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Never Again: A Comment on U.S. Immigration and The Need for a Canadian Response
January 29, 2017
This blog is normally limited to digital law and policy issues, such as privacy, copyright and the Internet. Not today. These are not normal times. The events in the United States over the past few days involving the creation of an executive order with a thinly-veiled Muslim ban demand a response. While some politicians have tried to avoid comment by arguing that this is an internal U.S. matter, the far-reaching implications for the world and for the millions of people whose lives are at stake does not allow for such an easy out. There may be a cost to Canada for speaking out – some have suggested that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should avoid angering U.S. President Donald Trump – but if so, it is a price worth paying.
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President Trump Prepares to Withdraw from Groundbreaking Climate Change Agreement
Jan 30, 2017
The United States will switch course on climate change and pull out of a global pact to cut emissions, said Myron Ebell, who headed U.S. President Donald Trump's Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) transition team until his inauguration.
Ebell is the director of global warming and international environmental policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a U.S. conservative think tank, and helped to guide the EPA's transition after Trump was elected in November until he was sworn in on Jan. 20.
"The U.S. will clearly change its course on climate policy. Trump has made it clear he will withdraw from the Paris Agreement. He could do it by executive order tomorrow or he could do it as part of a larger package," Ebell told reporters in London on Monday.
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Weak and Incompetent Leaders act like Strong Leaders
Tom Pepinsky - Associate Professor of Government, Cornell University
Posted on January 30, 2017 by tompepinsky — 6 Comments
An essay by Yonatan Zunger entitled “Trial Balloon for a Coup?” is making the rounds. Such essays are frightening to many. And yet they must be read critically. I am equally taken by the argument that everything that Zunger identifies is evidence not of a deliberate planning by an aspiring authoritarian, but of the exact opposite: the weakness and incoherence of administration by a narcissist.
One of the many things that studying authoritarian politics has taught me is that from the perspective of the outsider, weak leaders often act like strong leaders, and strong leaders often act like they are indifferent. Weak leaders have every incentive to portray themselves as stronger than they are in order to get their way. They gamble on splashy policies. They escalate crises. This is just as true for democrats as for dictators. (Note the parallels with Jessica Weeks on constraints on authoritarian rulers and their foreign policy behavior.)
The consummate strong ruler is one who does not issue any command or instruction at all because she does not have to—her will is implemented already. Indonesia’s strongman leader Soeharto was sometimes portrayed as The Smiling General, an almost aloof Javanese sultan. How incongruous this is: When Soeharto came to power, at least 500,000 people were killed! That is strength. More precisely, it is power.
How to square my perspective on President Trump’s new administration with the more frightening alternatives? The problem is what a social scientist would call “observational equivalence” of two diametrically opposing arguments. We have two theories of why something is happening, and yet we cannot tell which is the “correct” theory based on the data that we observe. We have precious little evidence about what is happening within President Trump’s administration. What we observe is its output: executive orders, staffing decisions, and personnel management. What we don’t observe is everything that we need to know to interpret those outputs.
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Memo that got Acting Attorney General fired
30 January 2017
Have you read the note that got her fired?
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Steve Bannon Is Making Sure There’s No White House Paper Trail, Says Intel Source
The Trump administration’s chief strategist has already taken control of both policy and process on national security.
By Kate Brannen | January 30, 2017 | Foreign Policy
If there was any question about who is largely in charge of national security behind the scenes at the White House, the answer is becoming increasingly clear: Steve Bannon, the former head of Breitbart News, a far-right media outlet, and now White House advisor.
Even before he was given a formal seat on the National Security Council’s “principals committee” this weekend by President Donald Trump, Bannon was calling the shots and doing so with little to no input from the National Security Council staff, according to an intelligence official who asked not to be named out of fear of retribution.
“He is running a cabal, almost like a shadow NSC,” the official said. He described a work environment where there is little appetite for dissenting opinions, shockingly no paper trail of what’s being discussed and agreed upon at meetings, and no guidance or encouragement so far from above about how the National Security Council staff should be organized.
By the end of the week, they weren’t the only ones left in the dark. Retired Marine Gen. John Kelly, the secretary of homeland security, was being briefed on the executive order, which called for immediately shutting the borders to nationals from seven largely Muslim countries and all refugees, while Trump was in the midst of signing the measure, the New York Times reported.
During the first week of the Trump administration, there were no SOCs, the intelligence official said. In fact, according to him, there is surprisingly very little paper being generated, and whatever paper there is, the NSC staff is not privy to it. He sees this as a deterioration of transparency and accountability.
“It would worry me if written records of these meeting were eliminated, because they contribute to good governance,” Waxman said.
It is equally important that NSC staff be the ones drafting the issue papers going into meetings, too, said Schulman. “The idea is to share with everyone a fair and balanced take on the issue, with the range of viewpoints captured in that document,” she said.
If those papers are now being generated by political staff, she added, it corrupts the whole process.
It could also contribute to Bannon’s centralization of power.
“He who has the pen has the authority to shape outcomes,” the intelligence official said.
Now Bannon’s role in the shadows is being formalized thanks to an executive order signed Saturday by Trump that formally gives Bannon a seat on the National Security Council’s principals committee. The same executive order removed from that group the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the director of national intelligence, and the secretary of energy. Their new diminished role is not unprecedented, but some still find it a troubling piece of this larger picture.
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New Eyman initiative would cut property taxes 25 percent
Originally published January 30, 2017 at 12:13 pm
Anti-tax initiative promoter Tim Eyman has filed his latest effort, a measure that seeks a 25 percent property tax cut.
The Seattle Times
OLYMPIA — Anti-tax initiative promoter Tim Eyman has filed his latest effort, a measure that seeks a 25 percent property tax cut.
Initiative 1550 was introduced Monday. Under the measure, current voter-approved local school levies would not be affected. After the initial property tax cut in 2018, the initiative caps property tax increases at 1 percent a year, unless local governments go to the ballot to ask voters for more.
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White House says it won’t roll back LGBTQ protections
Originally published January 31, 2017 at 5:35 am Updated January 31, 2017 at 5:47 am
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he won’t roll back federal workplace protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer people, giving a rare nod of approval to President Barack Obama’s work on the issue.
In a statement released early morning, the White House said Obama’s 2014 executive order prohibiting LGBTQ workplace discrimination would remain intact “at the direction” of Trump.
The announcement came just hours before Trump was to announce his pick for the Supreme Court. That nominee, if confirmed by the Senate, would have a say in potential court challenges to gay marriage rights. The Supreme Court legalized same sex marriage in 2015, but efforts are underway in some states to try to restrict the scope of the decision.
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Senate committee approves DeVos nomination
By Lisa Hagen - 01/31/17 11:45 AM EST
The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) on Tuesday morning approved Betsy DeVos’s nomination to lead the Department of Education.
DeVos was confirmed 12-11 along party lines. Her nomination will now go to the Senate floor, where she’ll need only need a simple majority to be confirmed.
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Message from U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv Consular Section
Home / Visas / Message from U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv Consular Section
Retrieved 31 January 2017
If you have a currently valid U.S. visa in your Israeli passport and were born in Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen, and do not have a valid passport from one of these countries, your visa was not cancelled and remains valid. Similarly, we continue to process visa applications for applicants born in those countries, so long as they do not have a valid passport from one of those countries and have not otherwise declared themselves to be a national of one of those countries. Authorization to enter the United States is always determined at the port of entry. We have no further information at this time.
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Federal judge in LA has issued order allowing Iranian man deported from LAX yesterday to be admitted to US
Matt Hamilton (LA Times) on Twitter
31 January 2017
[The order requires that they _go fetch him_, because they already expelled him and had him on a flight back when the previous order came down]