office, I was scared to leave the house,” she told ThinkProgress. Of course, mental health...

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Millions of Lives at Risk as GOP Lets CHIP Expire

by LeeAnn Hall – Nine million children in this country are at the brink of losing health coverage. What do our lawmakers say about this? Not a damn word. Why? Because they care more about themselves than our children, and our country’s future. But if they won’t speak up, we will. On Saturday, Congress allowed CHIP, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, to expire. CHIP is a partnership between states and the federal government that since 1997 has extended health care to millions who would otherwise have no access to care. As an organizer in rural Idaho in the nineties, I saw with my own eyes the difference CHIP makes in the lives of ordinary people. Thousands of children and expectant mothers in our state got access, many for the first time, to everything from checkups and healthy care to treatments for chronic asthma and cancer. The benefits of CHIP are profound,...

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