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'Busted!': MSNBC Host Explains How Trump Blatantly Tried to Interfere in the Mueller Probe

May 24, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

Melber noted that he usually presumes people he talks about on his program are innocent. Not this time.


MSNBC's Ari Melber argued Thursday that the attendance of President Donald Trump's lawyer Emmet Flood at an intelligence briefing about the investigation into the Trump campaign was unequivocally a major violation.

“As a matter of law and precedent,” Melber said, “what we saw in that meeting today was improper and it was unprecedented.”

Not only is it improper for a defendants' lawyer to go to a meeting where the government's case against a client is being discussed — Melber noted that anyone other than the president has no chance of making this happen — it's clear that the White House tried to cover it up. He pointed out that the Justice Department put out a list of who was supposed to attend the meeting the night before, and Flood wasn't listed. 

“Today, the Trump administration was busted!” Melber. “And that makes the list untrue, because it's missing the one person who has no business being at this internal, classified Gang of Eight meeting but who was spotted entering the meeting.”

Melber continued: “We note sometimes that a subject may seem guilty but is presumed guilty… This is not one of those nights.”

Watch the clip below:

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Source: ALTERNET

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Rep. Schiff Reveals There's 'No Evidence' for Trump's Ridiculous 'Spy' Conspiracy Theory After Classified Briefing

May 24, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

Trump's lawyer's “presence and statement at the outset of both meetings today was completely inappropriate,” Schiff added.


After a much-hyped meeting between lawmakers and the Justice Department to discuss aspects of the investigation into President Donald Trump's campaign, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) said that the briefing only confirmed for him that there is “no evidence” to support the president's conspiratorial claim that the previous administration ”spied” on him.

“Clapper has now admitted that there was Spying in my campaign,” Trump falsely tweeted Thursday morning. “Large dollars were paid to the Spy, far beyond normal. Starting to look like one of the biggest political scandals in U.S. history. SPYGATE – a terrible thing!”

“Nothing we heard today has changed our view that there is no evidence to support any allegation that the FBI, or any intelligence agency, placed a spy in the Trump campaign or otherwise failed to follow appropriate procedures,” Schiff said after the meeting.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA), a Trump ally who pushed for the briefing and has promoted the president's conspiracy theories, did not release a statement and would not answer questions after the meeting.

In addition to contradicting the president's unfounded claims about a spy, Schiff slammed the fact that White House lawyer Emmet Flood attended the beginning of the meeting.

“Emmet Flood’s presence and statement at the outset of both meetings today was completely inappropriate,” Schiff said. The attorney's “presence only underscores what Rudy Giuliani said: the president’s legal team expects to use information gleaned improperly from the Justice Department or the President’s allies in Congress to their legal advantage.”

Watch the clip below:

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Source: ALTERNET

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ICE Keeps Gay Man Fleeing Persecution in Detainment for Four Months

May 24, 2018 in Blogs

By Gabe Ortiz, Daily Kos

The ACLU called his detainment “cruel and unjust.”


 Jose “Ivan” Nuñez, arrested in Philadelphia by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) during an routine interview with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), is now approaching his fifth month of detention. Nuñez, an undocumented immigrant originally from Mexico, had gone to the January 31 interview as part of a process to gain legal status through his U.S. citizen husband, Paul Frame. It was supposed to be a routine interview. “It was anything but routine”:

Since Jan. 31, Ivan has been locked up by ICE at a prison facility in York, Pennsylvania. He has been given no opportunity to explain to an immigration judge why his confinement is unnecessary. Ivan doesn't understand why ICE is imprisoning him. Neither does Paul or anyone else who knows Ivan.

“In the meantime,” the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) reports, “detention is taking a heavy toll. Ivan has been losing weight, losing sleep, at times fearing for his safety in ICE custody. Paul has been suffering, too,” worrying about what could happen to his husband in detention—and what could happen to him if he’s torn from him and deported.

“He thought he would be safer here in the U.S.,” said the ACLU of Pennsylvania’s Reggie Shuford. “His detention is cruel and unjust, and it discourages people who have a legal path to staying here from pursuing it.”

According to research, “the horrific abuse that LGBTQ immigrants face in detention facilities is well-documented. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, nonheterosexual people are more than twice as likely as the general population to be sexually assaulted while in confinement”:

From 2009 to 2013, 1 in 5 substantiated allegations of sexual assault in ICE detention facilities had a transgender victim. In addition to sexual assault, LGBTQ people in detention face verbal and physical abuse; prolonged solitary confinement; and the withholding of critical health care needs, such as hormone therapy or HIV medication.

Nuñez fled Mexico 17 years ago, when he was just 21 and fearing “for his life. He'd received violent threats because of his sexual orientation, and a gay friend of his there was murdered.” The openly gay …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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'We Must Save Our Democracy': Civil Rights Icon John Lewis Warns of Dangerous 'Forces' in United States

May 24, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

“You're never too young or too old to… get in good trouble, necessary trouble,” he said.


Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), a long-time lawmaker and prominent civil rights leader, gave a stirring speech Thursday at Harvard University's graduation, urging students to action while also warning of the threats to our democracy.

“We need your leadership now more than ever before,” he said. “We must save our country. We must save it. We must save our democracy. There are forces in America today and around that world that are trying to take us to another place.”

He continued: “You're never too young or too old to lead, to speak up, to speak out and get in good trouble, necessary trouble. You cannot afford to stand on the sidelines.”

Lewis spoke of the Harvard students who went to the South to help fight against voter suppression, a fight that took the lives of three of his friends.

“The vote is precious — it is almost sacred,” he said. “It is the most powerful non-violent instrument or tool we have in our democratic society. And we must use it. If we fail to use it, we will lose it.”

Watch the speech below:

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Source: ALTERNET

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How Haspel's CIA Could Improve U.S.–Pakistan Relations

May 24, 2018 in Economics

By Sahar Khan

Sahar Khan

On Monday, Gina Haspel was sworn in as the director of the CIA. When asked
about Pakistan during her confirmation hearing, she discussed the CIA’s
concerns about the link between extremist groups and Pakistan’s
nuclear scientists, and stated that the CIA has been monitoring
these contacts closely.

Why it matters: In March, the U.S. Department
of Commerce sanctioned seven Pakistani
companies
for engaging in nuclear trade in ways that undermine
U.S. peace interests. Pakistan responded by defending its nonproliferation record and
promising to work with the U.S. to investigate
the accused companies. With her answer, Haspel may have offered
Pakistan an opening to get its currently tumultuous relationship
with the U.S. back on track.

For the past decade, Pakistan has accused the U.S. of looking at
their bilateral relationship exclusively through the prism of the
War in Afghanistan, where the U.S. has accused Pakistan of
sponsoring militant groups that attack U.S. and allied troops.
(Interestingly, Haspel did not mention Pakistan’s support for the
Afghan Taliban and Haqqani Network as a threat during her
hearing.)

But Pakistan is also desperate to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group, an international consortium
dedicated to nonproliferation. Given that the safety of Pakistan’s
nuclear arsenal is of paramount importance to both Pakistan and the
U.S., nonproliferation could serve as a point of cooperation,
shifting the balance of the bilateral relationship in a more
positive direction.

The big picture: It is hard to predict whether
nonproliferation could entice Pakistan to halt military sponsorship
in Afghanistan. But in spite of that, if both countries’
intelligence agencies can work together to ensure the safety of
Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, Pakistan and the U.S. may be able to
develop some goodwill.

Sahar Khan is a
visiting research fellow in the Cato Institute’s Defense and
Foreign Policy Department. …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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'Craziest S— I Ever Heard': Republican Congressional Aide Sounds Off on Trump Lawyer at Classified Briefing

May 24, 2018 in Blogs

By AlterNet

The conflict of interest is shocking in its brazenness.


No one expected President Donald Trump's lawyer Emmet Flood to be present at a pair of classified Justice Department briefings about a confidential intelligence source.

Lawmakers were aghast when video emerged showing Flood, who represents Trump in the Russia probe, arriving before today's DOJ meetings.

“Never seen a Gang of Eight meeting that included any presence from the White House,” top Democratic Senate Intelligence Committee member Mark Warner of Virginia said. “Those individuals left before the substance of it. Unusual times.”

The White House claims Flood made remarks before the meetings but wasn't present for the meetings, an explanation that satisfied almost no one.

A congressional aide to a Republican lawmaker had the most straightforward response in a conversation with CNN's Jake Tapper.

“It’s the craziest shit I ever heard,” the unnamed aide told the journalist.

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Source: ALTERNET

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Trump's Auto Tariffs Are an Attack on the Rule of Law

May 24, 2018 in Economics

By Daniel J. Ikenson

Daniel J. Ikenson

The claim that imported automobiles might represent some sort of
threat to U.S. national security hardly merits even a moment’s
thought, much less a formal inquiry. To President Trump — who
has requested his Commerce Department investigate precisely this
question – the inquiry provides a distraction from his mounting
legal woes and, perhaps, the opportunity to secure some leverage in
the ongoing North American Free Trade Agreement renegotiations. But
this latest assault on reason and the rule of law should compel
Congress to finally act to rein in the dangers posed by an
increasingly wayward chief executive.

U.S. automobile producers are not under any duress besides the
president’s meddling into their investments and supply chain
decisions. The industry is
thriving
, producing and selling record numbers of vehicles and
generating record revenues in recent years. Even most of the
foreign cars on U.S. roads were produced in American cities and
towns. But what matters to Trump is that American greatness is
symbolized by the might of its heavy industries, like autos and
steel. What right thinking patriotic American wouldn’t reflexively
support a president standing up for the U.S. auto industry? But
it’s all optics. It’s all contrived.

Earlier this year, to protect domestic steel and aluminum
producers, Trump invoked Section
232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 and availed himself of the
vast discretion that statute affords the president to define and
then mitigate national security threats. But the law is intended
for more solemn purposes than those motivating this president, who
abhors empirics, economics, expertise and the constraints of law.
The process is supposed to determine whether a threat exists and,
if so, what to do about it. But Trump’s already asking to
fast-track the process to announce as much as 25% tariffs on imported
automobiles.

In addition to introducing noise to distract from the mounting,
adverse legal developments afflicting this administration, Trump
likely hopes to secure additional leverage to bend Canada and
Mexico to his will over the terms of the so-called rules of origin
for automobile trade in the revised NAFTA. Either way, Trump
continues to squander U.S. international credibility.

Congress must begin to treat this administration as the profound
threat to the republic that it so clearly has become. It should
start by introducing legislation right away to repeal this law, and
if there aren’t two-thirds in both chambers willing to override the
veto, we should expect to experience a continued erosion of the
rule of law and a permanent state of economic and geopolitical
disarray.

Daniel J.
Ikenson
is director of the Cato Institute’s Herbert A. Stiefel
Center for Trade Policy Studies. …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Alexandria Gets Housing Affordability Wrong

May 24, 2018 in Economics

By Vanessa Brown Calder

Vanessa Brown Calder

Alexandria’s city council successfully increased the meals
tax on restaurants in its jurisdiction on May 10. The
council’s plan is to dedicate the meals tax revenue to
building affordable housing.

There are a variety of issues with city council’s plan to
increase taxes and provide affordable housing. First, the tax is
supposed to help low and moderate income Alexandria residents, but
restaurant taxes are regressive: the shares of after-tax income
spent on meals away from home by households in the lowest,
second-lowest, second-highest and highest income deciles are 20.4
percent, 7.9 percent, 4.4 percent, and 3.8 percent,
respectively.

Alexandria’s city council
doesn’t understand housing affordability, a feature it has in
common with many other local and state governments in the United
States.

That means the meals tax would likely collect five times the
share of after-tax income from low-income households as high-income
families, as Michael F. Cannon pointed out in a May 3 Alexandria
Times letter to the editor, “Meals taxes are
regressive.” In short, the meals tax is a regressive tax
parading as a progressive measure.

Furthermore, the meals tax signals Alexandria believes it can
tax and spend its way out of housing affordability problems. As
high as Alexandria’s housing prices are, the city has no
practical hope of doing that.

The median Alexandria home sale price in 2017 was more than half
a million dollars, and in certain neighborhoods like Potomac Yard /
Potomac Greens, the median sale price is greater than
three-quarters of a million dollars. The meals tax raises less than
$5 million annually, which could provide 10 median Alexandria homes
annually.

But Alexandria has more serious housing affordability problems
than limited tax revenue. Like other cities, the cost of housing is
driven by restrictive regulation. If residents wonder why the
supply of affordable housing in Alexandria is dwindling, they need
look no further than the city and the associated zoning
ordinance.

A substantial portion of Alexandria property is zoned for single
family residential. In a high-demand city like Alexandria, just
outside restrictively zoned Washington, D.C., this land would
likely voluntarily be put to a higher use (e.g. multi-family
residential) in the absence of the regulation.

It is true that portions of Old Town are zoned for townhomes.
But most of Old Town falls within a historic district, which means
that substantial change is nearly impossible and redevelopment is
subject to extensive regulation and oversight from city boards and
commissions. In fact, the city has a 200-page design guidebook on
the special considerations associated with development in this
historic downtown area alone.

The review process isn’t only heavy-handed in the historic
district. In Alexandria, there are around 25 citizen boards
managing architectural, …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Educational Freedom Isn’t a Threat to Democracy

May 24, 2018 in Economics

By Corey A. DeAngelis, Patrick J. Wolf

Corey A. DeAngelis and Patrick J. Wolf

Horace Mann — often called the father of traditional
American public schooling — just celebrated his 222ndbirthday. While Mann has been
gone from this Earth for quite a long time, his thoughts on the
intersection between common schools and democratic ideals continue
to hold strong today. Because traditional public schools are
supposed to teach children how to become proper
American citizens
, critics of private school choice believe
that school vouchers “undermine our democracy.” But recent
evidence should curb that concern.

We do not find any
evidence that private school voucher students are either less or
more likely to vote in presidential elections than students
educated in public schools.

Our just-released study examines the effects of the
Milwaukee voucher program on adult voting activity. We use a
sophisticated matching procedure — found to replicate experimental results — on
student-level data from the most recent longitudinal evaluation of
the program to compare voucher students to their traditional public
school peers. Each of our analytic models controls for
characteristics such as race, grade, gender, baseline math and
reading achievement, parent income and education levels, and
neighborhood. By the time the students reach 19 to 26 years old, we
do not find any evidence that private school voucher students are
either less or more likely to vote in the 2012 or 2016 presidential
elections than students educated in public schools.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about our study is that the
results conflict with conclusions made in a similar study just a
few years ago. David Fleming and his colleagues used the same
student-level data from the 2006-2012 evaluation of the Milwaukee
voucher program and asked students if they would vote in the
future. When surveyed, they found that the Milwaukee voucher
students were 11-percentage points more likely to report that
they would vote in the future
than their public school
counterparts.

But it turns out that didn’t actually happen. Why not?

There are two plausible explanations for these seemingly
contradictory results. First, the Fleming-led study simply asked
students if they are going to vote in the future. That survey
question could be measuring something other than political
participation, namely the democratic skill of knowing what the rest
of society expects from you. It also is possible that the initial
positive effect of private schooling on the inclination towards
political participation fades out by the time students reach 19 to
26 years of age.

Our study largely mirrors the experimental results reported by
Carlson, Chingos, and Campbell
for the New York School Choice
Scholarships Foundation Program: …read more

Source: OP-EDS