Solarbird (solarbird) wrote,

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good morning, it's 3 march 2017

Probably the last post 'till Monday - I'm in British Columbia this weekend for a music workshop. I'm late packing, so all you get is a headline list, I'm afraid. Sorry. See you on the flip side.

  • GOP Rep Says Holding Town Halls Is Like Being Yelled At In A Ritual By 'Orientals'
  • Voice of The Southern: Let the people have their say
  • The State of Trump's State Department (spoiler: rudderless)
  • Pence used personal email for state business — and was hacked
  • Exclusive: Two other Trump advisers also spoke with Russian envoy during GOP convention
  • Here Are The Strategies That Actually Work Against Christofascism, From a Former Believer
  • FBI to review young Muslim man's death
  • Trump transition team canceled plan for ethics training for staff: report
  • Trump’s green assault off to fast start: The president's moves to slash regulations and chop EPA's budget represent the most aggressive environmental rollback in decades.
  • Jeff Sessions is in deep trouble. Bigly.
  • The Daily 202: Trump’s Russia headache gets worse, as Sessions struggles to spin undisclosed meetings
  • Jeff Sessions recuses himself from Russia probe
  • 5 Trump Cabinet Members Who’ve Made False Statements to Congress
  • Dreamer Arrested After Speaking To Media Will Be Deported Without Hearing, Attorney Says
  • Biggest losers in Trump's @EPA budget?
  • Here are 42 of President Donald Trump's planned EPA budget cuts

----- 1 -----
GOP Rep Says Holding Town Halls Is Like Being Yelled At In A Ritual By 'Orientals'
By Esme Cribb | TPM
March 2, 2017

Rep. Mike Bost (R-IL) said late last week that holding town halls is not "productive" and compared it to "the cleansing that the Orientals used to do where you’d put one person out in front and 900 people yell at them."

"You know the cleansing that the Orientals used to do where you’d put one person out in front and 900 people yell at them? That’s not what we need," Bost said Friday in a meeting with the editorial board of The Southern. "The amount of time that I have at home is minimal, I need to make sure that it’s productive."

----- 2 -----
Voice of The Southern: Let the people have their say
Mar 1, 2017 | The Southern


And then in a meeting last week with The Southern’s editorial board, Bost said, "The in-person ones going on around the United States right now are out of control, which means you don't actually get to talk to people and listen, and we're looking for ways to do that."

Rep. Bost, the people of your district elected you to lead. There are going to be tough times, precisely like this. The people of your district want to have their voices heard, and doing it over the phone or the internet just won’t do.

Will it be tough? Yes. Will there be some difficult back-and-forth? Yes, absolutely. Is the best thing to do right now for the constituents of the district? Yes, most definitely.

But it has to happen. The people of the district deserve a chance to vent.

“The amount of time that I have at home is minimal, I need to make sure that it’s productive,” Bost said Friday. “You know the cleansing that the Orientals used to do where you’d put one person out in front and 900 people yell at them? That’s not what we need. We need to have meetings with people that are productive.”

----- 3 -----
The State of Trump's State Department
Anxiety and listless days as a foreign-policy bureaucracy confronts the possibility of radical change
Julia Ioffe | The Atlantic
Mar 1, 2017

The flags in the lobby of the State Department stood bathed in sunlight and silence on a recent afternoon. “It’s normally so busy here,” marveled a State Department staffer as we stood watching the emptiness. “People are usually coming in for meetings, there’s lots of people, and now it’s so quiet.” The action at Foggy Bottom has instead moved to the State Department cafeteria where, in the absence of work, people linger over countless coffees with colleagues. (“The cafeteria is so crowded all day,” a mid-level State Department officer said, adding that it was a very unusual sight. “No one’s doing anything.”) As the staffer and I walked among the tables and chairs, people with badges chatted over coffee; one was reading his Kindle.

“It just feels empty,” a recently departed senior State official told me.

This week began with reports that President Donald Trump’s budget proposal will drastically slash the State Department’s funding, and last week ended with White House adviser and former Breitbart head Stephen Bannon telling the attendees of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference that what he and the new president were after was a “deconstruction of the administrative state.” At the State Department, which employs nearly 70,000 people around the world, that deconstruction is already well underway.

In the last week, I’ve spoken with a dozen current and recently departed State Department employees, all of whom asked for anonymity either because they were not authorized to speak to the press and feared retribution by an administration on the prowl for leakers, or did not want to burn their former colleagues. None of these sources were political appointees. Rather, they were career foreign service officers or career civil servants, most of whom have served both Republican and Democratic administrations—and many of whom do not know each other. They painted a picture of a State Department adrift and listless.

----- 4 -----
Pence used personal email for state business — and was hacked
Tony Cook, The Indianapolis Star
Published 7:23 p.m. ET March 2, 2017

NDIANAPOLIS — Vice President Mike Pence routinely used a private email account to conduct public business as governor of Indiana, at times discussing sensitive matters and homeland security issues.

Emails released to The Indianapolis Star, part of the USA TODAY Network, in response to a public records request show Pence communicated via his personal AOL account with top advisers on topics ranging from security gates at the governor’s residence to the state’s response to terror attacks across the globe. In one email, Pence’s top state homeland security adviser relayed an update from the FBI regarding the arrests of several men on federal terror-related charges.

Cybersecurity experts say the emails raise concerns about whether such sensitive information was adequately protected from hackers, given that personal accounts like Pence's are typically less secure than government email accounts. In fact, Pence's personal account was hacked last summer.

Furthermore, advocates for open government expressed concerns about transparency because personal emails aren't immediately captured on state servers that are searched in response to public records requests.


Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb's office released more than 30 pages from Pence's AOL account, but declined to release an unspecified number of emails because the state considers them confidential and too sensitive to release to the public.

That's of particular concern to Justin Cappos, a computer security professor at New York University's Tandon School of Engineering. “It’s one thing to have an AOL account and use it to send birthday cards to grandkids," he said. "But it’s another thing to use it to send and receive messages that are sensitive and could negatively impact people if that information is public.”

----- 5 -----
Exclusive: Two other Trump advisers also spoke with Russian envoy during GOP convention
Steve Reilly , USA TODAY
March 2, 2017

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is not the only member of President Trump’s campaign who spoke to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at a diplomacy conference connected to the Republican National Convention in July. At least two more members of the Trump campaign’s national security officials also spoke with Kislyak at the event, and several more Trump national security advisers were in attendance.

It's unknown what the Trump campaign officials who spoke with the ambassador – J.D. Gordon and Carter Page – discussed with him. Those who took part in the events in Cleveland said it is not unusual for presidential campaign teams to interact with diplomats.

However, the newly-revealed communications further contradict months of repeated denials by Trump officials that his campaign had contact with officials representing the Russian government.

The Justice Department’s acknowledgement Wednesday that Sessions spoke with Kislyak twice in 2016 has led to calls for him to recuse himself from investigations into the Trump team’s contact with Russia. By Thursday afternoon, Sessions said he would recuse himself.

Multiple attendees at the Global Partners in Diplomacy event in Cleveland said the contacts between diplomats and political officials are not unusual. The program schedule and social media photographs shows ambassadors from dozens of countries attended, alongside many of the original national security advisors to Trump’s campaign.

----- 6 -----
Here Are The Strategies That Actually Work Against Christofascism, From a Former Believer
Kieryn Darkwater on March 1, 2017

Since the early 2000s my generation of evangelical homeschool students has been working to get Tea Party candidates elected. They were successful in 2006 and 2010, thanks to the grassroots efforts and groundwork our parents and grandparents started laying in the ’70s; they infiltrated politics and shifted every Overton window as far right as they could.

Now, the Christofascist millennials and GenX-ers are voting and running for office, the Tea Party has taken over, and the Christofascist agenda is rapidly advancing. With the injunction against trans and reproductive healthcare in the ACA, the attempted gutting of the ethics committee and the ban on Muslims, this is only the beginning and it’s only going to get worse.

In the time it’s taken me to write, much of this has already happened or is on the verge of happening. Over New Year’s, I watched my healthcare and access to abortion be stripped while vacationing out of the country. There is hope, however. We can use everything they taught us against them, but first we need to understand some things:

----- 7 -----
FBI to review young Muslim man's death
by: Essex Porter Updated: Mar 2, 2017 - 2:22 PM

LAKE STEVENS, Wash. - Ben Keita was 18 years old when he died. His father says he did not seem suicidal when he disappeared on Nov. 26.

“No history of depression, anxiety, any psychological breakdown at all, so he was a very... happy young man, said his father Ibrahima Keita.

In January, Keita’s body was found hanging from a tree in a wooded area near his Lake Stevens Home.

There were no other injuries, so the Snohomish County medical examiner concluded he took his own life.

But after his family pressed, the medical examiner changed the cause of death to undetermined.

The ME's report gives two reasons for the change, a K-9 search of the same area weeks earlier failed to find his body. Plus, the rope he was hanged with was tied an unusual 50 feet high in the tree.

----- 8 -----
Trump transition team canceled plan for ethics training for staff: report
By Paulina Firozi - 03/02/17
The Hill

President Trump's transition team called off a plan for an ethics, leadership and management course for his senior White House staff and appointees, including Cabinet members, according to a new report.

According to documents obtained by Politico, the Trump team opted not to have staffers go through the program, which would have covered confirmation hearings, complying with existing laws and orders, dealing with scrutiny from the media and collaborating with lawmakers and agencies.

The program was first put into place in 2000, and the transition teams for former Presidents Obama and George W. Bush received the training, according to the report.

In a letter to potential bidders, the General Services Administration said the program’s requirements “do not accurately reflect the current needs of the Presidential Transition Team.”

----- 9 -----
Trump’s green assault off to fast start
The president's moves to slash regulations and chop EPA's budget represent the most aggressive environmental rollback in decades.
By Andrew Restuccia | Politico

President Donald Trump is carrying out the most aggressive rollback of federal environmental rules since at least the Reagan administration.

And he's just getting started.

In just 40 days, Trump has made it easier for coal miners to dump their waste into West Virginia streams, ordered the repeal of Clean Water Act protections for vast stretches of wetlands, proposed massive job cuts at the Environmental Protection Agency and prepared to begin revoking the Obama administration’s most ambitious climate change regulations.

Trump is also expected to overturn Barack Obama’s moratorium on new federal coal leases, and is considering automakers’ pleas for relief from a scheduled tightening of vehicle fuel-efficiency standards. Obama's pledge to send billions of dollars to United Nations climate programs is also likely on the chopping block. And Trump hasn’t ruled out withdrawing the United States from the 200-nation Paris climate agreement, a step that could undercut the international effort to confront global warming.

Trump’s actions are true to his campaign rhetoric, including his promises to “get rid of” the EPA “in almost every form.” They thrill conservative groups like the Heritage Foundation that share his disdain for federal regulations and want Washington to give more control to the states.

----- 10 -----
Jeff Sessions is in deep trouble. Bigly.
By Chris Cillizza | The Fix (Commentary/Analysis) | March 2 2017
The Washington Post

You can tell how much trouble a Washington politician is in by how forcefully his (or her) allies push back in the immediate aftermath of a bombshell negative story. By that measure, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is in big, big trouble.

In the 12-ish hours since The Post published a story that details two conversations Sessions had with the Russian ambassador to the United States, discussions that run directly counter to statements the then-Alabama senator made during his confirmation hearings, the defense of Sessions has been weak. And that's being kind.

Sessions himself — as expertly documented here by Aaron Blake — is responding by not really responding, setting up a straw man and then knocking it down with no real effect. “I never met with any Russian officials to discuss the issues of the campaign,” Sessions said in a statement released through a spokesman. That is a denial — just not of what The Post is reporting, which is simply that Sessions met with Sergey Kislyak twice in 2016 despite insisting he had no contact with Russia over that time.

Other leading Republicans were very hesitant to put themselves anywhere near Sessions's side on this. Jason Chaffetz, the Utah Republican who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, tweeted Thursday morning that Sessions must recuse himself from the ongoing FBI investigation into Russia's attempts to influence the 2016 election and “clarify” his testimony to the Judiciary Committee. Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio has also called for Sessions to recuse himself. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a 2016 presidential candidate, went a step further.

And so did Sen. Lindsey O. Graham of South Carolina.

Then there are the Democrats. The top Democrats in the Senate (Charles E. Schumer) and the House (Nancy Pelosi) both called for Sessions to resign and for a special counsel to be convened to offer a totally independent review of the Trump campaign's ties to Russian intelligence officials. Dozens of rank and file Democrats have done the same.

Democratic calls for his head are survivable for Sessions — in a vacuum. Dismiss them — as the White House and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas have done — as nothing more than partisan posturing and move on. The problem for Sessions is that even as Democrats are massing against him, Republican allies are few and far between. One side is trying to push him over the cliff; the other side is shuffling away, trying to avoid making eye contact with him as he calls “Guys? GUYS!?!”

----- 11 -----
The Daily 202: Trump’s Russia headache gets worse, as Sessions struggles to spin undisclosed meetings
By James Hohmann | PowerPost | March 2, 2017
With Breanne Deppisch
The Washington Post

THE BIG IDEA: Jeff Sessions wakes up this morning with potentially serious legal and political problems.

-- The attorney general and his team are in damage-control mode, trying to explain confusing and seemingly inconsistent statements.

-- A handful of top Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi and Claire McCaskill, called for his resignation overnight. Others are expected to follow in the coming hours. Many more are clamoring for a special prosecutor, both to explore whether Sessions should be charged with perjury for making apparently false statements to Congress and more broadly to explore links between Trump campaign officials and Russia during the election. There is consensus among Democrats in both chambers that Sessions must, at the very least, immediately recuse himself from all Russia-related investigations to preserve the integrity of the Justice Department and the ongoing FBI investigation, something he has repeatedly resisted.

----- 12 -----
Jeff Sessions recuses himself from Russia probe
Democrats call for Jeff Sessions to resign; President Donald Trump calls controversy 'a total witch hunt'.

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has agreed to recuse himself from an investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election.

His comments came a day after the Washington Post reported that Sessions, a former senator who advised Donald Trump's campaign on foreign policy and other issues, met the Russian ambassador in July and September, just as accusations of Russian interference in the election were building.

At a news conference on Thursday, Sessions drew a distinction between his conversations with Sergey Kislyak in his role as a senator and his role in the Trump campaign.

He said the decision to recuse himself from a federal investigation came at the urging of senior career officials in the justice department.

"I feel I should not be involved in investigating a campaign I had a role in," Sessions said.

----- 13 -----
5 Trump Cabinet Members Who’ve Made False Statements to Congress
Attorney General Jeff Sessions isn’t alone.
by Eric Umansky and Marcelo Rochabrun
ProPublica, March 2, 2017, 5:36 p.m.

As most of the world knows by now, Attorney General Jeff Sessions did not tell the truth when he was asked during his confirmation hearings about contacts with Russian officials.

But Sessions isn’t the only one. At least four other cabinet members made statements during their nomination hearings that are contradicted by actual facts: EPA Chief Scott Pruitt, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.

The statements were all made under oath, except those of DeVos. It is a crime to “knowingly” lie in testimony to Congress, but it’s rarely prosecuted.

----- 14 -----
Dreamer Arrested After Speaking To Media Will Be Deported Without Hearing, Attorney Says
“ICE’s assertion that her detention is ‘routine’ is absurd and seems anything but,” one lawmaker said.
By Elise Foley , Dana Liebelson
The Huffington Post

WASHINGTON ― A 22-year-old undocumented immigrant arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Jackson, Mississippi, on Wednesday after speaking to the media about her family’s detention is set to be deported without a court hearing, her attorney said on Thursday.

Daniela Vargas, who came to the U.S. from Argentina when she was 7 years old, previously had a work permit and deportation reprieve under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA. Her DACA status expired last November, and because she was saving money for the renewal — which costs $495 — her new application wasn’t received until Feb. 10.

On Wednesday, a spokesman for ICE said Vargas would go through court proceedings to determine whether she is eligible for some type of relief, adding that the agency would take no further action until those proceedings were completed.

But Abby Peterson, Vargas’ attorney, said ICE agents told her on Thursday that they would instead pursue immediate deportation without a court hearing or bond because Vargas entered the country through the visa waiver program, which allows certain foreign nationals to enter the U.S. for under 90 days without a visa. (Argentina was previously part of the program, although it no longer is.) Individuals who use the visa waiver program have no right to a hearing or to contest their removal unless they are seeking asylum.


Read Vargas’ full comments on her detention below:

I don’t understand why they don’t want me. I’m doing the best I can. I mean I can’t help that I was brought here but I don’t know anything else besides being here and I didn’t realize that until I was in a holding cell last night for 5 hours. I was brought here. I didn’t choose to be here. And when I was brought here, I had to learn a whole new country and leave behind the one that I did know. And I barely knew that one. I feel, I strongly feel that I belong here and I strongly feel that I should be given a chance to be here and do something good and work in this economy. There’s so much that I can bring to the table, so much, like I can even teach music, I’m an excellent trumpet player you can ask my mom about any of that. I’m great with math, I speak Spanish. You know, there’s a lot of stuff that I can do for this country that they’re not allowing me to do. I’ve even tried to join the military, and I can’t do that. But, I mean that’s not the point, the whole point is that I would do anything for this country.

----- 15 -----
Biggest losers in Trump's @EPA budget?
Rob Davis | The Oregonian | Seen on Twitter
2 March 2017

Biggest losers in Trump's @EPA budget?

* S.F. Bay
* Great Lakes
* Endocrine disruptor research
* Education
* Chesapeake Bay
* Puget Sound

Biggest state cuts in Trump's @EPA budget?

* Air pollution/diesel
* US-Mexico border pollution
* Beach water quality testing
* Radon

More detail on Trump cuts to @EPA.

* 2 EPA regions (10 to 8)
* @ENERGYSTAR * $ for Lake Champlain, LI Sound.
* $ for South Florida restoration
* Alaska native villages
* STAR (research grants)
* @EPAwatersense
* Enviro justice office 2/

Full list here:

----- 15 -----
Here are 42 of President Donald Trump's planned EPA budget cuts
Rob Davis | The Oregonian/OregonLive
2 March 2017

President Donald Trump's planned cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency would slash its workforce by almost 3,000 employees and its budget by $2 billion.

The National Association of Clean Air Agencies obtained a copy of the plan and detailed some of the major cuts for The Oregonian/OregonLive. The list is not complete.

Some agency programs would be cut far more substantially or eliminated altogether.

We reported Wednesday on what the cuts would mean for Oregon.

The Trump budget, the basic outlines of which were revealed Wednesday, is not yet final, and the EPA's new administrator, Scott Pruitt, has cautioned that he will make changes. But it offers the first glimpse into Trump's vision for an agency he has attacked as a job-killer. The EPA did not respond to a call for comment.

Some highlights:

• Puget Sound. Funding for restoration work in the country's second-largest estuary would be cut from $28 million to $2 million.
• The Great Lakes. Funding to combat algae blooms, invasive species and other water pollution problems in the world's largest group of freshwater lakes would be cut from $300 million to $10 million.
• The Chesapeake Bay. Funding for restoration in the country's largest estuary would be cut from $73 million to $5 million.
• Research on endocrine disruptors. The EPA's work studying chemicals that can interfere with the body's reproductive and developmental systems would nearly be eliminated, dropping from $7.5 million to $445,000.
• Diesel emissions. Since 2008, the EPA has issued grants to accelerate the country's transition from old, dirty diesel engines to cleaner burning trucks and equipment. They've been responsible for most of Oregon's progress in addressing cancer-causing diesel soot, a major air pollution source.
• Beach water quality testing. The EPA spends about $9.5 million to fund state testing of bacteria levels at beaches around the country. In Oregon, it funds state testing during the summer. That would be eliminated.
• The U.S.-Mexico border. Sewage and garbage from Mexico frequently sweeps into San Diego during winter rainstorms. The EPA has funded work there to slow the flood of garbage into the Pacific Ocean. Its program to address problems like that would be cut from $3 million to $275,000.
• Environmental education. The EPA spends $8.7 million annually on programs to educate children. Spending on them would be cut to $555,000.

Here are 42 programs and funding levels under the Trump proposal. All figures are in millions.

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

Tags: fascism watch, political
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