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House Chairman Demands Briefing on Kushner's Trip to Saudi Arabia

House Chairman Demands Briefing on Kushner’s Trip to Saudi Arabia

Chairman Engel’s request comes after reports that key U.S. officials were kept out of meetings with the Saudis.
Erin Banco
03.28.19 2:39 PM ET

A key House committee is demanding a briefing from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Jared Kushner’s trip to Saudi Arabia last month that included a senior State Department official but otherwise left American diplomats in the dark.

In a letter sent Thursday, House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel (D-NY) expressed concern that embassy staff were reportedly sidelined from participating in the meetings on that trip, including those with the Royal Court and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman.

“U.S. government resources are expended to support embassies in countries around the world to aid in the planning and execution of U.S. foreign policy, and no official visit to the Middle East by a senior White House aide would presumably bear meaningfully on the conduct of U.S. foreign policy in that region,” he wrote, adding that he wanted a briefing no later than April 5.

The briefing, he said, should also provide details of any foreign trips or overseas meetings between senior White House officials and foreign leaders in the Middle East.

The congressman is seeking detailed documents from the February trip, including aircraft manifests, clearance records for each person who traveled, invoices and expense reports, and records relating to the State Department’s participation in the trip.


Posted by babylonsister | Thu Mar 28, 2019, 05:39 PM (3 replies)

Trump: 'The Special Olympics will be funded'


Trump: 'The Special Olympics will be funded'
By Brett Samuels - 03/28/19 04:28 PM EDT

President Trump said Thursday that he's overruled his administration officials on zeroing out funding for the Special Olympics in their budget proposal.

"The Special Olympics will be funded, I just told my people," Trump told reporters as he departed the White House for a campaign rally in Michigan.

"I've overridden my people," he added.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has faced mounting scrutiny from lawmakers in both major parties after the department's budget proposal for fiscal year 2020 did not include funding for the program.

“As you know, budgeting within the administration is a collaborative one,” DeVos said earlier Thursday. “As I said then and I’ll say again, we had to make tough choices and decisions around budget priorities."

Posted by babylonsister | Thu Mar 28, 2019, 04:43 PM (14 replies)

Pete Buttigieg says that Mike Pence is 'complicit' in the rise of white nationalism


Pete Buttigieg says that Mike Pence is ‘complicit’ in the rise of white nationalism
By Alex Bollinger ·
Thursday, March 28, 2019

2020 Democratic presidential candidate and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has attacked Mike Pence’s connection to white nationalism.

On Buzzfeed News‘s online show AM to DM, co-host Saeed Jones asked Buttigieg about his previous comments in which he seemed to imply that Pence had betrayed his values by joining the Trump administration, even though Pence has been against all pro-LGBTQ legislation for his entire career.

Buttigieg conceded that Pence has been “consistently horrible” and “holds beliefs that are sincerely awful,” and he went back to the previous topic of white nationalism.

“In terms of white nationalism, I’m sure that he does not consider himself to be a racist. But I think the moment you come on board with a project like the Trump campaign or the Trump/Pence administration, you are at best complicit.”

“And the process that has given cover for a flourishing and a resurgence of white nationalism in our midst,” he said.

Earlier in the interview, Buttigieg said that the current resurgence of racism “creates an obligation for anyone in a position of authority or power — or even just visibility — to speak out about why it’s wrong, why it’s not consistent with American values and why if we really want to talk about security and safety, that has less to do about putting up a wall from sea to shining sea than making sure that people are not continuing to be radicalized into violent white nationalism with what seems at best to be a level of negligence, if not encouragement, coming from the highest office in the land.”

Buttigieg was also asked about a recent Washington Post column that said that he would not be the first gay president, that that honor would fall to James Buchanan, the first “bachelor” president who had some close relationships with other men.

“My gaydar is not great to begin with and definitely doesn’t work over long stretches of time,” Buttigieg responded.
Posted by babylonsister | Thu Mar 28, 2019, 01:32 PM (3 replies)

Twitter considering labeling Trump tweets that violate rules

Twitter considering labeling Trump tweets that violate rules
By Emily Birnbaum - 03/28/19 09:15 AM EDT

A Twitter executive on Wednesday said the company is considering a new feature that will label tweets from politicians, including President Trump, when they violate Twitter rules.

Vijaya Gadde, Twitter's head of legal, policy, and trust and safety, at a Washington Post event on Wednesday said the company might start annotating offensive tweets from public figures with a message about why they remain up.

Twitter has long held that some posts from public figures should remain up because they are "newsworthy," even when they violate Twitter guidelines.

"One of the things we’re working really closely on with our product and engineering folks is, ‘How can we label that?’" Gadde said during the Post event. “How can we put some context around it so people are aware that that content is actually a violation of our rules and it is serving a particular purpose in remaining on the platform?"


Posted by babylonsister | Thu Mar 28, 2019, 09:47 AM (7 replies)

Drew Magary: Reaction to the Mueller Report News Has Been a Goddamn Embarrassment


Reaction to the Mueller Report News Has Been a Goddamn Embarrassment
Drew Magary
March 25, 2019 5:03 PM


And here, naturally, are the hobgoblins over at The Wall Street Journal, gleefully declaring the libs owned for good:

All Americans should be pleased with the end of the collusion illusion.

Hey, that rhymes! You can smell the giddiness emanating from your phone when you read all that shit. From the day Trump started his presidency until now, the political class in America has kept their standards for him so low that he can elicit favorable coverage simply by not murdering a puppy on live television. The issuance of Barr’s letter—which clears Trump of obstruction charges but shouldn’t be taken at face value otherwise—represents a victory for Trump not over Mueller, but over a mainstream press that, in order to dodge charges of bias, always holds Republicans to the lowest possible standard. Donnie Jr. is gonna go shoot down a spotted owl to celebrate the occasion.

This is the Republican Party’s big prize for years of gaming the refs and viciously spinning any news in their favor. They made it so that it’s widely portrayed as good news that the president is somehow not a Russian double agent. Again, not exactly a high bar to clear, but this asshole needed two years to clear it. The investigation itself led to a ton of indictments for dozens of people and actual jail time for the likes of Paul Manafort, but I guess it's a win because there was no pee tape/evidence of active collusion? Meanwhile, a Democratic 2020 candidate gets raked over the coals for farting in a bowling alley, and liberals as a whole get framed as a bunch of Seth Abramsons who put all their eggs into Mueller’s basket. Their “hysteria” over this Russia business was definitely just that and nothing more. No hysteria gets to be real. For now, the culmination of waiting for this inquiry to wrap up is just another occasion for liberals like me to eat shit, as if we haven’t done enough of that for years now.

That’s the most depressing aspect of what’s happened so far. Even without knowing what the Mueller Report will contain, the past two days serve as a painful reminder that whatever is in it—and I’m still foolishly hoping for piss-tape screen grabs on every page—will get both sides–ed into oblivion anyway. For both sides of the D.C. power structure—media, party leaders, lobbyists, etc.—Trump potentially beating the rap was always the preferred outcome, because it meant everyone could go back to business as usual, and it meant no pesky impeachment would prevent them from getting another two-plus years of Trump coverage. Steny Hoyer probably went out for fucking pizza to celebrate. Here was the New York Times editorial board two days ago, saluting Trump even BEFORE Barr had written his missive, and declaring the Mueller report “a vindication of the rule of law.” As if the rule of law weren't partially responsible for this country currently being a shitshow. They were just happy Trump didn’t have Mueller arrested and shot, I guess. The process mattered to them more than the result, which means Trump’s inherent awfulness could be dexterously avoided.

This is what happens when you hand coverage of a vital investigation over to a bunch of procedural fetishists: Members of the political machine who were perturbed by Trump’s willful disregard of their precious norms and hoping those norms would survive his onslaught. They had no better paladin for their cause than Mueller, a respected D.C. establishment lifer who has spent the past two years wearing white shirts to work and doggedly investigating the president without getting chesty about it. David Von Drehle of The Washington Post, no stranger to propping up D.C. elites, even went so far as to call him “a real-life Atticus Finch.” The Times is adamant that Mueller’s full report should be released for public consumption, seemingly less because of what could be in it and more because they deem it the proper course of action. It’s what Bob would have wanted.

This is the system at work. The American political system feeds on corruption from the right and complacency—plus also some corruption, too!—from the left. It’s the system that gave us Trump, and it’s the system that exists almost exclusively to perpetuate itself. Liberals like me had to rely on Mueller to somehow blow this presidency apart, because there was no reason to have faith in any other political faction to do the job capably. But that was stupid now, wasn’t it? Everything about our political class was set up to lead to this very moment. That’s the biggest downer of all. For today, Trump wins. Of course he has. The game was always rigged in his favor. And if Mueller doesn’t exonerate the president, I bet the system will still leave enough wiggle room for everyone else who matters to do so.
Posted by babylonsister | Thu Mar 28, 2019, 08:11 AM (12 replies)

Ex-CIA Officials Give 'Briefing Book' to Candidates


Ex-CIA Officials Give ‘Briefing Book’ to Candidates
March 28, 2019 at 7:11 am EDT By Taegan Goddard

“Two former top CIA officials have compiled an unclassified report on the major national security challenges facing the United States, which they are distributing to every candidate running for president,” the Washington Post reports.

“The report, which former acting CIA directors Michael Morell and John McLaughlin call a ‘briefing book,’ is modeled on the classified oral briefing that the intelligence community provides to the nominees of each major political party running for president, usually after the nominating conventions.”
Posted by babylonsister | Thu Mar 28, 2019, 07:58 AM (0 replies)

Trump Fed pick Moore owes $75K to IRS, government claims

Trump Fed pick Moore owes $75K to IRS, government claims
By Naomi Jagoda - 03/27/19 05:32 PM EDT

The U.S. government is claiming that Stephen Moore, President Trump's pick to serve on the Federal Reserve Board, owes more than $75,000 to the IRS, according to court records.

A lien was entered against Moore in January 2018 for unpaid taxes from the 2014 tax year and additional taxes and penalties that may accrue. The unpaid balance was $75,328.80, according to a filing in circuit court in Montgomery County, Md.

A court clerk told The Guardian that Moore hasn't yet satisfied the claim.

Moore told The Guardian that he disputed the IRS's claim but was hoping to reach an agreement with the agency.


Posted by babylonsister | Wed Mar 27, 2019, 06:07 PM (3 replies)

The NRA Is Trying to Block the Violence Against Women Act

March 27, 2019 5:05PM ET
The NRA Is Trying to Block the Violence Against Women Act
The gun lobby wants to arm abuse victims rather than remove weapons from the home
By Tim Dickinson

The National Rifle Association is preparing to punish lawmakers for voting to protect women from their stalkers and domestic abusers. The gun lobby announced this week that it will dock its grades for politicians who vote to renew the Violence Against Women Act. The legislation, first passed in 1994, is up for reauthorization this session — augmented by a provision that could give law enforcement officials the power to confiscate guns from men who hurt or menace women.

NRA spokesperson Jennifer Baker told the National Journal that this “red-flag” provision — intended to protect women against gun violence from men who are exhibiting violent or dangerous behaviors — is an unacceptable encroachment on individual gun ownership rights.

“It is a shame that some in the gun-control community treat the severity of domestic violence so trivially that they are willing to use it as a tool to advance a political agenda,” Baker told the publication. She added that the NRA opposes domestic violence — but is focused on adding more guns to such combustible dynamics, seeking to arm women and train them in self defense. (The NRA did not immediately return Rolling Stone’s request for comment.)

The NRA’s call to vote down the Violence Against Women Act could help some Republicans justify their opposition to the landmark legislation, though it could also wrongfoot some GOP moderates who are now forced to choose between protecting their female constituents and maintaining their A-rating from the fearsome gun lobby, the loss of which can invite a primary challenge.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi has framed the vote in stark terms:


Posted by babylonsister | Wed Mar 27, 2019, 05:26 PM (4 replies)

GOP lawmakers offer paid parental leave legislation linked to Social Security

Just who exactly are they trying to impress?

GOP lawmakers offer paid parental leave legislation linked to Social Security
By Naomi Jagoda - 03/27/19 03:54 PM EDT

A group of Republicans on Wednesday introduced legislation that would allow people to pull forward some of their Social Security benefits to use for paid parental leave — the latest effort from Republicans on paid leave in recent weeks.

Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah) introduced legislation in the Senate, while Reps. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.) and Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) offered a companion bill in the House.

"Our proposal would enact paid family leave in America without increasing taxes, without placing new mandates on small businesses," Rubio said in a news conference.

Under the legislation, new parents would have the option to get early Social Security benefits for up to three months to finance paid parental leave. A fact sheet from Rubio and Romney said most parents below the median household income would be able to receive a benefit that would replace about two-thirds of their wages.

In exchange for receiving the paid parental leave benefit, people would either have to increase their Social Security retirement age by several months or get a reduction in their monthly Social Security benefits for the first five years of their retirements.


Posted by babylonsister | Wed Mar 27, 2019, 05:06 PM (7 replies)

GOP senator says Special Olympics cuts will not be approved

GOP senator says Special Olympics cuts will not be approved
By Chris Mills Rodrigo - 03/27/19 03:04 PM EDT

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), the chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that determines Department of Education funding levels, on Wednesday rejected the Trump administration's proposed cuts to the Special Olympics.

"I’m a longtime supporter of the Special Olympics and proud that Missouri is home to the largest Special Olympics training facility in the world," Blunt said in a statement.

"I was just at the World Games and saw, as I have many times before, what a huge impact the organization has on athletes, their families, and their communities. Our Department of Education appropriations bill will not cut funding for the program," he added.



Posted by babylonsister | Wed Mar 27, 2019, 04:57 PM (43 replies)
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