Sen. Bernie Sanders: ‘Democratic brand is pretty bad’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

Sen. Bernie Sanders: ‘Democratic brand is pretty bad’

(CNN)Sen. Bernie Sanders said Thursday he agreed with Democratic congressman Tim Ryan‘s claim that the Democratic brand is worse than President Donald Trump’s in some parts of the country.

“I speak as the longest serving independent in American congressional history, the Democratic brand is pretty bad,” Sanders told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on “AC360.”
“I think the Trump brand is also pretty bad as is the Republican brand. That’s why so many people are giving up on politics.”
Following the Democrat Jon Ossoff’s defeat in a Georgia special House election, some Democratic lawmakers have voiced their concerns about the party’s future.
The Vermont senator argued that the recent special elections need to be put in context.
“The context is all of them are Republican seats and Trump did, in most of those seats, did very, very well.” Sanders continued, “Democrats did much better than was the case in the last election.”

Sanders: GOP health care bill is barbaric

Sanders: GOP health care bill is barbaric
The former Democratic presidential candidate added that the Democrats have the momentum, but the party has to do some “internal soul searching.”
“Understand that for the last 10 years, the model that they have had really has not worked,” Sanders said. “It doesn’t work when you lose the US Senate, US House, the White House. When almost two-thirds of governors chairs are controlled by Republicans. When Democrats have lost a thousand seats and legislatures all over the country.”
Sanders told Cooper what he believes the Democrats have to do to win back voters.
Democrats need to “make it clear to working people of this country that the Democratic Party is on their side,” Sanders exclaimed. “The Democrats need a progressive agenda. They need to rebuild the party in states they have ignored for decades, where they have almost no presence right now and create a 50-state party.”

So, The Habitual Lying President Says He Will Testify Under Oath That He Is Not A Liar

 

Folks, this is not an article that pleases me to have to write about, yet pretty much everyone in the ‘wired world’ will know that what I am going to say is the truth. Most everyone knows that it is a trait of almost all (I’m being nice) American politicians to have a forked tongue. Last November in the elections the American people were basically given a choice between two people that were well known for being very crooked and habitual liar’s. There really was no way to win if the voter was looking for an honest, non-habitual liar to be our leader. The DNC rigs their side of elections via using the so-called ‘Super Delegates’ to make sure that who they want and only whom their party leaders want will be their Candidate for President. I honestly believe that if the DNC leadership had acted in a Constitutional manner that Bernie Sanders would have not only beaten out Ms. Hillary, he would have quite easily beaten out Mr. Trump last November. So, in a sense I do blame the DNC for Mr. Trump sitting in Our Oval Office.

 

Today’s New York Times headline says that Mr. Trump will testify under oath that he is not a liar but that former FBI Director James Comey is. I personally believe that it is Mr. Trump who tells everyone, not just the people that he has surrounding him, but everyone, so many lies everyday that he has proven over and over again that he can’t remember what he lies about one day to the next. I am simply a person who would like to have all people in every government in the world to be honest with the people they govern, yet I think we all know that is just a fantasy. I personally believe that Mr. Trump is the most clueless, ignorant, lying, egomaniac’s that has ever set foot in Our Oval Office. I know that statement is really saying a lot, I never really thought that we could ever have a bigger idiot than George W. Bush as our President but then up steps Mr. Trump. To me it is still a debate which family is more crooked though, the Bush family, the Clinton family, or the Trump family.

 

I have no doubt that if Mr. Trump does go through with testifying under oath before the Senate Intelligence Committee (if he isn’t also lying about doing it) that he will lie many times during that event. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a Democrat or a Republican, but I am a voter. I like everyone else, under our current two-party system we voters can either not vote, or we can vote for one of the two main party candidates, or they can do like I did last November and vote for a third-party candidate whom we know in advance has no chance of winning. So, ‘We The People’ are put into the position of choosing which habitual liar we want as our ‘Leader.’ Over the last year or so I have been closely watching Mr. James Comey the now former Director of the FBI and I have found him to be one of the most honest, sincere and intelligent people I have ever come across. Mr. Trump on the other hand has totally proven to the whole world that he is basically clueless of real world realities which in part has shined a huge spotlight on his lack of basic knowledge and on his continues lying.

The Senate Parliamentarian Warns Republicans That Their Healthcare Bill Can’t Pass

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HILL NEWSPAPER)

The Senate parliamentarian has warned Republicans that a key provision in their healthcare reform bill related to abortion is unlikely to be allowed, raising a serious threat to the legislation.

The parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough, has flagged language that would bar people from using new refundable tax credits for private insurance plans that cover abortion, according to Senate sources.

If Republicans are forced to strip the so-called Hyde language from the legislation, which essentially bars federal funds from being used to pay for abortions unless to save the life of a mother or in cases of rape and incest, it may doom the bill.

MacDonough declined to comment for this article.

Unless a workaround can be found, conservative senators and groups that advocate against abortion rights are likely to oppose the legislation.

Republicans control 52 seats in the Senate; they can afford only two defections and still pass the bill, assuming Democrats are united against it. Vice President would break a 50-50 tie.

Normally controversial legislation requires 60 votes to pass the Senate, but Republicans hope to pass the ObamaCare repeal-and-replace bill with a simple majority vote under a special budgetary process known as reconciliation.

The catch is that the legislation must pass a six-part test known as the Byrd Rule, and it’s up to the parliamentarian to advise whether legislative provisions meet its requirements.

The toughest requirement states that a provision cannot produce changes in government outlays or revenues that are merely incidental to the non-budgetary components of the provision.

In other words, a provision passed under reconciliation cannot be primarily oriented toward making policy change instead of impacting the budget. Arguably, attaching Hyde language to the refundable tax credits is designed more to shape abortion policy than affect how much money is spent to subsidize healthcare coverage.

 

The abortion language that conservatives want in the healthcare bill may run afoul of a precedent set in 1995, when then-Senate Parliamentarian Robert Dove ruled that an abortion provision affecting a state block grant program failed to meet reconciliation requirements, according to a source briefed on internal Senate discussions.

One GOP source identified the parliamentarian’s objection to the Hyde language along with Republican infighting over how to cap ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion as two of the biggest obstacles to passing a bill.

A Republican senator confirmed that negotiators have wrestled with the procedural obstacle facing the anti-abortion language.

“That has come up and there well could be a challenge,” the lawmaker said.

The lawmaker, however, said that the problem is surmountable, arguing “there are ways around it.”

One possibility would be to change the form of assistance to low-income people by changing it from a refundable tax credit to a subsidy filtered through an already existing government program that restricts abortion services, such as the Federal Employee Health Benefits program or Medicaid.

A second Republican senator said discussions on the topic are ongoing.

GOP negotiators picked up the pace of their discussions with the parliamentarian after the Congressional Budget Office released an updated score for the House-passed bill in late May.

President Trump is pushing the Senate to pass its version of the legislation by July 4.

If GOP leaders are forced to strip the Hyde language from the healthcare bill and cannot find an alternative way to seal off insurance tax credits or subsidies from abortion services, they would lose the support of anti-abortion rights groups, a devastating blow.

“We’ve made it clear in a lot of conversations and some letters that any GOP replacement plan has to be consistent with the principles of the Hyde Amendment,” said David Christensen, vice president of government affairs at Family Research Council, a conservative group that promotes Christian values.

“Abortion is not healthcare and the government should not be subsidizing elective abortion,” he added.

Christensen predicted that activists would be up in arms if abortion services aren’t barred under the bill.

“If the Byrd Rule were to be an obstacle to ensuring the GOP replacement plan in the Senate does not subsidize abortion, that’s something that would be a serious problem for us and the pro-life community,” he said.

Republican senators who are thought to be safe votes to support the GOP leadership’s ObamaCare repeal and replace plan may suddenly shift to undecided or opposed.

“Would that be a deal killer? I’d have to think about it. I’m inclined to think it would [be],” said Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.).

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who has jurisdiction over the tax credits in the healthcare bill, acknowledged it could be tough to pass the bill without the anti-abortion language.

“I think a lot of people do think that’s essential,” he said.

Senate returns more pessimistic than ever on healthcare

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HILL NEWSPAPER)

Senate returns more pessimistic than ever on healthcare

Senators went into a recess skeptical over whether they could agree to legislation repealing and replacing ObamaCare.

They will return on Monday more doubtful than ever.

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), one of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) most loyal allies, said Thursday that it’s “unlikely” the GOP will get a healthcare deal.

“I don’t see a comprehensive healthcare plan this year,” he told a local news station.

Senate Republicans hoped to have a draft bill this week, but it now looks like there will at best be an outline.

A Senate Republican aide said it’s too early to begin drafting legislation that can come to the floor in the next few weeks.“Parameters are more likely,” said the aide, who explained that McConnell wants to keep the details held closely so the legislation doesn’t get picked apart before lawmakers have a chance to consider it carefully.

“The last thing we want to do is litigate this in the press,” the aide said. “We want to discuss parameters and concepts without releasing a draft.”

“Maybe they can start talking to members about a specific product next week, but I would not be surprised if we don’t,” said another Senate GOP aide.

More unhelpful news came in the form of a Kaiser Family Foundation poll underscoring how unpopular the bill approved by the House is.

It found that three-quarters of Americans surveyed think the House bill does not fulfill President Trump’s promises on healthcare.

A full 82 percent said federal funding for ObamaCare’s expansion of Medicaid should be continued, an issue that deeply divides the Senate GOP. The House bill ends the ObamaCare funds in 2020.

Yet another factor for Republicans is Trump’s approval rating, which has fallen to its lowest point with Republicans since he took office in the latest Reuters/Ipsos tracking poll.

Republicans already had sought to lower expectations.

McConnell conceded last week that, “I don’t know how we get to 50 [votes] at the moment.”

He sounded more optimistic about passing major tax reform legislation, rating its chances as “pretty good.”

Republicans control 52 seats and can afford only two defections from their ranks. Vice President Pence could cast the deciding vote in case of a 50-50 tie.

The Senate GOP hasn’t given up hope on healthcare and faces tremendous pressure from the White House and House Republicans to hold a vote.

Republicans for years have promised to repeal ObamaCare, so failure would be a major blow. They also face pressure to finish their work on healthcare because of the tax reform push.

The GOP is using special budgetary rules to prevent Democrats from filibustering legislation on tax reform and healthcare.

Republicans can’t move to tax reform until the healthcare debate is finished because once they pass a new budget resolution that would allow them to move tax legislation with 51 votes, they will lose the vehicle set up to enable a healthcare bill that would circumvent a Democratic filibuster.

Those on a special 13-member working group have heard very little about the drafting efforts that were supposed to take place over the recess.

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) was to provide the framework in consultation with GOP leaders and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).

A major sticking point in the Senate is Medicaid. The House bill would cut nearly $900 billion from the program and cap the federal contribution for expanded enrollment in that program by 2020.

Several Republican governors from Medicaid expansion states, led by Govs. John Kasich (Ohio) and Rick Snyder (Mich.), earlier this year came out against the House bill, warning that it failed to provide adequate resources.

Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) said he wants a more gradual “glide path” for capping the expansion, an idea not popular with conservatives.

Twenty Republican senators, including Portman, represent states that opted to expand Medicaid, and many of them worry that cutting federal funding will cause significant budget problems at home.

But another group of GOP governors, primarily from states that opted out of the Medicaid expansion, want to end federal support for the expansion.

Senators are divided as well over proposals to limit federal assistance for health insurance subsidies, which would hit older, low-income Americans disproportionately.

McConnell hasn’t set a deadline for passing the ObamaCare repeal-and-replace bill, but he has indicated concern about the debate dragging on for months, which could imperil tax reform.

“We can’t take forever,” he told Bloomberg TV last month.

By raising doubts about the possibility of getting a deal that musters 51 votes, the GOP leader is putting pressure on his colleagues to either come together or move on before the August recess.

McConnell has told colleagues that the 13-member working group will put together a bill and that he will bring it to the floor for a vote, but he has stopped short of promising that it will pass — in contrast to Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who earlier this year guaranteed that the House bill would pass.

If the Senate bill fails on the floor, McConnell is likely to declare the GOP conference has worked its will and move on.

Even as the House voted to narrowly pass the House’s American Health Care Act last month, there was already strong pessimism among Senate Republicans about the chances of putting together a comprehensive package in the upper chamber.

A senior GOP senator at the time said the chances of getting 51 votes for legislation based on the House healthcare bill were less than 1 in 5.

When House Republicans debated healthcare reform earlier this year, some of their Senate colleagues said privately that they thought it might be better if the legislation died in the lower chamber.

Is It Possible To Be A Devout Christian If You Are A Devout Republican Or Democrat?

 

I worded the title the way I did in an attempt to get your attention, now I would like for you to honestly think about the question please. I grew up in a home where my Mom and Dad were both Democrats, they never ever voted but they believed in Democratic ideals and thought that the Republican Party was only for rich people because of their theology. As a young boy I got most of my work ethics and my morals from my Mom and from the Church that I attended up until I was 17 (Church of Christ). The first Presidential election that I was old enough to vote in was in 1976. I am a registered Independent voter as I just can’t align myself with either of these two main political parties. This past election in November of 2016 was a very difficult one for me as in my heart I knew that the two main choices we had were both evil self centered asses, talk about voting for the least of the two evils! I just couldn’t get myself to vote for either one of them so I ended up voting for a third party candidate, Gary Johnson. I knew that he was not going to win, but at least I did vote. Just for the purpose of verification my past voting record for the Presidents have been as follows. 1976 Jimmy Carter, 1980 and 1984 Ronald Reagan, 1988 Michael Dakakis, 1992 and 1996 Bill Clinton, 2000 Al Gore, 2004 John Kerry, 2008 John McCain, 2012 Mitt Romney, 2016 Gary Johnson. As you see, not a Democrat nor a Republican. If you will notice, I have never ever voted for a ‘Bush’, I just could not allow myself to vote for one of them, their linage of evil is just to long and to strong. I have in most voting situations voted for what I thought would be the least of the two evils.

 

Now I am going to get into the reasoning why I used the title that I did about each of these two political parties. As most folks here in the States should be aware of each of these Parties are controlled by the fringes of their ideologies. The Republicans are controlled by the far to the right conservatives and the Democrats are controlled by the far to the left liberals. The reason we have all of this political gridlock is because of the Party leaders, they always refuse to meet in the middle to get Country moving forward. Just like the person I personally call a jerk “Senator Ted Cruz” who was trying to get the Republican nomination that Donald Trump won said during the debates and I quote “if I am elected President I will not negotiate with the Democrats.” The whole concept of the word politics is the word ‘compromise’, no compromise, no positive movement, just gridlock.

 

The Republicans with their hard right agenda is far from being a ‘Christian’ agenda. They like to say that they are and they do court the ‘born again Christian’ voting block yet their actions do not conform to their rhetoric. I my opinion the main reason that the Republican politicians tend to get the vast majority of the Christian vote is not because they love the Republican Party, it is because of the Democratic platform which insist on making abortion a ‘right’ of women. This is an issue that I personally as a Christian just cannot justify nor will it allow me to align with the Democrats because of it. The Republican Party and the Platform that they preach from is also very anti Christian in their ideals. The Republican Party Platform is very anti poor and very anti working class poor. The Republican Party has always (at least in my lifetime) aligned with the richest of the rich in America. Mr. Reagan called it “trickle down economics.”

 

I totally believe that one of the worse things that has ever happened to people who are not from wealthy families is the invention of the Stock Market. Think about it for a moment, when a company is able to break a Union, their stock value goes up. When a company moves to a country where they can get child labor and slaves to do the work, their stock value goes up. When two companies merge and they lay off hundreds or thousands of workers, their stock value goes up. One other little issue, think about this, when a company moves away from America to a far less developed country, thus cutting their expenses drastically, do you ever see the price of their products on the shelves go down to reflect their lower operating costs? The answer is no, these moves are only about one thing, more profits for the top end and for those who can afford to purchase large amounts of their stock. Republicans have proven themselves over and over again to be the “Business” Party while the Democrats portray themselves as the working class Party. Personally I do not believe that either Party Leadership cares at all about the lower and middle class except when they are trying to get their vote at election time. It is my belief that both Parties Leaderships only care about the richest of their donors, not the people who actually make these richest of the rich their lifestyles. Starvation is not a Christian virtue, people being homeless even though they are working because they can’t earn a ‘livable wage’, is not a Christian virtue, not being able to afford medical care is not a christian virtue. On the flip side is also the fact that murdering millions of defenseless babies is not a Christian virtue. So, now do you understand why I say that neither of these two Political Parties are worthy of having a Christian aligned with them?

Former Obama White House staffer shoots a hole straight through Clinton’s election defeat excuses

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘THEBLAZE’)

Former Obama White House staffer shoots a hole straight through Clinton’s election defeat excuses

Former Obama White House staffer shoots a hole straight through Clinton’s election defeat excuses

Former Obama White House communications director Jen Psaki says “we don’t really know” if Hillary Clinton would have won the election if it were held on Oct. 27. (Image source: YouTube)

Hillary Clinton said last week that she would have been elected president if the election were held on Oct. 27, not Nov. 8. But one former Obama White House and Clinton State Department staffer disagrees with that assessment.

Clinton, in one of her first public appearances since losing the election, blamed her defeat on “intervening events” — from sexism, to FBI Director James Comey’s now-infamous letter to Congress about the effective re-opening of the Clinton email investigation, to Russian meddling and to WikiLeaks’ release of thousands of Clinton campaign manager John Podesta’s emails.

But the one event that Clinton seemed to believe turned the tide against her was Comey’s letter on Oct. 28, saying that if the election were held on Oct. 27, “I would be your president.”

Jen Psaki, former White House communications director under President Barack Obama and former State Department spokeswoman under secretary Clinton, said she disagrees with her former boss. Psaki, who is now a CNN political analyst, said Sunday on “State of the Union” that “we don’t really know” if Clinton would have won had the election been held just one week earlier.

“Was sexism a factor? Yes. Was Comey a factor? Was Russia a factor? Absolutely,” Psaki told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “But I’ve watched a lot of focus groups and looked at a lot of polling over the years and the perception of her [Clinton] was baked into the cake for about ten years.”

Psaki then cited data from the liberal activist group Priorities USA, which showed “something very alarming for Democrats.”

According to Psaki, voters in Wisconsin and Michigan who voted for both Obama and Donald Trump perceive Democrats as the party that’s “fighting for rich people…fighting for the [top] one percent.”

“If we don’t change what we’re doing, if we don’t listen more, we’re going to keep losing and I think that was also a factor in the race,” Psaki said.

Portland Oregon: Rose Parade Canceled After Threats Of Violence From “Antifascist” Democrats

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

Portland rose parade canceled after ‘antifascists’ threaten GOP marchers

April 27 at 6:31 AM

For 10 years, the 82nd Avenue of Roses Business Association has kicked off the city of Portland’s annual Rose Festival with a family-friendly parade meant to attract crowds to its diverse neighborhood.

Set to march in the parade’s 67th spot this year was the Multnomah County Republican Party, a fact that so outraged two self-described antifascist groups in the deep blue Oregon city that they pledged to protest and disrupt the April 29 event.

Then came an anonymous and ominous email, according to parade organizers, that instructed them to cancel the GOP group’s registration — or else.

“You have seen how much power we have downtown and that the police cannot stop us from shutting down roads so please consider your decision wisely,” the anonymous email said, referring to the violent riots that hit Portland after the 2016 presidential election, reported the Oregonian. “This is nonnegotiable.”

The email said that 200 people would “rush into the parade” and “drag and push” those marching with the Republican Party.

“We will not give one inch to groups who espouse hatred toward LGBT, immigrants, people of color or others,” it said.

On Tuesday, the business association buckled, announcing it would cancel the parade altogether.

“Following threats of violence during the Parade by multiple groups planning to disrupt the event, 82nd Avenue of Roses Business Association can no longer guarantee the safety of our community and have made the difficult decision to cancel the Parade,” the group said in a statement.

The “antifascist” groups Oregon Students Empowered and Direct Action Alliance were behind the organized protests scheduled for the parade Saturday but told the Oregonian they had nothing to do with the anonymous email.

A petition to bring back the parade garnered nearly 200 signatures online, but on Wednesday organizers stood firmly beside their decision.

“It’s all about safety for our fans, first and foremost. If we can’t provide safety for our fans, there’s no use in trying,” Rich Jarvis, spokesman for the Rose Festival Foundation, told the Oregonian. “Our official position is we’re extremely sad about this.”

Online, others were outraged, calling members of the antifascist groups who planned to protest “snowflakes,” “anti-American” and “a bunch of chickens and brats.”

“Shutting down free speech is the (epitome) of fascism,” one person wrote on Facebook. “This is America.”

The free speech uproar in Portland reflects controversies across the country, particularly on college campuses, where speakers with conservative and sometimes extreme right-wing ideologies have been met with occasionally violent protests or threats of protests.

Portland’s anti-Trump protest turns destructive

 

Police in Portland, Ore., said that protests against President-elect Donald Trump had turned into “a riot,” on Nov. 10, with some smashing windows and lighting fires in the streets. (Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)

Appearances by former Breitbart writer Milo Yiannopoulos, self-proclaimed white nationalist Richard Spencer and, most recently, conservative commentator Ann Coulter have all been disrupted or canceled.

In a statement, Direct Action Alliance said it was “disappointed” that the parade was canceled but added that “no Portland child will see a march in support of this fascist regime go unopposed.”

James Buchal, chairman of the Multnomah County Republican Party, said in a statement that his group wants the parade to continue.

“The bottom line is that Portland needs to choose between supporting terrorist thugs and protecting average citizens who want to participate in their community,” Buchal said. “The Multnomah County Republican Party is not composed of ‘Nazis’ and ‘white supremacists’ and those who think we would tolerate marching in a parade with folks carrying swastikas are delusional.”

The University Of California Berkeley: Will Not Tolerate ‘Free Speech’ If You Don’t Agree With Their Views?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

Photo

Ann Coulter in February. After the cancellation was announced on Wednesday, Ms. Coulter posted a Twitter message that “no school accepting public funds can ban free speech.” CreditChip Somodevilla/Getty Images

SAN FRANCISCO — The University of California, Berkeley, on Wednesday canceled a scheduled speech by the conservative author Ann Coulter, in the latest blow to the institution’s legacy and reputation as a promoter and bastion of free speech.

University administrators said in a statement that they could not allow Ms. Coulter to speak because of active security threats. In a letter to the Berkeley College Republicans, which was sponsoring the speech, two university vice chancellors said the university had been “unable to find a safe and suitable venue for your planned April 27 event featuring Ann Coulter.”

The letter, written by Scott Biddy, the vice chancellor, and Stephen Sutton, the vice chancellor for student affairs, said it was “not possible to assure that the event could be held successfully — or that the safety of Ms. Coulter, the event sponsors, audience and bystanders could be adequately protected.”

After the cancellation was announced on Wednesday, Ms. Coulter posted on Twitter that “no school accepting public funds can ban free speech.”

With its reputation as one of the country’s most liberal universities, the campus and surrounding areas have become a target for small, militant and shadowy right-wing groups who in recent months have clashed with equally militant and shadowy anarchist groups based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

On Saturday, at the latest of these violent encounters, the police arrested more than 20 people. One video that went viral on social media showed a man identified as a member of a white supremacist group sucker-punching a woman who identified herself as an anarchist. These fight-club-type episodes, which have occurred both on campus and in the city of Berkeley, have escalated since the election of President Trump.

In February, a speech by the incendiary right-wing writer Milo Yiannopoulos, also sponsored by the College Republicans, was canceled after masked protesters smashed windows, set fires and pelted the police with rocks.

Photo

Trump supporters clashed with protesters at a free speech rally in Berkeley, Calif., on Saturday.CreditElijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Dan Mogulof, a spokesman for the university, said the college regretted that it had become a magnet for militant groups. “It’s become an O.K. Corral of sorts for activists across the political spectrum,” Mr. Mogulof said.

The university, he said, was committed to having a diversity of voices on campus and was working with the police to reschedule Ms. Coulter’s appearance. “We are going to do whatever we can to make that happen at a time and a place when police can provide safety and security,” he said.

At a time of heightened polarization, Berkeley is not the only university struggling to balance free speech and security concerns. The police clashed with protesters on Tuesday outside an auditorium at Auburn University where the white nationalist leader Richard Spencer was speaking. The university had canceled the event on the grounds that it could turn violent, but a federal judge in Mongtomery, Ala., ruled that the speech should proceed because there was no evidence that Mr. Spencer advocated violence.

The episodes have become fodder for conservative critics. In February, after the cancellation of the event with Mr. Yiannopoulos, Mr. Trump posted on Twitter: “If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view — NO FEDERAL FUNDS?”

Both Ms. Coulter and the Young America’s Foundation, which books her college speeches, said they expected the event to proceed as planned. Spencer Brown, a spokesman for the Young America’s Foundation, which promotes conservative ideals, said in an email that Ms. Coulter’s lecture would proceed next week “whether Berkeley likes it or not.”

The violent clashes in Berkeley have presented a dilemma for the police, who say intervening has its own risks. Anarchist groups have for years appeared at protests in neighboring Oakland, punctuating peaceful demonstrations by smashing shop windows and attacking public buildings.

The Oakland police came under heavy criticism in 2011 after a protester, a former Army Ranger, was severely injured during a demonstration. The protester, Kayvan Sabeghi, said the police beat him with batons. He sued, and the City of Oakland agreed to pay $645,000 as part of a settlement.

The Berkeley campus gained national attention in 1964 as the center of a movement to expand political expression, which became known as the Free Speech Movement.

Exclusive: Putin-linked think tank drew up plan to sway 2016 U.S. election – documents

 

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF REUTERS NEWS AGENCY)

Exclusive: Putin-linked think tank drew up plan to sway 2016 U.S. election – documents

By Ned Parker, Jonathan Landay and John Walcott | WASHINGTON

A Russian government think tank controlled by Vladimir Putin developed a plan to swing the 2016 U.S. presidential election to Donald Trump and undermine voters’ faith in the American electoral system, three current and four former U.S. officials told Reuters.

They described two confidential documents from the think tank as providing the framework and rationale for what U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded was an intensive effort by Russia to interfere with the Nov. 8 election. U.S. intelligence officials acquired the documents, which were prepared by the Moscow-based Russian Institute for Strategic Studies [en.riss.ru/], after the election.

The institute is run by retired senior Russian foreign intelligence officials appointed by Putin’s office.

The first Russian institute document was a strategy paper written last June that circulated at the highest levels of the Russian government but was not addressed to any specific individuals.

It recommended the Kremlin launch a propaganda campaign on social media and Russian state-backed global news outlets to encourage U.S. voters to elect a president who would take a softer line toward Russia than the administration of then-President Barack Obama, the seven officials said.

A second institute document, drafted in October and distributed in the same way, warned that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was likely to win the election. For that reason, it argued, it was better for Russia to end its pro-Trump propaganda and instead intensify its messaging about voter fraud to undermine the U.S. electoral system’s legitimacy and damage Clinton’s reputation in an effort to undermine her presidency, the seven officials said.

The current and former U.S. officials spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the Russian documents’ classified status. They declined to discuss how the United States obtained them. U.S. intelligence agencies also declined to comment on them.

Putin has denied interfering in the U.S. election. Putin’s spokesman and the Russian institute did not respond to requests for comment.

The documents were central to the Obama administration’s conclusion that Russia mounted a “fake news” campaign and launched cyber attacks against Democratic Party groups and Clinton’s campaign, the current and former officials said.

“Putin had the objective in mind all along, and he asked the institute to draw him a road map,” said one of the sources, a former senior U.S. intelligence official.

Trump has said Russia’s activities had no impact on the outcome of the race. Ongoing congressional and FBI investigations into Russian interference have so far produced no public evidence that Trump associates colluded with the Russian effort to change the outcome of the election.

Four of the officials said the approach outlined in the June strategy paper was a broadening of an effort the Putin administration launched in March 2016. That month the Kremlin instructed state-backed media outlets, including international platforms Russia Today and Sputnik news agency, to start producing positive reports on Trump’s quest for the U.S. presidency, the officials said.

Russia Today did not respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson for Sputnik dismissed the assertions by the U.S. officials that it participated in a Kremlin campaign as an “absolute pack of lies.” “And by the way, it’s not the first pack of lies we’re hearing from ‘sources in U.S. official circles’,” the spokesperson said in an email.

PRO-KREMLIN BLOGGERS

Russia Today and Sputnik published anti-Clinton stories while pro-Kremlin bloggers prepared a Twitter campaign calling into question the fairness of an anticipated Clinton victory, according to a report by U.S. intelligence agencies on Russian interference in the election made public in January. [bit.ly/2kMiKSA]

Russia Today’s most popular Clinton video – “How 100% of the 2015 Clintons’ ‘charity’ went to … themselves” – accumulated 9 millions views on social media, according to the January report. [bit.ly/2os8wIt]

The report said Russia Today and Sputnik “consistently cast president elect-Trump as the target of unfair coverage from traditional media outlets.”

The report said the agencies did not assess whether Moscow’s effort had swung the outcome of the race in Trump’s favor, because American intelligence agencies do not “analyze U.S. political processes or U.S. public opinion.” [bit.ly/2kMiKSA]

CYBER ATTACKS

Neither of the Russian institute documents mentioned the release of hacked Democratic Party emails to interfere with the U.S. election, according to four of the officials. The officials said the hacking was a covert intelligence operation run separately out of the Kremlin.

The overt propaganda and covert hacking efforts reinforced each other, according to the officials. Both Russia Today and Sputnik heavily promoted the release of the hacked Democratic Party emails, which often contained embarrassing details.

Five of the U.S. officials described the institute as the Kremlin’s in-house foreign policy think tank.

The institute’s director when the documents were written, Leonid Reshetnikov, rose to the rank of lieutenant general during a 33-year-career in Russia’s foreign intelligence service, according to the institute’s website [bit.ly/2oVhiCF]. After Reshetnikov retired from the institute in January, Putin named as his replacement Mikhail Fradkov. The institute says he served as the director of Russia’s foreign intelligence service from 2007 to 2016. [bit.ly/2os4tvz]

Reuters was unable to determine if either man was directly involved in the drafting of the documents. Reshetnikov’s office referred questions to the Russian institute.

On its website, the Russian institute describes itself as providing “expert appraisals,” “recommendations,” and “analytical materials” to the Russian president’s office, cabinet, National Security Council, ministries and parliament. [bit.ly/2pCBGpR]

On Jan. 31, the websites of Putin’s office [bit.ly/2os9wMr] and the institute [bit.ly/2oLn9Kd] posted a picture and transcript of Reshetnikov and his successor Fradkov meeting with Putin in the Kremlin. Putin thanked Reshetnikov for his service and told Fradkov he wanted the institute to provide objective information and analysis.

“We did our best for nearly eight years to implement your foreign policy concept,” Reshetnikov told Putin. “The policy of Russia and the policy of the President of Russia have been the cornerstone of our operation.”

(Reporting by Ned Parker and Jonathan Landay, additional reporting by Warren Strobel and Arshad Mohammed; Editing by David Rohde and Ross Colvin)

Federal Lawmakers Introduce Sweeping Marijuana Policy Legislation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF MPP)

 

MPP Blog


Federal Lawmakers Introduce Sweeping Marijuana Policy Legislation

Posted: 30 Mar 2017 02:30 PM PDT

Legislation was introduced in the Senate and House of Representatives on Thursday that would end marijuana prohibition at the federal level and replace it with a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol.

Bills filed by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act, leaving states to determine their own marijuana policies, and impose federal regulations on marijuana businesses in states that choose to regulate marijuana for adult use. Wyden’s bill would also enact a federal excise tax on marijuana products. In the House, the tax is being proposed in a separate bill introduced by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR).

Wyden and Blumenauer also filed marijuana policy “gap” bills that would eliminate many of the collateral consequences associated with federal marijuana convictions without removing marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act.

An additional bill filed by Wyden with Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Michael Bennett (D-CO) would reform section 280E of the U.S. Tax Code to allow state-legal marijuana businesses to deduct ordinary and necessary business expenses from their federal taxes. A companion bill was filed in the House by Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) and Rep. Blumenauer.

“This is commonsense legislation that will eliminate the growing tension between federal and state marijuana laws,” said MPP’s Robert Capecchi in a press release. Voters and legislatures are rolling back antiquated state marijuana prohibition policies, and it’s time for Congress to step up at the federal level. States are adopting laws designed to improve public safety by replacing the illegal marijuana market with a tightly regulated system of production and sales. The federal government should be working to facilitate that transition, not hinder it. It’s time for Congress to come to grips with the fact that marijuana is safer than alcohol, and most Americans think it should be treated that way.

The post Federal Lawmakers Introduce Sweeping Marijuana Policy Legislation appeared first on MPP Blog.

Bill to Regulate Marijuana Introduced in Delaware

Posted: 30 Mar 2017 02:22 PM PDT

After years of advocacy on the part of MPP and our local partners, Delaware Rep. Helene Keeley and Sen. Margaret Rose Henry introduced HB 110, the Delaware Marijuana Control Act. The bill seeks to legalize and regulate cannabis for adults 21 years of age or older. The marijuana tax revenue would be used to fund education, public health campaigns, and to support re-entry campaigns for ex-offenders, among other programs.

An October 2016 poll by the University of Delaware found that 61% of state residents favor this important policy change. Now it is up to voters to let their lawmakers know they want to see them vote in favor of this bill!

In a press briefing to announce the bill’s introduction, sponsors of the bill — which enjoys bipartisan support — spoke about why they see this topic as a social justice issue, and how the failed “reefer madness” policy views of the past should come to an end.

The post Bill to Regulate Marijuana Introduced in Delaware appeared first on MPP Blog.

West Virginia Senate Approves Medical Marijuana

Posted: 30 Mar 2017 02:15 PM PDT

The West Virginia Senate has voted to approve a medical marijuana bill Wednesday. SB 386, sponsored by Sen. Richard Ojeda, passed the Senate in a 28-6 vote! The bill will now move to the House.

In the past, House Speaker Tim Armstead has not been willing to allow medical marijuana bills to be considered. However, if enough delegates are willing to stand up and support this critical reform, it will be possible to overcome the speaker’s opposition.

“We applaud the Senate for standing up for seriously ill West Virginians and giving them hope with this much-needed legislation,” said Matt Simon of the Marijuana Policy Project, who is a West Virginia native and graduate of West Virginia University. “For many patients, medical marijuana is a far safer alternative to opioids and other prescription drugs. Any delegates who are serious about addressing the opiate crisis in West Virginia need to consider the substantial benefits this law could have on that front.  We hope Speaker Armstead will review the facts and give this bill a fair shake in the House.”

If you are a West Virginia resident, please call your delegates’ offices right now, and urge them to support allowing medical marijuana in West Virginia.

It’s also imperative that you call House Speaker Tim Armstead’s office at (304) 340-3210, and urge House leaders to stop stonewalling on this important issue.

The post West Virginia Senate Approves Medical Marijuana appeared first on MPP Blog.

Vermont House Moves Legalization Bill Back to Committee

Posted: 30 Mar 2017 02:07 PM PDT

On Tuesday, the Vermont House of Representatives appeared to be ready to pass H. 170, which would legalize marijuana possession and cultivation for adults. Unfortunately, instead of calling for a vote on the floor, House leaders decided to send the bill to the Human Services Committee for further consideration.

If you are a Vermont resident, it is critically important that the House speaker’s office hear from you on this issue. Please call the speaker’s office now at (802) 828-2245, and urge House leaders to bring H. 170 to the floor for a vote as soon as possible and pass it on to the Senate.

The post Vermont House Moves Legalization Bill Back to Committee appeared first on MPP Blog.

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