Politics

New study estimates 4 of 10 insect species will go extinct within the next few decades

Daily Kos - Thu, 02/14/2019 - 21:45

Well, we're all going to die. A new study that combed through 73 recent scientific probes of insect populations now estimates that roughly 40 percent of all insect species are expected to go extinct within the next few decades.

Key causes of the decline included "habitat loss and conversion to intensive agriculture and urbanization," pollution, particularly from pesticides and fertilizers, as well as biological factors, such as "pathogens and introduced species" and climate change.

If it is not immediately obvious, losing nearly half of all insect species worldwide would be extremely, catastrophically bad. It threatens pollination of the vast majority of world plants, the fertility of soils, and directly threatens birds, fish, and other insect-eaters. Given that human beings have grown accustomed to eating, well, food, all of this could present significant global problems; it suggests entire ecosystems will be wiped out within our lifetimes.

The study's authors pin most of the blame on habitat destruction and widespread chemical pollution, and note that insect populations are not just plummeting on developed land, but within designated reserves meant to provide buffers for native species. This suggests we will not be able to stave off a population collapse merely by designating additional buffer acreage, and that the problem appears to be considerably more systemic.

So to put it in shorthand form, we're all going to die, and we may not even need for Florida to become a shallow sea before it happens. Attempting to reinvent new systems of agriculture while whole ecosystems go bottom-up—all the while feeding an ever-increasing population—will take some fancy doing.

But that's not to say we will be devoid of insects entirely: species that have evolved to take advantage of human activities, like roaches and other urban and agricultural pests, "will probably thrive" as their natural enemies "disappear."

Categories: Politics

National Emergency: If Trump Declares One It's Time To Freak Out

Crooks and Liars - Thu, 02/14/2019 - 21:17
 If Trump Declares One It's Time To Freak Out

If President Trump declares a national emergency to get money his wall, it's time for Americans to officially begin freaking out, and way post time for weak members of Congress to stand up to him.

When a President declares a "national emergency" it allows him to set aside a great number of legal guardrails on his power.

Do we want to take the guardrails away from Trump, a leader who is likely compromised by a hostile foreign power? Taking limitations off the President who Justice Department officials contemplated calling a Cabinet meeting to discuss the 25th Amendment seems like a very bad idea.

Elizabeth Goitein wrote an great article for The Atlantic today, laying out the extraordinary power that can be granted in a national emergency. Goitein likens national emergency power to a loaded weapon as she explains:

read more

Categories: Politics

The Bob Cesca Podcast: Carol Burnett's Batphone

Little Green Footballs - Thu, 02/14/2019 - 20:47

http://bobcesca.com/podcast/021419/BCS021419.mp3?_=1

Today's program from our podcasting affiliate, The Bob Cesca Show:

Carol Burnett's Batphone -- NSFW; Jody Hamilton is here with an EXCLUSIVE story about singer Ryan Adams and the sex related charges against him; McCabe, Trump and the 25th Amendment; The Deep State Coup narrative kicks in; Trump begged Lou Dobbs and Hannity for help; Alex Jones will be deposed under oath; Crazies In Cars Getting Conspiracies; Paul Manafort stripped of plea deal; Direct vs Circumstantial Evidence; Trump's poll numbers are up and everything sucks; and so much more.

Categories: Politics

House Democrats move to reverse Team Trump's sabotage of the Affordable Care Act

Daily Kos - Thu, 02/14/2019 - 19:40

As one ultra-conservative Texas judge's "absolutely insane" decision declaring the whole of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, to be unconstitutional begins its journey through the upper courts, Vox provides an explainer as to why House Democrats aren't using their post-election control of that body to legislatively intercept the ruling.

The short version: The judge's ruling is still seen as so ridiculous on its face as to make it unlikely for even the Fifth Circuit, much less the Supreme Court, to sustain it, and "high-ranking Democrats" don't want to give the plaintiff's (and judge's) arguments even the small boost of responding with a legislative "fix" to a problem that nearly all legal observers say never existed in the first place.

“Any proposed fixes will likely be partial, would open up the ACA to further amendment in the Senate, and would lend weight to plaintiff legislative history arguments,” says Tim Jost, a health law professor at Washington and Lee University. “This case is winnable in the courts and should stay there.”

That doesn't mean House Democrats aren't launching new efforts to protect Obamacare after years of Republican attempts to gut the law. Two bills working through committee will reverse the Trump administration's weakening of Obamacare regulations and Team Trump's vast expansion of "short-term" insurance plans that are not obliged to comply with the Affordable Care Act's strict mandates for comprehensive coverage and pre-existing condition protections at all. Another bill seeks to restore Obamacare's enrollment and outreach budget, slashed by the Trump crew in an attempt to weaken enrollment numbers. The overall goal is to take those parts of Obamacare that Trump's collection of far-right saboteurs have been able to pick away at via regulation and formalize them into new law—at the least, obliging Senate Republicans to defend each unpopular act of sabotage themselves.

In the end, however, this is going to come to a head. We can already see the beginnings of it in the Democratic primary debates over Medicare for all-styled plans to move the United States more toward the single-payer, government-backed insurance plans of other industrialized nations. Conservative attempts to weaken Obamacare by sabotaging enrollment, coverage, and mandates have provided a case for a broader, less jury-rigged solution.

Categories: Politics

Throwing Chaff At the Media Open Thread (Golf Simulator Edition)

Balloon Juice - Thu, 02/14/2019 - 19:05

Oh, look, McConnell says the Oval Office Occupant is gonna declare a NATIONAL EMERGENCY!!! — and just incidentally (h/t commentor DAW) some further information trickles out on the annual physical. Per USAToday:

President Donald Trump weighed in at 243 pounds during his physical last week, an increase of four pounds from last year that makes him technically obese, according to a report released Thursday by the White House….

The administration released the report in the midst of a busy news cycle, just minutes after officials announced that Trump would declare a “national emergency” at the border in a bid to obtain funding for a border wall.

Trump – who once described his exercise regimen as “I walk, I this, I that” – has long faced questions about his health. Last year, he was weighed at 239 pounds, giving the 6-foot-3 president a body mass index of 29.9, just under the level of 30 that is considered obese.

After the release of details from his latest physical, doctors on social media noted that Trump’s height and weight give him a BMI of 30.4, just over the line of obesity.

When even USAToday is publicly suspicious about the timing / truthfulness of the “President’s” (physical) fitness, well… maybe they’ve wired up the “executive time” TV walls so that that Dear Leader can’t access his favorite Fox News screamers unless he at least stands up and swings his club?

That system replaced an older, less sophisticated simulator that had been installed under President Barack Obama, according to two people with knowledge of the previous system.

Trump’s system cost about $50,000, and was put in during the last few weeks in a room in his personal quarters, a White House official said.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss details of the president’s private residence, said that Trump had paid for the new system and the installation personally…

Suuure he did. Well, had his aides say he did. Or at least charged Treasury for it, and promised vaguely to pay it back ‘eventually’.

The White House official said that Trump has not used his new golf simulator during executive time — or at all since it was put in.

Trump has played golf — the traditional kind, on an outdoor course — about 139 times as president, largely at his own golf clubs, according to an analysis by The Washington Post. There is no way to have an exact count because he usually does not acknowledge having played.

But this winter, as Trump’s demand for a border wall triggered a month-long partial government shutdown, Trump stayed off the golf course for about 69 days, the longest such period of his presidency. Trump broke the streak on Feb. 2, playing with golf legends Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus at Trump’s course in Jupiter, Fla.

Trump complained to friends during the shutdown that he missed Mar-a-Lago and being at his Florida course…

Yeah, probably not as much fun indoors, without a bunch of Secret Service agents to inconvenience and a few sycophants to lie about how good Lord Smallgloves is (at golf and everything else).

Categories: Politics

Let’s Not Go to Stupidland

Balloon Juice - Thu, 02/14/2019 - 18:14

My advice to co-workers in a dysfunctional organization where I worked recently was always “don’t go to Stupidland” – by which I meant that you shouldn’t accept an alternate, delusional reality just because the boss and his enablers are pounding the table and saying that up is down and black is white.  With that in mind, let’s take a look at what just happened.

First, Trump shut down the government to get the wall that his own party (and Mexico) wouldn’t give him for two years.  Things go by so fast in the Trump reign, and the press is so busy following the latest tweet, that this fact hasn’t been seared into the public mind the way it should be.  The Democrat that I’ll support for President will make this point as part of their case against Trump, because it makes Trump look weak.

Second, Trump got his ass handed to him on the shutdown, because he didn’t get the wall (or really any concessions) by doing it.  He was also shut out of the negotiations that led to the bill that the Senate just passed.  Again, he looks weak, because he is.

Third, everybody knows that the declaration of emergency is pure, unadulterated wankery.  Ann Coulter is already tweeting that out and the rest of the wall Nazis will follow, as they did when they stomped their feet hard enough to make Trump shut down the government.  It will be tied up in the courts until the end of Trump’s term, if he makes it to 2020.  I agree that it is yet another assault on our institutions, but I think we’ll weather it because not even Trump thinks it will work.  It’s purely for face saving, and after Trump issues it, he’ll make noise about something else in hopes that we will all forget that he has no clothes.

This is a win for the Democrats, and for the country.  Coulter and her ilk told Trump that it would be OK if he put his hand on the hot stove, so little Donny did it.  And he got burned. If I know anything about narcissists, and sadly I do, Trump will think long and hard before he blindly follows the Coulterites into more wall-related stupidity.  He’s going to find something else to gin up the hate of the rubes who follow him, but he wants to put this in the rear view mirror.

Categories: Politics

This Week in Statehouse Action: My Heart Will Vote On edition

Daily Kos - Thu, 02/14/2019 - 18:01

Roses are red

Violets are blue

Statehouse Action is hot

And you know you are, too.

Yeah, it’s Valentine’s Day.

Yippee.

Oh, don’t get it twisted. I love romantic stuff. And flowers. And candy. And jewelry. And all that stuff that’s generally associated with Valentine’s Day.

I just hate that there’s this one random day when you’re, like, supposed to do/give these things.

Any other day of the year? Awesome, bring it on.

Campaign Action

But I’ve had so many people I care about feel bummed on Feb. 14 because of their situation—single, or in a relationship but let down by their significant other because of the expectations attached to the holiday, or broken up with on or just before it, etc.—that I’ve come to see it as a kind of adversary.

So suck on some state politics news, Valentine’s Day. There’s not much sweet about it right now.

Gov. Northam’s Lonely Hearts Club Band: Gov. Ralph Northam is still governor of Virginia, and that’s a big damn problem.

  • By all appearances he’s digging in and plans to go on an “apology tour” around the commonwealth.

No, really. I’m not being snide. Someone said the quiet part loud in the press release about Northam’s appearance at a VUU Faith, Identity, and Social Justice event next week.

  • Meanwhile, Northam postponed Wednesday’s scheduled Black History Month reception at the governor’s mansion at the last minute.
    • On Monday, black leaders said they planned a protest outside of the event, but Northam thoughtfully kept the event on everyone’s calendars until the day of.
    • A spokesperson (who’s somehow still content to work for Northam) said the governor “is still thinking through better ways to honor Black History Month.”

You’ll pardon me if I’m skeptical of the capacity to figure out a “better” way to honor Black History Month of the guy whose denial of being in blackface in a photo was predicated on this other time he definitely did blackface.

  • This week, Northam also proudly announced that he’d restored the voting rights of over 10,000 Virginians who’d previously been permanently disenfranchised because of felony convictions, touting his belief in “second chances”—something he seems to think he’s entitled to as a governor who admitted to wearing blackface to win a dance competition.
    • Yes, restoring voting rights stripped because of an extremely racist method of disenfranchisement is always a good thing.
    • But Northam’s obvious attempt to win some “See? I’m totally not racist” cred is pretty small potatoes compared to his predecessor’s accomplishments in the civil rights restoration arena.
    • As governor, Terry McAuliffe restored the voting rights of over 170,000 Virginians.
      • That comes out to over 42,000 for each year of his governorship.
Categories: Politics

Amazon Sends a Message to America’s Cities

Kevin Drum - Thu, 02/14/2019 - 17:37

After three months of steadily growing vitriol, Amazon has decided to kill its proposed New York headquarters:

Amazon on Thursday canceled its plans to build an expansive corporate campus in New York City after facing an unexpectedly fierce backlash from some lawmakers and union leaders, who contended that a tech giant did not deserve nearly $3 billion in government incentives.

The company’s decision is a major blow for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, who had set aside their differences to bring the company to New York. But it was at least a short-term win for insurgent progressive politicians led by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose upset victory last year occurred in the area where Amazon had planned its site. Her win galvanized the party’s left flank, which mobilized against the deal, and on Thursday she seemed to revel in the company’s retreat.

I have seen many takes on this, but I haven’t yet seen the one that I think is correct: Amazon did this to send a message. Public outcries over huge development projects are hardly a big surprise, after all. Amazon must have been prepared for brickbats and legal battles no matter where it went. But they didn’t need New York all that badly, and pulling out this fast makes it clear to other cities that Amazon plays hardball. If they decide to relocate their HQ2 to, say, Chicago, you can bet that the City of Broad Shoulders will tread very lightly before letting complaints get out of hand.

Categories: Politics

Trumps press pause on their big hotel expansion plans due to investigations and ‘lack of deals'

Daily Kos - Thu, 02/14/2019 - 17:16

Even before Donald Trump was able to eke out an Electoral College victory and plummet the United States into a new dark ages, his kids and he were talking big businessboy talk about expanding their hotel empire with new signage (possibly to offset how toxic the name Trump had already become). Eric Trump boasted about having all kinds of deals in the works, though the only “deals” he seemed to be making came directly through his newly powerful daddy’s swampy connections. Now, the New York Times is reporting that the big plans to create two new hotel chains in the United States, the “Scion and American Idea, are to be shelved indefinitely, most likely for the remainder of the presidency.” The Times points out that a big problem the Trumps are facing is the lack of actual interest in making a deal with the Trump hotel business.

 daughter Tiffany, son Eric, daughter Ivanka and son Donald Trump Jr.while appearing at an NBC Town Hall at the Today Show on April 21, 2016 in New York City.  The GOP front runner appeared with his wife and family and took questions from audience members.  (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images) We are about as smart and as good at business as our father

Well, that can’t be right! Just last month, Eric Danziger, the chief executive of Trump Hotels, publicly reported that he had “39 letters of intent — informal preliminary agreements — for other hotels across the country.” I guess not so much anymore? The Times printed an Eric Trump statement that came with this slowdown news from Trump Swamps, Incorporated. The younger Trump says that America is now “a climate where everything will be used against us [the Trumps].” He goes on to put together a Trump word poem with everything from “fake news” and “Democrats” to “wasting everyone’s time.”

Of course, most experts believe that the idea of expanding while not growing the economy so that Americans are able to afford hotels, along with the unprecedented level of corruption being investigated in the Trump landscape, were also likely factors in the decision to slow down the expansion of Trump’s maybe-solvent business right now.

Categories: Politics

Speaker Pelosi To Trump: 'I Wish You Would Declare Gun Violence A National Emergency'

Crooks and Liars - Thu, 02/14/2019 - 16:27
 'I Wish You Would Declare Gun Violence A National Emergency'

After the news broke that Donald Trump intends to declare a national emergency at the same time he signs the compromise bill wending its way to his desk, Nancy Pelosi held a press conference where she plainly illlustrated the costs of his weak, spineless move.

After all, it's not every day that a President throws himself on the floor, kicks and screams, crawls into Sean Hannity and Lou Dobbs' arms for comfort before demanding his ice cream, and Pelosi took advantage of his moment of weakness in magnificent fashion.

After listing the enumerated powers of Congress, Pelosi noted with some irony that Trump is doing an end run around those powers.

"I know some Republicans have some unease about that, no matter what they say," she told reporters with a sly grin.

"If the President can declare an emergency on something he has created, an illusion that he wants to convey, just think what a President with different values can present to the American people," she said, grinning more broadly.

"You want to talk about a national emergency?" she asked, turning serious. "Let's talk about today, the one-year anniversary of another manifestation of the epidemic of gun violence. That's a national emergency."

She continued, "You declare that emergency, Mr. President. I wish you would. But a Democratic president can do that. Democratic Presidents can declare emergencies as well.

read more

Categories: Politics

House Speaker Pelosi confirms House Democrats may mount 'legal challenge' to Trump 'emergency'

Daily Kos - Thu, 02/14/2019 - 16:20

Under pressure from the Fox News programs he watches on television, Donald Trump has declared that the absence of his demanded "border wall" now constitutes a supposed national emergency. This gives Trump broad theoretical powers to siphon money from other parts of government toward his own vanity project, to the tune of billions.

That's the Trump administration's theory. In practice, declaring a national emergency in the absence of any true emergency is considered legally dodgy at best; most experts who have weighed in believe that the courts would largely block moves to reappropriate federal money allocated by Congress to other projects as unconstitutional end runs around the legislative branch. Asked directly whether she and House Democrats would mount a legal challenge to such acts, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi confirmed that that was one of the responses she would be examining.

"I may. That's an option. I will review our options. But it's important to note that when the president declares this emergency, first of all, it's not an emergency, what's happening at the border. It's a humanitarian challenge to us ... the president has tried to sell a bill of goods to the American people."

Pelosi characterized the would-be emergency multiple times as an "end run around Congress", noting it is an "illusion [Trump] wants to convey." She also noted explicitly that, under this new Republican theory, a future Democratic administration could use the same premise to declare a national emergency over Democratic priorities that current Republicans have refused to take on.

"You want to talk about a national emergency? Let's talk about today, the one year anniversary of another manifestation of the epidemic of gun violence in America. That's a national emergency. [...] But a Democratic president can do that, a Democratic president can declare emergencies as well. [...] The president is setting here something that should be met with great unease and dismay by the Republicans, and of course we will respond accordingly."
Thursday, Feb 14, 2019 · 9:49:27 PM +00:00 · Hunter

Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer have now issued a joint statement calling such a declaration a “lawless act.”

Categories: Politics

Trump to declare national emergency after getting flattened in border wall battle he initiated

Daily Kos - Thu, 02/14/2019 - 16:15

It wasn't the $25 billion in border wall funding Donald Trump could have gotten last year in a Dreamer deal with Democrats. It wasn't the $5.7 billion he began demanding when he torpedoed a deal in December to avert a government shutdown. Nor was it the $1.6 billion that was originally floated as a compromise before the shutdown began.

In fact, it was just $1.375 billion ... for fencing along the border... steel slats... or, as Speaker Nancy Pelosi once quipped, "a beaded curtain." Let's face it— there's just no way to spin the supposed greatest dealmaker on earth rejecting $25 billion and then bargaining himself down to getting just 6 percent of the total funding that was originally on the table. 

It doesn't mean they didn't try. The White House contacted several of Trump's Fox News favorites, including Lou Dobbs and Sean Hannity, to sell them on the fantasy of a fig leaf—that somehow Trump had gotten real concessions out of the 35-day shutdown he had forced on the nation. Still, even fervent Trump boosters like Freedom Caucus chair Mark Meadows of North Carolina were calling B.S.

“Only in Washington, D.C., can we start out with needing $25 billion for border security measures and expect applause at 1.37,” he said Tuesday on Fox News. “I mean, only in D.C. is that a winning deal.”

Actually, no, it's not a "winning deal," not even in Washington. No one thought it was a winning deal—not even the West Wing, which was so desperate to change the conversation that it suddenly threw out a "national emergency" headline for reporters to feast on. “President Trump will sign the government funding bill," reassured White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, "and as he has stated before, he will also take other executive action - including a national emergency - to ensure we stop the national security and humanitarian crisis at the border."

And just as suddenly, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took to the Senate floor to assure his caucus that Trump would still sign the funding bill if they passed it. And in a clear concession to the White House, McConnell also offered his "support" for Trump declaring a national emergency. Other Republicans aren't too excited about it.

x

Of course, declaring such an emergency is rife with pitfalls for the White House, and House Democrats already have the upper hand on potential responses, including both legal and legislative ones. Asked Thursday whether Democrats would file a legal challenge to Trump’s declaration, Speaker Pelosi responded, “I may. That’s an option and we will review our options.”

Welcome to Round 2, Trump. Prepare to get destroyed.

Categories: Politics

McConnell: Trump Will Sign Compromise Bill, Declare National Emergency

Crooks and Liars - Thu, 02/14/2019 - 16:01
 Trump Will Sign Compromise Bill, Declare National Emergency

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has confirmed that there will be a vote on the compromise funding bill intended to keep government open, but which excludes funding for any concrete wall. The bill also leaves contractors who were not paid in the last 35-day shutdown out in the cold with no reimbursement, while offering a pittance for repair of existing barriers.

McConnell also confirmed that Donald Trump will sign the bill, and issue a declaration of national emergency concurrent with his signature.

In a statement, Sarah Huckabee Sanders wrote, "President Trump will sign the government funding bill, and as he has stated before, he will also take other executive action -- including a national emergency -- to ensure we stop the national security and humanitarian crisis at the border. The President is once again delivering on his promise to build the wall, protect the border, and secure our great country."

Republicans are doing what they always do: Falling in line.

Categories: Politics

Democrats signal they're serious about gun reform with committee vote on universal background checks

Daily Kos - Thu, 02/14/2019 - 15:54

For the first time since 1996, the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday approved and sent two gun reform bills to the full House. One of them—H.R. 8—would impose background checks on every sale or other transfer of a firearm, whether by a licensed dealer or a private party, with narrow exemptions. The other—H.R. 1112—would increase from three days to 10 the mandated waiting time for a federal background check to clear before a purchase can be transacted. 

The committee vote came just a day before the one-year anniversary of the slaughter by a lone gunman of 17 students and staff at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Currently, federal background checks only cover sales by licensed dealers, not between private parties. Eleven states—including California, New York, Colorado, and Vermont—as well as the District of Columbia, have their own laws requiring universal background checks. 

The committee vote on H.R. 8—23-15 along party lines—puts the bill introduced last month by Democratic Rep. Mike Thompson of California in line for a House vote by the end of this month. It’s sure to pass, given that it has 231 co-sponsors, including five Republicans. 

In the Senate, however, where Republicans still hold the majority, the bill is DOA. In 2013, the last time a bill mandating universal background checks was introduced, in the wake of the slaughter of 26 students and staff at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, Democrats were in charge, and the proposal was rejected in a 54-46 vote that required 60 to pass. The four Democrats who voted against the bill have since all been replaced by Republicans.

Categories: Politics

The Coup Will Be Televised

Balloon Juice - Thu, 02/14/2019 - 15:47

This just in:

President Trump will support a sweeping budget and border compromise and declare a national emergency at the same time, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Thursday.

McConnell has already signaled he’ll support Trump’s move.

Until its members prove otherwise, the Republican Party is all-in on government by executive fiat, better known as a dictatorship. We appear to be at gut-check time for American democracy.

I’m sure I and/or other FPers will be posting more as events advance. I can say for my part I’ve never feared more for our polity.

PS:  Alternate image:

Image: The Downfall of the Dictators is Assured British propaganda poster betw. 1939 and 1945.

Alternate image: Painting of the USS Dictator — a monitor at war with America’s home-grown traitors in 1864 and 1865

Categories: Politics

White House aide knew about undocumented workers at Trump golf club, report alleges

Daily Kos - Thu, 02/14/2019 - 15:46

White House aide Dan Scavino Jr. reportedly knew undocumented immigrants worked at one of Donald Trump’s golf clubs, the New York Daily News says, as is claimed by a number of former workers. Scavino “was involved in the hiring,” said Gabriel Sedano, who worked at the club for over a decade until he was fired last month. “If they needed more people, he would always have to say yes because he was the general manager. Everything went up to him.”

Scavino currently holds the position of White House director of social media, ghostwriting for his boss, violating the Hatch Act, and firing off the occasional anti-Semitic tweet. But in a former life, the ex-golf caddy managed Trump’s Westchester golf club in Briarcliff Manor, New York. After two immigrants stepped forward in December to say they worked at Trump’s Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club, the Westchester club has fired undocumented employees en masse during the past few weeks, including some that had worked there for years.

Scavino won’t comment on what he knew, but former landscaper Juventino DeLeon said workers openly discussed not having papers. “’We would always talk about it,’ DeLeon said and alleged Scavino himself was once in the room when such conversations took place,” the report continued. Immigrant employees were also prohibited from driving company vehicles “because it was assumed they didn’t have licenses.” 

Other employees have alleged that management knew about the fake paperwork. Banquet chef Jesus Lira told the Washington Post  last month “that, on two occasions in 2008, an accountant at the Trump club rejected his fake documents and told him to go obtain better ones,” saying that “I can’t accept this, go back and tell them to do a better job.” As for Scavino, Sedano said he frequently mingled with workers. “He always mentioned that he started from the bottom. He told me many times, ‘You’re doing a good job.’”

Anibal Romero, an attorney representing a number of these former workers, has now been in contact with New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office regarding the series of allegations, while members of Congress have urged that these workers be protected, saying that any administration effort to deport them during any investigation of abuses by the Trump Organization could be considered obstruction of justice.

Categories: Politics

Lunchtime Photo

Kevin Drum - Thu, 02/14/2019 - 15:30

Happy Valentine’s Day!

December 9, 2018 — LA County Arboretum, Arcadia, California
Categories: Politics

Trump will sign government funding bill ... and declare national emergency, top Republican says

Daily Kos - Thu, 02/14/2019 - 15:26

Donald Trump is “prepared to sign the bill” keeping the government open, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters Thursday afternoon. But “He will also be issuing a national emergency declaration at the same time” to get his border wall built, since Congress won’t give him the money he wants.

Signs had been that Trump would sign the bipartisan deal to fund the government rather than shutting it down for a second time in two months, but as the final decision approached and right-wing pundits like Laura Ingraham panned the deal, White House sources told CNN that Trump had become concerned. Signing the bill and declaring a national emergency gives Trump a way to avoid a shutdown while also avoiding the wrath of the right-wing pundits who rule his world.

A national emergency is all but guaranteed to face court challenges. Additionally, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi can force a vote on ending the national emergency. While such a resolution is unlikely to get through the Senate, let alone past a Trump veto, it would get individual Republicans on the record about what’s likely to be a very unpopular decision by a very unpopular president.

Categories: Politics

Will Section 224(a) Upset the Budget Deal Apple Cart?

Kevin Drum - Thu, 02/14/2019 - 15:17

Apparently the Senate is going to vote today on the budget bill, and I assume Mitch McConnell wouldn’t allow that to happen unless (a) he had 51 votes and (b) President Trump has said he’ll sign it. Does this mean our long national nightmare is finally over?

Maybe. But border hardliners are now pissed off about something entirely new: Section 224(a).

UAC stands for Unaccompanied Alien Child, and the hawks are claiming that this provides de facto amnesty for anyone who is, or might be, taking care of an immigrant child. Democrats, presumably, describe this as a way of preventing ICE from tearing families apart. I, personally, don’t have a strong view because I don’t know what the real-life effect of this provision would be.

But what matters is that conservatives are now manning the phone lines again. This follows a short period when many of them were shrugging from exhaustion and saying they’d be willing to just take the 55 miles of new fencing and fight for the rest of it later. Depending on how fast they can marshal their forces, this might affect either the Senate vote or Trump’s support for the bill—or both. Alternative, maybe McConnell wants to bull this through fast before anyone upsets the apple cart. Stay tuned.

Categories: Politics

A New "Some More News" Study: How Billionaires React [VIDEO]

Little Green Footballs - Thu, 02/14/2019 - 15:15

Hi. In today's episode, we discuss how billionaires react to something the majority of Americans want, and how other billionaires react to being extorted via photographs that zero Americans want.

Categories: Politics

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