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For the purposes of this show, I operate on two mottoes:
- You’re entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts;
- An educated electorate is a prerequisite for a democracy.
“Remember, remember always, that all of us, you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.” ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt, Remarks to the Daughters of the American Revolution. Washington, D.C. (April 21, 1938)
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- Senate starts DREAMer debate and anything could happen, by Eliza Collins, USA TODAY Published 3:43 p.m. ET Feb. 12, 2018 | Updated 6:50 p.m. ET Feb. 12, 2018
- House Speaker Paul Ryan vows that once Congress reaches a budget deal, lawmakers will take up the plight of immigrant “Dreamers” who face deportation after being brought to the U.S. illegally as children. (Feb. 8) AP
- The Senate voted to begin … debate on immigration Monday night — and no one knows how it will turn out.
- The goal is to find a bipartisan compromise that can get at least 60 votes in the Senate, the minimum needed to pass most substantive matters….
- “Now is not the time, nor the place, to reform the entire legal immigration system. Rather this is the moment for a narrow bill and every ounce of our energy is going into finding one that can pass,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said on the floor Monday …
- Why Trump’s infrastructure plan doesn’t pass the straight-face test, by Jennifer Rubin February 12, 2018 [The Washington Post]
- President Trump’s infrastructure plan: … Trump plans to stimulate at least $1.5 trillion in new investment, shorten project permitting time to two years, invest in rural projects and improve worker training. The newest elements of the proposal include expanding the use of tax-exempt debt, letting states add tolls on interstates and making it easier to lease airports and other public assets.
- The plan’s premise is that the government would spend $200 billion to spur states, localities and the private sector to raise the $1.3 trillion balance, giving Congress a blueprint for passing legislation. Since the federal government owns very little infrastructure, the Trump plan aims to create local funding and streamline permitting. The White House rolled out the plan on the same day as it delivered its $4.4 trillion fiscal 2019 federal budget proposal.
- … For starters, states do not have the money, which is why the federal government (which can do things like raise the federal gas tax) traditionally funds a large percentage of the cost. (“Right now, federally funded highways (that’s interstates and other routes) are financed on the basis of an 80-20 federal-state split, and federally funded mass transit projects usually get a 50-50 split,” Vox reports. “Trump’s proposal is to flip the 80-20 formula on its head and require that states and cities kick in at least $4 for every $1 in federal money they receive.”)
- …To make matters worse, Trump seems keen on funding this at least in part by a non-starter selling off of federal assets, including Dulles International and Reagan National airports. (“Efforts to privatize federal assets were discussed early in the administration by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, National Economic Council director Gary Cohn and other advisers as a preferred way to come up with capital for much needed improvements. But it was also lambasted as irresponsible by opponents.”)
- … Republicans who hold most governorships have shown no inclination to spend huge sums of money. Like Trump, they fancy tax cuts…
- Trump proposes to privatize International Space Station in 2025, By James Dean, [Florida Today, USA Today Network] Published 11:36 a.m. ET Feb. 12, 2018 | Updated 1:32 p.m. ET Feb. 12, 2018
- According to the Washington Post, the White House reportedly has unveiled plans to cut off the station’s funding by 2024.
- Top Justice Department official Brand quit partly over fear she might be asked to oversee Russia probe, by Julia Ainsley (NBCNews.com) Feb 12 2018, 1:10 pm ET
- WASHINGTON — The Justice Department’s No. 3 attorney had been unhappy with her job for months before the department announced her departure on Friday, according to multiple sources close to Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand.
- Brand grew frustrated by vacancies at the department and feared she would be asked to oversee the Russia investigation, the sources said.
- DOJ official [Associated Attorney General Rachel Brand] partly over fear she might be asked to oversee Russia probe, By Geoff Earle, Deputy U.S. Political Editor For Dailymail.com, Published: 16:34 EST, 12 February 2018 | Updated: 16:38 EST, 12 February 2018
- In an unsourced story, Associated Attorney General Rachel Brand’s announcement that she will resign her post was based in part out of concern she could be thrust into overseeing the Russia probe.
- Brand, who announced Friday she would leave her post to take a top job at Walmart, feared she would be required to take over oversight of the Russia probe, sources told NBC News.
- … Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Flores shot back: ‘It is clear these anonymous sources have never met Rachel Brand let alone know her thinking. All of this is false and frankly ridiculous.’
- Beleaguered gunmaker Remington points to bankruptcy court, The Associated Press Published 11:13 a.m. ET Feb. 12, 2018 | Updated 11:19 a.m. ET Feb. 12, 2018
- Remington, the gunmaker beset by falling sales and lawsuits tied to the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, has reached a financing deal that would allow it to continue operating as it files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
- The maker of the Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle used in the Connecticut shooting that left 20 first-graders and six educators dead in 2012, said Monday that the agreement with lenders will reduce its debt by about $700 million and add about $145 million in new capital.
- The company was cleared of any wrongdoing in the shooting, but investors repulsed by the massacres distanced themselves from the company’s owner, investment firm Cerberus Capital Management. Cerberus acquired the gun maker in 2007, just when gun sales began to skyrocket.
- Israel squares off for showdown with Iran in Syria, by Farah Najjar (Al-Jazeera) Feb-12-2018, 4 hours ago
- A surge in Israeli-Syrian cross-border incidents has turned into the “biggest” confrontation between the two countries in decades and confronted Russia with a new dilemma: how to preserve its ties with both sides.
- The tit-for-tat attacks, which started on Saturday and continued until the following day, have been accompanied by a war of words, with Benjamin Netanyahu warning that Israel would continue to strike against any aggression.
- …The toughest Israeli aerial assault on Syrian and Iranian bases was reportedly in response to Syrian forces shooting down an Israeli fighter jet on Saturday and claims that an Iranian drone entered Israeli airspace.
- The attacks, which killed at least six Syrian troops and allied militia members, targeted areas near the Syrian capital Damascus, with Israel warning about increased Iranian involvement along its borders with Syria and Lebanon.
- A statement by the pro-government military alliance in Syria had said that the drones were being used against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group fighters.
- But Israel’s chief military spokesperson said Israel held Iran directly accountable for the incident.
- Wealthy self-funder could upend open race to replace Houston U.S. Rep. Gene Green – Just a few weeks ago, Houston political observers were predicting state Sen. Sylvia Garcia would easily win the Democratic primary to replace U.S. Rep. Gene Green. Then Tahir Javed pledged to “spend whatever it takes” to come out on top. by Abby Livingston [Texas Tribune] Feb. 2, 2018 Updated: 9 AM
- … Texas state senator [Sylvia] Garcia is running for Congress … and, until recently, some in Houston were predicting she would effectively swamp the other six Democrats in the race, winning the party’s nomination in a clear shot on the March 6 primary and avoiding a runoff.
- The wildcard appears to be Tahir Javed, an outspoken healthcare executive who told the Tribune that he will “spend whatever it takes” to win the seat U.S. Rep. Gene Green, D-Houston, is giving up after 25 years. “I have invested in people all my life, and I want to do it one more time,” said Javed, CEO of Riceland Healthcare.
- Are we giving millennials enough of a reason to stay?, by Jonathan Aberman (The Washington Post) February 5, 2018 at 7:00 AM
- Last week, American University’s Kogod School of Business released its newest Millennial Index. … millennials as an age group are looking for jobs that offer high salaries and career progression while living in communities that provide affordable housing and to some lesser extent other lifestyle amenities, the index shows.
- This picture of millennial aspirations should get our attention… When asked to rank the most important factors they use to evaluate where to live, millennials
- rank jobs as most important (40 percent),
- affordability as next important (24 percent),
- followed by career and education options (18 percent),
- amenities (10 percent) and
- people (8 percent).
- This ranking shows … that millennials will be less likely to stay [in metro DC] because of people or amenities, if there are better economic opportunities or cheaper living elsewhere. This is a group that will vote with its feet and move away or never come at all.
- Indeed, … In the aftermath of the Great Recession, our region … But in 2017, our region saw a 0.2 percent drop in millennial residents, despite a 1.5 percent increase nationwide.
- MIKE: If we’re not careful, this can be the beginning of a “brain drain” like the one which benefited the US in the 1950s-60s, but in reverse. It may affect the nation rather than just a few regions.
- China’s watchful eye: CCTV footage taken in Beijing uses the facial-recognition system Face++. China, unburdened by concerns about privacy or civil rights, is integrating private cameras and security cameras into a nationwide surveillance system., Story by Simon Denyer, Photos by Gilles Sabrié, Video by Joyce Lee, January 7, 2018 (Washington Post)
- Beijing bets on facial recognition in a big drive for total surveillance
- …who’s a criminal? In China, documents for the Police Cloud project unearthed by Human Rights Watch list “petitioners” — people who complain to the government about perceived injustices — as potential targets of surveillance, along with anyone who “undermines stability” or has “extreme thoughts.” Other documents cite members of ethnic minorities, specifically Muslim Uighurs from Xinjiang, as subjects of scrutiny.
- Maya Wang, a researcher at Human Rights Watch, said what sets China apart is “a complete lack of effective privacy protections,” combined with a system that is explicitly designed to target individuals seen as “politically threatening.”
- “In other countries, we are often concerned about the use of big data for deepening existing policing bias — for example, for targeting historically disadvantaged groups like African Americans in the U.S. context — but for the Chinese systems, the targeting of people of certain ethnicity is a fundamental function of the system,” she added.
- Protests in Iran:
- Iran bans teaching English in primary schools, By Valerie Strauss January 8 at 3:08 PM (Washington Post)
- Iran just banned the teaching of English in primary schools — even after school hours — because, it said, those early years should be devoted to strengthening students’ skills in the Persian language and Iranian Islamic culture.
- Mehdi Navid-Adham, head of the state-run High Education Council, told state television, “Teaching English in government and non-government primary schools in the official curriculum is against laws and regulations,” the BBC reported. Iran’s education system is divided into the primary and secondary grades, with children moving from the former to the latter at age 12. There are both public and private schools.
- Navid-Adham did not mention the deadly anti-government protests that have erupted in Iran, which authorities have linked to foreign powers, including the United States and Iraq. Iranian authorities blocked social media apps Instagram and Telegram — “temporarily” — after demonstrators used them to share videos of protests.
- According to the BBC, English is widely studied in Iran and is so popular in higher grades that classes started to be offered in primary schools. This has happened despite concerns expressed by Iran’s rulers, who have said that the teaching of English and other foreign languages amounts to a “cultural invasion.” In a speech to teachers in 2016, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, bemoaned the prevalence of English classes in Iranian schools, saying:
- This insistence on promoting the English language in our country is an unhealthy course of action. Of course, we should learn foreign languages, but foreign languages are not confined to the English language. The language of science is not only English. Why do they not specify other languages in school as language lessons? Why is there such an insistence? . . .
- I am not saying that we should cancel English classes shortly. This is not what I am saying. What I am saying is that we should know what we are doing. We should know what kind of generation the other side wants to be built in the country and with what characteristics. . . .
- Iran bans teaching English in primary schools, By Valerie Strauss January 8 at 3:08 PM (Washington Post)
- America’s Cultural Revolution, by Catherine Rampell
- Last month in Shanghai, Chinese venture capitalist Eric X. Li made a provocative suggestion. The United States, he said, was going through its own “Cultural Revolution.” …
- Li said he saw several parallels between the violence and chaos in China decades ago and the animosity coursing through the United States today. In both cases, the countries turned inward, focusing more on defining the soul of their nations than on issues beyond their borders.
- He said that both countries were also “torn apart by ideological struggles,” with kinships, friendships and business relationships being severed by political differences.
- “Virtually all types of institutions, be it political, educational, or business, are exhausting their internal energy in dealing with contentious, and seemingly irreconcilable, differences in basic identities and values — what it means to be American,” he said in a subsequent email exchange. “In such an environment, identity trumps reason, ideology overwhelms politics, and moral convictions replace intellectual discourse.”
- 7 Reforms After Trump, by Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) 12/3/17, 19:31
- Repeal Shelby v Holder (LEGISLATE: Renew Voting Rights Act)
- Repeal Citizens United (LEGISLATE/AMENDMENT: Limit Money in Politics, abolish anonymous money in politics)
- Abolish electoral college (or can it be saved?)
- Apply anti-nepotism law to White House (It was WRITTEN for White House [Robert Kennedy serving with JFK])
- POTUS candidates must release tax returns (LEGISLATE/AMENDMENT: for how many years)
- Presidents may not self-pardon (AMENDMENT OR LEGISLATION: or pardon executive appointees?)
- Special counsel has power to indict president
- 2/3 Senate vote to confirm SCOTUS appointment
- Sex and Politics: Where’s the boundary between innocent and inappropriate?
TOPICS FROM PREVIOUS WEEKS:
- What do belts around Proxima Centauri mean for exoplanet research?, By John Wenz | Published: Friday, November 03, 2017 [http://www.astronomy.com]
- TV Talk:
- “The Good Place”
- “The Orville”
- “Adam Ruins Everything”
SOURCES WHICH MAY BE RELEVANT TO OTHER DISCUSSION: