Op-Eds

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

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

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SCOTUS Says States Have No Right to Money Taken Based on Overturned Convictions

by Jacob Sullum – If making people prove their innocence to get their property back violates due process, what about civil forfeiture? This week the Supreme Court ruled that Colorado has no right to keep fines, fees, court costs, and restitution it extracts from criminal defendants whose convictions are later reversed. By forcing people to prove their innocence before they can get back property that is rightly theirs, the Court said, Colorado has been violating the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of due process. The Institute for Justice, which filed a brief in the case emphasizing that the presumption of innocence is an essential aspect of due process, makes a compelling argument that civil asset forfeiture routinely violates that principle. The Court’s decision in Nelson v. Colorado, which was joined by seven justices (Clarence Thomas dissented, and Neil Gorsuch joined the Court too recently to participate), came in response to challenges by Shannon...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Jeff Sessions Decries Nonexistent New York Murder Epidemic

by Alan Pyke – A Justice Department press release denounces “gang murder after gang murder” in a city enjoying an historically low murder rate. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has more power over how American law is enforced than any other single living human being, is concerned about New York City. The nation’s largest population center continues to see “gang murder after gang murder,” Sessions’ office said in a statement Friday, attributing the putative murderpocalypse to the city’s commitment to humane treatment of undocumented immigrants: Brad Heath ✔@bradheath DOJ says New York City is “soft on crime.” 2:32 PM – 21 Apr 2017 Eight and a half million people live in New York City. New York City had 335 murders in 2016. That is down from 352 in 2015. It is the second-lowest murder rate in New York City history, tied with 2013 and just behind 2014’s all-time low of 333. Shootings,...

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

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

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The Trump Doctrine

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

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

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

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100 Days of Deconstruction: Part Two

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

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This Earth Day, Defeating Trump is Job One

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

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

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

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Alex Jones’ Defense

by TODD GITLIN – His lawyer: He’s not a deranged crackpot, he just plays one on the radio. You may have heard of Alex Jones of Austin, Texas — the fellow who markets his own brand of “BRAIN FORCE” and “SUPER MALE VITALITY” pills on the radio. He’s the guy whose Infowars.com website features headlines like “HEAVILY ARMED MUSLIM THREATENS CHRISTIAN CONSERVATIVE CONFERENCE.” The one who describes himself on the website with a pithy summary of world history that begins as follows: Since the beginning of time there have been constant attempts to enslave and subdue the spirit of humanity. From barbarian hordes streaming down the mountain to the Stasi secret police torturing those who dreamed to be free. That’s the early Trump supporter Alex Jones who, pushing birtherism one giant step further into the inferno where truth is drawn and quartered, let his listeners know the other day that “the...

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

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

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

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

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UK’s Snap Elections: The Corbyn Factor

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

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America’s Addiction to War (VIDEO)

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

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In Memoriam: Bill O’Reilly’s Career

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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100 Days of Deconstruction

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

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

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

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Bill O’Reilly’s Lawyer Blames ‘Brutal Campaign of Character Assassination’ for His Plight

by Aaron Rupar – The scorched-earth statement comes as Fox News reportedly prepares to cut ties. As numerous reports swirl that Fox News is preparing to cut ties with Bill O’Reilly before he returns from his “vacation,” his attorney signaled that cable news’ top-rated host won’t go down before he scorches the earth behind him. In a statement released Tuesday evening, Marc E. Kasowitz wrote that his client “has been subjected to a brutal campaign of character assassination that is unprecedented in post-McCarthyist America.” O’Reilly, who has spent months battling a wave of sexual harassment allegations, was hit with a fresh harassment claim on Tuesday — the same day a group of protesters delivered 480,000 petitions calling for O’Reilly’s termination to Fox News headquarters. His attorney’s reference to former U.S. Sen. Joe McCarthy (R-WI), whose name has become synonymous with making unfounded accusations, hearkens back to the words President Donald Trump used last month...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Trump’s Five Worst Tax Secrets, Revealed

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

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French Presidential Elections: What You Need to Know

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

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Reaching Impeachment Critical Mass

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

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

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

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

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

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With Few Exceptions, Trump is Mired in Unconscious Incompetency

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

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

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

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Will China Intervene in North Korea? (VIDEOS)

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

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The Republican Civil War is the Best Thing Happening

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Single-Payer Health Care Is Seeing Record Support in Congress

by Michael Corcoran – The primary Medicare for All bill has more support in Congress now than it has ever before. John Conyers’ Medicare for All bill (HR 676), which he has introduced in each Congress since 2003, has seen a recent surge of new cosponsors — 32 since March 8 and nine on April 3 alone. As of this writing there are 93 co-signers (and counting), representing more than 48 percent of the Democratic Caucus. This is the highest number of cosponsors ever, both in terms of members and as a percentage of the House Democratic Caucus. The count is up from just 62 cosigners — 33 percent of Democrats — in the last Congress, and an average of 37 percent since the bill was first introduced in 2003 (see chart). This is an astonishing development for many reasons. Just a year ago the Democratic establishment was recklessly (and disingenuously) maligning the policy to help keep Sen....

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Drug Makers Join Lawsuit Against Arkansas’ “Conveyor Belt” of Executions

by Nika Knight – “The companies are understandably appalled at the prospect of their medicines being used in America’s largest mass execution since the civil rights era.” As Arkansas moves forward with its brutal plan to execute seven prisoners within 11 days, the makers of the drugs Arkansas plans to use to put the prisoners to death have joined a lawsuit to stop the “conveyor belt of death.” Pharmaceutical manufacturers develop drugs to save and improve lives, and the companies are understandably appalled at the prospect of their medicines being used in America’s largest mass execution since the civil rights era,” said Maya Foa, director of the human rights organization Reprieve, in a statement. In their brief (pdf) filed Thursday, the companies Fresenius Kabi and West-Ward argue that “he use of their medicines for lethal injections violates contractual supply-chain controls that the Manufacturers have implemented” and “he use of their medicines...

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No, Dropping a MOAB on ISIS in Afghanistan Doesn’t Make Surge 2.0 a Good Idea

by Ed Krayewski – Geeze Louise. The U.S. military dropped the 21,000-pound GBU-43, or MOAB, on a tunnel complex out of which ISIS operated, U.S. Central Command announced today, giving proponents of a renewed surge in Afghanistan new hope that President Trump will follow that course. But another escalation in the war in Afghanistan remains a bad idea—there’s very little, if anything, the U.S. can do in its 16th year of war that it couldn’t accomplish in the first 15, even if the bombs used are getting bigger. The GBU-43, called the Massive Ordnance Air Blast, or MOAB, bomb, is the largest non-nuclear bomb in the U.S. arsenal and was developed for the Iraq war (of course it was) but never used there. The action in Afghanistan was the first time the bomb has been used in the battlefield—it was tested in 2003. Its creator, Albert Weimorts, previously designed a 5,000-pound...

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Report: To Expand Substance Abuse Treatment, Embrace Obamacare

by Casey Quinlan – A new report on substance abuse treatment recommends building on the successes of the ACA. A report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released on Tuesday makes the case for why states and the Trump administration should build on the Affordable Care Act’s’s success, rather than tear it down. The ACA expanded treatment by requiring that both Medicaid and individual marketplace plans cover basic mental health and addiction services. More than 1 million people receive treatment for mental health and substance abuse disorders under the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, according to a recent estimate from professors at New York University and Harvard Medical School. The share of people with substance use or mental health disorders who were hospitalized but uninsured fell from 20 percent to 5 percent from 2013 to mid-2015, according to Health and Human Services data. Medicaid expansion helped many of the states most affected...

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Ask Yourself: Will Donald Trump EVER Become President?

by BILL MOYERS – As our institutions bend and buckle and approach the breaking point, the president bombs Syria and is hailed by an obeisant media. It’s been a week now since Donald Trump once again became our president. Here’s how it happened. After he unleashed missiles on a Syrian airfield, members of Washington’s national security establishment and elite pundits swooned. Top Democrats and Republicans led the way. Good soldiers all in the military-industrial-political complex, they stood smartly at attention and saluted the commander-in-chief for sending a message to the world, although exactly what the message meant remains far from clear. The headline above Glenn Greenwald’s story at The Intercept summed up the response: “The Spoils of War — Trump Lavished with Media and Bipartisan Praise for Bombing Syria.” The hawkish Hillary Clinton, who long had been critical of Barack Obama for not bringing Bashar Assad to heel, “appeared at an...

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Federal Judge Blocks Arkansas’ Execution Spree

by Lauren McCauley – Judge Kristine G. Baker argued that the state’s reliance on the execution drug midazolam threatens the plaintiffs constitutional rights. A federal judge on Saturday issued an injunction blocking Arkansas from its rush to carry out 6 executions in less than two weeks, siding with the plaintiffs who argued that the “assembly line” killings could subject inmates to a torturous and botched execution. Eight inmates were initially slated for the mass execution, set to begin on Monday, but on Friday the Arkansas Supreme Court granted an emergency stay in the scheduled execution of 60-year-old Bruce Earl Ward. Last week, a federal judge issued a stay on the execution of inmate Jason McGehee after the parole board recommended he be eligible for clemency. Judge Kristine G. Baker of Federal District Court in Little Rock issued the 101-page order on Saturday morning. In her ruling, she argued that the state’s...

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Could Trump’s Need to be Adored Lead to a War with North Korea: A Psychological Perspective

by HalBrown – Just watching Dan Rather talking about N. Korea to Rachel. He made the point that Trump basks in feeling adoration. Reflecting on the positive press Trump received after his last two militaristic actions, he worries whether Trump will push for a military engagement with North Korea. This would, of course, likely lead to war. The mere fact anyone would even consider that an American president’s psychological dysfunction — to put it mildly — could lead to a war is surreal and chilling. Dan Rather also suggested that Trump is woefully uninformed about what happened in the Korean War and that he ought to read, or have read to him, “The Coldest Winter: America and the Korean War “ by David Halberstam, published in 2007. The cadre of online shrinks I communicate with every day who have been studying Trump, are asking this question: Given what we know about Trump’s extreme, malignant narcissism, do...

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New York Times Defends Hiring Extreme Climate Denier: ‘Millions Agree with Him’

by Joe Romm – The Times replaces search for truth with search for popular ideas that are false. But would they hire a Holocaust denier? Amidst backlash and subscription cancellations for hiring extreme climate science denier, Bret Stephens, the New York Times offered a stunning defense: There are “millions of people who agree with him.” With that ‘logic’, the Times could hire as a columnist former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan David Duke — or a flat earther or someone who thinks vaccines pose a health hazard. After all, millions agree with them. Screenshot of a typical pop-up ad in the NY Times new ad campaign This defense is especially absurd since, as I detailed Friday, the Times has been running a major ad campaign claiming there is no alternative to the truth — and former Wall Street Journal deputy editorial page editor Stephens has repeatedly dismissed as “imaginary” the climate reality reported...

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North Korea Warns of ‘Thermonuclear War’ After Trump Threatens Strike

by Nika Knight – ‘Yet again, the Trump administration appears to be threatening a preemptive war against North Korea. When the inevitable retaliation comes, what form does it take?’ The Trump administration has succeeded in ratcheting up tensions in the Korea Peninsula after dispatching a Navy strike group to the western Pacific Ocean and threatening a “preemptive strike” against North Korea if the country goes ahead with a nuclear bomb test. In response to the Trump administration’s saber-rattling, North Korea on Friday warned of a looming “thermonuclear war,” threatening a preemptive strike of its own if the U.S. engages in “reckless” aggression. In an exclusive interview with the Associated Press, Vice Minister Han Song Ryol said that “Pyongyang has determined the Trump administration is ‘more vicious and more aggressive’ than that of his predecessor, Barack Obama,” AP writes. “He added that North Korea will keep building up its nuclear arsenal in ‘quality and...

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Trump Threatens Cutting Off Payments for Low-income People to get Health Care

by Casey Quinlan – “I don’t want people to get hurt,” said Trump. President Donald Trump is still considering whether to continue payments for cost-sharing subsidies that help low-income people get health care, he said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. The payments reduce copayments and deductibles for low-income people, and their elimination would mean a lot of Americans would go uninsured. Insurers would still have to provide lower deductible plans, but they wouldn’t be paid for it as they are now, which ultimately means that some insurers would either exit the markets to avoid losses or raise premiums. Premiums would need to rise by 19 percent to compensate for the lack of funding for cost-sharing subsidies. Of the 12.1 million people who selected a 2017 Obamacare marketplace plan, 7.1 million are receiving cost-sharing reductions, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF). The subsidies reduced annual out-of-pocket maximums by up...

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Trump Just Signed a Bill Allowing States to Cut Off Funding to Planned Parenthood

by Laurel Raymond – The repeal could affect millions of women’s access to preventative services like birth control. President Donald Trump signed a bill into law on Thursday that would allow states to withhold federal money for family planning services, such as birth control, from Planned Parenthood clinics and other women’s health centers. The bill is a repeal of an Obama-era regulation that said states couldn’t withhold Title X funding, which covers family planning and preventative care, from organizations just because those organizations also provide abortion care. This bill would roll back that protection, emboldening states to try to restrict such funding. The Senate passed the bill 51–50 in March, with Vice President Pence casting the tie breaking vote. Four million people with low incomes rely on Title X for preventative health care. Roughly 1.5 million receive their Title X care at Planned Parenthood. In practice, what this bill does is open...

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The ‘Mother of All Bombs’ is Big, Deadly – and Won’t Lead to Peace

by Medea Benjamin – “I’m really very good at war. I love war, in a certain way,” bragged candidate Donald Trump at a campaign rally in Iowa. This is the same Donald Trump who avoided the Vietnam draft by claiming a bone spur in his foot, a medical problem that never kept him off the tennis courts or golf courses, and miraculously healed on its own. But with the escalation of US military involvement in Syria, the record number of drone attacks in Yemen, more US troops being sent to the Middle East and, now, the dropping of a massive bomb in Afghanistan, it looks like Trump may indeed love war. Or at least, love “playing” war. In Syria, Trump went for 59 Tomahawk missiles. Now, in Afghanistan, he has opted for a “super weapon”, the second largest of the US military’s non-nuclear bombs. This 21,600-pound explosive, never before used in combat, was used to...

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Trump Breaks Major Campaign Promise, won’t Label China a Currency Manipulator

by Ryan Koronowski – He called them the “world champions” of currency manipulation just 10 days ago. Candidate Trump repeatedly promised to hold China accountable and penalize the country for being a “currency manipulator.” But less than three months after his inauguration, President Trump publicly announced he won’t follow through after all. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Trump said the dollar was getting too strong because he inspires confidence, and though a strong dollar makes it hard to compete with countries that manipulate their currency, he will not accuse China of currency manipulation. “I think our dollar is getting too strong, and partially that’s my fault because people have confidence in me. But that’s hurting — that will hurt ultimately,” he added. “Look, there’s some very good things about a strong dollar, but usually speaking the best thing about it is that it sounds good.” He continued, “It’s very, very hard...

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AP Confirms Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort’s ‘Shadow Ledger’ of Secret Payments

by Mark Sumner – Reports first emerged last summer that Paul Manafort was paid over $12 million dollars in under-the-table funds from pro-Russian forces in Ukraine. Funds may have still been flowing to Donald Trump’s campaign chairman even as he was working to put Trump in the White House. It is not clear that Mr. Manafort’s work in Ukraine ended with his work with Mr. Trump’s campaign. A communications aide for Mr. Lyovochkin, who financed Mr. Manafort’s work, declined to say whether he was still on retainer or how much he had been paid. Manafort’s secret finances were revealed in a “shadow ledger” found by Ukrainian officials last August, just before Manafort was forced to depart from the Trump campaign. Though Manafort has disputed the authenticity of the ledger, the Associated Press has now obtained financial records that show at least $1.2 million of the payments recorded were very real. The two...

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Oregon Responds to Sessions’ Threat by Creating a Bill to Protect Marijuana Customers

by Walter Einenkel – With new Attorney General Jeff Sessions trying to strum up the old-timey, racist, and not true idea that violence surrounding marijuana use has risen over the past decades, the states that allow legal recreational marijuana use have begun to make sure their citizens’ privacy is being protected. Alaska and Colorado already have laws that do not allow for marijuana retail stores to maintain a digital “paper trail” of customers’ private and personal information. Oregon state lawmakers who fear heightened marijuana enforcement by federal agents overwhelmingly approved Monday a proposal to protect pot users from having their identities or cannabis-buying habits from being divulged by the shops that make buying pre-rolled joints and “magic” brownies as easy as grabbing a bottle of whiskey from the liquor store. The measure passed easily and now waits for Democratic Gov. Kate Brown’s signature. This bill has bipartisan support which is a...

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‘F-ing Horrifying’: Sessions Outlines Immigration Crackdown in ‘Trump Era’

by Deirdre Fulton – Meanwhile, Trump appoints immigration hardliners to key agency posts. In “the Trump era,” as Attorney General Jeff Sessions called it on Tuesday, immigration officials will undertake a harsh crackdown on undocumented migrants—a campaign one veteran federal prosecutor described as “fucking horrifying.” In his speech at a border port of entry in Nogales, Arizona, “he nation’s top law enforcement official outlined a series of changes that he said mark the start of a new push to rid American cities and the border of what he described as ‘filth’ brought on by drug cartels and criminal organizations,” the Associated Press reported. “This is a new era,” the immigration hardliner told Customs and Border Protection personnel. “This is the Trump era. The lawlessness, the abdication of the duty to enforce our immigration laws, and the catch-and-release practices of old are over.” Mother Jones reported: In his remarks, Sessions said nonviolent immigrants...

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Update for Trump Voters

by Robert Reich – 1. He said he wouldn’t bomb Syria. You bought it. Then he bombed Syria. 2. He said he’d build a wall along the border with Mexico. You bought it. Now his secretary of homeland security says “It’s unlikely that we will build a wall.” 3. He said he’d clean the Washington swamp. You bought it. Then he brought into his administration more billionaires, CEOs, and Wall Street moguls than in any administration in history, to make laws that will enrich their businesses. 4. He said he’d repeal Obamacare and replace it with something “wonderful.” You bought it. Then he didn’t. 5. He said he’d use his business experience to whip the White House into shape. You bought it. Then he created the most chaotic, dysfunctional, back-stabbing White House in modern history, in which no one is in charge. 6. He said he’d release his tax returns, eventually....

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Dan Rather Says What Every Person With a Moral Compass is Thinking Regarding Sean Spicer & Trump

by Sarah – It’s gotten to the point where if Donald Trump doesn’t fire Sean Spicer for his egregious remarks about the Holocaust, Assad and Syria, he should be seen as agreeing with Spicer’s sentiment as well as condoning it. It’s disgusting, to say the least, and the legendary Dan Rather just released a statement that should summarize what every person with a decent moral compass is thinking right now. Rather wrote: “It is with sadness that I do not know where to begin. Today in a briefing, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer issued a statement that is so far beyond the pale, so tone deaf and blind to history and our precarious moment in world affairs, that it is with only a heavy heart that I even bring attention to it. There can be no joy in such incompetence. In trying to make the case for the Administration’s policy...

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The Trump Team’s History of Flirting With Holocaust Deniers (VIDEO)

by Laurel Raymond – This White House has a long history of thinly veiled anti-Semitism. On Tuesday, the first day of Passover, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer made a series of statements about Hitler that parallel conspiracy theories common among anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers. It’s hardly the first time that Trump officials have sent veiled signals to neo-Nazis, anti-Semites, and white supremacists. Spicer began on Tuesday by comparing Hitler favorably to the Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad — alleging that Hitler, who used poisonous gas to kill millions of Jews, “didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons.” When given a chance to clarify, Spicer said that Hitler “was not using the gas on his own people the same way that Assad is doing,” and that Assad, unlike Hitler, was dropping chemical weapons “down to innocents in the middle of town.” In a subsequent clarification, Spicer repeated that Assad used chemical weapons on “innocent...

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Russia Faces Mounting Pressure to Abandon Syria’s Assad (VIDEO)

New sanctions on agenda as foreign ministers from G7 group, Turkey and Arab states meet in Italy to discuss the war. Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven (G7) major industrialised nations meeting in Lucca in Italy are looking to put pressure on Russia to break its ties with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Italy has also invited the foreign ministers from several “like-minded countries” – Turkey, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Qatar – to sit down with the G7 group in the Tuscan city to discuss Syria. Seated around conference tables in the Tuscan city on Tuesday, the diplomats smiled and exchanged pleasantries but made no remarks as photographers were allowed in briefly for the start of the meeting. The session lasted roughly an hour. Calling last week’s US missile strike on a Syrian airbase a “game changer”, Boris Johnson, UK’s foreign minister, said on Monday that support for Assad “was...

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Bill O’Reilly is Going on Vacation and He may Never Come Back

by Judd Legum – On Tuesday night’s O’Reilly Factor, Bill O’Reilly announced he was taking a vacation. The announcement comes in the midst of a massive advertiser exodus following revelations that he and Fox News paid millions of dollars to five women who said they were sexually harassed by O’Reilly. O’Reilly said that he booked this vacation “last fall” and that he often takes vacation “around this time of the year.” He is reportedly scheduled to return in on April 24. But Gabriel Sherman, a journalist for New York Magazine who literally wrote the book on Fox News, reports that “tonight’s show could be his last.” According to Sherman’s sources, lawyers for Fox News “are currently doing a ‘deep dive’ investigation into O’Reilly’s behavior.” Sherman also reports that James Murdoch, the CEO of 21st Century Fox, wants O’Reilly gone. Murdoch forced out longtime Fox News CEO Roger Ailes last summer over...

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White House Considering ‘Back-Door Way’ to Cut Social Security

by Deirdre Fulton – ‘If Trump proposes this Trojan horse, it would be the newest shot in the ongoing Republican war against Social Security.’ President Donald Trump, who campaigned on a promise not to cut Social Security, is reportedly considering a plan to eliminate much of the payroll tax that funds the critical safety net program. According to the Associated Press on Monday, the proposal is being floated as the Trump administration goes “back to the drawing board in a search for Republican consensus behind legislation to overhaul the U.S. tax system.” The AP reported that one option “circulating this past week would change the House Republican plan to eliminate much of the payroll tax and cut corporate tax rates. This would require a new dedicated funding source for Social Security.” And that, Zaid Jilani wrote at The Intercept, “would require counting on Trump’s economic team to shepherd a solution through...

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GOP Strategist on Trump: A Gigantic Case of ADHD Who Cannot Focus for 30 Sec on Anything

by Egberto Willies – This GOP strategist was not kind to Donald Trump. He did not mince words as he described how dysfunctional Trump and his administration are. One hopes Trump is not watching lest we get a new litany of tweets. GOP Media Strategist & Political Consultant Rick Wilson had some harsh words in this excerpted video for Trump and his inability to focus on the job of being president. The strategist appeared on All-In with Chris Hayes. Hayes asked Rick Wilson about the decision-making process in the White House. “Chris, this is a president with a stalking gigantic case of ADHD,” Wilson said. “He cannot focus for thirty seconds on anything. Every bright and shiny object distracts him. He doesn’t believe anything in his heart. There is no ideological North Star for this guy. There is nothing he truly cares about except for his own ego. Everything is drawn...

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Trump Excels at Exactly Two Things in His First 100 Days: Golfing and Vacationing

by Kerry Eleveld – Donald Trump famously has no major legislative accomplishments to speak of in his 80-some days as president, which has his aides pretty freaked out. But there is one place where he’s really shined: leisure time. The New York Times reports that he’s golfed 17 times thus far, eclipsing all three of his immediate predecessors. In fact, Bill Clinton had hit the links just three times in his first 12 weeks, whereas George W. Bush and Barack Obama hadn’t picked up a club by this time in their tenures. Remember Trump all the way back in August of 2016: “I’m going to be working for you. I’m not going to have time to play golf.” Uh-huh. And then there was his 2015 claim: “I would rarely leave the White House because there’s so much work to be done  I would not be a president who took vacations. I would not...

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AP: U.S. Official Alleges Russia Knew About Syria’s Chemical Attack on Civilians in Advance

by Leslie Salzillo – On Monday, the Associated Press ran an uncharacteristically vague and somewhat mysterious story about a Washington official who is stating Russia was well aware, in advance, of the Syrian chemical attack that killed 80 innocent civilians last week. Donald Trump said the images of the children prompted him to authorize the firing of 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian base days after the chemical attack. Given the ineffectiveness of his strike, Trump’s actual motives are still in question, as well as his ties to the president of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin. AP journalists Robert Burns and Lolita C. Baldor report: The official said a drone operated by Russians was flying over a hospital as victims of the attack were rushing to get treatment. Hours after the drone left, a Russian-made fighter jet bombed the hospital in what American officials believe was an attempt to cover up the usage of chemical weapons....

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Democratic Momentum in Georgia Race Signals Shifting Electoral Tide

by Lauren McCauley – In Georgia’s special election contest, Jon Ossoff continues to gain ground, putting the GOP on the offensive in other local contests. In the closely-watched race for Georgia’s sixth district, said to be the first test of whether backlash against President Donald Trump will propel Democratic candidates to seize traditionally conservative seats, documentary filmmaker Jon Ossoff continues to gain ground, putting the GOP on the offensive in other pivotal local contests. After 10 days of early voting for Georgia’s special election to fill the House of Representatives seat vacated by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, Democratic voters substantially outpaced Republicans, New York Times‘ Upshot reporter Nate Cohn observed this weekend. Nate Cohn  ✔@Nate_Cohn Day 11 of in-person ev in GA-6 is D 49, R 29. Highest turnout yet on Cobb Cty new site vt Over all, D 51, R 31 with 21111 ballots accepted 9:14 PM...

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Florida Sheriff Produces Absurd, Threatening Video over Small Number of Drug-Related Deaths

by Scott Shackford – You’d think Lake County must be some sort of trafficking hotbed. It’s not. A group of armed, masked men brazenly posted a video on Facebook recently threatening to violently bust down the doors of American citizens and invade their homes. It’s okay, though. They’re law enforcement! Lake County, Florida, Sheriff Peyton Grinnell has put out a video where he, surrounded by masked men, threaten drug dealers in the county that his officers are tracking them down and plan to send SWAT teams into their houses at some undefined time and “blow front doors off the hinges.” Watch the video below: Well, one only hopes those masks they’re wearing don’t obscure their ability to read addresses properly. We would hate for a poorly organized SWAT raid at the wrong home to run smack into the state’s “Stand Your Ground” gun laws. Grinnell claims this over-the-top video, which...

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Trump Administration’s War on Science Reaches Justice Department

by Deirdre Fulton – ‘Hard to overstate how backward and misguided this is,’ says one observer. The Trump administration’s anti-science bent has reached the Department of Justice (DOJ), with Attorney General Jeff Sessions saying Monday that the department is ending the National Commission on Forensic Science. The 30-member panel was described by ThinkProgress as “a group of scientists, judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and other experts tasked by the Obama administration in 2013 with raising standards for the use of forensic evidence in criminal proceedings.” In its place, a senior forensic advisor will be appointed “to interface with forensic science stakeholders and advise department leadership,” Sessions’ statement said. Members of the commission—experts from major institutions and universities—wrote to Sessions (pdf) just last week, urging that the panel’s charter be renewed. The commission, they wrote, “has made a positive and indelible impact on the criminal justice system” and “has facilitated an important discussion...

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With Gorsuch Sworn In as Supreme Court Justice, a New Conservative Era Begins

by Deirdre Fulton – Neil Gorsuch could immediately make an impact on cases dealing with religious freedom, gun rights, and immigration. After a bruising Senate confirmation battle, former federal judge Neil Gorsuch was sworn in Monday as the 113th Supreme Court justice, restoring a 5-4 conservative balance to the nation’s high court. Chief Justice John Roberts administered the constitutional oath at 9:00am in a private ceremony; later Monday, Justice Anthony Kennedy—for whom Gorsuch formerly clerked—will ask his new colleague to take a second oath in a public ceremony at the White House. Watch below: Gorsuch “is widely expected to shift the ideological balance of the court to the right,” wrote Lydia Wheeler for The Hill, “with his views seen as mostly in line with the man he is replacing: the late Justice Antonin Scalia.” However, she continued, “some court watchers say Gorsuch may be even more conservative than Scalia, his mentor...

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Bill O’Reilly’s Survival Strategy

by Judd Legum – How O’Reilly is trying to weather a sexual harassment scandal. The O’Reilly Factor, which has aired for 20 years, is the highest-rated and most profitable show in cable news. But in just a week, the show has become a shell of itself. On April 1, the New York Times reported that host Bill O’Reilly had paid $13 million to five women to settle claims of sexual harassment. That O’Reilly had an issue with his treatment of women wasn’t a shock. It was already public that, in 2009, O’Reilly had paid $9 million to one woman who says he sexually harassed her. But the additional allegations come after Fox News ousted its chairman, Roger Ailes, over charges of serial sexual harassment and has pledged to clean up its act. In the week that followed, advertisers have left the show in droves. At the beginning of the week, the...

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Trump’s Plan to Convince America He had a Great 100 Days

by Mark Sumner – Donald Trump is not quite stomping his foot like Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny, but he can definitely hear a big clock ticking. The symbolic 100-day mark by which modern presidents are judged menaces for an image-obsessed chief executive whose opening sprint has been marred by legislative stumbles, legal setbacks, senior staff kneecapping one another, the resignation of his national security adviser and near-daily headlines and headaches about links to Russia. What was Trump supposed to have accomplished in the first 100 days? That’s not clear, but the things he promised to do in his first one day included repealing Obamacare, starting on the wall, fixing the VA, putting in place a 35 percent tariff on companies that move jobs overseas, and designating China a currency manipulator. Of these, Trump has achieved … well, he did ask for bids on wall bits. There was also a promise that he would...

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The Chemical Brothers: Putin and Assad (VIDEOS)

by Roman Dobrokhotov – What would Russia’s support for Assad cost Vladimir Putin? This week the world witnessed yet another chemical attack in Syria. After horrendous footage from Khan Sheikhoun showed children suffocating from sarin gas and relatives crying over piles of dead bodies, Russia was forced to react. But while Washington used the attack as an excuse for missile strikes on a regime-held airbase in southern Syria, Moscow did the exact opposite – it used it as an excuse for more excuses. And the excuse was produced quickly: The ministry of defence announced that there was no chemical attack but that a rocket had hit a stockpile of “terrorists'” chemical weapons, which led to the release of the poisonous gas. WATCH: Idlib attack – Results show chemical weapons were used (2:16) To many Russian journalists, this explanation sounded familiar. In 1999 during another “counterterrorism operation” (the one that brought Vladimir Putin to...

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