Saturday, September 16, 2017

Let's Take a Moment to Remember Trump's Monstrous Response to the 9/11 Attacks @alternet

Let's Take a Moment to Remember Trump's Monstrous Response to the 9/11 Attacks @alternet:

"Donald Trump has never been one to let empathy or human decency get in the way of self-aggrandizement and self-interest—even in the face of tragedy. On September 11, 2001, as the world was trying to make sense of the World Trade Center attacks, Trump spoke live via phone with the anchors from local television station WWOR. When asked if his property at 40 Wall Street had been damaged, Trump used the moment to revel in the fact that the collapse of the Twin Towers meant his building was now the tallest in downtown Manhattan. “Forty Wall street actually was the second-tallest building in downtown Manhattan, and it was actually before the World Trade Center the tallest, and then when they built the World Trade Center it became known as the second-tallest, and now it’s the tallest,” Trump said, apropos of nothing. “And I just spoke to my people, and they said it’s the most unbelievable sight, it’s probably seven or eight blocks away from the World Trade Center, and yet Wall Street is littered with two feet of stone and brick and mortar and steel.” Snopes points out that the perverse boast wasn’t even true, but if the last five years have taught us anything, it's that Trump has never had much use for objective reality."

Donald Trump White House Aides Lawyer-Up In Face Of Robert Mueller Query

FBI investigating Russian news agency Sputnik

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/9/11/1697742/-FBI-investigating-Russian-news-agency-Sputnik
"The probe into Russia's effort to infiltrate and influence the U.S. political system has deepened, Yahoo News reports with the FBI now investigating the Russian news agency Sputnik, to determine if it is "acting as an undeclared propaganda arm of the Kremlin in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)." As part of the probe, Yahoo News has learned, the bureau has obtained a thumb drive containing thousands of internal Sputnik emails and documents — material that could potentially help prosecutors build a case that the news agency played a role in the Russian government “influence campaign” that was waged during last year’s presidential election and, in the view of U.S. intelligence officials, is still ongoing. The emails were turned over by Andrew Feinberg, the news agency’s former White House correspondent, who had downloaded the material onto his laptop before he was fired in May. He confirmed to Yahoo News that he was questioned for more than two hours on Sept. 1 by an FBI agent and a Justice Department national security lawyer at the bureau’s Washington field office."

Trump’s White House Lawyer Has Lawyered Up As Obstruction Of Justice Investigation Gets Hot

http://www.politicususa.com/2017/09/10/trumps-white-house-lawyer-lawyered-obstruction-justice-investigation-hot.html
"Donald Trump’s White House legal counsel has hired a lawyer as Special Counsel Robert Mueller wants to know what he knew about why Trump fired James Comey."

Saturday, September 9, 2017

The Post-Paris Path Forward

Miami Must Deal With Climate Change "Reality"

Barbuda, Destroyed By Irma, Faces Jose Next

Texas will—and should—get its federal disaster aid. And then it will keep posturing about secession.

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/9/6/1696408/-Texas-will-and-should-get-its-federal-disaster-aid-And-then-it-will-keep-posturing-about-secession
"After Sandy devastated New York and New Jersey, more than 20 Texas Republicans in Congress voted against aid. That’s after Texas has benefited again and again—as it will benefit this time—from federal disaster funding and from federal money in general: Despite the pervasive anti-Washington rhetoric, Texas relies heavily on the federal government. About 32 percent of the state government’s revenue is federal money, according to an analysis of data from fiscal year 2014 performed by the Tax Foundation. From 1953 to 2011, Texas received 86 major-disaster declarations, the most of any state, according to a 2012 report by the Congressional Research Service. Robert M. Stein, a political science professor at Rice University, said that “most Texans believe they send more tax dollars to Washington than they receive back,” though, in fact, the reverse is true. But here’s the thing: Texas will keep getting federal aid because the United States as a nation is better and more generous than Texas. And that’s the way it should be. The way we should be."

Relentless wildfires threaten supplies of drinking water in western U.S.

https://thinkprogress.org/relentless-western-wildfires-e6acdf241a53/
"Wildfires fueled by dry weather and scorching temperatures have smothered parts of the western United States in smoky, ashy air, forcing communities to take measures to protect their drinking water supplies. Earlier this week, at least 81 large fires were raging across 1.5 million acres of the West, from Colorado to California and north to Washington. North of the border in Canada, British Columbia has already had an “unprecedented” fire season."

Robert Mueller Turns Attention To White House Staff

This state’s GOP doesn’t want you to have hurricane aid — but took $123M from tax payers for crop insurance

This state’s GOP doesn’t want you to have hurricane aid — but took $123M from tax payers for crop insurance

"Indiana Republicans said no. Not if it will add to the deficit. But when it comes to what those same Republicans are willing to authorize for their own state, they couldn’t care less about the deficit. According to the 2014 budgets, Indiana scores $10 billion in federal aid each year. Of that, $123 million goes to pay for farmers to have crop insurance, in case natural disasters kill their corn. Approximately, one-third of Indiana’s budget comes from the federal government, contributing to the overall U.S. deficit. Indiana is one of the top 10 states in the country that make more money from the federal government than they give back. Those Republican leaders seem willing to accept the money when it’s for them."

Scott Pruitt Has EPA Ignoring Its Mission When We Need It Most

https://www.commondreams.org/views/2017/09/06/scott-pruitt-has-epa-ignoring-its-mission-when-we-need-it-most
"At a time when we’re all still thinking of Hurricane Harvey’s survivors (and donating to their recovery efforts), Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt continues to steer his agency off a cliff by ignoring its mission and putting people at risk: An Associated Press story broke over the weekend demonstrating that the agency hadn’t been on site at the many toxic sites affected by Harvey around Houston. Pruitt and an EPA spokesperson’s response? They attacked the reporter who wrote the story, instead of responding to the real issue of actually showing up to the toxic sites for monitoring. Striking a similar tone, when asked to comment on how climate change is making these storms worse, his EPA attacked climate scientists - the very people we’re all counting on to help us understand these disasters - accusing them of “an attempt to politicize an ongoing tragedy.” Pruitt’s latest bad moves add to an unfortunately already long list of steps he’s taken that make me fear for the “protection” part of the Environmental Protection Agency. We also learned last week that there are now some political strings attached to receiving any grants from the EPA. From a Washington Post story: The Environmental Protection Agency has taken the unusual step of putting a political operative in charge of vetting the hundreds of millions of dollars in grants the EPA distributes annually, assigning final funding decisions to a former Trump campaign aide with little environmental policy experience. On top of that, Pruitt is now under investigation for his frequent travels on the taxpayer’s dime back to his home state of Oklahoma: In late July, the watchdog group Environmental Integrity Project said travel records from a Freedom of Information Act request show that Pruitt spent 48 of 92 days in March, April and May traveling -- including 43 days on trips that included stops in his home state of Oklahoma."

Irma: The Best And Worst Case Scenario

GOP again moves to help keep Trump’s tax returns secret

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/gop-again-moves-help-keep-trumps-tax-returns-secret
"congressional Republicans are still taking steps to keep the president’s tax returns hidden, even from Congress. Polls show strong public support for Trump disclosing the materials, a related White House petition on the “We the People” website generated over 1 million signatures – making it the most successful petition in the history of the online project. Team Trump, to date, has not responded to the petition."

Maddow's breakdown on Facebook revelations and their ramifications for Jared Kushner are a must-see

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/9/8/1697043/-Maddow-s-breakdown-on-Facebook-revelations-and-their-ramifications-for-Jared-Kushner-are-a-must-see
"In July it was being reported that Jared Kushner was being investigated in connection to his work during the Trump campaign when Kushner headed the Trump “digital team.” The reason? Russia’s fake news infiltration seemed to benefit greatly from really precise targeting into districts and important areas of the electorate. Information that someone running a digital campaign team would have in spades."

Robert Mueller's Russia Investigation Targets Donald Trump Inner Circle

Maddow: Mike Pence’s long list of Russia lies lands him in Mueller’s crosshairs

Maddow: Mike Pence’s long list of Russia lies lands him in Mueller’s crosshairs

"Pence even said that Trump fired the FBI director because of the Justice Department recommendation, which we now also know is false because Pence was in the room when Trump read his letter explaining that he wanted to fire James Comey because of the Russia investigation."

The latest evolution in Trump Jr’s Russia scandal story

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/the-latest-evolution-trump-jrs-russia-scandal-story
"We know he was lying when he said he never met with Russians, just as we know he was lying when he said the meeting was about adoptions. Trump Jr’s latest pitch, however, is that he arranged a private meeting with Russians in the hopes of obtaining secret dirt on an American presidential candidate – which we’re all supposed to consider kosher since he was unimpressed with the quality of the dirt. In his mind, welcoming the campaign assistance of a foreign adversary, in secret, doesn’t really count as problematic."

New Russia Contact Revelations In Donald Trump Jr. Senate Interview

Donald Trump Jr.’s statement to Senate investigators is bad news for his dad

https://thinkprogress.org/donald-trump-jr-s-statement-to-senate-investigators-is-bad-news-for-his-dad-57b56eb0c7d3/
"Thursday’s statement underlines the fact that his initial statement, which was reportedly dictated by the president in July, was misleading and false. Special counsel Robert Mueller and his team, who are tasked with investigating any potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, are “keenly interested” in the president’s involvement in crafting the statement. This is of interest to the Mueller because Trump may have tried to “corruptly persuade” a witness into giving false testimony, which is a crime."

Mueller reportedly seeking to interview Trump's inner circle, family members included

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/9/8/1697113/-Mueller-reportedly-seeking-to-interview-Trump-s-inner-circle-family-members-included
"Each of the six advisers was privy to important internal discussions that have drawn the interest of Mueller’s investigators, including his decision in May to fire FBI Director James B. Comey and the White House’s initial inaction following warnings that then-national security adviser Michael Flynn had withheld information from the public about his private discussions in December with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, according to people familiar with the probe."

Amidst Hurricane, Donald Trump Jr. Puts Admin In Its Own Crisis

How Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump Have Restarted the War on Drugs @alternet

How Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump Have Restarted the War on Drugs @alternet:

"Appointing Sessions as attorney general “was like hosting a Confederate flag above the Department of Justice,” says Eugene Jarecki, a filmmaker who directed The House I Live In, an award-winning 2012 documentary about mass incarceration."

Plastic Water Bottles for Our National Parks; No Bikeshare Station at the White House: For Trump, No Obama-Era Environmental Innovation Is Too Small to Obliterate @alternet

Plastic Water Bottles for Our National Parks; No Bikeshare Station at the White House: For Trump, No Obama-Era Environmental Innovation Is Too Small to Obliterate @alternet:

"President Trump has made sweeping efforts to scrap Obama-era environmental protections, but the current administration's latest moves are oddly specific. The National Park Service (NPS) announced Wednesday that it has rescinded the 2011 "Water Bottle Ban" that allowed parks to prohibit the sale of disposable plastic water bottles. That same day, news emerged that the Trump administration removed a nine-slot Capital Bikeshare station at the White House that was requested and installed during the Obama years and used by staffers. The NPS said that the bottled water ban "removed the healthiest beverage choice at a variety of parks while still allowing sales of bottled sweetened drinks." Revocation of the 2011 memorandum is effective immediately. "While we will continue to encourage the use of free water bottle filling stations as appropriate, ultimately it should be up to our visitors to decide how best to keep themselves and their families hydrated during a visit to a national park, particularly during hot summer visitation periods," acting NPS director Michael T. Reynolds explained. According to the Wilderness Society, 23 national parks had adopted the policy, including Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Zion National Park. The group said the Water Bottle Ban—an effort under President Obama's Green Parks Plan to promote the use of tap water and refillable bottles on federal lands—helped parks "simultaneously reduce park waste and carbon emissions." But as the San Francisco Chronicle reported, the water bottle ban was opposed by the beverage industry that had long lobbied to change the policy."

Reversing Denials, Facebook Admits Russia-Tied Election Ad Buy

Trump admin cancels local hiring plan for public works projects

http://thehill.com/policy/transportation/348012-trump-admin-cancels-local-hiring-plan-for-public-works-projects
"The Trump administration is abandoning an Obama-era plan to ensure local hiring for public works projects, according to a new report. The New York Times reported on Friday that the Department of Transportation will withdraw the plan, which was proposed in 2015 and was supposed to take effect Friday. The initiative would have allowed cities to ensure local residents get to work on federally funded public works projects. The move appears to be part of the White House’s ongoing push to slash federal regulations."

Trump’s Council on Environmental Quality has no members at all

https://thinkprogress.org/trump-environmental-council-no-members-9150716d23da/
"Though Trump ran on a platform of climate science denial, as a candidate he promised that he would “conserve our beautiful natural habitats” and “ensure clean air and clean water for all of our people.” To date, his environmental policy has been almost entirely one of deregulation. And by not having any council at all to recommend environmentally sound policies, the administration continues to display its profound lack of concern for environmental issues."

Lawrence: Hurricanes Show Government Is Critical In Times Of Crisis

The US coal industry is going out, not with a whimper, but with a burst of rent-seeking

https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2017/8/25/16201218/us-coal-industry-handouts
"The US coal industry is dying — but not with any dignity. As the end approaches, its sense of aggrieved entitlement is increasingly naked, its demands for government handouts increasingly frantic. As dread builds, shame has left the building. The story of coal’s decline has been told many times now (see this post for more), but at root, it’s not complicated: The industry’s product is outmoded. Natural gas and wind power are cheaper than coal power in most places, and solar power is heading the same direction. What’s more, wind and solar (variable renewable energy, or VRE) and natural gas complement each other. VRE is completely clean but variable. Natural gas is moderately clean but flexible. Variable and flexible work well together; they are the basis for the modern grid. (Whether we can find equally flexible but entirely clean alternatives to natural gas in the coming decades is the most pressing issue facing the grid.) Giant, slow, inflexible, dirty coal plants simply don’t fit in that picture. Coal still represents 30 percent of the US electricity mix, but as natural gas and renewables grow and the grid evolves toward a flexible, distributed model, its role will inevitably shrink. There’s no big conspiracy, no “war on coal,” just the creative destruction of capitalism at work, as technological advances and evolving social preferences transform industries. Without creative destruction, capitalism doesn’t work — productivity and wages don’t grow. But there is no creative destruction without pain for the workers and communities on the losing end. That’s why capitalist societies need a foundation of public services (upon Matt Bruenig’s sage advice, I’m no longer using the term “safety net”). It cushions the turbulence of creative destruction. Many members of the US business community, particularly those of a more conservative bent, like to talk about the virtues of meritocratic free markets. So do their allies in elected office."

Why Patagonia is Fighting for Public Lands

Trump’s big mistake on health care was not realizing Republicans were lying

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/8/25/16196824/trump-health-care-lies
"the larger issue here is that Republican leaders — both Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, as well as Ryan’s predecessor John Boehner, and the chairs of all the relevant committees — spent years and years lying to everyone in sight about Republican health plans. Ryan’s “A Better Way for Health Care” document promises as its very first chapter heading that it will offer “High-Quality Health Care for All.” And congressional Republicans claimed — over and over again — that they had ideas on the shelf to replace the Affordable Care Act with a new program that would address the public’s main concerns with the law. In GOPtopia, premiums and deductibles would be lower, with more competition and lower copayments. Narrow networks would be a thing of the past too. All thanks to the magic of tax cuts and deregulation. If that were true — or even vaguely in the neighborhood of being true — then it would have been really easy for concurrent Republican majorities to pass a law and for President Trump to sign it. And while of course it’s easy for a political sophisticate to mock Trump for his naiveté on this point, at the end of the day his view that Republicans wouldn’t spend years claiming to have such a plan unless they actually had one wasn’t all that crazy. McConnell and Ryan don’t go around advertising themselves as huge liars, after all. In my experience, their staffers tend to get pretty angry if you assert that they are huge liars. Consequently, they’ve done a pretty good job of getting most media outlets to report on their health care assertions as if those assertions are not huge lies. Not everybody believes them, of course. But there are certainly some demographic groups — white male senior citizens who watch Fox News are constantly high on the list — that are very prone to believing them. Trump, of course, very much falls into that core audience for Republican Party spin."

The Secret Service had to pay thousands for portable toilets at Trump’s New Jersey golf club

http://www.salon.com/2017/08/25/the-secret-service-had-to-pay-thousands-for-portable-toilets-at-trumps-new-jersey-golf-club/
"Apparently the Secret Service had to sign a contract with Imperial Restrooms to provide their agents with trailers so they could relieve themselves. While this expenditure may seem bad enough, it is made worse when you consider that the Secret Service also had to spend $13,500 on golf cart rentals for the same August trip. According to USA Today, the Secret Service is legally required to pay for resources like portable toilets because they are prohibited from accepting funding or other resources that were not specifically appropriated by Congress. The report about the portable toilet expenses come at the end of a bad week for Trump when it comes to his reputation with the Secret Service. Earlier this week, USA Today reported that the Trump family’s excessive demands on the Secret Service had caused over 1,000 agents to reach their federal salary and overtime caps. While Congress has proposed raising the salary-plus-overtime cap from $160,000 annually to $187,000 annually, Secret Service Director Randolph “Tex” Alles still predicts that more than 130 agents will remain inadequately compensated for hundreds of hours of work because of Trump. Remember when Trump criticized Obama for taking too many vacations?"

Toxic Floodwaters Pose Health Risk After Hurricane Harvey

Trump Companies Earn Millions While Bankrupting Secret Service

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/41711-trump-companies-earn-millions-while-bankrupting-secret-service
"Trump's travel is so extensive that it appears he actually managed to bankrupt the Secret Service -- his protection detail -- just eight months into the year. According to one agent, the Secret Service has already reached max caps on salary and overtime for agents all in an attempt to cover the president, his children and their various houses, vacations and business trips all over the world. "Secret Service Director Randolph 'Tex' Alles, in an interview with USA TODAY, said more than 1,000 agents have already hit the federally mandated caps for salary and overtime allowances that were meant to last the entire year," reports USA Today."

Exclusive: Trump team goes to bat for NRA-backed bill, deleting Park Service concerns

http://amp.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/national/article168730552.html
"Under the bill, the National Park Service would be prevented from regulating the hunting of bears and wolves in Alaska wildlife preserves, including the practice of killing bear cubs in their dens. It also would be prevented from regulating commercial and recreational fishing within park boundaries and from commenting on development projects outside park boundaries that could affect the parks."

Republican Party's Racism Problem Predates President Donald Trump

Tax-cut advocates stop pretending to care about the deficit

http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/tax-cut-advocates-stop-pretending-care-about-the-deficit
"It was a political dynamic so absurd, it’s still hard to believe Republicans pulled it off. During George W. Bush’s presidency, GOP policymakers decided, as Dick Cheney once declared, that “deficits don’t matter.” Republicans put two wars, two tax cuts, Medicare expansion, and a Wall Street bailout on the national credit card – and made no effort to pay for any of it. Reflecting on the era, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who’s been in Congress since the start of the Carter administration, told the Associated Press in 2009 that “it was standard practice not to pay for things” during Bush’s presidency. A year later, the Utah Republican told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell “a lot of things weren’t paid for” before Barack Obama became president. And then GOP officials decided everything they’d said and done no longer mattered, and that any attempt to add so much as a penny to the debt was a crime against the American way of life. It was a transparent and ridiculous sham, which much of the political world accepted at face value. After all, voters were told, Republicans were the party of “deficit hawks.” Now GOP policymakers control the levers of power again, and right on cue, many of the folks who pretended to be concerned about the deficit in the Obama era have decided to drop the facade. Bloomberg Politics reported yesterday: It was only about five years ago that powerful people in finance loved talking about the horrendous consequences for the U.S. if it didn’t get its finances under control. They warned that the federal debt – and the interest payments – could eventually get high enough to drag down the economy, burden future generations, and even threaten national security. Chief executive officers of five of the biggest U.S. banks joined a campaign called Fix the Debt, signing on with hedge fund billionaires, asset managers, and private equity executives, as well as former lawmakers and others. The conversation on Wall Street changed after November’s election."

The GOP’s latest tax plan is a disaster for the middle class

http://www.salon.com/2017/08/25/the-gops-latest-tax-plan-is-a-disaster-for-the-middle-class/
"President Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans seem to be on the same page about tax reform. Unfortunately for middle-class Americans, that means they both support a plan that is widely expected to benefit the wealthy at the expense of the rest of the country."

The EPA’s Bizarre Response To Report On Houston Contaminants

How Marijuana Can Disrupt Leukemia Cells @alternet

How Marijuana Can Disrupt Leukemia Cells @alternet: New scientific research shows that marijuana's cannabinoids have the ability to “target and switch off pathways” that allow cancers to grow. Leukemia is the blanket term for the four different types of cancer found in bone marrow and blood cells. There are roughly 200,000 U.S. cases per year and typically found in adults over the age of 55, but also found in children under the age of 15.

The Cutting Edge of Marijuana Medical Research Will Leave You Wondering What It Can't Help Cure @alternet

The Cutting Edge of Marijuana Medical Research Will Leave You Wondering What It Can't Help Cure @alternet: New findings highlight CBD’s therapeutic potential for cancer, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, high blood pressure, and other disorders. During the last week of June, more than 400 scientists from 25 countries met in Montreal for the 27th annual symposium of the International Cannabinoid Research Society (ICRS).

More than half the states’ medical marijuana protections could be in jeopardy

http://www.newsweek.com/house-committee-blocks-medical-marijuana-protections-patients-which-states-661377
"The Trump administration and GOP legislators seem hell-bent on halting any initiative to legalize marijuana, be it medical or recreational. The House Rules Committee on Thursday blocked an amendment that prevents the Department of Justice from using federal money to enforce prohibition measures against states that approved medical marijuana consumption."

Trump Overturns Obama Guidelines On Sexual Assault On Campuses

How Marijuana May Treat Aggressive Brain Cancer @alternet

How Marijuana May Treat Aggressive Brain Cancer @alternet: Successful treatment 'reinforces the potential role of cannabinoids in the field of oncology.' In what is being heralded as a breakthrough for cancer research, GW Pharmaceuticals announced on Tuesday positive results from a study using a combination of cannabidiol and tetrahydrocannabinol to treat an aggressive form of brain cancer.

What We Know About Medical Marijuana’s Effect On Heart Disease @alternet

What We Know About Medical Marijuana’s Effect On Heart Disease @alternet:

"CBD has various theoretical medical applications for heart disease. To begin with, CBD “has been shown to cause blood vessels to vasodilate, improving blood flow and reducing blood pressure”. Point being, CBD can possibly be utilized as a preventative medicine for heart attacks, as it has the potential to help blood vessels restrict and move more efficiently. Doctors also feel that CBD can be used as an “anti-arrhythmic” which can reestablish normality in one’s heart beat post heart attack."

Limbaugh: What Hurricane? I'm Just Evacuating For "Security" Issues!

EPA listened to Agriculture Department, not scientists, in decision not to ban dangerous pesticide

https://thinkprogress.org/epa-chlorpyrifos-internal-docs-041bb466c418/
"After rejecting a ban on chlorpyrifos, a widely-used insecticide that acts by paralyzing the nervous system of insects, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt told a Senate panel the decision was “based on the USDA communication to the EPA that the scientific basis that was being used by the agency was very questionable.” The new documents show that USDA officials attended meetings between the EPA and chemical agribusiness executives and strongly pushed for the EPA to set aside other scientific evidence of the pesticide’s danger to human health."

Freedom Means Shooting Bear Cubs While They're Hibernating

http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/news/a57196/republicans-hunting-federal-lands/
"What kind of bloodthirsty moron shoots bear cubs, or hibernating animals? Don't tell me that's sporting. I'll laugh myself silly. What kind of useless bureaucrat goes out of their way to make it easier to do so, and on land that belongs to all of us?"

The Trick To Being A Paid Liar: Zero Empathy

DeVos continues carrying out ALEC’s agenda by dismantling for-profit college accountability

https://www.mediamatters.org/blog/2017/08/25/devos-continues-carrying-out-alec-s-agenda-dismantling-profit-college-accountability/217766
"In a little-noticed action, on August 18, the Department of Education announced a rule change that will further loosen accountability of for-profit colleges. The move signals a continuation of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ American Legislative Exchange Council-inspired agenda: favoring the interests of fraudulent for-profit colleges over victimized students, and dismantling higher education accountability structures. In 2010, the administration of then-President Barack Obama announced new rules designed to ensure that for-profit career preparatory colleges yielded appropriate levels of “gainful employment” for their graduates. According to The Washington Post, the rule “effectively would shut down for-profit programs that repeatedly fail to show, through certain measures, that graduates are earning enough to pay down the loans taken out to attend those programs.” After a series of court challenges, and a process of negotiated rulemaking, the final guidelines were set to be instituted on July 1, 2017. Even before the rules were implemented, evidence indicated that the pending gainful employment regulations were already having an impact, with many colleges proactively shutting down programs that might have been noncompliant. Back in 2010, right-wing media were up in arms over Obama’s efforts to make changes to gainful employment rules. For instance, Breitbart.com claimed it was a sign that “for-profit education” was “under assault” and that Obama was “intentionally targeting job-creating schools.” The Daily Caller asserted that the Department of Education couldn’t be trusted to fairly renegotiate these rules. On July 20, DeVos spoke before the annual convention of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a corporate bill mill that shares model right-wing legislation with sympathetic state legislators. In her speech, she outlined a vision of higher education that includes changes to the gainful employment rule."

Federal Court Finds Texas Political Map Discriminated Against Minorities, Again

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/08/federal-court-finds-texas-political-map-discriminated-against-minorities-again/
"The state of Texas is on an impressive losing streak in court. On Thursday evening, a three-judge panel of a federal district court in San Antonio found that the state House district map purposefully undercut the voting power of African American and Latino voters—the ninth racial discrimination case the state has lost since 2011 and the fourth in just over a week."

Republicans Refuse Vote On Legislation To Stop Federal Spending At Trump Properties

‘People have to watch him’: CIA agents fear director Pompeo will squash damaging Trump intel

‘People have to watch him’: CIA agents fear director Pompeo will squash damaging Trump intel

"President Donald Trump’s relationship with his own intelligence agencies has been strained from the start, and a new report claims that several CIA agents are particularly wary of their own director."

Trump Administration ethics entanglements: 9 officials getting lobbied by previous employers

Trump Administration ethics entanglements: 9 officials getting lobbied by previous employers

"under Obama’s ethics rules, lobbyists weren’t able to join an executive agency they lobbied for two years. The Trump administration has no such rule, and the administration is taking advantage of that omission: one watchdog group determined a quarter of ex-lobbyists in the administration lobbied on issues they worked on in the prior two years."

Billionaires Who Own Republican Party Are Stopping Action On Climate Change

Operation “Obama Eclipse”: Trump tweet confirms his singleminded obsession with that other president

http://www.salon.com/2017/08/25/operation-obama-eclipse-trump-tweet-confirms-his-singleminded-obsession-with-that-other-president/
"Trump’s racist obsession with delegitimizing Obama has now lasted longer than at least one of his marriages. In 2011, he started flogging the “birther” conspiracy theory, using his status as a reality TV show star to inject insinuations into the mainstream media that Obama was not a native-born American. A month after Trump started pushing this idea, which is rooted in the racist refusal to accept black Americans as full citizens, Obama released his long-form birth certificate. This didn’t slow Trump down, however, because birtherism was never about facts. It was just an excuse to push the narrative that is dear to Trump’s heart: A black president cannot, by definition, be a real president. Now he’s in the White House, but Trump’s obsession with un-making Obama’s presidency hasn’t let up one bit. Earlier this month, Alberto Nardelli of BuzzFeed reported that European diplomats understand Trump’s hatred of Obama as the central organizing feature, and perhaps the only relevant aspect, of his foreign policy decision-making. “It’s his only real position,” one of the diplomats told BuzzFeed. “He will ask: ‘Did Obama approve this?’ And if the answer is affirmative, he will say: ‘We don’t.’ He won’t even want to listen to the arguments or have a debate. He is obsessed with Obama.” As Jack Moore at GQ observed, a view of Trump’s presidency proves this diplomat’s assertions right. The Paris climate agreement, various trade deals, the Clean Power Plan, transgender people in the military — the list goes on. Some of these items were priorities for the Republican Party; some, such as the transgender ban, were not. What they all have in common is that Trump’s decisions attempt to undo whatever Obama, and the current president’s only important goal is to erase from history the fact that we ever had a black man in the Oval Office. He will fail, of course. Trump doesn’t have a time machine and even more to the point, every day he is in office, the country longs for Obama more and more."

What Donald Trump’s tweets reveal about his mental health

http://www.salon.com/2017/08/24/what-donald-trumps-tweets-reveal-about-his-mental-health/
"To make sense of his aberrant behavior, you need to understand, specifically, what is psychologically wrong with Donald Trump. His diagnosis is the Rosetta Stone to cracking the Trump Twitter code, revealing its underlying structure, and unfortunately, how much ­danger all the rest of us are in as a result. He is a malignant narcissist who is also on the bipolar spectrum. From a psychiatric perspective, the prognosis could not be more dire—for us."

Trump’s EPA Attacks Reporter For Covering Environmental Damage Of Hurricane Harvey

It’s time to start punishing public officials who disenfranchise voters

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/its-time-to-start-punishing-public-officials-who-disenfranchise-voters/2017/08/24/62c84906-8909-11e7-961d-2f373b3977ee_story.html?hpid=hp_no-name_opinion-card-b%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.1a7c4a296b3c
"The costs are much too low for public officials."

How today’s unions help working people: Giving workers the power to improve their jobs and unrig the economy

How today’s unions help working people: Giving workers the power to improve their jobs and unrig the economy:

"Unions are a dynamic and ever-evolving institution of the American economy that exist to give working people a voice and leverage over their working conditions and the economic policy decisions that shape these conditions. Collective bargaining is indispensable if we want to achieve shared prosperity. But it is precisely because they are effective and necessary for shared prosperity that unions are under attack by employers who want to maintain excessive leverage over workers and by policymakers representing the interests of the top 1 percent. These attacks have succeeded in increasing the gap between the number of workers who would like to be represented by a union and the number who are represented by a union. And these threats to the freedom to join together in unions haven’t been met with a policy response sufficient to keep the playing field level between organizing workers and the employers looking to thwart them. Giving workers a real voice and leverage is essential for democracy."

Why We Must Talk About Trump’s Mental Health | The Resistance with Keith Olbermann | GQ

House Speaker Paul Ryan gets innovative in spreading misleading international tax comparisons

House Speaker Paul Ryan gets innovative in spreading misleading international tax comparisons

"As debate over tax cuts heats up in coming weeks, we really need to start policing clear falsehoods more effectively."

Secret Service spent $7,100 renting luxury portable toilets for Trump's Bedminster trip

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/onpolitics/2017/08/24/secret-service-spent-7-100-renting-luxury-portable-toilets-trumps-bedminster-trip/598649001/
"The financial strains on the Secret Service under the Trump administration are now well-known. And you can add luxury portable restrooms to their mounting bills.  The agency spent thousands of dollars to rent the restrooms during the president's August "working vacation" at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J., according to a review of purchase orders flagged by the progressive PAC American Bridge and verified by USA TODAY.  The agency signed a contract with Imperial Restrooms to provide trailers on Aug. 3. That contract was updated a week later, bringing the total spent on the restrooms to $7,100 from Aug. 3 to Aug. 21. "Leave it to Donald Trump to find a way to spend thousands of taxpayer dollars on a port-a-potty, " American Bridge spokesperson Brad Bainum said. "This man is literally flushing our money down the toilet." It's one of many purchases the Secret Service has needed to make in order to protect Trump, who has spent almost every weekend as president at properties he owns on the East Coast, in particular, the Bedminster golf club and Florida's Mar-a-Lago. The agency also spent $13,500 on golf cart rentals for Trump's August trip. Since the president maintains a semi-regular presence at each resort, these trips are more expensive for the agency than quick pop-ins. The Secret Service is required to pay their own way, even at Trump Organization properties, because the agency is forbidden from accepting funding or resources that have not been appropriated by Congress, including hotel rooms. The regulations are meant to guard the agency from any possible compromise of its protective mission. Yet even as the agency spends money on portable toilets and rented golf carts, the Secret Service can no longer pay overtime to hundreds of agents who have already reached federally mandated caps on salary and overtime allowances that were meant to last the entire year, USA TODAY reported earlier this week."

For Whom Has Trump Made America Great? | The Resistance with Keith Olbermann | GQ

Robert Mueller is slowly building his case using traditional tactics for dealing with mob bosses

https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2017/8/24/1692900/-Robert-Mueller-is-slowly-building-his-case-using-traditional-tactics-for-dealing-with-mob-bosses
"it’s not just Manafort who has been a target of Mueller’s growing team of powerhouse lawyers and investigators. Donald Trump Jr. is reported to be a focus of the special counsel’s efforts, with particular attention to the circumstances surrounding the meeting that Trump Jr. hosted at Trump Tower in June of 2016, where the Trump campaign was offered material attacking Hillary Clinton by representatives of the Russian government. And those are just the start. Jay Sekulow, part of Trump’s legal team, denies that Mueller is putting together a racketeering case against Trump. Sekulow also said it’s “fundamentally incorrect” to assume that Mueller is conducting a mob-style investigation when it comes to Trump and his family members, at least based on what he’s seen to date. But Sekulow appears to have seen something quite different from everyone else. "Mueller is no dummy," said William Mateja, a former federal prosecutor who investigated white-collar crime and served at the Justice Department when Mueller was director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. "You use crimes like money laundering and tax evasion to get cooperation from people who might be in the know." In addition to Manafort and Trump Jr., Mueller is known to be looking into the activities of Jared Kushner, including how his family has used connections to Trump to convince Chinese investors to buy into his properties."

We Are Now All Dumber for Having Listened to Trump's Definition of Clean Coal

http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/news/a57187/trump-clean-coal/
"In all the hubbub over the public manic episode that overcame the president* in Phoenix Tuesday night, I missed this little gem. We've ended the war on beautiful, clean coal, and it's just been announced that a second, brand-new coal mine, where they're going to take out clean coal -- meaning, they're taking out coal. They're going to clean it -- is opening in the state of Pennsylvania... I mean, he knows, right? "Clean coal" is an industry myth, but I don't expect him to know that. But he does know that it doesn't mean they bring the coal up from beneath the earth's surface and then run it through a car wash or something. He knows that, right? Right? Hello?"

What Trump’s Trip to Texas Revealed | The Resistance with Keith Olbermann | GQ