Andrew Kreig

November 2017 News Reports

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

Nov. 30

GOPers Ramming Through Tax Cut For Trump, Big Donors

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New York Times, The Senate Is Rushing to Pass Its Tax Bill Because It Stinks, Editorial Board, Nov. 30, 2017. As more senators show signs of sacrificing their principles and embracing the Republican tax bill for minor and nebulous concessions, it bears looking more closely at the process that produced this terrible legislation and some of its lesser-known provisions.

irs logoThe Senate tax bill, a 515-page mammoth, was introduced just last week, and the chamber could vote on it as soon as Thursday. This is not how lawmakers are supposed to pass enormous pieces of legislation. It took several years to put together the last serious tax bill, passed in 1986.

Congress and the Reagan administration worked across party lines, produced numerous drafts, held many hearings and struck countless compromises. This time it’s not about true reform but about speed and bowling over the opposition in hopes of claiming a partisan victory.

bob corkerThe country ought to be dismayed by the way senators like Bob Corker (left), Susan Collins and Ron Johnson appear to be backing away from their principled objections based on half-measures promised by President Trump and the majority leader, Mitch McConnell, that will not address its big flaws.

This rush to the Senate floor has been orchestrated by Mr. McConnell, following the same playbook he used in the failed effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The longer people have to study the details, the less likely the bill is to pass. People should know by now about the big stuff: the giant permanent corporate tax-rate cut, the small and temporary tax cuts for the middle class, the repeal of the A.C.A.’s…

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October 2017 News Reports

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

Oct. 31 Retrospective: Halloween In Kennedy Oval Office

President John F. Kennedy with children on Halloween

President John F. Kennedy with children on Halloween

Oct. 31

Terror Act Hits New York Cit, Kills Eight

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Washington Post, Manhattan vehicle attack kills at least 8, injures 12 in ‘act of terror,’ Mark Berman and Devlin Barrett, Oct. 31, 2017. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that the attack on a cyclist path in Lower Manhattan was “an act of terror.” The driver jumped out of a Home Depot rental truck with what appeared to be a weapon before he was taken into custody.

Law enforcement officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss an open investigation, identified the suspect as Sayfullo Saipov, an Uzbek immigrant, who had been living in Tampa, Fla.

Saipov moved to the United States from Uzbekistan about five or six years ago, said Dilnoza Abdusamatova, 24, who said that Saipov stayed with her family in Cincinnati for his first two weeks in the country because their fathers were friends

2016 Campaign Facebook Danger Revised Up to 126 Million Impressions

ny times logofacebook logoNew York Times, Russian Influence Reached 126 Million Through Facebook, Mike Isaac and Daisuke and Wakabayashi, Oct. 31, 2017 (print edition).  Facebook and Google, ahead of congressional hearings, disclosed details about “insidious” Russian efforts to sow discord in the U.S. The new information reveals the scope of the agents’ use of their platforms.

ny times logoNew York Times, What Can Be Done to Fix Facebook? We Asked 9 Experts, Farhad Manjoo and Kevin Roose, Oct. 31, 2017 (print edition).  Technologists, academics, politicians and journalists suggested ways to improve Facebook — as a product, a company or both.

More On Special Prosecutor’s Probe

Donald Trump and George Papadopoulos campaign meeting2016 Trump campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos, third from the left, sits during a meeting that includes then-Sen.

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September 2017 News Reports

 

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Editor’s Choice: Scroll below for our September blend of mainstream and alternative news and views

Sept. 30

NBC News, Puerto Rico Crisis: San Juan Mayor Pleads for Federal Aid, Phil Helsel and Saphora Smith, Sept 30, 2017. The mayor of Puerto Rico’s largest city earned a rebuke from President Donald Trump on Saturday after pleading for more federal assistance in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

“We are dying, and you are killing us with the inefficiency and the bureaucracy,” San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz said Friday at a news conference. She highlighted donations from companies and others, including 200,000 pounds of food donated by Goya, as a contrast to federal help.

“This is what we got last night: four pallets of water, three pallets of meals and 12 pallets of infant food — which I gave them to the people of Comerio, where people are drinking off a creek,” she said. “So I am done being polite. I am done being politically correct. I am mad as hell.”

Donald Trump playing golf

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Washington Post, Ratcheting up tensions amid crisis, Trump attacks San Juan mayor, David Nakamura and John Wagner, Sept. 30, 2017. From his golf resort in New Jersey, the president (shown in a collage of file photos) criticized Carmen Yulín Cruz for what he called “poor leadership” after she pleaded for additional help in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Democrats, community leaders and major celebrities lambasted Trump for casting blame and appearing insensitive to the suffering of U.S. citizens.

Huffington Post, Retired Lieutenant General: While Trump Golfs, San Juan’s Mayor Is ‘Living On A Cot,’ Sebastian Murdock, Sept. 30, 2017. “And the president has shown again, you don’t give a damn about poor people.” 

puerto rico flag

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Washington Post, Their island homes wiped away in hurricanes, Caribbean residents wonder: Should we go back?

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August 2017 News Reports

 

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

Aug. 31

Trump Now Taking Steps To Ruin ‘Obamacare’

HuffPost,Trump Ramps Up Obamacare Sabotage With Huge Cuts To Enrollment Programs, Jeffrey Young, Aug. 31, 2017. Advertising and promotional budget for HealthCare.gov has been slashed by 90 percent and programs to help people sign up also face a nearly 40 percent cut. President Donald Trump’s administration has taken more steps to undermine the Obamacare marketplaces it’s responsible for managing. The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced Thursday that it’s making drastic cuts in spending on advertising for the 2018 open enrollment period on the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance exchanges, as well as significant cutbacks in funding for local organizations that help consumers navigate the buying process.

Weakening the two most important tools the federal government has to promote enrollment on the state-based exchanges ― 39 of which are run wholly or mainly by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services ― is the latest signal that the Trump administration isn’t committed to serving exchange customers and bolstering the marketplaces during the first open enrollment it will oversee from start to finish.President Donald Trump’s administration has taken more steps to undermine the Obamacare marketplaces it’s responsible for managing.

Trump himself repeatedly has said he wants to let or make the health insurance exchanges collapse, and his administration has taken a number of actions to destabilize them. That’s above and beyond his advocacy for the Affordable Care Act’s repeal.

More Hurricane News, Analysis

ny times logoNew York Times, Did Unbridled Growth Contribute to Houston Flooding? Manny Fernandez and Richard Fausset, Aug. 31, 2017 (print edition). Harvey is raising questions about whether there are, in fact, limits to the Houston model of perpetual growth.…

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July 2017 News Reports

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

July 31

djt anthony scaramucci nydailynews cover adios moochacho aug 1 2017 custom

New York Daily News cover for Aug. 1, 2017 print edition

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ny times logoNew York Times, Scaramucci Is Forced Out of New Role at White House, Maggie Haberman, Michael D. Shear and Glenn Thrush, July 31, 2017. The decision to remove Anthony Scaramucci as communications director came at the request of President Trump’s new chief of staff, John Kelly, shown in an official photo. President Trump has decided to remove Anthony Scaramucci from his position as communications director, three people close to the decision said Monday, relieving him just days after Mr. Scaramucci unloaded a crude verbal tirade against other senior members of the president’s senior staff.

Mr. Scaramucci’s abrupt removal came just 10 days after the wealthy New York financier was brought on to the West Wing staff, a move that convulsed an already chaotic White House and led to the departures of Sean Spicer, the former press secretary, and Reince Priebus, the president’s first chief of staff.

White House Survivor Game (New York Post cover July 29, 2017)

The decision to remove Mr. Scaramucci, who had boasted about reporting directly to the president, not the chief of staff, John F. Kelly, came at Mr. Kelly’s request, the people said. Mr. Kelly made clear to members of the White House staff at a meeting Monday morning that he is in charge.

It was not clear whether Mr. Scaramucci will remain employed at the White House in another position or will leave altogether. Just days into his appointment, Mr. Scaramucci unloaded a crude verbal tirade against other senior members of the president’s staff.

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Internet Dark Humor: Photoshopped photo on web shows ousted Trump asides in awkward poses

ny times logoNew York Times, A Divorce Report Caps Scaramucci’s Explosive First Week on the Job, Katie Rogers, July 31, 2017.…

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June 2017 News Reports

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

June 30

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Washington Post, Trump’s voting commission asked states for election data. At least 25 states say they can’t or won’t hand it over, Mark Berman and David Weigel, June 30, 2017. President Trump’s voting commission stumbled into public view this week, issuing a sweeping request for nationwide voter data that drew sharp condemnation from election experts and resistance from at least 24 states that said they cannot or will not hand over all of the data.

Donald TrumpThe immediate backlash marked the first significant attention to the “Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity” since Trump started it last month and followed through on a vow to pursue his own unsubstantiated claims that voter fraud is rampant and cost him the popular vote in the presidential election. The White House has said the commission will embark upon a “thorough review of registration and voting issues in federal elections,” but experts and voting rights advocates have pilloried Trump for his claims of widespread fraud, which studies and state officials alike have not found. They say that they fear the commission will be used to restrict voting.

Those worries intensified this week after the commission sent letters to 50 states and the District on Wednesday asking for a trove of information, including names, dates of birth, voting histories and, if possible, party identifications. The letters also asked for evidence of voter fraud, convictions for election-related crimes and recommendations for preventing voter intimidation — all within 16 days.

While the Trump administration has said it is just requesting public information, the letters met with swift — and sometimes defiant — rejection. “This entire commission is based on the specious and false notion that there was widespread voter fraud last November,” Virginia Gov.…

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May 2017 News Reports

 

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

May 31

New York Times, Trump Likely to Pull U.S. Out of Climate Pact, Officials Say, Michael D. Shear and Coral Davenport, May 31, 2017. The decision would make good on President Trump’s campaign pledge, but would weaken the landmark accord that pledged action to curb global warming. Mr. Trump has been willing to shift direction up until an announcement, and an official said that caveats may accompany the withdrawal.

And Mr. Trump has proved himself willing to shift direction up until the moment of a public announcement. He is set to meet Wednesday afternoon with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (shown at left in a file photo), who has advocated that the United States remain a part of the Paris accords and could continue to lobby the president to change his mind.

Advocates for pullout are reported to include White House advisor Stephen Bannon, shown in a file photo at right.

Trump White House

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Washington Post, How Jared Kushner built a luxury skyscraper using loans meant for job-starved areas, Shawn Boburg, May 31, 2017.  The strategy allowed Kushner and his partners to obtain $50 million in financing from foreigners through a U.S. visa program. Jared Kushner and his real estate partners wanted to take advantage of a federal program in 2015 that would save them millions of dollars as they built an opulent, 50-story residential tower in this city’s booming waterfront district, just across the Hudson River from Lower Manhattan.

There was just one problem: The program was designed to benefit projects in poor, job-starved areas.

So the project’s consultants got creative, records show. They worked with state officials in New Jersey to come up with a map that defined the area around 65 Bay Street as a swath of land that stretched nearly four miles and included some of the city’s poorest and most crime-ridden neighborhoods.…

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April 2017 News Reports

 

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

April 30

Trump Administration

New York Times, First Bipartisan Deal of Trump Era Averts a Shutdown, Thomas Kaplan and Matt Flegenheimer, April 30, 2017. A President Donald Trump officialbipartisan agreement will keep the government funded through September, congressional aides said, effectively ending the threat of a government shutdown. The deal, which still must be voted on, is said to include increased spending for the military and for border security, but does not 

Washington Post, Schools nationwide are pressed to act on an unseen danger: Lead in the water, Brady Dennis, April 30, 2017. Tests last summer showed troubling levels of lead in the water at Summit Township Elementary School, perched on a quiet hilltop outside Butler, Pa. But for the next five months, no one told the parents of Summit’s 250 students.

When officials alerted families to the potential lead contamination in January, the dominoes fell quickly. The district superintendent and assistant superintendent resigned. The school board hired an independent investigator. Administrators shuttered Summit and moved students to another building several miles away. And the mother of a kindergartner filed a federal lawsuit, saying the inaction had created “a school full of poisonous drinking water.”

Parents are pushing for action, but districts are challenged by aging buildings, strained budgets and a regulatory vacuum that seldom mandates testing. Health officials agree that no amount of lead exposure is safe. Even small amounts risk irreversible cognitive and developmental damage, particularly in young children.

Washington Post, Trump guarantees protection for those with preexisting medical conditions — but it’s unclear how, Paul Kane and Jenna Johnson, April 30, 2017. Appearing on “Face the Nation,” the president said “I mandate” protections for such patients be included in the latest proposal to replace the Affordable Care Act, but he struggled to fully articulate what form those protections would take.…

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March 2017 News Reports

 

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

March 31

Huffington Post, Senate Intelligence Committee Denies Immunity To Michael Flynn In Russia Probe, Amanda Terkel, March 31, 2017.    Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, once one of President Donald Trump’s strongest supporters and then his national security adviser, is scrambling to save himself from prosecution in exchange for telling Congress what he knows about Russia’s involvement in the 2016 elections. And to do so, he has hired a lawyer who has been a vocal opponent of Trump.

Palmer Report, Senate Intel Committee takes control on Trump-Russia by rejecting Mike Flynn’s immunity request, Bill Palmer, March 31, 2017. Mike Flynn (pictured in a file photo) showed his hand this last night when he offered to testify in the Trump-Russia scandal in exchange for immunity. Donald Michael Flynn fileTrump tried to bluff by publicly telling him to go ahead and do it. And then the Senate Intelligence Committee took control of the entire pot by rejecting Flynn’s offer, essentially saying ‘not at this time’ (link). Now they’re making him beg to be allowed back into the game to play his hand.

If you watched the opening round of the Senate Intel Hearings this week, the witness list consisted of security experts and technical experts, the kind of people who are laying the groundwork for the overall context of the crimes that the Trump campaign and Russia conspired to commit. That way, by the time an eye witness like Sally Yates or a suspect like Mike Flynn is called to testify, the parameters of the crime will already have been established.

Daily Mail, Disgraced Trump aide, ‘Crazy Miss Cokehead’ and questions over their Russia links: ‘Worrisome’ meeting between sacked national security adviser and Cambridge graduate raised concern among British and US intelligence, Daniel Bates, March 31, 2017.…

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February 2017 News Reports

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

Feb. 28

President Trump, Vice President Pence, House Speaker Ryan Feb. 28, 2017 (Jim Lo Scalzo / Pool image via AP)

President Trump, center, Vice President Pence, lefty, House Speaker Ryan at State of Union address on Feb. 28, 2017 (Jim Lo Scalzo / Pool image via AP)

Washington Post, Winners and losers from Trump’s big speech, Chris Cillizza, Feb. 28, 2017. This may have been the best speech Trump has given since he entered politics in June 2015, and people rooting for his imminent demise may be disappointed.

Washington Post, Jeff Sessions dismisses DOJ reports on police abuse without bothering to read them, Radley Balko, Feb. 28, 2017. In a briefing with reporters yesterday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he’s still deciding whether or not to implement reforms for the Chicago Police Department. The reforms, suggested by the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, were part of a blistering report on the city’s police agency that was published at the tail end of President Obama’s second term. This section from the Reuters write-up of the briefing jumped out at me:

Sessions said he had seen summaries of both the Chicago report and the report that the Obama Justice Department completed on police in Ferguson. “Some of it was pretty anecdotal and not so scientifically based,” Sessions said.

Of course, the summary for any study will be anecdotal, and not particularly heavy on data. That’s the whole point of a summary. Asked by The Huffington Post whether he had read the Civil Rights Division’s investigative reports on the police departments in Chicago and Ferguson, Missouri, Sessions conceded he had not. But, he said, he didn’t think they were necessarily reliable.

“I have not read those reports, frankly.” Just to be clear, the U.S. attorney general is currently deciding whether to continue to enforce civil rights reforms suggested by the Civil Rights Division of DOJ in Chicago and Ferguson — but he’s apparently pondering that decision without having read the reports supporting those reforms.…

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