March 27 – April 2, 2017

March 27 – April 2, 2017

 


Articles & Editorials:


Main Stories

 


Russia


Who’s Who in Trump-Russia Saga
(CNN – 3/29/17)

Here’s What We’ve Learned from the Senate Hearing on Russia So Far
(Washington Post – 3/30/17)


Paul Manafort and Russia


Russian Dissident Shot Dead Who Would Have Been Star Witness in Paul Manafort Trial in Ukraine
(Palmer Report – 3/23/17)

Paul Manafort’s Puzzling New York Real Estate Purchases
(WNYC – 3/28/17)


Michael Flynn … and Russia


Mike Flynn Offers to Testify in Exchange for Immunity
(Wall Street Journal – 3/30/17)

‘General Flynn Certainly Has a Story to Tell’
(Atlantic – 3/30/17)

Too Soon to Discuss Immunity for Flynn, Investigators Say
(Washington Post – 3/31/17)

Questions, Answers About the Legal Immunity Process
(Washington Post – 3/31/17)

Michael Flynn Failed to Disclose Income From Russia-Linked Entities
(New York Times – 4/1/17)


Other Stories That You Should Know About:


Conflicts of Interest


Nearly 1 out of every 3 days he has been president, Trump has visited a Trump property
(Washington Post – 3/26/17)

Trump Couple, Now White House Employees, Can’t Escape Conflict Laws
(New York Times – 4/1/17)


Trump and the Press


Stop Shaking Your Head’: Sean Spicer Lashes Out at Reporter April Ryan
(NBC News – 3/29/17)


Trump University


Trump University Suit Settlement Approved by Judge
(New York Times –3/31/17)


Keeping Track of the Basics:


Editorials


Trump Promised to Bring Back Coal Jobs. That Promise ‘Will Not be Kept,’ Experts Say
(Washington Post – 3/29/17)

The GOP is Not a Pro-Life, Christian Party
(John Pavlovitz – 3/29/17)

Understanding the Angry Mob at Middlebury That Gave Me a Concussion
(New York Times – 3/13/17)


Alternative Facts from an Alternative Universe

Self-selecting our news sources, a reluctance to hear opposing ideas, and the choice by many of us to surround ourselves only with like-minded individuals has resulted in many Americans becoming oblivious to the beliefs of those with whom they disagree. This bubble helped create the world of “alternative facts” in which Donald Trump could become President.

To counter this, each week I will present a little of what Trump’s supporters are thinking. Their reality may be very different from yours. Please listen/read to the end, and consider what respectful questions you could ask to better understand and have a conversation, rather than seeking to prove them wrong as quickly as possible and shut them down. We can’t change minds if we can’t talk to each other.


‘I believed everything he said’: Ex-supporter whose son OD’d says Trumpcare made him turn on the president
(Raw Story – 3/21/17)


Cartoons, Images & Videos


Source: Unknown

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Source: Unknown

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Events & Actions

Two major nationwide protests coming up:

  • Saturday, April 15, 2017: Trump Tax Day Marches nationwide to let President Trump know that it’s not just reporters who care about his undisclosed tax returns – find your nearest march here!
  • Saturday, April 22, 2017: Scientists and people who believe in and support science will be having marches nationwide to encourage the use of science and facts in creating government policy – find your nearest march here!

Resources & Organizations


Questions Raised by the Jeff Sessions Controversy

Questions Raised by the Jeff Sessions Controversy

 


Questions Raised by the Jeff Sessions Controversy

On January 10, 2017, US Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) answered questions from Congress to determine whether he should be confirmed as US Attorney General. During that confirmation hearing, US Senator Al Franken (D-MN) asked Sessions the following question:

“CNN just published a story alleging that the intelligence community provided documents to the President-Elect last week that included information that quote ‘Russian operatives claimed to have compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump.’ These documents also allegedly say quote ‘there was a continuing exchange of information during the campaign between Trump surrogates and intermediaries for the Russian government’ – again, I’m telling you this as it’s coming out so – you know, but if it’s true, it’s obviously extremely serious, and if there is any evidence that anyone affiliated with the Trump Campaign communicated with the Russian government in the course of this campaign, what will you do?”

Sessions’ response was given under oath:

“Senator Franken, I’m not aware of any of those activities. I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign, and I did not have communications with the Russians, and I’m unable to comment on it.”

As a result of that confirmation hearing, Jeff Sessions became the United States Attorney General. It was later determined that, while serving as the Trump Campaign’s top national security adviser, Sessions had actually met twice with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, considered by the US intelligence community to be a Russian spy and recruiter of spies, according to CNN. One of these meetings between Sessions and Kislyak was at the Republican National Convention where Trump was nominated as the Republican Party’s candidate for President.

The most benign, charitable interpretation of Sessions’ response to Franken was that he did not fully understand the question. A less kind interpretation is that he was intentionally lying, and there are multiple possibilities in between.

As Attorney General, Sessions should theoretically be in charge of the investigation into the Trump Campaign’s ties to Russia. Thankfully, Sessions was aware of the conflict that he had created with his nondisclosure and recused himself (removed himself) from being in charge of the investigation. Yet questions remain.

  1. Was this an honest misunderstanding of Senator Franken’s question, or did Senator Sessions knowingly lie under oath to Congress, which would be perjury – a felony?
  2. If this was truly an honest mistake, Sessions’ memory would surely have been jogged during the following weeks when President Trump’s National Security Adviser Michael Flynn made headlines as he resigned for not disclosing his own meetings with the same Russian diplomat. Why, during those subsequent weeks, did Sessions not correct the record? Why did he wait for Department of Justice officials to disclose their knowledge of the Sessions-Kislyak conversations?
  3. During his hearing to become US Attorney General (the US government’s chief law enforcement officer) if Sessions did knowingly lie to Congress, or knowingly continued to conceal the truth once he realized his omission, should he nonetheless continue on as Attorney General, or does his unethical and potentially criminal conduct warrant his resignation?
  4. What did Sessions and Kislyak discuss in their conversations? During the Republican National Convention, the Trump Campaign’s only contribution to the Republican Party Platform was a softening of US policy toward Russia over Russia’s aggression in Ukraine. Did the Kislyak-Sessions discussion at the Convention touch on that topic at all? In what way? If they discussed that, or the Trump Campaign, or policy ideas for a Trump Presidency, that is worrisome and unethical at best and requires intense scrutiny. If they discussed anything related to Hillary Clinton’s e-mails or Russia’s desire/efforts to sabotage her Campaign, that could potentially call into question the legitimacy of the entire Trump Presidency, because it could possibly show coordination between Russia’s actions and the Trump Campaign. It would also warrant even closer scrutiny of contacts that others in Trump’s orbit had with Russians, and could lead to criminal charges.
  5. What safeguards will the Department of Justice have in place to ensure that the Trump Administration is not tipped off about what evidence has been compiled in the investigation into connections between the Trump Campaign and Russia or between the Trump Administration and Russia?

Sessions is scheduled to return to the Senate to testify further on Monday 3/6 in order to clarify his earlier answers. Hopefully questions similar to those above will be asked to shed more light on the situation.

– rob rünt


February 27 – March 5, 2017

February 27 – March 5, 2017

 


Articles & Editorials:


Main Stories


Russia and Wilbur Ross, US Secretary of Commerce

New Commerce Secretary at Nexus of Lucrative Trump Russia Deal (21:44)
This is a must-watch. If you check out nothing else on this site this week, this story is huge.
(MSNBC – 2/27/17)

Two Trump Companies Discovered in Cyprus, EU’s Russian Off-Shore Banking Haven
(Huffington Post – 12/19/16, Updated 3/2/17)

Here’s Another Trump Cabinet Pick With Close Financial Ties to Russians
(Mother Jones – 12/19/16)


Russia and the Trump Campaign

Obama Administration Rushed to Preserve Intelligence of Russian Election Hacking
(New York Times – 3/1/17)


Russia and Jeff Sessions, US Attorney General

Sessions Met With Russian Envoy Twice Last Year, Encounters He Later Did Not Disclose
(Washington Post – 3/1/17)

Jeff Sessions Denials of Contact With Russians are Falling Apart Quickly
(Washington Post – 3/2/17)

Six Times Sessions Talked About Perjury, Access, and Special Prosecutors – When It Involved the Clintons
(Washington Post – 3/2/17)

“Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador, is considered by US intelligence to be one of Russia’s top spies and spy-recruiters in Washington, according to current and former senior US government officials.”

CNN, regarding the Russian individual who met with recently resigned National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and current Attorney General Jeff Sessions
(CNN – 3/2/17)

 

Jeff Sessions Recuses Himself from Russia Inquiry
(New York Times – 3/2/17)

Meet the Russian Diplomat at the Center of the Sessions Controversy
(The Hill – 3/3/17)

Why Would Jeff Sessions Hide His Talks With Sergey Kislyak?
(New Yorker – 3/3/17)


Yemen Raid

Trump Passes Blame for Yemen Raid to His General: “They Lost Ryan”
(Washington Post – 2/28/17)

Yemen SEAL Raid Has Yielded No Significant Intelligence: Officials
(NBC News – 2/28/17)

Slain SEAL’s Dad Wants Answers: “Don’t Hide Behind My Son’s Death”
(Miami Herald – 2/26/17)


Other Stories That You Should Know About:


Healthcare

Trump: “Nobody Knew Healthcare Could Be So Complicated”
(The Guardian – 2/27/17)


Trump’s Mental health

Trump Says Obama is Helping to Organize Protests Against His Presidency
(Washington Post – 2/28/17)

Trump Accuses Obama of ‘Nixon/Watergate’ Wiretap – But Offers No Evidence
(Washington Post – 3/4/17)

Posted on Twitter around 6am Saturday, 3/4/17:

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Lawmakers Stunned by Trump’s Wiretap Allegations
(Politico – 3/5/17)

White House Says It Will No Longer Comment on Trump’s Wiretapping Claims
(Huffington Post – 3/5/17)

Director of National Intelligence (2010-2017) James Clapper on Trump’s Allegations of Wiretapping by Obama Administration
(Meet the Press, MSNBC – 3/5/17):

 


Freedom of the Press

“I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy. We need an independent media to hold people like me to account. Power can be very addictive. And it can be corrosive. And it’s important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power, whether it be here or elsewhere.”

Former President George W. Bush
Interview with Matt Lauer on NBC’s Today Show – 2/27/17
(Full Article : NPR)

Trump Moves to Become Master of His Own Messages
(New York Times – 3/2/17)


Hate Crimes

He Yelled ‘Get Out of My Country,’ Witnesses Say, and Then Shot Two Men from India, Killing One
(Washington Post – 2/24/17)

A Sikh Man Was Shot On His Driveway And Allegedly Told, “Go Back To Your Own Country”
(Buzzfeed – 3/4/17)

In Day of Pro-Trump Rallies, California March Turns Violent
(Reuters – 3/4/17)
Editor’s Note: Much of the violence in the rally was committed and/or incited by people who came to protest Trump. When the anti-Trump people behave like this, it serves to discredit the anti-Trump movement, and increases the likelihood that future Trump protests may experience retaliatory violence from Trump supporters.


Keeping Track of the Basics:


Editorials


Trump’s Emotional Moment With a Navy SEAL’s Wife Could Define Him – For Good But Also For Bad
(Aaron Blake, Washington Post – 3/1//17)

Remembering a City Where Smog Could Kill
(Jim Dwyer, New York Times – 2/28/17)

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Alternative Facts from an Alternative Universe

Self-selecting our news sources, a reluctance to hear opposing ideas, and the choice by many of us to surround ourselves only with like-minded individuals has resulted in many Americans becoming oblivious to the beliefs of those with whom they disagree. This bubble helped create the world of “alternative facts” in which Donald Trump could become President.

To counter this, each week I will present a little of what Trump’s supporters are thinking. Their reality may be very different from yours. Please listen/read to the end, and consider what respectful questions you could ask to better understand and have a conversation, rather than seeking to prove them wrong as quickly as possible and shut them down. We can’t change minds if we can’t talk to each other.


I’m a Silicon Valley Liberal, and I Traveled Across the Country to interview 100 Trump Supporters – Here’s What I Learned
(Sam Altman, Business Insider, 2/23/17)


Cartoons, Images & Videos


Photo by Agence France Presse:

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Artwork by Illustrator Kieron Dwyer:

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Posted by ImgFlip.com:

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Artwork posted on Facebook by Rob Brezsny:

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Published by Vox, Graphic by Javier Zarracina:

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Events & Actions

Two major nationwide protests coming up:

  • Wednesday, March 8, 2017: “A Day Without a Woman”
    Women nationwide will not be participating in work – at their jobs or in the home – to bring attention to the importance of women to the functioning of America. Learn more  here!
  • Saturday, April 15, 2017: “Trump Tax Day March”
    Americans across the country will be marching to let President Trump know that it’s not just reporters who care about his undisclosed tax returns – find your nearest rally here!

Resources & Organizations