The California disaster declarations requested on the 10th and on the 13th were finally confirmed, so that, at least, is actually normal. But everything else is on fire. And Canada is still seeing refugees coming north from the States, particularly in Quebec.
The relatively-lower-key effort is one starting in Arkansas to use the other way of getting amendments to the US Constitution - one coming directly from the states. This hasn't ever been done but is clearly defined, Constitutionally. The effort, of course, is to eliminate marriage rights for LGBT people.
Adventures. Lots of adventures.
----- 1 -----
Republicans to predatory companies: Grab as much as you can
By Catherine Rampell | The Washington Post
February 13 2017
The White House may be in chaos. But at least Congress is addressing the issue Americans care about most: making it easier for the finance industry to rip them off.
Last week, Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, circulated an outline of his latest plan to repeal Dodd-Frank. Dodd-Frank, you may recall, was put in place after the financial crisis to reduce our chances of having another one.
The law isn’t perfect, but it did have at least one critical, mostly popular component: It created an agency dedicated solely to helping consumers fight back when financial institutions cheat or mislead them.
This agency is called the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). It oversees large banks, thrifts and credit unions, along with lots of companies in the “nonbank” universe, such as mortgage brokers and servicers, payday lenders, debt collectors, private student lenders and credit bureaus.
In its five years of existence, the bureau says it has recovered $11.7 billion for more than 27 million consumers.
Under the Orwellian section heading “Empowering Americans to Achieve Financial Independence,” the memo explains how Hensarling intends to further disempower this agency — and by extension, American consumers.
For instance, the CFPB director would become an at-will political appointee. This means that — unlike the officials who run the Fed, Federal Trade Commission or Securities and Exchange Commission — the CFPB director could be fired without cause. The bureau would cease to be an independent agency and could be pressured at any time to drop investigations of, say, friends of the president.
According to the memo, Hensarling also plans to repeal the CFPB’s supervisory powers. This is a fancy way of saying the bureau would no longer have the right to kick the tires and look under the hood — that is, to regularly examine what’s going on inside the institutions it regulates to make sure they’re following the law.
Even more disturbing, the bureau would no longer be allowed to punish firms that cheat their customers. At most, it could tell the firms to please stop cheating (or else!).
----- 2 -----
Chairman: House intel panel won’t investigate Flynn, will probe leaks
By Jonathan Easley - 02/14/17 11:13 AM EST
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) says he won’t open an investigation into President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, citing executive privilege.
But the committee will investigate who leaked the story that led to Flynn’s resignation and why Trump's national security adviser was being recorded, CNN reported Tuesday.
Flynn resigned late Monday night amid cascading controversy over a discussion he had before Trump took office with a Russian diplomat about President Obama’s sanctions on the country.
Democrats are demanding an investigation into the matter, which ties into their suspicions about the Trump administration’s alleged close ties to Moscow.
But House Oversight chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said his committee will not investigate Flynn, and Nunes, the Intelligence chairman, followed suit.
Nunes told the Washington Post he is more concerned “that you have an American citizen who had his phone calls recorded.” Nunes will investigate how the story was exposed, he told CNN on Tuesday.
Trump tweeted Tuesday that the real scandal is the “illegal leaks.”
----- 3 -----
GOP rep: Republicans quiet on Flynn because 'they're having breakfast with their wives'
By Rebecca Savransky - 02/14/17
Cuomo: Why is the GOP so quiet on Flynn?
Collins: “Well, it’s Valentine’s Day and I guess they’re having breakfast with their wives” pic.twitter.com/ozf3GQnZSD
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) February 14, 2017
Rep. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) on Tuesday said Valentine's Day is the reason many Republicans have so far been quiet about the resignation of national security adviser Michael Flynn.
"It's Valentine's Day, and I guess they're having breakfast with their wives," Collins said on CNN's "New Day."
"Really, all I can say is, I'm sorry to see Gen. Flynn go. I don't know the details of what transpired."
----- 4 -----
White House posts wrong versions of Trump's orders on its website
Gregory Korte , USA TODAY Published 11:49 a.m. ET Feb. 14, 2017
[I have previously mentioned weirdness in the posted EOs on whitehouse.gov - turns out it's more broken than I thought]
WASHINGTON — The White House has posted inaccurate texts of President Trump's own executive orders on the White House website, raising further questions about how thorough the Trump administration has been in drafting some of his most controversial actions.
A USA TODAY review of presidential documents found at least five cases where the version posted on the White House website doesn't match the official version sent to the Federal Register. The differences include minor grammatical changes, missing words and paragraph renumbering — but also two cases where the original text referred to inaccurate or non-existent provisions of law.
----- 5 -----
Tennessee man who plotted New York mosque attack won’t face terrorism charges
BY Chris Sommerfeldt
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Updated: Tuesday, February 14, 2017, 4:49 AM
A Tennessee man won't face terrorism charges for plotting an attack against an upstate New York mosque — and attorneys claim it's because federal terrorism statutes almost exclusively focus on foreign extremists.
Robert Doggart was arrested in April 2015 after authorities discovered that he had been trying to recruit people to burn down a mosque in "Islamberg," a self-named, predominantly Muslim community near Hancock, according to court records.
Doggart, 65, who ran for Congress as an Independent in 2014, allegedly went on right-wing online forums and openly talked about using AR-15 assault rifles to attack Muslims because he believed the small upstate community was an extremist training camp, records show. Authorities intercepted Doggart's alleged plot before anyone was hurt.
----- 6 -----
Matt Lauer to Kellyanne Conway: your explanation of the Flynn resignation "makes no sense"
Matt Lauer - TODAY
14 February 2017
----- 7 -----
What Are Your Rights if Border Agents Want to Search Your Phone?
By DANIEL VICTOR - FEB. 14, 2017
The New York Times
Haisam Elsharkawi was about to travel from Los Angeles to Saudi Arabia last week when, he says, he was stopped at the airport, questioned, handcuffed, questioned some more and then released without charges three hours after his flight had departed.
Mr. Elsharkawi, 34, an American citizen, said in an interview on Monday that officers from United States Customs and Border Protection repeatedly pressured him to unlock his cellphone so that they could scroll through his contacts, photos, apps and social media accounts.
He said they threatened to seize the phone if he did not comply.
“I travel all the time, and I was never asked to unlock my phone,” said Mr. Elsharkawi, an electronics salesman from Anaheim, Calif. “I have personal photos there, which I think is normal for anyone. It’s my right. It’s my phone.”
Eventually, he relented, and a Homeland Security agent looked through his phone for about 15 minutes, he said.
A NASA scientist, Sidd Bikkannavar, said he had a similar experience to Mr. Elsharkawi’s in January, when he was detained at the Houston airport until he handed over a NASA-issued phone for inspection, he told The Verge.
So before you travel, here’s some information on what border agents can and cannot do, along with recommendations from lawyers.
----- 8 -----
‘Unbelievable Turmoil’: Trump’s First Month Leaves Washington Reeling
The New York Times
By MICHAEL D. SHEAR FEB. 14, 2017
[Mostly including this because of various reminders: cancelling the Mexican summit, hanging up on the PM of Australia, and so on]
In record time, the 45th president has set off global outrage with a ban on travelers from Muslim countries, fired his acting attorney general for refusing to defend the ban and watched as federal courts swiftly moved to block the policy, calling it an unconstitutional use of executive power.
The president has angrily canceled a summit meeting with the Mexican president, hung up on Australia’s prime minister, authorized a commando raid that resulted in the death of a Navy SEAL member, repeatedly lied about the existence of millions of fraudulent votes cast in the 2016 election and engaged in Twitter wars with senators, a sports team owner, a Hollywood actor and a major department store chain. His words and actions have generated almost daily protests around the country.
----- 9 -----
Kellyanne Conway Claims She Doesn’t Know Who Retweeted A White Nationalist From Her Twitter Account
BuzzFeed News Reporter
14 February 2017
So when Twitter user, Lib Hypocrisy, complimented her for her “strength and resiliency in face of vile hatred, bigotry, & sexism of the unhinged Left,” and said “Love you!” Conway responded gratefully.
Conway not only retweeted Lib Hypocrisy’s tweet, but also told the Twitter user, “Love you back” and wished her “Hapless Haters” a happy Valentine’s Day.
Which was sweet and all, except that Conway expressed her love for a white nationalist.
Lib Hypocrisy’s Twitter bio includes the hashtags “WhiteIdentity” and “Nationalist.” The username also includes a frog illustration, presumably to denote Pepe the frog — a symbol of the alt-right movement.
Conway told BuzzFeed News on Tuesday, “I don’t know who had access to my account.”
“Let me see who tweeted that,” she said. “That’s terrible.”
Conway said she had “obviously” never heard of Lib Hypocrisy.
“I denounce whoever it is,” she said. “It will be immediately deleted. Everybody makes mistakes.”
After the conversation, Conway deleted the tweet.
----- 10 -----
4chan/pol is after an activist named Yvette Felarca
How can we get this bitch fired??
It is absolutley appoling that she is a middleschool teacher!!
Her name is Yvette Felarca
----- 11 -----
4chan/pol effort to force-trend an anti-media hashtag on Friday, February 17th, 2017
Thread active as of 14 February 2017
Started 13 February 2017
[/pol/ is pretty divided on this, but, well.
----- 12 -----
More refugees arrested after illegally crossing into Quebec
By Staff The Canadian Press
14 February 2017
MONTREAL – The RCMP are confirming they arrested four people who crossed illegally into Quebec Tuesday near the Vermont border.
Cpl. Francois Gagnon says the migrants were arrested near Hemmingford, Que., as the province continues to see an influx of refugee claimants arriving from the U.S.
Gagnon couldn’t provide details on the latest border jumpers but says his officers intercept people every day who enter the province illegally.
He says most of them ask to claim refugee status and are taken to a nearby border station for processing.
Officials say a growing number of refugee claimants are crossing the U.S. border into Canada illegally, with the largest increase being recorded in Quebec.
----- 13 -----
H.R.610 - To distribute Federal funds for elementary and secondary education in the form of vouchers for eligible students and to repeal a certain rule relating to nutrition standards in schools.115th Congress (2017-2018)
Rep. King, Steve [R-IA-4]
[Amongst the things this bill would eliminate are Federal protections for equal access to education, any meaningful Federal role in standards and accountability, and - apparently - nutrition requirements for school lunches.]
Choices in Education Act of 2017
This bill repeals the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 and limits the authority of the Department of Education (ED) such that ED is authorized only to award block grants to qualified states.
The bill establishes an education voucher program, through which each state shall distribute block grant funds among local educational agencies (LEAs) based on the number of eligible children within each LEA's geographical area. From these amounts, each LEA shall: (1) distribute a portion of funds to parents who elect to enroll their child in a private school or to home-school their child, and (2) do so in a manner that ensures that such payments will be used for appropriate educational expenses.
To be eligible to receive a block grant, a state must: (1) comply with education voucher program requirements, and (2) make it lawful for parents of an eligible child to elect to enroll their child in any public or private elementary or secondary school in the state or to home-school their child.
No Hungry Kids Act
The bill repeals a specified rule that established certain nutrition standards for the national school lunch and breakfast programs. (In general, the rule requires schools to increase the availability of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat or fat free milk in school meals; reduce the levels of sodium, saturated fat, and trans fat in school meals; and meet children's nutritional needs within their caloric requirements.)
----- 14 -----
Trump Today: White House ‘keeping close eye’ on Oroville crisis
By Evan Sernoffsky, San Francisco Chronicle
Updated 12:26 pm, Tuesday, February 14, 2017
What we know:
• Press Secretary Sean Spicer, during his daily press briefing, said “The President is keeping a close eye on the Oroville Dam situation.”
• Spicer said the disaster is a “text book example” on why the government needs to pursue a major infrastructure package in Congress.
• Gov. Jerry Brown asked the Trump administration for a federal disaster declaration on Monday.
• An estimated 188,000 people remain under evacuation orders in Butte, Sutter and Yuba counties as officials work to secure the emergency spillway near the Oroville Dam.
What we don’t know:
• If or how the Trump administration plans to help California during the crisis.
The Chronicle has written numerous stories on the Oroville Dam crisis. The trouble began on Feb 7 when a hole was spotted on the reservoir’s main spillway during this especially wet winter in California. Here are some of the links:
• California waits to hear from Trump on disaster aid request
• Evacuees stranded with no end in sight to Lake Oroville crisis
• The Oroville Dam crisis explained: What you need to know
• Oroville Dam crisis prompts sleepless night for many
----- 15 -----
Exclusive: U.S. arrests Mexican immigrant in Seattle covered by Obama program
Tue Feb 14, 2017 | 6:14 PM EST
By Daniel Levine and Kristina Cooke | SAN FRANCISCO | Reuters
U.S. authorities have arrested an immigrant from Mexico who was brought to the United States illegally as a child and later given a work permit during the Obama administration in what could be the first detention of its kind under President Donald Trump.
Daniel Ramirez Medina, a 23-year-old with no criminal record, was taken into custody last week at his father's home in Seattle by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers. The officers arrived at the home to arrest the man's father, though court documents did no make clear the reason the father was taken into custody.
Ramirez, now in custody in Tacoma, Washington, was granted temporary permission to live and work legally in the United States under a program called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, established in 2012 by Democratic President Obama, according to a court filing.
The program protects from deportation 750,000 people who were brought to the United States illegally as children, sometimes called the "dreamers," and gives them the temporary right to work legally in the United States.
Trump, a Republican who took office on Jan. 20, has promised a crackdown on the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States, most of whom come from Mexico and other Latin American countries. A move against DACA recipients like Ramirez would represent a significant broadening of immigration enforcement under Trump.
Ramirez filed a challenge to his detention in Seattle federal court on Monday, arguing that the government violated his constitutional rights because he had work authorization under the DACA program.
Ethan Dettmer, a partner in the law firm Gibson Dunn & Crutcher who is one of the lawyers representing Ramirez, said he is not aware of any other DACA recipient who has been arrested.
"We are hoping this detention was a mistake," Dettmer said.
----- 16 -----
Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence
By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT, MARK MAZZETTI and MATT APUZZO - FEB. 14, 2017
The New York Times
WASHINGTON — Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials.
American law enforcement and intelligence agencies intercepted the communications around the same time they were discovering evidence that Russia was trying to disrupt the presidential election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee, three of the officials said. The intelligence agencies then sought to learn whether the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians on the hacking or other efforts to influence the election.
The officials interviewed in recent weeks said that, so far, they had seen no evidence of such cooperation.
But the intercepts alarmed American intelligence and law enforcement agencies, in part because of the amount of contact that was occurring while Mr. Trump was speaking glowingly about the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin. At one point last summer, Mr. Trump said at a campaign event that he hoped Russian intelligence services had stolen Hillary Clinton’s emails and would make them public.
The officials said the intercepted communications were not limited to Trump campaign officials, and included other associates of Mr. Trump. On the Russian side, the contacts also included members of the government outside of the intelligence services, they said. All of the current and former officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because the continuing investigation is classified.
The officials said that one of the advisers picked up on the calls was Paul Manafort, who was Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman for several months last year and had worked as a political consultant in Ukraine. The officials declined to identify the other Trump associates on the calls.
Mr. Manafort, who has not been charged with any crimes, dismissed the officials’ accounts in a telephone interview on Tuesday. “This is absurd,” he said. “I have no idea what this is referring to. I have never knowingly spoken to Russian intelligence officers, and I have never been involved with anything to do with the Russian government or the Putin administration or any other issues under investigation today.”
He added, “It’s not like these people wear badges that say, ‘I’m a Russian intelligence officer.’”
Several of Mr. Trump’s associates, like Mr. Manafort, have done business in Russia. And it is not unusual for American businessmen to come in contact with foreign intelligence officials, sometimes unwittingly, in countries like Russia and Ukraine, where the spy services are deeply embedded in society. Law enforcement officials did not say to what extent the contacts might have been about business.
----- 17 -----
Trump administration approves California governor’s disaster requests
By Sean Cockerham and Christopher Cadelago
Federal emergency officials approved Gov. Jerry Brown’s requests to pay for winter storm damages and to support California’s unfolding response to the emergency at the crumbling Oroville Dam, the White House announced Tuesday
“I want to thank FEMA for moving quickly to approve our requests,” Brown said, a day after expressing optimism that the Trump administration would come to his state’s assistance. “This federal aid will get money and resources where it’s needed most.”
----- 18 -----
Arkansas wants to use Valentine’s Day to overturn marriage equality
Bobby Rae | 14th February 2017
The State of Arkansas wants to use Valentine’s Day to get a constitutional amendment to overturn marriage equality.
A hearing will be held in the Natural State today to consider a motion by Republican State Senator Jason Rapert defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
Filing Senate Joint Resolution seven earlier this month, Mr Rapert wants to prohibit states from accepting any definition of marriage, “except as the union of one man and one woman and no other union shall be recognised with legal incidents thereof within the United States or any place subject to their jurisdiction”.
If his motion is accepted, the State will petition the US Congress to amend the nation’s constitution.
34 states are currently required for a constitutional convention to be held. This rises to 38 plus a two-thirds vote in both Houses of Congress to be ratified.