Solarbird (solarbird) wrote,

  • Mood:

good morning, it's 27 april 2017

Well, I've at least managed to clear my browser tabs.

Fascism/authoritarianism and the corporatist state:
  • Rep. Adam Schiff on @MSNBC: It sounds like the W.H. has paperwork from Mike Flynn that they weren't willing to give to the Oversight Cmte.
  • Justices Alarmed by Government’s Hard-Line Stance in Citizenship Case
  • Trump says he may break up 9th Circuit Court after rulings go against him
  • Juvenile criminal defense attorneys forced to agree to Taser's terms of service to see the state's evidence
Corruption and looting:
  • The tale of the dictator’s daughter and her prince
  • Mar-a-Lago blog was not reviewed before posting on State site
  • Whitehouse Files Hatch Act Complaint Over Pruitt Participation in Oklahoma GOP Fundraiser
  • Nominee to head FDA joined effort to get a drug company more fentanyl
  • Trump tax proposal would slash taxes for his businesses
  • At Trump’s EPA, Less Science and More Industry
  • Trump orders review of national monuments to allow development
  • MNUCHIN: we are going to eliminate on the personal side all tax deductions other than mortgage interest and charitable deductions.
  • Trump Tax Plan Slashes Individual and Corporate Rates
Xenophobia and reactions against:
  • White House Optimism on Shutdown Complicated by Trump Demands
  • When is a wall not a wall? GOP redefines Trump’s border wall
  • Police Chief Meidl: In Spokane, undocumented immigrant crime is practically nonexistent
Trumpcare/Chumpcare 2.0:
  • Republicans exempt their own insurance from their latest health care proposal
  • Apparently repealing Obamacare could violate international law
  • Trump puts EU ahead of Britain in trade queue
  • Trump Administration Puts Trade Deal With EU Ahead of Post-Brexit Britain
  • Republicans tell Trump to hold up on NAFTA withdrawal
Brutal horribleness:
  • Sandy Hook truther Alex Jones asks for privacy in custody battle ‘for the sake of my children’
(Alex Jones spent a lot of time siccing conspiracy theory haters on the parents of the children murdered at Sandy Hook, claiming the shooting didn't happen and was staged. The abuse, stalking, and harassment the parents of the dead children suffered was truly barbaric, and Alex Jones was the primary motivator here.)

Everything else:
  • Different president, same old government shutdown threats
  • Republican North Carolina judge resigns — and slams the GOP on the way out
  • Trump’s over-the-top, boastful AP interview, annotated

Good luck out there.

----- 1 -----
Trump puts EU ahead of Britain in trade queue
Merkel lands Brexit victory for Brussels
The Times of London

[From sources quoting this article, it took a _concerted effort_ to teach Trump how EU trade works, at the most basic levels. See item 4.]

Britain has been pushed behind the European Union in the queue to strike a free-trade deal with the United States, officials in Washington have said.

President Trump has softened his opposition to negotiating with the bloc as a whole after attempts by his officials to open talks with individual European nations were rebuffed.

During a private conversation last month, Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, convinced Mr Trump that talks on a US-EU deal would be simpler than he thought, sources close to both sides of the discussion told The Times.

This lead to a "realisation" in the Trump administration that a trade deal with the EU - allowing the tariff-free exchange of goods and services - was more important to U.S. interests than a post-Brexit deal with Britain.

----- 2 -----
At Trump’s EPA, Less Science and More Industry
by Lauren Coleman-Lochner | Bloomberg
4 April 2017

Congress and the Trump administration are planning sweeping changes in how science is used to govern public health.

Controversy over climate change may be getting all the attention right now, but legislation under consideration would transform the way the Environmental Protection Agency combats pollution, identifies harmful pesticides and classifies everyday toxins, such as laundry detergent, window cleaner and clothing dye.

President Donald Trump has vowed to flatten regulatory hurdles for American business, and Congress’s proposed EPA rules for science would make commerce easier. The president has proposed a 31 percent budget cut for the EPA and installed an opponent of the agency, Scott Pruitt, as its leader. Pruitt began the new era of industry over environmental regulation last week by reversing years of scientific opinion, rejecting a proposed ban on chlorpyrifos, a pesticide used on fruits and vegetables that has links to brain damage.

----- 3 -----
White House Optimism on Shutdown Complicated by Trump Demands
by Ali Vitali and Leigh Ann Caldwell | 22 April 2017 | NBC News

The White House is preparing for the worst and hoping for the best as it plans for the possibility of a government shutdown next week. But the insistence on including many of President Donald Trump's priorities in the government spending bill has added some roadblocks to a bipartisan effort to pass it.

Both the president and his chief spokesperson expressed confidence Friday that the government would not shut down when current funding expires at midnight on April 28. "I think we're in good shape" President Trump told reporters in the Oval Office Friday.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer echoed the sentiment in an off-camera briefing with reporters and insisted there doesn't have to be a choice between getting the president's budget priorities approved and avoiding a government shutdown.

"We've made it clear we want border wall funding, we want greater latitude to deny federal grants to sanctuary cities, we want hiring of immigration agents, and we want thirty billion dollars" increase in military funding. "Those are our priorities," Spicer outlined.

But that optimistic rhetoric was paired Friday with a White House order for agencies to begin preparations for a potential shutdown, a common administrative action this close to a funding deadline.

----- 4 -----
Trump Administration Puts Trade Deal With EU Ahead of Post-Brexit Britain
By Reuters On 4/22/17

The United States could strike a free-trade agreement with the European Union after President Donald Trump warmed to a deal with the bloc, the Times reported on Saturday, quoting sources from both sides of the discussion.

Post-Brexit Britain would be pushed behind Europe in the race to secure a U.S. deal after Germany's Angela Merkel persuaded Trump that talks on a deal would be simpler than he thought, the newspaper said.

Britain will not be free to agree new trade deals until it has left the EU in 2019.

A source close to the White House was quoted as saying that there had been a "realization" in the Trump administration that a trade deal with the EU - allowing the tariff-free exchange of goods and services - was more important to U.S. interests than a post-Brexit deal with Britain.

"Ten times Trump asked her (Merkel) if he could negotiate a trade deal with Germany," the newspaper quoted a senior German politician as saying.

"Every time she replied, 'You can't do a trade deal with Germany, only the EU'," the politician said. "On the eleventh refusal, Trump finally got the message, 'Oh, we'll do a deal with Europe then.'"

----- 5 -----
Different president, same old government shutdown threats
Erica Werner, Ap Congressional Correspondent
Updated 12:37 am, Wednesday, April 26, 2017

WASHINGTON (AP) — There's an unconventional new president in the White House. And the Republicans now have a new lock on both ends of Washington's Pennsylvania Avenue. But the capital city is still up to its old gridlock tricks.

Just as occurred repeatedly during the Obama administration, the government is only days away from a shutdown, and Congress and the White House are engaged in familiar partisan brinkmanship.

How little has really changed under President Donald Trump.

Some of the issues are different this time around as lawmakers scramble to finish up the annual government-wide spending bills that are Congress' most basic function. The $1 trillion catch-all legislation for the remainder of the 2017 budget year is leftover business from last year and comes due Friday at midnight.

Without action before then, the government will partially shut down Saturday, which happens to be the 100th day of Trump's presidency.

----- 6 -----
Mar-a-Lago blog was not reviewed before posting on State site
By Mark Hensch - 04/25/17 - The Hill

A blog post about President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club was not reviewed for ethical issues or conflicts of interest before appearing on a State Department webpage this month, according to a State Department spokesman.

“We made the decision to pull this article down because there was some confusion about its intent,” Mark Toner told reporters on Tuesday.

“It was meant to provide historical information and context relevant to the conduct of U.S. diplomacy and was not intended to endorse or promote any private enterprise.”

A blog post about Trump’s luxury resort in Palm Beach, Fla., began gaining attention Monday, leading to its removal later that day.

The blog post detailed the history of Mar-a-Lago, noting that the founder willed the estate to the U.S. government in 1973.

But it did not specify that the federal government ultimately returned the resort to founder Marjorie Merriweather Post’s estate, nor that Trump purchased it in 1983.

The writeup was originally posted on ShareAmerica, described as State’s “platform for sharing compelling stories and images that spark discussion and debate.”

----- 7 -----
Republicans exempt their own insurance from their latest health care proposal
Republican legislators want to keep popular Obamacare provisions for themselves and their staff.
Updated by Sarah Kliff Apr 25, 2017 | Vox

House Republicans appear to have included a provision that exempts Members of Congress and their staff from their latest health care plan.

The new Republican amendment, introduced Tuesday night, would allow states to waive out of Obamacare’s ban on pre-existing conditions. This means that insurers could once again, under certain circumstances, charge sick people higher premiums than healthy people.

Republican legislators liked this policy well enough to offer it in a new amendment. They do not, however, seem to like it enough to have it apply to themselves and their staff. A spokesperson for Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) who authored this amendment confirmed this was the case: members of Congress and their staff would get the guarantee of keeping this Obamacare regulations. Health law expert Tim Jost flagged me to this particular issue.

A bit of background is helpful here. Obamacare requires all members of Congress and their staff to purchase coverage on the individual market, just like Obamacare enrollees. The politics of that plank were simple enough, meant to demonstrate that if the coverage in this law were good enough for Americans than it should be good enough for their representations in Washington.

That’s been happening for the past four years now. Fast-forward to this new amendment, which would allow states to waive out of key Obamacare protections like the ban on pre-existing conditions or the requirement to cover things like maternity care and mental health services.

If Congressional aides lived in a state that decided to waive these protections, the aides who were sick could be vulnerable to higher premiums than the aides that are healthy. Their benefits package could get skimpier as Obamacare’s essential health benefits requirement may no longer apply either.

This apparently does not sound appealing because the Republican amendment includes the members of Congress and their staff as a protected group who cannot be affected by this amendment.

----- 8 -----
Republican North Carolina judge resigns — and slams the GOP on the way out
Bob Brigham | Raw Story | 24 Apr 2017

In a dramatic response to a power-grab by Republicans in the North Carolina legislature, a Republican judge resigned today to circumvent efforts to strip power from the Democratic governor.

The Charlotte Observer reports that following today’s surprise resignation by Republican Judge J. Douglas McCullough, Democrat John Arrowood was sworn in. Judge McCullough worked as a staffer for Senator Harrison Schmitt (R-NM) before being appointed by President Ronald Reagan as United States Attorney in the eastern district of North Carolina.

Since Democrat Roy Cooper was elected Governor of North Carolina last fall, the Republican Legislature has gone to great lengths to strip his office of power. Yet with a three-sentence resignation letter this morning, Judge McCullough has proven that not all Republicans are willing to go along with shenanigans by legislative Republicans.

North Carolina has a mandatory retirement age for judges. To prevent the Democratic Party governor from appointing replacements for Court of Appeals judges nearing forced retirement, the Republican Legislature passed a bill to shrink the size of the court from 15 to 12 judges — thereby denying the Democrat of three scheduled appointments.

----- 9 -----
Whitehouse Files Hatch Act Complaint Over Pruitt Participation in Oklahoma GOP Fundraiser
04.25.17 | Office of Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (Rhode Island)

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, filed a complaint today with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel concerning a potential violation on the part Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt of the Hatch Act, the federal law limiting political activities of federal employees. The complaint stems from an invitation to a May 5 Oklahoma Republican Party fundraiser distributed this week, where Pruitt is set to deliver the keynote address. The invitation makes numerous references to Pruitt’s status as Administrator and his actions thus far—a brand of political promotion prohibited by the Hatch Act.

In the complaint, Whitehouse writes, “the unmistakable impression one receives from the May 5 invitation is that by purchasing a ticket or agreeing to sponsor the OKGOP Gala, the attendee will have special access to federal employee discussing official actions already taken, and to be taken in the future. This is clearly impermissible political activity under the Hatch Act.”

The Hatch Act, officially known as the Act to Prevent Pernicious Political Activity, bars executive branch employees from using their “official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election,” including “activity directed toward the success or failure of a political party, candidate for partisan political office, or partisan political group.” Specifically, the law prohibits executive employees from allowing their “official title to be used in connection with fundraising activities.”

“Make sure to purchase your Gala tickets so you don’t miss out on Administrator Pruitt’s future plans and how he will continue to Drain the Swamp!” the invitation reads. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so buy your tickets before they sell out!”

----- 10 -----
Nominee to head FDA joined effort to get a drug company more fentanyl
By Lenny Bernstein April 24, 2017 | the washington post

In December 2006, Scott Gottlieb did something unusual for a deputy
commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration: He joined other FDA
officials who tried to help a pharmaceutical company secure more
fentanyl for a powerful painkiller product.

The company, Cephalon, was running short of the opioid it put in a
lollipop designed for the intense pain of some cancer patients,
according to interviews and documents obtained by The Washington Post.
But Cephalon was also under investigation at the time for illegally
pushing doctors to prescribe the drug for other uses, from headaches to
back pain.

Gottlieb is the Trump administration’s nominee to head the FDA. While
his exact role in the episode is in dispute, his critics contend that
his participation demonstrates the kind of friendly relationship with
the pharmaceutical industry that they fear he will create at the FDA if
he is confirmed.

“When the prescription opioid epidemic was exploding, it appears Dr.
Gottlieb advocated to put even more addictive fentanyl onto the market
when it wasn’t appropriate or necessary,” said Sen. Edward J. Markey
(D-Mass.), who has previously criticized Gottlieb’s ties to the drug
industry. “We cannot have a leader at the FDA who has aided and abetted
the prescription drug and heroin epidemic by pushing more addictive,
deadly opioids onto the American public.” Markey’s office has asked the
Drug Enforcement Administration for documents related to the episode,
in which Cephalon’s request was ultimately rejected.

----- 11 -----
Apparently repealing Obamacare could violate international law
By Dana Milbank Opinion writer April 25 2017 | The Washington Post

We’ve already seen that repealing Obamacare is politically perilous.
Now there’s a new complication: It may also violate international law.

The United Nations has contacted the Trump administration as part of an
investigation into whether repealing the Affordable Care Act without an
adequate substitute for the millions who would lose health coverage
would be a violation of several international conventions that bind the
United States. It turns out that the notion that “health care is a
right” is more than just a Democratic talking point.

A confidential, five-page “urgent appeal” from the Office of the U.N.
High Commissioner on Human Rights in Geneva, sent to the Trump
administration, cautions that the repeal of the Affordable Care Act
could put the United States at odds with its international obligations.
The Feb. 2 memo, which I obtained Tuesday, was sent to the State
Department and expresses “serious concern” about the prospective loss
of health coverage for almost 30 million people, which could violate
“the right to social security of the people in the United States.”

The letter urges that “all necessary interim measures be taken to
prevent the alleged violations” and asks that, if the “allegations”
proved correct, there be “adequate measure to prevent their occurrence
as well as to guarantee the accountability of any person responsible.”

----- 12 -----
Trump’s over-the-top, boastful AP interview, annotated
The Washington Post | By Aaron Blake April 24, 2017

President Trump sat down with the Associated Press's Julie Pace on
Friday, and what emerged was a conversation in which Trump bragged and
boasted repeatedly — sometimes unprompted and using revisionist history
— about what he's accomplished in his first 100 days as president. He
did this all while dismissing the idea that the 100-day threshold even
matters, despite hailing that same standard dozens of times late in his
2016 campaign.

Some of the claims are truly remarkable, including that he may have
given the greatest speech in the history of the House chamber and that
a Democrat told him he'd be among the greatest presidents ever. He also
just flat-out said he shouldn't be bound by his 100-day promises.

Below is the transcript, which was released Sunday night, along with my
annotations. To see an annotation, click on the yellow, highlighted

----- 13 -----
Sandy Hook truther Alex Jones asks for privacy in custody battle ‘for the sake of my children’
The Washington Post | By Cleve R. Wootson Jr. April 22, 2017

Alex Jones was a powerful underground voice for the alternative
conservative media, but he became a more mainstream figure in December
2015, when Donald Trump, then a Republican presidential candidate,
spent 30 minutes on Jones's radio program, "Info Wars." (Erin Patrick
O'Connor,Manuel Roig-Franzia/The Washington Post)


Rolling Stone once compiled a list of the seven most outrageous. Among
them: Bill Gates’s foundation to help minority students go to college
is a secret eugenics program; the government is complicit in terrorist
attacks as a means of bringing about martial law and that millions of
undocumented immigrants voted illegally in the 2016 presidential

Jones has also said the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary was a
hoax to get Americans to support tougher gun-control laws.

----- 14 -----
Juvenile criminal defense attorneys forced to agree to Taser's terms of service to see the state's evidence
Boing Boing / Cory Doctorow / 7:10 pm Sun Apr 23, 2017

California criminal defense attorney Rick Horowitz had a juvenile client, he was shocked when the prosecutor in the case told him that to see the evidence against his client, he'd have to log in to, run by Taser International (now rebranded as Axon).

This is radioactively illegal, violating all the vital rules of confidentiality in juvenile cases. What's more, has already been implicated in police evidence-tampering.

But most damning is's sweeping license agreement, which requires criminal attorneys to surrender their rights and the rights of their clients in order to engage in the normal discovery process, without which no defense is possible.

----- 15 -----
MNUCHIN: we are going to eliminate on the personal side all tax deductions other than mortgage interest and charitable deductions.
Briefing by Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn
James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
1:38 P.M. EDT
The White House

Q Thank you, Mr. Secretary. When you talk about the individual tax rates you're also talking about eliminating some of the tax breaks. Are you talking about eliminating tax deductions? And which ones are you talking about eliminating, and which ones are you talking about keeping?

SECRETARY MNUCHIN: Correct, we are going to eliminate on the personal side all tax deductions other than mortgage interest and charitable deductions. We think that will be sweeping reform.

Q Thank you, Secretary. When you talk about lowering dividends and capital gains taxes, how does that mesh with what you said this morning about protecting the middle class from the very, very wealthy who might be able to take advantage of -- I don't know a better word than loopholes, but that would give them a lower tax rate?

SECRETARY MNUCHIN: Well, again, what we've said is that the business rate is going to be available for small and medium-size businesses as well as corporations. However, we will make sure that there are rules in place so that wealthy people can't create pass-throughs and use that as a mechanism to avoid paying the tax rate that they should be on the personal side.

----- 16 -----
Republicans tell Trump to hold up on NAFTA withdrawal
By Tara Palmeri, Adam Behsudi and Seung Min Kim
04/26/17 11:32 AM EDT Politico

The Trump administration alarmed Republicans on Wednesday with its consideration of an executive order that could lead to the United States' withdrawal from NAFTA — with some lawmakers warning that such a move would be a "disaster."

A draft order has been submitted for final stages of review and could be unveiled late this week or early next, two White House officials told POLITICO. The effort, which still could change in coming days as more officials weigh in, would indicate the administration’s intent to withdraw from the sweeping Clinton-era pact by triggering the timeline set forth in the deal.

The approach appears designed to extract better terms from Canada and Mexico. But it raises the possibility the Trump administration could walk away from one of the largest trade deals on the planet after having already pulled the U.S. out of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation deal that the Obama administration saw as a way to cement American influence over Asia-Pacific trade.

“I think we’d better be careful about unintended consequences,” said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn.

President Donald Trump pledged on the campaign trail to renegotiate or otherwise withdraw from NAFTA, a trade deal signed in 1994 by former President Bill Clinton that removes tariffs and allows for free flow of goods and supplies between the North American triumvirate. Trump in recent weeks has stepped up his rhetoric against the trading partners, returning to threats he had shied away from since taking office and once again vowing to terminate the agreement all together.

“NAFTA’s been very, very bad for our country,” he said in a speech last week in Kenosha, Wis. “It’s been very, very bad for our companies and for our workers, and we’re going to make some very big changes or we are going to get rid of NAFTA once and for all.”

----- 17 -----
Justices Alarmed by Government’s Hard-Line Stance in Citizenship Case
By ADAM LIPTAK | The New York Times | APRIL 26, 2017

WASHINGTON — Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. tried to test the limits of the government’s position at a Supreme Court argument on Wednesday by confessing to a criminal offense.

“Some time ago, outside the statute of limitations, I drove 60 miles an hour in a 55-mile-an-hour zone,” the chief justice said, adding that he had not been caught.

The form that people seeking American citizenship must complete, he added, asks whether the applicant had ever committed a criminal offense, however minor, even if there was no arrest.

“If I answer that question no, 20 years after I was naturalized as a citizen, you can knock on my door and say, ‘Guess what, you’re not an American citizen after all’?” Chief Justice Roberts asked.

Continue reading the main story
Robert A. Parker, a Justice Department lawyer, said the offense had to be disclosed. Chief Justice Roberts seemed shocked. “Oh, come on,” he said.

The chief justice asked again whether someone’s citizenship could turn on such an omission.

Mr. Parker did not back down. “If we can prove that you deliberately lied in answering that question, then yes,” he said.

The exchange was among several moments of indignation and incredulity during the argument in Maslenjak v. United States, No. 16-309. Several justices seemed taken aback by Mr. Parker’s unyielding position that the government may revoke the citizenship of Americans who made even trivial misstatements in their naturalization proceedings.

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy had heard enough.

“Your argument is demeaning the priceless value of citizenship,” he told Mr. Parker. “You’re arguing for the government of the United States, talking about what citizenship is and ought to mean.”

----- 18 -----
Trump tax proposal would slash taxes for his businesses
By Drew Harwell and Jonathan O'Connell | The Washington Post
on April 26, 2017 at 8:00 PM

President Donald Trump's massive tax-cut proposal would slash taxes on hundreds of businesses he and his family own.

The White House on Wednesday unveiled a proposal that would cut the top tax rate for corporations, as well as entities known as pass-through businesses, to 15 percent.

That could prove to be a windfall for the Trump Organization, the private umbrella company for hundreds of Trump real estate, licensing and other companies, many of which qualify as pass-through businesses.

Trump has refused to release his tax returns, making it impossible to know how much his businesses could save on taxes.

In addition, the White House said it would create rules to prevent wealthy individuals and corporations from taking advantage of the low pass-through rate. But because they did not provide details, it's difficult to know how those rules would apply to the Trump companies.

----- 19 -----
Rep. Adam Schiff on @MSNBC: It sounds like the W.H. has paperwork from Mike Flynn that they weren't willing to give to the Oversight Cmte.
26 Apr 2017 | Twitter
[Video at link]

----- 20 -----
Trump orders review of national monuments to allow development
By Valerie Volcovici | WASHINGTON

U.S. President Donald Trump has signed an executive order to allow national monument designations to be rescinded or reduce the size of sites as the administration pushes to open up more federal land to drilling, mining and other development.

Trump's order is part of an effort to reverse many of the environmental protections implemented by his predecessor, Democratic President Barack Obama that Trump said were hobbling economic growth. Trump's agenda is being cheered by industry but enraging conservationists.

Legal challenges are expected because no president has ever rescinded a monument designation.

In announcing the order on Wednesday Republican Trump said Obama's use of the 1906 Antiquities Act to create monuments was an "egregious abuse of federal power" that allowed the federal government to "lock up" millions of acres of land and water.

The Antiquities Act gives a president the authority to create national monuments from federal lands to protect significant natural, cultural, or scientific features.

"Today we're putting the states back in charge," Trump said, adding that they should decide which land is protected and which is open for development.

----- 21 -----
Police Chief Meidl: In Spokane, undocumented immigrant crime is practically nonexistent
Posted By Daniel Walters on Wed, Apr 26, 2017

Last week, we published a story about the controversial response from the Spokane Human Rights Commission over City Councilman Mike Fagan's diatribe against "illegal aliens" during a council meeting.

Fagan's remarks detailed several gory and violent episodes involving assailants who were in the United States illegally. Several members of the human rights commission felt that by using these anecdotes, Fagan was painting a grossly inaccurate picture of undocumented immigrants.

But how about the reality? Is illegal immigration causing an uptick in violent crime or property crime in this city?

Last week, the Inlander called up Spokane Police Chief Craig Meidl, and he was crystal clear on the answer.

"We do not have an undocumented immigrant problem in the city of Spokane," Meidl says. "The complaints we are hearing in the community are not stemming from undocumented immigrants."

In his 23 years with the Spokane Police Department, Meidl says that, to his knowledge, he's had a grand total of two contacts with undocumented immigrants.

"One was an assault call unrelated to his documented status," Meidl says. And the other was a neighbor concerned about the way an undocumented immigrant was looking at his kids. That's all.

----- 22 -----
Trump says he may break up 9th Circuit Court after rulings go against him
By John Bowden - 04/26/17 - The Hill

[Note: he does not legally have the power to do this. But lol, law, right?]

President Trump is considering breaking up the 9th Circuit Court after a federal district court judge in its jurisdiction blocked his order to withhold funding from "sanctuary cities."

In a Wednesday interview with the Washington Examiner, Trump said "there are many people who want to break up the 9th Circuit. It's outrageous."

In the interview, Trump accused liberals of "judge-shopping" for a court that would strike down his executive order.

"I mean, the language on the ban, it reads so easy that a reasonably good student in the first grade will fully understand it. And they don't even mention the words in their rejection on the ban," Trump said.

Trump claimed the court oversteps its authority and that his opponents "immediately run" to the court for "semi-automatic" rulings.

The 9th Circuit earlier this year blocked Trump's executive order that barred immigration from certain Muslim-majority countries and banned all Syrian refugees from the U.S. for a period of time.

----- 23 -----
When is a wall not a wall? GOP redefines Trump’s border wall
Originally published April 26, 2017
By ERICA WERNER | The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional Republicans have a new talking point about President Donald Trump’s border wall: It’s not really a wall at all.

Instead, the wall is “a bit of a metaphor as to border security,” in the words of Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida.

Or, a “quote, wall,” as Sen. John McCain of Arizona put it: A combination of drones, towers, anti-tunneling devices and the like that add up to enhanced border security.

The issue arose this week as Congress squabbled over government-wide spending legislation, including money for security measures along the U.S.-Mexico border.

After the president backed off his demands in face of Democratic objections, the bill is not expected to include money specifically designated for constructing the “big, beautiful” border wall Trump repeatedly promised during the campaign. Instead the legislation will pay for other border security measures, perhaps including access roads and gates and technological improvements of various kinds.

That might seem to fall short of Trump’s commitments. But according to Republicans like McCain and Diaz-Balart, Trump’s promised wall may be better understood as a figure of speech anyway.

“In my view you’ve got to have an interpretation of a, quote, wall as a barrier to illegal drugs, illegal people, these gangs that are coming from the Central American countries, and that means using every bit of technology that you have,” said McCain, who dined with Trump at the White House Monday night.

As for whether the president shares his views, McCain said: “I believe that he is at least considering that definition.”

----- 24 -----
Trump Tax Plan Slashes Individual and Corporate Rates
By Stephen Ohelmacher and Josh Boak | NBC

Dismissing concerns about ballooning federal deficits, President Donald Trump on Wednesday proposed dramatic tax cuts for U.S. businesses and individuals — outlining an overhaul his administration promises will spur economic growth and simplify America's tangle of tax code rules.

His proposal, a one-page sketch short on detail, would reduce the top corporate tax rate by 20 percentage points and allow private business owners to claim the new lower rate for their take-home pay. It would whittle the number of tax brackets for individuals from seven to three, lower the top tax rate from 39.6 percent to 35 percent and double the standard amount taxpayers could deduct.

It would eliminate the estate tax and reduce taxes on investments, typically paid by the rich. It would further reduce the tax burden for the wealthy by eliminating the catch-all alternative minimum tax, which takes an additional bite out of high-income Americans.

----- 25 -----
The tale of the dictator’s daughter and her prince
Sarah Kendzior | The Correspondent | 25 April 2017

Once upon a time, there was a dictator who had a daughter. The dictator, who came to power vowing to make his country great, enacted a series of repressive policies under the guise of nationalism. He persecuted the media and the opposition, used “war on terror” rhetoric to justify a clampdown on civil rights, maintained a close but complicated relationship with Russia, and built a kleptocracy that ensured the country’s riches lined his pockets.

The daughter seemed different – or at least, she wanted to be seen that way. She was an Ivy League-educated cosmopolitan socialite who married into a powerful business family before making her mark as a fashion designer and businesswoman. Like her father, she encouraged an avid personality cult; and like her father, she hid her own brutal practices under the pretext of a soft “feminism”, claiming to represent the ideal modern woman of her country.

I’m talking, of course, about Uzbekistan president Islam Karimov and his daughter Gulnara Karimova. That this description evokes the burgeoning Trump political dynasty should concern you.

For Americans, the elevation of Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, into the upper echelons of the administration is an unfamiliar violation of basic tenets of American governance. The United States was founded, after all, in rebellion to a monarchy. And while there have been numerous political dynasties – Roosevelts, Kennedys, Bushes, Clintons – there has never been such a blatant insertion of relatives with no qualifications for political office into such high positions of power.

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