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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Trump shares anti-Muslim vids, picks a fight with UK PM. "Racist." "Unthinking." "Incompetent." "Offensive." "Stupid." British lawmakers have some thoughts about Trump retweeting unverified anti-Muslim videos.



Trump shares anti-Muslim vids, picks a fight with UK PM | MSNBC

Republicans' fiscal hypocrisy is fully on display in the tax bill





"With the Republicans in the Senate now set to vote in favor of their shameful tax cut legislation, consider the staggering hypocrisy contained in the bill: For decades, the GOP has branded itself as the party of fiscal responsibility. Yet their tax plan promises to add $1.4 trillion to the federal deficit over the next 10 years; Republican leaders and rank and file members no longer seem to care about deficits.



Many in the Republican Party are now rejecting the idea that they must exhibit responsibility in leading our government and are instead embracing a reckless agenda which threatens America’s long-term economic security and budget priorities. On top of that, they’re assuming that Democrats will eventually help them clean up the damage they will cause to our budget and our economy.



But if the GOP wants to pursue these disastrous policies, they’ll have to stand alone on the dance floor once the music stops playing.



The current tax debate should settle once and for all whether self-styled fiscal hawks will decide to put their party allegiance before their principles.



We’ve seen Republicans pull this before: During Bill Clinton’s first year as president, for instance, Democrats enacted a major deficit reduction package without any support from conservatives. And while many Democrats in Congress lost their jobs as a result, their leadership helped produce a budget surplus several later.



When George W. Bush became president, Republicans authorized a series of massive tax cuts that ballooned the federal deficit and worsened income equality, and passed a prescription drug bill despite the fact that it carried a $400 billion price tag for which no one paid. These measures — combined with the administration’s continued spending on wars — helped squander the budget surplus produced under Clinton.



Barack Obama came into office in the midst of an economic crisis and yet, shortly into his first term, Republicans suddenly rediscovered the urgent need for deficit reduction. In December 2009, John Boehner decried on the House floor that “America is broke”. And the following year, I participated in a panel with Paul Ryan during which the congressman warned that our country faced a “forthcoming debt crisis” driven by leaders who lacked the political will to fix it.



But now that Republicans control both Congress and the White House, their leaders have thrown themselves behind tax plans that would run up huge deficits in order to finance handouts to large corporations and the super-rich.



More than 60 percent of the tax breaks found in the Senate plan would eventually wind up in the pockets of the one percent. And by 2027, the average household in the top 1 percent would receive $32,510 under their bill, while 87 million working- and middle-class families would actually see an increase in their taxes.



How do Senate Republicans plan on paying for these giant giveaways to the wealthy?



They’re hoping to repeal the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate, which would leave 13 million more people without insurance. And don’t be fooled by their empty promises to stabilize health care markets in return by including bipartisan reforms introduced by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.). These reforms won’t fix the health care mess created by the Republican tax bill, and Republicans would need Democratic votes in the House to overcome the opposition within their own party anyway — and there’s no guarantee that such support will materialize.



The Senate tax bill would also trigger $25 billion in automatic cuts to Medicare in 2018 alone unless they find enough Democrats to help them waive the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act — again, trying to force Democrats to help fix a crisis created by a bill to which they are opposed.



Finally, Republicans had the gall to make a permanent reduction in the corporate tax rate, while scheduling every cut meant for individual taxpayers to expire by 2025. After that point, taxes would go up for every family in America, unless Democrats vote to extend the individual cuts that they plan to oppose this week.



The current tax debate should settle once and for all whether self-styled fiscal hawks, such as Senators Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Flake (R-Ariz.), McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lankford (R-Okla.), will decide to put their party allegiance before their principles. True conservatives would not be concerned about deficits when liberals are in power, but then ignore them entirely when the Republican party wants to prioritize tax cuts for the rich.



And if Republicans do enact their radical agenda, Democrats should not be expected to bail them out in a few years or hold themselves to a higher standard on deficits once they’re back in control.



If the GOP passes these deficit-financed tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, those conservatives supposedly concerned with fiscal responsibility shouldn’t be surprised (let alone wail in opposition) if, down the road, Democrats turn to deficit-financed investments that would support the working families that Republicans left high and dry in giving tax cuts to their donor class."



Republicans' fiscal hypocrisy is fully on display in the tax bill

Senate GOP tax bill would add $1 trillion to the deficit, Congress’ analysts conclude

"The Republican plan for a massive tax overhaul steamed toward Senate passage on Thursday, even as a nonpartisan congressional scorekeeper said the plan would fall short of GOP claims that it would pay for itself..."



http://wapo.st/2AlKiag

#LocoInChief #LiarInChief Trump Casts Doubt on ‘Access Hollywood’ Video

President Donald Trump's Mental State An 'Enormous Present Danger' | The...

Bernie Sanders Challenges Republican Tax Lies

John Oliver Is Trying to Educate Trump Through Commercials on Fox News

Oh Lord, Now the Gun Thing’s Back - The New York Times

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"The House Judiciary Committee just voted to make it impossible for a state to always keep people convicted of violent offenses from carrying concealed weapons.

That was just a detail in a very long day and really dreadful debate about the right to bear arms. In a normal world it might be the talk of the dinner table, but really, this week hardly anyone noticed.

On the one hand you had Garrison Keillor and Matt Lauer getting canned for sexual harassment. On the other there’s the president of the United States circulating a picture of a Muslim beating up a statue of the Blessed Virgin. About which, the presidential spokeswoman said, “Whether it’s a real video, the threat is real.”

And I haven’t even gotten to the tax bill. Or North Korea. Good grief.

But still, guns. Attention must be paid. If you count every gun crime that involves four or more victims as a mass shooting, we’ve had 397 so far this year, including the ungodly tragedies in Las Vegas and the small Texas church. You’d think the National Rifle Association would go away and be quiet for a month or two. But no, its minions in the House of Representatives were busy on Wednesday getting committee approval for a bill that would make it impossible for states to impose their rules about carrying concealed weapons on people who are visiting from someplace else.
Instead, we’re supposed to respect the judgment of the state whence they came. People, do you have this kind of confidence? We are having this conversation two weeks after Wisconsin eliminated the age limit for hunting licenses. So far there are 1,800 happy Wisconsinites under the age of 10 with the right to put their little fingers on the trigger, several less than a year old.

The bill’s opponents, all Democrats, lost every argument, but you had to give them credit for spunk. They dragged the fight on for more than six hours, dividing their time between pointing out that the gun murder rate in America is 297 times higher than in Japan, and offering amendments that attempted to make it clear how crazy the whole bill is.

All of which, including ones on violent offenses and domestic abuse, were defeated. Another would have allowed states to at least enforce their own laws aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of people convicted of assaulting a police officer.
No dice. “Once the exceptions start they will have no end,” said Representative Louie Gohmert of Texas.
As you know, there is absolutely no national consensus when it comes to the right to carry a concealed weapon in public places. You have Missouri, where you can just buy a gun and put it in your pocket. You have places like California, where people are carefully screened, trained and tested before they can get a gun and permit.

The N.R.A. yearns for a federal law that would allow Missourians to tote their guns around California, no questions asked. And here it is! The bill, known to its friends as “concealed carry,” could almost certainly pass the House. Even in this miserable year it probably couldn’t make the 60-vote mark in the Senate. (Good old Senate 60-vote rule. Remember that the next time people you like better are running the place.)
However, it could mess up an actual piece of gun reform that is so simple and sensible that even this Congress might be capable of approving it. A bipartisan group of senators, including Republican John Cornyn of Texas and Democrat Chris Murphy of Connecticut, are working on a bill that would make the current deeply flawed background check system a little more efficient.

“My worry is the House tries to get cute and combines the two,” said Murphy.
The Judiciary Committee debate was long and depressing in the extreme — at one point Representative Steven King of Iowa claimed a proposal to tighten a background check loophole on gun show sales would ruin “Christmas at the Kings’.”

The Republicans argued that people need to be able to carry guns — even in states where it’s against the law — because it just makes you safer. There’s an extremely popular vision of the average citizen drawing his concealed weapon and shooting a crazed gunman. This almost never happens in the real world.

But the myth lives on. Gun fans in Congress still talk about the shooting at a baseball practice that seriously wounded one of their colleagues as if it could have been avoided, if only all the lawmakers had gone to the game armed. During the committee meeting, Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia and his followers suggested giving members of Congress the automatic right to carry concealed weapons, even if their home state wouldn’t permit it. Just to be safe. “I remember where I was the day I got the news that Gabby Giffords had been shot,” mused King.
It was indeed terrible. And Giffords responded by starting a national campaign for stricter gun regulation. Some people fix problems. Some just impose them on everybody else. Depends on the year.

Oh Lord, Now the Gun Thing’s Back - The New York Times

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Trump veers past guardrails, feeling impervious to the uproar he causes - The Washington Post

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"President Trump this week disseminated on social media three inflammatory and unverified anti-Muslim videos, took glee in the firing of a news anchor for sexual harassment allegations despite facing more than a dozen of his own accusers and used a ceremony honoring Navajo war heroes to malign a senator with a derogatory nickname, ‘Pocahontas.’

Again and again, Trump veered far past the guardrails of presidential behavior. But despite the now-routine condemnations, the president is acting emboldened, as if he were impervious to the uproar he causes.

If there are consequences for his actions, Trump does not seem to feel their burden personally. The Republican tax bill appears on track for passage, putting the president on the cusp of his first major legislative achievement. Trump himself remains the highest profile man accused of sexual improprieties to keep his job with no repercussions.

Trump has internalized the belief that he can largely operate with impunity, people close to him said. His political base cheers him on. Fellow Republican leaders largely stand by him. His staff scrambles to explain away his misbehavior — or even to laugh it off. And the White House disciplinarian, chief of staff John F. Kelly, has said it is not his job to control the president."

(Via.).  Trump veers past guardrails, feeling impervious to the uproar he causes - The Washington Post:

Trump's anti-Muslim retweets prompt backlash in Washington: 'The president is racist' | US news | The Guardian

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Trump's anti-Muslim retweets prompt backlash in Washington: 'The president is racist' | US news | The Guardian

Theresa May condemns Trump's retweets of UK far-right leader’s anti-Muslim videos | US news | The Guardian

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Theresa May condemns Trump's retweets of UK far-right leader’s anti-Muslim videos | US news | The Guardian: ""

(Via.)

Donald Trump Paid $1.4 Million Over Undocumented Workers | Time. #LiarInChief #HypocriteInChief

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(Via.). Donald Trump Paid $1.4 Million Over Undocumented Workers | Time:

The Truth About Trump's "Pocahontas" Slur: The Daily Show

Andy Rubin takes leave from Essential as probe into 'inappropriate' Google relationship goes public: report - The Verge

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"Essential founder and CEO Andy Rubin has taken a leave of absence from his new company for ‘personal reasons’ following a report on the circumstances of his 2014 departure from Google. According to The Information, Rubin left Google shortly after an investigation found that he had maintained an ‘inappropriate relationship’ with a woman who worked under him and filed a complaint to HR.

The nature of that relationship isn’t detailed in the report, and Rubin’s spokesperson Mike Sitrick denies the connection. ‘Any relationship that Mr. Rubin had while at Google was consensual,’ Sitrick tells The Information. ‘Mr. Rubin was never told by Google that he engaged in any misconduct while at Google and he did not, either while at Google or since.’ Rubin is said to have told Essential employees of his leave of absence on Monday after The Information informed Sitrick of its story.

RUBIN’S BEHAVIOR 'WAS IMPROPER AND SHOWED BAD JUDGEMENT' The woman who filed the complaint reportedly worked in the Android division run by Rubin, which would make any personal relationship between the two violate Google policy; the company requires employees to disclose such relationships so that one of them can be moved to another division. Rubin left the Android department in March 2013 to lead Google’s efforts in robotics, but the HR investigation is said to have taken place in 2014. That investigation, according to The Information, concluded that ‘Rubin’s behavior was improper and showed bad judgement.’"

(Via.)  Andy Rubin takes leave from Essential as probe into 'inappropriate' Google relationship goes public: report - The Verge:

Monday, November 27, 2017

Trump Stands by Roy Moore, Pushes GOP Tax Plan: A Closer Look

Trump Stands by Roy Moore, Pushes GOP Tax Plan: A Closer Look

Trump refers to ‘Pocahontas’ during ceremony to honor Navajo code talkers - The Washington Post - Trump's school yard ignorant bullying continues.

 

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Trump refers to ‘Pocahontas’ during ceremony to honor Navajo code talkers - The Washington Post: ""

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney orders freeze on hiring and rule-making on first day of assuming reins at Consumer Financial Protection Bureau - The Washington Post

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Supreme court cellphone case puts free speech – not just privacy – at risk

Supreme court cellphone case puts free speech – not just privacy – at risk

"Carpenter v United States has rightly prompted concerns over surveillance. But it could also have drastic implications for personal freedom in the digital age

On Wednesday, the supreme court will consider whether the government must obtain a warrant before accessing the rich trove of data that cellphone providers collect about cellphone users’ movements. Among scholars and campaigners, there is broad agreement that the case could yield the most consequential privacy ruling in a generation."



https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/nov/27/supreme-court-cellphone-data-carpenter-first-amendment?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_Bloggeroid

Senate GOP tax bill hurts the poor more than originally thought, CBO finds - The Washington Post

Senate GOP tax bill hurts the poor more than originally thought, CBO finds - The Washington Post: ""

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Saturday, November 25, 2017

Time Magazine: Trump’s Person of the Year Boast Is ‘Total BS’ - The Daily Beast





" Time Magazine has disputed President Trump’s Twitter boasts claiming he turned down an interview after being told he’d “probably” be named the magazine’s Person of the Year. In a statement late Friday, the magazine said Trump was “incorrect about how we choose Person of the Year.” “TIME does not comment on our choice until publication, which is December 6,” the magazine tweeted. Alan Murray, the magazine’s chief content officer, called Trump’s claims “total BS,” saying there was “not a speck of truth” to his comments. Trump had claimed he “took a pass” on doing an interview and photo shoot with the magazine because being told he would “probably” be Person of the Year was not good enough. The president has repeatedly bragged about clinching the magazine’s coveted “Person of the Year” cover in the past and has falsely claimed he holds a record number of cover appearances. Fake issues of the magazine with Trump on the cover were reportedly spotted at his private golf resorts earlier this year."



Time Magazine: Trump’s Person of the Year Boast Is ‘Total BS’ - The Daily Beast

Thankfully Recommitting to Resistance - The New York Times #ResistanceIsNotFutile





By Charles Blow

"Last Thanksgiving I wrote a column titled, “No, Trump, We Can’t Just Get Along,” in which I committed myself to resisting this travesty of a man, proclaiming, “I have not only an ethical and professional duty to call out how obscene your very existence is at the top of American government; I have a moral obligation to do so.”



I made this promise: “As long as there are ink and pixels, you will be the focus of my withering gaze.”



I have kept that promise, not because it was a personal challenge, but because this is a national crisis.



Donald Trump, I thought that your presidency would be a disaster. It’s worse than a disaster. I wasn’t sure that resistance to your weakening of the republic, your coarsening of the culture, your assault on truth and honesty, your erosion of our protocols, would feel as urgent today as it felt last year. But if anything, that resistance now feels more urgent.



Nothing about you has changed for the better. You are still a sexist, bigoted, bullying, self-important simpleton. But now all of the worst of you has the force of the American presidency.



The degree to which Russia aided your ascendance, and the degree to which people connected to your campaign were willing and eager to entertain entreaties from Russia, are coming into clearer focus everyday.



The legitimacy of your presidency is in question. The corruption of your administration is not. You are a national stain and an international embarrassment. You are anti-intellectual and pro-impulse. The same fingers with which you compulsively tweet are dangerously close to the nuclear codes. You are historically unpopular and history will not be kind to you. It is all so dizzyingly distressing.



But what irks me most is your targeted attacks on historically marginalized populations as a political ploy to secure the support of the racists, misogynists and homophobes.



During your campaign, you pathologized black people and generalized about their daily lives, ultimately making this pitch: “What the hell do you have to lose?”



You hovered over a taco bowl and insisted, “I love Hispanics!”



You told CNN, “I love the Muslims. I think they’re great people.”



All of these were lies, demonstrated by your actions in office. Your hostility toward minorities and your courting and coddling of the people who hate them has become a standard practice of your presidency.



We see that in your continued attempts to institute a Muslim ban and your continued insistence on building your wall of hate.



We see it in the way that you attack Antifa but make excuses for white supremacists.



We see it in the way that you attack N.F.L. players protesting police violence, while you encourage police officers to be more violent. We see this in the way that your Justice Department is moving to return to rigid, racially skewed drug policies that helped to fuel our unconscionable level of mass incarceration, a phenomenon Michelle Alexander calls “the new Jim Crow,” while also returning to a reliance on private prisons.



We see this in the devastating contrast between the ways you have talked about and treated hurricane victims in Texas versus in Puerto Rico.



We see it just this week in your “ending a humanitarian program that has allowed some 59,000 Haitians to live and work in the United States since an earthquake ravaged their country in 2010,” as The New York Times put it.



Trump is clearly, blatantly, virulently hostile to people who are not white and non-Christian. That is not a statement of opinion, but a statement of demonstrated fact.



During the campaign, Trump tweeted: “Thank you to the LGBT community! I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs.”



And yet, it is Trump who is proving to be a threat to the L.G.B.T. community, particularly to transgender Americans, with his ban on trans people in the military, his rescinding of federal protections for trans students, and his Justice Department’s reversal of a policy protecting trans workers.



Trump repeatedly said — or tweeted — during the campaign that he respected women. Anyone who had been at all aware of Trump or had access to a search engine knew that was a lie. But then, as real-time proof, the “Access Hollywood” tape was released on which Trump bragged about sexually assaulting women. And women came out in droves to personally accuse him of sexually inappropriate behavior, the kinds of accusations that people are now losing jobs over.



To add insult to injury, Trump the Groper has just thrown the weight and word of the presidency behind Roy Moore the Alleged Pedophile, choosing the claim of a single horrible man, even aside from the allegations, over nine women who seem to have nothing to gain by coming forward.



Trump not only doesn’t respect women, he doesn’t even hear women.



This man is a pathological liar. He commends and conforms to anyone who pretends to love him, whether they are Russians or racists. He is inherently a patriarchal white supremacist and it seeps out in all sorts of ways, but it is most pronounced in the way that he attacks people who are not white and male.



When you accept those truths, everything else makes sense.



But accepting the truth is not the same as accepting the liar. Trump is unacceptable in every possible way, and must continue to be met at every turn with the strong arm of defiance.



That is why today I recommit myself to resistance, and so should you."





Thankfully Recommitting to Resistance - The New York Times

When a Tax Cut Costs Millions Their Medical Coverage - The New York Times





"... The Senate could vote as soon as next week on a bill that, according to one government estimate, would increase the number of people who don’t have health insurance by 13 million and cause insurance companies to raise premiums substantially. The House passed a tax-cut bill last week that would eliminate the medical expense deduction, which is used by nearly nine million people with medical problems so severe they spend more than 10 percent of their income on health care. Further, because of the amount of revenue both bills would vaporize, they would also prompt automatic spending cuts to Medicare and other government programs that low-income and middle-class Americans rely on...."



When a Tax Cut Costs Millions Their Medical Coverage - The New York Times

Friday, November 24, 2017

“Kelly Has Clipped his Wings”: Jared Kushner’s Horizons Are Collapsing within the West Wing | Vanity Fair

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"It’s perhaps hard to remember now, but it wasn’t long ago when Trump handed Kushner a comically broad portfolio that included plans to reinvent government, reform the V.A., end the opioid epidemic, run point on China, and solve Middle East peace. But since his appointment, according to sources, Kelly has tried to shrink Kushner’s responsibilities to focus primarily on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And even that brief appears to be creating tensions between Kushner and Kelly. According to two people close to the White House, Kelly was said to be displeased with the result of Kushner’s trip to Saudi Arabia last month because it took place just days before 32-year-old Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman arrested 11 Saudi royals, including billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. The Washington Post reported that Kushner and M.B.S., as the prince is known, stayed up till nearly 4 a.m. ‘planning strategy,’ which left Kelly to deal with the impression that the administration had advance knowledge of the purge and even helped orchestrate it, sources told me. (Asked about this, Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded, in part: ‘Chief Kelly and Jared had a good laugh about this inquiry as nothing in it is true.’)

Where this all leaves Kushner in Trump’s ever-changing orbit is a topic that’s being discussed by Republicans close to the White House. During Kelly’s review of West Wing operations over the summer, the chief of staff sought to downsize Kushner’s portfolio, two sources said. In the early days of the administration, sometimes with the help of a small cadre of Ivy League whiz kids who staff his Office of American Innovation, Kushner dreamed up scores of business ‘councils’ that would advise the White House. ‘The councils are gone,’ one West Wing official told me. With some of their purview being whittled away, ‘they seem lost,’ the official added."

(Via.).  “Kelly Has Clipped his Wings”: Jared Kushner’s Horizons Are Collapsing within the West Wing | Vanity Fair:

NYC Times Square lights up with Trump’s face and a message to the world: IMPEACH. There is no place like home.

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NYC Times Square lights up with Trump’s face and a message to the world: IMPEACH: ""

If Trump doesn’t deal on DACA, some Democrats threaten a government shutdown - The Washington Post



House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), seen here in a file photo, said President Trump’s immigration proposals are “a complete non-starter.” (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)



#UnitedWeStand "...Some members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus signaled they would consider withholding support for must-pass spending bills in December unless the DACA recipients are granted legal status with a path to citizenship. In recent years, near-unanimous support from Democrats has been needed to pass government spending bills and legislation to raise the government’s borrowing limit amid opposition from dozens of fiscal conservatives who are against increased spending without subsequent budget cuts..."



"... Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) called the spending bill debate a defining moment for Democrats.



“I’m not saying we should shut down the government, but if you want a budget with Democratic votes, then it’s got to have some Democratic priorities,” he said.



Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.), who chairs the Hispanic Caucus, said withholding votes for spending legislation “is definitely on the table,” but she added that Democrats will continue to try to build consensus with moderate Republicans on an immigration plan.



Immediately threatening to vote against spending legislation “doesn’t open the door for moderate Republicans” who support immigration reform bills, she told reporters."



If Trump doesn’t deal on DACA, some Democrats threaten a government shutdown - The Washington Post

Rep. Newhouse says Congress has 'one shot' at giving dreamers legal status - The Washington Post




Rep. Newhouse says Congress has 'one shot' at giving dreamers legal status - The Washington Post

North Korea defector's escape caught on camera

‘Keep coming at me guys!!!’: Donald Trump Jr. meets Russia scrutiny with defiance - The Washington Post



‘Keep coming at me guys!!!’: Donald Trump Jr. meets Russia scrutiny with defiance - The Washington Post

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Fighting Gay Rights and Abortion With the First Amendment - The New York Times - The right's strategy to limit LBGT rights.



""Only after an outcry over such secrecy — and the anti-gay rights positions of its sponsor — did a transcript of Mr. Sessions’s remarks emerge on a conservative website. “Many Americans have felt that their freedom to practice their faith has been under attack,” he told the gathering in Orange County, Calif. “The challenges our nation faces today concerning our historic First Amendment right to the ‘free exercise’ of our faith have become acute.”



Mr. Sessions’s focus was not an accident. The First Amendment has become the most powerful weapon of social conservatives fighting to limit the separation of church and state and to roll back laws on same-sex marriage and abortion rights.



Few groups have done more to advance this body of legal thinking than the Alliance Defending Freedom, which has more than 3,000 lawyers working on behalf of its causes around the world and brought in $51.5 million in revenue for the 2015-16 tax year, more than the American Civil Liberties Union.



Among the alliance’s successes has been bringing cases involving relatively minor disputes to the Supreme Court — a law limiting the size of church signs, a church seeking funding for a playground — and winning rulings that establish major constitutional precedents.



But it hopes to carve out an even wider sphere of protected religious expression this term when the justices are to hear two more of its cases, one a challenge to a California law that requires “crisis pregnancy centers,” which are run by abortion opponents, to provide women with information on how to obtain an abortion, and another in which it represents a Colorado baker who refused to make a cake for a gay couple’s wedding.



While the abortion case is the latest legal volley in a generation-long battle by social conservatives to limit the effect of Roe v. Wade, the Colorado baker’s case, which the court will hear next month, will test whether groups like the alliance can persuade the court to similarly blunt the sweep of Obergefell v. Hodges, the ruling that enshrined same-sex marriage into law, as well as the anti-discrimination laws protecting gay men and lesbians.



If there is a battle somewhere to restrict protections for gay men, lesbians or transgender people, chances are the alliance is there fighting it. The alliance has defended the owners of a wedding chapel in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, who did not want to perform same-sex ceremonies. It has tried to stop a Charlotte, N.C., law that gave transgender people the right to use the bathroom of their choice. It backed the failed attempt by the Arizona legislature in 2014 to allow businesses to cite religious freedom in turning away same-sex couples.



But civil liberties groups and gay rights advocates say that Alliance Defending Freedom’s arguments about religious liberty and free expression mask another motivation: a deep-seated belief that gay people are immoral and that no one should be forced to recognize them as ordinary members of society.



“They are a very powerful part of this broader movement, which is trying to bring a very particular biblical worldview into dominance at all levels of government and society,” said Peter Montgomery, a senior fellow at People for the American Way, a liberal advocacy group.





“They’ve got some very big, very clear goals,” said Mr. Montgomery, who has studied Alliance Defending Freedom since the group’s founding in 1994.



One of those goals was to defend laws that criminalized gay and lesbian sexual conduct.



In a brief the alliance filed urging the Supreme Court not to overturn a Texas law that made homosexual activity illegal, its lawyers described gay men as diseased and as public health risks. The court decided 6 to 3 that the law was unconstitutional.



The United States is not the only place the group has been active. Before Belize’s highest court struck down a law last year that banned “carnal intercourse against the order of nature,” the group sent activists there to work with local lawyers who were trying to keep the prohibition in place. In India, an Alliance Defending Freedom-affiliated lawyer was part of the legal team that has defended a similar law in the country’s Supreme Court. That law remains in place, though the Indian court recently signaled that it may revisit the issue.



And when Russia approved a law in 2013 that imposed a fine for what it called propagandizing “nontraditional” sexual relationships among minors — a move that led for calls to boycott the 2014 Olympics there — Alliance Defending Freedom produced a nine-page memo in support of the law, saying its aim was to safeguard “the psychological or physical well-being of minors.”



Mr. Tedesco said the group had never supported the criminalization of homosexual activity. In Belize and India, he noted, the laws the group supported applied to heterosexual sodomy as well. He described the alliance’s involvement in both countries as “a small group of attorneys” who wanted “to resist the foreign activists that were trying to challenge their public health law.”



Asked if he and other alliance lawyers believed gay men and lesbians were immoral, Mr. Tedesco said, “I’m not going to get into what the Bible says or teaches about homosexuality.”



Fighting Gay Rights and Abortion With the First Amendment - The New York Times

The New Yorker’s Jelani Cobb on why we fell for Obama’s version of a united America.

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"On this week’s episode of my podcast, I Have to Ask, I spoke with Jelani Cobb, a staff writer at the New Yorker. (The conversation was part of a live Slate event this month.)



Below is an edited excerpt from the show. In it, we discuss whether the media has “normalized” white nationalism, what Obama did and didn’t get right about our era, and why Trumpism is almost certain to outlast the man himself.



You can find links to every episode here; the entire audio interview is below. Please subscribe to I Have to Ask wherever you get your podcasts.



Isaac Chotiner: When you look at America racially over the 10 months of this administration, does anything surprise you?



Jelani Cobb: One thing that surprises me is the kind of never-ending reservoir of good faith that people have about Donald Trump. First, there were the “pivots”—there’s always a pivot. He’s going to pivot. NBA forwards don’t pivot that much. And then there are these kinds of things—even Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker has come out and been critical of him. The route that he took to that criticism where he said, “Oh, he’s not really evolving and learning. He’s not growing into the role.” But Trump, to his credit, never gave them any reason to think that he was going to evolve. He was who he said he was. If they’ve been familiar or familiarized themselves with his track record, they would have said, “This is not a character that’s going to become something other than what he is.”



So while it’s good to see that there are people who are beginning to break from the pack and say, “We have a real problem here,” that problem was apparent from the opening, from the moment he began his campaign referring to Mexicans as rapists.



And what about where the country is after having this guy as president for 10 months in terms of racial issues and racial dynamics?



I think it’s kind of obvious. The parameters of the conversation have expanded such that white nationalism is actually part of the dialogue now. We actually have to countenance what these people who would traditionally have been thought of as friends what they think and what their beliefs are and what their political agenda is.



How do you think the press should deal with that normalization?



There’s a responsible and an irresponsible way of doing it. I think that what we’ve seen is, for a large part, the more irresponsible side of that. When Brian Stelter had Kellyanne Conway on, and he announced that she was going to be a guest, Twitter lost its mind—raising a question of: Why do you give a forum to someone who is going to give essentially disinformation to the public? I think when you look at how the media engaged with Joseph McCarthy, who I think is the closest political analogue to Donald Trump, a great deal of it early on was irresponsible. Just kind of printing what he said or realizing that even people who knew that he was a serial liar would nonetheless recognize that they were selling papers that they put him on the cover of their issues. They put a quote from him; people would come out and buy it.



You can also say that televising the Army-McCarthy hearings was part of what brought McCarthy down, that the media played a role in exposing him for exactly what he was. That kind of media coverage is crucial and important. We haven’t seen enough of it. Even the Columbia Journalism Review did an interesting piece not long ago about whether you should call Trump a liar or whether you should call him racist. Press should say that. I think that there has to be a high bar for those things.



I think there was a sense when Obama was elected that demographics were going in the Democrats’ favor, that the country was changing, that we’d sort of passed out of this time, which obviously turned out to be wrong. When you think about Obama’s election now and what it meant for the country, how do you look at it differently?



One, I think it’s a lot easier to be forgiving of Obama because you recognize what came after him. I’m not sure if it’s a greater honor to be elected president than it is a disrespect to be succeeded by the man who forced you to show your birth certificate to prove you were a citizen. Obama is somebody who’s kind of a congenital optimist about race, I think largely because he grew up in Hawaii with white grandparents. But for African Americans at large who are probably more skeptical to pessimistic about this, it really is painful to see that optimism foiled in a particular way and to say this person who actually gave us this hope and faith that things could actually radically be different.



I’m not abandoning that. I’m not saying that it was all for naught. But for us to recognize that we’re talking about net progress, not absolute progress. There’ll be hope that after whenever this debacle is over, that there will be some element of what Obama represented that still gives us a net positive.



When we hear Obama speak today, it comes packaged the way his words always come packaged: They’re optimistic; they’re classy. When I read them sometimes, it doesn’t feel quite right, and I don’t know exactly why that is. It somehow feels too optimistic to me or just not the right tone. Do you ever feel that way?



I felt that way during his presidency. Bear in mind, I would say, I’m mixed race. I was raised by an Alabama Negro and a Georgia Negro. But what they taught me about the South was the very hard-edged realism of race, the reason both of them had fled the South. They were ugly, biographical stories that connected to the ugly historical narratives that we know. That was what I grew up with. I would hear Obama and say, “I’m sorry, but I don’t think you’re entirely cognizant of what these people will do to stop you.” I felt about that because it’s kind of pessimistic or at least skeptical. But as time went on, you started saying, “These are the things that happened as a result of this.”



As a result of when black people stake a claim for equality in America, there’s always a counterclaim, always. We were maybe naïve to think that there wouldn’t be a kind of equal and opposite push.



You said that you think Obama’s thinking on this in some sense comes from his background, growing up in Hawaii, white grandparents. Do you think that the kind of take he had on these issues was determined by that, or do you think that it was also the way that he felt that what he had to say to succeed politically that he had to adopt?



It was part of it. I think he actually believed that. When you talk about his rationale for running, he said that he wanted it to be established for young people of color that they could do anything that they wanted in life. When he stood up and said in 2004, “There is not a black America and a white America … there’s the United States of America,” that was a lie. That was a damn lie. There was a black America. There was a white America. There was a Latino America. There was a gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender America. There was a poor America. There was an overly incarcerated America. And then there was an America that was represented by excessive access to all resources, and those realities you can’t paper over: They’re actually part of the political terrain that we’re operating in. But people in the United States also have a kind of aspirational ideal of ourselves that we want to think of ourselves as better than our history, and he tapped into that powerfully and effectively.



At the end of the day, maybe that renegade hope that he offered us, maybe that kind of faith, impermeable faith and the possibility of a better tomorrow, maybe that’s what we fall back upon to sustain ourselves in the midst of what we’re in now."



The New Yorker’s Jelani Cobb on why we fell for Obama’s version of a united America.

What a difference a President makes! Obama family serves Thanksgiving dinner to homeless and vets


Ban killer robots, experts urge Australian and Canadian leaders





"Pioneers in robotics and artificial intelligence have called on the Australian and Canadian governments to ban killer robots ahead of a United Nations meeting on weapons this month.



Leading researchers from the countries urged prime ministers Malcolm Turnbull and Justin Trudeau respectively to take a stand against autonomous weapons, arguing that their development and use crossed a “clear moral line.”



Artificial intelligence can be used to make weapons that operate without human oversight, giving them the ability to loiter in an area and make life or death decisions without approval from a military controller.



“If developed, they will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever before, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend,” the letter to Turnbull states. “The deadly consequence of this is that machines, not people, will determine who lives and dies.”



The letters are signed by hundreds of specialists including Toby Walsh, an AI professor at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Geoffrey Hinton, an AI pioneer who runs Google’s Brain Team in Toronto, and Ian Kerr, professor of ethics, law and technology at the University of Ottawa.



In August, many of the world’s top robotics and AI scientists called on the United Nations to ban killer robots and so halt the arms race now underway to build autonomous weapons. The race threatens to usher in a “third revolution in warfare” after gunpowder and nuclear weapons, the researchers warned in an open letter.



The military is one of the largest funders of AI research, and while the technology could be used to make mine-clearing robots or unmanned vehicles that deliver supplies, fully-automated offensive weapons would effectively become weapons of mass destruction, the scientists state.



“One programmer would be able to whole control armies of weapons,” said Walsh “They are the perfect weapons to suppress a civilian population. Unlike humans who have to be persuaded to commit atrocities, these will be cold, calculating weapons that will do whatever they are programmed to do.”



Arms manufacturers have already built highly autonomous weapons for the military, from robotic sentries and autonomous tanks to flying drones that can track and strike targets. The systems are designed to operate under human supervision. Compared with nuclear weapons, AI-powered weapons are likely to be cheap and simple to make, meaning they could easily find their way onto weapons black markets.



The letters to the Australian and Canadian governments coincide with the UN’s conference this month on the convention on certain conventional weapons, which aims to restrict or prohibit weapons that are excessively injurious or indiscriminate."



Ban killer robots, experts urge Australian and Canadian leaders

A Russian Journalist Explains How the Kremlin Instructed Him to Cover the 2016 Election | The New Yorker





"On a recent Saturday in November, Dimitri Skorobutov, a former editor at Russia’s largest state media company, sat in a bar in Maastricht, a college town in the Netherlands, with journalists from around the world and discussed covering Donald Trump. Skorobutov opened a packet of documents and explained that they were planning guides from Russian state media that showed how the Kremlin wanted the 2016 U.S. Presidential election covered.

Among the journalists, Skorobutov’s perspective was unique. Aside from Fox News, no network worked as hard as Rossiya, as Russian state TV is called, to boost Donald Trump and denigrate Hillary Clinton. Skorobutov, who was fired from his job after a dispute with a colleague that ended in a physical altercation, went public with his story of how Russian state media works, in June, talking to the U.S. government-funded broadcaster Radio Liberty. The organizers of the Maastricht conference learned of his story and invited him to speak. He flipped through his pages and pointed to the coverage guide for August 9, 2016, when Clinton stumbled while climbing some steps. The Kremlin wanted to play the story up big.

Skorobutov started working in Russian state media companies when he was seventeen years old, and has worked in print, radio, and TV. During the 2016 campaign, he was an editor for “Vesti,” a daily news program. Skorobutov described it as a mid-level position, with four layers of bureaucrats separating him and the Kremlin. His supervisor was a news director who, he said, got his job after making a laudatory documentary about Putin. Before joining “Vesti,” Skorobutov worked as the press secretary of the Russian Geographical Society, a pet project of Putin, which made headlines last year when Putin declared at a Society event that Russian borders “do not end anywhere.”

In his speech at the journalism conference, Skorobutov explained that as a young journalist he believed that working for the state media was not necessarily corrupting. “When I came to TV, in 2000,” he said, in his prepared remarks, “there was another Russia: with independent media, so-called freedom of speech, with a hope for a better life associated with the new President Vladimir Putin. I was convinced that everything we do on TV is for the better life to come soon. But the life was getting worse and worse.”

In his telling, it was the 2011-2012 protests in Moscow that changed everything. Those protests, which Putin blamed on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, spooked the Russian President, according to Skorobutov. “People were imprisoned. Media were taken under control of the State. Censorship introduced,” he said. “It was a point of reflection for me. The state was against its people. Human freedoms, including freedom of speech, were gradually eliminated.” (Others would note that this is a self-serving chronology, as Putin’s dismantling of democracy began long before 2011, and that Skorobutov remained at state TV through the annexation of Crimea and the war in eastern Ukraine, when Russian media propaganda was especially noxious.)

After the suppression of the 2012 protests, Skorobutov said, he became increasingly disturbed by his role in “helping the state to create this new and unpleasant reality,” resigned his job as the press secretary at the Russian Geographical Society, and began looking for a new job, but without any luck.

As is often the case with state censorship, the workings of Kremlin-controlled media, as Skorobutov described them, were far more subtle than is popularly imagined. He described a system that depended on a news staff that knew what issues to avoid and what issues to highlight rather than one that had every decision dictated to it. “We knew what is allowed or forbidden to broadcast,” he explained. Any event that included Putin or the Russian Prime Minister “must be broadcast,” while events such as “terroristic attacks, airplane crashes, arrests of politicians and officials” had to be approved by the news director or his deputy. He offered a list of embargoed subjects: “critique of the State, coming from inside or outside of Russia; all kinds of social protests, strikes, discontent of people and so on; political protests and opposition leaders, especially Alexey Navalny,” an anti-corruption figure despised by the Kremlin. Skorobutov said that he overcame censorship rules and convinced his network to cover stories only twice: for a story about a protest against the construction of a Siberian chemical plant and for one about the food poisoning of children at a kindergarten.

During the 2016 election, the directions from the Kremlin were less subtle than usual. “Me and my colleagues, we were given a clear instruction: to show Donald Trump in a positive way, and his opponent, Hillary Clinton, in a negative way,” he said in his speech. In a later interview, he explained to me how the instructions were relayed. “Sometimes it was a phone call. Sometimes it was a conversation,” he told me. “If Donald Trump has a successful press conference, we broadcast it for sure. And if something goes wrong with Clinton, we underline it.”

Skorobutov said in his speech that the pro-Trump perspective extended from Kremlin-controlled media to the Moscow élite.

“There was even a slogan among Russian political élite,” he said. “ ‘Trump is our president.’ And, when he won the elections, on 9th November, 2016, Russian Parliament or State Duma even applauded him and arranged a champagne party celebrating the victory of Donald Trump.” That night, Skorobutov and his colleagues played clips of the party on the news.

In Skorobutov’s opinion, Putin’s effort to make Trump a reliable ally ultimately failed. He said that Trump’s airstrike in Syria in April ended the romance for Russian élites. “Russian authorities failed with their hopes that financial and media support will make Trump really Russian,” he said. “They were wrong as they didn’t take into consideration the U.S. political system and mentality. Russian authorities hoped—literally—to buy Donald Trump, using bribes and tricks. But they failed.”

Skorobutov, who is back in Moscow now, told me that he left state media after a drunken colleague beat him up at work and, in his telling, the Kremlin-controlled network tried to cover up the assault. Being away from the network allowed him to think about his role as a longtime Russian-government propagandist and led him to start speaking out.

“I have to say that me and my colleagues, we didn’t think too much about censorship or propaganda,” he said in his speech. “We get used to it. As we were inside the system, inside television, inside a virtual reality. When you are inside, you can’t see outside. But I’m glad that I escaped from that wonderland, like Alice of Lewis Carroll. Better late than never.”



A Russian Journalist Explains How the Kremlin Instructed Him to Cover the 2016 Election | The New Yorker

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Former ethics director: Kellyanne Conway violated Hatch Act - CNNPolitics

Kellyanne Conway on Roy Moore: 'We want the votes' for tax bill



"Walter Shaub, who served as ethics director under the Obama administration, said Conway likely violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits White House officials from advocating for or against candidates, even in media interviews.

Speaking to Fox News Monday, Conway addressed the heated Alabama race and Moore's Democratic competitor, saying, "Doug Jones in Alabama, folks, don't be fooled. He will be a vote against tax cuts. He is weak on crime. Weak on borders. He is strong on raising your taxes. He is terrible for property owners."



Kellyanne Conway on Roy Moore: 'We want the votes' for tax bill

Conway added: "I just want everybody to know, Doug Jones, nobody ever says his name, and pretends he is some kind of conservative Democrat in Alabama. And he's not."

Shaub tweeted following news of the interview Tuesday, "I found the video. She's standing In front of the White House. It seems pretty clear she was appearing in her official capacity when she advocated against a candidate. This is at least as clear a violation of 5 U.S.C. § 7323(a)(1) as OSC identified with regard to Castro."



Former ethics director: Kellyanne Conway violated Hatch Act - CNNPolitics

A President Accused of Sexual Misconduct by 16 Women Endorses a Senate Candidate Accused of Sexual Misconduct by 9 | The Nation

Donald-Trump-Roy-Moore-AP-IMG





A President Accused of Sexual Misconduct by 16 Women Endorses a Senate Candidate Accused of Sexual Misconduct by 9 | The Nation

Judge Rules Trump Executive Order Cutting Funding From Sanctuary Cities Is Unconstitutional

South-Florida-Students-Gather-To-Protest-Donald-Trump



Judge Rules Trump Executive Order Cutting Funding From Sanctuary Cities Is Unconstitutional

Trump touts busy day of meetings – then appears to play golf | US news | The Guardian

Trump on the Trump International Golf Course in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. It is estimated the US president has chalked up 35 golf outings since taking office.



Trump touts busy day of meetings – then appears to play golf | US news | The Guardian

Trump touts busy day of meetings – then appears to play golf | US news | The Guardian

Trump on the Trump International Golf Course in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. It is estimated the US president has chalked up 35 golf outings since taking office.



Trump touts busy day of meetings – then appears to play golf | US news | The Guardian

Trump's judicial picks: 'The goal is to end the progressive state' | US news | The Guardian

US President Donald Trump smiles at the Heritage Foundation’s President’s Club. Of the 13 judicial nominees confirmed since President Trump took office, 10 are either current or former Federalist Society members or regular speakers at its events.





Trump's judicial picks: 'The goal is to end the progressive state' | US news | The Guardian

Trump hurts Haitians he promised to help 2016 Trump to Haitians: "I will be your champion". 2017 Trump: 60,000 Haitians have 18 months to leave. All In with Chris Hayes on MSNBC



All In with Chris Hayes on MSNBC

Texas sheriff threatens charges over anti-Trump sticker Woman with anti-Trump truck decal hits back at Texas Sheriff: "He messed with the wrong person." - All In with Chris Hayes on MSNBC Has this Sheriff heard of the First Amendment



All In with Chris Hayes on MSNBC

Trump Backs Roy Moore; Charlie Rose Fired for Sexual Harassment: A Close...

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

How Trump is building a border wall that no one can see - The Washington Post





"President Trump’s vision of a “big, beautiful” wall along the Mexican border may never be realized, and almost certainly not as a 2,000-mile physical structure spanning sea to sea.



But in a systematic and less visible way, his administration is following a blueprint to reduce the number of foreigners living in the United States — those who are undocumented and those here legally — and overhaul the U.S. immigration system for generations to come.



Across agencies and programs, federal officials are wielding executive authority to assemble a bureaucratic wall that could be more effective than any concrete and metal one. While some actions have drawn widespread attention, others have been put in place more quietly.



The administration has moved to slash the number of refugees, accelerate deportations and terminate the provisional residency of more than a million people, among other measures. On Monday, the Department of Homeland Security said nearly 60,000 Haitians allowed to stay in the United States after a devastating 2010 earthquake have until July 2019 to leave or obtain another form of legal status..."



How Trump is building a border wall that no one can see - The Washington Post

FCC's Pai moves to eliminate net neutrality regulations - CNET - This is a direct attack on the open internet and a gift to large telecommunication companies like Xfinity, Verizon and Time Warner

 

NewImage

"The Federal Communications Commission is planning a full repeal of Obama-era net neutrality rules, handing the broadband and wireless industries a big victory in the war against government oversight of the internet.

On Tuesday, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai issued his proposal for dismantling the 2015 net neutrality regulations, which ensure all traffic on the internet is treated equally, and prevent broadband and wireless providers from blocking or slowing online content. Pai has also eliminated the legal foundation that gives the FCC oversight over internet services providers.

The federal government will stop 'micromanaging the internet' under the proposal, Pai said in a statement. Instead, broadband providers will be required to be 'transparent' about how they manage their networks to allow consumers and businesses to buy the service they need."

(Via.) FCC's Pai moves to eliminate net neutrality regulations - CNET:

Robert Mugabe addressing crowd at State Office Building in Harlem. What a disappointment. We had so much hope on this day in 1980.


Robert Mugabe, world's oldest leader, finally resigns one week after coup - NBC News - Yeah!



Robert Mugabe, world's oldest leader, finally resigns one week after coup - NBC News

The Definitive Timeline of the Trump-Russia Connections | MSNBC



The Definitive Timeline of the Trump-Russia Connections | MSNBC

Harassment on the Hill: How to Avoid Being a Congressional Predator: The...

Senator Elizabeth Warren Explains Who Benefits From The Tax Bill

.LaVar Ball Didn't 'Give Thanks' To Trump Watch the Georgia Dome implode.

A civil rights 'emergency': justice, clean air and water in the age of Trump | US news | The Guardian





"The Trump administration’s dismantling of environmental regulations has intensified a growing civil rights battle over the deadly burden of pollution on minorities and low-income people.

Black, Latino and disadvantaged people have long been disproportionately afflicted by toxins from industrial plants, cars, hazardous housing conditions and other sources.

 Environmental Justice
But political leaders, academics and activists spoke of a growing urgency around the struggle for environmental justice as the Trump administration peels away rules designed to protect clean air and water.

“What we are seeing is the institutionalization of discrimination again, the thing we’ve fought for 40 years,” said Robert Bullard, an academic widely considered the father of the environmental justice movement. 


“There are people in fence-line communities who are now very worried. If the federal government doesn’t monitor and regulate, and gives the states a green light to do what they want, we are going to get more pollution, more people will get sick. There will be more deaths."



A civil rights 'emergency': justice, clean air and water in the age of Trump | US news | The Guardian

DHS inspector general: Travel-ban confusion led agents to violate court order



"The Trump administration’s botched rollout of its first travel ban led federal agents to violate court orders by telling airlines not to let certain passengers board U.S.-bound flights, according to an internal watchdog.

In a letter Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general, John Roth, notified lawmakers of the violations. He also alerted them that his findings have become bogged down in a battle with the department over redactions that he said would obscure the true failures of the administration’s handling of the first travel ban..."

DHS inspector general: Travel-ban confusion led agents to violate court order

DHS inspector general: Travel-ban confusion led agents to violate court order





"The Trump administration’s botched rollout of its first travel ban led federal agents to violate court orders by telling airlines not to let certain passengers board U.S.-bound flights, according to an internal watchdog.



In a letter Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general, John Roth, notified lawmakers of the violations. He also alerted them that his findings have become bogged down in a battle with the department over redactions that he said would obscure the true failures of the administration’s handling of the first travel ban..."



DHS inspector general: Travel-ban confusion led agents to violate court order

Monday, November 20, 2017

Trump vs. LaVar Ball; White House Sides with Roy Moore: A Closer Look

This Is a Man Problem - The New York Times





By Charles M. Blow Nov. 19, 2017, www.nytimes.comView OriginalNovember 20th, 2017



"It is impossible to say too often or loudly how important a moment this is, when many women feel brave and empowered enough to speak up about being sexually assaulted or harassed by powerful men.



It feels like a watershed, like something is fundamentally shifting.



But the greatest measure of fundamental change will be when everyday offenses by everyday people are also named and shamed, the trickle down of speaking up.



For most women, the perpetrator is not a Hollywood executive, or a sitting senator or an esteemed journalist. For most, there will be no press conferences if they come forward. There will be no celebrity attorney to sit at their sides and stroke their hands. There will be no morning news shows to praise their courage.



For most, the decision to speak up will still feel fraught and without sufficient benefit to outweigh the possibility of negative repercussions.



That is where the majority of this battle must be waged, among the ordinary, the powerless, the invisible. These women (and some men as well, it must always be noted) are the true Silent Majority of victims.



Speaking up, and even pressing charges when the law allows, will send a powerful message and will definitely have a chilling effect on this kind of behavior. Loss of livelihood and liberty after bad behavior is a strong deterrent.



But I believe that something far more fundamental has to take place. We have to re-examine our toxic, privileged, encroaching masculinity itself. And yes, that also means on some level reimagining the rules of attraction.



First, let’s state the obvious.



I’m a big believer in sexual liberty. Consenting adults should feel free to express their attractions as they please without shame or guilt. Just play safe.



But, there is no “sex” without consent. To believe that is a twisting of terminology.



Rape is not sex; it’s rape. Unwanted touching is not sexy; it’s assault. Sexual advances in a professional environment, particularly from a position of power, are highly inappropriate and could be illegal.



Also in business environments, rubbing your penis against people — known as Frotteurism, in case you’re wondering — masturbating in front of them, or even showing your penis is wrong and humiliating and possibly illegal. In fact, doing these things in almost all environments is wrong and possibly illegal.



Also, if you make sexual advances on, or become involved sexually with, a minor, that is not a relationship. That is not dating. That is not even sex if it progresses to intimacy. That is a morally despicable sexual exploitation of a minor at least, and statutory rape at worst.



Now that we have established that, we can move to the finer points.



We have to focus on recognizing an imbalance of power during sexual dynamics so that men better understand the implicit “no” even when women don’t feel empowered to articulate a “no.”



We have to focus on that space after attraction is sparked but before we are sure that it is mutual and reciprocal: the unrequited advance, the unwanted touch, the stolen kiss.



We have to focus on the fact that jokes that objectify women are not funny.



And we have to focus on the fact that society itself has incubated and nourished a dangerous idea that almost unbridled male aggression is not only a component of male sexuality, it is the most prized part of it.



We say to boys, be aggressive. We say to our girls, be cautious. Boys will be boys and girls will be victims.



We say, almost without saying it at all, that women are the guardians of virtue because an aroused man is simply an unthinking mass of hormones, raging and dangerous. We say that men in that condition are not really responsible for their actions, so it is up to women to do nothing to put them in that position.



Dress more modestly. Don’t smile or laugh to the degree that it could be taken as flirtation. Avoid “this one” or “that one.” Don’t walk home alone. Don’t go out to drinks or dinner with the co-worker or classmate. Don’t meet in rooms with closed doors.



This is the list of oppressions that women are read with religious rigor. These are the rules of the road. This is the outrage.



Women are not responsible for men’s bad behavior. The idea that horny men can’t control themselves is a lie!



Men have been so conditioned against emotional intelligence — that’s for women, we are told — that they are blithering idiots at reading the subtleties of allure or aversion.



Guys become gamblers. They simply play the numbers. What nine women may find revolting the tenth may reward.



They don’t even recognize what offense the nine may have experienced. They are blind to it. In the male mind, any peccadillo is excusable in the pursuit of compatibility.



This kind of bulldozer, pelvis-first mentality is the foundation of the more aggressive, more intrusive behavior, and until we recognize that, we will count on the courts to correct something that our culture should correct."



This Is a Man Problem - The New York Times

The public narrative of Trump’s sexually predatory behavior begins in 1993

The public narrative of Trump’s sexually predatory behavior begins in 1993, with Harry Hurt’s book “The Lost Tycoon,” which included details from a 1990 divorce deposition in which Ivana Trump described her husband violently raping her in Trump Tower, in a fit of anger over a botched scalp surgery. In a statement provided to Hurt, Ivana walked back her claim without denying it; she didn’t mean that Trump raped her in a “literal or criminal” sense, she said. The story reappeared in May, 2016, when the Times published accounts from two women describing nonconsensual encounters with Trump, and then it flared fully back to life in October of that year, with the “Access Hollywood” tape, a recording of a 2005 conversation in which Trump bragged about habitually committing sexual assault. By the end of October, twenty women had gone on the record to describe Trump’s sexual misconduct. Twelve of them recounted being physically violated, corroborating Trump’s own description of his behavior—he grabbed women by the pussy, he said to Billy Bush, because he could.


https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/listening-to-what-trumps-accusers-have-told-us/amp

This Is a Man Problem - The New York Times





"By Charles M. Blow Nov. 19, 2017,



Participants in the #MeToo March against sexual harassment and assault, held in Los Angeles on Nov. 12. Credit Damian Dovarganes/Associated Press

Photo by: Damian Dovarganes/Associated Press

It is impossible to say too often or loudly how important a moment this is, when many women feel brave and empowered enough to speak up about being sexually assaulted or harassed by powerful men.



It feels like a watershed, like something is fundamentally shifting.



But the greatest measure of fundamental change will be when everyday offenses by everyday people are also named and shamed, the trickle down of speaking up.



For most women, the perpetrator is not a Hollywood executive, or a sitting senator or an esteemed journalist. For most, there will be no press conferences if they come forward. There will be no celebrity attorney to sit at their sides and stroke their hands. There will be no morning news shows to praise their courage.



For most, the decision to speak up will still feel fraught and without sufficient benefit to outweigh the possibility of negative repercussions.



That is where the majority of this battle must be waged, among the ordinary, the powerless, the invisible. These women (and some men as well, it must always be noted) are the true Silent Majority of victims.



Speaking up, and even pressing charges when the law allows, will send a powerful message and will definitely have a chilling effect on this kind of behavior. Loss of livelihood and liberty after bad behavior is a strong deterrent.



But I believe that something far more fundamental has to take place. We have to re-examine our toxic, privileged, encroaching masculinity itself. And yes, that also means on some level reimagining the rules of attraction.



First, let’s state the obvious.



I’m a big believer in sexual liberty. Consenting adults should feel free to express their attractions as they please without shame or guilt. Just play safe.



But, there is no “sex” without consent. To believe that is a twisting of terminology.



Rape is not sex; it’s rape. Unwanted touching is not sexy; it’s assault. Sexual advances in a professional environment, particularly from a position of power, are highly inappropriate and could be illegal.



Also in business environments, rubbing your penis against people — known as Frotteurism, in case you’re wondering — masturbating in front of them, or even showing your penis is wrong and humiliating and possibly illegal. In fact, doing these things in almost all environments is wrong and possibly illegal.



Also, if you make sexual advances on, or become involved sexually with, a minor, that is not a relationship. That is not dating. That is not even sex if it progresses to intimacy. That is a morally despicable sexual exploitation of a minor at least, and statutory rape at worst.



Now that we have established that, we can move to the finer points.



We have to focus on recognizing an imbalance of power during sexual dynamics so that men better understand the implicit “no” even when women don’t feel empowered to articulate a “no.”



We have to focus on that space after attraction is sparked but before we are sure that it is mutual and reciprocal: the unrequited advance, the unwanted touch, the stolen kiss.



We have to focus on the fact that jokes that objectify women are not funny.



And we have to focus on the fact that society itself has incubated and nourished a dangerous idea that almost unbridled male aggression is not only a component of male sexuality, it is the most prized part of it.



We say to boys, be aggressive. We say to our girls, be cautious. Boys will be boys and girls will be victims.



We say, almost without saying it at all, that women are the guardians of virtue because an aroused man is simply an unthinking mass of hormones, raging and dangerous. We say that men in that condition are not really responsible for their actions, so it is up to women to do nothing to put them in that position.



Dress more modestly. Don’t smile or laugh to the degree that it could be taken as flirtation. Avoid “this one” or “that one.” Don’t walk home alone. Don’t go out to drinks or dinner with the co-worker or classmate. Don’t meet in rooms with closed doors.



This is the list of oppressions that women are read with religious rigor. These are the rules of the road. This is the outrage.



Women are not responsible for men’s bad behavior. The idea that horny men can’t control themselves is a lie!



Men have been so conditioned against emotional intelligence — that’s for women, we are told — that they are blithering idiots at reading the subtleties of allure or aversion.



Guys become gamblers. They simply play the numbers. What nine women may find revolting the tenth may reward.



They don’t even recognize what offense the nine may have experienced. They are blind to it. In the male mind, any peccadillo is excusable in the pursuit of compatibility.



This kind of bulldozer, pelvis-first mentality is the foundation of the more aggressive, more intrusive behavior, and until we recognize that, we will count on the courts to correct something that our culture should correct."



This Is a Man Problem - The New York Times

Behind Mugabe’s Rapid Fall: A Firing, a Feud and a First Lady - The New York Times - Mugabe was the biggest disappointment of the African Liberation movement that so many of us worked and marched for. I will never forget the joy of his visit and speech in Harlem in front of the State Office building before he addressed the UN after the successful negotiations at the Lancaster House conference which led to majority rule Zimbabwe. He turned into a ruthless dictator.





"HARARE, Zimbabwe — The rapid fall of Zimbabwe’s president, whose legendary guile and ruthlessness helped him outmaneuver countless adversaries over nearly four decades, probably has surprised no one more than Robert Mugabe himself.



For years, he was so confident of his safety — and his potency — that he took monthlong vacations away from Zimbabwe after Christmas, never facing any threat during his long, predictable absences. Even at 93, his tight grip on the country’s ruling party and his control over the military made his power seem impervious to question.



But in just a matter of days, Mr. Mugabe, who ruled his nation since independence in 1980, was largely stripped of his authority, even as he still clung to the presidency."



Behind Mugabe’s Rapid Fall: A Firing, a Feud and a First Lady - The New York Times

Friday, November 17, 2017

Through the Lens of the Obama Years, Ta-Nehisi Coates Reckons With Race, Identity and Trump - The New York Times





"...One of the book’s most persistent, recurrent themes, a shuttle that flies through the loom, is that black progress is always met with a violent backlash — the modern apotheosis of which was the election of Donald J. Trump. Most of these pieces force a reckoning with ideas that people, mainly whites, avoid contemplating or reject or insist (sometimes rightly) are more complicated: That American democracy was predicated on an enslaved class of Africans; that most white Americans still can’t tolerate the idea of equality; that acknowledging the many legacies of slavery is too much to ask of most whites, because it would disrupt our conception of our country and ourselves..."



Through the Lens of the Obama Years, Ta-Nehisi Coates Reckons With Race, Identity and Trump - The New York Times

Senate Plan Would Raise Taxes on the Poor, a Report Says

"An analysis by the nonpartisan committee projected that, if the Senate bill becomes law, Americans earning $30,000 a year or below would pay higher taxes beginning in 2021 than they would if the bill is not enacted. The projected increase stems from the bill’s repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that most people have health insurance, a provision that was tucked into an amended version of the legislation this week."

https://nyti.ms/2jvKnUn

Keystone Pipeline leaks 210,000 gallons of oil in South Dakota - CNN

Image result for Keystone pipeline leaks

"Nebraska officials will announce decision on Keystone XL Pipeline

TransCanada says it is investigating the cause of the leak

(CNN)A total of 210,000 gallons of oil leaked Thursday from the Keystone pipeline in South Dakota, the pipeline's operator, TransCanada, said.



Keystone Pipeline leaks 210,000 gallons of oil in South Dakota - CNN

Colin Kaepernick, a ran hero. How many people are courageous sacrifice their wealth, their career for what they believe, for what any decent person know is right. There are far to few. A man among men and a real life hero.


Al Franken Faces Groping Accusations & Roy Moore Stays on Defense: The D...

The Bipartisan Pastime Of Harassing Women

North Carolina voters deliver harsh assessments on Trump's 'chaotic' first year - NBC News

North Carolina voters deliver harsh assessments on Trump's 'chaotic' first year - NBC News: ""

Bill Signals Top Tax Priority of G.O.P. Is to Help Corporations - The New York Times

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Bill Signals Top Tax Priority of G.O.P. Is to Help Corporations - The New York Times: ""

Thursday, November 16, 2017

‘Al Franken kissed and groped me without my consent,’ Leeann Tweeden says. The senator apologized. - The Washington Post

‘Al Franken kissed and groped me without my consent,’ Leeann Tweeden says. The senator apologized. - The Washington Post: ")

The House GOP tax plan explained - The Washington Post

“The big day is finally here for President Trump and GOP House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.). On Thursday, the House is set to vote on the tax bill, the central piece of the Republican plan to boost the U.S. economy. No Democrats are expected to vote for the bill, meaning Ryan can only lose 22 GOP votes.

It's a thin margin for a complex, 440-page piece of legislation that would affect every Americans household and business owner. The bill was first introduced Nov. 2 and is being voted on just two weeks later, leaving little time for analysis or debate.

The main goal of the “Tax Cut and Jobs Act” is to lower taxes on companies in an effort to make them more competitive and discourage them from moving abroad. The bill lowers the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent and the rate for pass-through businesses down to 25 percent (with some restrictions). Many families would also see reduced taxes, although Ryan has admitted that won't be the case for everyone. Here's a rundown of what is actually in the final version of the bill.

It keeps the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate. The House is voting on a tax bill only. The Senate bill includes a provision to scrap the legal requirement that almost all Americans buy health insurance or pay a penalty. The House isn't touching that, which may lead to a showdown between the two chambers if they have to reconcile their very different versions of the bill.

Big businesses win. The House bill cuts the top rate that large corporations pay from 35 percent to 20 percent, the biggest one-time drop in the big-business tax rate ever. It is a permanent change that does not expire. On top of that, companies would get some new tax breaks to help lower their bills, such as the ability to deduct all the costs of purchasing new equipment for five years, as well as a special low rate on any money they bring back to the United States from low-tax countries such as Ireland. Many businesses have been holding cash overseas to avoid 35 percent U.S. taxes. Now they would get to bring the money home at a tax rate of 12 percent. The entire business tax system would also change from a worldwide system, in which money anywhere around the globe is taxed, to a territorial system in which it's mostly money made in the United States that is taxed. Businesses have long lobbied for this change.

Small businesses get a mini-win. The National Federation of Independent Businesses, the largest small business lobby, initially was against the House bill, but Republicans made some changes and now the NFIB is giving its blessing. 95 percent of American businesses are organized as pass through companies (LLCs, S-Corps, partnerships), and they “pass through” the business income to the owner's individual tax rate. The House plan lowers the top rate from 39.6 percent to 25 percent for small businesses (excluding “service companies” like consultants and lawyers) and requires a complex formula where the 25 percent rate only applies to about 30 percent of the business income. But the reality is most small businesses — 85 percent — already pay taxes at rates of 25 percent or less. To help out the small “mom and pops,” the final bill has a 9 percent rate on the first $75,000 in income for business owners making $150,000 or less. But that tax break phases in, meaning it isn't fully available until 2022.

The rich do very well. The wealthy get a lot of benefits in the bill. The estate tax, which is paid only when property and other assets worth over $5.5 million are passed on to heirs, doubles to about $11 million in 2018 (around $22 million for couples), meaning a lot fewer people have to pay it. And the estate tax goes away entirely in 2024. The mega-wealthy also would get to keep charitable deductions, a popular way that lowers their tax bills, and they no longer would have to pay the alternative minimum tax (AMT), a safeguard against excessive tax dodging that's been in place since 1969. Some wealthy business owners would be able to take advantage of the lower pass-through rate as well. Overall, the Tax Policy Center found that half the benefits of the bill go to the top 1 percent by 2027.

Donald Trump would probably benefit a lot. As The Washington Post explains, many parts of the bill help Trump. One of the interesting ones is that the lower 25 percent pass-through rate would apply to all income for passive real estate investors like Trump, a much better deal than most active pass-through business owners get.

Most Americans pay the same — or lower — taxes until 2023. For the next five years, the vast majority of Americans (92 percent) would either pay less or see little change, according to the official estimates from the Joint Committee on Taxation. But that shifts sharply after five years. In 2023, only 40 percent of Americans would pay less. Twenty-two percent would pay more (the rest see little change), JCT found.

After 2023, a key middle-class tax break expires. Many of the people facing tax hikes are solidly middle class ($40,000 to $75,000) or else in the “upper upper” middle class ($200,000 to $400,000), JCT found. A key savings for the middle class — the Family Flexibility Credit — goes away after 2022. The House bill also uses a low measure of inflation after 2022, meaning more and more people start to jump from the 12 percent tax bracket to the 25 percent bracket (which starts to kick in at $67,500 for heads of households). Higher income earners are impacted by the elimination of numerous itemized deductions (see more explanation on those below).

Taxes will get simpler for many. The House bill collapses the seven tax brackets the country has down to just four (12 percent, 25 percent, 35 percent and 39.6 percent). The top rate becomes a “millionaire rate” applying to income of $1 million or more a year for couples (and of $500,000 or more for individuals).

In an effort to simplify, the House bill also does away with many of the credits and deductions and replaces them with a larger standard deduction, a slightly larger child tax credit ($1,600 per kid versus $1,000 now) and a new Family Flexibility Credit worth $300 a year for individuals and $600 for couples. The larger standard deduction means the first $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for couples is tax-free.

Say goodbye to most deductions. Almost all itemized deductions are going away, except for three. The final House bill keeps the deductions for charitable donations, property taxes up to $10,000 a year and the mortgage interest deduction. The mortgage interest deduction would be capped at $500,000 for mortgages (down from $1 million now).

About 30 percent of filers itemize. Most of the people who itemize claim the state and local tax deduction (SALT) where they deduct their state and local sales, income and property taxes. Under the House bill, only the property deduction would remain. This hurts people living in high-tax (and often blue) states like New Jersey, New York and California. Several GOP representatives from these states plan to vote no on the bill in protest.

The adoption credit stays. The 401(k) exemption stays. But . . .

Say goodbye to the tax credits for plug-in motor vehicles. It gets repealed in 2018.

Say goodbye to the deduction for medical expenses. It goes away in 2018.

Say goodbye to being able to write off the costs of your tax preparer. That goes away in 2018.

Say goodbye to the deduction for moving expenses. It goes away in 2018, except for members of the military.

Say goodbye to most tax benefits for college. At the moment, low and middle income Americans can deduct up to $2,500 a year in student loan interest. That benefit would go away in 2018. In addition, grad students who get tuition waivers because they teach or do research would now have to pay income tax on the waiver, a big change. For students currently in school, the American Opportunity Tax Credit would remain, which allows a $2,000 credit for higher education expenses.

Say goodbye to the deduction for theft or loss of valuables. Right now people can write a lot of their losses off on their taxes, but that would be gone in 2018. The one exemption is losses for a natural disaster such as Hurricane Harvey. Those would stay.

How much does the bill cost (and who pays)? The price tag for the bill is just over $1.4 trillion, according to JCT, meaning that amount would be added to the debt if spending cuts are not made (or more revenue raised) in the coming years to offset the cost. Economists believe the tax cuts would generate some additional growth, but not nearly enough to cover the costs.

It total, about three-quarters of the benefits go to businesses and the remaining quarter goes to individuals.

 

The House GOP tax plan explained - The Washington Post: ""