Op-Eds

State-Sanctioned Torture in the Age of Trump

by Marjorie Cohn, Truthout | News Analysis – During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump declared he would “immediately” resume waterboarding and would “bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding” because the United States is facing a “barbaric” enemy. He labeled waterboarding a “minor form” of interrogation. Waterboarding, which involves pouring water into the nose and mouth to make victims feel like they’re drowning, has long been considered torture, which is a war crime under US and international law. Indeed, the United States hung Japanese military leaders for waterboarding as a war crime after World War II. In late November 2016, Vice President Mike Pence refused to rule out torture in the Trump administration. Torture Is Always Illegal What does torture have in common with genocide, slavery and wars of aggression? They are all “jus cogens.” That’s Latin for “higher law” or “compelling law.” This means that...

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Trump Uses Executive Order to Revive Dakota Access and Keystone XL Pipelines

by Samantha Page – The biggest victories of the environmental movement under Obama are now in jeopardy. President Donald Trump signed executive orders Tuesday allowing two controversial oil pipelines — Keystone XL and Dakota Access — to move forward. Delaying and stopping the development of those pipelines were among the environmental movement’s biggest victories over the past few years. Both projects attracted years of protest and civil disobedience, and Tuesday’s move is expected to be seen as a slap in the face to the broad coalition of Americans who oppose increased fossil fuel infrastructure. “More people sent comments against Dakota Access and Keystone XL to the government than any project in history,” 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben said in a statement. “The world’s climate scientists and its Nobel laureates explained over and over why it was unwise and immoral. In one of his first actions as president, Donald Trump ignores all that in his eagerness to...

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In Meeting with Congressional Leaders, Trump AGAIN Claims he Won the Popular Vote After All

by Hunter – Amazing. The man just cannot let this lunacy go. In his first meeting with congressional leaders of both parties since taking office, President Donald Trump on Monday reiterated a debunked claim that he only lost the national popular vote because of widespread voter fraud. Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) confirmed that Trump made the voter fraud claim, but added, “I didn’t pay a lot of attention to it. I was ready to move onto some policy issues. I didn’t anticipate that discussion.” It’s further evidence of Trump’s fixation with his narrow victory, in which he captured an Electoral College handily despite losing the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by nearly 3 million votes. The Washington Post is more specific: Trump told our nation’s top legislators that “between 3 million and 5 million illegal votes caused him to lose the popular vote.” The premise Trump went with immediately after...

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Dan Rather Goes Viral: The Media Must End GOP Interviews—Unless Republican Lawmakers can Answer THIS

by Leslie Salzillo – Facts and the truth are not partisan. They are the bedrock of our democracy. And you are either with them, with us, with our Constitution, our history, and the future of our nation, or you are against it. –Dan Rather, January 22, 2017 Continuing to be incredibly outspoken while garnering a combined social media following of millions, legendary journalist Dan Rather challenges the “Orwellian” phrase “alternative facts,” as defined by Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway this past weekend — as if Trump’s administration gets to make its own facts. In a Facebook post that now has gone viral with close to half a million likes, Rather encourages every reporter to ask one question whenever speaking to or interviewing GOP lawmakers, and then not let up without a satisfactory answer — or simply end the interview. These are not normal times. These are extraordinary times. And extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.  When you have a spokesperson...

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Sustaining the Momentum of the Women’s March: Where We Go From Here

by Andrea Cristina Mercado, Truthout | Op-Ed – This weekend I marched in Washington, DC, with my younger sister, in a contingent with hundreds of immigrant women, women of color, domestic workers, Native American women, and grassroots environmental activists. Like so many who attended the Women’s March, I was awestruck to see the sheer size of the march, the number of women who mobilized — many of whom had never before attended a march — to proclaim their commitment to fight back against attacks on our bodies, our families, our communities and the planet. It was an outpouring of bold opposition. I witnessed a powerful appetite for action: the desire to not just talk about it, but to put ourselves — our bodies — on the front lines of opposition. More than 700 women gathered immediately after the march for a Women’s Town Hall. Exhausted from hours of walking...

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Border Chief Just Gave Trump A Brutal Reality Check About His Border Wall (VIDEO)

by Vera – During his presidential campaign, former reality television star Donald Trump received a lot of criticism for his highly controversial (and completely wasteful and illogical) U.S.-Mexican border wall — a concept his supporters latched onto despite the fact that it was shot down by several experts. Just days after officially becoming the 45th President of the United States, Trump is getting another brutal reality check about why this stupid wall won’t work. Now, the outgoing chief of the Customs and Border Protection agency is speaking out against the idea, crushing every racist’s hopes and dreams. In an interview with ABC News’ Brian Ross, border chief Gil Kerlikowske basically said that Trump’s border wall was a massive waste of both time and money, and not a viable solution to tackling illegal immigration. Completely humiliating Trump for being an ill-advised moron, Kerlikowske said: “I think that anyone who’s been familiar with the...

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UpFront Special: Welcome to the Trump Era (VIDEO)

We debate what a Trump presidency means for the world, and Katrina vanden Heuvel reflects on Obama’s global impact.  Donald Trump is the new president of the United States. What will that mean for the US and for the rest of the world? In this UpFront special, we looked at what the US and the world can expect from President Trump. And in an interview with The Nation editor and publisher, Katrina vanden Heuvel, we examine the foreign policy legacy President Barack Obama will leave for Trump. President Trump: What now for the world? Donald Trump’s win left some concerned about the future of the US, and the world. But what can we expect from a Trump presidency? In a special recorded in November 2016, Robert Hormats, David Cay Johnston, Naomi Wolf and Hamid Dabashi debated the future of Trump’s administration. “The real question before us now is: Does...

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Reinstating ‘Global Gag Rule,’ Trump Attacks Women Worldwide

by Andrea Germanos – “To be clear, this policy is an attack on women’s bodily autonomy and freedom, and we will see an increase in unintended pregnancies and unsafe abortions as a result.” President Donald Trump on Monday signed an executive order reinstating a policy critics call the Global Gag Rule, further cementing reproductive rights advocates’ warning that 2017 would entail an uphill battle for women’s healthcare. Officially known as the Mexico City Policy, the rule, as Nonprofit Quarterly explained, “specifically prohibits international charities from promoting abortion as a method of family planning even if that ‘promotion’ simply entails a physician engaging in a conversation about the option of abortion with a patient.” As such, Kiersten Gillette-Pierce and Jamila Taylor write at Center for American Progress, it “infringes upon women’s fundamental right to make informed decisions about their bodies and their health.” Since it was first signed by President Ronald Reagan...

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Welcome to the New American Kleptocracy

by Frank Vyan Walton –   During a Q&A with Oprah Winfrey, Van Jones, and Ava DuVernay, director of the new Netflix documentary 13th which documents the links between the clear flaws in the abolition of slavery and the ongoing criminalization of African-American men, Jones spoke in very stark terms about America’s future under Trump. Asked by Winfrey what he expected of the new administration, Jones said, “I think mostly bad things. Both parties have a challenge. I think the president will prove to be authoritarian … You will see a horrendous abuse of power by this government. I think it’s good to hope for the best but we need to expect and prepare for the very worst.” He added: “I think Trump is much worse than people understand … I think we’re on the verge of a kleptocracy.” Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be a flaw in that logic. Jones is absolutely...

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Trump Press Secretary Declares War on the Press and Reality Itself

by Aaron Rupar – Sean Spicer simply refuses to accept that Trump’s inauguration wasn’t the best attended event of all time. During his first appearance before the press as President Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer attacked the media for accurately reporting that Trump’s inauguration was attended by a relatively small crowd. Spicer also went after a Time magazine journalist for a mistake he made in a tweet about a bust of Martin Luther King, Jr. that sits in the Oval Office. In the latest sign that the Trump administration plans to wage war on reality, Spicer refused to accept that attendance for Trump’s inauguration was smaller than for President Obama’s in 2009. “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration. Period,” Spicer said. “Both in person and around the globe.” He blamed “floor coverings were used to protect the grass on the mall” for making it look like there...

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Progressives Are the New Silent Majority

by THEO ANDERSON – Most Americans actually prefer progressive policies — so how did we get here? Something remarkable has happened over the past few years: A new silent majority has emerged, decades after Richard Nixon made that phrase famous. Nixon meant the people whose values were, he said, dominant in American culture, but underrepresented in American politics. Calling them the silent majority was a way of channeling the white backlash against the civil rights movement. The new silent majority is defined by the broad consensus that has emerged in the United States around progressive policies. This consensus isn’t widely reported. In fact, it’s obscured by the oft-repeated idea that the nation is deeply polarized, as if Americans are torn between support for conservative and progressive policies. They aren’t. On the battlefield of ideology, conservatives have been routed. The progressive consensus cuts across economic and social issues and includes even traditional...

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Donald Trump Will Throw A Hissy Fit After Reading George Will’s Review Of His Inaugural Address

by Stephen D Foster Jr – Donald Trump thinks his inaugural address was the best ever. George Will emphatically disagrees. As it became clear that Trump would be the Republican nominee last year, the longtime conservative columnist left the Republican Party in disgust. Trump, of course, lashed out by calling Will “overrated.” But Will fired back by nailing Trump’s lack of intelligence. And after Will’s review of Trump’s speech, it looks like it’s only a matter of time before Trump lashes out again. Trump delivered his inaugural address on Friday as a pathetic crowd watched and cheered after every word he uttered. Trump lied repeatedly and made promises he won’t keep while portraying America as an apocalyptic wasteland where poverty and crime reign and the military is crippled. It was a divisive and negative speech that ignores all the progress America made over the last eight years after a devastating recession...

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The Simple, Sinister Reason for the GOP’s Never-Ending War on Obamacare

by Jon Perr – The GOP has never been afraid that Obamacare would fail, but that it would succeed House and Senate Republicans this week took the first step this week toward the repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. But without a replacement program in place, the GOP is nevertheless prepared to withdraw health insurance from up to 30 million Americans and jeopardize coverage for over 20 million more. While millions will face the prospect of financial ruin, Republicans will condemn tens of thousands of the newly uninsured to needless deaths—every year. Meanwhile, many hospitals, physicians and insurers will be trapped in a market “death spiral” Republicans alone will be responsible for creating. If President Trump, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan succeed, theirs will be the greatest act of political spite in American history. The question is why. This isn’t about a “better way” to enable health...

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Lest We Forget (VIDEO)

by Bill Moyers – Historians on the Big Lie Behind the Rise of Trump. In this web exclusive, Bill Moyers and four historians dissect the big lie Trump rode to power: the Birther lie. Nell Painter, historian and Edwards Professor of American History, Emerita, at Princeton University; Khalil Gibran Muhammad, professor of history, race and public policy at Harvard Kennedy School; Christopher Lebron, assistant professor of African-American studies and philosophy at Yale University; and Philip Klinkner, James S. Sherman Professor of Government, Hamilton College discuss the fertile ground on which the birther lie was sown: our nation’s history of white supremacy. Credits: Gail Ablow, Producer; Sikay Tang, Editor  TRANSCRIPT BILL MOYERS: I’m Bill Moyers. The most important thing to remember about Donald Trump is that he was the same man at 12:01 p.m. Friday after he took the oath of office as he was at 11:59 a.m. before his swearing in. His character:...

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Women’s March On Washington (and Everywhere Else) Much, MUCH Larger than Expected

by Mark Sumner – 300,000 in New York City. 125,000 in Boston. 50,000 in Austin, Texas. 15,000 in St. Louis. 10,000 in Portland, ME. Across the country, the numbers for the Women’s March have turned out to be not just high, but higher than anyone would have predicted. Cities that had expected two thousand got ten. Areas that had planned on ten thousand got a hundred. The overflow crowds are also happening in Washington, D.C. where so many have turned up that it’s proving difficult to actually march. A massive turnout at the Women’s March on Washington has forced a change of plans. With the entire planned route filled with hundreds of thousands of protesters, organizers can’t lead a formal march toward the White House. Something similar happened in Chicago, where 150,000 protesters showed up. While the rally will go on, the march portion of the Women’s March on Chicago has been canceled...

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Trump Claims ‘a Million and a Half’ at his Inauguration, Delivers Yuuge Lie in Front of CIA

by  Mark Sumner – Donald Trump appeared at the CIA on Saturday, supposedly to reassure the intelligence community that he supported their work. But instead, Trump had other issues to discuss. Standing in front of the CIA’s memorial wall of agents who died in the line of service to the nation, Trump let fly, telling the CIA know who America’s real enemy is. “I have a running war with the media. They are among the most dishonest human beings on earth. They made it sound like I had a feud with the intelligence community. … exactly the opposite.” Apparently Trump’s Twitter account is part of the dishonest media. But after telling the story of how the rain miraculously stopped when he was delivering his speech on Friday, he had an example of the media’s dishonesty—the size of his inauguration crowd. “We had something like a million and a half people....

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The New York Times had the Trump-Russia Story in Early Fall and were too Timid to Publish

by kat68 – As a former Washington-based journalist, I have always had it in…just a bit…for the New York Times. They are lordly and pompous with the anachronistic adherence to style and titles (Mr. and Mrs,), their longtime and ridiculous refusal to go to color and revamp their old-fashioned design, and, most of all, their awful Iraq War coverage, and subsequent lame attempts to cover their well-heeled Ivy League-educated, access-obsessed asses. I will admit the NYT is often capable of amazing journalism. But they are a proud—overly proud—and tend not to advance stories they don’t break themselves.  So when Mother Jones’  David Corn broke the story of the former MI6 officer with a thick dossier on Trump’s nefarious dealings with Russia in late October,  I was dismayed, but not surprised that the NYT immediately stifled him with an Oct. 31 story entitled “Investigating Donald Trump, F.B.I. Sees No Clear Link to Trump.” Here is the lede from...

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‘Dark Day’: President Donald Trump Delivers Grim Speech as Protests Swell

by Nadia Prupis – Pledge to end ‘American carnage’ stirs fears among opponents who recall campaign built on xenophobia, racism, Islamophobia. President Donald J. Trump has taken the oath of office, delivering a blunt speech rife with his signature autocratic declarations, promising to “make America great again” as tense protests swelled around Capitol Hill. “Today’s inauguration is an incredibly dark day for our country,” Charles Chamberlain, executive director of the progressive PAC Democracy for America, said in response to Trump’s speech Friday. “The only thing more empty than the National Mall today during his poorly attended inaugural address were the platitudes Donald Trump made about bringing the country together.” “In fact, after putting forward a cabinet filled to the brim with self-dealing billionaires, bigots, and bullies, it’s clear that Donald Trump is establishing the most corrupt, corporate, and bigoted administration in generations,” Chamberlain said. Protests were well underway by the time...

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Ignorance and Arrogance – the Defining Characteristics of the Betsy DeVos Hearing

by Steven Singer – Betsy DeVos wouldn’t commit to protecting students with special needs. She wouldn’t commit to keeping guns out of school campuses. She wouldn’t commit to holding charter and voucher schools to the same standards as traditional public schools. She didn’t know the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was a federal law. And she couldn’t explain the difference between proficiency and growth. That’s your nominee for Secretary of Education, America! During a hearing of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) tonight, DeVos showed herself to be hopelessly out of her depth. She tried to cover her ignorance by being noncommittal. But it was obvious that she had no idea what she was talking about more than half the time. And far from being a fair arbiter, Senator Lamar Alexander, the Republican chairperson of the committee, did everything he could to shield her from further...

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The Trump Resistance Plan: Step One

by STEVEN HARPER – The first step to resisting President-elect Trump is understanding how he and Kellyanne Conway deploy their “Three Ds” strategy: deflect, divert and distract. The king and his worthless adherents are got at their old game of dividing the continent, and there are not wanting among us, printers, who will be busy in spreading specious falsehoods…  THOMAS PAINE, COMMON SENSE (1776) When the victors write history, the resulting narrative often focuses on why things happened. Far more important to the contemporaneous participants is the question of how. Mounting an effective resistance requires understanding an adversary’s strategies. Donald Trump’s most effective delivery system is a duet: himself and Kellyanne Conway. Tracking a single example reveals their techniques. Strategy #1: Lie In the tradition of notorious “strongmen,” Trump promulgates Big Lies. These outrageous fictions are easier to sell because listeners can’t imagine the speaker would make them up. Since the election, one...

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Spicer Turns Press Conference into Infomercial for Trump’s Hotel

by Aaron Rupar – Profiting off the presidency before he’s sworn in. During a pre-inauguration news conference on Thursday, Sean Spicer, President-elect Donald Trump’s soon-to-be press secretary, dismissed concerns his boss is using the power of the presidency to promote his Washington, D.C. hotel and thereby line his pockets. With regard to Trump’s decision to dine at the hotel’s restaurant on Wednesday night — Trump also reportedly plans to eat there Thursday — Spicer said, “I think that’s pretty smart.” “I think the idea that he’s going to his own hotel shouldn’t be a shocker,” Spicer continued. “It’s a beautiful place, it’s somewhere that he’s very proud of and I think it’s symbolic of the kind of government that he’s going to run.” Spicer went on to encourage people to check out the place for themselves. “It’s an absolutely stunning hotel. I encourage you to go there if you haven’t been by,” he said. But even...

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Mnuchin’s Bank Foreclosed on Thousands of Homeowners, but: ‘I’m Proud of our Results’

by Bryce Covert – Steven Mnuchin came under fire during his confirmation hearing for numerous complaints against OneWest. At Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin’s Senate hearing on Thursday, Democratic lawmakers repeatedly brought up the foreclosure practices of the bank Mnuchin previously ran, OneWest. During one particularly heated exchange, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) aired a laundry list of complaints that were made about OneWest’s practices while Mnuchin was CEO. Brown cited the assertion by the community group California Reinvestment Coalition that the bank foreclosed on 60,000 homes across the country and denied three-quarters of borrowers’ applications for loan modifications so that they could avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes. He brought up a consent order that OneWest entered into with the Office of the Comptroller for the Currency (OCC) over “errors that resulted in financial harm.” This included 10,781 loans the OCC determined needed to be remedied, including 23 foreclosures on borrowers...

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Guess Who’s Been Advising Trump?

by Th0rn – Guess who’s been advising Donald Trump on his picks for the people who will control foreign policy in a Trump administration? Well, here’s a hint: who’s the most murderous, toxic, partisan psychopath you can think of? One who gained so much infamy for his services to the Bush administration that he had to flee the country to avoid the law? If you guessed Erik Prince, notorious mercenary and founder of Blackwater, you win the dubious prize: Erik Prince, America’s most notorious mercenary, is lurking in the shadows of the incoming Trump administration. A former senior U.S. official who has advised the Trump transition told The Intercept that Prince has been advising the team on matters related to intelligence and defense, including weighing in on candidates for the defense and state departments…. On election night, Prince’s latest wife, Stacy DeLuke, posted pictures from inside Trump’s campaign headquarters as Donald...

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Trump Prepares to Lock Press out of the White House

by Mark Sumner – The White House may be the “people’s house,” but as of January 20, one group of people will be excluded. Following his shout-fest with a CNN reporter rude enough to ask a question at his first-in-six-month press conference, Donald Trump is preparing to cap his war with the news by eliminating the White House press room. According to three senior officials on the transition team, a plan to evict the press corps from the White House is under serious consideration by the incoming Trump Administration. If the plan goes through, one of the officials said, the media will be removed from the cozy confines of the White House press room, where it has worked for several decades. Members of the press will be relocated to the White House Conference Center—near Lafayette Square—or to a space in the Old Executive Office Building, next door to the White House. And why...

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Why Obama Nostalgia Matters

by NEAL GABLER – President Obama, for all his faults and our disagreements with him, challenged us to rise to our better natures. As Donald Trump’s inauguration approaches, a lot of you may be feeling what I am: premature Obama nostalgia. This isn’t to say we didn’t have disagreements with him — serious ones. After the initial euphoria of having a young, intelligent and black commander-in-chief wore off, I thought of him as a passionless president, too cool for his and our own good. I would have preferred that he be a brawler who not only came out swinging but who also did so bare-knuckled. Instead, Obama sat on the stool and squandered far too much of his presidency trying to make nice with people who were determined to destroy him and the welfare state he should have been protecting. From the outset, he played to history, to the legacy he...

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Report: 6 Federal Agencies Investigating Possible Kremlin Financial Support of Trump

by Aaron Rupar – But with Trump about to be sworn in, how long will they stay on the case? On Wednesday, the McClatchy Washington Bureau, citing multiple unnamed sources, broke news that “the FBI and five other law enforcement and intelligence agencies have collaborated for months in an investigation into Russian attempts to influence the November election, including whether money from the Kremlin covertly aided President-elect Donald Trump.” According to McClatchy, the involved agencies are the FBI, CIA, National Security Agency, Justice Department, Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, and representatives of the Director of National Intelligence. The news is not altogether unexpected. During a hearing before a Senate panel last week, FBI director James Comey refused to answer questions about whether the bureau has investigated links between the Trump campaign and Russia. A day later, Trump himself dodged a reporter’s question about whether he or his campaign had any contact...

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U.S. Press Corps Breaks Silence, Drops Major Bombshell In Scathing Open Letter To Trump

by Vera – The way President-elect Donald Trump has treated the press during his presidential campaign, only to get far worse after winning the election, is nothing but terrifying. Trump has not only ditched press pools and created distrust for the media, but he has issued threats to punish or silence reporters for doing their jobs and holding him accountable. Trump has never sounded more like a dictator, and quite frankly we should all be very worried about what he’s going to do once he gets into the White House. Fortunately, the press is fighting back. Editor in chief and publisher of the Columbia Journalism Review Kyle Pope has just written an open letter to Trump on behalf of the U.S. Press Corps, and it’s a strong message to Trump that things aren’t going to go the way he wants them to go. Pope wrote: “In these final days before your...

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Former Intelligence Official: Trump Conflict With Spy Agencies Creates ‘Dangerous Moment’

by Sebastian Rotella – Matthew Olsen, a senior national security official in both Democratic and Republican administrations, says the ongoing conflict between President-elect Trump and the U.S. intelligence community poses grave risks. The conflict between President-elect Donald Trump and the U.S. intelligence community could have profound repercussions. We spoke recently about the issue to Matthew Olsen, who spent two decades working in senior posts in intelligence and national security for Democrat and Republican administrations. Olsen, 54, served most recently (from 2011 to 2014) as director of the intelligence community’s National Counterterrorism Center. Before that, he was the general counsel of the National Security Agency. In 2009, he was executive director of the Guantanamo Review Task Force for the Justice Department. A longtime federal prosecutor, Olsen has been an associate deputy attorney general overseeing national security and criminal cases; acting assistant attorney general for national security; chief of the national security division...

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Trump’s Minimum Wage Hating Nominee for Labor Secretary is in Search of an Exit

by Mark Sumner – Andy Puzder has no problem fighting against overtime pay and increases in the minimum wage, but he’s less interested in being challenged by people not wearing a Hardee’s uniform who want to see his financial information. President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to be labor secretary has voiced second thoughts in recent days, because of a relentless barrage of criticism from Democrats, labor unions and other liberal groups, a business ally and GOP sources tell CNN. … “He may be bailing,” said a Republican source plugged into the Trump transition effort. “He is not into the pounding he is taking, and the paperwork.” Oh, man. Paperwork. That is hard. You can’t expect someone making just $5 million a year (down from as much as $30 million in past years) to do paperwork. No. That’s something better suited for people making $24,000 a year who work 60 hour weeks without extra...

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We Cannot Wait for History to Judge. We Need the Truth About Trump and Russia Now.

by BILL MOYERS AND MICHAEL WINSHIP – For the sake of democracy, an independent commission or special prosecutor must be appointed to investigate Russian influence. Over the holidays, John Farrell, author of an upcoming biography of Richard Nixon, wrote an op-ed piece in The New York Times confirming what many of us have known for nearly 50 years: In the fall of 1968, Nixon, the Republican candidate for president, deliberately torpedoed President Lyndon Johnson’s efforts to cease the bombing of North Vietnam and begin peace talks to end the Vietnam war. Johnson was not running for re-election, but his vice president, Hubert Humphrey, was the Democratic candidate for the White House — and Nixon was determined to keep Humphrey from reaping the benefits of good news from Southeast Asia.  In the course of researching his Nixon book, Farrell found a cache of notes from Nixon aide H.R. Haldeman showing “that Nixon...

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Chinese State Media Is Literally Laughing At American Embarrassment Trump

by Stephen D Foster Jr – Donald Trump has turned America into an international laughingstock and he hasn’t even taken office yet. For weeks, Trump has been antagonizing China by speaking with the leader of Taiwan, which goes against decades of precedent, and has questioned the One-China policy. Both actions have put a strain on America’s relationship with the most populous nation on Earth. Clearly, Donald Trump intends to keep taking aim at our largest trading partner, imperiling both our foreign policy and the world economy at a time when Americans are prospering under the economic successes of President Obama. Well, China is now laughing at Trump for being a national embarrassment. CNN’s John Berman pointed out that an editorial by state-run Global Times of China mocked Trump. “Trump’s thinking about China is becoming increasingly clear: He wants China to make huge economic and trade concessions to the U.S. To achieve that,...

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Trump Nominee, Tom Price, Faces Multiple Allegations of Insider Trading

by Zack Ford – Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) bought stock, then introduced legislation that boosted its value. This week, the Senate will hold confirmation hearings for Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of Health and Human Services. Monday evening, CNN reported that Price may have used his position in Congress for profit in what appears to be insider trading, a new allegation among many that are now clouding his nomination. Last March, Price bought as much as $15,000 in stock in a company called Zimmer Biomet, one the world’s largest manufacturers of knee and hip implants. Within a week of that transaction, he introduced the HIP Act, a bill that would have saved Zimmer Biomet a significant amount of money by delaying implementation of a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) payment model for hip and knee replacements. After Price introduced the bill, Zimmer Biomet’s political action committee...

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Report Warns Trump Against Scrapping Iran Nuclear Deal (VIDEO)

by Megan O’Toole – Ending the agreement would lead to ‘unfathomable consequences’ throughout the region, International Crisis Group says. Should the Iran nuclear deal fall apart, the consequences for the Middle East region would be “unfathomable”, according to a new report from the International Crisis Group. The report, coming on the eve on Donald Trump’s inauguration, urges the US president-elect to preserve and strengthen the landmark agreement, rather than tear it up as he has threatened to do. Under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which took effect one year ago, Iran agreed to limit its uranium enrichment programme in return for sanctions relief – a pact derided by Trump as the “worst deal ever negotiated”. “Any attempt by the Trump administration to undercut the deal in the hope of ‘fixing’ it is likely to backfire … Moreover, by destabilising the JCPOA, the new administration could usher in what it...

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Congress and Ethics

by Christopher Brauchli – When Socrates and his two great disciples composed a system of rational ethics, they were hardly proposing practical legislation for mankind…They were merely writing an eloquent epitaph for their country. —George Santayana, The Life of Reason It all happened within hours after the 115th Congress convened in January 2017. There was considerable anticipation that the first thing members of the House would do was introduce legislation to rid themselves and the country of the Affordable Care Act. To everyone’s surprise, however, that was not the first item on the agenda. The first item of business was to draw the public’s attention to the existence of a non-partisan ethics board that many of the 20 million people who had gotten insurance under Obamacare (and millions of others) did not even know existed — the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE). OCE is an independent board which is charged with...

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Updated: More than 40 Congressional Democrats are Boycotting Trump’s Inauguration

by Esther Yu Hsi Lee – Trump picked a fight with the wrong Democrat. As of Monday evening, 38 House Democrats have announced they intend to boycott President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration, following his public rant against civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-GA). Five other Democrats said they were not attending for unspecified reasons, according to Fusion reporter Wilfred Chan. “I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected, and they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton,” Lewis said in a NBC interview on Friday, explaining why he would not attend Trump’s inauguration. After Trump criticized Lewis as “all talk, no action” on Saturday, a handful of congressional members rushed to defend the congressman. Lewis, the remaining survivor of the Big Six leaders of the civil rights movement, helped to organize the March on Washington in 1963. He was later beaten by the police during the civil rights...

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Netanyahu’s Media Scandal: Who Bribed Whom? (VIDEOS)

by Jonathan Cook – The smell of scandal has swirled around the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, for years. But only now is the smell starting to turn to a stench, say analysts. Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, have long been known for cultivating close relations with Israel’s leading business families. Those ties, many Israelis assumed, explained why the famously parsimonious couple managed to indulge such expensive tastes. Past investigations have looked into first-class transatlantic flights and stays at top hotels, but foundered on a lack of evidence that the Netanyahus had traded the high life for favours. Until recently, most of the Israeli public had been amused, rather than outraged, by stories of astronomical bills at the prime minister’s residence for wine, ice-cream and hairstyling. But the latest revelations have the potential to be far more damaging. This week one Israeli commentator suggested Netanyahu’s conduct risked being compared to the...

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Trump Declares NATO ‘Obsolete,’ Wants European Union Disbanded in Frightening Interview

by Stephen D Foster Jr – Donald Trump is paving the way for Russian aggression against Europe and admitted it during an interview with European newspapers. Trump has had a cozy relationship with Putin ever since Russia helped him win the election in November. In fact, that was the consummation of a relationship that began months earlier when Trump started attacking NATO and made it clear that he intends to eliminate sanctions that were slapped against Russia after Putin seized the Crimea from Ukraine. Now Trump is practically inviting Russia to be more aggressive in Putin’s pursuit of tyrannical rule. “I said a long time ago that NATO had problems,” Trump told the Times of London on Sunday. “Number one it was obsolete because it was designed many, many years ago. Number two the countries weren’t paying what they’re supposed to be paying.” Trump then went on to praise Putin and...

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Former Mayor of ”Nazi City USA” Pushes Legislation to Defund Sanctuary Cities

by Shane Ralston, Truthout | News Analysis – Donald Trump offered Congressman Lou Barletta the post of secretary of labor in his new administration. Surprisingly, Barletta declined. The reason is now clear: Barletta will champion the cause of slashing funding to sanctuary cities in his next term, a cause that is near and dear to Trump’s heart. From 2000 to 2011, Barletta was the divisive mayor of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, who championed the “Illegal Immigration Relief Act” (IIRA), an ordinance that would have penalized landlords and business owners for transacting with undocumented immigrants, if it had not been struck down by federal courts as unconstitutional. Barletta rose to national prominence as a hardline “law-and-order” mayor, a so-called “small town defender,” Tea Party Republican and virulent critic of the Obama administration’s immigration policy. After two failed attempts at securing a congressional seat, he finally achieved success during his third campaign in...

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How Republican Budget Cuts Would Make the Opioid Epidemic Even Worse

by Eliza Schultz and Katherine Gallagher Robbins – In 2015, opioid-involved overdoses claimed more than 33,000 lives—a fourfold increase from 1999. Opioid overdoses caused nearly as many deaths in the United States as traffic accidents and twice as many as homicides. The toll of the epidemic is tremendous for those who struggle with addiction, as well as families, communities, and the economy. But while some Republican officials have promised to address addiction and support at-risk populations—President-elect Donald J. Trump pledged in October to provide every individual with addiction “access to the care and the help that he or she needs”—the House Republican agenda will hardly abate the opioid crisis. Instead, it is poised to do immense damage. Indeed, new analysis shows that repeal of the Affordable Care Act alone would strip 222,000 people with an opioid addiction of some or all of their health insurance coverage—and that is not the...

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Republicans Praise Dr. King While Plotting to Dismantle his Legacy

by Ian Millhiser – Dr. King was a crusader for racial justice and an economic radical. Even the Devil can quote scripture for his own purpose. It is a tradition every year in mid-January that officials, determined to tear down the edifices Dr. King built in life, try to claim his mantle on Martin Luther King Day. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) praised King for reaching “out to people of different backgrounds, races, and creeds” and imploring “them to find the basic aspects of humanity that unite us all.” President-elect Donald Trump got an early start on King-appropriation last August, when he celebrated the 53rd anniversary of the March on Washington by calling upon “today’s leaders” to “work to ensure that all of our people can live in safety, prosperity, equality and peace.” But these men have not honored King’s life work. They threaten the voting rights King marched to secure, as...

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Dissent Is Patriotic. It’s Also a Powerful Antidote to Propaganda

by Bethany Woolman, ACLU of Northern California – “If you’re to be called a communist every time you stand up for basic American rights and freedoms, what’s likely to happen? Will you be silent? And if so, is this what the House Committee on Un-American Activities is really after — a silent, submissive, un-protesting America?” -Ernest Besig, “Operation Correction,” 1961 Fifty-five years ago this January, the ACLU of Northern California was busy filling orders from across the country for copies of its recently produced film, “Operation Correction.” The film was a response to a piece of Red Scare propaganda, “Operation Abolition,” which was produced by the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and depicted civil liberties activists in San Francisco as violent “communist agents” bent on destroying the fabric of America. In those days, the federal government was deeply concerned with the political affiliations of ordinary Americans — if those...

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Former MI6 Agent says FBI Ignored Trump’s Alarming Russia Ties for Months…UPDATED with Video

by kat68 – We heard that Congressional Democrats came out of a meeting with FBI Director James Comey incensed and questioning his integrity and ability to lead the organization. Here may be one of the reasons why: According to a new exclusive report in the UK’s Independent newspaper, former MI6 agent Christopher Steele became so alarmed at the national security threat Donald Trump’s Russian ties posed to the US and the UK, he turned over copies of his findings to both British and American intelligence way back in July and continued working on the case without pay even after the election in November. But after months of inaction, the report says …Mr Steele became increasingly frustrated that the FBI was failing to take action on the intelligence from others as well as him. He came to believe there was a cover-up, that a cabal within the Bureau blocked a thorough inquiry into...

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Top Senate Democrat says GOP Leaders Lack the Will for a Serious Russia Inquiry

by Ned Resnikoff – Minority Whip Dick Durbin has ‘no confidence’ in Russia hacking investigations by existing committees. The number two Democrat in the Senate is calling for “a commission like the 9/11 Commission” to investigate claims of Russian interference in the 2016 election, saying he does not trust existing Senate committees to do a sufficiently thorough inquiry. “If we’re going to have a comprehensive, credible investigation, they need more resources, more time, and more authority,” Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) told ThinkProgress on Friday. Following weeks of murmurs from the intelligence community, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said last month that he supported official congressional scrutiny of allegations that the Kremlin tipped the 2016 election in President-elect Donald Trump’s favor. But he rejected pleas to impanel a new investigatory body, saying the Senate Intelligence Committee “is more than capable of conducting a complete review of this matter.” Durbin,...

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Likely Conflicts Ahead as Trump Elevates Giuliani to Cyber Czar

by Lauren McCauley – Giuliani admits he might have business ties with some of the people he connects to President Trump, Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani will be serving as a key cyber security adviser to President-elect Donald Trump, the transition team announced on Thursday, which could pose yet more conflicts of interest for the incoming administration. The Trump loyalist, who had been on the shortlist for secretary of state, “will be sharing his expertise and insight as a trusted friend concerning private sector cyber security problems and emerging solutions developing in the private sector,” the Trump team said, which could include arranging meetings with corporate executives to discuss cyber issues in the private sector. Despite the appointment—which comes with no title—Giuliani has said he will not resign from his role as chair of the global cyber security practice at Greenberg Traurig, nor from his post of CEO of...

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Maybe This Is How Democracy Ends

by Mike Lofgren – The frightening rise of authoritarian populism in the West is a very real, clear, and present danger. The election of Donald Trump has triggered as much wonderment abroad as it has in the United States. David Runciman, a professor of politics at the University of Cambridge, has written in the London Review of Books a provocative reflection on the nature of democracy in the age of Trump: “Is this how democracy ends?” There is much to praise in his essay, including his heavy qualification that we really don’t know for sure if what we are seeing is the end phase of mature Western democracies since we do not have the appropriate historical precedents to be certain. Runciman is correct; as an admirer of Karl Popper, I believe that there is no such thing as historical determinism, either in the form of the Marxist dialectical process, or in...

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I Survived the Trump News Conference, Although Barely

by LeMuse – Considering it my civic duty to keep informed, I watched the press conference today. Not sure what I expected but nothing changed. He had no epiphany and I was not rewarded by any “aha” moments. We will soon have a man with the attention span of a flea and the intellect of a dormouse leading this country. If anyone was masochistic enough to watch that press conference they heard The Orange Usurper boast and bloviate, strutting his overinflated ego across the national stage in front of a pack of “press puppies” eager for a bone, or even a tiny morsel. He is nastier and more disgusting than a dung beetle. He is totally lacking in any grace, class or style. It was disgusting the way the mainstream media were begging him to take their questions. “Mr. Drumpf, Mr. Drumpf, please president-elect Drumpf, over here, me, me. me!” Kudos...

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Dan Rather Tributes President Obama

by Leslie Salzillo – Most Americans are familiar with the legendary investigative reporter Dan Rather. Over the past year, Rather has again emerged to become one of America’s most admired and respected beacons of journalism and truth. In a recent Facebook post, Rather commends the Farewell Address by a man who  deserves great praise and who will be solemnly missed as he leaves Oval Office next week: President Barrack Obama. On January 10, 2016, Dan Rather starts off with a quote: He was a man, take him for all in all, I shall not look upon his like again. – Hamlet Whatever you think of the presidency of Barack Obama, and I know there are many who think of him as one of our greatest presidents and others with a distinctly differing opinion, I think we can all safely say he was unlike any man who has ever occupied the office of President of the United States. And I cannot imagine anyone quite like him in the future. ...

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5 Major takeaways from Ben Carson’s Tearing to Become HUD Secretary (VIDEO)

by Casey Quinlan and Carimah Townes – Trump’s nominee seemed unsure if providing housing is key to fighting poverty. Former neurosurgeon and author Ben Carson is likely to become President-elect Donald Trump’s secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). On Thursday, he sailed through his confirmation hearing before the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee with little opposition. Carson has no government experience, and reportedly turned down a nomination to become President-elect Donald Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). But his testimony before the committee provided a glimpse of the types of policies he’ll pursue if confirmed to lead HUD. Here are five takeaways: 1. Carson wants a “holistic” approach to affordable housing, but doesn’t seem convinced that having a house is key Carson repeatedly said he wants to use a “holistic” approach to dealing with issues of poverty, and that he wants to work with the...

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Trump’s Sec. of State Nominee, Tillerson, has a Plan to Defeat ISIS, and it’s not Very Good

by Justin Salhani – And it could greatly upset a key U.S. ally. During the hearing for President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State, the candidate, former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, pinpointed what he views as the gravest threat to the United States: ISIS. He also laid out a very basic plan in defeating ISIS. “In the case of the most immediate threat of ISIS — can we construct a renewed coalition using the forces that are already there, including the Syrian Kurds, which have been our greatest allies,” Tillerson told the panel. “We recommit to the Syrian Kurds that we intend to continue to support you with the capability to continue the advance on Raqqa and then build coalition forces that can contain ISIS if it attempts to move into this other part of the country. And eliminate them from Syria.” Watch: There’s one major...

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Your Complete Republican-to-English Guide to Understanding the GOP’s Health Care Rhetoric

by Ian Millhiser – We translate their language so you don’t have to. Republicans thought they could come to power and quickly deal Obamacare a mortal wound. Instead, they are in for a long, hard fight with an uncertain outcome. Monday evening, five Republican senators introduced an amendment that effectively extends the GOP’s self-imposed deadline for passing legislation to kill the law. This amendment follows a number of statements by other Republicans questioning what was, until recently, the leading GOP proposal for killing Obamacare. Yet, even as Republican leaders gear up for a long, slow slog to end a law that extends health coverage to 20 million Americans, they have even more ambitious plans for the remainder of America’s health care safety net. Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) plan to privatize Medicare would increase health care costs for seniors by about 40 percent. He hopes to cut Medicaid, the primary program providing health...

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Abbas Warns Trump not to Move US Embassy to Jerusalem (VIDEOS)

Palestinian leader tells US president-elect that a relocation would have a “disastrous impact on the peace process”. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has written to US President-elect Donald Trump telling him not to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, according to official Palestinian media reports. Trump has said at various times that he plans to relocate the embassy, and last month chose David Friedman, a right-wing lawyer who has pledged to move the mission to Jerusalem, as his ambassador to Israel. ‘The settlers and the guards harass us and our children’ In an official letter, Abbas gave warning that such a move would have a “disastrous impact on the peace process, on the two-state solution and on the stability and security of the entire region”, Palestinian news agency Wafa said on Monday. Wafa, which did not specify when the letter had been sent, said Abbas aimed to explain the “risks”...

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Rand Paul May Disrupt the GOP’s Terrible Plan to Repeal and Delay Obamacare

by Peter Suderman – The Kentucky senator says he doesn’t support a rollback of the health law without a replacement in place. When the year began, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s number one priority was to quickly move forward with a plan to repeal Obamacare—but in a way that delayed the repeal while the GOP settled on some sort of replacement plan. That plan came with many potential pitfalls, and now it looks as if it may not work out after all—thanks in large part to opposition from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky). McConnell’s intention was to use the reconciliation process, which allows the Senate to pass certain types of bills that are directly relevant to the budget with a simple majority, to strip out certain key components of the law, including its individual mandate, taxes, and insurance subsidies. Those changes, however, would not go into effect for somewhere between two and...

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Nation’s First “For-Profit President” as Trump Refuses to Divest

by Nadia Prupis – Trump holds first post-election presser, confirming plans to hand over control of corporate empire to sons. President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday gave his first press conference since the November election—indeed, since July—but gave little information on his relationship with Russia and outlined a plan to address his conflicts of interest that at least one government watchdog group called a “failure on all levels.” Trump said he would not divest his business holdings before taking office, but confirmed that he would hand the reins of his corporate empire and a trust containing his assets over to his sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, as well as an appointed trustee, for the duration of his term. That comes shortly after the sons, and daughter Ivanka, were widely criticized for their continued attempts to sell off access to the president and the First Family. So any proposal that lets them keep...

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Fiat Chrysler says Trump had Nothing to do with its Jobs Announcement

by Bryce Covert – The company says it has already invested $9.6 billion in the U.S. and created 25,000 jobs since 2009. On Sunday, FCA US, the parent company of Fiat and Chrysler, announced that it will spend $1 billion to expand plants in Michigan and Ohio and create 2,000 more jobs in the U.S. The move, as the company made clear in its press release, is simply the next phase in an expansion plan it announced last year and comes on top of billions of previous investments that created thousands of jobs. “This plan was in the works back in 2015,” Jodi Tinson, a spokeswoman for FCA, told ThinkProgress. “This announcement…was just final confirmation.” When asked directly if it was true that politics and the election had no influence on the announcement, she said, “Correct.” But that didn’t stop President-elect Donald Trump from tweeting about it without that context. “It’s finally...

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Government Ethics Office says Trump Keeps Ignoring Warnings to Sell his Assets

by Jack Jenkins – The ethics office only considers something a blind trust if its assets have “been sold off.” New emails reveal that the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) reportedly “lost contact” with President-elect Donald Trump’s team during the ongoing transition to power, despite efforts to warn officials about ethical issues posed by nominees and “blind trusts.” According to emails uncovered by MSNBC, OGE director Director Walter Shaub contacted Trump aides in November expressing deep frustration with the lack of cooperation between his organization and the president-elect’s team. Shaub reportedly cautioned Trump against creating a blind trust of his business holdings without speaking to the OGE first, noting that the ethics office only considers something a blind trust if its assets have “been sold off”—a very different standard that the “half-blind” trust floated by Trump’s own team. (To date, Trump has not suggested that he will sell off his assets.) MSNBC...

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Homeland Security Pick, John Kelly, Calls for Border Wall (VIDEO)

The retired marine general says tightening the US border would be his top priority at homeland security secretary. John Kelly, the US President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to lead the department of homeland security, has said tightening the country’s border would be his top priority at his new role. In a questionnaire released on Tuesday ahead of his Senate confirmation hearing, Kelly said achieving that goal starts with “physical obstacles like a border wall and supporting surveillance technologies”. The retired marine general said it also requires constant patrols from federal and local law enforcement. Trump vs America: Presidential conflict of interest? – Counting the Cost Trump has pledged to build a wall on the Mexican border and carry out mass deportations of undocumented immigrants. Deportations reached record levels under President Barack Obama, whose administration deported more than 2.5 million people between 2009 and 2015. A large wall already exists on much of the...

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5 Things You Need to Know About Rex Tillerson (VIDEO)

by Andrew Satter and Carolyn Kenney – President-elect Donald Trump has nominated former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson to be the next secretary of state, despite the fact that he has no formal government or foreign policy experience. Here are five things you need to know about Rex Tillerson. Andrew Satter is the Director of Video at the Center for American Progress. Carolyn Kenney is a Research Associate with the National Security and International Policy team at the Center. Reprinted with permission from The Center for American Progress

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“Perverted” Sex with Russian Prostitutes, Kickbacks, Bribes and Other Trump Follies Revealed

by Frank Vyan Walton – As I had diaried last week based on report from David Corn in Mother Jones, and former MI6 operative had discovered information that Russian intelligence has been attempting to cultivate Donald Trump as an asset for the last five years and had gather compromising information with which to blackmail him with.  This information was turned over to the FBI and what CNN has reported today is that the CIA and FBI have found this British agents sources credible enough to include them in a two page summary that was part of the classified briefing materials given the President-Elect Trump last friday as part of their report on the widespread and comprehensive Russian hacking and disinformation campaign intended to benefit Trump in the election. Buzzfeed has posted the 35 page document summarizing the data that was provided to the FBI and some of the details of this memo are sizzling. And we’ve...

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Donald Trump was Bailed out of Bankruptcy by Russian Crime Bosses

by Mark Sumner – In 2008, Donald Trump Jr. attended a real estate conference, where he stated that Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia. As it turns out, that may have been an understatement. Human rights lawyer Scott Horton, whose work in the region goes back to defending Andrei Sakharov and other Soviet dissidents, has gone through a series of studies by the Financial Times to show how funds from Russian crime lords bailed Trump out after yet anther bankruptcy. The conclusions are stark. Among the powerful facts that DNI missed were a series of very deep studies published in the that examined the structure and history of several major Trump real estate projects from the last decade—the period after his seventh bankruptcy and the cancellation of all his bank lines of credit. … The money to build these projects flowed...

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Now Trump’s Lying About Dress Shops, Because There’s Nothing He Doesn’t Lie About

by Hunter – Donald Trump is a compulsive liar. It’s pathological. “We are going to have an unbelievable, perhaps record-setting turnout for the inauguration, and there will be plenty of movie and entertainment stars,” Mr. Trump said. “All the dress shops are sold out in Washington. It’s hard to find a great dress for this inauguration.” This is a damn strange thing to lie about, and by strange we mean stupid, and by lie we mean Jeebus Crisp, how would you even invent such a thing? Your greatness is so vast the nation’s collected fashion industries are incapable of even finding clothes for your too-many admirers? So Racked had to fact-check this, because this is our lives now, and it is indeed a load of hot flaming garbage pulled from the Dumpster fire that Donald Trump calls his ego. An employee at the Neiman Marcus at the Mazza Gallerie told Racked,...

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Under Jeff Sessions, Drug Legalization and Sentencing Reforms will go up in Smoke

by Alice Miranda Ollstein – Donald Trump’s nominee for Attorney General is one of Washington’s most anti-marijuana lawmakers. Marijuana is still illegal under federal law, and hundreds of thousands of people are arrested every year for smoking, growing, or selling the drug. But over the past eight years, President Obama has commuted the sentences of hundreds of nonviolent drug offenders serving decades-long prison terms — signing more commutations than any other president in history. He encouraged a bipartisan effort in Congress to lower harsh mandatory sentences for drug offenders. He expanded the amount of marijuana grown for medical research. His Justice Department opted to leave alone states that decriminalized and legalized marijuana to varying degrees. Under his tenure, eight states and the District of Columbia legalized recreational marijuana, and nearly 30 states now allow its use in some form. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Donald Trump’s nominee to become the nation’s next Attorney General, opposed...

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Welcome to the Vortex

by TODD GITLIN – It’s time to wade into the swamp — or alternate universe — of right-wing media to really understand the twisted “truths” they report. I spent most of 2016 doing my duty as citizen, writer and educator aghast at the favors done for the unprincipled, incoherent, vicious, dangerous ignoramus Donald Trump by the business known as “the media,” formerly known as “the press” — an enterprise accorded privileges by the US Constitution on the quaint 18th-century belief that if the people are informed, they will make better judgments than if they are less so. Detailing the incomprehensions, incapacities, failures, inadequacies and airbrushings over the course of many months was not, for me, a feel-good exercise, but I judged it preferable to sitting at home griping, ranting and snarling to my family and friends while my mind exploded in the knowledge that the rudder was coming off the ship...

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Trump to Appoint Son-in-Law to White House Post in Apparent Violation of Federal Nepotism Law

by Hunter – The Trump transition team has let it be known that Donald Trump will be appointing his own son-in-law, Jared Kushner, to a White House post. Specifically, he’ll be a “Senior Advisor to the President.” There’s just one problem: for the last five-plus decades, there’s been a federal law prohibiting exactly that. A public official may not appoint, employ, promote, advance, or advocate for appointment, employment, promotion, or advancement, in or to a civilian position in the agency in which he is serving or over which he exercises jurisdiction or control any individual who is a relative of the public official. Where “relative” means “father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, first cousin, nephew, niece, husband, wife, father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, stepfather, stepmother, stepson, stepdaughter, stepbrother, stepsister, half brother, or half sister.” Hey look—they even defined it right there in the law. Trump’s team, therefore, will...

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Rex Tillerson’s Big Oil Ties Endanger the Climate and National Security

by Cathleen Kelly – The direct link between climate change threats and the duties of the secretary of state is strong. As droughts, floods, heat waves, and other symptoms of a warming world increase both in number and intensity—throughout the Middle East, Africa, Asia, the Arctic, Europe, and the United States—the next U.S. secretary of state will face urgent pressure to curb climate change and manage the effects of a warming planet that can no longer be avoided. Failure to do so will damage the global economy and destabilize an already wobbly security landscape, with potentially dire consequences for U.S. national security interests. The next U.S. secretary of state must, as Secretary John Kerry has, protect U.S. foreign policy and security interests and demonstrate a track record of personal and diplomatic credibility. President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for the job, former* ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, does not meet those qualifications. Foreign policy...

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GOP Tries to ‘Jam’ Through Nominees Not Yet Vetted, Ethics Office Warns

by Lauren McCauley – Office of Government Ethics has not received even initial draft financial disclosure reports for some of the nominees scheduled for hearings. Days before the confirmation process is set to begin, with schedule purposely packed with conflicts, it appears that many of President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees have not been properly vetted despite numerous potential conflicts of interest. The head of the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) sent a letter to Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Chuck Schumer (NY) on Saturday expressing “great concern” over the fact that the hearings are set to begin on Tuesday and his office had not yet received financial disclosure reports for some of the scheduled nominees. “As OGE’s director, the announced hearing schedule for several nominees who have not completed the ethics review process is of great concern to me,” wrote Walter Shaub, who was appointed by President Barack Obama in...

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The Three Big Reasons Republicans Can’t Replace Obamacare

by Robert Reich – Republicans are preparing to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and have promised to replace it with something that doesn’t leave more than 20 million Americans stranded without health insurance. Yet they haven’t come up with a replacement. And they won’t, for three reasons. First, Republicans say they want the replacement to be “market-based.” But Obamacare is already market based – relying on private, for profit health insurers. That’s already a problem. The biggest health insurers – Anthem, Aetna, Humana, Cigna, and United Health – are so big they can get the deals they want from the government by threatening to drop out of any insurance system Republicans come up with. Several have already dropped out of Obamacare. Even now they’re trying to merge into far bigger behemoths that will be able to extort even better terms from the Republicans. Second, every part of Obamacare depends on every...

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5 Things You Need to Know About Sen. Jeff Sessions (MUST WATCH VIDEO)

by Andrew Satter, Billy Corriher, and Jake Faleschini – President-elect Donald Trump has nominated Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions (R) to be the next U.S. attorney general—the person charged with enforcing the nation’s laws and constitutional rights. Sessions has a long history of opposing rights for people of color, women, and LGBTQ Americans. Here are five things you need to know about Sen. Sessions. Andrew Satter is the Director of Video at the Center for American Progress. Billy Corriher is the Director of Research for Legal Progress at the Center. Jake Faleschini is the Director of the Courts Program for Legal Progress at the Center. Reprinted with permission from The Center for American Progress

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Krugman Finds His New Voice, Going After An Incompetent Media

by pollwatcher – When we ask ourselves how did we lose in Nov., why is the country so divided, or why are Trump supporters just so damn stupid, one thing seems to jump out, media incompetence!  From the outright propaganda media like FOX and right wing radio, to the false equivalency, balanced, cowardly reporting of the main stream media, the 4th estate is complicit in helping to build a vast uninformed electorate that can’t tell a fact from a lie. My favorite target to point out the complicity in this dumbing down of the electorate is CNN.  During the election you could tune in to CNN and watch a “balanced” panel have a food fight over numerous issues.  Of course the Trump surrogates would simply lie their butts off over every issue, and the other panelists were suppose to expose a lie in real time.  Now CNN knew fully well that...

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Former CIA Director Just Quit The Trump Transition Team

by Conover Kennard – President-elect Donald Trump’s massive swamp now has a Russian accent. It’s so bad that even a Fox News host called him out for siding with a hostile foreign government over U.S. intelligence agencies. And now, a former CIA director working on Trump’s transition team has had it. He is done. The Washington Post reports: Former CIA director R. James Woolsey Jr., a veteran of four presidential administrations and one of the nation’s leading intelligence experts, resigned Thursday from President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team because of growing tensions over Trump’s vision for intelligence agencies.  Woolsey’s resignation as a Trump senior adviser comes amid Trump’s public comments undermining the intelligence community. Trump has publicly aligned himself with Russia over the U.S., even in his Twitter timeline. “Effective immediately, Ambassador Woolsey is no longer a Senior Advisor to President-Elect Trump or the Transition. He wishes the President-Elect and his Administration...

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Here Were McConnell’s Requirements For Obama’s Nominees

by pollwatcher – Nothing ANY Republican says can be considered truthful until it is proven to be so.  Let’s face it, part of the strategy for a fascist party like the GOP is to lie to any group and tell them exactly what they want to hear. McConnell, and GOP senators like McCain, Graham, Collins are going to shove Trump’s cabinet nominees down our throats without letting the American public know the truth about their backgrounds. The head of Office of Government Ethics, the federal agency charged with investigating the backgrounds of Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees, told Senate Democrats on Saturday that the process of vetting Trump’s picks is overwhelming the agency. Director Walter Shaub Jr. also emphasized his concern that Republicans are pushing forward with confirmation hearings for Trump’s nominees before the appropriate paperwork has been completed, and thus before the OGE can confirm that the nominees have no financial, ethical, or...

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Trump Cabinet Picks Must Pass These Four GOP Tests

by Jon Perr – As his Inauguration Day nears, President-elect Donald Trump is trying to assemble the wealthiest and least vetted cabinet in modern American history. The nominees possess combined riches of $10 billion, ironically the same figure Trump claims for himself. Like the 45th president, many have not yet released their tax returns or completed reviews by the FBI and the Office of Government Ethics. That’s why Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) warned his Republican counterpart Mitch McConnell (R-KY) that Democrats will not “green light” Trump’s cabinet picks if they “are holding back tax returns, critical financial information, and are behind on their ethics certification.” In response, McConnell spokesman Don Stewart declared: “Surely they won’t object to treating the incoming president’s nominees with the same courtesy and seriousness with which the Senate acted on President Obama’s nominees. Our committees and chairmen are fully capable of reviewing the incoming Cabinet...

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Trump Said he had $315 Million in Debt. He Left out $1.5 billion

by Judd Legum – A new report reveals the breathtaking scope of Trump’s conflicts of interest. Trump filed documents with the FEC over the summer that revealed he owed at least $315 million to ten entities. This debt, some of which is personally guaranteed by him, was a clear conflict. As president, Trump will be responsible for regulating entities that he also owes money to. Worse, these debts are frequently renegotiated, giving these companies leverage over Trump in the regulatory process.                               From Trump’s 2016 FEC financial disclosure form A report this afternoon from the Wall Street Journal, however, revealed that Trump’s disclosure was the tip of the iceberg. The FEC required Trump only to report debt from entities he fully controls. The disclosure left out “more than $1.5 billion lent to partnerships that are 30%-owned by...

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Black Lives Matter Is Not Responsible for Four Black People Abusing a White Man in Chicago

by Robby Soave – The #BLMKidnapping is another frustrating example of assigning moral culpability to an entire group. To state more strongly what I wrote earlier, Black Lives Matter—the social change movement focused on racial equality and criminal justice reform—has nothing to do with the attack on a mentally disabled white teenager in Chicago. The incident, which was streamed on Facebook Live, is horrific in its own right, regardless of the motive. The four perpetrators, who are black, made comments like “fuck Donald Trump, fuck white people,” as they terrorized a defenseless white victim, who was tied up with tape over his mouth. They cut his hair until his scalp bled, and even threatened to kill him, apparently amused by his confusion and pain. The attack has provoked all sorts of over-the-top analysis, given that it confounds the usual media narrative: racist white people harassing black people. “If this had been...

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One of the Biggest Legal Guns in the Country is Coming for Partisan Gerrymandering

by Ian Millhiser – Help is on the way. It’s only a slight exaggeration to say that the fate of the American Republic rests on how Justice Anthony Kennedy votes in Gill v. Whitford, a gerrymandering case that is all but certain to be heard by the Supreme Court. And now, that case is set to be argued by the single most qualified lawyer in the country to present such a case to the justices. Last November, a three-judge federal court struck down Wisconsin’s state assembly maps, saying they were unconstitutionally drawn to advantage Republicans. That alone is a big deal. The Supreme Court has been highly skeptical of gerrymandering suits in the past. Though Kennedy refused to slam the door entirely shut to such suits, many obstacles remain in front of any attorney who seeks a federal court order against a gerrymandered map. But the legal team behind Whitford is seeking...

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In 2 Minutes, Cory Booker Shows the GOP What #Resistance Looks Like as he Defends Planned Parenthood

by Leslie Salzillo – In response to the GOP’s plan to defund Planned Parenthood, New Jersey’s Senator Cory Booker knocked it out of the park this week during a press conference. Here is transcript followed by the short and stunning YouTube video of Booker demonstrating and explaining how a real #Resistance can, does, and will work. TRANSCRIPT: Patty Murray: I call again on all members, Republican and Democrat, who stood with this time and time again, for people across the country, men and women who understand the impacts of what this is — to stand up and fight back now before it’s too late. Cory Booker: So, I don’t have a message for fellow Republican elected, because they’re not depending on Planned Parenthood in their neighborhoods. They’re well paid comfortable people. I have a message for every American, Democrat, and Republican who rely on these services or know people that do,...

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