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Originally Published: 12/9/2017

Senate Tax Cut Bill:  We’ve finally gotten a gander at the Senate tax cut bill, something that senators only got to do 1 hour before voting. And what they got was a draft. (Business Insider) Watch as Senator Elizabeth Warren tells you what they had to vote on. (You Tube) The NY Times crunched the numbers and found that high-income earners in blue states will be the biggest losers with the New York area being hit particularly hard. (NY Times) Shortly after the passage of the Senate tax cut bill (TWW, Tax Cut Bill, 12/2/17), Senator Marco Rubio, in an interview with 2 Politico reporters, inadvertently spilled the beans. When asked how the GOP would address the federal deficit created by this bill he replied: “We have to do 2 things. We have to generate economic growth which generates revenue, while reducing spending. That will mean instituting structural changes to Social Security and Medicare for the future.” [Emphasis added.] (LA Times) This sentiment was repeated by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R, WI) who said that next year they would go after Medicare and Medicaid. (Washington Post)

 

Deutsche BankBloomberg reported that special counsel Robert Mueller subpoenaed the bank for information on accounts held by Trump and his family. Apparently this happened after the bank rejected calls from Democratic lawmakers to shed more light on its business dealings with Trump. (Bloomberg) The bank, “which serves as Trump’s biggest lender, was forced to submit documents about its client relationship” with Trump and his family. (Guardian)

 

Michael Flynn:  A witness identified only as a former business associate of Flynn’s testified before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. He said that Flynn had sent him a text during Trump’s inaugural speech “telling him that a plan to build nuclear power plants in the Middle East in partnership with Russian interests was ‘good to go.’” Flynn also assured him that the U.S. sanctions against Russia would immediately be “ripped up,” a “move that would help facilitate the deal.” (Washington Post)

 

Paul Manafort:  Since his arrest, Manafort has been under house arrest. He asked the court to release him with bail. However, as recently as last week he wrote an editorial, with a colleague who has ties to Russian intelligence, about his past political work in Ukraine. Prosecutors argued that his working with Russian operatives “casts doubt on Manafort’s willingness to comply with court orders” which include a ban on “trying the case in the press.” (Guardian) Stephen Colbert released “Mueller’s Holiday Gift Guide. It’s pretty darned good! (You Tube)

 

Kirstjen Nielsen:  The Senate confirmed her (TWW, Kirstjen Nielsen, 10/14/17) as Homeland Security Secretary. (Washington Post)

 

Ann Marie Buerkle:  She’s a member of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). In her more than 4 years on the commission she has “opposed limiting dangerous carbon monoxide emissions in portable generators; resisted requiring safety technology on table saws; and disagreed with the other Republican commissioners . . . by rejecting fines against companies that delayed reporting hazards to the agency, as required by law.” She rarely voted for “a mandatory recall, a maximum fine, or a tougher safety standard.” Now she’s Trump’s nominee to head the commission. (NY Times)

 

Britain:  It has reached an agreement with the European Union regarding its split - Brexit. “The bargain amounted to a capitulation by [British Prime Minister Theresa] May on issues dear to the European Union: preserving peace and open borders in Northern Ireland, guaranteeing rights for the 3 million EU citizens living in Britain, and living up to British funding commitments in Europe for years to come.” (Washington Post)

 

Australia:  The Parliament voted overwhelmingly to legalize same-sex marriage, “overcoming years of conservative resistance to enact change that the public had made clear that it wanted.” (NY Times)

 

Israel:  On Tuesday Trump called Palestinian, Jordanian, and Egyptian governments to tell them that he intends to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, “a step that could upend the White House’s peace efforts and spark regional unrest.” (Washington Post) A 1995 law to move the embassy has been waived every 6 months since its inception. (Business Insider) But after all the media hoopla over Trump’s announcement, he signed another waiver putting off any such move for another 6 months. (Times of Israel) 8 countries have asked for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council. (CBS)

 

Russia:  It has been banned from the 2018 Olympics because of its “widespread” doping program. Russia’s flag and anthem will not be present at the games but Russian athletes who can prove their innocence of drug cheating will be permitted to compete under the designation of an “Olympic Athlete from Russia (OAR).” (Washington Post)

 

Syria:  U.S. troops will stay in Syria “as long as we need to.” (AFP) We currently have about 2,000 troops there, “almost 4 times the total previously disclosed as the Trump administration changes how troop numbers are publicly counted.” (NY Times)

 

Delaware:  The state supreme court struck down the restrictions on gun possession in state parks and forests. The opinion states: “The state must comply with the Constitution when enacting laws and regulations that interfere with the exercise of fundamental rights on its property . . .” (Washington Post)

 

Massachusetts:  The Boston city council voted 12 to 0 to ban single-use plastic bags. If the mayor signs the ordinance, stores will have to charge no less than 5¢ for other types of bags - reusable paper bags, compostable plastic bags, and recyclable paper bags. (EcoWatch)

 

Conference Committee:  The House voted to send the Senate tax cut bill and the House tax cut bill to conference committee. So now the differences have to be ironed out. The Washington Post put up the 7 main differences.

 

Government Shutdown:  The federal government would have shut down yesterday had not the House passed a Continuing Resolution (CR). The CR extends funding until December 22nd. The Senate signed off. (Washington PostTrump signed the bill. (NOQ Report)

 

Travel Ban:  The U.S. Supreme Court granted Trump’s request for his revised travel ban to be enforced while it faces legal challenges in lower courts. (Washington Post)

 

DACA:  The Supreme Court granted Trump’s request to “block the release of documents concerning his decision to end [the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals] that shielded from deportation hundreds of thousands of young adults dubbed ‘Dreamers’ brought into the country illegally as children.” U.S. District Judge William Alsup had ordered the documents turned over as part of a lawsuit challenging Trump’s September decision. (TWW, DACA, 9/9/17) (Reuters)

 

Cluster Bombs:  The Pentagon has decided to delay a ban on the use of cluster bombs. The international agreement was that these would become banned on January 1, 2019. “The U.S. military had hoped to transition to cluster munitions that explode at least 99% of the time, greatly reducing the risks.” But the Pentagon has now changed its policy, saying in a memo: “Although the Department seeks to field a new generation of more highly reliable munitions, we cannot risk mission failure or accept the potential of increased military and civilian casualties by forfeiting the best available capabilities.” (Reuters)

 

Migration:  The U.S. notified the United Nations “that it will no longer take part in the global compact on migration, saying it undermines the nation’s sovereignty.” The U.S. has been a part of the Declaration for Refugees and Migrants “since it was formed last year.” The declaration “aims to ensure the rights of migrants, help them resettle, and provide them with access to education and jobs.” (CNN)

 

Concealed Carry:  The House passed a bill 231 to 198 which requires all states to recognize any other state’s concealed carry permits. 6 Democrats voted for the bill and 14 Republicans voted against it. This is the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) top legislative priority for the year. (NY Times)

 

School Lunches:  The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced its revised school meal rules. Read it carefully. It will allow schools to serve cheaper, less nutritious meals. (Federal Register)

 

National Monuments:  As expected (TWW, National Monuments, 8/26/17; Utah, 6/10/17), Trump signed 2 executive orders that “drastically slash” the boundaries of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, “and criticized former presidents for their use of the Antiquities Act to designate such monuments. (Roll Call) Bears Ears will be reduced 85% and Grand Staircase-Escalante by 46%. But Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke isn’t done yet. Now he’s asking Trump to shrink another 4 national monuments and change the way 6 other land and marine sites are managed. (Washington Post)

 

Unemployment:  We created 228,000 jobs in November, leaving the unemployment rate unchanged at 4.1%. (NY Times)

 

CFPB:  Acting Director Mick Mulvaney has started to dismantle the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He’s frozen the collection of data from credit cards and mortgages. Mulvaney said the decision was made for cybersecurity reasons, but the move halted a practice long criticized by the lending industry. (Wall Street Journal

 

CVS:  The drugstore is buying Aetna, “one of the biggest health insurers in the United States” for $69 billion. (NY Times)

 

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