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Scott Pruitt Was 'Devastated' that Trump Finally Wanted Him Out: Report

July 6, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

The president said that the final decision was up to Pruitt — but a new report suggests otherwise.


Despite President Donald Trump's insistence that former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt made the choice to resign on Thursday, a new report from Bloomberg found that the long-embattled Cabinet member was forced out.

Reporters Jennifer Jacobs and Jennifer Dlouhy say that Pruitt was “devastated” when he was told to resign. But even though Trump had concluded Pruitt must go, they write, it was White House Chief of Staff John Kelly who called to break the news to the administrator.

When asked Thursday by reporters whether there was a “final straw” that led to Pruitt's removal, Trump denied it.

“No final straw,” he said aboard Air Force One. “I think Scott saw that he was, he was, uh – look, Scott is a terrific guy. And he came to me and he said 'I have such great confidence in the administration. I don’t want to be a distraction.' And I think Scott felt that he was a distraction.”

But Jacobs and Dlouhy found that there was, in fact, a final straw.

Recent reports found that Pruitt had doctored his schedule to conceal certain meetings from the public — a potential violation of federal records law. With the seriousness of the allegations against Pruitt increasing, the report notes, Trump realized his time was up.

Even in his comments after the resignation, however, Trump expressed real fondness for Pruitt.

“He’ll go on to great things and he’s going to have a wonderful life, I hope,” Trump said. “He was very much an early Trump supporter. He was with us on the campaign. He is a very environmental person. He’s a big believer, and he’s going to do a fantastic job.”

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Source: ALTERNET

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Billionaires Devised a Plan to Kill Unions by Sending Worker Stand-Ins to Spread Propaganda

July 6, 2018 in Blogs

By Leo Gerard, Independent Media Institute

It wasn't regular Joes who pushed the Supreme Court to pass the Janus decision.


Hundred millionaire Bruce Rauner just couldn’t wait to tell Illinois state workers that the U.S. Supreme Court had given them what he considered a gift.

Within hours of the court’s ruling in the Janus case last week, Rauner, the Republican governor of Illinois, emailed state workers to tell them the decision meant they no longer needed to pay either dues or fair share fees to their labor union but the union would still be required to represent them.

What a deal! Free service! And it was brought to them by Rauner! The governor had filed the lawsuit that led to the Janus decision. When a court tossed him as plaintiff, the right-wing foundations whose billionaire donors paid for the lawsuit drummed up replacement plaintiffs including Mark Janus. He’s an Illinois child support worker who refused to join the union and pay dues and who didn’t even want to pay the smaller fair share fee of $45 a month charged to non-members to cover the union’s costs of bargaining for them.

It was that fee that the Supreme Court said government workers had a free speech right not to pay. The court said unions do not have a corresponding free speech right to refuse to represent non-members.

While Rauner was sending his email urging Illinois workers to bankrupt their unions, right-wing “foundations” across the country started spending the tens of millions they’d received from billionaires like the Walton family and giant corporations like AT&T to do the same thing. These groups are emailing, calling and visiting the homes of government workers.

Of course, right-wing billionaires couldn’t be expected to do this work themselves. Work up a sweat walking door-to-door? No way!  So they set up these “foundations” to hire stand-ins, people who look like regular Joes and who are trained to mouth billionaire propaganda. These “regular Joes” will tell state and local government workers that they can give themselves a raise by starving their labor union of funds and still get first-rate …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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'Let Us Know Where You Stand, Sean': MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace Challenges Hannity to Respond to Trump's Lack of 'Decency'

July 6, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

“Air another clip tonight — I love it when you do that.”


MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace expressed her disgust Friday with President Donald Trump's recent out-of-the-blue attack on former President George H.W. Bush's Points of Light Foundation, noting that even his supporters are often uncomfortable with his attitude toward notable veterans.

She wondered aloud if Fox News' Sean Hannity would speak out against this tendency and even challenged him to respond to Trump's lack of “decency.”

“Trump is grosser than even some of his closest allies on the far right and fringy right media,” she said, discussing the comments on her show “Deadline: White House.”

“That's right,” said Associated Press reporter Jonathan Lemire in response, but he argued that the president allies are likely to become crasser as they follow the president.

“I don't know,” she said. “I'd be surprised tonight if Sean Hannity defends the attacks on the 41st president's charity.”

“Sure. But I'd be actually surprised if he condemns them. He'll probably just let them go,” said Lemire.

Turning to the camera, Wallace grinned and addressed Hannity directly.

“Let us know where you stand, Sean. Tweet me, text me. Air another clip tonight,” she said, referring to his habit of airing clips of her show. “I love it when you do that.” 

Watch the clip below:

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Source: ALTERNET

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Kicking Immigrants Out of Our Military Harms National Security — Just Like Banning Gay Members Did

July 6, 2018 in Blogs

By Kerry Eleveld, Daily Kos

'Quietly discharging” immigrants who volunteer to take a bullet for this country is a glaring and tangible error of epic proportions.


One day before the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, two government-intercepted calls in Arabic foreshadowed the catastrophic event, wrote scholar Nathaniel Frank.

“Tomorrow is zero hour,” said one of the voices. “The match is about to begin,” came another ominous line. 

The only problem was, they weren't translated by the National Security Agency until September 12, 2001, a day after the world was irrevocably changed. In part, that was due to a lack of Arabic speakers in the intelligence community at the time, a shortage that was also putting a squeeze on the military. The epic failing was part of what began to highlight an acute weakness in U.S. defense—a dire shortage in linguists across the board, but especially of those who specialized in Arabic, Farsi, and Korean.

That shortage was one of the reasons an initial 2002 report of the military discharging nine gay soldiers who specialized in Arabic, Korean, and Mandarin captured the attention of mainstream media and began a shift in public opinion about the military's gay ban. It turned out the military had ultimately discharged 757 gay soldiers in “critical occupations” between 1994-2005, including interrogators, translators, intelligence analysts and others, according to Unfriendly Fire: How the Gay Ban Undermines the Military and Weakens America

Now we find out the military is at again. Only this time, instead of firing lesbian and gay soldiers from the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, it's sacking native speakers of Arabic, Korean, and other languages because they are immigrants. The AP writes:

The service members affected by the recent discharges all enlisted in recent years under a special program aimed at bringing medical specialists and fluent speakers of 44 sought-after languages into the military. The idea, according to the Defense Department, was to “recognize their contribution and sacrifice.”

But under Trump, you can forget about the “contribution and sacrifice” of immigrants who sign up to protect this country—and you can scrap our national security right alongside it. Already, 40 immigrant recruits have been forced out …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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The Trump Foundation Donated Generously to Charities — So Long As They Booked Their Lavish Events at Mar-a-Lago

July 6, 2018 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson, AlterNet

The president himself hasn't donated to his own foundation in ten years.


The Palm Beach Post in South Florida is reporting that the Donald Trump Foundation in Palm Beach County, Florida donated $706,000 to charities since 2008—and almost all of the donations went to charities that hosted expensive fundraisers at President Trump’s private Mar-a-Lago resort.

According to the Palm Beach Post, its review of the Trump Foundation’s tax records found a frequent pattern of charities receiving donations after they moved their events to Mar-a-Lago. The donations averaged $25,000.

One of the charities, the Palm Beach Post reported, was the Red Cross. According to the Palm Beach Post, the Red Cross received a $21,000 donation from the Trump Foundation in 2015—which was also the year in which it moved its event from The Breakers (a major high-end hotel in South Florida) back to Mar-a-Lago.

Another was the Salvation Army, which in the past, held charitable events at both The Breakers and Mar-a-Lago. The Palm Beach Post found that 2014 was the year the Salvation Army moved its fundraiser to Mar-a-Lago as well as the year the Trump Foundation made a $25,000 donation to the organization.

The Breakers is known for its luxurious ballrooms, making it a popular location for expensive charitable events. In 2005, a ballroom was added to Mar-a-Lago, but as the Palm Beach Post reported, there is a major difference between The Breakers and Mar-a-Lago: while The Breakers is open to the public, Mar-a-Lago is a private resort.

The Palm Beach Post also reported that according to Trump Foundation tax records, President Trump himself has not contributed his own money to the Foundation since 2008. The biggest donors to the Foundation, according to the Palm Beach Post, have included, among others, NBC, Comedy Central and Marvel Comics CEO Ike Perlmutter—who, in 2016, pledged $1 million to efforts to raise money for veterans’ organizations.

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Corbyn Would Be Wise to Avoid the Us Left’s Plans for a Jobs Guarantee

July 6, 2018 in Economics

By Ryan Bourne

Ryan Bourne

Major Left wing economic policy movements invariably germinate
in the US before spreading around the world. Occupy began with
student protests at the University of California in the wake of the
financial crisis.

The modern living wage campaign took off following the efforts
to raise pay for city service contractors in Baltimore, Maryland.
So we should take notice of the latest brainwave going mainstream
stateside: a generous government job guarantee.

Having dallied with supporting higher minimum wages or a
universal basic income, the socialistic firebrands of the US
Democratic Party are coalescing around this huge labour market
intervention. Under their scheme, every US adult who wants a job
would be guaranteed voluntary employment at $15 (£11.30) per
hour plus benefits for the hours they prefer. Jobs would be
taxpayer-funded but administered locally, with workers placed in
environmental, community or care roles.

Not only would it be
costly for taxpayers, but it would profoundly change the very
concept of what work is about in ways we probably can’t even
envisage.

The idea is to eliminate involuntary unemployment. The US
suffers from high rates of 25 to 54 year-old men being inactive in
the labour market, and advocates envisage clear social and economic
benefits from engaging them productively. They predict too that
such a guarantee will act as a floor on labour standards throughout
the economy, helping achieve other social policy objectives without
risking unemployment. Yet what dooms the policy are the three
“Cs” – cost, crowd-out and corruption.

Such a measure would clearly be expensive. Even allowing that
some would opt for part-time work, the combination of wages,
benefits and material and administration costs would average
$36,200 per worker per year, according to the Levy Economics
Institute. Employing the 15m or so currently unemployed,
underemployed or inactive US adults who say they would like work
would therefore cost 2.7pc of GDP alone.

But there would be millions of people currently employed who
would find the government offer irresistibly generous relative to
their current job, potentially taking the direct cost to over $1
trillion a year, or way over 5pc of GDP.

This crowd-out effect could be huge. US census data shows around
24m people currently work full-time for an income of less than
$30,000 a year. Plenty of businesses would have to adapt their
models to account for this new effective wage floor.

But faced with higher wage costs stemming from this
“public option”, some businesses would close their
doors, lay off workers and automate tasks, generating
a new supply of those wanting enrolment. Even workers currently
better remunerated than the job guarantee offer might opt into it
if they perceive the …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Putin-Phobia, the Only Bipartisan Game in Town

July 6, 2018 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Few issues generate a bipartisan response in Washington.
President Donald Trump’s upcoming summit with Russian
President Vladimir Putin is one.

Democrats who once pressed for détente with the Soviet Union act
as if Trump will be giving aid and comfort to the enemy.
Neoconservatives and other Republican hawks are equally horrified,
having pressed for something close to war with Moscow since the
latter’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. Both sides act as if
the Soviet Union has been reborn and Cold War has restarted.

Russia’s critics present a long bill of requirements to be
met before they would relax sanctions or otherwise improve
relations. Putin could save time by agreeing to be an American
vassal.

Topping everyone’s list is Russian interference in the
2016 election, which was outrageous. Protecting the integrity of
our democratic system is a vital interest, even if the American
people sometimes treat candidates with contempt. Before joining the
administration National Security Adviser John Bolton even called
Russian meddling “a casus belli, a true act of
war.”

Hawks and doves in
Washington agree Vlad is bad. Can Trump act as the lone
realist?

Yet Washington has promiscuously meddled in other nations’
elections. Carnegie Mellon’s Dov H. Levin figured that
between 1946 and 2000 the U.S. government interfered with 81
foreign contests, including the 1996 Russian poll. Retired U.S.
intelligence officers freely admit that Washington has routinely
sought to influence other nations’ elections.

Yes, of course, Americans are the good guys and favor
politicians and parties that the other peoples would vote for if
only they better understood their own interests—as we
naturally do. Unfortunately, foreign governments don’t see
Uncle Sam as a Vestal Virgin acting on behalf of mankind. Indeed,
Washington typically promotes outcomes more advantageous to, well,
Washington. Perhaps Trump and Putin could make a bilateral
commitment to stay out of other nations’ elections.

Another reason to shun Russia, argued Senator Rob Portman, is
because “Russia still occupies Crimea and continues to fuel a
violent conflict in eastern Ukraine.” Moscow annexed Crimea
after a U.S.-backed street putsch ousted the elected but highly
corrupt Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. The territory
historically was Russian, turned over to Ukraine most likely as
part of a political bargain in the power struggle following Joseph
Stalin’s death. A majority of Crimeans probably wanted to
return to Russia. However, the annexation was lawless.

Rather like America’s dismemberment of Serbia, detaching
Kosovo after mighty NATO entered the final civil war growing out of
the dissolution of Yugoslavia. Naturally, the U.S. again had right
on its side—it always does!—which obviously negated any
obligations created by international law. Ever-virtuous Washington
even ignored the post-victory ethnic cleansing by Albanian
Kosovars

Still, this makes Washington’s …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Slow Down Before You Support Trump Ending Obama-Era School Guidance

July 6, 2018 in Economics

By Neal McCluskey

Neal McCluskey

If you think the federal government should stick to the
Constitution with what it does in education, your job is usually
pretty easy: advocate it basically do nothing. The Constitution
gives Washington only specific, enumerated powers, and the
authority to meddle in education is not among them. But it gets
more complicated when it comes to the federal role in ensuring that
states and districts don’t discriminate in their provision of
education. That should mitigate against quick, sweeping
pronouncements that the Trump administration
rescinding Obama-era guidance on admissions and race
is the
right thing to do.

While the areas in which the feds may actively involve
themselves are generally limited to the powers laid out in Article
I, Section 8 of the Constitution—and no, they do not include
anything
deemed to be serving the “general welfare”
or
involving tax dollars—it is the 14th Amendment that empowers
Washington to stop discrimination by government.

As a baseline, then, there is no clear Constitutional reason
that the federal government should not offer guidance about what
public colleges and school districts can do regarding race and
admissions. But then the complications start.

The first is what is the right procedure for Washington to
establish and enforce rules? Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is
focused on
letting the Supreme Court set guidelines
in its rulings and
having districts and states look directly to those when making
policies. “The Supreme Court has determined what affirmative
action policies are constitutional, and the court’s written
decisions are the best guide for navigating this complex
issue,” she wrote.

Free people must
voluntarily atone for past wrongs, while government must cease any
race-conscious decision-making.

Meanwhile, the
Department of Justice is emphasizing
following proper
procedures by creating formal regulations, as opposed to issuing
“Dear Colleague” letters.

“In previous administrations…agencies often tried to
impose new rules on the American people without any public notice
or comment period, simply by sending a letter or posting a guidance
document on a website,” stated Attorney General Jeff Sessions
in a press release itemizing rescinded guidance.
“That’s wrong, and it’s not good
government.”

The next complication is whether federal power should apply to
only government entities, or also private. The right answer is
usually “only government,” because unlike private
people, government does not enjoy association, religious, and other
rights, and it can legally impose itself on people ultimately at
the point of a gun. But when private schools receive oodles of
federal cash the distinctions become blurred, and that is certainly
the case in higher education, with colleges heavily dependent on
students paying with
federal loans and grants
, and institutions often getting …read more

Source: OP-EDS