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Originally Published: 2/11/2017

Trump Attacks Media Again:  This week Trump’s attacks on the media went to its “very dishonest” reporting of major terror attacks. He said: “It’s gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported, and in many cases, the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it.” (NBC) A short time later, the White House provided a list of 78 attacks from September 2014 to December 2016 that Trump claims weren’t reported. CBS checked and found that it had covered at least 74% of the incidents on the list. NBC News perused the list and found that it had covered 57 of the attacks on the list “which included the Paris terrorist attacks in November 2015.” Of course, the so-called Bowling Green Massacre - which didn’t happen - wasn’t covered. (PolitiFact) Watch what Stephen Colbert tells you about it. (You Tube) Matt Pearce of the Los Angeles Times pointed out “we literally won a Pulitzer for covering one of the things on this list.” (Twitter) CNN also covered most of these incidents. (Twitter) The Guardian went through the list and noted all the reports on each. And a mother whose daughter was the victim in one of the “attacks” is claiming that it was not a terrorist attack and that she won’t let her daughter’s death be “used.” (Washington Post)

 

Counter-Extremism:  Obviously President Trump is very concerned about monitoring extremism before it escalates into violence. However, he’s zeroing in on how extremists are defined. In the Countering Violent Extremism program, he’s erasing neo-Nazis and white supremacists from the counter-extremism list and moving to focus exclusively on Islamist terrorism. (Independent) No more KKK. No more Christian extremists. No more white supremacists. Just Muslims. In fact, the program is being re-named either Countering Islamic Extremism or Countering Radical Islamic Extremism. (Reuters) Just another crazy thing by Trump. Watch Keith Olbermann go through a list of the 50 craziest things Trump has done as president. (You Tube)

 

P.S.:  Whatever happened to the Russian connection story? Off the table. Too many other distractions. Now you know why he does such outrageous things. Intentional chaos.

 

Revocable Trust:  The NY Times analyzed the Trump Revocable Trust, which is supposed to keep his business holdings in other hands while he serves as president. 2 people are named as Trustees: his eldest son, Donald Jr. and Allen H. Weisselberg, his chief financial officer. Trump will get profit-and-loss reports and can revoke the Trustees at any time. “What’s more, the purpose of the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust is to hold assets for the ‘exclusive benefit’ of the president.”

 

France:  Here’s another nation with whom Trump has managed to embarrass himself - and us. In a telephone conversation with President François Hollande, Trump veered off into rants “about the U.S. getting shaken down by other countries.” He said that we want our money back from NATO. According to a senior official with knowledge of the call: “It was a difficult conversation, because he talks like he’s speaking publicly. It’s not the usual way heads of state speak to each other. He speaks with slogans, and the conversation was not completely organized.” (Politico)

 

Russia:  Michael Flynn, Trump’s National Security Adviser, discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. during the month before Trump took office, “contrary to public assertions by Trump officials.” Flynn’s discussions with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak “were interpreted by some senior U.S. officials as an inappropriate and potentially illegal signal to the Kremlin that it could expect a reprieve from sanctions.” Flynn unequivocally denied these conversations but later, through his spokesman, “backed away from the denial.” The FBI is supposedly looking into this. (Washington Post)

 

Kellyanne Conway:  Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R, UT), chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and Elijah Cummings (D, MD), ranking minority member of the committee, sent a letter to the Office of Government Ethics stating that Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway “appeared to violate federal law that prohibits government employees from using their positions to endorse a product.” Conway had appeared on Fox News and “encouraged viewers to purchase products from the president’s daughter’s retail brand.” (Roll Call)

 

Silencing Liz:  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R, KY) interrupted Senator Elizabeth Warren (D, MA) in a floor speech during the debate over the confirmation of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General. Warren read statements against Sessions from the late Senator Edward Kennedy (D, MA) and the late Coretta Scott King. McConnell said Warren impugned “the motives and conduct of our colleague from Alabama.” The Senate voted 49 to 43 along party lines “to uphold the ruling that Warren violated Rule 19 of the Senate” and “was ordered to sit down” and was forbidden from speaking during the remainder of the debate. (Washington Post) For information on Rule 19 see International Business Times. A few hours later, Senator Jeff Merkley (D, OR) picked up King’s letter and read it uninterrupted (Oregon Live) as did Bernie Sanders (I, VT), Tom Udall (D, NM), and Sherrod Brown (D, OH). None were forced to cede the floor. (Bustle)

 

Betsy DeVos:  Just as predicted (TWW, Betsy DeVos, 2/4/17), the Senate split 50 to 50 on the confirmation of DeVos as Education Secretary. VP Pence cast the tie-breaking vote. This is the first time in history where a cabinet pick was confirmed with a tie-breaking vote. (Roll Call) The Dems put up a good fight though. They held a vigil and spent the last 24 hours before the vote taking over the floor and speaking against her. (NY Times) Watch what Stephen Colbert had to say about her. (You Tube)

 

Jeff Sessions:  Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions was confirmed as Attorney General 52 to 47, “capping a bitter and racially charged nomination battle that crested with the procedural silencing of a leading Democrat, Senator Elizabeth Warren.” (NY Times) Sessions didn’t vote, he abstained, but West Virginia Democrat Joe Manchin voted “yes.” (Daily Caller)

 

Tom Price:  He was confirmed as Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary on a strict party-line vote. (Washington Post) Price is and has been a vocal proponent of rolling back the Affordable Care Act (ACA). (Roll Call)

 

Mike Catanzaro:  Trump named him White House aide on energy issues. Catanzaro is a climate change denier and a lobbyist for oil and gas companies. (DeSmogBlog)

 

Andrew Puzder:  His confirmation hearing for Labor Secretary has been delayed for the 4th time “because his paperwork is missing.” The hearing won’t be rescheduled until the paperwork is received. (CNN) More than 100 food and agriculture organizations sent a letter to the Senate urging them to oppose Puzder. A recent Capital & Main Investigation found that under Puzder’s watch as CEO, CKE Restaurants faced more federal employment discrimination lawsuits than any other major fast food chain. The corporation violated workers’ rights, including wage theft.

 

Muslim Ban:  Last Saturday the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) complied with the Seattle judge’s orders and stopped enforcing Trump’s ban on entry into the U.S. from the 7 countries. (TWW, Muslim Ban, 2/4/17) The Justice Department (DOJ), in the appeal, said that “the president had the constitutional authority to order the ban and that the court ruling ‘second-guesses the president’s national security judgement.’” (NY Times) But, early Sunday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco denied the appeal but gave the administration until 3:00 a.m. on Monday to file its response. (Washington Post) Silicon Valley has joined the fight. 97 tech companies, including Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Netflix, Twitter, and Uber have filed an amicus brief with the Court of Appeals opposing the ban. “Notably, it doesn’t appear that Amazon is party to the brief.” (Washington Post) The case went before a 3-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit on Tuesday. The judges “sparred” with the president’s attorneys over the “use of sweeping executive power, questioned the connection between the 7 affected countries and terrorism, and launched into tough questions over whether the ban discriminated against Muslims. (CNN) On Thursday they ruled, refusing, unanimously, to reinstate the travel ban. The panel suggested that “the ban did not advance national security” and said that the Trump administration had shown “no evidence” that anyone from the 7 nations “had committed terrorist acts in the United States.” The ruling “also rejected Mr. Trump’s claim that courts are powerless to review a president’s national security assessments” saying: “It is beyond question that the federal judiciary retains the authority to adjudicate constitutional challenges to executive action.” (NY Times) Trump called the decision “disgraceful” and said he’ll appeal to the Supreme Court. (Roll Call)

 

Britain:  It has abandoned its plan for Trump to address the Houses of Parliament when he’s in Britain later this year. Objections to his address were led by the Commons Speaker John Bercow and other ministers. (Guardian)

 

Canada:  A Canadian citizen of 20 years, who sometimes goes to Vermont to shop like other Canadians, was stopped at the border and “encountered something new.” She was asked about her religion and border agents took her mobile phone and her fingerprints. She was asked which Mosque she attended, the name of her Imam, if she was a member of any Muslim group, if her Imam had given a speech, and - get this - what she thought about Donald Trump. When they took her phone they ask for her PIN number to open the phone and search it. They found photos of her Mosque and prayers on her phone. “4 hours later she was told that her family wasn’t welcome and she was forced to turn back.” (CBC)

 

China:  Trump backed away from his campaign rhetoric and, in a telephone conversation with China’s President Xi Jinping, endorsed the one-China policy. (Washington Post)

 

Israel:  The parliament passed a “contentious” law “that allows the state to seize land privately owned by Palestinians in the West Bank and grant the properties to Jewish settlements for their exclusive use.” The Washington Post noted that the bill is “likely headed for a high court challenge.”

 

Yemen:  After the disastrous raid last month (TWW, Yemen, 2/4/17), Yemen has withdrawn permission for the U.S. to run Special Operations ground missions against suspected terrorist groups in the country. (NY Times)

 

Arizona:  A woman who has been in the U.S. illegally but had been allowed to stay, “on the condition that she check in annually with immigration officials,” has been deported “after new policies put into effect by Donald Trump.” (Guardian)

 

Missouri:  It has become the 28th state to adopt the right-to-work-for-less law. In case you’ve forgotten, this means employees are not required to pay dues to a union, yet they get the benefits of the union. (Christian Science Monitor)

 

The GOP:  In a leaked audio tape of the Koch brothers “top secret” June 2014 retreat, Senator Mitch McConnell (R, KY) “not only admitted that the Republicans would be lost without the Kochs, he revealed who the real power is in the GOP.” According to Politicus USA, the main topic of McConnell’s speech was the Supreme Court Citizens United decision, and “how the wealthy and corporations should control our elections.” Politicus adds: “The Koch money is about buying and electing the candidates who will carry out the conservative billionaire agenda.”

 

GOP Townhalls:  Angry constituents in deep-red states have “swarmed” townhall events held by Republicans Jason Chaffetz (UT), Diane Black (TN), Justin Amash (MI), and Tom McClintock (CA). “They filled the rooms that had been reserved for them: in Utah and Tennessee, scores of activists were locked out. Voters pressed members of Congress on their plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act, on the still-controversial confirmation of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and even on a low-profile vote to disband an election commission created after 2000.” (Washington Post)

 

Immigration:  Federal agents have conducted immigration raids in at least 6 states, arresting “hundreds of undocumented immigrants.” Officials said they targeted “known criminals” but also “netted some immigrants who did not have criminal records.” Trump is no longer following Obama’s policy of prioritizing deportation for convicted criminals. Homes and workplaces were raided in Atlanta, Chicago, New York, the Los Angeles area, North Carolina, and South Carolina. (Washington Post)

 

The Wall:  According to an internal report by DHS, the U.S.-Mexican border wall would be a series of fences and walls that could cost as much as $21.6 billion, and take more than 3 years to build. (Reuters)

 

Public Safety:  At the swearing-in ceremony for Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, Trump outlined 3 new Executive Orders he described as “designed to restore safety in America.” One EO directs DOJ (read: Sessions) to create a task force on reducing violent crime. Another EO requires DOJ, as Trump said, to “break the back of the criminal cartels that have spread across our nation and are destroying the blood of our youth and many other people.” The last EO is for DOJ to implement plans to stop violence against police officers. (District Sentinel)

 

FCC:  The new Federal Communications Commission chair, Ajit Pai, is moving quickly. “He stopped 9 companies from providing discounted high-speed internet service to low-income individuals. He withdrew an effort to keep prison phone rates down, and he scrapped a proposal to break open the cable box market. What’s next? Net neutrality. (NY Times)

 

VA:  The White House held its first “listening session” on problems with the Department of Veterans Affairs, “but without inviting prominent members of the veterans community to the event.” No one from the American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, or the Veterans of Foreign Wars was invited. Senator Jerry Moran (R, KN) and White House Officials said the meeting was with health care executives. (Military Times)

 

Education:  We’ve been over this before. The majority of textbooks used in the U.S. come from Texas. The textbooks are being re-written and “appear to lean to the right.” This is interesting since they have “leaned to the right” for decades, so this must mean they’re getting worse. Under the first draft of new standards for public school history textbooks, there will be history about conservative politics and the rise of the Moral Majority, but no mention of liberals. (Houston Chronicle)

 

Don Siegelman:  He’s been released. (Alabama) Read about his conviction at Political Prosecutions.

 

Global Gag Rule:  Since Trump’s ban on dissemination of information on abortion (TWW, Global Gag Rule, 1/28/17), 8 countries have joined together “to raise millions of dollars to replace shortfalls” caused by this decision. The countries are the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Luxembourg, Finland, Canada, and Cape Verde. They figure they’ll need about $600 million over the next 4 years. (Reuters)

 

Anthem & Cigna:  U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman blocked the proposed $48 billion merger of Anthem and Cigna siding with the Justice Department that “putting Anthem and Cigna together would harm customers” and is anti-competitive. (NY Times)

 

Big Pharma & FDA:  Boy, pharmaceutical companies sure have a good friend in the new Food & Drug Administration. An old steroid treatment that has “long been available” outside the U.S. got approval this week from the FDA. The drug, deflazacort, is used by patients suffering from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Patients have been importing it from abroad for about $1,200 a year. But with the new FDA approval, the new list price will be $89,000 a year. Even after rebates and discounts the net price will be $54,000 a year. (Washington Post)

 

Dakota Access Water Protectors:  The FBI is investigating political activists, “diverting agents charged with preventing terrorist attacks to instead focus their attention on indigenous activists and environmentalists.” Multiple agents within the FBI’s joint terrorism taskforce have attempted to contact at least 3 people tied to the Standing Rock movement. “The purpose of the officers’ inquiries into Standing Rock, and scope of the task force’s work, remains unknown. Agency officials declined to comment. But the fact that the officers have even tried to communicate with activists is alarming to free-speech experts who argue that anti-terrorism agents have no business scrutinizing protesters.” (Guardian)

 

Dakota Access Pipeline:  The Army Corps of Engineers said it intends to grant the permit for the pipeline to cross the Missouri River, following Trump’s Executive Order. (Guardian) Seattle Washington is not renewing its contracting with Wells Fargo because it’s a lender to the pipeline project. And Davis California is pulling its money from Wells Fargo. (NPR) The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe filed for a preliminary injunction and temporary restraining order. (Valley News) The Standing Rock Tribe announced a March in Washington D.C. on March 10th. (The Indigenous Peoples)

 

Fukushima:  Radiation levels in one of the nuclear reactors are at its highest reading since the disaster. The Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepko) which runs the plant said that the “blazing radiation reading was taken near the entrance to the space just below the pressure vessel, which contains the reactor core. The high figure indicates that some of the melted fuel that escaped the pressure vessel is nearby.” They are considering sending a remote-controlled robot in to check the conditions inside the containment vessel but, because of the high radiation level, a robot can operate for less than 2 hours before it is destroyed. (Japan Times)

 

Smart TVs:  The warnings about smart TVs (TWW, Smart TVs, 11/22/14) didn’t hit home with many people. Too bad. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that Vizio “used 11 million televisions to spy on its customers.” Vizio was “secretly collecting - and selling - data about its customers’ locations, demographics, and viewing habits.” It has agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle the FTC case. (Washington Post)

 

Intel:  Intel’s CEO Brian Krzanich “stood next to Trump” and declared that his company will invest $7 billion building a factory in Arizona, creating about 3,000 jobs. “Trump was happy to take credit, thanking Krzanich and calling the Fab 42 plant - which will make state-of-the-art computer chips - a great investment in jobs and innovation.” The problem is that Intel had already announced the same factory in 2011. (Guardian)

 

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