solarbird: (korra-on-the-air)
[personal profile] solarbird
Good morning! This is late because we had no internet again. At least this time, we were told. (More fallout from the previous problem, apparently? It's all at the ISP level.)

Anyway. "Rex Tillerson says Russia needs to come clean on election meddling. Does his boss agree?" follows up on somewhat cryptic comments a day before. "FBI obtained FISA warrant to monitor Trump adviser Carter Page" is finally a bit of data on that set of data. But the big story is, "Kushner Omitted Meeting With Russians on Security Clearance Forms." He left out a _lot_ of meetings with foreign officials, only one of which is known to be a Russian contact.

"U.S. Official: Russia knew Syrian chemical attack was coming," because apparently we're still getting different stories on this. "On Trump’s Syria Strategy, One Voice Is Missing: Trump’s." And finally, "Russia Opens New Front in U.S. Rivalry With Taliban Support." This last story has a degree of haziness to it - as do many things at the moment.

Sessions is really showing off his vicious xenophobic motherfucker stripes; this is nasty language. "Sessions signals immigration crackdown: 'This is the Trump era'," gives you some idea of the attitude, but only the start. The Times really soft-pedals it in the headline, "Undocumented Immigrants Who Commit Crimes Face Tougher Policy," and similarly, "During border visit, Sessions outlines immigration plan."

"Sean Spicer Draws Backlash by Comparing Hitler With Assad" - saying that Hitler never used gas in warfare. Seven million victims would _fucking well disagree_. "Social media users question Spicer calling concentration camps 'Holocaust centers'" documents this reaction to the Trump administration's low-key holocaust denial. Nasty, horrible stuff.

"Donald Trump and Paul Ryan are the problem — a staff shake-up won't fix anything" Well, unless the "staff shake-up" involves removing the whole lot of them. " But we're seeing open intra-Republican warfare in Congress now: "Republicans are coming after Paul Ryan: He needs a “change in direction”" and "Amash: We need 'change in direction from this speaker' or a new speaker."

"Trump's proposal to eliminate the Social Security payroll tax may be his worst idea yet" speaks for itself.

Finally, "Neo-fascist presidential candidate Marine Le Pen says France was not complicit in rounding up Jews" (a straight-up partial-holocaust-denial lie) and "Indonesia: gay men facing 100 lashes for having sex" is about a semi-autonomous region in Indonesia. The national government could take action against this but hasn't yet.

Good luck out there.

There most likely won't be a post tomorrow or the next few days due to Norwescon.


----- 1 -----
Rex Tillerson says Russia needs to come clean on election meddling. Does his boss agree?
The Washington Post | By Sarah Posner April 10, 2017

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2017/04/10/rex-tillerson-says-russia-needs-to-come-clean-on-election-meddling-does-his-boss-agree/

Before departing for a closely-watched trip to Russia this week,
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called on the Kremlin to “confront”
its meddling in the 2016 U.S. election. In a segment on ABC’s “This
Week,” Tillerson warned Russia that its continued meddling here and
elsewhere “undermines any hope of [Russia] improving relations” with
the United States and European democracies.

But while this sentiment is welcome, this should be seen as a startling
admission from Tillerson. Here’s why: If this is what Tillerson thinks,
then it raises the question: Does President Trump share this view, or
is Tillerson in conflict with the president, who once called on
Russians to hack his rival Hillary Clinton’s email?

If Tillerson in fact represents the administration’s view, then we need
to hear this from the president himself. And that should come not only
in a validation of Tillerson’s call to the Russians, but in, at long
last, vital transparency about his campaign’s role with Russian
efforts, perhaps in the form of a statement of support for a full,
independent probe of this whole affair.

Indeed, right now, getting to the bottom of the Trump campaign’s
possible campaign collusion with Russia is more urgent than ever —
because tensions between the United States and Russia are rising.


----- 2 -----
FBI obtained FISA warrant to monitor Trump adviser Carter Page
By Ellen Nakashima, Devlin Barrett and Adam Entous April 11 2017 at 7:11 PM
The Washington Post

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/fbi-obtained-fisa-warrant-to-monitor-former-trump-adviser-carter-page/2017/04/11/620192ea-1e0e-11e7-ad74-3a742a6e93a7_story.html

The FBI obtained a secret court order last summer to monitor the communications of an adviser to presidential candidate Donald Trump, part of an investigation into possible links between Russia and the campaign, law enforcement and other U.S. officials said.

The FBI and the Justice Department obtained the warrant targeting Carter Page’s communications after convincing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge that there was probable cause to believe Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power, in this case Russia, according to the officials.

This is the clearest evidence so far that the FBI had reason to believe during the 2016 presidential campaign that a Trump campaign adviser was in touch with Russian agents. Such contacts are now at the center of an investigation into whether the campaign coordinated with the Russian government to swing the election in Trump’s favor.

Page has not been accused of any crimes, and it is unclear whether the Justice Department might later seek charges against him or others in connection with Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The counterintelligence investigation into Russian efforts to influence U.S. elections began in July, officials have said. Most such investigations don’t result in criminal charges.


----- 3 -----
Sean Spicer Draws Backlash by Comparing Hitler With Assad
By NICHOLAS FANDOS and MARK LANDLER | The New York Times | APRIL 11, 2017

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/11/us/politics/sean-spicer-hitler-gas-holocaust-center.html

WASHINGTON — The White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, set off an intense backlash on Tuesday when he suggested that President Bashar al-Assad of Syria was guilty of acts worse than Hitler and asserted that Hitler had not used chemical weapons, ignoring the use of gas chambers at concentration camps during the Holocaust. Mr. Spicer later apologized.

During his daily briefing for reporters, Mr. Spicer was defending President Trump’s decision to order a missile strike on Syria by trying to lend gravity to the actions of Mr. Assad. American officials accuse the Syrian president of using sarin gas, a lethal chemical weapon, in an attack on a rebel-held area of Idlib Province last week that killed dozens, many of them children.

But in misconstruing the facts of the Holocaust — Nazi Germany’s brutally efficient, carefully orchestrated extermination of six million Jews and others — Mr. Spicer instead drew a torrent of criticism and added to the perception that the Trump White House lacks sensitivity and has a tenuous grasp of history.

“We didn’t use chemical weapons in World War II,” Mr. Spicer said. “You know, you had someone as despicable as Hitler who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons.”

He continued, “So you have to, if you are Russia, ask yourself: Is this a country and a regime that you want to align yourself with?”

The White House charged Tuesday that Russia had sought to cover up the Syrian government’s role in the chemical attack.

Asked to clarify his remarks, Mr. Spicer then acknowledged that Hitler had used chemical agents, but maintained that there was a difference.

“I think when you come to sarin gas, he was not using the gas on his own people the same way that Assad is doing,” Mr. Spicer said, incorrectly, before mentioning “Holocaust centers,” an apparent reference to Nazi death camps.

160,000 to 180,000 Jews killed by the Nazis were from Germany, according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.


----- 4 -----
Undocumented Immigrants Who Commit Crimes Face Tougher Policy
Attorney General Jeff Sessions wants to add 125 judges to address a backlog of immigration cases
By Aruna Viswanatha | The Wall Street Journal | April 11, 2017 1:03 p.m. ET

https://www.wsj.com/articles/sessions-lays-out-tough-policy-on-undocumented-who-commit-crimes-1491930183

Attorney General Jeff Sessions directed federal prosecutors to pursue harsher charges against undocumented immigrants who commit crimes, or repeatedly cross into the U.S. illegally, and he promised to add 125 immigration judges in the next two years to address a backlog of immigration cases.

...

In remarks to border patrol agents at the U.S.-Mexico border in Nogales, Arizona on Tuesday, Mr. Sessions spoke in stark terms about the thread he said illegal immigration posts.

"We mean criminal organizations that turn cities and suburbs into warzones, that rape and kill innocent citizens," Mr. Sessions said, according to the text of his prepared remarks. "It is here, on this sliver of land, where we first take our stand against this filth."

"This is a new era. This is the Trump era," Mr. Sessions said.


----- 5 -----
Kushner Omitted Meeting With Russians on Security Clearance Forms
By JO BECKER and MATTHEW ROSENBERG - APRIL 6, 2017 - The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/06/us/politics/jared-kushner-russians-security-clearance.html

When Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, sought the top-secret security clearance that would give him access to some of the nation’s most closely guarded secrets, he was required to disclose all encounters with foreign government officials over the last seven years.

But Mr. Kushner did not mention dozens of contacts with foreign leaders or officials in recent months. They include a December meeting with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, and one with the head of a Russian state-owned bank, Vnesheconombank, arranged at Mr. Kislyak’s behest.

The omissions, which Mr. Kushner’s lawyer called an error, are particularly sensitive given the congressional and F.B.I. investigations into contacts between Russian officials and Trump associates. The Senate Intelligence Committee informed the White House weeks ago that, as part of its inquiry, it planned to question Mr. Kushner about the meetings he arranged with Mr. Kislyak, including the one with Sergey N. Gorkov, a graduate of Russia’s spy school who now heads Vnesheconombank.

Mr. Kushner’s omissions were described by people with direct knowledge of them who asked for anonymity because the questionnaire is not a public document.

While officials can lose access to intelligence, or worse, for failing to disclose foreign contacts, the forms are often amended to address lapses. Jamie Gorelick, Mr. Kushner’s lawyer, said that the questionnaire was submitted prematurely on Jan. 18, and that the next day, Mr. Kushner’s office told the F.B.I. that he would provide supplemental information.



----- 6 -----
Social media users question Spicer calling concentration camps 'Holocaust centers'
By Brooke Seipel - 04/11/17 02:59 PM EDT - The Hill

http://thehill.com/blogs/in-the-know/in-the-know/328312-social-media-users-react-to-spicer-calling-concentration-camps

White House press secretary Sean Spicer faced major social media criticism Tuesday after referring to concentration camps as "Holocaust centers" while walking back his claim that Nazi leader Adolf Hitler did not use chemical weapons.

Spicer first drew attention at Tuesday's press briefing when he criticized Syrian President Bashar Assad's use of chemical weapons on his own people by comparing him to Hitler.

“You had someone as despicable as Hitler, who didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons,” he said.

Many, including a journalist in the press briefing, were quick to point out that Hitler used gas chambers to kill millions of Jewish people during the Holocaust. Spicer attempted to walk back his statement.


----- 7 -----
U.S. Official: Russia knew Syrian chemical attack was coming
Robert Burns, Lolita C. Baldor | Associated Press

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-syria-russia-chemical-attack-20170410-story.html

The United States has made a preliminary conclusion that Russia knew in advance of Syria's chemical weapons attack last week, but has no proof of Moscow's involvement, a senior U.S. official says.

The official said Monday that that a drone operated by Russians was flying over a hospital as victims of the attack were rushing to get treatment. Hours after the drone left, a Russian-made fighter jet bombed the hospital in what American officials believe was an attempt to cover up the usage of chemical weapons.

The U.S. official said the presence of the surveillance drone over the hospital couldn't have been a coincidence, and that Russia must have known the chemical weapons attack was coming and that victims were seeking treatment

The official, who wasn't authorized to speak publicly on intelligence matters and demanded anonymity, didn't give precise timing for when the drone was in the area, where more than 80 people were killed. The official also didn't provide details for the military and intelligence information that form the basis of what the Pentagon now believes.

Another U.S. official cautioned that no final American determination has been made that Russia knew ahead of time that chemical weapons would be used. That official wasn't authorized to speak about internal administration deliberations and spoke on condition of anonymity.


----- 8 -----
Sessions signals immigration crackdown: 'This is the Trump era'
The attorney general wants the Justice Department to make immigration enforcement a priority.
By Ted Hesson | Politico
04/11/17 01:09 PM EDT

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/04/jeff-sessions-immigration-crackdown-237109

Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent a warning Tuesday to people who break the nation’s immigration laws: If you cross the border illegally, you risk prosecution under the full force of the law.

Speaking from a border port of entry in Nogales, Arizona, Sessions used stark language to announce measures the Justice Department will take to deter illegal immigration, including vigorous enforcement of human smuggling and identity fraud laws.

“For those that continue to seek improper and illegal entry into this country, be forewarned,” Sessions said in remarks prepared for delivery. “This is a new era. This is the Trump era.”

He continued: “The lawlessness, the abdication of the duty to enforce our immigration laws, and the catch and release practices of old are over.”

A memo Sessions issued Tuesday calls for federal attorneys to consider prosecution of anyone who harbors undocumented immigrants, with a priority given to violent cases or those that involve transporting or shielding three or more undocumented immigrants. Sessions also instructed the Justice Department to pursue felony charges when applicable for immigrants who try to enter the U.S. illegally on multiple occasions.

In a policy move that could have broad implications, the attorney general asked prosecutors to consider charges for identity fraud and document theft “to the extent practicable.” The department’s attorneys also should consider felony prosecutions in cases of fraudulent marriages to obtain legal immigration status, the memo said.

The border trip and call for stiffer immigration enforcement come as the Trump administration struggles to carry out his campaign promises in the first 100 days in office. Major initiatives have floundered: an attempt at health care reform fell flat amid a lack of support from Republicans, and the administration’s ties to Russia continue to dog the president and his advisers.


----- 9 -----
On Trump’s Syria Strategy, One Voice Is Missing: Trump’s
By PETER BAKER and GARDINER HARRIS | The New York Times | April 10, 2017

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/04/10/world/middleeast/syria-trump-assad.html

WASHINGTON — In the days since President Trump ordered a cruise missile strike against Syria in retaliation for a chemical attack on civilians, his administration has spoken with multiple voices as it seeks to explain its evolving policy. But one voice has not been heard from: that of Mr. Trump himself.

As various officials have described it, the United States will intervene only when chemical weapons are used — or any time innocents are killed. It will push for the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria — or pursue that only after defeating the Islamic State. America’s national interest in Syria is to fight terrorism. Or to ease the humanitarian crisis there. Or to restore stability.

The latest mixed messages were sent on Monday in both Washington and Europe. Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson — during a stop in Italy on his way to Moscow for a potentially tense visit, given Russian anger at last week’s missile strike — outlined a dramatically interventionist approach. “We rededicate ourselves to holding to account any and all who commit crimes against the innocents anywhere in the world,” he said.

Hours later, Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, said at his daily briefing that Mr. Trump would act against Syria not just if it resorted to chemical weapons, like the sarin nerve agent reportedly used last week, but also when it used conventional munitions. “If you gas a baby, if you put a barrel bomb into innocent people, I think you will see a response from this president,” Mr. Spicer said.


----- 10 -----
During border visit, Sessions outlines immigration plan
By Astrid Galvan | AP April 11 at 11:51 PM

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/during-border-visit-sessions-outlines-immigration-plan/2017/04/11/843e6b3e-1f18-11e7-bb59-a74ccaf1d02f_story.html

NOGALES, Ariz. — Attorney General Jeff Sessions toured the U.S.-Mexico border Tuesday and unveiled what he described as a new get-tough approach to immigration prosecutions under President Donald Trump.

The nation’s top law enforcement official outlined a series of changes that he said mark the start of a new push to rid American cities and the border of what he described as “filth” brought on by drug cartels and criminal organizations.

...

He also returned to a common theme from the Trump campaign by saying drug cartels and criminal gangs are turning American cities into “war zones” by raping and killing innocent people.

“It is here, on this sliver of land, where we first take our stand against this filth,” he said.

Critics blasted the initiatives announced by Sessions as fear-mongering and anti-immigrant rhetoric not rooted in facts.

“Once again, Attorney General Sessions is scaring the public by linking immigrants to criminals despite studies showing that immigrants commit crimes at lower rates than the native born,” said Gregory Z. Chen, director of government relations for the American Immigration Lawyers Association.


----- 11 -----
Russia Opens New Front in U.S. Rivalry With Taliban Support
by Eltaf Najafizada and Henry Meyer
April 10, 2017, 5:00 PM EDT April 11, 2017, 5:49 AM EDT
Bloomberg

https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-04-10/russia-opens-new-front-in-rivalry-with-u-s-with-taliban-support

Russia and the U.S. are increasingly sparring over Afghanistan, adding to rapidly souring ties between the Kremlin and President Donald Trump’s administration.

U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis has voiced alarm at Russia’s actions in Afghanistan, where it’s been cultivating links with the Taliban amid a campaign waged by the terrorist group against Afghan and NATO forces.

His comments come as local Afghan officials and a former Taliban commander say there is evidence Russia is supplying arms to the insurgents. U.S. officials won’t go that far in public, but U.S. Central Command chief General Joseph Votel has told a congressional panel that Russia was probably providing the group with weapons.

Moscow’s support for the Taliban risks adding another front to tensions with Washington after Trump last week ordered a missile strike on an airbase in Syria. The frictions are set to loom large over the meeting of Group of Seven foreign ministers in Italy, after which Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is due to travel to Moscow.

It also highlights the task for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani as he struggles to contain the Taliban amid a deteriorating security situation. The Taliban controls or contests over half the country’s populated areas, according to U.S. government estimates, making it harder for America to extract itself from its longest-ever war. Ghani has repeatedly called on the Taliban to join peace talks.

The Kremlin denies arming the group. Russia’s special envoy for Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov said in a March 30 interview the accusations were an invention by the Afghan government and its allies to “justify their own failure on the battlefield.”


----- 12 -----
Donald Trump and Paul Ryan are the problem — a staff shake-up won't fix anything
It’s not Steve Bannon’s fault the GOP’s policy agenda is incoherent.
Updated by Matthew Yglesias Vox Apr 11, 2017

http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/4/11/15223460/trump-staff-shakeup

The Trump administration knows it hasn’t gotten off to a very impressive start, with Shane Goldmacher reporting that officials are increasingly panicked about a likely impending wave of stories about a first 100 days devoid of major achievements and Maggie Haberman reporting that “some form of overall review” is in the works that could be used to generate a shake-up.

Meanwhile, tensions between chief strategist Steve Bannon and the rising star of chief son-in-law Jared Kushner have been openly aired in multiple media outlets. Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, too, has been on thin ice since the beginning of the administration and appears to be taking blame, in particular, for the dismal fate of Trump’s health care efforts where his relationships on Capitol Hill were supposed to be crucial.

Kushner is a political neophyte, but he previously orchestrated the ousters of Corey Lewandowksi, Paul Manafort, and Chris Christie from their places near the top of the Trumpworld pyramid. He also appears to have been instrumental in bringing people with subject matter knowledge but no personal ties to Trump into the fold. Still, the fundamental issue with any new staff shake-up will remain exactly the same as with previous staff shake-ups — Trump is the real problem, and he isn’t going to fire himself in favor of someone well-suited to being president.

What’s more, beyond Trump’s personal failings, there’s genuinely little reason to believe that the GOP’s current legislative struggles have anything to do with the White House. Long before Trump came on the scene, conservative ideologues on Capitol Hill constructed a set of alternative facts about repealing the Affordable Care Act that served as a useful electioneering strategy but simply don’t work as a governing agenda.


----- 13 -----
Republicans are coming after Paul Ryan: He needs a “change in direction”
Amash also said that 50 to 80 Republicans would have voted no on the American Health Care Act — more than estimated
Matthew Rozsa | Salon | 11 April 2017

http://www.salon.com/2017/04/11/republican-revolt-house-member-says-paul-ryan-needs-either-a-change-in-direction-or-to-be-replaced/#.WOzksxgGel0.twitter

Republicans are still pointing the finger after the embarrassing collapse of their initial Obamacare repeal-and-replace effort, and those fingers seem to be pointed in the direction of House Speaker Paul Ryan.

“We need either a change in direction from this speaker, or we need a new speaker,” Amash told a questioner inquiring about partisan gridlock in Washington during a town hall meeting in Cedar Springs, Michigan.

Although Amash is part of the House Freedom Caucus, which played a major role in defeating Trumpcare, the caucus chairman Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina told ABC’s “This Week” after the bill didn’t go through that there were “no conversations going on” about replacing Ryan.

Amash also denounced the Trump administration for squashing independent thought among Republican congressmen.

“When we go home for the weekend, they give us a set of talking points. They say, ‘Here are your talking points.’ That’s not the way you’re supposed to represent a community,” Amash told his audience.

Amash’s open hostility toward Trump can at least partially be explained by the decision of senior White House aide Dan Scavino to call for Amash to be defeated in his primary election next year.


----- 14 -----
Trump's proposal to eliminate the Social Security payroll tax may be his worst idea yet
The Los Angeles Times
Michael Hiltzik | 10 April 2017

http://www.latimes.com/business/hiltzik/la-fi-hiltzik-social-security-tax-20170410-story.html

President Trump’s tax reform agenda is in trouble. That’s not news, but one proposal that his team has floated as a way, ostensibly, to cut taxes on the middle class is. According to the Associated Press, they’re toying with the idea of eliminating the payroll tax, which funds Social Security and part of Medicare, or cutting it drastically.

This is an absolutely terrible idea, partially because it smells like a back-door way of cutting Social Security benefits. It needs to be nipped in the bud.

“This proposal is a Trojan horse,” the veteran Social Security advocate Nancy J. Altman told me. “It appears to be a gift in the form of middle-class tax relief, but would, if enacted, lead to the destruction of working Americans' fundamental economic security.”

To understand why, one needs to examine the history and mechanics of Social Security, something the Trump team hasn’t tried or doesn’t care to do. But we can.


----- 15 -----
Neo-fascist presidential candidate Marine Le Pen says France was not complicit in rounding up Jews
Boing Boing | Cory Doctorow / 10:25 am Tue Apr 11, 2017

https://boingboing.net/2017/04/11/apples-falling-close-to-trees.html

Marine Le Pen says that she is not like her father, the notorious fascist political leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of the far-right National Front party (she excommunicated him from the party, but remained chummy enough to borrow millions from him for her presidential bid).

Le Pen the Younger disclaims her father's racist baggage, and presents herself as a populist/nationalist in the model of Nigel Farage and Donald Trump (themselves notorious racists, but of the sort who make recourse to dog whistles instead of out-and-out racism, at least some of the time).

On Sunday, Le Pen disclaimed French responsibility for the notorious "Vel d'Hiv" incident in which French police rounded up 13,000 Jews and crammed them into the Velodrome d'Hiver so that Nazi occupiers could deport them to Auschwitz, saying ""I think France isn't responsible for the Vel d'Hiv...I think that, in general, if there are people responsible, it is those who were in power at the time. It is not France."

The remarks came just a couple weeks before the French general election, which has many around the world nervous, given the recent success of other crypto-fascist "populists" around the world.

Though Le Pen later tried to walk the remarks back, claiming that the legitimate French government was in exile in the UK at the time and that she'd been misunderstood, her excuses are hollow and ring false, given that the roundup was conducted by career French police officers, led by the national police chief, René Bousquet.


----- 16 -----
The Public Should Pay Only For Public Schools, Not Religious Schools
But the issue might soon end up in front of the Supreme Court.
Diane Ravitch | The Huffington Post | 04/10/2017

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-public-should-pay-only-for-public-schools-not-religious-schools_us_58eb83dae4b05413bfe484e5?ncid=engmodushpmg00000004

Robert Natelson, a retired constitutional law professor who is allied with the ultra-conservative Heartland Institute, writes in The Hill that the Supreme Court may well strike down the state prohibitions on funding religious schools (known as “baby Blaine amendments”) because of their origins in anti-Catholic bias. If this happened, it would pave the way for government to divert public funding from public schools to pay for vouchers for religious schools, as Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos advocates.

The Blaine Amendment was proposed by Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives James G. Blaine in 1875. Blaine was an ambitious politician from Maine who ran for president in 1876, 1880, and 1884. He was interested in a wide range of issues, including trade, monetary policy, and foreign affairs. He is remembered today for the Constitutional amendment he proposed, which passed the House but not the Senate:

"No State shall make any law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; and no money raised by taxation in any State for the support of public schools, or derived from any public fund therefor, nor any public lands devoted thereto, shall ever be under the control of any religious sect; nor shall any money so raised or lands so devoted be divided between religious sects or denominations."

Although the Blaine Amendment was not adopted as an amendment to the U.S. Constitution, it was adopted by many states and incorporated into their state constitutions to prohibit spending public money on religious schools.

...

Natelson maintains that the anti-Catholic origins of the Blaine amendment are reason enough to overturn them.

But it seems to me even more plausible to argue that the public schools today are not “Protestant schools,” that they are thoroughly nonsectarian in character, and that they fulfill the original promise of the Blaine Amendment, which is to serve all children on equal terms, regardless of their religion.


----- 17 -----
Indonesia: gay men facing 100 lashes for having sex
Case could become the first time Aceh’s sharia law has been enforced against homosexuality
Vincent Bevens | The Guardian | 11 April 2017

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/11/indonesia-gay-men-facing-100-lashes-for-having-sex

Two gay Indonesian men have been arrested and face 100 lashes in a case that is drawing international attention to the enforcement of controversial new Islamic bylaws in the semi-autonomous Aceh province.

Mobile phone footage, showing vigilantes slapping one of the young men as he sits naked on the ground awaiting arrest by local sharia police, has been shared on social media in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country.

Aceh flogs 13 young people for breaking its strict Islamic laws

Read more
Human Rights Watch has demanded their immediate release, saying their possible punishment – a public beating with a stick – constitutes torture.

The sentence has already been meted out for crimes such as adultery, but it is believed this would be the first time Aceh’s new statutes concerning religion and morality could be enforced against homosexuality.

Aceh is the only region in Indonesia, a plural democracy, which allows local authorities to maintain parallel laws and police forces based on religious interpretations.


----- 18 -----
Amash: We need 'change in direction from this speaker' or a new speaker
By Rebecca Savransky - 04/10/17 - The Hill

http://thehill.com/homenews/house/328208-amash-we-need-change-in-direction-from-this-speaker-or-new-speaker

Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) on Monday suggested that House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) may need to be replaced to deal with the dysfunction in Washington.

"We need either a change in direction from this Speaker, or we need a new speaker," Amash said during a town hall on Monday in response to a question about gridlock in Washington, according to CNN.

He said Ryan should be replaced with someone who is "nonpartisan."

The comments come after a top White House aide earlier this month sent a tweet calling for a primary challenge to Amash, a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus who opposed the House GOP's healthcare bill last month.

Date: 2017-04-12 04:23 pm (UTC)
ng_moonmoth: The Moon-Moth (Default)
From: [personal profile] ng_moonmoth
Re "Spicer first drew attention at Tuesday's press briefing when he criticized Syrian President Bashar Assad's use of chemical weapons on his own people by comparing him to Hitler":

This topic came up at the Passover dinner I was at last night. Now that Godwin's law has been triggered, someone's gonna lose big. We're still trying to work out just who, how, and by how much...

Date: 2017-04-12 05:34 pm (UTC)
technoshaman: Tux (Default)
From: [personal profile] technoshaman
The Reaper... err, Repubs want to get rid of Ryan? HOT DAMN! well, maybe. Are they looking for Sanity, or do they want somebody like Spice Boy?

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