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Name: Don
Gender: Male
Hometown: Massachusetts
Home country: United States
Member since: Sat Sep 1, 2012, 02:28 PM
Number of posts: 60,536

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Ex-military officials urge U.S. judge to halt Trump's transgender ban

Source: Reuters

AUGUST 31, 2017 / 5:10 PM / 34 MINUTES AGO

Joseph Ax

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Three high-ranking military officials from the Obama administration on Thursday joined several transgender service members in urging a U.S. judge to halt President Donald Trump’s ban on transgender people serving in the military.

The former secretaries of the Army, Navy and Air Force – including former Army Secretary Eric Fanning, the first openly gay head of any U.S. military service – submitted sworn statements to a Washington, D.C., federal court in support of a motion for an immediate injunction.

The new filings came as part of a lawsuit challenging the ban, which Trump first announced in a series of tweets earlier this month. The move would reverse former President Barack Obama’s order that allowed transgender people to serve openly without fear of losing their jobs.

“The ban marks transgender service members as unequal and dispensable, stigmatizing them in the eyes of their fellow service members and depriving them of the unique honor and status associated with uniformed service to their country,” the motion said.

Read more: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-military-transgender-idUSKCN1BB31V

U.S. judge strikes down Obama administration overtime pay rule

Source: Reuters

#U.S.AUGUST 31, 2017 / 4:20 PM / 11 MINUTES AGO

Daniel Wiessner

(Reuters) - A federal judge in Texas on Thursday struck down an Obama administration rule that would have extended mandatory overtime pay to more than 4 million U.S. workers, siding with business groups and 21 states that had challenged it.

The decision came after the same judge last year blocked the rule from taking effect pending his final decision. The Trump administration had already said it would make changes to the rule, which riled trade groups and companies when it was adopted.

The rule would have doubled to about $47,000 the maximum salary a worker could earn and still be automatically eligible for overtime pay.

U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant in Sherman, Texas, said the salary level was set so high that it could sweep in some management workers who are supposed to be exempt from overtime protections.

Read more: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-overtime-idUSKCN1BB2Y8

Texas Republicans Helped Chemical Plant That Exploded Lobby Against Safety Rules

Source: International Business Times


The effort to stop the chemical plant safety rules was backed by top Texas Republican lawmakers, who have received big campaign donations from chemical industry donors.

Representatives from Arkema Americas and the American Chemistry Council did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In 2013, a West, Texas, chemical plant explosion killed 15 people, prompting the Obama administration to try to raise chemical plant safety standards (investigators later found the explosion was caused deliberately). In an executive order that year, President Obama proposed an overhaul of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Risk Management Program with the goal of increasing safety and transparency at chemical plants by strengthening existing regulations. The EPA said the enhanced rules would “seek to improve chemical process safety, assist local emergency authorities in planning for and responding to accidents, and improve public awareness of chemical hazards at regulated source.”

Arkema has six production plants in Texas and has received more than $8.7 million worth of taxpayer subsidies from the state. Arkema’s Crosby plant — which OSHA fined more than $90,000 for ten “serious” violations earlier this year and has spewed smoke in Crosby — appears to be covered under the existing EPA rules because of the kinds of chemicals it uses. While Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has given chemical companies legal cover to hide the locations of their EPA-regulated chemicals, the Associated Press reports that the imperiled Arkema facility houses large amounts of toxic sulfur dioxide and flammable methylpropen, which required Arkema to submit a risk management plan to the agency — and which would have subjected the company to the strengthened safety rules.

Read more: http://www.ibtimes.com/political-capital/texas-republicans-helped-chemical-plant-exploded-lobby-against-safety-rules

WH: Trump To Give 'A Million Dollars Of Personal Money' To Harvey Relief Aid

Source: Talking Points Memo

By ESME CRIBB Published AUGUST 31, 2017 3:52 PM

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Thursday said President Donald Trump pledged “a million dollars of personal money” to Hurricane Harvey relief aid.

“He would like to join in the efforts that a lot of the people that we’ve seen across this country do and he’s pledging a million dollars of personal money to the fund,” Sanders said during her daily briefing.

She said Trump asked her to take “suggestions” from reporters in the briefing room about “the groups and organizations that are best and most effective in helping and providing aid.”

“But as I said, he’ll pledge proudly a million dollars of his own personal money to help the people of both Texas and Louisiana,” Sanders said.

Read more: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/white-house-trump-to-donate-a-million-dollars-harvey-aid

David Clarke, Milwaukee County Sheriff Once Considered For DHS Job, Resigns

Source: Talking Points Memo

By MATT SHUHAM Published AUGUST 31, 2017 4:40 PM

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke has resigned, county clerk George Christenson confirmed to TPM Thursday. Clarke is an ally of President Donald Trump and was briefly considered for a job at the Department of Homeland Security.

WTMJ-TV’s Steve Chamraz first broke the story Thursday.

Clarke, known for his harsh jailing practices and strong condemnation of activist groups like Black Lives Matter, briefly claimed he was being considered for a job in the Department of Homeland Security. He was a vocal supporter of then-candidate Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign, even speaking at the Republican National Convention.

“I will be leaving the position of sheriff to accept an appointment as an assistant secretary in the Department of Homeland Security,” he told WISN’s Vicki McKenna on May 17. “I’m both honored and humbled to be appointed to this position by Secretary Kelly, working for the Trump administration.” However, DHS itself never acknowledged such an offer, and over the course of several weeks, Clarke began doubting his place within the administration.

Read more: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/david-clarke-resigns


Trump Attorneys Lay Out Arguments Against Obstruction-of-Justice Probe to Mueller

Source: Wall Street Journal

In meetings and memos, lawyers argue president didn’t obstruct justice by firing former FBI Chief Comey

By Peter Nicholas, Erica Orden and Paul Sonne
Updated Aug. 31, 2017 4:22 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON—Lawyers for Donald Trump have met several times with special counsel Robert Mueller in recent months and submitted memos arguing that the president didn’t obstruct justice by firing former FBI chief James Comey and calling into question Mr. Comey’s reliability as a potential witness, people familiar with the matter said.

One memo submitted to Mr. Mueller by the president’s legal team in June laid out the case that Mr. Trump has the inherent authority under the constitution to hire and fire as he sees fit and therefore didn’t obstruct justice when he fired Mr. Comey as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation in May, these people said.

Another memo submitted the same month outlined why Mr. Comey would make an unsuitable witness, calling him prone to exaggeration, unreliable in congressional testimony and the source of leaks to the news media, these people said.

The legal arguments and meetings offer a first detailed look at the interplay between the high-profile, wide-ranging investigation and the team that is representing the president since the special counsel was appointed by the Justice Department in May.

Read more: https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-attorneys-lay-out-arguments-against-obstruction-of-justice-probe-to-mueller-1504207495?mod=e2tw

Trump officials pick four companies to build prototypes of border wall

Source: The Washington Post

By Tracy Jan August 31 at 4:00 PM

The Trump administration on Thursday announced it has chosen four companies to build concrete prototypes of the president’s much-touted border wall.

Construction of the prototypes, to take place in San Diego, is the first step in fulfilling Trump’s campaign promise of building a “big, beautiful” wall stretching along the 2,000-mile Mexico border.

“Today we mark a significant milestone," said Ronald Vitiello, acting deputy commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “This is the first tangible result of the action planning that has gone on. This is the use of the resources we had available for this year.”

But there appears to be a lack of political will to fund a continuous barrier. Congress has set aside $20 million in the current budget to build the prototypes but has not appropriated any other money for the wall. Each of the four contracts are worth between just under $400,000 and $500,000, Vitiello said.

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/08/31/trump-officials-pick-four-companies-that-will-build-prototypes-of-border-wall/?utm_term=.8cc74699d9c3&wpisrc=al_alert-economy&wpmk=1

The four companies are: Caddell Construction in Montgomery, Ala., Fisher Sand & Gravel/DBA Fisher Industries in Tempe, Az., Texas Sterling Construction in Houston, Tx., and W.G. Yates & Sons Construction in Philadelphia, Miss.

Mattis signs orders to send additional troops to Afghanistan

Source: Reuters

AUGUST 31, 2017 / 1:29 PM / 18 MINUTES AGO

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Thursday he had signed deployment orders to send additional troops to Afghanistan but did not specify the size of the force.

“Yes, I have signed orders but it is not complete. In other words I have signed some of the (orders for) troops that will go and we are identifying the specific ones,” Mattis told reporters.

Mattis declined to comment on how many additional troops were included in the orders, but U.S. officials have told Reuters that President Donald Trump has given Mattis the authority to send about 4,000 additional troops to Afghanistan.

“It is more advisers, it is more enablers, fire support, for example,” Mattis said. He added that no additional troops had moved in yet and could take a “couple of days.”

Read more: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-afghanistan-military-idUSKCN1BB2JC

Trump is at war with his own generals

We used to worry Trump listened to his generals too much. Turns out he may not listen to them enough.

Updated by Phillip Carter Aug 31, 2017, 12:00pm EDT

During his campaign for the White House, Donald Trump took the highly-unusual step of blasting America’s top generals, arguing in one debate that they’d been “reduced to rubble” and later threatening to fire them if they didn’t tell him what he wanted to hear. If elected, Trump promised to put top generals into key jobs — and then to give them the freedom to fight America’s wars without micromanagement from the White House.

True to his word, Trump has surrounded himself with a trio of well-respected current and retired generals: Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, a former Marine general best known for a successful tour through one of the bloodiest parts of Iraq; White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, a retired Marine general who served three tours in Iraq, oversaw Guantanamo Bay and was a top aide to two secretaries of defense; and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, a three-star general in the Army with a celebrated Iraq war record of his own.

The three men’s prominence, and their long history of distinguished service, has led many inside and outside the White House to see them as the adults in the room who would be guiding Trump toward a calmer, more stable, more rational foreign policy than what he alluded to during his campaign.

The three men, in turn, have spent months traveling the globe to reassure allies that Trump hasn’t meant what he said when the president threatened a preemptive strike on North Korea (which terrified Japan and South Korea) or talked about pulling out of NATO and cozying up to Russia (which terrified much of Europe). But seven months into his term, that conventional wisdom is looking increasingly shaky. Trump is openly at odds with many current and former military leaders in his administration on issues ranging from Afghanistan (the generals want more troops than he’s inclined to send) to his proposed ban on transgender troops (the Pentagon opposes the move).

The disagreements have recently reached a fever pitch over North Korea. Trump is threatening Kim Jong Un’s regime with “fire and fury,” and tweeting that “Talking is not the answer.” Mattis, by contrast, is saying “we’re never out of diplomatic solutions,” while McMaster has flown to Seoul to personally reassure the South Korean government that Washington wouldn’t do anything rash.


Republicans won't acknowledge Trump is a really bad person - By Jennifer Rubin

August 31 at 11:30 AM

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.

President Trump is not misunderstood. To the contrary, there is broad agreement on who he is and what motivates him. In the latest Fox News poll, 56 percent of voters think he is “tearing the country apart,” while only 33 percent think he is “drawing the country together.” Fifty-six percent of voters think he does not respect minorities, while only 41 percent think he does. Fifty-six percent disapprove of his handling of the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville; only 35 percent approve. (Fifty-two percent blame the neo-Nazis for the violence, while only 19 percent buy into Trump’s view that “both sides” were responsible). And an astounding 70 percent thinks he hates the media more than he hates white supremacists. (A minority, albeit a disturbingly large percentage — 40 percent — of voters themselves consider the press to be a bigger threat than white supremacists.)

The poll’s finding that 55 percent of voters disapprove of the job he is doing roughly coincides with the percentage of voters who say he is ripping the country apart, does not respect minorities and mishandled Charlottesville. To be blunt, they think he’s a bigot and they don’t like a bigot as their president. This is not to say there hasn’t been some erosion in Trump’s base. In fact, compared with previous Fox News polls, Trump has “lost the most ground with conservatives (down 7 points), Republican men (-9 points), and whites without a college degree (-9 points).”

Nevertheless, unlike Democrats, independents and most every other segment of the electorate, Republicans simply don’t see Trump’s views and performance on race negatively — or maybe they refuse to confess that they see it that way because they don’t want to part ways with him. Eighty-five percent of Republicans approve or somewhat approve of his performance, with 65 percent saying they strongly approve. Tearing the country apart? No way, 68 percent of Republicans say. C’mon. They see Trump — and cheer him! — when he rips into other Republicans, Democrats, the media and anyone who criticizes him (such as the business leaders who quit his advisory councils). How can Trump supporters hoot and holler when Trump rips their foes and yet still claim that he is a great unifier?

One suspects that a high percentage of these Republicans know quite well how divisive Trump is, but they don’t want to think of their choice for president as someone who divides the country. Likewise, do only 23 percent of Republicans think the neo-Nazis — who ran over a woman and killed her — are responsible for the violence in Charlottesville? Well, Trump said there were “very fine” people on both sides, so they go along with that. Naturally, 72 percent think he handled Charlottesville well. And 82 percent think Trump respects minorities since, well, they’d never support a bigot.

You see, a very large percentage of Republicans refuse to acknowledge Trump’s overt bigotry and divisiveness — or any other glaring character flaws. It’s not unusual for those who voted for a candidate to refuse to confess to their error or the candidate’s flaws. Whatever side Trump is on and whatever defenses he raises, his cult follows.

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