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Trump Launches New Desperate Attack on the Russia Probe as His Administration Is Engulfed in Scandal

September 17, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

Trump declassified a range of documents in the ongoing investigation.

President Donald Trump ordered classified information related to the Russia probe to be made public Monday by the FBI and the Justice Department as a part of his continued assault on the investigation into himself and his campaign.

The order below details the request for declassification, which Trump has unilateral authority to order:

At the request of a number of committees of Congress, and for reasons of transparency, the President has directed the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Justice (including the FBI) to provide for the immediate declassification of the following materials: (1) pages 10-12 and 17-34 of the June 2017 application to the FISA court in the matter of Carter W. Page; (2) all FBI reports of interviews with Bruce G. Ohr prepared in connection with the Russia investigation; and (3) all FBI reports of interviews prepared in connection with all Carter Page FISA applications. 

In addition, President Donald J. Trump has directed the Department of Justice (including the FBI) to publicly release all text messages relating to the Russia investigation, without redaction, of James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and Bruce Ohr.

“I've never before seen a statement from the White House ordering declassification of something that the intelligence agencies were not ready to declassify,” said NBC national security reporter Ken Dilanian about the move. “That's going to have huge repercussions.”

Indeed, it is particularly striking that the White House would choose to reveal documents central to an ongoing investigation — a move made all the more egregious given that the investigation directly involves the president and his associates.

The FISA application, in particular, has been a major object of criticism for defenders of the president. They claim that the FBI erroneously used Christopher Steele's dossier alleging Trump-Russia ties to order unjustified surveillance of Carter Page. However, Page had already been the subject of FBI surveillance years before because of his ties to Russian intelligence, and he was no longer a member of the Trump campaign when the application was approved.

Monday's declassification order came …read more


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Whoops! Indicted Pro-Trump Congressman Will Run For Another Term After All

September 17, 2018 in Blogs

By Matthew Chapman, AlterNet

Rep. Chris Collins said he would not seek another term after he was indicted for insider trading. Now he changed his mind.

In a surprise decision, embattled Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) announced Monday he would be running for another term after all.

“Because of the protracted and uncertain nature of any legal effort to replace Congressman Collins, we do not see a path allowing Congressman Collins to be replaced on the ballot,” said Collins' attorney Mark Brayden, according to The New York Times.

Collins, the first sitting congressman to endorse Donald Trump for president, had said last month he would suspend his re-election campaign after he was arrested by the FBI and charged with securities fraud and lying to investigators.

The arrest was the culmination of a year-long investigation into Collins' decision to dump stock in Innate Immunotherapeutics, an Australian biotechnology company of which he was a substantial shareholder, just prior to their announcement that their flagship treatment for multiple sclerosis had failed clinical trials. Prosecutors allege Collins relayed this information to his son, who in turn also dumped shares and is also named in the indictment.

While Collins has said, “I am innocent of the meritless charges that have been placed against me, and I’m confident I will be exonerated,” he previously said he would not seek another term, in the “best interests” of his constituents.

Unfortunately for Republicans, Collins is already on the ballot, and under New York's complicated election laws, getting off of it is not so easy. The GOP can only replace him on the ballot if he dies, moves to another state, or accepts the nomination for a different office. Republicans had been trying to go the third route, trying to persuade a local Erie County official to resign so Collins could be nominated for that office instead. But there was no clear contender, and local Democrats threatened to sue if Republicans tried to remove Collins using that method, calling it “fraud.”

In the end, Collins gave up, and will just try to win another term while fighting his federal charges.

Amazingly, Collins is one …read more


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Trump's Presidency May Be His Biggest Heist Yet — Here's Why It Might Be on the Verge of Collapse

September 17, 2018 in Blogs

By Nomi Prins, Tom Dispatch

What happens when you go down the financial rabbit hole with President Trump?

Once upon a time, there was a little-known energy company called Enron. In its 16-year life, it went from being dubbed America’s most innovative company by Fortune Magazine to being the poster child of American corporate deceit. Using a classic recipe for book-cooking, Enron ended up in bankruptcy with jail time for those involved. Its shareholders lost $74 billionin the four years leading up to its bankruptcy in 2001.

A decade ago, the flameout of my former employer, Lehman Brothers, the global financial firm, proved far more devastating, contributing as it did to a series of events that ignited a global financial meltdown. Americans lost an estimated $12.8 trillion in the havoc.

Despite the differing scales of those disasters, there was a common thread: both companies used financial tricks to make themselves appear so much healthier than they actually were. They both faked the numbers, thanks to off-the-books or offshore mechanisms and eluded investigations… until they collapsed.

Now, here’s a question for you as we head for the November midterm elections, sure to be seen as a referendum on the president: Could Donald Trump be a one-man version of either Enron or Lehman Brothers, someone who cooked “the books” until, well, he imploded?

Since we’ve never seen his tax returns, right now we really don’t know. What we do know is that he’s been dodging bullets ever since the Justice Department accused him of violating the Fair Housing Act in his operation of 39 buildings in New York City in 1973. Unlike famed 1920s mob boss Al Capone, he may never get done in by something as simple as tax evasion, but time will tell.

Rest assured of one thing though: he won’t go down easily, even if he is already the subject of multiple investigations and a plethora of legal slings and arrows. Of course, his methods should be familiar. As President Calvin Coolidge so famously put it, “the business of America is business.” And the business of business is to circumvent or avoid the heat… until, of …read more


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Donald Trump Jr. Mocks and Ridicules Kavanaugh Accuser Christine Blasey Ford in Tasteless Instagram Post

September 17, 2018 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson, AlterNet

What a disgusting display.

Donald Trump, Jr., vice president of the Trump Organization and the president’s 40-year-son, is drawing sharp criticism for a recent Instagram post mocking psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford, who is alleging that Judge Brett Kavanaugh—the president’s second nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court—tried to sexually assault her when they were in high school.

On Instagram, Trump, Jr. posted a mock “letter” written in crayon and labeled “Judge Kavanaugh’s sexual assault letter found by Dems.” And the “letter” read, “Hi, Cindy, will you be my girlfriend? Love, Brett,” with options to check “yes” or “no.”

Trump, Jr., in the Instagram post, mockingly wrote, “Oh, boy, the Dems and their usual nonsense games really have him on the ropes now.”

To Ford, however, it is no joke—and she has said that is willing to testify before Congressabout the alleged incident. More than 200 people who graduated from the same high school that Ford attended (Holton-Arms High School in Bethesda, Maryland) have signed an open letter supporting her.

Trump, Jr.’s Instagram post was met with an angry response from’s Chloe Bryan, who wrote, “In short, it compares Ford’s disturbing account of Kavanaugh's behavior — which allegedly, occurred when the nominee was 17 years old — to an elementary school crush. Trump, Jr. does not have a particular reputation for treading …read more


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Trump Blasts Reporter Who Asks If Kavanaugh Will Withdraw: 'What a Ridiculous Question'

September 17, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

Kavanaugh's nomination is now under serious threat after a troubling allegation emerged.

President Donald Trump dismissed a reporter's question Monday when pressed about whether Judge Brett Kavanaugh, the president's embattled Supreme Court nominee, would withdraw his nomination.

“Next question, what a ridiculous question that is,” Trump said while taking questions in the White House Monday afternoon.

Kavanaugh now stands accused of attempted rape and sexual groping of a younger woman when they were both in high school. Trump acknowledged that there should be a process to assess the claim before voting on Kavanaugh's confirmation.

“If they delay it a little bit just to make sure everybody's happy,” Trump said. “I can tell you the Republican senators want to be 100 percent happy, themselves,”

He added: “Judge Kavanaugh is one of the finest people that I've ever known.”

But in line with many other Republicans' lines of attack on the matter, Trump also tried to blame the Democrats for slow-walking claims, even though the accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, requested anonymity and has praised the Democrats' handling of her allegations.

“I wish the Democrats could have done this a lot sooner because they had this information for many months,” Trump said. “But with all of that being said, we want to go through the process.”

Watch the clip below:

Related Stories

…read more


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Ancient Beer: 13,000-Year-Old Site May Be the World’s Oldest Brewery

September 17, 2018 in History

By Sarah Pruitt

Even the most serious craft beer drinkers today wouldn’t recognize the ancient beer, which would have been closer to a thin gruel than a foamy pour.

Our ancestors may have started brewing beer 13,000 years ago (although their versions didn’t look much like beer today).

For many people, nothing tastes better than a glass of cold beer, whether enjoyed at the end of a long day of work or while relaxing on a summer afternoon. But brewing beer—not baking bread—could be the reason our ancestors began cultivating grains in the first place.

Inside a cave in Israel, researchers from Stanford University have found evidence of the earliest known beer-making operation, which they think may predate the cultivation of the first cereals.

Both of these milestones belong to the Natufians, a hunter-gatherer group who made the eastern Mediterranean region their home more than 10,000 years ago.

For the new study, published in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports, a team led by Li Liu, a professor of Chinese archaeology at Stanford, analyzed traces from stone mortars dating back some 13,000 years. They found the mortars at a Natufian graveyard in Raqefet Cave, near the modern-day city of Haifa.

More evidence that beer came before bread.

The controversial idea that beer, and not bread, inspired the original domestication of cereals is far from a new theory. It’s been around since the 1950s, in fact, and has been gaining ground in recent years thanks to research suggesting that the Natufians considered beer an essential part of the feasts that were so important to their society.

Liu and her colleagues were not looking for evidence of beer-making inside Raqefet Cave, but were simply investigating what kinds of plant foods the Natufians may have been consuming. As it turned out, what they discovered was evidence of a large brewing operation, which Liu called in a statement “the oldest record of man-made alcohol in the world.”

The researchers think their findings could be between 11,700 to 13,700 years old, predating the earliest known evidence of bread making recently uncovered at a Natufian site in East Jordan. They believe the Natufians made and consumed the beer as part of ritual feasts for their dead.

Microscopic traces of ancient starches extracted from the Raqefet Cave (left) are compared to starches replicated in the researchers’ beer brewing experiments.

Ancient beer-brewing was reenacted …read more


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How Flappers Redefined Womanhood (Hint: It Involved Jazz, Liquor and Sex)

September 17, 2018 in History

By Sarah Pruitt

Young women with short “bob” hairstyles, cigarettes dangling from their painted lips, dancing to a live jazz band, explored new-found freedoms.

Flappers dancing while musicians perform during a Charleston dance contest at the Parody Club, New York City, 1926. (Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

No cultural symbol of the 1920s is more recognizable than the flapper. A young woman with a short “bob” hairstyle, cigarette dangling from her painted lips, dancing to a live jazz band. Flappers romped through the Roaring Twenties, enjoying the new freedoms ushered in by the end of the First World War and the dawn of a new era of prosperity, urbanism and consumerism.

The decade kicked off with passage of the 19th Amendment, which finally gave women the vote. Women also joined the workforce in increasing numbers, participated actively in the nation’s new mass consumer culture, and enjoyed more freedom in their personal lives. Despite the heady freedoms embodied by the flapper, real liberation and equality for women remained elusive in the 1920s, and it would be left to later generations of women to fully benefit from the social changes the decade set in motion.

The exact origins of the word ‘flapper’ remain unknown.
While the exact origin of the term “flapper” is unknown, it is assumed to have originated in Britain before World War I, when it was used to describe gawky young teenage girls. After the war, the word would become synonymous with the new breed of 1920s women who bobbed their hair above their ears, wore skirts that skimmed their knees, smoked cigarettes and drank alcohol while dancing in jazz clubs, always surrounded by admiring male suitors.

Two flapper women and their dates having a smoke. (Credit: Kirn Vintage Stock/Corbis via Getty Images)

Flappers were defined by how they dressed, danced and talked.
As Joshua M. Zeitz writes in Flapper: A Madcap Story of Sex, Style, Celebrity and the Women Who Made America Modern, flapper fashion wouldn’t have been complete without the creeping hemline, which by 1925 or 1936 reached a shocking height of 14 inches above the ground. Sheer stockings, sometimes even rolled below the knees, completed the scandalous look.

Flappers wore their skirts shorter so they could show off their legs and ankles—but also so they could dance. They particularly loved the Charleston, a 1920s dance craze involving waving arms and fast-moving feet that had been pioneered by African Americans, first in …read more


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Voucher Regulation Reduces Quality of Private School Options

September 17, 2018 in Economics

By Corey A. DeAngelis

Corey A. DeAngelis

Education reformers and academics calling for greater regulation of private school choice programs
have good intentions. They want all kids to get the best education
possible and they believe that they can achieve that goal by
preventing disadvantaged families from making bad choices. After
all, if parents are only allowed to make good choices,
shouldn’t their children get good educations?

If only it were that easy.

My just-released study — co-authored with
George Mason University graduate student Blake Hoarty —
suggests that higher-quality private schools are less likely to
participate in two of the most highly regulated voucher programs
in the country
, the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program and the
Ohio Educational Choice Scholarship Program.

The data suggest that school choice regulations reduce the
quality of private schools participating in voucher programs, with
quality measured by tuition and customer reviews. Specifically, we
find that an increase in tuition of $1000 is associated with a 3 to
4 percent decrease in the likelihood of participation in a voucher
program. We also find that a one-point increase (out of five
points) in a school’s GreatSchools review score is associated
with around a 15 percent decrease in the chance that a school
participates in the Milwaukee voucher program.

But this isn’t the first study to find that voucher
regulations could inadvertently reduce the quality of options
available to families in need. A recent peer-reviewed evaluation I conducted with
colleagues at the University of Arkansas also finds that
higher-quality private schools are less likely to participate in
voucher programs in three other locations: Washington, D.C.,
Indiana, and Louisiana. And another recent peer-reviewed evaluation I
conducted with the Heritage Foundation’s Lindsey Burke finds
that voucher program regulation likely leads to less private school

Why does regulation reduce the quality of private schools that
participate in voucher programs?

Individual private school leaders decide whether to participate
in voucher programs each year. The decision is made by comparing
expected benefits to expected costs. The primary benefit associated
with voucher program participation is, of course, the additional
voucher funding. The main cost of participation is additional red
tape. Private schools that participate in voucher programs have to comply with many regulations such as admitting
students on a random basis, requiring all teachers to have
bachelor’s degrees, and administering state standardized
tests. These types of regulations are costly to participating
schools for at least three reasons: (1) private schools must
allocate additional resources to comply with them, (2) private
school leaders lose autonomy, and (3) private schools may lose
revenue if families don’t like the way that regulations
change the …read more

Source: OP-EDS