Item 21: what part of "trying to get the FBI to shut up about Russia" isn't obstruction of justice?
Item 24: Keep on eye on this. The plan may be to flood non-cooperative cities and states with ICE personnel, to the point where ICE presence is overwhelming. This will be where non-cooperation needs to go all the way down. There are several other ICE- and police-state-related stories today as well.
Washington State governor Jay Inslee is acting quickly to remind everyone 1) Fuck you, Trump, and 2) Washington State has its own civil rights protections that do include trans kids. (We're also ready to fight on legal marijuana, which the administration is now hinting it may try to stop.)
Item 4 involves more 'alterations' to reality - if they change the import/export numbers to be wrong, they can make the trade deficit look worse, and gain more support for trade wars. This is very bad, of course, but may well happen.
More on Milo's lies; a Muslim now-former staffer talks about leaving the Trump white house; Matt Schlapp was going to let neo-nazi and overt genocide planner Richard "One Punch [and down]" Spencer attend CPAC, but yanked his membership when people noticed; Trump refers to increased ICE action as a "military operation," which would be 192 kinds of illegal; the FBI is cold-calling Muslims in Seattle and calling it "outreach" but it's all kinds of intimidating; several notes from CPAC; it is UTTERLY INSANE that Trump's desire to RAMP UP NUCLEAR WEAPONS PRODUCTION isn't the lead story here and maybe it should be; more. Good luck.
----- 1 -----
Lawyers: ICE detainee with brain tumor removed from hospital
By Rafael Bernal - 02/22/17 10:10 PM EST
An undocumented immigrant diagnosed with a brain tumor while under Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody was returned to a detention center from a Texas hospital, her lawyers said.
The woman, a Salvadoran national identified only as Sara, was released from Huguley Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas, and taken to Prairieland Detention Center against her will, according to her lawyers.
"She told us they tied her hands and ankles in her condition," Melissa Zuniga, a member of Sara's legal team, told The Hill. "She's complaining of a lot of pain."
Zuniga said Sara, 26, was cut off from communication with her family and lawyers, even after the hospital and ICE had cleared Sara's mother for unrestricted phone access.
----- 2 -----
Statement from Inslee on Trump Administration removing protections for transgender students
Washington Governor Jay Inslee
February 22, 2017
“I strongly oppose the Trump Administration’s reversal of federal protection for transgender students. Washington state will continue to be a place where all children can feel safe from discrimination, harassment or assault based on their gender identity. Our state’s law, the Anderson-Murray Act, passed in 2006, will remain in place and is unchanged by the new federal guidance. And just last year our state Human Rights Commission did important work to put rules in place that uphold the rights of our transgender students and residents. Our schools will protect transgender students and ensure they have access to the same facilities, classes, and the opportunities as other students.
“We will continue to stand together to protect some of our most vulnerable students - we know that these young people face high rates of bullying, harassment and even violence. We have a long way to go to make sure that all our students can learn safely and free from discrimination.”
----- 3 -----
Arizona Senate votes to seize assets of those who plan, participate in protests that turn violent
By: Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services
February 22, 2017 , 5:11 pm
[Bill: https://legiscan.com/AZ/bill/SB1142/2017 ]
Claiming people are being paid to riot, Republican state senators voted Wednesday to give police new power to arrest anyone who is involved in a peaceful demonstration that may turn bad — even before anything actually happened.
SB1142 expands the state’s racketeering laws, now aimed at organized crime, to also include rioting. And it redefines what constitutes rioting to include actions that result in damage to the property of others.
But the real heart of the legislation is what Democrats say is the guilt by association — and giving the government the right to criminally prosecute and seize the assets of everyone who planned a protest and everyone who participated. And what’s worse, said Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, is that the person who may have broken a window, triggering the claim there was a riot, might actually not be a member of the group but someone from the other side.
Sen. Martin Quezada, D-Phoenix, acknowledged that sometimes what’s planned as a peaceful demonstration can go south.
But Sen. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, said that chilling effect is aimed at a very specific group of protesters.
“You now have a situation where you have full-time, almost professional agent-provocateurs that attempt to create public disorder,’’ he said.
“A lot of them are ideologues, some of them are anarchists,’’ Kavanagh continued. “But this stuff is all planned.’’
There’s something else: By including rioting in racketeering laws, it actually permits police to arrest those who are planning events. And Kavanagh, a former police officer, said if there are organized groups, “I should certainly hope that our law enforcement people have some undercover people there.’’
----- 4 -----
Trump Administration Considers Change in Calculating U.S. Trade Deficit
Tweak in counting exports could bolster president’s case for redoing Nafta, other trade deals
By William Mauldin and Devlin Barrett
Updated Feb. 19, 2017 12:29 p.m. ET
WASHINGTON—The Trump administration is considering changing the way it calculates U.S. trade deficits, a shift that would make the country’s trade gap appear larger than it had in past years, according to people involved in the discussions.
The leading idea under consideration would exclude from U.S. exports any goods first imported into the country, such as cars, and then transferred to a third country like Canada or Mexico unchanged, these people told The Wall Street Journal.
Economists say that approach would inflate trade deficit numbers because it would typically count goods as imports when they come into the country but not count the same goods when they go back out, known as re-exports.
Data on trade balances and surpluses, widely followed by Congress, are at the center of a political battle over whether existing trade agreements should be retained, renegotiated or tossed out altogether.
A larger trade deficit would give the Trump administration ammunition in arguing that trade deals need to be renegotiated, and might help boost political support for imposing tariffs.
Career government employees objected last week when they were asked to prepare data using the new methodology, according to the people familiar with the discussions. These employees at the U.S. Trade Representative’s office complied with the instructions, but included their views as to why they believe the new calculation wasn’t accurate.
One person familiar with the discussions said the employees were told the new calculations were to be presented to members of Congress.
The effect of such a change would be particularly stark on data involving countries that have free trade deals with the U.S., this person said—and in some cases the new methodology could even change a trade surplus into a trade deficit.
Trump trade officials said the idea is part of an early discussion and that they are examining various options. It is unclear whether the administration would adopt any new approach for measuring trade as part of official government data, or just use the higher deficit calculation to make the case for new trade deals.
----- 5 -----
Don't Dismiss President Trump's Attacks on the Media as Mere Stupidity
Bret Stephens | TIME
Updated: Feb 21, 2017 1:20 PM UTC | Originally published: Feb 18, 2017
Some of you may have noticed that we’re living through a period in which the executive branch of government is engaged in a systematic effort to create a climate of opinion against the news business.
The President routinely describes reporting he dislikes as FAKE NEWS. The Administration calls the press “the opposition party,” ridicules news organizations it doesn’t like as business failures, and calls for journalists to be fired. Mr. Trump has called for rewriting libel laws in order to more easily sue the press.
This isn’t unprecedented in U.S. history, though you might have to go back to the Administration of John Adams to see something quite like it. And so far the rhetorical salvos haven’t been matched by legal or regulatory action. Maybe they never will be.
But the question of what Mr. Trump might yet do by political methods against the media matters a great deal less than what he is attempting to do by ideological and philosophical methods.
Ideologically, the president is trying to depose so-called mainstream media in favor of the media he likes — Breitbart News and the rest. Another way of making this point is to say that he’s trying to substitute news for propaganda, information for boosterism.
His objection to, say, the New York Times, isn’t that there’s a liberal bias in the paper that gets in the way of its objectivity, which I think would be a fair criticism. His objection is to objectivity itself. He’s perfectly happy for the media to be disgusting and corrupt — so long as it’s on his side.
But again, that’s not all the president is doing.
Consider this recent exchange he had with Bill O’Reilly. O’Reilly asks:
Is there any validity to the criticism of you that you say things that you can’t back up factually, and as the President you say there are three million illegal aliens who voted and you don’t have the data to back that up, some people are going to say that it’s irresponsible for the President to say that.
To which the president replies:
Many people have come out and said I’m right.
Now many people also say Jim Morrison faked his own death. Many people say Barack Obama was born in Kenya. “Many people say” is what’s known as an argumentum ad populum. If we were a nation of logicians, we would dismiss the argument as dumb.
We are not a nation of logicians.
I think it’s important not to dismiss the president’s reply simply as dumb. We ought to assume that it’s darkly brilliant — if not in intention then certainly in effect. The president is responding to a claim of fact not by denying the fact, but by denying the claim that facts are supposed to have on an argument.
He isn’t telling O’Reilly that he’s got his facts wrong. He’s saying that, as far as he is concerned, facts, as most people understand the term, don’t matter: That they are indistinguishable from, and interchangeable with, opinion; and that statements of fact needn’t have any purchase against a man who is either sufficiently powerful to ignore them or sufficiently shameless to deny them — or, in his case, both.
If some of you in this room are students of political philosophy, you know where this argument originates. This is a version of Thrasymachus’s argument in Plato’s Republic that justice is the advantage of the stronger and that injustice “if it is on a large enough scale, is stronger, freer, and more masterly than justice.”
Substitute the words “truth” and “falsehood” for “justice” and “injustice,” and there you have the Trumpian view of the world. If I had to sum it up in a single sentence, it would be this: Truth is what you can get away with.
----- 6 -----
Don't Be Fooled By Milo Yiannopoulos' Latest Doe-Eyed Act. It's Hollow. Here's The Proof.
The Former Breitbart Editor Has Used His Platform To Mock And Attack Sexual Assault Survivors For Years
ERIN FITZGERALD | Media Matters for America
February 22, 2017 9:20 PM EST
[Included in no small part because in the version of this at the link, there are SO MANY LINKS to source material and resources]
At the press conference, Yiannopoulos presented a public persona that was not in line with the values that he’s espoused for so long. Rather, he’s devoted a serious body of work to attacking survivors of sexual assault, attempting to function as an arbiter of who counts as a “victim” and who can -- or cannot -- be labeled a “perpetrator”. He has repeatedly denied that rape and sexual assault are major problems in the U.S., while summarily casting Muslims as the “real” perpetrators of rape culture. He's also peddled the dangerous, debunked myth that transgender people will commit sexual assault if given access to the appropriate facilities. Yiannopoulos has expressed a fondness for rape jokes and has made victims of sexual abuse the butt of his jokes, mocking “little boys” for “complaining” about clerical sexual abuse. Yiannopoulos has gleefully employed the term “slut’s remorse” when speaking about sexual assault allegations -- arguing that such allegations are often motivated by the accuser’s “self-loathing,” “spitefulness,” and “malice.” Yiannopoulos has also advocated for the right to anonymity for those accused of assault under this warped line of reasoning.
Yiannopoulos has asserted that measures colleges have taken to raise awareness of and combat the shockingly high rate of sexual assault reported by campus women are a result of “a long-smouldering, insidious force” that “has nearly destroyed an otherwise pleasant and fun-filled relationship between the genders on campus.” He said that campaign was perpetuated by feminists with an “insane, irrational fear of men,” and he urged male students not to go to “consent classes,” cautioning that awareness and prevention measures will ultimately result in the criminalization of “ordinary male behaviour.” Most recently, Yiannopoulos urged the Trump administration to roll back sexual assault and harassment protections that were strengthened and clarified in a 2011 memo issued by the U.S. Department of Education.
As part of his mea culpa, Yiannopoulos claimed that he would be donating 10 percent of the royalties from his (now nonexistent) book deal to charities for survivors of child sexual abuse. His last charitable endeavor spurred allegations that the funds had been embezzled rather than distributed. Considering his penchant for not delivering on promises of charity, it seems unlikely that any worthy group will ever see a cent from Yiannopoulos. Don't be fooled by the somber public performance at Yiannopolous' press conference, this is not the persona he's promoted and profited from over the last several years and he is certainly no champion of rights for survivors of sexual assault.
----- 7 -----
I Was a Muslim in Trump's White House
When President Obama left, I stayed on at the National Security Council in order to serve my country. I lasted eight days.
Rumana Ahmed in The Atlantic
23 February 2017
In 2011, I was hired, straight out of college, to work at the White House and eventually the National Security Council. My job there was to promote and protect the best of what my country stands for. I am a hijab-wearing Muslim woman––I was the only hijabi in the West Wing––and the Obama administration always made me feel welcome and included.
Like most of my fellow American Muslims, I spent much of 2016 watching with consternation as Donald Trump vilified our community. Despite this––or because of it––I thought I should try to stay on the NSC staff during the Trump Administration, in order to give the new president and his aides a more nuanced view of Islam, and of America's Muslim citizens.
I lasted eight days.
When Trump issued a ban on travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries and all Syrian refugees, I knew I could no longer stay and work for an administration that saw me and people like me not as fellow citizens, but as a threat.
The evening before I left, bidding farewell to some of my colleagues, many of whom have also since left, I notified Trump’s senior NSC communications advisor, Michael Anton, of my departure, since we shared an office. His initial surprise, asking whether I was leaving government entirely, was followed by silence––almost in caution, not asking why. I told him anyway.
I told him I had to leave because it was an insult walking into this country’s most historic building every day under an administration that is working against and vilifying everything I stand for as an American and as a Muslim. I told him that the administration was attacking the basic tenets of democracy. I told him that I hoped that they and those in Congress were prepared to take responsibility for all the consequences that would attend their decisions.
He looked at me and said nothing.
It was only later that I learned he authored an essay under a pseudonym, extolling the virtues of authoritarianism and attacking diversity as a “weakness,” and Islam as “incompatible with the modern West.”
My whole life and everything I have learned proves that facile statement wrong.
The days I spent in the Trump White House were strange, appalling and disturbing. As one staffer serving since the Reagan administration said, “This place has been turned upside down. It’s chaos. I’ve never witnessed anything like it.” This was not typical Republican leadership, or even that of a businessman. It was a chaotic attempt at authoritarianism––legally questionable executive orders, accusations of the press being “fake,” peddling countless lies as “alternative facts,” and assertions by White House surrogates that the president’s national security authority would “not be questioned.”
The entire presidential support structure of nonpartisan national security and legal experts within the White House complex and across federal agencies was being undermined. Decision-making authority was now centralized to a few in the West Wing. Frustration and mistrust developed as some staff felt out of the loop on issues within their purview. There was no structure or clear guidance. Hallways were eerily quiet as key positions and offices responsible for national security or engagement with Americans were left unfilled.
----- 8 -----
Neo-Nazi Richard Spencer finds celebrity at CPAC: ‘I feel very welcome here, nobody’s punching me’
23 Feb 2017 at 11:22 ET
White supremacist Richard Spencer said on Thursday that he felt “very welcome” at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).
When Spencer showed up at Thursday’s CPAC session, he was mobbed by supporters and a scrum of reporters.
The neo-Nazi president of National Policy Institute told reporters that he felt “very welcome” at CPAC.
CPAC organizer Matt Schlapp initially said that he would not kick Spencer out of the conference, but the white nationalist was later seen being escorted out of the building by security.
----- 9 -----
Trump Says His Admin's Deportation Enforcement Is A 'Military Operation'
ByEsme CribbPublishedFebruary 23, 2017, 11:46 AM EDT
Talking Points Memo
President Donald Trump said on Thursday that his administration's enforcement of its deportation policy is "a military operation."
"All of a sudden for the first time we're getting gang members out, we're getting drug lords out, we're getting really bad dudes out of this country," Trump said during a listening session with manufacturing CEOs. "And it's a military operation because what has been allowed to come into our country."
He said that deportations are taking place "at a rate that nobody's ever seen before, and they're the bad ones."
"You see what's happening at the border," Trump said. "When you see gang violence that you've read about like never before, and all of the things, much of that is people who are here illegally. And they're rough, and they're tough, but they're not tough like our people, so we're getting them out."
----- 10 -----
Local Muslims feel targeted in FBI cold calls
by David Kroman | Crosscut (Seattle)
Thursday 23, February 2017
When agent Michael Adams first called Miya, he sounded almost parental. He introduced himself as with the FBI at Sea-Tac Airport, where Miya worked, and said he was “just calling to see if I could chat.” In a Jan. 5 voicemail he left on Miya’s phone he said he was interested in talking about security at the airport, promising “no one’s in trouble.”
Miya was born in Buffalo, New York, before moving to Seattle when she was 2 years old. Her family’s Somali and devoutly Muslim. When she walks into the Starbucks in Columbia City on a wet weekday, she’s wearing a fur shawl and a hijab and a woman at another table recognizes her and says hello.
Miya, who didn’t want her full name used for fear of being targeted, went to Cleveland High School before getting a full ride to the University of Washington where she majored in operations management. Straight out of college, she got a job with Delta Air Lines. She loved the work and the benefits of discounted plane tickets, which she used to fly to Egypt, India, Germany — all over. “Islam says the earth is vast,” she remarks.
She recently left for a job with Amazon in Minnesota, not because of dissatisfaction, but because she was ready for a new adventure.
She was surprised by the call from Adams. Not only does she have no criminal record, but she has never had any interaction with law enforcement at all. Still, she didn’t think much of the call right away — why be scared if she’s got nothing to hide, right?
But when she called back, Adams told her there would be two other people at their meeting. That was enough to open a gate of doubt, starting with whether Adams was in fact an FBI agent, ending with why she was being called in the first place.
These cold calls, which Samy says have been on the rise both locally and nationally, do not help on that point — coming as a reminder that the federal government seems to know exactly where to find them. “If I’m approached by FBI, I freak out,” she says. Last year, the local chapter of CAIR got about 40 calls from people saying they’d been contacted by federal agents, which Samy points out are just those who know about CAIR. “We put up a hotline that says if you call CAIR, if you’ve been contacted, we have a list of attorneys that are ready to schedule a time,” she says. “Our window is 24 hours.”
When Ahmed got a phone message from someone claiming to be a federal agent, they told him they’d already come by his house. He wasn’t home, so they left him a card.
Ahmed (which is not his real name) is Pakistani, but spent most of his youth in Europe, attending international English schools. He’s Muslim, but only occasionally goes to his mosque. His friend group is diverse, a mix of Muslim and non-Muslim. He returned to Pakistan for college and then came to the Puget Sound region in 2007, where he had an offer from a major software company. While he’s moved jobs a few times, he’s content to stay here — he’s married now and, while he and his wife don’t have children yet, they don’t rule it out in the future.
Miya says she’s known five or six people who have been contacted by the FBI, all of whom are Somali-American and Muslim. None of them have ended up arrested or anything like that, but they also have no idea why their names came up in the first place. This uncertainty is a theme: One of Miya’s coworkers at Delta, also Somali, one day couldn’t get through security — his badge had been revoked. A month later he was still not working and no one knew why. To know so many Somali-American Muslims who’ve had similar experiences — and so few white Americans who have — creates an overtone of, We’re being profiled.
The more Miya started to consider her meeting with Adams, the less comfortable she got. She had worked with CAIR in the past, so called for advice. As promised, she was connected with a lawyer within 24 hours. At that point, she called Adams back to say she was willing to meet, but with an attorney. “His tone completely changed,” she says. Although he said OK, she says, she never heard from him again.
----- 11 -----
Arkansas Supreme Court strikes down Fayetteville, Arkansas LGBT ordinance passed by voters in 2015
Bryan Shawver | 5News | Seen on Twitter
23 February 2017
JUST IN: The Arkansas Supreme Court strikes down Fayetteville's LGBT ordinance passed by voters in 2015.
[Image from ruling]
Worth noting. The court didn't address constitutionality of Act 137, which bars cities from establishing anti-discrimination ordnances.
----- 12 -----
Exclusive: Listen to Controversial White House Terrorism Adviser Sebastian Gorka’s Angry Call to a Critic
Newsweek | By Jeff Stein On 2/23/17 at 5:16 AM
"This is insane. We are being governed not just by get-mad-online people, but the elite top 1% of ragemonkeys"
This guy literally cold-called somebody who has been posting criticism of him on Twitter to rage at him about that.]
An embattled White House terrorism advisor whose academic credentials have come under widespread fire telephoned one of his main critics at home Tuesday night and threatened legal action against him, Newsweek has learned.
Sebastian Gorka, whose views on Islam have been widely labeled extremist, called noted terrorism expert Michael S. Smith II in South Carolina and expressed dismay that Smith had been criticizing him on Twitter, according to a recording of the call provided to Newsweek.
“I was like a deer in the headlights,” Smith, a Republican who has advised congressional committees on the use of social media by the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) and al-Qaeda, tells Newsweek. “I thought it was a prank. He began by threatening me with a lawsuit.”
----- 13 -----
Congress Quietly Passes New Rule Allowing House Members To Hide Records From Ethics Probes
Politicians can now shield expenditures from investigations.
By Mary Papenfuss - January 10, 2017
[I missed this back in January]
Just when you thought ethics standards couldn’t get much worse on Capitol Hill... It’s emerged that the House GOP quietly changed a rule last week to allow members to keep their records hidden from ethics or criminal investigations.
The tweak allows politicians to conceal any information members produce — even suspicious expenditures and budgets — if the Office of Congressional Ethics or the Department of Justice investigates them for criminal activity, the Center for Responsive Politics reports.
The change essentially makes a member of Congress the owner and sole controller of any records he or she creates, regardless of whether those documents touch on a public interest, such as use of taxpayer funds or the commission of a crime.
“Records created, generated, or received by the congressional office of a Member … are exclusively the personal property of the individual member … and such Member … has control over such records,” the regulation states.
The change granting records control to members was passed without much notice amid news of a plan to gut the independence of the Office of Congressional Ethics, which caused a public outcry but failed to pass.
----- 14 -----
DeVos defiant at CPAC: ‘My job isn’t to win a popularity contest’
By Emma Brown February 23 at 2:26 PM
The Washington Post
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said Thursday that she intends to forge ahead with her approach to overhauling U.S. schools, declaring that the Obama administration’s efforts to improve them had failed “miserably” and taking a swipe at journalists and critics who have called her ill-prepared for her new job.
“The media has had its fun with me, and that’s okay,” DeVos said, speaking to activists at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Md. “My job isn’t to win a popularity contest with the media or the education establishment here in Washington. My job as secretary of education is to make education work for students.”
DeVos briefly addressed her withdrawal Wednesday of Obama-era federal guidelines meant to protect transgender students from discrimination at school. It was her first major policy move since she was confirmed Feb. 7, and one she reportedly resisted, only to relent under pressure from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and President Trump. But she gave no sign Thursday that she disagreed with withdrawal of the guidance, which LGBT activists have called an attack on transgender children.
“This issue was a very huge example of the Obama administration’s overreach to suggest a one-size-fits-all, federal-government approach, top-down approach to issues best dealt with at a personal level, at a local level,” DeVos said in response to a question from CNN contributor and Trump supporter Kayleigh McEnany.
----- 15 -----
Stephen Bannon’s nationalist call to arms, annotated
By Aaron Blake, The Washington Post
February 23, 2017 at 3:25 PM
[The annotations aren't working on my Macbook Pro so I have no idea what they contain. But it is a transcript.]
If there is one man believed to be pulling the strings behind the scenes in the White House right now, it's Stephen K. Bannon. The former head of Breitbart News's influence on President Trump is an endless source of fascination in Washington right now.
But Bannon's public comments are pretty few and far between. There was a speech he gave at the Vatican a few years ago, and then an interview with the Hollywood Reporter last year. And then, on Thursday, the Trump strategist spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference in suburban Washington.
Bannon participated in a panel discussion with White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and Matt Schlapp, the head of the American Conservative Union. And Bannon's rhetoric was chock-full of the kind of nationalist, anti-news media rhetoric for which he has become known. He cast the next four years as a constant battle with the media. “If you think they're going to give you your country back without a fight, you're sadly mistaken,” he said.
It was a window into the worldview of a man whose worldview very much aligns with Trump's own. Below, we're posting the conversation in full, with our annotations. To see an annotation, click on the yellow, highlighted text.
----- 16 -----
Exclusive: Trump wants to expand U.S. nuclear arsenal, make it 'top of the pack'
By Steve Holland | WASHINGTON
Thu Feb 23, 2017
President Donald Trump said on Thursday he wants to ensure the U.S. nuclear arsenal is at the "top of the pack," saying the United States has fallen behind in its atomic weapons capacity.
In a Reuters interview, Trump also said China could solve the national security challenge posed by North Korea "very easily if they want to," ratcheting up pressure on Beijing to exert more influence to rein in Pyongyang's increasingly bellicose actions.
In his first comments about the U.S. nuclear arsenal since taking office on Jan. 20, Trump said he would like to see a world with no nuclear weapons but expressed concern that the United States has "fallen behind on nuclear weapon capacity."
“I am the first one that would like to see everybody - nobody have nukes, but we’re never going to fall behind any country even if it’s a friendly country, we’re never going to fall behind on nuclear power.
"It would be wonderful, a dream would be that no country would have nukes, but if countries are going to have nukes, we’re going to be at the top of the pack," Trump said.
Russia has 7,300 warheads and the United States, 6,970, according to the Ploughshares Fund, an anti-nuclear group.
"The history of the Cold War shows us that no one comes out 'on the top of the pack' of an arms race and nuclear brinkmanship," said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the independent Arms Control Association non-profit group.
"Russia and the United States have far more weapons than is necessary to deter nuclear attack by the other or by another nuclear-armed country,' he said.
----- 17 -----
Trump admin rescinds plan to reduce private prison use
By Lydia Wheeler - 02/23/17 04:56 PM EST
The Trump administration is rolling back an Obama-era plan to phase out the federal government's use of private prisons.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent a memo Thursday to the Bureau of Prisons rescinding the Obama administration's Aug. 16 order advising the bureau not to renew any contracts with private prisons, according to a copy of the letter.
Then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates had instructed officials to either not renew private prison contracts or substantially reduce the scope of such contracts to ultimately end the department's use of privately operated prisons altogether.
In a brief memo Thursday, Sessions said Yates’s order "changed the long-standing policy and practice, and impaired the Bureau’s ability to meet the future needs of the federal correctional system."
“Therefore, I direct the Bureau to return to its previous approach,” he wrote.
In a statement to The Hill, a Justice Department spokesperson said the new memo directs the bureau to continue to use private prisons.
----- 18 -----
White House hints at crackdown on recreational marijuana
By Jordan Fabian - 02/23/17 03:50 PM EST
White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Thursday suggested the Trump administration will step up enforcement of federal laws against recreational marijuana.
“I do believe that you’ll see greater enforcement,” Spicer said, while adding the exact policy is “a question for the Department of Justice.”
It’s the latest sign President Trump is poised to take a tougher approach than the Obama Justice Department did in states that have legalized the use of recreational marijuana.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions was coy about his approach last month during his confirmation hearing.
"Using good judgment about how to handle these cases will be a responsibility of mine,” he said. “I know it won't be an easy decision, but I will try to do my duty in a fair and just way."
Sessions has been a critic of recreational marijuana laws in the past.
Spicer telegraphed the administration won’t take a get-tough approach against medical marijuana, saying Trump believes in its ability to "comfort" people suffering from debilitating diseases.
But he said he takes a different view of recreational marijuana, linking it to the abuse of opioid drugs in states across the U.S.
There is little evidence showing a link between abuse of the two drugs. Some researchers believe medical marijuana could help reduce demand for opioid-based painkillers.
----- 19 -----
Now #Trump can deport spouses & families of US military personnel. Letter:
David Beard on Twitter - @dabeard
[Link to: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/22/opinion/trumps-move-to-deport-more-immigrants.html ]
To the Editor:
I am a member of the National Guard and a lawyer practicing immigration law in Minnesota. In 2013, President Obama, at the express request of the Defense Department, created a program for military families to prevent the deportation of military spouses, parents and children. This program alleviated a major source of anxiety and fear for service members and their families.
I have personally experienced the hardship of deployments to combat zones, and know the incredible importance of family stability during that trying time. This week, this administration rescinded the Parole in Place program, harming thousands of military families across the country. This is another example of the careless excess of the administration’s immigration policy.
It is unconscionable to reverse a policy that strengthens our military and our veterans. That the program was not even named in the memo demonstrates either a lack of awareness, or worse, a casual disregard of the effect that this will have on those most vulnerable members of our military.
Lino Lakes, Minn.
----- 20 -----
Border Patrol Agents Stop Domestic Travelers at New York Airport
A search for a deportation target leads to a demand for travelers' "papers" at JFK
By Tim Dickinson | Rolling Stone
23 February 2017
Passengers of a domestic Delta flight from San Francisco to New York were told to show their identity documents to uniformed agents of the Customs and Border Protection agency upon their arrival at John F. Kennedy airport on Wednesday evening.
CBP officers are border agents, whose statutory authority is generally limited to international arrivals.
CBP agents inspected passenger identifications on the jetbridge by the door of the aircraft. A CBP spokesman insisted to Rolling Stone that this action is "nothing new" and that there is "no new policy." But the unusual – and legally questionable – search of domestic travelers comes days after the Department of Homeland Security outlined its plans to implement President Trump's sweeping executive order targeting millions of "removable aliens" for deportation.
Upon deplaning from Delta Flight 1583 in New York, passenger Anne Garrett tweeted, "We were told we couldn't disembark without showing our 'documents.'"
Rolling Stone asked CBP to point to its statutory authority to stop and examine the identity documents of deplaning domestic passengers. The spokesman sent a link to a document titled CBP Search Authority. The document refers to CBP's authority to inspect international arrivals. Specifically, it cites 19 C.F.R. 162.6, which states, "All persons, baggage and merchandise arriving in the Customs territory of the United States from places outside thereof are liable to inspection by a CBP officer." The CBP document adds: "CBP has the authority to collect passenger name record information on all travelers entering or leaving the United States." (Emphasis added.)
Asked to clarify CBP's authority over domestic passengers, the spokesman replied that "at this time this is all I have."
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FBI refused White House request to knock down recent Trump-Russia stories
By Jim Sciutto, Evan Perez, Shimon Prokupecz, Manu Raju and Pamela Brown, CNN
February 23, 2017
Washington (CNN)The FBI rejected a recent White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Donald Trump's associates and Russians known to US intelligence during the 2016 presidential campaign, multiple US officials briefed on the matter tell CNN.
White House officials had sought the help of the bureau and other agencies investigating the Russia matter to say that the reports were wrong and that there had been no contacts, the officials said. The reports of the contacts were first published by The New York Times and CNN on February 14.
The direct communications between the White House and the FBI were unusual because of decade-old restrictions on such contacts. Such a request from the White House is a violation of procedures that limit communications with the FBI on pending investigations.
The discussions between the White House and the bureau began with FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus on the sidelines of a separate White House meeting the day after the stories were published, according to a U.S. law enforcement official.
The White House initially disputed that account, saying that McCabe called Priebus early that morning and said The New York Times story vastly overstates what the FBI knows about the contacts.
But a White House official later corrected their version of events to confirm what the law enforcement official described.
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Washington ready to fight if necessary to keep its legal pot
Gene Johnson, Associated Press
Updated 5:06 pm, Thursday, February 23, 2017
SEATTLE (AP) — Washington state is ready to fight if necessary to keep its legal marijuana, Attorney General Bob Ferguson said Thursday after White House spokesman Sean Spicer hinted at a federal crackdown.
"We will resist any efforts to thwart the will of the voters in Washington," Ferguson said.
Spicer offered no details about what any renewed federal efforts in legal-pot states might entail, but said he expected "greater enforcement" and drew a distinction between marijuana use for medical and recreational purposes.
Washington and Colorado were the first states to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in 2012, and they've since been joined by six others and Washington, D.C. Sales at licensed pot shops in Washington now average nearly $4.4 million per day — with little evidence of any negative societal effects.
That's close to $1 billion in sales so far for the fiscal year that began last July, some $184 million of which is state tax revenue.
Ferguson said he was disappointed in Spicer's comments. He noted that he and Gov. Jay Inslee, both Democrats, previously prepared to defend the state's scheme against any efforts by the administration of President Barack Obama to shut it down, though Obama ultimately agreed to tolerate tightly regulated marijuana markets in states that chose to adopt them.
"The message hasn't changed, but the audience is a little bit different," Ferguson said.
Ferguson and Inslee sent a letter last week to new Attorney General Jeff Sessions, laying out the state's arguments for keeping its regulated market in place and asking Sessions to discuss the topic with them before doing anything drastic.
"Our state's efforts to regulate the sale of marijuana are succeeding," the letter said, according to a copy released Thursday. "A few years ago, the illegal trafficking of marijuana lined the pockets of criminals everywhere. Now, in our state, illegal trafficking activity is being displaced by a closely regulated marijuana industry that pays hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes. This frees up significant law enforcement resources to protect our communities in other, more pressing ways."
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Read The National Center For Transgender Equality's Letter On Neil Gorsuch's Record
By Joseph D. Lyons | The Bustle
21 February 2017
Hold up, not so fast there Neil Gorsuch. After unprecedented opposition to President Obama's Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, President Trump's pick, Gorsuch, has had a pretty easy go of it — both in Congress and his depictions by the media. But there seems to be more to the story. After The New York Times ran a piece on how Gorsuch could be openminded on gay rights, a leading LGBTQ rights organization is asking citizens to revisit Gorsuch's record on the bench. Read The National Center for Transgender Equality's letter on Gorsuch to The Times. Then help block his nomination.
In the letter, Harper Jean Tobin, the group's policy director, challenges that Times piece entitled "Court Nominee Is Not Easy to Pigeonhole on Gay Rights, Friends Say." As an aside, anything but full support for equal rights should be a disqualification for Democrats thinking of confirming his nomination. There's actual evidence showing the 49-year-old judge from the Federal Appeals Court in Denver has a troublesome track record on transgender issues, and his appeasement of religious businesses, which results in discrimination against LGBT people among other problems. And it's possible that this could be an even larger judicial issue than marriage equality in coming years.
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Why Hasn’t Trump Moved To Defund Sanctuary Cities Yet?
For an administration that has repeatedly struck swiftly and decidedly with hardline immigration policies, there’s been no movement to punish sanctuary states or cities.
Buzzfeed | Adrian Carrasquillo
WASHINGTON — The threat came with his typical bluster: President Donald Trump, setting his sights on California, said he would look at defunding the state because of “ridiculous” efforts by the Democratic-controlled state legislature to become a sanctuary state.
Defunding the state and any cities that defy him by refusing to cooperate with immigration enforcement agents would be a “weapon” in his arsenal, Trump told Bill O’Reilly earlier this month.
But while the administration included language in its January executive order on interior enforcement to withhold federal grants from sanctuary cities, the issue was curiously absent from key memos released by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly this week giving guidance on how those on the ground should actually implement the administration’s executive orders on immigration.
Asked directly about sanctuary cities at Thursday’s press briefing and the administration’s reaction to Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy instructing state law enforcement to ignore the ramped up federal immigration laws, press secretary Sean Spicer said Americans don’t want their tax dollars spent on sanctuary cities.
“The president has been very clear on this, that If you are a sanctuary city declared or undeclared, if you are providing benefits or services we are going to do everything we can to respect taxpayers and ensure that your states follow the law,” Spicer said, without specifically mentioning previous threats to defund those cities.
Perhaps smarting from the legal fallout of the travel ban from seven Muslim-majority countries, which is currently being rewritten, the administration is said to be wary of getting bogged down in a litany of lawsuits on sanctuary cities, a source close to the administration said.
“What they tell me is that instead of worrying about local cooperation — if they ramp up enforcement, ramp up ICE agents — they can overwhelm the wishes of local politicians,” the source said, adding that the message from the administration is, “Forget cooperation, we’re going to get big and bad enough to do what we want.”