Of course, also this weekend, the big story is Trump accusing the Obama administration of wiretapping his office and Trump Tower during the campaign investigations about Russian political interference. No supporting evidence has been forthcoming, but Republicans in Congress are already planning on investigating the Democratic Party and the Obama administration on this (as well as other) matters. I guess this is their defence position on the Russian collusion story: ramp back up fake investigations of Democrats to keep the base frothy.
Meanwhile, DHS wrote up a report calling the Portland anti-Trump protests "Domestic Terrorist Violence."
In smaller crackdown news, flying in the US is about to get worse as pat-downs are going to get a lot more invasive.
elle comes out and notices that the big common tying thread in the pan-neofascist movement is misogyny. Late to the game, but correct nonetheless.
Georgia is redrawing Congressional lines to shore up weakening Republican districts with even more gerrymandering.
The US is ready to completely botch the next pandemic - it's been ill-prepared generally for a while, but the situation has become much worse under Trump, in a very short period of time.
Another 'go back to your own country' shooting is reported - this one's in Kent, and Kent police are taking it very seriously. (The rightist response has been to meme fake-hate-crime variants, setting up websites that declare all racist/misogynist/anti-Semetic hate crimes as fake.) Also, some more immigration crackdown side effects which the people behind the crackdowns don't care about, mostly because they enjoy hurting people.
Surprising no one, the "US steel" requirement for pipelines isn't so much of one. A Russian ogliarch is a huge benefit of the reframing. Surprise! Also, the Trump administration weakened Obama-administration ethics rules on roles for industrial lobbyists, and isn't even following its own weaker rules. Meanwhile, the Trump kids are making serious bank off dad being in the white house.
It took me two days of not being in the centre of the storm to start to unwind from this wretched insane lootfest maelstrom of fascist corruption and horror; I'm back 90 minutes and I'm reeling. Christ, what a complete clusterfuck the US has become. Seriously, this is complete fucking madness. But Trump's numbers with Republicans - who are the only people who matter, as they have made it very fucking clear for some time now - have barely budged - 80%+ approval in Reuters. If you squint hard, you can see some movement out of peak - the margin of error at the highs were 4 points above his current most-likely number - and the margins-of-error just barely fail to overlap (by about a percent). So that's a gradual small movement from peak support.
But that's it. Until that actually moves, nothing changes.
----- 1 -----
White House proposes steep budget cut to leading climate science agency
By Steven Mufson, Jason Samenow and Brady Dennis
March 3, 2017
The Washington Post
[ see as example of would-be-cut: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/03/03/518323094/rise-in-smog-in-western-u-s-is-blamed-on-asias-air-pollution ]
The Trump administration is seeking to slash the budget of one of the government’s premier climate science agencies by 17 percent, delivering steep cuts to research funding and satellite programs, according to a four-page budget memo obtained by The Washington Post.
The proposed cuts to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration would also eliminate funding for a variety of smaller programs, including external research, coastal management, estuary reserves and “coastal resilience,” which seeks to bolster the ability of coastal areas to withstand major storms and rising seas.
The Office of Management and Budget also asked the Commerce Department to provide information about how much it would cost to lay off employees, while saying those employees who do remain with the department should get a 1.9 percent pay increase in January 2018. It requested estimates for terminating leases and government “property disposal.”
The OMB outline for the Commerce Department for fiscal 2018 proposed sharp reductions in specific areas within NOAA such as spending on education, grants and research. NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research would lose $126 million, or 26 percent, of the funds it has under the current budget. Its satellite data division would lose $513 million, or 22 percent, of its current funding under the proposal.
A spokesperson for the Commerce Department declined to comment. A White House official who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that the process was “evolving” and cautioned against specific numbers. The official would not respond to questions about the four-page passback document.
The biggest single cut proposed by the passback document comes from NOAA’s satellite division, known as the National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service, which includes a key repository of climate and environmental information, the National Centers for Environmental Information. Researchers there were behind a study suggesting that there has been no recent slowdown in the rate of climate change — research that drew the ire of Republicans in Congress.
Another proposed cut would eliminate a $73 million program called Sea Grant, which supports coastal research conducted through 33 university programs across the country. That includes institutions in many swing states that went for President Trump, such as the University of Wisconsin at Madison, the University of Michigan, Ohio State University, the University of Florida and North Carolina State University.
The OMB passback said that the administration wanted to “prioritize rebuilding the military” and would seek “savings and efficiencies to keep the Nation on a responsible fiscal path.” It said that its proposed funding cut for the Commerce Department “highlights the tradeoffs and choices inherent in pursuing these goals.”
----- 2 -----
Obama EPA Head Savages Donald Trump’s Environmental Policies
“It’s an all-out attack on environmental protection,” Gina McCarthy said.
By Daniel Marans | The Huffington Post
Former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy warned on Saturday that the Trump administration’s funding cuts to the agency and rollback of Obama-era rules pose a major threat to public health.
“The Trump administration is really challenging our effort to maintain strong environmental protections that are necessary for public health,” McCarthy said in an interview with MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts. “EPA has been bipartisan for 40 years. These are big-deal things.”
McCarthy was responding to reports that President Donald Trump’s EPA, led by Scott Pruitt, a climate change skeptic with close ties to the oil and gas industry, will next week undo automobile emissions regulations put in place by former President Barack Obama. Trump will also instruct Pruitt to begin unraveling the Clean Power Plan, the Obama administration’s ambitious effort to reduce power plant carbon emissions.
----- 3 -----
Trump to Undo Vehicle Rules That Curb Global Warming
By CORAL DAVENPORT
MARCH 3, 2017 | The New York TImes
WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is expected to begin rolling back stringent federal regulations on vehicle pollution that contributes to global warming, according to people familiar with the matter, essentially marking a U-turn to efforts to force the American auto industry to produce more electric cars.
The announcement — which is expected as soon as Tuesday and will be made jointly by the Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Scott Pruitt, and the transportation secretary, Elaine L. Chao — will immediately start to undo one of former President Barack Obama’s most significant environmental legacies.
During the same week, and possibly on the same day, Mr. Trump is expected to direct Mr. Pruitt to begin the more lengthy and legally complex process of dismantling the Clean Power Plan, Mr. Obama’s rules to cut planet-warming pollution from coal-fired power plants.
The E.P.A. will also begin legal proceedings to revoke a waiver for California that was allowing the state to enforce the tougher tailpipe standards for its drivers.
----- 4 -----
Trump goes on Twitter rant accusing ex-President Obama of ‘tapping phones’ at Trump Tower prior to election
Tom Boggioni | Raw Story
04 Mar 2017 at 07:32 ET
[Screenshots: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2017/3/4/1640187/-CA-lawmaker-If-Trump-was-tapped-a-judge-would-have-probably-cause-of-crime-Trump-s-in-deep-sh-t ]
[Video and CNN video story here: http://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2017/03/05/nancy-pelosi-trump-obama-wiretapping-claim-sotu.cnn/video/playlists/obama-vs-trump/ ]
In a series of tweets issued early Saturday morning, Donald Trump accused ex-president Barack Obama of “tapping” the phones at Trump Tower just prior to the election while comparing the former president to Richard Nixon.
Following a tweet defending embattled Attorney General Jeff Sessions over his contacts with the Russians, Trump suddenly changed gears with a startling collection of tweets attacking Obama, although it is unclear what Trump is directly alluding to.
“Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my “wires tapped” in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” Trump wrote.
----- 5 -----
Graham: 'I'm very worried' about Trump's wiretapping accusation
By Mallory Shelbourne - 03/04/17 11:40 AM EST
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Saturday said he is “very worried” about President Trump’s accusation that former President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower.
“I’m very worried that our president is suggesting the former president has done something illegal,” Graham said at a town hall in Clemson, S.C.
“I’d be very worried if in fact the Obama administration was able to obtain a warrant lawfully about Trump campaign activity with foreign governments. It’s my job as United States senator to get to the bottom of this."
Trump early Saturday wrote on Twitter that Obama wiretapped Trump Tower before the election, but did not provide any evidence.
----- 6 -----
How Congress responded to Trump's request to investigate the Obama administration
By Jeremy Diamond, Kevin Bohn and Eric Bradner, CNN
Updated 8:42 PM ET, Sun March 5, 2017
West Palm Beach, Florida (CNN)Democrats sharply criticized President Donald Trump's calls on lawmakers Sunday to investigate his baseless claim that former President Barack Obama tapped his phone.
Republicans, meanwhile, urged Trump to let the House and Senate intelligence committees do their jobs.
Both parties made clear that Trump's allegation -- which the White House has not offered any evidence to support, and which Obama administration officials emphatically deny -- won't be dropped anytime soon, as even GOP lawmakers who have backed Trump said they'd investigate.
"Reports concerning potentially politically motivated investigations immediately ahead of the 2016 election are very troubling," White House press secretary Sean Spicer said in the statement, which he also posted on Twitter. "President Donald J. Trump is requesting that as part of their investigation into Russian activity, the congressional intelligence committees exercise their oversight authority to determine whether executive branch investigative powers were abused in 2016.
"Neither the White House nor the President will comment further until such oversight is conducted," Spicer added. He did not provide any further details on the President's request to Congress.
While Spicer said "reports" prompted the call for a congressional investigation, the White House still has not provided any evidence to back up the President's accusations. There are no publicly known credible reports to back up Trump's claim that Obama ordered Trump's phones be monitored.
----- 7 -----
Report: Homeland Security Labels Portland Anti-Trump Protests "Domestic Terrorist Violence"
The assessment was made in a recent federal report uncovered by The Intercept.
By Corey Pein | Willamette Week
March 2 at 7:15 PM
Tonight The Intercept reports that the Department of Homeland Security regarded post-election protests in Portland to be "domestic terrorist violence."
The story is based on a six-page report by DHS's Office of Intelligence and Analysis and the North Carolina Information Sharing and Analysis Center, dated Feb. 21.
According to the story, the report focuses mostly on North Carolina, but it does contain an agency "assess[ment]" that, stunningly—and falsely—labels a great number of Portlanders to be violent terrorists.
“DHS assesses that anger over the results of the 2016 Presidential election continues to be a driver of domestic terrorist violence throughout the United States — as evidenced by rioting in Portland, Oregon, following the election and violence and destruction of property in Washington during the inauguration,” the report says.
The early November eruption in Portland, cited in the footnotes of the report, was officially described as a riot by local police, who used flash bang grenades and tear gas to respond to property damage, which law enforcement officials characterized as “extensive criminal and dangerous behavior.”
The Intercept (a journalism website founded by Glenn Greenwald after the Edward Snowden affair with funding from eBay billionaire Pierre Omidyar) did not say in its story how it obtained the DHS report.
The Portland protests cited as "domestic terrorist violence" by DHS lasted six nights and were mostly peaceful, although demonstrators did repeatedly block highways and engage in tense standoffs with police.
----- 8 -----
U.S. Airport pat-downs are about to get more invasive
Justin Bachman, Bloomberg
Published 11:25 am, Friday, March 3, 2017
(Bloomberg) -- While few have noticed, U.S. airport security workers long had the option of using five different types of physical pat-downs at the screening line. Now those options have been eliminated and replaced with a single universal approach. This time, you will notice.
The new physical touching—for those selected to have a pat-down—will be be what the federal agency officially describes as a more “comprehensive” physical screening, according to a Transportation Security Administration spokesman.
Denver International Airport, for example, notified employees and flight crews on Thursday that the “more rigorous” searches “will be more thorough and may involve an officer making more intimate contact than before.”
“I would say people who in the past would have gotten a pat-down that wasn’t involved will notice that the [new] pat-down is more involved,” TSA spokesman Bruce Anderson said Friday. The shift from the previous, risk-based assessment on which pat-down procedure an officer should apply was phased in over the past two weeks after tests at smaller airports, he said.
----- 9 -----
It's Time to Take Sexism Seriously as a Political Force
Misogyny is dangerously capable of aligning otherwise disparate factions.
By Sady Doyle | elle
Jan 11, 2017
Once upon a time, it would have been laughable to refer to WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange as "right-wing." That, of course, was back before Assange made appearances on Fox News, before WikiLeaks tweeted anti-Semitic memes, before liberal mainstay Keith Olbermann called him "an enemy of this country and freedom." In other words, before Assange stood accused of helping far-right authoritarian Vladimir Putin subvert the United States democratic process in order to help elect Donald Trump.
Before all that, believe it or not, Julian Assange—radical transparency advocate! Antiwar hacktivist! Martyr!—was a more or less undisputed hero of the American left. In fact, he was so untouchable that, when he was arrested in 2010, Michael Moore personally paid his bail. Olbermann actually took to Twitter to launch fiery invective at anyone who dared impugn Assange's honor.
Of course, there was the minor detail that Assange had been arrested for the rape of two Swedish women—and the people that Olbermann shouted at online were feminist protesters, asking him to take those allegations seriously. (Full disclosure: I was among them.) Which leads one to the unpleasant hypothesis that if more people had actually listened to women at the time, Assange might never have built up the credibility necessary to sway the election in the first place. And if these women had been taken seriously, the unlikely alliance of Assange, Putin, and Trump might not seem that surprising after all.
Though Assange, Putin, and Trump look like a motley crew—they are, respectively, far left, far right, and a shrieking mass of chaos punctuated by Breitbart headlines—they are united by one coherent, mutually shared political philosophy. They are all misogynists. All three have made openly sexist and/or anti-feminist statements; Trump and Putin have both moved to pass those beliefs into law; Trump and Assange both stand accused of sexually assaulting women. If one tracks these men in this way, their seeming alliance is anything but surprising. The issue is that sexism is still seen mostly as a matter of personality, not politics, even as sexism continues to operate with the power of a political force that can change the world.
When sexist thought crops up under different rationales, and at different points on the political spectrum, it's easy to dismiss as somehow apolitical—to see it as a matter of individual men being mean or maladjusted, or to conclude that "our side" is never sexist, whereas "their side" always is. What we don't give enough credit to is the idea of sexism itself as a political vector—a self-sufficient cause, capable of aligning with and uniting otherwise disparate factions.
----- 10 -----
Democrats cry foul as House Republicans redraw district lines
By Aaron Gould Sheinin - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Friday, March 03, 2017
Georgia House Republicans made a late bid Friday to change the district boundaries for eight Republicans and one Democrat.
The one Democrat, Rep. Sheila Jones, D-Atlanta, is not happy.
Jones said she didn’t know about House Bill 515 until it was being presented to the Reapportionment Committee late Wednesday afternoon.
The House voted 108-59 on Friday to approve the bill, which allowed it meet the “Crossover Day” deadline for bills to pass from one chamber to another without parliamentary maneuvering. The House vote came just three days after the bill was first introduced; most bills take weeks or months to reach the House floor.
The biggest changes strengthen Republican districts that have become more competitive. Golick won re-election in November with 53 percent of the vote over Democrat Erick Allen, down from the 60 percent to 40 percent margin by which Golick won in 2014. Golick declined comment.
In south Metro Atlanta, Rep. Brian Strickland, R-McDonough, has seen his margin of victory fall from 6 percentage points in 2012 to less than 2 percentage points in 2016. HB 515 takes several GOP-heavy precincts out of Griffin Republican Rep. Karen Mathiak’s neighboring District 73 and gives them to Strickland.
----- 11 -----
Trump has set the US up to botch a global health crisis
Bird flu is raging in China. Trump isn't ready.
Julia Belluz | VOX | 4 March 2017
China is facing the biggest and deadliest outbreak of H7N9 bird flu in human history.
The virus causes pneumonia and death in most of its victims, which is why it tops the list of global flu pandemic threats.
As we learned from the World Health Organization this week, 460 human cases of the virus have been confirmed in China since last October — the most of any flu season since H7N9 was first reported in humans in 2013.
Forty percent of those confirmed to have the virus have died — including at least 87 people this year alone. That high mortality rate is part of the reason the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers H7N9 the “most concerning” of the flu viruses it tracks, Dr. Tim Uyeki, a medical epidemiologist at CDC, told me.
Right now, the bird flu outbreak is centered around poultry markets in China, and most H7N9 virus infections have been identified in older adults who visited a live poultry market. There's no evidence yet of ongoing human-to-human transmission.
But Uyeki said that H7N9 virus could spread among poultry to nearby countries, and potentially infect humans from there. (Since 2013, some human cases of H7N9 virus infection acquired in China have been identified outside of China in Taiwan, Malaysia, and Canada.)
For now, the risk of H7N9 reaching the US is low. Still, the chances of the US being hit with some kind of pandemic in the next four years is high. (The US is already fighting Zika within its borders, where there’s been a 20-fold increase in Zika-related birth defects since the arrival of the virus here.) Based on what we’ve seen from President Donald Trump so far, the US seems poised to botch an outbreak response.
“America has long been unprepared for a dangerous pandemic,” Ron Klain, the former Ebola czar under President Obama, told Vox, “but the risks are especially high under President Trump.”
Let’s walk through the four reasons why.
----- 12 -----
Sikh man in Kent says he was told, ‘Go back to your own country’ before he was shot
Kent police look for gunman who allegedly walked onto victim’s driveway and shot him in the arm; Sikh community sees rise in abuse.
by Matt Day | The Seattle Times
Originally published March 4, 2017 at 10:04 am Updated March 4, 2017 at 7:53 pm
Kent police are looking for a gunman who allegedly walked onto a man’s driveway and shot him, saying “Go back to your own country.”
The victim, a 39-year-old Sikh man, was working on his vehicle in his driveway in Kent’s East Hill neighborhood about 8 p.m. Friday when he was approached by an unknown man, Kent police said, after talking with the victim.
An altercation followed, with the victim saying the suspect made statements to the effect of “Go back to your own country.” The victim was shot in the arm.
The victim described the shooter as a 6-foot-tall white man with a stocky build. He was wearing a mask covering the lower half of his face, the victim said.
----- 13 -----
Immigration agents deport Houston father of two who previously held immigration reprieve
By Lomi Kriel | Houston Chronicle
March 2, 2017
Jose Escobar lost his legal status in a paperwork gaffe more than a decade ago when he was still a teen in Houston.
That slip-up, the fault of his mother who thought her child would be automatically included in her own renewal application, has trailed him ever since. Thursday it led to his surprise deportation to El Salvador, a country he hasn't seen in 16 years.
The government's decision to remove the 31-year-old father, who has no criminal record and is married to an American citizen, is the latest indication that President Donald Trump's administration plans to deport practically any immigrant here illegally, even some like Escobar who were temporarily protected, who happens to fall into its cross hairs.
It comes just days after the president told Congress that he was removing gang members and drug dealers just as he had promised.
"Bad ones are going out as I speak," Trump said.
Left behind now is Escobar's wife Rose, a receptionist at Texas Children's Hospital, and their two small children. It escalates the fear felt by many immigrants across the nation as they realize they are increasingly at risk.
----- 14 -----
Denver City Attorney: deportation fears impacting criminal cases
9NEWS KUSA Denver
28 February 2017
KUSA - The Denver City Attorney says the fear of being deported has caused some witnesses of violent crimes to skip court -- ultimately allowing several cases to be dropped and the suspects to walk free.
Kristin Bronson says because of this, local safety is on the line.
"Our police department doesn't care whether people are documented or undocumented," Bronson said. "Whether they are citizens of the U.S or not. If they are living here or traveling through Denver, they are entitled to the protection from our police department and sheriff's department."
However, the city does not control the actions of federal agents.
"Victims need to feel comfortable to come forward," Bronson said.
Her office is in the process of dropping four domestic violence cases since President Donald Trump announced a more aggressive deportation policy in January.
The victims in those cases were afraid of running into officers at court who could deport them.
Last week, lawyers from Meyer Law Office filmed three ICE officers in the Lindsey-Flanigan Courthouse. ICE is allowed to be there in plain clothes and says often if they can't track down a person elsewhere, court is a reliable way to find them.
----- 15 -----
Keystone pipeline won’t use U.S. steel despite Trump pledge
BY Associated Press March 4, 2017 at 9:10 AM EST
PALM BEACH, Fla. — The Keystone XL oil pipeline won’t use American steel in its construction, despite what President Donald Trump says.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Friday that’s due to language in a presidential directive Trump issued in January. The directive applies to new pipelines or those under repair. Sanders said it would be hard to do an about-face on Keystone because it’s already under construction and the steel has been acquired.
Trump said as recently as last week that Keystone and the Dakota Access pipeline must use American steel “or we’re not building one.”
----- 16 -----
Trump Reverses Pledge To Mandate U.S. Steel For Keystone Pipeline. A Direct Beneficiary Is A Russian Oligarch With Close Ties To Vladimir Putin
The Huffington Post | 03/05/2017
4 March 2017
After green lighting the continuation of the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline in an executive order January 24th, President Trump declared as recently as last week that the pipeline had to use American made steel “or we’re not building one.”
But on Friday, Trump spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced that the directive would apply only to new pipelines or those currently undergoing repair.
That sharp reversal now paves the way for the use of a stockpile of steel manufactured in Canada by a subsidiary of Evraz, a company in which Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich owns nearly a one/third stake.
Abramovich, estimated to be worth $8.9 billion, who ranks No. 151 on Forbes list of the 500 wealthiest people in the world, has longstanding personal and political ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom President Trump has repeatedly praised.
The connection between the oligarch and the steel already produced for the pipeline was first reported by Desmogblog.com, a Canadian website TIME Magazine named to its list of “25 best blogs of 2011.”
----- 17 -----
Trump's Son-In-Law Is Shaping Health Care Policy, And The Fate Of His Brother’s Obamacare App
Josh Kushner's Oscar company sells insurance through the Affordable Care Act.
By Ben Walsh | The Huffington Post
Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in law and senior adviser, is squeamish about repealing Obamacare, The Washington Post reported earlier this week.
Kushner, along with Trump’s economic adviser Gary Cohn, strategist Steve Bannon and policy adviser Stephen Miller, “have emphasized the potential political costs to moving aggressively,” the Post’s Juliet Eilperin and Amy Goldstein write, while another group of White House advisers is eager to make big changes to the health care industry.
For Kushner, the cost of following through on his father-in-law’s repeated and unambiguous promises to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is more personal than for other aides to the president.
No, affordable care for a life-threatening illness afflicting a family member is not on the line, as it is for many Americans. Instead, it’s a family member’s business.
----- 18 -----
Trump sons, planning expansion of family business, look to leverage campaign experience
By Jonathan O'Connell, David A. Fahrenthold and Matea Gold
The Washington Post | March 4 at 5:27 PM
The Trump administration appears to be either ignoring or exempting top staffers from its own watered-down ethics rules.
As we have detailed, President Trump in January issued an order weakening Obama-era ethics policies, allowing lobbyists to work at agencies they had sought to influence. The Trump order did limit what lobbyists could do once they entered government, banning them from directly handling issues on which they had lobbied.
But the administration may not be even following that.
We’ve found three hires announced this week who, in fact, are working on the same issues on which they were registered lobbyists while in the private sector.
Consider Shahira Knight, President Trump’s special assistant for tax and retirement policy.
Lobbying disclosures show that Knight lobbied the government on a host of retirement and tax issues for financial services giant Fidelity. In one case, she lobbied against a regulation requiring financial professionals to act in the best interests of their clients when it comes to retirement accounts such as 401(k)s. The regulation is strongly supported by consumer advocates and strongly opposed by Fidelity. Retirement savers lose billions of dollars a year because of conflicts of interest in the industry, the Obama administration estimated.
The Trump executive order says former lobbyists like Knight cannot work in the “specific issue area” in which they lobbied, though that phrase is not defined.
Given that Knight lobbied on tax and retirement issues and is now working as Trump’s assistant on tax and retirement issues, how can she be in compliance with the ethics policy?
It’s not at all clear.