A couple of big german media anti-immigrant stories have been retracted by their publisher, and there's discussion of whether criminal charges should be pressed.
The hearing on a constitutional convention call to stop LGBT marriage was moved to today, the 16th. We'll see if it happens.
Looks like European intelligence agencies have data on the Trump campaign's contacts with the Russians, too. That's fun.
Various Republicans are attacking various intelligence agencies over the reports. Also fun.
Mr. Trump is holding a rally in Florida this weekend. Mr. Spicer referred to it as a "campaign" event, and Mr. Trump has filed, so I guess the 2020 election is ALREADY ON.
Lots more, but it's midnight and I'm off to bed. Good luck.
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Russia denies intelligence contacts with Trump campaign team
Nataliya Vasilyeva, Associated Press
Updated 6:32 am, Wednesday, February 15, 2017
MOSCOW (AP) — The Kremlin spokesman on Wednesday denied reports of intercepted phone calls between Russian intelligence officials and members of Donald Trump's presidential campaign.
The New York Times said that the Russians made contact with Paul Manafort, who briefly served as Trump's campaign chairman. Current and former U.S. officials interviewed by the Times declined to identify other Trump associates contacted by the Russians.
----- 2 -----
Breitbart Warns Hollywood: Get In Line Behind Trump Or We’ll Launch Campaign To Steal All Your Movies
Joe. My. God.
February 15, 2017
Breitbart yesterday warned Hollywood’s celebrities that unless they get in line behind Trump, a concerted campaign to steal their movies will be launched.
----- 3 -----
Trump's likely science adviser calls climate scientists 'glassy-eyed cult'
Hannah Devlin | Science Correspondent, The Guardian
15 February 2017
William Happer, frontrunner for job of providing mainstream scientific opinion to officials, backs crackdown on federal scientists’ freedom to speak out
The man tipped as frontrunner for the role of science adviser to Donald Trump has described climate scientists as “a glassy-eyed cult” in the throes of a form of collective madness.
William Happer, an eminent physicist at Princeton University, met with Trump last month to discuss the post and says that if he were offered the job he would take it. Happer is highly regarded in the academic community, but many would view his appointment as a further blow to the prospects of concerted international action on climate change.
“There’s a whole area of climate so-called science that is really more like a cult,” Happer told the Guardian. “It’s like Hare Krishna or something like that. They’re glassy-eyed and they chant. It will potentially harm the image of all science.”
Trump has previously described global warming as “very expensive … bullshit” and has signalled a continued hardline stance since taking power. He has nominated the former Texas governor Rick Perry, a staunch climate sceptic, as secretary of energy and hopes to put the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) under the leadership of Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general, who has been one of the agency’s most hostile critics.
John Holdren, Barack Obama’s science adviser, said Happer’s outspoken opinions would be a “substantial handicap” for a job that has traditionally involved delivering mainstream scientific opinion to the heart of policy-making.
“Every national academy of science agrees that the science is solid, that climate change is real,” he said. “To call this a cult is absurd and ... an insult to the people who have done this work.”
Happer also supports a controversial crackdown on the freedom of federal agency scientists to speak out about their findings, arguing that mixed messages on issues such as whether butter or margarine is healthier, have led to people disregarding all public health information.
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Refugee Rape Mobs on New Year's Eve Were a Hoax, Say German Police
Reports of mass New Year's Eve sexual-assaults by refugees in Frankfurt, Germany, are "completely baseless."
Elizabeth Nolan Brown | Reason.com
Feb. 15, 2017 9:52 am
According to German tabloid Bild, a "rioting sex mob"—composed largely of Arab refugees—wreaked havoc on the city of Frankfurt during this year's New Year's Eve celebrations, groping and sexually assaulting dozens of women. The story quickly made an international splash. Now police say it's "completely baseless," an invention of Frankfurt restaurant owner Jan May and a woman identified as Irina A.
The original report claimed that at least 50 men, mostly thought to be refugees from Middle Hessia, overtook May's restaurant and others in a shopping area of Frankfurt known as the Fressgass. The men allegedly began robbing patrons, reaching under women's skirts, and worse in a sexual-assault free-for-all.
On Tuesday, Frankfurt police confirmed to the Frankfurter Rundschau that Irina had not even been present in Frankfurt on New Year's Eve. And interrogations of other witnesses led police to doubt the story in its entirety. They now believe the accusations were "without foundation" and "there were no... attacks by masses of refugees."
"Masses of refugees were not responsible for any sexual assaults in the Fressgass over New Year," police said, according to English-language Euro paper The Local. "The accusations are completely baseless." May and Irina are currently under investigation by police for making up the incidents, the paper says.
Meanwhile, Bild—a publication accused by Germany's left of routinely stoking anti-immigrant sentiment—published a statement on its website Tuesday saying the paper "apologizes expressly for the untruthful article and the accusations made in it. This article in no way met the journalistic standards of Bild." On Twitter, Bild Editor-in-Chief Julian Reichelt apologized and said there would be consequences at the paper.
----- 5 -----
Mass sexual assaults by refugees in Frankfurt ‘completely made up’
The Local (Germany) | 14 February 2017
Prosecutors in Frankfurt are investigating two people for making up a crime, after they claimed in a national newspaper that dozens of Arab men rioted and sexually assaulted women at New Year.
The claims first appeared in Bild newspaper on February 6th, which described the men as a “rioting sex mob,” speculating that they had come from a refugee home in central Hesse.
In an article since taken down from its website, the tabloid interviewed a well-known chef who runs a restaurant on Fressgass street, as well as a 27-year-old woman.
Bild newspaper is bitterly resented by the German left, which accuses it of having stoked hatred against immigrants over decades.
On its website Bild published a statement on Tuesday, saying “Bild apologizes expressly for the untruthful article and the accusations made in it.
“This article in no way met the journalistic standards of Bild.”
Bild's online editor-in-chief, Julian Reichelt, also promised consequences on Twitter.
“We apologize for our own work. I’ll shortly announce what Bild will do about it,” he tweeted.
----- 6 -----
No Breitbart, a Muslim mob didn't set fire to Germany's oldest church
Emma Anderson | The Local (Germany)
5 January 2017
Journalists have condemned a report by Breitbart news that claimed a mob of 1,000 men had attacked police and set fire to a church, calling the article a distortion of facts.
Breitbart wrote an article about New Year's Eve in Dortmund on Tuesday with the headline “Revealed: 1,000-man mob attack police, set Germany’s oldest church alight on New Year’s Eve”.
"At New Year’s Eve celebrations in Dortmund a mob of more than 1,000 men chanted ‘Allahu Akhbar’, launched fireworks at police, and set fire to a historic church," the alt-right website reported.
The report was attributed to local news site Ruhr Nachrichten, which fired back on Wednesday, accusing Breitbart of “using our online reports for fake news, hate and propaganda.”
Ruhr Nachrichten pointed out how Breitbart attributed separate unconnected incidents to a larger, collective "mob".
There was in fact a total of around 1,000 people gathered to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Leeds Square, including “large and small groups” of young, foreign men as well as families with children, according to Ruhr Nachrichten.
St. Reinold is not Germany's oldest church - that would be the Cathedral of Trier - and a small fire had started on some netting on scaffolding around the church, not the roof, due to one firework.
And while Breitbart states that the "fireworks were launched at" the church, there was no indication from local news outlets or from the fire services that the fire had been started intentionally.
The fire was small and lasted 12 minutes before firefighters put it out, Ruhr Nachrichten reports.
Police told local media that overall it was a quiet night.
----- 7 -----
Arkansas SJR7 hearing rescheduled for 16 February 2017
AN APPLICATION TO CONGRESS TO CALL A CONVENTION FOR PROPOSING AN AMENDMENT TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION CONCERNING THE DEFINITION OF "MARRIAGE".
Primary sponsors: Senator Jason Rapert (R) (Conway, Arkansas), Representative Mickey Gates (R) (Hot Springs, Arkansas)
Co-sponsors: A. Clark, Ballinger, Bledsoe, Caldwell Collins-Smith, D. Sanders, D. Wallace, Dotson E. Williams, Flippo, Hester, Irvin J. Cooper, L. Eads, Payton, Rice Richmond, Rye, Standridge
----- 8 -----
U.S. Allies Conduct Intelligence Operation Against Trump Staff and Associates, Intercepted Communications
By Kurt Eichenwald On 2/15/17 at 2:58 PM
As part of intelligence operations being conducted against the United States for the last seven months, at least one Western European ally intercepted a series of communications before the inauguration between advisers associated with President Donald Trump and Russian government officials, according to people with direct knowledge of the situation.
The sources said the interceptions include at least one contact between former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and a Russian official based in the United States. It could not be confirmed whether this involved the telephone call with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that has led to Flynn’s resignation, or additional communications. The sources said the intercepted communications are not just limited to telephone calls: The foreign agency is also gathering electronic and human source information on Trump’s overseas business partners, at least some of whom the intelligence services now consider to be agents of their respective governments. These operations are being conducted out of concerns that Russia is seeking to manipulate its relationships with Trump administration officials as part of a long-term plan to destabilize the NATO alliance.
Moreover, a Baltic nation is gathering intelligence on officials in the Trump White House and executives with the president’s company, the Trump Organization, out of concern that an American policy shift toward Russia could endanger its sovereignty, according to a third person with direct ties to that nation’s government.
The Western European intelligence operations began in August, after the British government obtained information that people acting on behalf of Russia were in contact with members of the Trump campaign. Those details from the British were widely shared among the NATO allies in Europe. The Baltic nation has been gathering intelligence for at least that long, and has conducted surveillance of executives from the Trump Organization who were traveling in Europe.
These operations reflect a serious breakdown in the long-standing faith in the direction of American policy by some of the country’s most important allies. Worse, the United States is now in a situation that may be unprecedented—where European governments know more about what is going on in the executive branch than any elected American official. To date, the Republican-controlled Congress has declined to conduct hearings to investigate the links between Trump’s overseas business partners and foreign governments, or the activities between Russia and officials in the Trump campaign and administration—the very areas being examined by the intelligence services of at least two American allies.
----- 9 -----
GOP House Mice Put Trump Before Country
The tough guys who were rolling up their sleeves to get President Clinton even before the election are awfully quiet now.
The Daily Beast | 02.15.17 6:03 AM ET
I take you back in time now to a story from last October, by The Washington Post’s Dave Weigel. I remember well the pit that formed in my stomach as I read the headline: “House Republicans are already preparing for ‘years’ of investigations of Clinton.”
Weigel nabbed an interview with Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz, chair of the House Oversight Committee, who said this: “It’s a target-rich environment. Even before we get to Day One, we’ve got two years’ worth of material already lined up. She has four years of history at the State Department, and it ain’t good.”
Back when he and just about everyone else thought the next president was going to be named Clinton, Chaffetz was telling—bragging to, actually—one of the country’s top political reporters that President Clinton was going to be investigated immediately. No, not even President Clinton. President-elect Clinton! He was going to be ready to roll on Nov. 9. And no one among us can doubt that he’d have kept his word, and Clinton right now would be facing at least one congressional investigation, and likely more, if she were in the White House. Over a matter on which her behavior was not good but on which she’d been cleared by the FBI.
But she is not the president. Donald Trump is. And he, we have decent reason to suspect, may have directed Mike Flynn to negotiate with Russia in the midst of the presidential campaign. We don’t know this of course. But we know that Trump had already encouraged Russia to hack Clinton’s emails and spoken fondly of Vladimir Putin many times; and we know that Flynn spoke to the Russian ambassador in late December but, by the ambassador’s own admission, before also, during the campaign; and we know that Flynn is a military man, which makes it reasonable to think he wouldn’t have a chat with his Russian contact about a President Trump maybe doing away with Obama’s sanctions without being told to or at least asking first.
This would seem to be something we’d want to find out.
And what does Chaffetz say now about all this, after Flynn’s resignation? “It’s taking care of itself,” he told a Politico reporter. Let the intelligence committee do it, Chaffetz said.
Well, that might be OK. In jurisdictional terms, Chaffetz actually has a point. But Devin Nunes, the California Republican who chairs intel, says, per Vox, that he won’t look into anything having to do with what Trump may or may not have said to Flynn. He cites executive privilege.
Trump of course wasn’t the chief executive at the time in question, late December.
All of which only highlights what a disgrace these House Republicans are. Paul Ryan says there’s no need at all for an investigation into the Russia ties. And the House Ways and Means Committee voted 23-15, straight party lines, not to make Trump show his tax returns.
When will the day come that these people will put country and national security ahead of party and power? I know. You’re saying never. And maybe it will be never. If left to their druthers it would be never.
----- 10 -----
Trump to take breather from White House, hold rally this weekend
By Nolan D. McCaskill | Politico
02/15/17 02:30 PM EST
President Donald Trump is returning to the trail.
The president will hold a rally Saturday afternoon at a hangar in Melbourne, Florida. It will be his first campaign-style rally since his so-called thank-you tour during the transition period to states he won in November.
“Join me in Florida this Saturday at 5pm for a rally at the Orlando-Melbourne International Airport!” Trump tweeted from his personal Twitter handle, along with a link for supporters to RSVP.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding the rally, but Trump himself had floated the idea of hosting them even as president.
----- 11 -----
Trump Adviser Stephen Miller Ran a National Islamophobic Campaign While at Duke
By Osita Nwanevu
15 February 2017
[LOTS of additional documents in this thread; https://twitter.com/KFILE/status/831872
On Wednesday, CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski reported that Trump senior adviser Stephen Miller had been at the helm of something called the “Terrorism Awareness Project” while a student at Duke University in 2007:
Miller served as national campus coordinator, president, and co-founder of the initiative, which was launched by the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a right-wing group which describes its missions as combating "the efforts of the radical left and its Islamist allies to destroy American values and disarm this country as it attempts to defend itself in a time of terror."
A key premise of the project, Miller wrote in a blog post, was that schools and universities under left-wing influence had failed to educate students about the risk of what the project's leaders called "Islamofascism" and had allowed the ideology to penetrate school systems and academia.
According to Kaczynski, the project organized around holding “Islamofascism Awareness Week” events at colleges around the country.
----- 12 -----
Steve Bannon 'livid' with Breitbart over Priebus report
by Dylan Byers and Dana Bash | CNN Money
February 15, 2017
Bannon, who was executive chairman of Breitbart before becoming Donald Trump's chief strategist, slammed the right-wing website on Wednesday for a report suggesting that White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus might lose his job.
"Not upset - livid," is how Bannon described his feelings about the article to CNN. "The story is totally untrue. Reince is doing a great job. I couldn't ask any more from a partner."
Breitbart's story alleged that Priebus might be pushed out of the White House due to the forced resignation of Trump's National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn. It cited "multiple sources close to President Trump."
When asked if he had spoken with Breitbart prior to the story's publication, Bannon said he had "totally cut ties" and hadn't talked to them since leaving the organization last August. (He was however interviewed by the site's "Breitbart News Daily" radio program late last year.)
----- 13 -----
GOP rep: Intelligence community too 'dishonest' to 'accept at face value' on Russia
By Joe Uchill - 02/15/17 06:13 PM EST
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) questioned the veracity of assessments by the intelligence community on Russian efforts to influence the election, doubling down on his doubts about whether Russia really was behind hacking.
"When I hear [former CIA head] John Brennan with the venom that seems to be in his voice after Donald Trump was elected president, it's not hard to imagine that in the intelligence community, Donald Trump has his enemies and those enemies are not as restrained as they ought to be," said King on MSNBC Wednesday, following an earlier statement that a classified briefing on Russia had not convinced him.
"I don't know how far they would be willing to go. But I've heard too much of this dishonesty coming out of some of the intelligence community to accept this at face value unless I hear some facts."
King was on MSNBC to defend ousted National Security Advisor Mike Flynn, who resigned this week due to alleged talk of sanctions with Russia before taking office and misleading Vice President Pence over the nature of those talks. At an earlier interview on CNN, he called Flynn's removal a "political assassination."
King said he believed it should be a priority to prosecute whoever was behind leaking information on Flynn for divulging classified information.
MSNBC's Katy Tur asked King whether or not it was hypocritical for Trump to laud WikiLeaks during the election — including saying at least once "I love Wikileaks" — but take a hard line against leaks now. King implied that Trump's vocalized support of WikiLeaks, which released a trove of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton's campaign chair, may not have reflected his true opinions on the subject.
"I will say that Donald Trump was playing to the crowd," he said.
----- 14 -----
Trump avoids tough questions on Russia relationship by calling on conservative outlets during press conference
Feb. 15, 2017
President Donald Trump during a joint press conference on Wednesday managed to avoid questions related to reported revelations about contact between his campaign and Russian intelligence agencies.
Following former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's resignation Monday evening amid questions about statements he made to Russia government officials, a flurry of reports revealed an FBI investigation into private communication between Trump's top campaign officials and Russian intelligence.
Yet the president avoided questions during a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, instead fielding questions from right-leaning media outlets about administration policies in the Middle East.
Townhall's Katie Pavlich, a conservative commentator, asked Trump to lay out "compromises you have in mind" for a potential Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.
Christian Broadcasting Network's David Brody alluded to the Trump campaign's connections with Russia, but did not attempt to dig further into Trump's knowledge of the communications or the ongoing investigation. Instead, he asked if "some of those events with those communications to Russia would hamper the nuclear deal."
----- 15 -----
Jim Acosta - @Acosta - on Twitter
15 February 2017
Spicer says Trump rally in FL Saturday is a "campaign" event. So the 2020 campaign has begun.
----- 16 -----
Women's March organizers announce date for general strike
By Sophie Tatum, CNN
Updated 9:30 PM ET, Wed February 15, 2017
Washington (CNN)The organizers of the Women's March on Washington have set the date for their general strike, dubbed "A Day Without A Woman," for March 8, which is International Women's Day.
The group previously announced their plan for a general strike but didn't give the date until Tuesday.
"In the spirit of women and their allies coming together for love and liberation, we offer 'A Day Without A Woman,'" the organizers said in an Instagram post.
"We saw what happened when millions of us stood together in January, and now we know that our army of love greatly outnumbers the army of fear, greed and hatred," the post says. "On March 8th, International Women's Day, let's unite again in our communities for A Day Without A Woman."
The group did not immediately return a request for additional information on the strike, but the social media post said more details would be forthcoming.
The post also voiced support for another strike, the "National Day of Action to Push Back Against Assaults on Democratic Principles," set for Friday.
----- 17 ------
ICE detains alleged domestic violence victim
Marty Schladen, USA Today Network - Austin Bureau
Published Feb. 15, 2017
AUSTIN — Federal immigration agents went to the El Paso County Courthouse last week and arrested an undocumented woman who had just received a protective order alleging that she was a victim of domestic violence.
The agents apparently detained the woman Feb. 9 after receiving a tip, possibly from her alleged abuser, whom they already had in custody, El Paso County Attorney Jo Anne Bernal said.
----- 18 -----
Former Trump adviser Roger Stone calls for investigation of alleged Russia links
Stone, who’s named as one of four individuals under FBI observation over alleged contacts with Russian intelligence, urges Department of Justice inquiry
15 February 2017
Roger Stone, a longtime adviser and confidant to Donald Trump who has been named in news reports as one of at least four individuals under FBI observation over alleged contacts with Russian intelligence, has called for an official inquiry into the swirling crisis.
Stone has called on the White House to order an immediate investigation through the Department of Justice over alleged improper links between members of the Trump inner circle and the Kremlin during the course of the 2016 presidential campaign. His request adds to a mounting chorus of demands from senior congressional members and outside advocacy groups for an official inquiry into the affair.
In an interview with the Guardian, Stone appealed to Trump, whom he has been close to for almost 40 years, to convene an inquiry through Jeff Sessions, the newly appointed US attorney general. “The president should tell his attorney general that either he finds proof of this, or he puts it to bed and announces none of it happened.”
The crisis of Russian contacts is threatening to derail the Trump administration within its first month. On Monday, the president’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was forced to resign over secret discussions with the Russian ambassador to Washington.