solarbird: (korra-on-the-air)
[personal profile] solarbird
Another wonderful day in Bedlam. There are so many stories I've listed them by topic. Sadly they aren't really in this order, but the headlines are preserved so if you search for the first part of the headline you'll find it in the main body below.

Lots on the new muslim-targeted immigration ban - the racist intent, and the people trapped up in the wash, and all that. But this block also includes anti-immigrant stories generally. It's not a good picture:
  • Twitter thread on Trump new muslim immigration ban - why we have to fight this one as hard as the first one
  • ACLU Comment on Trump’s New Muslim Ban
  • Revised executive order bans travelers from six Muslim-majority countries from getting new visas
  • Veteran fighting deportation after 2 tours in Afghanistan
  • Canadian woman en route to Vermont spa denied entry to U.S., told she needs immigrant visa
  • The Big (Imaginary) Black Friday Bombing (how Trump turned an FBI sting into a fake terrorist attack)
  • [American] Gold Star father Khizr Khan cancels scheduled speech in Toronto after being told his "travel privileges are being reviewed."
  • The Real Goal of Trump’s Travel Ban Is to Make America White Again

Racism and anti-semitism has a bit of a field day; former KKK leader David Duke's twitter account was suspended, but then restored; also, another book Bannon likes to reference a lot, and compare the current refugee crisis to, and of course it's viciously racist. To wit:
  • Muslim Students Trying to Meet Oklahoma Lawmaker Are Asked: 'Do You Beat Your Wife?'
  • David Duke’s Twitter Account Restored, Including Tweet Threatening Synagogues
  • This Stunningly Racist French Novel Is How Steve Bannon Explains The World
  • Study: Black people more likely to be wrongfully convicted

The ICE detainee story probably belongs above, but it also fits here in FASCISM AND POLICE STATE, so I'm putting it here. The III% (three-percent) militant asking Trump to call them up as an army in his (Trump's) defence is pretty fun stuff, by which I mean, sedition. Also, look for more attempts to get a Constitutional Convention going, and the revival of Obama Is Evil And The Villain Of Our Times in rightist media continues apace:
  • Thousands of ICE detainees claim they were forced into labor, a violation of anti-slavery laws
  • 4 Washington state firms interested in building Trump’s border wall
  • After travel ban, interest in trips to U.S. declines
  • George Stephanopoulos has to repeatedly fact-check Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee live
  • ‘Economic terrorism’ bill would toughen penalties on protesters who block roads, damage property
  • III% Anti-government militant makes video for Trump pledging to take up arms if Trump requests on Twitter
  • Republicans and the Constitution: Article V allows a method of proposing amendments that cuts Congress out entirely. This partisanship is just what our founders were trying to avoid.
  • Republicans All Over the Country Are Pushing These Anti-Protest Bills to Silence Peaceful Dissent
  • Right-Wing Media Scramble To Recast Obama As Trump-Era Villain

It's hard to believe that Trump's Russian ties are this far down, isn't it? And yet, here we go:
  • Russian Hackers Said to Seek Hush Money From Liberal Groups
  • Comey Asks Justice Dept. to Reject Trump’s Wiretapping Claim
  • Knives are out for Reince
  • AP FACT CHECK: Trump takes credit where it’s not deserved
  • The former British lawmaker at the heart of the Trump wiretap allegations
  • EXCLUSIVE: FBI ‘Granted FISA Warrant’ Covering Trump Camp’s Ties To Russia
  • GOP rep: Trump should 'purge Leftists' from White House
  • Trump wants Congress to investigate leaks
  • Obama 'could not have directed' alleged wire-tapping: former CIA director

TRUMP AND CORRUPTION is a one-entry section, but it didn't quite fit above. But it's a doozy:
  • Donald Trump’s Worst Deal: The President helped build a hotel in Azerbaijan that appears to be a corrupt operation engineered by oligarchs tied to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.

Anti-queer activity is relatively low - a meaningful setback on trans rights following Sessions reversing course in court, and an attack on an LGBT centre in Oklahoma:
  • US Supreme Court vacates decision, sends back to appeals court for reconsideration
  • Dennis R. Neill Equality Center vandalised

Late in the day, we got a first round of stories on the ACA/"Obamacare" repeal and 'replacement.' It's not designed to insure coverage, it's designed to cut taxes for the upper-middle and upper classes, insured rates will drop like a stone, and they're going after abortion rights (of course) and Planned Parenthood (of course) with a vengeance:
  • Why House Republicans Are Rewriting Their Obamacare ‘Replacement’
  • GOP releases bills to repeal and replace ObamaCare
  • Trump Tells Planned Parenthood Its Funding Can Stay if Abortion Goes
  • GOP Drops Obamacare Replacement Bill, Includes Planned Parenthood Defunding
  • The GOP's Obamacare repeal plan is out--and it's even worse than anyone expected

Two stories in the continuing attack on the environment:
  • ‘Shell knew’: oil giant's 1991 film warned of climate change danger
  • STATEMENT: Rob Bishop’s $50 million land giveaway budget request

And finally, being a bad example still means you're an example to some people:
  • Amid US travel ban, Israel set to bar entry to boycott activists

Good luck out there.

----- 1 -----
Twitter thread on Trump new muslim immigration ban
Alexandra Erin (@alexandraerin) on Twitter
6 March 2017

[See entire thread, both upwards and downwards from this particular tweet]

I'm not giong to mince words, babies: we've got to fight this one just as hard as we fought the last one.

----- 2 -----
ACLU Comment on Trump’s New Muslim Ban
American Civil Liberties Union
6 March 2017

NEW YORK — The Trump administration today announced a new Muslim ban executive order.

Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, had this reaction:

“The Trump administration has conceded that its original Muslim ban was indefensible. Unfortunately, it has replaced it with a scaled-back version that shares the same fatal flaws. The only way to actually fix the Muslim ban is not to have a Muslim ban. Instead, President Trump has recommitted himself to religious discrimination, and he can expect continued disapproval from both the courts and the people.

“What's more, the changes the Trump administration has made, and everything we've learned since the original ban rolled out, completely undermine the bogus national security justifications the president has tried to hide behind and only strengthen the case against his unconstitutional executive orders.”

----- 3 -----
Revised executive order bans travelers from six Muslim-majority countries from getting new visas
By David Nakamura and Matt Zapotosky
The Washington Post
March 6, 2017

[Full revised text: ]

President Trump signed a new travel ban Monday that administration officials said they hope will end legal challenges over the matter by imposing a 90-day ban on the issuance of new visas for citizens of six majority-Muslim nations, authorities said.

In addition, the nation’s refu­gee program will be suspended for 120 days, and it will not accept more than 50,000 refugees in a year, down from the 110,000 cap set by the Obama administration.

Trump signed the new ban out of public view, according to White House officials. The order will not take effect until March 16, officials said.


The new order provides other exceptions not contained explicitly in previous versions: for travelers from those countries who are legal permanent residents of the United States, dual nationals who use a passport from another country and those who have been granted asylum or refu­gee status. Anyone who holds a visa now should be able to get into the country without any problems, though those whose visas expire will have to reapply, officials said.

----- 4 -----
Thousands of ICE detainees claim they were forced into labor, a violation of anti-slavery laws
By Kristine Phillips | The Washington Post
March 5, 2017

Tens of thousands of immigrants detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement were forced to work for $1 day, or for nothing at all — a violation of federal anti-slavery laws — a lawsuit claims.

The lawsuit, filed in 2014 against one of the largest private prison companies in the country, reached class-action status this week after a federal judge’s ruling. That means the case could involve as many as 60,000 immigrants who have been detained.

It’s the first time a class-action lawsuit accusing a private U.S. prison company of forced labor has been allowed to move forward.

“That’s obviously a big deal; it’s recognizing the possibility that a government contractor could be engaging in forced labor,” said Nina DiSalvo, executive director of Towards Justice, a Colorado-based nonprofit group that represents low-wage workers, including undocumented immigrants. “Certification of the class is perhaps the only mechanism by which these vulnerable individuals who were dispersed across the country and across the world would ever be able to vindicate their rights.”

At the heart of the dispute is the Denver Contract Detention Facility, a 1,500-bed center in Aurora, Colo., owned and operated by GEO Group under a contract with ICE. The Florida-based corporation runs facilities to house immigrants who are awaiting their turn in court.


The original nine plaintiffs claim that detainees at the ICE facility are forced to work without pay — and that those who refuse to do so are threatened with solitary confinement.

Specifically, the lawsuit claims, six detainees are selected at random every day and are forced to clean the facility’s housing units. The lawsuit claims that the practice violates the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which prohibits modern-day slavery.


GEO Group also is accused of violating Colorado’s minimum wage laws by paying detainees $1 day instead of the state’s minimum wage of about $9 an hour. The company “unjustly enriched” itself through the cheap labor of detainees, the lawsuit says.

----- 5 -----
US Supreme Court vacates decision, sends back to appeals court for reconsideration
[Via various tweets - 6 March 2017]

[This is a response to the Trump administration/Sessions's withdrawal of guidance in support of Gavin Grimm's case, and vacates a pro-rights ruling]

Chris Geidner (@chrisgeidner)
BREAKING: #SCOTUS sends Gloucester v. GG back to appeals court, so it can reconsider trans student's case in light of admin's policy change.

Geoffrey Lou Guray‏ (@glguray)
[This m]eans #SCOTUS will not hear arguments on 3/28 as planned. Instead vacates 4th Circuit ruling in favor of Gavin Grimm

Amanda Wright‏ (@awright922)
This is quite a setback. Still possibility for a good outcome long term but.... ugh. The courts are slow slow slow justice makers.

Bradd Jaffy‏ (@BraddJaffy) - NBC News
SCOTUS has rejected bathroom case & wiped out a ruling in transgender student's favor, in light of Trump's policy change — @PeteWilliamsNBC
Quoted via image:
"In a blow to advocates of transgender rights, the U.S. Supreme Court today said it would not hear the appeal of a transgender student from Virginia.
"The Court sent the case of Gavin Grimm back to the lower courts. But it wiped off the books a lower court ruling in his favor, instructing the appeals court to take another look at the case, in light of the Trump administration's chance of policy on the transgender issue."

----- 6 -----
Russian Hackers Said to Seek Hush Money From Liberal Groups
by Michael Riley | Bloomberg
March 6, 2017, 2:00 AM PST

Russian hackers are targeting U.S. progressive groups in a new wave of attacks, scouring the organizations’ emails for embarrassing details and attempting to extract hush money, according to two people familiar with probes being conducted by the FBI and private security firms.

At least a dozen groups have faced extortion attempts since the U.S. presidential election, said the people, who provided broad outlines of the campaign. The ransom demands are accompanied by samples of sensitive data in the hackers’ possession.


“I would be cautious concluding that this has any sort of Russian government backing,” said John Hultquist, director of cyber espionage analysis at FireEye Inc., after the outline of the attacks was described to him. “Russian government hackers have aggressively targeted think tanks, and even masqueraded as ransomware operations, but it’s always possible it is just another shakedown.”

----- 7 -----
Comey Asks Justice Dept. to Reject Trump’s Wiretapping Claim
MARCH 5, 2017

WASHINGTON — The F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, asked the Justice Department this weekend to publicly reject President Trump’s assertion that President Barack Obama ordered the tapping of Mr. Trump’s phones, senior American officials said on Sunday. Mr. Comey has argued that the highly charged claim is false and must be corrected, they said, but the department has not released any such statement.

Mr. Comey, who made the request on Saturday after Mr. Trump leveled his allegation on Twitter, has been working to get the Justice Department to knock down the claim because it falsely insinuates that the F.B.I. broke the law, the officials said.

A spokesman for the F.B.I. declined to comment. Sarah Isgur Flores, the spokeswoman for the Justice Department, also declined to comment.

Mr. Comey’s request is a remarkable rebuke of a sitting president, putting the nation’s top law enforcement official in the position of questioning Mr. Trump’s truthfulness. The confrontation between the two is the most serious consequence of Mr. Trump’s weekend Twitter outburst, and it underscores the dangers of what the president and his aides have unleashed by accusing the former president of a conspiracy to undermine Mr. Trump’s young administration.

The White House showed no indication that it would back down from Mr. Trump’s claims. On Sunday, the president demanded a congressional inquiry into whether Mr. Obama had abused the power of federal law enforcement agencies before the 2016 presidential election. In a statement from his spokesman, Mr. Trump called “reports” about the wiretapping “very troubling” and said Congress should examine them as part of its investigations into Russia’s meddling in the election.


It is not clear why Mr. Comey did not issue a statement himself. He is the most senior law enforcement official who was kept on the job as the Obama administration gave way to the Trump administration. And while the Justice Department applies for intelligence-gathering warrants, the F.B.I. keeps its own records and is in a position to know whether Mr. Trump’s claims are true. While intelligence officials do not normally discuss the existence or nonexistence of surveillance warrants, no law prevents Mr. Comey from issuing the statement.

----- 8 -----
Knives are out for Reince
Trump’s chief of staff is becoming a singular target of criticism as persistent controversies plague the presidency.
By Alex Isenstadt and Josh Dawsey | Politico

As the White House struggles to gain its footing almost two months into Donald Trump’s presidency, administration officials increasingly put the blame on one person: Reince Priebus.

In interviews, more than a dozen Trump aides, allies, and others close to the White House said Priebus, the 44-year-old chief of staff, was becoming a singular target of criticism within the White House.

They described a micromanager who sprints from one West Wing meeting to another, inserting himself into conversations big and small and leaving many staffers with the impression that he’s trying to block their access to Trump. They vented about his determination to fill the administration with his political allies. And they expressed alarm at what they say are directionless morning staff meetings Priebus oversees that could otherwise be used to rigorously set the day’s agenda and counterbalance the president’s own unpredictability.

The finger-pointing further complicates life in an already turmoil-filled West Wing, one that has been hobbled by dueling power centers and unclear lines of command.

“There’s a real frustration among many — including from the president — that things aren’t going as smoothly as one had hoped,” said one senior administration official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal. “Reince, fairly or not, is likely to take the blame and take the fault for that.”

“It’s sheer incompetence,” said another White House official. “There’s a lack of management, and a lack of strategy.”

----- 9 -----
The Big (Imaginary) Black Friday Bombing
How the case of conflicted teenager Mohamed Mohamud — convinced by the FBI he was bombing a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland, Oregon — could determine whether the American government is allowed to spy wholesale on its citizens.
by Nicolás Medina Mora and Mike Hayes
15 November 2015 | Buzzfeed

[I'm listing this, despite the fact it's old, because _this FBI sting_ is apparently one of the "terrorist plots" the new six-country Muslim-targeted travel ban order references to justify that order.]

On Nov. 4, 2010, a small cell of al-Qaeda operatives convened at a Starbucks in Corvallis, Oregon, to review the details of their plot to kill 25,000 people in downtown Portland. The cell had three members: Hussein, an explosives expert; Youssef, a businessman turned jihadi recruiter; and Mohamed Osman Mohamud, a 19-year-old Somali-American college student.

The would-be terrorists had met earlier that year, after one of Mohamud’s friends from the mosque recommended him to the Council, a secret jihadi organization that scoured the globe for potential operators. Hussein and Youssef flew to Oregon to meet the teen, whom they called “a jewel in the rough.” Together, the three conceived a plot to detonate an 1,800-pound bomb during Portland’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony, a yearly Black Friday tradition in Pioneer Square, the city’s main plaza. Mohamud chose the target. Hussein and Youssef designed and built the bomb.


The three headed to a hotel in downtown Portland, where they prayed and ordered a pizza. They turned on the TV and watched the crowds march into Pioneer Square under light rain.

Around sunset, Hussein and Mohamud drove the bomb to the chosen corner. Mohamud flipped the toggle switch attached to the detonator, arming the bomb. Youssef picked up Mohamud and Hussein in a different car and drove them to Union Station. As the three left the scene, Mohamud said he thought he saw his mother heading toward the ceremony.

After dropping off Youssef at the train station, Hussein and Mohamud parked in a nearby garage. The explosives expert handed the teen a cell phone. The teenager dialed the detonator number. Nothing happened.

“Why don’t you get out of the car and try again?” Hussein said.

Mohamud did as he was told. As he pressed the last button, he heard a group of people running at him.

“Don’t move!” someone yelled.

Suddenly, Mohamud was on the ground. He could hear Hussein screaming, “Allahu akbar!” — God is great — over and over again. After the third or fourth time, the 17 arresting officers started to laugh.

The bomb Mohamud had tried to detonate was fake. The test explosion was staged. There was no secret council of militant leaders seeking a gifted Somali-American teenager to wage jihad. Youssef and Hussein were undercover FBI agents.


The Black Friday non-bombing of Portland was a federal government sting, the result of a yearlong operation involving dozens of people, a secret court order, and a massive surveillance apparatus.

----- 10 -----
Why House Republicans Are Rewriting Their Obamacare ‘Replacement’
House staff are re-writing their legislation to correct a major flaw in its structure: giving people a new entitlement for health insurance will cause millions to drop employer insurance.
The Federalist | By Christopher Jacobs
March 6, 2017

On Friday, Politico reported that Republicans were considering ways to amend their Obamacare “replacement” legislation, by placing income limits on the bill’s new refundable tax credit for health insurance. The Politico story implied the income cap sought to prevent wealthy individuals like Warren Buffett from obtaining federal subsidies for health insurance, but in reality House staff are re-writing their legislation to correct a major flaw in its structure.

Based on my conversations with multiple sources close to the effort, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) had indicated to congressional staff that the prior House framework could see at least 10 million, and potentially up to 20 million, individuals losing employer-sponsored health insurance. Further, CBO stated that that House framework, even after including a refundable tax credit for health insurance, would not cover many more people than repealing Obamacare outright.

By comparison, Obamacare led to about 7 million plan cancellation notices in the fall of 2013. While those cancellations caused a major political firestorm, the framework the House released prior to the recess could cause a loss of employer coverage of several times that number. What’s more, that framework as described looks for all intents and purposes like a legislative orphan appealing to no one—neither moderates nor conservatives—within the Republican party:

• A significant erosion of up to 10-20 million individuals with employer-provided health coverage;
• A new entitlement—the refundable tax credits—that by and large wouldn’t expand coverage, but instead cause individuals currently in employer plans to switch to the credits;
• More federal spending via the refundable tax credits;
• A tax increase—a cap on the current exclusion for employer-provided health coverage—to pay for the new spending on the credits; and
• An increase in the uninsured (compared to Obamacare) of at least 15 million—nearly as much as repealing the law outright.

Details of the bill are changing constantly, and no doubt House leadership will claim these figures pertain to prior drafts of the legislation. But even if those numbers reflect outdated drafts, the combination of major re-writes to the bill and the lack of a CBO score at any point in the process thus far should cause significant pause on Capitol Hill. Members are being asked to vote on legislation before knowing its full effects, or even how it will look in its final version.

----- 11 -----
4 Washington state firms interested in building Trump’s border wall
Some Washington state companies have expressed interest in helping build President Trump’s proposed wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, which could be a $20 billion construction project.
by Jim Brunner | The Seattle Times
Originally published March 6, 2017

[You may wish to consider, if you do this sort of business, whether you wish to do business with these businesses]

President Donald Trump’s promised “big, beautiful wall” along the U.S.-Mexico border faces many unknowns, not the least of which is who will pay for it.

Still, the administration is moving swiftly to get started — and some Washington businesses are looking for a piece of the construction project, which by some estimates could cost more than $20 billion.

As of Friday, representatives of least four Washington companies had responded to a presolicitation notice on a federal business opportunities website.

The government is asking firms to submit concepts by March 10 for “the design and build of several prototype wall structures” along the 2,000-mile southern border. The Department of Homeland Security said a formal bid process would start next week, with contract awards by mid-April.

The border wall is expected to draw interest from giant design and construction companies. More than 300 companies, large and small, had responded as “interested vendors” to the presolicitation notice as of Friday.

That included Dominion Pipe and Piling, a steel supplier with locations in Auburn and Longview. The company is a subsidiary of Varsteel, a Canadian steel-services company.

... [Also: American Piledriving Equipment, of Kent, and see below]


Abraham Hengyucius also submitted an expression of interest in the project, under the business name Kono Fixed Income Fund of 1511, located in Bellevue. He has made news headlines in the past for business and legal troubles.

Hengyucius, formerly named Hengyu Zhang, announced plans in 2007 for construction of a major tire factory in Ephrata by his company, Washington Tire. But the project was terminated by the Port of Ephrata in 2010 over doubts about the legitimacy of the company’s incorporation, according to Rubber and Plastics News.

----- 12 -----
Canadian woman en route to Vermont spa denied entry to U.S., told she needs immigrant visa
Montreal resident Manpreet Kooner says thought of crossing border now makes her sick
By Kamila Hinkson, CBC News Posted: Mar 06, 2017

A Canadian woman travelling on a Canadian passport says she was turned away at the U.S. border and told she needed a valid immigrant visa to enter the country.

Manpreet Kooner, 30, is a Canadian citizen who was born to Indian parents in Canada and raised here. She now lives in Montreal's LaSalle borough.

She told CBC she was on her way from Montreal to a spa in Vermont for a day trip with two friends, who are both white, Sunday afternoon. They never made it.

Kooner said she was held at the border for six hours before being turned away.

At one point, she said, a border agent told her: "'I know you may feel like you've been Trumped,'" an apparent reference to U.S. President Donald Trump.

Trump's January executive order barring citizens from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the country was later blocked in U.S. courts, but has touched off legal battles and confusion around the world.

Kooner was told to apply for the visa at the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa. She went to the embassy Monday morning but was told they couldn't help her, and that she would need to talk to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

"I'm speechless," she said. "There are no answers."

----- 13 -----
[American] Gold Star father Khizr Khan cancels scheduled speech in Toronto after being told his "travel privileges are being reviewed."
Rosa Hwang - Senior Producer, CTV National News
6 March 2017 - on Twitter

Gold Star father Khizr Khan cancels scheduled speech in Toronto after being told his "travel privileges are being reviewed."

[Quoted via image at Twitter link;]

Late Sunday evening Khizr Khan, an American citizen for over 30 years, was notified that his travel privileges are being reviewed. As a consequence, Mr. Khan will not be traveling to Toronto on March 7th to speak about tolerance, understanding, unity and the rule of law. Very regretfully, Ramsay Talks must cancel its luncheon with Mr. Khan. Guests will be given full refunds.

Mr. Khan offered his sincere apologies to all those who made plans to attend on March 7th. He said: "This turn of events is not just of deep concern to me but to all of my fellow Americans who cherish our freedom to travel abroad. I have not been given any reason as to why. I am grateful for your support and look forward to visiting Toronto in the near future.

----- 14 -----
Veteran fighting deportation after 2 tours in Afghanistan
WLS (ABC7) Chicago
Sunday, February 05, 2017

A group of soldiers, family, and community members came together Saturday to fight a deportation order for a former U.S. soldier.

Army Private 1st class Miguel Perez, Jr., was born in Mexico and grew up in Chicago. On Monday, Perez faces a deportation hearing because he committed a non-violent drug offense, his family said.

Perez represents thousands of green card veterans who face deportation, according to a press release by Ashley's Memory Project, which was started by the immigrant mother of a deceased veteran, and a local church. They said many enlist with the promise of citizenship.

He served two tours of duty in Afghanistan and was injured in an explosion. He sustained a brain injury and suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, his family said.

"He's more American than most of us standing here, because he did pick up arms to defend this country," his mother told reporters at Lincoln United Methodist Church in Pilsen.

Perez's parents are both U.S. citizens.

The family said that Perez did not get the adequate medical attention when he returned home and turned to self medication with drugs and alcohol.

His family said he joined the Army before he could go through the citizenship process.

----- 15 -----
After travel ban, interest in trips to U.S. declines
Following President Donald Trump’s executive order on Jan. 27 temporarily banning the entry of people from seven predominantly Muslim countries, the demand for travel to the United States took a nose-dive.
The Seattle Times
By SHIVANI VORA - The New York Times
March 4, 2017

The effect was immediate: Following President Donald Trump’s executive order on Jan. 27 temporarily banning the entry of people from seven predominantly Muslim countries, the demand for travel to the United States took a nose-dive, according to data from several travel companies and research firms.

One month later, with the ban lifted at least for the moment, demand has bounced back slightly but is still down.

Following the imposition of the travel ban, the airfare prediction app Hopper analyzed 303 million flight searches executed from Jan. 26 to Feb. 1 and found that demand from 122 countries for flights to the United States dropped 17 percent after the ban compared with the first three weeks in January.

Demand was still down by more than 10 percent as of Feb. 22, compared with the same period, Hopper’s chief data scientist, Patrick Surry, said.

----- 16 -----
AP FACT CHECK: Trump takes credit where it’s not deserved
The Associated Press
Originally published March 6, 2017 at 12:40 am

WASHINGTON (AP) — The start of a new administration is never a clean slate, even when parties flip. Day One is just another day for military operations, a budget that is still in place from the old crowd and a vast array of economic, social and law enforcement initiatives left over from the last president.

You would not know this from President Donald Trump.

He loudly and proudly takes credit for any positive development that has bloomed since he took office Jan. 20, even when the roots and buds of it were from President Barack Obama’s time. In his speech to Congress and other remarks in recent days, Trump has claimed credit for:

—Big savings in an F-35 fighter jet contract that were in motion well before he became president.

—Corporate job announcements that also had been months or longer in the making.

—An infusion of money from NATO partners that has not materialized at all, but reflects a long-standing intent by some members to increase their military capabilities.

—A tough-on-criminals approach to immigration enforcement that was planned and put into place during Obama’s presidency.

—A $12 billion drop in the U.S. debt, a routine blip traced to the regular timing of tax payments and other fiscal factors unconnected to any president.

—His plan to restore military supremacy, though he inherited military capabilities that are already second to none.

Trump does, though, seek to shift some responsibility to the last administration for an operation he authorized that did not go smoothly — the covert mission in Yemen in which a Navy SEAL and civilians were killed.

That mission “was started before I got here,” Trump said.

----- 17 -----
Trump wants Congress to investigate leaks
By Jordan Fabian | The Hill

The White House on Monday asked Congress to investigate what it said are leaks of classified national security information, along with President Trump’s allegation, presented without evidence, that President Obama wiretapped him during his campaign for president.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Trump wants the House and Senate Intelligence panels to look into “these pervasive leaks of classified information.”

Trump’s accusation against Obama, launched in a series of weekend tweets, sparked a major controversy. Lawmakers in both parties have refused to endorse his conclusions. Neither Trump nor his senior aides have provided any evidence to back up his explosive claims.

Spicer would not say whether Trump has seen evidence of his claims, but asserted that “there’s no question that something happened.”

“The question is it, is it surveillance, is it a wiretap, or whatever?” he asked.

“There’s been enough reporting that strongly suggests that something occurred,” the spokesman added, while providing no specific examples.

Spicer also refused to confirm reports that FBI Director James Comey asked the Justice Department to knock down Trump’s claims, saying he’s seen no on-the-record account of the incident. The New York Times first reported the conversations, citing anonymous government sources.

Trump and Comey have not spoken about the wiretapping accusations "to the best of my knowledge," Spicer said.

----- 18 -----
George Stephanopoulos has to repeatedly fact-check Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee live
6 March 2017
Good Morning America

[This is pretty amazing]

----- 19 -----
‘Shell knew’: oil giant's 1991 film warned of climate change danger
Public information film unseen for years shows Shell had clear grasp of global warming 26 years ago but has not acted accordingly since, say critics
28 February 2017

The oil giant Shell issued a stark warning of the catastrophic risks of climate change more than a quarter of century ago in a prescient 1991 film that has been rediscovered.

However, since then the company has invested heavily in highly polluting oil reserves and helped lobby against climate action, leading to accusations that Shell knew the grave risks of global warming but did not act accordingly.

Shell’s 28-minute film, called Climate of Concern, was made for public viewing, particularly in schools and universities. It warned of extreme weather, floods, famines and climate refugees as fossil fuel burning warmed the world. The serious warning was “endorsed by a uniquely broad consensus of scientists in their report to the United Nations at the end of 1990”, the film noted.

“If the weather machine were to be wound up to such new levels of energy, no country would remain unaffected,” it says. “Global warming is not yet certain, but many think that to wait for final proof would be irresponsible. Action now is seen as the only safe insurance.”

A separate 1986 report, marked “confidential” and also seen by the Guardian, notes the large uncertainties in climate science at the time but nonetheless states: “The changes may be the greatest in recorded history.”

The predictions in the 1991 film for temperature and sea level rises and their impacts were remarkably accurate, according to scientists, and Shell was one of the first major oil companies to accept the reality and dangers of climate change.


The film was obtained by the Correspondent, a Dutch online journalism platform, and shared with the Guardian, and lauds commercial-scale solar and wind power that already existed in 1991. Shell has recently lobbied successfully to undermine European renewable energy targets and is estimated to have spent $22m in 2015 lobbying against climate policies. The company’s investments in low-carbon energy have been minimal compared to its fossil fuel investments.

Shell has also been a member of industry lobby groups that have fought climate action, including the so-called Global Climate Coalition until 1998; the far-right American Legislative Exchange Council (Alec) until 2015; and remains a member of the Business Roundtable and the American Petroleum Institute today.

Another oil giant, Exxon Mobil, is under investigation by the US Securities and Exchange Commission and state attorney generals for allegedly misleading investors about the risks climate change posed to its business. The company said they are confident they are compliant. In early 2016, a group of congressmen asked the Department of Justice to also “investigate whether Shell’s actions around climate change violated federal law”.

“They knew. Shell told the public the truth about climate change in 1991 and they clearly never got round to telling their own board of directors,” said Tom Burke at the green thinktank E3G, who was a member of Shell’s external review committee from 2012-14 and has also advised BP and the mining giant Rio Tinto. “Shell’s behaviour now is risky for the climate but it is also risky for their shareholders. It is very difficult to explain why they are continuing to explore and develop high-cost reserves.”

Bill McKibben, a leading US environmentalist, said: “The fact that Shell understood all this in 1991, and that a quarter-century later it was trying to open up the Arctic to oil-drilling, tells you all you’ll ever need to know about the corporate ethic of the fossil fuel industry. Shell made a big difference in the world – a difference for the worse.”

----- 20 -----
Amid US travel ban, Israel set to bar entry to boycott activists
Final votes on law scheduled for Monday; legislation extends to those who back boycott of settlement goods; Israeli politicians mum on new Trump travel restrictions
By Marissa Newman January 29, 2017

[Haaretz says it passed as expected on 6 March 2017 ( ) but that's mostly behind a paywall. Also report of approval here: but I don't know much about that source.]

The Knesset on Monday is scheduled to pass into law a bill that would bar advocates of boycotting Israel from the country.

The proposed legislation, advanced by right-wing and centrist coalition lawmakers, would see Israel prevent foreign nationals who have publicly called for a boycott of the Jewish state or work on behalf of an organization that advocates these measures from entering Israel.

The law also extends to supporters of boycotts of West Bank settlement products, resting on a legal definition of an Israel boycott in a 2011 law that includes all “areas under its control.”

It would not apply to foreign nationals who have a residency permit and gives the interior minister leeway to make exceptions. Under the existing law, the interior minister already has the right to bar individuals from entering Israel.

----- 21 -----
‘Economic terrorism’ bill would toughen penalties on protesters who block roads, damage property
By Colin Campbell | Charlotte News & Observer
March 3, 2017 2:12 PM

Protesters who damage property or block traffic could face tougher penalties under a criminal offense called “economic terrorism” proposed last week in North Carolina’s legislature.

The bill from several N.C. House Republicans comes months after Charlotte faced weeks of protests following the police shooting of Keith Lamont Scott. While most of the protesters were peaceful, some broke windows, looted stores and shut down Interstate 85 and Interstate 277.

Rep. John Torbett, a Gaston County Republican, is the primary sponsor of House Bill 249. He says drivers who came upon protesters on Charlotte highways last fall “feared for their lives,” and his bill would “add a little bit more of a deterrent by heightening awareness and adding a penalty.”

“The first core responsibility of government is the safety and security of its citizens, and this will assist in that effort,” Torbett added.

North Carolina is one of 17 states where Republican lawmakers have filed bills addressing recent protests, according to The New York Times. Some of the proposals are similar to Torbett’s legislation.

----- 22 -----
The former British lawmaker at the heart of the Trump wiretap allegations
By Karla Adam March 6 2017
The Washington Post

LONDON — A former British legislator is at the heart of the Trump administration’s explosive allegation that President Barack Obama was spying on him during the 2016 campaign.

But who exactly is Louise Mensch?

For starters, the politician-turned-journalist is the writer behind an article published on the eve of the election titled: “EXCLUSIVE: FBI ‘Granted FISA Warrant’ Covering Trump Camp’s Ties To Russia.”

The article, published on the right-leaning, libertarian website Heat Street, did not create much of a stir at the time. But it has come under the spotlight after Trump, in a tweetstorm over the weekend, accused Obama of wiretapping his offices during the 2016 campaign. Trump compared the alleged bugging to the Watergate scandal, but he has not offered any evidence to back up his claims.

The White House cited reports “from BBC, Heat Street, New York Times, Fox News, among others” to justify the claims. Former Obama administration officials and aides have denied the accusation.

After combing through these news reports, The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler concluded that the piece by Mensch in Heat Street was “the most important” of the lot.

In her report, published Nov. 7, Mensch said the FBI was granted a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court warrant in October “giving counter-intelligence permission to examine the activities of ‘U.S. persons’ in Donald Trump’s campaign with ties to Russia.” She cited “two separate sources with links to the counter-intelligence community” as evidence for those claims.

----- 23 -----
EXCLUSIVE: FBI ‘Granted FISA Warrant’ Covering Trump Camp’s Ties To Russia
By Louise Mensch|10:18 pm, November 7, 2016

Two separate sources with links to the counter-intelligence community have confirmed to Heat Street that the FBI sought, and was granted, a FISA court warrant in October, giving counter-intelligence permission to examine the activities of ‘U.S. persons’ in Donald Trump’s campaign with ties to Russia.

Contrary to earlier reporting in the New York Times, which cited FBI sources as saying that the agency did not believe that the private server in Donald Trump’s Trump Tower which was connected to a Russian bank had any nefarious purpose, the FBI’s counter-intelligence arm, sources say, re-drew an earlier FISA court request around possible financial and banking offenses related to the server. The first request, which, sources say, named Trump, was denied back in June, but the second was drawn more narrowly and was granted in October after evidence was presented of a server, possibly related to the Trump campaign, and its alleged links to two banks; SVB Bank and Russia’s Alfa Bank. While the Times story speaks of metadata, sources suggest that a FISA warrant was granted to look at the full content of emails and other related documents that may concern US persons.

The FBI agents who talked to the New York Times, and rubbished the ground-breaking stories of Slate ( Franklin Foer) and Mother Jones (David Corn) may not have known about the FISA warrant, sources say, because the counter-intelligence and criminal sides of the FBI often work independently of each other employing the principle of ‘compartmentalization’.

The FISA warrant was granted in connection with the investigation of suspected activity between the server and two banks, SVB Bank and Alfa Bank. However, it is thought in the intelligence community that the warrant covers any ‘US person’ connected to this investigation, and thus covers Donald Trump and at least three further men who have either formed part of his campaign or acted as his media surrogates. The warrant was sought, they say, because actionable intelligence on the matter provided by friendly foreign agencies could not properly be examined without a warrant by US intelligence as it involves ‘US Persons’ who come under the remit of the FBI and not the CIA. Should a counter-intelligence investigation lead to criminal prosecutions, sources say, the Justice Department is concerned that the chain of evidence have a basis in a clear warrant.

In June, when the first FISA warrant was denied, the FBI was reportedly alarmed at Carter Page’s trip to Moscow and meetings with Russian officials, one week before the DNC was hacked. Counter intelligence agencies later reported to both Presidential candidates that Russia had carried out this hack; Donald Trump said publicly in the third debate that ‘our country has no idea’ if Russia did the hacking. The discovery of the Trump Tower private Russian server, however, communicating with Alfa Bank, changed matters, sources report.

To further complicate the story, the FISA warrant was allegedly granted in part because of the involvement of Vladimir Putin’s own daughters. One is married to a senior official at Gazprom, where Carter Page and Paul Manafort reportedly have holdings; another to Kirill Shamalov, a banking official.

----- 24 -----
III% Anti-government militant makes video for Trump pledging to take up arms if Trump requests on Twitter
Seen on Twitter
6 March 2017

III% Anti-government militant makes video for Trump pledging to take up arms if Trump requests on Twitter
[Links to: ]

[Transcription of ]

"..oin' on in America, I got a direct message for Donald Trump. Sir, you know how many people are behind you. You know how many of us voted for you. I want you to be aware that all you have to do is come out on Twitter, and national television, and call us to arms, and you will have an army at your side. You are not alone in this country. There is over sixty million of us that will show up armed to the teeth to defend you. All you have to do is give us the word."

----- 25 -----
Republicans All Over the Country Are Pushing These Anti-Protest Bills to Silence Peaceful Dissent
The proposals could criminalize the non-violent demonstrations that have grown since Trump was elected.
Inae Oh | Mother Jones
Mar. 6, 2017
[Washington State is on the map, but the bill had no chance at any point. Which doesn't mean they wouldn't've tried harder if they could've.]

As citizens unhappy about the Trump administration look to build on the momentum of the historic Women's March with additional public expressions of outrage, Republicans across the country are quietly introducing legislation aimed at limiting and even criminalizing peaceful demonstrations.

According to a recent count from the American Civil Liberties Union, at least 17 states have proposed such anti-protest bills, many of which include language ostensibly aimed at improving measures such as public safety. But upon closer analysis, these bills all appear to share the intended goal of suppressing First Amendment rights by making peaceful dissent a crime with the threat of jail time and hefty fines.

Look no further than Minnesota for a prime example. Republican lawmakers there are advancing legislation to punish protesters who block highways and airport access. While the bill's proponents insist it will protect highway safety, critics argue that the measure instead overwhelmingly targets people participating in demonstrations by saddling them with steep fines, all while having hardly any effect on furthering roadway safety.

The legislative move to suppress protests comes amid angry town halls that have erupted across the country, where thousands of constituents have railed against Republican lawmakers for their reluctance to speak out against the Trump administration, their ill-conceived plans to dismantle Obamacare, and more. Trump notably accused former president Barack Obama of being "behind" the ongoing protests.

----- 26 -----
Right-Wing Media Scramble To Recast Obama As Trump-Era Villain
Media Matters | ERIC BOEHLERT
March 6, 2017

In science, nature abhors a vacuum. On cable news, Fox News abhors not having a Democratic villain. So the network is trying to bring back former President Barack Obama for the starring role.

Desperately searching for someone with a high profile to blame for the generally chaotic start of Trump’s controversy-filled administration, the conservative media are refitting the former Democratic president, who has kept a low profile since exiting the White House, as an all-powerful gremlin who’s to blame for Trump’s laundry list of political woes.

And now, of course, Trump has seized on the right-wing media theme. Brandishing little more than a right-wing radio rant that was typed up by, Trump over the weekend made the wholly unsubstantiated, and nonsensical, claim that Obama ordered a wiretap at Trump Tower. Trump then demanded that Congress investigate the alleged abuses. (Surprise! Trump’s right-wing media allies support the call.)

The burgeoning blame game started last month with allegations that Obama was responsible for the big crowds protesting Trump’s presidency. (He wasn’t.) Since then, the allegations have widened, and now Obama is viewed as some sort of all-powerful troll who’s mysteriously capable of disrupting all factions of the Trump administration.


But with Republicans now controlling the White House, the Senate, the House, and possibly soon the Supreme Court, it’s getting hard for Republicans to focus on a single villain. (Can Trump’s failures really all be blamed on the House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi?)

So Fox News and friends have for weeks been trying to drag Obama out of retirement for the top role of Democratic scoundrel. Even though Obama has remained mostly silent since Trump was sworn in, he has been denounced as a devilish figure and used to rile the GOP base.

Today, from Fox News to the National Enquirer, from Alex Jones to Rush Limbaugh, the rallying cry is emerging: Barack Obama is an omnipotent force who’s obstructing and dooming Trump’s agenda.

Here was New York Post writer Paul Sperry frantically sounding the Obama alarms on Alex Jones’ conspiratorial radio show, according to a transcript from the Austin American-Statesman (emphasis added):

Forget about Hillary, Hillary’s gone. His main concern right now is Obama. I mean the guy’s set up a bunker down the street from the White House..He’s got a mansion. He’s got an office. OFA, the Obama Foundation he’s setting up. He’s got his own chief of staff, press secretary. He’s setting up his own shadow White House, just within two miles of the White House .. This is something on the order of a civil war here.

----- 27 -----
STATEMENT: Rob Bishop’s $50 million land giveaway budget request
Centre for Western Priorities
6 March 2017

DENVER—In response to Friday afternoon’s budget request from House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop that includes $50 million to immediately begin disposing of national public lands, the Center for Western Priorities released the following statement from Executive Director Jennifer Rokala:

“It seems that Chairman Bishop just can’t take a hint. Despite overwhelming evidence that disposing of public lands is both financially irresponsible and politically toxic, Rob Bishop is once again trying to take American lands away from the American people. This time he’s asking taxpayers to foot a $50 million bill to ‘immediately’ start giving away America’s natural resources.

“By burying his budget request in a late Friday document dump, Chairman Bishop is admitting he knows his scheme is wildly unpopular, even within his own party. Both President Trump and Interior Secretary Zinke have spoken out clearly against Bishop’s land disposal agenda. This latest attempt to grease the skids for a land giveaway will be similarly dangerous for any Western member of Congress to embrace.”

----- 28 -----
David Duke’s Twitter Account Restored, Including Tweet Threatening Synagogues
The ex-KKK grand wizard was suspended and reinstated without explanation. And so were his calls to “SHUT DOWN” synagogues.
Ben Collins, Gideon Resnick
The Daily Beast
03.06.17 8:05 PM ET

Twitter temporarily suspended the account of David Duke on Monday, before restoring it hours later, along with anti-Semitic tweets calling to “SHUT DOWN a few synagogues” he posted hours earlier.

It is unclear what prompted the ban or the reinstatement, and a request for comment from Twitter was not returned.

The suspension and apparent backtrack comes one month after Twitter vowed once again to crack down on abuse and harassment on the social network, taking what CEO Jack Dorsey called “a completely new approach to abuse on Twitter.” The company made similar proclamations in 2015 and 2016 to limited or no effect.

Duke, the former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, provided a statement to The Daily Beast before he was reinstated on Twitter.

----- 29 -----
GOP rep: Trump should 'purge Leftists' from White House
By Olivia Beavers - 03/06/17
The Hill

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) urged President Trump in a tweet on Sunday to “purge Leftists from executive branch.”

Trump "needs to purge Leftists from executive branch before disloyal, illegal & treasonist acts sink us," King wrote on Twitter.

King included a link to a Conservative Review article titled “ ‘You’re Fired!’: Trump could become lame duck unless he clears out Obama holdovers" by Daniel Horowitz.

In the article, Horowitz says the president “is at the cusp of losing control over his presidency if he doesn’t immediately fire all of the Obama appointees.”

Horowitz also writes that it is the job of Trump’s chief of staff, Reince Priebus, to call for the “resignation of any political appointees and special counsels who do not share the views of the president.”

----- 30 -----
GOP releases bills to repeal and replace ObamaCare
By Peter Sullivan - 03/06/17
The Hill

House Republicans on Monday unveiled their long-awaited legislation to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

The two measures dismantle the core aspects of ObamaCare, including its subsidies to help people buy coverage, its expansion of Medicaid, its taxes and its mandates for people to have insurance. (READ THE BILLS HERE AND HERE.)

In its place, Republicans would put in place a new system centered on a tax credit to help people buy insurance.

That tax credit would range from $2,000 to $4,000 a year, increasing with someone’s age. That system would provide less financial assistance for low-income and older people than ObamaCare, but could give more assistance to younger people and those with somewhat higher incomes.

Democrats warn that between the phasing out of ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion and the smaller tax credit for low income people, coverage would be put at risk for many of the 20 million people who gained it from ObamaCare.

Republicans acknowledge that their plan will cover fewer people, saying unlike ObamaCare, they are not forcing people to buy coverage through a mandate. They say their system is less intrusive and provides people a tax credit without mandates or a range of tax increases.

House committees are expected to vote on the measures this week, with the full House voting on it soon after that.

----- 31 -----
Muslim Students Trying to Meet Oklahoma Lawmaker Are Asked: 'Do You Beat Your Wife?'
Mahita Gajanan | Time Magazine
Mar 05, 2017

Muslim students trying to meet with an Oklahoma lawmaker in the state capitol were given a questionnaire asking whether they beat their wives.

The three students visiting the office of Oklahoma Representative John Bennett were in Oklahoma City for an annual Muslim Day event organized by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) to build connections between Muslims and state elected officials, Adam Soltani, executive director of the Oklahoma chapter of CAIR, told Reuters.

Soltani said that when the students tried to meet with Bennett, they received a two-page form from one of Bennett's staff members and were told to fill it out. The question "Do you beat your wife?" appeared on the form, as did inquiries about whether Muslims should rule over non-Muslims and whether they believed an adherent to Islam should be punished for leaving the religion.

The students who visited the office — two are in high school and one is in law school — were told Bennett was away and did not get to speak to him, according to Soltani and a CAIR official who spoke to the Washington Post.

"What's most inflammatory is the questions itself, the fact that Muslims have to pass a religious test in order to see a representative of our state, surely he does not do this to Christian constituents or Jewish constituents," Soltani said.

----- 32 -----
The Real Goal of Trump’s Travel Ban Is to Make America White Again
White House adviser Steve Bannon insists that Muslims don’t have the right “DNA” for democracy.
By Joan Walsh | 6 March 2017 | The Nation

Liberals believe they’ve debunked the stated rationale of Donald Trump’s so-called “immigration ban,” which has been revised to try to pass legal muster this time around. As MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow revealed last week, two reports by the Department of Homeland Security that recently became public show that no domestic terror plot or attempt has been committed by anyone from the six nations now on the list—Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen (Iraq has been removed). In fact, those drawn to Islamic extremist plots in this country tend to have been radicalized on our own soil. “Country of citizenship is unlikely to be a reliable indicator of potential terrorist activity,” one report concluded.

Courts will have to decide whether the made-over executive order still functions as a religious ban, since more than 90 percent of the citizens of the six nations on the list are Muslim. But it’s also time to see the order as reaching beyond narrow definitions of national security to a broader goal—remaking the United States as a white, Christian nation, one that rejects cultures that Trump and his most influential policy advisers deem unlikely to “assimilate” and share our values.

Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller, you’ll recall, are critics of even much legal immigration. “Isn’t the beating heart of this problem, the real beating heart of it…we’ve looked the other way on this legal immigration that’s kinda overwhelmed the country?” Bannon asked Miller during a Breitbart radio show last year. “When you look and there’s got 61 million, 20 percent of the country, is immigrants—is that not a massive problem?”

Not surprisingly, Miller, a longtime aide to now–Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a fierce opponent of legal and illegal immigration, agreed with Bannon. “The history of America is that an immigration-on period is followed by an immigration-off period,” he said. Clearly, they believe it’s time for an “immigration-off period.”


And Bannon has long made the case that Muslims are a poor fit for our culture. “These are not people with thousands of years of understanding democracy in their DNA coming up here,” Bannon said on his radio show last year. (Neither do we, by the way, as a country that is only 240 years old.) Bannon’s former administration ally, deposed national-security adviser Michael Flynn, has denied that Islam is even a religion: “Islam is a political ideology [that] definitely hides behind this notion of it being a religion,” he told an anti-Muslim group in Dallas last year.


The cleaned-up immigration ban, remember, is targeting would-be legal immigrants: those who have gone through appropriate channels to acquire a visa, some of whom have sought asylum or refugee status. Just like the last version of the ban, it will cut the number of refugees allowed to enter by half. It’s a way of saying “no” to the sorts of people who would normally have had a family, health, work, or humanitarian reason to enter the country legally. These are not the folks slipping over the border. They are doing the right thing to enter the country; the Trump administration is doing the wrong thing. But it’s part of a much larger plan to fight the demographic forces that threaten Republicans politically and culturally.

----- 33 -----
Dennis R. Neill Equality Center vandalised
Melanie Gillman on Twitter
6 March 2017

Jesus. Someone drove by the LGBTQ center in my neighborhood last night and fired 13 shots through the front windows.

[Image of]
The Dennis R. Neill Equality Center in Tulsa Oklahoma was vandalized at 12:22 am Monday, March 6, 2017. An individual driving a white four door pickup pulled up in front of the center and shot the windows and entry door 13 times. Geoffrey Brewster, board president issues this statement on behalf of Oklahomans for Equality “I am sickened, yet not surprised, by the bullet holes that now riddle the front of the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center. They are the latest reminder of the deep-seated hatred some individuals have towards the LGBTQ community. Oklahomans for Equality condemns every act of hatred and violence perpetrated against any individual or group based upon difference. We are keenly aware after an event such as this, or the Pulse Night Club shooting in Orlando, FL, that sexual orientation and gender identity are not protected classes in current hate crime legislation. Even though hatred of difference is the motivation for such acts, our community is not equally protected under the law. This must change, and we call on our community and our allies to demand it.”
–Geoffrey Brewster, Board President, Oklahomans for Equality

[See also, Tulsa World article: ]

----- 34 -----
Republicans and the Constitution
Article V allows a method of proposing amendments that cuts Congress out entirely. This partisanship is just what our founders were trying to avoid.
By Jelani Cobb | The New Yorker
March 13, 2017 Issue

We’re familiar with the contours of the story: fifty-five delegates gathered in Philadelphia, in the sweltering summer of 1787, to do something about the inert Articles of Confederation. Having recognized that the old agreement was fatally flawed—it had no provisions for unitary foreign or tax policies, or for a national defense—the delegates set about creating a four-and-a-half-thousand-word lattice of compromises and counterbalances that has, with the notable exception of the years 1861 through 1865, cemented the union of the United States. The Constitutional Convention has become a sacrosanct chapter in American history, which is not to say that it has lacked an abundance of critics. In 1913, the historian Charles Beard dismissed the whole affair as a gathering of wealthy men, almost half of them slaveholders, scheming to preserve and enhance their economic power. Not so long ago, the late political scientist Robert A. Dahl and the legal scholar Sanford Levinson asked whether the constitution they produced was even properly democratic. But seldom have critics so thoroughly disdained the events in Philadelphia as to call for a do-over. Until recently.

Amid the stunning Presidential-election results last November, a smaller, though perhaps equally consequential, development went relatively unnoticed: the Republican Party now controls thirty-three state legislatures. On its face, this development demonstrates the discrepancies between the Democratic and Republican farm teams. Not only does the G.O.P. control the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives; it has created a pipeline of candidates to fill those offices for the foreseeable future. But there are more immediate implications.

Article V of the Constitution provides for amendments to the document when a proposed change has been approved by two-thirds of each chamber of Congress and is subsequently ratified by three-fourths of the states. In 1995, under the leadership of Newt Gingrich, House Republicans alarmed by the federal debt approved an amendment that would have effectively barred the federal government from adopting a budget in which expenditures exceeded revenues. That was a bad idea—deficit spending is a tested way to stimulate a sluggish economy. The amendment stalled in the Senate, where it fell just short of the sixty-seven votes required for it to be submitted to the states.


Article V allows an alternative method of proposing constitutional amendments, which cuts Congress out entirely: two-thirds of the state legislatures can call for a constitutional convention. To be in a position to do this, the G.O.P. needs to gain control of just one more statehouse, which could happen as soon as next year. (Last year, the Times reported that twenty-eight states had already adopted resolutions calling for a constitutional convention on a balanced-budget amendment, an effort supported by the American Legislative Exchange Council, which is funded by the Koch brothers, among others.) So far, this route to an amendment has not succeeded, but of late we are exploring a lot of novel territory in American democracy. And, as the events of 1787 show, these things have a way of taking on a life of their own.

The original Constitutional Convention was intended only to recommend changes to the Articles of Confederation, not to do away with them, but the delegates literally took the law into their own hands and drafted a new document. It’s easy to imagine that an Article V convention would find it difficult to limit its agenda to the technicalities of budget finance. Abortion, the most divisive social issue of the past forty years, has insinuated itself into nearly every discussion of nominees for the Supreme Court. Could a gathering intoxicated by the possibility of imposing permanent change resist the urge to achieve by amendment what decades of lobbying, protesting, and the cultivation of sympathetic judicial candidates could not? Similarly, as the battle over immigration has intensified, conservatives have toyed with the idea of ending birthright citizenship, currently guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment. The allure of bypassing legislative stalemate on that issue might also prove tempting.

----- 35 -----
Trump Tells Planned Parenthood Its Funding Can Stay if Abortion Goes
By MAGGIE HABERMAN | The New York Times
MARCH 6, 2017

The White House, concerned about the possible political repercussions of the Republican effort to defund Planned Parenthood, has proposed preserving federal payments to the group if it discontinues providing abortions.

The proposal, which was never made formally, has been rejected as an impossibility by officials at Planned Parenthood, which receives about $500 million annually in federal funding. That money helps pay for women’s health services the organization provides, not for abortion services.

“Let’s be clear: Federal funds already do not pay for abortions,” Dawn Laguens, the executive vice president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said on Monday. “Offering money to Planned Parenthood to abandon our patients and our values is not a deal that we will ever accept. Providing critical health care services for millions of American women is nonnegotiable.”

But the outreach to allies of Planned Parenthood is a glimpse of the internal struggle inside a White House torn between trying to satisfy the conservative base that elected President Trump and responding to the views of his daughter Ivanka Trump, who urged her father to tread carefully on the Planned Parenthood issue during the Republican primary contest.

----- 36 -----
Donald Trump’s Worst Deal
The President helped build a hotel in Azerbaijan that appears to be a corrupt operation engineered by oligarchs tied to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.
By Adam Davidson | The New Yorker
March 13, 2017 Issue

Heydar Aliyev Prospekti, a broad avenue in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, connects the airport to the city. The road is meant to highlight Baku’s recent modernization, and it is lined with sleek new buildings. The Heydar Aliyev Center, an undulating wave of concrete and glass, was designed by Zaha Hadid. The state oil company is housed in a twisting glass tower, and the headquarters of the state water company looks like a giant water droplet. “It’s like Potemkin,” my translator told me. “It’s only the buildings right next to the road.” Behind the gleaming structures stand decaying Soviet-era apartment blocks, with clothes hanging out of windows and wallboards exposed by fallen brickwork.

As you approach the city center, a tower at the end of the avenue looms in front of you. Thirty-three stories high and curved to resemble a sail, the building was clearly inspired by the Burj Al Arab Hotel, in Dubai, but it is boxier and less elegant. When I visited Baku, in December, five enormous white letters glowed at the top of the tower: T-R-U-M-P.


The more time I spent in the neighborhood, the more I wondered how the hotel could have been imagined as a viable business. The development was conceived, in 2008, as a high-end apartment building. In 2012, after Donald Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, signed multiple contracts with the Azerbaijani developers behind the project, plans were made to transform the tower into an “ultra-luxury property.” According to a Trump Organization press release, a hotel with “expansive guest rooms” would occupy the first thirteen floors; higher stories would feature residences with “spectacular views of the city and Caspian Sea.” For an expensive hotel, the Trump Tower Baku is in an oddly unglamorous location: the underdeveloped eastern end of downtown, which is dominated by train tracks and is miles from the main business district, on the west side of the city. Across the street from the hotel is a discount shopping center; the area is filled with narrow, dingy shops and hookah bars. Other hotels nearby are low-budget options: at the AYF Palace, most rooms are forty-two dollars a night. There are no upscale restaurants or shops. Any guests of the Trump Tower Baku would likely feel marooned.

The timing of the project was also curious. By 2014, when the Trump Organization publicly announced that it was helping to turn the tower into a hotel, a construction boom in Baku had ended, and the occupancy rate for luxury hotels in the city hovered around thirty-five per cent. Jan deRoos, of Cornell University, who is an expert in hotel finance, told me that the developer of a five-star hotel typically must demonstrate that the project will maintain an average occupancy rate of at least sixty per cent for ten years. There is a long-term master plan to develop the area around the Trump Tower Baku, but if it is implemented the hotel will be surrounded for years by noisy construction projects, making it even less appealing to travellers desiring a luxurious experience—especially considering that there are many established hotels on the city’s seaside promenade. There, an executive from ExxonMobil or the Israeli cell-phone industry can stay at the Four Seasons, which occupies a limestone building that evokes a French colonial palace, or at the J. W. Marriott Abershon Baku, which has an outdoor terrace overlooking the water. Tiffany, Ralph Lauren, and Armani are among the dozens of companies that have boutiques along the promenade.


After Donald Trump became a candidate for President, in 2015, Mother Jones, the Associated Press, the Washington Post, and other publications ran articles that raised questions about his involvement in the Baku project. These reports cited a series of cables sent from the U.S. Embassy in Azerbaijan in 2009 and 2010, which were made public by WikiLeaks. In one of the cables, a U.S. diplomat described Ziya Mammadov as “notoriously corrupt even for Azerbaijan.” The Trump Organization’s chief legal officer, Alan Garten, told reporters that the Baku hotel project raised no ethical issues for Donald Trump, because his company had never engaged directly with Mammadov.


An Azerbaijani lawyer who worked on the project revealed to me that the Trump Organization had not just licensed the family name; it also had signed a technical-services agreement in which it promised to help its partner meet Trump design standards. Technical-services agreements are often nominal addenda to licensing deals. Major hospitality brands compile exhaustive specifications for licensed hotels, and tend to approve design elements remotely; a foreign site is visited only occasionally. But in the case of Trump Tower Baku the oversight appears to have been extensive. The Azerbaijani lawyer told me, “We were always following their instructions. We were in constant contact with the Trump Organization. They approved the smallest details.” He said that Trump staff visited Baku at least monthly to give the go-ahead for the next round of work orders. Trump designers went to Turkey to vet the furniture and fabrics acquired there. The hotel’s main designer, Pierre Baillargeon, and several contractors told me that they had visited the Trump Organization headquarters, in New York, to secure approval for their plans.


Ivanka Trump was the most senior Trump Organization official on the Baku project. In October, 2014, she visited the city to tour the site and offer advice. An executive at Mace, the London-based construction firm that oversaw the tower’s conversion to a hotel, met with Ivanka in Baku and New York. He told me, “She had very strong feelings, not just about the design but about the back of the hotel—landscaping, everything.” The Azerbaijani lawyer said, “Ivanka personally approved everything.” A subcontractor noted that Ivanka’s team was particular about wood panelling: it chose an expensive Macassar ebony, from Indonesia, for the ceiling of the lobby. The ballroom doors were to be made of book-matched panels of walnut. On her Web site, Ivanka posted a photograph of herself wearing a hard hat inside the half-completed hotel. A caption reads, “Ivanka has overseen the development of Trump International Hotel & Tower Baku since its inception, and she recently returned from a trip to the fascinating city in Azerbaijan to check in on the project’s progress.” (Ivanka Trump declined requests to discuss the Baku project.)


The sustained back-and-forth between the Trump Organization and the Mammadovs has legal significance. If parties involved in the Trump Tower Baku project participated in any illegal financial conduct, and if the Trump Organization exerted a degree of control over the project, the company could be vulnerable to criminal prosecution. Tom Fox, a Houston lawyer who specializes in anti-corruption compliance, said, “It’s a problem if you’re making a profit off of someone else’s corrupt conduct.” Moreover, recent case law has established that licensors take on a greater legal burden when they assume roles normally reserved for developers. The Trump Organization’s unusually deep engagement with Baku XXI Century suggests that it had the opportunity and the responsibility to monitor it for corruption.


But the Mammadov family, in addition to its reputation for corruption, has a troubling connection that any proper risk assessment should have unearthed: for years, it has been financially entangled with an Iranian family tied to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, the ideologically driven military force. In 2008, the year that the tower was announced, Ziya Mammadov, in his role as Transportation Minister, awarded a series of multimillion-dollar contracts to Azarpassillo, an Iranian construction company. Keyumars Darvishi, its chairman, fought in the Iran-Iraq War. After the war, he became the head of Raman, an Iranian construction firm that is controlled by the Revolutionary Guard. The U.S. government has regularly accused the Guard of criminal activity, including drug trafficking, sponsoring terrorism abroad, and money laundering. Reuters recently reported that the Trump Administration was poised to officially condemn the Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization.


No evidence has surfaced showing that Donald Trump, or any of his employees involved in the Baku deal, actively participated in bribery, money laundering, or other illegal behavior. But the Trump Organization may have broken the law in its work with the Mammadov family. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, passed in 1977, forbade American companies from participating in a scheme to reward a foreign government official in exchange for material benefit or preferential treatment. The law even made it a crime for an American company to unknowingly benefit from a partner’s corruption if it could have discovered illicit activity but avoided doing so. This closed what was known as the “head in the sand” loophole.


Wrage told me that, in 2009, an American entrepreneur was successfully prosecuted for his part in a corruption conspiracy in Azerbaijan. Frederic Bourke, the co-founder of Dooney & Bourke, the handbag company, had invested in a project in which a foreign partner paid bribes to Azerbaijani government officials and their family members. Bourke was sentenced to a year in prison for violating the F.C.P.A.; he appealed the conviction, claiming ignorance of the corruption. Two years later, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit upheld the conviction, saying that, regardless of whether he had known about the bribes, “the testimony at trial demonstrated that Bourke was aware of how pervasive corruption was in Azerbaijan.” The F.C.P.A., they said, also criminalized “conscious avoidance”—a deliberate effort to remain in the dark about any transgressions a foreign partner might be involved in. After Bourke’s conviction, Wrage said, U.S. companies were well aware of the dangers of making careless deals in Azerbaijan.


In May, 2012, the month the Baku deal was finalized, the F.C.P.A. was evidently on Donald Trump’s mind. In a phone-in appearance on CNBC, he expressed frustration with the law. “Every other country goes into these places and they do what they have to do,” he said. “It’s a horrible law and it should be changed.” If American companies refused to give bribes, he said, “you’ll do business nowhere.” He continued, “There is one answer—go to your room, close the door, go to sleep, and don’t do any deals, because that’s the only way. The only way you’re going to do it is the other way.”

It is unclear how the Trump Administration plans to approach F.C.P.A. enforcement. Jay Clayton, Trump’s choice to run the Securities and Exchange Commission, co-authored a paper in 2011 arguing that American companies were at a severe disadvantage because of the U.S. government’s “singular strategy of zealous enforcement.” But Jeff Sessions, the new Attorney General, told the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearings that he will continue to uphold the F.C.P.A.

----- 37 -----
GOP Drops Obamacare Replacement Bill, Includes Planned Parenthood Defunding
Rachel Vorona Cote | Jezebel
6 May 2017

After much ado, House Republicans have released their bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as Obamacare). If passed, millions of people could lose health coverage, and Planned Parenthood will be entirely stripped of funding.

CNN reports that the bill was unveiled today sans Congressional Budget Office score. A CBO score would identify the number of people losing coverage as a result of the ACA repeal. It’s telling that House Republicans did not procure this score before introducing the bill. They’re no doubt concerned about a public outcry when it’s clear just how many Americans will lose their health insurance. (And the lack of a CBO score indeed suggests that many, many of us will lose coverage.)

The bill exists in two parts, which you can read in full here and here. But for now, let’s walk through a few specifics that are likely to provoke heated debate.

• The bill proposes that Medicaid be restructured so that, each year, every state receives a set sum of money from the federal government. Each state will then, in turn, make available tax credits that can be used by individuals to purchase health insurance. This provision in particular, experts warn, could result in large swaths of Americans losing coverage.
• For the most part, the bill replicates Obamacare’s protections for those with preexisting conditions. However, it permits insurance companies to charge higher premiums to individuals whose coverage has lapsed.
• Planned Parenthood will lose all federal funding.
Although the bill has been released, Republicans are by no means unified regarding its provisions. Hardline conservatives argue that the proposed tax credits system may as well be an “entitlement plan.” For example, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky calls the new plan “Obamacare Lite.” Other members of the GOP have, in fact, argued that they will not support a bill that would deny millions Medicaid.

But as CNN notes, the aim in replacing the Affordable Care Act was never to ensure more health coverage for Americans. Indeed, its primary tenets indicate that it was not designed with that intent. Republicans have promised “more flexibility,” but if lower income families cannot afford sufficient coverage, options—however various they may be—are moot.

----- 38 -----
The GOP's Obamacare repeal plan is out--and it's even worse than anyone expected
Michael Hiltzik | The Los Angeles Times
6 March 2017

After weeks of expectations — actually, nearly seven years of expectations — House Republicans on Monday released their proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Elements of the proposal, which was kept under lock and key last week — have been dribbling out for a few days. The text of the bill encompassing the GOP plan validates much of that reporting. On the whole, however, it’s a nastier, more consumer-unfriendly proposal than even close followers could have expected.

The House GOP, in a written statement, cloaked this plan with a bodyguard of outright deceit. “What we’re proposing will deliver the control and choice individuals and families need to access healthcare that’s right for them,” the statement said. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wisc.) said the measure would “drive down costs, encourage competition and give every American access to quality, affordable health insurance.” Curiously, the GOP statement says the plan embodies “President Trump's proposed healthcare reforms,” although the president has never advanced a coherent set of proposals.

The truth is that the GOP measure would destroy the ability of millions of Americans to access any healthcare worth the name. The Congressional Budget Office reportedly warned the Republicans that their proposals would lead to lost coverage for millions and higher costs for millions more, but the GOP is pushing ahead anyway.

----- 39 -----
Obama 'could not have directed' alleged wire-tapping: former CIA director
Mar 6, 2017

Former CIA and National Security Agency director Michael Hayden delivered a strong rebuke to President Trump's allegations -- without presenting evidence -- that former President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower in the lead-up to the election.

“President Obama could not have directed this,” Hayden, who was appointed by President George W. Bush to lead the CIA in 2006, told ABC’s Rick Klein and Jonathan Karl on the “Powerhouse Politics” podcast.


“I suspect that even if it did happen – and there’s an 'if' in there,” Hayden said, referring to the alleged wiretapping, “[President Obama] would not have been made aware of it.”

Hayden, who also served as NSA Director from 1999 to 2005, said he has a high regard for current FBI Director James Comey, adding that with President Trump’s latest accusations, “we are off the map here in terms of normal governmental activity."

Pushing back on accusations from some in the White House that most of the leaks and controversies surrounding the current administration are coming from Obama-era officials, Hayden said, “there aren’t any Obama dead-enders in [the intelligence community], there aren’t any deep-staters in there.”

He also warned the Trump Administration that it may lose some intelligence professionals if the feud between the White House and the intelligence community continues.

----- 40 -----
This Stunningly Racist French Novel Is How Steve Bannon Explains The World
"The Camp of the Saints" tells a grotesque tale about a migrant invasion to destroy Western civilization.
By Paul Blumenthal and JM Rieger | The Huffington Post
4 March 2017

Stephen Bannon, President Donald Trump’s chief strategist and the driving force behind the administration’s controversial ban on travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries, has a favorite metaphor he uses to describe the largest refugee crisis in human history.

“It’s been almost a Camp of the Saints-type invasion into Central and then Western and Northern Europe,” he said in October 2015.

“The whole thing in Europe is all about immigration,” he said in January 2016. “It’s a global issue today — this kind of global Camp of the Saints.”

“It’s not a migration,” he said later that January. “It’s really an invasion. I call it the Camp of the Saints.”

“When we first started talking about this a year ago,” he said in April 2016, “we called it the Camp of the Saints. ... I mean, this is Camp of the Saints, isn’t it?”

Bannon has agitated for a host of anti-immigrant measures. In his previous role as executive chairman of the right-wing news site Breitbart — which he called a “platform for the alt-right,” the online movement of white nationalists — he made anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim news a focus.

But the top Trump aide’s repeated references to The Camp of the Saints, an obscure 1973 novel by French author Jean Raspail, reveal even more about how he understands the world. The book is a cult favorite on the far right, yet it’s never found a wider audience. There’s a good reason for that: It’s breathtakingly racist.

“[This book is] racist in the literal sense of the term. It uses race as the main characterization of characters,” said Cécile Alduy, professor of French at Stanford University and an expert on the contemporary French far right. “It describes the takeover of Europe by waves of immigrants that wash ashore like the plague.”

The book, she said, “reframes everything as the fight to death between races.”

----- 41 -----
Study: Black people more likely to be wrongfully convicted
By Tanzina Vega, CNN
Updated 12:58 AM ET, Tue March 7, 2017

CNN)All Marvin Anderson ever wanted to be was a firefighter. Instead, at 18 years old, he was wrongfully convicted of rape, sodomy, abduction and robbery.

When a Virginia judge sentenced him to 210 years in prison, "My whole body went numb," Anderson told CNN. "I knew I was going to prison for something I didn't do."

It took 15 years behind bars and five years on parole before Anderson was exonerated for his crimes -- the result of DNA testing.

"I trusted in the justice system and it failed me," he said.

Anderson is just one of hundreds of black men who have been convicted of and exonerated for crimes they didn't commit. A new report from the National Registry of Exonerations, a joint project between the University of California, Irvine; University of Michigan Law School and Michigan State University College of Law, shows that black people are more likely to be wrongfully convicted than white people and are also likely to spend longer in prison before being exonerated for their crimes.

While black people represent 13% of the US population, they represent a whopping 47% of the 1,900 exonerations in the registry.

"In some cases, you see some type of explicit racism," said Samuel Gross, a law professor at University of Michigan and a senior editor of the report. "Non-implicit racism has never gone away either."

Researchers focused on three types of crimes where black people were more likely than whites to be exonerated: murder, sexual assault and drug crimes. While they acknowledged that the causes of each exoneration "differ sharply from one type of crime to another," they also said they found patterns of racial discrimination in all three groups.

According to the researchers, innocent blacks are seven times more likely to be convicted of murder than innocent white people. Gross said this was partly because homicide rates among black people are higher than among white people, and innocent black people are therefore more likely to get suspected and convicted of murder. (According to data from the FBI, 52% of murder victims in 2014 were black and 46% were white, and 53% of offenders were black compared to 45% who were white).

In addition, murder cases where a black defendant was wrongfully convicted were 22% more likely to involve police misconduct than those involving white defendants.
Anonymous( )Anonymous This account has disabled anonymous posting.
OpenID( )OpenID You can comment on this post while signed in with an account from many other sites, once you have confirmed your email address. Sign in using OpenID.
Account name:
If you don't have an account you can create one now.
HTML doesn't work in the subject.


Notice: This account is set to log the IP addresses of everyone who comments.
Links will be displayed as unclickable URLs to help prevent spam.

October 2017

12 3 4 567
8 91011 12 1314
15 16 17 1819 2021
22 232425262728

Most Popular Tags