solarbird: (korra-on-the-air)
[personal profile] solarbird
Quite the day.

Normally, I'm "Always lead with international fascism." But we have something possibly more urgent: the Trump administration desperately needs a war, the sooner the better, and conveniently, on a trip with essentially no press, complete fool pretending to be Secretary of State "Tillerson says diplomacy with North Korea has ‘failed’; Pyongyang warns of war." Why, how handy! Obviously, it's not the war Bannon really wants - he wants the RaHoWa, the Racial Holy War, against Arabic muslims, all to service his white supremacist vision for the US. But in a pinch, maybe it'll do.

I suppose that means we've already gone straight to the fascism, haven't we? Well, here's more.

"Flynn Received Funds From Instrument of Russian Government." Also a company working with Russian spies, which likely means more Russian government money. Neat! And absolutely verified! He didn't know who was sending him this money? Oh, that was pretty clearly a lie. So that's fun.

But the even bigger bomb is "EXCLUSIVE: Nazi-Allied Group Claims Top Trump Aide Sebastian Gorka As Sworn Member." Now, after spending a lot of time very much not denying this, I read that Gorka has in fact come out and denied it late yesterday, buuuuuut frankly I don't believe him. There are too many people making too many connections and saying "no, that's totally what he did," and it includes people who are proud of being fascists. See also, "Gutter Trash: Sebastian Gorka’s ties to a group of Nazi collaborators is a new low for Donald Trump’s administration."

To round this section out, we have "Stephen Bannon Is a Fan of a French Philosopher...Who Was an Anti-Semite and a Nazi Supporter." o rly? just one? Well, just one French one, I suppose. He is, after all, a FUCKING FASCIST. What else would he like? Also, we have, "Trump to Michigan gov: 'I never forget' those who didn't endorse me" - which is a matter of personal rule, one of the hallmarks of authoritarianism in any form.

Now, in terms of associated insanity, we have a few stories. "Trump leaked classified CIA intel to Tucker Carlson on live TV: ranking House intel member." That's also neat. The "GCHQ denies White House claim that UK spy agency helped wiretap Trump," which is apparently fairly unusual? They don't normally comment? But this is too much. We also have "Intel chair pushes back on Trump 'literal vs. serious' debate, says President's tweets matter," and Wired weighs in with "Trump Can’t Quit His Wiretap Claims. That Won’t End Well."

"The sneaky way the Trump administration is chilling government oversight" belongs in here too, but honestly, I'm not sure where.

Immigration! Let's get that out of the way before destroying the environment and budgetary issues. "Vancouver-based metal band denied entry to U.S. for SXSW festival" is about the third band blocked by US border patrol for no apparent reason other than racist assholery. At least, that I know about. More critically, Detroit hospitals are in trouble, what with "Trump immigration policies kill work visas for specialized Canadian nurses."

Finally, to the budget! We have "This Is the Ending Conservatives Always Wanted," "Here's what Trump's budget proposes to cut" (everything that isn't a massive military buildup isn't too far off), and "Trump’s Budget Would Kill a Program That Feeds 2.4 Million Senior Citizens." Lots of research being cut - "UW, Fred Hutch slam Trump’s proposed budget, calling it ‘major step backward’ and ‘indefensible’." That won't stop the rightists from supporting it, of course. The politically interesting bit, I think, is how "Trump has promised big spending on infrastructure. His budget cuts it" - Bannon's plan has been from the start to deficit-spend his way to popularity via a massive infrastructure plan, and to do so right out the gate. Instead, we have opposite. Is this a defeat, or a delay, for Bannon this front, and have they just decided it's better to go straight to a war? No way of knowing.

The axe is falling particularly hard on EPA, since this whole busload of literal, actual fascists all hate the world anyway, I guess. "Trump budget chief on climate change: 'We consider that to be a waste of your money'" (even as "Trump’s Defense Secretary Cites Climate Change as National Security Challenge" but one of the hallmarks of this is that nothing has to make sense), and "Republican senator thinks EPA cuts will keep the agency from ‘brainwashing our kids’." Perhaps that should't been up in "associated insanity." In terms of resistance, we have, "Blue states rush to block Trump’s emissions rollback." Good luck.

Overall, the word is, "Scientists urge moving to China or Germany over Trump budget: ‘Your future is brighter elsewhere’." The US is looking at a massive brain drain.

Which is, let's be honest, just fine with the fascists.


----- 1 -----
This Is the Ending Conservatives Always Wanted
You can draw a straight line from Reaganomics to Trump's budget.
By Charles P. Pierce | Esquire | Mar 16, 2017

http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/news/a53897/trump-budget-meals-wheels/

Every year, during the run-up to Halloween, when Jim DeMint goes to Hell's mega-mall and sits on Satan's lap, he has a list of things he wants for the holiday. The parents of the assembled demons and imps behind him in line often get frustrated because the list is so long. On Thursday, the Trump Administration released its proposed national budget. It's been a long time coming, but DeMint and the rest of the greasy barbarians at Heritage finally got most of what they asked for.

This proposed budget isn't extreme. Reagan's proposed budget in 1981 was extreme. This budget is short-sighted, cruel to the point of being sadistic, stupid to the point of pure philistinism, and shot through with the absolute and fundamentalist religious conviction that the only true functions of government are the ones that involve guns, and that the only true purpose of government is to serve the rich.

There is an increased stirring among allegedly respectable conservatives to separate themselves from the president* and his more manic supporters in the Congress and out in the country. To hell with them. Like Haman, they're dancing on a gallows they spent years devising. This budget represents the diamond-hard reality behind all those lofty pronouncements from oil-sodden think tanks, all those learned disquisitions in little, startlingly advertising-free magazines, all those earnest young graduates of prestige universities who dedicated their intellects to putting an educated gloss on greed and ignorance, and ideological camouflage on retrograde policies that should have died with Calvin Coolidge—or perhaps Louis XVI.

This is it, right here, this budget. This is the beau ideal of movement conservative governance. This is the logical, dystopian end of Reaganism, and Gingrichism, and Tea Partyism, and all the other Isms that movement conservatism has inflicted upon the political commonwealth. This is the vast, noxious swamp into which all those tributaries of modern conservative thought have emptied themselves. People die in there, swallowed up in deep sinkholes of empowered bigotry and class anger.


----- 2 -----
Trump leaked classified CIA intel to Tucker Carlson on live TV: ranking House intel member
David Ferguson | Raw Story
16 Mar 2017 at 13:19 ET

http://www.rawstory.com/2017/03/trump-leaked-classified-cia-intel-to-tucker-carlson-on-live-tv-ranking-house-intel-member/

Pres. Donald Trump either leaked classified intelligence information to the world or told another whopping fib on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show Wednesday when he said that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)’s servers were hacked under Pres. Barack Obama.

TheHill.com reported that Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said in a press release, “In his effort to once again blame Obama, the President appeared to have discussed something that, if true and accurate, would otherwise be considered classified information.”


----- 3 -----
Flynn Received Funds From Instrument of Russian Government
House Oversight and Government Reform Democrats
16 March 2017

https://medium.com/oversightdems/flynn-received-funds-from-instrument-of-russian-government-87dd347c97ef

Lt. General Michael Flynn, who served as the President's campaign advisor and National Security Advisor, admitted last July that he was paid to travel to Moscow in December 2015 to speak at a gala hosted by the Kremlin-backed media outlet known as RT (formerly Russia Today), during which he dined with Russian President Vladimir Putin. However, General Flynn refused to disclose the amount or source of his payment.

The Oversight Committee has now obtained new documents showing that RT - which U.S. intelligence agencies have been warning since 2012 is an instrument of the Russian government - paid more than $45,000 for General Flynn's participation. The documents reveal that General Flynn also received $11,250 from a Russian charter cargo airline and $11,250 from a top Russia-based cybersecurity corporation.


----- 4 -----
Vancouver-based metal band denied entry to U.S. for SXSW festival
Marsha Lederman
The Globe and Mail
Published Tuesday, Mar. 14, 2017

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/vancouver-based-metal-band-denied-entry-to-us-for-sxsw-festival/article34308117/

Before crossing the border at the Peace Arch from British Columbia into Washington State on Sunday to play the South by Southwest music festival, Cherine Amr did the new due diligence in the era of Donald Trump’s immigration ban: She deleted her Koran app from her phone, and made sure to erase text messages in Arabic.

“They get freaked out when they see Arabic,” Ms. Amr says. “We all do this now, every Muslim when they cross the border.”

Ms. Amr had done her homework: She had her documentation, including her Egyptian passport and a B-1 visa, as well as the invitation from SXSW.

It wasn’t enough. Ms. Amr’s band, Massive Scar Era, was denied entry.

“I don’t have to justify my reasons,” the border guard said, according to Ms. Amr, who lives in Burnaby.

“To be honest, the level of conversation was very respectful and calm,” she told The Globe and Mail. “He said I’m sorry I can’t do anything for you.”

Three people were in the car: Ms. Amr, who is from Egypt and is a permanent resident in Canada, where she has been living for about two years; bass guitarist Dylan Pieter Wijdenes-Charles, who also lives in Burnaby; and violinist Emily Jane Absalom, who lives in Vancouver and was to play in band member Nancy Mounir’s absence. Mr. Wijdenes-Charles and Ms. Absalom were both born in Canada.

Ms. Amr says they were told by a border officer that their B-1 visa – which had been granted by the U.S. consulate in Vancouver – was insufficient; they needed a P-2 visa. The band says it has played SXSW twice before and has used the B-1. They were to perform at a non-ticketed, free showcase and weren’t getting paid; rather, they had to pay a fee.

She says she was asked whether SXSW was a not-for-profit event and when she told the border officer that she didn’t know, he told her it was “on her” to have that information. She also says they were told that people were using the festival to protest.

She says they called SXSW in the officer’s presence and when a festival official asked to speak with the officer, he refused.

Furthermore, Mr. Wijdenes-Charles, who is First Nations, presented his Indian status card and was told that next time he tries to cross the border he should bring DNA or blood test results to prove he is First Nations, according to Ms. Amr.

...

SXSW, which has had several bands denied entry to the United States this year, sent a statement to The Globe from Jonathan Ginsburg, an expert in entertainment and immigration law now serving as immigration counsel to the festival.


----- 5 -----
Republican senator thinks EPA cuts will keep the agency from ‘brainwashing our kids’
Sen. Inhofe is glad the Environmental Protection Agency will be downsized 30 percent.
Samantha Page | Think Progress | 16 March 2017

[Mostly posted for the video clip - Think Progress isn't exactly a news source, but they will repost video from news sources]

https://thinkprogress.org/republican-senator-thinks-epa-cuts-will-keep-the-agency-from-brainwashing-our-kids-7da3183e267d#.ah0z01yrw

“We’re going to take [out] all this stuff that comes out of the EPA that’s brainwashing our kids, that is propaganda, things that aren’t true,” Inhofe said during a CNN interview on Thursday.


----- 6 -----
EXCLUSIVE: Nazi-Allied Group Claims Top Trump Aide Sebastian Gorka As Sworn Member
Lili Bayer and Larry Cohler-Esses | March 16, 2017 | Forward

[Note that these are all named sources]

http://forward.com/news/national/366181/exclusive-nazi-allied-group-claims-top-trump-aide-sebastian-gorka-as-sworn/

Sebastian Gorka, President Trump’s top counter-terrorism adviser, is a formal member of a Hungarian far-right group that is listed by the U.S. State Department as having been “under the direction of the Nazi Government of Germany” during World War II, leaders of the organization have told the Forward.

The elite order, known as the Vitézi Rend, was established as a loyalist group by Admiral Miklos Horthy, who ruled Hungary as a staunch nationalist from 1920 to October 1944. A self-confessed anti-Semite, Horthy imposed restrictive Jewish laws prior to World War II and collaborated with Hitler during the conflict. His cooperation with the Nazi regime included the deportation of hundreds of thousands of Jews into Nazi hands.

Gorka’s membership in the organization — if these Vitézi Rend leaders are correct, and if Gorka did not disclose this when he entered the United States as an immigrant — could have implications for his immigration status. The State Department’s Foreign Affairs Manual specifies that members of the Vitézi Rend “are presumed to be inadmissible” to the country under the Immigration and Nationality Act.

...

Gorka, who is a deputy assistant to the president, first provoked questions about his relationship to the Vitézi Rend after he publicly brandished its medal on his lapel at a presidential inauguration ball January 20. When questions were raised about this in February on the news website Lobelog and elsewhere, he explained it as a gesture of honor to his late father.

...

Soltész, who holds a national-level leadership position at the Vitézi Rend, confirmed to the Forward in a phone conversation that Gorka is a full member of the organization.

“Of course he was sworn in,” Pintér said, in a phone interview. “I met with him in Sopron [a city near Hungary’s border with Austria]. His father introduced him.”

“In today’s world it is rare to meet anyone as well-bred as Sebastian or his father, Pali,” he added.


----- 7 -----
Intel chair pushes back on Trump 'literal vs. serious' debate, says President's tweets matter
By Tom LoBianco, CNN
Updated 8:53 PM ET, Wed March 15, 2017

http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/15/politics/burr-nunes-trump-wiretap-literally/index.html

Washington (CNN)House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes chided the media Wednesday for taking President Donald Trump's wiretap accusations literally, but his Senate counterpart fired back that he takes the President so seriously he's spent the last few weeks searching the government for evidence.

"I take seriously anything the President says," Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr told reporters Wednesday. "If I didn't, then we wouldn't have searched and talked to every federal agency about whether there were any warrants that existed."

Both Burr and Nunes have said they have yet to see any evidence that Trump was wiretapped by then-President Barack Obama last year -- an allegation he tweeted almost two weeks ago, which has only added fuel to a trio of Russia investigations on Capitol Hill.

"We don't have any evidence that that took place and in fact I don't believe -- just in the last week of time, the people we've talked to -- I don't think there was an actual tap of Trump Tower," Nunes said earlier Wednesday.

But Nunes cautioned against reading too much into what the President says.


----- 8 -----
Trump immigration policies kill work visas for specialized Canadian nurses
Advanced practice nurses and nurse anesthetists told they no longer qualify for professional visas
CBC News Posted: Mar 15, 2017 4:36 PM ET Last Updated: Mar 15, 2017 5:31 PM ET

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/windsor/canadian-nurses-working-in-us-rejected-1.4026554

Canadian nurses working at Michigan hospitals were shocked last week when border security officers stopped them from entering the U.S. because of changes to their working visas under new immigration policies.

Staff at Detroit's Henry Ford Hospital heard reports of nurses unable to renew their working visas. Last week, a new Canadian hire at Henry Ford tried to go to work, but was turned away at the Windsor-Detroit border.

"We really question the motives," said immigration lawyer Marc Topoleski, whose firm is retained by the hospital. "All of the immigration executive orders and all the things being rolled out have been focused on national security first, and this is clearly not an issue of national security whatsoever."


----- 9 -----
Trump budget chief on climate change: 'We consider that to be a waste of your money'
By Dan Merica and Rene Marsh, CNN
Updated 7:16 PM ET, Thu March 16, 2017

http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/16/politics/donald-trump-budget-cut-epa/index.html

President Donald Trump released a $1.1 trillion budget outline Thursday that makes good on a series of campaign promises, including cutting Environmental Protection Agency by about one-third.

And his budget director made clear the administration has no intention of going back.

Asked at the White House about the cuts to climate change-related programs, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said those programs are "a waste of your money."

"Regarding the question as to climate change, I think the President was fairly straightforward. We're not spending money on that anymore. We consider that to be a waste of your money to go out and do that.' So that is a specific tie to his campaign," Mulvaney said.

Sources inside the EPA told CNN that they anticipated at least 25% in budget cuts, and possibly deeper. Trump delivered: 31%.


----- 10 -----
Here's what Trump's budget proposes to cut
By Tal Kopan, CNN
Updated 1:21 PM ET, Thu March 16, 2017

[Some of the cuts, anyway - all of which are balanced by massive ramp-ups in what is already the world's largest military budget by an overwhelming amount]
http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/16/politics/trump-budget-cuts/index.html

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump unveiled his first budget blueprint on Thursday, and to offset increases in defense spending, the President is proposing $54 billion in cuts to large parts of the federal government and popular programs big and small.

Trump's budget would cut off funding entirely for several agencies, including arts, public broadcasting and development groups, and also proposes steep cuts to agencies like the State Department and Environmental Protection Agency.

Virtually every agency will see some sort of cut, with only Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs getting a boost.


----- 11 -----
GCHQ denies White House claim that UK spy agency helped wiretap Trump
A spokesperson said allegations – repeated by press secretary Sean Spicer – that it helped Barack Obama spy on Trump were ‘utterly ridiculous’
The Guardian

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/mar/16/gchq-denies-wiretap-claim-trump-obama

In a highly unusual move, GCHQ has denied an allegation repeated by the White House press secretary on Thursday that the British spy agency had helped former president Barack Obama “wiretap” Donald Trump during the 2016 election.

“Recent allegations made by media commentator judge Andrew Napolitano about GCHQ being asked to conduct ‘wiretapping’ against the then president-elect are nonsense,” a GCHQ spokesperson said in a statement. “They are utterly ridiculous and should be ignored.”

This week, Napolitano, Fox News judicial analyst, claimed during an interview on the network that three intelligence sources confirmed to him that the Obama administration used GCHQ to spy on Trump so that there would be “no American fingerprints on this”.

...

Tim Farron, the leader of the Liberal Democrats – the junior partner in the last British coalition government – said Trump was “compromising the vital UK-US security relationship to try to cover his own embarrassment”.


----- 12 -----
Blue states rush to block Trump’s emissions rollback
By Reid Wilson - The Hill - 03/15/17 05:10 PM EDT

http://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/324179-blue-states-rush-to-block-trumps-emissions-rollback

Democratic attorneys general in 10 states are rushing to block President Trump’s pledge to roll back vehicle emissions standards set in motion by the Obama administration.

Trump on Wednesday said at an event in Detroit he will cancel former President Obama’s executive order on fuel mandates.

Attorneys general from California and New York said they would move to intervene in a lawsuit in federal court that challenges the Obama-era rules. That suit, brought by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, was filed Monday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

The filing would allow the two states to defend the mandates, which will require auto manufacturers to hit fuel economy standards of 54.5 miles per gallon by the year 2025.


----- 13 -----
Tillerson says diplomacy with North Korea has ‘failed’; Pyongyang warns of war
By Anna Fifield and Anne Gearan March 16, 2017 at 11:08 AM
The Washington Post

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/tillerson-stresses-regional-cooperation-to-curb-north-koreas-weapons-programs/2017/03/16/4ec5e07c-09ab-11e7-bd19-fd3afa0f7e2a_story.html?hpid=hp_hp-top-table-main_tillerson-8a%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.ba0c15976c07

TOKYO — The Trump administration made a clear break Thursday with diplomatic efforts to talk North Korea out of a nuclear confrontation, bringing the United States and its Asian allies closer to a military response than at any point in more than a decade.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that 20 years of trying to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear program had failed and that he was visiting Asia “to exchange views on a new approach.”

Soon after Tillerson’s remarks, in a sign of mounting tensions, the North Korean Embassy held an extraordinary news conference in Beijing to blame the potential for nuclear war on the United States while vowing that its homegrown nuclear testing program will continue in self-defense.


----- 14 -----
UW, Fred Hutch slam Trump’s proposed budget, calling it ‘major step backward’ and ‘indefensible’
President Donald Trump’s proposed budget cuts, which would hit federal research funding hard, are “a major step backward for American research and innovation,” the president of the University of Washington said.
By Katherine Long | The Seattle Times | Originally published March 16, 2017 at 4:51 pm

http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/education/uw-fred-hutch-slam-trumps-proposed-budget-calling-it-major-step-backward-and-indefensible/

Leaders at the University of Washington and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center — two of the largest recipients of federal money for health research in the nation — slammed President Donald Trump’s proposed budget Thursday.

The proposed cuts “represent a major step backward for American scientific research and innovation,” University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce said in a statement.

The proposed cuts “are indefensible and would severely impede our progress” toward finding a cure for cancer, said Gary Gilliland, president and director of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, during a news conference.

If enacted by Congress, the proposed cut of nearly 20 percent to the National Institutes of Health budget could lead to the loss of millions of research dollars to the area.

The UW gets nearly a billion dollars in federal money annually to research cancer, Alzheimer’s, opioid abuse and heart disease, just to name a few. It gets more federal research funding than any other public university in the nation, and is second only to the private Johns Hopkins University.


----- 15 -----
Stephen Bannon Is a Fan of a French Philosopher...Who Was an Anti-Semite and a Nazi Supporter
Charles Maurras was sentenced to life in prison for complicity with the Nazis.
Pema Levy | Mother Jones | Mar. 16, 2017

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/03/stephen-bannon-fan-french-anti-semite-who-sided-nazis

Stephen Bannon, President Donald Trump's chief strategist, recently spoke approvingly of the ideas of an anti-Semitic French intellectual who was sentenced to life in prison for cooperating with the Nazis during World War II.

In an article on Bannon's interactions with European right-wing nationalists who want to break apart the European Union, Politico reported last week that Bannon has "expressed admiration for the reactionary French philosopher Charles Maurras, according to French media reports confirmed by Politico." Recent articles in French media claim Bannon favorably cited Maurras to a French diplomat. Politico describes Maurras as a Catholic nationalist—like Bannon—and notes that Bannon has parroted several of Maurras' ideas. A hero to members of Europe's far right, Maurras is a natural fit for Bannon, who has expressed support for Brexit and France's National Front movement and is known to hate the European Union.

But Maurras was more than a nationalist. He was an infamous anti-Semite, whose anti-Jewish views were central to his outlook. From 1908 to 1944, Maurras edited the anti-Semitic paper L'Action Francaise, the organ of an eponymous movement that was anti-democratic and pro-monarchy. The movement was born out of the Dreyfus Affair, an international controversy in which an innocent Jewish soldier was convicted in 1894 of passing secrets to the Germans, a crime for which he was later exonerated. The movement's "founding prejudice" was that Dreyfus was in fact guilty and that those who supported him were undermining France, according to Frederick Brown's The Embrace of Unreason: France, 1914-1940. Maurras spent years writing anti-Semitic articles. He referred to the French government, known as the Third Republic, as "the Jew State, the Masonic State, the immigrant State."

In 1936, Maurras served eight months in prison for inciting the attempted assassination of Jewish politician Léon Blum and other French officials. According to Carmen Callil's Bad Faith: A Forgotten History of Family, Fatherland and Vichy France, Maurras penned numerous articles calling for Blum to be lynched and shot in the back and have his throat slit.

...

Maurras is not the only racist or anti-democratic intellectual Bannon has gravitated toward. According to Politico, he has been in contact with Curtis Yarvin, a blogger who believes democracy is a failed form of government and whose ideas are influential to the white nationalist "alt-right" movement. The Huffington Post recently reported that Bannon is a big fan of a racist French novel, The Camp of the Saints, about immigrants invading Europe. The White House did not respond to a request for comment.


----- 16 -----
Trump’s Defense Secretary Cites Climate Change as National Security Challenge
James Mattis’ unpublished testimony before a Senate panel recognizes a threat others in the administration reject or minimize.
by Andrew Revkin | ProPublica, March 14, 2017, 11:17 a.m.

https://www.propublica.org/article/trumps-defense-secretary-cites-climate-change-national-security-challenge

Secretary of Defense James Mattis has asserted that climate change is real, and a threat to American interests abroad and the Pentagon’s assets everywhere, a position that appears at odds with the views of the president who appointed him and many in the administration in which he serves.

In unpublished written testimony provided to the Senate Armed Services Committee after his confirmation hearing in January, Mattis said it was incumbent on the U.S. military to consider how changes like open-water routes in the thawing Arctic and drought in global trouble spots can pose challenges for troops and defense planners. He also stressed this is a real-time issue, not some distant what-if.

“Climate change is impacting stability in areas of the world where our troops are operating today,” Mattis said in written answers to questions posed after the public hearing by Democratic members of the committee. “It is appropriate for the Combatant Commands to incorporate drivers of instability that impact the security environment in their areas into their planning.”


----- 17 -----
Trump Can’t Quit His Wiretap Claims. That Won’t End Well
by Brian Barrett| | Wired | 03.16.17

https://www.wired.com/2017/03/trump-wiretap-claims/

Barack Obama did not wiretap Trump Tower ahead of the presidential election. The definitive word on this came today from two people who would know: Richard Burr and Mark Warner, who lead the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Of course, President Donald Trump refuses to believe this, even though it is the best news he could hope for.

If you’ve somehow avoided this madcap story, 12 days ago Trump made a series of increasingly angry tweets accusing Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower. He called the former president a “bad (or sick) guy” and provided absolutely no evidence supporting his claim. Obama, through a spokesman, categorically denied the charge. In the days since, Democratic and Republican lawmakers alike denounced the claim, and former CIA Director Michael Hayden dismissed the assertion outright.

None of which stopped Trump and his associates from spending the past two weeks executing all manner of logical contortions to keep the story alive. Trump commands the most powerful intelligence apparatus in the world. If he wanted to know for sure, he could literally just ask. If he found any evidence, he could declassify it. Instead, he punted, turning the matter over to Congress.


----- 18 -----
Trump’s Budget Would Kill a Program That Feeds 2.4 Million Senior Citizens
Alana Abramson | TIME
Updated: Mar 16, 2017

http://time.com/money/4703456/trump-budget-meals-on-wheels/

President Donald Trump's 2018 budget plan would end a program that provides funding for Meals on Wheels.

A proposal of the Trump budget, released Thursday morning, calls for the complete elimination of the Community Development Block Grant program, which operates under the Department of Housing and Urban Development and covers Meals on Wheels. The budget plan estimates that cutting the program would save the government $3 billion.

"The Federal Government has spent over $150 billion on this block grant since its inception in 1974, but the program is not well-targeted to the poorest populations and has not demonstrated results," the draft of the budget says.

A representative for Meals on Wheels said not enough details were provided to discern how this budget would impact the program, but that "it is difficult to imagine a scenario in which they will not be significantly and negatively impacted."


----- 19 -----
Gutter Trash
Sebastian Gorka’s ties to a group of Nazi collaborators is a new low for Donald Trump’s administration.
By Michelle Goldberg | SLATE

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2017/03/a_top_trump_aide_has_been_strongly_linked_to_a_nazi_group.html

No matter how low your opinion of Donald Trump and his cronies, somehow they still manage to surprise you. It’s been evident for a while now that Sebastian Gorka, Trump’s top counterterrorism adviser, has at least flirted with fascism. One clue was when Gorka, who was born in London to Hungarian parents, dressed up for one of Trump’s inaugural balls in a black braided jacket popular with the Hungarian far right, pinned with a medal associated with Hungarian Nazi collaborators. Then in February, Jewish newspaper the Forward found that from 2002–2007, when Gorka was active in politics in Hungary, he worked closely with anti-Semitic politicians and wrote for openly anti-Semitic newspapers.

Even knowing all that, however, Thursday’s Forward scoop is startling. Reporters Lili Bayer and Larry Cohler-Esses found strong evidence that Gorka swore a lifetime oath to a far-right Hungarian group, the Vitézi Rend. The State Department classifies the Vitézi Rend as having been “under the direction of the Nazi Government of Germany” during World War II; as such, members are “presumed to be inadmissible” to America under the Immigration and Nationality Act and must disclose their membership on immigration applications. (The organization was banned in Hungary following World War II but reconstituted after the fall of communism.)

Two leaders of the Vitézi Rend told Forward that Gorka is a full member. Further, members of the group, who undergo “a solemn initiation rite,” adopt a lowercase “v.” as a middle initial. There are multiple records of Gorka spelling his name “Sebastian L. v. Gorka,” including on his 2008 doctoral dissertation and in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee in 2011. Gorka didn’t respond to the Forward’s requests for comment, and when a reporter from Buzzfeed contacted him, he stonewalled, saying, “Send a request to White House press.”

...

Since Leibovitz fails to refute the Forward’s reporting, a fuller airing of the truth about Gorka’s connections to the group is needed. If he has any, he needs to be fired. After nearly two months of this blitzkrieg administration, everyone’s a bit overwhelmed and desensitized; it’s why the Forward’s initial investigation into Gorka’s anti-Semitic connections didn’t cause more of a stir. But even by the gutter standards of our terrible era, we might expect bipartisan consensus that pledging lifetime loyalty to Nazi collaborators renders a person unfit to serve at the highest level of the U.S. government. Indeed, in a half-functional country, there would be congressional hearings into how this apparent fascist parvenu got as close to power as he has.

“This is really serious,” says Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. “When groups that we monitor start showing up, not on extremist webpages or at Nazi rallies, but within the highest echelons of government, it’s extraordinarily disturbing.”

...

Bannon himself is an outspoken admirer of the anti-Semitic French philosopher Charles Maurras, who as Pema Levy reports in Mother Jones, referred to France’s Third Republic as “the Jew State, the Masonic State, the immigrant State,” and who was sentenced to prison after the war for his complicity with the Nazis.


----- 20 -----
The sneaky way the Trump administration is chilling government oversight
The inspectors general aren’t often in the news, but they’re a critical part of government oversight.
Laurel Raymond | General Reporter at ThinkProgress | 16 March 2017

https://thinkprogress.org/the-sneaky-way-the-trump-administration-is-chilling-government-oversight-9251d666a54e#.t0j283thu

With one party in control of both Congress and the White House, independent government oversight offices are more important now than ever — especially as President Donald Trump’s network of business entanglements pushes the American presidency deep into unprecedented ethical territory.

Trump, however, has shown little regard to the advice of independent offices, outright ignoring the advice of the Office of Government Ethics that he divest from his businesses. And, lost amidst the hubbub over his controversial policy initiatives, alleged ties to Russia, and ethical questions, the Trump administration’s policies and actions could have a crippling effect on the power of another critical watchdog group — the inspectors general.

...

“Nearly two months into your Administration, I am already troubled by several actions that could hamper inspectors’ general ability to hold your Administration accountable,” Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) wrote in a letter Trump on Wednesday, which ThinkProgress obtained.

In his letter, Casey outlines three actions Trump has taken that impede the inspectors general.


----- 21 -----
Trump to Michigan gov: 'I never forget' those who didn't endorse me
By Max Greenwood - 03/16/17 04:30 PM EDT

http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/324366-trump-to-michigan-gov-i-dont-forget-those-who-didnt-endorse-me

President Trump has a message for Republicans who didn't endorse him during his bid for the White House: "I never forget."

The president was appearing alongside Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, a Republican, on Wednesday to tout plans to bolster manufacturing in the state and review Obama-era fuel-standard regulations opposed by automakers.

"Come on governor, even though you didn’t endorse me,” Trump quipped. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, who was also in attendance, laughed and remarked that "he's not forgotten."

"I never forget," Trump replied.


----- 22 -----
Trump has promised big spending on infrastructure. His budget cuts it
By Thomas Frank
Updated 7:02 PM ET, Thu March 16, 2017

http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/16/politics/trump-infrastructure/

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump is proposing to cut or eliminate several key federal infrastructure programs despite repeated vows to increase spending on roads, utilities and other vital facilities.

Trump's budget director said the White House will uphold Trump's pledge for $1 trillion in new infrastructure spending through an unspecified "infrastructure package" to be released later.

But the cuts described in a budget outline Thursday drew rebukes from some lawmakers and infrastructure advocates, who accused Trump of hypocrisy.

"For someone who says he wants to invest in infrastructure, I don't see any evidence of it in this budget," said Beth Osborne, a senior policy adviser at Transportation for America, a nonpartisan group that urges investment in transportation.


----- 23 -----
Scientists urge moving to China or Germany over Trump budget: ‘Your future is brighter elsewhere’
by ELIZABETH KOH | ekoh@mcclatchy.com
16 March 2017

http://www.newsobserver.com/news/nation-world/national/article138857268.html

President Donald Trump’s proposed budget released Thursday dealt harsh cuts to federal funding for scientific research, prompting American scientists across the country to condemn what they feared might cripple the nation’s scientific advancement.

But some scientists also responded with a sense of resignation: telling younger scientists and researchers to consider giving up on the United States and moving to China, Germany or other countries instead to pursue their careers.

“If Trump's science budget passes, my advice to bright young scientists is: leave the United States,” wrote Alex Wild, a curator of entomology at the University of Texas at Austin, adding that he would recommend Germany or China. “Your future is brighter elsewhere.”

Wild added in another tweet that he didn’t necessarily want those younger scientists to go — but that they should figure out what would be best for their careers.

...

Scientific organizations also roundly criticized the cuts, Science Magazine reported, suggesting the decrease in funding could undermine America’s status at the forefront of scientific development.

“Cuts this deep threaten America's ability to remain a leader,” said Benjamin Corb, public affairs director of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in a statement. “It is of grave concern to the research community that President Trump's budget proposal – which would fund the agency at a 15-year low – values investments in defense above all other federal expenditures.”

...

According to Forbes, almost 20 percent of American scientists already consider moving abroad to pursue research. Even before Trump’s administration released the budget, other countries had made overtures to American scientists. Emmanuel Macron, a French presidential candidate, urged Americans to consider coming to France in February, though he did not reference Trump by name.
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