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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

FCC net neutrality repeal -- what you need to know - CNET

"Donald Trump's FCC is set to roll back the controversial Obama-era net neutrality regulation this week.

At its monthly meeting Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission, led by Republican Chairman Ajit Pai, will vote to repeal regulation passed in 2015 that prevents broadband companies from blocking or slowing access to websites or services. The rules also prohibit broadband companies from offering paid-priority services that could lead to internet "fast lanes."

FCC net neutrality repeal -- what you need to know - CNET

Monday, December 11, 2017

SPLC sues federal government over unconstitutional ICE raids | Southern Poverty Law Center

"...The complaint details the ways in which ICE agents violated the civil rights of Atlanta families by entering into homes under false pretenses. The lawsuit focuses on ICE raids in Georgia that took place in January 2016. Since taking office, the Trump Administration has increased ICE enforcement efforts, reporting a 42 percent increase in arrests (111,000 people) between Jan. 20, 2017 and Sept. 30 of this year, according to newly released data.

“ICE agents preyed upon vulnerable families using fear and lies to improperly enter homes – without cause – and detain people who were legally present in the U.S.,” said Lisa Graybill, deputy legal director at the SPLC. “The safety of home and the freedom from unlawful searches and seizures are among America’s most fundamental values, and law enforcement officials at all levels are legally required to protect these constitutional rights. The anything-goes method of the ICE agents in these raids obliterated due process, tore families apart, and did nothing to enhance national security...”

SPLC sues federal government over unconstitutional ICE raids | Southern Poverty Law Center

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Nikki Haley says Trump’s accusers ‘should be heard’ - The Washington Post

Nikki Haley says Trump’s accusers ‘should be heard’ - The Washington Post

In his own words: Trump on African Americans

In his own words: Trump on African Americans

What the Layoffs Look Like at the Carrier Plant Trump Said He’d Save | The New Yorker

"On February 10, 2016, the Carrier Corporation, an H.V.A.C. company founded in 1915, announced that it would be closing plants in Indianapolis and Huntington, Indiana, and moving to Monterrey, Mexico. Months later, at the first Presidential debate with Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump brought up the closings. “We have to stop our companies from leaving the United States and, with it, firing all of their people,” he said. “All you have to do is take a look at Carrier air-conditioning in Indianapolis. They left—fired fourteen hundred people. They’re going to Mexico.” Shortly after the election, Trump and Mike Pence, who was then the governor of Indiana, announced a headline-grabbing deal with Carrier that was said to keep about eight hundred jobs in the U.S. “So many people in that other—the big, beautiful plant behind us, which will be even more beautiful in about seven months from now, they’re so happy,” Trump said at a celebratory press conference.

In May of this year, Carrier announced its time line for eliminating what will ultimately be six hundred and thirty-two Indianapolis-based jobs. The first round of layoffs began on Thursday, with the departure of three hundred and thirty-eight employees. Watching with dismay was Brenda Darlene Battle, a fifty-five-year-old Indianapolis native who’d been working at Carrier for twenty-five years, most recently as a fabrication technician, or fab tech, before she decided to take a buyout this week*. She helped run the automatic press that makes steel doors, among other parts, for A90 furnaces. When the final furnace door was completed on the first day of mass layoffs, employees working the assembly line—some for the last time—autographed it. On Friday, shortly before finalizing paperwork related to her departure, Battle spoke by phone about the company that employed her for a quarter century, President Trump, and her future. Her account has been edited and condensed."

What the Layoffs Look Like at the Carrier Plant Trump Said He’d Save | The New Yorker

Obama: Protect Democracy or Risk Following Path of Nazi Germany

a man wearing a suit and tie: Former president Barack Obama speaks at the North American Climate Summit on Dec. 5, 2017 in Chicago

"(CHICAGO) — Former President Barack Obama says Americans must be vigilant in their defense of democracy or risk following the path of Nazi Germany in the 1930s.

At a speech earlier this week, the former president told the Economic Club of Chicago that “things can fall apart fairly quickly” if Americans don’t “tend to this garden of democracy.”

During the speech Tuesday, Obama pointed to Hitler’s rise to power in Germany as he implored the audience to “pay attention … and vote.”

Obama also defended the media. He said the press “often drove me nuts” but that he understood that a free press was vital to democracy..."

Obama: Protect Democracy or Risk Following Path of Nazi Germany

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: 'Trump is where he is because of his appeal to racism' | Sport | The Guardian


“Like all people my age I find the passage of time so startling,” Kareem Abdul-Jabbar says with a quiet smile. The 70-year-old remains the highest points-scorer in the history of the NBA and, having won six championships and been picked for a record 19 All-Star Games, he is often compared with Michael Jordan when the greatest basketball players of all time are listed. Yet no one in American sport today can match Kareem’s political and cultural impact over 50 years.

In the 90 minutes since he knocked on my hotel room door in Los Angeles, Abdul-Jabbar has recounted a dizzying personal history which stretches from conducting his first-ever interview with Martin Luther King in Harlem, when he was just 17, to receiving a hand-written insult from Donald Trump in 2015. We move from Colin Kaepernick calling him last week to the moment when, aged 20, Kareem was the youngest man invited to the Cleveland Summit – as the leading black athletes in 1967 gathered to meet Muhammad Ali to decide whether they would support him after he had been stripped of his world title and banned from boxing for rejecting the draft during the Vietnam War.

Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who has been shut out of the NFL for his refusal to stand for the US national anthem, is engaged in a different struggle. But, after being banished unofficially from football for going down on a bended knee in protest against racism and police brutality, Kaepernick has one of his staunchest allies in Abdul-Jabbar.

At the Cleveland Summit Abdul-Jabbar was called Lew Alcindor, for he had not converted to Islam then, and he became one of Ali’s ardent supporters. When Ali convinced his fellow athletes he was right to stand against the US government, the young basketball star knew he needed to make his more reticent voice heard. He has stayed true to that conviction ever since.

“We’re talking about 50 years since the Cleveland Summit, wow,” Abdul-Jabbar exclaims. “We were tense about what we were going to do and Ali was the opposite. He said: ‘We’ve got to fight this in court and I’m going to start a speaking tour.’ Ali had figured out what he had to do in order to make the dollars – while fighting the case was essential to his identity. Bill Russell [the great Boston Celtics player] said: ‘I’ve got no concerns about Ali. It’s the rest of us I’m worried about.’ Ali had such conviction but he was cracking jokes and asking us if we were going to be as dumb as Wilt Chamberlain [another basketball great who played for the Philadelphia 76ers]. Wilt wanted to box Ali. Oh my God.”
Abdul-Jabbar’s face creases with laughter before he becomes more serious again. “Black Americans wanted to protect Ali because he spoke for us when we had no voice. When he said: ‘Ain’t no Viet Cong ever called me the N-word’, we figured that one out real quick. Ali was a winner and people supported him because of his class as a human being. But some of the things we fought against then are still happening. Each generation faces these same old problems.”

The previous evening, when I had sat next to Abdul-Jabbar at the Los Angeles Press Club awards, the past echoed again. Abdul-Jabbar received two prizes – the Legend Award and Columnist of the Year for his work in the Hollywood Reporter. Other award winners included Tippi Hedren, who starred in Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller, The Birds, and the New York Times reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey who broke the Harvey Weinstein story two months ago. As if to prove that the past can be played over and over again in a contemporary loop, we saw footage of Hedren saying how she would not accept the sexual bullying of Hitchcock in the 1960s just before Kantor and Twohey described how they earned the trust of women who had been abused by Weinstein.

Abdul-Jabbar explained quietly to me how much of an ordeal he found such occasions. He was happiest talking about John Coltrane or Sherlock Holmes, James Baldwin or Bruce Lee, but people kept coming over to ask for a selfie or a book to be signed while, all evening, comic references were made to his height. Abdul-Jabbar is 7ft 2in and he looked two feet taller than Hedren on the red carpet.
The following morning, as he stretches out his long legs, I tell Kareem how I winced each time another wise-crack was made about his height. “I can tell you I was six-foot-two, aged 12, when the questions started,” Abdul-Jabbar says. “‘How’s the weather up there?’ I should write down all the things people said when affected by my height. One of the funniest was at an airport and this little boy of five looked at my feet in amazement. I said: ‘Hey, how you’re doing?’ He just said: ‘You must be very old – because you’ve got very big shoes.’ For him the older you were, the bigger your shoes. That’s the best I’ve heard.”

In his simple but often beautiful and profound new book, Becoming Kareem, Abdul-Jabbar writes poignantly: “My skin made me a symbol, my height made me a target.”

A group of top black athletes gather to give support to Muhammad Ali give his reasons for rejecting the draft during the Vietnam War at a meeting of the Negro Industrial and Economic Union, held in Cleveland in June 1967. Seated in the front row, from left to right: Bill Russell, Ali, Jim Brown and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Standing behind them are: Carl Stokes, Walter Beach, Bobby Mitchell, Sid Williams, Curtis McClinton, Willie Davis, Jim Shorter and John Wooten. Photograph: Robert Abbott Sengstacke/Getty ImagesRace has been the primary issue which Abdul-Jabbar has confronted every day. In another absorbing Abdul-Jabbar book published this year, Coach Wooden and Me, he celebrates his friendship with the man who helped him win an unprecedented three NCAA championship titles with UCLA. They lost only two games in his three years on campus as UCLA established themselves as the greatest team in the history of college basketball and Wooden, a white midwesterner, and Kareem, a black kid from New York, forged a bond that lasted a half-century. Yet, amid their shared morality and decency, race remained an unresolved issue between them.
Wooden was mortified when a little old lady stared up at the teenage Kareem and said: “I’ve never seen a nigger that tall.” Even though he would later say that he learnt more about man’s inhumanity to man by witnessing all his protégé endured over the years, Wooden’s memory of that encounter softened the woman’s racial insult by saying that she had called Kareem “a big black freak.”

Abdul-Jabbar nods. “He would never see a little grey-haired lady using such language. When it doesn’t affect your life it’s hard for you to see. Men don’t understand what attractive women go through. We don’t get on a bus and have somebody squeeze our breast. We have no idea how bad it can be. For people to understand your predicament you’ve got to figure out how to convey that reality. It takes time.”

Abdul-Jabbar made his first high-profile statement against the predicament of all African Americans when, in 1968, he boycotted the Olympic Games in Mexico. After race riots in Newark and Detroit, and the assassination of King in April 1968, he knew he could not represent his country. “Dr Harry Edwards [the civil rights activist] helped me realise how much power I had. The Olympics are a great event but what happened overwhelmed any patriotism. I had to make a stand. I wanted the country to live up to the words of the founding fathers – and make sure they applied to people of colour and to women. I was trying to hold America to that standard.”

The athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos took another path of protest. They competed in the Olympic 200m in Mexico and, after they had won gold and bronze, raised their gloved fists in a black power salute on the podium. “I was glad somebody with some political consciousness had gone to Mexico,” Abdul-Jabbar says, “so I was very supportive of them.”

Does Kaepernick’s situation mirror those same issues? “Yeah. The whole issue of equal treatment under the law is still being worked out here because for so long our political and legal culture has denied black Americans equal treatment. But I was surprised Kaepernick had that awareness. It made me think: ‘I wonder how many other NFL athletes are also aware?’ From there it has bloomed. This generation has a very good idea on how to confront racism. I talked to Colin a couple of days ago on the phone and I’m really proud of him. He’s filed an issue with the Players Association about the owners colluding to keep him from working. That’s the best legal approach to it. I hope he prevails.”

Over dinner the night before, he intimated that Kaepernick knew he would never play in the NFL again. “We didn’t get that deep into it,” he says now, “but he has an idea that is what’s going down. But he’s moved on. He hadn’t prepared for this but he coped with different twists and turns. Some of the owners in the NFL are sympathetic, some aren’t. It’s gone back and forth. But he appreciates the fact that kids in high school have taken an interest. So he got something done and this generation’s athletes are now more aware of civil rights.”

Abdul-Jabbar is proud of Colin Kaepernick’s stand. Photograph: Michael Zagaris/Getty ImagesKaepernick has been voted GQ’s Citizen of the Year, the runner-up in Time magazine’s Person of the Year and this week he received Sports Illustrated’s Muhammad Ali Legacy Award. Considering the way Kaepernick “has never wavered in his commitment”, Abdul-Jabbar writes in Sports Illustrated that: “I have never been prouder to be an American … On November 30, it was reported that 40 NFL players and league officials had reached an agreement for the league to provide approximately $90m between now and 2023 for activism endeavors important to African American communities. Clearly, this is the result of Colin’s one-knee revolution and of the many players and coaches he inspired to join him. That is some serious impact … Were my old friend [Ali] still alive, I know he would be proud that Colin is continuing this tradition of being a selfless warrior for social justice.”

In my hotel room, Abdul-Jabbar is more specific in linking tragedy and a deepening social conscience. “I don’t know how anybody could not be moved by some of the things we’ve seen. Remember the footage of [12-year-old] Tamir Rice getting killed [in Cleveland [in 2014]. The car stops and the cop stands up and executes Tamir Rice. It took two seconds. It’s so unbelievably brutal you have to do something about it.
“LeBron James and other guys in the NBA all had something to say about such crimes [James and leading players wore I Can’t Breathe T-shirts in December 2014 to protest against the police killing of Eric Garner, another black man]. They weren’t talking as athletes. They were talking as parents because that could have been their kid.”

If the NFL appears to have actively ended Kaepernick’s career, what does Abdul-Jabbar feel about the NBA’s politics? “The NBA has been wonderful. I came into the NBA and went to Milwaukee [where he won his first championship before winning five more with the LA Lakers]. Milwaukee had the first black general manager in professional sports [Wayne Embry in 1972]. And the NBA’s outreach for coaches, general managers and women has been exemplary. The NBA has been on the edge of change. I was hoping the NFL might do the same because some of the owners were taking the knee. But they’re making an example of Colin. It’s not right. Let him go out there and succeed or fail on the field like any other great athlete.”
Abdul-Jabbar smiles shyly when I ask him about his first interview – with Martin Luther King 53 years ago. “As a journalist I started out interviewing Dr King. Whoa! By that point [1964], Dr King was a serious icon and I was thrilled he gave me a really good earnest answer. Moments like that affect your life. But my first real experience of being drawn into the civil rights movement came when I read James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time.”

Muhammad Ali, then Cassius Clay, with Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, then Lew Alcindor. Photograph: Bettmann/Bettmann ArchiveHas he seen I Am Not Your Negro – Raoul Peck’s 2016 documentary of Baldwin? “It’s wonderful. I saw it two weeks after the Trump election. It was medicine for my soul. It made me think of how bad things were for James Baldwin. But remember him speaking at Cambridge [University] and the reception he got? Oh man, amazing! I kept telling people: ‘Trump is an asshole but go and see this film. Trump doesn’t matter because we’ve got work to do.’”
In 2015, after Abdul-Jabbar wrote an opinion piece in the Washington Post, condemning Trump’s attempts to bully the press, the future president sent him a scrawled note: “Kareem – now I know why the press always treated you so badly. They couldn’t stand you. The fact is you don’t have a clue about life and what has to be done to make America great again.”

Abdul-Jabbar smiles when I say that schoolyard taunt is a long way from the oratory of King or Malcolm X. “If you judge yourself by your enemies I’m doing great. Trump’s not going to change. He knows he is where he is because of his appeal to racism and xenophobia. The people that want to divide the country are in his camp. They want to go back to the 18th century.

“Trump wants to move us back to 1952 but he’s not Eisenhower – who was the type of Republican that cared about the whole nation. Even George Bush Sr and George W Bush’s idea of fellow citizens did not exclude people of colour. George W’s cabinet looked like America. It had Condoleezza Rice and the Mexican American gentleman who was the attorney general [Alberto Gonzales] and Colin Powell. Women had important positions in his administration. Even though I did not like his policies, he wasn’t exclusionary.

“Look what’s going on with Trump in Alabama [where the president supports Roy Moore in the state senate election despite his favoured candidate being accused of multiple sexual assaults of under-age girls]. You have a guy like him but he’s going to vote the way you want politically. That’s more important than what he’s accused of? People with that frightening viewpoint are still fighting a civil war. They have to be contained.”
Does he fear that Trump might win a second term? “I don’t think he can, but the rest of us had better organise and vote in 2020. I hope people stop him ruining our nation.”

Abdul-Jabbar also worries that college sport remains as exploitative as ever. “It’s a business and the coaches, the NCAA and universities make a lot of money and the athletes get exploited. They make billions of dollars for the whole system and don’t get any. I’m not saying they have to be wealthy but I think they should get a share of the incredible amount they generate.”
In Coach Wooden and Me, he writes of how, in the 1960s, he was famous at UCLA but dead broke. “Yeah. No cash. It’s ridiculous. Basketball and football fund everything. College sports do not function on the revenue from water polo or track and field or gymnastics. It’s all down to basketball and football. The athletes at Northwestern tried to organise a union and that’s how college athletes have to think. They need to unionise. If they can organise they can get a piece of the pie because they are the show.”
The legendary Michael Jordan never showed the social conscience of Abdul-Jabbar and other rare NBA activists like Craig Hodges. But Abdul-Jabbar is conciliatory towards Jordan and his commercially-driven contemporaries. “I was glad they became interested in being successful businessmen because their financial power makes a difference. I just felt they should leave a little room to help the causes they knew needed their help. But Jordan has come around. He gave some money to the NAACP for legal funds, thank goodness.”

President Barack Obama awards the Medal of Freedom to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at the White House in November 2016. Photograph: Alamy Stock PhotoAbdul-Jabbar defines himself as a writer now. As he reflects on his LA Press Club awards he says: “To be honoured by other writers is incredible. I’m a neophyte. I’m a rookie.”

He grins when I say he’s not doing not too badly for a rookie who has written 13 books, including novels about Mycoft Holmes – brother of Sherlock. “Yeah, but I still feel new to it and to get that recognition was wonderful. I was very flattered that the BBC came to interview me about Mycroft because the British are very protective of their culture. Arthur Conan Doyle is beyond an icon. So I was like, ‘Wow, maybe I am doing OK.’ When I was [an NBA] rookie somebody gave me a complete compilation of Doyle’s stories. I went from there.

“People were amazed because I always used to be reading before a game – whether it was Sherlock Holmes or Malcolm X, John Le Carré or James Baldwin. But that was one of the luxuries of being a professional athlete. You get lots of time to read. My team-mates did not read to the same extent but I’m a historian and some of the guys had big holes in their knowledge of black history. So I was the librarian for the team.”
I tell Abdul-Jabbar about my upcoming interview with Jaylen Brown of the Boston Celtics – and how the 21-year-old has the same thirst for reading and knowledge. While enthusiastic about the possibility of meeting Brown when the Celtics next visit LA, Abdul-Jabbar makes a wistful observation of a young sportsman’s intellectual curiosity. “He’s going to be lonely. Most of the guys are like: ‘Where are we going to party in this town? Where are the babes?’ So the fact that he has such broader interests is remarkable and wonderful.”

Abdul-Jabbar acknowledges that his own bookish nature and self-consciousness about his height, combined with a fierce sense of injustice, made him appear surly and aloof as a player. It also meant he was never offered the head-coach job he desired. “They didn’t think I could communicate and they didn’t take the time to get to know me. But I didn’t make it easy for them so some of that falls in my lap – absolutely. But it’s different now. People stop me in the street and want to talk about my articles. It’s amazing.”

Most of all, in his eighth decade, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar “loves to lose myself in my imagination. It’s a wonderful place to go when you’re old and creaky like me. I see myself working at this pace [writing at least a book a year] but it’s not like I have the hounds at my heels. Since my career ended I’ve been able to have friends and family. My new granddaughter will be three this month. She’s my very first [grandchild]. So my life has expanded in wonderful ways. But, still, we all have so much work to do. The work is a long way from being done.”

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: 'Trump is where he is because of his appeal to racism' | Sport | The Guardian: ""

No, Roy Moore accuser didn't admit she forged his signature in her yearbook

"A conspiracy-minded website attempted to cast doubt on evidence presented by one of eight women who accused Roy Moore of sexual assault in a misleading headline days ahead of the Alabama Senate race.

"WE CALLED IT! Gloria Allred Accuser **ADMITS** She Tampered With Roy Moore’s Yearbook ‘Signature’ (VIDEO)," the headline reads on The Gateway Pundit. We found similar posts on Breitbart, "Roy Moore Accuser Beverly Nelson Admits She Forged Yearbook," and on the blog Silence is Consent, "Roy Moore accuser admits she forged yearbook inscription."

Beverly Young Nelson accused Roy Moore of groping her when she was 16 years old and he, in his 30s, was the deputy district attorney of Etowah County. As evidence, Nelson presented a note she said Moore wrote in her high school yearbook before the incident took place. Nelson has been represented by celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred.

The inscription reads, "To a sweeter, more beautiful girl I could not say Merry Christmas. Christmas 1977. Love, Roy Moore, D.A."

Below the signature reads 12-22-77, Olde Hickory House.

Moore’s defenders have pointed out the date and place seem to have been written in different ink and handwriting than the note.

In a Dec. 8 Good Morning America interview with Nelson about Moore’s response to the allegations (he denies them) and her experience since taking her story public, Nelson addressed the inconsistency. Nelson said she added the date and place of the inscription.

"He signed your yearbook?" ABC News reporter Tom Llamas asked Nelson.

"He did sign it," Nelson said.

"And you made some notes underneath?" Llamas asked.

"Yes," Nelson said.

"Nelson said she did make notes to the inscription, but the message was all Roy Moore," the video voiceover says.

To summarize, Nelson says she added the time and location to the inscription. But she says the note and signature was from Moore.

That’s not what the headlines of the Gateway Pundit, Breitbart or Silence is Consent. All three say Nelson said she either tampered with Moore’s signature or forged the inscription.

There’s no evidence of that.

Yet, the Gateway Pundit wrote that "Nelson admitting that she added to Moore’s alleged signature is the final nail in the coffin," the story reads. "Allred’s accuser is nothing but a fame-seeking fraud."

Fox News made a similar misstatement in their headline and story about the ABC report, which they later walked back.

"Roy Moore accuser admits she forged part of yearbook inscription attributed to Alabama Senate candidate," the original Fox News headline read. It was later edited to say she wrote, rather than forged, part of the inscription. The story did not include a clarification or correction when we last looked at it.

The original Fox News story also said Nelson "wrote part of the disputed note" without specifying what she wrote, whereas the edited version clarified that "she added the date and place in the inscription."

Our ruling

The Gateway Pundit’s headline reads "WE CALLED IT! Gloria Allred Accuser **ADMITS** She Tampered With Roy Moore’s Yearbook ‘Signature’ (VIDEO)."

But Nelson does not claim she tampered with Moore’s actual signature. She said she added a time and location below the signature. Nelson still attributes the note and signature to Moore.

We rate the statement Pants on Fire."

Trump dossier work began as Russian hack of DNC became known | MSNBC

Trump dossier work began as Russian hack of DNC became known | MSNBC

Friday, December 08, 2017

White People Are Upset That Amazon’s Alexa Believes Black Lives Matter

"No matter how infinitely imaginative I may consider myself, there are some things I am still unable to fathom. I cannot imagine feeling so loyal to a political party that I don’t care if people lose their health care or if a man molested little girls. I can’t picture myself being so sensitive that I needed to remind myself that “It’s OK to be white.” I am unable to envision a world in which I have every societal advantage but am still butt-hurt by the simple use of the words “Black Lives Matter,” even when they are uttered by an inanimate object.

Apparently, my imagination isn’t big enough.

I recently found out that some of our beloved Caucasian brethren are upset because Alexa believes black lives matter. Not the woman named Alexa who works at the Starbucks near your house and spells your name wrong every time. (It’s Michael, not Michel!) I’m referring to the Amazon assistant whose brain was sucked out of her body and put into the Amazon Echo. She’s Siri’s cousin who went to a good college so she can actually understand what you’re saying.

I only use my Alexa to control a few household devices, but apparently, there are people who have whole conversations with their Alexa, and someone discovered that she responds when she hears, “Alexa, black lives matter...”

White People Are Upset That Amazon’s Alexa Believes Black Lives Matter

Official Toll in Puerto Rico: 62. Actual Deaths May Be 1,052. - The New York Times

"A review by The New York Times of daily mortality data from Puerto Rico’s vital statistics bureau indicates a significantly higher death toll after the hurricane than the government there has acknowledged.

The Times’s analysis found that in the 42 days after Hurricane Maria made landfall on Sept. 20 as a Category 4 storm, 1,052 more people than usual died across the island. The analysis compared the number of deaths for each day in 2017 with the average of the number of deaths for the same days in 2015 and 2016.

Officially, just 62 people died as a result of the storm that ravaged the island with nearly 150-mile-an-hour winds, cutting off power to 3.4 million Puerto Ricans. The last four fatalities were added to the death toll on Dec. 2.

“Before the hurricane, I had an average of 82 deaths daily. That changes from Sept. 20 to 30th. Now I have an average of 118 deaths daily,” Wanda Llovet, the director of the Demographic Registry in Puerto Rico, said in a mid-November interview. Since then, she said on Thursday, both figures have increased by one.

Data for October are not yet complete, and the number of deaths recorded in that month is expected to rise. Record-keeping has been delayed because Puerto Rico’s power grid is operating at less than 70 percent of its capacity and swaths of the island still do not have power."

Official Toll in Puerto Rico: 62. Actual Deaths May Be 1,052. - The New York Times

In Other News: The GOP Loosens Gun Control and a Reporter Claps Back: Th...

Al Franken Resigns; Donald Trump Jr. Testifies in Russia Investigation: ...

Thursday, December 07, 2017

The 19 Women Who Accused President Trump of Sexual Misconduct - The Atlantic

Summer Zervos, a former contestant on The Apprentice, leaves court after a hearing in her defamation case against President Trump on December 5.

"It’s been two months since the reckoning began. In early October, The New York Times and The New Yorker first published the alarming accounts of women who said they’d been assaulted by Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein. Rare is the day since then that women, and some men, haven’t come forward with accounts of sexual misconduct from famous and not-so-famous men alike.

Lurking in the background of the roiling debate about harassment and assault in American society are the allegations made against President Trump by at least 19 women, many of whom came forward after the release of the Access Hollywood tape in October 2016. Trump vociferously denies any wrongdoing. “Is the official White House position that all of these women are lying?” a reporter asked Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, in late October. “Yeah, we’ve been clear on that from the beginning, and the president’s spoken on it,” Sanders replied.

Some of the women’s stories date back to the 1980s when Trump’s personal relationships were fixtures of the New York City tabloids; others begin after he returned to the public eye with his NBC series The Apprentice. Their accounts describe a wide range of alleged behavior, including lewd remarks, overt harassment, groping, and sexual assault. One woman, Summer Zervos, is currently suing the president for defamation after he repeatedly called her and the others liars. What follows are details from each accuser—listed alphabetically—and the president’s corresponding defense."

The 19 Women Who Accused President Trump of Sexual Misconduct - The Atlantic

Former Mississippi governor Ray Mabus won't attend civil rights museum opening | The Sun Herald

“It is with a great deal of sadness that I will not attend the opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum on Saturday,” he said in a statement emailed out Thursday morning. “This institution and event should be a celebration of the hard-won progress in civil rights, but the main speaker, Donald Trump, is actively attacking that progress and turning us back to the dark days of hatred and division.

“An overt racist and a supporter of white supremacists and neo-Nazis, Donald Trump represents the exact opposite of what this museum is about — honoring the heroes who fought for, and often died for, the idea of equality of all..."

Former Mississippi governor Ray Mabus won't attend civil rights museum opening | The Sun Herald

Emails show Trump Tower meeting follow-up - CNNPolitics

"Washington (CNN)The British publicist who arranged the June 2016 meeting with Russians and Donald Trump Jr. sent multiple emails to a Russian participant and a member of Donald Trump's inner circle later that summer, multiple sources told CNN, the first indication there was any follow-up after the meeting.

The emails raise new questions for congressional investigators about what was discussed at Trump Tower. Trump Jr. has for months contended that after being promised he would get dirt on Hillary Clinton, the brief meeting focused almost exclusively on the issue of Russian adoptions, saying there was no discussion with the participants after that session.

The emails from the publicist, Rob Goldstone, were discovered by congressional investigators and raised at Wednesday's classified hearing with Trump Jr., who said he could not recall the interactions, several sources said. None of the newly disclosed emails were sent directly to Trump Jr. They are bound to be a subject during Goldstone's closed-door meetings with the House and Senate intelligence panels, which are expected to take place as early as next week.

Trump Jr. says he communicated first with Hope Hicks, not his father, about Trump Tower response

Emails show Trump Tower meeting follow-up - CNNPolitics

Sen. Al Franken Announces He Will Resign 'In The Coming Weeks. 'WATCH: Sen. Al Franken speaks on Senate floor amid sexual misconduct all...

Al Franken isn’t being denied due process. None of these famous men are. - The Washington Post

"Whether Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) resigns Thursday or not, his hesitation in leaving office — and his explanation for that hesitation — has given weight to one of the most pernicious half-true rejoinders dragging down the #metoo movement: “What about due process?”

This was the first line of defense for Franken’s allies, no doubt. Most Democrats who spoke up for him initially were reluctant to reach for the weapons that less woke partisans might use: It is unseemly for a good liberal to slut-shame an accuser, and outright denial of the women’s stories run up against the progressive value of believing the powerless when they speak against the powerful. Sure, whataboutism has taken up residence in the West Wing, but “let him resign when your guy does” isn’t an argument, it’s a tantrum.

Now that Franken’s career has come down to whether he will heed a chorus of fellow Democrats and step down, the notion of due process has brought out some odd sympathizers, expressing odd sympathies. Byron York, a conservative reporter for the Washington Examiner, fretted that the Senate Ethics Committee worked for three years on the case against serial harasser Bob Packwood before he resigned, but “now . . . it’s just three weeks.” He went on: “There’s reason to be concerned about what comes next.” Right-wing radio host and documentarian John Ziegler confessed that there was a time he “would have rejoiced at the demise of such a far left zealot” but now wrings his hands that Franken’s resignation “will set an incredibly dangerous precedent which will likely cause chaos and injustice in the future.” Wednesday night, Newt Gingrich — Newt Gingrich! Of all people! — said Franken’s critics were motivated by “this weird puritanism which feels a compulsion to go out and lynch people without a trial.”

[Women have always tried to warn each other about dangerous men. We have to.]

Franken’s conservative allies are not all latecomers. Back in November, one of the New York Times’s own respectable Never-Trump neocons, Bari Weiss, raised her hand up on Twitter to wonder, “Are others disturbed by the moral flattening going on here? . . . Al Franken should not be mentioned in the same breath as Harvey Weinstein/Kevin Spacey.”

But those who decry what’s happening with Franken — and the #metoo reckoning writ large — as “moral flattening” are doing some serious steamrolling themselves, yoking together every corporate disavowal, every canceled contract and every defunct resume line into the same tragic ending, such as Ziegler characterizing Franken’s likely return to civilian life as a “demise.” Or Gingrinch equating the same move to dangling off the branch of a tree. (I am reminded of Mike Barnicle bemoaning the fate of his erstwhile MSNBC co-contributor Mark Halperin: “But does he deserve to die?”) Much as rape is not opportunistic groping and exposing oneself is not child molestation, there’s a whole scale of consequences available between death and “no longer having an extraordinarily prestigious and well-paying job.”

Franken will leave the Senate quite alive, and with little threat (at this moment) of legal damage. He might have been denied “due process,” but that’s not because he won’t appear in front of the Ethics Committee, which will drop its recently opened investigation if he leaves the Senate; it’s because he’s not being criminally charged. His life won’t just not be over, it won’t even be ruined — he’s a wealthy man with many friends who show no sign of desertion. And I can’t see a man with Franken’s sizable talents and ego ever totally disappearing from the national stage.

[Al Franken wrote a bill to help rape survivors like me. He can’t lead on it now.]

I point this out not because I think Franken’s life should be ruined and his career laid to waste, but because I hope it isn’t. As a constituent of his, at least for a few more hours, my hope is that Franken faces consequences that are appropriate to his mistakes; to go by what we know now, an even metaphorical death sentence does seem too much. Franken leaving office and then moving on to reconcile his ideals and his voting record as a politician with his behavior as a human being could be more than enough. It could be the start of our society disentangling the consequences of being a harasser with one’s rights under the law.

Undoubtedly, some of the actions that have recently come to light deserve the scrutiny of law enforcement: Harvey Weinstein’s survivors described violence, and he seemed to skirt lawful behavior in multiple other ways; one of the stories about Matt Lauer’s predations clearly describes a rape; oh, and our president confessed to sexual assault. In those cases, the guidelines and protections of our legal system will hopefully serve survivors and defendants equally well.

But the courts aren’t where our national conversation is taking place, so let’s not dither about the dangers of proclaiming guilt or innocence. The standards of evidence necessary to decide you don’t want to go see someone’s movie, or laugh at his jokes, or watch him read the news while you get dressed, or elect him to the Senate are not the same as the ones required to put such men in prison. Instead, let’s acknowledge the nuances that already exist: Some men in public life have been accused of different levels of predation. They’ve suffered varying levels of employment loss as a result. And we have no idea what their long-term “sentences” look like, or if there will be any further consequences at all.

Indeed, if we listen to those who wail that taking someone’s punditry gig and book contract is the same as if you “kill a guy,” I suspect we’re in for a whole rash of reincarnation."

Al Franken isn’t being denied due process. None of these famous men are. - The Washington Post

Watch Atlanta news anchor Sharon Reed CBS46 drag a bigot with class.

‘This will be bad’: Clashes break out in West Bank over Trump Jerusalem speech - The Washington Post

"RAMALLAH, West Bank — Clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli soldiers broke out Thursday in Ramallah and other places in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, one day after President Trump announced that his administration would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The Palestinian Authority called for a general strike in Palestinian cities and, in Gaza, the Islamist Hamas movement urged its followers to ignite a third intifada, or uprising, against Israel.

At a checkpoint near Ramallah, Israeli forces fired dozens of rounds of tear gas and stun grenades at hundreds of Palestinian protesters gathering to air their anger over Trump’s statement.

They burned tires and pelted the soldiers with rocks.

“This will be bad,” said an ambulance driver. .."

‘This will be bad’: Clashes break out in West Bank over Trump Jerusalem speech - The Washington Post

Trump Jr. cites attorney-client privilege in not answering panel's questions about discussions with his father - POLITICO - Ignorant, dumb and just plain stupid. "Though neither Trump Jr. nor the president is an attorney, Trump Jr. told the House Intelligence Committee that there was a lawyer in the room during the discussion, according to the committee’s top Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff of California. Schiff said he didn’t think it was a legitimate invocation of attorney-client privilege.

Donald Trump Jr. is pictured. | AP Photo

Ignorant, dumb and just plain stupid.  "Though neither Trump Jr. nor the president is an attorney, Trump Jr. told the House Intelligence Committee that there was a lawyer in the room during the discussion, according to the committee’s top Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff of California. Schiff said he didn’t think it was a legitimate invocation of attorney-client privilege.

“I don’t believe you can shield communications between individuals merely by having an attorney present,” he said, after the committee’s lengthy interview with Trump Jr. “That’s not the purpose of attorney-client privilege.”

Trump Jr. cites attorney-client privilege in not answering panel's questions about discussions with his father - POLITICO

Second Lady Karen Pence finds Trump “totally vile” In a new profile of Vice President Pence, we learn that Karen was "disgusted" by Trump in the wake of the Access Hollywood tape and the VP candidate himself was participating in a kind of soft coup at the time. - All In with Chris Hayes on MSNBC

All In with Chris Hayes on MSNBC

Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital Donald Trump is expected on Wednesday to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, a decision that could roil the volatile region. - All In with Chris Hayes on MSNBC

All In with Chris Hayes on MSNBC

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Trump's personal banking information handed over to Robert Mueller | US news | The Guardian - Deutsche Bank, Donald Trump’s biggest lender, is forced to submit documents after special prosecutor issues subpoena

Trump's personal banking information handed over to Robert Mueller | US news | The Guardian

U.S. to Recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital, Trump Says, Alarming Middle East Leaders - The New York Times - This is ignorant, dumb and just plain stupid. Trump is throwing gasoline on burning embers. No other nation is the world has done this.

Bernie Sanders Warns Of Impending GOP Social Security Cuts

The Mike Flynn “Lock Her Up” Yule Log: The Daily Show

What the GOP thinks of the non-rich | The Kansas City Star - "Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa defends those who want to avoid an estate tax, ‘as opposed to those that are just spending every darn penny they have, whether it’s on booze or women or movies.’ Charlie Neibergall AP "



 What the GOP thinks of the non-rich | The Kansas City Star

The GOP Gives America's Neediest Millionaires a Tax Break: The Daily Show

Yes, the President Can Obstruct Justice - The New York Times

The NY Times Editorial Board

"You know you have a problem when you’ve been president for less than 11 months and you’re already relying on Richard Nixon’s definition of what’s legal.

On Monday morning, Axios reported that Mr. Trump’s top personal lawyer, John Dowd, said in an interview that the “president cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer” under the Constitution and “has every right to express his view of any case.”

This will come as news to Congress, which has passed laws criminalizing the obstruction of justice and decided twice in the last four decades that when a president violates those laws he has committed an impeachable offense.

In 1974, the first article of impeachment drafted by the House of Representatives charged President Nixon with “interfering or endeavoring to interfere with the conduct of investigations by the Department of Justice of the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the office of Watergate Special Prosecution Force.”

A quarter-century later, President Bill Clinton was impeached by the House for, among other things, having “prevented, obstructed and impeded the administration of justice” and for having “engaged personally, and through his subordinates and agents, in a course of conduct or scheme designed to delay, impede, cover up and conceal the existence of evidence and testimony.”

Now let’s see if those descriptions apply to President Trump.

On Saturday morning, in the wake of the bombshell guilty plea by Michael Flynn, the president’s former national security adviser, for lying to F.B.I. agents about his communications with Russian officials late last year, Mr. Trump tweeted, “I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI.”

Recall that the original justification for Mr. Flynn’s firing was simply that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence; otherwise he had done nothing wrong. That’s the case Mr. Trump made the day after Mr. Flynn’s firing, when he allegedly tried to shut down the F.B.I.’s inquiry into his campaign’s connections with Russian officials by telling James Comey, who was then the F.B.I. director, in a private Oval Office meeting, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go.”

In May, Mr. Trump fired Mr. Comey, telling Russian officials in the Oval Office the next day that firing Mr. Comey had relieved “great pressure” on him, and referring to Mr. Comey as a “nut job.” In an interview with NBC, Mr. Trump said, “When I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.’”

It was bad enough for the president to attempt to interfere in any way with a law enforcement investigation of one of his top aides. But with Saturday’s tweet, Mr. Trump admitted that he knew Mr. Flynn had committed a federal crime at the time he fired Mr. Comey for refusing to stop investigating him. To most people with a functioning prefrontal cortex, it sure sounds like Mr. Trump is admitting to “interfering or endeavoring to interfere with the conduct of investigations” and to “impeding the administration of justice.”

Mr. Dowd confused the country further by saying he had drafted Mr. Trump’s tweet himself — a bizarre claim for a lawyer to make about a statement that incriminates his client. Then he outdid himself with his assertion to Axios that it is not possible for the president to obstruct justice. The argument, as far as it goes, is that the president is the nation’s highest ranking law enforcement officer and has the constitutional authority to supervise and control the executive branch, which includes making decisions about investigations and personnel.

But Mr. Trump didn’t just try to shut down some random no-name case; he tried to shut down an investigation into his own campaign’s ties to the Russian government’s efforts to swing the 2016 election in his favor. As that investigation keeps revealing, Mr. Trump’s top associates have repeatedly been untruthful about their contacts and communications with Russian officials.

In Saturday’s tweet, Mr. Trump also wrote, “It is a shame because his actions during the transition were lawful. There was nothing to hide!” If there were truly nothing to hide, if these talks with Russians were all just part of a normal presidential transition process, then why all the lying?

Any child could tell you the answer: People lie when they know they’ve done something wrong. Mr. Flynn and others in Mr. Trump’s campaign and transition team were secretly trying to undermine United States foreign policy as private citizens — which is not just wrong, but a criminal violation of the Logan Act. Worse, the policy being undermined was President Barack Obama’s punishment of a foreign adversary for interfering in an American election, and the underminers — Mr. Trump’s team — were the very people who benefited most directly from that interference.

For some historical perspective, Richard Nixon once again proves useful. In the closing days of the 1968 presidential campaign, Mr. Nixon ordered H. R. Haldeman, later his chief of staff, to throw a “monkey wrench” into the Vietnamese peace talks, knowing that a serious move to end the war would hurt his electoral prospects. Mr. Nixon denied that he did this to the grave; Mr. Haldeman’s notes, discovered after his death, revealed the truth.

Meanwhile, as the evidence of both subterfuge and obstruction continues to grow, Mr. Trump’s tireless spinners and sophists are working to convince the American public that it’s all no big deal. This is an embarrassing and unpersuasive argument, but it’s not surprising. At this point, they have nothing else to work with."

Yes, the President Can Obstruct Justice - The New York Times

Monday, December 04, 2017

Mueller: Paul Manafort Wrote Op-Ed With Russian Operative Last Week

"Special counsel Robert Mueller’s office filed court papers to the U.S. District Court of D.C. on Monday opposing the release of Paul Manafort on bail later this month due to “newly discovered facts [that] cast doubt on Manafort’s willingness to comply with this Court’s Orders.”

According to Mueller, Manafort ghostwrote an op-ed alongside a “long-time Russian colleague” who is “currently based in Russia and assessed to have ties to a Russian intelligence service.” Manafort worked on the op-ed as late as Nov. 30—nearly a month after he was indicted by Mueller’s team. Mueller called for GPS monitoring and a “fully secured bond of unencumbered real estate.”

Mueller noted that even if the op-ed were truthful, it would be a violation of a Nov. 8 court order to “not try the case in the press.”

The editorial, Mueller wrote, “clearly was undertaken to influence the public’s opinion of defendant Manafort, or else there would be no reason to seek its publication.”

“It compounds the problem that the proposed piece is not a dispassionate recitation of the facts,” Mueller continued.

Former Trump campaign adviser Rick Gates and Manafort are facing a host of charges—including money laundering and failure to register as foreign agents. The two had been under home confinement with GPS monitoring since they were charged on Oct. 30..."

Mueller: Paul Manafort Wrote Op-Ed With Russian Operative Last Week

Matthews: Justice is on its way to Trump | MSNBC

Matthews: Justice is on its way to Trump | MSNBC

Trump lawyers change defense on collusion and obstruction | MSNBC

Trump lawyers change defense on collusion and obstruction | MSNBC

Trump confirms he'll shrink Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante monuments

"Donald Trump reversed another Barack Obama action on Monday by significantly shrinking two national monuments in Utah.

The president signed two proclamations modifying designations for Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears."

Trump’s lawyer says a president can’t technically obstruct justice. Experts say that’s fanciful. - The Washington Post


"It was a whirlwind weekend for President Trump's legal team, from Michael Flynn's guilty plea to Trump's problematic tweet to new reports that fill out the picture of a broadening Russia investigation. And it concluded Monday morning with Trump's personal lawyer making a bold claim: Regardless of all of it, John Dowd says, a president can't even technically obstruct justice.

Here's the money quote Dowd gave to Axios: The “president cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer under [the Constitution's Article II] and has every right to express his view of any case.”

To be clear, this is a Trump lawyer effectively trying to knock down one of two major pillars of the Russia investigation — to exempt his client completely from being held liable for his actions in (roughly) half the investigation. That investigation began by looking at possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia and, thanks to Trump's own actions, has also come to key on Trump's possible obstruction of justice. Dowd argues the latter is a mythical crime even if it is proven that Trump intervened in the investigation to save himself or others.

This theory is clearly a hugely convenient one for the White House; that much is clear. But does it actually hold water, legally speaking?
What is obstruction of justice? 
With the term whirling around Washington, a former federal prosecutor explains what to know about the criminal charge of obstruction of justice. (Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)Experts are dubious, but they are dubious to varying degrees. Constitutional experts Jonathan Turley of George Washington University and Daniel P. Franklin of Georgia State University both said Dowd's argument isn't completely without merit.
“The president's lawyer is overstating his case, but he has a point,” Franklin said. “The words of a president, not expressed under oath and not in the service of obstruction (for example, ordering subordinates to commit obstruction), are just words and not actions and, therefore, are not a crime.”
Franklin said he believes the argument that Trump obstructed justice by firing FBI Director James B. Comey is “thin” and said he doesn't believe Trump can obstruct justice when he is acting within his authority as chief executive. But, he said, the president can obstruct justice when not acting in that capacity.
“To the point that the president can't engage in obstruction because he is the chief executive,” Franklin said of Dowd's argument, “that is engaging in sophistry.”

Trump: ‘We need Republican Roy Moore to win in Alabama’ - The Washington Post

Trump: ‘We need Republican Roy Moore to win in Alabama’ - The Washington Post

The Ghost of Steve Bannon - The New York Times

Charles Blow - "Steve Bannon may no longer be physically in the White House, but his spirit lingers there as the guide of the Donald Trump administration and the soul at the core of its beliefs.

Bannon is Dickensian in the way his presence — and nominal absence — haunts the Trump presidency, defining its past, dictating its present and damning its future.

Bannon is the author of Trump’s ideology.

It is always worth remembering that Bannon, who departed the White House in mid-August and returned to his right-wing website Breitbart the same day, last year proudly told Mother Jones: “We’re the platform for the alt-right.”

Alt-right is just a new name for Nazis and racists.

Maybe more important, the Nazis and racists believe that Breitbart is a welcoming platform for them. A few days before Mother Jones published its interview with Bannon, The Daily Beast published this:

“Richard Spencer, who heads the white supremacist think tank National Policy Institute, said he was also pleased. Under Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart has given favorable coverage to the white supremacist Alt Right movement. And Spencer loves it.”

Yes, that Richard Spencer, the one who has led three tiki-torch hate marches in Charlottesville, the second of which resulted in the killing-by-car of counter protester Heather Heyer. That was the same protest about which Donald Trump insisted that there “were very fine people on both sides.”

The Daily Beast quoted Spencer saying: “Breitbart has elective affinities with the Alt Right, and the Alt Right has clearly influenced Breitbart … In this way, Breitbart has acted as a ‘gateway’ to Alt Right ideas and writers. I don’t think it has done this deliberately; again, it’s a matter of elective affinities.”

Whether it was deliberate or the result of “elective affinities,” the two are drawn to each other out of shared interests and a shared worldview.

Even the phrase “elective affinities” is likely taken from the title of an 1809 novel by famed German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, although its usage traces back earlier.

That established, it is important to recall the three pillars of the Bannonite “America First” philosophy.

Earlier this year at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Bannon outlined them: national security and sovereignty; economic nationalism; and deconstruction of the administrative state.

Everything Trump does or says falls into one of those buckets.

Last month, when Trump appointed Mick Mulvaney, a man who despises the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, to be acting director of that bureau, Trump continued his Trojan Horse strategy of implanting enemies in government agencies to disable or even destroy them.

When the desperate-for-a-win Republican Senate last week passed their 11th-hour disaster of a tax bill that will eventually prove a jackpot for the donor class and an albatross for the working class, Trump ensured that working people would most feel the pain from the bill, in cutbacks to government services like education and the social safety net.

Trump’s continued attacks on the media — and on truth itself — is an attempt to weaken the watchdogs, to grease the skids toward more oligarchy, more authoritarianism, more fascism.

Even as the special counsel, Robert Mueller, picks Trump’s inner circle apart, Trump is fully focused on doing as much damage as possible before reaching his ever-more-likely demise.

Trump may one day have to abandon the post he inhabits, but he plans to reduce the village to ashes before he exits.

This sort of pumped-up, fatal heroism in service of white nationalism and in opposition to government sounds to me rather Bannon-esque.

And we know that Bannon still has the president’s heart, as well as his ear.

As The Washington Post reported at the end of August, Trump continued to defy the wishes of his Chief of Staff John F. Kelly, including by reaching out to Bannon: “The president continues to call business friends and outside advisers, including former chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon, from his personal phone when Kelly is not around, said people with knowledge of the calls.”

On Sept. 12, The Wall Street Journal reported that Bannon told a private group in Hong Kong that he “speaks with President Donald Trump every two to three days.”

White House press secretary and chief twister-of-truths Sarah Huckabee Sanders cushioned the claim, telling reporters that the times Trump and Bannon spoke were “certainly not that frequently.”

But The Post followed up in October, reporting that Trump and Bannon “have remained in frequent contact, chatting as often as several times a week,” and that “Trump usually initiates the talks because incoming calls now are routed through chief of staff John F. Kelly and his disciplinarians.”

The Post continued: “Bannon tells confidants he sees himself as ‘the president’s wingman,’ tending to his base and taking on his enemies. Trump still frequently consults him, and Bannon believes he is executing the president’s wishes.”

Trump the con man has a wingman and together, in the shadows, they are leading us to ruin."

The Ghost of Steve Bannon - The New York Times

Trump’s crusade against immigrants is an attack on America - The Washington Post

"THE TRUMP administration likes to justify its multi-front crusade against immigration and immigrants as a revival of the rule of law, or a recalibration of the rules to favor disadvantaged American workers. In fact, it is largely a resurrection of xenophobia that coincides with a spike, nearly 50 years in the making, in the number of foreign-born residents living in the United States.

“For decades,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a speech in October, “the American people have been begging and pleading . . . for an immigration system that’s lawful and serves the national interest. Now we have a president who supports that.”

Mr. Sessions’s claims are specious. An embrace of legality is not the driving force behind the president’s decision to slash the admission of refugees to levels unseen in nearly 40 years. It is not what compelled Mr. Trump to endorse Republican legislation that would cut the annual allotment of green cards by a half-million, mainly by barring relatives of existing legal permanent residents of the United States. It is not why the Pentagon has considered ending a recruitment program that put skilled foreigners on a fast track for citizenship if they served in this country’s armed forces. And it is not why the administration favors ending the so-called diversity visa lottery program, under which immigrants are admitted from nations underrepresented in other programs.

Those programs were all legally enacted and, by and large, carried out in compliance with the law. The animating force in targeting them, as the administration is now doing, is an effort to turn back the tide of foreigners in our midst and exorcise what the president evidently sees as the demon of diversity.

The administration’s goal is not to reshape America’s immigration policy but to prune immigration itself. While Mr. Trump backs a GOP plan that would give preference to immigrants with skills rather than family connections in the United States, the effect would be not simply to shift the mix while maintaining the current level of legal immigration but to drastically reduce overall numbers of admissions.

Most Americans oppose open borders; so do we. At a moment when immigrants are at their highest share of the population in a century — they now represent more than 13 percent of residents — it is legitimate to debate the numbers and types of people we should welcome to American shores. It is fair to examine whether current levels of immigration have depressed wages for lower-income Americans in some places and sectors of the economy. It should be possible to ask “how much is too much?” without inviting accusations of bigotry.

Unfortunately, Mr. Trump has poisoned the debate on immigration so thoroughly that he has twisted the frame through which many Americans see the issue. His slurs — labeling Mexican immigrants as rapists and Muslim immigrants as terrorists — form the context from which the administration’s policies arise. They are affronts to U.S. tradition and values.

They’re also an assault on what Mr. Sessions refers to as “the national interest” and specifically the United States’ economic well-being. Legions of employers dependent on immigrant workers, especially to fill low-skilled jobs for which native-born Americans are too well educated and in short supply, will be harmed by choking off the flow of immigrant labor. With unemployment at a 16-year low and approaching levels unseen in a half-century, the Trump policies threaten to sap the economy by depriving it of the energy of striving newcomers who have fueled this nation’s ambitions since its founding.

It is within the president’s discretion to intensify efforts at deportation, though the humanitarian price — in shattered communities and families, including those whose children, born in this country, are Americans — is high. It is reasonable to take steps to tighten border security, though with illegal crossings already at a 40-year low and the Border Patrol’s staffing having already been doubled since the George W. Bush administration, a significant new investment along those lines faces the risk of diminishing returns. The administration may arguably have had a valid legal basis for ending the Obama-era program granting deportation protection for “dreamers” — undocumented immigrants who entered the country as children, often brought by their parents — though only a smallish minority of Americans believes they should be removed from this country."

Trump’s crusade against immigrants is an attack on America - The Washington Post

'We'll see the battle lines': Trump faced by Native American alliance over Bears Ears | Environment | The Guardian

The Anasazi Family Rock Formations in Bears Ears National Monument, Utah.

'We'll see the battle lines': Trump faced by Native American alliance over Bears Ears | Environment | The Guardian

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Emails Dispute White House Claims That Flynn Acted Independently on Russia - The New York Times

"WASHINGTON — When President Trump fired his national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, in February, White House officials portrayed him as a renegade who had acted independently in his discussions with a Russian official during the presidential transition and then lied to his colleagues about the interactions.

But emails among top transition officials, provided or described to The New York Times, suggest that Mr. Flynn was far from a rogue actor. In fact, the emails, coupled with interviews and court documents filed on Friday, showed that Mr. Flynn was in close touch with other senior members of the Trump transition team both before and after he spoke with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, about American sanctions against Russia.

While Mr. Trump has disparaged as a Democratic “hoax” any claims that he or his aides had unusual interactions with Russian officials, the records suggest that the Trump transition team was intensely focused on improving relations with Moscow and was willing to intervene to pursue that goal despite a request from the Obama administration that it not sow confusion about official American policy before Mr. Trump took office.

On Dec. 29, a transition adviser to Mr. Trump, K. T. McFarland, wrote in an email to a colleague that sanctions announced hours before by the Obama administration in retaliation for Russian election meddling were aimed at discrediting Mr. Trump’s victory. The sanctions could also make it much harder for Mr. Trump to ease tensions with Russia, “which has just thrown the U.S.A. election to him,” she wrote in the emails obtained by The Times..."

Emails Dispute White House Claims That Flynn Acted Independently on Russia - The New York Times

Trump says he has nothing to fear from Flynn, then stokes new controversy with tweet

"... Several legal observers suggested that the tweet could add to Trump’s legal exposure in a potential obstruction-of-justice investigation.

The day after Trump fired Flynn, Trump urged then-FBI Director James B. Comey to be lenient with his former national security adviser, according to Comey’s notes at the time.

If Trump knew at that point that Flynn had lied to the FBI and was under investigation, the observers said, his appeal to Comey could constitute an attempt by Trump to obstruct that investigation..."

Trump says he has nothing to fear from Flynn, then stokes new controversy with tweet

Trump’s campaign: Big Macs, screaming fits and constant rivalries - The Washington Post

"Elton John blares so loudly on Donald Trump’s campaign plane that staffers can’t hear themselves think. Press secretary Hope Hicks uses a steamer to press Trump’s pants — while he is still wearing them. Trump screams at his top aides, who are subjected to expletive-filled tirades in which they get their “face ripped off.”

And Trump’s appetite seems to know no bounds when it comes to McDonald’s, with a dinner order consisting of “two Big Macs, two Fillet-O-Fish, and a chocolate malted.”

The scenes are among the most surreal passages in a forthcoming book chronicling Trump’s path to the presidency co-written by Corey Lewandowski, who was fired as Trump’s campaign manager, and David Bossie, another top aide. The book, “Let Trump Be Trump,” paints a portrait of a campaign with an untested candidate and staff rocketing from crisis to crisis, in which Lewandowski and a cast of mostly neophyte political aides learn on the fly and ultimately accept Trump’s propensity to go angrily off message..."

Trump’s campaign: Big Macs, screaming fits and constant rivalries - The Washington Post

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Donald Trump's Dumb Tweet

Trump Tweets He Knew Flynn Lied to FBI When He Asked Comey to ‘Let Flynn Go’

Trump Tweets He Knew Flynn Lied to FBI When He Asked Comey to ‘Let Flynn Go’

Trump confessing to obstruction is on front page of his hometown paper - Lawrence O'Donnell

Michael Flynn’s Guilty Plea Is Bad For Trump In Lots Of Ways | FiveThirtyEight

"Obstruction of justice –– Remember that former FBI Director James Comey, in the statement he released the day before he testified on Capitol Hill in the spring about the circumstances of his dismissal, described a one-on-one Oval Office conversation with Trump. The president, according to Comey, said, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy.” Comey interpreted this statement as asking him to end the FBI’s investigation of Flynn, which Comey refused to do.

If you believe Comey’s account, the man whom the president was concerned enough about to personally ask for him not to be investigated has now plead guilty. And if Mueller is investigating Trump for obstruction of justice, as has been reported, that case is reinforced by this plea. Trump fired Comey after the FBI director would not stop investigating someone (Flynn) who was in enough legal jeopardy to later plead guilty.

Also, the obstruction case against Trump got stronger in the hours just before the Flynn announcement. The New York Times reported on Thursday night that the president has called several GOP senators and asked them to do what they can to wind down the various Russia investigations on Capitol Hill. One of the senators that Trump reached out to is North Carolina’s Richard Burr, who is leading the Senate Intelligence Committee probe. It is not necessarily illegal for Trump to call Burr and other senators and make that request, but his behavior fits with a broader pattern of moves, like Trump’s alleged conversations with Comey, that suggest Trump is trying to stall or slow down the various investigations into his campaign’s connections with Russian officials."

Michael Flynn’s Guilty Plea Is Bad For Trump In Lots Of Ways | FiveThirtyEight

Flynn charge gives insight on Mueller investigation's progress Paul Fishman, former U.S. attorney, talks with Rachel Maddow about what the Mike Flynn guilty plea tells us about the Robert Mueller investigation, and Sally Yates' warning to the Trump administration that Flynn had been compromised.


The Rachel Maddow Show on msnbc – Latest News & Video: ""

Why did Trump ignore repeated warnings Flynn was compromised? Rachel Maddow looks at the warnings Donald Trump received about Mike Flynn and the inexplicable way Trump held Flynn in favor even after he left office.


The Rachel Maddow Show on msnbc – Latest News & Video: ""


Why the UN is investigating extreme poverty … in America, the world's richest nation | World news | The Guardian

"The tour, which kicked off on Friday morning, will make stops in four states as well as Washington DC and the US territory of Puerto Rico. It will focus on several of the social and economic barriers that render the American dream merely a pipe dream to millions – from homelessness in California to racial discrimination in the Deep South, cumulative neglect in Puerto Rico and the decline of industrial jobs in West Virginia.

With 41 million Americans officially in poverty according to the US Census Bureau (other estimates put that figure much higher), one aim of the UN mission will be to demonstrate that no country, however wealthy, is immune from human suffering induced by growing inequality. Nor is any nation, however powerful, beyond the reach of human rights law – a message that the US government and Donald Trump might find hard to stomach given their tendency to regard internal affairs as sacrosanct.

The UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, is a feisty Australian and New York University law professor who has a fearsome track record of holding power to account. He tore a strip off the Saudi Arabian regime for its treatment of women months before the kingdom legalized their right to drive, denounced the Brazilian government for attacking the poor through austerity, and even excoriated the UN itself for importing cholera to Haiti."

Why the UN is investigating extreme poverty … in America, the world's richest nation | World news | The Guardian

Flynn plea deal increases exposure of senior Trump transition team members | US news | The Guardian - Smoking Gun Number 6 (The Bunker Buster)

A protester holds up a sign after Michael Flynn arrived at the US federal court in Washington DC on Friday.

"Court documents made it clear that special counsel Robert Mueller is zeroing in on people very close to Trump, who are identified as a “senior official of the presidential transition team” and a “very senior member of the presidential transition team”.

Those two people – unless they are in fact one person – directed Flynn to hold conversations with the then Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak about sanctions and about a United Nations resolution on Israel, Flynn admitted to prosecutors after initially lying about the matter.

Those conversations not only give the lie to repeated statements by the president that his team had no contact with the Russians, but they also raise the possibility of serious criminal exposure among members of Trump’s inner circle for breaking laws banning communications with foreign entities that undercut US policy.

Senior members of the transition team included Vice-President Mike Pence; son-in-law Jared Kushner; Reince Priebus, then chairman of the Republican National Committee, later Trump’s chief of staff; Jeff Sessions, then a senator, now the attorney general; and Trump himself."

Flynn plea deal increases exposure of senior Trump transition team members | US news | The Guardian

Winners and losers in the Senate GOP tax bill: A running list - The Washington Post


"...The 13 million Americans who won't have health insurance. The Senate bill isn't just a tax bill, it also includes the repeal of the individual mandate that requires all Americans to buy health insurance or else pay a penalty. This provision is not in the House bill, so it might not make it to the president's desk, but if it does, it's expected to cause a spike in health insurance premiums in the United States and 13 million Americans to drop insurance coverage in the next decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The poor. The Senate bill cuts tax rates across all income levels, but 44 percent of Americans don't pay any federal income tax, so it doesn't help them. Some senators -- notably Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) -- pushed to give more money back to lower-income families in the form of refundable tax credits. Rubio and Lee wanted to make a lot of the Child Tax Credit refundable. But that didn't happen, meaning the poor won't get much benefit from the bill. If anything, they might lose a lot -- some won't be able to afford health insurance anymore and some are likely to lose other government benefits as Republicans look for ways to trim the federal budget in the coming months.

Puerto Rico. The island that was devastated by Hurricane Maria this fall now might lose some of the few big businesses that remain on the island if the GOP tax bill gets enacted. The reason is that Puerto Rico would no longer look so advantageous as a place to do business compared to the rest of the United States. Puerto Rico's governor is trying to push for the island to be deemed a "free trade zone," but that was not included in the legislation released before passage.

Harvard. The House and Senate bills create a new 1.4 percent tax on private college endowments worth over $500,000 per student. Only a handful of universities have such large endowments. Most are Ivy League schools like Harvard.

Maybe losers (depends on conference committee)

College students. The House bill scraps many popular deductions for college students and college grads with student loans. The House bill eliminates the popular student loan debt write off, and it forces graduate students who receive tuition waivers (sometimes as much as $20,000 or more) to count that money as income for tax purposes, even though they don't actually receive money in their pockets. It would be a big hit and many universities are saying it could heavily dissuade graduate study. The Senate bill does not make these changes.

Elderly with high medical expenses. The House bill gets rid of the deduction for huge medical expenses, which 8.8 million Americans (mostly elderly) currently use. The Senate keeps this deduction in place, setting up a major conflict to be worked out."

Winners and losers in the Senate GOP tax bill: A running list - The Washington Post

It Started as a Tax Cut. Now It Could Change American Life. - The New York Times

"A job fair in Atlanta last year. While Republicans promote their tax plan as a way to encourage job growth and economic expansion, its constraints on state and local taxation could restrict spending on health care, education, transportation and social services.

The tax plan has been marketed by President Trump and Republican leaders as a straightforward if enormous rebate for the masses, a $1.5 trillion package of cuts to spur hiring and economic growth. But as the bill has been rushed through Congress with scant debate, its far broader ramifications have come into focus, revealing a catchall legislative creation that could reshape major areas of American life, from education to health care.

Some of this re-engineering is straight out of the traditional Republican playbook. Corporate taxes, along with those on wealthy Americans, would be slashed on the presumption that when people in penthouses get relief, the benefits flow down to basement tenements.

Some measures are barely connected to the realm of taxation, such as the lifting of a 1954 ban on political activism by churches and the conferring of a new legal right for fetuses in the House bill — both on the wish list of the evangelical right.

With a potentially far-reaching dimension, elements in both the House and Senate bills could constrain the ability of states and local governments to levy their own taxes, pressuring them to limit spending on health care, education, public transportation and social services. In their longstanding battle to shrink government, Republicans have found in the tax bill a vehicle to broaden the fight beyond Washington.

The result is a behemoth piece of legislation that could widen American economic inequality while diminishing the power of local communities to marshal relief for vulnerable people — especially in high-tax states like California and New York, which, not coincidentally, tend to vote Democratic.

All of this is taking shape at such extraordinary velocity, absent the usual analyses and hearings, that even the most savvy Washington lobbyist cannot be fully certain of the implications.

Mr. Trump and the Republican leadership in Congress — stymied in their efforts to repeal Obamacare, and short of legislative achievements — have signaled absolute resolve to get a tax bill passed by the end of the year. As the sense has taken hold that Washington is now a trading floor where any deal is worth entertaining so long as it brings votes, interest groups have fixed on the tax bill as a unique opportunity to further their agendas.

“There’s a Christmas-tree aspect to the bill,” said C. Eugene Steuerle, a Treasury official during the Reagan administration and now a senior fellow at the Urban Institute. As an example, he cited the provisions in the House bill designed to appeal to the religious right..."

It Started as a Tax Cut. Now It Could Change American Life. - The New York Times

Friday, December 01, 2017

Michael Flynn’s guilty plea: A comprehensive timeline

Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

"Former national security adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty on Friday to lying to the FBI about contacts he had with a Russian ambassador. Here is a comprehensive timeline of the actions and events that led to this moment, based on government documents and news reports... "

Flynn to Plead Guilty to Lying to the F.B.I. - The New York Times

"WASHINGTON — President Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, will plead guilty on Friday to lying to the F.B.I. about a conversation with the Russian ambassador last December.

The plea was the latest indication that Mr. Flynn was cooperating with the special counsel’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. Mr. Flynn was scheduled to appear in federal court in Washington at 10:30 on Friday morning."

Flynn to Plead Guilty to Lying to the F.B.I. - The New York Times