Solarbird (solarbird) wrote,
Solarbird
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good morning, it's 18 february 2017

Arkansas held their vote on their proposed Federal constitutional amendment, and it's passed out of committee with a partisan recommendation to pass as a whole. Relatedly, le Pen's fascist movement in France has also added ending marriage equality to their platform.

Evan McMullin, who hoped to throw the election into the House of Representatives to prevent Mr. Trump's election, is begging the GOP to save the country. They aren't listening. At all. Remember: they're all in on this. Remember that, when this is over.

The rough outlines of an ACA replacement are starting to come into focus, and they're crap. McConnell says they want no Democratic votes, and they're certainly going to get it - I guess the strong form of the Hastert Rule is back in effect.

Meanwhile, Republicans in Congress are working towards prohibiting states from setting up their own low-income pensions, because why the hell would they pass up an opportunity to be evil dickbags, right?

And Republicans in Oregon are trying to get started there with voter suppression - it's a lot harder, with mail-in balloting, so they're going to try to force everyone to be deregistered and re-registered in two years. It's a citizen initiative. Oregonians might want to do something about that.


----- 1 -----
Texas Senator Shatters Table Trying to Silence Woman Testifying Against Anti-Abortion Bill
Posted By Alex Zielinski on Thu, Feb 16, 2017 at 12:30 PM
San Antonio Current
Thursday, February 16, 2017

It only took state Sen. Charles Schwertner ten minutes of listening to testimony against anti-abortion bills before he broke a table.

Schwertner, the Republican chair of the Texas Senate's Committee on Health and Human Services, spent Wednesday morning introducing and defending a bill that would ban most women from donating fetal tissue from their abortions to science. His legislation was bundled with two other anti-abortion bills — one to throw out the safest abortion procedure for second-trimester pregnancies, the other to mandate all abortion remains are buried and cremated — penned by two other GOP senators, Charles Perry and Don Huffines.

After discussing the bills amongst themselves, the committee opened the floor to three hours of public testimony — which started with a bang.

"I'm here on behalf of all absent women, families and doctors across the state whose lives will be negatively impacted by this bill," began the testimony of Maggie Hennessy, a UT student and intern with NARAL Pro-Choice Texas. She was the fourth person to speak (of more than 50).


----- 2 -----
Chaffetz seeks charge of ex-Clinton aide in email inquiry
By Matthew Daly | AP February 16 at 7:22 PM

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/congress/chaffetz-seeks-charge-of-ex-clinton-aide-in-email-inquiry/2017/02/16/28673692-f4a7-11e6-9fb1-2d8f3fc9c0ed_story.html

WASHINGTON — The Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee, who has refused Democratic requests to investigate possible conflicts of interest involving President Donald Trump, is seeking criminal charges against a former State Department employee who helped set up Hillary Clinton’s private email server.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday asking him to convene a grand jury or charge Bryan Pagliano, the computer specialist who helped establish Clinton’s server while she was secretary of state.

Pagliano did not comply with two subpoenas ordering him to appear before the oversight panel. The GOP-led committee later voted to hold him in contempt of Congress.

Earlier this month, Chaffetz met with Trump at the White House and agreed not to discuss oversight. He has rebuffed calls for his panel to look into Trump’s businesses and possible conflicts.


----- 3 -----
Detained Dreamer's Lawyers Say Government Doctored Document to Justify False Gang Affiliation
by Sydney Brownstone • Feb 16, 2017 at 7:10 pm
The Stranger (Seattle)

http://www.thestranger.com/slog/2017/02/16/24878118/detained-dreamers-lawyers-say-government-doctored-legal-document-to-try-and-prove-false-gang-affiliation

Lawyers for Daniel Ramirez Medina, the twice-authorized, 23-year-old DACA recipient who was scooped up by immigration enforcement near Seattle last week, say that government officials doctored a legal document at the Northwest Detention Center in an attempt to prove that Ramirez Medina belonged to a gang.

The allegation of government misconduct is outlined in a brief filed by Ramirez Medina's lawyers in US District Court in Seattle. The lawyers say that when Ramirez Medina—who has been detained inside the Tacoma's Northwest Detention Center's gang unit for a week—tried to petition to be removed from the gang unit, part of his written petition was erased.

The brief states Ramirez Medina originally wrote: “I came in and the officers said I have gang affiliation with gangs so I wear an orange uniform. I do not have a criminal history and I’m not affiliated with any gangs.”

But according to an additional declaration filed to the court, the statement returned to Medina by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials five days later says: "I have gang affiliation with gangs so I wear an orange uniform. I do not have a criminal history and I’m not affiliated with any gangs.”

The document filed to the court bears clear signs of erased words. (See the image above.)


----- 4 -----
State Dept. carries out layoffs under Rex Tillerson
By Margaret Brennan, Kylie Atwood
CBS News February 17, 2017, 12:44 AM

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/state-dept-layoffs-under-rex-tillerson-being-carried-out/

While Rex Tillerson is on his first overseas trip as Secretary of State, his aides laid off staff at the State Department on Thursday.

Much of seventh-floor staff, who work for the Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources and the Counselor offices, were told today that their services were no longer needed.

These staffers in particular are often the conduit between the secretary’s office to the country bureaus, where the regional expertise is centered. Inside the State Department, some officials fear that this is a politically-minded purge that cuts out much-needed expertise from the policy-making, rather than simply reorganizing the bureaucracy.

There are clear signals being sent that many key foreign policy portfolios will be controlled directly by the White House, rather than through the professional diplomats.

Not a single State Department official was included in the White House meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner - who has no regional expertise or diplomatic experience - had a greater role in the meeting than the Senate-confirmed secretary of State.

...

“It is irresponsible to let qualified, nonpartisan, experienced people go before you have any idea of their replacement. You can’t do foreign policy by sitting in the White House, just out of your back pocket,” explains Tom Countryman, Former Assistant Secetary for Non-Proliferation who was let go earlier this month. Countryman worries that the White House is displaying an intent not rely on the State Department for foreign policy in that no one will be in place to challenge the edicts drawn up in the Oval Office.

This may be what President Trump was referring to when he repeatedly said that “our people” are not yet in place at U.S. government agencies. He blamed the leaks of embarrassing White House transcripts of his phone calls with foreign leaders - including difficult conversations he had with Mexico and Australia - on officials who had previously worked for the Obama Administration.


----- 5 -----
As ‘sanctuary district,’ Seattle schools vow to alleviate concerns of immigrant students, families
The Seattle School Board’s unanimous approval joins school districts across the country that have declared themselves sanctuary districts or safe havens in response to President Donald Trump’s push to curb illegal immigration.
Originally published February 15, 2017 at 7:47 pm Updated February 16, 2017 at 7:31 pm
By Paige Cornwell, Seattle Times staff reporter
Seattle Times

http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/education/seattle-schools-vow-to-alleviate-concerns-of-immigrant-students-families

Seattle Public Schools staff will never ask for a student’s immigration status and won’t allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents access to any student records, the School Board said in a resolution approved Wednesday.

The School Board’s unanimous approval joins school districts across the country that have declared themselves sanctuary districts or safe havens in response to President Donald Trump’s push to curb illegal immigration. School boards have passed similar resolutions in at least a dozen cities, including Portland, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh and Minneapolis.

The political climate has caused anxiety for many Seattle students, who were born in 147 different countries, board members said. Since Trump’s win on Election Day, Superintendent Larry Nyland said, school leaders have looked for ways to alleviate concerns for students and their families.

“Our diversity is our strength,” Nyland wrote in a letter to families Jan. 30. “The detainment and potential exclusion of our Muslim, Mexican, and Latino neighbors, co-workers, and families has tested our resolve.”

At Wednesday’s School Board meeting, Board Member Jill Geary said she hoped Seattle’s resolution would inspire other school districts to adopt similar ones. Vice President Leslie Harris noted that other Seattle city leaders support the resolution.

“We are indeed in bizarre and frightening times, and it matters to stand up and be counted,” Harris said.


----- 6 -----
Republicans, Protect the Nation
By EVAN McMULLIN | The New York Times
FEB. 17, 2017

[Remember this, later.]

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/17/opinion/a-party-to-the-russian-connection.html

President Trump’s disturbing Russian connections present an acute danger to American national security. According to reports this week, Mr. Trump’s team maintained frequent contact with Russian officials, including senior intelligence officers, during the campaign. This led to concerns about possible collusion with one of America’s principal strategic adversaries as it tried to influence the election in Mr. Trump’s favor. On Monday, Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, was forced to resign after details of his communications with the Russian ambassador emerged.

Republican leaders in Congress now bear the most responsibility for holding the president accountable and protecting the nation. They can’t say they didn’t see the Russian interference coming. They knew all along.

Early in 2015, senior Republican congressional leaders visited Ukraine and returned full of praise for its fight for independence in spite of Russia’s efforts to destabilize the country and annex some of its regions. And in June, coincidentally just before Mr. Trump announced his campaign for the Republican nomination, they met with Ukraine’s prime minister in Washington — one of many meetings I attended as a senior aide to the House Republican Conference.

As the presidential race wore on, some of those leaders began to see parallels between Russia’s disinformation operations in Ukraine and Europe and its activities in the United States. They were alarmed by the Kremlin-backed cable network RT America, which was running stories intended, they judged, to undermine Americans’ trust in democratic institutions and promote Mr. Trump’s candidacy. Deeply unsettled, the leaders discussed these concerns privately on several occasions I witnessed.

Some also questioned Mr. Trump’s attacks on Hispanics, Muslims, women and people with disabilities, or his positions on entitlement reform, discretionary spending and national security. Others were unnerved by his volatile temperament, egoism and authoritarian tendencies. In public, they occasionally offered light criticism of Mr. Trump’s most objectionable comments, but mostly remained silent for fear of antagonizing his supporters.

As Mr. Trump campaigned, his consistent affection for Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, and apparent defense of Russian intervention in Ukraine raised further concerns. In December 2015, on “Morning Joe,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Putin, “He’s running his country and at least he’s a leader, unlike what we have in this country.” He also equated Mr. Putin’s murderous regime with the American government: “Our country does plenty of killing, also” — a remark he has repeated as president.

Suspect public comments like these led one senior Republican leader to dolefully inform his peers that he thought Mr. Trump was on the Kremlin’s payroll, suggesting that Mr. Trump had been compromised by Russian intelligence. Other leaders were surprised by their colleague’s frank assessment, but did not dispute it.


----- 7 -----
House G.O.P. Leaders Outline Plan to Replace Obama Health Care Act
By ROBERT PEAR and THOMAS KAPLAN | FEB. 16, 2017
The New York Times

[It's tax cuts, huge cuts to Medicaid, and medical savings accounts with no income adjustment at all. The only thing I see described that _might_ offset some of this is making it easier to buy health insurance across state lines.]

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/16/us/politics/affordable-care-act-congress.html

WASHINGTON — House Republican leaders on Thursday presented their rank-and-file members with the outlines of their plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, leaning heavily on tax credits to finance individual insurance purchases and sharply reducing federal payments to the 31 states that have expanded Medicaid eligibility.

Speaker Paul D. Ryan and two House committee chairmen stood with the new secretary of health and human services, former Representative Tom Price of Georgia, preparing Republican lawmakers for a weeklong Presidents’ Day recess that promises to be dominated by angry or anxious questions about the fate of the health law.

But the talking points they provided did not say how the legislation would be paid for, essentially laying out the benefits without the more controversial costs.

It also included no estimates of the number of people who would gain or lose insurance under the plan, nor did it include comparisons with the Affordable Care Act, which has extended coverage to 20 million people.

With the House proposal’s rollback of Medicaid payments to the states, it appears likely that the number covered would be smaller.


----- 8 -----
Arkansas Senate Joint Resolution 7 - to call a Constitution Convention to ban marriage equality - moves forward out of committee
16 February 2017

"An Application To Congress To Call A Convention For Proposing An Amendment To The United States Constitution Concerning The Definition Of 'marriage'."

https://www.legiscan.com/AR/bill/SJR7/2017
2017-02-16 Senate Returned by the Committee, with the recommendation that it Do Pass


----- 9 -----
France’s Marine Le Pen quietly pledges to end same-sex marriage
Nick Duffy | Pink News
14th February 2017, 7:28 PM

http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2017/02/14/frances-marine-le-pen-quietly-pledges-to-end-same-sex-marriage/

Far-right French Presidential hopeful Marine Le Pen has quietly pledged to close off same-sex marriage.

Front National leader Marine Le Pen is currently leading in first-round polls ahead of France’s Presidential election.

Le Pen’s party previously maintained strong ties to the anti-LGBT lobby, though it has recently made inroads with conservative gay voters, purporting to have “

But despite any “reforms”, Le Pen has now quietly confirmed plans to end same-sex marriage in the country, burying the policy announcement in a list of 144 pledges released last week.

Buried midway through the lengthy document at number 87, Le Pen promises to create an “improved” form of civil unions in the country to “replace” the equal marriage law passed under the current Socialist government in 2013.

...

As well as plans to tamper with equality laws, Le Pen also outlines plans to restrict fertility services, ending assistance for gay couples wanting to have children.


----- 10 -----
Congress takes aim at state retirement accounts
By Reid Wilson - 02/15/17 01:13 PM EST
The Hill

http://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/319686-congress-takes-aim-at-state-retirement-accounts

One of the first high-stakes battles testing the relationship between states and President Donald Trump’s administration will hit the House floor Wednesday, as Republicans seek to roll back an Obama-era rule that would allow states to create retirement savings accounts for low-income workers.

The House will vote on a resolution offered by Health, Employment, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee Chairman Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) that would roll back a rule allowing states to create retirement plans for private-sector workers whose employers do not offer retirement plans on their own.

The Employee Benefits Security Administration implemented the rule in October.

Seven states have taken steps toward creating such programs, requiring employers who do not offer retirement plans on their own to enroll employees in a state-run option.
Employees can opt out of those retirement plans, and employers are not required to contribute to the accounts.

California created the first such state-run retirement system in 2012 and six other states — Illinois, Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland, Oregon and Washington — have taken steps of their own. Oregon plans to begin its program later this year.

But the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and several financial firms oppose such state-run retirement plans. The Chamber has said state plans will give employers an excuse to end better 401(k) programs for employees.

...

In a letter to California’s congressional delegation, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) blasted the financial industry for opposing his state’s program, known as Secure Choice.

“They think the dollars that move into Secure Choice should instead flow into their own products. I consider this a feature, not a defect, of Secure Choice,” Brown wrote.


----- 11 -----
Trump yells at CIA director over reports intel officials are keeping info from him
CBS News
17 February 2017

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/trump-yells-at-cia-director-over-reports-intel-officials-are-keeping-information-from-him/

CBS News has learned that on Thursday, an angry President Trump called CIA Director Mike Pompeo and yelled at him for not pushing back hard enough against reports that the intelligence community was withholding information from the commander-in-chief.

The agency then drafted a strongly worded statement rebutting the claim. “We are not aware of any instance when that has occurred,” read Pompeo’s statement. “It is CIA’s mission to provide the President with the best intelligence possible and to explain the basis for that intelligence. The CIA does not, has not, and will never hide intelligence from the President, period.”

...

The reality is, insiders say, that there has been a “chill” in the information flow. Intelligence sources say the agency is intent on protecting information, and if there are concerns it could be compromised, it will be withheld.

The ongoing investigation into whether Trump associates coordinated with the Russians remains a concern for some who handle sensitive data. It can be inferred that there is a lack of trust, and because the CIA has had a role in uncovering signs of Russian cyber intrusions, there are also concerns that sensitive information could be shared with adversaries.


----- 12 -----
Popular Domestic Programs Face Ax Under First Trump Budget
By SHARON LaFRANIERE and ALAN RAPPEPORT
The New York Times
FEB. 17, 2017

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/17/us/politics/trump-program-eliminations-white-house-budget-office.html

WASHINGTON — The White House budget office has drafted a hit list of programs that President Trump could eliminate to trim domestic spending, including longstanding conservative targets like the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Legal Services Corporation, AmeriCorps and the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities.

Work on the first Trump administration budget has been delayed as the budget office awaited Senate confirmation of former Representative Mick Mulvaney, a spending hard-liner, as budget director. Now that he is in place, his office is ready to move ahead with a list of nine programs to eliminate, an opening salvo in the Trump administration’s effort to reorder the government and increase spending on defense and infrastructure.

Most of the programs cost under $500 million annually, a pittance for a government that is projected to spend about $4 trillion this year. And a few are surprising, even though most if not all have been perennial targets for conservatives.


----- 13 -----
McConnell intends to replace 'Obamacare' without Democrats
Erica Werner, Ap Congressional Correspondent
Updated 5:13 pm, Friday, February 17, 2017

http://www.seattlepi.com/news/politics/article/McConnell-intends-to-replace-Obamacare-without-10940592.php

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans will repeal and replace the health care law and overhaul the tax code without Democratic help or votes, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Friday.

"It's clear that in the early months it's going to be a Republicans-only exercise," the Kentucky senator said at a news conference before lawmakers left for a weeklong President's Day recess. "We don't expect any Democratic cooperation on the replacement of Obamacare, we don't expect any Democratic cooperation on tax reform."

McConnell has condemned Democrats for passing Obamacare in the first place, in 2010, without any Republican votes, claiming the partisan exercise set the law up to fail. "The mess to come was inevitable," McConnell wrote in his memoir last year.

But now he's promising the same approach himself, in a sign that the partisanship and polarization dividing the country and Congress under President Donald Trump will not end anytime soon.


----- 14 -----
A New Ballot Initiative Would Require Oregon Voters to Prove Their Citizenship Before Voting
It could plunge Oregon into the center of national voter-suppression efforts.
By Nigel Jaquiss | Willamette Week
February 15 at 6:00 AM

http://www.wweek.com/news/2017/02/15/a-new-ballot-initiative-would-require-oregon-voters-to-prove-their-citizenship-before-voting/

Conservative activists are currently gathering signatures for an Oregon ballot initiative that would require every voter in the state to provide proof of citizenship within two years.

Initiative Petition 5, which has been approved for signature-gathering and could appear on the November 2018 ballot, would significantly increase the requirements to vote in Oregon.

All Oregonians would need to re-register by providing state officials with a birth certificate, passport or other proof of citizenship by 2020. Currently, voters need only attest to their citizenship to be allowed to vote. (Many people do present birth certificates or passports to obtain driver's licenses, the document typically used for Oregon voter registration.)

If backers gather 117,578 valid signatures, the ballot initiative could plunge Oregon into the center of national voter-suppression efforts that use unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud as a pretext.

...

Buchal says the measure is aimed at addressing what he calls the "low quality" of Oregon's voter rolls. He says he believes the rolls include people who are dead, residents of other states and, most problematically, non-citizens. (Federal law allows only U.S. citizens to vote.) He cannot, however, point to documented evidence of fraud here.

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

Tags: fascism watch, political
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