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The Left Column

Bernardo de La Paz

Congress moves to give away national lands, discounting billions in revenue

(Guardian) In the midst of highly publicized steps to dismantle insurance coverage for 32 million people and defund women’s healthcare facilities, Republican lawmakers have quietly laid the foundation to give away Americans’ birthright: 640m acres of national land. In a single line of changes to the rules for the House of Representatives, Republicans have overwritten the value of federal lands, easing the path to disposing of federal property even if doing so loses money for the government and provides no demonstrable compensation to American citizens.

At stake are areas managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), National Forests and Federal Wildlife Refuges, which contribute to an estimated $646bn in economic stimulus from recreation on federal lands and 6.1m jobs. Transferring these lands to the states, critics fear, could decimate those numbers by eliminating mixed-use requirements, limiting public access and turning over large portions for energy or property development.

According to the Outdoor Alliance, US public land is the government’s second largest source of income after taxes. In addition to economic stimulus in outdoor activities, federal land also creates revenue through oil and gas production, logging and other industrial uses. According to the BLM, in 2016, it made $2bn in royalty revenue from federal leases.


Elijah Cummings: 'If the public knew what Congress knows' they would boycott the inauguration too

(Raw Story) Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) on Thursday asserted that the general public would boycott Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration if they had access to classified information about Russia’s interference in the U.S. election.

During an interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo, Cummings explained that he would be attending the inauguration but he defended the more than 50 Democratic lawmakers who have vowed not to show up.

“You’ve got to understand that members of Congress have a lot of information that the public does not have,” Cummings said. “And I can tell you over the last week or two, the classified briefings that I have been to, and if the public knew what members of Congress know…”


Trump team prepares dramatic cuts

(The Hill) The departments of Commerce and Energy would see major reductions in funding, with programs under their jurisdiction either being eliminated or transferred to other agencies. The departments of Transportation, Justice and State would see significant cuts and program eliminations.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting would be privatized, while the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities would be eliminated entirely.

Overall, the blueprint being used by Trump’s team would reduce federal spending by $10.5 trillion over 10 years.


In Farewell, Obama Sets Red Lines That Would Pull Him Back Into Fray

(NYT) When President Obama arrived in office eight years ago, the departing President George W. Bush essentially withdrew from public life, declaring that his successor “deserves my silence.” It was an approach that Mr. Obama greatly appreciated but does not intend to follow.

At the final news conference of his presidency, Mr. Obama made clear on Wednesday that he finds some ideas advanced by President-elect Donald J. Trump so alarming that he laid out markers that would draw him back into the fray.

“There’s a difference between that normal functioning of politics and certain issues or certain moments where I think our core values may be at stake,” Mr. Obama told reporters in the White House briefing room.


Dem Senator On Republican Obamacare Replacement: 'They Are In A Panic'

(TPM) Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) says Republicans have approached him looking for help to replace the Affordable Care Act because he says "they are in a panic."

"I think they want a life line because they don't have a plan," Schatz told TPM. Schatz told TPM that Republicans' overtures to talk health care are little more than vague hints that the Democratic senator should sit down with them.

"It's 'hey, let's talk. Why don't we form a little grouping,' but nobody's buying it because they have no plan," Schatz said. Republicans took the first steps to repeal the Affordable Care Act last week using a process known as reconciliation, which only requires a simple majority vote to pass in the Senate. But Republicans know that they will need Democratic support to replace Obamacare.


Trump Says He'll Show Off The US Military In Parades

(TPM) Donald Trump plans on displaying the United States military's strength when he becomes president by having troops march in parades.

“Being a great president has to do with a lot of things, but one of them is being a great cheerleader for the country,” Trump told the Washington Post in an interview published Wednesday morning. “And we’re going to show the people as we build up our military, we’re going to display our military."

"That military may come marching down Pennsylvania Avenue. That military may be flying over New York City and Washington, D.C., for parades. I mean, we’re going to be showing our military," he continued.


New Trump Adviser Being Sued for Hiring White Men to Attack African Americans

(Daily Beast) President-elect Donald Trump’s newest White House adviser runs a real-estate company currently being sued by African-Americans who accuse it of racial discrimination and hiring white men to physically attack and eject them.

On Wednesday, Trump tapped Reed Cordish as assistant to the president for Intergovernmental and Technology Initiatives. Cordish is an executive of the Cordish Companies, his family’s Baltimore, Maryland-based real-estate business, and the president of Entertainment Concepts Investors, a subsidiary that owns and manages bars, restaurants, and clubs throughout the country.


Freudian slip? Trump's denial of pee-pee-gate surely has an odd wording:

“It’s made up. Never existed. Never happened,” Trump continued, speaking specifically about the unverified report regarding the prostitutes. “And the reason I say that so strongly because nothing is ever going to show up. There’s never going to be a tape that shows up. There’s never going to be anything that shows up. Now, I would be very embarrassed if a tape actually showed up, saying something like that. It would be double embarrassed because I’m saying there is no tape. There is no event. I was never even in that room for that period of time.


More than 1,600 factory workers are being fired after Trump said hed save their jobs

(Raw Story) Dragging on a cigarette as he sits in the hall of United Steelworkers Local 1999, Robert James says, “Trump stood on stage and lied about 1,100 jobs being saved at Carrier in Indianapolis.”

James, 57, is the local vice president and a forklift driver who’s worked for 18 years at the Indiana-based factory that manufactures furnaces for homes. In February 2016 Carrier told more than 2,000 workers at two factories in the Hoosier State they were going to be fired and production would shift to Monterrey, Mexico. After a video of the workers being fired went viral, Trump made Carrier a poster-child of offshoring during the presidential campaign. Following his victory, Trump turned the screws on Carrier to keep jobs in the United States.


A couple more from yesterday's drive. Photography : By Adsos Letter

Rivers of Fog - Ethereal and mystic imagery The DU Lounge : By packman

Colorized pixs of King Tut's Tomb - Remarkable/stunning The DU Lounge : By packman

Yes, it's a carrot party. The DU Lounge : By Yavin4

What a life. The DU Lounge : By rug

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