Solarbird (solarbird) wrote,

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good morning, it's 22 march 2017

Have to get to bed early - but here's the news nonetheless. Republican approval of Donald Trump remains at 86%. Trump voter approval of Donald Trump remains at 91%. They think this is all just fine.

New documents show Trump aide laundered payments from party with Moscow ties, lawmaker alleges

Supreme Court/Neil Gorsuch:
In E-mails, Neil Gorsuch Praised a Leading Republican Activist Behind Voter Suppression Efforts
Gorsuch’s Views On Women Disqualify Him For A Seat On The Supreme Court

President Trump faces his hardest truth: He was wrong
Ivanka Trump has West Wing office and will get access to classified information

U.S.-Muslim Teen Stopped From Boarding International Flight Home
No African Citizens Could Attend A Summit On African Trade After Visas Denied
Philly Cinco de Mayo celebration canceled over immigration crackdown fears

AMA repeal:
Trump Warns House Republicans: Repeal Health Law or Lose Your Seats

Opinion: Sessions' hard line on pot doesn't help anyone

----- 1 -----
New documents show Trump aide laundered payments from party with Moscow ties, lawmaker alleges
By Andrew Roth | The Washington Post
March 21, 2017 at 10:42 AM

Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort talks to reporters on the floor of the Republican National Convention in July. (Matt Rourke/Associated Press)
KIEV, Ukraine — A Ukrainian lawmaker released new financial documents Tuesday allegedly showing that a former campaign chairman for President Trump laundered payments from the party of a disgraced ex-leader of Ukraine using offshore accounts in Belize and Kyrgyzstan.

The new documents, if legitimate, stem from business ties between the Trump aide, Paul Manafort, and the party of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, who enjoyed Moscow’s backing while he was in power. He has been in hiding in Russia since being overthrown by pro-Western protesters in 2014, and is wanted in Ukraine on corruption charges.

The latest documents were released just hours after the House Intelligence Committee questioned FBI Director James B. Comey about possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Moscow. The hearing that also touched on Manafort’s work for Yanukovych’s party in Ukraine.

----- 2 -----
In E-mails, Neil Gorsuch Praised a Leading Republican Activist Behind Voter Suppression Efforts
Gorsuch’s ties to Hans von Spakovksy suggest a hostility to voting rights.
By Ari Berman | The Nation | March 17, 2017

Few people in the Republican Party have done more to limit voting rights than Hans von Spakovsky. He’s been instrumental in spreading the myth of widespread voter fraud and backing new restrictions to make it harder to vote.

But it appears that von Spakovsky had an admirer in Neil Gorsuch, Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, according to e-mails released to the Senate Judiciary Committee covering Gorsuch’s time working in the George W. Bush Administration.

When President Bush nominated von Spakovksy to the Federal Election Commission in late 2005, Gorsuch wrote, “Good for Hans!”

In another e-mail, when von Spakovksy said he was participating in a “Ballot Access and Voter Integrity Conference” at the Justice Department, Gorsuch wrote, “Sounds interesting. Glad to see you’re doing this. I may try to attend some of it.” Though the Justice Department was supposed to investigate both voting discrimination and voter fraud, the latter cause took priority and eventually led to Republican US Attorneys’ being wrongly fired from their jobs for refusing to prosecute fraud cases.

At very least, the e-mails suggest Gorsuch was friendly with von Spakovksy. But it’s far more disturbing if Gorsuch shares Von Spakovsky’s views on voting rights. Given that we know almost nothing about Gorsuch’s views on the subject, this is something the Senate needs to press him on during confirmation hearings next week.

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Gorsuch’s Views On Women Disqualify Him For A Seat On The Supreme Court
His antiquated views about women put at risk our hard-won rights and freedoms.

On January 21, 2017, over four million people marched in more than 600 U.S. cities and over 80 countries across the world to express growing alarm over the persistent inequality and increased hostility faced by women. The Women’s March, in some ways, was a direct response to the election of Donald Trump, a man who has bragged about sexually assaulting women and has made so many degrading comments about women that it is impossible to include them all here. At a time when it is critical for all Americans to stand up for women’s rights, President Trump has nominated a man to the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, who has a long history of expressing contempt and hostility toward women.

As a young man studying at Columbia University, Gorsuch was a member of the fraternity on campus known for its degrading treatment of women. Among other things, the fraternity celebrated each time one of its members had sex with a virgin by painting a fire hydrant on frat row. Students on campus targeted the fraternity during a Take Back the Night march because of its reputation as the “date-rape fraternity.” Gorsuch was an ardent supporter of both his fraternity and fraternity culture on campus. He dismissed women who spoke out against the fraternity’s violent misogyny, saying that their “demonstrations and rallies are causes that inspire no one and offer no fresh ideas or important notions for the students or school to consider.”

Lest one believe that Gorsuch left his reprehensible views about women in the past, letters have emerged from law students claiming that Gorsuch made inappropriate comments last year about women seeking time off to have children. The students allege that while teaching a course on professional ethics, Gorsuch accused women of abusing employers by joining law firms with the intention of immediately getting pregnant to take advantage of the maternity benefits. Gorsuch went as far as to say that employers must protect themselves from such conniving women by asking about their plans to start a family during the job interview.

And on the bench, Gorsuch has consistently ruled against women. He has turned away women seeking redress for sexual harassment and sex discrimination. He joined the original Hobby Lobby decision holding that corporations are people whose religious beliefs trump the right of women to receive insurance coverage for contraceptive care. And he voted to uphold the actions of the Governor of Utah when he eliminated federal funding for Planned Parenthood; the programs that would have lost funding supported health education and STD testing.

----- 4 -----
President Trump faces his hardest truth: He was wrong
By Philip Rucker, Ashley Parker | The Washington Post
March 20, 2017 at 6:23 PM

He was wrong.

James B. Comey — the FBI director whom Trump celebrated on the campaign trail as a gutsy and honorable “Crooked Hillary” truth-teller — testified under oath Monday what many Americans had already assumed: Trump had falsely accused his predecessor of wiretapping his headquarters during last year’s campaign.

Trump did not merely allege that former president Barack Obama ordered surveillance on Trump Tower, of course. He asserted it as fact, and then reasserted it, and then insisted that forthcoming evidence would prove him right.

But in Monday’s remarkable, marathon hearing of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Comey said there was no such evidence. Trump’s claim, first made in a series of tweets on March 4 at a moment when associates said he was feeling under siege and stewing over the struggles of his young presidency, remains unfounded.

Comey did not stop there. He confirmed publicly that the FBI was investigating possible collusion between Trump campaign officials and associates with Russia, part of an extraordinary effort by an adversary to influence the outcome of the 2016 U.S. election in Trump’s favor.

Questions about Russia have hung over Trump for months, but the president always has dismissed them as “fake news.” That became much harder Monday after the FBI director proclaimed the Russia probe to be anything but fake.

“There’s a smell of treason in the air,” presidential historian Douglas Brinkley said. “Imagine if J. Edgar Hoover or any other FBI director would have testified against a sitting president? It would have been a mind-boggling event.”

----- 5 -----
U.S.-Muslim Teen Stopped From Boarding International Flight Home
“Is this the new Great America?” her mother asked.
By Nina Golgowski | WorldPost (a joint effort of The Huffington Post and Berggruen Institute) | 2017/3/20

A spring break trip to the Muslim holy city of Mecca has turned into a travel nightmare for a Tennessee family after their 17-year-old daughter was denied entry into the U.S., allegedly because the airline they traveled with did not provide the proper documents to U.S. officials.

Zubaidah Alizoti, who was born in the U.S. and attends school in Knoxville, was scheduled to fly out of Turkey on Sunday with her family, but she was barred from boarding her Atlanta-bound flight, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported.

In a Facebook post, her mother, Sabrina Sadaf Siddiqi, wrote that her daughter was refused “for no apparent reason.” The experience left her rattled, with fears that her family is being targeted in this “new Great America.”

A revised travel ban recently signed by President Donald Trump specifically targets travelers from six Muslim-majority countries. Turkey and Saudi Arabia, however, are not on the list.

According to the Transportation Security Administration, the airline ― identified by the Sentinel as Turkish Airlines ― failed to provide the agency with the proper documents that would allow Zubaidah’s reentry.

“International carriers are tasked with providing security information to the federal government before a passenger can fly into the United States,” TSA spokesperson Sari Koshetz said in an email to The Huffington Post on Monday. “That did not happen in this case.”

----- 6 -----
No African Citizens Could Attend A Summit On African Trade After Visas Denied
The African Global Economic & Development Summit was held with zero African attendees.
By Mollie Reilly | The Huffington Post | 2017/3/20

No delegates from Africa attended a summit on African trade after the visas of planned speakers and attendees were not issued ahead of the conference, VOA reported last week.

The organizer of the African Global Economic & Development Summit, an annual three-day conference held at the University of Southern California, told VOA that every single person was denied entry to the U.S.

“Usually we get 40 percent that get rejected but the others come,” said Mary Flowers, the conference’s chair. “This year it was 100 percent. Every delegation. And it was sad to see, because these people were so disheartened.”

The summit, held each year since 2013, aims to connect African businesses with U.S. investors. This year’s event focused on renewable energy, including wind and solar power projects. The conference went on last weekend as planned, but suffered from diminished attendance. Flowers told The Guardian that between 60 and 100 people from at least 12 countries were denied entry and could not attend the conference.

A State Department official declined to discuss the particulars of the would-be conference attendees’ cases.

----- 7 -----
Philly Cinco de Mayo celebration canceled over immigration crackdown fears
By Brooke Seipel - 03/18/17 10:44 PM EDT - The Hill

El Carnaval de Puebla, a major Cinco De Mayo celebration in Philadelphia, has been canceled following recent federal immigration crackdowns, organizers said.

Edgar Ramirez told a local NBC affiliate that as many as 15,000 people gather for the annual parade through South Philadelphia, marking the city's largest Cinco de Mayo celebration.

Ramirez told NBC the decision was "sad but responsible" amid reports of more immigration enforcement arrests on the part of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).


Ramirez said that the Mexican-American community, including both legal and illegal residents, was disheartened by reports of large-scale arrests.

"The group of six organizers decided to cancel unanimously,” Ramirez said. “Everyone is offended by the actions of ICE. They did not feel comfortable holding the event."

----- 8 -----
Trump Warns House Republicans: Repeal Health Law or Lose Your Seats
By THOMAS KAPLAN and ROBERT PEAR | The New York Times | MARCH 21, 2017

WASHINGTON — President Trump offered a closing argument on Tuesday to on-the-fence lawmakers, warning House Republicans that they risked losing re-election next year if they failed to get behind legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

Mr. Trump’s warning, delivered in a closed-door meeting at the Capitol on Tuesday morning, came as House leaders were trying to pin down a majority to pass their repeal legislation, which is set for a floor vote on Thursday.

Mr. Trump told lawmakers that many of them would lose their seats in next year’s midterm elections if the repeal effort failed.

----- 9 -----
Opinion: Sessions' hard line on pot doesn't help anyone
All the Attorney General is doing is making a polarized marijuana discussion more polarized
By ZOSHA MILLMAN, SEATTLEPI.COM STAFF | Seattle Post-Intelligencer | Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Many believe the Trump administration will not go after the recreational marijuana market. Though the president has made statements up and down the political spectrum on the subject, he has never once tweeted about it, nor does it seem to be a pressing issue. The metric he seems to stick by is that decriminalization of marijuana is a state's rights issue, which at worst does nothing to clarify the sticky legal gray area these markets are operating within.

But Attorney General Jeff Sessions has not been so modest. He has a long history of being anti-marijuana, in all forms, and saying as much. He bemoans a world where we could buy marijuana in a grocery store, and thought the KKK was OK until he found out they smoked pot.

For the most part, marijuana advocates believe that Trump's disinterest in this battle, coupled with $1 billion in marijuana-related sales since Washington legalized recreational pot in 2012, will protect the plant's legal status. Indeed, there's only been talk about a firmer line on marijuana; he has not made public any specific plans of attack. Most recently, Sessions last week rejected the idea "that we can solve our heroin crisis by legalizing marijuana—so people can trade one life-wrecking dependency for another that's only slightly less awful."

----- 10 -----
Ivanka Trump has West Wing office and will get access to classified information
Trump, who holds no official title in administration and is not serving as government employee, will receive security clearance soon
The Guardian | Monday 20 March 2017

Ivanka Trump’s role in her father’s administration is expanding. Though the president’s eldest daughter currently holds no official title in the White House, she is working out of a West Wing office and will soon get access to classified information, even though she is not technically serving as a government employee.

Jamie Gorelick, an attorney and ethics adviser for Trump, said Monday that the first daughter will not have an official title but will get a West Wing office, government-issued communications devices and security clearance to access classified information.

Gorelick said Trump would follow all the ethics rules that apply to government employees.

In a statement issued to the website Politico, Ivanka Trump acknowledged the lack of precedent for an adult child of the US president to take on such an ambiguous role: “I will continue to offer my father my candid advice and counsel, as I have for my entire life,” she said. “While there is no modern precedent for an adult child of the president, I will voluntarily follow all of the ethics rules placed on government employees.”

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Tags: fascism watch, political
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