Solarbird (solarbird) wrote,

  • Mood:

good morning, it's 11 february 2017

Republican reps and senators under heavy fire at home; several important environmental issues (science, and legislative); Russian newspaper tells women to be 'proud of their bruises' as state partially decriminalises domestic violence; a big ICE sweep started being rumoured Thursday night and ICE lied about it, turned out it as real and ran into Friday; Republican state legislatures continue to make it harder to vote; some background on the neoreactionary movement (self-titled "NRx"); Justice Department has signalled in a court case that they are stepping back from including transgendered people in civil rights law. (This will be the start of many such steps back, now that Sessions is confirmed.)

Item 10 in particular is really exasperating as a majority of Trump voters say the Bowling Green Massacre (which, again, was not a real thing and did not happen) shows why his Executive Order on immigration is needed. An outright majority now appear to believe it was actually a thing and justifies action.

Item 23 is a new survey-study across 40 years of immigration data in 200 metropolitan areas showing no connection between immigration and increases in crime rates. Useful for reference, if you can get any of 45's followers to pay attention to science.

----- 1 -----
Watch: Utahns instigate while Chaffetz rebuffs their calls to investigate
Amid constant booing, the Republican has a hard time trying to answer questions about public lands, Trump and immigration.
By COURTNEY TANNER | The Salt Lake Tribune
9 February 2017

[There is also a selection of video snippets here: ]

Rep. Jason Chaffetz tried to respond to questions, but many of his answers went unheard. The din of the hostile and harassing audience that filled the 1,000 seats of a high school auditorium Thursday night drowned him out.

"Explain yourself," they roared over him.

When the congressman did get a chance to speak, the crowd often didn't like what he had to say. And he knew it.

The town-hall meeting was 75 minutes of tense exchanges between Chaffetz and residents from across the state. They were frustrated by the Utah Republican's refusal to investigate President Donald Trump's potential conflicts of interest. They doggedly pursued him for his initiatives to transfer or sell public lands. They questioned his position on immigration and refugees.

And that's was only half of the largely liberal crowd.

About 1,500 people stood outside Brighton High School, too far back to make the cut, their signs reading, "Do your job" and "America is better than this."


Noor Ul-Hasan, a Democratic activists, said, "If you want to continue to look into Hillary Clinton, I don't care. But why aren't you checking out your own president?"

Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, said he's looking into comments made by Kellyanne Conway, a counselor to Trump, who plugged Ivanka Trump's fashion line in a national television interview.

"There's no case to be made that we went soft on the White House," Chaffetz said as police nervously patrolled the perimeter of the room. "In terms of doing my job, that's what I'm supposed to be doing."

Melissa Batka Thomas, from Salt Lake City, steadied her shaking hands as she read a quote from Chaffetz in which he called on presidential candidates to release their tax returns and "show everything."

"I'm asking you to explain what your timeline is to uphold your word or why there is a reluctance to do so," she said.

The congressman said, as he has before, that the president is "exempt" from conflict of interest laws. "Until there is evidence that [Trump] has somehow overused that to ingratiate his family …" Chaffetz said before boos cut him off.

----- 2 -----
Current climate change models understate the problem, scientists argue
Date: February 8, 2017
Source: Oxford University Press USA
A new study on the relationship between people and the planet shows that climate change is only one of many inter-related threats to the Earth's capacity to support human life.

A new study on the relationship between people and the planet shows that climate change is only one of many inter-related threats to the Earth's capacity to support human life.

An international team of distinguished scientists, including five members of the National Academies, argues that there are critical components missing from current climate models that inform environmental, climate, and economic policies.

The article, published in the National Science Review, describes how the recent growth in resource use, land-use change, emissions, and pollution has made humanity the dominant driver of change in most of the Earth's natural systems, and how these changes, in turn, have important feedback effects on humans with costly and serious consequences.

The authors argue that current estimates of the impact of climate change do not connect human variables -- such as demographics, inequality, economic growth, and migration -- with planetary changes. This makes current models likely to miss important feedbacks in the real Earth-human system, especially those that may result in unexpected or counterintuitive outcomes.

----- 3 -----
Russian newspaper tells women to be 'proud of their bruises' as state partially decriminalises domestic violence
New law will see offenders face fewer penalties
by Tom Embury-Dennis
The Independent
Thursday 9 February 2017 08:11 GMT

One of Russia’s most popular newspapers has told women to be “proud of their bruises”, as the country partially decriminalises domestic abuse.

The article, published by Komsomolskaya Pravda, came ahead of Russian President Vladimir Putin signing into law a new measure that will see offenders face fewer penalties.

Yaroslav Korobatov, a columnist for the paper, said: “For years, women who have been smacked around by their husbands have found solace in the rather hypocritical proverb, ‘If he beats you, it means he loves you!’

“However, a new scientific study is giving women with irascible husbands new grounds to be proud of their bruises, insofar as women who are beaten, biologists confirm, have a valuable advantage: they’re more likely to give birth to boys!”

The scientific study refers to research by Satoshi Kanazawa, a controversial evolutionary psychologist.

----- 4 -----
Republicans Are Moving To Get Rid Of Rules That Limit Overdraft Fees
The big winner will be a prepaid debit card company that has spent generously in Washington in recent years.
Matthew Zeitlin | BuzzFeed News Reporter
8 February 2017

A financial company that has spent generously on lobbying Washington may soon see its bets pay off, as the Congressional Republicans who were among its many beneficiaries work to scrap rules that prevent it from charging customers tens of millions in overdraft fees.

Last week, Georgia Republican Sen. David Perdue introduced a resolution in Congress, alongside other Republicans including his fellow Georgian Johnny Isakson, to throw out a new package of rules for the prepaid debit card industry.

The rules, finalized by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in October, include limitations on overdraft fees, which have become a significant source of consumer complaints about the financial industry — and an important revenue stream for Georgia-based financial firm Total System Services, whose NetSpend unit is the country’s largest manager of prepaid cards, according to a 2015 financial filing.

The vast majority of prepaid debit cards don’t come with overdraft fees, but NetSpend’s do, and the fees accounted for 10-12% of its overall revenue in 2016, or $80-85 million, the company told investors in October. Its parent has spent big on lobbying and political donations in a bid to kill the rules: in the last three months of 2016 alone, it spent some $270,000 lobbying Congress.

----- 5 -----
Potential solicitor general pick withdraws name
By Evelyn Rupert - 02/09/17 10:17 PM EST
The Hill

A lawyer believed to be on the shortlist for President Trump’s solicitor general has removed himself from the running, Politico reported Thursday.

“I am deeply honored by any consideration that I may have received by Attorney General Sessions and President Trump for appointment as the Solicitor General, but I have asked them to discontinue any further consideration of me for that critically important position,” Supreme Court litigator Chuck Cooper said in a statement Thursday.

His withdrawal could open a window for George Conway, top White House adviser Kellyanne Conway’s husband, who is also believed to be under consideration.

Kellyanne Conway told Politico earlier this week that her husband is “willing to serve.”

Cooper said that he doesn’t want to undergo the grueling Senate confirmation process, which he helped Sessions through on his way to attorney general.

----- 6 -----
Michigan Republican official resigns after calling for "another Kent State"
By Virginia Gordan • 9 February 2017
Michigan Public Radio

The Secretary of the Marquette County Republican Party has stepped down after he tweeted the suggestion that violent protestors at the University of California - Berkeley should be shot.

Dan Adamini says he resigned so he isn't a distraction to the work of the Republican Party.

"Whenever you join an organization, you want to do it because you can be helpful," said Adamini. "And with all the hateful messages and death threats that have been coming not just to me but to other people in the party, I thought it would be best if I stepped aside."

Last week Adamini tweeted, "Violent protesters who shut down free speech? Time for another Kent State perhaps. One bullet stops a lot of thuggery."

Adamini said he meant to call for an end to violence after last week's demonstration in Berkeley against controversial senior Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos.

"Now that is not the sentiment that most people interpreted from my Tweet and Facebook post, and I understand that because I did it miserably," said Adamini.

----- 7 -----
EPA Staff Yanked From Alaska Summit as Trump Team Weighs In
by Christopher Flavelle and Jennifer A Dlouhy | Bloomberg News
February 9, 2017, 5:00 AM EST

Just three days before this week’s environment conference in Alaska, the top Environmental Protection Agency official in Anchorage called the organizer with some news: The agency had been instructed by the White House to slash the number of EPA staffers who could attend.

"We’ve never had this happen before," said Kurt Eilo, who has organized the Alaska Forum on the Environment for 19 years. The annual gathering brings together 1,800 people from native communities, government agencies and the public to discuss climate-related issues, including melting permafrost and risks to villages from rising seas.

There had been 34 EPA staffers registered; in the end, only half were allowed to go. The agency says the late change -- including scrapping the travel of some senior staff from Washington -- was about saving money for American taxpayers.

The travel change is one more sign of how President Donald Trump is taking a different approach to energy and environment. Federal workers and environmentalists say they are unnerved by what’s been done so far: from deleted web pages on climate change to cuts in staffing at the office in the Department of Energy responsible for science research.

----- 8 -----
A divided, testy Senate confirms Trump health secretary
The Seattle Times
Originally published February 9, 2017

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans won Senate confirmation of President Donald Trump’s choice for health secretary early Friday in the testy chamber’s fourth consecutive brawl over Cabinet picks.

Senators approved Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., to head the Health and Human Services Department by a strictly party-line 52-47 vote in the dead of night. A debate that Democrats prolonged until nearly 2 a.m. EST Friday was dotted with bitter accusations, reflecting the raw feelings enveloping Washington early in Trump’s presidency.

No. 2 Senate GOP leader John Cornyn of Texas said Democrats’ “obstruction” of Cabinet nominees was a rejection of Trump’s Election Day victory and threatened “the stability of the government and that peaceful transition of power” from President Barack Obama.


“He seems to have no higher priority than to terminate health coverage for millions of people,” said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. She said his preference for limiting women’s access to free birth control was “not only wrong, it’s arrogant.”


----- 9 -----
Feds try to forcefully search Wall Street Journal reporter's phone
by Frank Pallotta and Jose Pagliery
CNN | July 21, 2016: 3:25 PM ET

A Wall Street Journal reporter was detained by federal agents at the Los Angeles airport who demanded to confiscate her two cell phones -- and was surprised to find that border agents have the authority to do that.

Maria Abi-Habib, a reporter who covers the Middle East for the paper, detailed in a long Facebook post Thursday how Department of Homeland Security agents detained her in "a special section of LAX airport" to ask her questions.

Abi-Habib has both U.S. and Lebanese citizenship and was traveling on an American passport. She was flying into Los Angeles from Beirut last Thursday when she taken out of line at immigration.

"They grilled me for an hour," she wrote. "I answered jovially, because I've had enough high-level security experiences to know that being annoyed or hostile will work against you."

Abi-Habib said that the agents then asked for her cellphones in order to "collect information."

"That is where I drew the line," Abi-Habib wrote. "I told her I had First Amendment rights as a journalist she couldn't violate and I was protected under."

According to Abi-Habib, the agent then presented a DHS document that read that the government has the right to confiscate phones within 100 miles from U.S. borders. She posted a photo of this document on the Facebook post.

"If they forgot to ask you at JFK airport for your phones, but you're having a drink in Manhattan the next day, you technically fall under this authority," she wrote. "And because they are acting under the pretense to protect the U.S. from terrorism, you have to give it up."

Abi-Habib told the agents that they would have to call the Wall Street Journal's lawyers because the phones are the property of the newspaper.

This led to the agent accusing her of "hindering the investigation." The agent left to speak with her supervisor, returning 30 minutes later to tell Abi-Habib that she was free to go.

----- 10 -----
By 51/23 margin, Trump voters say the Bowling Green Massacre shows why his Executive Order on immigration is needed
PublicPolicyPolling - @ppppolls - on Twitter
10 February 2017

Full results PDF:

----- 11 -----
Reports of ramped-up ICE raids on Twitter
Seen 9 and 10 February 2017

ADDED LATER: Confirmed by Washington Post:

ADDED LATER: ICE flat-out lied on Thursday about raids:

----- 12 -----
National security adviser Flynn discussed sanctions with Russian ambassador, despite denials, officials say
By Greg Miller, Adam Entous and Ellen Nakashima February 9 at 11:25 PM
The Washington Post

National security adviser Michael Flynn privately discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with that country’s ambassador to the United States during the month before President Trump took office, contrary to public assertions by Trump officials, current and former U.S. officials said.

Flynn’s communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were interpreted by some senior U.S. officials as an inappropriate and potentially illegal signal to the Kremlin that it could expect a reprieve from sanctions that were being imposed by the Obama administration in late December to punish Russia for its alleged interference in the 2016 election.

Flynn on Wednesday denied that he had discussed sanctions with Kislyak. Asked in an interview whether he had ever done so, he twice said, “No.”

On Thursday, Flynn, through his spokesman, backed away from the denial. The spokesman said Flynn “indicated that while he had no recollection of discussing sanctions, he couldn’t be certain that the topic never came up.”

Officials said this week that the FBI is continuing to examine Flynn’s communications with Kislyak. Several officials emphasized that while sanctions were discussed, they did not see evidence that Flynn had an intent to convey an explicit promise to take action after the inauguration.


All of those officials said ­Flynn’s references to the election-related sanctions were explicit. Two of those officials went further, saying that Flynn urged Russia not to overreact to the penalties being imposed by President Barack Obama, making clear that the two sides would be in position to review the matter after Trump was sworn in as president.

“Kislyak was left with the impression that the sanctions would be revisited at a later time,” said a former official.


Putin’s muted response — which took White House officials by surprise — raised some officials’ suspicions that Moscow may have been promised a reprieve, and triggered a search by U.S. spy agencies for clues.

“Something happened in those 24 hours” between Obama’s announcement and Putin’s response, a former senior U.S. official said. Officials began poring over intelligence reports, intercepted communications and diplomatic cables, and saw evidence that Flynn and Kislyak had communicated by text and telephone around the time of the announcement.


Other officials were categorical. “I can tell you that during his call, sanctions were not discussed whatsoever,” a senior transition official told The Post at the time. When Pence faced questions on television that weekend, he said “those conversations that happened to occur around the time that the United States took action to expel diplomats had nothing whatsoever to do with those sanctions.”

Current and former U.S. officials said that assertion was not true.

----- 13 -----
Michael Flynn's Debacle
Trump’s national security adviser’s potentially false statements about his pre-inauguration contacts with Russian officials are a major scandal.
Yuri Gripas / Reuters
David Frum / The Atlantic
10 February 2017

“This reminds me of the run-up to Iran- Contra.”

The person offering that gloomy observation was a veteran of many years in and around the US defense community. Unusually for a person with such a background, he had been a Trump supporter even during the Republican primaries. Now, though, he was worried. The new National Security Council leadership was taking form—and he feared he saw history repeating itself.

“The National Security Council,” he warned, “is not one executive body. It is a deliberative body.” But the new national security adviser, General Michael Flynn, obviously hungered to carry out policy, not merely preside over policy formation. That way lay the disaster that had befallen Reagan's national security advisers Bud Macfarlane and John Poindexter in the 1980s, who were convicted of lying to Congress about the administration selling arms to Iran to finance anti-communist militants in Nicaragua.

Disaster now seems to have happened. The Washington Post last night reported that—contrary to previous denials not only by Flynn himself, but from Vice President Mike Pence—Flynn "privately discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with that country’s ambassador to the United States during the month before President Trump took office.”

That matters because "Flynn’s communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak were interpreted by some senior U.S. officials as an inappropriate and potentially illegal signal to the Kremlin that it could expect a reprieve from sanctions that were being imposed by the Obama administration in late December to punish Russia for its alleged interference in the 2016 election.”

According to the Post, nine current and former U.S. officials confirmed that Flynn had not told the truth about his diplomatic outreach to the country whose spies had helped to elect his boss to the US presidency. If these reports are true, we have here a very serious scandal.

----- 14 -----
Neil Gorsuch’s Criticism Wasn’t Aimed at Trump, Aides Say in Reversal
The New York Times

WASHINGTON — White House officials insisted on Thursday that Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, was not referring to Mr. Trump’s recent denigration of judges when he said privately that he was disheartened by attacks on the courts.

Mr. Trump said on Twitter that the nominee’s remarks had been misrepresented, a sentiment echoed by the White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, during a contentious briefing. A day before, members of the White House team guiding Judge Gorsuch’s confirmation verified that the judge had expressed his dismay in response to questions about Mr. Trump’s insults of judges.

The administration’s abrupt shift highlighted the degree to which Judge Gorsuch’s nomination — a top priority for the president and his core supporters — has become mired in a broader debate over Mr. Trump’s attitude about the constitutional principle of judicial independence.

The president’s feud with the judiciary — he referred to the district court judge who blocked his targeted travel ban as a “so-called judge” and called an appeals court hearing “a disgrace” — is dominating the Senate’s consideration of Judge Gorsuch’s nomination. Senators from both parties are demanding that the judge answer for the president who named him.

Continue reading the main story
Mr. Spicer said that when Judge Gorsuch told senators that he considered such criticism “demoralizing” and “disheartening,” he was referring broadly to any such attacks on the judiciary.

“The judge was very clear that he was not commenting on any specific matter, and that he was asked about his general philosophy,” Mr. Spicer told reporters during a series of testy exchanges. “So you can’t then take that and equate it back to the specific. He literally went out of his way to say I’m not commenting on a specific instance.”

----- 15 -----
Republican state lawmakers push for restrictions on voting
Feb. 9, 2017 10:37 AM EST
Associated Press

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — As President Donald Trump hurls unfounded allegations of colossal fraud in last fall's election, lawmakers in at least 20 mostly Republican-led states are pushing to make it harder to register or to vote.

Efforts are underway in places such as Arkansas, Iowa, Maine, Nebraska and Indiana to adopt or tighten requirements that voters show identification at the polls. There is a move in Iowa and New Hampshire to eliminate Election Day registration. New Hampshire may also make it difficult for college students to vote. And Texas could shorten the early voting period by several days.

Supporters say the measures are necessary to combat voter fraud and increase public confidence in elections. But research has shown that in-person fraud at the polls is extremely rare, and critics of these restrictions warn that they will hurt mostly poor people, minorities and students — all of whom tend to vote Democratic — as well as the elderly.

They fear, too, that the U.S. Justice Department, under newly confirmed Attorney General Jeff Sessions, will do little to intervene to protect voters.

Some election watchers see voting rights under heavy attack.

"What is really happening here is an attempt to manipulate the system so that some people can participate and some people can't," said Myrna Perez, director of the Voting Rights and Elections project at New York University's Brennan Center for Justice.

----- 16 -----
Behind the Internet's Anti-Democracy Movement
White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is reportedly a reader of neoreactionary political theory. A tour through the pro-authoritarian philosophy gaining visibility on the right.
Rosie Gray | 10 February 2017

White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has been in contact via intermediaries with Curtis Yarvin, Politico Magazine reported this week. Yarvin, a software engineer and blogger, writes under the name Mencius Moldbug. His anti-egalitarian arguments have formed the basis for a movement called “neoreaction.”

The main thrust of Yarvin’s thinking is that democracy is a bust; rule by the people doesn’t work, and doesn’t lead to good governance. He has described it as an “ineffective and destructive” form of government, which he associates with “war, tyranny, destruction and poverty.” Yarvin’s ideas, along with those of the English philosopher Nick Land, have provided a structure of political theory for parts of the white-nationalist movement calling itself the alt-right. The alt-right can be seen as a political movement; neoreaction, which adherents refer to as NRx, is a philosophy. At the core of that philosophy is a rejection of democracy and an embrace of autocratic rule.

The fact that Bannon reportedly reads and has been in contact with Yarvin is another sign of the extent to which the Trump era has brought previously fringe right-wing ideologies into the spotlight. It has brought new energy into a right that is questioning and actively trying to dismantle existing orthodoxies—even ones as foundational as democracy. The alt-right, at this point, is well-known, while NRx has remained obscure. But with one of the top people in the White House paying attention, it seems unlikely to remain obscure for long.


The worldview espouses an explicitly authoritarian idea, a rejection of the post-Enlightenment vision of a world that is continually improving as it becomes more democratic. Per the website’s authors:

The core of our problem is that there is no one with the secure authority to fix things. The core of our solution is to find a man, and put him in charge, with a real chain of command, and a clear ownership structure.

Real leadership would undertake a proper corporate restructuring of USG: Pardon and retire all employees of the old regime; formalize obligations as simple financial instruments; nationalize and restructure the banks, media, and universities; and begin the long slow process of organic cultural recovery from centuries of dysfunction.

[Note: by "a man," they explicitly mean a man - women have no place in any of this]

----- 17 -----
The Madness of King Donald
By Andrew Sullivan | New York Magazine
February 10, 2017


Trump’s lies are different. They are direct refutations of reality — and their propagation and repetition is about enforcing his power rather than wriggling out of a political conundrum. They are attacks on the very possibility of a reasoned discourse, the kind of bald-faced lies that authoritarians issue as a way to test loyalty and force their subjects into submission. That first press conference when Sean Spicer was sent out to lie and fulminate to the press about the inauguration crowd reminded me of some Soviet apparatchik having his loyalty tested to see if he could repeat in public what he knew to be false. It was comical, but also faintly chilling.

What do I mean by denial of empirical reality? Take one of the most recent. On Wednesday, Senator Richard Blumenthal related the news that Judge Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s nominee for the long-vacant Supreme Court seat, had told him that the president’s unprecedented, personal attacks on federal judges were “disheartening” and “demoralizing.” Within half an hour, this was confirmed by Gorsuch’s White House–appointed spokesman, who was present for the conversation. CNN also reported that Senator Ben Sasse had heard Gorsuch say exactly the same thing, with feeling, as did former senator Kelly Ayotte.

The president nonetheless insisted twice yesterday that Blumenthal had misrepresented his conversation with Gorsuch — first in an early morning tweet and then, once again, yesterday afternoon, in front of the television cameras. To add to the insanity, he also tweeted that in a morning interview, Chris Cuomo had never challenged Blumenthal on his lies about his service in Vietnam — when the tape clearly shows it was the first thing Cuomo brought up.

What are we supposed to do with this? How are we to respond to a president who in the same week declared that the “murder rate in our country is the highest it’s been in 45 to 47 years,” when, of course, despite some recent, troubling spikes in cities, it’s nationally near a low not seen since the late 1960s, and half what it was in 1980. What are we supposed to do when a president says that two people were shot dead in Chicago during President Obama’s farewell address — when this is directly contradicted by the Chicago police? None of this, moreover, is ever corrected. No error is ever admitted. Any lie is usually doubled down by another lie — along with an ad hominem attack.


Then there is the obvious question of the president’s mental and psychological health. I know we’re not supposed to bring this up — but it is staring us brutally in the face. I keep asking myself this simple question: If you came across someone in your everyday life who repeatedly said fantastically and demonstrably untrue things, what would you think of him? If you showed up at a neighbor’s, say, and your host showed you his newly painted living room, which was a deep blue, and then insisted repeatedly — manically — that it was a lovely shade of scarlet, what would your reaction be? If he then dragged out a member of his family and insisted she repeat this obvious untruth in front of you, how would you respond? If the next time you dropped by, he was still raving about his gorgeous new red walls, what would you think? Here’s what I’d think: This man is off his rocker. He’s deranged; he’s bizarrely living in an alternative universe; he’s delusional. If he kept this up, at some point you’d excuse yourself and edge slowly out of the room and the house and never return. You’d warn your other neighbors. You’d keep your distance. If you saw him, you’d be polite but keep your distance.

I think this is a fundamental reason why so many of us have been so unsettled, anxious, and near panic these past few months. It is not so much this president’s agenda. That always changes from administration to administration. It is that when the linchpin of an entire country is literally delusional, clinically deceptive, and responds to any attempt to correct the record with rage and vengeance, everyone is always on edge.

There is no anchor any more. At the core of the administration of the most powerful country on earth, there is, instead, madness.

----- 18 -----
When the Fire Comes
Paul Krugman FEB. 10, 2017
The New York Times

What will you do when terrorists attack, or U.S. friction with some foreign power turns into a military confrontation? I don’t mean in your personal life, where you should keep calm and carry on. I mean politically. Think about it carefully: The fate of the republic may depend on your answer.

Of course, nobody knows whether there will be a shocking, 9/11-type event, or what form it might take. But surely there’s a pretty good chance that sometime over the next few years something nasty will happen — a terrorist attack on a public place, an exchange of fire in the South China Sea, something. Then what?

After 9/11, the overwhelming public response was to rally around the commander in chief. Doubts about the legitimacy of a president who lost the popular vote and was installed by a bare majority on the Supreme Court were swept aside. Unquestioning support for the man in the White House was, many Americans believed, what patriotism demanded.

The truth was that even then the urge toward national unity was one-sided, with Republican exploitation of the atrocity for political gain beginning almost immediately. But people didn’t want to hear about it; I got angry mail, not just from Republicans but from Democrats, whenever I pointed out what was going on.

Unfortunately, the suspension of critical thinking ended as such suspensions usually do — badly. The Bush administration exploited the post-9/11 rush of patriotism to take America into an unrelated war, then used the initial illusion of success in that war to ram through huge tax cuts for the wealthy.

Bad as that was, however, the consequences if Donald Trump finds himself similarly empowered will be incomparably worse.

We’re only three weeks into the Trump administration, but it’s already clear that any hopes that Mr. Trump and those around him would be even slightly ennobled by the responsibilities of office were foolish. Every day brings further evidence that this is a man who completely conflates the national interest with his personal self-interest, and who has surrounded himself with people who see it the same way. And each day also brings further evidence of his lack of respect for democratic values.

----- 20 -----
Trump vexed by challenges, scale of government
The new president’s allies say he has been surprised that government can’t be run like his business.
By Alex Isenstadt, Kenneth P. Vogel and Josh Dawsey
10 February 2017 | Politico

Being president is harder than Donald Trump thought, according to aides and allies who say that he’s growing increasingly frustrated with the challenges of running the massive federal bureaucracy.

In interviews, nearly two dozen people who’ve spent time with Trump in the three weeks since his inauguration said that his mood has careened between surprise and anger as he’s faced the predictable realities of governing, from congressional delays over his cabinet nominations and legal fights holding up his aggressive initiatives to staff in-fighting and leaks.


The interviews paint a picture of a powder-keg of a workplace where job duties are unclear, morale among some is low, factionalism is rampant and exhaustion is running high. Two visitors to the White House last week said they were struck by how tired the staff looks.

In Washington circles, talk has turned to whether a staff shake-up is in the works.

One person close to Trump said: "I think he'd like to do it now, but he knows it's too soon."


----- 21 -----
Bob Ferguson
Administration Division
PO Box 40100 • Olympia WA 98504-0100 • (360) 753-6200

The Honorable Kim Wyman
Elections Division
ATTN: Initiative and Referendum
PO Box 40220
Olympia, WA 98504-0220

Re: Initiative No. 1552

Dear Secretary Wyman:

Pursuant to RCW 29A.72.060, we supply herewith the ballot title and ballot measure summary for Initiative No. 1552 to the People (an act relating to enhancing peoples' expectations of privacy and
safety in public restrooms and school facilities).

Statement of Subject: Initiative Measure No. 1552 concerns gender-segregated facilities and civil liability.

Concise Description: This measure would override state/local prohibitions against gender-identity discrimination in certain public-accommodation facilities, require that public schools restrict access to some facilities based on sex at birth, and allow related lawsuits against schools. Should this measure be enacted into law? Yes [ ] No [ ]


This measure would amend the Law Against Discrimination to redefine "sex," "gender," and related terms to be based on biological sex at birth. With exceptions, covered public and private entities could restrict access to "private facilities" based on sex at birth regardless of gender identity. It would restrict state and local regulations banning gender-identity discrimination. It would require that some public school facilities be gender segregated and authorize lawsuits against schools that. fail to comply.

Solicitor General
(360) 753-2536

----- 22 -----
Inslee Vows 'Resistance Everywhere' Approach To Trump Administration
By Austin Jenkins | KUOW | 9 February 2017

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is vowing to continue to resist policies from President Donald Trump. At a news conference Thursday, the Democrat said Washington has been “appropriately bold and protective” of its interests.

“We have been damaged,” Inslee said in reference to Trump’s executive order on immigration and refugees. “We believe our economy has been damaged. We believe that our universities and researchers have been damaged, we believe our families have been disrupted unnecessarily. And we will continue with our position.”

Inslee said the fact Washington was the first state to file a lawsuit against Trump’s executive order on immigration and refugees should be indicative of the state’s attitude toward the new administration.

“Resistance is not futile,” Inslee said. “It is both necessary and productive and we will demonstrate that resistance everywhere, every way, every time we think that our interests our jeopardized.”


“And I would encourage all public officials to show a little more respect for the courts rather than intimidation and attacking them,” Inslee said in a not-so-veiled reference to comments Trump has made about the judge in the case.

It’s not just immigration that Inslee is prepared to battle the Trump administration over. He specifically mentioned concerns he has about actions Trump may take on healthcare and climate change.

Asked if he’s concerned Attorney General Jeff Sessions might challenge Washington’s legal marijuana market, Inslee said “I would suggest to the White House that this is not a fight they should pick.”

Inslee said the state has no immediate “action plan” to sue the Trump administration again. But he said he and his team are engaged in “long-term thinking” about how to respond to actions from the new president.

----- 23 -----
STUDY: Four decades of evidence finds no link between immigration and increased crime
Robert Adelman, University at Buffalo; Lesley Williams Reid, University of Alabama; Gail Markle, Kennesaw State University; Charles Jaret, Georgia State University; and Saskia Weiss
Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice
University at Buffalo - 10 February 2017

BUFFALO, N.Y. - Political discussions about immigrants often include the claim that there is a relationship between immigration patterns and increased crime. However, results of a University at Buffalo-led study find no links between the two. In fact, immigration actually appears to be linked to reductions in some types of crimes, according to the findings.

"Our research shows strong and stable evidence that, on average, across U.S. metropolitan areas crime and immigration are not linked," said Robert Adelman, an associate professor of sociology at UB and the paper's lead author. "The results show that immigration does not increase assaults and, in fact, robberies, burglaries, larceny, and murder are lower in places where immigration levels are higher.

"The results are very clear."

Adelman's study with Lesley Williams Reid, University of Alabama; Gail Markle, Kennesaw State University; Charles Jaret, Georgia State University; and Saskia Weiss, an independent scholar, is published in the latest issue of the Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice.

"Facts are critical in the current political environment," said Adelman. "The empirical evidence in this study and other related research shows little support for the notion that more immigrants lead to more crime."

Previous research, based on arrest and offense data, has shown that, overall, foreign-born individuals are less likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans, according to Adelman.

For the current study, the authors stepped back from the study of individual immigrants and instead explored whether larger scale immigration patterns in communities could be tied to increases in crime due to changes in cities, such as fewer economic opportunities or the claim that immigrants displace domestic workers from jobs.

The authors drew a sample of 200 metropolitan areas as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau and used census data and uniform crime reporting data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation for a 40-year period from 1970 to 2010.

"This is a study across time and across place and the evidence is clear," said Adelman. "We are not claiming that immigrants are never involved in crime. What we are explaining is that communities experiencing demographic change driven by immigration patterns do not experience significant increases in any of the kinds of crime we examined. And in many cases, crime was either stable or actually declined in communities that incorporated many immigrants."

Adelman says the relationship between immigration and crime is complex and more research needs to be done, but this research supports other scholarly conclusions that immigrants, on the whole, have a positive effect on American social and economic life.

"It's important to base our public policies on facts and evidence rather than ideologies and baseless claims that demonize particular segments of the U.S. population without any facts to back them up," said Adelman.

----- 24 -----
US Intelligence Has Confirmed Parts Of The Dossier About Trump’s Alleged Ties To Russia
BuzzFeed News has confirmed CNN’s initial report that the US government has verified some details — though not the most explosive — in the 35-page document alleging links between President Donald Trump’s campaign to Russia
Jason Leopold
BuzzFeed News Reporter
10 February 2017

US intelligence has confirmed several details in the explosive dossier about President Donald Trump’s alleged ties to Russia, two American intelligence officials told BuzzFeed News on Friday.

CNN initially reported late Friday afternoon that parts of the 35-page dossier, which Trump has dismissed entirely as “fake news,” stood up under further investigation from US intelligence and law enforcement. But CNN said it has not confirmed whether any of the confirmed details relate to Trump. The CNN report also indicated that the intercepted calls that led to the confirmation were solely between foreign nationals and picked up during routine intelligence gathering.

An intelligence source told BuzzFeed News that CNN’s reporting was accurate, saying that the details that have been confirmed “are not the salacious allegations” of a sexual encounter in a Moscow hotel “but more about Trump’s relationship with Russia.” He declined to provide more details about the nature of that relationship, calling it “closely held.”

Additionally, the source said, some of the other confirmed details amount to things “no one will care about,” such as gossip among Russians who dislike Hillary Clinton.

----- 25 -----
With Pence gone, fellow Republicans undo his work in Indiana
Tony Cook, Chelsea Schneider and Kaitlin L Lange, Indianapolis Star
9 February 2017

Vice President Mike Pence's fellow Republicans took a number of steps Thursday to undo his policies, just weeks after the former governor left Indiana for the White House.

His handpicked successor and former lieutenant governor, Gov. Eric Holcomb, began the day with a news conference where he announced that he was canceling contract negotiations to lease state-owned cellphone towers to an Ohio company. The Pence administration had struck a tentative deal with the company and promised it would cover the cost of more than $50 million in bicentennial construction projects he initiated.

Holcomb also pardoned Keith Cooper, who was wrongfully convicted of robbery nearly 20 years ago, and declared a disaster emergency for an East Chicago neighborhood where residents have been forced to relocate because of lead contamination.

Pence had declined to pardon Cooper before leaving office, insisting that he exhaust his legal options despite resounding evidence of his innocence. Pence's refusal to exonerate the 49-year-old Chicago man came despite a pardon recommendation from the Indiana Parole Board and an online petition urging Pence to clear Cooper's name that had collected more than 100,000 signatures.

----- 26 -----
Disqualifying: EPA Nominee Scott Pruitt Misled Senators
January 25, 2017 John Walke

[Basically, Mr. Pruitt lied in testimony about his own lawsuits]

President Trump has nominated Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to be Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. I presented the following testimony at a Senate Democratic roundtable explaining two reasons why Mr. Pruitt is unfit to be EPA Administrator: (1) he misrepresented his positions and misled Senators during his confirmation hearing; and (2) he has stated his intention to continue disabling conflicts of interest if he becomes EPA Administrator by switching sides and representing EPA in ongoing lawsuits and related rulemakings in which Mr. Pruitt is suing EPA to overturn EPA clean air and clean water protections.

Thank you, Senator Carper for the opportunity to testify today. My name is John Walke, and I am clean air director and senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)—a nonprofit organization of scientists, lawyers, and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. I have worked at NRDC since 2000. Before that I was a Clean Air Act attorney in the Office of General Counsel for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). I am currently counsel for NRDC in several lawsuits that Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has filed to overturn EPA clean air protections, including cases involving EPA’s Mercury & Air Toxics Standards and national health standards for ozone or smog pollution.

My testimony today will address two topics. First, I will discuss Mr. Pruitt’s lawsuits to overturn EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards for power plants, and his testimony about these standards and his own positions during his January 18th confirmation hearing. Second, my testimony will discuss some of Mr. Pruitt’s conflicts of interest arising out of his EPA lawsuits, along with his refusal to recuse himself from those lawsuits and related rulemakings were he to be confirmed as EPA Administrator.

Mr. Pruitt’s Lawsuits to Overturn EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards

During the second round of questioning at Mr. Pruitt’s confirmation hearing, Senator Carper asked Mr. Pruitt whether EPA should not move forward with its Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. Mr. Pruitt responded, “Senator, I actually have not stated that I believe the EPA should not move forward on regulating mercury or adopting rulemaking in that regard. Our challenge was with regard to the process that was used in that case and how it was not complicit (sic) with statutes as defined by Congress.”

This response missed the point of Senator Carper’s question: that Mr. Pruitt has sued twice to challenge EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards—indeed he has pending litigation against the standards now—and Americans deserve to know whether Mr. Pruitt as EPA Administrator would continue to uphold and enforce these standards or stop them from continuing.

The more serious problem with Mr. Pruitt’s response to Senator Carper, however, is that Mr. Pruitt badly misrepresented his positions before federal courts in his two lawsuits against EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. Mr. Pruitt seriously misled Senators on the Committee about his own statements and the nature of his legal challenges.

On November 18, 2016, Mr. Pruitt filed a joint legal brief with industry groups challenging EPA’s determination that it remains “appropriate and necessary” to regulate power plant hazardous air pollutants using the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. Contrary to his responses to Senator Carper, Mr. Pruitt’s brief asserts that EPA is breaking the law by regulating power plant mercury emissions and other hazardous air pollutants under the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. Mr. Pruitt argues that hazardous air pollutant emissions from power plants are too insignificant to warrant regulation at all and that any benefits are “minuscule.” His brief argued EPA was wrong to adopt the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards under Clean Air Act section 112, and even that EPA should have deferred regulation to the states under some wholly different part of the Act. In a short appendix to my testimony, I include quotes from Mr. Pruitt’s 2016 brief making these arguments.

----- 27 -----
Hometown newspaper: Puzder ‘uniquely unqualified’ to serve as Labor secretary
The Hill
By Max Greenwood - 02/10/17 11:56 AM EST

Andrew Puzder's hometown newspaper is urging the Senate to reject his nomination as Labor secretary, arguing he is "uniquely unqualified" to serve in the role.

“He is brash, outspoken, misogynistic, combative and uninterested in quarantining himself from his financial interests,” the St. Louis Dispatch editorial board wrote.

“Like many of [President] Trump’s nominees – Rick Perry at the Energy Department, Betsy DeVos at Education, Ben Carson at Housing and Urban Development – he is almost uniquely unqualified for the duties of the office to which he seeks confirmation.”

----- 28 -----
Editorial: Andrew Puzder, local boy made good, has no business being labor secretary
By the Editorial Board | St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Feb 9, 2017

By historic standards governing Cabinet appointments, President Donald Trump’s nomination of Andrew F. Puzder as labor secretary would be in deep trouble. But this is not like any administration in history.

The Senate is dominated by a 52-48 Republican majority that already has seen fit to confirm nominees who in past administrations would have been sent packing. Historic standards do not apply in a hyper-partisan era where GOP senators fear losing their jobs if they insist on qualified, conflict-free public servants.

The Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee has postponed hearings on Puzder’s nomination three times to allow the nominee to sort through a variety of problems that in any other year would be disqualifying. Puzder is a onetime St. Louis trial lawyer and current chief executive of CKE Restaurants, whose St. Louis headquarters are in the process of moving to Nashville, Tenn. Puzder is perhaps closer to Trump’s style than the president’s other nominees.

He is brash, outspoken, misogynistic, combative and uninterested in quarantining himself from his financial interests. Like many of Trump’s nominees — Rick Perry at the Energy Department, Betsy DeVos at Education, Ben Carson at Housing and Urban Development — he is almost uniquely unqualified for the duties of the office to which he seeks confirmation.

The Labor Department’s official mission is to “foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.”

This is almost the opposite of Puzder’s mission in his 16 years heading the fast-food company that operates Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. restaurants.

The company currently is being sued in California for “wage theft.” The case deals with how CKE’s corporate-owned restaurants switched managers back to hourly wages after the Obama administration’s Labor Department extended overtime pay to salaried workers earning less than $47,476 a year.

Puzder’s attitude may be skewed by the fast-food industry’s reputation as employer of last resort for the uneducated and undermotivated. This part of the service sector is where a lot of job growth is found. He has been a vocal opponent of a $15-an-hour minimum wage that might attract better workers. He has mused about replacing workers with robots: “They’re always polite. They always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case.”

Add this to the fact that he hired an undocumented immigrant as a housekeeper and reveled in TV commercials featuring bikini-clad supermodels pitching 1,000-calorie burgers to his testosterone-crazed target demographic. And, like Trump, he has balked until this week at divesting his assets.

There’s every reason for the committee to send him back to Nashville. A robot would be better.

----- 29 -----
Federal agents conduct immigration enforcement raids in at least six states
By Lisa Rein, Abigail Hauslohner and Sandhya Somashekhar February 10 at 8:25 PM
The Washington Post

U.S. immigration authorities arrested hundreds of undocumented immigrants in at least a half-dozen states this week in a series of raids that marked the first large-scale enforcement of President Trump’s Jan. 26 order to crack down on the estimated 11 million immigrants living here illegally.


Immigration activists said the crackdown went beyond the six states DHS identified, and said they had also documented ICE raids of unusual intensity during the past two days in Florida, Kansas, Texas and Northern Virginia.

That undocumented immigrants with no criminal records were arrested and could potentially be deported sent a shock through immigrant communities nationwide amid concerns that the U.S. government could start going after law-abiding people.

“This is clearly the first wave of attacks under the Trump administration, and we know this isn’t going to be the only one,” Cristina Jimenez, executive director of United We Dream, an immigrant youth organization, said Friday during a conference call with immigration advocates.


A video that circulated on social media Friday appeared to show ICE agents detaining people in an Austin shopping center parking lot. Immigration advocates also reported roadway checkpoints, where ICE appeared to be targeting immigrants for random ID checks, in North Carolina and in Austin. ICE officials denied that authorities used checkpoints during the operations.


Hiba Ghalib, an immigration lawyer in Atlanta, said the ICE detentions were causing “mass confusion” in the immigrant community. She said she had heard reports of ICE agents going door-to-door in one largely Hispanic neighborhood, asking people to present their papers.


The Obama administration conducted a spate of raids and also pursued a more aggressive deportation policy than any previous president, sending more than 400,000 people back to their birth countries at the height of his deportations in 2012. The public outcry over the lengthy detentions and deportations of women, children and people with minor offenses led Obama in his second term to prioritize convicted criminals for deportation.

A DHS official confirmed that while immigration agents were targeting criminals, given the broader range defined by Trump’s executive order they also were sweeping up non-criminals in the vicinity who were found to be lacking documentation. It was unclear how many of the people detained would have been excluded under Obama’s policy.


“Big cities tend to have a lot of illegal immigrants,” said one immigration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly due to the sensitive nature of the operation. “They’re going to a target-rich environment.”

----- 30 -----
Canadian denied entry to U.S. after being questioned on mosque connections
Yassine Aber held up for 5 hours, asked about an old group photo with suspected jihadi
CBC News Posted: Feb 10, 2017

Another Canadian with Moroccan roots has been refused entry at Quebec's border with the United States after being questioned for five hours and having his phone searched.

Yassine Aber, a 19-year-old kinesiology student at the University of Sherbrooke, was denied entry to the U.S. on Thursday while trying to cross the border at Stanstead, Que.

A search of Aber's phone led U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents to a photo on Facebook in which he was tagged along with Samir Halilovic. Halilovic is one of three University of Sherbrooke students believed to have left Canada in 2014 to join Islamist fighters in Syria.

Aber told CBC News that he didn't know Halilovic well, but the two had friends in common and attended the same mosque. He said the group photo was taken at a wedding four years ago.

Questioned about birthplace, faith

Aber was travelling to the U.S. to attend a track meet in Boston with other members of the university's track-and-field team. Aber, who was born in Canada to parents originally from Morocco, was travelling on a valid Canadian passport.

The 19-year-old was travelling in a vehicle with five other athletes and their coach. The others were made to wait five hours while he was questioned by border guards.

"They made me fill in papers and made me talk about myself, where I'm from, where I was born," Aber told CBC News.

----- 31 -----
Justice Department Takes A Step Back From Effort To Protect Transgender People Under Existing Law
The department withdrew a request on Friday that a federal court limit an injunction that has halted enforcement of existing civil rights laws to provide protections for transgender people. An independent federal agency, however, continued to press ahead in its pro-transgender legal position in another case.
posted on Feb. 10, 2017, at 8:39 p.m.

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department took a step back Friday from its prior position of advancing transgender people’s rights under existing civil rights laws.

On just the second day of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ tenure at the helm of the Justice Department, the federal government filed a notice in the lawsuit Texas and other states had brought against the Obama administration’s pro-transgender policies.

The moves taken in the filing — a joint filing made with the states — suggest that the federal government’s position on the pending legal questions surrounding transgender people’s rights could be changing soon. At the least, it suggests the new administration is pulling back while it determines the position it will be taking in the case.

The Justice Department announced in the short filing that it was withdrawing its request that the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit limit a lower court’s nationwide injunction of the pro-transgender policies to instead cover only those states that had brought the litigation.

Then, in a joint request with the states challenging the policy, the states and the Justice Department both requested that the oral arguments on that issue be removed from the court’s calendar.

Finally, they note, “The parties are currently considering how best to proceed in this appeal.”

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

Tags: fascism watch, political
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