solarbird: (korra-on-the-air)
[personal profile] solarbird
Canada is starting to see Muslim refugees from the United States sneaking across the border as College Republicans hand out Holocaust-themed Valentine's Day cards with Hitler's picture. (But remember, they aren't Nazis!) Fox News goes off about how women need to submit to men to have good heterosexual relationships. Trump's immigration ban gets means CBD gets to play the exciting new game, Whose Christianity Counts?, when it comes to people entering the US. A Pentagon journal publishes a paper on a proper military response to a hypothetical president setting up internment/concentration camps. All this and more in "yes, this isn't an alternate timeline, you can tell because we don't have dirigibles in the sky" news this morning. Sorry.


----- 1 -----
Bad Law
A look at the terrible things Jeff Sessions did as attorney general of Alabama.
9 January 2017
By Elizabeth Wydra | Slate

[I wish I'd had this earlier, but, I didn't.]

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2017/01/the_terrible_things_jeff_sessions_did_as_attorney_general_of_alabama.html

Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions faces questioning from his colleagues on Tuesday, as the Senate Judiciary Committee holds hearings over his nomination to lead the Justice Department. Most of the opposition to Sessions’ appointment as Donald Trump’s choice for attorney general has centered around the allegations of racism that torpedoed his previous federal appointment. That history is certainly extraordinarily troubling. What should concern his interrogators this week even more, perhaps, is this question: At a time when America most needs an independent, anti-corruption watchdog leading the Justice Department, would Sessions be a rubber stamp for an administration that threatens to be the most corrupt since Warren Harding’s?

For clues, senators should examine Sessions’ record the latest time he served as an attorney general. After all, outside groups defending Sessions point to his two-year tenure as Alabama attorney general as a reason he should be confirmed. Look at that record closely, though, and you’ll find a legal officer with an atrocious record of holding allies, political and otherwise, accountable to the Constitution, to the law, or to basic ethical standards.

In addition to his fervent loyalty to Trump during the campaign, there are several pieces of evidence from his time as Alabama attorney general that indicate Sessions would act as a rubber stamp for potential acts of executive corruption. As detailed in this new examination of archived news reports and original source documents, at least twice during his mere two years in office, Sessions produced legally flawed opinions that were favorable to Alabama Gov. Fob James that also, conveniently, aligned with the interests of one of Alabama’s most politically powerful and deep-pocketed organizations. That organization also happened to have spent substantial sums on, and taken credit for, electing James and Sessions to office.

...

Sessions’ brief, troubling record doesn’t end there. As a state attorney general, he also cleared the way for a politically connected insurance company’s planned no-bid coverage of state road work; urged the Alabama Ethics Commission to approve corporate-funded junkets for state employees; fought successfully against seating the first black intermediate appellate court judges in Alabama’s history; and, no joke, provided formal support for a local sheriff’s use of actual chain gangs.

...

In fact, the record shows that too many times in Alabama, Jeff Sessions failed his own test: “The attorney general has got to say no to the president if he wants to do something, just like a good corporate lawyer has to tell the CEO sometimes, ‘We can’t do it that way, Mr. CEO.’ ” Well, what if President Trump gives the order to ban Muslims from entering the country? Will Sessions say yes or no? If Trump is accused again of grabbing a woman “by the pussy” without consent, will Sessions call it sexual assault or not? If Trump continues to refuse to divest from his businesses to avoid violating the Constitution’s Emoluments Clauses, will Sessions hold him accountable or give him a pass?


----- 2 -----
Exclusive: In call with Putin, Trump denounced Obama-era nuclear arms treaty - sources
Reuters | Thu Feb 9, 2017 | 12:55pm EST
By Jonathan Landay and David Rohde | WASHINGTON

[Remember: there's no recording of this call, because they turned off the recorder.]

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-putin-idUSKBN15O2A5

In his first call as president with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump denounced a treaty that caps U.S. and Russian deployment of nuclear warheads as a bad deal for the United States, according to two U.S. officials and one former U.S. official with knowledge of the call.

When Putin raised the possibility of extending the 2010 treaty, known as New START, Trump paused to ask his aides in an aside what the treaty was, these sources said.

Trump then told Putin the treaty was one of several bad deals negotiated by the Obama administration, saying that New START favored Russia. Trump also talked about his own popularity, the sources said.

The White House declined to comment. It referred Reuters to the official White House account issued after the Jan. 28 call, which did not mention the discussion about New START.

It has not been previously reported that Trump had conveyed his doubt about New START to Putin in the hour-long call.


----- 3 -----
Shouting match over Russia erupts at House hearing
The Hill
By Katie Bo Williams - 02/02/17 12:35 PM EST

http://thehill.com/policy/national-security/317553-oversight-heads-spar-over-russia-investigation

A routine House Oversight Committee hearing Thursday turned into a shouting match between the Republican chairman and the ranking Democrat over Russian interference in the presidential election.

In a fight that exposed bitter frustration amongst Democrats that Republicans have kept the issue locked in a single committee — the Intelligence Committee in both chambers — lawmakers sparred over whether Oversight should conduct a public investigation into last year's cyberattack that stole information from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).

“It’s clear that politics have prevented this committee from being willing or able to do the necessary objective and nonpartisan oversight on the Russian attack,” said Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Ill.).

The chairman, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), argued that studying sources and methods used to draw an intelligence conclusion is the jurisdiction of the Intelligence Committee and, further, that it would be “inappropriate” for Oversight to “dive into the private systems of a political party.”

Democrats weren’t satisfied.

“That’s not anybody else’s work. That’s our work. There’s plenty of reports we can talk about — and we ought to do it publicly — about the damage done to the confidence in our electoral system. That’s what’s important here,” Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) shouted.

“We had nine separate investigations into Hillary Clinton—” he said before Chaffetz declared him out of order.

Chaffetz demanded that ranking member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), who has introduced legislation to establish an independent commission on the matter, answer directly whether he supported a probe into the DCCC hack in Oversight.

“I think the thing that I’m most concerned about is that we cannot just turn a blind eye when we have 17 intelligence agencies who unanimously agree [that Russia interfered in the U.S. elections],” Cummings said. “You and I know what happened with the Benghazi Committee — it became a partisan fight.”

“The gentleman’s time is expired here. You’re going well outside the scope of this discussion—” an impatient Chaffetz cut in.

“I’m not. No, I’m not. I would pray that you not — don’t do that,” Cummings shot back.

The committee’s two leading members continued to talk over one another.

“I just want an answer to a simple question—” Chaffetz said.

“I’ve answered it. I’ve told you, yes,” Cummings said.

“I’m gonna ask one more time—”

“I just answered you—” a visibly annoyed Cummings snapped. “I just answered you. You’re not listening!”

...

Republicans have insisted that any probe into the matter be limited to the two Intelligence committees. Both of those investigations are ongoing, but the move has been seen as an attempt to sweep the issue under the rug by keeping it sequestered in the two notoriously-secretive panels.

All House Democrats have backed a bill from Cummings and Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) to establish an independent group modeled after the 9/11 Commission to study the campaign.


---- 4 -----
Trump EPA Weighs Shuttering Enforcement Office But Prospects Unclear
InsideEPA
February 08, 2017

The Trump EPA is weighing a possible shuttering of EPA's Office of Enforcement & Compliance Assurance (OECA) and returning civil enforcement to program offices, a move that sources say would significantly curb civil enforcement and be in line with Trump's calls to limit the agency's work -- though its prospects are unclear. The plan would to some extent echo a move that Oklahoma Attorney General (AG) Scott Pruitt (R), President Donald Trump's nominee to be the next EPA administrator, made...

https://insideepa.com/daily-news/trump-epa-weighs-shuttering-enforcement-office-prospects-unclear

[Additional material is dragged out from behind the paywall at The Huffington Post:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/epa-enforcement-office_us_589b9593e4b0c1284f2a7ab3?495kawnrwv41dzpvi ]


----- 5 -----
Trump’s immigration order means bureaucrats have to decide who’s a “real” Christian
The Washington Post
By Elizabeth Shakman Hurd February 8

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2017/02/07/trumps-immigration-order-requires-bureaucrats-to-figure-out-who-is-christian-thats-not-easy/

President Trump’s executive order on immigration has a clause that is supposed to protect religious minorities. Trump has made clear he has in mind primarily Christians from the Middle East. If implemented, individuals who can show evidence of being persecuted as Christian will qualify for a fast lane into the United States.

It would also mean that immigration officials would have to hone their theological skills — because they will be in charge of determining who belongs to what religion. Many commentators have noted the constitutional problems with administering a “religious test.” But the practical and theological problems are equally daunting.

Would U.S. definitions for “real” membership in each religion violate the Establishment Clause?

The order says that the United States will “prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality.”


----- 6 -----
Wall Street Journal editor to face critics
Amid discontent over Trump coverage, Gerard Baker will hold a newsroom-wide meeting to address concerns.
By Joe Pompeo
The Wall Street Journal
02/08/17 12:53 PM EST

http://www.politico.com/media/story/2017/02/gerry-baker-wall-street-journal-trump-newsroom-tensions-004928

Amid growing newsroom discontent over his perceived resistance to critical coverage of Donald Trump, Wall Street Journal editor in chief Gerry Baker will host a town hall meeting next week where he is expected to address the paper’s reporting on the new administration and answer questions from his staff.

The meeting, announced in a company email on Wednesday and scheduled for Monday, February 13, is billed as a wide-ranging session on the state of the Journal, but Trump coverage is expected to be high on the list of discussion topics.

"I’m eager to talk with all of you about the challenges and opportunities for our journalism," Baker wrote.

While other major news outlets, including The New York Times and The Washington Post, have covered Trump aggressively throughout the campaign, the transition and the early days of the 45th presidency, repeatedly stoking the ire of Trump and his aides, the Journal has taken an arguably more circumspect, if not softer approach.

Baker has been hesitant to allow Journal reporters to characterize Trump’s false assertions as lies and has suggested that media “elites” are out to get Trump. During the campaign, reporters say, some of his editorial decisions tended to downplay Trump’s transgressions while he urged his staff to be tougher on Hillary Clinton.

The result, some reporters say, has been a decline in morale that has been exacerbated by the just-announced departure of deputy editor-in-chief Rebecca Blumenstein for The New York Times. All in all, there's palpable concern among the rank and file that Baker, a former columnist, has placed unreasonable restrictions on the Journal’s Trump coverage.


----- 7 -----
Women need to submit to men to have good heterosexual relationships.
[It's a paraphrase, but it's what they're saying]
Fox News - 9 February 2017

[Video story - very 1950s/1960s misogynist, wives must submit to husbands, all that.]

https://www.facebook.com/Mediamatters/videos/10154320415826167/


----- 8 -----
Steve Bannon Aligns With Vatican Hard-Liners Who Oppose Pope Francis
February 8, 20174:04 PM ET
Sylvia Poggioli - All Things Considered
NPR

http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2017/02/08/514102356/steve-bannon-aligns-with-vatican-hardliners-who-oppose-pope-francis

White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is known to have cultivated ties with far-right parties in Europe, like the National Front in France. He also seems to have forged an alliance with Vatican hard-liners who oppose Pope Francis' less rigid approach to church doctrine. The New York Times reported this week on Bannon's connections at the Vatican.

Before becoming White House chief strategist, Bannon — who is Catholic — was the executive chairman of Breitbart News, which he called a "platform for the alt-right." That's a movement associated with white nationalism.

During a visit to Rome a few years ago, Bannon struck up a friendship with the American Cardinal Raymond Burke, a traditionalist who has emerged as one of Pope Francis' most vocal critics.

Bannon hired Thomas Williams, an American former priest, as Breitbart's Rome correspondent. Williams belonged to the conservative Legion of Christ, which was roiled by scandal when it was revealed its founder had been a pedophile.


----- 9 -----
Donald Trump signs executive order giving police greater authority
The President has signed three orders to tackle 'public safety' moments after he swore in Jeff Sessions as Attorney General
Rachael Revesz - The Independent - New York
Thursday 9 February 2017

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-sign-executive-order-police-more-authority-murder-shooting-us-president-jeff-sessions-a7572001.html

Donald Trump has signed three executive orders to deal with “public safety”, including handing more authority to the police.

At the formal ceremony to appoint Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, the President outlined the new mandate that Mr Sessions would have, including tackling crime, drug cartels and terrorism.

...

“I am directing the Department of Justice to reduce crimes and crimes of violence against law enforcement officers,” he said.

“It’s a shame, what has been happening to our great, our truly great, law enforcement officers. That is going to stop today.”

One of the executive orders seeks to “define new federal crimes, and increase penalties for existing federal crimes, in order to prevent violence” against state and federal police.

In 2016, a total of 135 police officers were killed in the US, a five-year high, according to a report from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. Around half of them – 64 officers – were fatally shot while on the job, including 21 who were killed in an ambush-style attack. The number also includes traffic accidents and job-related health issues, for example, heart attacks while working.

No mention was made by Mr Trump of the hundreds of people who die at the hands of law enforcement every year.

There were 968 deaths last year, according to The Washington Post, and more than 130 people so far in 2017, according to a database called killedbypolice.net

...

Mr Trump’s and Mr Sessions’s claims of permanent, rising crime have consistently been debunked.

Despite a slight rise in crime over the past two years, it has gone down significantly over several decades and is much lower than in the 1980s and 1990s.

Mr Sessions added that he would fight terrorism and implement a “lawful system of immigration”.

“We need to end this lawlessness that threatens the public safety and pulls down the wages of working Americans,” he said.

Mr Sessions was widely reported to be one of the key architects of the Muslim ban, an executive order signed on 27 January which banned all travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries in the name of fighting terrorism, despite these countries having produced no terrorist who killed a single American on US soil as part of a terrorist attack since 2001. The order was signed on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

[This one isn't linked from the EO index, because why would you, I guess?]
EO: "Presidential Executive Order on Preventing Violence Against Federal, State, Tribal, and Local Law Enforcement Officers"
https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/02/09/presidential-executive-order-preventing-violence-against-federal-state

[This one _is_ linked from tho EO index]
EO: "Presidential Executive Order on a Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety"
https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/02/09/presidential-executive-order-task-force-crime-reduction-and-public

[I can't find a third one, wondering if it was misreported. Radio news only indicated two.]


----- 10 -----
Emerson College Poll: Voters Split on Trump
February 7, 2017
Media Contact: Prof. Spencer Kimball
Emerson College Polling Advisor

http://media.wix.com/ugd/3bebb2_1a134cae19f148f791a52965f001f026.pdf

Emerson College Poll: Voters Split on Trump
48% to 47%, Think Trump Admin is More Truthful than News Media.
Majority Oppose DeVos for Education Secretary, But Support Other Nominees.
BOSTON, MA

The first poll of Emerson College’s Spring 2017 semester shows the nation is split on Donald Trump’s performance as President so far with 48% of registered voters approve of the job that Trump is doing, versus 47% that disapprove. Republicans approve of Trump 89%/5%, while Democrats disapprove of the President by a margin of 81% to 17%. Trump’s failure to pass the 50% threshold for approval can be accredited to his standing among independents, who disapprove of him 52%/42%.

A key finding of the poll shows that voters find the Trump administration to be more truthful than the news media. The Trump administration is considered truthful by 49% of voters, to 48% of voters who consider it untruthful. Meanwhile, the news media is considered untruthful by a 53% - majority of voters, to only 39% who find them truthful (a 14-point gap). Numerous members of the Trump administration–including Trump himself–have been criticized frequently for making false statements. The partisan split on this topic is clear–89% of Republicans find the Trump administration truthful, versus 77% of Democrats who find the administration untruthful. Conversely, 69% of Democrats find the news media truthful, while a whopping 91% of Republicans consider them untruthful. Independents consider both untruthful – the Trump administration by a margin of 42%/52% and the news media by a margin of 45%/47%.


----- 11 -----
Fannin County Sheriff: Man's car tests positive for ricin
Posted:Feb 07 2017 10:06PM EST
FOX 5 Atlanta News

[This is relevant because according to other sources ( http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/ga-man-apparent-white-supremacy-ties-arrested-ricin-article-1.2968318 ) he is a member of white supremacist militant group.]

http://www.fox5atlanta.com/news/234422246-story

William Christopher Gibbs, 27, drove himself to the hospital last week claiming he had Ricin on his hands, according to Fannin County Sheriff Dane Kirby. A field test of the car driven by Gibbs gave a positive result for Ricin, according to the sheriff.

"It turned out to be Ricin. I think it was all contained inside his vehicle, just a small amount of something I think he had been experimenting with. It was inside his vehicle and somehow he claimed he had exposed himself to what he made, got scared, and went to the hospital," said Sheriff Kirby.

Residents said Friday about 100 officers in unmarked black vehicles swarmed a Morganton neighborhood. This rattled many residents because they saw people in HAZMAT suits and they did not know what was going on.


----- 12 -----
Pentagon journal explores what could happen if a president called for Muslim internment camps
By Dan Lamothe February 9 at 12:13 PM
The Washington Post

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2017/02/09/pentagon-journal-explores-what-would-happen-if-a-president-called-for-muslim-internment-camps/

[Journal article here: http://ndupress.ndu.edu/Portals/68/Documents/jfq/jfq-84/jfq-84_34-42_Turcotte.pdf?ver=2016-10-19-102201-737 ]

The scholarly journal of the Pentagon’s top general published an essay that examines what someone in his position should do if a president ordered the establishment of Muslim internment camps, one day before President Trump signed an executive order restricting immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries.

The article appears in the most recent issue of Joint Force Quarterly under the headline “The Viability of Moral Dissent by the Military.” It won an annual essay competition last spring overseen by National Defense University in Washington in the name of then-Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter, and was published with the winners of two other competitions run in the name of Marine Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The Jan. 26 publication of the essay came at a particularly sensitive time for the Pentagon, which bans engaging in “partisan political activity.” Senior defense officials were caught by surprise by President Trump’s temporary travel ban a day later, which was signed in the Pentagon’s Hall of Heroes along with another order to improve military readiness. The travel restrictions are being contested in federal court.

...

The essay, authored by Air Force Maj. Lee Turcotte, states at the outset that it is “not a partisan statement, although it unequivocally judges the rising tide of nationalism, isolationism, xenophobia, and anti-Islamic rhetoric occurring throughout the West.” It was submitted for the contest amid frequent claims by Trump during the presidential campaign that he would bar Muslims from entering the country and be open to using torture against detainees.

“This article explores whether there is ever a moral imperative for the military — primarily senior military leaders — to refuse to obey the direction of civilian leaders,” Turcotte writes. “I believe the answer is yes. In practice, though, disobedience on moral grounds is exceedingly unlikely. The year in the scenario is unstated, but the moral and racial questions of this article are urgent. Security environments, threat perceptions, and moral thresholds can shift more quickly than many people care to acknowledge. Moral debate is not a luxury for other, more secure times.”


----- 13 -----
Appeals court refuses to reinstate Trump travel ban
Originally published February 9, 2017 at 3:15 pm Updated February 9, 2017 at 4:51 pm
A federal appeals court in San Francisco Thursday refused to reinstate President Donald Trump’s ban on travelers from seven predominantly Muslim nations.

http://www.seattletimes.com/nation-world/trump-loses-travel-ban-appeal/

A three-judge federal appeals panel Thursday unanimously refused to reinstate President Trump’s targeted travel ban, delivering the latest and most stinging judicial rebuke to his effort to make good on a campaign promise and tighten the standards for entry into the United States.

U.S. District Judge James Robart in Seattle issued a temporary restraining order last week halting the ban on immigration and travel from seven predominantly Muslim nations after Washington state and Minnesota sued. The ban temporarily suspended the nation’s refugee program and immigration from countries that have raised particular terrorism concerns.

Justice Department lawyers appealed to the 9th Circuit, arguing that the president has the constitutional power to restrict entry to the United States and that the courts cannot second-guess his determination that such a step was needed to prevent terrorism.

The ruling by 9th Circuit panel rejected that argument: “There is no precedent to support this claimed unreviewability, which runs contrary to the fundamental structure of our constitutional democracy.”

The case is likely to be quickly appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Trump, for his part, gave this all-caps response on Twitter minutes after the ruling: “SEE YOU IN COURT, THE SECURITY OF OUR NATION IS AT STAKE!”

The Supreme Court remains short-handed and could deadlock. A 4-to-4 tie in the Supreme Court would leave the appeals court’s ruling in place.


----- 14 -----
College Republicans Apologize For Handing Out Hitler-Themed Valentine's Card
By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published February 9, 2017, 5:11 PM EDT

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/college-republicans-sorry-hitler-valentines-card

MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. (AP) — A Central Michigan University Republican student group is apologizing for a Valentine's Day card that mocks Jews who died in the Holocaust.

The College Republicans group handed out gift bags to students Wednesday night, including one with a card that said "my love 4 u burns like 6,000 jews." It had a photo of Adolf Hitler and was signed "XOXO, Courtney."

The group apologized on Facebook, saying it doesn't condone anti-Semitism and that the card was made and placed in the bag without its knowledge. The group didn't identify the member who placed the card in the bag.

Central Michigan spokeswoman Sherry Knight told Mount Pleasant's local paper, The Morning Sun, that the school is "deeply disappointed." She says campus leaders are meeting Thursday to discuss the incident.


----- 15 -----
Victim of Shooting at UW Milo Yiannopoulos Protest Still in Serious Condition, Alleged Shooter Remains Uncharged
by Ana Sofia Knauf • Feb 9, 2017
The Stranger

http://www.thestranger.com/slog/2017/02/09/24862064/victim-of-shooting-at-uw-milo-yiannopoulos-protest-still-in-serious-condition

The evening of Donald Trump's inauguration, anti-fascist demonstrators and fans of Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos clashed in Red Square at the University of Washington's Seattle campus while the conservative talking head spoke inside Kane Hall. When a fight broke out, a 34-year-old computer security engineer was shot in the abdomen and wounded by a 29-year-old former UW student, who claimed self-defense.

Meanwhile, the purported shooter has not been charged with a crime, said the University of Washington Police Department spokesman, Major Steve Rittereiser.

The evening of the shooting, a couple—allegedly the gunman and his wife—eventually went to the UWPD station to provide officers with information, including that "the gun involved in the incident was in the vehicle they arrived in," said Rittereiser. (UWPD is not yet identifying the couple as the shooter and his wife, he said.)

The couple was then temporarily detained until they refused to provide a statement without an attorney present. They were later released after a warrant was obtained to search their car, where a gun was subsequently found.

"We didn’t have enough information to hold them that night or arrest them," said Rittereiser. "We're not [currently] looking for anyone else involved in the incident. The campus and the community remain safe."


----- 16 -----
The Mysterious Disappearance of the Biggest Scandal in Washington
Whatever happened to the Trump-Russia story?
David Corn - Feb. 9, 2017
Mother Jones

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/02/russia-trump-putin-scandal-media

The biggest election-related scandal since Watergate occurred last year, and it has largely disappeared from the political-media landscape of Washington.

According to the consensus assessment of US intelligence agencies, Russian intelligence, under the orders of Vladimir Putin, mounted an extensive operation to influence the 2016 campaign to benefit Donald Trump. This was a widespread covert campaign that included hacking Democratic targets and publishing swiped emails via WikiLeaks. And it achieved its objectives. But the nation's capital remains under-outraged by this subversion. The congressional intelligence committees announced last month that they will investigate the Russian hacking and also examine whether there were any improper contacts between the Trump camp and Russia during the campaign. (A series of memos attributed to a former British counterintelligence officer included allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.) Yet these behind-closed-doors inquiries have generated minimum media notice, and, overall, there has not been much outcry.

Certainly, every once in a while, a Democratic legislator or one of the few Republican officials who have bothered to express any disgust at the Moscow meddling (namely Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Marco Rubio) will pipe up. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi days ago called on the FBI to investigate Trump's "financial, personal and political connections to Russia" to determine "the relationship between Putin, whom he admires, and Donald Trump." Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), responding to Trump's comparison of the United States to Putin's repressive regime, said on CNN, "What is this strange relationship between Putin and Trump? And is there something that the Russians have on him that is causing him to say these really bizarre things on an almost daily basis?" A few weeks ago, Graham told me he wanted an investigation of how the FBI has handled intelligence it supposedly has gathered on ties between Trump insiders and Russia. And last month, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) pushed FBI Director James Comey at a public hearing to release this information. Yet there has been no drumbeat of sound bites, tweets, or headlines. In recent days, the story has gone mostly dark.

...


President Donald Trump speaks to Vladimir Putin by phone on January 28. Pete Marovich/DPA/ZUMA

The biggest election-related scandal since Watergate occurred last year, and it has largely disappeared from the political-media landscape of Washington.

According to the consensus assessment of US intelligence agencies, Russian intelligence, under the orders of Vladimir Putin, mounted an extensive operation to influence the 2016 campaign to benefit Donald Trump. This was a widespread covert campaign that included hacking Democratic targets and publishing swiped emails via WikiLeaks. And it achieved its objectives. But the nation's capital remains under-outraged by this subversion. The congressional intelligence committees announced last month that they will investigate the Russian hacking and also examine whether there were any improper contacts between the Trump camp and Russia during the campaign. (A series of memos attributed to a former British counterintelligence officer included allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.) Yet these behind-closed-doors inquiries have generated minimum media notice, and, overall, there has not been much outcry.

Certainly, every once in a while, a Democratic legislator or one of the few Republican officials who have bothered to express any disgust at the Moscow meddling (namely Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham, and Marco Rubio) will pipe up. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi days ago called on the FBI to investigate Trump's "financial, personal and political connections to Russia" to determine "the relationship between Putin, whom he admires, and Donald Trump." Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), responding to Trump's comparison of the United States to Putin's repressive regime, said on CNN, "What is this strange relationship between Putin and Trump? And is there something that the Russians have on him that is causing him to say these really bizarre things on an almost daily basis?" A few weeks ago, Graham told me he wanted an investigation of how the FBI has handled intelligence it supposedly has gathered on ties between Trump insiders and Russia. And last month, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) pushed FBI Director James Comey at a public hearing to release this information. Yet there has been no drumbeat of sound bites, tweets, or headlines. In recent days, the story has gone mostly dark.

Look at the White House daily press briefings. Since Trump entered office, there has been far more back-and-forth between reporters and Press Secretary Sean Spicer on the inauguration crowd size, Trump's bathrobe, and Melissa McCarthy than the Russia scandal. Trump associates are perhaps being questioned by House and Senate intelligence committee investigators, and the FBI, which according to news reports has looked at possible ties between Trump advisers and Russia, might also still be on the case. Yet this has not been a top priority for White House reporters.

Here are two questions that could have been posed to Spicer at his first briefing:

* Have any past or present Trump associates, inside or outside his administration, been contacted or questioned by the intelligence committees, the FBI, or any other government body investigating the Russian hacking or interactions between Trump's circle and Russia?

* During the presidential campaign, did Trump or any of his political or business associates have any interactions with Russian officials or Russian intermediaries?

That did not happen. At Spicer's first briefing, Anita Kumar of McClatchy did ask, "Has the president spoken to any of the intelligence agencies about the investigation into the Russian connections? And will he allow that to go on?" Spicer replied, "I don't believe he has spoken to anyone specifically about that and I don't know that. He has not made any indication that he would stop an investigation of any sort." This was an important question that warranted a response that was less equivocal—and reporters could have pointed that out.

...

In this instance, the president's own people may be under investigation, and Trump has demonstrated no interest in holding Putin accountable for messing with US elections in what may be considered an act of covert warfare. Still, there has been no loud demand from the DC media (or most of the GOP) for answers and explanations. This quietude is good news for Putin—and reason for him to think he could get away with such an operation again.


----- 17 -----
Desperate journey
In the dead of winter, a Muslim man with a backpack and a bike snuck across the U.S. border into Canada. This is his story.
By Mark Gollom | CBC News
February 9, 2017

http://newsinteractives.cbc.ca/longform/desperate-journey-refugee-crossing-canada-us

'Everything was hurting so bad'

The biting cold, the tired limbs, the feelings of despair — all those memories came flooding back to Habib Zahori as he read the story of two Ghanaian men who recently risked their lives to sneak into Canada.

They had trudged for hours through waist-deep snowfields in -18 C temperatures until they reached an unguarded border. Cold and disoriented, they managed to slip across, but it was several hours before they were able to flag down a truck driver, who called 911.

Both ended up losing fingers due to severe frostbite. According to one of the men, if it hadn’t been for that driver, “we would have died in that snow.”

Zahori knows that sense of desperation. Just over a year ago, he made a similarly treacherous winter journey through the woods and across the border — partly by foot, partly by bicycle.

“My fingers had gone numb,” Zahori recalls. “My nose, my cheeks, my lips, my entire face — everything had gone numb. And my thighs and knees, everything was hurting so bad. And I was tired, and I was thirsty.”

What makes these dramatic tales so strange is that these men weren’t coming from a country ravaged by war, civil strife, famine or disease.

They were fleeing the United States.

Zahori and the others had first landed there after escaping troubles in their home countries. But they ended up illegally crossing the world’s largest undefended border in the hopes that Canada would provide the refuge they sought.

Some may find that a peculiar scenario – refugee claimants fleeing a country with one of the highest standards of living in the world and one that likes to cast itself as a beacon of freedom.

But concerns about the political climate and just how welcoming the U.S. will be to refugees under the Trump administration has prompted many to consider going north — even if it means illegally.

And these dangerous hikes into Canada seem to be spiking, at least in some parts of the border.

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Date: 2017-02-10 09:07 am (UTC)
enotsola: (Default)
From: [personal profile] enotsola
2: Turning off these recordings really seems... not legal. Presidential record, and all that. There's also http://www.theverge.com/2017/2/9/14561786/confide-messaging-republican-gop-trump-administration-leaks which seems to be a problem as well.

9: EO index seems to show 3 from yesterday now. Presidential Executive Order on Enforcing Federal Law with Respect to Transnational Criminal Organizations and Preventing International Trafficking being the previously missing one.

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