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Former Federal Prosecutor Says Trump Must Sit Down with Mueller — Or Resign

August 8, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

This shouldn't even be a question.


As Rudy Giuliani and the rest of President Donald Trump's lawyers attempt to lay the groundwork for denying special counsel Robert Mueller and interview, former federal prosecutor Daniel Goldman pointed out on MSNBC how ridiculous the whole situation has become.

“Let's step back for a second,” he said Wednesday on MSNBC's “Deadline: White House” with host Nicolle Wallace. “This is an active, ongoing, legitimate investigation — no matter what the president says. The president of the United States is a subject of that investigation — or, at the very least, it's related to his campaign! What world are we living in where the president of the United States will not sit down for a legitimate interview as part of an investigation? That's shocking!”

He continued: “Every government official that's involved in an investigation sits down and tells it — or they resign.”

Wallace acknowledged that her former boss, President George W. Bush, was interviewed by investigators as a part of the Valerie Plame scandal. She also noted that the fact that Trump's lawyers are trying to get him out of it is in itself damning.

“People have told me that from Emmet Flood, to Don McGahn, to Rudy Giuliani, to everyone who has now departed the president's team — no one thinks the president can survive an interview with the special counsel,” she said.

“The president can't survive Twitter,” Goldman quipped. “Every tweet has a misstatement or a lie.”

Watch the clip below:

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Ridiculous Anti-Drug Law Protecting the 'Unborn' May Finally Be Overturned

August 8, 2018 in Blogs

By Phillip Smith, Independent Media Institute

Advocates are hoping a campaign aimed at changing public opinion can do what the courts have so far failed to do: kill the law.


For 20 years, Wisconsin prosecutors have used a state law, the Unborn Child Protection Act of 1998 (Act 292), to jail adult pregnant women suspected of using drugs or alcohol. Supporters claim the “cocaine mom” law protects fetuses from maternal drug abuse, but critics say the law's language is vague and that it unnecessarily and unconstitutionally forces some pregnant women into treatment and state supervision.

The law was found unconstitutional by a federal court last year, but state Attorney General Brad Schimel appealed, and the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the law to stay in effect until the case was decided. But in June, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the lawsuit on the grounds that the plaintiff, Tammy Loertscher, had left the state.

Loertscher was 14 weeks pregnant and residing in Medford in 2014 when she tested positive for methamphetamine. Although she told her doctor she had stopped using the drug when she realized she was pregnant, a judge ordered her into inpatient drug treatment. She was then jailed until she agreed to be drug tested throughout her pregnancy. She gave birth to a healthy male child in 2015.

Loertscher was by no means alone—hundreds of pregnant women have been accused of “unborn child abuse” under the law—and the dismissal of the case means pregnant women in the state remain in jeopardy.

At the time of the dismissal, attorney Nancy Rosenbloom, director of legal advocacy for National Advocates for Pregnant Women (NAPW), decried the ruling.

“Today's decision means that all women in Wisconsin have to worry that when they seek health care, if there’s even a chance they might be pregnant, the state can take them into custody, lock them up in a drug treatment program, a mental hospital or a jail—whether or not drug treatment is really needed,” she said.

Now, Rosenbloom and NAPW are taking the fight to a new arena: the court of public opinion. They have …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Twitter CEO Gives a Rare Media Interview — But He Chose to Do It with Fox News Clown Sean Hannity

August 8, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

The social media network is facing backlash for its treatment of InfoWars' Alex Jones.


Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey faced blowback this week as his social media network remained one of the few sites still willing to host content from InfoWars' Alex Jones, despite his record of hateful speech, conspiracy-mongering, and incitement of threats against others, such as the parents of the victims of the Sandy Hook shooting.

To discuss the decision, Dorsey decided to give a rare media interview — but made the perplexing decision to sit down with Fox News' Sean Hannity.

He appeared on Hannity's radio show, despite the fact that the host doesn't even consider himself a journalist. He is also a committed Trump partisan and a backer of several baseless conspiracy theories in his own right.

“My colleague @jolingkent at NBC Nightly News has been asking [Dorsey] for an interview for, no joke, five years,” noted NBC reporter Ben Collins. “He's going on Hannity today. This is getting ridiculous.”

He continued: “We'll talk through two cups attached by a string. Would really appreciate it if [Dorsey] talked to a journalist who didn't spend weeks of his show implying Seth Rich was murdered by the DNC.”

“Twitter, for example, decided not to ban Alex Jones or Infowars,” Hannity said at the opening of his show. “Anyway I do have an interview announcement, Jack Dorsey is the CEO of Twitter. I think this is far more difficult, far more nuanced than I think a lot of people imagine. I think that while Facebook and YouTube officials are hiding under their desks not knowing what to do next, I really give Jack Dorsey a lot of credit cause he agreed to come on the program today.”

He added that he didn't plan on having a “confrontational interview” with Dorsey.

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Source: ALTERNET

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This Trump Ally Will Oversee His Own Recount in Governor's Race — And No Law Can Stop Him

August 8, 2018 in Blogs

By Steven Rosenfeld, Independent Media Institute

And another secretary of state will oversee his own election as well.


This week’s super close results in a handful of state primaries and special elections have highlighted a longstanding problem in our democracy: the officials overseeing the vote count and recounts can occasionally be candidates in those races—or their appointees.

Exhibit A for this conflict of interest, with all of its repercussions for public confidence in the process, is the nation’s most notorious voter suppression-endorsing secretary of state, Kansas Republican Kris Kobach. He leads incumbent Gov. Jeff Colyer by fewer than 200 votes out of more than 300,000 cast in Tuesday’s Republican gubernatorial primary.

As KansasCity.com reported, “No law requires Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to recuse himself from a recount in the governor’s race, but legal and political experts say he should to maintain trust in the election.” Later on Wednesday at a campaign event, Kobach said that he would not recuse himself.

“The recount thing is done on a county level, so the secretary of state does not actually participate directly in the recount,” he said. “The secretary of state’s office merely serves as a coordinating entity overseeing it all but not actually counting the votes.”

You might think that there could be no clearer example of why non-partisan election administration should be a standard in American democracy. But the conflicts of interest in Kansas only deepen as one digs into the mechanics of the process in one of the state's most voter-rich regions—despite Kobach’s contention that he’s at arm’s length.

That’s because in Johnson County, where Kansas City and its suburbs are located, elections are overseen by Johnson County Election Commissioner Ronnie Metsker, who was appointed by Kobach in February 2016, as KansasCity.com noted in another report. “Before he became election commissioner, he was chairman of the Johnson County Republican Party and a state representative.”

That’s not all. On Tuesday, Johnson County used 1,000 new voting machines in 192 polling locations for the first time. Beyond underestimating turnout, deploying too few machines and thus causing long lines, there …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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5 Things You Should Know About the Judge Overseeing the First Trial of the Russia Probe

August 8, 2018 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson, AlterNet

He was well-known in Virginia’s legal community long before the Manafort trial.


At 78, Judge T.S. Ellis III is now presiding over one of the most high-profile cases of his career: the trial of President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort, who is facing multiple federal counts of bank fraud and tax evasion. Ellis has been a frequent source of frustration to prosecutors during Manafort’s trial in Alexandria, Virginia, discouraging testimony they consider relevant and showing his skepticism about the charges. Ellis’ name has been in the media a lot this week, especially with the prosecution having brought its star witness—Manafort’s former business partner, Rick Gates—to the witness stand and the judge making it clear, during Gates’ testimony, that he views the prosecutors as the ones with the heavy lifting to do. But the Bogotá, Colombia-born Ellis was well-known in Virginia’s legal community long before the Manafort trial.

Here are five interesting facts about Judge Ellis’ background. 

1. Ellis Replaced Anti-Segregationist Robert R. Merhige, Jr. in Virginia

Nominated by President Ronald Reagan in 1987, Ellis is known for his conservative leanings. The U.S. Senate was controlled by Democrats at the time; regardless, the Senate voted to confirm him for a seat on United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. And the person Ellis replaced was Judge Robert R. Merhige, Jr., appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1967. Merhige, a more liberal judge than Ellis, is best remembered for ordering public schools in Virginia to desegregate; at one point, Merhige feared violent acts from segregationists and was under the protection of the U.S. Marshals Service. And in 1970, Merhige ordered the University of Virginia to admit female students.  

2. Ellis Sentenced John Walker Lindh to 20 Years, Invoking the “Son of Sam” Law

When U.S. forces invaded Afghanistan after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, one of the people captured as an enemy combatant in November 2001 turned out to be a United States citizen: John Walker Lindh, who the media dubbed “the American Taliban” because of his allegiance to the Taliban …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Ivanka, the Private Market Already Provides Paid Family Leave

August 8, 2018 in Economics

By Vanessa Brown Calder

Vanessa Brown Calder

Since her father’s inauguration, Ivanka Trump has
campaigned for federal paid family leave. A few weeks ago, Ivanka
was instrumental in organizing a Senate hearing to discuss her
government-supported paid family leave proposal. The
“Economic Security for New Parents Act” relies on Social Security to front parental
benefits
and was introduced in the Senate recently.

Previously, Ivanka tweeted her support for the proposal and
argued, “Only 15% of American workers have access to Paid
Family Leave, and of those, only 6% are low-income
workers.”

That is alarming if true, but abundant data paint a different
picture. The private market at-large is voluntarily providing paid
family leave to millions of workers, and the market is on-trend to
provide paid family leave to millions more in coming years.

For example, the Census Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program
Participation and the National Survey of Working Mothers found more than 60 percent of employed mothers
have access to paid leave following the birth of a child. These
figures are about four-fold the amount of paid leave Ivanka claimed
parents are receiving today.

The private market
at-large is voluntarily providing paid family leave to millions of
workers, and the market is on-trend to provide paid family leave to
millions more in coming years.

SIPP data show that access to paid leave use has grown
substantially between 1961 and 2008, without government
intervention. The share of first-time mothers that report using
paid leave and/or disability grew from 16 to 61 percent over 50
years.

The only state that implemented a paid leave program during the
surveyed period was California, during the last year of the survey.
The vast majority of increases in the paid leave provision occurred
before California’s policy could have any impact. This suggests the
private market is responsive to employee demands after all.

Meanwhile, over the same time period, working mothers’
commitment to work grew naturally. The share of first-time mothers
quitting jobs declined significantly in previous decades, from over
60 percent in 1961 to just over 20 percent in 2008.

There is reason to think private paid leave continued growing
following the Census Bureau’s last survey. For example, in the last
three years, 100 name-brand companies created or expanded paid family leave policies.
Since late 2017 alone, companies such as Walmart, Walgreens, Home
Depot, Target, Starbucks, Amazon, FedEx and McDonald’s created or
expanded paid leave programs that apply to low-wage and hourly
workers.

Although data and news stories demonstrate that the private
market continues to improve its paid leave offerings, policymakers
still want to intervene with a government-provided option.
Advocates seem to think government-supported …read more

Source: OP-EDS