Solarbird (solarbird) wrote,
Solarbird
solarbird

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good morning, it's 25 february 2017

hoo boy.

ICE raid at a Seattle tech company. Jay Inslee says "fuck you, no help from Washington State" via a series of executive orders. Kenmore, Washington leads a league of smaller King County, Washington towns in declaring themselves "welcoming" cities - meaning they won't help ICE and are making sure they don't collect data that could be used to help ICE. Not incidentally, DHS concluded that citizenship is an unreliable indicator of terrorism threat; so the report was suppressed, then leaked. It's also suppressing housing sales in our area, as (legal, again) immigrants get scared.

Twitter is locking down accounts (shadowbanning) if you swear at blue-checkbox people. They say the blue-check is not actually a factor? But it is. Three longer-term studies say voucher schools are _much worse_ than the schools they replace, across most to all axes.

Republicans are trying to crack down on protest nationally, but at the state level. 17 states have had bills introduced. Washington State's was dead on arrival, but that didn't stop it from being introduced. (And the sponsor from being publicly shamed, which was great.) The NRA is declaring protesters to be paid terrorists, "dedicated to destroying not just America but Western Civilization;" that won't lead to violence, now will it? And Montana's GOP chair opposes making voting easier, not because of supposed vote fraud, but because it hurts Republicans, and he actually said so in those words.

Lots of articles on Trump's attacks upon and exclusion of critical press. Key to note is that all of the news organisations excluded on Friday are leaders in the Russia-Trump stories. I'm sure that's just a coincidence.

Remember that effort in Iowa to force political hiring of professors at universities? It's shown up now in North Carolina, too. I'm sure that's just a coincidence too.

Two fundamentalist groups filing amicus briefs to the Supreme Court regarding access to washrooms by transgendered students misgendered Gavin Grimm (the plaintiff) intentionally. (Very intentionally; pointedly so. And said so when asked.) So they both got reprimands FROM THE COURT ITSELF, for not following court procedure and for generally being dickbags.

And a number of abuse stories, as well - extensive interrogations of native-born Muslim citizens at customs, and so on. It's ugly. And more. It's another big day.


----- 1 -----
Seattle-area tech company raided by immigration enforcement
Puget Sound Business Journal
Feb 22, 2017, 2:57pm PST Updated Feb 23, 2017, 11:24am PST

http://www.bizjournals.com/seattle/news/2017/02/22/seattle-area-tech-company-raided-by-immigration.html

...

The CEO was reportedly interrogated for more than an hour and a Department of Homeland Security U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services official reportedly demanded the company produce additional documentation for its employees.

The immigration official who was at the scene at the company's Redmond office allegedly made everyone put their cell phones away, told them they weren't allowed to record anything, demanded records and documentation, and questioned why some of the cubicles were empty, according to a Facebook post from someone familiar with the matter.

The official reportedly interrogated the CEO for more than an hour and are demanding the company produce additional documentation, according to that same post. Sysgain is a Microsoft cloud administration partner company that helps companies transition their operations to the cloud.

It’s unclear whether the inspection was completed by an Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent, who target undocumented immigrants and those with deportation orders, or the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which typically tracks compliance for “high tech” H-1B visa programs.

Davis Wright Tremaine immigration lawyer Chris Helm expects both types of immigration raids will become more common under President Donald Trump's administration.

Department of Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly, in a pair of memos signed Tuesday, instructed the agency to begin hiring 10,000 additional ICE agents and 5,000 additional Border Patrol officers.

“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” Helm said.


----- 2 -----
Twitter is locking accounts that swear at famous people
Russell Brandom and Casey Newton | CNBC
24 February 2017

[Twitter's new shadowban - that they refuse to describe - has appeared so far to be mostly about protecting blue-check verified accounts. It hit me when I went at Bill Maher about Milo the Pedo, for example. But in this article, Twitter claims it doesn't have special logic for verified accounts. We'll see.]

http://www.cnbc.com/2017/02/24/twitter-locking-accounts-swearing-at-famous-people.html

Last night, developer Victoria Fierce had some harsh words for Vice President Mike Pence. Incensed over the Trump administration's recent rollback of transgender protections, Fierce let loose on Pence. "F**k you," she tweeted. "I gotta piss, and you're putting me — an American — in danger of assault by your white supremacist brothers."

Almost immediately, she got the notification. Twitter had detected "potentially abusive activity" on her account, and put her in temporary timeout as a result. For the next 12 hours, only followers could see her tweets — which meant she wouldn't be able to lobby the Vice President.

...

Twitter says the account throttling is tied to changes that began rolling out last week designed to diminish the reach of abusive accounts. When Twitter determines that an account is being abusive — using criteria that the company has declined to describe in any detail — it hides the account's tweets from anyone who isn't following it. The restrictions last for a set period of time, typically 12 hours for a first offense.


----- 3 -----
Dismal Voucher Results Surprise Researchers as DeVos Era Begins
Kevin Carey FEB. 23, 2017
The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/23/upshot/dismal-results-from-vouchers-surprise-researchers-as-devos-era-begins.html?smid=tw-share

The confirmation of Betsy DeVos as secretary of education was a signal moment for the school choice movement. For the first time, the nation’s highest education official is someone fully committed to making school vouchers and other market-oriented policies the centerpiece of education reform.

But even as school choice is poised to go national, a wave of new research has emerged suggesting that private school vouchers may harm students who receive them. The results are startling — the worst in the history of the field, researchers say.

While many policy ideas have murky origins, vouchers emerged fully formed from a single, brilliant essay published in 1955 by Milton Friedman, the free-market godfather later to be awarded a Nobel Prize in Economics. Because “a stable and democratic society is impossible without widespread acceptance of some common set of values and without a minimum degree of literacy and knowledge on the part of most citizens,” Mr. Friedman wrote, the government should pay for all children to go to school.

But, he argued, that doesn’t mean the government should run all the schools. Instead, it could give parents vouchers to pay for “approved educational services” provided by private schools, with the government’s role limited to “ensuring that the schools met certain minimum standards.”

...

The first results came in late 2015. Researchers examined an Indiana voucher program that had quickly grown to serve tens of thousands of students under Mike Pence, then the state’s governor. “In mathematics,” they found, “voucher students who transfer to private schools experienced significant losses in achievement.” They also saw no improvement in reading.

The next results came a few months later, in February, when researchers published a major study of Louisiana’s voucher program. Students in the program were predominantly black and from low-income families, and they came from public schools that had received poor ratings from the state department of education, based on test scores. For private schools receiving more applicants than they could enroll, the law required that they admit students via lottery, which allowed the researchers to compare lottery winners with those who stayed in public school.

They found large negative results in both reading and math. Public elementary school students who started at the 50th percentile in math and then used a voucher to transfer to a private school dropped to the 26th percentile in a single year. Results were somewhat better in the second year, but were still well below the starting point.

This is very unusual. When people try to improve education, sometimes they succeed and sometimes they fail. The successes usually register as modest improvements, while the failures generally have no effect at all. It’s rare to see efforts to improve test scores having the opposite result. Martin West, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, calls the negative effects in Louisiana “as large as any I’ve seen in the literature” — not just compared with other voucher studies, but in the history of American education research.

There’s always the chance that a single study, no matter how well designed, is an outlier. Studies of older voucher programs in Milwaukee and elsewhere have generally produced mixed results, sometimes finding modest improvements in test scores, but only for some subjects and student groups. Until about a year ago, however, few if any studies had shown vouchers causing test scores to decline drastically.

In June, a third voucher study was released by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative think tank and proponent of school choice. The study, which was financed by the pro-voucher Walton Family Foundation, focused on a large voucher program in Ohio. “Students who use vouchers to attend private schools have fared worse academically compared to their closely matched peers attending public schools,” the researchers found. Once again, results were worse in math.

Three consecutive reports, each studying one of the largest new state voucher programs, found that vouchers hurt student learning. Researchers and advocates began a spirited debate about what, exactly, was going on.


----- 4 -----
Inslee signs order limiting Washington state’s help in enforcing Trump’s immigration policies
Originally published February 23, 2017 at 10:48 am Updated February 23, 2017 at 9:35 pm
Seattle Times
By Joseph O’Sullivan

http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/inslee-signs-order-limiting-states-involvement-in-immigration-enforcement/

OLYMPIA — In his latest salvo against the Trump administration’s policies, Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday signed an executive order aimed at restricting state workers and agencies from helping enforce federal immigration laws.

The order is part of an effort by Inslee and other Democrats to hinder President Donald Trump’s aggressive moves against immigrants who entered the country illegally.

It remains to be seen if the order — which seeks to prevent the use of state resources to aid widespread deportations or the creation of a national Muslim registry — will have any concrete effects.

The order will not change current practices of the Washington State Patrol or the Department of Social and Health Services, officials at those agencies said.

But in a news conference, the governor said the order sends a message about Washington state’s values.

“This executive order makes clear that Washington will not be a willing participant in promoting or carrying out mean-spirited policies that break up families and compromise our national security and, importantly, our community safety,” Inslee said.

...

The order directs state agencies to refrain from inquiring about a person’s immigration status for the sole purpose of determining whether someone has complied with immigration laws, such as those related to work permits or alien registration.

The order maintains the State Patrol’s existing policy of not stopping, detaining or interrogating people solely to determine their immigration status, said Kyle Moore, State Patrol spokesman.

Likewise, state agencies under the order are not allowed to aid or enforce any federal program to register people on their basis of religion. That part takes aim at the prospect at a national Muslim registry, which some Trump supporters have suggested.

The order also bars state agencies from discriminating against people based on national origin. And it says agencies cannot refuse services to people because of their immigration status, except as required by state or federal law.


----- 5 -----
Republican lawmakers introduce bills to curb protesting in at least 17 states
By Christopher Ingraham | The Washington Post
February 24, 2017

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/02/24/republican-lawmakers-introduce-bills-to-curb-protesting-in-at-least-17-states/

Since the election of President Trump, Republican lawmakers in at least 17 states have introduced or voted on legislation to curb mass protests in what civil liberties experts are calling “an attack on protest rights throughout the states.”

From Virginia to Washington state, legislators have introduced bills that would increase punishments for blocking highways, ban the use of masks during protests, indemnify drivers who strike protesters with their cars and, in at least once case, seize the assets of people involved in protests that later turn violent. The proposals come after a string of mass protest movements in the past few years, covering everything from police shootings of unarmed black men to the Dakota Access Pipeline to the inauguration of Trump.

Some are introducing bills because they say they're necessary to counter the actions of “paid” or “professional” protesters who set out to intimidate or disrupt, a common accusation that experts agree is largely overstated. “You now have a situation where you have full-time, quasi-professional agent-provocateurs that attempt to create public disorder,” said Republican state senator John Kavanagh of Arizona in support of a measure there that would bring racketeering charges against some protesters.

Others, like the sponsors of a bill in Minnesota, say the measures are necessary to protect public safety on highways. Still other bills, in states like Oklahoma and South Dakota, are intended to discourage protesting related to oil pipelines.

Democrats in many of these states are fighting the legislation. They cite existing laws that already make it a crime to block traffic, the possibility of a chilling effect on protests across the political spectrum, and concerns for protesters’ safety in the face of aggressive motorists.

None of the proposed legislation has yet been passed into law, and several bills have already been shelved in committee.

Critics doubt whether many of the laws would pass Constitutional muster. “The Supreme Court has gone out of its way on multiple occasions to point out that streets, sidewalks and public parks are places where [First Amendment] protections are at their most robust,” said Lee Rowland, a senior attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union.


----- 6 -----
GOP Congressman: More Uninsured People Means More Freedom
Republicans are already making excuses for the drop in insurance coverage they might cause.
Patrick Caldwell | Mother Jones
Feb. 23, 2017

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/02/cpac-obamacare-mike-burgess-health-insurance

As Republicans try to balance their promise to repeal Obamacare with the health law's increasing popularity, one GOP lawmaker employed a novel argument on Thursday: If fewer people are insured under the Republican replacement plan, that's simply a sign of greater freedom.

For one of the central policy fights facing Congress, health care reform won't get much discussion at the Conservative Political Action Conference, the annual Republican confab held just outside Washington, DC. The topic was scheduled for just one short panel Thursday afternoon. But given the way that discussion went, it's understandable why organizers might not want to highlight the policy implications of their health care plans.

Rep. Mike Burgess (R-Texas), a doctor who sits on a House health subcommittee, told the conservative crowd that a reduction in the number of people with health insurance coverage shouldn't be viewed as a negative. "If the numbers drop, I would say that's a good thing," Burgess said, "because we've restored personal liberty in this country, and I'm always for that." Burgess seemed to imply that there are people who hate the idea of having health insurance but were forced to buy it because otherwise IRS agents would be "chasing [them] down" under the current law.


----- 7 -----
NRA's Wayne LaPierre tells CPAC that the left's protesters are paid $1,500 a week and are dangerous
Matt Pearce (Los Angeles Times) | on Twitter | 24 February 2017

NRA's Wayne LaPierre tells CPAC that the left's protesters are paid $1,500 a week and are dangerous
https://twitter.com/mattdpearce/status/835193573310152704

he's playing footage of black bloc types assaulting Trump supporters over the last few months
https://twitter.com/mattdpearce/status/835193689865596929

he says protesters are dedicated to destroying not just America but Western Civilization
https://twitter.com/basquiatball/status/835194469473345536

NRA's LaPierre compared protesters who block freeways to terrorists
https://twitter.com/mattdpearce/status/835195178159902721

[Reweet of] Olivia Nuzzi ‏@Olivianuzzi
Wayne LaPierre says that 100 years ago people were hanged for leaking. And the CPAC crowd... cheers.
https://twitter.com/Olivianuzzi/status/835197244726992897


----- 8 -----
Retired Navy admiral: Trump's remark about media 'the greatest threat to democracy'
By Paulina Firozi - 02/23/17
The Hill

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/320763-retired-navy-admiral-trumps-remark-that-news-media-is-the-enemy

Will McRaven, a retired Navy admiral and University of Texas system chancellor, is pushing back on President Trump’s description of the media as “the enemy of the American people.”

Speaking to the communications college at the University of Texas, Austin, on Tuesday, McRaven praised the work of the press as necessary to hold others accountable, according to reports.

“We must challenge this statement and this sentiment that the news media is the enemy of the American people,” McRaven said. “This sentiment may be the greatest threat to democracy in my lifetime.”


----- 9 -----
White House to eject its environmental advisers from their longtime main headquarters on Friday
By Juliet Eilperin February 23
The Washington Post

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/02/23/white-house-to-eject-its-environmental-advisers-from-their-historic-main-headquarters-on-friday/

The White House on Friday will move its Council on Environmental Quality out of its main headquarters at 722 Jackson Place, a red brick townhouse it has occupied since it was established nearly half a century ago.

Although some White House CEQ staffers will remain in adjoining townhouses, the shift means the council will lose its main conference room. While the influence of CEQ waxes and wanes depending on which president is in office, it traditionally plays a key role in executing the White House’s overall environmental agenda and coordinating key decisions among different agencies.

...

CEQ’s website was taken down after Trump took office and still remains blank.

...

The White House did not respond to a request for comment. At 722 Jackson Place on Thursday, workers were packing up boxes in preparation for the move.

President Trump has not yet nominated anyone to chair CEQ, and a career employee is working as acting director out of the Old Executive Office Building. The president has also yet to name nominees for other key environmental posts, including his science adviser and the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.


----- 10 -----
5 takeaways from the leaked Republican bill to repeal Obamacare
By Dylan Scott @dylanlscott | Stat
February 24, 2017

https://www.statnews.com/2017/02/24/republican-obamacare-5-takeaways/

WASHINGTON — A formal draft of the House Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act leaked out on Friday.

The final version is likely to be different — how much different, it’s hard to say. The draft obtained by Politico is dated two weeks ago, and rumors have been swirling here that Republicans received an unfavorable analysis from the Congressional Budget Office, the official scorekeepers on the cost and coverage implications of legislation.

But this is nonetheless an important milestone — real legislative text, prepared with an eye toward the complex parliamentary procedures needed to pass ACA repeal with only Republican votes, and presumably with the endorsement of House leadership.

Much attention will be paid to the proposed tax credits offered for people to buy health insurance and the changes to the tax treatment of employer-based insurance. Here are five provisions with big implications for health and medicine.


----- 11 -----
White House hand-picks select media outlets for briefing
By Jordan Fabian - 02/24/17 02:10 PM EST
The Hill

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/321049-white-house-hand-picks-select-media-for-briefing

The White House blocked a number of news outlets from covering spokesman Sean Spicer’s question-and-answer session on Friday afternoon.

Spicer decided to hold an off-camera “gaggle” with reporters inside his West Wing office instead of the traditional on-camera briefing in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room.

Among the outlets not permitted to cover the gaggle were news organizations President Trump has singled out for criticism, including CNN.

The New York Times, The Hill, Politico, BuzzFeed, the Daily Mail, BBC, the Los Angeles Times and the New York Daily News were among the other news organizations not permitted to attend.

Several right-leaning outlets were allowed into Spicer’s office, including Breitbart, the Washington Times and One America News Network.

A number of major news organizations were also let in to cover the gaggle. That group included ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, Reuters, Bloomberg and McClatchy.

The Associated Press and Time magazine were allowed into the gaggle but refused to attend.

The White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) sharply criticized the decision.

“The WHCA board is protesting strongly against how today's gaggle is being handled by the White House,” Jeff Mason, the association’s president, said in a statement.

“We encourage the organizations that were allowed in to share the material with others in the press corps who were not,” he added. “The board will be discussing this further with White House staff.”


----- 12 -----
The Trump White House Is Against Anonymous Sources, Except When It Isn’t
“They shouldn’t be allowed to use sources unless they use somebody’s name," the president said Friday.
By Michael Calderone | 24 February 2017

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-anonymous-sources_us_58b06419e4b060480e075897

President Donald Trump accused the media Friday of making up sources in stories critical of his administration, and said the practice of granting anonymity, used by virtually all reputable news organizations, should end.

“I’m against the people that make up stories and make up sources,” Trump told a cheering crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference. “They shouldn’t be allowed to use sources unless they use somebody’s name. Let their name be put out there.”

It’s one thing for a White House to push back on a story by suggesting a reporter’s sources are misinformed or lying, as past administrations might have done. It’s much more serious, and reckless, to claim that a reporter is fabricating sources to intentionally mislead the public ― a grave offense in journalism that usually marks the end of a reporter’s career.

Trump’s remarks, coming a week after he declared the media the “enemy of the American people,” are a continuation of the White House’s efforts to delegitimize the press. The remarks are also hypocritical, given Trump’s own tendency to attribute wild claims to unnamed sources.


----- 13 -----
Harvard scientist worries we’re ‘reverting to a pre-Enlightenment form of thinking’
By Carolyn Y. Johnson February 23, 2017

[The fundamentalist movement has had the Enlightment - and, in fact, specifically everything back to and often _including_ the Renaissance - in its sights as long as I've been tracking it. This, too, is something I have been writing about for some time. So it's good to see people catching on, I guess? You can't fight the problem until you admit the problem exists.]

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/02/23/harvard-scientist-worries-were-reverting-to-a-pre-enlightenment-form-of-thinking/

George Q. Daley, the new head of Harvard Medical School, knows what it's like when presidential politics collides with science. Daley was a leading stem cell scientist back in 2001 when President George W. Bush suddenly barred federal funding for research on new embryonic stem cells — a gesture to Republican antiabortion backers that, many believe, put a chill on one of the most cutting-edge areas of biology.

The move turned many scientists, unexpectedly, into activists. The diplomatic Daley helped Harvard create an institute in 2004 to work around the federal funding restrictions; California bucked the Bush administration by devoting its own state funds to the research. President Barack Obama eventually reversed the executive order in 2009, allowing federal funds to be used; today, embryonic stem cell based therapies are being tested in clinical trials, and studying them has helped unleash a wave of new medical insights.

As of Jan. 1, Daley occupies one of the highest-profile jobs in American medicine, a de facto spokesman both for research and medical practice. And he arrives at a moment when the entire field is nervous about what the Trump administration has in store. The White House seems not only indifferent to research, but also actively hostile to some strains of science; the future of the Affordable Care Act is uncertain at best. Drug prices, immigration and the national research budget — all issues crucial to the medical field — are all up for debate. By nature a scientist, accustomed to gathering evidence before opining about solutions, Daley says he thinks his experiences working in a field that was marginalized by politicians may provide some useful lessons for navigating what he called a "cacophony of confusion and alternative facts."


----- 14 -----
The NRA’s Wayne LaPierre at CPAC: The Left Wants to Kill You. So Buy Guns!
By Osita Nwanevu
Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday.

[The scariest thing about this is that the defining characteristic of rightist action for the last 15+ years has been to accuse your enemies of what you want to do.]

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2017/02/24/the_nra_s_wayne_lapierre_at_cpac_the_left_wants_to_kill_you_so_buy_guns.html

NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland—National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre had a message on Friday for Trump supporters who think the election of their beloved tough on crime and terrorism candidate will be enough alone to tackle those two problems: You’re wrong. Dead wrong. “Folks, our long nightmare—it may not be over,” he told CPAC during his address. “The fact is it may be just be beginning. Because right now, we face a gathering of forces that are willing to use violence against us." Who are those violent and dangerous forces needing to be dealt with, if not criminals and terrorists that the Trump administration will soon deal with? Liberals! From the speech:

I think we all agree we live in a more angry, dangerous world than we've seen in a long time. A lot of people, for a lot of reasons, want to blow it all up and tear the whole thing down. It’s in the Saul Alinksy strategy of sowing grievance and indignation to raise holy hell. It's in the leftist radical plan to tax capitalism to collapse. And it’s in the Rahm Emanuel doctrine of ‘Never let a crisis go to waste.’ And it's in the ISIS dream of a worldwide caliphate. So, what happens when it all collects and collides like a hurricane? What happens when the national media wind machine blows it up into a firestorm? And what happens, if, God forbid our enemies use that to their advantage?

The protests against Trump’s presidency, LaPierre said, offer an opportunity for terrorists, who could piggyback on left activism to strike Americans. “What happens when terrorists tag along with a flash mob protest at your local airport,” he asked. “What happens when some freeway Facebook protest on your interstate highway brings it all to a screeching halt?”

The protesters, of course, welcome this. LaPierre implied, because the protesters are themselves essentially terrorists. LaPierre opened his speech with clips from isolated incidents of violence from anti-Trump actions.“The left's message is absolutely clear,” he intoned. “They want revenge. You have to be punished. They say you are what is wrong with America. And now, you have to be purged.”


----- 15 -----
CNN was blocked from WH @PressSec's media gaggle today. This is our response:
CNN Communications on Twitter
24 February 2017

https://twitter.com/CNNPR/status/835211808671744001

This is an unacceptable development by the Trump White House. Apparently this is how they retaliate when you report facts they don't like. We'll keep reporting regardless.


----- 16 -----
WATCH: Sean Spicer said in December that only ‘dictatorships’ do what the White House did today
David Ferguson | Raw Story
24 Feb 2017 at 16:41 ET

http://www.rawstory.com/2017/02/watch-sean-spicer-said-in-december-that-only-dictatorships-do-what-the-white-house-did-today

Monday’s decision by Pres. Donald Trump’s White House to only invite friendly media outlets to an off-camera briefing with Press Secretary Sean Spicer set off a chorus of shock and disbelief in the media world.

The Washington Post reported Friday that less than four months ago, when Press Secretary Sean Spicer was asked if the Trump White House would play favorites among media outlets, he vehemently denied that it would happen.

At a December event hosted by Politico — one of the news outlets barred from today’s off-camera press gaggle — Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that allowing the press free access to government officials is not just a matter of principle, it’s what separates a democracy from a dictatorship.

“We have respect for the press when it comes to the government — that it is something you can’t ban an entity from,” Spicer said. “Conservative, liberal or otherwise. That makes a democracy a democracy versus a dictatorship. I think there is a vastly different model when it comes to government and what should be expected, and that’s on both sides.”


----- 17 -----
State GOP Chair Opposes Bill To Make It Easier To Vote, Claiming It Will Hurt Republicans
“This bill could be death of our effort to make Montana a reliably Republican state," he said.
By Sam Levine | 24 February 2017

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/montana-mail-in-ballots_us_58b0549de4b0780bac289c5d

The head of the Montana Republican Party wrote an emergency plea this week warning that legislation allowing residents to cast mail-in ballots would benefit Democrats and make it more difficult for the GOP to maintain control of state politics.

At issue is legislation introduced by Montana state Sen. Steve Fitzpatrick (R) that would allow Montanans to cast mail-in ballots in a special election later this year to fill the U.S. House seat vacated by Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.), whom President Donald Trump tapped to lead the Interior Department. Fitzpatrick introduced the bill to save the state $500,000 by not requiring election judges and other officials to be hired on short notice, he told The Associated Press.

But the legislation prompted Jeff Essmann, the chair of the Montana GOP, to send Republicans an “emergency report” email on Tuesday, warning that making it easier to vote would benefit Democrats.

“All mail ballots give the Democrats an inherent advantage in close elections due to their ability to organize large numbers of unpaid college students and members of public employee unions to gather ballots by going door to door,” Essmann wrote. “Vote-by-mail is designed to increase participation rates of lower propensity voters. Democrats in Montana perform better than Republican candidates among lower propensity voters and Republicans do better among higher propensity voters.”


----- 18 -----
Accused of having an incorrect visa, Mem Fox detained by immigration officials at LA airport
DEBORAH BOGLE, Books Editor, The Advertiser
February 23, 2017 2:33pm

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/accused-of-having-an-incorrect-visa-mem-fox-detained-by-immigration-officials-at-la-airport/news-story/aa712d3867d1509c52c3608798e19db5

AUSTRALIA’S best-loved children’s author, Mem Fox, was left sobbing and shaken after being detained for two hours and aggressively interrogated by immigration officials at Los Angeles airport.

Fox says she’s unlikely to ever travel to the United States again after being made to feel like “a prisoner at Guantanamo Bay”.

President Donald Trump had created the climate for this sort of behaviour, she said, adding: “This is what happens when extremists take power.”

En route to Milwaukee for a conference on February 9, where she was to deliver the opening keynote address at a literacy conference, Fox was ushered into an airport holding room and told she was travelling on the wrong visa. This was incorrect and the US Embassy in Canberra has since apologised. Fox, 70, said that by the time she checked in to her hotel she was shaking and sobbing.

“I am old and white, innocent and educated, and I speak English fluently,” she said. “Imagine what happened to the others in the room, including an old Iranian woman in her 80s, in a wheelchair.


----- 19 -----
FCC to halt rule that protects your private data from security breaches
FCC chair plans to halt security rule and set up vote to kill privacy regime.
Jon Brodkin - Feb 24, 2017 8:45 pm UTC

https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2017/02/isps-wont-have-to-follow-new-rule-that-protects-your-data-from-theft/

The Federal Communications Commission plans to halt implementation of a privacy rule that requires ISPs to protect the security of its customers' personal information.

The data security rule is part of a broader privacy rulemaking implemented under former Chairman Tom Wheeler but opposed by the FCC's new Republican majority. The privacy order's data security obligations are scheduled to take effect on March 2, but Chairman Ajit Pai wants to prevent that from happening.

The data security rule requires ISPs and phone companies to take "reasonable" steps to protect customers' information—such as Social Security numbers, financial and health information, and Web browsing data—from theft and data breaches.

"Chairman Pai is seeking to act on a request to stay this rule before it takes effect on March 2," an FCC spokesperson said in a statement to Ars.

The rule would be blocked even if a majority of commissioners supported keeping them in place, because the FCC's Wireline Competition Bureau can make the decision on its own.

"If commissioners are willing to cast their votes by March 2, then the full commission will decide the stay request," the FCC statement said. "If not, then the bureau will stay that one element of the privacy rules pending a full commission vote on the pending petitions for reconsideration consistent with past practice."

That "full commission vote on the pending petitions" could wipe out the entire privacy rulemaking, not just the data security section, in response to petitions filed by trade groups representing ISPs. That vote has not yet been scheduled.

The most well-known portion of the privacy order requires ISPs to get opt-in consent from consumers before sharing Web browsing data and other private information with advertisers and other third parties. The opt-in rule is supposed to take effect December 4, 2017, unless the FCC or Congress eliminates it before then.


----- 20 -----
Muslim Brotherhood Terror Designation Will Lead To 'Witch-Hunt,' Rights Groups Say
In an open letter, over 80 groups say it could cause the "effective shut-down" of American Muslim civil rights organizations.
By Christopher Mathias - 24 February 2017

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/muslim-brotherhood-terror-designation-letter_us_58b03effe4b0780bac28758b

Over 80 prominent American civil rights and faith-based groups have come out against President Donald Trump’s reported plan to designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terror organization, arguing it would provide a smokescreen to smear and persecute American Muslims and shut down important Muslim organizations.

An open letter published Thursday by the American Civil Liberties Union, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Brennan Center for Justice, and dozens of faith-based and social justice groups argued the terror designation could give a White House already hostile to Muslims the power to lead a “witch-hunt against Muslim society in the U.S.”

The designation, the letter states, would allow the administration to “destroy reputations and chill lawful activity,” and “runs the serious risk of stifling religious and political freedom and the ability to assist and represent Muslim communities without fear of retaliation.”

Anti-Muslim groups in the U.S. have long salivated over the prospect of designating the Muslim Brotherhood ― a culturally conservative political movement founded in Egypt to push for Islamic-based governments ― as a foreign terror organization.

For years, these groups have promoted paranoid conspiracy theories wherein the brotherhood is actively coordinating a massive, subversive plot among American Muslims to destroy the U.S. from within.

Thursday’s letter notes how right-wing groups and leaders have for years “used false ‘six degrees of separation’ accusations about the Muslim Brotherhood as a way to smear prominent Muslims, American Muslim civic and religious institutions, as well as a range of other people.”

CAIR and the Islamic Society of North America ― and everyone from Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin to conservative activist Grover Norquist ― have been baselessly accused of working for the brotherhood, most notably by anti-Muslim figurehead Frank Gaffney.


----- 21 -----
North Carolina Republican pushes for political quota hiring of professors
Colin Campbell (Verified account) @RaleighReporter
Charlotte (North Carolina) News and Observer
Seen on Twitter | 20 February 2017

[You may recall a few days ago I posted about an effort to do this in Iowa. How many other state Republicans are involved, I wonder? Is this a secret national effort?]

NC Senate has tabled this amendment from Republican Sen. Hise to require political party quotas in hiring UNC system professors.
https://twitter.com/RaleighReporter/status/833848109071474688


----- 22 -----
Citizenship Likely an Unreliable Indicator of Terrorist Threat to the United States
Department of Homeland Security (United States)
Accessed 2017/02/24

https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/3474730-DHS-intelligence-document-on-President-Donald.html

...

Key Findings

* DHS I&A assesses that country of citizenship is unlikely to be a reliable indicator of potential terrorist activity. ...
* Relatively few citizens of the seven countries impacted by E.O. 13769, compared to neighboring countries, maintain access to the United States.
* Terrorist groups in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen pose a threat of attacks in the United States while groups in Iran, Libya, Somalia, and Sudan remain regionally focused.

Citizens of Countries Affected by E.O. 13769 Rarely Implicated in US-Based Terrorism

...


----- 23 -----
Read a Transcript of President Trump's CPAC Speech
Ryan Teague Beckwith | Time Magazine
Updated: Feb 24, 2017 4:59 PM UTC

http://time.com/4682023/cpac-donald-trump-speech-transcript/

President Donald Trump called for a military buildup, criticized the media and reiterated his campaign calls to repeal the Affordable Care Act and build a wall on the Mexican border in a speech to grassroots conservatives on Friday.

Speaking at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference outside Washington, D.C., Trump repeated many of his applause lines from the campaign trail, even bashing former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, which sparked a brief chant of "lock her up!" from the crowd.

"I love this place. I love you people," he told the audience. "I wouldn't miss a chance to talk to my friends. These are my friends."

Read a complete transcript of Trump's remarks below:


----- 24 -----
SCOTUS Reprimands Anti-LGBTQ Groups for Misgendering Trans Student Gavin Grimm
By Mark Joseph Stern
24 February 2017

http://www.slate.com/blogs/outward/2017/02/24/supreme_court_reprimands_groups_for_misgendering_gavin_grimm.html?wpsrc=sh_all_dt_tw_top

In March, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board, a case about transgender bathroom access. Gavin Grimm, the plaintiff—who has legally and medically transitioned from female to male—argues that under Title IX, his high school must let him use the men’s bathroom. The case has drawn a great deal of interest from both liberal and conservative advocacy groups, many of which have filed amicus briefs in support of either Grimm or his school. Three of these briefs caught my eye this week—one filed by Liberty Counsel, and two filed by the National Organization for Marriage together with the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence. These briefs, which argue against Grimm’s right to use the men’s bathroom, identifies him this way in their front-page captions (emphasis mine):

G. G., BY HER NEXT FRIEND AND MOTHER, DEIRDRE GRIMM

But the Supreme Court, as well as all lower courts, identify him this way:

G. G., BY HIS NEXT FRIEND AND MOTHER, DEIRDRE GRIMM

That slightly odd formulation reflects the formal way that federal courts style a juvenile litigant’s name. (Grimm is 17.) It also obviously necessitates a gendered pronoun use. Did these anti-LGBTQ groups misgender Grimm by mistake? I posed the question to Liberty Counsel on Wednesday, and the organization confirmed that it used a female pronoun because “Gavin Grimm is a biological girl who now says she subjectively ‘identifies’ as a ‘boy.’ ”

These groups may passionately believe that Grimm is a girl—but unfortunately for them, they aren’t entitled to change his gender in the caption of their amicus briefs. The court has very specific rules governing these briefs, and Rule 34 of the Rules of the Supreme Court requires that each brief “shall bear on its cover ... the caption of the case as appropriate in this Court.”

On Thursday, I asked the Supreme Court’s press office whether the clerk of the court considered the altered pronoun in the briefs’ captions to be “appropriate.” And on Friday, a spokeswoman for the court informed me that the clerk, Scott S. Harris, had sent out letters reprimanding the groups that misgendered Grimm and demanding that they comply with the rules moving forward. You can read the letters here and here.

Obviously, this single rebuke will not persuade these organizations to respect Grimm’s gender identity. But it does, I think, effectively disqualify these amicus briefs from serious consideration. By misgendering Grimm, these briefs clearly reflect the kind of animus that moved the school board to bar Grimm from the correct bathroom in the first place. The briefs reject the very validity of Grimm’s identity in a manner that is both offensive and petty. Indeed, these organizations are so eager to deny Grimm this basic dignity that they intentionally flouted the rules of the Supreme Court of the United States. It is difficult to imagine a justice citing anything these groups’ briefs say—even those who vote against Grimm. Liberty Counsel, NOM, and the CCJ have given the game away, revealing that while they claim to care about bathroom predators, they are really attempting to repudiate trans people’s identity.

And to think—they might’ve convinced a few justices to cite their bigoted illogic if they had only put aside their animus for a moment and followed the rules of the court.


----- 25 -----
Afraid and confused, legal immigrants backing out of Seattle-area home purchases
Originally published February 24, 2017
The Seattle Times
By Mike Rosenberg

http://www.seattletimes.com/business/real-estate/afraid-and-confused-legal-immigrants-backing-out-of-seattle-area-home-purchases/

Some legal immigrants across the Seattle region are suddenly backing out of home purchases in reaction to the Trump administration’s immigration policies, threatening to upend a large portion of a roaring real-estate market.

Tech workers here on temporary work visas appear to be particularly concerned.

Karishma Kiri, a Windermere agent on the Eastside, said three of her 10 would-be homebuying clients dropped out of the market in the last couple weeks. All were tech workers, at companies like Amazon and Microsoft, who came here from South Asia on temporary H-1B work visas.

“There’s a definitely a fear in the market,” Kiri said. “I understand the fear. I can’t tell someone, ‘Oh, don’t worry, you’ll get your visa renewed.’ Who knows? Things could change.”

Zabir Hoque, a software engineer who came from Bangladesh as a kid and is now an American citizen, lives with his girlfriend in a condo near the Space Needle and had been looking around to buy a house. But with President Trump in office, he’s decided to hold off for six months to a year.


----- 26 -----
Muhammad Ali Jr. detained by immigration at Fla. airport
Danielle Lerner | The Courier-Journal
24 February 2017

http://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/2017/02/24/muhammad-ali-jr-detained-immigration-fla-airport/98376180/

The son of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali was detained for hours by immigration officials at a Florida airport, a family friend told the Courier-Journal.

Muhammad Ali Jr., 44, and his mother Khalilah Camacho-Ali, the second wife of Muhammad Ali, were arriving at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Feb. 7 after returning from speaking at a Black History Month event in Montego Bay, Jamaica. They were pulled aside while going through customs because of their Arabic-sounding names, according to family friend and lawyer Chris Mancini.

Immigration officials let Camacho-Ali go after she showed them a photo of herself with her ex-husband, but her son did not have such a photo and wasn't as lucky. Mancini said officials held and questioned Ali Jr. for nearly two hours, repeatedly asking him, "Where did you get your name from?" and "Are you Muslim?"

When Ali Jr. responded that yes, he is a Muslim, the officers kept questioning him about his religion and where he was born. Ali Jr. was born in Philadelphia in 1972 and holds a U.S. passport.


----- 27 -----
Donald Trump Rejects Intelligence Report on Travel Ban
Tension with intelligence officials rises as Homeland Security contradicts White House on terror
By Shane Harris | The Wall Street Journal
Feb. 24, 2017 8:53 p.m. ET

https://www.wsj.com/articles/donald-trump-rejects-intelligence-report-on-travel-ban-1487987629
[Behind a paywall. Partly from Evan McMillan ( https://twitter.com/Evan_McMullin/status/835343916186615810 ) who says, "Plenty of indications now that Trump WH has no qualms about politicizing intel assessments." ]

An intelligence report by the Department of Homeland Security contradicts the White House’s assertion that immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries pose a particular risk of being terrorists and should be blocked from entering the U.S.

...

"The president asked for an intelligence assessment. This is not the intelligence assessment the president asked for," a senior administration official said.


----- 28 -----
The difference between “Sanctuary City” and “Welcoming City”
Q-13 Fox (Seattle)
Posted 6:29 PM, February 23, 2017

http://q13fox.com/2017/02/23/the-difference-between-sanctuary-city-and-welcoming-city/

KENMORE, Wash. – City councils across the Northwest are passing resolutions to be known as “Welcoming Cities” or “Sanctuary Cities,” a term that one mayor says for his city is just reaffirmation of fact.

“It’s restating the obvious, that we are an inclusive community, that we welcome everybody,” said Kenmore Mayor David Baker.

Baker said it’s what Kenmore already stands for and why he has no issue trying to pass a welcoming resolution in his city on Monday.

“If somebody comes to our counter and wants a builder’s permit, if somebody comes to our counter and wants a dog license, we are not going to ask them their immigration status, there’s no reason to,” he said.

That’s how things work at the city of Kenmore today, and how they would work if a resolution is passed next week.

“We have an immigrant population within our community and we want them to feel welcome and safe. That’s the whole reason,” he said.

Also posted to ソ-ラ-バ-ド-のおん; comment count unavailable comments at Dreamwidth.

Tags: fascism watch, political
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