928: Watergate II

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

3h 12m
May 11th, 2017
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Comey's Testimony on Huma Abedin Forwarding Emails Was Inaccurate - ProPublica
Tue, 09 May 2017 11:49
TwitterFacebookEmailThe FBI hasn't decided how to correct the director's false claim that she forwarded thousands of Clinton emails to the laptop computer of her husband, former Congressman Anthony Weiner.
The FBI hasn't decided how to correct the director's false claim that she forwarded thousands of Clinton emails to the laptop computer of her husband, former Congressman Anthony Weiner.
by Peter Elkind, special to ProPublica, May 8, 2017, 10:39 p.m.
Print PrintTwitter TwitterFacebook Facebookvolumelow PodcastRSS RSS FBI Director James Comey testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 3, 2017. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)FBI director James Comey generated national headlines last week with his dramatic testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, explaining his ''incredibly painful'' decision to go public about the Hillary Clinton emails found on Anthony Weiner's laptop.
Perhaps Comey's most surprising revelation was that Huma Abedin '-- Weiner's wife and a top Clinton deputy '-- had made ''a regular practice'' of forwarding ''hundreds and thousands'' of Clinton messages to her husband, ''some of which contain classified information.'' Comey testified that Abedin had done this so that the disgraced former congressman could print them out for her boss. (Weiner's laptop was seized after he came under criminal investigation for sex crimes, following a media report about his online relationship with a teenager.)
The New York Post plastered its story on the front page with a photo of an underwear-clad Weiner and the headline: ''HARD COPY: Huma sent Weiner classified Hillary emails to print out.'' The Daily News went with a similar front-page screamer: ''HUMA ERROR: Sent classified emails to sext maniac Weiner.'''¨
The problem: Much of what Comey said about this was inaccurate. Now the FBI is trying to figure out what to do about it.
FBI officials have privately acknowledged that Comey misstated what Abedin did and what the FBI investigators found. On Monday, the FBI was said to be preparing to correct the record by sending a letter to Congress later this week. But that plan now appears on hold, with the bureau undecided about what to do.
ProPublica is reporting a story on the FBI's handling of the Clinton emails and raised questions with government officials last week about possible inaccuracies in Comey's statements about Abedin.
It could not be learned how the mistake occurred. The FBI and Abedin declined ProPublica's requests for comment on the director's misstatements.
Here are four ideas we've used to guide our Trump administration coverage. Read the story.
According to two sources familiar with the matter '-- including one in law enforcement '-- Abedin forwarded only a handful of Clinton emails to her husband for printing '-- not the ''hundreds and thousands'' cited by Comey. It does not appear Abedin made ''a regular practice'' of doing so. Other officials said it was likely that most of the emails got onto the computer as a result of backups of her Blackberry.
It was not clear how many, if any, of the forwarded emails were among the 12 ''classified'' emails Comey said had been found on Weiner's laptop. None of the messages carried classified markings at the time they were sent.
Comey's Senate testimony about Abedin came as he offered his first public explanation for his decision to reveal the existence of the emails on Oct. 28, days ahead of the 2016 election and before FBI agents had examined them.
When agents obtained a search warrant that allowed them to read the messages, they turned out to be mostly duplicates of emails the bureau had obtained earlier in the investigation. Comey announced just before Election Day that nothing had changed in the Clinton case, which had been closed four months earlier without criminal charges.
During his testimony, Comey said that part of the reason for revealing the existence of the messages was that some appeared to fill an eight-week gap in records from early in Clinton's tenure as Secretary of State. Comey said the FBI viewed them as ''the golden missing emails that would change this case'' because they might provide insights into Clinton's intent when she set up her private server.
Comey testified that investigators searching Weiner's laptop in the days before the election also found that ''somehow, her emails are being forwarded to Anthony Weiner, including classified information, by [Clinton's] assistant, Huma Abedin.'' Abedin, he later testified, ''appears to have had a regular practice of forwarding emails to him, for him I think to print out for her so she could then deliver them to the Secretary of State.''
After Comey painted this troubling picture, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz demanded to know why Abedin and Weiner hadn't been charged with mishandling classified information, calling the failure to do so ''puzzling.''
''You said Ms. Abedin forwarded hundreds or thousands of classified emails to her husband on a non-government, non-classified computer,'' said Cruz. ''How is '-- how does that conduct not directly violate the statute?''
Comey offered a partial clarification, telling the Texas senator: '''...if I said that, I misspoke. She forwarded hundreds and thousands of emails, some of which contain classified information.'' Comey agreed both Abedin and Weiner ''potentially'' might have committed a crime, but said the FBI found no basis for concluding either had acted with criminal intent. Comey said the FBI had been unable to discuss the matter with Weiner ''because he has pending criminal problems of other sorts.''
Abedin's lawyer issued a statement after Comey's Oct. 28 letter, saying Abedin had no idea how her exchanges with Clinton got on Weiner's laptop, and no idea that they were there.
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The last president to fire an FBI director? Bill Clinton - LA Times
Wed, 10 May 2017 14:23
May 9, 2017, 3:34 p.m.
It's been 24 years since a president fired the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
In 1993, President Clinton ousted William Sessions as FBI director after Sessions refused to voluntarily step down amid ethical concerns. It was the first and only time to happen in U.S. history. That is, until Donald Trump fired James Comey.
Sessions, appointed by Ronald Reagan, had been under investigation by the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility during George H.W. Bush's final year in office.
Here's how The Times reported the findings at the time:
"The Justice Department report found, among other things, that Sessions had engaged in a sham transaction to avoid paying taxes on his use of an FBI limousine to take him to and from work, that he had billed the government for a security fence around his home that provided no security and that he had arranged business trips to places where he could meet with relatives."
Sessions dismissed the findings and refused to resign.
Clinton, at the recommendation of his attorney general, Janet Reno, dismissed Sessions.
"We cannot have a leadership vacuum at an agency as important to the United States as the FBI," Clinton said at a White House news conference. "It is time that this difficult chapter in the agency's history is brought to a close."
Sessions serves on the board of directors for non-profit think tank, The Constitution Project. According to the website, he is a partner at the Holland & Knight law firm Washington, D.C.
The Daily 202: Firing FBI director Comey is already backfiring on Trump. It's only going to get worse. - The Washington Post
Wed, 10 May 2017 23:41
James Comey boards a private jet at Los Angeles International Airport last night after Donald Trump fired him as FBI director. He learned the news on television. (KABC-TV via AP)
With Breanne Deppisch
THE BIG IDEA: After the president fired James Comey, the cloud hanging over the White House just got bigger and darker.
-- Donald Trump has surrounded himself with sycophants and amateurs who are either unwilling or unable to tell him no. He lacks a David Gergen-like figure who is wise to the ways of Washington and has the stature to speak up when the president says he wants to fire an FBI director who is overseeing the counterintelligence investigation into whether his associates coordinated with Moscow. Without such a person, Trump just walked headlong into a political buzz saw.
-- Senior officials at the White House were caught off guard by the intense and immediate blowback to the president's stunning decision to fire James Comey. They reportedly expected Republicans to back him up and thought Democrats wouldn't complain loudly because they have been critical of Comey for his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. Indeed, that was the dubious excuse given publicly for his ouster.
But as all three cable news channels showed live footage of Comey's motorcade winding through Los Angeles traffic en route to the private plane that would bring him home to Washington, the West Wing shifted into damage-control mode.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer speaks to reporters outside the West Wing last night. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
-- Post reporter Jenna Johnson, who was at the White House last night, filed a colorful dispatch that captures the chaotic and dysfunctional rollout: ''Sean Spicer wrapped up his brief interview with Fox Business from the White House grounds late Tuesday night and then disappeared into the shadows, huddling with his staff behind a tall hedge. To get back to his office, Spicer would have to pass a swarm of reporters wanting to know why President Trump suddenly decided to fire the FBI director. For more than three hours, Spicer and his staff had been scrambling to answer that question. Spicer had wanted to drop the bombshell news in an emailed statement but it was not transmitting quickly enough, so he ended up standing in the doorway of the press office around 5:40 p.m. and shouting a statement to reporters who happened to be nearby. He then vanished, with his staff locking the door leading to his office. The press staff said that Spicer might do a briefing, then announced that he definitely wouldn't say anything more that night. But as Democrats and Republicans began to criticize and question the firing '... Spicer and two prominent spokeswomen were suddenly speed-walking up the White House drive to defend the president on CNN, Fox News and Fox Business'....
''After Spicer spent several minutes hidden in the bushes behind these sets, Janet Montesi, an executive assistant in the press office, emerged and told reporters that Spicer would answer some questions, as long as he was not filmed doing so. Spicer then emerged. 'Just turn the lights off. Turn the lights off,' he ordered. '... Spicer got his wish and was soon standing in near darkness between two tall hedges, with more than a dozen reporters closely gathered around him. For 10 minutes, he responded to a flurry of questions, vacillating between light-hearted asides and clear frustration with getting the same questions over and over again.
''As Spicer tells it, [Deputy Attorney General Rod] Rosenstein was confirmed about two weeks ago and independently took on this issue so the president was not aware of the probe until he received a memo from Rosenstein on Tuesday, along with a letter from Attorney General Jeff Sessions recommending that Comey be fired. The president then swiftly decided to follow the recommendation, notifying the FBI via email around 5 p.m. and in a letter delivered to the FBI by the president's longtime bodyguard. 'It was all him,' Spicer said of Rosenstein.'' (No serious person believes this.)
Spicer then ducked a series of obvious follow-up questions: Was Sessions involved? "That's something you should ask the Department of Justice," Spicer said. Was Rosenstein's probe part of a larger review of the FBI? "That's, again, a question that you should ask the Department of Justice," he said. Did the president discuss Rosenstein's findings with Rosenstein? "No, I don't believe, I don't know how that sequence went '-- I don't know," he said. What was the president's role? "Again, I have to get back to you on the tick-tock," he said. When's the last time Trump and Comey spoke? "Uh, I don't know. I don't know. There's some '-- I don't know. I don't know," he said. What were the three occasions on which the president says Comey assured him that he was not under investigation? "I don't '-- we can follow '-- I can try, yeah," he said.
''As Spicer made his way toward the White House door, the swarm of reporters moved with him, shouting questions along the way,'' Johnson concludes. ''Spicer walked with his head down. '... As he approached the door, aides warned reporters not to get too close.''
White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders defends the president outside the West Wing last night. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
-- To put it mildly, the optics of firing Comey are terrible. Trump looks like he does not actually want to get to the bottom of Russia's interference in the U.S. election and the potential wrongdoing of his own staffers.
In one of the hastily arranged damage-control interviews, deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders made an especially revealing statement that underscored why so many people are worried. Asked by Tucker Carlson on Fox News how Comey's termination will impact the Russia investigation, she replied: ''I think the bigger point on that is, 'My gosh, Tucker, when are they gonna let that go?' It's been going on for nearly a year. Frankly, it's kinda getting absurd. There's nothing there.''
''It's time to move on,'' she added. ''Frankly, it's time to focus on the things the American people care about.''
As Sanders pretended on Fox that the Russia probes have found nothing, CNN reported that federal prosecutors '-- as part of the ongoing Russia probe '-- have now issued grand jury subpoenas to associates of former national security adviser Michael Flynn. ''The subpoenas represent the first sign of a significant escalation of activity in the FBI's broader investigation that began last July into possible ties between Trump campaign associates and Russia,'' Evan Perez, Shimon Prokupecz and Pamela Brown reported. ''The subpoenas issued in recent weeks by the US Attorney's Office in Alexandria, Virginia, were received by associates who worked with Flynn on contracts after he was forced out as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014.''
It emerged yesterday thatSenate investigators have asked the Treasury Department's criminal investigation division for any relevant financial information related to Trump, his top officials, or his campaign aides. "We've made a request, to FinCEN in the Treasury Department, to make sure, not just for example vis-a-vis the President, but just overall our effort to try to follow the intel no matter where it leads," said Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, per CNN. FinCEN is the federal agency that has been investigating allegations of foreign money-laundering through purchases of U.S. real estate. "You get materials that show if there have been, what level of financial ties between, I mean some of the stuff, some of the Trump-related officials, Trump campaign-related officials and other officials and where those dollars flow '-- not necessarily from Russia." Until the Treasury Department responds with documents, Warner said, he plans to withhold support for Trump's nominees.
Trump has also hired a Washington law firm to send a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee denying that he has connections to Russia, Spicer told reporters a few hours before the Comey news broke. He was responding to an announcement by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) that he planned to look into that issue.
Then-national security adviser Michael Flynn watches Spicer brief the press in February. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)
-- Trump doesn't grasp it yet, but firing Comey will only lead to more, and louder, questions about Russia, as well as what exactly Trump knew about Flynn and when he knew it. Sometimes it turns out that the simplest explanation is the correct one. Is it possible that the president kept his national security adviser in the White House for 18 days after he'd been warned by the acting attorney general that he had been ''compromised'' and was vulnerable to ''blackmail'' by Russia because he had authorized the conversations in question?
''The Comey putsch heightens the mystery at the center of the Flynn case,'' David Ignatius, who first broke the news of Flynn's conversations with the Russian ambassador, writes in a must-read column. ''Trump has been digging a hole for himself from the beginning on Russia-related issues. It's an odd pattern of behavior. Trump may have done nothing improper involving Russia, but why does he act so defensive? In a book called 'Spy the Lie,' a group of former intelligence officers explain the behavioral and linguistic cues that indicate when someone is being deceptive. Interestingly, many of these are evident in Trump's responses to questions about Russia's covert involvement in U.S. politics. The authors' list of tip-offs includes 'going into attack mode,' 'inappropriate questions,' 'inconsistent statements,' 'selective memory' and the use of 'qualifiers,' such as 'frankly,' 'honestly' and 'truthfully.' The authors' point is that people who are innocent answer questions simply and directly.''
-- Our Justice Department beat reporters relay that Comey's removal has also sparked fears inside the FBI that the Russia investigation might be upended. Trump, after all, will get to handpick the new supervisor of a probe into possible collusion between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign. ''The investigation is still in its infancy, but the probe's sensitive subject matter has already created a political quagmire for the Justice Department,'' Ellen Nakashima and Matt Zapotosky report. ''A number of current and former officials said that the FBI special agents and National Security Division attorneys who are conducting the Russia probe will continue the investigation. The probe, though, might slow down in the short term. Comey's successor will undeniably play a major role. 'No big-time decisions will be made until they appoint a new FBI director,' said one former federal prosecutor. 'It's just a big thing. The FBI will make a recommendation to the Justice Department as to whether or not to go forward, and you're going to want an FBI director to make that kind of decision, I would think.' Inside the bureau, agents said that there was shock at the news of Comey's dismissal and hope that it would not disrupt the Russia investigation.''
-- A handful of important Senate REPUBLICANS who have been defending the president went public last night with concerns. Here are five examples:
Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee: ''I am troubled by the timing and reasoning of Director Comey's termination. I have found Director Comey to be a public servant of the highest order, and his dismissal further confuses an already difficult investigation by the Committee.''
Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.), a member of the Intelligence and Homeland Security committees: ''The issues that our law enforcement, intelligence community and congressional committees deal with each day are very sensitive and have life or death implications. Director Comey has been the public face representing thousands of committed law enforcement officers and civil servants within the intelligence community. In the days ahead, the American people need clarity and deserve an explanation for his immediate firing.''
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), chairman of the Judiciary Oversight Subcommittee: ''Regardless of how you think Director Comey handled the unprecedented complexities of the 2016 election cycle, the timing of this firing is very troubling. Jim Comey is an honorable public servant, and in the midst of a crisis of public trust that goes well beyond who you voted for in the presidential election, the loss of an honorable public servant is a loss for the nation. '... I have reached out to the Deputy Attorney General for clarity on his rationale for recommending this action."
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said Comey's firing will ''raise questions'': ''While the case for removal '... was thorough, his removal at this particular time will raise questions. It is essential that ongoing investigations are fulsome and free of political interference until their completion, and it is imperative that President Trump nominate a well-respected and qualified individual to lead the bureau at this critical time.''
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz), chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said he was ''disappointed'' in Trump's decision and repeated his call for a special congressional committee to probe the matter.
-- Watch for Republicans who could be vulnerable in 2018 to become more inclined to distance themselves from Trump going forward. Arizona's Jeff Flake is up for reelection next year:
Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.), another vulnerable incumbent in the D.C. suburbs, called for an independent investigation: ''Both Democrats and Republicans attacked the FBI Director at various times for various reasons and called for his ouster. However, I can't defend or explain tonight's actionsor timing'.... The FBI investigation into the Russian impact on the 2016 election must continue. There must be an independent investigation that the American people can trust.'' (Another reason this is a big deal: Comstock was in charge of public affairs at the Justice Department when John Ashcroft was attorney general.)
Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.), who represents a Miami-area district that Clinton carried, is also one of the most endangered GOP lawmakers next year:
-- Intellectually honest conservative thought leaders are also alarmed:
Max Boot, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, was a key policy adviser on the presidential campaigns of McCain, Mitt Romney and Marco Rubio:
Columnist Charles Krauthammer: ''To fire him summarily with no warning in the middle of May because of something that happened in July is almost inexplicable.'' Watch:
Former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum in The Atlantic: ''This Is Not a Drill. The firing of Comey poses a question: Will the law answer to the president, or the president to the law?''
Right Turn's Jen Rubin:
Morning Joe:
-- The timing is terrible for the White House in another way: A day after firing the FBI director overseeing the Russia probe, Trump has just one event on his public schedule today: An Oval Office meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. ''The sit-down between Trump and Lavrov, the first face-to-face contact the president has had with a senior official of the Russian government, will take place at 10:30 a.m. in the White House,'' Philip Rucker and Karen DeYoung report. ''It will be closed to the press. '... Trump and Lavrov are '... picking up on the conversation Trump had with Russian President Vladimir Putin via telephone on May 2. '... Trump is expected to hold his first meeting with Putin in July, when both travel to Germany to a summit of the Group of 20 leading and developing world economies.'' Every one of these meetings will now look more suspect.
-- The excuse given by the administration does not pass the smell test. The official line is that Comey was fired because senior Justice Department officials concluded that he had violated Justice Department principles and procedures last year by publicly discussing the investigation of Clinton's use of a private email server. Newly installed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein wrote up a document to justify the move, which Sessions and Trump then signed off on.
''What's perhaps most notable about Rosenstein's letter is that it makes the case for Comey's ouster using a slew of newspaper quotes and op-eds from former law enforcement officials,'' Aaron Blake notes. ''The letter doesn't actually add much to the public record or suggest extensive behind-the-scenes fact-gathering; it's basically a summary anyone could have written in an afternoon."
A former top Justice Department official who was quoted in the Rosenstein memo calls the justification a ''sham.'' Donald Ayer, who was deputy attorney general under George H.W. Bush, said in an emailed statement: ''At the time, Mr. Trump was supportive of the most incorrect things that Comey did '-- editorializing about the facts of the then-ended investigation and later announcing that the investigation had been reopened. The Deputy should realize that his correct assessment of those mistakes is now being used to justify firing for a very different reason."
The editor of the conservative Weekly Standard made another important observation about the memo:
-- The real story: ''Several current and former officials said the relationship between the White House and the FBI had been strained for months, in part because administration officials were pressuring Comey to more aggressively pursue leak investigations over disclosures that embarrassed the White House and raised questions about ties with Russia,'' Devlin Barrett, Adam Entous and Philip Rucker report. ''Although the FBI is investigating disclosures of classified information, the bureau has resisted calls to prioritize leak investigations over the Russia matter, or probe matters that did not involve leaks of classified or otherwise sensitive information.'... A current official said administration figures have been 'very aggressive' in pressuring the FBI.''
''Trump was rankled by FBI director's media attention'' is the headline on the front page of the Wall Street Journal.
''He had grown enraged by the Russia investigation, two advisers said, frustrated by his inability to control the mushrooming narrative around Russia,''Politico adds. ''He repeatedly asked aides why the Russia investigation wouldn't disappear and demanded they speak out for him. He would sometimes scream at television clips about the probe, one adviser said.''
-- Comey learned he had been fired while addressing FBI employees in Los Angeles. ''While Mr. Comey spoke, television screens in the background began flashing the news,'' the New York Times reports. ''In response to the reports, Mr. Comey laughed, saying that he thought it was a fairly funny prank."
-- Keep in mind: The classless way Trump axed Comey might contribute to a desire among some allies and supporters of the ex-director to leak additional damaging information about the president.
-- Another significant repercussion: Every piece of Trump's agenda just became harder to get through Congress. Democrats will be less inclined than ever to work with this president, and the liberal base will become even less tolerant of red state incumbents collaborating with him. It's going to be really hard to get to 60 votes for anything Trump wants for a while. Whoever Trump nominates as Comey's replacement will face a brutal confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. It will get saturation-level media coverage.
-- In the short-term, firing Comey will give fresh and significant momentum to Democratic calls for a special prosecutor. Chuck Schumer asked all 48 of his members to gather in the Senate chamber at 9:30 a.m. today to join him in calling for an independent prosecutor.
Unless Congress passed legislation, which seems unlikely, Rosenstein (who wrote the letter to justify Comey's termination) would need to decide to appoint a special counsel. But the calls from the left are about to become deafening, and Rosenstein might bow to pressure to save the diminishing credibility of the Justice Department.
''Rosenstein has one chance to rehabilitate his reputation: He can name a special prosecutor to continue the probe. If he doesn't, the wave of rebellion against Trump so far will become a tsunami, and it will swamp Trump's protectors in the polls,''Dana Milbank writes in his column. ''This president may think himself unassailable, but Americans are seeing him for what he is: a tin-pot tyrant.''
Here is a taste of reaction ''
From Democratic senators:
From House Democrats:
From the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, who was the assistant attorney general in charge of the DOJ's civil rights division under Barack Obama:
Richard Nixon speaks to the press on April 17, 1973. (Henry Burroughs/AP)
-- Is Trump the New Nixon? Will this be remembered as the Tuesday Night Massacre? This episode ensures more comparisons of Trump to Richard Nixon, a politician he deeply admires. From Marc Fisher and Karen DeYoung's piece exploring the parallels:
John Dean, the White House counsel under Nixon, called Trump's firing of Comey ''a very Nixonian move'': ''This could have been a quiet resignation, but instead it was an angry dismissal.''
John A. Farrell, author of ''Richard Nixon: The Life,'' a new biography, notes that the drip-drip-drip nature of Washington scandals is already a primary theme of the Trump presidency: ''Trump is a unique individual who is not bound by the normal strictures of politics, so we don't know if he's doing this because he's unpredictable or because he's hiding something. But the actions he and his top staff have taken certainly mirror those of their counterparts four decades ago, who were clearly hiding something. '... The question now is how many of these moves by Trump have to happen before we see the shift in public support for the president that happened toward the end of Watergate.''
-- The media coverage is brutal. Here are takes from five prominent voices:
''It's a grotesque abuse of power by the president of the United States,'' longtime New Yorker staff writer Jeffrey Toobin said on CNN. ''This is the kind of thing that goes on in non-democracies, that when there is an investigation that reaches near the president of the United States or the leader of a non-democracy, they fire the people who are in charge of the investigation.'' Toobin went on to say that ''if anyone thinks that a new FBI director is going to come in and the agency will just take over and continue their investigation as if this had never happened, that's not how it works. They will put in a stooge who will shut down this investigation.'' He specifically mentioned Chris Christie and Rudy Giuliani.
Ruth Marcus: ''Comey's firing should make all of us 'mildly nauseous.'''
The New Yorker's John Cassidy writes that Trump's firing of Comey ''AN ATTACK ON AMERICAN DEMOCRACY.''
Lawfare: ''The Nightmare Scenario: Trump Fires Comey, the One Man Who Would Stand Up to Him.''
The Pulitzer-Prize-winning historian (and former editor-in-chief of Newsweek):
-- Recognizing that he's losing control of the narrative, Trump lashed out on Twitter last night and again this morning:
The president retweeted this:
Then he attacked another Senate Democrat who was speaking out against him on TV:
Tom Price arrives in the Rose Garden for last week's ceremony to celebrate the House passage of the health care bill. (Evan Vucci/AP)
-- A veteran reporter was arrested yesterday at the West Virginia state capitol after attempting to ask HHS Secretary Tom Price a question about the Republican health-care bill.Samantha Schmidt reports: ''Dan Heyman, a journalist with Public News Service, repeatedly asked the secretary whether domestic violence would be considered a preexisting condition under the Republican bill to overhaul the nation's health care system, he said. 'He didn't say anything,' Heyman said later in a news conference. 'So I persisted.' Then, an officer in the Capitol pulled him aside, handcuffed him and arrested him. Heyman was jailed on the charge of 'Willful Disruption of State Government Processes' and was released later on $5,000 bail.'' Authorities claim Heyman was ''aggressively breaching'' Secret Service agents who were protecting Price to the point where they were ''forced to remove him a couple of times from the area.'' But Heyman '' who was wearing a press pass and identified himself as a reporter '' says that prior to his arrest, no police officer told him he was in the wrong place. ''This is my job, this is what I'm supposed to do,'' Heyman said. ''I think it's a question that deserves to be answered. I think it's my job to ask questions and I think it's my job to try to get answers.'' The ACLU of West Virginia calls Heyman's arrest ''a blatant attempt to chill an independent, free press'' and demands the ''outrageous'' charges be dropped immediately. ''Today was a dark day for democracy,'' the group said in a statement.
-- The news comes just hours after Sen. Chuck Grassley and Rep. Jason Chaffetz sharply rebuked Price for "muzzling" his employees' ability to communicate directly with Congress, suggesting that the move violates federal law.Juliet Eilperin reports: The two Republicans charged with conducting government oversight said a new policy, outlined by Price's chief of staff in a memo last week, ''is potentially illegal and unconstitutional, and will likely chill protected disclosures of waste, fraud, and abuse.'' A May 3 memo by Price chief of staff Lance Leggitt informed senior HHS staff members that ''any communications with Members of Congress and staff should not occur without prior consultation with the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Legislation.''
''Multiple federal departments have restricted their employees' external communications to varying degrees since [Trump] took office," Juliet notes. "In some cases, political appointees limited the use of social media or news releases. But Grassley and Chaffetz, who sent their letter to Price on Thursday and made it public five days later, took specific issue with the HHS policy. Its limitations, they argued, could deter whistleblowers from raising legitimate concerns from a separate branch of government.''
Hundreds of workers at the Department of Energy's Hanford nuclear site in Washington state had to take cover after a portion of the tunnel used to store highly contaminated radioactive materials caved in. Department officials are continuing to investigate the site '' part of which was once used to extract plutonium from spent nuclear fuel '' but said there is no indication of any airborne contamination. (Lindsey Bever and Steven Mufson)Seattle Mayor Ed Murray ended his reelection campaign after four men accused him of sexually abusing them in the 1980s. ''It tears me to pieces to step away,'' Murray said Tuesday, flanked by his husband and tearful supporters. ''The allegations against me are not true ... But the scandal surrounding them and me is hurting this city.'' He will finish his term. (AP)Rep. Raºl Labrador (R) is running for governor of Idaho. (CBS News)Jimmy Carter said he voted for Bernie Sanders over Clinton in the 2016 Democratic primary. The 92-year-old revealed his vote while speaking alongside Sanders at a forum in Atlanta, turning to the audience and asking, at one point, ''Can y'all see why I voted for him?'' (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)South Koreans elected Moon Jae-in as president, delivering a strong victory to the liberal Democrat who wants to foster warmer ties with North Korea and whose leadership portends a new, potentially difficult chapter in relations with Washington. (Anna Fifield)Almost one-third of drugs approved by the FDA pose safety risks that emerge only after their approval, according to a new study. The report highlights the need for ongoing monitoring of new treatments even years after they are released. (Laurie McGinley)A federal court ordered Spirit Airlines pilots back to work, siding with the company in what it said was a ''pervasive illegal work slowdown'' from union workers. The strike has resulted in hundreds of flight cancelations and disrupted travel for more than 20,000 passengers. (Amy B. Wang and Luz Lazo)A new report from the Council on American-Islamic Relations claims that violent anti-Muslim incidents have spiked 600 percent in the U.S. since 2014. (HuffPost)Global temperatures could exceed 2.7 degrees above ''preindustrial'' levels within the next 15 years, according to a newly released study '' shattering a major climate threshold listed under the Paris agreement. (Chelsea Harvey)Former President Obama made his first public appearance overseas since leaving office, telling attendees at a food and technology conference in Milan that he is ''confident'' the U.S. will continue to move in "the right direction" on climate change. (AP)Buzzfeed News has been banned from British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's campaign events after publishing an interview in which Corbyn said that he intends to remain on the job even if his party gets wiped out in a snap election. (Buzzfeed News)MORE FALLOUT FROM SALLY YATES TESTIMONY:
-- Sean Spicer dismissed questions about why Trump waited 18 days to fire Flynn after learning he had misled Vice President Pence about contacts with the Russian ambassador,saying the White House considered the acting attorney general a ''political opponent.''Karen DeYoung and Jenna Johnson report: Yates, who was named by Trump to fill the job while they awaited confirmation of Jeff Sessions, was ''appointed by the Obama administration and '... a strong supporter of Clinton,'' Spicer told reporters. Asked how he knew that, Spicer said ''it was widely rumored'' that Yates would ''play a role in the Justice Department'' if Clinton had won. He also cited an Yates's refusal to uphold Trump's original immigration ban, suggesting the action proved she was ''not exactly someone that was excited about President Trump taking office or his agenda.''
-- The nominee for deputy secretary of state, John Sullivan, called for a ''robust'' response to Russia's election interference during his confirmation hearing yesterday, citing cyber attacks that targeted the U.S., France, and the Netherlands. ''Interference with our political processes is simply unacceptable,'' he said. ''It's a profound threat to our way of life, and we have to respond as robustly as possible with all of the means we have at our disposal.'' When asked whether existing sanctions should be continued, Sullivan suggested they might even be increased: ''I believe they should be reviewed to make sure they're adequate. They should be kept in place and potentially ratcheted up as necessary.'' (Carol Morello)
Jeff Sessions speaks at the federal courthouse in Central Islip, New York. (Peter Foley/EPA)
-- Jeff Sessions is considering whether to overturn an Obama administration policy that eliminated harsh ''mandatory minimum sentences'' for low-level drug offenders '' and could direct federal prosecutors to again charge the defendants with crimes carrying the most severe penalties.Sari Horwitz reports: ''If new charging instructions are implemented, it would mark the first significant move by the Trump administration to bring back the drug war's toughest practices '-- methods that had fallen out of favor in recent years as critics pointed to damaging effects of mass incarceration. The attorney general is considering having his prosecutors bring the most severe charges against drug traffickers, whether they are low-level defendants or not, according to officials ... Sessions also may allow prosecutors to use more 'enhancements' to make sentences even longer. Under what's referred to as 'Section 851'''of the Controlled Substances Act, defendants charged with a federal drug, firearm or immigration crime may face enhancements if they have previously been convicted of a felony drug offense.'' Former attorney general Eric Holder instructed prosecutors to stop using enhancements except in certain cases '-- such as when the defendant used threats or violence '-- in an effort, he said, to make punishments more fairly fit the crime.
-- The House Energy and Commerce committee began investigating the DEA this week for a slowdown of enforcement efforts in the face of the opioid epidemic.Scott Higham and Lenny Bernstein report: ''The committee sent letters to the DEA and the nation's three largest drug distribution companies, giving them until June 8 to answer questions about their responsibilities to combat the rising epidemic, which has claimed nearly 180,000 lives during the past decade. The distributors are McKesson, Cardinal Health and AmerisourceBergen. Together, they distribute nearly 85 percent of the prescription drugs in the United States.'' The investigation comes after a spate of reports that drug distributors shipped nearly 780 million tablets of oxycodone and hydrocodone to pharmacies and pain clinics in West Virginia over a six-year period. One pharmacy alone, in a town of just 392 residents, received nearly 9 million tablets of hydrocodone in two years.
Soldiers of the YPG Kurdish militia stand guard next to a US eight-wheeled armored fighting vehicles near the Syrian-Turkish border. (Youssef Rabie/EPA)
-- Pentagon officials said Trump has approved a plan to directly arm Kurdish forces fighting in Syria '' delivering a blow to already-strained ties with Turkey in the hopes of retaking the ISIS-controlled stronghold of Raqqa.Missy Ryan, Thomas Gibbons-Neff and Karen DeYoung report: ''Pentagon spokeswoman Dana W. White said the president made the decision Monday, describing the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a diverse group dominated by Kurdish fighters, as 'the only force on the ground that can successfully seize Raqqa in the near future.' ... The decision '... is sure to enrage Turkey, which views the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), which make up the largest share of the SDF, as an existential threat. The Turkish position has created a dilemma for U.S. military officials, who see no viable alternative force in Syria capable of and willing to mount an assault on Raqqa. Trump is expected to officially inform President Erdogan of his decision when the Turkish leader comes to Washington for a White House meeting next week."
-- ''A secret global operation by the Pentagon late last year to sabotage the Islamic State's online videos and propaganda sparked fierce debate inside the government over whether it was necessary to notify countries that are home to computer hosting services used by the extremist group, including U.S. allies in Europe,'' Ellen Nakashima reports: ''As part of the operation, Cyber Command obtained the passwords to a number of Islamic State administrator accounts and then used them to access the accounts, change the passwords and delete content such as battlefield video. It also shut the group's propaganda specialists out of their accounts '... Cybercom developed the campaign under pressure from then-Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, who wanted the command to raise its game against the Islamic State. But when the CIA, State Department and FBI got wind of the plan to conduct operations inside the borders of other countries without telling them, officials at the agencies immediately became concerned that the campaign could undermine cooperation with those countries on law enforcement, intelligence and counterterrorism.'' The issue took the Obama National Security Council weeks to address and still looms large for the Trump administration, which is conducting a broad review of what powers to give the military in countering ISIS, including in the cyber realm.
-- ISIS released a video showing the gruesome beheading of a Russian intelligence officer accused of spying on the group in Syria. In an interview apparently given under duress, the agent '' accused of infiltrating groups in Kazakhstan and the North Caucasus region of Russia before his capture '' said he had been ''abandoned'' by the Kremlin and called for his country to put an end to its military campaign in Syria. (Andrew Roth)
-- The three biggest issues to be reconciled in the Senate right now are: 1) the scope of coverage for people with a preexisting injury or illness; 2) health-care tax credits; and 3) Medicaid.
-- Senate Republicans are now facing their own divisions in an ongoing push to replace the Affordable Care Act '' with internalrifts suggesting that the path to 51 votes will be daunting.Robert Costa and Sean Sullivan report: ''Sen. Ted Cruz, a defiant loner whose feuds with Republican Party leaders have made him a conservative favorite, suddenly felt an itch to collaborate. It was late March, just after [Republicans failed to pass a health-care bill, and] Cruz sent notice to party colleagues that he wanted to convene a working group to keep alive the GOP's pledge to undo the law known as Obamacare. Now, in the days since the House reversed itself and approved a health-care bill, that group, which presently numbers 13, is at the center of a fragile connection between hard-liners and leadership that may be the Senate's best chance to pass its own version. The strategy '... is to bring together lawmakers with starkly different views, let them talk '-- and keep them talking until consensus is reached, in a process that could drag on for months. There's one big problem: Many of the key Republican senators who could stand in the way of a successful health-care vote are not in the group. And some of them are forming their own coalitions."
Many differences also remain among members of the working group itself: ''Sens. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski in particular could become thorns in negotiations, in part because of their desire to restore funding for Planned Parenthood, which the House proposal would gut. In an interview, Collins, a leading centrist, said she is pushing to make health-care negotiations bipartisan within the Senate. In addition to including Democrats, Collins said she has invited Sen. Bill Cassidy, another Republican who has expressed concerns about the House bill. Sen. Rand Paul, who is fresh off winning reelection '... is also not in the working group '... [and] many of his colleagues privately say they expect him to vote no. In addition, Republican senators from states that expanded Medicaid have held their own meetings in which GOP leadership has also participated."
-- The most powerful bloc in the Senate, based on the size and clout of its members, are the Republicans who come from states that took advantage of the 2010 law's Medicaid expansion.Paul Kane explains: ''These Republicans come from every type of state, from classic political swing states with Democratic governors '... to conservative, largely rural states like Arkansas and Arizona. All told, there are 20 Senate Republicans who hail from states where their governors accepted federal Medicaid funding to provide increased coverage.'' That list includes a former presidential nominee, staunch rising-star conservatives, and even Mitch McConnell. ''I think we've got a good voice in the process, yes,'' said West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, whose state has more than 180,000 beneficiaries of the Medicaid expansion. On Monday, she said she is working with other Republicans to come up with a way for these people to keep their coverage ''permanently,'' either under Medicaid, or ''some other kind of way.'' Two months ago, Capito joined Sens. Rob Portman, Lisa Murkowski, and Cory Gardner in a letter signaling their opposition to the House legislation because it ''does not provide stability and certainty for individuals and families in Medicaid expansion programs.''
''I know this, in my state, it's a Medicaid-expansion state,'' John McCain said on Monday. ''We have a problem with the bill. We have a problem with what came over from the House.'' He declined to specify how the issue should be handled, but made clear that the House bill was a non-starter in Arizona, where some 418,000 residents are taking advantage of federal Medicaid funds.
-- Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said efforts to replace Obamacare are complicated because once the public "is on the dole," they'll "take every dime they can."CNN reports: "The comment by one of the key Senate architects of the ongoing rewrite of the massive health care law, suggests Republicans are skeptical Americans will be unwilling to give up benefits provided for under the Affordable Care Act '... 'Let's face it, once you get them on the dole, they'll take every dime they can,' he said. 'We've got to find some way of getting things under control or this country and your future is going to be gone.' Democratic Sen. Patty Murray blasted Hatch's comments. 'People who are getting access to health care are not on the dole,' Murray said. "They are working families. They are, by circumstances most of us hope we don't get into, have a very seriously ill child or spouse.'"
-- Early proposed rates for ACA health plans suggest premiums could jump again in 2018 -- defying predictions that rates would begin to level off.Amy Goldstein notes that many states have pushed back the deadline for insurers to announce proposed rates for the coming year '' but the first four states to have done so reveal that insurers are seeking double-digit increases '-- in some cases far exceeding the average 25 percent jump for the most popular group of ACA plans in 2017.
-- The director of the U.S. Census Bureau is resigning, leaving the agency leaderless as it faces a looming crisis over funding for the 2020 population count and beyond.Tara Bahrampour reports: ''John H. Thompson, who has served as director since 2013 '... will leave June 30 '... The news, which surprised census experts, follows an April congressional budget allocation for the census that critics say is woefully inadequate. And it comes less than a week after a prickly hearing at which Thompson told lawmakers that cost estimates for a new electronic data collection system had ballooned by nearly 50 percent. The decennial count typically requires a massive ramp-up in spending in the years immediately preceding it, involving extensive testing, hiring and publicity. However, in late April Congress approved only $1.47 billion for the Census Bureau in the 2017 fiscal year, about 10 percent below what the Obama administration had requested. And experts say the White House's proposed budget for 2018, $1.5 billion, falls far below what is needed.'' No successor for Thompson was announced, and an agency spokeswoman said only that the position would be filled ''in due course.''
-- The White House curator who spent decades working with former first families is retiring, leaving open yet another senior position on the White House's permanent staff after the dismissal of Chief White House Usher Angella Reid last week. (Krissah Thompson and Jura Koncius)
-- Trump will wait until after the G7 meeting in late May to announce whether the U.S. will stay in the Paris climate agreement. Spicer told reporters that Trump ''wants to make sure that he has an opportunity to continue to meet with his team to create the best strategy for this country going forward.'' (Chris Mooney)
-- Politico, ''Who has Trump's ear? Often rich, white, Republican men,'' by Andrew Restuccia and Aidan Quigley: ''The people who have met with Trump since he became president tend to have a lot in common, according to a database '... compiled from public documents, media accounts and its own reporting: They're mostly male, largely Republican and often rich.. '... Of the more than 1,200 people who have had direct access to the president ... the majority '-- about 80 percent '-- are white. And almost 63 percent are white men. Trump has huddled with at least 270 business executives and nearly 350 politicians '-- mainly Republicans but also dozens of Democrats. And he's met in person or spoken by phone with 47 world leaders, most often the leaders of Japan and Germany, plus a vast grab bag of other figures, from pro golfers to rocker Ted Nugent to Matt Drudge.''
-- White House social media director Dan Scavino celebrated the six-month anniversary of Trump's victory by tweeting a screenshot of Clinton's concession call, which came from Huma Abedin to Kellyanne Conway. He also promised to share video from the conversation. (Yahoo)
Conway's response:
Ed Gillespie participates in a debate with Corey Stewart, left, and state Sen. Frank Wagner, center. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
-- ''Is populism popular? These Virginia candidates are banking on it,'' by Marc Fisher: ''Corey Stewart wants to be the next governor of Virginia, and the way he has chosen to get there is by issuing polarizing provocations in support of the Confederate flag. Tom Perriello wants to be governor too, and his message also carries familiar echoes, [painting a bleak portrait of a country that's losing millions of jobs]. '...While the rest of the country gets another year to discern the meaning of last fall's momentous election, people in two states '-- Virginia and New Jersey '-- will choose governors this year and decide if the past is prelude: Are voters looking for a booster shot or an antidote '-- another dose of Trumpism or a traditional focus on the nuts and bolts of governing? Virginia's primaries both feature one candidate who preaches that the system is rigged while their opponents more or less are the system. But in both races, the president looms large in voters' minds, especially in parts of the state that went heavily for Trump."
''In Pittsylvania County, hard by the North Carolina border, county supervisor Ron Scearce is still shopping for a Republican governor who will run the state 'like a business, just like Trump.'''In Northern Virginia '' where Clinton beat Trump easily '' last year's populist surge seems to have less staying power. ''In a place like Virginia, in a low turnout, off-year race, people are ready for a cheerful, roll-up-your-sleeves, hard-working traditional governor,'' said Loudon County GOP chairman Will Estrada. ''People aren't looking for another Trump; Trump is an anomaly.''In Campbell County, near the Blue Ridge mountains,Eric Zehr said he's looking less for a Trump sound-alike than someone who ''shares my top two values, the right to life and fiscal conservatism.'' Still, he worries many Trump voters will go ''back into hibernation this year'': ''They're just delighted that the president doesn't have a close guard on his tongue; that comes across as honest and refreshing,'' he said. ''We're hoping for more of the same from a governor '-- maybe not Trump's coarseness, but his willingness to go upstream.''-- Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam and former congressman Tom Perriello delivered some of their harshest rhetoric yet about Trump during a Democratic gubernatorial debate last night, competing to see who could condemn the president more harshly. Gregory S. Schneider reports: ''The consensus marked a generally civil debate - perhaps surprisingly so, given how harshly staffers from the rival Democratic campaigns have been sniping at one another all week following a more acrimonious debate last week in Roanoke.There were only two clear moments of attack: Perriello, as he has before, jabbed Northam for having admitted that he voted twice for George W. Bush for president, before Northam became involved in politics. Northam had a response ready. 'You know in 2009 Mr. Perriello made a statement that he was really a libertarian at heart and the only reason that he switched to being a Democrat was that he could run for Congress,' [he said] '... But otherwise, Northam and Perriello had seemed like they could be friends, if only they didn't have to occasionally attack one another. Northam seemed jaunty, at one point joking that he thought a compliment from Perriello was actually an attack, then jumping back and slapping his hands like an uncle who just made a corny joke.''
-- ''A new political opposition in France '-- people who don't vote,'' by Isaac Stanley-Becker: ''The new opposition. That's how Emilia Julie, a literature student in the populous French capital that helped hand Emmanuel Macron the presidency Sunday, christened the roughly 15.5 million renegades who abstained or voided their ballots. The number amounts to a third of registered voters '-- staggering by French standards '-- who wanted no part in choosing between Macron '... and [far-right National Front leader] Marine Le Pen '... More people abstained than voted for Le Pen, who won about 10.6 million votes, her party's best performance in a presidential election. The number of blank and voided ballots was a record for France's Fifth Republic, founded in 1958. 'I choose not to enter the game,'' said Julie, 18, who stayed home Sunday to signal her disagreement with both candidates and to deny Macron a mandate. The right to vote, she said, is important. ''But it's more important to vote for someone you actually want to be in office. [Experts] called the historic nonparticipation rate a testament to deepening polarization and a sign of the tough road ahead for Macron, as he prepares for parliamentary elections in June that will decide whether he can govern with a legislative majority.''
Here is some additional reaction to the Comey news--
From a Post reporter:
New York Times reporters:
Harvard Law Professor:
The decision created some strange bedfellows:
Nixon prepared to fire J. Edgar Hoover, but he chickened out at the last minute because he was afraid of what dirt the longtime FBI director might have on him:
From a New Yorker writer:
Lots of reaction from Clinton alumni (Abby Phillip has a fuller round-up):
Obama alumni:
Some Republicans called out Dems for slamming Comey, until he was gone:
Schumer's communications director fired back:
Here's the flip side. From Ted Cruz's former communications director:
A former Republican member of Congress from Illinois:
The conservative Weekly Standard editor:
Finally, a little bit of comic relief:
From InfoWars, the peddler of conspiracy theories:
How Obama dressed in Italy:
''Wisconsin's Voter-ID Law Suppressed 200,000 Votes in 2016 (Trump Won by 22,748),'' from The Nation : ''According to federal court records, >> 300,000 registered voters, 9 percent of the electorate, lacked strict forms of voter ID in Wisconsin. A new study by Priorities USA '... shows that strict voter-ID laws, in Wisconsin and other states, led to a significant reduction in voter turnout in 2016, with a disproportionate impact on African-American and Democratic-leaning voters. Wisconsin's voter-ID law reduced turnout by 200,000 votes, according to the new analysis. [Trump] won the state by only 22,748 votes. The study compared turnout in states that adopted strict voter-ID laws between 2012 and 2016, like Wisconsin, to states that did not. This reduction in turnout particularly hurt Hillary Clinton's campaign '... In >> Mississippi, Virginia, and Wisconsin, strict voter-ID laws had an especially pronounced negative impact on African-American voters. [The study] '... is consistent with a 2014 study by the [GAO], which found that strict voter-ID laws in Kansas and Tennessee reduced turnout by 2 percent, enough to swing a close election, with the largest drop-off among newly registered voters, young voters, and voters of color.''
''Death of Bearing Arms editor and gun-rights advocate Bob Owens has been ruled a suicide,'' from Kristine Phillips: ''Bob Owens, editor of the popular pro-gun blog BearingArms.com, died Monday in what authorities have ruled a suicide. Officials say Owens shot himself in the head near his North Carolina home. A gun was located nearby, according to the Fuquay-Varina Police Department.'' Posts about Owens, a shooting enthusiast and a well-known Second Amendment advocate, have flooded social media, with his co-editor describing him as a ''a huge part of the 2A world,'' but ''first and foremost a son, brother, husband, father, and a friend.'' ''In 2013, Townhall, a conservative media site that owns Bearing Arms, hired Owens to be the blog's editor. Owens was a certified firearms instructor with roughly 400 hours of professional training class, according to a brief biography on the site '... In one of his last articles for the site, Owens wrote about what it was like to be a firearms instructor.''
At the White House: Trump will meet with Lavrov. This afternoon, Mike Pence will participate in an economic lunch.
''I've never really stood in front of a crowd and talked to them about 'the gay.' But I've got nothing to hide.'' -- Fox News anchor Shepard Smith, usually tight-lipped about his personal life, discussed his experience of growing up gay in the conservative South with students at the University of Mississippi (his alma mater).
-- TheCapital Weather Ganggives today a ''Nice Day'' rating '' and the warmest forecast we've seen all week: ''Partly sunny skies and moderating temperatures make for another nice day today. Morning readings climb into and through the 50s, and afternoon highs reach the upper 60s to mid-70s, perfect for a post-lunch stroll.''
-- The Nationals lost to the Orioles 5-4.
-- Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan tapped Robert Moffit, a leading Obamacare critic, to chair the state's health-care commission '' prompting immediate criticism from Democrats. Moffit, a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, has called for a full repeal of the federal health-care law, promoted Medicare vouchers and applauded the House's narrowly-passed health-care proposal. (Josh Hicks)
-- The D.C. inspector general investigated how a top official in Mayor Muriel Bowser's administration was able to bypass the District's school lottery system and have her child placed in one of the city's most sought-after public schools. Peter Jamison reports: ''Courtney Snowden, Bowser's deputy mayor for greater economic opportunity, was examined in a probe that delved into the circumstances in which Snowden's son was enrolled at Capitol Hill Montessori at Logan, a school with a waiting list of more than 1,000 families, the people said.'' Investigators were reportedly informed during interviews that Snowden said she planned to ''bypass normal channels'' to ensure her child got a seat in a desirable school, and were told she boasted of her personal relationship with former D.C. Public Schools chancellor Kaya Henderson.
Watch Trump fire Comey, via Jimmy Kimmel:
More Kimmel on Comey firing:
See this "exclusive conversation" between Trump and Putin, via Conan:
Stephen Colbert says even Comey's firing was about Trump:
See rowdy kids surround Mike Pence:
Meet Marlon, the White House bunny:
See the "Hurricane Hunter:"
Rod Rosenstein's letter recommending Comey be fired - BBC News
Thu, 11 May 2017 11:57
Image caption Deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein penned the memo recommending Comey's dismissal President Donald Trump followed the recommendation of his deputy attorney general when he fired FBI boss James Comey. What did Rod Rosenstein say? This is his letter in full.
Memorandum for the Attorney General
FROM: Rod J Rosenstein
SUBJECT: Restoring public confidence in the FBI
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has long been regarded as our nation's premier federal investigative agency. Over the past year, however, the FBI's reputation and credibility have suffered substantial damage, and it has affected the entire Department of Justice. That is deeply troubling to many Department employees and veterans, legislators and citizens.
The current FBI Director is an articulate and persuasive speaker about leadership and the immutable principles of the Department of Justice. He deserves our appreciation for his public service. As you and I have discussed, however, I cannot defend the Director's handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton's emails, and I do not understand his refusal to accept the nearly universal judgment that he was mistaken. Almost everyone agrees that the Director made serious mistakes; it is one of the few issues that unites people of diverse perspectives.
The director was wrong to usurp the Attorney General's authority on July 5, 2016, and announce his conclusion that the case should be closed without prosecution. It is not the function of the Director to make such an announcement. At most, the Director should have said the FBI had completed its investigation and presented its findings to federal prosecutors. The Director now defends his decision by asserting that he believed attorney General Loretta Lynch had a conflict. But the FBI Director is never empowered to supplant federal prosecutors and assume command of the Justice Department. There is a well-established process for other officials to step in when a conflict requires the recusal of the Attorney General. On July 5, however, the Director announced his own conclusions about the nation's most sensitive criminal investigation, without the authorization of duly appointed Justice Department leaders.
Compounding the error, the Director ignored another longstanding principle: we do not hold press conferences to release derogatory information about the subject of a declined criminal investigation. Derogatory information sometimes is disclosed in the course of criminal investigations and prosecutions, but we never release it gratuitously. The Director laid out his version of the facts for the news media as if it were a closing argument, but without a trial. It is a textbook example of what federal prosecutors and agents are taught not to do.
In response to skeptical question at a congressional hearing, the Director defended his remarks by saying that his "goal was to say what is true. What did we do, what did we find, what do we think about it." But the goal of a federal criminal investigation is not to announce our thoughts at a press conference. The goal is to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to justify a federal criminal prosecution, then allow a federal prosecutor who exercises authority delegated by the Attorney General to make a prosecutorial decision, and then - if prosecution is warranted - let the judge and jury determine the facts. We sometimes release information about closed investigations in appropriate ways, but the FBI does not do it sua sponte.
Concerning his letter to the Congress on October 28, 2016, the Director cast his decision as a choice between whether he would "speak" about the FBI's decision to investigate the newly-discovered email messages or "conceal" it. "Conceal" is a loaded term that misstates the issue. When federal agents and prosecutors quietly open a criminal investigation, we are not concealing anything; we are simply following the longstanding policy that we refrain from publicizing non-public information. In that context, silence is not concealment.
My perspective on these issues is shared by former Attorneys General and Deputy Attorneys General from different eras and both political parties. Judge Laurence Silberman, who served as Deputy Attorneys General under President Ford, wrote that "it is not the bureau's responsibility to opine on whether a matter should be prosecuted." Silberman believes that the Director's "Performance was so inappropriate for an FBI director that [he] doubt[s] the bureau will ever completely recover." Jamie Gorelick, Deputy Attorney General under President George W. Bush, to opine that the Director had "chosen personally to restrike the balance between transparency and fairness, department from the department's traditions." They concluded that the Director violated his obligation to "preserve, protect and defend" the traditions of the Department and the FBI.
Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, who served under President George W Bush, observed the Director "stepped way outside his job in disclosing the recommendation in that fashion" because the FBI director "doesn't make that decision". Alberto Gonzales, who also served as Attorneys General under President George W Bush, called the decision "an error in judgement." Eric Holder, who served as Deputy Attorneys General under President Clinton and Attorneys General under President Obama, said that the Director's decision "was incorrect. It violated long-standing Justice Department policies and traditions. And it ran counter to guidance that I put in place four years ago laying out the proper way to conduct investigations during an election season." Holder concluded that the Director "broke with these fundamental principles" and "negatively affected public trust in both the Justice Department and the FBI".
Former Deputy Attorneys General Gorelick and Thompson described the unusual event as "read-time, raw-take transparency taken to its illogical limit, a kind of reality TV of federal criminal investigation," that is "antithetical to the interests of justice".
Donald Ayer, who served as Deputy Attorneys General under President HW Bush, along with former Justice Department officials, was "astonished and perplexed" by the decision to "break[] with longstanding practices followed by officials of both parties during past elections." Ayer's letter noted, "Perhaps most troubling'... is the precedent set by this departure from the Department's widely-respected, non-partisan traditions."
We should reject the departure and return to the traditions.
Although the President has the power to remove an FBI director, the decision should not be taken lightly. I agree with the nearly unanimous opinions of former Department officials. The way the Director handled the conclusion of the email investigation was wrong. As a result, the FBI is unlikely to regain public and congressional trust until it has a Director who understands the gravity of the mistakes and pledges never to repeat them. Having refused to admit his errors, the Director cannot be expected to implement the necessary corrective actions.
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Media caption Trump's love-hate relationship with Comey over a tumultuous yearDid Trump fire Comey as part of a cover-up?
James Comey: From 'brave' to fired
The Comey Firing | Scott Adams' Blog
Thu, 11 May 2017 12:19
Posted May 10th, 2017 @ 9:41am in #Comey#Trump
What do Bernie Sanders' hair and CNN have in common today? They are both saying, ''Comey'' every time you look at them.
The news coverage of Comey's firing has become excellent entertainment. This is the biggest cognitive dissonance cluster bomb we've seen since election night. This one has everything.
For starters, the topic is too complicated for the public, and even the pundits. That creates a situation in which we'll all invent our own version of the movie in our heads. Where there is confusion, complexity, and emotion there is usually lots of cognitive dissonance. We got all of that.
My cursory understanding of the topic is that Trump's critics say he fired Comey to put a chill on the FBI's investigation of collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. This theory sort-of-almost makes sense, in a hypothetical and indirect way. I could see how taking out the top dog would make the underdogs at the FBI worry about going hard at the President. On the other hand, the people doing the actual investigation are professionals, and there would be too many witnesses if they did a bad job. So that doesn't pass my sniff test. But I can't rule it out, either.
President Trump's official reason for the Comey firing has to do with a loss of confidence over his handling of the Clinton email investigation. The beauty of that official explanation (true or not) is that it is making heads explode with Democrats and the Opposition Media. How dare President Trump fire the person we publicly demanded he fire!
Now we have a bizarre situation in which both sides (Demcrats and Republicans) wanted Comey fired, but they had different reasons for wanting it. Democrats were upset that he might have torpedoed Hillary Clinton's campaign by talking about the Weiner laptop discovery of additional Clinton emails close to Election Day. And Republicans hated Comey for not pursuing a criminal case against Clinton for her email server misdeeds. That's the perfect set-up for cognitive dissonance. I'll explain:
Democrats and the Opposition Media reflexively oppose almost everything President Trump does. This time he gave them something they wanted, badly, but not for the reason they wanted. That's a trigger. It forces anti-Trumpers to act angry in public that he did the thing they wanted him to do. And they are.
Trump cleverly addressed the FBI's Russian collusion investigation by putting the following line in the Comey firing letter: ''While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau.''
That one odd sentence caused every media outlet to display the quote and talk about it, over and over. And when you focus on something, no matter the reason, it rises in importance in your mind. President Trump, the Master Persuader, made all of us think about the ''not under investigation'' part over, and over, and over.
The trick here is that members of Trump's campaign might be the ones under investigation, not Trump himself. But that's where the complexity of this topic is useful to the Master Persuader. The viewing public won't make that distinction. All they will hear '' over and over '' is the ''not under investigation'' part.
I've taught you in this blog that the right amount of ''wrong'' is what captures our attention and creates a memory. Trump's odd inclusion of the ''not under investigation'' line is just wrong enough that we can't move past it. It is persuasion-perfect.
The best explanation I have heard for the timing of Comey's firing is that it comes soon after the Assistant Attorney General was confirmed, and he is Comey's official boss. You need a proper boss for a proper firing. And it came right after Comey embarrassed himself by getting some facts about the Clinton email situation wrong in front of Congress. There is no perfect time to fire a person, but this was close to perfect.
My favorite part of this firing '' from a persuasion perspective '' is that it is such a strong move. The pure dominance of the play is what will stick in our minds. This was some ballsy Presidenting. That's the lasting takeaway. You'll remember the boldness long after you forget the timing and the details.
I'm also fascinated by how quickly the media turned on Comey after he was out of office. Apparently lots of people were afraid of him. No one mentioned that fear BEFORE he was fired, so I assume they really were afraid of him. Now people on both sides can't stop yammering about how scary he was. Clearly it was a good firing for the country, regardless of the timing and the details.
My opinion of Comey's handling of the Clinton email issue remains the same. I believe he sacrificed his career and reputation to avoid taking from the American voters their option of having the leader of their choice. If Comey had pushed for Clinton's indictment, the country would have ended up with a President Trump without a ''fair'' election. That was the worst-case scenario for the country and the world. Comey prevented that disaster while still making it clear to the American public that Clinton was not guilt-free with her email server. He let the voters decide how much weight to assign all of that. In my opinion, Comey handled the Clinton email situation like a patriot. The media is spinning the situation as ''making it all about himself.'' That's true in the same sense that a Medal of Honor winner who jumped on a grenade to save his buddies is ''making it all about himself.'' I don't disagree with the characterization that Comey was trying to be the ''hero'' because that's how it looks to me too.
I once heard a story about a guy who pulled a woman out of a car that was on fire. He got burns on his arms doing it. He saved her life, but I don't like him because he was trying to be a hero. That guy made it all about himself.
I'm sure Comey had his flaws. But I don't think his handling of the Clinton emails was among them. I assume historians will think otherwise.
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James Comey Sought More Funding for FBI's Russia Probe Before Being Fired - WSJ
Thu, 11 May 2017 12:07
WASHINGTON'--In the weeks before President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, a federal investigation into potential collusion between Trump associates and the Russian government was heating up, as Mr. Comey became increasingly occupied with the probe.
Mr. Comey started receiving daily instead of weekly updates on the investigation, beginning at least three weeks ago, according to people with knowledge of the matter and the...
The Letter firing comey
Thu, 11 May 2017 12:03
The first point to make here is that firing FBI director James Comey was completely justified. Trump-appointed Deputy Attorney General Ron Rosenstein laid out an extremely persuasive case in his memorandum on ''Restoring Public Confidence in the FBI.'' Rosenstein said that in the FBI's investigation of Hillary Clinton's emails, James Comey seriously overstepped the boundaries of his role. Comey's role was far too public, and in both his decision to issue his own public recommendation on whether Clinton should be prosecuted, and his gratuitous commentary on the investigation (a judicious silence is the preferred stance), Comey turned the email investigation into a spectacle. Rosenstein is witheringly critical of Comey's infamous press conference, in which Comey chastised Clinton for her irresponsibility:
The Director ignored [a] longstanding principle: we do not hold press conferences to release derogatory information about the subject of a declined criminal investigation. Derogatory information sometimes is disclosed in the course of criminal investigations and prosecutions, but we never release it gratuitously. The Director laid out his version of the facts for the news media as if it were a closing argument, but without a trial. It is a textbook example of what federal prosecutors and agents are taught not to do.
Rosenstein's memo should please Hillary Clinton's supporters. He quotes from bipartisan legal authorities, and confirms what many Democrats have been insisting loudly since October: that James Comey's actions were improper. Thus Democrats, many of whom believe Comey's transgressions cost them the election, should agree that firing Comey was completely warranted and necessary, and that the Trump administration's stated grounds for doing so were correct. If Hillary Clinton had done it, most of them would have cheered, and strongly defended the decision.
But Democrats aren't cheering the firing of James Comey, because nobody actually believes that Donald Trump fired Comey for mishandling the Clinton email investigation. After all, since many people believe that Comey's actions gave Trump the election, Trump should adore Comey. For Trump to have fired Comey for the reasons he said he did, Trump would have to have a high-minded and principled devotion to fairness and propriety. And since nobody can think of a single time when Donald Trump has taken an action for reasons of high-mindedness and principle, there is a near universal belief that Trump's citation of the Clinton investigation as his reason for firing Comey is a flimsy pretext.
Instead, Trump is more likely to have fired Comey over the FBI's ongoing investigation into possible connections between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Politico reports that in recent days, Trump had been furiously yelling at his television whenever the Russia story came up, and may have been exasperated with Comey over Comey's public confirmation of the existence of an investigation.
Because of that, the firing is being viewed as outrageous, possibly even a '' constitutional crisis .'' Trump is being compared to strongman rulers who try to eradicate all checks on their power; he is possibly even a '' ruthless despot .'' The Guardian reports a consensus among observers that Trump's decision has ''taken US democracy into dark and dangerous new territory.'' The New Yorker 's John Cassidy calls Comey's firing ''an attack on American democracy,'' and says that the incident confirms worries about Trump's attitudes towards ''democratic norms, the Constitution, and the rule of law.''
A lot of highly-charged criticisms are being leveled at Trump, and it might be good to sort them out. Is this an attack on the Constitution, democracy, and the rule of law? Is Trump becoming a dictator? Is this a usurpation or abuse of power? Well, first, we should consider what the terms involved actually imply. Terms like ''democracy'' and ''rule of law'' are often bandied carelessly about without regard to the distinctions between them. (People even use the words ''democracy'' and ''Constitution'' interchangeably sometimes, which obscures how obscenely undemocratic the Constitution actually is.) I hate to sound like a civics teacher, but let's just be clear: the Constitution is a particular set of rules and procedures for the government, democracy is popular control of government institutions, and the rule of law is the principle that laws should be applied according to certain defined standards (consistency being foremost). So: (1) Trump violates the Constitution if he defies the rules and procedures that are specified in it (2) Trump erodes or destroys democracy to the extent that he removes government from popular control and (3) Trump contravenes the ''rule of law'' when he tries to keep laws that apply to other people from applying to himself, his family, and his cronies.
I swear this is not just semantics or pedantry (though I know the people who swear this the most insistently are the ones most likely to be semanticists or pedants). It has some important implications. In firing Comey, Trump has not attacked ''democracy'' or ''the Constitution.'' Under the Constitution, the president oversees the executive branch, and it is his prerogative to decide whether the FBI director is doing his job well. An argument that this decision shouldn't be up to Trump is an argument that this decision should rest with someone other than the president. But constitutionally speaking, it's up to the president, and Trump hasn't ripped up the Constitution.
The suggestion that Trump has undermined ''democracy'' requires an even greater distortion. In fact, it's far more undemocratic to believe that the FBI director should be independent. As it stands, the (unelected) FBI director is held accountable by the (elected) president. If the people don't like what the president does with his FBI director, well, that's why there's a 2020 election. But insulating parts of the executive branch to operate on their own is not ''democracy.'' It may be a reduction of presidential power, which we might want, but it's also an increase in a less accountable bureaucratic power, one made even more terrifying when it's handed to law enforcement. The ultimate model of the ''independent'' FBI head is J. Edgar Hoover, who operated for decades as the controller of his own ''government within a government.'' This is important, because Democrats who loathe Trump may be increasingly tempted to want ''independent'' parts of the executive branch to put checks on his power. But that can amount to empowering the ''deep state,'' those parts of the government that aren't subject to popular control at elections. And wishing that the FBI and CIA had more control over Trump may amount to wishing that a secretive unelected part of our government can wield power over the democratic part. Like or loathe Trump, at least the American people got to decide whether he would be president.
But what about the ''rule of law''? Here's where Trump's firing of Comey actually is alarming. Trump may not have violated the Constitution, and he may have exercised the power democratically handed to him by the voters. However, in trying to squelch an investigation into his own possible lawbreaking, Trump has undermined the idea that laws should apply equally to all. Having a two-tiered justice system, in which the powerful can simply wish away any attempts to hold them to the same standards as everybody else, creates a dangerously unequal society and can slowly lead to tyranny. Trump may not have broken any laws in firing Comey. But the ''rule of law'' is different than just ''the application of all the laws that exist.'' It is a principle for how laws ought to be. A state can have laws without having the ''rule of law.'' (The law might be ''all justice shall be arbitrary,'' for example. And while in that case we'd have law , we would have a grossly inconsistent law that doesn't approach ''rule of law'' standards.) When Trump tries to limit the enforcement of laws against himself, he undermines that standard.
At the same time, this doesn't make Trump a ''dictator.'' And if people are convinced that Trump has become a ''dictator'' or an ''autocrat,'' they may actually fail to see that firing Comey was a foolish blunder on Trump's part, rather than a successful seizure of power. In trying to get rid of the Russia investigation, Trump has drawn far more attention to it and made himself look guilty, and now he might face bipartisan calls for an independent special prosecutor.
It's actually kind of funny that nobody in the administration was able to convince Trump not to do it. Any sensible adviser would have pleaded with him: ''Mr. Trump, I know you're angry with Comey, but you can not fire him. I know you want the Russia story to go away, but this will instantly make it ten times worse, because it will look as if you are trying to hide something.''
This is exactly what happened. Hardly anybody believes the ''Clinton email'' justification, which would require us to think Trump felt Comey was unfair to Clinton. Instead, they think he is trying to cover something up. As John Cassidy writes:
Until the White House comes up with a less ludicrous rationalization for its actions, we can only assume that Trump fired Comey because the Russia investigation is closing in on him and his associates, and he knew that he didn't have much sway over the F.B.I. director. That is the simplest theory that fits the facts.
Importantly, this is not the ''simplest theory that fits the facts.'' It is one of two competing simple theories. The other theory is that Trump fired Comey because he feels about the Russia investigation the same way that Clinton felt about her email investigation: that it's a bunch of overblown nonsense, and that Comey is helping keep a B.S. non-scandal afloat through his irresponsible overzealousness. In fact, from Politico 's account, this is what Trump himself seems to have conveyed within the White House.
So it could be, as Cassidy says, that Trump knows Comey was closing in on some devastating truth. But it could also be that there isn't any devastating truth, and that Trump simply became frustrated that Comey seemed to be getting too big for his britches, assuming an outsized amount of power relative to the president. In fact, one can easily imagine Trump eating nachos while watching Fox News, bellowing ''Why is Comey on television again? I'm the one who's president!''
Cassidy is right that ''Trump is scared because the investigation is getting closer to the truth'' is the most logical explanation if we assume that Trump is a rational actor instead of a petty, tantrum-throwing child. But it could be that Trump wasn't so much ''scared'' of the Russia investigation as infuriated by its persistence. Now, though, because he couldn't calm his temper enough to let Comey do his job and conclude the investigation, Trump is going to face an investigation that drags on even longer . And if it does turn out that there's nothing to the story, this will be a hilarious display of incompetence. In firing Comey to get rid of the Russia investigation because he thinks it's a non-story, Trump may have made it a far more important story and caused Republicans to think of it as something legitimately suspicious rather than just sour grapes from Democrats.
As people have pointed out, the closest parallel to the Comey incident is Richard Nixon's infamous Saturday Night Massacre, in which Nixon ordered the firing of the special prosecutor assigned to investigate Watergate. But people are using this to show that Trump, like Nixon, tried to escape the scrutiny of ordinary law enforcement. Trump, they say, is showing Nixonian autocratic tendencies.
But people should also remember what happened after the Saturday Night Massacre. Needless to say, things did not actually end very well for Richard Nixon. Nixon's firing of the special prosecutor led to a massive increase in public support for Nixon's impeachment; a week after the ''massacre,'' for the first time, a plurality of Americans believed Nixon should be removed from office. The firings were a blunder, born of the president's delusion that he could do anything.
That may well be what we have here. It's not an attack on democracy, it's not the shredding of the Constitution. It's a legal, but stupid and disastrous, attempt at self-aggrandizement. Trump hasn't managed to make himself a dictator. Instead, he's just made people think he'd like to be one, and has made the same mistake that ultimately brought down Richard Nixon. Nixon believed that because he was president, he could act as pleased without regard to political or legal consequences. This was not the case. Donald Trump may well learn a similar lesson.
Text - H.R.356 - 115th Congress (2017-2018): Protecting Our Democracy Act | Congress.gov | Library of Congress
Thu, 11 May 2017 13:17
H. R. 356
To establish the National Commission on Foreign Interference in the 2016 Election.
Mr. Swalwell of California (for himself, Mr. Cummings , Ms. Jackson Lee , Mr. Aguilar , Ms. Barragn , Ms. Bass , Mrs. Beatty , Mr. Bishop of Georgia, Mr. Blumenauer , Ms. Bonamici , Ms. Bordallo , Mr. Brendan F. Boyle of Pennsylvania, Mr. Brady of Pennsylvania, Mr. Brown of Maryland, Ms. Brownley of California, Mrs. Bustos , Mr. Butterfield , Mr. Capuano , Mr. Carbajal , Mr. Crdenas , Mr. Cartwright , Mr. Carson of Indiana, Ms. Castor of Florida, Mr. Castro of Texas, Ms. Judy Chu of California, Mr. Cicilline , Ms. Clark of Massachusetts, Mr. Clay , Mr. Cleaver , Mr. Clyburn , Mr. Cohen , Mr. Connolly , Mr. Conyers , Mr. Cooper , Mr. Correa , Mr. Costa , Mr. Courtney , Mr. Crowley , Mr. Cuellar , Mr. Danny K. Davis of Illinois, Mrs. Davis of California, Mr. DeFazio , Ms. DeGette , Mr. Delaney , Ms. DeLauro , Mr. DeSaulnier , Mr. Deutch , Mr. Doggett , Mr. Michael F. Doyle of Pennsylvania, Mr. Ellison , Mr. Engel , Ms. Eshoo , Ms. Esty , Mr. Evans , Mr. Foster , Ms. Frankel of Florida, Ms. Fudge , Mr. Gallego , Mr. Garamendi , Mr. Gonzalez of Texas, Mr. Al Green of Texas, Mr. Gene Green of Texas, Mr. Grijalva , Mr. Guti(C)rrez , Mr. Hastings , Mr. Heck , Mr. Himes , Mr. Hoyer , Mr. Huffman , Ms. Jayapal , Mr. Jeffries , Ms. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas, Mr. Johnson of Georgia, Ms. Kaptur , Mr. Keating , Ms. Kelly of Illinois, Mr. Kennedy , Mr. Khanna , Mr. Kihuen , Mr. Kildee , Mr. Kilmer , Mr. Kind , Mr. Krishnamoorthi , Mr. Langevin , Mr. Larsen of Washington, Mr. Larson of Connecticut, Mrs. Lawrence , Ms. Lee , Mr. Levin , Mr. Lewis of Georgia, Mr. Ted Lieu of California, Mr. Loebsack , Ms. Lofgren , Mrs. Lowey , Mr. Ben Ray Lujn of New Mexico, Ms. Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico, Mr. Lynch , Mrs. Carolyn B. Maloney of New York, Ms. Matsui , Ms. McCollum , Mr. McEachin , Mr. McGovern , Mr. McNerney , Mr. Meeks , Ms. Meng , Mr. Moulton , Ms. Moore , Mr. Nadler , Mrs. Napolitano , Mr. Neal , Mr. Norcross , Ms. Norton , Mr. Pallone , Mr. Panetta , Mr. Pascrell , Ms. Pelosi , Mr. Perlmutter , Mr. Peters , Mr. Peterson , Ms. Plaskett , Mr. Pocan , Mr. Polis , Mr. Price of North Carolina, Mr. Quigley , Mr. Raskin , Miss Rice of New York, Mr. Richmond , Ms. Rosen , Ms. Roybal-Allard , Mr. Ruiz , Mr. Ruppersberger , Mr. Ryan of Ohio, Ms. Snchez , Mr. Sarbanes , Ms. Schakowsky , Mr. Schiff , Mr. Schneider , Mr. Scott of Virginia, Ms. Sewell of Alabama, Ms. Shea-Porter , Mr. Sherman , Ms. Sinema , Ms. Slaughter , Mr. Smith of Washington, Mr. Soto , Ms. Speier , Mr. Suozzi , Mr. Takano , Mr. Thompson of Mississippi, Mr. Thompson of California, Ms. Titus , Mr. Tonko , Mrs. Torres , Ms. Tsongas , Mr. Vargas , Mr. Veasey , Mr. Vela , Ms. Velzquez , Ms. Wasserman Schultz , Ms. Maxine Waters of California, Mrs. Watson Coleman , Mr. Welch , Mr. Yarmuth , Ms. Adams , Ms. Clarke of New York, Mrs. Dingell , Mr. Espaillat , Ms. Gabbard , Mr. Higgins of New York, Ms. Kuster of New Hampshire, Mr. Lowenthal , Mrs. Murphy of Florida, Mr. O'Rourke , Mr. Rush , Mr. Sablan , Mr. Serrano , Mr. Sires , and Ms. Wilson of Florida) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs
To establish the National Commission on Foreign Interference in the 2016 Election.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,SECTION 1. Short title .
This Act may be cited as the ''Protecting Our Democracy Act''.
SEC. 2. Establishment .
There is established in the legislative branch the National Commission on Foreign Interference in the 2016 Election (in this Act referred to as the ''Commission'').
SEC. 3. Purposes .
(a) Activities of Russian government .'--The purpose of the Commission is to examine any attempts or activities by the Russian government, persons or entities associated with the Russian government, or persons or entities within Russia to use electronic means to influence, interfere with, or sow distrust in elections for public office held in the United States in 2016, including the following:
(1) Electronic hacks by the Russian government, persons or entities associated with the Russian government, or other persons or entities within Russia into'--
(A) the electronic systems of the Democratic National Committee;
(B) the electronic systems of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee;
(C) the electronic systems of Mr. John Podesta, campaign chairman for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton;
(D) the electronic systems of former Secretary of State Colin Powell; and
(E) the electronic systems of Arizona, Illinois, and Florida, particularly voter database information.
(2) Efforts by the Russian government, persons or entities associated with the Russian government, or persons or entities within Russia to put forward, disseminate, or promote false news about the campaigns for elections for public office held in the United States in 2016.
(3) Efforts by the Russian government to work with other governments, entities, and individuals to carry out activities described in paragraphs (1) and (2).
(b) Activities of others .'--In addition to the purpose described in subsection (a), the purpose of the Commission is to examine attempts or activities by governments other than the Russian government, persons associated with governments other than the Russian government, and other entities and individuals to use electronic means to influence, interfere with, or sow distrust in elections for public office held in the United States in 2016, including activities similar to those described in paragraphs (1) through (3) of subsection (a).
SEC. 4. Composition and compensation of Commission .
(a) Members .'--The Commission shall be composed of 12 members, of whom'--
(1) 3 shall be appointed by Speaker of the House of Representatives and 3 shall be appointed by the Majority Leader of the Senate; and
(2) 3 shall be appointed by the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives and 3 shall be appointed by the Minority Leader of the Senate.
(b) Chair and Vice Chair .'--The Commission, by majority vote, shall choose a Chair and Vice Chair, of whom'--
(1) one shall be a member appointed under paragraph (1); and
(2) one shall be a member appointed under paragraph (2).
(c) Qualifications .'--
(1) N ONGOVERNMENTAL APPOINTEES .'--An individual appointed to the Commission may not be an officer or employee of the Federal Government, any State, or any local government.
(2) O THER QUALIFICATIONS .'--It is the sense of Congress that individuals appointed to the Commission should be prominent United States citizens, with national recognition and significant depth of experience in such professions as governmental service, law enforcement, the armed services, law, public administration, intelligence gathering, foreign affairs, cybersecurity, and Federal elections.
(3) D EADLINE FOR APPOINTMENT .'--All members of the Commission shall be appointed not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.
(4) V ACANCIES .'--Any vacancy in the Commission shall not affect its powers, but shall be filled in the same manner in which the original appointment was made.
(A) I N GENERAL .'--Each member of the Commission may be compensated at not to exceed the daily equivalent of the annual rate of basic pay in effect for a position at level IV of the Executive Schedule under section 5315 of title 5, United States Code, for each day during which that member is engaged in the actual performance of the duties of the Commission.
(B) T RAVEL EXPENSES .'--While away from their homes or regular places of business in the performance of services for the Commission, members of the Commission shall be allowed travel expenses, including per diem in lieu of subsistence, in the same manner as persons employed intermittently in the Government service are allowed expenses under section 5703(b) of title 5, United States Code.
SEC. 5. Procedures of Commission .
(a) Initial meeting .'--The Commission shall meet and begin the operations of the Commission as soon as practicable. After its initial meeting, the Commission shall meet upon the call of the chairman or a majority of its members.
(b) Quorum .'--
(1) I N GENERAL .'--Except as provided in paragraph (2), a majority of the members of the Commission shall constitute a quorum.
(2) A LTERNATIVE QUORUM FOR TAKING TESTIMONY .'--For purposes of taking testimony of witnesses, two members of the Commission may constitute a quorum, so long as at least one of the members is a member appointed under paragraph (1) of section 4(a) and at least one of the members is a member appointed under paragraph (2) of section 4(a).
(c) Voting .'--No proxy voting shall be allowed on behalf of a member of the Commission.
(d) Rules of procedure .'--
(1) I N GENERAL .'--The Commission shall establish rules for the conduct of the Commission's business, if such rules are not inconsistent with this Act or other applicable law.
(2) A DOPTION AT INITIAL MEETING .'--At its initial meeting, the Commission shall adopt the rules established under paragraph (1).
SEC. 6. Functions of Commission .
(a) In general .'--The duties of the Commission are as follows:
(1) To investigate attempts or activities by the Russian government, persons or entities associated with the Russian government, or persons or entities within Russia to use electronic means to influence, interfere with, or sow distrust in elections for public office held in the United States in 2016, including the following:
(A) Electronic hacks by the Russian government, persons or entities associated with the Russian government, or other persons or entities within Russia into'--
(i) the electronic systems of the Democratic National Committee;
(ii) the electronic systems of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee;
(iii) the electronic systems of Mr. John Podesta, campaign chairman for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton;
(iv) the electronic systems of former Secretary of State Colin Powell; and
(v) the electronic systems of Arizona, Illinois, and Florida, particularly voter database information.
(B) Efforts by the Russian government, persons or entities associated with the Russian government, or persons or entities within Russia to put forward, disseminate, or promote false news about the campaigns for elections for public office held in the United States in 2016.
(C) Efforts by the Russian government to work with other governments, entities, and individuals to carry out activities described in subparagraphs (A) and (B).
(2) To investigate attempts or activities by governments other than the Russian government, persons or entities associated with governments other than the Russian government, and other entities and individuals to use electronic means to influence, interfere with, or sow distrust in elections for public office held in the United States in 2016, including activities similar to those described in subparagraphs (A) through (C) of paragraph (1).
(3) To identify, review, and evaluate the lessons learned from the attempts, activities, and efforts described in paragraphs (1) and (2) relative to detecting, preventing, protecting from, and responding to such attempts, activities, and efforts.
(4) To make such recommendations as the Commission considers appropriate to ensure that foreign governments and persons associated with foreign governments never again use electronic means to influence, interfere with, or sow distrust in elections for public office held in the United States.
(b) Reports to the President and Congress .'--
(1) I NTERIM REPORTS .'--The Commission may submit to the President and Congress interim reports containing such findings, conclusions, and recommendations as have been agreed to by a majority of Commission members.
(2) F INAL REPORT .'--Not later than 18 months after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Commission shall submit to the President and Congress a final report containing such findings, conclusions, and recommendations as have been agreed to by a majority of Commission members.
SEC. 7. Powers of Commission .
(a) Hearings and evidence .'--The Commission or, on the authority of the Commission, any subcommittee or member thereof, may, for the purpose of carrying out this Act'--
(1) hold such hearings and sit and act at such times and places, take such testimony, receive such evidence, administer such oaths; and
(2) subject to subsection (b)(1), require, by subpoena or otherwise, the attendance and testimony of such witnesses and the production of such books, records, correspondence, memoranda, papers, and documents, as the Commission or such designated subcommittee or designated member may determine advisable.
(b) Subpoenas .'--
(1) I SSUANCE .'--
(A) I N GENERAL .'--A subpoena may be issued under this subsection only'--
(i) by the agreement of the chair and vice chair; or
(ii) by the affirmative vote of a majority of the members of the Commission.
(B) S IGNATURE .'--Subject to subparagraph (A)(i), subpoenas issued under this subsection may be issued under the signature of the chairman or any member designated by a majority of the Commission, may be served by any person designated by the chairman or by a member designated by a majority of the Commission.
(A) I N GENERAL .'--In the case of contumacy or failure to obey a subpoena issued under paragraph (1), the United States district court for the judicial district in which the subpoenaed person resides, is served, or may be found, or where the subpoena is returnable, may issue an order requiring such person to appear at any designated place to testify or to produce documentary or other evidence. Any failure to obey the order of the court may be punished by the court as a contempt of that court.
(B) A DDITIONAL ENFORCEMENT .'--In the case of any failure of any witness to comply with any subpoena or to testify when summoned under authority of this section, the Commission may, by majority vote, certify a statement of fact constituting such failure to the appropriate United States attorney, who may bring the matter before the grand jury for its action, under the same statutory authority and procedures as if the United States attorney had received as certification under sections 102 through 104 of the Revised Statutes of the United States (2 U.S.C. 192 through 194).
(c) Contracting .'--The Commission may, to such extent and in such amounts as are provided in appropriation Acts, enter into contracts to enable the Commission to discharge its duties under this Act.
(d) Information from federal agencies .'--
(1) I N GENERAL .'--The Commission is authorized to secure directly from any executive department, bureau, agency, board, commission, office, independent establishment, or instrumentality of the Government, information, suggestions, estimates, and statistics for the purposes of this Act. Each department, bureau, agency, board, commission, office, independent establishment, or instrumentality shall, to the extent authorized by law, furnish such information, suggestions, estimates, and statistics directly to the Commission, upon request made by the chairman, the chairman of any subcommittee created by a majority of the Commission, or any member designated by a majority of the Commission.
(2) R ECEIPT, HANDLING, STORAGE, AND DISSEMINATION .'--Information shall only be received, handled, stored, and disseminated by members of the Commission and its staff consistent with all applicable statutes, regulations, and Executive orders.
(e) Assistance from federal agencies .'--
(1) G ENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION .'--The Administrator of General Services shall provide to the Commission on a reimbursable basis administrative support and other services for the performance of the Commission's functions.
(2) O THER DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES .'--In addition to the assistance prescribed in paragraph (1), departments and agencies of the United States may provide to the Commission such services, funds, facilities, staff, and other support services as they may determine advisable and as may be authorized by law.
(f) Postal services .'--The Commission may use the United States mails in the same manner and under the same conditions as departments and agencies of the United States.
SEC. 8. Staff .
(a) In general .'--
(1) A PPOINTMENT AND COMPENSATION .'--The chairman, in accordance with rules agreed upon by the Commission, may appoint and fix the compensation of a staff director and such other personnel as may be necessary to enable the Commission to carry out its functions, without regard to the provisions of title 5, United States Code, governing appointments in the competitive service, and without regard to the provisions of chapter 51 and subchapter III of chapter 53 of such title relating to classification and General Schedule pay rates, except that no rate of pay fixed under this subsection may exceed the equivalent of that payable for a position at level V of the Executive Schedule under section 5316 of title 5, United States Code.
(A) I N GENERAL .'--The staff director and any personnel of the Commission who are employees shall be employees under section 2105 of title 5, United States Code, for purposes of chapters 63, 81, 83, 84, 85, 87, 89, 89A, 89B, and 90 of that title.
(B) M EMBERS OF COMMISSION .'--Subparagraph (A) shall not be construed to apply to members of the Commission.
(b) Detailees .'--Any Federal Government employee may be detailed to the Commission without reimbursement from the Commission, and such detailee shall retain the rights, status, and privileges of his or her regular employment without interruption.
(c) Expert and consultant services .'--The Commission is authorized to procure the services of experts and consultants in accordance with section 3109 of title 5, United States Code, but at rates not to exceed the daily rate paid a person occupying a position at level IV of the Executive Schedule under section 5315 of title 5, United States Code.
SEC. 9. Public meetings; public versions of reports .
(a) Requiring public meetings and release of public versions of reports .'--The Commission shall'--
(1) hold public hearings and meetings to the extent appropriate; and
(2) release public versions of the reports required under section 6(b).
(b) Public hearings .'--Any public hearings of the Commission shall be conducted in a manner consistent with the protection of information provided to or developed for or by the Commission as required by any applicable statute, regulation, or Executive order.
SEC. 10. Security clearances for Commission members and staff .
The appropriate Federal agencies or departments shall cooperate with the Commission in expeditiously providing to the Commission members and staff appropriate security clearances to the extent possible pursuant to existing procedures and requirements, except that no person shall be provided with access to classified information under this Act without the appropriate security clearances.
SEC. 11. Termination .
(a) In general .'--The Commission, and all the authorities of this Act, shall terminate 60 days after the date on which the final report is submitted under section 6(b)(2).
(b) Administrative activities before termination .'--The Commission may use the 60-day period referred to in subsection (a) for the purpose of concluding its activities, including providing testimony to committees of Congress concerning its reports, and disseminating the final report.
SEC. 12. Funding .
(a) Authorization of appropriations .'--There is authorized to be appropriated $3,000,000 to carry out this Act.
(b) Duration of availability .'--Amounts made available to the Commission under subsection (a) shall remain available until the termination of the Commission.
SEC. 13. Definition .
In this Act, the term ''electronic systems'' means computers, servers, and electronic communications.
The Troubling Trendiness Of Poverty Appropriation '' The Establishment
Mon, 08 May 2017 10:36
It's become trendy for those with money to appropriate the poverty lifestyle'Š'--'Šand it troubles me for one simple reason. Choice.
I grew up in the far-flung wiles of Blythe, California. Never heard of it? You're not alone.
Blythe has a population of just over 19,000, and at the time I lived there in the late '80s and '90s, it was one of Riverside County's poorest towns. The primary crop was cotton, the average income was $16,000 per year (for families with more than three members), and the composition was 83% non-white'Š'--'Šof those documented. The main profession was migrant work: day labor, cotton picking, crop dusting.
My family lived in Palo Verde Mobile Home Park, on the east side of town. The Colorado River and the border of Arizona were a stone's throw away. Our corrugated home was surrounded by irrigation canals, where my uncles often fished and caught dinner, and where one uncle, years later, was found bloated and floating, death unknown.
It wasn't what anyone would call a glamorous experience.
This background, this essential part of who I am, makes it particularly difficult to stomach the latest trend in ''simple'' living'Š'--'Špeople moving into tiny homes and trailers. How many folks, I wonder, who have engaged in the Tiny House Movement have ever actually lived in a tiny, mobile place? Because what those who can afford homes call ''living light,'' poor folks call ''gratitude for what we've got.''
And it's not just the Tiny House Movement that incites my discontent. From dumpster diving to trailer-themed bars to haute cuisine in the form of poor-household staples, it's become trendy for those with money to appropriate the poverty lifestyle'Š'--'Šand it troubles me for one simple reason. Choice.
The Tiny House Movement began in the '90s, but has only been rising in popularity since the recession. And to be fair, it's rooted in a very real problem: more and more people being displaced as a result of soaring housing costs, especially in tech-boom areas like the Bay Area.
''When you have lost decades of earning capacity you really need to rethink things,'' writes Andrew Martin for the alternative media, community, and production outlet Collective Evolution. Since the global financial crisis, he points out, the average price of a standard home or apartment has become close to or pushed through the million-dollar mark in many OECD cities such as Sydney, Melbourne, Toronto, Vancouver, Auckland, London, and New York. ''Even in the far-flung outlying suburbs of large cities, properties can easily be priced from $500,000 upwards,'' he writes. ''Even if you are fortunate enough to have a well-paying job or business, mortgages can take anywhere between 20 to 40 years to repay.''
Tiny homes, which are typically sized at less than 500 square feet and cost an average of ''only'' $20,000 to $40,000, no doubt serve some people who truly need to spend less money on housing in a difficult economic environment. It's also commendable that the movement helps trim down on excess and reduce the environmental footprint.
And yet, I can't help but feel complicatedly about the waxing-ons of pastoral nostalgia; about the bright, glossy photos of tiny houses that promise a ''simpler life.'' In the same article, Martin writes:
''Living light gives people space to define their worlds and gain more control over how they live life, ultimately leading to greater happiness and satisfaction.''
This idea of ''returning'' to a ''simple life'' is one I struggle with. After all, there aren't any glossy photos of the Palo Verde Mobile Home Park where I grew up, enticing people to live more simply and own less furniture as a means to becoming happier.
This idea of 'returning' to a 'simple life' is one I struggle with.
It's likely, from where I sit, that this back-to-nature and boxed-up simplicity is not being marketed to people like me, who come from simplicity and heightened knowledge of poverty, but to people who have not wanted for creature comforts. For them to try on, glamorize, identify with.
Such appropriation isn't limited to the Tiny House trend, or even to the idea of simplicity. In major cities, people who come from high-income backgrounds flock to bars and restaurants that both appropriate, and mock, low-income communities. Perhaps the most egregious example is San Francisco's Butter Bar, a trendy outpost that prides itself on being a true-blue, trailer park-themed bar, serving up the best in ''trashy'' cuisine and cocktails. With tater tots, microwaved food, and deep-fried Twinkies on the menu, the bar also serves cocktails that contain cheap ingredients, such as Welch's grape soda. The bar has an actual trailer inside, and serves cans in paper bags, so that bar flies can have a paid-for experience of being what the owners of this bar think of when they think of trailer trash.
Butter Bar in San Francisco (Credit: Facebook)It's but one example of an entire hipster movement'Š'--'Šcan it be called a movement when it's a subculture rooted not in political consciousness, but in capitalism?'Š'--'Šthat has brought with it an ethos of poor-culture appropriation and the ''re-invention'' of things that have largely been tools of survival for poor, disabled, working class, and/or communities of color for decades.
Another example: when I lived in Utah, it was common for people (and specifically, white people from wealthy Mormon families) to want to take me along dumpster diving, or on Food Not Bombs drop-offs at the local anarchist house. At the time, I felt complicatedly about it'Š'--'ŠI still do'Š'--'Šmostly because I am a person who understands the complications of family relationships, and that coming from families that don't accept you (the reality for many queer folks in religious states) means that you may not have access to the resources you need to survive. But what became apparent to me in witnessing these dumpster excursions and FNB drop-offs is that the food was not going to any folks of color, despite the fact that I knew native folks in the community (who were queer and single parents to young children) who could barely scrape by on food stamps. The drop-offs were happening at a white anarchist collective filled with people who were choosing not to participate in the system of capitalism.
And I couldn't help but think: that must be nice. To have that choice.
A friend told me of a similar phenomenon in her city. ''They go on welfare, so they don't have to participate in capitalism,'' she said. ''Yet they participate in a culture that denounces people of color who go on welfare.'' She's right'Š'--'Šthe same people of color who may go on welfare out of necessity, out of the systemic oppression that makes it difficult for them to have the same access to upward mobility, are considered socially uncouth and lazy, while white anarchists (in this context) are praised for their radically subversive actions.
Also, food. Can we talk about food? I was raised poor as hell, mostly subsisting on frozen food and whatever was canned in the pantry. For years, I've hated rice, because its cheapness and starchiness made it such a staple in our meals. Rice for breakfast with milk. Rice with margarine. Rice with frozen vegetables and canned beans. As an adult, it's hard for me to eat rice unless I can pretend real hard that it's not rice. But I still have a bag of it in my cupboard, just in case.
That must be nice. To have that choice.
For other poor folks, it wasn't necessarily rice'Š'--'Šit was bones. Dried beans with a ham hock. Stewed greens. Meat and pickle plates. And now, these kinds of inexpensive, filling food items most commonly found in poverty-stricken households have become de rigeur at some of the hippest restaurants in the country: you can find meat and pickle plates being schlepped off in fancy restaurants as charcuterie, or bone marrow appetizers for $12 per plate at many of the new eateries popping up in affluent cities (or newly affluent, like Oakland).
In writing this, and making note of these circumstances, I'm not trying to penalize or call out radical communities of people who are looking for alternative means to capitalism'Š'--'Šcapitalism is oppressive as hell, and I am all about alternative means.
But I do think it's time to start having conversations about how alternative means aren't a choice for those who come from poverty. We must acknowledge what it means to make space for people who actually need free food or things out of dumpsters, who participate in capitalism because they've got a kid at home and they are the only provider. Additionally, we need to shed light on the fact that many people who grew up wanting for more space and access to foods that weren't available to them don't understand the glossy pamphlets offering a simpler life.
Because, let me tell you, there is nothing simple about being poor.
The Millennial Housing Trend Is a Repeat of the Middle Ages - The Atlantic
Tue, 09 May 2017 14:57
For most of human history, people were hunter-gatherers. They lived in large camps, depending on one another for food, childcare, and everything else'--all without walls, doors, or picket fences. In comparison, the number of people living in most households in today's developed countries is quite small. According to the Census Bureau, fewer than three people lived in the average American household in 2010. The members of most American households can be counted on one hand, or even, increasingly, one finger: Single-person households only made up about 13 percent of all American households in 1960. Now, that figure is about 28 percent.
Belonging to a relatively small household has become the norm even though it can make daily life more difficult in many ways. Privacy may be nice, but cooking and doing chores become much less time-consuming when shared with an additional person, or even several people. Water, electric, and internet bills also become more bearable when divided among multiple residents. There are social downsides to living alone, too. Many elderly people, young professionals, stay-at-home parents, and single people routinely spend long stretches of time at home alone, no matter how lonely they may feel; more distressingly, many single parents face the catch-22 of working and paying for childcare. Living in smaller numbers can be a drain on money, time, and feelings of community, and the rise of the two-parent dual-earning household only compounds the problems of being time-poor.
It wasn't always like this. Living arrangements have been changing for thousands of years, and the concept of the nuclear family originated relatively recently. Even as the economy has moved away from the sort of agricultural labor that would encourage large households, people still have just as much of a need for the support of friends, family, and neighbors. Perhaps that is why so many people today'--from young coders to lonely septuagenarians to families'--are experimenting with communal living, a way of life that, whether they know it or not, echoes how things worked for most of human history. This sort of experimentation is all too appropriate at a time when, for the typical American child, having two married parents is on the decline, and there is no longer a single dominant family structure as there was a half-century ago.
Tens of thousands of years ago, all living was communal. Being a hunter-gatherer meant being free of many of the distinctions that govern life today. ''There's no division between your social life and your private life,'' says Mark Dyble, a postdoctoral researcher at University College London who studies modern-day hunter-gatherers in the Philippines. ''Your whole life is open to other people. There's no way to be isolated.'' The hunter-gatherer camps Dyble studied, whose members change week by week, consist of anywhere from five to 18 deeply interdependent ''households,'' each usually made up of parents, their children, and perhaps another relative or two. These households are involved in virtually every aspect of each others' lives.
''Home was the place that sheltered you at the moment, not the one special place associated with childhood or family of origin.''While relatives often stick together, these families are anything but self-sufficient. ''A chimp mother is capable of feeding herself and her offspring. That's not the case with humans,'' Dyble says, pointing out that human children take a long time to mature and take care of themselves. ''By our biology, we are obliged to have support from others. You couldn't survive as a single-family household among hunter-gatherers.''
The Middle Ages, when homes were essentially gathering places for small groups of revolving residents, represent a conceptual midpoint between hunter-gatherers' living arrangements and those common today. As the historian John Gillis described in his 1997 book A World of Their Own Making: Myth, Ritual, and the Quest for Family Values, people in medieval Europe lived with a mix of friends and extended family. At that time, single-family households were uncommon in most of the world, and Western Europe became, around the 12th century, one of the first places where households were organized around monogamous couples and their children. But these households still didn't look much like today's nuclear families. In addition to parents and their children, medieval households frequently included various townspeople, poor married couples, other people's children, widows, orphans, unrelated elderly people, servants, boarders, long-term visitors, friends, and assorted relatives.
On top of that, people moved constantly among houses. ''Home was the place that sheltered you at the moment, not the one special place associated with childhood or family of origin,'' Gillis writes. Single people sometimes ran households, and marriage was not as narrowly defined as it is today. Most kids spent time living away from their families, especially as teenagers. Living with strangers was common, and locals would often treat houses like public property. ''People entered without knocking, even without acknowledgement,'' writes Gillis. ''It was often difficult to tell which family belonged where '... In big as well as little houses, the constant traffic of people precluded the cozy home life we imagine to have existed in the past.''
By the 1500s, the idea of a household as a father, a mother, and their biological children caught on among Europe's new urban middle class, at least as something to strive for. This ''godly household'' owes a lot to the Protestant Reformation, in which religious leaders started rejecting the Catholic Church as the center of life and replaced it with a domestic divine: the father as a stand-in for God, the mother for a priest, and the children for congregants. It's around this time that nativity scenes became popular, emphasizing Jesus's role as a member of a nuclear family rather than as a lone preacher.
For all its popularity as a comforting idea, the godly household was hardly common 500 years ago. It was completely unrealistic for most people to find the time, money, and resources to run a household on their own. Even those who did usually had big households full of unrelated people; they relied on the larger community far too much to survive as a single-family unit.
It wasn't until the 1800s that people began drawing a sharp distinction between family and friends when it came to who they lived with. So, during the latter half of the 19th century, the godly family started to take shape in reality. Industrialization made extended communities less vital for earning a living. When societies were mostly agricultural, production was centered near the home, and families needed all the labor they could get to run the farm during busy seasons. But as industrialization took hold, people started leaving home to go to work, commuting to factories and, later, offices. Something communal was lost, and by the early 20th century, industrial efficiency permitted a lifestyle of domestic privacy: Households shrank down to nuclear families, much more closed-off from relatives and neighbors than ever before.
* * *
Homeownership is still viewed as a central component of living out the American dream, but the ways that many present-day Americans are pushing back on modern living arrangements closely resemble what came centuries, even millennia, before in other parts of the world. Family members, relatives, neighbors, and strangers are coming together to live in groups that work for them'--a bit like medieval Europe. ''Today, all across the nation, Americans are living the new happily ever after,'' writes the social psychologist Bella DePaulo in her 2015 book How We Live Now: Redefining Home and Family in the 21st Century. ''The 'new' part is that people with whom they are sharing homes and lives are not just spouses or romantic partners.''
Instead of limiting their households to children, parents, and grandparents, plenty of people are going a step further, making homes with friends and even strangers. Cohousing, in which a large community lives together and shares household duties, is gaining popularity. In cohousing, individuals or families generally have their own houses, bedrooms, or apartments but share things like kitchens and community spaces. They'll commonly trade off on responsibilities like cooking and chores. Milagro Housing, for instance, is a cohousing community located in Arizona's Sonoran Desert. There, families, couples, and single people live in 28 homes in a tight-knit community that shares a kitchen, laundry room, library, meeting room, playroom, and storage rooms.
And Milagro Housing isn't all that unusual; the Fellowship for Intentional Community, an organization that champions communities "where people live together on the basis of explicit common values," lists 1,539 cohousing communities around the country, some already formed and others in the process of forming. That's likely a low estimate, since plenty of shared-living communities aren't reported to any national databases. While some residents hire developers to build cohousing villages from scratch, most have turned already-existing houses and apartments into shared communities.
Cohousing has shown itself to be a useful living arrangement for groups of people with all sorts of priorities. In Silicon Valley's hacker houses, dozens of computer programmers, most of them very young, bunk together while they work at start-ups or on their own projects. The website CoAbode links single mothers who want to live and raise children together. In Los Angeles, about a dozen young adults live together in one large house called Synchronicity LA. There, they make art together, hold salons, divide up chores, and trade off cooking communal meals four days a week. ''It really feels like living in a big family,'' Grant Hoffner, a longtime Synchronicity resident, told me.
Cohousing models can get pretty creative. In Hope Meadows, a neighborhood near Chicago that DePaulo describes in her book, retired people live together with at-risk foster kids. There, retired folks, many of whom used to describe their lives as boring and lonely, raise the kids together. And in Deventer, a town in the eastern region of the Netherlands, that model is flipped: Some college students there live in nursing homes alongside elderly people, who they socialize with and assist with various chores.
The modern cohousing movement began in Denmark in the 1970s, and there are now more than 700 ''living communities'' in Denmark alone, according to DePaulo. In each, dozens or even hundreds of Danish families live in homes built around shared spaces and common houses. ''The residents wanted to see each other over the course of their everyday lives, and be there for each other in ways large and small,'' writes DePaulo. The idea spread to several other countries, and Sweden even has a number of state-owned cohousing buildings, each populated by hundreds of residents. And that's just this particular brand of shared living; 120,000 Israelis live in communal villages called kibbutzim, which originated about 100 years ago.
Developers are starting to see how appealing cohousing is to some people. Commonspace, for instance, is a company that designs and runs apartments consisting of about 20 small units around a common area occupied mostly by young and single people, sort of like a dorm for adults. The first distinctive cohousing setup in the U.S. was built by developers 25 years ago, but the concept hasn't gained much traction, as there are now only 160 American cohousing communitiesbuilt from scratch. Perhaps that will change as developers court young people who envision a lifestyle different than the one they've inherited from the 20th century.
Among other things, many residents are drawn to the company that cohousing offers, which DePaulo says is the main reason people choose to live like this. Cohousing can feel a bit like summer camp, with people always around to talk to and spend time with. But it also provides deep support systems. ''If someone is hospitalized, cohousing friends are there to visit,'' writes DePaulo. ''When a cohouser is ailing at home, neighbors show up with chicken soup and the latest news from the community.''
It takes a village to raise a child, as the saying goes, and most modern-day parents could use the help.One anthropologist DePaulo interviewed decided to live with more people after being unhappy on her own, even though her boyfriend lived nearby and she had some friends in her building. ''I would come home and cry,'' Leanna Wolfe, the anthropologist, told DePaulo. ''I was just so lonely.'' She wasn't the only one: Americans have fewer close friends than they used to. Since 1985, the number of Americans who have no friends to confide in has tripled, reported a 2006American Sociological Reviewstudy.
In addition to the sense of community it builds, there's an obvious upside to shared living: saving time and money. In a typical American house or apartment, individuals or small families are in charge of each meal themselves. But cohousing communities can divide up cooking schedules. Many residents only cook once a week and come home to cooked meals everyday.
One of cohousing's biggest draws is that it eases the burdens of child-rearing. It takes a village to raise a child, as the saying goes, and most modern-day parents could use the help. Among the Efe, a group of hunter-gatherers in the Congo, some infants more than three weeks old spend 80 percent of their time with someone other than their mothers. By comparison, the majority of American communities are designed to keep people apart. ''I like to think of dwellings as people: If a group of people wanted to get to know each other, they would not line up facing each other in two straight, rigid rows, too far apart to really see anyone else clearly,'' writes DePaulo. ''That's how houses are arranged on many conventional streets.'' Under other housing models, a village really could raise a child.
DePaulo argues that it would be particularly helpful to integrate cohousing into public-housing policy. ''People who work on housing for the poor have to deal with people's whole lives,'' she argues in her book. ''They can't just give them a place to live and forget about them.'' Keeping rent affordable is the foremost concern for people in charge of managing public housing, but cohousing can fill in other difficulties of living without much money: Splitting cooking, childcare, and household expenses can save lots of time and money. For these reasons and others, Danish and Swedish governments have long supported cohousing. American governments (especially local ones) could do the same, perhaps by converting abandoned hotels into mixed-income cohousing, building affordable shared-living buildings, or even just by connecting interested locals and helping them refashion their neighborhoods into something that better fosters community.
Humans have never lived the same way for long, and many people are finding today's urban and suburban neighborhoods, which are based on an idealized version of home that is by now hundreds of years old, to be lacking. Humans may never return to the days of having strangers and distant relatives dropping in to live for extended periods of time, but it's clear that a group of people are tapping into the past that John Gillis wrote about: ''Until well into the nineteenth century, heaven was represented not as a community of families but as one large community of friends.''
10 Right Wing Companies That Every Progressive Should Boycott
Mon, 08 May 2017 19:29
Now that we are between elections we will have to wait a while to make our voices heard through the ballot box. But in the meantime there is actually a lot that we can still do to fight right wing extremism in our every day lives. One of the best ways to do that is by going after major right wing donors and their businesses and hitting them where it hurts'....in their wallets.
You can actually use your hard earned dollars to send a message that reflects OUR values and priorities. I've listed a few of the right wing companies that have historically been either major donors to extreme Conservative causes and candidates or that run their operations directly against core Progressive values. Now this is certainly not an exhaustive list, sadly there are many more, but this list of very common brands is certainly a good place to start. And of course another great thing you can do is to patronize Liberal businesses. But here's some that you should definitely avoid'....
1. Chick-fil-A
This one is likely no surprise to you because their anti-gay stance has been in the news quite a bit over the past couple years. But not only are they completely against gay marriage, they also are huge donors to extreme right wing candidates and causes.
2. Hobby Lobby
Hobby Lobby is another business that has gotten a lot of media attention because of their extreme Conservative views. Hobby Lobby is not only against a woman's right to choose, but they are also against birth control. After Obamacare was implemented they vehemently fought against the employer mandate for birth control to be included in their insurance policy. They actually took their fight all the way to the Supreme Court'....and won.
You know, the really ironic part of this story is that Hobby Lobby and Conservatives claim that they were fighting this mandate because they are so against abortion. But without affordable access to contraception, there will surely be more abortions. I'm not sure that they thought this one all the way through'.....
3. Carl's Jr.
Carl's Jr. has been notorious for objectifying women in most of their highly sexual and controversial ads. But they also have been huge supporters of extreme anti-abortion causes. And if that's not enough reason to avoid this fast food restaurant, they are also totally against gay rights. As a matter of fact, gay rights groups actually started calling the food ''Bigot burgers'' after the company's founder, Carl Karcher, came out in support for a 1978 proposition which would have allowed school boards to fire any teacher for being gay or for advocating homosexuality. In addition Carl's Jr. is also a big time donor for Conservative Super PACs and the Republican Party.
4. Walmart
Over the past several years Walmart has consistently gotten into trouble for controversial practices. It is widely known that they pay their employees extremely low wages and are totally against any sort of raising of the national minimum wage. They are also famous for being anti-women. Many of their female employees have continually spoken out about wide-spread discrimination. In 2011 several female employees actually filed a class action law suit against Walmart and took it all the way to the Supreme Court.
5. Marriott Hotels
Marriott, along with their subsidiary Ritz-Carlton, has been a major donor to Conservative Super PACs and extreme right wing candidates. Their chairman, J.W. Marriott Jr., contributed more than a Million dollars to Mitt Romney's Super PAC, Restore Our Future.
6. Waffle House
Waffle House is another restaurant run by extreme Conservatives who are major donors to right wing causes and candidates. As a matter of fact, 100% of all of their donations went directly to Conservatives. Waffle House's CEO, Jim Rogers Jr., has been a big supporter of Republican causes for a very long time. In 2006 he joined the finance team for Mitt Romney's Super PAC, Common Wealth PAC.
7. Angel Soft, Brawny, and Dixie
Angel Soft toilet paper, Brawny paper towels, and Dixie cups are all subsidiaries of Koch Industries, headed by the Koch brothers. And they donate Millions of dollars every year to groups like The National Rifle Association, The National Right To Life Committee, and Grover Norquist.
8. Exxon
Exxon Mobil has a very long history of fighting against the LGBT community. As the Huffington Postreported in 2013, Exxon ''has been fighting for years against non-discrimination protection and equal benefits coverage for their employees.'' Moreover, as IdentitiesMic reports '' ''before Exxon acquired Mobil in 1999, Mobile had 'policies to protect discrimination against gay men and lesbians, and even offered benefits to same-sex couples,' but Exxon took that all away, according to LGBT news site the Dallas Voice.''
9. Cracker Barrel
Cracker Barrel is yet another company who has had a long history of racist and anti-gay practices. They have been known to fire employees who did not appropriately display heterosexual behaviors. In 2004, the U.S. Justice Department declared that the restaurant had discriminated against both employees and diners based on the color of their skin or sexual orientation.
10. Urban Outfitters
Urban Outfitters has a very well known reputation for being both anti-women and anti-gay. In 2008, the company's president and founder, Richard Haney, decided to back one of the Presidential nominees. And of all of the choices out there he felt he most aligned with the homophobic Rick Santorum. And in addition this company is also a major donor for extreme Conservative causes and candidates.
"All White People are Racist... Being a Racist is Not An Option, it is a Condition" | Frontpage Mag
Tue, 09 May 2017 05:16
Anti-racism became racism a while back. But most lefties aren't as open in discussing the implications of that.
The outgoing chair of the University of Wisconsin-Madison student government ripped her college upon departure, saying it ''lacks the capacity, courage, and integrity to protect communities of color.''
"Racism is a system designed to disadvantage people of color and create inequalities in each pocket os society. All white people are racist. Not only by upholding a system of disadvantage but being born into a conditioned environment where you are many steps ahead. Being a racist is not an option, it is a condition."
Let's, as the social justice left likes to say, unpack that knapsack.
We think of racism as a hatred or bigotry that you feel toward people because they are different. However the left's contention is that racism, like class, is a function of society. You are "born" into a class or into a race. And if your race is white, you're a racist. Just as if you're born rich, you're a capitalist oppressor.
If you understand that, you understand why the left is so violently racist. Their talk of "white supremacy" is the new capitalism. White people have to be destroyed for a progressive utopia (or abandon their whiteness the way wealthy people had to redistribute their wealth) the way that capitalists had to be destroyed to smash capitalism.
Being racist is a "condition". It's what happens when you're white. It's not an option. It's a skin color.
This is the intersectional left's own total racism in a nutshell. It's the most pernicious racist ideology in this country in over a century. And it's backed by the full weight of academia, the media and the entertainment industry.
It is one of the left's assaults on America that we are fighting.
Why Liberals Aren't as Tolerant as They Think - POLITICO Magazine
Tue, 09 May 2017 15:48
In March, students at Middlebury College disrupted a lecture by the conservative political scientist Charles Murray because they disagreed with some of his writings. Last month, the University of California, Berkeley, canceled a lecture by the conservative commentator Ann Coulter due to concerns for her safety'--just two months after uninviting the conservative writer Milo Yiannopoulos due to violent protests. Media outlets on the right have played up the incidents as evidence of rising close-mindedness on the left.
For years, it's conservatives who have been branded as intolerant, often for good reason. But conservatives will tell you that liberals demonstrate their own intolerance, using the strictures of political correctness as a weapon of oppression. That became a familiar theme during the 2016 campaign. After the election, Sean McElwee, a policy analyst at the progressive group Demos Action, reported that Donald Trump had received his strongest support among Americans who felt that whites and Christians faced ''a great deal'' of discrimination. Spencer Greenberg, a mathematician who runs a website for improving decision-making, found that the biggest predictor of voting for Trump after party affiliation was the rejection of political correctness'--Trump's voters felt silenced.
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So who's right? Are conservatives more prejudiced than liberals, or vice versa? Research over the years has shown that in industrialized nations, social conservatives and religious fundamentalists possess psychological traits, such as the valuing of conformity and the desire for certainty, that tend to predispose people toward prejudice. Meanwhile, liberals and the nonreligious tend to be more open to new experiences, a trait associated with lower prejudice. So one might expect that, whatever each group's own ideology, conservatives and Christians should be inherently more discriminatory on the whole.
But more recent psychological research, some of it presented in January at the annual meeting of the Society of Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP), shows that it's not so simple. These findings confirm that conservatives, liberals, the religious and the nonreligious are each prejudiced against those with opposing views. But surprisingly, each group is about equally prejudiced. While liberals might like to think of themselves as more open-minded, they are no more tolerant of people unlike them than their conservative counterparts are.
Political understanding might finally stand a chance if we could first put aside the argument over who has that bigger problem. The truth is that we all do.
When Mark Brandt, an American-trained psychologist now at Tilburg University in the Netherlands, first entered graduate school, he wondered why members of groups that espouse tolerance are so often intolerant. ''I realized that there was a potential contradiction in the literature,'' he told me. ''On the one hand, liberals have a variety of personality traits and moral values that should protect them from expressing prejudice. On the other hand, people tend to express prejudice against people who do not share their values.'' So, if you value open-mindedness, as liberals claim to do, and you see another group as prejudiced, might their perceived prejudice actually increase your prejudice against them?
Brandt approached this question with Geoffrey Wetherell and Christine Reyna in a 2013 paper published in Social Psychological and Personality Science. They asked a variety of Americans about their political ideologies; how much they valued traditionalism, egalitarianism and self-reliance; and their feelings toward eight groups of people, four of them liberal (feminists, atheists, leftist protesters and pro-choice people) and four of them conservative (supporters of the traditional family, religious fundamentalists, Tea Party protesters and pro-life people). Participants reported how much each group violated their ''core values and beliefs,'' and they assessed how much they supported discrimination toward that group, by rating their agreement with statements such as ''Feminists should not be allowed to make a speech in this city'' and ''Prolife people deserve any harassment they receive.''
As predicted, conservatives were more discriminatory than liberals toward liberal groups, and liberals were more discriminatory than conservatives toward conservative groups. Conservatives' discrimination was driven by their higher traditionalism and by liberal groups' apparent violation of their values. Liberals' discrimination was driven by their lower traditionalism and by conservative groups' apparent violation of their values. Complicating matters, conservatives highly valued self-reliance, which weakened their discrimination toward liberal groups, perhaps because self-reliance is associated with the freedom to believe or do what one wants. And liberals highly valued universalism, which weakened their discrimination toward conservative groups, likely because universalism espouses acceptance of all.
But these differences didn't affect the larger picture: Liberals were as discriminatory toward conservative groups as conservatives were toward liberal groups. And Brandt's findings have been echoed elsewhere: Independently and concurrently, the labs of John Chambers at St. Louis University and Jarret Crawford at The College of New Jersey have also found approximately equal prejudice among conservatives and liberals.
Newer research has rounded out the picture of two warring tribes with little tolerance toward one another. Not only are conservatives unfairly maligned as more prejudiced than liberals, but religious fundamentalists are to some degree unfairly maligned as more prejudiced than atheists, according to a paper Brandt and Daryl Van Tongeren published in January in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. To be sure, they found that people high in religious fundamentalism were more cold and dehumanizing toward people low in perceived fundamentalism (atheists, gay men and lesbians, liberals and feminists) than people low in fundamentalism were toward those high in perceived fundamentalism (Catholics, the Tea Party, conservatives and Christians). But this prejudice gap existed only if the strength of the perceiver's religious belief was also very high. Otherwise, each end of the fundamentalist spectrum looked equally askance at each other. And while liberals and the nonreligious sometimes defend themselves as being intolerant of intolerance, they can't claim this line as their own. In the study, bias on both ends was largely driven by seeing the opposing groups as limiting one's personal freedom.
Other researchers have come forward with similar findings. Filip Uzarevic, from the Catholic University of Louvain, in Beligium, has reported preliminary data showing that Christians were more biased against Chinese, Muslims and Buddhists than were atheists and agnostics, but they were less biased than atheists and agnostics against Catholics, anti-gay activists and religious fundamentalists (with atheists expressing colder feelings than agnostics). So, again, the religious and nonreligious have their own particular targets of prejudice. Perhaps more surprising, atheists and agnostics were less open to alternative opinions than Christians, and they reported more existential certainty. Uzarevic suggested to me after the SPSP conference that these results might be specific to the study's location, Western Europe, which is highly secularized and where the nonreligious, unlike Christians, ''do not have so many opportunities and motivations to integrate ideas challenging their own.''
If liberalism and secularism don't mute prejudice, you can guess what Brandt found about intelligence. In a study published last year in Social Psychological and Personality Science, he confirmed earlier findings linking low intelligence to prejudice, but showed it was only against particular groups. Low cognitive ability (as measured by a vocabulary test) correlated with bias against Hispanics, Asian Americans, atheists, gay men and lesbians, blacks, Muslims, illegal immigrants, liberals, whites, people on welfare and feminists. High cognitive ability correlated with bias against Christian fundamentalists, big business, Christians (in general), the Tea Party, the military, conservatives, Catholics, working-class people, rich people and middle-class people. But raw brainpower itself doesn't seem to be the deciding factor in who we hate: When Brandt controlled for participants' demographics and traditionalism (smart people were more supportive of ''newer lifestyles'' and less supportive of ''traditional family ties''), intelligence didn't correlate with overall levels of prejudice.
So what's at the root of our equal-opportunity prejudice? Conservatives are prejudiced against feminists and other left-aligned groups and liberals are prejudiced against fundamentalists and other right-aligned groups, but is it really for political reasons? Or is there something about specific social groups beyond their assumed political ideologies that leads liberals and conservatives to dislike them? Feminists and fundamentalists differ on many dimensions beyond pure politics: geography, demographics, social status, taste in music.
In a paper forthcoming in Psychological Science, Brandt sought to answer those questions by building prediction models to estimate not only whether someone's political views would increase positive or negative feelings about a target group, but also precisely how much, and which aspects of the group affected those feelings the most.
First, Brandt used surveys of Americans to assess the perceived traits of 42 social groups, including Democrats, Catholics, gays and lesbians and hipsters. How conservative, conventional and high-status were typical members of these groups? And how much choice did they have over their group membership? (Some things are seen as more genetic than others'--Lady Gaga's anthem ''Born This Way'' was adopted by homosexuals, not hipsters.) Then he looked at data from a national election survey that asked people their political orientation and how warm or cold their feelings were toward those 42 groups.
Conservative political views were correlated with coldness toward liberals, gays and lesbians, transgender people, feminists, atheists, people on welfare, illegal immigrants, blacks, scientists, Hispanics, labor unions, Buddhists, Muslims, hippies, hipsters, Democrats, goths, immigrants, lower-class people and nerds. Liberal political views, on the other hand, were correlated with coldness toward conservatives, Christian fundamentalists, rich people, the Tea Party, big business, Christians, Mormons, the military, Catholics, the police, men, whites, Republicans, religious people, Christians and upper-class people.
Brandt found that knowing only a target group's perceived political orientation (are goths seen as liberal or conservative?), you can predict fairly accurately whether liberals or conservatives will express more prejudice toward them, and how much. Social status (is the group respected by society?) and choice of group membership (were they born that way?) mattered little. It appears that conflicting political values really are what drive liberal and conservative prejudice toward these groups. Feminists and fundamentalists differ in many ways, but, as far as political prejudice is concerned, only one way really matters.
In another recent paper, in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Crawford, Brandt and colleagues also found that people were especially biased against those who held opposing social, versus economic, political ideologies'--perhaps because cultural issues seem more visceral than those that involve spreadsheets.
None of this, of course, explains why liberals' open-mindedness doesn't better protect them against prejudice. One theory is that the effects of liberals' unique traits and worldviews on prejudice are swamped by a simple fact of humanity: We like people similar to us. There's a long line of research showing that we prefer members of our own group, even if the group is defined merely by randomly assigned shirt color, as one 2011 study found. Social identity is strong'--stronger than any inclination to seek or suppress novelty. As Brandt told me, ''The openness-related traits of liberals are not some sort of prejudice antidote.''
Brandt further speculates that one's tendency to be open- or closed-minded affects one's treatment of various groups mostly by acting as a group definition in itself'--are you an Open or a Closed? Supporting this idea, he and collaborators reported in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2015 that, although openness to new experiences correlated with lower prejudice against a wide collection of 16 social groups, it actually increased prejudice against the most closed-minded groups in the bunch. Open-minded people felt colder than closed-minded people toward ''conventional'' groups such as evangelical Christians, Republicans and supporters of the traditional family. And, unsurprisingly, closed-minded people were more biased than open-minded people against ''unconventional'' groups such as atheists, Democrats, poor people, and gays and lesbians. Research consistently shows that liberals are more open than conservatives, but in many cases what matters is: Open to what?
Knowing all this, can we change tolerance levels? You might think that the mind-expanding enterprise of education would reduce prejudice. But according to another presentation at the SPSP meeting, it does not. It does, however, teach people to cover it up. Maxine Najle, a researcher at the University of Kentucky, asked people if they would consider voting for a presidential candidate who was atheist, black, Catholic, gay, Muslim or a woman. When asked directly, participants with an education beyond high school reported a greater willingness to vote for these groups than did less-educated participants. But when asked in a more indirect way, with more anonymity, the two groups showed equal prejudice. ''So higher education seems to instill an understanding of the appropriate levels of intolerance to express,'' Najle told me, ''not necessarily higher tolerance.''
Education's suppression of expressed prejudice suggests a culture of political correctness in which people don't feel comfortable sharing their true feelings for fear of reprisal'--just the kind of intolerance conservatives complain about. And yet, as a society, we've agreed that certain kinds of speech, such as threats and hate speech, are to be scorned. There's an argument to be made that conservative intolerance does more harm than liberal intolerance, as it targets more vulnerable people. Consider the earlier list of groups maligned by liberals and conservatives. Rich people, Christians, men, whites and the police would generally seem to have more power today than immigrants, gays, blacks, poor people and goths. According to Brandt, ''We've understandably received a variety of pushback when we suggest that prejudice towards Christians and conservatives is prejudice.'' To many it's just standing up to bullies.
Conservatives, however, don't view it that way. ''Nowadays, as the right sees it, the left has won the culture war and controls the media, the universities, Hollywood and the education of everyone's children,'' says Jonathan Haidt, a psychologist at New York University who studies politics and morality. ''Many of them think that they are the victims, they are fighting back against powerful and oppressive forces, and their animosities are related to that worldview.''
Robbie Sutton, a psychologist at the University of Kent in England, presented preliminary findings at SPSP that touch on the issue of which intolerance is more justifiable. He found that people who endorsed denialist conspiracy theories about climate change (e.g., '''Climate change' is a myth promoted by the government as an excuse to raise taxes and curb people's freedom'') were more likely than those who endorsed warmist conspiracy theories (e.g., ''Politicians and industry lobbyists are pressuring scientists to downplay the dangers of climate change'') to want to censor, surveil and punish climate scientists, whereas warmists were more likely than denialists to want to punish and surveil climate change skeptics. But are these sentiments equally harmful? Many people would say that's a subjective question, but it's hard to ignore the evidence, for instance, that Exxon has hidden its knowledge of climate change for years, and the fact that that the current Republican administration has placed new restrictions on Environmental Protection Agency scientists. Who is more vulnerable, and backed by scientific evidence: Exxon or environmental researchers?
Regardless of who has the more toxic intolerance, the fact remains that people have trouble getting along. What to do? ''One of the most consistent ways to increase tolerance is contact with the other side and sharing the experience of working toward a goal,'' Brandt says. He suggests starting with the person next door. ''Everyone benefits from safe neighborhoods, a stimulating cultural environment and reliable snow removal,'' he says. ''If liberal and conservative neighbors can find ways to work together on the local level to improve their neighborhoods and communities, it might help to increase tolerance in other domains.'' (If you can find a neighbor of the opposite party, that is.)
Progressives might see the conservatives trailing history as being on its wrong side, but conservatives might feel the same way about the progressives way ahead of the train. Getting everyone onboard simultaneously could well be impossible, but if we share a common vision, even partially, maybe we can at least stay on the tracks.
Duke Divinity Professor Paul Griffiths quits after disciplinary actions over comments about diversity | News & Observer
Tue, 09 May 2017 18:10
A divinity professor at Duke University has apparently resigned following disciplinary actions against him, after he questioned the value of diversity training at the school.
Paul Griffiths, a professor of Catholic theology at the school, could not be reached for comment Tuesday about the flap. A colleague at the school says Griffiths, 61, has resigned, effective next year.
A string of emails, first published by The American Conservative website, revealed a chain of events that began with a February invitation to all divinity school faculty to participate in two full days of racial equity training in March.
''Those who have participated in the training have described it as transformative, powerful, and life-changing,'' wrote Anathea Portier-Young, an associate professor of Old Testament. ''We recognize that it is a significant commitment of time; we also believe it will have great dividends for our community.''
Griffiths responded the same day to Portier-Young, Feb. 6, copying all faculty on the email and calling the training a waste of time.
''I exhort you not to attend this training,'' he wrote, according to the published exchange. ''Don't lay waste your time by doing so. It'll be, I predict with confidence, intellectually flaccid: there'll be bromides, clich(C)s, and amen-corner rah-rahs in plenty. When (if) it gets beyond that, its illiberal roots and totalitarian tendencies will show. Events of this sort are definitively anti-intellectual.''
That's when the trouble escalated.
Within hours the school's dean, Elaine Heath, emailed the faculty and without mentioning Griffiths specifically, wrote: ''It is inappropriate and unprofessional to use mass emails to make disparaging statements ''including arguments ad hominem '' in order to humiliate or undermine individual colleagues or groups of colleagues with whom we disagree. The use of mass emails to express racism, sexism, and other forms of bigotry is offensive and unacceptable, especially in a Christian institution.''
Heath asked to meet with Griffiths, according to the emails, but the professor and administrator couldn't agree on the conditions for the meeting, and it never happened.
Griffiths later emailed his colleagues with the subject line: ''intellectual freedom and institutional discipline'' at the school. He said he was now the target of two separate disciplinary proceedings, including a harassment complaint by Portier-Young, which was being handled by Duke's Office for Institutional Equity. The dean, he said, had banned him from faculty meetings and promised that he would not receive future funds for research and travel.
A copy of the dean's March 10 letter was posted on the American Conservative site. Heath cited Griffiths' refusal to meet and his ''inappropriate behavior in faculty meetings over the past two years.'' Heath did not elaborate on what she meant by inappropriate behavior.
Griffiths called the actions shameful ''reprisals,'' designed not to engage him on his views ''but rather to discipline me for having expressed them.''
''Duke Divinity is now a place in which too many thoughts can't be spoken and too many disagreements remain veiled because of fear,'' he wrote to the faculty. ''I commend a renunciation of fear-based discipline to those who deploy and advocate it, and its replacement with confidence in speech.''
Heath and Portier-Young could not be immediately reached for comment.
The divinity school at Duke University.
SHER STONEMAN N&O file photo
Audrey Ward, a Duke spokeswoman, said the divinity school was not able to comment about a personnel matter but issued a statement.
''Duke Divinity School is committed to scholarly excellence and academic freedom, which includes a commitment to diversity and inclusion,'' the statement said. ''We seek to foster an environment where diversity of opinions is respected and members of the community feel free to engage in a robust exchange of ideas on a range of issues and topics. We believe that all faculty have a right to speak out as members of a civil academic community, and if all voices are to be heard, diverse perspectives must be valued and protected. As part of an ongoing effort to foster and support such a community, we will continue to offer voluntary opportunities for faculty, staff and students to participate in diversity training.''
Thomas Pfau, a professor of English and German who also teaches in the divinity school, came to Griffiths' defense. He emailed his colleagues, saying Griffiths was questioning the fact that faculty were being asked to give up their time for training.
''Having reviewed Paul Griffiths' note several times, I find nothing in it that could even remotely be said to 'express racism, sexism, and other forms of bigotry,''' he wrote. ''To suggest anything of the sort strikes me as either gravely imperceptive or as intellectually dishonest.''
Reached Tuesday, Pfau said he was concerned that Griffiths' points were being misconstrued. ''I also felt that differences of opinion, however stark, ought to be respected and engaged, rather than being used for the purpose of public moral recrimination,'' he said in an email.
Born in England, Griffiths was educated at Oxford University and the University of Wisconsin, and has written, co-authored or edited 17 books. A biography on the Duke website lists his specialties as: post-1950 Catholic philosophical theology; the philosophical and political questions arising from religious diversity; fourth- and fifth-century African Christian thought; and Gupta-period Indian Buddhist thought. He has taught at Duke since 2008.
Pfau said as far as he knew, Griffiths decided to resign on his own, without any pressure from Duke.
''I profoundly regret his decision and, indeed, have conveyed to him that I regard it as a mistake,'' Pfau said. ''He is one of the preeminent theologians working in the United States today and a vital resource for students and colleagues engaged in rigorous theological reflection here at Duke.''
Dear straight allies, please don't come to pride until you've understood these 6 things - Matador Network
Thu, 11 May 2017 02:24
Photo: Sasha Kargaltsev
1. The first Pride was a police riot.We hold Pride each summer to commemorate the Stonewall Riots of 1969. At the time, most states had laws banning LGBT people from assembling in groups. Despite being illegal, the mob opened LGBT bars to profit off of the open discrimination of our community. The bars were the only safe space for LGBT people and were frequently raided by police officers looking for bribes. Tired of harassment and discrimination, the patrons of The Stonewall protested and began a series of actions that turned into several days of riots. At its peak, more than 1,000 people took to the streets of Greenwich Village in one of the first organized displays of LGBT protest. The mostly transgender patrons of color at The Stonewall are credited with starting the LGBT civil rights movement.
So you'll see sequins, rainbows, parade floats and pool parties sponsored by Absolut, but understand that Pride is equal parts a celebration, a protest, and a community building event. It's the one time a year when we can come together and be surrounded by the family we choose. Because our bodies and our identities are still policed by the government, religious groups, and even the people we love, we reserve Pride as the opportunity to express ourselves in the way that is most authentic to our community. Sometimes that's by drunkenly singing Robyn songs at the top of our lungs and sometimes it's by crying during the eulogy for our murdered trans sisters. We are allowed to have multiple feelings simultaneously as we celebrate our wins and mourn our losses as a community.
2. A dyke bar during Pride is not the place to look for your unicorn.As a femme-presenting queer woman, I've been hit on by cisgender men and couples in queer settings more times than I can count. Some queer women are attracted to men, some aren't. We go to LGBT spaces to be around other LGBT people and celebrate our identity with people who are like us. Sure, there may be people who are interested in your advances, but there will also be people who will be offended and made to feel unsafe. Pride should first and foremost be a safe space for LGBT people. Keep this in mind and consider arranging your menage trois with folks who say they are interested online before the events.
3. Do not take pictures or Snaps of us without permission.You're going to see leather folks, drag performers, transgender people, non-binary people, nakedness, gender fuckery and some wild outfits. We're not here to be a spectacle for you. We're here to celebrate with folks who are like us. Don't post photos of us on social media as a way to be ''edgy'' or to show your ''superior open-mindedness.'' And don't make fun of us on the internet. We don't exist for your amusement.
4. If your thought process is ''gays are okay but I don't get the whole trans thing'...'''...Don't come to Pride.
5. Pride is not the appropriate venue for your ''girl's night,'' your bachelorette party or your misogyny.Lots of straight women have told me that they love going to gay bars because they can dance and celebrate without the presence of come-ons from men. I've seen drunken sorority girls climb on stage and attempt to make the show about them. I've seen women get a bit too intoxicated and attempt to make out or grope gay men slurring ''You're gay so it doesn't count'...'' I've seen equally disgusting actions with gay men and lesbians, so let's not pretend anyone is the innocent party here. I once went to Splash in NYC with a couple of my gay male friends and was told ''Fish wasn't allowed inside.'' I could go on for hours about homophobic and misogynist actions in LGBT spaces, but I've got a word count to stick within. Instead, I'll leave you with an article from Slate about straight women and drag culture and another one from Broadly about gay men who hate women.
6. You're a guest in our space, act accordingly.The important take-away here is not that LGBT people hate straight/cis folks. It's not even about the presence of straight/cis folks at Pride in general. It's about when straight/cis folks behave in inappropriate and culturally insensitive ways that threaten or dampen the experiences of LGBT people at events that are made for us in the first place. Straight/cis folks can go to any party and feel comfortable dancing, holding hands, and making out with their significant other (or hottie of the night) without feeling like they could be in danger because of their identity. LGBT people do not always have that luxury. If you choose to go to Pride, be a supportive observer and participate in activities, but don't try to be the focus of the event.
Knox County judge grants woman rights of 'husband' in Tennessee's first same-sex divorce
Thu, 11 May 2017 00:04
Primary plaintiff in the Supreme Court case legalizing same-sex marriage condemns Tennessee bill Kirk A. Bado
Buy Photo Judge Greg McMillan hears the arguments for Erica Witt to have same-sex parenting rights during a Knox County Circuit Court hearing June 24, 2016. (Photo: File/Amy Smotherman Burgess/News Sentinel) Buy Photo
In the first ruling of its kind in the state, a Knox County judge has granted a woman the legal rights of a husband.
The ruling came as the state Legislature was pushing through a bill designed to stop 4th Circuit Court Judge Greg McMillan - and any other judge in Tennessee - from making that very decision, court records show.
In a reversal from his decision last year, McMillan last week penned approval of a divorce for same-sex couple Sabrina Witt and Erica Witt that includes designation of Erica Witt as the father of the couple's daughter, conceived through artificial insemination.
Days later, Gov. Bill Haslam signed into law a bill inspired by the Witts' case - the first in the state in the wake of a 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision that conferred marital rights to same-sex couples. The bill ordered courts to give "natural meaning" to words such as mother and father.
'–º Related:Lawsuit challenges Tennessee's days-old 'natural meaning' law
Attorney General Herbert Slatery III already had opined that judges would - and should - ignore the new law in such family law proceedings as divorce, custody and child support. The Legislature ignored the opinion.
Same-sex couple wed, splitErica Witt and Sabrina Witt legally wed in Washington, D.C., in April 2014, bought a home in Knoxville and decided to have a child via artificial insemination from an anonymous donor. Sabrina Witt bore a baby girl as a result in January 2015. Because Tennessee did not then recognize same-sex marriage as legal, Erica Witt's name was not placed on the baby's birth certificate. Their marriage became legal in Tennessee when the U.S. Supreme Court in June 2015 gave gay people the right to marry - and to divorce.
Buy Photo Erica Witt reacts alongside her attorney, Virginia Schwamm, as Witt is denied same-sex parenting rights during a Knox County Circuit Court hearing Friday June 24, 2016. (Photo: File/Amy Smotherman Burgess/News Sentinel)
In February 2016, Sabrina Witt filed for divorce. Her attorney, John Harber, argued the law on custody rights in artificial insemination cases in Tennessee used the term "husband." He said the natural meaning of that word is a man, so Erica Witt didn't qualify. McMillan agreed.
But Erica Witt's attorney, Virginia Schwamm, filed a challenge to the constitutionality of the law since it was passed decades before the same-sex ruling and now runs afoul of it.
The Legislature swung into action. The "natural meaning" bill was drafted to ban the legal labeling of a woman as a husband, and 53 legislators used a conservative legal group to try to step into the Witts' divorce case.
McMillan, though, was having none of that. He refused in an April order to allow such an intervention, saying the Legislature needs to stay out of the court's and the Witts' business.
"The court finds that the current request to intervene constitutes an attempt to bypass the separation of powers provided for by the Tennessee constitution," McMillan wrote. "The parties and the child deserve to have their issues tried and a ruling made."
Tennessee AG's office weighs inBecause Schwamm was seeking to strike down entire sections of family law, Slatery's office had the legal duty to step into the case. Sara Sedgwick, senior counsel for the health care division of the office, urged McMillan in a brief to view the words "wife" and "husband" in a "gender-neutral" fashion. To do otherwise, she wrote, would be to violate constitutional law, particularly in light of the same-sex marriage decision.
McMillan took her advice.
"... The court finds that that is the correct frame of reference that the court should use in looking at this issue based on the duty of this court to preserve the statute's constitutionality if it can be read in a neutral fashion," he said in a transcript from a March hearing.
Stripping away gender from the label of husband, McMillan said Erica Witt was a legal father with legal rights to see her daughter. She also has to pay child support.
"Erica Witt is a legal parent of the parties' minor child," McMillan wrote.
The 53 legislators who sought to intervene have filed a notice of an intent to appeal McMillan's refusal to let them.
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France's Bordeaux wine industry predicts a '‚¬2 billion loss this year due to massive frost damage - Business Insider
Tue, 09 May 2017 18:05
Water-covered vineyards are seen early in morning as water is sprayed to protect them frost damage outside Chablis. Thomson Reuters
BORDEAUX, France (Reuters) - Bordeaux vineyards in southwest France could lose about half of their harvest this year after two nights of frost damaged the crop at the end of April, a wine industry official said on Saturday.
Wines from the Cognac, Bergerac, and Lot-et-Garonne regions had also been affected, Bernard Farges, head of the Syndicat des vins Bordeaux et Bordeaux Sup(C)rieur, told Reuters.
"For Bordeaux wines...we estimate that the impact will be a loss of about 50 percent, depend on how many buds can regrow," he said.
Including lost earnings at wine industry subcontrators, the total damage is estimated at one to two billion euros ($1.1- $2.2 billion), with wine production set to fall by about 350 million bottles.
Frost damage varied widely depending on the precise area, with some owners expected to lose only 15 to 30 percent of their grape harvest, but others at risk of seeing their entire production wiped out.
Growers have resorted to using candles, heaters and even the down-draught from helicopters to try to save crops.
France's total wine output fell 10 percent last year due to adverse weather conditions. Champagne was the worst hit, with the harvest down more than 20 percent on the previous year due to spring frosts followed by other problems such as mildew.
($1 = 0.9096 euros)'‚¬
(Reporting by Claude Canellas; Writing by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Keith Weir)
Read the original article on Reuters. Copyright 2017. Follow Reuters on Twitter.
Hanford emergency declared over possible tunnel collapse | Tri-City Herald
Tue, 09 May 2017 19:24
An emergency has been declared in central Hanford in Eastern Washington state Tuesday after the roof of a tunnel used to store highly radioactively contaminated waste collapsed.
Several thousand workers at the Hanford nuclear reservation were told to take shelter in buildings.
An aerial survey mid-morning Tuesday showed an opening about 20 feet by 20 feet into one of two tunnels, which had been covered with about eight feet of soil.
The breach at the defunct Purex processing plant tunnel could expose the highly radioactive material in the tunnel to the atmosphere.
No airborne radiation had been detected as of about noon. Radiological surveys were continuing.
All workers have been accounted for and none were injured, according to the Department of Energy.
The tunnels are about 25 miles northwest of the center of Richland in the Hanford nuclear reservation's 200 East Area.
Instructions for Hanford workers to shelter in place were expanded from central Hanford to all federally controlled portions of Hanford, including the LIGO observatory and the reactor areas along the Columbia River, after the aerial survey.
The order was partially lifted about noon.
Workers outside the 200 East Area of central Hanford were being allowed to leave buildings then, but about 3,000 workers in the 200 East Area continued to shelter in place. They included about 1,000 workers at the vitrification plant under construction.
No one was being allowed to enter the site beyond the security barricades and flights over the reservation were restricted.
Earlier in the morning workers near Purex noticed a 4-foot-by-4-foot depression that was 2 to 4 feet deep over the tunnel.
About six workers were in Purex and were evacuated and the initial order to take shelter was issued when the depression was noticed.
The Hanford emergency center was activated at 8:26 a.m. and the Hanford Fire Department was on scene in central Hanford.
Franklin and Benton counties each activated their emergency operations centers, but said the public did not need to take any protective actions.
The Richland School District told parents and others who were concerned that there was no danger that any radioactive contamination could reach its schools and that they were not affected in any way by the incident. Washington State University Tri-Cities also assured students and alumni there was no danger at its Richland campus.
Work continued at the commercial nuclear power plant on leased land at Hanford outside the security barricades.
Workers at the plant, the Columbia Generating Station, were not told to shelter indoors. The plant is about 12 miles from Purex, according to Energy Northwest, which operates the plant.
Private pilots in the area have been told to avoid flying over Hanford. The Hanford Patrol is working with the Federal Aviation Administration to put a formal air restriction in place until the FAA can confirm there is no danger.
Although workers in the 200 East Area were still sheltering indoors early Tuesday afternoon, ventilation systems had been turned on and a prohibition against eating and drinking had been lifted. When ventilation systems were turned off as part of the emergency response, some equipment that generates heat also was powered down.
Historically at Purex, railcars full of highly contaminated materials and equipment from the plant were backed into waste disposal tunnels at the plant and left there as a disposal method. The material was so radioactive that several empty cars were placed between the railcar holding waste and the locomotive to protect the driver from radiation.
The massive plant, formally called the Plutonium Uranium Extraction Plant, was used to chemically process irradiated fuel rods to remove plutonium for the nation's nuclear weapons program.
The last radioactive material was placed in the tunnels in the early 1990s.
The tunnels are more than 100 feet long.
Last year a new legal deadline was set requiring the DOE to start some work toward assessing the the waste disposal tunnels by September of this year.
The plant was built in the 1950s and operated from 1956 to 1972 and again from 1983 to 1988.
PUREX processed about 70,000 tons of uranium fuel rods to produce about 75 percent of Hanford's production.
Plans call for eventually decontaminating and demolishing PUREX. The option of grouting the rail cars in place '-- encasing them in concrete '-- has been considered.
Removal of the cars would entail extreme worker safety hazards, DOE has said.
Hanford, a 580-square-mile site in Eastern Washington, near Richland, produced plutonium from World War II through the Cold War. Parts of the site remain heavily contaminated with radioactive and hazardous chemical waste.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said DOE had notified him of the emergency, which was followed by a call from the White House to alert him to the emergency, as well.
''This is a serious situation, and ensuring the safety of the workers and the community is the top priority,'' he said. ''We will continue to monitor this situation and assist the federal government in its response.''
The public may request information by calling 509-376-8116.
Check back for updates
Wadden Sea tidal flats could be gone by end of century: report - DutchNews.nl
Thu, 11 May 2017 13:15
Photo: Mark Plomp Stichting Natuurbeelden via Wikimedia Commons
The tidal flats of the Dutch Wadden Sea run a very real risk of becoming permanently submerged because of sea level rises and subsidence caused by gas and salt extraction, a report by the region's lobby group Waddenvereniging shows.
It is unlikely that the process of sedimentation '' or bringing in new sand and mud '' will keep up with the rising sea levels and the Wadden Sea eco system may be a thing of the past by the end of this century, the report says.
The Wadden Sea stretches from Den Helder to Denmark and is a Unesco world heritage site. The area is an important breeding and overwintering ground for birds and has a rich fauna and flora while the Wadden Sea islands are popular Dutch holiday destinations.
The report says the only chance for the system to survive more or less intact is if the consequences of climate change are not as bad as projected and the extraction of minerals from under the tidal flats stops.
Global warming
'If, added to that, global warming can be limited to two degrees, the Wadden Sea has a realistic chance of surviving into the next century,' science journalist and writer of the report, Rolf Schuttenhelm told Trouw.
According to estimates by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) sea levels around the world will increase by 44 to 74 centimetres by the end of this century. Dutch weather bureau KNMI predicted last month that sea levels along the Dutch coast may rise by as much as three metres by 2100, the paper said.
'We think we can protect the Wadden Sea by monitoring it, Schuttenhelm said. 'But that is misleading. Halfway into this century we will know by how much sea level rise will accelerate. Almost all scenarios point to a loss of the tidal flats. The Wadden Sea eco system can only survive if all the circumstances are right and extraction stops.'
Net Neutrality II
John Oliver Buys Mansion Using Tax Loophole Created by Donald Trump | Observer
Wed, 10 May 2017 16:34
John Oliver talks about the wealth gap on 'Last Week Tonight' in 2014. YouTube
Donald Trump is wildly unpopular with coastal elites, but few despise him as feverishly as the Hollywood Brigades, led by Meryl Streep, and the late night comedian squadrons, headed by The Tonight Show's Stephen Colbert, The Daily Show's Trevor Noah, and Last Week Tonight's John Oliver.
There are endless legitimate grounds to go after Trump's political positions, but the lame attacks from the entertainment-industrial complex have merely served to ''alienate conservatives and made liberals smug,'' as Caitlin Flanagan recently wrote in The Atlantic. One reason for this is that the jokes being told about Trump are almost uniformly unfunny, condescending and lacking insight. They appeal largely to the tiny sector of the population that inhabits the same narrow political-economic bubble as the people telling the jokes.
At her speech at the Golden Globes earlier this year, Meryl Street briefly became a national media hero by suggesting that Hollywood could soon be decimated because Trump planned to expel ''outsiders and foreigners.'' I personally find Trump's immigration policies to be outrageous, but I'm pretty sure that Hollywood illegals will not be hunted down and deported by Trump's government and that black-clad stormtroopers won't be raiding Beverly Hills stores any time soon to bring downtrodden shoppers to secret detention facilities. (Needless to say, poor legal and illegal immigrants do face huge threats from the Trump administration.)
Streep also fretted that so many of her actor friends would be forced out of the country that the only remaining forms of entertainment would be uncultured spectacles like football and mixed martial arts. Talk about a bubble!
Trump has been the chief target of late night comedians since the earliest days of the campaign '-- somehow Clinton just never sparked their ire in the same way '-- when Noah suggested that ''maybe you should look in the mirror, asshole.'' Colbert recently delighted his audience by saying that the only thing Trump's mouth ''was good for is being Vladimir Putin's cock holster.'' (This started the bogus rumor that the FCC was singling out Colbert's show for a special investigation.) Oliver has attacked Trump so regularly that a few months ago he promised to lay off Trump, saying, ''We're very anxious to not make it all Trump, all the time.'' His vow didn't last long.
As seen in Colbert's remark, late night comedians have largely written off Trump as Putin's agent and have attacked, often with reason, some of his economic and social policies. What's slightly more awkward, if anyone were to stop and think about it, is that the comedians also portray themselves as principled enemies of Trump's economic agenda and keen supporters of the Jack and Jill Lunchbuckets who Trump is said to be screwing.
Well, he might be screwing them, but the Hollywood Brigades aren't going to be feeling any pain, since these liberal heroes are uniformly rich and will all benefit greatly from Trump's tax policies. Colbert's net worth is $45 million '-- he's the highest paid late night host '-- while Noah is worth about $13million and owns a mansion in New York City.
The hypocrisy really gets ratcheted up with John Oliver, the No. 1 darling to so many liberal anti-Trumpies, who regularly attacks GOP tax schemes as giveaways to the rich and detrimental to the poor. (Again, that's an apt description, but they evinced less rage about Obama's economic and tax policies, which also funneled money upward to an extreme degree.)
For years, Oliver has criticized the estate tax, which defenders, in a smart linguistic move dreamed up by Frank Luntz, long ago labeled the ''death tax''; and the tax code's raft of loopholes that benefit special interests he identified as oil companies and hedge fund managers. Oliver even briefly established the bogus Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption to draw attention to tax-exempt status granted to churches and charities.
Back in July 2014, in an episode in which he lamented the Wealth Gap in America'' (which has resulted in the richest one percent of Americans controlling 20 percent of annual income), Oliver said, ''At this point the rich are just running up the score'...What sets America apart is that we are actively introducing policies that disproportionately benefit the wealthy,'' such as tax cuts and loopholes like trusts.
Donald Trump was a proponent of the 4121-a tax loophole when he was a real estate developer. Dominick Reuter/AFP/Getty Images
So it's a little surprising to discover that just months before, Oliver had a tax attorney set up two revocable trusts, one for him and one for his wife, to hide the couple's purchase of a $9.5 million Manhattan penthouse. Then he used a tax loophole created by Donald Trump himself back in the 1970s, when the current president was merely a prominent New York real estate developer and aspiring celebrity author.
The loophole in question is the banally named ''421-a'' tax dodge, which was recently attacked in a Daily News op-ed written by two New York state Democrats, one a senator and the other an assemblyman. They said that the original 421-a tax exemption was ''designed to encourage new development in locations that were vacant or underutilized,'' but that Trump wanted to use it in 1980 when he bought Bonwit Teller in midtown Manhattan. The plan was to tear it down and build Trump Tower, which would mix office space and luxury condos.
''Told by Mayor Ed Koch that the Bonwit site could not qualify for a 421-a tax break, Trump and his lawyer '-- the infamous Roy Cohn '-- sued the city,'' the News op-ed recalls. ''In the end, they won a tax exemption worth $50 million for the extravagant Trump Tower. More importantly, Trump's lawsuit established that all new development, even luxury projects, would be automatically eligible for the 421-a exemption.''
The article said that the 421-a provision, which expired last year in a political impasse but that Albany is considering revising, will rob state coffers of $1.3 billion of revenue ''this year alone in foregone property taxes.''
But just four months before Oliver's July show, he had hired slick New York law firm Proskauer Rose LLP, which, in addition to union-busting and representing BP America, ChevronTexaco and ExxonMobil, specializes in helping the rich find tax breaks and buy real estate. Proskauer also has a long-time Private Client Services group, whose ''lawyers handle complex tax and estate planning matters for wealthy multinational families,'' as well as ''executives, Internet entrepreneurs, art collectors and investors, professionals and real estate developers, among others,'' according to its website.
Oliver's lawyer at the firm was Jay Waxenberg, who ''focuses his practice on estate and tax planning and estate and trust administration.'' Waxenberg, the website goes on, ''represents many families with significant multigenerational wealth, and has assisted them in the structuring of their estate plans so as to minimize gift, estate and generation-skipping taxes in the transmission of their wealth through several generations.''
In other words, Waxenberg is exactly the type of fancy pants attorney who helps his 1 percent clientele get the tax breaks and use the loopholes that Oliver gets such mileage deriding on TV.
In Oliver's case, Waxenberg set up two revocable trusts '-- JO, named for John Oliver, and KNO, named for his wife Kate Norley Oliver '-- with Waxenberg as the trustee and his law firm serving as the trusts' registered address. The trusts were then used to create a shell company called Hoagie's Place LLC, named for Oliver's beloved dog. Incidentally, Kate Norley Oliver's New York voter registration shows she is a Democrat and lives in the penthouse in question.
In 2015, Oliver and his wife used Hoagie's Place to purchase a 39th floor penthouse at 60 Riverside Blvd for $9.5 million. Property records show they put half down and took out a $4.75 million mortgage from J.P. Morgan. Neither Oliver nor his wife's name appears on the mortgage, or any of the other property records discussed in this story. Hoagie's Place is identified as the buyer in the mortgage, but its listed address is an office building in Encino, California that houses dozens of shell corporations and revocable trusts.
The 40-story Aldyn ''offers residents countless amenities right at their doorstep '' the cornerstone being the 40,000 square foot La Palestra Athletic Club and Spa,'' according to its website. ''This prestigious facility includes a 75-foot indoor pool, hot tub, 38-foot rock climbing wall, basketball and squash courts, personal training, bowling alley and more!''
The New York Timesreported on the sale of the penthouse in 2015, saying it had four bedrooms and four and a half baths spread over 3,096 square feet of interior space. ''It features Brazilian cherry hardwood floors throughout, a glass-walled corner great room and a terrace that provides panoramic views of the city skyline, the Hudson River and the George Washington Bridge.''
The story said that the seller was Andre Crawford-Brunt, the global head of equities trading for Deutsche Bank (who has since left the company), while ''the buyer's identity was shielded by the limited liability company Hoagie's Place.''
Oliver's neighbors in the building include Jeff Enslin, a hedge fund manager who has worked for Caxton Associates. That fund was created by Bruce Kovner, the well-known right-wing donor whose friends include former Vice President Dick Cheney.
Oliver benefits from New York's property tax system, which offers huge advantages to residents of rich enclaves like the one where he lives. For example, even though Oliver paid $9.5 million for his penthouse, the city assessed its market value for tax purposes at just $1.3 million. However, only $515,000 of that amount was billable for property taxes. At a rate of 12.8 percent, Oliver normally would have paid $66,390.
However, property tax records show that, thanks to Trump and Roy Cohn, Oliver gets the very generous 421-a tax break on the penthouse. Hence, his property's billable value after the exemption plunged by over $300,000, and he owed just $27,343 for 2017. That comes out to a property tax rate of roughly 0.25 percent, which would make Ronald Reagan and Ayn Rand dance in their graves from happiness.
The Observer sought comment from Oliver through Avalon Management, which represents him, but did not receive a reply to a phone message or email.
One of the best things Trump has going for him is the clueless nature of his enemies, and their great distance from so many Americans. And that's precisely why Trump's charge that prominent journalists and celebrities are the ''opposition party'' resonates with so many of his supporters.
Meanwhile, Oliver, a prominent member of the pampered class who argues for closing the wealth gap, turns out to have his nose as deeply in the tax trough as the Wall Street financiers and corporations he criticizes on his show.
Now that's a joke.
Anti-net neutrality spammers are impersonating real people to flood FCC comments - The Verge
Wed, 10 May 2017 16:31
This week, thousands posted comments on the FCC's website in response to a proposed rollback of net neutrality internet protections, weighing in on whether and how to defend the open internet. John Oliver encouraged viewers to post to a public comment thread with support for strong regulation, and a massive number of people did so. But many others appeared to have a different point of view.
Comment accuses Obama administration of ''smothering innovation''
''The unprecedented regulatory power the Obama Administration imposed on the internet is smothering innovation, damaging the American economy and obstructing job creation,'' read thousands of identical comments posted this week, seemingly by different concerned individuals. The comment goes on to give a vigorous defense of deregulation, calling the rules a ''power grab'' and saying the rollback represents ''a positive step forward.'' By midday Tuesday, the thread was inundated with versions of the comment. A search of the duplicated text found more than 58,000 results as of press time, with 17,000 of those posted in the last 24 hours alone.
The comments seem to be posted by different, real people, with addresses attached. But people contacted by The Verge said they did not write the comments and have no idea where the posts came from.
''That doesn't even sound like verbiage I would use,'' says Nancy Colombo of Connecticut, whose name and address appeared alongside the comment.
''I have no idea where that came from,'' says Lynn Vesely, whose Indiana address also appeared, and who was surprised to hear about the comment.
''I have no idea where that came from.''
The people said they have no special link to FCC activism or the telecommunications industry, and could not think of any time they had knowingly entered their information for a similar campaign. ''This is definitely not my style,'' Colombo says. ''This sounds like a hacker or an outsider.'' Others contacted by ZDNet also denied posting the comments.
Groups on both sides of the net neutrality debate have long tried to organize grassroots campaigns, and some have turned to forms of automation, using techniques such as asking people to fill out an auto-generated form, or suggesting a specific message to send to the FCC. After Oliver's call to action, several people posted variations of Oliver's suggested language, and some used obviously fake identities to do so.
Versions of a different anti-net neutrality comment were also appearing on the thread two weeks ago, but the fact that real identities are being used without permission is a strange twist. The FCC declined to comment on whether it was aware of the comments or whether it has dealt with similar issues in the past.
It's unclear who may have orchestrated the comments. A line of the language used in the comment, specifically about the ''unprecedented regulatory power [of] the Obama Administration,'' has some resemblance to a 2010 press release from the Center for Individual Freedom, a conservative, anti-net neutrality group.
We contacted the group to ask whether it had organized a campaign to send this message. ''Yes, the Center for Individual Freedom is asking our supporters and other activists across the nation to submit comments,'' a spokesperson said. ''It shouldn't come as a surprise that the wording [of the email] is similar to the wording CFIF used in 2010 as our messaging on this general issue has been consistent for nearly a decade.''
That doesn't prove the group is behind this spamming campaign, and the CFIF did not immediately respond to questions about where supporters could find the comment text.
The FCC declined to comment
Meanwhile, the FCC comment thread has been a source of controversy for other reasons. After Oliver's plea, the comment system became intermittently inaccessible. For a time, it was widely believed that traffic directed by Oliver had overwhelmed the FCC's system. But the agency later said it was hit by denial-of-service attacks that rendered the system inoperable.
It's unclear how, or if, traffic from Oliver '-- as well as the apparently automated comments '-- may have played a role, but two senators and some activist groups have requested more information on the DDoS incident. Comments on the net neutrality thread will be accepted until mid-August.
Harry Styles fans are trying to beat the Billboard charts with VPNs and mass coordination - The Verge
Wed, 10 May 2017 23:34
Die-hard music fans always rally together on social media when their favorite artists release new music. They encourage each other to keep streaming, to replay the music video over and over, and to request the song from local radio stations '-- all pretty low-effort ways to feel like you're helping your favorite artist net streams, climb up the charts, and get more radio play.
But a particularly dedicated and savvy group of Harry Styles fans, led by a Tumblr called Harry Styles Promo Team, is taking it even further. To nab chart victories for his first solo single ''Sign of the Times,'' released last month, and his eponymous debut album, due out next Friday, they've come up with a plan: They're encouraging fans who don't live in the US to download VPNs, or Virtual Private Networks, a common security measure that can anonymize an internet user.
With a VPN, a non-US fan can fake the country of their IP address, then stream Harry's music as many times as possible. The idea here is that Billboard charts now take streaming into account '-- a change made for its album chart in 2014 and for the ''hot 100'' singles list in 2012 '-- but it only counts streams marked as coming from a US IP address. (With less emphasis, fans are doing the same thing for the UK music charts.)
In part, this particular effort is a reaction to a Spotify technical glitch the morning that ''Sign of the Times'' was released. That weekend, Billboard reported that the song was difficult to find on the service for several hours and fans shared screenshots showing that it was listed as unavailable. Rose, a fan who co-operates a popular Harry Styles news account on Twitter, told The Verge via DM, ''When Spotify messed up, we tried to fix their error... By the time everything was fixed, Harry had lost millions of streams. We had to start over. I streamed it all night on the lowest volume possible... We wanted number 1.''
Rose says fans organize global listening parties where VPN links are shared, and they stream the song together for hours at a time. Fans in other countries commonly use VPNs to get around geographic restrictions on One Direction and Styles-related content '-- like many music videos, interviews, and late-night performances that are limited to the US or UK when they're first published online. So there's really no learning curve when it comes time to support a new song.
''When Spotify messed up, we tried to fix their error.''
For fans who want to see Styles hit the top of the charts, it's more of an uphill battle than you might think. Four of the five albums released by Styles' band One Direction hit the top of the Billboard 200, but none of their 17 singles ever made it to the top of the list in the US. Former band member Zayn Malik was the first of the group to hit the top of the charts, with his debut single ''Pillowtalk'' last year, but Styles' first solo work ended up falling short, losing out to Bruno Mars' ''That's What I Like'' and peaking at number four.
''[Harry Styles] doesn't care about the sales,'' Rose adds. ''But we want to let him know how much we like and support his new music, especially with him being so open and honest lately, and streaming, sharing, and buying is the way.'' She said she didn't know if the fans' efforts could reasonably change Styles' chart position on Billboard or Spotify, but they like to update each other when it moves, regardless. When reached for comment, a representative from Spotify said the company had never heard of any similar efforts and declined to speak further. Apple Music did not return a request for comment.
Harry is like the only person who I would buy everything from and get a vpn and stream everything jdhfhdhjd I love you @Harry_Styles
'-- rosie | may 12 (@musicaIIyharry) April 9, 2017Billboard charts have been gamed before by all kinds of non-fan entities '-- major labels used to get accused of manipulating physical album sale numbers all the time, even after the implementation of Nielsen's SoundScan, the bar code system that was supposed to make the numbers infallible. So why not try to do it this way?
Though the effort, creativity, and uh, rule-bending here is impressive, these streams are likely just a drop in the ocean. Songs that wind up at the top of the Billboard charts get tens of millions of streams the week they debut. The max that any one of these fans could stream Harry Style's five-minute, 20-second track is 270 times per day. It would take thousands of fans really following through (only 300 have liked the most popular Tumblr post about it so far) for this to take off, and the free data cap for most VPN services is way too low for individual sustained effort.
A PR rep for Nielsen, which calculates the numbers used for Billboard charts, told The Verge in an email ''Nielsen and its partner data providers have mechanisms in place to protect against this kind of activity,'' but would not provide particulars. Billboard declined a request for comment.
Of course, this isn't the only trick fans have up their sleeves. Promo Team is also joining in on an older One Direction fan tradition: organizing to buy thousands of iTunes downloads of Styles' music as gifts.
''you can only buy the song once, but you can gift it through iTunes as often as you want.''
The original reasoning behind these ''sponsorships'' is actually pretty great '-- a group of Tumblr users decided it would make sense to connect fans who had some extra cash with fans who couldn't afford to buy the music on iTunes themselves. As an added benefit, it would be an infinitesimal boost to digital downloads. The main gifting blog, 1DSponsorships, was started in 2015 as part of a broader (enormous) fan effort to get the One Direction song ''No Control'' released as an official single. They claim to have doled out 3,000 copies of ''No Control,'' and most recently, they write, they gave out over 1,000 copies of Styles' ''Sign of the Times.''
Tessa, a Dutch fan who collects money and sends it to another fan in the UK to disperse, explains, ''Sponsorships are one way to increase sales: you can only buy the song once, but you can gift it through iTunes as often as you want.'' iTunes only allows gifts to be sent to users who live in the same country as the sender, so before a well-known fandom figure named Becca set up an automated service, gift organizers spent weeks making spreadsheets and manually setting up matches. She's a programmer and developer, and wrote some simple code that pulls from the spreadsheets, matches requests by country, and can send out up to 75 emails per minute. Plus, fans can now watch the process happen live.
Some of the paired-up gifters and recipients become Tumblr pals, and the result is a fascinating network of One Direction and Styles enthusiasts. But 1DSponsorships' numbers are pretty paltry with chart movement as a goal.
The six-week-old Promo Team already has nearly 16,000 followers on Twitter, and could conceivably rack up slightly higher numbers. Promo Team also does one better, suggesting that people buy the song on iTunes, buy the song for other people on iTunes, and then delete or hide the song from their library and listen to it only via streaming on Apple Music.
Their site lists all kinds of tips and tricks about the most effective ways to get Styles' song better radio play or a higher stream count, many of them popular ''new music day'' go-to's for serious music fans of all stripes. For example, the Team encourages fans to submit radio play requests to the hundreds of iHeart radio stations that take requests online through Mediabase. They also point out that Most Requested Live, a show syndicated on 150 US radio stations, takes request via Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat.
Other fans tell each other to make sure to play YouTube videos to the 30-second mark at least and to remember that muting the tab discounts the play. Or that trending music on the popular ''what's that song?'' app Shazam helps radio stations pick out new songs for playlists, so fans should feed ''Sign of the Times'' through it at least three times per day. Or that if they're going to print out homemade flyers to put up around their neighborhoods, they better put QR codes on them.
Chris, a fan who has participated in recent iTunes gifting, says that the fandom has ''stepped up'' with measures like these over the years because they often disagree with promotional choices made by Syco, Simon Cowell's Sony-owned record label (with One Direction now dispersed, only Louis Tomlinson still has an affiliation). But right now, he says, ''the primary goal is just to support the individual members of the band as they release solo material. [And to] let them know that we're still here as a fandom and looking forward to hearing their new material.''
''there is not a fan who has a problem with streaming parties.''
Most of these activities are eccentric and admirable, but the VPN work-around tiptoes toward forgetting what the number one spot is ideally supposed to mean about a song. Fans don't look at it that way. Iman, a fan who helps organize streaming parties on Twitter, told The Verge, ''No, we don't see it as cheating. We are simply supporting Harry. I can guarantee you, there is not a fan who has a problem with streaming parties.''
Which brings us to perhaps the weirdest thing about the whole Styles operation: it's impossible for these fans to know if their collective effort is making a dent, and when they stop to think about it they're mostly aware that it isn't. They know better than anyone how many streams and downloads a #1 hit really demands, and it's not like they can't do basic math. So why do all this?
The rewards seem tiny, and the effort is huge. But, it's worth remembering '-- as Styles and his former bandmatesoftendo '-- that young people on social media created their careers in the first place. In some ways, they're open-source pop stars, and that comes with a feeling of responsibility to keep iterating on them.
Chris says it's hard to know the difference between organic numbers and ''fan activity.'' He doesn't know if fans could ever move chart position. But he also points out that Louis Tomlinson, the former member of One Direction who's seen arguably the least public hype, retweeted a link promoting iTunes gifts of his debut single last December. The recognition of the support, to him, is the most gratifying result (plus, Becca says, the retweet flooded the sponsorship system and 12,000 people offered to gift copies of the song). And ultimately he thinks Styles is big enough on his own, ''We're just being supportive of [him] and of each other.''
Tessa explained that participating in the ''punk'' spirit of the group is its own reward: ''I got involved because I love the DIY attitude. It's taking things in your own hands as a fandom.''
By now, many of these measures are ritual and reflex for fans '-- superstition even '-- and as much a part of participating in the fandom as making GIFs or tweeting reaction videos. It'd be pointless to try to convince them to stop, whether by illustrating the futility or explaining Spotify's Terms of Service. And the ''Sign of the Times'' disappointment behind them, they're gearing up for Harry Styles album release day next Friday.
Rose says she doesn't know for sure that Styles is aware of all the work that will go on behind the scenes that day: ''Maybe... He's very coy and dodges straight answers in interviews. But I know he's grateful.''
John Oliver's Net Neutrality Campaign Filled With Bots, Fake Comments, Racist Attacks Against FCC Chairman
Thu, 11 May 2017 12:42
John Oliver / Getty Images
BY: Elizabeth Harrington
May 9, 2017 7:40 pm
John Oliver's "grassroots" activism against Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai is full of bot accounts, fake comments, and death threats against the chairman.
Oliver, the comedian who once took credit for spurring the Obama administration to adopt net neutrality, is once again turning to his millions of viewers of his HBO show for "grassroots activism," as Chairman Pai is readying the agency to reverse the policy.
However, an analysis of comments to Pai's Restoring Internet Freedom filing, which Oliver has dubbed "Go FCC yourself," shows thousands of comments using fake names and bots posing as "Jesus Christ," "Michael Jackson," "Homer Simpson," and "Melania Trump."
For instance, as of Tuesday evening, there were 1,761 comments filed under the name "John Oliver," 998 separate comments using the name "Yoni Schwartz," and 611 comments filed using "1" as the name.
Over 500 were submitted using Chairman Pai's name, as well as 189 from "Donald Trump" and 8 from "Obama."
Eleven submissions used some version of the word "f''k."
Pai also received death threats in several submissions. One commenter said, "[F]'--k you Ajit Pai for what you're are trying to do and I hope you die a horrible painful death with no remembrance to your name you cocksucka [sic]."
Another said failure to keep net neutrality would "cause me to pray for the slow and painful death of Chairman Ajit Pai and every living member of his family, direct or indirect."
"Save internet and fuck this Ajit guy," said another. "He's from India, deport that asshole. We will take care of him when he's back."
Other comments used racial attacks against Pai, the son of Indian immigrants.
"Can you guys stop being complete greedy little s''ts and work for the American people and not for your wallets," said one commenter using the name " Andromeda Titan." "Also, f''k you Ajit Pai (a disgrace to all Indians). And f''k Trump too."
Another commenter said, "Ajit Pai looks and sounds like an Indian fraternity brother who exclusively f''ks underage women."
"Ajit Pai looks like the lone Indian who rushed an all white bro frat and only got in because they needed someone to clean up after their weekend bender," said another, who added, "It's not racist because I'm Indian and white privilege absolutely exists."
Oliver dedicated his Last Week Tonight show on Sunday to attacking Pai for seeking to reverse net neutrality, a policy that expanded the federal government's control over Internet service providers.
The FCC said it was the victim of multiple distributed denial-of-service, or DDoS, attacks Sunday night, which were "deliberate attempts by external actors to bombard the FCC's comment system."
Oliver had directed his viewers to www.gofccyourself.com, which redirects to the FCC website for users to comment on the filing.
The domain for the website lists Google as the registrar, and the address 96 Mowat Avenue, the address of an internet services Canadian company Tucows.
The liberal advocacy group Fight for the Future has been linked to Tucows in the past in comment campaigns. Over 85,000 identical comments were posted to the Regulations.gov website to protest the Digital Millennium Copyright Act last year. Fight for the Future took credit for crashing the Regulations.gov website with 100,000 comments.
The website for that campaign was also registered to Tucows, which lists Fight for the Future as one of its causes on its website.
Request for comment from Fight for the Future and Tucows were not immediately returned.
Sex Pistols Were Financed by USSR to 'Destabilize Western World', Admits Ex-KGB Agent '' World News Daily Report
Tue, 09 May 2017 14:59
Alexandrei Varennikovic Voloshin, a retired KGB agent, has admitted this week on National Russian Television (NTV) that the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics ( USSR) was behind the creation of the 1970s punk scene and financed major punk bands such as the Sex Pistols, the Clash and the Ramones.
The USSR government at the time spent ''hundreds of millions of rubles'' on this covert operation destined to ''create utter chaos'' and ''pervert the Western youth to nihilist, anti-establishment and anti-american ideologies'' he explained in an hour long interview broadcast on national television.
Famous punk songs of the legendary punk band the Sex pistols were even scripted by a team of psychologists and war propagandists of the USSR. ''I am an anarchist'', ''God save the Queen the fascist regime'', ''No future'' and other nihilist and anti-establishment lyrics were intended to unleash a wave of cynicism towards authorities, promote the use of heavy drugs and entice the youth with revolutionary, counter establishment ideas.
The 1970s punk subculture movement was allegedly financed by the USSR, says ex-KGB agent, Alexandrei Varennikovic Voloshin
The retired KGB agent claims the maneuver was extremely successful.
''We understood at the time that music was a powerful means of propaganda to reach the youth'' explained the 77-year old man.
''Our mission was to use teenage angst to our advantage and turn the baby boomer generation of the West into a decadent, pro-drug and anti-establishment culture that would create uprisings and bring Western democracies into utter chaos. We even infiltrated mainstream radios to promote their music and reach millions of people everyday'' he admitted, visibly proud of the accomplishment.
''For many of us in the KGB, infiltrating the 1970s punk scene was one of the USSR's most successful experiments of propaganda to date'' he acknowledged during the interview.
Punks burning a U.S. flag in the early 1980s, influenced by the punk music scene which was allegedly financed by the USSR
Some experts openly admit Punk nihilism, which was expressed in the use of harder, more self-destructive drugs like heroin and methamphetamine, pushed United States President Richard Nixon into the War on Drugs, a campaign of prohibition of drugs, military aid, and military intervention, with the stated aim being to define and reduce the illegal drug trade within America and around the world.
Chelsea Clinton To Receive Lifetime Achievement Award | The Daily Caller
Tue, 09 May 2017 19:30
Chelsea Clinton is set to receive a Lifetime Impact award from Variety magazine and Lifetime next month, though it is unclear why.
The former first daughter will be honored at a ''Power of Women'' luncheon on April 21, Variety announced. Jessica Chastain, Gayle King, Blake Lively, Audra McDonald and Shari Redstone will also receive the awards.
Clinton, a 37-year-old mother of two, is receiving the award ''for her work with Alliance for a Healthier Generation, which empowers kids to develop lifelong healthy habits,'' Variety says in a statement.
The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, which helps fight childhood obesity, is affiliated with the Clinton Foundation, where Clinton serves as vice chair.
Clinton's other achievements include being born to one of the most skilled politicians in American history, growing up in the White House, landing a $600,000 contract with MSNBC, marrying a hedge fund millionaire, and tweeting constantly about President Trump.
Correction: This article initially referred to Clinton's award as a lifetime achievement award. Instead, it is a Lifetime Impact award issued by Variety and Lifetime, the cable television channel. The headline and article have been edited for accuracy.
[h/t The Hill]
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European court aide rules Uber is a transport company - BBC News
Thu, 11 May 2017 11:48
Image copyright AFP Image caption Uber has provoked protests from established taxi drivers in many nations Uber is a transport firm that requires a licence to operate, a senior member of European Union's top court has said.
The decision is a set-back for Uber, which had argued it only provided technology to help drivers find passengers.
If the ruling is enforced across Europe, it might mean Uber has to operate under the same conditions and safety rules as established taxi firms.
Uber said the decision did little to change the way it was regulated.
Maciej Szpunar, advocate general at the Court of Justice of the European Union, made the decision while considering a case brought by an association of taxi drivers from Barcelona.
They said Uber was competing unfairly in the city by using unlicensed drivers for its service.
Mr Szpunar said that although Uber was "innovative", the way it operated still fell within the realm of transport rather than information services.
Uber was not merely a middleman, he said, but was essential to the way the ride-sharing system worked.
"Uber can thus be required to obtain the necessary licences and authorisations under national law," said Mr Szpunar.
The decision is not binding, but in the past judges ruling on cases before the court have generally followed the advocate's lead.
For Uber, the decision might mean it has to take more care of its drivers and ensure they are properly trained.
The decision could also have implications for other tech companies, such as Airbnb and Deliveroo, that maintain a "hands-off" relationship with people who provide their services.
In response, Uber said it was already regulated as a transport operator in many European countries so the ruling would have little impact.
But it added that if the court backed the ruling it would "undermine the much needed reform of outdated laws which prevent millions of Europeans from accessing a reliable ride at the tap of a button".
Nog bijna hele jaar controles aan Europese binnengrenzen | NOS
Thu, 11 May 2017 11:50
Grenscontrole in Denemarken (archief) AFP Oostenrijk, Duitsland, Denemarken, Zweden en Noorwegen mogen nog een half jaar blijven controleren aan de grenzen met andere Schengenlanden. Daar hebben vertegenwoordigers van de EU-lidstaten mee ingestemd. De landen houden sinds 2015 grenscontroles aan de Europese binnengrenzen om de vluchtelingenstroom in te dammen.
De Europese Commissie zegt dat het de laatste keer is dat er een uitzondering op het vrij verkeer van personen in het Schengengebied wordt gemaakt. Normaal gesproken kunnen mensen in Schengengebied zonder controles binnen het hele gebied reizen, maar de EU maakte een uitzondering omdat er 2015 een vluchtelingencrisis ontstond, waarbij honderdduizenden vluchtelingen vanuit het zuiden doorreisden naar vooral Oostenrijk, Duitsland en de Scandinavische landen.
Die landen mogen nu tot november de grenzen blijven controleren, omdat er nog altijd "een ernstige bedreiging van de openbare orde en veiligheid"is. De Europese Commissie is van mening dat politiecontroles in grensregio's, cameratoezicht en patrouilles in internationale treinen effectiever zijn.
Niet alle landen stemden voor een verlenging van de controles. Hongarije, Griekenland, Sloveni, Kroati en Slowakije stemden tegen de verlenging. Cyprus, Polen en Bulgarije onthielden zich van stemming.
Trains Good/Planes Bad
U.S. to Ban Laptops in All Cabins of Flights From Europe, Officials Say
Thu, 11 May 2017 12:35
The Department of Homeland Security plans to ban laptops in the cabins of all flights from Europe to the United States, European security officials told The Daily Beast. The announcement is expected Thursday.
Initially a ban on laptops and tablets was applied only to U.S.-bound flights from 10 airports in North Africa and the Middle East. The ban was based on U.S. fears that terrorists have found a way to convert laptops into bombs capable of bringing down an airplane. It is unclear if the European ban will also apply to tablets.
DHS said in a statement to The Daily Beast: ''No final decisions have been made on expanding the restriction on large electronic devices in aircraft cabins; however, it is under consideration. DHS continues to evaluate the threat environment and will make changes when necessary to keep air travelers safe.''
However, this move is increasing fears in the aviation industry that as well as guarding against bombs this ban could actually endanger flights. Laptops and tablets denied access to the cabin and added to checked baggage means that devices with a history of lithium-ion battery fires could set off a deadly conflagration in a cargo hold '-- where no one can put out the fires.
The FAA recorded 33 incidents in 2016 of personal electronic devices carried into cabins by passengers causing fire emergencies during flights, according to an FAA document reviewed by The Daily Beast. Of these, three were in laptops and two in tablets.
Two of the most serious were on Delta flights and both involved laptops.
On January 15, 2016 on a flight from Minneapolis to Atlanta fire broke out in a bag in an overhead bin shortly before landing. The smoke in the cabin became so overwhelming that when the flight reached the gate, passengers opened emergency exits over the wings and staff on the ramp helped them escape directly from the wings.
Flight attendants used halon fire suppressant extinguishers and water extinguishers to put out the fire, which had originated in two laptops.
On December 3, 2016 fire broke out in an overhead bin on a flight from Honolulu to Atlanta. Cabin crew needed three halon extinguishers and two water extinguishers to put out a fire originating in a laptop. For the rest of the flight the laptop was placed in a cooler with ice and monitored.
The FAA stressed that the 33 incidents are only ones that they are aware of. ''This should not be considered as a complete listing of all such incidents'...nor do they include all investigative and enforcement actions taken,'' the documented stated.
Tests carried in 2015 by the FAA's Fire Safety Branch have shown that halon gas is ineffective against fires originating in the kind of lithium-ion batteries used in laptops and tablets.
Even more to the point, these tests have revealed that the quantity of halon gas used in the automatic fire suppression systems of airplane cargo holds had no effect on a fire that begins as what is called a thermal runaway in a lithium-ion battery. Panels in the cargo hold designed to contain a fire were actually blown out in the tests, creating an explosion that would destroy an airplane.
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Commenting on these tests, the Federation of Airline Pilots' Associations, IFALPA, representing airline pilots worldwide, said, ''In fact, the fire proceeded is if the halon were not present.''
Some Middle East airlines complained to the International Civil Aviation Organization that they had been unduly penalized by the original 10-country ban. In response, the ICAO said that it accepted that improvised explosive devices in electronic devices have been ''the greatest security risk to commercial aircraft for some years.''
At the same time, they said, they have asked experts to examine the safety risk of a sudden influx of electronic devices in cargo holds. And Patrick Ky, a European safety regulator, told Reuters that his agency wants airlines to avoid placing all the electronic devices in checked baggage being in the same container in the cargo hold.
At London's Heathrow Airport, where 17 percent of all flights to the U.S. originate, is adding an extra layer of security screening for those flights at the gates.
As The Daily Beast reported in March, the original ban placed on the 10 airports in North Africa and the Middle East followed intelligence gathered during a raid on Al Qaeda in Yemen in January. Bomb makers had managed to insert into batteries an explosive device powerful enough to bring down an airplane.
First indications of this came in 2016 when a hole was blown in the fuselage of an Airbus A320 as it was on its ascent from Mogadishu, Somalia. The airplane was able to make an emergency landing. The insurgent group Al-Shababb claimed that it had equipped a passenger with a laptop rigged as a bomb.
Article 25
Members of Congress 'holding secret conversations about removing Donald Trump from office' | The Independent
Mon, 08 May 2017 11:03
Members of the US Congress are holding ''private conversations'' about whether Donald Trump should be removed from office, reports suggest.
After a difficult first 100 days that have seen the US President mired in a string of scandals and mishaps, senators and congressmen are said to be considering whether he will last a full term.
The New Yorker this week published a lengthy analysis of the two ways the Republican could be removed from office: either through impeachment by Congress or via the 25th Amendment to the US Constitution, which allows for a president to be removed if he is considered to be mentally unfit.
Evan Osnos, the author of the article, said he had been told that members of Congress were already holding conversations on the issue.
''This is a conversation that people are having around the dinner table, it's one people have at the office, members of Congress are talking about it in private and the question is very simple: is this a president who is able to do the job and is able to go the distance?'' he told MSNBC's The Last Word.
''This is a president who is beset by doubts of a completely different order of any president we've seen as long as we've been looking at this question.
''The truth is that there are people having an active conversation about whether or not he'll last.''
Mr Osnos also claimed Mr Trump could cause a ''constitutional crisis'' if he chooses not to co-operate with congressional investigations into his alleged links with Russia '' something he said some members of Congress expect to happen.
William Kristol, who worked as chief of staff to Vice President Dan Quayle under the presidency of George H W Bush, told the magazine there was a reasonable change of Mr Trump being removed.
''It's somewhere in the big middle ground between a 1 per cent [chance] and 50'', he said. ''It's some per cent. It's not nothing."
The 25th Amendment, added in 1967, allows a president to be removed if they are deemed to be ''unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office''. That judgement can be made either by the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet, or by a separate body, such as a panel of medical experts, appointed by Congress.
If the president objects, a two-thirds majority in both chambers of Congress is needed to remove him or her.
''I believe that invoking Section 4 of the 25th Amendment is no fantasy but an entirely plausible tool - not immediately, but well before 2020,'' Laurence Tribe, a prominent US law professor who works at Harvard University, told The New Yorker.
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Doctors Name Monsanto's Larvicide As Cause of Brazilian Microcephaly Outbreak - Healthy Natural Cures
Tue, 09 May 2017 19:25
A report from the Argentine doctors' organisation, Physicians in the Crop-Sprayed Towns, challenges the theory that the Zika virus epidemic in Brazil is the cause of the increase in the birth defect microcephaly among newborns.
The increase in this birth defect, in which the baby is born with an abnormally small head and often has brain damage, was quickly linked to the Zika virus by the Brazilian Ministry of Health. However, according to the Physicians in the Crop-Sprayed Towns, the Ministry failed to recognise that in the area where most sick people live, a chemical larvicide that produces malformations in mosquitoes was introduced into the drinking water supply in 2014. This poison, Pyriproxyfen, is used in a State-controlled programme aimed at eradicating disease-carrying mosquitoes.
The Physicians added that the Pyriproxyfen is manufactured by Sumitomo Chemical, a Japanese ''strategic partner'' of Monsanto. Pyriproxyfen is a growth inhibitor of mosquito larvae, which alters the development process from larva to pupa to adult, thus generating malformations in developing mosquitoes and killing or disabling them. It acts as an insect juvenile hormone or juvenoid, and has the effect of inhibiting the development of adult insect characteristics (for example, wings and mature external genitalia) and reproductive development. It is an endocrine disruptor and is teratogenic (causes birth defects), according to the Physicians.
The Physicians commented: ''Malformations detected in thousands of children from pregnant women living in areas where the Brazilian state added Pyriproxyfen to drinking water are not a coincidence, even though the Ministry of Health places a direct blame on the Zika virus for this damage.''
They also noted that Zika has traditionally been held to be a relatively benign disease that has never before been associated with birth defects, even in areas where it infects 75% of the population.
Larvicide the most likely culprit in birth defects
Pyriproxyfen is a relatively new introduction to the Brazilian environment; the microcephaly increase is a relatively new phenomenon. So the larvicide seems a plausible causative factor in microcephaly '' far more so than GM mosquitoes, which some have blamed for the Zika epidemic and thus for the birth defects. There is no sound evidence to support the notion promoted by some sources that GM mosquitoes can cause Zika, which in turn can cause microcephaly. In fact, out of 404 confirmed microcephaly cases in Brazil, only 17 (4.2%) tested positive for the Zika virus.
Brazilian health experts agree Pyriproxyfen is chief suspect
The Argentine Physicians' report, which also addresses the Dengue fever epidemic in Brazil, concurs with the findings of a separate report on the Zika outbreak by the Brazilian doctors' and public health researchers' organisation, Abrasco.
Abrasco also names Pyriproxyfen as a likely cause of the microcephaly. It condemns the strategy of chemical control of Zika-carrying mosquitoes, which it says is contaminating the environment as well as people and is not decreasing the numbers of mosquitoes. Abrasco suggests that this strategy is in fact driven by the commercial interests of the chemical industry, which it says is deeply integrated into the Latin American ministries of health, as well as the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organisation.
Abrasco names the British GM insect company Oxitec as part of the corporate lobby that is distorting the facts about Zika to suit its own profit-making agenda. Oxitec sells GM mosquitoes engineered for sterility and markets them as a disease-combatting product '' a strategy condemned by the Argentine Physicians as ''a total failure, except for the company supplying mosquitoes''.
Democrats' reaction to the Trumpcare vote was tone-deaf and gross - Business Insider
Mon, 08 May 2017 19:32
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) (C) is joined by (L-R) Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA), House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) and Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY) for a news conference in the House Vistiors Center in the U.S. Capitol March 24, 2017 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
There's principled opposition, and then there's political gamesmanship, and today's Democratic Party has a remarkable knack for choosing the wrong one at the wrong time.
In the moments after it became clear that House Republicans had passed the Trump-endorsed American Health Care Act, a handful of legislators began to sing. The voices rose up from the House floor: ''Na na na na / hey he-hey / goodbye.''
I assumed at first'--as did at least one CNN on-air analyst'--that it was Republicans celebrating the demise of Obamacare. But no: According to multiple reporters present, the song came from a group of Democratic legislators. The implication: By voting to pass the unpopular bill, GOP lawmakers had ensured that they'd be voted out of office at the next opportunity.
Democrats didn't just come up with this out of the blue. As Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall points out, it was a mocking callback to Republicans' behavior after the Clinton tax hike of 1993:
This is both an homage and a literal repetition of what Republicans did when the Clinton tax bill passed in the House in 1993. Same singing, same song. The bill paved the way for budget balancing over the course of the decade and (more arguably) played a role in creating the prosperity of that decade. It also came little more than a year before Democratic majorities in both Houses were annihilated in the 1994 midterm.
Be that as it may: It's disgusting. This was not an own goal at a soccer game. It was not a vote noteworthy solely for its long-term effects on the partisan balance of Congress. It was a vote for a bill that, if signed into law, would likely strip health coverage from millions of Americans while potentially threatening protections for many more. It was not an occasion for singing. And it sure as hell wasn't an occasion for celebration by the party that failed to stop it'--the party whose members purport to represent the interests of the vulnerable citizens whom Trumpcare would affect.
Lest anyone think these were the actions of a rogue few within the Democratic caucus, the sentiment echoed that of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who suggested earlier in the day that she welcomed the bill's passage by the GOP-controlled House.
I get that Democrats are confident it won't pass the Senate, where Republican legislators have already said they won't work from the House's bill but write their own. I get that the minority party is angry and lashing out from a position of political weakness. I get that they're determined to make Republicans pay for the hypocrisy that characterized the process by which the bill was drafted, updated, and voted upon. And I get that they believe, perhaps rightly, that House Republicans will suffer at the polls for passing a broadly unpopular bill that appears to short-change their constituents.
But come on, Democrats. If you really believe that Republicans are voting to hurt vulnerable Americans'--that this bill would cost people their lives if passed'--then you can't act like the joke's on the GOP. And, as a rule, if your whole strategy is to take the high road, then you'd better not turn around and take a moral-victory lap on the low one.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Business Insider.
Read the original article on Slate. Copyright 2017. Follow Slate on Twitter.
'Captagon waarschijnlijk niet voor Nederlandse markt bestemd' | NOS
Wed, 10 May 2017 14:01
Het ligt niet voor de hand dat de voorraad pillen die in een drugslab in het Limburgse Brunssum zijn gevonden voor Nederland bedoeld zijn. Dat stelt het Trimbos-instituut, dat de drugs in het Nederlandse uitgaansleven niet tegenkomt.
Daan van der Gouwe van Trimbos vertelt op NPO Radio 1 dat Captagon een amfetamine-achtige stof is, waarvan je uithoudingsvermogen en concentratievermogen toenemen en je eetlust afneemt.
Handige eigenschappen voor een oorlog, waarbij er dagenlang gevochten wordt en er weinig eten is. Captagon wordt daarom soms ook de 'jihad-drug' genoemd, al slikken mensen in het Midden-Oosten de pillen ook tijdens het uitgaan. Bijvoorbeeld in Dubai worden regelmatig voorraden Captagon onderschept.
Als uitgaansdrug in Nederland zien we het niet, zegt Van der Gouwe. "In Nederland zijn zoveel andere stoffen voorradig. Dus de vondst is best bijzonder, zeker. We denken niet dat het voor de Nederlandse markt bestemd was."
Captagon werd vroeger in Nederland als medicijn voorgeschreven tegen adhd en depressies. In de jaren tachtig werd dat verboden vanwege de verslavende werking. Overigens is het goed mogelijk dat de pillen Captagon van nu substantieel anders en sterker zijn dan het medicijn, zegt het Trimbos-instituut.
Captagon wordt bij de oorlog in Syri wordt volop gebruikt en de drugs worden met miljoenen stuks ge¯mporteerd, weet de Libanese journalist Radwan Mortada.
De filmmaker maakte in 2015 een documentaire over de verspreiding ervan bij de Syrische oorlog en NOS op 3 interviewde hem erover. "Veel oppositiegroepen gebruiken het, maar de jihadisten niet. Die mogen het niet gebruiken, want het is verboden onder de sharia. Maar zij verkopen dan weer wel Captagon, om zichzelf van geld te voorzien."
De Nederlandse politie onderzoekt of de onderschepte lading pillen in het Limburgse Brunssum voor het Midden-Oosten bestemd waren.
Mon, 08 May 2017 11:24
Many articles have been written about the comparison of the energy efficiency of gasoline and electric vehicles. Most such articles have various flaws. This article will avoid these flaws and will show, electric vehicles are only slightly more energy efficient than gasoline vehicles, on a source energy-to-wheel basis, which is the most rational way to make the comparison.
Many studies fail to use the lower heating value of the fuel, or fail to use the correct heating value of the fuel.
Many studies calculate meter-to-wheel efficiencies of electric vehicles of about 70%, which compare favorably with the tank-to-wheel efficiencies of gasoline vehicles of about 22%. Proponents of EVs say EVs are 70/22 = 3.2 times better. That is not even close to reality.
E10 has a source energy, which is reduced due to extraction, processing and transport, to become the primary energy fed to E10 vehicles. As a result, the energy fed to the tank has to be multiplied by 1.2639 to obtain source energy.
Electrical energy has a source energy, which is reduced due to extraction, processing and transport, to become the primary energy fed to power plants, which convert that energy into electricity. As a result, the energy fed to the meter has to be multiplied by 2.995 to obtain source energy.
After these factors are applied, the EV and E10 vehicles have source-to-wheel efficiencies of about 22.8% and 17.3%, respectively, i.e., EVs are just 22.8/17.3 = 1.31 times better.
Also, the CO2 emissions of an EV are about 62.30 x 1.323 = 82.44 lb, versus about 55.59 lb of an E10 vehicle, i.e., about 82.44/55.59 = 1.48 times greater.
The Source-to-Wheel Efficiency of a Gasoline Vehicle
Per US-EPA, the energy of the gasoline is allocated, in percentages, approximately as shown in Table 1.
Table 1
Drive train
At a steady velocity, on a level road, and with no wind from any direction, the propelling force of the engine offsets the external resisting forces acting on the vehicle, which are wind and rolling resistance.
Wind Resistance: The wind resistance of a medium-size vehicle was calculated using 0.5*c*A*d*V^2, where; c is drag coefficient, 0.32; A is cross-sectional area of vehicle, 2.600 m2; d is air density, 1.293 kg/m3, V is velocity, 104.607 km/h (65 mph). The wind resistance is 454 newton (101.389 lbf). See Table 2.
Table 2
Drag coefficient
Air density
Wind resistance
Rolling Resistance: The rolling resistance was calculated using m*g*f*cos (a), where; m is mass, 1250 kg; g is gravity, 9.807 m/s2; f is tire deformation, 0.01 m, a is 0.5 of tire radius, 0.2032 m. The cos (a) is about 1. The rolling resistance is 123 N (27.367 lbf).
Table 3
Vehicle mass
Tire deformation
0.5 of tire radius
Rolling resistance
Wind + Rolling Resistance: The useful power to the wheels, in kW, was calculated using f, the total of wind and rolling resistance, 577 N (128.756 lbf); d, the distance travelled in one hour 104,607 m; J = N.m, the work done, 60,331,767; t, the time 3600 seconds; W = J/s = 16759, or 16.67 kW. See Table 4.
Table 4
Wind + Rolling
Work done
N.m = J
W= J/s
Useful power
The Fuel: The vehicle is assumed to have an EPA combined of 28 mpg, using E10, a mixture of 90% gasoline and 10% ethanol. Its higher heating value, HHV, is 126.98 MJ and its lower heating value is 118.28 MJ. In engines, the LHV must be used. See Tables 5 and 6.
Table 5
Source-to-Wheel Efficiency: The tank-to-wheel efficiency is the useful power of Table 4 divided by the supplied power in Table 6.
Table 6
E10, LHV
EPA combined
Steady speed
Supplied power
Tank-to-wheel efficiency
Upstream factor*
Source-to-wheel efficiency
* The well-to-tank upstream factor accounts for the energy used for exploration, extraction, processing and transport of the E10 fuel. For exploration and extraction mostly diesel is used, for processing mostly diesel, gas and electricity are used, and for transport mostly diesel is used. See Table 7. Gas and electricity have source factors of about 1.09 (from well-to-power plant) and 2.995 (from well/mine-to-meter), respectively. Excluded is the embedded energy of all the infrastructures required to provide the US transportation system with various fuels.
Table 7
lb CO2/gal
lb CO2/gal
lb CO2/gal
Upstream factor
The Source-to-Wheel Efficiency of an Electric Vehicle
The US economy was supplied with about 25,451.00 TWh of primary energy in 2013. About 40% of that energy, or 10,180.40 TWh, was supplied to the US electricity generating systems, which generated 4065.97 TWh of electricity, for a conversion rate of 0.399. The self-use was 161.54 TWh (about 3.97%), imports were 46.74 TWh, fed into grids was 3951.17 TWh, which reduced by transmission and distribution losses of 256.83 TWh (about 6.5%), resulted in 3694.34 TWh fed to meters. The ratio of primary energy divided by electricity to meters was 0.3629, the system efficiency. See Table 8.
Table 8
Primary energy
Electrical fraction
Electrical primary energy
Electricity generation
Conversion factor
To grids
To electric meters
System efficiency, PE basis
Upstream factor*
System efficiency, SE basis
Electric Vehicle
Inverter AC to DC
Battery and charger
Motor and drivetrain
* The upstream factor accounts for the energy used for exploration, extraction, processing and transport of the various fuels to power plants. For exploration and extraction mostly diesel is used, for processing mostly diesel, gas and electricity are used, and for transport mostly diesel is used. See Table 7. Gas and electricity have source factors of about 1.09 (from well-to-power plant) and 2.995 (from well/mine-to-meter), respectively. Excluded is the embedded energy of all the infrastructures required to provide the US electricity system with various fuels.
CO2 Emissions of Gasoline Vehicles: Table 6 shows driving at a steady 65 mph for one hour uses 2.321 gallon of E10, which, according to Table 7, results in emissions of 23.95 x 2.321 = 55.59 lb CO2, on a source energy basis. See table 10.
CO2 Emissions of Electric vehicles: Based on the EV using 0.32 kWh/mile and traveling at a steady 65 mph for one hour, it uses 20.8 kWh. According to Table 8, the US electricity generating system efficiency is 0.3339, on a source energy basis. The EV source energy is 20.8/0.3339 = 62.30 kWh. See table 10.
The US grid CO2 was about 2053 million metric ton, on a primary energy basis, or 4888.17 billion lb, on a source energy basis. The US generation to meters was 3694.34 TWh, for an emission intensity of 1.323 lb CO2/kWh. See table 10.
The EV emissions are 62.30 x 1.323 = 82.44 lb CO2, about 82.44/55.59 = 1.48 times greater than of a gasoline vehicle. See Table 10.
Table 10
E10 vehicle
CO2, incl. upstream
lb CO2/gal
E10 CO2; SE basis
lb CO2
EV use
EV use for 1 hour
System Efficiency, SE basis
EV source energy
US grid CO2, PE basis
million metric ton
Conversion factor
lb/metric ton
US grid CO2, PE basis
billion lb
Upstream factor
US grid CO2 SE basis
billion lb
US generation to meters
US grid CO2 intensity, SE basis
lb CO2/kWh
EV CO2; SE basis
lb CO2
Colossal Pedophile Ring Busted, 900 Arrests, 300 Kids Saved '-- Corporate Media Ignores It
Tue, 09 May 2017 15:05
Washington, D.C. '' After a nearly two-year investigation, 870 suspected pedophiles have been arrested across the world, and least 259 sexually abused children have been identified in the wake of major underground online global pedophilia network being taken down, according to the FBI and European authorities.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Europol announced the arrests on Friday, only days after a court sentenced Florida-based Steven Chase, founder of the so-called Playpen pedophilia network, to 30 years in prison.
The arrest of Chase in December 2014 was the impetus for a global probe into the users of the members-only forum, which culminated in the nearly 900 arrests.
Unsurprisingly, this massive pedophile bust has failed to crack the pervasive US media censorship regime, as not a single mainstream corporate media source in the United States has reported on this story. Perhaps, within those 900 sickos, there are some folks who have enough power not to let their names out.
According to a report by German media conglomerate, Deutsche Welle:
Playpen was accessible in what is known as the ''darknet,'' where internet users can engage in illegal activities using encryption and anonymity software in an effort to hide their identities. The secret network allowed anonymous users to engage in a forum where they could share photos and videos showing the sexual abuse of children.
As part of its investigation, called ''Operation Pacifier,'' the FBI managed to use to malware to seize the Playpen website and server, which allowed authorities to track and identify Playpen users.
Law enforcement authorities then took over the network and operated the pedophile site for several weeks '' technically making them facilitators of child pornography themselves '-- hacking and tracking users of the site by installing malware onto their computers.
And while virtually everyone applauds the arrest of pedophiles, civil libertarians have pushed back as to the legality and manner in which the FBI operated, rightly claiming that a single search warrant should not allow law enforcement to hack into and search over 1,000 computers, according to comments made by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) regarding ''Operation Pacifier.''
''The warrant here did not identify any particular person to search or seize. Nor did it identify any specific user of the targeted website,'' the EFF said. ''It did not even attempt to describe any series or group of particular users.''In a statement Friday, Steven Wilson, head of Europol's European Cybercrime Center, said the case demonstrated how law enforcement needs to use such methods to fight criminals who can hide behind online anonymization and encryption programs.
READ MORE: Oregon to Celebrate Independence Day'... With 'No Refusal' Blood Checkpoints
''We need to balance the rights of victims versus the right to privacy,'' he said. ''If we operate by 19th century legal principles then we are unable to effectively tackle crime at the highest level.''
Essentially, Wilson is trying to claim there is virtue in giving up liberty for safety '' a complete and utter fallacy of the highest order '' but which underpins the rise of the ever-growing global police state that is built upon a framework of an unflinching military-intelligence-industrial complex with imperial ambitions.
Make no mistake that this is just the latest case to emerge in what is now being dubbed #PedoGate. #PedoGate refers to the increasingly common recognition of international pedophile rings, which has previously been steadfastly covered up by the western fourth estate.
Speaking to the scope of the problem, after President Trump held a press conference in February, in which he detailed his plans to go after the victims of the ''human trafficking epidemic,'' former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney weighed in on the subject, noting that going after child predators will lead to the downfall of both Republicans and Democrats in the United States '-- as this problem goes all the way to the top.
As the Free Thought Project has consistently pointed out, pedophilia among the global power-elite is rampant.
In February, the Free Thought Project reported that the police chief recently came forward and confirmed that the former Prime Minister of England, Sir Edward Heath, had raped dozens of children. The department also noted how those within the government helped cover up these crimes.
We previously reported on the high-profile elite pedophilia scandal that gripped the U.K. '' with its thousands of victims '' being unceremoniously swept under the rug, which is indicative of the scope and breadth of the actual problem. In fact, the problem is so rampant in England that officials issued an order last month to stop naming streets and landmarks after local heroes and politicians because they could later be exposed as pedophiles.
READ MORE: Court Rules Police Can Legally Make Up Lies to Pull People Over to Fish for Criminal Behavior
In the case of the U.K. Inquiry, historical abuse of thousands of children by politically connected elites, celebrities, and politicians was brought to light '-- with an official inquiry being started '-- only to have the inquiry ''crumble'' after heavy pressure was exerted by highly placed power brokers within the U.K. establishment.
This was almost the exact same scenario as what took place in the United States in what became known as the Franklin child sex ring coverup '-- which involved high-level Republicans during the George H.W. Bush administration. Once the FBI took over the investigation from state authorities, it turned into a witch hunt to persecute the child victims '' going so far as to charge them with perjury in a successful attempt to scare the other 70+ victims to recant their testimony regarding the child sex ring.
While the story received a small measure of newspaper coverage, there was a complete blackout of the scandal by the mass media, thus most Americans have never heard about this scandal that reached all the way to the White House.
Domestically, there are relatively few high-level arrests, as anytime 'the elite' are mentioned alongside the term 'pedophile,' the Praetorian guard, aka the corporate media, shout down all those who dare pose any questions about those in power abusing the most vulnerable among us.
For example, former U.S. Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert, a known serial child rapist, was never charged for his numerous crimes against children, which the FBI knew about, and had evidence of, for over a decade.
According to FBI whistleblower and Newsbud Editor-in-Chief, Sibel Edmonds:
Since 1996 the FBI has had tons of information on Hastert which was gathered in Chicago by the FBI's Chicago Field Office. The incriminating criminal evidence in those files range from bribery, extortion, fraud, money laundering and embezzlement, to sexual crimes against minors and participation in foreign-operated drug operations.
Since 1997 the FBI has had much hard evidence on Hastert gathered by the FBI's Washington Field Office. The documented deeds range from espionage to foreign bribery.
But that's not all. The FBI also has had hard data on Hastert's sexual violations outside the United States. The involved countries include Vietnam, Thailand, Turkey and Morocco, among others. This also included sexual favors as means of foreign bribery. Interestingly, the CIA had been documenting those sexual activities for many years, and not only on Hastert but on many others; elected and appointed.
Edmonds has noted that the intelligence apparatus utilizes the damning information they maintain on these public officials' pedophilic activities as a means of controlling public policy decisions from the shadows. The fact that Hastert rose to Speaker of the House, when his activities were well documented by the FBI and CIA highlights precisely to how intelligence services utilize total information awareness to influence and control elected officials.
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Additionally, NSA whistleblower Russell Tice, who was a key source in the 2005 New York Times report, which blew the lid off the Bush administration's use of warrantless wiretapping, has publicly confirmed the targeting '' and blackmailing '' of top government officials and military officers, including Supreme Court Justices, highly-ranked generals, Colin Powell and other State Department personnel.
In an appearance on Edmond's Boiling Frogs Post blog, Tice stated that he held NSA wiretap orders targeting numerous members of the U.S. government, including one for a young senator from Illinois named Barack Obama.
''In the summer of 2004, one of the papers that I held in my hand was to wiretap a bunch of numbers associated with a forty-some-year-old senator from Illinois. You wouldn't happen to know where that guy lives now would you? It's a big White House in Washington D.C. That's who the NSA went after. That's the President of the United States now.''Tice added that he also saw orders to spy on Hillary Clinton, Senators John McCain and Diane Feinstein, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, Gen. David Petraeus, and a current Supreme Court Justice.
How much information on pedophilia and child pornography does the deep state have on all these politicians like they had on Hastert? Is it not possible, indeed, likely, that the shadow state maintains this information on individuals for the sole purpose of controlling them?
Make no mistake that illegal spying and wholesale collection of American data allows for that very control system whereby the elected officials, who appear to be in control of our state apparatus, are nothing more than puppets who are blackmailed over their depraved pasts and bribed by the unelected power centers that pull the strings from the shadows.
Wed, 10 May 2017 21:16
When was the last time you heard about Iceland?
Remember them? The people in the small country on a large volcanic rock in the northern Atlantic Ocean that rounded up their bankers, through them in jail, and declared a debt jubilee?
I have to admit, that I haven't heard about them recently either, until Mr. B.H. sent along the following article, and there are a couple of things that caught my eye and fuel my imagination. As always, my approach here is "assume this story is true" for the sake of some high octane speculation of the day:
All Debts Of Island's Population Are Forgiven By The Government
Now, of course, the first thing that caught my eye was the fact that, apparently, there's almost a complete news media blackout in the USSA by the corporate controlled media, and of course by implication, the major search engines:
As good as an approach that this is it is now being alleged that the US Rothschild Controlled Media has apparently completely blacked out any news involving Iceland's debt forgiveness. Attempting to search Iceland's mortgage debt forgiveness only leads to about 359,000 search results with none of them being from the United States. Neither major or minor news outlets mention a single word about Iceland's decision.
Now, of course, we don't know for certain how much, if any, debt the Rottenchild network held in Iceland, but we take the point: someone somewhere doesn't want anyone looking at Iceland. We all know why, for I suspect few readers of this website would contemplate the picture of a Darth Soros, or a Rockefailure, or a Rottenchild behind bars with anything less than a smile on their face. The same, I suspect, holds true for the current crop of "associates", the Geitners, Yellens, and Draghis of the world. Probably, someone, somewhere, is leaning over a table with their beer or coffee talking to someone else and wondering how these people can be Dominique Strauss-Kahned.
The idea of a debt jubilee itself is slowly and steadily gaining strength. And it's an idea worth considering, for recall, its origins stem from Mesopotamia(as I outlined in Babylon's Banksters), when private debts grew to the point that they could not be repaid. This led to the jubilee year and the ceremony of the "Breaking of the Tablets", when the king would ceremonially break the tablets containing contracts and debts. The reason? When debts could no longer be repaid, people simply left the country to start over somewhere else. Now, however, in the wake of the bubble-bailout cycle that culminated in 2008, we're told that the derivatives alone represented over 14-17 quadrillion dollars, several times more than the domestic product of the entire planet. It's a nice way for the Rockefailures Soroses and Rottenchilds to enslave several generations.
But there was another statement toward the end of the article that caught my eye, and that fuels today's high octane speculation. It was this:
The US government apparently owns 96% of bad loans, while major banking only owns about 3% of bad loans. This poor allocation leads to US government guaranteeing to collapse, while big banks stay rich and do not have to worry about ever foreclosing on themselves.
I couldn't help but think of former Housing and Urban Development assistant secretary Catherine Austin Fitts' model of rolling out the new financial system, which she has described as the "financial coup d'etat," wherein all the liabilities were moved off the books of the banks, and into the public(government) sector, while all the assets were moved from the latter to the former.
Nifty, huh?
Ok, so what? Where's the high octane speculation in this? Well, try this on for size: imagine you want to sell the idea of a completely cashless society (which of course, really isn't cashless, it's merely a way of protecting your currency issuance central banking cartel). How would one sell the idea? Through a debt jubilee: use our system of blockchain or virtual currency, and all your debts are forgiven. Only those continuing to use cash will have their debts retained. The "reset jubilee" button coupled to cashlessness... really, if one thinks about it, it's an interesting way to get rid of all that "bad paper" on the ledgers, and I wouldn't put it past them.
See you on the flip side...
Joseph P. Farrell has a doctorate in patristics from the University of Oxford, and pursues research in physics, alternative history and science, and "strange stuff". His book The Giza DeathStar, for which the Giza Community is named, was published in the spring of 2002, and was his first venture into "alternative history and science".
NA-Tech News
Pando: Don't let the macro numbers fool you: Seed investing is in an absolute funk. And with good reason
Wed, 10 May 2017 15:41
While I'm not yet done ''snorkeling in the swamp'' -- Paul's term for what covering the tech industry has become-- I can certainly think of more fun times to be a tech reporter.
I started covering tech in the dot com bubble when the possibilities seemed limitless. Even the downturn was at least fascinating to cover-- watching the winners and losers get sorted out, and all those MBA grads leave town. The best time to cover this industry was the rise of Web 2.0. On a macro level, few people believed the consumer Web was a viable strategy, and even fewer would invest in it. So the entrepreneurs in that era built things they felt should exist. It was as pure as this multi-billion dollar machine for creating companies has ever felt.
Then came the unicorn era, which was at least interesting because it was unlike anything in Valley history.
And now, we are in the toxic swamp. A glut of foreign capital and low interest rates have kept any sort of mass correction from happening, on a financial level. But on a cultural level, we need one. The cult of the founder and bro behavior have dominated the largest companies, no one more so than Uber. This is a company mired in constant scandals, currently being sued for major intellectual property theft, and currently being investigated by the Department of Justice, whose CEO is still firmly and smugly in charge. It's also the highest valued company in Silicon Valley history.
As the dog with the coffee would say, ''This is fine.''
Meantime, companies like Facebook are broadcasting murders, and Google and Facebook have helped extremists rise to power, by destroying any sense of ''facts'' and ''truth.'' Everything about a mobile-first culture has turned the early ''you-centric'' wave of user generated content and social media into a ''me-centric'' wave of everything.
The most alarming recent example: India dominates the world in selfie related deaths . According to this chilling story in FactorDaily, there were 127 selfie-related reported deaths in the world from 2014-2016. A whopping 76 were in India, compared to eight in the US and one in China.
This amazing story tries to break down the disparity. A lot of it has to do with the poor infrastructure in India, but a lot of it has to do with the newness, rapid adoption, and absorption of mobile phones.
I've written before that Silicon Valley is losing its once all-powerful soft power , as all that rhetoric of making the world a better place starts to look grotesque in an age of broadcast suicides, fake news, and now, selfie deaths.
The idealism that made me fall in love with covering startups nearly two decades ago, the idealism that launched a wave of tech blogs, the idealism that brought so many people West Coast again'... it's hard to find right now.
I've spoken to a handful of founders in recent weeks, who managed to have break even exits after a decade of work and ones who are still slogging along. They've all said if they do this again, they won't raise venture capital. I've spoken to seed and even pre-seed investors who've said they've had to lower the amount of checks they can write, because those entrepreneurs who are starting companies again, want to avoid the pitfalls they fell into before-- raising too much money, at too steep a price and the long hangover that ensues. I fear we are only at the beginning of that trend.
It's remarkable to hear so many entrepreneurs complain about the ''evils'' of raising venture capital, when we're still in a phase of relatively easy money at relatively high valuations with founder control increasingly becoming the norm. VCs have been giving companies what they want. But if you are a parent, you know that doesn't end well.
I wondered if this was anecdotal, but the recent Pitchbook-NVCA first quarter report backs this early stage malaise up. While 2017 overall looks to be a great year for the ''venture'' industry, what's bolstering the amount raised and the deals is late stage investing. Most of that isn't coming from traditional venture investors. It's heavily coming from international investors. If you isolate the classic venture capital industry, early stage invested has plateaued. And angel and seed investing has plummeted.
Classic entrepreneurship in Silicon Valley seems to have lost its way. It's not just the hangover from the unicorn era, and founders and executives coming out of disappointing exits feeling burned and exhausted. It's also a quandary over what to fund.
Consumer Internet has been the home run generator for most of the last two decades, but Valley early adopters no longer pick the winners in that category. Jeremy Liew, who had a huge home run in Snap, has long argued that the Internet is now about mass-market youth and teen culture, and it's LA and New York that have the pulse on that, not Silicon Valley.
Smart VCs and companies have started hiring teen consultants . That isn't a bad idea, but think of how different that is from Silicon Valley's consumer history. Steve Jobs famously said he didn't design products by asking users what they wanted, but by showing them. And almost all of the early consumer Internet winners were created by people building something for themselves.
This shows the real cost of Silicon Valley's bro-monoculture. What bros need has been tapped out, and VCs struggle to invest for consumers who aren't them. Show me a female entrepreneur building something for a female audience who hasn't had the awkward encounter of a VC bringing a female assistant in to ask her if she'd use the product. Now they aren't asking wives, they're asking their teens. To succeed in finding consumer hits for a different audience, VCs will have to change how they make investing decisions. And some who excelled in a previous era, may simply not be that good anymore.
And even for those who do succeed at the shift, it's arguably not the same money making opportunity, because you are basically investing in fads. It's more like video games and movie franchises than the large tech platforms and utilities of the past. Even Snap argued in its S1 that it has to keep rapidly innovating to keep its teen audience-- which is far smaller than any of Facebook's properties-- interested.
One of the reasons that Silicon Valley is struggling is that it has succeeded so well. We are in a unique time where the young companies are not eating the old. Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple are simply dominating, and even Microsoft has enjoyed a resurgence.
There is almost no white space with Facebook dominating everything social, Amazon owning logistics and things, Google owning data, and Apple (and Netflix and Amazon) owning digital entertainment. Most companies are being built on Google or Amazon's servers, and they are paying for user growth on Facebook. Google and Facebook have 85% of all digital advertising just as this transition of dollars away from television is finally occurring. And their share is growing.
Look at the impact on the decacorns, the companies that should have been poised to become super unicorns of the era.
Pinterest: Struggling to get oxygen in a Facebook world, especially now that Facebook has launched a Pinterest-like clone on Instagram
Dropbox: Squeezed by Google and Microsoft
Snap: The joke in the Valley is that more engineers are working on Snap features at Facebook than at Snap. The last F8 showed the body blow of competition coming Snap's way.
The most dramatic example of course is Uber. While a lot of its pain has been self-inflicted, it is being accused of trying to ''hack'' this big-tech hegemony by stealing autonomous car technology from Google. And now Google could destroy Uber's shot to be a leader in self-driving cars, which Uber's Travis Kalanick has said is ''existential'' for the company.
Airbnb seems the only US decacorn who has threaded the needle between these four. (One reason, I've argued it will be the largest US decacorn at the end of the day.)
It's no wonder entrepreneurs aren't anxious to play the heavy-fundraising game again, and no wonder VCs are in a funk about where to invest.
And it's no wonder that publications and journalism careers that started out covering new launches every day are now mired in a swamp of writing about bad behavior and giants drunk on their own power: Because that is the only thing that's growing.
VIDEO - Colbert audience cheers Comey firing, before he corrects them - YouTube
Thu, 11 May 2017 13:12
VIDEO - Trump Calls Putin To Discuss James Comey - CONAN on TBS - YouTube
Thu, 11 May 2017 13:10
VIDEO - Dalai Lama prays for Nancy Pelosi to rid herself of 'negative attitudes' - YouTube
Thu, 11 May 2017 13:01
VIDEO - Nancy Pelosi stutters, calls China 'Tina' - no one laughs at joke about Beijing - The American MirrorThe American Mirror
Thu, 11 May 2017 12:57
Nancy Pelosi's bizarre behavior is now reaching an international audience.
While leading a Congressional delegation to visit the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, North India on Tuesday, the House Minority Leader was seen stuttering, repeating words, calling China ''Tina,'' and telling a joke that garnered laughs only from the Americans.
Starting her short speech, Pelosi said, ''Personally, I say, Tashi Delek, Tashi Delek, Tashi Delek, Tashi Delek'...'' repeating herself.
''And I want to say how proud we all are to be here with our charg(C) d'affaires Mary Kay Carlson from the American embassy in, in, in, in New Dehli,'' Pelosi said, stuttering.
Her attempt at a joke fell flat.
''So I understand that this beautiful song about His Holiness's 80th birthday is a wish that he lives to be 113 years old. I am sure that we all associate ourselves with that remark and I know it's good news to the government of Beijing.''
The Dalai Lama stood motionless as the American delegation appeared to be the only ones laughing.
''When we see the sparkle in the eyes of the children yesterday in the children's vision''uh, village,'' Pelosi said.
Later Pelosi repeated herself several times.
Talking about a medal the Congress gave the Dalai Lama, Pelosi said, ''Many enduring and outstanding contributions to peace and enduring contributions to peace, non-violence'...''
Moments later, she said, ''When we were in Tibet, they said to us, 'We support, we support religion. We gilded the roof of the temple'' we painted the roof of the temple'' we gilded the roof.'''
It's not clear whether the Chinese had a hard time speaking, according to her quote, or Pelosi herself.
She continued, ''We said back to them, 'We're not interested in what you're gilding the roof. We're interested that you're guarding the minds of the children and we're interested in freedom of education, of culture and religion in Tibet, not painting the roof of the temple.''
Ending her speech, Pelosi referred to China as ''Tina.''
VIDEO - (1) Net Neutrality II: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) - YouTube
Thu, 11 May 2017 12:44
VIDEO - Lavrov on Comey: Was he fired? You're kidding
Thu, 11 May 2017 12:38
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VIDEO - F.B.I. Is Investigating Trump's Russia Ties, Comey Confirms - The New York Times
Thu, 11 May 2017 12:05
Mr. Comey said Russia used a murky network of government officials, oligarchs, business leaders and others close to Mr. Putin to gather intelligence. But he repeatedly sidestepped specific questions about Mr. Trump's advisers, and acknowledged that American citizens sometimes did not realize they were talking to foreign agents. He said the existence of an investigation did not mean the F.B.I. would ever prove wrongdoing.
Nevertheless, Democrats repeatedly highlighted the Trump campaign's Russian connections as they painted Mr. Trump as a candidate who adopted pro-Russia views and courted Russian interests.
''Is it possible that all of these events and reports are completely unrelated and nothing more than an entirely unhappy coincidence?'' said RepresentativeAdam B. Schiff of California, the intelligence committee's top Democrat. ''Yes, it is possible. But it is also possible, maybe more than possible, that they are not coincidental, not disconnected and not unrelated.''
Mr. Comey, testifying for more than five hours, said there was no evidence that Russian hackers had changed any votes in the election. The statement was quickly spun by the White House, which posted that clip of Mr. Comey's testimony on Twitter.
But later in the hearing, when Mr. Comey was read the tweet by Representative Jim Himes, Democrat of Connecticut, the F.B.I. director made it clear that that was not what he had said.
''We've offered no opinion, have no view, have no information on potential impact because it's not something we looked at,'' Mr. Comey said, clarifying that the intelligence community is examining what Russia did to interfere with the election, not the effect of that interference.
Photo Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, on Monday during his daily briefing. Credit T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times Mr. Comey did not say when he expected his investigation to end or whether he planned to make the results public, prompting Republicans to complain that prolonging it would keep a cloud over the White House.
''The longer this hangs out there, the bigger the cloud,'' said Representative Devin Nunes of California, the Republican chairman of the Intelligence Committee. ''If you have evidence, especially as it relates to people working in the White House or in the administration, that is information we really should know.''
Mr. Trump began the day with Twitter posts denying any collusion with Russia and criticizing leaks of classified information about the investigation. By midday, the White House was citing Mr. Comey's testimony to suggest that members of the Obama administration had coordinated leaks against Mr. Trump.
Republicans on the Intelligence Committee made similar allegations, using their questions to Mr. Comey to criticize the news coverage about the Russia investigation and chastise government officials who speak anonymously to journalists. Mr. Nunes said he was particularly concerned about the anonymous sources who revealed to journalists that some of Mr. Trump's associates were being investigated.
The White House has insisted that there is nothing left to investigate about Russia and has instead asked Congress to look into Mr. Trump's claims that he was wiretapped by President Barack Obama. Mr. Trump made those allegations in a flurry of Twitter posts early this month.
The White House has stood by his accusation, even in the face of conclusions from all corners of the government that it is false. On Tuesday, Mr. Comey, who had asked the Justice Department if it would make a public statement refuting Mr. Trump's claim, summarily dismissed it.
''I have no information that supports those tweets, and we have looked carefully inside the F.B.I.,'' Mr. Comey said, adding that the Justice Department also had no evidence.
Those assurances seemed unlikely to change the White House's position.
Asked Monday whether, in light of Mr. Comey's testimony, the president stood by his assertion that he was wiretapped, Mr. Spicer said that he did.
Get politics and Washington news updates via Facebook, Twitter and in the Morning Briefing newsletter.
A version of this article appears in print on March 21, 2017, on Page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Comey Confirms Inquiry on Russia and Trump Allies.
Continue reading the main story
VIDEO - CNN Applauds 'Blue Collar' Jimmy Kimmel's Health Care Position 'No One' Should 'Dispute' | MRCTV
Thu, 11 May 2017 04:37
See more in the cross-post on the NewsBusters blog.
In the world of liberals, only their personal anecdotes matter and can't be challenged. On CNN's New Day early Tuesday morning, liberal co-hosts Alisyn Camerota and Chris Cuomo invited colleagues Brian Stelter and Bill Carter to laud ABC comic Jimmy Kimmel for his health care position that ''no one should be able to dispute.''
The CNN panel's six-minute segment equated to a campaign commercial for Kimmel's universal health care advocacy and began with Camerota swooning how he returned to ''fir[e] back at critics of his emotional monologue last week about his newborn son's health scare.''
VIDEO - Only CBS Shows Ted Cruz Hammering Yates on Trump's Travel Ban | MRCTV
Thu, 11 May 2017 04:34
[See NewsBusters for more.] Though the networks on Tuesday were excited by the ''dramatic'' and ''explosive'' testimony of Sally Yates, only CBS This Morning bothered to show Ted Cruz hammering the ex-Justice Department official about the legality of Donald Trump's travel ban. Co-host Norah O'Donnell described how the Republican called out Yates: ''Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz asked Yates to explain why she thought it was okay to defy the President. He quoted the statute that gives the President authority over immigration.'' Reading aloud to the woman fired by Trump, he reminded: ''Whenever the President finds the entry of any alien or any class of alien in the United States would be detrimental to tint of the United States he may by proclamation and for such period as he deem necessary suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or non-immigrants or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem appropriate.''
VIDEO - CNN's Jeffrey Toobin Loses His Mind Over Comey Being Fired | MRCTV
Thu, 11 May 2017 04:30
***To read the full blog, please check out the complete post on NewsBusters***
Washington, DC was rocked Tuesday evening when news broke that President Donald Trump had fired FBI Director James Comey. According to a memorandum from Deputy Attorney General Rob Rosenstein, Comey was recommended to be fired for going over the head of Attorney General Loretta Lynch on July 5, 2016, and holding a press conference about Hillary Clinton's e-mail investigation. But according to CNN's Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin, the FBI director was fired because he was hot on Trump's trail.
''The FBI is running an investigation of Donald Trump's campaign and Russia and apparently it's getting too close for comfort,'' he angrily yelled. ''That the only rational conclusion that you can draw from this firing.''
At the top of the 6 o'clock hour, Toobin told Wolf Blitzer that Comey's firing was ''a grotesque abuse of power'' by Trump. And he declared that Trump was acting like a dictator, saying: ''This is the kind of thing that goes on in non-democracies. That when there is a investigation that reaches near the president of the united States, or the leader of a non-democracy, they fire the people who are in charge of the investigation.''
VIDEO - Raging David Gregory Assails Ken Cuccinelli for Calling Out His Absurdity | MRCTV
Thu, 11 May 2017 04:28
***To read the full blog, please check out the complete post on NewsBusters***
All the media could talk about Tuesday night was how President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. As unfounded speculation about Trump's assumed guilt swirled, CNN political commentator David Gregory was in a visible rage over the whole ordeal. At the end of the eight o'clock hour of Anderson Cooper 360, he declared that the firing was a display Trump's ''disdain'' for the rule of law. But what was on full display was Gregory's disdain for the Trump administration.
''I want to make a point about how absurd this night is,'' he angrily told the rest of the panel partway through the nine o'clock hour. He railed against Attorney General Jeff Sessions for not standing up to the President. ''So, at no time did he turn to the president and say, ''You know, it would be inappropriate for you to fire the head of the FBI when the FBI is investigating your campaign by extension your White House for colluding with a foreign power,'' he spat.
Former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli spoke up and called Gregory's visceral reaction absurd. ''How is that absurd,'' Gregory yelled across the table. ''If you run an agency that runs investigations, which I have, that person does not day to day run the investigation. They are not in charge of the investigation. They manage the personnel and that's it,'' Cuccinelli began to explain as Gregory proceeded to shout over him.
VIDEO - 'Do You Want Me to Ask the Questions?' CNN's Cuomo, Conway Throw Down Over Comey Firing | MRCTV
Thu, 11 May 2017 04:15
See more in the cross-post on the NewsBusters blog.
You knew this was coming. In light of James Comey being fired early Tuesday night as FBI Director by President Trump, the knives were out on CNN Wednesday morning with New Day co-host Chris Cuomo interrogating, interrupting, and generally losing his mind while going after White House Counselor Kellyanne Conway.
I won't belabor you, the readers, with the full 19-minute interview, but there two stretches that were worth unpacking.
VIDEO - Jon Stewart chides Colbert audience as feeble for cheering Trump's firing of Comey | MRCTV
Thu, 11 May 2017 04:10
Ex-Daily Show host Jon Stewart, appearing on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert along with other Daily Show alum, lamely tries to explain away the Colbert audience's awkward cheering for President Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey, May 9, 2017.
VIDEO - CNN Meltdowns: Comey Firing Is 'Terribly Dangerous,' Akin to a 'Third World Dictatorship' | MRCTV
Thu, 11 May 2017 03:59
See more in the cross-post on the NewsBusters blog.
Appearing on CNN Wednesday afternoon to participate in the network-wide meltdown over James Comey's ouster as FBI Director, longtime liberal journalists and CNN political analyst Carl Bernstein invoked Watergate but went further, fretting that ''this is terribly dangerous moment in American history.''
''The President of the United States has repeatedly made clear he does not want a legitimate investigation into the possible collusion of his aides and campaign with a hostile power. This is unprecedented in our history,'' opined the Watergate journalist.
VIDEO - WH on Investigation into Russian Meddling: 'We'd Love For That to Be Completed,' So We Can Move on | MRCTV
Thu, 11 May 2017 03:48
The White House said the president wants the Department of Justice to pursue whatever investigation it sees fit and has ''encouraged the House and Senate committees to continue any ongoing investigations'' into Russian meddling in the election in spite of the ouster of FBI Chief James Comey. Read Full Story
VIDEO - Europe shares steady; dollar down on Comey sacking - YouTube
Thu, 11 May 2017 01:13
VIDEO - Woman intimidated after asking about Portland store's Confederate flag rug (graphic language) - YouTube
Thu, 11 May 2017 00:00
VIDEO - Video shows sophomore taking on a white student for wearing a poncho on Cinco de Mayo
Wed, 10 May 2017 23:43
'Cinco de Mayo is not your holiday'
A video has emerged of a white student being called out for wearing a poncho on Cinco de Mayo.
Danique Montique, a sophomore at the University of New Hampshire, posted a video of her taking a student called Michael to task for sporting a poncho on the Mexican festival.
The video, which has already been seen over 100,000 times, shows her explaining to him why he shouldn't appropriate Mexican culture, to which he responds, speaking in the third person: ''Mike wears whatever he wants.''
His friends in the background can be heard saying: ''This is retarded'' and ''They [Danique and other students nearby] want to act morally superior to you.''
When he is asked later on if he knows the history of Cinco de Mayo, he responds: ''I don't care! I'm here to have fun. I'm celebrating because I'm having fun with my friends.''
Speaking to The Tab, Danique said: ''I was walking out my residence hall to the main building. We passed each other on the ramp. I asked if he's Mexican and we had the conversation that's in the video. At the end of it, he still didn't get it. The individual nearby commended him for being friendly. So I posted the video the next day.''
Discussing what motivated her to call Michael out, she explained: ''I think the guy in the video was the tipping point. A lot of people were dressed worse than him [that day]. My friend saw a guy on the bus with a teardrop on his face, dressed as a Mexican gangster. People were dressed up, drunk in class, vomiting in class. The school encourages this behavior with a cookout. People were giving out t-shirts saying 'Cinco De Drinko' on them.''
Danique pointed out the school has yet to email the school community about the incident, despite the number of messages sent to the administration.
Explaining the response to her post, she said: ''There's students from other colleges who have reached out about their experiences on their campus with dealing on cultural appropriation. Grown adults have asked me questions and thanked me for bringing this to attention.''
In terms of negative comments, Danique said: ''People have called me the b-word, the c-word, the n-word, and that I should go die. I laughed.''
So would she do it again? ''Hell yes! I'll do it right now.''
In a separate post on Facebook, Danique called on the university to respond:
''For an institution that claims it encourages diversity, where were you yesterday when we needed you the most? Why do you encourage us to come here? Yet were forced to defend our existence every day on this campus. I was utterly disgusted with students who chose to demean and appropriate Mexican culture. I walked on campus miserable as if I didn't belong. As a black woman, I was forced to become the very thing society deemed me to be; angry. What do we have to do for you to hear us? Are we not loud enough? To my Mexican brothers and sisters, I am sorry. Sorry Us wildcats let y'all down. Sorry this institution failed to protect you. Please know that you are loved. UNH I need you to open your eyes. Our home is broken. For the outsiders looking in, here's what yesterday looked like on this campus.''
Read an extract of Danique and Michael's conversation belowMichael: ''My name is Michael, I am not making a racial statement. I'm celebrating a holiday and having fun. I'll say it to the camera. Everyone: I love every person, I love every color, no matter what they are. I am having fun, I'm celebrating.''
Danique: ''And I'm telling you this is not the appropriate way to celebrate a holiday.''
Michael: ''You're taking it a step too far and I think you're making too big of a deal about it.''
Danique: ''That's how you feel about it because you're not a part of that culture. This actually affects people's lives and I don't think you understand that.''
Michael: ''This poncho affects everyone's lives?''
Danique: ''It's about you wearing it, it's about you as a man, a white man, who has the most privilege in this whole country.''
VIDEO - The View: Hot Topics: Trump Fires FBI Director | Also Mayim Bialik interview - YouTube
Wed, 10 May 2017 21:59
VIDEO - Condoleezza Rice On Flynn, Putin's Role In 2016 Election | The View - YouTube
Wed, 10 May 2017 21:49
VIDEO - (1) Death of TV: ratings dropped 33% over past 4 years - YouTube
Wed, 10 May 2017 21:41
VIDEO - NBC Reporter Takes Maxine Waters to Task on Comey Hypocrisy | Need To Know Network
Wed, 10 May 2017 21:31
Even MSNBC's Peter Alexander was confused as to why Waters said James Comey had no credibility but thinks President Trump made the wrong decision.
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) said that she would have supported Hillary Clinton if she decided to fire James Comey but did not support President Trump's decision. Waters' reasoning made little sense to MSNBC's Peter Alexander, who had to ask Waters for clarification multiple times during an interview on MSNBC.
MSNBC played a clip from earlier this year when Waters said FBI Director Comey ''has no credibility'' following a closed-door session with him.
MSNBC's Peter Alexander asked Waters if she supports President Trump's decision to fire Comey, given that Waters had previously said she has no faith in Comey.
''No, I do not necessarily support the president's decision,'' Waters told Alexander, citing President Trump's praise for how Comey handled the investigation into Clinton's emails.
''But congresswoman, I understand in the past he was praising him, but if you said that FBI Director James Comey had no credibility, wouldn't you support the fact that the president '... made the decision to get rid of him?'' Alexander asked Waters.
Waters told Alexander that is not the case, because FBI Director Comey was investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, which Waters believes will lead to Trump's impeachment.
Alexander followed up by asking Waters if she thinks it would have been better to leave in place the FBI director, who Waters had previously said had no credibility, to conduct such an investigation.
Waters dodged the question, redirecting the conversation to how President Trump had said earlier he had confidence in Comey.
''But you said [Comey] had no credibility, so it would make sense that [Trump] get rid of him,'' Alexander pressed Waters.
''No,'' Waters responded, telling Alexander that President Trump's firing of Comey amounted to interference in an ongoing investigation.
Alexander then asked Waters if she thinks an FBI director with credibility would have been in a better position to pursue this investigation into Trump's campaign.
''I think if the president had fired him when he first came in, he would not have to be in a position now where he is trying to make up a story about why. It does not meet the smell test,'' Waters told Alexander.
Alexander then asked Waters if she would have recommended that Hillary Clinton fire James Comey, had Clinton won the election.
''Well, let me tell you something. If [Clinton] had won the White House, I believe that given what [Comey] did to her, and what he tried to do, she should have fired him. Yes,'' Waters responded forcefully.
''So [Clinton] should have fired [Comey], but [Trump] shouldn't have fired [Comey]?'' Alexander asked Waters. ''This is why I'm confused.''
''You're not confused,'' Waters responded.
Alexander said that he is confused, before Waters proceeded to give another confusing answer.
VIDEO - (1) Colbert audience cheers Comey firing, before he corrects them - YouTube
Wed, 10 May 2017 15:46
VIDEO - Fox News' Shepard Smith opens up about his sexuality - NY Daily News
Wed, 10 May 2017 14:58
Fox News anchor Shepard Smith is speaking out about coming out.
Smith, managing editor of the conservative network, revealed last month that while he always knew he was "different" than his peers growing up in Mississippi, he feels he never had the need to out himself - because he was never in.
"Someone asked me if Roger Ailes had been abusive to me, and I said, 'No. He was always good to me," and that was the truth," Smith said during a talk at the University of Mississippi's Meek School of Journalism, where he was once a student. "And when I told the truth, I guess it was considered that I outed myself. I didn't even think about it, because I didn't think I was in."
Smith was raised in Holly Springs, Mississippi, a conservative, religious town where he says boys wore "khaki shorts and starched white shirts, and we all do what everybody else does." It's this culture of conformity he credits for the delay in being able to "live his truth," which he says only began eight or nine years ago.
Hey, Shepard Smith, we already knew '-- and don't care
As his career blossomed, Smith says he took on more and more work and traveled often so as to not have to confront his inner turmoil, even skipping personal milestones like his sister's wedding.
"Other people needed to get home'... to their dog, or their children, or their wife, or their husband," he explained of his workaholic days. "And I didn't need to do that. I needed to sort of escape what my own reality might have been, because I wasn't answering my own questions, or even posing my own questions to myself about what it is that is different about me."
(Richard Drew/AP) While Smith accepted he was different, he had his reasons for attempting to avoid the subject.
"A. You're going to hell for it, B. You'll never have any friends again," he said. "C. What are you going to tell your family? And by the way, you're on television on the craziest conservative network on Earth. That will probably put you in front of a brick wall. Of course none of that was true, but that's how it felt."
Fox News big Ailes never stopped Shep Smith from coming out
Still, as a well-respected journalist, Smith knows a good scoop when he sees one. And as far as he's concerned, his sexuality remains a non-issue.
"I don't think about it. It's not a thing," he said. "I go to work. I manage a lot of people. I cover the news. I deal with holy hell around me. I go home to the man I'm in love with."
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VIDEO - Toobin: Trump Firing Comey 'A Grotesque Abuse Of Power' - YouTube
Wed, 10 May 2017 14:54
VIDEO - The Late Show on Twitter: "Tonight! Stephen reacts to the day's big surprise: the firing of James Comey by President Trump. #LSSC https://t.co/axuUmFLtSd"
Wed, 10 May 2017 14:20
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VIDEO - Trump accuses Cryin' Chuck Schumer of hypocrisy | Daily Mail Online
Wed, 10 May 2017 14:10
President Donald Trump has defended his sensational firing of FBI Director James Comey by mocking Senate minority leader 'cryin' Chuck Schumer.
Trump sent shockwaves through Washington when he dismissed Comey in a letter yesterday that read: 'You are hereby terminated and removed from office immediately.'
Comey, who was appointed in 2013, was dismissed after he provided false testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee about classified emails from Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin found on Anthony Weiner's computer.
It took little over an hour for Democrats, led by Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, to claim the firing was a cover-up attempt over Trump's alleged links to Russia.
Schumer said: 'Why did it happen today? We know the FBI had been looking into whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians '' a very serious offense. Were these investigations getting too close to home for the president?'
He then called on Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein to appoint a special prosecutor to look into ties to Russia, saying: 'America depends on you to restore faith in our criminal justice system which is going to be badly shattered after the administration's actions today.'
In a tweet Trump wrote: 'Cryin' Chuck Schumer stated recently, "I do not have confidence in him (James Comey) any longer." Then acts so indignant. #draintheswamp.'
Scroll down for video
President Donald Trump has defended his sensational firing of FBI Director James Comey by mocking Senate minority leader 'cryin' Chuck Schumer
Recommendation: Attorney General Jeff Sessions told the president it was time for Comey to go after his evidence that Huma Abedin forwarded hundreds or thousands of emails to her husband Anthony Weiner, some of them classified, was wrong
It's over: How the White House delivered the news just after 5.30pm on Tuesday
This defense came hours after Schumer claimed that he told the President that firing Comey was 'a very bad idea'.
However, as the President pointed out, Schumer has previously been outspoken in his criticism of Comey.
In November Schumer told Bloomberg: 'I do not have confidence in him any longer.'
He said then that he was incensed by Comey's decision to write to lawmakers with details about the investigation into Clinton's private email server, less than two weeks before the election.
That being said, in Schumer's press briefing, he didn't offer up any specific support for the former FBI director, he simply pointed out the convenient timing of the firing.
'Mistake': The White House put out a dossier which consisted of anti-Comey statements from Democrats including Senator Chuck Schumer - but Schumer said the president needed to now appoint a special prosecutor to look into the claims of collusion with the Russians
Comey, 56, was blindsided by being let go. He learned about it on live television screens he could see as he addressed agents in the Los Angeles field office, the New York Times reported.
Incredibly, he told the agents he thought it was a fairly funny prank until other members of his staff took him off stage and told him it was true, the paper said.
His motorcade was seen on a Los Angeles freeway after the firing as it made its way through slow-moving traffic to a chartered Gulfstream V, which Comey boarded at Hawthorne Municipal Airport just over three hours after his termination.
The president used the firing letter to boast that Comey had told him three times he was not under investigation - a reference to allegations being touted by his opponents that he somehow colluded with the Kremlin in its bid to bring down Hillary Clinton.
Clinton, who blamed Comey for costing her the election, said 'no comment' through an aide.
The White House's deputy press secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, claimed Clinton would have fired Comey as well.
She claimed Comey had 'lost the confidence of the rank and file within the FBI', as well as both sides of the political aisle.
But the Republican senator chairing the Intelligence Committee investigation into whether Russia hacked the election, Richard Burr, added to the questions over the sacking as he said: 'I am troubled by the timing and reasoning of Director Comey's termination.
Farewell: Comey was seen just over three hours after his firing as he shook hands with law enforcement officers in Los Angeles before boarding a private jet
Last gesture: Comey clapped the back of a uniformed officer as he prepared to board the jet which will fly him away from Los Angeles, where he was as the president fired him
Up in the air: Comey leaves public life effectively in disgrace after being fired by the president, boarding a chartered Gulfstream V at Hawthorne Municipal Airport in Los Angeles
On his way: In a bizarre spectacle, the ousted FBI director's motorcade was filmed on its way from the Los Angeles field office of the agency - caught in the city's notorious slow traffic
The FBI chief told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Abedin had made 'a regular practice' of forwarding 'hundreds and thousands' of Clinton-related emails to Weiner, 'some of which contain classified information'. But he was wrong - and is now being fired. Weiner is still being investigated by the FBI for sexting a 15-year-old girl
The firing happened in the late afternoon. White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters shortly after 5.30pm that 'the president has accepted the recommendation of the deputy attorney general and the attorney general regarding the dismissal of the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.'
A written statement from Spicer, sent minutes later, confirmed that Trump 'acted based on the clear recommendations of both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.'
Trump said: 'The FBI is one of our nation's most cherished and respected institutions and today will mark a new beginning for our crown jewel of law enforcement.'
Full court press: Trump's counselor Kellyanne Conway went on CNN three hours after the firing to defend the move and said: 'It's not a cover-up.'
How the news broke: Reporters at the White House were given copies of the press release and letter from the president just after 5.30pm, announcing Comey's sacking
Going into battle: Kellyanne Conway, Sean Spicer and Sarah Huckabee Sanders were all speaking outside the West Wing on Tuesday night to members of the media
WHAT NOW? THE CANDIDATES TIPPED TO SUCCEED COMEYWith James Comey ousted as FBI director, President Donald Trump has to select a replacement for a new 10-year term, and he is likely to reach outside the bureau to find someone to run the law enforcement agency.
Here are some possible candidates:
Rudy Giuliani
Rudi Giuliani has been linked with the vacant position, but his appointment is likely to be opposed by the Senate
The former New York mayor would be an attractive choice for Trump, as Giuliani was among his most vocal supporters during the presidential race and has a background in law enforcement.
However this loyalty would make his appointment unlikely, CNN reports, as he would be extremely unlikely to get the backing of the Senate.
He has been outspoken in his opposition to Hillary Clinton.
Ray Kelly
Ray Kelly, the longest-serving police commissioner in New York City, could be a natural ally of Attorney General Jeff Sessions
The longest-serving police commissioner in New York City, Kelly was in charge of the force in the years following 9/11, when terror threats were routine.
His tough-on-crime stance, including support for provocative tactics like stop-and-search, could make him a natural ally of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Mr Kelly defended a police operation, exposed by The Associated Press, that conducted secret surveillance of Muslims.
He could work with Trump and Sessions on anti-terrorism efforts.
Chris Christie
New Jersey governor Chris Christie has a mixed relationship with Trump, but could bring law enforcement experience to the job
Though his relationship with Trump has been mixed, the governor of New Jersey has known the president for years and could bring law enforcement experience to the job.
He is a former Republican-appointed United States attorney in New Jersey, and he cited that background time and again during his 2016 presidential campaign.
David Clarke
David Clarke has been a fierce Trump supporter and has described himself as 'one of those bare-knuckle fighters'
A wild-card, but the outspoken and polarising Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, sheriff has been a fierce supporter of Mr Trump and even landed a speaking spot at last summer's Republican National Convention.
A conservative firebrand known for his cowboy hat, Mr Clarke has called himself 'one of those bare-knuckles fighters' and has been critical of what he called the "hateful ideology" of the Black Lives Matters movement.
But he would be a long shot given that a county jury recently recommended criminal charges against seven Milwaukee County jail staffers over the dehydration death of an inmate who went without water for seven days.
Trey Gowdy
Trey Gowdy criticized Comey for not prosecuting Hillary Clinton over the email server investigation
The South Carolina Republican led the House committee investigation of former secretary of state Hillary Clinton's actions surrounding the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya.
Mr Gowdy is also a former federal prosecutor who boasts of his work on drug trafficking, bank robberies and child pornography cases.
He was among politicians critical of Mr Comey's decision not to prosecute Mrs Clinton over the email server investigation, saying other government officials would have been prosecuted if they handled classified information like she did.
Andrew McCabe
Andrew McCabe was yesterday named Acting FBI Director by President Trump following Comey's dismissal
Appointed yesterday as Acting FBI director, McCabe has worked at the bureau for 21 years, having joined as a special agent in 1996.
He has expertise in counterterrorism and interrogation, but he is currently under review for his involvement in the Clinton scandal after his wife received funds from a close friend of Hillary for her political campaign in 2015.
Before McCabe was appointed as the Deputy Director of the FBI, his wife Jill McCabe ran as a Democrat for the Virginia stat senate in 2015. Her campaign received funds from the state Democratic Party and a political action committee run by Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe, a close friend of the Clintons.
He has, however, been part of the same investigation which Comey was fired for, and this is likely to work against him when Trump names his pick.
Spicer added that 'a search for a new permanent FBI Director will begin immediately.'
The president informed Comey of his sacking in writing, taking the opportunity to underscore that the decision had nothing to do with any ongoing probes involving him personally.
'While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau,' the letter read in part.
The FBI deputy director, Andrew McCabe, will act as leader until there is a permanent appointment confirmed by the Senate.
COMEY: NEW VICTIM OF CLINTON'S TOXIC EMAIL SCANDALMarch 2015 : It becomes publicly known that Hillary Clinton, during her tenure as United States Secretary of State, had used her family's private email server for official communications and FBI opened investigation.
May 2016: The State Department's Office of the Inspector General released an 83-page report about the State Department's email practices, including Clinton's.
July 2016: FBI director James Comey announces the bureau's investigation had concluded that Clinton was 'extremely careless' in handling her email system but recommended that no charges be filed against her. Two days later the State Department reopens its probe into the email controversy.
September 2016 : DailyMail.com reveals Huma Abedin's husband Anthony Weiner has sexted a 15-year-old girl. The FBI investigates Weiner, already known as a sexting-addicted pervert, for sexual contact with a minor
October 2016 : Eleven days before the election, Comey notifies Congress the FBI is reopening the case due to emails found on a laptop used by Weiner including some from Abedin's Clintonemail.com address
November 2016 : Comey notifies Congress the conclusion that Clinton is in the clear is unchanged - but day slater she loses the election. Democrats blame Comey.
April 2017 : Clinton surfaces to explicitly blame Comey, Russia and misogyny for her loss.
May 2017: Comey 'misspeaks' in Senate testimony, saying Abedin sent hundreds or thousands of emails to her husband. In fact she only sent the pervert a handful.
9 May: Comey is dramatically fired with immediate effect by the president.
The sacking is the latest twist in the astonishing chain of events set off by Clinton deciding to use a private server while she was Secretary of State.
Last week Comey was questioned under oath about why he had written a letter to members of Congress at the end of October revealing a renewed investigation into Clinton's handling of classified emails.
In his sworn testimony, Comey told senators that Abedin, a former top Hillary Clinton aide and Weiner's estranged wife, made 'a regular practice' of forwarding 'hundreds and thousands' of emails to her husband, 'some of which contain classified information.'
But the Justice Department sent the Judiciary Committee a letter late on Tuesday acknowledging that Comey's statement was inaccurate.
Spicer had punted earlier in the day when he was asked whether Comey's job was secure.
'I haven't asked him,' he said then. 'I have not asked the president since the last time we spoke about this.'
The FBI is also probing Comey's controversial decision to notify lawmakers just before the election that his team was re-examining its investigation into Clinton's emails by looking into messages found on Weiner's laptop.
The letter is viewed by many as costing Clinton the election, since she lost to Trump by less than a single percentage point in key swing states after polling indicated she was well in front of her opponent before the the late move.
Rosenstein told the president in writing on Tuesday: 'I cannot defend the Director's handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton's emails.'
And Sessions wrote Trump in a letter: 'I have concluded that a fresh start is needed at the leadership of the FBI.'
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway pushed back on questions about Trump's praise for Comey's actions with respect to the Clinton investigation during the campaign as she began a White House spin assault three hours after the sacking.
'I think you're looking at the wrong set of facts here,' she told Anderson Cooper on CNN. 'In other words, you're going back to the campaign. This man is the president of the United States. He acted decisively today. He took the recommendation of his deputy attorney general,' Conway said.
'He has lost confidence in the FBI director and he took the recommendation of Rod Rosenstein,' she said, reading from Rosenstein's letter.
Asked about Senate Intelligence chair Burr's statement that he was troubled by the firing, Conway pushed back.
'So the same senators that just voted to confirm this man whose integrity in doubt 94 to 6 two short weeks ago. We're supposed to believe the derogatory descriptions you just made of him?' she asked.
Countering Schumer's claim of a cover-up, she said: 'He's wrong. It's not a cover-up.'
'In fact the president makes very clear in his letter the fact that Mr Comey on at least three occasions assured the president that he is not under investigation,' Conway continued, upping the ante on Trump's claim of three separate assurances.
Asked when Trump got the assurances, Conway said: 'That's between the president of the United States and Director Comey.
Spicer said just last Wednesday that the president had confidence in Comey, whom former president Barack Obama appointed to a ten-year term.
Taunt: John Podesta, who could have been a senior government figure if Clinton had won after being campaign chair, rushed to twist the knife on deposed James Comey
The end: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein delivered the fatal blow to Comey. He was away from the Washington D.C. headquarters of the FBI, visiting its field office in Los Angeles and had been due to speak at a recruitment event at the Directors Guild of America building.
Fired: James Comey is being fired with immediate effect after he misled the Senate on how classified emails ended up on pervert Anthony Weiner's computer. This was the Wednesday May 3 testimony which cost him his career
But Trump had launched into a Twitter tirade against the FBI chief in the immediate wake of his testimony last week - and there were claims that the sacking had been under consideration for days, before the Abedin testimony.
'FBI Director Comey was the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton in that he gave her a free pass for many bad deeds!' Trump had tweeted.
Spicer told reporters then: 'The president has confidence in the director.'
Testifying about the Clinton email controversy, Comey told Senators his agents uncovered 'hundreds of thousands' of emails on the laptop of disgraced ex-Rep. Weiner that Abedin has forwarded her now-estranged husband so he could print them out for her.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYINGThe sacking of the FBI Director sent shockwaves through politics.
'Today will mark a new beginning for our crown jewel of law enforcement'
- President Donald Trump
No comment
- Hillary Clinton's aide
'Why did it happen today? We know the FBI had been looking into whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians '' a very serious offense. Were these investigations getting too close to home for the president?'
- Senator Chuck Schumer, Democratic Minority Leader
'I am troubled by the timing and reasoning of Director Comey's termination. I have found Director Comey to be a public servant of the highest order, and his dismissal further confuses an already difficult investigation by the Committee.'
- Senator Richard Burr, Republican chair of Intelligence Committee
'This didn't work out well for Nixon. And it won't for @realDonaldTrump--or the country'
- David Axelrod, ex-Obama aide
'I have deep respect for James Comey. This is a loss to the FBI and the nation.'
- James Clapper, former director of national intelligence
'While the President has the legal authority to remove the Director of the FBI, I am disappointed in the President's decision to remove James Comey from office'
- John McCain, Republican senator
But he - fatally - misspoke.
Gregory A. Brower, the FBI's assistant director in the Office of Congressional Affairs, wrote to the Judiciary Committee Tuesday afternoon to 'clarify' Comey's testimony about Abedin's role in allowing classified material to find its way to her husband's computer. Minutes after his letter emerged, his boss was fired.
Most of the 'hundreds and thousands' of emails, Brower wrote, were there as a result of backups of other devices '' and not manually sent by Abedin.
Only 'two e-mail chains containing classified information were manually forwarded to Mr. Weiner's account,' he wrote.
Ten additional email chains contained classified material '' all part of device backups '' and 'all twelve' had already been reviewed by the FBI.
That was the fatal blow which ended Comey's service just three years into a ten-year term he was given by President Obama. He is only the second FBI director to be fired - the first was Williams Sessions, terminated by Bill Clinton over alleged improper use of an FBI plane and other questions over his spending.
Trump's historic move spread a firestorm through politics and immediately showed up fault lines in his own party.
The most worrying reaction for the White House to the firing will be that of Burr, the Republican North Carolina senator who chairs the Intelligence Committee.
In a strongly-worded statement he said: 'I am troubled by the timing and reasoning of Director Comey's termination.
'I have found Director Comey to be a public servant of the highest order, and his dismissal further confuses an already difficult investigation by the Committee.
'In my interactions with the Director and with the Bureau under his leadership, he and the FBI have always been straightforward with our Committee.
'Director Comey has been more forthcoming with information than any FBI Director I can recall in my tenure on the congressional intelligence committees. His dismissal, I believe, is a loss for the Bureau and the nation.'
The possibility of a Republican backlash does not appear to have been foreseen by the White House, which consciously reached out to Democrats before the firing.
The president personally called a series of Democratic senators to tell them Comey was gone - apparently before Comey himself knew.
The first to announce she had been told by Trump was Senator Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.
'President Trump called me at 5:30 p.m. and indicated he would be removing Director Comey, saying the FBI needed a change,' Feinstein said in a statement.
'The next FBI director must be strong and independent and will receive a fair hearing in the Judiciary Committee.'
The Trump administration distributed a one-page summary to reporters that it called 'additional background information and context' about the surprising personnel change.
It consisted of anti-Comey statements from Democrats including Sen. Chuck Schumer, the minority leader and the party's most senior election figure, who said last Wednesday of the FBI Director: 'I do not have confidence in him any longer.'
The supplemental information also cited an editorial in the Wall Street Journal that '[t]he best service Mr. Comey can render his country now is to resign.'
But Schumer emerged less than two hours after the firing to issue a broadside over it - and to reveal he too had been phoned by the President to be told the news.
He said the firing would lead to the belief Trump was engaging in a cover-up of alleged collusion with Russia in the run-up to the election.
Schumer said Trump had called him in the afternoon.
'I said, 'Mr President with all due respect you are making a very big mistake'. And he didn't really answer,' he said.
He added that unless there was a special prosecutor appointed: 'Are people going to suspect cover-up? Absolutely.'
HERO TO ZERO: FIRED FBI BOSS ENDED UP HATED BY EVERYONEAttorney General James Comey sealed a reputation as a brave and principled actor after a 2004 standoff during the Bush administration, when he refused White House efforts to get him to reauthorize warrantless eavesdropping while Attorney General John Ashcroft was hospitalized.
Comey had been appointed deputy attorney general by President George W. Bush, having served as a U.S. attorney in New York under Rudy Giuliani in New York.
With Ashcroft incapacitated, Bush administration officials wanted Ashcroft, and then Comey, to sign off on an extension of the authority, with just hours to go before an N.S.A. program expired. Comey refused.
His stand was a major reason why President Obama nominated him to be head of the FBI in 2013. Obama hailed Comey as a person of 'fierce independence and deep integrity' as he nominated him for the FBI post, which carries a 10-year term.
A devout Catholic, a registered Republican and a former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, he seemed to radiate independence from the Democratic machine.
And many congressional Democrats became far less supportive of Comey after the 2016 presidential election.
Obama's man: Republican James Comey was chosen by the Democratic president for his principled stand but ended up in the words of one senator as 'as popular as cholera'
Led by defeated candidate Hillary Clinton, many have griped about Comey's handling of the Clinton email scandal.
On July 5th, 2016, Comey personally announced the FBI's decision not to charge Clinton in connection with its investigation of her private email server and handling of classified material. He nevertheless called her conduct 'extremely careless.'
Then on October 28, he told lawmakers the bureau was reviewing newly discovered emails in connection to the investigation. The FBI had uncovered thousands of emails on disgraced ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner's laptop that had been sent to his wife, longtime Clinton aide Huma Abedin.
Comey drew the Democrats' ire once again when he announced two days before the election that the investigation hadn't turned up anything to alter the decision not to prosecute. Clinton said it only made matters worse and stole headlines.
In the congressional hearing where he made inaccurate statements about about Abedin's emails, Democrats grilled Comey about why he had not revealed the existence of an ongoing investigation into alleged Russian election interference. Comey said the FBI 'didn't say a word about' the Russia investigation until months into, whereas he had testified under oath about the existence of the Clinton investigation.
In a sign of the Democrats' belief that they can make the Comey firing a damaging issue for Trump and the Republicans, he said: 'The American people need to have faith that an investigation as serious as this one is being conducted impartially without a shred of bias.
'The only way the American people can have faith in this investigation is for it to be led by a fearless, independent special prosecutor.'
He also contradicted the White House over his backing for the move, which was implied in their dossier.
'I never called on the president to fire Director Comey,' he said.
'If the administration had objections to the way Director Comey handled the Clinton investigation, they had those objections the minute the president got into office.
'But they didn't fire him then. Why did it happen today? We know the House is investigating Russian interference in our elections that benefited the Trump campaign.
'We know the Senate is investigating. We know the FBI had been looking into whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians '' a very serious offense. Were these investigations getting too close to home for the president?'
He also opened another line of attack, this time over the role of sessions, saying: 'It is troubling that Attorney General Sessions, who had recused himself from the Russian investigation, played a role in firing the man leading it.'
Clinton, however, refused to get involved. A spokesman told CNN the 2016 loser 'has no comment at this time'.
However John Podesta, who served as Clinton's campaign chairman in 2016, snarked on Twitter that Trump was in fact under an FBI microscope.
Meet the new boss - Clinton-tainted like the old one: Andrew McCabe who will head the FBI until a permanent replacement is found had oversight of the Clinton email probe. His wife received cash for her Democratic political campaign from a close friend of the Clintons who directed it from a fundraising effort which Hillary Clinton had aided by turning up for an event
Critical questions: The White House will be troubled by the reaction of Senator Richard Burr, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, who said it complicated his investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election. Loser Hillary Clinton has still to react to Comey's sacking.
'Didn't you know you're supposed to wait til Saturday night to massacre people investigating you?' he asked in a tweet - a reference to President Nixon's notorious mass firings during Watergate.
Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Judiciary Committee member, said in a statement that 'while the White House is under investigation by the FBI, firing the head of the FBI raises massive questions, and the Senate should get to the bottom of it.'
Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen tweeted that '[f]iring Comey has the foul stench of an attempt to stop an ongoing investigation into collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.'
Oregon Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkeley insisted that the vacancy at the top of the FBI was a clear signal that Republicans should appoint an independent investigator to probe alleged ties between Trumpworld and Russia.
'In case the need for an independent special prosecutor to investigate #TrumpRussia ties wasn't clear enough already ... it sure is now,' Merkeley tweeted.
Former senior Barack Obama aide David Axelrod used his Twitter account to compare Trump's decision on Tuesday with former president Richard Nixon's 1973 'Saturday Night Massacre' '' when Nixon fired an independent special prosecutor along with the attorney general and his deputy.
NEW CHIEF G-MAN WAS ALSO CAUGHT UP IN CLINTON SCANDALJames Comey's deputy, Andrew McCabe, will take over the law enforcement agency.
McCabe's wife is a Democrat who ran for the state senate in 2015 in Virginia, before he was promoted to the FBI's No. 2 position.
Terry McAullife, the Virginia governor and a close friend of both the Clintons, directed $675,000 Jill McCabe's way for her campaign.
The Virginia governor's political action committee, Common Good VA, spent $467,000 on her losing campaign. The state Democratic Party gave her nearly $208,000.
A month before McAullife's PAC made its first donation to McCabe, Hillary Clinton headlined a fundraiser for the group.
As deputy director of the FBI, it was McCabe who oversaw the investigation into Clinton's secret server, as well as the bureau's investigations into alleged terrorists and spies.
He is under review by an inspector general for his involvement in the Clinton case, in light of his wife's ties to the former presidential candidate.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, the Republican chairman of the Senate's Judiciary Committee, also asked the FBI in a March letter about McCabe's role in the Russian probe and whether it 'raises the appearance a conflict of interest in light of his wife's ties with Clinton's associates.'
The Republican lawmaker asked Comey if McCabe would be recusing himself from that investigation, suggesting in the letter that McCabe faces a possible conflict of interest.
'This didn't work out well for Nixon. And it won't for @realDonaldTrump--or the country,' Axelrod wrote.
And an ex-Clinton aide suggested it was part of a vast Russian conspiracy.
'This is not on the up and up,' said Brian Fallon, the 2016 loser's ex-press secretary.
'All these months later it still stands out that Director Comey's handling of the Clinton email investigation was a travesty.
'But the timing and the nature of this firing that the Trump administration is announcing now belies any possible explanation that this has anything to do with the Clinton investigation. It is clearly and act by a president who is feeling the heat from the FBI's ongoing Russia investigation.'
Robbie Mook, who had been Clinton's campaign manager, did not applaud the move that ousted the man she now says was - at least in part - her nemesis.
'Twilight zone. I was as disappointed and frustrated as anyone at how the email investigation was handled. But this terrifies me,' Mook said on Twitter.
Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, another Democrat, piled on the Tricky Dick comparisons.
'The President has removed the sitting FBI Director in the midst of one of the most critical national security investigations in the history of our country '' one that implicates senior officials in the Trump campaign and administration,' Leahy said.
'This is nothing less than Nixonian.'
Critics of President Trump's firing were quick to invoke Richard Nixon's infamous 'Saturday Night Massacre,' where the embattled president fired special prosecutor Archibald Cox and accepted the resignations of the two top Justice Department officials.
The sensational Oct. 20th, 1973 incident occurred as Cox was probing the Watergate scandal and cover-up and clashing with the White House over previously secret tape recordings.
First, Nixon ordered his attorney general, Elliot Richardson, to fire Cox. Richardson refused and resigned his post. Then Nixon ordered deputy attorney general William Ruckelshaus to fire Cox. Ruckelshaus also refused. Solicitor General Robert Bork then became attorney general, and went along with Nixon's demand.
FBI agents immediately sealed off the offices of Cox, Richardson, and Ruckelshaus after the firings.
How the Republicans deal with the sensational move remains to be seen.
The Senate must approve anyone the president selects to replace Comey. To be confirmed, nominees need only a bare majority of lawmakers to vote for them following a rule change that took place when Democrats were in power.
Republicans hold 52 seats in the Senate and can use the vice president as a tie-breaker if they need to, meaning that Trump's nominee is all but assured to be approved.
Trump called Sen. Lindsey Graham, who is leading a Senate subcommittee probe of Russian interference, 'literally minutes' before he sacked Comey, his spokesman told the Post and Courier.
Been here before? Democrats rushed to compare firing Comey to Richard Nixon's Saturday Night Massacre - but the only previous firing of an FBI director was of William Sessions (right) in 1993 - by Bill Clinton. Sessions was let go for using an FBI plane for private visits
Graham released a statement backing up the decision.
'I know this was a difficult decision for all concerned. I appreciate Director Comey's service to our nation in a variety of roles,' said Graham, who clashed with Trump during the campaign and probed his alleged Russia ties this week.
PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON'S 'SATURDAY NIGHT MASSACRE' Following the President's firing of FBI Director James Comey, who was the head of the investigation into collusion between Trump's administration and Russia, some were quick to ask whether or not this would be his 'Saturday Night Massacre'.
In 1973, President Richard Nixon also fired the official responsible for investigating potential wrongdoing in his administration.
On October 20, 1973, President Nixon fired independent special prosecutor Archibald Cox, who was head of the investigation into the Watergate Scandal.
His firing lead to the resignations of Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus.
That Saturday night, news broadcast networks turned their airtime over to the 'firestorm' and 'constitutional crisis.'
The pushback against these firings was so significant that Nixon was forced to name a new special prosecutor, Texas lawyer Leon Jaworski.
The story then played out over the next 10 months, ending when a unanimous Supreme Court forced Nixon to hand over the tapes.
Their contents proved the cover-up that led to Nixon's eventual resignation.
'Given the recent controversies surrounding the director, I believe a fresh start will serve the FBI and the nation well. I encourage the President to select the most qualified professional available who will serve our nation's interests,' Graham said.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, the committee's Republican chairman, said in his own statement that '[t]he handling of the Clinton email investigation is a clear example of how Comey's decisions have called into question the trust and political independence of the FBI.'
'In my efforts to get answers, the FBI, under Comey's leadership, has been slow or failed to provide information that Comey himself pledged to provide,' he added.
'The effectiveness of the FBI depends upon the public trust and confidence. Unfortunately, this has clearly been lost.'
There were also the first signs of a split among Republicans over the firing as John McCain, the senator who has long been a Trump critic, declined to back the move and said there needed to be a special committee to investigate the Russia questions.
'While the President has the legal authority to remove the Director of the FBI, I am disappointed in the President's decision to remove James Comey from office,' he said,
'James Comey is a man of honor and integrity, and he has led the FBI well in extraordinary circumstances.
'I have long called for a special congressional committee to investigate Russia's interference in the 2016 election. The president's decision to remove the FBI Director only confirms the need and the urgency of such a committee.'
His tribute was one of the few made in Washington to Comey - who had been described last week as 'as about as popular as cholera' by one senator- although the former director of national intelligence, James Clapper, did come to his aid.
Clapper, who has testified frequently alongside Comey and appeared on Capitol Hill Monday, backed up his counterpart, telling CNN: 'I have deep respect for James Comey. This is a loss to the FBI and the nation.'
VIDEO - FLASHBACK 2015: Mike Flynn's Much-Discussed Guest Appearances On 'Russia Today' | Video | RealClearPolitics
Wed, 10 May 2017 14:08
Soon after being fired by President Obama from the position of Director of National Intelligence in October 2015, Lr. Gen. Mike Flynn appeared on Russia's English-language TV news station 'Russia Today.' A few months later in December 2015, Flynn appeared for a longer public interview (below)
Related Video: Mike Flynn on al-Jazeera: The Rise Of ISIS Was A "Willful Decision" Of US Government
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Tue, 09 May 2017 16:42
VIDEO - Trump's FCC Chair Declares New War on Net Neutrality After 10-Year Battle for Free & Open Internet | Democracy Now!
Tue, 09 May 2017 15:34
You turn to Democracy Now! for ad-free news you can trust. Maybe you come for our daily headlines. Maybe you come for in-depth stories that expose government and corporate abuses of power. Democracy Now! covers emerging threats to immigrant rights, civil rights, healthcare, the environment, press freedom and education. Democracy Now! is always free'--you'll never hit a paywall. And we produce our daily news hour at a fraction of the budget of a commercial news operation, all without ads, government funding or corporate underwriting. How is this possible? Only with your support. If you and every visitor to our website this month gave just $8, it would cover our basic operating costs for the year. Right now, a generous donor will double your donation to Democracy Now! Pretty exciting, right? So, if you've been waiting to make your contribution to Democracy Now!, today is your day. Please do your part. It takes just a few minutes to make sure that Democracy Now! is there for you and everybody else.
We rely on contributions from you, our viewers and listeners to do our work. If you visit us daily or weekly or even just once a month, now is a great time to make your monthly contribution.
Please do your part today.
VIDEO - Google Redefines ''Fascism'', 1613 - YouTube
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Mon, 08 May 2017 19:22
VIDEO - NBC News: Hillary Clinton 'Covered Up' Pedophile Ring At State Department - Your News Wire
Mon, 08 May 2017 12:47
An NBC news report claims that Hillary Clinton, while secretary of state, shut down an investigation into an elite pedophile ring in State Department ranks in order to avoid scandal and protect the careers of high ranking officials and an ambassador.
The NBC investigation was broadcast at a time when they were a real news organization rather than a branch of the Democratic Party's PR department, and provided internal State Department memos to back up claims of a massive Hillary Clinton elite pedophile ring cover-up.
''Serious allegations concerning the State Department,'' the NBC anchor announced, before launching into the disturbing details that mainstream media would be unable to report on in 2017.
''According to internal State Department memos the agency might have called off or intervened into investigations into possibly illegal, inappropriate behavior within it's ranks allegedly to protect jobs and avoid scandals.
''This concerns a time when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state.''
''There is an old saying in Washington that the cover-up is worse than the crime. But in this case both parts of it are disturbing,'' Chuck Todd continued.
''Allegations of prostitution and pedophilia, and allegations that those crimes were somehow covered up or not looked into. So the State Department this morning is having to respond to those claims, and those investigations involve misconduct by State Department officials, including an Ambassador and security agents attached to then secretary of state, Hillary Clinton.
''The allegations are that these investigations were whitewashed, quashed altogether, and that those orders came from high up.''
''NBC has obtained documents relating to ongoing investigations into some disturbing allegations involving State Department personnel and at least one ambassador. A State Department memo says, quote, ''the Ambassador routinely ditched his protective security detail in order to solicit sexual favors from both prostitutes and minor children.
''The memo also says a top State Department official directed State Department investigators to ''cease the investigation'' into the ambassador's conduct.'' It's just one of what another document describes as ''several examples of undue influence'' from top State Department officials.''
Elite pedophile ring
In contrast to Clinton's cover-up, President Trump has announced a federal investigation into the elite pedophile scandal involving human trafficking earlier this month and promised to help put an end to the ''horrific, really horrific crimes taking place.''
The president held a short, dramatic press conference after meeting with human trafficking experts to announce that he will direct ''the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies'' to devote more resources and personnel to the investigation.
Appearing at the press conference for less than two minutes, President Trump said that the issue has been on the radar of federal government ''for some time'' but since taking office in January the investigation has become ''much more focused.''
''It has been much more focused over the last four weeks, I can tell you that.''
Baxter DmitryBaxter Dmitry is a writer at Your News Wire. He covers politics, business and entertainment. Speaking truth to power since he learned to talk, Baxter has travelled in over 80 countries and won arguments in every single one. Live without fear.Email: baxter@yournewswire.com
Follow: @baxter_dmitry
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