Monthly Archives: September 2017

New Report Finally Exposes Congress’ Secret Weapon for Insider Trading

By James Holbrooks. Published 9-27-2017 by The Anti-Media

Photo: Kevin Hutchinson (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

It’s rare that we get a glimpse into how the machine actually operates, but POLITICO just gave us one. The findings of an investigation by the news agency, published Monday, reveal that congressional staffers may play a far larger role in greasing the engine of American government than one might assume. From the article by Maggie Severns:

“A POLITICO review of federal disclosures for 2015 and 2016 found that some senior aides regularly buy and sell individual stocks that present potential conflicts of interest with their work. A smaller number of staffers trade in companies that lobby Congress and the committees that employ them. In all, approximately 450 aides have bought or sold a stock of more than $1,001 in value since May 2015.

“That’s likely just the tip of the iceberg, since most congressional aides aren’t required to report their trades. Only those in positions earning more than $124,406 per year must reveal their investments. Of the 12,500 staffers working for lawmakers, committees and leadership offices, only about 1,700 make that much, according to data compiled by Legistorm and the Brookings Institution.” Continue reading

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Protests and Outrage as Gorsuch Headlines Event at Trump Hotel

Luncheon speech at president-owned luxury hotel decried as “inconsistent with judicial independence and integrity.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-28-2017

“Neil Gorsuch knows where his bread is buttered,” notes Ian Millhiser of ThinkProgress. (Photo: Cleanup Carl/Twitter)

Protestors gathered outside Trump International Hotel in Washington Thursday as Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch delivered the keynote speech at an event hosted by a right-wing advocacy group—a move critics argued crosses fundamental ethical boundaries, given that the venue is currently the subject of numerous emoluments lawsuits that could soon reach the Trump-appointed judge’s desk.

“By headlining this event, Gorsuch will personally enrich the very man who appointed him to his lofty position,” notes Ian Millhiser of ThinkProgress. “And he will enable the very mechanism that allows Trump to profit off the presidency.” Continue reading

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‘Chilling’ New Rule Allows DHS to Monitor All Immigrants’ Social Media Activity

Freedom of speech advocates denounce DHS’s new “collect-it-all” approach

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-27-2017

Freedom of speech advocates are calling a new Department of Homeland Security rule “chilling,” as the department will begin collecting social media communications and data of all immigrants.

The rule, added last week to the Privacy Act of 1974, would allow the DHS to gather “social media handles, aliases, associated identifiable information, and search results” of people with immigration files, as well as “publicly available information from the internet.”

The American Civil Liberties Union issued a statement on the new rule on Tuesday. Continue reading

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Trump Tax “Hoax” Would Blow $5 Trillion Hole In Budget Over Next Decade: Analysis

‘The idea that this plan would help average Americans instead of the wealthy and big corporations has been a hoax all along.’

Mick Mulvaney press conference about President Donald Trump’s budget plan. Screenshot: YouTube

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-26-2017

Trumpcare may be dead again (for a while at least) on Tuesday, but Republicans now want to get serious about what they call “tax reform,” but which critics are resolute in saying is just a major push to give the nation’s corporation and wealthiest individuals another massive giveaway they don’t need and certainly don’t deserve.

A day ahead of the Trump administration’s scheduled release of what it says will be a “detailed” tax plan, progressive policy groups are again warning the American people not to be fooled by rhetoric as they highlight estimates showing the likely proposal will cost the government trillions of dollars in revenue over the next decade and lead the way towards massive cuts in key social programs that help insulate low-income and working Americans from an economy already “rigged” in favor of the wealthy and powerful. Continue reading

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Dozens Arrested After Protesters Block ICE Office in Bid to Halt Couple’s Deportation

It’s “like a living funeral, counting down the days that my parents are torn away from me,” says 24-year-old Jason Ramos.

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-25-2017

Hundreds of immigration rights activists gather on June 1, 2017 in front of the White House to denounce the immigration crackdown by the Trump Administration. (Photo: Stephen Melkisethian/flickr/cc)

Dozens of people were arrested Monday morning for blocking the federal building housing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office in Hartford, Connecticut to denounce the deportation of a couple that’s lived in the U.S. for over twenty years.

Meriden couple Giaconda and Franklin Ramos, who came to the U.S. from Ecuador in 1993 and have no criminal record, are scheduled to board a flight back to their home country on Sept. 29.

Demonstrators sat on the ground blocking the entrances and held banners reading “Keep the Ramos family together” and “ICE stop your ethnic cleansing.” They, along with other demonstrators gathered to the side of the entrances, chanted “Not one more.” Continue reading

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While Trump Stokes Division, Warnings Against Ignoring Ongoing Crisis in Puerto Rico

“The fact that within the last 48hrs Trump has made taking a knee for the anthem more important than the lives in Puerto Rico makes me so sad.”

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-24-2017

Photo: @BamaStephen/Twitter

“No matter what crazy stuff Trump is up to now let’s keep in mind Puerto Rico really needs our attention and help.”

Those are the words of Mark Ruffalo this weekend as the actor and social justice activist echoed the concerns of many that the president’s incendiary comments over recent days are serving to distract people from the severe crisis in the U.S. island territory, where power remains out for much of the island and residents are growing increasingly worried over the scale of the damage left by Hurricane Maria. Continue reading

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Southern Kurdistan’s Referendum: Self-Destiny doesn’t need Permission

Every flower that sprouts in the mountains had to first break through a rock.

By. Dr. Thoreau Redcrow. Published 9-22-2017 by the Region

Rallies and celebrations take place throughout Kurdistan as the referendum vote approaches Monday’s date.. Photo: Al Arabiya/Twitter

 

In a few days on September 25th the autonomous Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) of Southern Kurdistan / Bashur (i.e. northern “Iraq”) is set to hold a non-binding aspirational referendum on their region’s independence. For many of the 6+ million Kurds of Bashur it is undoubtedly a day they have dreamt of or longed for; perhaps even a chance which seemed all but a fantasy through the billowing smoke of chemical bombs in Hełebce, or Saddam’s mass graves of the 1980’s.

Moreover, although this referendum is only related to one of the four regions of Greater Kurdistan—leaving those 20+ million Kurds of southeastern Turkey (Northern Kurdistan), 12 million Kurds of northwestern Iran (Eastern Kurdistan), and 2-3 million Kurds of northern Syria (Western Kurdistan) awaiting their own eventual ‘independence day’—I have still anecdotally witnessed a surge in Kurdish patriotism and excitement throughout wider Kurdistan and the diaspora at the possibility that the first of the four dominoes may finally fall. Continue reading

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‘Blank Check to Kill With Impunity’: Trump to Quietly Scrap Drone Restrictions

Human rights groups argue the move could led to an upsurge in civilian casualties, which are already soaring under Trump

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-22-2017

Photo: Drone Wars UK

President Donald Trump is reportedly gearing up to roll back even the most limited restrictions on U.S. drone operations overseas, further opening the door for the expansion of airstrikes and commando raids into nations like the Philippines and Nigeria and setting the stage for an upsurge in civilian casualties—already at record highs in Afghanistan and soaring in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen.

Zeke Johnson, senior director of programs for Amnesty International USA, told the New York Times in an interview that while Obama-era restrictions on drone strikes “fell far short on human rights protections,” any move to water down drone warfare rules even further would be a “grave mistake.” Continue reading

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In First, Two Major Cities Sue Big Oil for Climate Crimes

San Francisco and Oakland charge that fossil fuel companies “stole a page from the Big Tobacco playbook” with misleading campaigns and should pay for damage from rising seas

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-21-2017

The Embarcadero at high tide. Photo: Heidi Nutters/flickr

Environmentalists are celebrating two new lawsuits filed by the cities of Oakland and San Francisco, California, in attempts to hold some of the world’s largest oil companies to account for fueling climate change.

“It’s time to hold these climate deadbeats accountable,” said Greenpeace’s climate liability campaigner Naomi Ages, after the suits were announced this week. Continue reading

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Instead of Protecting the Earth, EPA Agents Now Forced to Serve as Pruitt Bodyguards

Unsurprisingly, the number of environmental crime cases has declined rapidly since Pruitt took charge

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-20-2017

Pruitt’s 24/7, 18-member security detail “demands triple the manpower of his predecessors” and is forcing “officials to rotate in special agents from around the country who otherwise would be investigating environmental crimes,” the Washington Post reported. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr/cc)

Thanks to a hiring freeze, budget cuts, and the exorbitant travel needs of Trump’s cabinet, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) agents are being forced to ditch climate crime investigations in order to serve as personal bodyguards for EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, resulting in what one critic called an “evaporation of criminal enforcement.”

The EPA head has traditionally had one of the smallest security details among cabinet members,” the Washington Post reported on Tuesday. But Pruitt’s expansive security team—which cost taxpayers over $830,000 in his first three months as EPA chief—has shattered all precedent. Continue reading

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