April 8, 2017

Trump nominee appointed to Supreme Court after Senate rule change. “Judge Neil Gorsuch was confirmed Friday as the 113th justice to serve on the nation’s highest court. The final vote was 54-45, mostly along party lines.”   http://www.npr.org/2017/04/07/522902281/senate-confirms-gorsuch-to-supreme-court

U.S. spy agencies routinely unmask Americans caught up in foreign surveillance. “The U.S. government’s foreign surveillance sweeps up American lawmakers and their staffers so routinely now that Congress is alerted as often as once a month that its employees involved in intercepted conversations have been unmasked and their identities shared with intelligence or law enforcement agencies, Circa has learned.”   http://nation.foxnews.com/2017/04/06/circa-us-spy-agencies-intercept-and-unmask-congressional-figures-often-once-month

Some states planning to issue “two-tier” driver’s licenses to meet REAL ID requirements (allowing their residents to opt out), 10 states still not on board with “de facto national identity card”. “Starting in January 2018, driver’s licenses issued by those states will not be accepted as identification at Transportation Security Administration checkpoints at airports.”   https://rightsanddissent.org/news/real-id-getting-real/

Federal judge approves Baltimore police reform agreement, denies Trump administration’s requested stay over AG Session’s concerns it may make Baltimore “a less safe city”. “The consent decree was negotiated during the closing days of the Obama administration after a federal investigation found rampant abuse by Baltimore police, including unlawful stops and use of excessive force against black people.”   http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/04/07/baltimore-police-overhaul-is-approved-over-trump-objections.html   Less safe for who?

U.S. involvement in World War I led to the destruction of German-American culture. “… the concertmeister of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, was interned; the German language was forbidden; the German-American press was heavily censored; libraries had to pull German books off the shelves; German-American organizations were targeted.”   http://www.npr.org/2017/04/07/523044253/during-world-war-i-u-s-government-propaganda-erased-german-culture   The article also notes the lynching of a German-American near St. Louis. My grandfather told me the story, but I had not been able to document it.

Asian-American claims her Airbnb reservation was cancelled because of her race. “When Suh replied that she would report the host to Airbnb for being racist, the host told her to “Go ahead. It’s why we have trump.”   https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/business/wp/2017/04/07/one-word-says-it-all-asian-airbnb-host-reportedly-leaves-guest-stranded-because-of-her-race/

22 federal marshals reportedly guarding Secretary of Education DeVos at cost of almost $1 million a month. “Previous education secretaries have been protected by a team of department employees, many of whom were Secret Service veterans.”   https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/the-cost-of-betsy-devoss-security-detail-1-million-per-month/2017/04/07/efa01488-1ade-11e7-9887-1a5314b56a08_story.html

Appliance and electronic retailer hhgregg going out of business after failing to find a buyer. “Under the agreement, liquidators will sell items at the remaining 132 stores and 14 distribution centers.”   http://fox59.com/2017/04/07/hhgregg-announces-company-wide-shutdown-after-failing-to-find-buyer/

Blue Cross affiliate drops out of Iowa health insurance exchange for individuals. “There are lots of Obamacare marketplaces right now — such as in nearly all of Alabama, for example — where the Blue Cross Blue Shield plan is the only remaining insurance option.”   http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/4/6/15211816/iowa-lost-obamacare-insurers-ahca-repeal

Battle over access to abortion taking place at the state, not federal, level. “In 2016, 50 new antiabortion laws were passed in the US at the state level, bringing the total of new state laws since 2010 to 338, according to data from the Guttmacher Institute.”   http://www.businessinsider.com/state-abortion-laws-pro-life-pro-choice-reproductive-rights-2017-2

Pentagon officials accuse Russia of follow-up airstrike on hospital, to cover up evidence of chemical attack. “The U.S. military is investigating whether Russia bombed a hospital in Syria in order to destroy evidence of this week’s chemical attack attributed to President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, senior military officials told the Associated Press on Friday.”   https://www.salon.com/2017/04/07/did-russia-try-to-cover-up-syrias-chemical-attack-pentagon-now-investigating-kremlins-involvement-in-assads-deadly-strike/

Consumer debt on track to hit 2008 record. “The New York Federal Reserve had announced earlier in April that in 2017 total household debt will reach its previous peak of $12.68 trillion, which it reached in the third quarter of 2008.”   http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-households-will-soon-have-as-much-debt-as-they-had-in-2008-2017-04-03

Trump missile strike on Syria wins him support among his opponents, criticism from his supporters. Laura Ingraham tweets: “Missiles flying. Rubio’s happy. McCain ecstatic. Hillary’s on board. A complete policy change in 48 hrs.”   https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/07/us/politics/john-mccain-chuck-schumer-support-airstrikes-syria.html

Sanders warns Trump to avoid another “quagmire”. “If there’s anything we should’ve learned from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, in which the lives of thousands of brave American men and women and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi and Afghan civilians have been lost and trillions of dollars spent, it’s that it’s easier to get into a war than get out of one.”   http://www.commondreams.org/news/2017/04/07/sanders-warns-trump-against-dragging-us-another-endless-quagmire

Some say Syria attack “wag the dog” convenient for Trump administration. “In a column on Friday, The Nation‘s Greg Grandin pointed out that with the one assault, the president successfully splintered the Democratic resistance, won the praise of the media, and changed the story of his friendly relations with the Kremlin.”   http://www.commondreams.org/news/2017/04/07/observers-warn-syria-attack-trumps-wag-dog-moment   “…the same establishment leaders in U.S. politics and media who have spent months denouncing him as a mentally unstable and inept authoritarian and unprecedented threat to democracy are standing and applauding him as he launches bombs at Syrian government targets.”   https://theintercept.com/2017/04/07/the-spoils-of-war-trump-lavished-with-media-and-bipartisan-praise-for-bombing-syria/

Stories about a power struggle within the Trump administration between extremists and moderates is fake news says White House spokeswoman. “Once again this is a completely false story driven by people who want to distract from the success taking place in this administration.”   http://www.rawstory.com/2017/04/white-house-lashes-out-stories-of-trump-admins-infighting-and-turmoil-are-false-narratives/

Spicer dodges questions about whether Trump is still concerned about Syria intervention leading to a war with Russia. “During the campaign, Trump warned that action against the Assad regime could result or devolve into World War III…. Is the president at all concerned with that happening?”   http://www.rawstory.com/2017/04/sean-spicer-wont-say-if-trump-is-still-concerned-military-action-in-syria-will-start-wwiii/

U.S. allies who are boycotting U.N. negotiations on nuclear disarmament say use of chemical weapons in Syria is “barbaric” and “should be punished because it is a war crime”.   http://www.rawstory.com/2017/04/us-allies-show-support-for-strikes-on-syria/

Dr. Martin Luther King’s April 4, 1967 anti-Vietnam War speech was widely criticized in its time and is little known today. “…we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. So we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would hardly live on the same block in Chicago. I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor.”   http://www.rawstory.com/2017/04/50-years-ago-this-week-martin-luther-king-jr-delivered-one-of-the-most-powerful-denouncements-of-war/

Some lawmakers want conclusive proof of Syrian government responsibility for gas attack. “I think we all can assume Assad was responsible, but that’s an assumption at this time.”   https://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2017-04-07/lawmakers-say-proof-lacking-before-trump-bombed-syria

Steve Bannon reportedly argued against Syria strike. “Two sources close to Bannon told me the former Breitbart executive chairman argued against the strike — not because of its questionable constitutionality, but on the grounds that it doesn’t advance Trump’s America First doctrine.”   http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/04/trumps-syria-strike-is-sign-of-bannons-waning-influence.html

Basque separatists disarm. “Founded in 1959 out of anger among Basques at political and cultural repression under General Francisco Franco, ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna – Basque Country and Freedom) gained notoriety as one of Europe’s most intractable separatist groups.”   http://www.reuters.com/article/us-spain-eta-idUSKBN1790YK

Federal Bureau of Land Management changes website photo banner from nature hike to coal seam. “On the top of its home page, the Bureau of Land Management, which manages more than 200 million acres of public land under the U.S. Department of the Interior, swapped out a photo of a young boy and his companion backpacking across a mountain meadow in favor of one showing a massive coal seam at a mine in Wyoming.”   http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/04/06/522924256/blm-replaces-mountain-landscape-photo-with-coal-seam-on-homepage

April 8, 2017

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