News

EPA Administrator Lied about Private Email use in Senate Testimony

by Bryce Covert – Thousands of emails Scott Pruitt sent to oil and gas companies still haven’t been disclosed. An investigation by Fox 25 in Oklahoma has confirmed that Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt used a private email account to conduct official business while he was the state’s attorney general, directly contradicting what he told the Senate during his confirmation hearing. During his hearing, Pruitt was asked by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), “Have you ever conducted business using your personal email accounts, nonofficial Oklahoma Attorney General email accounts, text messages, instant messenger, voicemails, or any other medium?” Pruitt responded, “I use only my official OAG email address and government issued phone to conduct official business.” But the Oklahoma attorney general’s office confirmed to Fox 25 that Pruitt used private email for state business after an Open Records Request revealed documents where certain email addresses...

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Bill Maher Lashes out at the Press: Toughen up, Stop Covering Crap, Take one for the Team

by Egberto Willies – A national press with similarly lousy credibility as Trump is one that is ineffective. Bill Maher uses actual examples of their screw ups to point out what they should do in this excerpted video clip. Now more than ever we need a robust and assertive press. It is the time that the media gets back to the basics but most importantly grow spines to confront our political bully. “Now that polls show that the public finds the news media less trustworthy than Donald Trump,” Bill Maher said. “They have to fight to get their reputation back. And there are encouraging signs that that fight has been joined.” Maher then pointed out that the New York Times called out Trump’s untruths by name, lies. Chuck Todd, Scot Pelley, and George Stephanopoulos slammed Trump spokespersons when they came on the air with their alternative facts. “We are going to need...

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Resistance Recess Puts Congress on Notice for Supporting Trump’s Agenda (VIDEO)

by Libero Della Piana – Rep. Dave Trott’s constituents in the Northeastern suburbs of Detroit gathered at his office to ask him about his stance on health care, refugees and other urgent issues. Instead of scheduling a meeting, Trott’s staff called the police. The delegation was organized by Michigan People’s campaign, an affiliate of People’s Action, a national organization fighting for economic and social justice. Since last weekend dozens of other town hall meetings and constituent forums have been dominated by vocal and angry people wondering where their lawmakers stand on Trump’s agenda, in particular regarding plans to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Embracing the #ResistanceRecess hashtag, national organizations such as MoveOn.com, Daily Kos, the AFL-CIO and People’s Action are helping mobilize grassroots frustration with the direction of the country after just one month of the Trump presidency. Many Republicans in Congress have concealed or simply refused to hold public town halls and opted to...

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Milo Yiannopoulos’ Fall From a Hateful Summit

by Sam Fulwood III – Until recently, I’d never heard of Milo Yiannopoulos. How I wish that blissful ignorance had remained intact. Over the past several years, Yiannopoulos has developed a fanatic following among a minority of Americans who’ve embraced his nasty bleating on Breitbart. Had he been confined exclusively to Breitbart, I might not have ever become aware of him. Alas, he crossed my path over the weekend, turning up like a lightening bug smashing into my social media windshield. The bombastic provocateur accepted a headline speaking gig at the American Conservative Union’s Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC. That didn’t sit too well with some of Yiannopoulos’ critics, of which I’ve learned there are legions. He seems to enjoy attracting controversy as a means to burnish his reputation and line his pocket. Yiannopoulos is an unlikely hero for the conservative political action group; he’s an openly gay man who...

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Chickensht Trump Blows Off White House Correspondents Dinner: Paging Alec Baldwin

by News Corpse – Donald Trump has been fighting a bloody “War on the Media” for months now. His recent escalations included calling the “fake news” media the “enemy of the American people.”  Shortly thereafter his press secretary, Sean Spicer, banned several news organizations from a White House briefing. The animosity from Trump gets more intense by the hour. In his latest assault Gen. Trump has just announced that he will not be attending the White House Correspondents Dinner on April 29. The WHCD is an annual affair that is held to raise funds for scholarships. But apparently Trump’s anti-media obsession overrules any interest in helping a charity. The truth is more likely that Trump is afraid of having a close encounter with the “enemy.” He has never been particularly good at laughing at himself. That’s a personality flaw that’s common among narcissists. So rather than fraternize with the media he...

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Indiana is Going Hard Against Abortion This Week

by Maureen Shaw – These measures are extreme, even for Indiana. Indiana is gunning for abortion rights this week. Within a span of two days, Indiana’s House revived its “abortion reversal” bill, and a Senate panel advanced a restrictive bill aimed at curbing minors’ access to abortion care. Even for Indiana, which has a draconian anti-choice record, these measures are extreme in their disregard for women’s health and privacy. On Tuesday, the House Public Policy Committee approved H.B. 1128, which requires, among other things, that “a pregnant woman be informed orally and in writing before an abortion obtained through an abortion inducing drug that the abortion may be possibly reversed.” Last week, the committee approved a similar bill, but was met with resistance by some House Republicans, who cited concerns about a provision requiring abortion providers to perform an ultrasound to determine a fetus’ gestational age. This provision was struck from Tuesday’s...

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Republican Congressman Calls for Independent Prosecutor to Investigate Donald Trump

by Laurel Raymond – Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) said that Attorney General Jeff Sessions should recuse himself. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) said on Friday night that an independent special prosecutor should investigate potential ties between Russia and the Donald Trump campaign. “You’re right that you cannot have somebody — a friend of mine, Jeff Sessions — who was on the campaign and who is an appointee,” Issa said on HBO’s Real Time. “You’re going to need to use the special prosecutor’s statute and office.” He also added that it wouldn’t be enough to hand the job instead to the deputy attorney general, who is also a political appointee. The Priebus/FBI segment begins at approx. 5:30 Issa formerly served as the head of the House Oversight committee, where he conducted repeated investigations of the Obama White House. Issa once called Obama “one of the most corrupt presidents in modern times.” Issa’s high-theater investigations, however, often failed to...

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Trump Broke 64 Promises in His First Month in Office

by Ryan Koronowski – He kept 7. On Thursday, Trump’s Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Steven Bannon spoke about their priorities after the first month of the administration at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland. Bannon said that Trump is “maniacally focused” on executing the promises he made during the campaign. The facts tell a different story. A ThinkProgress’ analysis of Trump’s statements and policy proposals prior to his swearing-in found that he made at least 663 discrete promises. After his first day in office, Trump failed to keep 34 of 36 “Day One” promises. Since then, he has also broken 30 more promises, yielding a total of 64. Trump did manage to keep five more promises, for a total of seven. Trump made a lot of promises about what he will do as president. We’ve documented 663 of them. The people who elected Trump expect him to...

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McMaster’s Challenge: His Boss Is Already Making America Less Safe

by Vikram Singh and Peter Juul – At a time when the Trump administration continues to spark an immediate and growing national security crises due to mismanagement and reckless policies, the national security community felt great relief at the president’s selection of Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as the next national security advisor. McMaster will be tasked with resolving a number of serious foreign policy blunders already committed by the new administration. President Trump must ensure that McMaster has the authority and tools to deal with the following seven problems. Chaotic and dysfunctional management. Even before former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s forced resignation, President Trump’s National Security Council proved disturbingly dysfunctional. For example, U.S. military officials told Reuters that the president “approved his first covert counterterrorism operation without sufficient intelligence, ground support or adequate backup preparations.” The operation in Yemen was launched with no normal process and resulted in the...

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The Manchurian President

by NEAL GABLER – A classic Hollywood political thriller may tell us more about what’s happening in America than any history book. As the Trump presidency unravels, unraveling the country along with it, there is no real political antecedent, no lessons from American history on which to draw and provide guidance. We are in entirely uncharted waters. But there is an antecedent in our popular culture that provides a prism through which to view the contemporary calamity, especially the alleged collusion between Trump’s henchmen and Russian intelligence to deny Hillary Clinton the presidency. I am not the first observer who has noted the relevance of the movie The Manchurian Candidate. But the relevance is more than skin or celluloid deep. It goes to the very heart of this bizarre and frightening political moment. First, the fact that this implausibly plotted Hollywood thriller could now be applied, not altogether implausibly, to a...

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Why the Emerging Bill to Repeal the Affordable Care Act Will Fail

by Topher Spiro and Harry Stein – Last week, the House majority released an outline for repealing the Affordable Care Act, or ACA. Although the document provides no new details, it does provide enough information to evaluate the adequacy of financing, the likely policies needed to pay for new tax credits for health insurance, the likely effects on tax credit levels, and the political hurdles to such an approach. This analysis is based exclusively on numbers from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, or CBO. Although the congressional majority will claim that the emerging repeal bill represents a simultaneous replacement of the ACA, the math does not add up. Using CBO estimates, the Center for American Progress calculates that the repeal bill will cut the Medicaid expansion by $277 billion over 10 years. To finance new tax credits for health insurance, the repeal bill will likely cut Medicaid—including funding for nursing homes...

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Dan Rather: This is an Emergency—and a Moment of Judgement for Everyone Who Remains Silent

by Leslie Salzillo – If you’ve been following news this week, there’s no doubt you’ve read/heard about the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), where White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon made a dangerous and odious threat against the media. This was followed by Donald Trump echoing the same message while barring some reputable, truth-seeking news groups including The New York Times from a White House briefing, an unprecedented act against the media, the freedom of the press, and the nation’s First Amendment. The legendary newsman Dan Rather took to social media to share his straight-shooting views, experience and wisdom regarding the latest derelictions from the White House. Here is his Facebook post in full.  The time for normalizing, dissembling, and explaining away Donald Trump has long since passed. The barring of respected journalistic outlets from the White House briefing is so far beyond the norms and traditions that have governed this republic for generations, that they must be seen as a real and present threat to our democracy....

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Top Obama Lawyers Join To Dig Into Trump’s Abuse of Power

by CathyM – I really, really think we need to tell folks about this group! I haven’t seen them mentioned before. Obama lawyers form ‘worst-case scenario’ group to tackle Trump Fearful the new administration will abuse its power, the former president’s lawyers are uniting to fight back. Top lawyers who helped the Obama White House craft and hold to rules of conduct believe President Donald Trump and his staff will break ethics norms meant to guard against politicization of the government — and they’ve formed a new group to prepare, and fight. United to Protect Democracy, which draws its name from a line in President Barack Obama’s farewell address that urged his supporters to pick up where he was leaving off, has already raised a $1.5 million operating budget, hired five staffers and has plans to double that in the coming months. They’ve incorporated as both a 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(4), allowing...

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New Deportation Rules Could Cost the Economy Trillions

by Bryce Covert – Deporting all undocumented immigrants would have extreme effects on the economy. President Trump pushed forward on his campaign promise to deport all undocumented immigrants on Tuesday by releasing new guidelines to expand and speed up deportations. The memos from the Department of Homeland Security target all undocumented immigrants for deportation, even those who haven’t committed serious crimes, while necessitating the hiring of thousands of new agents and building new detention facilities. These policies are going to wreak havoc on the lives, families, and communities of those who end up deported. And they will also come with a steep cost for everyone in this country. It’s still not clear whether the administration will actually have the resources and ability to deport every undocumented immigrant. But even if it were able to deport just the 7 million undocumented workers in this country, out of the estimated 12 million total, it...

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Law Professors File Misconduct Complaint Against KellyanneConway

by CathyM – As bad as all the crap that’s pouring from the White House is, it is heartening today to see people pushing back: Law professors file misconduct complaint against Kellyanne Conway A group of law professors from around the country has filed a professional misconduct complaint against White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, a graduate of George Washington University Law School who was admitted to the D.C. Bar in 1995. The letter, filed with the office that handles misconduct by members of the D.C. Bar, said Conway should be sanctioned for violating government ethics rules and “conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation,” the letter says. The 15 professors, who specialize in legal ethics, cite several incidents,including a television interview in which Conway made the “false statement that President Barack Obama had ‘banned’ Iraqi refugees from coming into the United States for six months following the ‘Bowling Green Massacre,’ ”...

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Gabby Giffords Shames GOP Rep. for Using Her Shooting as an Excuse to Hide From Town Halls

by April Hamlin – Republicans across the country have been doing all they can to avoid town hall meetings where angry constituents are waiting. But Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) should win some type of award for his despicable excuse. Earlier this week, Gohmert claimed that he hadn’t scheduled a town hall meeting to discuss important issues with the people he represents because with all the angry protesters around he’s afraid of a shooting like the one that involved Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. But don’t worry. This isn’t because he’s a coward. It’s just that he wants to keep his constituents safe. “Unfortunately, at this time there are groups from the more violent strains of the leftist ideology, some even being paid, who are preying on public town halls to wreak havoc and threaten public safety. Threats are nothing new to me and I have gotten my share as a felony judge.” “However, the House...

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White House Asked FBI to Rebut Stories of Campaign-Russia Collusion but the FBI Refused

by Hunter – Is the Trump White House now attempting to use the Federal Bureau of Investigations as their own political prop? Why yes. Yes they are. The FBI rejected a recent White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Donald Trump’s associates and Russians known to US intelligence during the 2016 presidential campaign, multiple US officials briefed on the matter tell CNN. The direct communications between the White House and the FBI were unusual because of decade-old restrictions on such contacts. Such a request from the White House is a violation of procedures that limit communications with the FBI on pending investigations. There seems to be some disagreement on who called who first (that is, somebody here is lying) but the contacts were between White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. Priebus wanted the FBI to rebut press stories about...

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RUSSIA-GATE: Senate Intelligence Committee Investigation – Let’s Meet the Members Shall We

by Doctor Who – This weekend’s 2.5 hour meeting of the Senate Intelligence Committee with FBI Director Comey, ended in a bunch of Senate Committee Members walking out stone faced and pale as if they had seen a ghost, and followed the next day by a letter from the Committee asking all individuals and Agencies to preserve any and all records having to do with Russia-Gate.  With these recent developments I though it might be a good time to take a look at the makeup of this Committee that arguably has the fate of the US Democracy in its hands. So here they are: REPUBLICANS: 1. Richard Burr (R-NC), Chairman 2. James Risch (R-ID) 3. Marco Rubio (R-FL) 4. Susan Collins (R-ME) 5. Roy Blunt (R-MO) 6. James Lankford (R-OK) 7. Tom Cotton (R-AR) 8. John Cornyn (R-TX) DEMOCRATS: 1. Mark Warner (D-VA), Vice Chairman 2. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) 3. Ron...

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Iraqi Forces Take Control of Mosul Airport (VIDEO)

Iraqi forces storm ISIL-held Mosul International Airport as they continue offensive on western half of the city. US-backed Iraqi security forces closing in on the ISIL-held western half of Mosul have stormed the city’s airport and a nearby military base, state television said. Counterterrorism service (CTS) troops and elite interior ministry units known as Rapid Response forces descended on the airport early on Thursday and the nearby Ghazlani military complex, CTS spokesman Sabah al-Numan told state TV. Iraqi army hits ISIL positions amid Mosul airport push “This is one of the major achievements that the Iraqi forces were hoping to get in the first phase of going towards the Western side of the city,” said Al Jazeera’s Osama Bin Javaid, reporting from Erbil. “This area is about 30 kms away from the western edge of the city, and Iraqi forces now say that they are in full control. “They...

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The For-Profit Presidency, Month One

by Robert Weissman – One month into the Trump administration, and it’s clear that there has been a wholesale corporate takeover of the government A day-by-day review of the administration’s first month shows that virtually every day there has been a new, extraordinary grant of power to corporate interests and/or another development in Donald Trump’s get-rich-quick-scheme known as the American presidency. America has never seen anything like this, and it’s only the first month. Poorly attended though it might have been, the inauguration itself was a paean not just to the new president but to his corporate backers. Corporations that have pending business before the president — AT&T, Bank of America, Boeing, Chevron, Deloitte, JPMorgan Chase and United Parcel Service – were among the top funders of the inauguration and surrounding festivities. We still do not know the full list of donors to the inauguration. New President Trump signaled his intent...

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Fed Up with ‘Dysfunction and Deadlock,’ Former FEC Chair Will Resign

by Deirdre Fulton – ‘What we are left with is an agency mandated to ensure transparency and disclosure that is actually working to keep the public in the dark,’ writes Ann M. Ravel. The primary responsibilities of the Federal Election Commission (FEC) are to ensure full disclosure of campaign money and fair enforcement of election law, former chair Ann M. Ravel said Monday, before declaring: “Citizens deserve to know it does neither.” In an op-ed published at the New York Times, Ravel blamed the dysfunction on “a controlling bloc of three Republican commissioners who are ideologically opposed to the FEC’s purpose regularly ignores violations or drastically reduces penalties.” “The resulting paralysis,” she wrote, “has allowed over $800 million in ‘dark money’ to infect our elections since Citizens United, the 2010 Supreme Court decision that allowed corporations and unions to spend unlimited sums to elect or defeat candidates.” She continued: Last...

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The ‘So-Called’ Trump Presidency is Crumbling Under Pressure From Protests

by News Corpse – Since the day that Donald Trump was inaugurated, the American people have flooded the streets and town halls to express their opposition to his agenda. Unprecedented numbers of citizens turned out for the nationwide Women’s March on January 21. A week later, more protesters showed up spontaneously at airports to oppose Trump’s Muslim ban. Now town halls are being inundated by angry voters who won’t stand for Trump’s efforts to gut ObamaCare. These protests are having a profound effect on the Republican Party. Nervous GOP representatives in Washington, and across the nation, are running scared – literally. Many are avoiding their own constituents meetings for fear of encountering their wrath. And the ones that are going are being greeted by passionate advocates for progressive policies and values. For those who are skeptical that these tactics are effective, set aside your worries. There is abundant evidence that they...

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GOP Senator Wants Mike Flynn to Testify Before Congress about his Russia Connections

by Aaron Rupar – Sen. Susan Collins says she’s also open to subpoenaing Trump’s tax returns. Despite many unanswered questions about connections between President Donald Trump, his inner circle, and Russian officials, Republican members of Congress have so far been reluctant to pursue a robust investigation. But during an interview with Maine Public Radio on Wednesday, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) expressed confidence that Congress will conduct a thorough, bipartisan investigation. “I am confident that since this is a completely bipartisan investigation with full-time staff, that we’ll get to the bottom of this,” she said, adding that she anticipates the investigation will culminate in a public report. Collins, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said she and other members want former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to testify before them. Flynn lost his job last Monday after it was revealed he had lied about discussing Russian sanctions during his pre-inauguration communications with...

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The Constitutional Apocalypse

by Les Leopold – As Trump vilifies the press, the courts, immigrants, Muslims, Democrats, protestors and anyone who disagrees with him, it isn’t hard to imagine a modern day Mussolini… or worse. But, an even greater threat lies in the Republican’s march towards full control of state government. If they get there, they will have the frightening power to amend the Constitution into their own authoritarian image… or Ayn Rand’s. Republicans now control 32 state legislatures and 33 governorships. They have majorities in both state legislative chambers as well as the governorships in 25 states. The Democrats have total control in only six states and legislative control in two more (see here). If Republicans achieve veto-proof control in 38 states, they can do something that has never been done before ― hold a constitutional convention, and then ratify new amendments that are put forth. To date all amendments have been initiated...

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Appeals Court Upholds Maryland’s Assault-Style Rifle Ban

by Meteor Blades – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit on Tuesday upheld a Maryland ban on assault-style semi-automatic rifles. The 10-4 ruling in the case of Kolbe v. Hogan overturned a decision by a three-judge panel of the same court. The ruling held that the designated firearms are “not protected by the Second Amendment.” The 2013 law was passed in the wake of the massacre of six adults and 20 first-graders at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in December 2012. The young killer committed the murders with an assault-style rifle, the Bushmaster XM15-E2S, a firearm patterned on the widely available AR-15. Specifically, the law prohibits sales or other transfers of a list of 81 guns and similar models. It includes both pistols, shotguns, and centerfire, semi-automatic rifles that accept detachable magazines and have at least two of three characteristics—grenade launcher, flash suppressor/flare launcher, or folding stock. Also banned are sales or transfers of magazines than can hold more than...

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Nine Therapists Share Their Opinions on Trump’s Fitness for Office

by HalBrown – This is an open article. If you are a psychotherapist and willing to have your opinion published in the body of the article, put it on as a comment and include your degree and profession. Living in a world in which I see or hear Donald Trump on at least a daily basis, it would be peculiar of me not to notice or wonder what drives him. The trick is to figure out what the behaviors mean and whether they are a threat to the country. A few of the most disturbing behaviors that I have seen in Donald Trump have been the mocking of people he perceives as weak and the degree to which he denies, lies about or distorts information. In my experience as a therapist, I have worked with people who have been harmed by trauma, including emotional abuse – as children. As a...

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Judge: Texas can’t Kick Planned Parenthood out of Medicaid

by MARISSA EVANS – U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks ruled Tuesday afternoon that Texas clinics affiliated with Planned Parenthood can continue to care for patients under the state’s Medicaid program, a phew-worthy victory for reproductive rights advocates and a loss for the state’s GOP leaders. In a 42-page ruling, Sparks wrote that the state’s arguments in the case were “the building blocks of a best-selling novel rather than a case concerning the interplay of federal and state authority through the Medicaid program.” “After reviewing the evidence currently in the record, the Court finds the Inspector General, and thus , likely acted to disenroll qualified health care providers from Medicaid without cause,” the ruling read. “Such action would deprive Medicaid patients of their statutory right to obtain health care from their chosen qualified provider.” The ruling comes more than a year after Planned Parenthood first sued Texas to...

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President Trump Has Cheapened the Dignity of His Office

by Sam Fulwood III – It hasn’t even been a full month yet, but many of us who pay close attention to Washington feel like the Trump administration has aged us a full decade. Every day begins with a fearful peek at President Donald Trump’s latest insomniac posting on Twitter. Who is he attacking today? A fashion retailer? Or the all-knowing purveyors of “fake news?” Perhaps a beloved civil rights leader and member of Congress? In a way, starting the day with Trump’s tweets is like reading the comics before the front-page news. As tempting as it might seem, however, the president’s online hijinks are no laughing matter. It’s serious business when the leader of the free world expresses pique and ire daily in 140 characters or less. As he did during the presidential campaign, Trump has continued to attack any one or any institution that dares to disagree with him....

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Do These 10 Things, And Trump Will Be Toast

by Michael Moore – An easy-to-follow action plan than anyone and can do… and every one must do. Friends, I welcome you to “The Michael Moore Easy-to-Follow 10-Point Plan to Stop Trump.” First, let’s acknowledge what we all know to be true: Trump is in deep, deep trouble — in the pocket of Russians, surrounded by alt.right idiots, alone in his bathrobe in a mostly-empty White House — and caught inside a disgusting “shit-sandwich”, so said his supporter who turned down the NSA job. Only one month into his So-Called Presidency — and yet there is good news, as this is what the American landscape looks like: • Tens of thousands of citizens across the country have stormed Congressional district offices and town hall meetings to express their rage at the Trump agenda (a dejected Republican congressman, after a 3-hour verbal assault from his angry constituents, said on TV last night,...

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Muslims Raise $55,000 to Fix Vandalized Jewish Cemetery

Muslim activists launch crowdfunding bid to repair Missouri’s Chesed Shel Emeth graves after anti-Semitic desecration. A crowdfunding project launched by Muslim activists has raised more than $55,000 in one day to repair a vandalised Jewish cemetery in St Louis. On Tuesday, Linda Sarsour of the grassroots civil rights MPower Change group and Tarek El-Messidi of the non-profit CelebrateMercy organisation called on people to donate after more than 100 headstones at the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in the St Louis suburb of University City were toppled. By early Wednesday, at the time of  publishing, $55,341 had been raised. According to reports, police said they did not yet know who was responsible for the vandalism. “Muslim Americans stand in solidarity with the Jewish American community to condemn this horrific act of desecration,” the activists said. They launched the campaign with a goal to raise $20,000, a target that was hit in three...

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Did Jury in Etan Patz Murder Case Receive Improper Information?

by Joaquin Sapien and Joe Sexton – Attorneys for the former bodega clerk convicted last week of murdering 6-year-old Etan Patz in 1979 are exploring whether the jury was exposed to improper information during the course of the four-month trial and prior to deliberations. After the Manhattan jury reached a unanimous guilty verdict last week, Newsday reported that a juror from the trial — the second brought against 56-year-old Pedro Hernandez — had been told by a court officer that one or more jurors from the first trial were attending the second proceeding, where they sometimes sat with the dead boy’s father, Stan Patz. The first trial involving the disappearance and death of one of the most famous missing children in American history ended in a hung jury in May 2015. But afterward many jurors spoke passionately and publicly of their belief that Hernandez was, in fact, guilty. Several forged relationships...

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President Trump’s Coming War on Science: Environment Edition

by Alison Cassady – On February 17, the U.S. Senate confirmed former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA. Observers can now expect the Trump administration—with Congress providing the wind at Administrator Pruitt’s back—to charge ahead with an aggressive agenda to weaken or nullify a decade’s worth of progress on pollution reduction. President Donald Trump and Administrator Pruitt are likely to start off by announcing plans to dismantle the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which set the first-ever carbon pollution standards for power plants, and other components of President Barack Obama’s Climate Action Plan. They may also attack an Obama-era rule to protect the nation’s waterways from pollution. In addition to taking on specific environmental protections, President Trump and Congress are likely to pursue a more pernicious strategy to deny or obscure basic facts and science about climate change and assert new supposed truths...

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French Police Search Marine Le Pen’s Party Headquarters (VIDEOS)

Raid is part of an investigation into allegations that far-right leader used EU funds to pay staff of her FN party. French police have searched the Paris-based headquarters of far-right leader Marine Le Pen’s National Front (FN) party in relation to a probe into alleged misuse of EU funds, according to a party statement. The European Parliament (EP) says Le Pen, a member of the European institution since 2004, had paid FN party staff with EP funds. According to EU rules, parliamentary money should be used only to pay assistants working with the institution. Inside Story – Can Marine Le Pen win the French presidential election? The parliament says the breach happened during the 2011-12 legislature, after Le Pen assumed her role as FN leader in January 2011. The EP says 20 assistants presented as parliamentary aides back then continued to work for the FN elsewhere. Al Jazeera’s Natacha Butler,...

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Keith Ellison’s Quest for DNC Chair

by Robert Borosage – Rep. Keith Ellison offers a lifeline to a Democratic Party that is struggling to stay afloat. The question is whether party officials realize that they are sinking and accept it. When the 447 members of the Democratic National Committee select a new chairman in Atlanta on Saturday, they will decide whether they want the lift or would prefer to keep floundering. Clearly, Democrats are in dire shape. They are locked out of power in Washington, with Republicans in control of the White House and both houses of Congress. During the Obama administration, they lost nearly 1,000 state legislative seats, and Republicans now control 67 of 98 partisan state legislative chambers nationwide. From Kansas to Wisconsin and North Carolina, the right is driving an agenda that will expose Americans to the pillage of a new robber baron era. Democrats are losing elections in significant part because...

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Schumer: DOJ Rules Require Jeff Sessions to Recuse Himself from Flynn Investigation

by Laura Clawson – Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is calling on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s dealings with Russia. In a Washington Post op-ed, Schumer points to the Justice Department rule barring any member of the department from participating in an investigation “if he has a personal or political relationship with any person or organization substantially involved in the conduct that is the subject of the investigation or prosecution or any person or . . . has a specific and substantial interest that would be directly affected by the outcome of the investigation or prosecution.” Donald Trump has an interest that would be affected by the investigation—and that’s if he wasn’t substantially involved in the conduct in question, which is far from certain. And Sessions isn’t just a Trump appointee: During the campaign, Sessions was identified by the Trump campaign and by Trump...

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Florida Supreme Court Reminds Politicians That Women Are Capable of Making Their Own Decisions

by Julia Kaye – Every day, people face important medical decisions. When tough choices arise, we consult with our health care providers about the pros and cons of different treatment options. We meditate on our goals and fears. Some of us will turn to family or friends for advice. Some of us will pray. No one goes to the state capitol building to ask a politician their opinion. Yet when it comes to a woman’s decision to end her pregnancy, politicians feel entitled to insert themselves into the equation. We all agree that a woman seeking abortion care, like every other patient, should receive all medically appropriate information. But in dozens of states, legislators demand that a woman who has decided to have an abortion — unlike any other patient seeking any other form of medical care — delay her procedure by a certain amount of time (typically 24 hours...

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Trump’s First Month Travel Expenses Cost Taxpayers Just Less than what Obama Spent in a Year

by Aaron Rupar – Meanwhile, his budget proposal cuts programs for poor people. On Monday, President Trump returned to Washington DC from his private Mar-a-Lago club in Florida, where he’s spent the last three weekends. The Washington Post reports that those three trips “probably cost the federal treasury about $10 million, based on figures used in an October government report analyzing White House travel, including money for Coast Guard units to patrol the exposed shoreline and other military, security and staffing expenses associated with moving the apparatus of the presidency.” So far, the highlight of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago trips has been he and his aides struggling to deal with an international crisis in full view of diners and staff during the evening of February 11. The three Mar-a-Lago getaways, combined with the hundreds of thousands of public dollars spent on Secret Service protection during two international trips Trump’s adult sons have taken to...

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Iowa Bill Would Force Universities to Hire Right-Wing Professors

by Nika Knight – The proposed law ‘could bring about a Soviet-style purge of liberal-leaning college staff in Iowa’. As Republican-dominated state governments push frightening right-wing legislation nationwide, a GOP senator in Iowa joined the fray on Monday with a bill that would force universities to exclusively hire Republican professors and temporarily bar Democrats until “partisan balanced” is reached. The bill, Senate File 288, “could bring about a Soviet-style purge of liberal-leaning college staff in Iowa,” warned Pat Rynard in the local politics blog Iowa Starting Line.  “The obvious impact and purpose of this bill would be to ban Democrats from getting hired anymore at Iowa colleges,” Rynard continued. “If you took a survey right now, it’s highly likely that Iowa professors are registered as Democrats at a much higher rate than Republican. So any new hires would be strictly limited to Republican or o arty voters.” Iowa state senator Mark Chelgren, who...

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Abraham Lincoln’s Warning About American Demagogues Like Trump

by Joe Romm – Lincoln argued that only “reason” and “a reverence” for the law could stop them. On Saturday, President Donald Trump compared himself to “Abraham Lincoln and many of our greatest presidents.” On his inauguration, Trump chose to be sworn in on the so-called “Lincoln bible” — the same one Honest Abe was sworn in on — because he was “inspired by Lincoln’s words,” Quartz reported. On Presidents’ Day, though, it’s worth remembering that Trump is the anti-Lincoln (and anti-Washington). Indeed, he is not just the demagogue Founding Fathers like Alexander Hamilton warned us about. He is exactly the demagogue Lincoln himself warned us about. At Gettysburg in 1863, Abraham Lincoln famously asked whether a nation “conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal … can long endure.” But Lincoln’s concern about the fate of the Republic — and the danger of a demagogue just like Trump — dates much earlier. Way back...

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Iraqi Forces Push Into ISIL-Held Southern Mosul

Troops backed by jets battle their way to Mosul airport, as US defence chief arrives in Baghdad on unannounced visit. Iraqi security forces have pushed into the southern outskirts of Mosul on the second day of a new offensive to drive ISIL fighters from the city’s western half, as US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis arrived in Baghdad on an unannounced visit. Iraqi forces backed by jets and helicopters battled their way to Mosul airport on Monday as they prepared to take on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group’s stronghold in the city’s west bank. “The federal police has resumed its advance … Our cannons are targeting Daesh defence lines with heavy fire,” federal police chief Raed Shaker Jawdat said, using and Arabic acronym for ISIL, also known as ISIS. INSIDE STORY: Will the latest Iraqi offensive mean the end of ISIL in Mosul? (25:10) The main...

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Merkel: ‘Islam is not the Source of Terrorism’ (VIDEOS)

Both Merkel and US Vice President Mike Pence attend key security conference in Munich with Russia high on the agenda. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said Islam is not the source of “terrorism” and that cooperating with predominantly Muslim states in the fight against it is vital. Merkel, who has been critical of US President Donald Trump’s attempt to impose a temporary travel ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries, was speaking on Saturday at the Munich Security Conference, with US Vice President Mike Pence in the audience. “I think, those countries, first and foremost have to give a contribution. Because only in this way we would be able to convince people that it is not Islam that is the source of terrorism. But a falsely understood Islam,” she said. “I expect from religious authorities of Islam to find strong language in order to delimitate peaceful Islam from terrorism committed...

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Defence Secretary Jim Mattis: Not in Iraq to Seize Oil

Jim Mattis arrives on unannounced visit to Iraq as Pentagon considers acceleration of military campaign against ISIL. US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, on an unannounced visit to Iraq, said the United States does not intend to seize Iraqi oil, shifting away from an idea proposed by President Donald Trump that has rattled Iraq’s leaders. Mattis arrived in Baghdad on Tuesday, as the battle to oust the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group fighters from western Mosul moved into its second day, and as the Pentagon considers ways to accelerate the campaign against ISIL in Iraq and Syria. Under the president’s deadline, Mattis has just a week to send Trump a strategy to ramp up the fight and defeat ISIL. And any plan is likely to depend on US and coalition troops working with and through the local forces in both countries. “We’re going to make...

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New Study Confirms Just How Racially Discriminatory Voter ID Laws Truly Are

by Stephen Wolf – We’ve always suspected it, but now new academic research confirms it: Strict voter ID laws do indeed disproportionately lower turnout among Latino, black, and Asian voters compared to whites, which of course benefits conservatives and the Republican Party. The authors of this new study found that strict ID laws—where registered voters must show a photo ID to have their vote count, and no exceptions are permitted—depressed Latino turnout rates the most, followed by black and Asian-American turnout, yet white turnout was largely unaffected.  Those findings held true even when researchers accounted for a variety of other factors, and they were even more acute in primaries. That latter point is critical because many states and cities hold elections for important races such as city council seats, judgeships, and even state constitutional amendments at times other than November general elections. It also means voter ID can make even Democratic...

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Norway Pledges Millions to Growing Anti-Trump Global Abortion Fund

by Nadia Prupis – “At a time when has come under pressure, a joint effort is particularly important” Norway has joined a growing international initiative to counter President Donald Trump’s global anti-abortion measure, signed in January. Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg announced over the weekend that the country would pledge an additional $10 million to support U.S.-backed charities overseas that provide information on abortion—which are now cut off from financial support from the U.S. under Trump’s “global gag rule,” also known as the Mexico City Policy. Trump instituted the funding ban as one of his first moves in office. The Netherlands launched the international fund in response, warning that the ban would cause a shortfall of $600 million over the next four years and put women’s lives at risk around the world. “Norway plays a leading role in the work to promote global health, and is one of the...

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This Isn’t Just Trump. This Is Who the Republicans Are (VIDEO)

by Dave Johnson – So far President Donald Trump has signed very few bills. One lets coal companies dump waste into streams. Another lets oil companies bribe foreign dictators in secret. Now he is moving to block a Labor Department “fiduciary rule” that requires financial advisers to act in the best interests of their clients when advising on retirement accounts. Here’s the thing: this isn’t just Trump doing this. The Republican-controlled House and Senate passed those two bills, and the Republicans have been fighting that fiduciary rule tooth and nail. It’s not just Trump, Republicans as a party are using Trump to engage in a general assault on protections from corruption, pollution, corporate fraud and financial scams. This is who they are. “We Just Need A President To Sign This Stuff” This is not just Trump. What we are seeing happening to our government is the end result of a decades-long...

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Major Outdoor Retailers Boycott Utah over Threats to Sell off Public Lands

by Jenny Rowland and Nicole Gentile – “It is important to our membership, and to our bottom line.” After countless attempts by Utah politicians to sell off or abolish national parks, forests, and national monuments, the world’s largest outdoor gear show has decided to take its business out of the state. “Outdoor Industry Association will continue to support the efforts of Outdoor Retailer to seek a new home for the trade show,” Amy Roberts, executive director of the Outdoor Industry Association, said in a statement. “It is important to our membership, and to our bottom line that we partner with states and elected officials who share our views on the truly unique American value of public lands for the people and conserving our outdoor heritage for the next generation.” After 20 years of hosting the bi-annual outdoor retailer show in Salt Lake City, organizers of the show finalized their decision to move...

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Media Bites Back: Newspaper Threatens Lawsuit for GOP Senator Calling Them “Fake News”

by SemDem – “Fake News” is a very real thing. It is the publication of hoaxes, propaganda, and disinformation purporting to be real news with the deliberate intent to mislead. Many fake news websites originate from Russia, Macedonia, and Romania. What it is NOT is an editorial from a respected, established newspaper entitled “Better open records”, which supports a bill to give journalists better access to government records. The Daily Sentinel, which is the local newspaper for Grand Junction, CO, urged moving forward with the bill and called on State Senator Ray Scott to quit delaying the bill and bring it up for a vote.  Their exact words were: “We call on our own Sen. Scott to announce a new committee hearing date and move this bill forward.” This is how Ray Scott responded: On Twitter, he said: We have our own fake news in Grand Junction… On Facebook, he said: The very liberal...

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NYT: AG Sessions Must Appoint Special Prosecutor for Trump-Russia Ties

by Andrea Germanos – ‘The need for an independent actor who can both investigate and prosecute criminal wrongdoing in the executive branch is clear,’ Times editorial board writes. The New York Times has called for a special prosecutor to lead an impartial investigation into possible ties between the Trump administration—”which seems uninterested in telling the truth in matters large and small”—and Russia. The Times editorial board writes the scope of a potential investigation expanded sharply in the last four days, with the firing of Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn, for lying to the White House about his contacts with the Russian ambassador, and the news that members of the Trump campaign’s inner circle were in repeated contact with Russian intelligence agents last year, at the same time that Russia was actively attempting to swing the election to Mr. Trump. The calls for investigations into the potential links have swelled,...

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Trump Invents Fake Attack on Sweden (VIDEO)

by Ian Millhiser – An even greater tragedy than the Bowling Green massacre. “We got to keep our country safe!” President Trump warned at a rally in Melbourne, Florida on Saturday night. He told a horror story about a Northern European nation that “took in large numbers” of refugees and is now facing “problems like they never thought possible.” “Look at what happened last night in Sweden!” Trump told his audience. “Sweden! Who would believe this, Sweden?” Trump is right to wonder who would believe his tale of innocent Swedes cowering before a grave new threat, because as multiple journalists and at least one former Prime Minister of Sweden pointed out not long after Trump’s remarks, there was no attack on Sweden Friday night. Carl Bildt ✔@carlbildt Sweden? Terror attack? What has he been smoking? Questions abound. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-sweden-terror-lie_us_58a8f397e4b045cd34c263d3 … 2:40 AM – 19 Feb 2017 Donald Trump Appears To Make Up Sweden...

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With Mulvaney in Place, Budget Office Preps ‘Hit List’ on Public Programs

by Nadia Prupis – National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities, Office of National Drug Control Policy, and Americorps are among targets meant to showcase ‘waste’ of taxpayer funds. With Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) confirmed to lead the White House budget office, the Trump administration is getting ready to follow through on plans to slash major domestic programs, the New York Times reported Friday. Work on President Donald Trump’s first budget proposal has been delayed as Republicans worked to get Mulvaney—known for his unyielding stances on safety net programs—approved as head of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Now, his office has targeted nine popular and critical programs to axe, according to an early internal OMB memo obtained by the Times. The so-called “hit list” includes, in part, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the...

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Republicans Hustle to Shield Trump as Demands for Russia Inquiry Grow

by Nadia Prupis – Meanwhile, some experts say there is a case for appointing a special prosecutor. Republicans are dismissing the mounting call to thoroughly investigate the Trump campaign’s connection with Russian intelligence, and party leadership is seemingly pushing for members to fall in line behind the president amid growing outrage. House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) on Wednesday accused Democrats of “politicizing” the issue and told Politico he would not alter the panel’s ongoing Russian probe. “The Democrats can play their politics all they want; they’re welcome to do that, this is Washington,” Nunes said. “But as far as I’m concerned, we will continue to investigate the Russian activity like we’ve done for many years.” Nunes and ranking committee Democrat Adam Schiff, also of California, announced plans in January to investigate Russia’s alleged influence on the 2016 election—but that was before President Donald Trump’s national security adviser Michael Flynn stepped...

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Keystone XL Developer Files Pipeline Application in Nebraska

by Samantha Page – TransCanada is expected to try to use eminent domain for parts of the route. TransCanada just took another step toward getting its beleaguered Keystone XL pipeline back on track: the oil company filed an application Thursday with a Nebraska agency for route approval. The move is the first state-level application for the company since President Donald Trump signed an executive memorandum in January directing the State Department to review the pipeline’s federal application within 60 days. TransCanada submitted its new application to the State Department on January 26. “This application has been shaped by direct, on-the-ground input from Nebraskans,” Russ Girling, TransCanada’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “The thousands of Nebraskans we have met over the last eight years understand the value of this project and what it means to the state. As we have said consistently, safety and a respect for the environment remain our...

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As the Wheels of the Trump Juggernaut Come Off

by TODD GITLIN – Cracks in Republican Senate servility are beginning to show, while right-wing media hang tough. Say this for Donald Trump: He sets records. It took more than a year of Warren G. Harding’s administration before the Teapot Dome scandal of 1921-22 brought down his Interior secretary for taking a massive oil company bribe. A half-century later, it took two years to expose the immensity of the Watergate crimes and force the conspirators out of their White House holes. It took almost that long for the Reagan administration Iran-Contra revelations to pour forth in the mid-‘80s, though that scandal left the enfeebled incumbent in place. Now, congressional Republicans’ marriage of convenience to the crackpot showman of Fifth Avenue shows signs of post-honeymoon stress. For in just four weeks, Trump has breathlessly caught up with his predecessors in power abuse. Having crashed into a big, beautiful wall, he is, by...

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Hispanic Dems Blast ‘Dictatorial Shenanigans’ at Meeting With ICE (VIDEO)

by Deirdre Fulton – “After attending the ICE meeting it’s hard not to conclude that President Trump has started his mass deportation plan,” says Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas. Two members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Reps. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.) and Norma Torres (D-Calif.), said they were asked to leave a meeting Thursday between lawmakers and the top U.S. immigration official, while others said they were barred entry in the first place. Gutiérrez and Torres both expressed incredulity after being kicked out of the meeting between lawmakers and acting Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) director Thomas Homan—one of them by an aide to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and the other by a GOP lawmaker himself. The meeting, requested by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to discuss the recent uptick in immigration raids and detentions, was originally scheduled for Tuesday—but ICE canceled at the last minute, saying too many people had expressed interest...

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McCain Delivers Brutal, Thinly-Veiled Rebuke of Donald Trump (VIDEO)

by Aaron Rupar – Speaking in Germany, McCain criticized Trump’s “turn away from universal values” and “hardening resentment” toward Muslims. During his speech to the Munich Security Conference on Friday, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) delivered a stinging rebuke of President Trump — without ever mentioning his name. McCain began with a veiled critique of Trump’s “America first” approach. Referring back to the Germans who founded the conference in the wake of World War II, McCain said they “did not assume the West would survive, because they had seen its near annihilation. They saw open markets give way to beggar-thy-neighbor protectionism, and the poverty that imposed. They saw a world order fracture into clashing ethnic and nationalist passions, and the misery that wrought.” “From the ashes of the most awful calamity in human history was born what we call the West — a new, and different, and better kind of world order … one based not on blood-and-soil...

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Immigrants are Fleeing the United States to Seek Refuge in Canada (VIDEO)

by Tara Culp-Ressler – Some of them are crossing the border on foot in freezing conditions. A growing number of immigrants who initially sought refuge in the United States are now fleeing to Canada — and, in many cases, are risking frostbite to make it across the northern border on foot. Immigrant advocates say desperate people are being driven away from the U.S. thanks to the fear and uncertainty sparked by President Donald Trump’s policies — including, recently, an executive order that temporarily halts refugee resettlement from Syria and bars people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. Nine asylum-seekers from Sudan, including four children, barely made it across the Canadian border on Friday in an exchange that was captured by a photographer from Reuters. After a cab dropped off the group near the border line in Champlain, New York, they dodged a U.S. border patrol officer trying to examine their passports, climbed...

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Senate Confirms “Worst, Most Dangerous Administrator in EPA History”

by Andrea Germanos – With fossil fuel industry ally Scott Pruitt now in charge, now ‘begins the fight of a lifetime to protect public health, our environment, climate stability, and even the simple sanctity of the EPA itself.’ Portending risks to “the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the planet we love,” the U.S. Senate on Friday confirmed Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The 52-46 vote comes a day after an Oklahoma judge said Pruitt was in violation of the state’s Open Records Act and ordered the release of thousands of emails between his office and fossil fuel companies. Senate Democrats said that warranted a delay on Pruitt’s confirmation, but Republicans pushed the vote ahead. Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Joe Manchin, (D-W.Va.) joined Republicans to vote in favor of Pruitt; thus, wrote Esquire‘s Charles Pierce, “we must assume that two Democratic...

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Undeterred by Lawmakers in Hiding, the Resistance Prepares for Recess (VIDEO)

by Lauren McCauley – New video and guide from the Indivisible Movement gives practical advice for February town halls. Since the GOP-led Congress took power last month, leaders that have supported President Donald Trump’s controversial cabinet choices or have worked to eliminate affordable healthcare have had to face crowds of angry voters. Now, with February’s congressional recess on the horizon, the resistance is gearing up to confront lawmakers on their home turf to let them know how the American public views Trump’s agenda. While many elected officials are planning to hold town halls next week, reportedly more than 200 Republican legislators are skipping out. According to data compiled by Legistorm and reported by Vice News on Thursday, “or the first two months of the new Congress, the 292 Republicans have scheduled just 88 in-person town hall events—and 35 of those sessions are for Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin.” In comparison, during...

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Trump Preparing to Open New Front in His Dangerous, Misguided War on Immigrants

by Silva Mathema, Rachel West, and Shawn Fremstad – President Donald Trump is actively considering opening a new front in his war on immigrants through another hastily drafted and vaguely worded executive order. Drafts of this new order have been leaked to various press outlets and offer a worrying look into the administration’s complete disregard for commonsense immigration policy. If issued, the order would expand the focus of the administration’s anti-immigrant campaign beyond unauthorized immigrants, refugees, and Muslims—groups that Trump’s campaign and administration have already targeted extensively—to include green card holders—also known as lawful permanent residents, or LPRs—living in the United States. It would also affect potential immigrants seeking visas to lawfully enter the United States to reunite with family members. Under the draft order, individuals who are otherwise eligible for green cards could be denied admission to the United States if they could conceivably become eligible for any kind of...

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Kurt Eichenwald: European Allies have Intel on Trump, Too

by blue aardvark – Article is here. As part of intelligence operations being conducted against the United States for the last seven months, at least one Western European ally intercepted a series of communications before the inauguration between advisers associated with President Donald Trump and Russian government officials, according to people with direct knowledge of the situation. Our allies are willing to investigate. Our own Congress? Not so much. The foreign agency is also gathering electronic and human source information on Trump’s overseas business partners, at least some of whom the intelligence services now consider to be agents of their respective governments. These operations are being conducted out of concerns that Russia is seeking to manipulate its relationships with Trump administration officials as part of a long-term plan to destabilize the NATO alliance. Our President has business partners who are Russian agents seeking to destabilize NATO. But hey, what about the...

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Saudis Plan $2 Trillion IPO to End Their ‘Dangerous’ Addiction to Oil

by Joe Romm – Saudi Aramco will go public to monetize its oil reserves before demand peaks and price collapses for good. What does a country do when in its entire economy is built around a natural resource that the world is starting to shift away from? In the case of Saudi Arabia, they plan their own shift off oil — financed by the world’s largest initial public offering (IPO) of stock, some 5 percent of Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil company. Last year, deputy crown prince Mohammed bin Salman announced the plan to take Aramco, which the Saudis value at some $2 trillion, public. Last month, the Financial Times reported those plans are on track for an IPO next year, noting that Saudi advisers say a successful IPO “is essential to the deputy crown prince’s radical efforts to wean the kingdom off oil through his Vision 2030 programme.” Credit: Financial Times The...

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$300 Million Dollar Potential Conflict Of Interest Between Trump And Deutsche Bank Emerges

by Whitney Webb – The massive German bank faces huge potential fines from the US government following federal probes into conflicts of interest between them and President Trump. According to Trump biographers Michael Kranish and Marc Fisher – authors of the recent publication “Trump Revealed” – Trump has long relied on a unique bargaining tool as leverage with banks: his personal guarantee. Using his name as leverage, he has repeatedly negotiated better terms worth hundreds of millions of dollars in loans to his Trump Organization, a Trump-owned private real estate development company owning and operating several properties, hotels and casino resorts among other businesses Bloomberg reported. This has been especially true of Deutsche Bank, Germany’s largest bank as well as one of the world’s most insolvent banks – largely believed to be on the brink of collapse. As a result of this unique agreement with one of its highest profile clients,...

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When an Admiral Describes Taking a Top Gov’t Job as ‘a sh*t sandwich’, We’ve got Trouble

by Meteor Blades – It’s being reported that retired Vice Adm. Robert Harward told a friend that chaos and dysfunction in the White House meant that Donald Trump’s offer to make him national security adviser amounted to “a shit sandwich.” Harward turned Trump down Thursday, adding to the pr*sident’s woes in the wake of Michael Flynn’s forced departure from that post. Fred Kaplan at Slate lays out succinctly where things stand: The rejection is stunning in several ways that go well beyond the scope of Trump’s personal sensitivities. First, it is very unusual—almost unheard of—for a senior military officer, retired or otherwise, to turn down a request from the commander-in-chief. Second, and largely for that reason, by rejecting the offer Harward has provided cover to other officers, and to civilian national-security analysts with a similar sense of patriotic duty, to turn down this president, too. Service, in this case, is not its own reward and...

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Immigrant Communities Battle New Anti-Sanctuary-City Bills in Red States

by Candice Bernd, Truthout | Report – Emboldened by President Trump’s executive order withholding federal funds from “sanctuary” jurisdictions, Republican-dominated state legislatures are seeking to deny their own state funds to counties or cities refusing to comply with federal immigration authorities. Several states, including Tennessee, Florida, North Carolina, Iowa, Idaho and Pennsylvania have introduced measures that would require police agencies to hold anyone in custody until US Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE) can determine if they should be deported, or potentially lose state funding. Some states are going even farther than that. In Ohio, state lawmakers introduced a bill that would hold local officials accountable for crimes committed by undocumented immigrants in the officials’ sanctuary jurisdictions. Legislators in Colorado have introduced legislation that would let victims of particular crimes committed by undocumented immigrants sue the politicians who supported a sanctuary designation. Alaska and Maine are now reportedly considering similar...

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For the Insurance Lobby, Old Habits Are Hard to Break

by Maura Calsyn, Kellan Baker, and Topher Spiro – Before the passage of the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, the health insurance industry was like the Wild West, where anything goes. Health insurance companies could discriminate against the old and the ill, keep the sick quarantined in separate pools, and deny coverage for some of the most essential benefits. If insurers did not deny coverage to the old and sick altogether, they restricted their benefits or charged them exorbitant premiums. During the initial rollout of the ACA, however, the insurance industry partnered with both consumer groups and the Obama administration. Their efforts helped increase enrollment and smoothed a difficult first open enrollment period. Over the next few years, insurers continued to engage with consumer groups and the administration to address issues that arose as implementation continued. But with the future of the ACA uncertain, it turns out that old habits are...

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Trump on Whether His Campaign Team Coordinated with Russia: ‘Nobody that I know of’

by Hunter – Here’s all the times Trump was asked about contact between his staff and Russia during that very, very strange press conference. As you can see, his answers varied from denying the premise of the questions to denying that he himself had anything to do with Russian contacts, without ever vouching for the notion that nobody on his staff did. Answer one: Fake news! TRUMP: And, you know, you can talk all you want about Russia, which was all a, you know, fake news, fabricated deal, to try and make up for the loss of the Democrats and the press plays right into it. In fact, I saw a couple of the people that were supposedly involved with all of this — that they know nothing about it; they weren’t in Russia; they never made a phone call to Russia; they never received a phone call.It’s all fake news....

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Republicans Finally Unmask Their Healthcare Agenda – And it Isn’t Patient-Centered

by Donna Smith – If you have been inclined to trust in any way that the Republicans in Congress or the Trump-Pence-Ryan regime intend to make things better for you and your family in terms of healthcare policy, think again and stop wondering.  The plan is simple.  They will protect and enhance the insurance companies and other profit centers in healthcare.  No matter how many ads they purchase or how much message tweaking they do, patients are not at the center of the Republican plans. From an article in The Hill this morning, “The Trump administration on Wednesday proposed a regulation aimed at ‘stabilizing’ the ObamaCare marketplace by making changes favorable to insurers…” Just a bit lower in the article, we see the glaring, shocking reality of what the Republicans think of those in need of healthcare.  “The regulation requires people enrolling through extra sign-up periods outside of the normal time...

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Trump Walks Back Years of U.S. Foreign Policy in the Middle East (VIDEO)

by E.A. Crunden – The president says he “could live with either” a one-state or two-state solution. The two-state solution as we know it may be over. Speaking during a press conference Wednesday alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Donald Trump failed to commit his support for a future Palestinian state, saying that he “could live with either” a one-state or two-state solution and that he would defer to whatever solution might be preferred by both parties. “I’m looking at a two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like,” Trump said. “I’m very happy with the one that both parties like. I could live with either one.” Trump’s comments are an ominous sign that a shift is coming, and a dramatic shift away from decades of U.S. foreign policy. Broad bipartisan support exists for the two-state solution and few U.S. presidents have seen fit to rock...

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Southern Poverty Law Center Finds Disturbing Growth in Anti-Muslim Hate Groups in 2016

by Adrienne Mahsa Varkiani – “Trump’s election has been absolutely electrifying to the radical right,” says the SPLC. The number of anti-Muslim hate groups increased almost three-fold in 2016, according to a new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center. The SPLC’s quarterly census of hate groups found that anti-Muslim hate groups increased from 34 in 2015 to 101 last year. Mark Potok, a Senior Fellow at the SPLC, pointed to Trump’s rhetoric about Muslims and his election victory to explain some of the increase in anti-Muslim hate across the country. “I think the most important factor probably driving the growth of these groups, in the states at least, has been Donald Trump and his campaign: his vilification of Muslims; his description of them as so dangerous that we need to keep them out of the country; his idea that we have to form a registry, Nazi-esque registry, in which we’re going...

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‘It is in Trump’s Interest to Keep the Iran Deal Alive’

by Omid Khazani – Trump’s presidency offers both threats and opportunities to Iran, says former senior Iranian diplomat. The fate of the diplomatic channel between Iran and the United States, established for the first time in four decades during the nuclear deal negations in 2015, is fraught with uncertainty, according to a former senior Iranian diplomat. “The fate of the direct diplomatic channel absolutely depends on the new US government, the rhetoric they will use and actions they will take,” said Sadegh Kharazi, who served twice as Iran’s deputy foreign minister and the head of its UN mission from 1989 to 1995. “Should such belligerent, anti-Iran rhetoric continue, the channel will be history,” Kharazi, who is known to be a foreign policy heavyweight in Tehran, told Al Jazeera. Iran and the United States have engaged in tit-for-tat exchanges since US President Donald Trump signed an executive order on January 27 banning nationals temporarily from seven Muslim-majority...

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U.S. Solar Installations Jumped 95 Percent Last Year

by Samantha Page – There was more solar capacity added in 2016 than any other type of electricity generation. If humanity wants to have any chance of slowing the rapid warming of the climate, people need to stop burning fossil fuels — but no one wants to go without electricity. That’s why it’s encouraging that U.S. solar installations nearly doubled last year, increasing 95 percent over 2015’s installations, and adding 14,626 megawatts (MW) of photovoltaic electricity generation capacity to the U.S. grid, according to preliminary data from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). All segments — residential, non-residential, and utility-scale — saw growth from 2015 to 2016. The non-residential sector includes community solar and commercial installations The report notes that 22 states added more than 100 MW of solar capacity last year — a new record. Minnesota, Maryland, New Jersey, and Massachusetts were all mentioned as rising solar powerhouses in the report. The geographical diversity (California,...

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Carter Page, at Center of Trump Russian Investigation, Writes Letter to DOJ Blaming Hillary

by PlinytheWelder – This just keeps getting weirder… From a story in The Intercept CARTER PAGE, briefly a foreign policy adviser to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, sent a peculiar, rambling letter this week to the Department of Justice, asking it to review “the severe election fraud in the form of disinformation, suppression of dissent, hate crimes and other extensive abuses led by members of Mrs. Hillary Clinton’s campaign and their political allies last year.” Page is reportedly one of several targets of a counterintelligence investigation by the FBI into possible links between Trump associates and Russian officials. This is looking like panic mode. They must know that more is coming out and will try to drown it in a flood of BS (alternative facts). To begin with, it is addressed to the voting section of the Justice Department’s civil rights division, which is charged exclusively with enforcing federal laws that protect the right to vote. It then...

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New York Attorney General Reviewing Request to Bring Action to Dissolve Trump Organization

by Kira Lerner – An alternate legal route, when impeachment isn’t possible. Non-profit advocacy group Free Speech for People has asked New York’s attorney general to investigate whether to file a lawsuit to revoke the charter of The Trump Organization for violating state business laws. In a letter to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the group and four attorneys said that the attorney general’s office has the power to revoke the corporate charter from Trump’s organization, which has violated laws that prohibit the president from receiving payments from foreign governments. Schneiderman’s press secretary Amy Spitalnick told ThinkProgress that the attorney general’s office will review the letter. In an FAQ document, Free Speech for People and attorneys Jonathan S. Abady, Andrew G. Celli, Jr., Ben T. Clements, and Fordham University School of Law Professor Jed Shugerman explain how Schneiderman could bring about a lawsuit. “Under Section 1101 of New York’s Business Corporation Law,...

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#FreeDaniel: Community United in Outrage After ICE Detains ‘Dreamer’ With No Criminal Record

by Nika Knight – ‘Seattle stands with Daniel and we will not back down until he is free.’ U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has arrested and detained a ‘Dreamer,’ or an undocumented immigrant brought to the U.S. as a young child and given permission to live and work legally in the country, stunning civil rights defenders nationwide and provoking fierce local opposition. While President Donald Trump has issued a draconian anti-immigrant executive order that appears to have set in motion a sharp increase in ICE raids nationwide, the arrest of Daniel Ramirez Medina in Seattle last week marks the first detention of an immigrant allowed to live and work legally in the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program since Trump took office. “Arresting a young DACA recipient with deep roots in our country is not only cruel and outrageous but an affront to our core principles...

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Study Shows that in Over 40 Years of Data there is no Link Between Immigration and Increased Crime

by Walter Einenkel – There are numerous reasons why Trump’s and the Republican administration’s Muslim ban security policy is erroneous. But one conservative talking point for decades has always been that immigration means crime as “undesirable” people come into our country with their “undesirable” ways. If you look on any conservative news feed it is awash in horror stories of “illegal immigrants,” or “refugees” molesting women and girls, murdering people at gas stations, and the like. When Donald Trump kicked off his presidential campaign, he famously did so by calling undocumented Mexicans living in our country rapists and drug dealers. A University of Buffalo-led study has pored over decades of data and come out with very quantifiable evidence that these kinds of statements are simply false. “Our research shows strong and stable evidence that, on average, across U.S. metropolitan areas crime and immigration are not linked,” said Robert Adelman, an associate professor of...

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