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Thursday, April 26, 2018

Macron Breaks With Trump In Front Of Congress

Drunk Driving and Overprescribing Drugs: Ronny Jackson, VA Secretary Nom...

The new "Clarence Thomas, HUD Secretary Ben Carson to propose raising rent for low-income Americans receiving federal housing subsidies

"Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson proposed far-reaching changes to federal housing subsidies Wednesday, tripling rent for the poorest households and making it easier for housing authorities to impose work requirements.

Carson’s proposals, and other initiatives aimed at low-income Americans receiving federal assistance, amount to a comprehensive effort by the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress to restrict access to the safety net and reduce the levels of assistance for those who do qualify."

HUD Secretary Ben Carson to propose raising rent for low-income Americans receiving federal housing subsidies

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Opinion | Why Does Trump Treat Immigrant Kids Cruelly? Because He Can - The New York Times

"A lifetime ago, Anne Frank’s family applied for visas to the United States to escape Hitler, but we rejected the Franks and other desperate Jewish refugees. We thought: This is Europe’s problem, not ours, and we don’t want to be overrun by “those people.”

Today President Trump is again slamming the door on desperate refugees. Indeed, the Trump administration is going a step further by wrenching children from the arms of asylum-seekers, apparently as a way of inflicting gratuitous cruelty to discourage new arrivals.

José Demar Fuentes, a 30-year-old college graduate, arrived in November with his 1-year-old son, Mateo, from El Salvador, where Fuentes was on a gang’s execution list, according to his lawyer, Noreen Barcena. Father and son entered the United States legally, presenting themselves to an immigration officer, providing birth certificates and other documentation, and requesting asylum to save their lives.

Several days later, immigration officers came and took Mateo.

“They basically pried my client’s son from his arms and told him that he had to give up his son,” Barcena told me. “They were both crying.”

Mateo ended up in foster care in Texas for about three months and had little or no contact with his family. Even kidnappers allow more communication.

Caitlin Dickerson of The Times reported that more than 700 children have been separated from immigrant parents since October.

I sought a comment from Kirstjen Nielsen, the secretary of homeland security, but she declined to respond. Tyler Houlton, a spokesman, said Homeland Security “does not currently have a policy of separating families at the border for deterrence purposes.”

The administration notes, correctly, that some asylum-seekers bring in unrelated young children to create sympathy. Obviously, the authorities should crack down on that, but it’s increasingly clear that family separation is in part about traumatizing children so as to discourage parents from coming to the U.S.

Indeed, the White House chief of staff, John Kelly, said publicly last year that he was considering routine family separation “to deter” new arrivals. The White House later backed the plan, although it has never been announced.

Why do we tolerate a policy that is so cruel to young children? For precisely the reason Dr. Seuss identified in a 1941 cartoon, which accompanies this column. While Dr. Seuss is best known for the likes of “The Cat in the Hat,” he published this cartoon as a commentary on America’s turning away Jewish refugees trying to flee Hitler.

As Dr. Seuss wrote in the caption, “Those were Foreign Children and it didn’t really matter.”

Refugees are fleeing real terror. Consider a Honduran girl, Elena, who at age 11 was asked to be a gang leader’s “girlfriend.” One of Elena’s friends had been similarly propositioned but declined — and then Elena saw the girl stagger naked down the street after she had been raped and shot. Elena finally fled when the gang threatened to kill her entire family.

I strongly criticized Barack Obama on immigration, but the difference is that Obama’s policies were unintentionally cruel, while Trump’s are deliberately so. Trump goes out of his way to dehumanize immigrants and even complains about them “breeding.”

Fuentes’s wife eventually was able to come to the U.S. and request asylum, and this time immigration officers released her and returned Mateo to her, even as her husband is still in detention. The disparate treatment is a reflection of how random the process is.

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a different mother, one who fled violence in Congo and arrived seeking asylum with her 7-year-old daughter. Immigration authorities took the girl away from her mom, screaming and terrified.

The suit says the girl “sits all alone in a Chicago facility, frightened and traumatized, crying for her mother and not knowing when she will see her again.”

Trump has also slashed the numbers of refugees accepted for resettlement in the U.S., from a historical average of 95,000 per year. This year only about 20,000 will be resettled. As David Miliband of the International Rescue Committee noted in The Washington Post, more Syrians were killed by poison gas in Douma (at least 60) than have been admitted so far in this fiscal year (44).

I don’t believe in open borders, and immigration policy is complex and difficult. Yet Trump isn’t making hard decisions but unconscionable ones.

I am the son of a refugee myself, a beneficiary of America’s magnanimity, and today’s policies leave me ashamed. When immigration officials pry a crying young child away from a parent and send that child to foster care, that is not “immigration policy.” That is “barbarism.”

Opinion | Why Does Trump Treat Immigrant Kids Cruelly? Because He Can - The New York Times

Opinion | Trump’s ‘Best People’ are the Worst - The New York Times

"By The Editorial Board  April 25, 2018

The editorial board represents the opinions of the board, its editor and the publisher. It is separate from the newsroom and the Op-Ed section.

At this point you have to ask: Just what do job postings for the Trump administration look like? Surely they must stipulate that relevant experience isn’t a plus, but that a flexible notion of ethics is. They must demand references who can recount specific instances of demonstrated incompetence. How else to explain the sheer number of poorly prepared or careless or sticky-fingered officials crammed into this careening clown-car of an administration?

Consider the Trump appointees who have been in the news lately.

Let’s start with Dr. Ronny Jackson, the White House physician whom President Trump nominated to run the Department of Veterans Affairs, which provides health care to more than nine million vets and is the second-largest federal department, after the Pentagon. More than 20 people who have worked with Dr. Jackson told senators either that he was drunk on the job, handed out sleeping pills, and even opioids, like Skittles, or screamed at his staff. The latest allegation is that he reportedly got drunk and wrecked a government car.

Maybe, maybe, you could overlook all that if he had impressive qualifications to run one of the country’s largest and most important health systems — like management experience. But as best as anyone can tell, Mr. Trump picked Dr. Jackson because he is in the military, looks like a grown-up Doogie Howser and gave the president a glowing bill of health, including saying that the president has great genes and could have lived to 200 if he had had a better diet.

The White House has pressed ahead with Dr. Jackson even though several senior Republican senators did everything they could to signal that it should cut bait.

No one should have expected the lack of qualifications to matter to Mr. Trump. That wasn’t an obstacle to his decision to give his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, a portfolio that includes negotiating peace in the Middle East, reforming the criminal justice system and making the government more tech-savvy. Mr. Trump also considered appointing his personal pilot to head the Federal Aviation Administration.


Scott Pruitt, right, sitting next to Mick Mulvaney at a cabinet meeting earlier this month.CreditTom Brenner/The New York Times

As for the lobbyist-loving wing of the Trump administration, one of its leading members — Mick Mulvaney, who heads the Office of Management and Budget and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — was extolling the practice of pay-to-play public service the other day. At a speech before the American Bankers Association on Tuesday, Mr. Mulvaney said that as a congressman he would only meet with lobbyists who gave money to his campaign. He also encouraged bankers — many of whom have given generously to him — to let their needs be known to lawmakers.

Mr. Mulvaney was just making old friends happy. He did that for years as a congressman, defending bankers and fending off consumer protection. Since he took over the consumer agency that Congress created after the financial crisis, he has been working overtime to gut it for his pals.

On the other hand, Scott Pruitt, who runs the Environmental Protection Agency, has been taking care of himself. He got a sweetheart deal for a $50-a-night room from the wife of a lobbyist whose company was seeking goodies from the E.P.A. He has liberally spent government funds on first-class flights and a security detail large enough for a minor potentate. He also spent $43,000 on a soundproof phone booth for his office that might remind some of the “cone of silence” from “Get Smart.” When he was an Oklahoma state senator, The Times recently reported, Mr. Pruitt came to own a stately house overlooking the State Capitol, a million-dollar lakeside manse in Tulsa and a stake in a minor-league baseball team. He accomplished all that with the help of a couple of old associates, one a banker and the other a lawyer … both of whom are now on the public payroll, working with Mr. Pruitt at the E.P.A.

Remember when Mr. Trump said he would hire the “best people”? Of course, he said Mexico would pay for his border wall, too."

Opinion | Trump’s ‘Best People’ are the Worst - The New York Times

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Trump Bullshitted His Way onto the Forbes List | The Daily Show

Trump Allies Worry Cohen Will Flip as Scandals Mount: A Closer Look

Trump golfed instead of going to Barbara Bush’s funeral. That was a good thing. - The Washington Post

"Sometimes a picture is worth a zillion words. The viral group photograph from former first lady Barbara Bush’s funeral speaks volumes about the state of our democracy, poignantly illustrating what we have lost and must at all costs regain.

George H.W. Bush is front and center in his wheelchair. Behind him, left to right, we see Laura and George W. Bush, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barack and Michelle Obama, and Melania Trump. It is an extraordinary portrait of power, continuity, legacy, civility and mutual respect — a remarkable tableau that is made possible only by President Trump’s absence. Imagine him in the picture, puffed-up and no doubt scowling, trying desperately to make himself the center of attention. It’s a good thing he decided to spend the weekend playing golf and writing angry tweets at Mar-a-Lago instead.

I can’t look at that photo without pondering how destructive Trump has been — and how much work and goodwill it will take to put the pieces together again after he’s gone.

The elder Bush pursued conservative policies. Clinton was center-left. The younger Bush took the country back to the right. Obama pulled it to the left. These shifts seemed big and important at the time, but they pale in comparison with the disruption Trump has wrought.

Trump golfed instead of going to Barbara Bush’s funeral. That was a good thing. - The Washington Post

Behind bloody Gaza clashes, economic misery and piles of debt - The Washington Post

"GAZA CITY — Every Friday for the past month, thousands of Palestinians have surged to Gaza’s border fence with Israel in a show of anger and defiance, some throwing stones and molotov cocktails, others simply wanting to be there.

“Young people have nothing to lose,” said 31-year-old Mohammed Sukkar, a few hundred yards from the boundary fence on the first day of protests last month as the crowd retreated after pops of gunfire. Sukkar is unemployed and said he is hard-pressed to feed his six children.

Across the 140-square-mile territory, Gazans are struggling to finance their daily lives. Young people — unable to pay for weddings or homes of their own — are delaying marriage, figures show, while health officials say suicide, once virtually unheard of in Gaza, is on the rise.

Universities say students are dropping out because they cannot afford the fees. At the Islamic University in Gaza City, a third of the students did not re-enroll this semester. Graduates have little hope of finding work in their specialized fields."

Behind bloody Gaza clashes, economic misery and piles of debt - The Washington Post