January 2017 News Reports


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Editor's Choice: Scroll below for our monthly blend of mainstream and alternative January 2017 news and views


Jan. 31

President Trump, Judge Neil Gorsuch, wife Louise Gorsuch (NBC News)

President Trump announces Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch, with his wife Louise Gorsuch (NBC News Photo)

NBC News, Trump Nominates Federal Appeals Court Judge Neil Gorsuch to Supreme Court, Pete Williams, Jan. 31 2017. President Donald Trump said Tuesday night that he will nominate Neil Gorsuch, a federal appeals court judge in Denver, to succeed Antonin Scalia on the United States Supreme Court. Gorsuch, who currently serves on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, was appointed in 2006 by George W. Bush and confirmed by the Senate on a voice vote.

Trump made the announcement in a prime-time event from the East Room of the White House, after a day of speculation. The president called the power to nominate Supreme Court justices the most important one behind national defense. "Millions of voters said this was the single most important issue to them when they voted for me for president," Trump said. He said Gorsuch possesses "outstanding legal skills, a brilliant mind, tremendous discipline."

A widely respected judge, he had the backing of two conservative legal groups that advised former President Barack Obama and included his name on a list of potential nominees.

Washington Post, Trump picks Neil Gorsuch, judge seen as similar to Scalia, for Supreme Court, Robert Barnes, Jan. 31 2017. Nominee is favorite of conservative legal establishment President Trump selected Colorado federal appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee on Tuesday, opting in the most important decision of his young presidency for a highly credentialed favorite of the conservative legal establishment to fill the opening created last year by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Gorsuch prevailed over the other finalist, Thomas Hardiman of Pennsylvania, also a federal appeals court judge, and Trump announced the nomination at a televised prime-time event at the White House.

U.S. Supreme Court SealTrump broke tradition by entering the White House ceremony by himself, rather than alongside his nominee. He declared that after “the most transparent” judicial selection process in history, he had delivered on a campaign promise to “find the very best judge in America” for the court.

Gorsuch, 49, said he would strive to be independent and impartial, and that he would “follow the law” to its rightful outcome. A judge who personally agrees with the outcome of every case, Gorsuch said, is probably a “bad judge.”

Gorsuch and Hardiman, 51, emerged from a list of 21 as Trump’s most likely choices. A third person on the shortlist — U.S. Circuit Judge William H. Pryor Jr. of Alabama — saw his chances diminish as some Senate Republican leaders have said his confirmation would be difficult. By comparison, Gorsuch was confirmed a decade ago to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver on a voice vote.

Sally YatesNational Law Journal, Trump's AG Pick Once Told Yates to 'Say No' to Improper Demands, Vanessa Blum, Jan. 31, 2017. Sally Yates (shown above in an official photo) answered questions during her 2015 confirmation hearing that seemed to herald her dramatic departure. The irony? It was Sen. Jeff Sessions doing the asking.

Huffington Post, Donald Trump Is Treating His Supreme Court Decision Like ‘Celebrity Apprentice,’ The two judges in the running are headed to the capital, Cristian Farias, In a move that should surprise no one, President Donald Trump is reportedly bringing the two expected finalists for Justice Antonin Scalia’s Supreme Court seat to Washington to create a sense of intrigue ahead of Tuesday’s primetime reveal.

Donald Trump One Rose To Give Satirical photoOr “to build suspense,” as CNN’s Pamela Brown put it in her report on Tuesday. “This is all an extraordinary measure ... to keep the selection private ahead of tonight’s announcement,” Brown said of what increasingly looks like a piece of political theater. (One satirist compiled the photo entitled "He has only one rose to give.")

Finalists Neil Gorsuch and Thomas Hardiman ― both of whom are highly respected in conservative circles ― are either in Washington or en route for the 8 p.m. announcement, according to CNN. Trump has already said he’s made his choice. So is the purpose of this arrangement to give the president one last sit-down with the nominee just to make sure?

Under normal circumstances, a president’s choice for the Supreme Court is shrouded in secrecy. The chief executive meets with the candidates in the days leading up to the nomination and may not make a decision until moments before the announcement. But there’s no precedent for this kind of spectacle, and no apparent reason for bringing both candidates to town for the announcement. The White House has announced the event will be broadcast live on Facebook.

Justice News Around the Nation

Washington Post, ‘God, please help me’: Inmate claims jailers raped her, refused medicine and left her ‘catatonic,’ Samantha Schmidt, Jan. 31, 2017. Inmate claims jailers raped her, withheld medicine. A Cincinnati woman claims she was raped by at least two corrections officers and denied essential epilepsy medication during a harrowing 11 days in jail. The inmate was so desperate for help that she attempted to write the words on her jail cell wall, in her own blood: “God, please help me.”

On her final day in the jail, she was found naked in her cell, crying and mumbling, asking for her mother to hold her, according to a lawsuit she brought Friday. The inmate, a 38-year-old Cincinnati woman, claims that during her 11 days in the Warren County Jail, at least two corrections officers raped her. On one occasion, they assaulted her with so much force that they “shattered” her shoulder bones.

In the lawsuit filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Cincinnati, the woman sued two corrections officers — one by name, one as a John Doe — along with seven nurses, including the jail’s health services administrator.

The woman was held at the jail in May 2013, after turning herself in on a four-year-old warrant for deception to obtain drugs. The lawsuit alleges the jail’s nurses refused to give the woman her prescribed medicine for her epilepsy, causing her to experience seizures and withdrawal, leaving her debilitated in her jail cell. Incapacitated and unable to defend herself, her jailers allegedly Tased her, took away her clothing, turned off her running water and forced her to drink out of the toilet.

Jeffrey Harvey, David Parker and Kenneth Fenske

Jeffrey Harvey, David Parker and Kenneth C. Fenske (Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General)

Washington Post, Prosecutors: Boy sexually abused at ‘furry parties’ by ‘network’ of men, Ben Guarino, Jan. 31, 2017. Investigators cracked open what they alleged to be a secret group of child abusers, a pedophile ring or “network” that centered on a boy subject to repeated sexual abuse, the Pennsylvania Attorney General said in a statement. Some of the men involved wore animal costumes. On Friday, police arrested a 57-year-old man named Kenneth C. Fenske in Pennsylvania’s Bucks County. Fenske, prosecutors said, would dress up in a red fox suit at “furry parties” before allegedly raping the young victim.

“Furries” are members of a subculture who take on identities based on anthropomorphic animals, called fursonas. It may involve wearing mascot-like costumes. The attorney general’s office noted that a subset of furries do so as a “sexual fetish.” (Others arrested in the case include Jeffrey Harvey, 40, and David Prker, 38,

Keys To Trump Victory: The Analysis Continues

Washington Post, Why even let ’em in?’ Understanding Bannon’s worldview and the policies that follow, Frances Stead Sellers and David A. Fahrenthold, Jan. 31, 2017. In November 2015, Stephen K. Bannon — then the executive chairman of Breitbart News — was hosting a satellite radio show. His guest was Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.), who opposed President Obama’s plan to resettle some Syrian refugees in the United States.

“We need to put a stop on refugees until we can vet,” Zinke said.

Bannon cut him off. “Why even let ’em in?” he asked.

Bannon said that vetting refugees from Muslim-majority countries would cost money and time. “Can’t that money be used in the United States?” he said. “Should we just take a pause and a hiatus for a number of years on any influx from that area of the world?” In the years before Bannon grabbed the world’s attention as President Trump’s chief White House strategist, he was developing and articulating a fiery populist vision for remaking the United States and its role in the world.


Roger Stone: The Making of a President

Breitbart, New book published today: Roger Stone’s ‘The Making of the President 2016’: How Donald Trump Rode the Wave of Alternate Media to Become President, Jan. 31, 2017. On Nov. 8, 2016, Donald John Trump was elected the forty-fifth President of the United States. This is a singular accomplishment that can only be attributed to the talent, energy, and foresight of Donald Trump himself. Trump’s sprint across eight states in the closing days led to the greatest upset since 1948, when President Harry S Truman barnstormed across the country by train, breaking all railroad speed regulations, making six or seven stops per day, and ensuring his victory over New York Governor Thomas E. Dewey.

From Roger Stone (shown in a portrait): The physical energy that Trump expended going down the stretch was indeed Herculean. There is no question that his final push into Wisconsin, Michigan, and returning to western Pennsylvania, was an act of pure will that, while Clinton was already celebrating, propelled him to victory. The 2016 election was the first in which the mainstream media lost its monopoly over political media coverage in the United States. The increasingly vigorous alternative media, whose reporting standards are superior to the networks and the cable news behemoths, is where more and more voters are getting their information.

Roger StoneTrump’s skillful courting of the conservative media, like The Daily Caller, Breitbart News, WND, and InfoWars, made Trump the first presidential candidate to reach these disaffected and highly motivated Americans effectively. At the same time, Trump’s relentless attacks on the media as “unfair” and “dishonest” came right out of the Nixon playbook, where both Nixon and Trump exploited the resentment of the biased media, so hated by their supporters.

Trump’s willingness to challenge openly the media outlets that went after him kept them somewhat honest in their coverage of his campaign but the relentless cable news networks’ attacks on him were unlike anything I have seen in the nine presidential campaigns in which I worked. The media dropped all pretext of objectivity. Their motives and tactics were naked.

Most of this would largely backfire. American voters have finally become hip to the fact that the media and the political establishment work hand-in-glove to conceal many facts from the American people. The voters no longer believe the media.

Donald Trump is his own strategist, campaign manager, and tactician, and all credit for his incredible election belongs to him. I’m just glad to have been along for the ride. I wanted him to run for President since 1988 and had served as chairman of his Presidential Exploratory Committee in 2000, as well as serving as a consultant to his 2012 consideration of a candidacy.

I have worked for Trump with the Trump Organization, the Trump Shuttle, Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts, and several political explorations over a forty-year period. He is perhaps the greatest salesman in US history, with the spirit of a promoter and the infectious enthusiasm of an entrepreneur who likes making money and winning.

Trump waged the first modern “all communication” campaign, eschewing polling, expensive television advertising, sophisticated analytics, and all of the traditional tools of a modern presidential campaign.

At the same time, Trump’s campaign was centered around a “set piece rally,” just as Richard Nixon’s campaign had been. That Trump ran as the candidate of “the Silent Majority,” appealing to forgotten Americans, running as the law and order candidate and in the end, the peace candidate, was not accidental. Trump’s campaign was much like Nixon’s. He understood that politics is about big issues, concepts, and themes, and that the voters didn’t really care about wonkish detail. If they had, then Newt Gingrich would have been president.

Although there are similarities between Ronald Reagan’s victory in 1980 and Trump’s ascendancy to the presidency, Trump’s election is less an ideological victory and more a manifestation of a genuine desire for a more competent government. Like Nixon, Trump is more pragmatic, interested in what will work, as opposed to what is philosophically pure. He’s tired of seeing America lose. He is exactly the cheerleader the country needs.

Like Truman’s whistle-stop events, Trump rallies became the focal point of his entire campaign, amplified by the cable news networks that carried his rally speeches around the clock. He drew enormous crowds and voters found him funny and genuine. All the while, his trusted press aide Hope Hicks was booking as many one-on-one interviews into his schedule as humanly possible. There was literally a time when you could not turn on the television without seeing and hearing Donald Trump. The cable networks of course did it for the ratings. The fact that Trump was unrehearsed, un-coached, and unhandled, meant that voters found him refreshing and authentic.

Trump Transition

Washington Post, Democrats boycott confirmation hearings for Price and Mnuchin, blocking votes, Ed O'Keefe, Karoun Demirjian and Sean Sullivan​, Jan. 31, 2017. The move effectively stalls the confirmation process. Democrats called it a protest against two ethically comprised nominees.

Moving DC Residential Sections To Maryland?

Washington Post, GOP House chair: Maybe we should cut off part of D.C. and send it back to Md., Jenna Portnoy, Jan. 31, 2017. Republicans on a House committee on Tuesday voted to forge ahead with broad plans to review the District’s laws and local spending, signaling a potentially unprecedented level of involvement from Congress into the affairs of the nation’s capital.

Jason ChaffetzWhile some Republicans struck a conciliatory tone with respect to the city, Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), the chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform committee, said members are bound by constitutional “duty and obligation” to oversee the minutiae of District affairs. At one point, he suggested exploring the idea of Maryland absorbing the residential areas of the District, sending the committee into a tizzy.

“I really would love to explore the idea of retroceding the residential areas into Maryland so that not only do you have a member of Congress, but you have two senators a state legislature, a governor,” Chaffetz (shown in an official photo) said. “If you want full representation, I’m very sympathetic to that. I think there’s actually a way to do that.”

Global News

Fox News, Pentagon believes attack on Saudi frigate meant for US warship, Lucas Tomlinson and Jennifer Griffin, Jan. 31, 2017. Suicide bomb attack may have been meant for American warship. The Iranian-backed suicide attack targeting a Saudi frigate off the coast of Yemen on Monday may have been meant for an American warship, two defense officials told Fox News. The incident in question occurred in the southern Red Sea and was carried out by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels.

Two Saudi sailors were killed and three were wounded. At first the ship was thought to have been struck by a missile. U.S. defense analysts believe those behind the attack either thought the bomber was striking an American warship or that this was a “dress rehearsal” similar to the attack on the USS Cole, according to one official.

Unz Review, "Taking Down" British Officials, Philip Giraldi (former CIA analyst), Jan. 31, 2017. Israel conspires against the Mother of Parliaments. A quite incredible story out of England has not received much media coverage in the United States. It concerns how the Israeli Embassy in London connived with government officials to “take down” parliamentarians and government ministers who were considered to be critical of the Jewish State. It was also learned that the Israeli Embassy was secretly subsidizing and advising private groups promoting Israeli interests, including associations of Members of Parliament (MPs).

The story is interesting on several levels, particularly given the recent furor in the U.S. over allegations that Russia has been interfering in American politics. United Kingdom flagBy way of comparison, though no evidence has been provided to support the claim, Russia allegedly arranged for a hack into the Democratic National Committee server to obtain factual information potentially embarrassing to the Hillary Clinton campaign. The information was then made public and may have influenced how some Americans voted.

Compare that to what has been going on meanwhile in Britain, where an Israeli Embassy diplomat named Shai Masot, “an officer in the Israel Defense Forces and…serving as a senior political officer at the London Embassy,” was meeting with Maria Strizzolo, a senior British civil servant who was formerly chief of staff to Conservative parliamentarian and ardent Zionist Robert Halfon. Masot is certainly an intelligence officer under diplomatic cover.

Masot and Strizzolo’s candid discussion, which was secretly recorded by al-Jazeera, related specifically to getting rid of Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan, regarded as a supporter of an independent Palestinian state.

To Masot’s additional query “Can I give you some MPs that I would suggest you would take down?” Strizzolo suggested “…if you look hard enough, I’m sure there is something that they’re trying to hide…a little scandal maybe.” Another alleged pro-Arab member of Parliament Crispin Blunt was also identified, with Strizzolo confirming that he was on a “hit list.”

It was also learned that Masot had been secretly subsidizing and advising two ostensibly independent groups, the parliamentary Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) and the Labour Friends of Israel (LFI). Masot did, however, express concern that Israel’s control over incoming parliamentarians was not quite what it used to be: “For years, every MP that joined the parliament joined the LFI. They’re not doing that any more in the Labour Party. CFI, they’re doing it automatically. All the 14 new MPs who got elected in the last elections did it automatically.”

Jan. 30

Trump Immigration Order Controversy

Washington Post, Trump fires acting attorney general who refused to defend immigration ban, Matt Zapotosky, Sari Horwitz and Mark Berman, Jan. 30, 2017. White House says ousted official had ‘betrayed’ the Justice Dept. President Trump fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates Monday night, after Yates ordered Justice Department lawyers Monday not to defend his immigration order temporarily banning entry Dana Boenteinto the United States for citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees from around the world.

In a press release, the White House said Yates (confirmed 84-12 in 2015) had “betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States.” The White House has named Dana Boente, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, as acting attorney general. Boente (shown in an official photo) told the Washington Post that he will agree to enforce the immigration order.

Justice Department logo

Washington Post, Acting attorney general orders Justice Dept. not to defend immigration order, Mark Berman and Matt Zapotosky​, Jan. 30, 2017. Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, a holdover from the Obama administration (shown in an official photo), said she is not convinced that the travel order is lawful. President Trump seeks to play down effects of executive order amid upheaval,

Sally YatesIt was not immediately clear who would defend the president’s order in the Justice Department’s place. Trump blamed “big problems at airports” on other factors, including demonstrators and an airline’s technical problems. Former president Barack Obama became the latest high-profile voice to weigh in on the issue, offering his first public criticism of his successor while backing the protests.

Washington Post, Angry Republicans lash out at Trump for not consulting them on travel ban, Sean Sullivan and Kelsey Snell​, Jan. 30, 2017. The disarray underscored the increasingly strained relationship between the new president and congressional Republicans, with some key GOP aides saying they felt the administration was moving too swiftly and without respect for critical protocol for vetting executive actions that have been in place for decades. After travel ban, Democrats all but abandon their promise to find common Bob Corkerground with Trump. President Trump’s temporary ban on refugees and other foreigners has significantly deepened fissures in his already fragile relationship with congressional Republicans, as GOP leaders on Capitol Hill complained angrily Monday that they were not consulted before the order was issued.

At least a dozen key GOP lawmakers and aides said Trump’s order took them by surprise, even as the White House insisted that it collaborated with Congress. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s political team sought to reassure donors and other supporters that the temporary ban on travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries does not amount to a “religious test.” And a steady stream of Republican lawmakers released carefully tailored written statements expressing concerns about the order.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) (shown in an official photo) said Monday that he was not briefed before the order was signed.

President Donald Trump officialWashington Post via Richmond Times-Dispatch, President seeks to minimize impact of his immigration order in a series of tweets, Mark Berman, Brady Dennis and Jerry Markon​, Jan. 30, 2017. Trump blamed “big problems at airports” on other factors, including demonstrators and an airline’s technical problems. Critics remain concerned over the exact limits of the ban's scope, legal questions about its constitutionality and whether the Trump administration will comply with orders from federal judges to temporarily halt the travel ban.

Donald Trump Logo Make America Great AgainPresident Trump continued Monday to adamantly defend his immigration order temporarily banning entry into the United States for migrants from seven Muslim-majority countries and refugees from around the world. In a series of tweets, Trump sought to minimize its impact on travelers following confusion, angst and two days of protests that have erupted across the country since he signed the order. His comments came after White House officials, responding to the widespread uncertainty about the order, held a briefing with reporters Sunday evening to argue that the order’s rollout was “a massive success story.”

Earlier that day, Trump sought to clarify the exact reach of his ban, saying in a statement that his action “is not a Muslim ban.” But questions remain over the exact limits of its scope, legal questions about its constitutionality and whether the Trump administration will comply with orders from federal judges to temporarily halt the travel ban. Intense protests cropped up in airport terminals from coast to coast on Saturday and Sunday, meaning both weekends of Trump’s presidency so far have been marked by heavy public demonstrations against him.'

[Trump and his aides keep justifying the entry ban by citing attacks it couldn’t have prevented]

Roll Call, Trump Immigration Order Aggravates Nomination Wars, Niels Lesniewski, Jan. 30, 2017. The Senate should buckle up for a rough week. The bipartisan concern and outrage over President Donald Trump's executive order restricting access of immigrants from seven countries has likely ended any chance there will be smooth confirmation of additional members of the president's national security team.

Washington Post, Trump’s hard-line actions have an intellectual godfather: Jeff Sessions, Philip Rucker and Robert Costa, Jan. 30, 2017. The quiet senator from Alabama — Trump’s nominee for attorney general Justice Department log circular— has become a singular power in the new Washington, with his aides and allies accelerating the president’s most dramatic early moves, including the controversial travel ban.

Washington Post, Obama, in a rare move for an ex-president, breaks silence to criticize Trump on immigration, Juliet Eilperin, On Jan. 18, President Barack Obama told reporters in his final news conference that he would comment on his successor’s actions only at “certain moments where I think our core values may be at stake.”

He managed to stay quiet for less than two weeks. Obama, who is still on vacation with his family after leaving office this month, issued a statement through his spokesman Monday encouraging Americans to publicly protest President Trump’s move to ban citizens from seven majority-Muslim countries — as well as refugees from across the globe — from entering the United States.

He also contested Trump’s claim that Friday’s executive order was based in part on decisions made during his administration, including identifying the same seven countries as harboring terrorism threats and slowing the processing of visas for Iraqis after evidence surfaced that two Iraqis seeking resettlement had been linked to terrorist activity in their homeland. “With regard to comparisons to President Obama’s foreign policy decisions, as we’ve heard before, the President fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion,” Obama spokesman Kevin Lewis said in a statement.

Washington Post, Conservative Koch network could serve as potent resistance in Trump era, Matea Gold and James Hohmann, Jan. 30, 2017. In their first formal break with the administration, top network officials condemned the travel ban on some refugees and immigrants, calling it “the wrong approach.”

The weekend gathering of wealthy donors who help finance the conservative Koch network was supposed to serve as a celebration of the policy victories within reach now that Republicans control Washington: a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, a rollback of environmental regulations, perhaps even a corporate tax overhaul.

But with President Trump already embroiled in chaos and controversy, the conservative financiers assembled at a desert resort here were also forced to contend with a new uncertainty: whether the new president will be an ally or an obstacle.

In their first formal break with the administration, top network officials on Sunday condemned Trump’s travel ban on some refugees and immigrants, calling it “the wrong approach.” Some here expressed alarm that Trump has staked out positions anathema to the network’s libertarian principles, targeting individual companies that produce goods abroad and indicating possible support for a border tax on imports. And the network’s chief patron, billionaire industrialist Charles Koch, who pointedly declined to back Trump in the presidential campaign, warned in stark terms of the potential perils of the anti-establishment mood that gave rise to Trump.

Washington Post, The number of people affected by Trump’s travel ban: About 90,000, Glenn Kessler, Jan. 30, 2017. President Trump and his aides love to cite a small number and a big number in order to minimize the impact of the president’s executive order suspending the visas of citizens of seven countries. But these figures are incredibly misleading, so let’s go through the math. The real number is about 90,000. (Moreover, the data does not include potentially tens of thousands of people who are dual-citizens, such as Dutch-Iranians or German-Iraqis, who also are impacted by the order. The administration appears to have carved out exceptions for dual-nationals from The United Kingdom and Canada, but not other countries.)

"Only 109 people out of 325,000 were detained and held for questioning.” — President Trump, tweet, Jan, 30, 2017

“Remember we’re talking about a universe of 109 people. There were 325,000 people that came into this country over a 24 hour period from another country. 109 of them were stopped for additional screening.” — White House press secretary Sean Spicer, press briefing, Jan. 30, 2017

Trump Protests

London Review of Books, Trump: The First Ten Days, Eliot Weinberger, Jan. 30, 2017. In previous eras of protest – civil rights, the Vietnam War, the Iraq War – the injustice was continuing but static. There was, in a sense, no news, only more of the same. What is new in the Trump era is his uncanny knack for provoking new outrages – so far, multiple ones on a daily basis – which open new fronts for protest and galvanise more groups. The major media – in both a response to the open hostility of the Trumpistas towards them as well as the commercial calculation that anything Trump makes good television – and social media will keep fervour alive.

This matters. Republicans are undoubtedly terrified of the 2018 elections. They have let loose Godzilla on the land and they own the rubble.

More important, the passivity and complacency of the Democratic politicians and their voters have met their consequences and cannot go on. We thought we were living in a country enlightened enough to elect someone like Obama as president; that, despite Republican obstructions, things were generally improving and demographics ensured a progressive future. Trump has pitched us into icy water and, as Jesse Jackson said the other day, you have to keep kicking to stay afloat.

Supreme Court Prospects

National Law Journal, Trump's Sister, 'High' on Hardiman for SCOTUS, Doesn't Always Agree With Him, Marcia Coyle and Tony Mauro, Jan. 30, 2017. Donald Trump's sister, federal appeals Judge Maryanne Trump Barry, might be "high" on her colleague Thomas Hardiman as a potential U.S. Supreme Court justice. But Barry and Hardiman are hardly ideological soulmates. By no means an exhaustive search, here are some highlights from cases in which Hardiman and Barry found common ground — and from those disputes where they didn't see eye to eye.

Trump Transition: Gutting EPA?

Donald Trump Logo Make America Great AgainWashington Post, Trump transition leader’s goal is two-thirds cut in EPA employees, Joe Davidson, Jan. 30, 2017. Myron Ebell, the former head of President Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency transition team, has suggested cutting the agency's workforce by 5,000.

Global News

USA Today, Police say suspect held in Quebec mosque shooting, Adam Kovac and Greg Toppo, Jan. 30, 2017. A suspect was in custody Monday in connection with the shooting deaths of six people at a mosque, an incident the Canadian prime minister labeled as terrorism. Authorities here identified two men being held in the mass shooting — a very rare occurrence in Canada — but said only one man was a suspect and the other is considered a witness.

Quebec City court clerk Isabelle Ferland named the two men as Alexandre Bissonnette and Mohamed el Khadir, but police declined to say which one was the suspect. At a press conference on Monday afternoon, a police spokesperson said the two are being interrogated but declined to discuss any possible motive. He did confirm the two are Canadian citizens who reside in Quebec. A suspect was in custody Monday in connection with the shooting deaths of six people at a mosque, an incident the Canadian prime minister labeled as terrorism.

Media News

Washington Post, Huffington Post editorial staffers ratify collective-bargaining agreement, Erik Wemple, Jan. 30, 2017. That was quick. Just a month ago, staffers at the Huffington Post went on a tweet binge expressing their displeasure that management, in their ongoing talks to bang out a collective bargaining agreement, advanced a proposal with no pay raises. Today the Writers Guild of America East is announcing that the Huffington Post editorial staffers have almost unanimously ratified a collective bargaining agreement. What about pay? “The contract guarantees that no unit member will receive less than a 3% per year increase, and many will receive substantially more,” reads a release from WGAE, which also represents digital editorial types at Vice, Gizmodo Media Group, Fusion, The Root, ThinkProgress and Salon.

National Public Radio, CNN Beefs Up Investigative Reporting, David Folkenflik, Jan. 30, 2017. CNN is embarking on what it characterizes as a major new initiative in investigative reporting as executives pull together accomplished reporters into a single unit and promise to hire at least a dozen more.

"CNN needs to be an organization that breaks news, not just an organization that covers breaking news or talks about breaking news on television," Andrew Morse, the executive vice president of editorial for CNN/U.S. and general manager of CNN digital worldwide, told NPR. "There's no better way to do that than to invest in investigative reporting." The legendary investigative reporters Carl Bernstein and James Steele, both Pulitzer Prize winners, will serve as contributing editors to advise the team on their work and executives on hiring.

Freedom of Information

Columbia Journalism Review, What makes a good FOIA request? We studied 33,000 to find out, Nicholas Dias, Rashida Kamal and Laurent Bastien, Jan. 30, 2017. Every journalist has ideas about what makes a good public records request. But surprisingly few people have actually tried to systematically analyze how requests can be written to improve their chances of success. To fill this vacuum, we analyzed more than 33,000 Freedom of Information Act requests and identified a few characteristics that were typical of those that were fulfilled.

The requests were made to five federal agencies that publish to FOIAonline.gov: the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Commerce, Customs and Border Protection, the Department of the Navy, and the National Archives and Records Administration. All were filed between 2011 and 2016.

We defined success as the receipt of all records requested, as defined by the agency. There was no straightforward relationship between wait time and any of the characteristics we considered, so we factored it out as a measure of success. For the requests we examined, the full-grant rate across all five agencies was around 23 percent. That’s the same success rate for requests across all federal agencies, according to Max Galka of FOIA Mapper, a project funded by the Knight Foundation that outlines the record systems of federal agencies.

Requesters in our sample typically waited around 142 days, or a little more than four months, to get responses. Less than 39 percent of requests received responses within 28 days, which is the longest amount of time an agency could spend fulfilling a request while still meeting FOIA’s 20-business-day time limit. That’s a pretty bleak picture. So, how can you improve your chances?

    • Brevity isn’t always beneficial
    • Not all conventional advice was helpful
    • EPA requesters know what they’re doing
    • There are ways to unravel agencies’ records systems
    • Our nation needs good FOIA requesters

Jan. 29

Immigration Policy, Protests

Washington Post, Trump asked for a ‘Muslim ban,’ Giuliani says — and ordered a commission to do it ‘legally,’ Amy B. Wang, Jan. 29, 2017. Former New York mayor Rudy W. Giuliani said President Trump wanted a “Muslim ban” and requested he assemble a commission to show him “the right way to do it legally.” Giuliani, an early Trump supporter who once had been rumored for a Cabinet position in the new administration, appeared on Fox News late Saturday night to describe how Trump's executive order temporarily banning refugees came together.

Rudy GiulianiFox News host Jeanine Pirro asked Giuliani (shown in a file photo) whether the ban had anything to do with religion. “How did the president decide the seven countries?” she asked. “Okay, talk to me.”

“I'll tell you the whole history of it,” Giuliani responded eagerly. “So when [Trump] first announced it, he said, 'Muslim ban.' He called me up. He said, 'Put a commission together. Show me the right way to do it legally.' "

Giuliani said he assembled a “whole group of other very expert lawyers on this,” including former U.S. attorney general Michael Mukasey, Rep. Mike McCaul (R-Tex.) and Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.).

“And what we did was, we focused on, instead of religion, danger — the areas of the world that create danger for us,” Giuliani told Pirro. “Which is a factual basis, not a religious basis. Perfectly legal, perfectly sensible. And that's what the ban is based on. It's not based on religion. It's based on places where there are substantial evidence that people are sending terrorists into our country.”

Reince Priebus (Gage Skidmore)Others, including Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus (shown in file photo), have insisted it is not a ban on Muslims, but rather one based on countries from which travel was already restricted under Barack Obama's administration.

Washington Post, Jihadist groups hail Trump’s travel ban as a victory, Joby Warrick, Jan. 29, 2017. In social-media postings, Islamic State supporters see the order as validation for their claim that the U.S. is at war with Islam.

Mitchell_McConnellRoll Call, Congress Reacts to Trump Ban on Refugees, Bridget Bowman, Jan. 29, 2017. McConnell said tighter vetting is good, but highlighted need for Muslim allies. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (shown in an official photo) offered some skepticism of President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily barring refugees and immigrants from certain countries, but declined to offer a “blanket criticism” of the order.

Washington Post, Trump’s travel ban is a gift to Iran’s rulers, Hadi Ghaemi, Jan. 29, 2017. President Trump’s travel ban on Iranians is a gift to the Islamic republic and its hard-line rulers. It will not deter terrorism on U.S. soil. Not a single terrorist involved in the 9/11 attacks or other fatal terrorist attacks in the United States since then has been of Iranian origin. Instead, Trump’s policy is a collective punishment of a diverse and changing nationality, and will ironically serve the purposes of Iran’s hard-line rulers.

Huffington Post, Court Temporarily Blocks Parts Of Trump’s Syrian Refugee And Travel Ban, Cristian Farias, Jan. 29, 2017. In addition to New York, federal judges in Virginia, Seattle and Boston sounded off against the ban. Late Saturday night, a federal judge in Brooklyn temporarily halted parts of President Donald Trump’s sweeping executive order that aimed to block the entry of Syrian refugees and impose a de facto ban on travelers coming from several Muslim-majority countries.

The American Civil Liberties Union, immigrants’ rights groups and refugee relief organizations had filed the action in federal court Saturday morning on behalf of two Iraqi nationals who were detained at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, asking for a declaration that the order is unconstitutional and requesting an injunction to prevent its implementation against other travelers who may be equally harmed.

The initial ambiguity of Saturday’s ruling underscores the crazed process by which Trump’s executive order was implemented and litigated ― all within a span of a day. And it portends even more high-pitched court battles ahead, including a likely trip to the Supreme Court, which is presently short one member.

Trump Changes National Security Council Staffing

Wall Street Journal, Donald Trump Shuffles National Security Council, Carol E. Lee and Peter Nicholas, Jan. 29, 2017. Executive measure adds Steve Bannon while removing Director of National Intelligence, Joseph Dunfordchairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. President Donald Trump added his top adviser and strategist Steve Bannon to the National Security Council while removing the Director of National Intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as he signed a trio of executive measures on Saturday.

General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr. (shown in uniform) is the 19th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the  nation’s highest-ranking military officer, and the principal military advisor to the President, Secretary of Defense, and National Security Council. Retired U.S. House member Dan Coats, 73, a Republican from Indiana, is the president's nominee to become Director of Dan CoatsNational Security, succeeding retired Gen. James R. Clapper.

Washington Post, Questions multiply over Bannon’s role in Trump administration, Karen DeYoung, Jan. 29, 2017. President Trump’s elevation of his chief political strategist to a major role in national security policy, and a White House order banning refugees from certain Muslim-majority countries from U.S. entry, appeared to come together as cause and effect over the weekend.

Stephen K. Bannon — whose nationalist convictions and hard-line oppositional view of globalism have long guided Trump — was directly involved in shaping the controversial immigration mandate, according to several people familiar with the drafting who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

The order, which has ignited sweeping domestic and international backlash, came without the formal input of Trump’s National Security Council, the committee of top national security aides designed to ensure the president examines all policy issues from different perspectives.

In Trump’s case, the NSC has not yet been fully formed. Key department heads, including the secretary of state, have either not been confirmed or had little chance to be briefed by those under them.

Washington Post, The danger of Steve Bannon on the National Security Council, David J. Rothkopf, Jan. 29, 2017. David J. Rothkopf is chief executive and editor of the FP Group, which publishes Foreign Policy magazine. He has written two histories of the NSC, “Running the World” and last year’s “National Insecurity.”  Trump’s travel ban is bad. His NSC shake-up might be even worse.

Stephen BannonFirst, he essentially demoted the highest-ranking military officer in the United States, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the highest-ranking intelligence officer in the United States, the director of national intelligence. In previous administrations, those positions or their equivalent (before the creation of the director of national intelligence, the CIA director occupied that role) held permanent positions on the NSC.

Even as he pushed away professional security advice, Trump decided to make his top political advisor, Stephen K. Bannon (shown in a file photo), a permanent member of the NSC. Although the White House chief of staff is typically a participant in NSC deliberations, I do not know of another situation in which a political adviser has been a formal permanent member of the council.

Trump & Media

Washington Post, Trump considers the media his enemy. We shouldn’t treat him as ours, Fred Hiatt (Washington Post editorial page editor), Jan. 29, 2017. Our answer must be professionalism, not partisanship.

JFK-Related Mystery: Famed Reporter's 'Overdose'

New York Post, Manhattan DA’s office probing death of reporter with possible JFK ties, Susan Edelman, Jan. 29, 2017. The Manhattan District Attorney’s office is looking into the mysterious death 51 years ago of newspaper writer and “What’s My Line?” star Dorothy Kilgallen, who was investigating the JFK assassination, the Post has learned. The stunning development comes after a new book, The Reporter who Knew Too Much, suggests Kilgallen was murdered to shut down her relentless pursuit of a Mafia don linked to JFK and Lee Harvey Oswald.

Dorothy Kilgallen book cover by Mark ShawJoan Vollero, a spokeswoman for DA Cyrus Vance Jr., confirmed that a staffer has read the book, and reviewed a letter from author Mark Shaw citing new leads, medical evidence, and witnesses overlooked when Kilgallen, 52, died suddenly on Nov. 8, 1965 at the peak of her career.

“I’m hopeful DA investigators will probe any records available and interview witnesses still alive today who can shed light on what happened to this remarkable woman,” Shaw told The Post, which featured his findings last month. Kilgallen, who wrote a widely syndicated column for the New York Journal-American, was the only reporter ever to interview Jack Ruby, who shot Oswald, and published Ruby’s closed-door testimony to the Warren Commission before its official release. Her enemies ranged from Frank Sinatra to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.

The morning after Kilgallen appeared on the hit TV game show, she was found dead in her Manhattan apartment, naked under a robe and still in make-up. The Medical Examiner ruled it an accidental mix of booze and sleeping pills.

But Shaw contends Kilgallen was drugged. He cites a powdery residue on a glass by the bed, and records obtained from the National Archives showing two additional barbiturates in her system. “There was no evidence that Kilgallen was a drug abuser,” Shaw said Saturday. “Despite the odd death scene and heavy doses, there was no investigation.”

Former ME toxicologist Dr. Stephen Goldner told Shaw the Mafia controlled the Brooklyn ME’s office, which inexplicably conducted the Kilgallen autopsy even though her death occurred in Manhattan.

Weeks before her death, Shaw learned, Kilgallen bought a gun for self-protection and planned a second trip to New Orleans to investigate Mafia don Carlos Marcello. “If the wrong people knew what I know about the JFK assassination, it would cost me my life,” she confided to hairdresser Charles Simpson, one of several witnesses who gave videotaped interviews unearthed by Shaw.

Global News

Guardian, Theresa May, Trump and the travel ban: her position could not hold, Anushka Asthana, Jan. 29, 2017. Downing Street viewed the PM’s trip to the US as a triumph, but it has swiftly become more of United Kingdom flagan awkward memory. “Divisive, unhelpful and wrong.” That was how Theresa May described Donald Trump’s suggestion that Muslims should be banned from the US in December 2015, when he was still fighting to be the Republican candidate for the presidency and she was home secretary. The prime minister now faces a thorny dilemma: how to remain dignified alongside her desire to build an economic relationship with the US that can help Britain navigate its post-Brexit journey.

Jan. 28

President Trump officialWashington Post, Trump order barring refugees and some migrants causes chaos, outrage, Jerry Markon, Emma Brown and David Nakamura​, Jan. 28, 2017. Widespread confusion as some flying into the U.S. are detained at airports. Entry to the United States is being refused to legal residents — including people with so-called green cards — from seven mostly Muslim countries who were abroad when the order was signed Friday. The virtually unprecedented measures triggered harsh reactions from not only Democrats and others who typically advocate for immigrants but also key sectors of the U.S. business community. President Trump, speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, said, “It’s not a Muslim ban, but we were totally prepared. You see it at the airports, you see it all over. It’s working out very nicely.” 

Donald Trump Logo Make America Great AgainAs President Trump’s order targeting citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries reverberated across the world on Saturday, it became increasingly clear that the controversial measure he had promised during his presidential campaign was casting a wider net than even his opponents had feared. Confusion and concern among immigrant advocates mounted throughout the day as travelers from the Middle East were detained at U.S. airports or sent home. A middle-of-the-night lawsuit filed on behalf of two Iraqi men challenged Trump’s executive action, which was signed Friday and initially cast as applying to refugees and migrants.

But as the day progressed, administration officials confirmed that the sweeping order also targeted U.S. legal residents from the named countries — green-card holders — who happened to be abroad when it was signed. Also subject to being barred entry into the United States are dual nationals, or people born in one of the seven countries who hold passports even from U.S. allies such as the United Kingdom.

Legal experts forecast a wave of litigation over the order, calling it unconstitutional. Canada announced it would accept asylum applications from U.S. green-card holders.

Mike PenceWashington Post via Boston Globe, Judge blocks deportations mandated by Trump’s order, Jerry Markon, Emma Brown and David Nakamura, Jan. 28, 2017. Judge Ann Donnelly of the US District Court in Brooklyn granted a request from the ACLU to stay deportations of those detained on entry to the United States following President Donald Trump’s executive order. After a brief hearing in front of a small audience that filtered in from a crowd of hundreds outside, Donnelly determined that the risk of injury to those detained by being returned to their home countries necessitated the decision.

Washington Post, Pence, who called Muslim ban ‘unconstitutional,’ now applauds Trump’s order, Avi Selk, Jan. 28, 2017. The vice president and Defense Secretary James Mattis — two people who once criticized such a ban — stood behind the president as he established “new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States.”

Washington Post, Refugees, migrants held at U.S. airports challenge Trump’s executive order, Emma Brown and David Nakamura, Jan. 28, 2017. Travelers with valid visas en route to the United States on Friday were detained at U.S. airports and restricted from entry after President Trump’s executive order. One Iraqi man has been released from New York’s JFK airport with no explanation.

Huffington Post, It begins: refugees detained at airports, Staff report, Jan. 28, 2017.

Global News

Washington Post, Trump orders ISIS plan, talks with Putin and gives Bannon national security role, Philip Rucker and David Filipov, Jan. 28, 2017. Calling for a strategy to defeat the Islamic State, the president also restructured the National Security Council to include his controversial top political adviser, Stephen Bannon. He spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin and vowed to join forces to fight terrorism. 

Jan. 27

A Brave New '1984' For Our Times?

Aldous Huxley Quotation

New Yorker, Orwell's '1984' and Trump's America, Adam Gopnik, Jan. 27, 2017. Donald Trump’s lies, and his urge to tell them, are pure Big Brother crude, however oafish their articulation. As the British author New Yorker logoAnthony Burgess pointed out a long time ago, [George] Orwell’s modern hell was basically a reproduction of British misery in the postwar rationing years, with the malice of Stalin’s police-state style added on. That other ninth-grade classic, Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World,” where a permanent playground of sex and drugs persists in a fiercely inegalitarian society, seemed to me far more prescient, and so did any work of Philip K. Dick’s that extrapolated forward our bizarre American entertainment obsessions into an ever more brutal future in which Ken and Barbie might be worshipped as gods.

Donald Trump buttonAn unbidden apology rises to the lips, as Orwell’s book duly climbs high in the Amazon rankings: it was far better and smarter than good times past allowed us to think. What it took, of course, to change this view was the Presidency of Donald Trump. Because the single most striking thing about his matchlessly strange first week is how primitive, atavistic, and uncomplicatedly brutal Trump’s brand of authoritarianism is turning out to be. We have to go back to “1984” because, in effect, we have to go back to 1948 to get the flavor.

There is nothing subtle about Trump’s behavior. He lies, he repeats the lie, and his listeners either cower in fear, stammer in disbelief, or try to see how they can turn the lie to their own benefit.

And so, rereading Orwell (shown in a file photo), one is reminded of what Orwell got right about this kind of brute authoritarianism — and that was essentially that it rests on lies told so often, and so repeatedly, that fighting the lie becomes not simply more dangerous but more exhausting than repeating it. Orwell saw, to his credit, that the act of falsifying reality is only secondarily a way of changing perceptions. It is, above all, a way of asserting power.

When Trump repeats the ridiculous story about the three million illegal voters — a story that no one who knows, that not a single White House “staffer,” not a single Republican congressman actually believes to be true — he does not really care if anyone believes it, even if, at some crazy level, he does, sort of. People aren’t meant to believe it; they’re meant to be intimidated by it. The lie is not a claim about specific facts; the lunacy is a deliberate challenge to the whole larger idea of sanity. Once a lie that big is in circulation, trying to reel the conversation back into George Orwelllthe territory of rational argument becomes impossible.

And so CNN’s Jake Tapper, to his credit, may announce boldly that the story is false from beginning to end — but then he is led by his own caution and sense of professionalism to ask Trump whether, if he sees it as true, there ought to be an investigation into it.

Tapper, like everyone else, knows perfectly well that a minimally honest investigation would turn up no proof of this absurdity at all. But that, of course, is the trap, the game.

Watch: there will be a “commission” consisting of experts borrowed from Breitbart; it will hold no hearings, or hold absurdly closed ones; or hold ones with testimony from frequent callers to “The Alex Jones Show” — and this clownish commission will then baldly conclude that there is, indeed, widespread evidence of voter fraud. And Trump will reassert the lie and point to his commission’s findings as his evidence.

Trump Transition

CNN, Poll: 36% approve of Trump's job performance, David Wright, Jan. 27, 2017. President Donald Trump enters office facing low job approval ratings and skepticism from voters, according to a new Quinnipiac Donald Trump for President logoUniversity poll released Thursday. The survey found that 36% of American voters approve of Trump's handling of his job after his first week, while 44% say they disapprove. By comparison, former President Barack Obama received a 59%-25% approval rating in the first Quinnipiac poll taken after his inauguration in 2009.

Washington Post, Why many of Trump’s early promises will never actually happen, Ashley Parker and Sean Sullivan, Many of the sweeping actions President Trump vowed this week are impractical, opposed by Congress, or full of legal holes. This reality underscores his chaotic start, which includes executive actions drafted by close aides rather than experts and without input from the agencies tasked with implementing them.

Trump, however, does not seem to realize the limited power of his executive orders and has made public signing ceremonies a trademark of his first week. “President Trump needs to go back to civics class because he can direct his employees to do various things, but he cannot repeal a bunch of laws through his executive orders because he needs congressional consent — and the executive orders themselves say that,” said Rena Steinzor, a professor at the University of Maryland’s law school.

Daily Howler, Is Trump some version of mentally ill? Bob Somerby, Jan. 27, 2017. On Tuesday evening, the New York Times' Nicholas Kristof appeared on CNN with Don Lemon. In his second segment with President Donald Trump officialKristof, Lemon played tape of Trump press secretary Sean Spicer discussing Trump's claim that 3-5 million illegal votes were cast in November's election. Kristof:

Should we journalists use the word “lie” to describe President Trump’s most manifest falsehoods? That debate has roiled the news world. The Times this week used the word “lie” in a front-page headline, and I agreed with that decision, but there’s a counterargument that lying requires an intention to deceive — and that Trump may actually believe his absurd falsehoods. So in 2017 we reach a mortifying moment for a great democracy: We must decide whether our 45th president is a liar or a crackpot.

Roll Call, Is There a “Red Line” for Congressional Republicans With Trump? Patricia Murphy, Jan. 27, 2017. Little evidence of standing up to Trump so far. I’ve tried to imagine the moment this week when President Donald Trump told House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and a group of invited congressional leadership that the only reason he lost the popular vote was because of three to five million illegal immigrants voted for Hillary Clinton.

Donald Trump at GOP debate Aug. 6, 2015Or when he said Berhnart Langer, whom Trump described as a friend, had been turned away from voting in Florida, while people who appeared to be Latin American were allowed to vote. (Langer later said he never tried to vote, never told Trump that story, and is not a friend of Trump’s.)

Did Ryan and McConnell just ignore the man talking nonsense in hopes that the president, who occupies the same body, would come back soon? Did they share panicked glances, like brothers at a dinner table who know dad’s not OK anymore?

Washington Post, Behind closed doors, Republican lawmakers fret about how to repeal Obamacare, Mike DeBonis, Jan. 27, 2017. Republican lawmakers aired sharp concerns about their party’s quick push to repeal the Affordable Care Act inside a closed-door meeting Thursday, according to a recording of the session obtained by the Washington Post. The recording reveals a GOP that appears to be filled with doubts about how to make good on a long-standing promise to get rid of Obamacare without explicit guidance from President Trump or his administration.

Senators and House members expressed a range of concerns about the task ahead: how to prepare a replacement plan that can be ready to launch at the time of repeal; how to avoid deep damage to the health insurance market; how to keep premiums affordable for middle-class families; even how to avoid the political consequences of defunding Planned Parenthood, the women’s health-care organization, as many Republicans hope to do with the repeal of the ACA.the Trump administration appears to be moving ahead with repeal. On Thursday, the White House ordered federal health officials to immediately halt all advertising and other outreach activities for the critical final days in which Americans can sign up for 2017 health coverage through Affordable Care Act marketplaces.

Of particular concern to some Republican lawmakers was the plan to use the budget reconciliation process — which requires only a simple majority vote — to repeal the existing law, while still needing a filibuster-proof vote of 60 in the Senate to enact a replacement.

Washington Post, Trump’s erratic first week was among the most alarming in history, Ruth Marcus, Jan. 27, 2017.   It was unlike any other that the country has witnessed. There have been scarier weeks for the country, certainly — the Cuban missile crisis and the Sept. 11 attacks. There have been more tragic ones — the Sept. 11 attacks again, the terrible toll of wartime, the horror of four presidential assassinations. But the first week of the Trump presidency was alarming in a different way, because the frightening part involved the president’s own erratic, even bizarre, behavior.  

Washington Post, In Trump’s mind, it’s always ‘really sunny.’ And that’s terrifying, Dana Milbank, Jan. 27, 2017. My biggest fear is that the president cannot tell truth from lies. The most worrisome moment for me in a very ominous week was not President Trump’s bizarre rant about crowd size, his bogus claims about election fraud or his moves toward bringing back torture, blocking refugees and provoking a trade war with Mexico. The most troubling moment was when he spoke about the weather.

Really sunny? I was there for the inaugural address, in the sixth row, about 40 feet from Trump, and I remembered the exact opposite: It began to rain when he started and tapered off toward the end. There wasn’t a single ray of sunshine, before, during or after the speech. Was my memory playing tricks on me?

This disconnect from reality is my biggest fear about Trump, more than any one policy he has proposed. My worry is the president of the United States is barking mad.

White House Chronicle, Trump Takes Washington in a Storm, but Why the Hurry? Llewellyn King, Jan. 27, 2017. It is a good thing for politicians to honor their campaign promises. In that, President Donald Trump is acting in an exemplary way. But does he have to do it so fast?

In a campaign ideas and ideology dominate, details languish. But once office is won, especially the highest office in the land, there is time to contemplate not just the journey but the best route. There is a vast amount of know-how and knowledge to be tapped that might, on consideration, temper the ideas of the campaign. For example, the president, before commanding the hiring of 5,000 more U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents, might have learned how difficult it is to recruit and train these men and women. He might have taken note that there are 1,200 vacancies along the border right now, despite strenuous recruiting efforts.

Trump loves to make a grand entrance. He showed that with his stately ride in the company of his wife, Melania, down an escalator in Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in New York City before announcing his candidacy on June 16, 2015. It was dramatic: the quintessential Trump, showman and grandstander. His entrance into Washington has been louder and splashier — almost as though it is a finale, not an opening. The city is reeling, the world is agog and the Republicans — to say nothing of the president’s Cabinet nominees — are in the dark about his policies; where his head is at?

Washington Post, In Venezuela, we couldn’t stop Chávez. Don’t make the same mistakes we did, Andrés Miguel Rondón (a Venezuelan citizen and native, now working in Spain as an economist), How to let a populist beat you, over and over again. Donald Trump is an avowed capitalist; Hugo Chávez was a socialist with communist dreams. One builds skyscrapers, the other expropriated them. But politics is only one-half policy: The other, darker half is rhetoric. Sometimes the rhetoric takes over. Such has been our lot in Venezuela for the past two decades — and such is yours now, Americans. Because in one regard, Trump and Chávez are identical. They are both masters of populism.

Donald Trump Logo Make America Great AgainThe recipe for populism is universal. Find a wound common to many, find someone to blame for it, and make up a good story to tell. Mix it all together. Tell the wounded you know how they feel. That you found the bad guys. Label them: the minorities, the politicians, the businessmen. Caricature them. As vermin, evil masterminds, haters and losers, you name it. Then paint yourself as the savior. Capture the people’s imagination. Forget about policies and plans, just enrapture them with a tale. One that starts with anger and ends in vengeance. A vengeance they can participate in.

That’s how it becomes a movement. There’s something soothing in all that anger. Populism is built on the irresistible allure of simplicity. The narcotic of the simple answer to an intractable question. The problem is now made simple.

The problem is you.

How do I know? Because I grew up as the “you” Trump is about to turn you into. In Venezuela, the urban middle class I come from was cast as the enemy in the political struggle that followed Chávez’s arrival in 1998. For years, I watched in frustration as the opposition failed to do anything about the catastrophe overtaking our nation. Only later did I realize that this failure was self-inflicted. So now, to my American friends, here is some advice on how to avoid Venezuela’s mistakes.

Litigation, Controversial Coverage of Melania Trump

Politico, Melania Trump wins round in libel suit over blogger's 'escort' claims, Josh Gerstein, Jan. 27, 2017. Judge mulls whether to dismiss Daily Mail from case as lawyer reveals first lady is suing newspaper in a London court. First lady Melania Trump prevailed Friday in the first round of a $150 million libel suit she filed against a Maryland blogger over a Sharon Burrellreport he published last summer about claims that Trump worked as a "high-end escort." Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Sharon Burrell  rejected arguments from lawyers for blogger Webster Tarpley (shown in a file photo) to dismiss Trump's suit for failing to meet the "actual malice" standard for public figures. The judge (shown in a file photo) also turned down Tarpley's effort to dismiss the suit under a Maryland law aimed at quickly shutting down bad-faith lawsuits intended to intimidate people speaking out on issues of public concern.

Webster Tarpley"The court finds the plaintiff has stated a claim for defamation," Burrell ruled after hearing arguments on the issue in a Rockville courtroom. "The court believes most people, when they hear the words 'high-end escort,' that describes a prostitute. There could be no more defamatory statement than to call a woman a prostitute."

However, at the conclusion of a roughly two-hour-long hearing, it was unclear whether the first lady would be allowed to proceed against another, deeper-pocketed defendant in the Maryland suit -- the New York-based corporate affiliate of London's Daily Mail newspaper. That outlet published a similar account to Tarpley's last August.

An attorney for Mail Media, Kelli Sager, argued Maryland was the wrong place for a New York resident like Trump to sue a New York company, Sager also disclosed that Melania Trump is also suing the parent company of the Daily Mail newspaper in a London court for libel over the same article that appeared on the Mail website.

Melania Trump Twitter photoBoth Tarpley and the Mail retracted their articles after receiving complaints from Trump's lawyers. A lawyer for Tarpley, Danielle Giroux, insisted that Tarpley wasn’t vouching for the truth of the allegations he aired, but simply publicizing the fact that there were rumors that had a potential to impact the presidential campaign. “He did not say that Melania Trump was a high-class escort. What he said was there are rumors about that,” the attorney said. "He's writing about the rumors and that, itself, is newsworthy."

However, Trump attorney Charles Harder said it was evident from Tarpley’s post that he was endorsing the accuracy of the claims, particularly by referring to them as “widely known.” Giroux said Harder was wrong on that point. She insisted journalists covering matters of public concern are entitled to publish facts they haven’t personally verified.

“A reporter does not have to publish only statements that he knows are true,” she said. "They are not required to do an investigation."

Burrell said Tarpley's bid to end the case under Maryland's Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation law (sometimes called a SLAPP law) failed because there was no indication the suit was brought in bad faith. The judge also seemed skeptical that such salacious claims were deserving of the highest level of legal protection given that Melania Trump was the wife of a candidate and not a candidate herself.

Melania Trump New York Post"The interests affected are arguably not that important because the plaintiff wasn't the one running for office," Burrell (shown in a file photo) said.

Giroux also labeled as “rhetorical hyperbole” Tarpley’s claim that the escort rumors, the publication of nude modeling photos of Trump and other events led her to have a "mental breakdown" that drove her from the campaign trail. Melania Trump showed up for an initial hearing in the case last month, but was not present in the courtroom Friday.

The closest thing to celebrities there were Harder and Sager, two well-known Los Angeles litigators who often do battle in high-profile fights involving celebrities and the media.

Editor's Note: The Daily Mail and Tarpley reports came during a period in the campaign last summer when the Rupert Murdoch-owned New York Post, among other major tabloids, were running seemingly nude photos of Melania Trump such as the Post's cover shown here from her days as a model. The published photos included some showing her apparently naked and involved in sexual poses with another woman.

Daily Mail, Mexican Vanity Fair slings mud at the Trumps by republishing 'unflattering' article about Melania, Jennifer Smith, Jan. 27, 2017. Mexican Vanity Fair has republished an old article about Melania Trump which accused her Slovenian father of crimes and revealed she had an illegitimate half-brother amid ongoing strife between the country's president and Donald Trump.

The article was originally published in GQ last year by Juilia Ioffe and contains claims the first lady's father, Viktor Knavs, was looked into for tax evasion. It also revealed Melania's illegitimate half-brother Denis Cigelnjak and alleged that Viktor, who fathered him before marrying Melania's mother, asked his mother to abort him.  Melania Trump slammed the article as being full of inaccuracies in April last year when it was published by GQ. She said Ioffe was 'a journalist who is looking to make a name for herself' and said she had subjected her parents to 'unfair scrutiny.'

Global News: United Kingdom

Washington Post, Trump meets with British leader, pledges to defer to defense secretary on ‘torture,’ David Nakamura​, Jan. 27, 2017. ​President Trump said he continues to believe torture methods can be United Kingdom flageffective to combat terrorism but pledged to defer over whether to implement such tactics to Defense Secretary James Mattis, who has opposed them. “He will override,” Trump said in a joint news conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May at the White House.

Global News: Syria

Guardian, Boris Johnson signals shift in UK policy on Syria's Assad, Patrick Wintour, Jan. 27, 2017. Foreign secretary says UK accepts Syrian leader should be allowed to run for re-election in event of peace deal.

SouthFront, Over 2,600 Laid Down Arms In Wadi Barada Northwest Of Damascus, Staff report, Jan. 27, 2017. Over 2,600 militants have laid down arms in the Wadi Barada area near Damascus. Those who refused to do this are leaving to the Idlib province with their families. However, some Jabhat Fatah al-Sham units are still hiding in the mountains area.

Syria FlagThe Russian state-run news agency “TASS” cites Colonel Alexander Blinkov, Spokesman for the Russian Center for Reconciliation of the Warring Parties in Syria: “The local population in the Wada Barada valley is returning to a peaceful civilian life,” he said. “Steps are currently being taken as part of the first stage of a comprehensive reconciliation plan in this area. To date, more than 2,600 people have already legalized their status. Hardcore opposition members who refused to surrender weapons are leaving for the Idlib province with their families with the assistance of the Syrian authorities.”

The militants who are filing to adjust their legal status have joined self-defense units. "The population continues to receive humanitarian aid and basic necessities, such as food packages and medicines,” Blinkov stated.

SouthFront via YouTube, South line of defense of Deir ez-Zor combat footage of Syrian Arab Army versus ISIS, Produced by Alexander Nomerkov, Jan. 27, 2017 (4:53 min.).

Around the Nation

Roll Call, Anti-Abortion Marchers Describe New Optimism in Era of Trump, Stephanie Akin, Jan. 27, 2017. Pence, Conway, tell March for Life crowd that Trump will support their cause. 

Al.com, Bentley attended Trump inauguration with Rebekah Mason, her husband, Erin Edgemon, Jan. 27, 2017. Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley released the names of four of the five people who accompanied him on state aircraft to last week's inauguration of President Donald Trump. Those names include Jon Mason, director of Serve Alabama, and Mason's wife, Rebekah Caldwell Mason, who was Bentley's suspected former mistress and an ex-adviser to the governor. Also on the aircraft were legislative director Wesley Helton; Zach Lee, the governor's liaison to cities and counties; and an unnamed special guest, Bentley said.

The visit to Washington D.C. was a working trip, Bentley said. Jon Mason was brought along to speak with national leaders on how to revitalize faith-based organizations, the governor said to a group of journalists following his address at the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama's annual luncheon. Bentley declined to release the name of his special guest.

Bentley's office previously declined a request from AL.com for a passenger list from last week's inauguration trip. "Governor Bentley utilized the state aircraft to travel to the official function of attending the Presidential Inauguration. Also attending were Governor's Office staff and guests," said Yasamie August, the director of communications for the governor, in the statement to AL.com

The logs will be posted, August said, "at the appropriate time required by the (state) statute."

The Hill, Fox Philadelphia anchor suspended for saying Conway 'good at bull----,' Joe Concha, Jan. 27, 2017. A Philadelphia television morning show host was suspended Thursday after saying President Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway was "good at bullshit."

JFK Assassination Revelations

JFKFacts.org, Secret JFK document #3: the DRE/AMSPELL file, Jefferson Morley, Jan. 27, 2017. Among the 1,100 secret CIA documents related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy is an 86-page file of the anti-Castro group, Directorio Revolucionario Estudantil (DRE). The group, commonly known as the Cuban Student Directorate, had a curious double role in the JFK assassination story – a role that the CIA chose to conceal from both the Warren Commission in 1964 and the House Selection Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) in the late 1970s.

The deception was not minor: CIA-funded DRE was the first organization to call public attention to accused assassin Lee Oswald–before JFK was killed. What the CIA hid from JFK investigators was its secret financial relationship with the front group used to publicize Oswald’s pro-Castro activities. The DRE was an instrument of the CIA. Known inside the agency by the code name AMSPELL, the group’s leaders met regularly in 1963 with George Joannides, the chief of psychological warfare operations in Miami. According to other CIA records, Joannides gave the group $51,000 a month in 1963, the equivalent of $150,000 today.

Courthouse News via AARC, Center Seeks CIA Documents on Plots to Kill Hitler, Castro, Eva Fedderly, Jan. 27, 2017. A research foundation dedicated to unearthing information about political assassinations sued the Central Intelligence Agency for not providing documents related to plots to assassinate Adolph Hitler and Fidel Castro. The Assassination Archives and Research Center sued the agency in the federal court in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 25. It contends the CIA is obligated to provide it with the documents it requested, and by not doing so, it is violating the FOIA.

Jan. 26

Washington Post, Trump begins push to reshape U.S. role in the world with ‘America first’ theme, Karen DeYoung and Philip Rucker, Jan. 26, 2017. Directives that have been drafted but not yet signed would halt all refu­gee admissions and entry into the country of citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries; declare a moratorium on new multilateral treaties; and mandate audits of U.S. funding for international organizations, including the United Nations.

Supreme Court Prospects

Judges Neil Gorsuch, William Pryor and Thomas Hardiman (left to right)Judges (and reputed Trump leading contenders for nominate to the current U.S. Supreme Court vacancy) Neil Gorsuch, William Pryor and Thomas Hardiman (left to right)

Center for Public Integrity, Trump likely to choose millionaire jurist for Supreme Court vacancy, Kytja Weir and Chris Zubak-Skees, Jan. 26, 2017. All three of President Donald Trump’s likely nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court appear to be millionaires, just like the majority of their potential colleagues already on the nation’s highest court and many of Trump’s other picks for senior positions.

Those reportedly on Trump’s short list to fill a vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia are all federal appellate judges: Judge Neil Gorsuch of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Thomas Hardiman, based in Pittsburgh, and 11th U.S. Circuit Court Judge William Pryor, who works in Birmingham, Alabama.

Trump tweeted on Wednesday morning that he plans to make his pick on Thursday, Feb. 2. So what do we know about the possible nominees? The Center for Public Integrity reviewed the three judges’ annual financial disclosures, including those covering 2014 — the most recent immediately available — that were gathered by the National Law Journal. To be sure, the judges’ financial situations could have changed since then.

Only Hardiman appeared to own stock directly in companies, a potential “mousetrap” for judges due to the potential for conflicts of interest with their caseloads. Such financial holdings can lead to recusals that could have dramatic effects in a court where decisions are often split 5 to 4. In a 2014 investigation, the Center for Public Integrity found 24 cases in which federal appellate judges owned stock in companies before them yet did not step aside, a violation of federal law. Five of the cases were subsequently reopened.

Here’s what to know about Trump’s possible Supreme Court picks. To find disclosures about a particular business or topic, type search terms in the box (for example, "eBay") and hit return. Or, scroll down to read the profiles and click on the disclosure links below.

Social Media As Tool For Trump Victory -- And Problems?

Washington Post, Why a tweeting president is so bad for our politics, Michael Gerson (former speechwriter for President George W. Bush), Jan. 26, 2017. All political leaders, presidents in particular, dream of using technology to avoid the media filter and speak directly to the American people. But in politics, Twitter has dramatic limits and can become a disturbing substitute for disciplined thought.

"Psychologist Michal Kosinski developed a method of analyzing people’s behavior down to the minutest detail by looking at their Facebook activity — did a similar tool help propel Donald Trump to victory?"

Das Magazin via AntiNote, Trump Knows You Better Than You Know Yourself, Hannes Grassegger and Mikael Krogerus (translated by Antidote), Dec. 3, 2016 in German, posted in translation on Jan. 22, 2017. Psychometrics and the (counter) revolution in marketing that is helping bring fascism to power around the world.

AntiNote: The following is an unauthorized translation of a December 2016 article that caused quite a stir in the German-language press. Das Magazin (Zurich) occupies a respected position within the German-language cultural and literary media landscape, functionally similar to (though perhaps not quite as prominent as) The New Yorker, and this work by investigative reporters Hannes Grassegger and Mikael Krogerus got a lot of attention—and generated some controversy, for apparently having scooped the English-language media with sensational observations about 2016’s most sensational story, the campaign and electoral victory of a fascist dictator in the United States.

Perhaps for this reason, the article has not appeared in translation in (or even had its investigative threads taken up by) English-language media outlets, even after nearly two months. Antidote presents, therefore, our own preemptive translation to fill this gap. We trust the skill of the reporters who wrote it and the veracity of their claims (which are verifiable by anyone with a search engine—we have embedded links where appropriate), and we question why this particular synthesis of public information is not being made available to non-German-speaking readers by outlets with more reach and respectability than us dirty DIY dicks.

On the occasion of this article’s authorized wider release in English, should that come to pass, we will consider removing this post if we are asked nicely. Until then: Enjoy!

Trump Knows You Better Than You Know Yourself

By Hannes Grassegger and Mikael Krogerus for Das Magazin (Zurich) (Originally on Dec. 3, 2016.

Psychologist Michal Kosinski developed a method of analyzing people’s behavior down to the minutest detail by looking at their Facebook activity — did a similar tool help propel Donald Trump to victory?


The world has been turned upside down. The Brits are leaving the EU; Trump rules America. And in Stanford the Polish researcher Michal Kosinski, who indeed tried to warn of the danger of using psychological targeting in a political setting, is still getting accusatory emails. “No,” says Kosinski quietly, shaking his head, “this is not my fault. I did not build the bomb. I just showed that it was there.”

Trump Transition

Washington Post, In first major TV interview as president, Trump obsesses over his popularity, Jenna Johnson, Jan. 26, 2017. The lengthy interview revealed a man fixated on his following and eager to provide evidence of his likability, even if that information didn't match reality. The way President Trump tells it, the meandering, falsehood-filled, self-involved speech that he gave at the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters was one of the greatest addresses ever given.

Donald Trump and Mike Pence logo“That speech was a home run,” Trump told ABC News just a few minutes into his first major television interview since moving into the White House. “See what Fox said. They said it was one of the great speeches. They showed the people applauding and screaming. … I got a standing ovation. In fact, they said it was the biggest standing ovation since Peyton Manning had won the Super Bowl, and they said it was equal. I got a standing ovation. It lasted for a long period of time.”

The most powerful man in the world continued: “You probably ran it live. I know when I do good speeches. I know when I do bad speeches. That speech was a total home run. They loved it. … People loved it. They loved it. They gave me a standing ovation for a long period of time. They never even sat down, most of them, during the speech. There was love in the room. You and other networks covered it very inaccurately. … That speech was a good speech. And you and a couple of other networks tried to downplay that speech. And it was very, very unfortunate that you did.”

Trump brushed off the suggestion that it was disrespectful to deliver Saturday's speech — which included musings about magazine covers and crowd sizes — in front of a hallowed memorial to CIA agents killed in the line of duty. He insisted that the crowd was filled with “the people of the CIA,” not his supporters, and could have been several times larger than it was. Had a poll been taken of the 350-person audience to gauge the speech's greatness, Trump said the result would have been “350 to nothing” in his favor.

The lengthy interview, which aired late Wednesday night, provided a glimpse of the president and his state-of-mind on his fifth full day in office. It revealed a man who is obsessed with his own popularity and eager to provide evidence of his likability, even if that information doesn't match reality.

Mike PenceWashington Post, Pence, a longtime hero for the antiabortion movement, will join the March for Life, Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Jan. 26, 2017. Organizers consider it a historic move: President Ronald Reagan made a video for the march in 1988 and President George W. Bush called in to the march in 2008 — but no president or vice president has spoken at the event before. (Vice President Michael Pence is shown in an official photo.)

Washington Post, Yet another Trump official with curiously familiar words, Dana Milbank, Jan. 26, 2017. President Trump is never at a loss for words. So why do so many people in his orbit seem to have trouble finding theirs? Melania Trump lifted from a speech that had been delivered by Michelle Obama. Monica Crowley backed out of a senior position on Trump’s National Security Council after evidence of plagiarism was found in her book, columns and PhD dissertation. And now we have another case of curiously repetitive prose — by none other than the man who just became Trump’s White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn.

On Nov. 19, 2015, McGahn, then a partner with the firm Jones Day representing the Trump campaign, filed a brief with the Federal Election Commission that looked like a cut-and-paste of a brief filed by another respondent 15 days earlier. A chunk of more than 300 words, essentially the entire analysis, is a word-for-word reproduction of the other brief.

The filings, made public by the FEC last week on the eve of the inauguration, are a postscript to one of the stranger tales of the campaign: the hiring of actors, reportedly for $50 apiece, to cheer at Trump’s June 2015 kickoff event at Trump Tower, and the campaign’s alleged failure to pay the firm that helped organize the event, Gotham Government Relations. The Trump campaign paid up after a complaint was filed with the FEC alleging an in-kind contribution to Trump from Gotham. The FEC decided the remaining stakes — a few months’ worth of interest on $12,000 — did not merit action. After Trump’s victory, Gotham announced it was opening a Washington office.

Washington Post, Trump’s foreign policy revolution, Charles Krauthammer, Jan. 26, 2017. The president’s isolationist agenda breaks from 70 years of precedent. JFK’s inaugural pledged to support any friend and oppose any foe to assure the success of liberty. Note that Trump makes no distinction between friend and foe (and no reference to liberty). They’re all out to use, exploit and surpass us.

No more, declared Trump: “From this day forward, it’s going to be only America First.”

Imagine how this resonates abroad. “America First” was the name of the organization led by Charles Lindbergh that bitterly fought FDR before U.S. entry into World War II — right through the Battle of Britain — to keep America neutral between Churchill’s Britain and Hitler’s Reich. (Then came Pearl Harbor. Within a week, America First dissolved itself in shame.)

Not that Trump was consciously imitating Lindbergh. I doubt he was even aware of the reference. He just liked the phrase. But I can assure you that in London and in every world capital they are aware of the antecedent and the intimations of a new American isolationism. Trump gave them good reason to think so, going on to note “the right of all nations to put their own interests first.” America included.

Washington Post, The end of Sarah Palin is here, Chris Cillizza, Jan. 26, 2017. A look at the former candidate for vice president over the years. Remember how former Alaska governor Sarah Palin was going to use her political celebrity to build an army of like-minded politicians via her political action committee? Yeah, not so much. Michael Beckel of the Center for Public Integrity flagged for me this news: Palin has officially shut down Sarah PAC as of the end of 2016. Kaput. Donezo.

But, that's not even the real story. Again, via Beckel: In the 2016 election cycle, Palin's Sarah PAC spent $830,000 on consultants and just $82,500 in donations to other candidates — a.k.a its ostensible purpose. The shuttering of the PAC coupled with the clear signal its spending sends — this was always for and about Palin — should put to rest any talk to the contrary.

Washington Post, The leaks coming out of the Trump White House cast the president as a clueless child, Chris Cillizza, Jan. 26, 2017.  All White Houses leak. Sometimes the leaks are big, sometimes small. But Donald Trumpthere are always people willing to talk to reporters about the “real” story or about why the chief executive made a mistake in regards to some decision he made. That said, I've never seen so much leaking so quickly — and with such disdain for the president — as I have in the first six days of Donald Trump's presidency.

Roll Call, Trump Seems to Embrace Key GOP Tax Proposal, John T. Bennett and Lindsey McPherson, Jan. 26, 2017.President’s Fly-In to GOP Retreat a Warm Affair, Jan. 26, 2017.  President Donald Trump appeared to endorse a key House GOP tax proposal as he continued his opening-week charm offensive Thursday, also telling Republican lawmakers he stands “shoulder-to-shoulder” with them. And the new chief executive, during his first domestic trip since being sworn in last Friday, predicted this Congress will be the “busiest” in decades.

During his first six days as America’s 45th president, the reality television star and businessman has flashed both his bombastic campaigning style and a warm, joke-cracking persona in social and business meetings. So it was an open question which Trump would arrive in Philadelphia to address his fellow Republicans, on whom he will depend to pass his policy agenda.

What GOP members got was the charmer-in-chief. Rather than blast Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto for canceling a meeting at the White House next Tuesday over a flap stemming from Trump’s border wall executive order, he claimed the decision to scrub the session was mutual. His press secretary, Sean Spicer, revealed more details about how Trump intends to pay for his border wall.

Virginia Professor Quoted as Both Denying and Claiming Illegal Voting Fraud

WGNT (Norfolk, VA), ODU professor wants President Trump to stop citing, misquoting his research, Anthony Sabella, Jan. 26, 2017. Jesse Richman, an associate professor of Political Science at Old Dominion University, has a message for President Donald Trump and his administration. "I wish he'd stop citing my research, frankly," he said.

This comes following the president's latest claims that non-citizens voting at the polls could have influenced the outcome of November's popular vote when nearly 3 million more people cast a ballot for Hillary Clinton. During his Tuesday press briefing White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer alluded to the possibility when talking with reporters about voter fraud. "I think there's been studies.There's one that came out of Pew in 2008 that shows 14 percent of people voting were non-citizens," Spicer said.

Richman tells News 3 that Spicer was not only confusing another study with his own from 2014, but also exaggerating the numbers. He says while his study did find evidence that some non-citizens do vote...it's not nearly enough to make up the difference in the most recent popular vote. "Maybe 100,000 (ballots), maybe a little more to the Hillary Clinton margin. Not insignificant, but on the other hand, way below the kind of levels of fraud that Trump is alleging," said Richman. Richman believes an investigation into voter fraud would prove that.

Washington Times, Trump argument bolstered: Clinton could have received 800,000 votes from noncitizens, Rowan Scarborough, Jan. 26, 2017. Hillary Clinton garnered more than 800,000 votes from noncitizens on Nov. 8, an approximation far short of President Trump’s estimate of up to 5 million illegal voters but supportive of his charges of fraud. Political scientist Jesse Richman of Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia, has worked with colleagues to produce groundbreaking research on noncitizen voting, and this week he posted a blog in response to Mr. Trump’s assertion.

Based on national polling by a consortium of universities, a report by Mr. Richman said 6.4 percent of the estimated 20 million adult noncitizens in the U.S. voted in November. He extrapolated that that percentage would have added 834,381 net votes for Mrs. Clinton, who received about 2.8 million more votes than Mr. Trump.  Mr. Richman calculated that Mrs. Clinton would have collected 81 percent of noncitizen votes. “Is it plausible that non-citizen votes added to Clinton’s margin? Yes,” Mr. Richman wrote. “Is it plausible that non-citizen votes account for the entire nation-wide popular vote margin held by Clinton? Not at all.” Still, the finding is significant because it means noncitizens may have helped Mrs. Clinton carry a state or finish better.

Mexican Immigration

Mexican flag

Huffington Post, Mexican President Cancels Meeting With, Donald Trump After Border Wall Order, Roque Planas, Jan. 26, 2017. President Enrique Peña Nieto has said Mexico will not pay for a wall on the U.S. border. Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto (shown in an official photo, with his country's flag above) announced Thursday that he canceled a meeting with President Donald Trump that had been scheduled to take place on Jan. 31 in Washington.

Enrique Peña Nieto Mexican president official portrait Peña Nieto had faced intense pressure from legislators to take a firmer stand against Trump by passing on the meeting, after Trump signed an executive order Wednesday moving forward on the construction of a wall along the Mexican border ― while continuing to insist that Mexico will somehow pay the multibillion-dollar cost. In a series of tweets, Peña Nieto said he lamented the Trump administration’s decision to insist on Mexico paying for the proposed border wall, a condition the Mexican president has long said he would not accept.

“This morning, we have informed the White House that I will not attend the work meeting scheduled for next Tuesday with @POTUS,” Peña Nieto wrote.

Washington Post, House GOP warns D.C. mayor not to use tax money defending illegal immigrants, Aaron C. Davis, Jan. 26, 2017. House Republicans with oversight of the nation’s capital are taking aim at D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser’s plan to use taxpayer money to defend illegal immigrants from deportation. The mayor received a letter Wednesday from Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-Idaho), chairman of the House Oversight Committee, and Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), head of the subcommittee for District affairs, warning Bowser (D) that her plan appears to violate federal law and that the committees are investigating.

Bowser this month joined leaders from Chicago, Los Angeles and New York in announcing that the District would set up a legal-defense fund to represent illegal immigrants targeted for deportation under policies of President Trump. The fund, Bowser said, would “double down” on the District’s status as a “sanctuary city.” D.C. police are already instructed not to ask about immigration status, and city corrections officials provide only limited help in identifying nonviolent criminals to federal agents for deportation.

Bowser said the $500,000 fund would take the city beyond being just a sanctuary, providing initial funding for the District to defend its estimated 25,000 illegal immigrants. The efforts, she said, would include hiring lawyers to conduct seminars for illegal immigrants to know their rights with federal agents, and to represent city residents in deportation proceedings and in applying for asylum.

The District’s complicated financial relationship with the federal government, however, means that D.C. may have less latitude than cities in the 50 states to carry out the plan. Because D.C. is a federal territory, local lawmakers cannot spend any of the city’s local tax revenue — which tops $7 billion annually — in ways that conflict with federal spending rules. And a decades-old federal law known as the Immigration and Nationality Act says that no taxpayer money can be used to assist illegal immigrants in fighting deportation.

Chaffetz and Meadows cited the law in their letter and ordered Bowser’s office to turn over all documents related to the planned fund, including any internal legal documents drafted to defend the mayor’s proposal, as well as a list of outside organizations that could receive grant money from the fund.

Washington Post, These towns pushed for tough laws targeting undocumented immigrants. They all failed, Chico Harlan, Jan. 26, 2017. Foiled by court rulings or challenges with enforcement, the experiences of several communities show how illegal-immigrant measures can leave lasting and bitter racial divisions while doing little to address the underlying forces that often determine where newcomers settle.

JFK Assassination Revelations

DC Dave, Book Review of FBI Agent's Courageous Memoir of JFK Assassination Probe Whistleblowing: 'From an Office Building with a High-Powered Rifle,  David Martin, Jan. 26, 2017. Most people who have done any reading at all on the assassination of John F. Kennedy have heard of Joseph A. Milteer. He is the right-wing activist who was recorded on November 9, 1963, by an informant for the Miami police Don Adams book coverdepartment predicting the JFK assassination, which would take place on November 22. Here we have the words of counsel Robert Tanenbaum of the House Select Committee on Assassinations in a transcription of that committee’s hearings, published March 9, 1977:

In substance, what Milteer says is that the President is going to be killed. He predicts the exact manner in which the President is going to be killed. He says it is going to be from an office building with a high-powered rifle that can be disassembled, and that shortly after the assassination the police are going to arrest someone to allay public concern.
Don Adams, former FBI agent and authorMost people have likely not heard of Don Adams (No, not the late comedian and actor who played Maxwell Smart on Get Smart, but he was in a similar line of work as Smart.). Adams was the FBI agent first sent to investigate Milteer four days after the recorded assassination prediction, which had been immediately passed on to the FBI.

Then, after the assassination, he was sent to locate Milteer and to interview him.  Later, Adams would be involved in other aspects of the investigation. The subtitle of his 2012 book, From an Office Building with a High-Powered Rifle (TrineDay), is “A report to the public from an FBI agent involved in the official JFK assassination investigation.”

The public should pay heed to it. It is a rare thing, indeed, when a government participant in a cover-up, particularly one from the FBI, breaks ranks with his colleagues and tells the world, from his own first-hand knowledge, that a cover-up has taken place.

Voting Fraud?

Brennan Center for Justice, Voting Fraud Inquiry? The Investigators Got Burned Last Time, Michael Waldman, Jan. 26, 2017. For days President Trump has promoted the absurd notion that three million to five million people voted illegally in the presidential election. On Wednesday morning, Mr. Trump went further.

When a president demands an investigation of voter fraud, what could go wrong? Based on recent history, a lot. Little more than a decade ago, the Justice Department made investigating and prosecuting voter fraud a major priority. When top prosecutors failed to find the misconduct and refused to make partisan prosecutions, they were fired. In the fallout, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was forced to resign in the biggest Justice Department scandal since Watergate.

It seems like an odd bit of history to try to repeat — unless the goal is to clear the path for voter suppression. From left, the ousted United States attorneys Carol Lam, David Iglesias, John McKay and H.E. Cummins in 2007 at a hearing of Senate Judiciary Committee. Mr. McKay was dismissed after refusing to pursue voter fraud allegations he found baseless. CreditDennis Cook/Associated Press

Let’s begin with the underlying fact: There is no epidemic of voter fraud. After Mr. Trump claimed the election was rigged, election officials from both parties, scholars, journalists and experts noted thatthere was simply no widespread fraud. Mr. Trump’s lawyers even confirmed this in their own court filings in recount efforts in Michigan.

There was no extensive voting fraud in 2002, either, when President George W. Bush’s attorney general, John Ashcroft, made finding it a top priority for the Department of Justice. And the federal prosecutors kept coming up empty. After years of trying, they had charged more people with violating migratory bird laws than voting statutes.

The White House was agitated by this failure. In October 2006, President Bush told Mr. Ashcroft’s successor, Mr. Gonzales, that he had heard about fraud in Albuquerque, Milwaukee and Philadelphia. Karl Rove, Mr. Bush’s aide, warned Mr. Gonzales he had “concerns” about voter fraud.

Trump Family Claims Against Obama Foundation

New York Observer, The Obama Foundation Launches With Lobbyists and Wall Street at the Wheel, Michael Sainato, Jan. 26, 2017. So far, it seems to be following the in the footsteps of its flawed predecessor, the Clinton Foundation. JIP Editor's Note: The New York Observer was owned (reportedly until recently) by Jared Kushner, son-in-law to President Trump and now a seriior advisor in the White House)

Immediately following his presidency, Barack Obama has begun marketing the Obama Foundation, which appears to use the same oligarchic formula that Bill and Hillary Clinton implemented in the Clinton Foundation in order to peddle their own influence and grow their personal wealth under the pretense of philanthropy. The Obama Foundation’s Board of Directors closely resembles the make-up of the Clinton Foundation’s board in that it relies on corporate lobbyists and financial industry insiders over philanthropy experts.

Barack Obama Hillary WH patio 7_29-13.jpgDonald Trump’s ascendence (sic) to the presidency was enabled by the mistrust that the Obama administration placed in American voters by allowing donors and corporate lobbyists to exponentially increase their power in government. Rather than oppose this takeover, Obama welcomed it from the outset of his presidency. The structure of his Foundation is set up in a way to perpetuate this neo-liberal partnership with the top one percent rather than run on the ethos of the Democratic Party at its strongest point, when it collectively opposed financial power instead of allying with it.

Former UBS President and prolific donor to Obama’s presidential campaigns, Robert Wolf, is a board member of the Obama Foundation. While Wolf was running UBS and Hillary Clinton was the Secretary of State, Hillary helped UBS settle a lawsuit with the IRS after the bank paid Bill Clinton $1.5 million in speaking fees. UBS then increased their donations to the Clinton Foundation to $600,000. (Obama and Clinton are shown in a 2013 White House photo meeting on the White House patio.)

Jan. 25

E&E News via Scientific American, Trump Administration Orders EPA to Remove Its Climate Change Web Page, Niina Heikkinen, Jan. 25, 2017. The move adds to concerns that the administration will promote a denial of fundamental science within its agencies. The Trump administration has instructed U.S. EPA to get rid of mentions of climate change from its website, Reuters reported late yesterday. Communications staff were told to remove the agency's webpage on climate change, according to two unnamed EPA staff members. The move adds to concerns that a Trump administration will promote a denial of fundamental science within its agencies.

Editors Note: An EPA official said on Wednesday that Trump administration officials were reviewing the content of the agency’s website but had no immediate plans to remove the content on climate change, news reports said.

Claims of Illegal Immigrant Voting

Washington Post, Trump seeks ‘major investigation’ into unsupported claims of voter fraud, Jenna Johnson and Matt Zapotosky, Jan. 25, 2017. President Trump plans to ask for a “major investigation” into Donald Trump and Mike Pence logoallegations of widespread voter fraud as he continues to claim, without providing evidence, that he lost the popular vote in November's election because millions of illegal votes were cast, according to tweets posted Wednesday.

The White House has yet to provide details, but Trump said in back-to-back tweets that the investigation into “VOTER FRAUD” — Trump used all capitals for emphasis — would cover “those registered to vote in two states, those who are illegal” and “those registered to vote who are dead (and many for a long time).” “Depending on results,” Trump tweeted, “we will strengthen up voting procedures!”

Daily Howler, Falsehoods, Misstatements and Lies: Fact Checker appears in Washington Post, Bob Somerby, Jan. 25, 2017. Over at the Washington Post, Glenn Kessler has long been in charge of the paper's Fact Checker site. Kessler's lieutenant is Michelle Ye Hee Lee. She fact-checks recent statements by Sean Spicer and Donald Trump, and quickly bungles her task.

Lee begins by quoting Sean Spicer's latest misstatement: "The White House on Tuesday reiterated President Trump’s false contention that he lost the national popular vote because of 3 million to 5 million illegal votes, as yet another untruth swelled into a distraction that threatens to undermine his first week in office."

That statement by Spicer was rich with bungling, as we'll note below. But Lee's first paragraph is bungled too. Specifically, we refer to her assertion that Trump's recent (unfounded) contention is "false." Nothing Lee says, in a full-length piece, justifies that assertion.

Donald Trump at GOP debate Aug. 6, 2015LEE: Spicer said that a Pew study from 2008 showed that “14 percent of people who have voted were not citizens.” He probably was referring to research by Old Dominion University professors, using data from 2008 and 2010, that was published two years ago by the Monkey Cage, a political sciences blog hosted by The Washington Post. They found that 14 percent of noncitizens in the 2008 and 2010 samples said they were registered to vote.

Uh-oh! Lee doesn't seem to have noticed. But she and Spicer give vastly different accounts of what those professors said. According to Lee, the professors said that 14 percent of noncitizens in their samples said they were registered to vote. According to Spicer, the professors said that 14 percent of people who voted in the past were noncitizens.

Those are vastly different statements! If we apply Lee's account of what the professors said to November's election, it would mean that roughly 1.5 million illegal votes were cast. (Fourteen percent of the nation's estimated 11 million unauthorized residents.) But uh-oh! If we apply Spicer's formulation to last November's election, it would suggest that roughly 19 million illegal votes may have been cast! (Fourteen percent of the 136 million total votes.)

The original post on the Monkey Cage now includes an editor's note at the beginning of the article saying that it inspired three rebuttals and a peer-reviewed article saying the findings were biased.
Good God! Based upon that account, we'd start by rolling our eyes and saying this:  These professors today!

Based upon that account, it sounds like the two professors thoroughly bungled their research. Beyond that, it sounds like the Washington Post also bungled, when it allowed the Monkey Cage to report such bungled work.

Building a Wall?

Mexican flagWashington Post, Trump moves to start ‘immediate’ construction of border wall, David Nakamura​, Jan. 25, 2017. Draft order would begin ‘extreme vetting’ of immigrants and visitors, halt resettlement of Syrian refugees. The president signed an executive action that calls for work to begin quickly on the wall he promised as a candidate between the United States and Mexico. He also signed an order to triple the number of immigration officers and crack down on sanctuary cities. It remained unclear how Trump’s directive would accelerate construction of the wall or pay for the added enforcement tools and border control agents.

Washington Post, Why Trump can’t simply build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border with an executive order, Jerry Markon and Lisa Rein, Jan. 25, 2017. President Trump’s proposed wall along the U.S.-Mexico border cannot be built with only the executive order he signed Wednesday and its construction will require congressional approval, border experts and former federal officials said. While Trump can start the wall by shifting around existing federal funds, he will need Congress to appropriate the $20 billion — and perhaps significantly more — required to complete the massive structure, the experts and former officials said.

Gen. John F. Kelly Homeland Security“How is he going to fund it? You need money!” Rand Beers, a former acting Department of Homeland Security secretary in the Obama administration, said Wednesday. “He’s got to have the money. And you can’t reprogram all that money without congressional authorization.”

Trump’s order, signed during a visit Wednesday to the Department of Homeland Security, mandates that DHS Secretary John F. Kelly “immediately plan, design, and construct a physical wall along the southern border.’’ Kelly, shown in a file photo, is a retired four-star Marine general whose son was killed in combat in Afghanistan. Kelly, 66, who led the United States Southern Command, had a 40-year career in the Marine Corps.

It is vague about funding, ordering Kelly to “identify and, to the extent permitted by law, allocate all sources of Federal funds’’ for the project. But the order appears to acknowledge that congressional approval will be needed to finish the structure, saying Kelly also should “develop long-term funding requirements for the wall, including preparing Congressional budget requests for the current and upcoming fiscal years.’’ Overall, more than $7 billion has been spent to build what is now about 650 miles of Southwest border fencing — costing nearly $5 million per mile in some spots — nearly half in Arizona.

Trump Transition

Washington Post, Draft White House order calls for review of both CIA interrogation policies and use of ‘black site’ prisons, Greg Miller​, Jan. 25, 2017. A copy of the document obtained by The Washington Post would revoke former president Barack Obama’s decision to end the CIA program that used methods widely condemned as torture. The policy review could also authorize the reopening of “black site” prisons overseas. It was unclear whether President Trump would sign the document.

CIA LogoThe document, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post, would revoke a 2009 decision by then-President Barack Obama to end the CIA program and would reinstate a 2007 order issued by President George W. Bush that allowed a modified version of the “rendition and interrogation” operation to continue.

The draft, labeled “Detention and Interrogation of Enemy Combatants,” notes that the United States has “refrained from exercising certain authorities critical to its defense” in the war against terrorism, including “a halt to all classified interrogations by the Central Intelligence Agency.”

Members of Congress denounced the draft order, which was first reported by the New York Times on Wednesday. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said that Trump “can sign whatever executive orders he likes. But the law is the law. We are not bringing back torture in the United States of America.”

state departmentWashington Post, Trump administration choosing to replace several senior State Department diplomats, Anne Gearan, Jan. 26, 2017. Several career Foreign Service officers were informed this week that they will not be asked to stay on in senior or sensitive posts that are under direct White House control. Officials at the level of assistant secretary and above were affected, State Department officials said.

Although the diplomats were not technically fired, the Trump administration opted to remove a number of top officials in charge of the State Department’s 13 divisions responsible for policy, security and other matters. Those positions may be filled either by Foreign Service officers or outside policy experts. In past administrations, many have remained in their posts when the White House changed hands. All career diplomats running those offices, called bureaus, had submitted pro forma resignations that were effective upon the end of the Obama administration, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.

Associated Press via New York Times, Several Senior Diplomats Resign as Trump Admin Takes Shape, Staff report, Jan. 25, 2017. A handful of senior U.S. diplomats are resigning their posts during President Donald Trump's first week on the job, creating more high-level openings that the new president must fill.

Victoria NulandState Department Undersecretary for Management Patrick F. Kennedy, a career foreign service officer, planned to retire effective Friday, the State Department said. He was joined by two assistant secretaries, Joyce Barr and Michele Bond, who both resigned Wednesday. Gentry Smith, who directs the Office of Foreign Missions, was also departing.

The four join a growing list of long-serving diplomats declining to stay on into the Trump administration. That list includes Victoria Nuland, the assistant secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, and Gregory Starr, the assistant secretary for diplomatic security. (Reuters reported last week that Nuland, shown in an official photo, was on a list of officials the incoming Trump team had asked to stay on.) Starr retired on Inauguration Day.

Although none of the officials has linked his or her departure explicitly to Trump, many diplomats have privately expressed concern about serving in his administration, given the unorthodox positions he's taken on many foreign policy issues. Trump has yet to fill many top diplomatic jobs, including the deputy secretary roles. His nominee to be secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, is expected to be confirmed by the Senate next week.

Washington Post, Trump announces new White House ethics team, Drew Harwell and Tom Hamburger, Jan. 25, 2017. President Trump announced the addition of a team of ethics lawyers to the White House counsel’s office Wednesday, hours after his family business announced it was hiring a longtime Republican lawyer to ensure the Trump Organization minimizes conflicts of interest. The double-barreled announcements drew some criticism for a president who enters office with more potential conflicts of interest than any previous chief executive, but also praise for the new compliance staff. At the White House, the team will be led by Stefan C. Passantino, an election-law expert in private law practice who will have the title of deputy assistant to the president for compliance and ethics matters.

President Donald Trump official“It is a strong, experienced group of lawyers, but their client has dealt them an impossible hand,” said Norman Eisen, who served as ethics counsel to former president Barack Obama and is now part of a lawsuit accusing Trump of violating a constitutional provision barring presidents from taking payments from foreign governments. Trump, Eisen said, “has brought a blizzard of conflicts to the White House” that seem likely to overwhelm the new team.

Earlier in the day, the Trump Organization named Bobby Burchfield, a veteran GOP lawyer who has advised both Bush presidential teams, to serve as an outside ethics adviser. George A. Sorial, a 10-year Trump company executive, will serve the internal role of chief compliance counsel, the company announced.

Burchfield, a partner in the Washington office of law-firm giant King & Spalding, will have the authority to approve or push back against any of the Trump company’s new domestic deals. “Certain transactions cannot be undertaken” without his approval, the company said. “Given Bobby Burchfield’s long-standing role in Republican party efforts, he does not fit the definition of what would be considered an independent ethics adviser,” said Fred Wertheimer, founder of the good-government group Democracy 21. In addition to his work with presidential candidates, Burchfield is also chairman of Crossroads GPS, the nonprofit arm of the GOP super PAC American Crossroads founded by Karl Rove.

OpEdNews, The Demise of the Left, Paul Craig Roberts, Jan. 25, 2017. The European and American left, which traditionally stood for the working class and peace (bread and peace) no longer exists. The cause championed by those who pretend to be the "left" of today is identity politics. The "left" no longer champions the working class, which the "left" dismisses as "Trump deplorables," consisting of "racist, misogynist, homophobic, gun nuts." Instead, the "left" champions alleged victimized and marginalized groups - -blacks, homosexuals, women and the trans-gendered. Tranny bathrooms, a cause unlikely to mobilize many Americans, are more important to the "left" than the working class.

Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Podcast via OpEdNews, Video/Audio Interview Paul Craig Roberts, Rob Kall (at left above), Jan. 25, 2017. (69:54 min.) Your site was, along with my site, OpEdNews, listed by PropOrNot, which the Washington Post highlighted, as a Russian "propaganda" site. What is your response and what are your thoughts on that? What did you think of the election: primaries, general, the role of the media, of Russia, of Comey and intelligence agencies? You wrote another article about the left. Talk about the left, progressives, liberals, Democrats.

Global News


.be" target="_blank">Rep. Gabbard met with Prs. Assad in Syria, Jake Tapper, Jan. 25, 2017 (6:47 min. video.). Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) just returned from a secret trip to Syria and told Jake Tapper in a CNN Exclusive said any reconciliation would have to involve Syrian President Bashar Al Assad. 

Whistleblower Alert?

National Law Journal, Whistleblower Lawyers on Alert as Trump Establishes Message Control, C. Ryan Barber, Jan. 25, 2017. News blackouts. Gag orders. Deleted tweets. The early days of President Donald Trump's administration swiftly raised questions about the scope of speech restrictions on federal civil servants. As the White House took control of the public messages delivered through the government's official communication channels, not uncommon for presidential transitions, whistleblower lawyers predicted they'd be busy the next four years. But they also said it was too early to gauge whether the apparent early resistance from purported agency employees would translate into litigation or other legal action that tests workplace protections in the federal bureaucracy.

Protests Against Trump, GOP

Huffington Post, Former CIA Deputy Director Philip Mudd Slams ‘Disgusting’ Trump Speech, Staff report, Jan. 25, 2017. “You almost want to cry.” A former deputy director of the CIA ripped into President Donald Trump on Tuesday for what he called a “disgusting” speech at the agency’s headquarters.

CIA LogoTrump used his speech Saturday in front of the Memorial Wall, where stars represent agents killed in action, to attack the media, boast of his inauguration crowd and brag about his intellect. Later, he also crowed about the standing ovation he received ― which was actually due to the fact he never told the crowd to sit.

“You almost want to cry,” Philip Mudd, now a counterterrorism analyst for CNN, told Wolf Blitzer on Tuesday night. “There’s a sense of outrage, but there’s also such a sense of sadness. Those aren’t stars; those are people.” He added:

“We have a president who has to talk about how many times he’s been on the Time magazine cover in comparison to a football player. He’s got to talk about how many people showed up at his inauguration. He’s got to talk about how many people in the CIA enjoyed his speech. That’s what we get to honor the people who lost their lives.”

Mudd said Trump should have used the speech to talk about the future of American security and honor those who sacrificed themselves in the line of duty. “It’s disgusting, Wolf, I don’t know what else to say. You can’t do that if you’re the president.” Mudd, who had previously slammed the Trump transition effort as a “clown show,” is the latest former agency bigwig to openly criticize the president’s speech.

Washington Post, Maybe Trump isn’t ‘lying,’ Jennifer Rubin, Jan. 25, 2017. CNN’s Jake Tapper provided the best evisceration of President Trump’s claim that massive voter fraud, namely millions of illegal immigrants casting votes, threw the popular vote to Hillary Clinton. The media, understandably, try to understand why Trump would tell such an easily debunked falsehood. Why lie when he is president anyway, by virtue of the electoral college? Why get this badly off track?

The supposition among pundits, elected officials and political insiders is that Trump, like his argument over the inaugural crowd size, “lies” to make himself feel better. His staff salutes, repeats his lies and then gets bashed. What if, however, he thoroughly, “honestly” believes his crazy, unsubstantiated claims? When he denies saying something, what if he honestly does not, cannot recall statements that now come back to haunt him?

USA Today, 7 Greenpeace protesters unfurl 'Resist' banner atop crane near White House, Mary Troyan and Doug Stanglin, Jan. 25, 2017. Seven protesters from the environmental group Greenpeace climbed a 270-foot crane Wednesday at a construction site in downtown Washington and unfurled a "Resist" banner visible from the White House to demonstrate opposition to President Trump. Greenpeace spokesman Travis Nichols said the huge yellow and orange banner with the word "Resist" is a continuation of protests that started with Trump's inauguration last week.

"The activists from around the country are still in place, calling for those who want to resist Trump’s attacks on environmental, social, economic and educational justice to contribute to a better America," the environmental group said in a statement.

The protesters took over the crane at mid-morning near 15th and L Street NW, about four blocks north of the White House. Two protesters hanging from the 70-foot by 35-foot banner swayed in the wind, waving at the police helicopter that flew by. They also appeared to be providing ballast to keep the banner from folding up into the wind and obscuring their message.

Truthout via Buzzflash, The Heritage Foundation: A Heritage of Propaganda as News, Bill Berkowitz, Jan. 25, 2017. During the Trump transition, staffers from the Heritage Foundation were quite active developing policies and pointing out potential nominees for government positions. That was only foreplay.

Not since those halcyon days of the George W. Bush administration have folks at the Heritage Foundation been this giddy. If you are looking to understand where the underpinning of the Trump Administration's deregulation, tax breaks for the wealthy, Obamacare repeal and replace alternatives, climate change denial, and privatization agenda will be coming from, look no further than the Washington D.C. based Heritage Foundation, America's most influential right-wing think tank.
Almost every day for eight years, The Daily Signal, Heritage's e-mail newsletter, sounded the alarm about the Obama administration's misdeeds and the wrongheadedness of liberal policies. Now Heritage, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, has pivoted to providing a broad-based agenda for Team Trump.

Politico, Trump hit with $2 million suit by contractor on D.C. hotel, Josh Gerstein, Jan. 25, 2017. An electrical contractor is suing President Donald Trump's Washington hotel for $2 million over what the contractor contends are unpaid bills for "nonstop" work performed to open the luxury lodging at the Old Post Office Building last year. The suit filed in D.C. Superior Court by Laurel, Maryland-based AES Electrical, also known as Freestate Electrical, contends that the company was instructed to rush work on electrical and fire alarm systems at the hotel in advance of a visit then-candidate Trump made there for a "soft opening" in September and again for the "grand opening" of the hotel in October. A nearly $3 million lien filed against the hotel by a plumbing and heating contractor, Joseph J. Magnolia Inc., appears to have been resolved.

Justice System

JFKFacts.org, What JFK records are most pertinent to the case? Jefferson Morley, Jan. 25, 2017. The best summary of the still-secret JFK records comes from Rex Bradford, president of the Mary Ferrell Foundation site. Read more here. The president can have a lot of influence over JFK records. Read about that here. He writes:

I am determined to get these records online even if they only come out in the Archives in paper form. Expect to hear more on this topic too, including a way interested researchers can help. Given the number of records here, it may be very helpful to pre-identify "high value" documents to be obtained and electronically published as soon after release as possible. I plan to put up a page on the MFF site that will allow interested researchers to participate in identifying those high-value records

Jan. 24

Mike PompeoTrump Transition

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Confirmation vote for Pompeo for CIA reminiscent of Iraq war vote, Wayne Madsen (former Navy Intelligence officer, NSA analyst and author of two books on the CIA), Jan. 24, 2017 (Subscription required for column, with excerpt used here by permission). In the U.S. Senate, some votes have more impact than others. That was certainly the case with the January 23 Senate vote to confirm Representative Mike Pompeo (R-KS, and shown in an official photo) as director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Washington Post, The first days inside Trump’s White House: Fury, tumult and a reboot, Ashley Parker, Philip Rucker and Matea Gold, Jan. 24, 2017. The turbulence and competing factions that were a hallmark of Trump’s campaign have been transported to the White House. Nearly a dozen senior officials and other Trump advisers and confidants, some of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity, describe private conversations and moments.

Washington Post, FBI Director James Comey to stay on in Trump administration, Matt Zapotosky, Ellen Nakashima and Sari Horwitz​, Jan. 24, 2017. Comey (shown in an official photo), who is under investigation for his handling of the Hillary James ComeyClinton email probe, has told people he has been asked to stay in his post in the Trump administration, people familiar with the matter said.

Huffington Post, Trump Signs Executive Orders On Keystone XL, Dakota Access Pipelines, Alexander C. Kaufman, Jan. 24, 2017. President Donald Trump signed executive orders on Tuesday to push forward the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, opening new fronts in his looming war with environmentalists. Keystone was rejected in 2015 by former President Barack Obama after a seven-year review. Trump’s orders clear the way to continue building Energy Transfer Partners’ 1,172-mile Dakota Access project, which has been stalled since the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers halted construction in December amid massive protests led by the Standing Rock Sioux.

Washington Post, Trump to order building of border wall, crackdown on sanctuary cities, Jerry Markon and Robert Costa, Jan. 24, 2017. The plan to sign executive orders Wednesday regarding the border represent the president’s first effort to deliver on perhaps the signature issue that drove his campaign: his belief that illegal immigration is out of control and threatening the country’s safety and security.

Washington Post, Activists planning to disrupt inauguration were infiltrated by conservative group, Peter Hermann​, Jan. 24, 2017. D.C. police confirmed that secret video recordings made by a group called Project Veritas led to the arrest of one man and foiled an alleged acid attack at the DeploraBall in downtown Washington. In the weeks leading up to President Trump’s inauguration, a small group of activists threatening to disrupt the event were trying to keep the details secret. D.C. police detectives were working hard to learn the plans and head them off.

What neither authorities nor the activists apparently realized was that a conservative group headed by James O’Keefe, called Project Veritas, had already infiltrated key meetings of groups of suspected agitators. A D.C. police spokesman now confirms that a secret video recording made Dec. 18 by one of O’Keefe’s operatives led to the arrest of one man and foiled an alleged plot to spread acid at the DeploraBall for Trump supporters at the National Press Club. It was not clear whether the alleged plotters ever obtained the acid.

Law enforcement authorities said they think that the successful penetration of DisruptJ20, an umbrella organization for a number of groups who police said sought to wreak havoc at the inauguration, forced the group to abandon plans to try to shut down Metro trains and blockade entrances into the District, according to two law enforcement officials with knowledge of the investigation.

To O’Keefe, who for years has targeted liberal groups with undercover stings, the arrest validates his group and their controversial methods. Project Veritas has been criticized for selectively editing videos, but its reports also led to the dissolution in 2009 of ACORN, an advocacy group for housing, and the resignation of Democratic political operatives caught discussing instigating violence at Trump rallies.

“I’ve spent years trying to fight the mainstream media that doesn’t view me as a journalist,” O’Keefe said in an interview. “This is the first time that a video we shot has led to an arrest. It legitimizes what we’re doing. It’s a new era for us.”

A spokeswoman for DisruptJ20, Lacy MacAuley, and one of the group’s leaders, Legba Carrefour, did not respond to interview requests. A police arrest affidavit says DisruptJ20 argued that its leaders were aware that the group had been infiltrated and had fed the undercover reporter intentionally wrong information. D.C. police said they arrested Scott R. Charney, 34, of Northwest Washington on Jan. 19, the day before the inauguration and hours before the DeploraBall in downtown Washington. Charney lists himself on LinkedIn as a sales associate as well as a foreign-policy analyst who has worked for several think tanks.

Democratic Opposition

Washington Post, Seeking discord between Trump and GOP leaders, Democrats to unveil Trump-size plan, Ed O'Keefe and Steven Mufson, Jan. 24, 2017. Democrats consider talk of a $1 trillion infrastructure plan as a way to piggyback on Trump’s vows to repair crumbling roads and persuade him to adopt ideas that would put him at odds with GOP leaders, who have done little to embrace what would amount to a major new government spending program.

SouthFront, My Job Will Be ‘To Shut Other White People Down’ – Candidate For US Democratic National Committee Chair, Staff report, Jan. 24, 2017. Some members of the US Democratic Party have found who is guilty for Hillary’s failure during the US Presidential Election 2016. It’s “white people.”

Sally Boynton Brown, a woman running for chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), said Monday that if she is chosen to lead the party her job will be to “shut other white people down.” “My job is to shut other white people down when they want to interrupt,” she said during a DNC candidate forum, adding that democrats must provide “training” teaching Americans “how to be sensitive and how to shut their mouths if they are white.” Sally Boynton Brown is the executive director of the Idaho Democratic Committee and now she is running for the chair position in the DNC.

Washington Update

Huffington Post, White House: Donald Trump Believes Lie That Millions Voted Illegally, Christina Wilkie, Jan. 24, 2017. White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Tuesday confirmed that President Donald Trump believes millions of people voted illegally in November’s election, despite a total absence of evidence to support this view.
Washington Post, U.S. prosecutors offer unspecified plea deal in Comet Ping Pong pizza case, Spencer S. Hsu, Jan. 24, 2017. Federal prosecutors said they have offered a plea deal to a North Carolina man accused of commandeering a Washington pizza restaurant with an assault-style rifle on Dec. 4, but they did not describe the deal’s terms at a brief federal court appearance Tuesday. Edgar Maddison Welch, 28, of Salisbury, N.C., pleaded not guilty Dec. 16 to a federal charge of interstate transportation of a firearm and ammunition and to two D.C. offenses: assault with a dangerous weapon and possessing a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence.

Roger Stone: The Making of a President

Skyhorse Publishing, New Book: "The Making of the President 2016: How Donald Trump Orchestrated a Revolution" by Roger Stone, Jan. 24, 2017. The definitive look at how Donald J. Trump shocked the world to become president. Trump pulled off the greatest upset in American political history despite a torrent of invectiveness and the dismissal by the mainstream media. Here is the first definitive explanation of how the “silent majority” shifted the election to Trump in reliable Democratic strongholds — Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan — thus handing him the presidency.

In The Making of the President 2016, Stone, a longtime Trump retainer and confidant, gives us the inside story of how Trump almost single-handedly harnessed discontent among “forgotten Americans,” Roger Stonedespite running a guerrilla-style grassroots campaign to compete with the smooth-operating and free-spending Clinton political machine. From the start, Trump’s campaign was unlike any seen on the national stage — combative, maverick, and fearless. Trump’s nomination was the hostile takeover of the Republican party and a resounding repudiation of the failed leadership of both parties, whose policies have brought America to the brink of financial collapse and endangered our national security.

Stone (shown in a file photo) outlines how Trump skillfully ran as the anti-open borders candidate as well as a supporter of American sovereignty, and how he used the globalist trade deals like NAFTA to win more than three of ten Bernie Sanders supporters. The veteran adviser to Nixon, Reagan, and Trump charts the rise of the alt-conservative media and the end of the mainstream media’s monopoly on voters.

This is an insider’s view that includes an examination of opposition research into Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton’s crimes; the struggle by the Republican establishment to stop Trump; and how Republicans underestimated him. Stone chronicles Trump’s triumph in three debates where he skillfully lowered expectation levels but skewered Mrs. Clinton for the corruption of the Clinton Foundation, her mishandling of government email, and her incompetence as Secretary of State.

Global News

Benjamin Netanyahu smile TwitterWashington Post, Israel approves huge expansion of settlements in response to Trump presidency, William Booth​, Jan. 24, 2017. Israel approved the construction of 2,500 housing units in the Jewish settlements in the West Bank, just two days after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (shown in a file photo) spoke with President Trump, who has signaled more accommodating policies toward Israel and has called for moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.

Fox News, Decision looms on Assange extradition to Sweden, Greg Palkot, Jan. 24, 2017. Swedish authorities are getting closer to either indicting WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on rape charges stemming from an incident in August 2010 or letting it drop, Fox News has learned. A decision could come in a matter of a few months, an eyeblink in the context of an international saga that has dragged on for 6½ years. The latest development follows a November interview a Swedish prosecutor conducted with Assange at his self-imposed exile in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, an interrogation many say was long overdue.

“If I was in charge, I would have tried very hard to have him interviewed in a very, very early possible period,” former Swedish prosecutor Sven-ErikAlhem told Fox News. While no one knows exactly what evidence Swedish prosecutors have, experts told Fox News the third-degree rape case against Assange, which included consensual sex at the time, could be a difficult charge to make.

The sexual-assault case is separate from Assange’s controversial work with WikiLeaks, which has included publishing millions of sensitive documents that the Pentagon claims put American service members and intelligence operatives in danger and emails that rocked the 2016 presidential campaign. Assange’s supporters have claimed the sexual assault case was brought to silence him. Assange himself has claimed that Washington has manipulated the case to get him to the U.S. to face alleged espionage charges.

Unz Review, The Neocon Lament, Nobody wants them in Trump's Washington, Philip Giraldi, Jan. 24, 2017. There is no limit to the hubris driven hypocrisy of America’s stalwart neoconservatives. A recent Washington Post front page article entitled “‘Never Trump’ national-security Republicans fear they have been blacklisted” shares with the reader the heartbreak of those so-called GOP foreign policy experts who have apparently been ignored by the presidential transition team.

Daily Mail, 'I trick stupid men into stripping naked then performing SEX acts on Skype,' Simon Parry, Jan. 24, 2017. Chilling confession of 'Sextortion Queen' in Philippines who uses striptease and sordid sex-texts to blackmail Westerners online. The alleged boss of a blackmail 'Sextortion' gang has revealed how she tricks 'stupid' men into stripping off via webcam - and revealed the vile secrets of her trade. Maria Caparas-Regalachuelo, who is accused of using girls as young as 13, boasted that it takes just 30 minutes to trick western men into getting naked then performing a sex act via Skype.

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SouthFront, Russian Strategic Bombers Strike ISIS For 3rd Time In Deir Ezzor, Staff report, Jan. 24, 2017. Six Russian Tu-22M3 strategic bombers have delivered airstrikes on ISIS positions in the area of the Syrian city of Deir Ezzor for the 3rd time in a row. The Tu-22M3 strategic bombers took off from an airfield in Russia and flew over the territory of Iraq and Iran to conduct airstrikes.

Jan. 23

CBS News, Sources say Trump's CIA visit made relations with intel community worse, Jeff Pegues, Jan. 23, 2017. U.S. government sources tell CBS News that there is a sense of unease in the intelligence community after President Trump’s visit to CIA headquarters on Saturday. An official said the visit “made relations with the intelligence community worse” and described the visit as “uncomfortable.”

Authorities are also pushing back against the perception that the CIA workforce was cheering for the president. They say the first three rows in front of the president were largely made up of supporters of Mr. Trump’s campaign.

CIA LogoAn official with knowledge of the make-up of the crowd says that there were about 40 people who’d been invited by the Trump, Mike Pence and Rep. Mike Pompeo teams. The Trump team expected Rep. Pompeo, R-Kansas, to be sworn in during the event as the next CIA director, but the vote to confirm him was delayed on Friday by Senate  Democrats. Also sitting in the first several rows in front of the president was the CIA’s senior leadership, which was not cheering the remarks.

Officials acknowledge that Mr. Trump does have his supporters within the CIA workforce, many of whom were interspersed among the rank and file standing off to the president’s right. There were about 400 members of the workforce who RSVP’d for the event out of thousands who received an invitation in their email late last week.

Officials dismiss White House claims that there were people waiting to get into the event.

Intelligence sources say many in the workforce were stunned and at times offended by the president’s tone which seemed to evolve into a version of speeches he’d used on the campaign trail.

New York Times video, Jan. 23, 2017.

Washington Post, The traditional way of reporting on a president is dead. Trump’s press secretary killed it, Margaret Sullivan, Jan. 23, 2017 (print edition).​ The presidency is not a reality show, but President Trump on his first full day in office made clear that he’s still obsessed with being what he once proudly called “a ratings machine.” He cares enough about it to send his press secretary, Sean Spicer, out to brazenly lie to the media in his first official briefing.

President Donald Trump officialSean Spicer’s remarks about the audience for Trump’s inauguration were full of falsehoods, and they should inspire journalists to dig in and pay far more attention to actions than sensational tweets or briefing-room lies. Anyone — citizen or journalist — who is surprised by false claims from the new inhabitant of the Oval Office hasn’t been paying attention. That was reinforced when Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway told “Meet the Press” Sunday that Spicer had been providing “alternative facts” to what the media had reported, making it clear we’ve gone full Orwell.

White House press briefings are “access journalism,” in which official statements — achieved by closeness to the source — are taken at face value and breathlessly reported as news. And that is over. Dead.

Spicer’s statement should be seen for what it is: Remarks made over the casket at the funeral of access journalism. As Jessica Huseman of ProPublica put it: “Journalists aren’t going to get answers from Spicer. We are going to get answers by digging. By getting our hands dirty. So let’s all do that.”

Donald Trump New York Daily News Jan. 21, 2017President Donald Trump's Second Day (New York Daily News, Jan. 22, 2017)

New York Times, Foreign Payments to Trump Firms Violate Constitution, Suit Will Claim, Staff report, Jan. 23, 2017 (print edition).​ A team of prominent constitutional scholars, Supreme Court litigators and former White House ethics lawyers intends to file a lawsuit Monday morning alleging that President Trump is violating the Constitution by allowing his hotels and other business operations to accept payments from foreign governments.

The lawsuit is among a barrage of legal actions against the Trump administration that have been initiated or are being planned by major liberal advocacy organizations. Such suits are among the few outlets they have to challenge the administration now that Republicans are in control of the government.

In the new case, the lawyers argue that a provision in the Constitution known as the Emoluments Clause bans payments from foreign powers like the ones to Mr. Trump’s companies. They cite fears among the framers of the Constitution that United States officials could be corrupted by gifts or payments.

The suit, which will not seek any monetary damages, will ask a federal court in New York to order Mr. Trump to stop taking payments from foreign government entities. Such payments, it says, include those from patrons at Trump hotels and golf courses; loans for his office buildings from certain banks controlled by foreign governments; and leases with tenants like the Abu Dhabi tourism office, a government enterprise.

“The framers of the Constitution were students of history,” said Deepak Gupta, one of the lawyers behind the suit. “And they understood that one way a republic could fail is if foreign powers could corrupt our elected leaders.”

The president’s son Eric Trump, who is an executive vice president of the Trump Organization, said the company had taken more steps than required by law to avoid legal exposure, such as agreeing to donate any profits collected at Trump-owned hotels that come from foreign government guests to the United States Treasury. “This is purely harassment for political gain, and, frankly, I find it very, very sad,” he said in an interview on Sunday.

The president’s lawyers have argued that the constitutional provision does not apply to fair-market payments, such as a standard hotel room bill, and is intended only to prevent federal officials from accepting a special consideration or gift from a foreign power. “No one would have thought when the Constitution was written that paying your hotel bill was an emolument,” one of the lawyers, Sheri A. Dillon, a partner at Morgan Lewis, said at a news conference this month. The legal team filing the lawsuit includes Laurence H. Tribe, a Harvard constitutional scholar; Norman L. Eisen, an Obama administration ethics lawyer; and Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of the law school at the University of California, Irvine. Among the others are Richard W. Painter, an ethics counsel in the administration of George W. Bush; Mr. Gupta, a Supreme Court litigator who has three cases pending before the court; and Zephyr Teachout, a Fordham University law professor and former congressional candidate who has been studying and writing about the Emoluments Clause for nearly a decade.

The plaintiff in the lawsuit is a liberal group known as Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which until recently was controlled by David Brock, a Democratic Party operative and fervent supporter of Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Mr. Eisen now serves as chairman of the organization’s board, and Mr. Painter is vice chairman. he lawsuit may run into trouble, other legal experts said, given that CREW, as the organization is known, must demonstrate that it would suffer direct and concrete injury to give it standing to sue. The group says it has suffered harm by having to divert resources from other work to monitor and respond to Mr. Trump’s activities. For example, the group said, it has answered hundreds of questions from news organizations.

Trump Transition

Washington Post,, Trump signs order to withdraw U.S. from Trans-Pacific Partnership, Ylan Q. Mui, ​Jan. 23, 2017. President Trump began recasting America’s role in the global economy Monday, canceling an Donald Trump for President logoagreement for a sweeping trade deal with Asia as one of his first official White House actions.

The move was largely symbolic but served to signal that Trump’s tough talk on trade during the campaign will carry over to his new administration.

Washington Post, President halts hiring of many federal workers, Juliet Eilperin, Jan. 23, 2017. He signed an executive order that he said would affect all employees “except for the military.” Trump promised a hiring freeze during his presidential campaign that also included exemptions for public safety and public health.

Washington Post, Trump names his Inauguration Day a ‘National Day of Patriotic Devotion,’ Abby Phillip, Jan. 23, 2017. President Trump has officially declared the day of his inauguration a national day of patriotism. Trump's inaugural address on Friday frequently referred to patriotism as the salve that would heal the country's divisions.

“When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice,” Trump said from the steps of the Capitol after being sworn in as president. Later that day, Trump's press secretary, Sean Spicer, said that naming a national day of patriotism was among the executive actions that Trump took in his first few hours as president.

New York Times, Trump’s Cabinet So Far Is More White and Male Than Any First Cabinet Since Reagan’s, Jasmine C. Lee, Jan. 23, 2017. President Trump’s cabinet is shaping up to have a smaller percentage of women and nonwhites than the first cabinets of Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George Bush. If Mr. Trump’s nominees are confirmed, women and nonwhites will hold five of 22 cabinet or cabinet-level positions. He has not yet named the nominee for one additional position. “Donald Trump is rolling back the clock on diversity in the cabinet,” said Paul Light, a professor at New York University’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.

Number of white men in the first cabinet of each president: Donald J. Trump 17; Barack Obama 8; George W. Bush 11; Bill Clinton 10; George Bush 12; Ronald Reagan 17.

Five members will also be in some of the lowest-ranking positions. None of them are in the so-called inner cabinet, the four positions in place since George Washington’s presidency: the attorney general and the secretaries of state, Treasury and defense (formerly called the secretary of war). The cabinet members below are listed in order of presidential succession. The inner cabinet comes after the vice president, House speaker and president pro tempore of the Senate.

Huffington Post, Donald Trump signs abortion restriction surrounded by men, Amanda Terkel, Jan. 23, 2017. It seems like women might be interested in this policy too. On Monday, surrounded by other white men, President Donald Trump signed an anti-abortion executive order that has far-reaching consequences for women’s reproductive health access worldwide. rump reinstated the Mexico City policy, also known as the global gag rule, which was first put in place by President Ronald Reagan in 1984.

It prohibits giving U.S. funding to international nongovernmental organizations that offer or advise on a wide range of family planning and reproductive health options if they include abortion ― even if U.S. dollars are not specifically used for abortion-related services.

Donald Trump Logo Make America Great AgainThe United States spends about $600 million a year on international assistance for family planning and reproductive health programs, making it possible for 27 million women and couples to access contraceptive services and supplies.

None of that money is spent on performing abortions. The Helms amendment has prevented U.S. tax dollars from funding overseas abortions since 1973. Proponents of the global gag rule believe the policy is nevertheless still necessary, arguing that Helms isn’t strong enough by itself.

The executive order is one of the first Trump has signed since taking office. Sitting in the Oval Office Monday, he also signed ones freezing federal hiring and withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

A pan of the people standing by his side showed that there were few, if any, women present. rump’s executive order has severe implications and could be deadly for women and girls in developing countries and conflict zones, who often resort to dangerous methods of ending their pregnancies when they lack access to safe abortion. The World Health Organization estimates that more than 21 million women a year have unsafe abortions in developing countries, accounting for about 13 percent of all maternal deaths.

The policy is rescinded and reinstated based on which party is in power. President Bill Clinton did away with it, President George W. Bush put it back and then President Barack Obama rescinded it again when he took office. Trump’s Cabinet is more white and more male than any president’s first Cabinet since Reagan (as reported by the New York Times in Trump’s Cabinet So Far Is More White and Male Than Any First Cabinet Since Reagan’s).

JFK Vigil ad Jan. 23, 2017 Washington Times Page A-13Call for State Crimes Investigation

Washington Times, Invitation and Challenge to Every American: Peaceably Assemble for Truth: JFK to 9/11, Jan. 23, 2017. Full page ad in Washington Times (shown at right).

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