September 23, 2017

Tom Price, says spokeswoman, needs private jet to reach "real American people":

Huffington Post - Taxpayers have paid for Tom Price, the head of the Health and Human Services Department, to fly on private planes at least 24 times, a decision the department defended by saying Price wanted to connect with ordinary Americans.


The cost of the trips exceeded $300,000, Politico reported. Charmaine Yoest, an HHS spokeswoman, defended the cost in a statement, saying Price was justified in taking the flights because he wanted to hear from many Americans.


“This is Secretary Price, getting outside of D.C., making sure he is connected with the real American people,” she said in a statement to The Washington Post. “Wasting four hours in an airport and having the secretary cancel his event is not a good use of taxpayer money.”

Only 24% support Graham-Cassidy bill

A new Public Policy Polling survey finds that only 24% of Americans support the Graham-Cassidy health care bill being considering in the U.S. Senate.

Two thirds of Republicans favor DACA pathway to citizenship

77 percent of voters — and 66 percent of Republicans — favor a pathway to citizenship for those in the country illegally if they learn English, pay fines or back taxes and have jobs that pay taxes.

Drone footage of San Juan

Massive Russian hacking in election

Reuters - Wisconsin, Ohio, California and 10 other states said on Friday they were among 21 states that Russian government hackers targeted in an effort to sway the 2016 presidential election in favor of Donald Trump though no votes were changed.

The Department of Homeland Security confirmed it had notified the states of the activity but declined to identify them. Russia has denied election meddling, and President Trump has denied any collusion with Russia.

Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Minnesota, Texas and Washington state also confirmed they were targeted by Russian hackers but said they were not successful. Arizona and Illinois confirmed last year that they were targets.

The Associated Press confirmed Iowa, Maryland, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Oregon, Oklahoma and Virginia were also targets, bringing the total states identified to 21. Those states did not immediately return messages seeking comment late Friday.

“There remains no evidence that the Russians altered one vote or changed one registration,” said Judd Choate, president of the U.S. National Association of State Election Directors.

The costly fear of Trump cabinet officials

Talkng Points Memo-  EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt now has an 18 person, 24/7 security detail. The effort has become so elaborate that the EPA has now had to take agents off actual EPA criminal investigations to focus on protecting Pruitt.

The Department of Education is paying the US Marshals service $1 million a month to provide extensive security to Secretary Betsy Devos – a move that appears to stem from an aggressive protestor yelling at her earlier this year. According to The Washington Post, the Marshals Service is hiring nearly two dozen people to guard DeVos.

Trump plays heavily to anti-blacks in Alabama

This is reminiscent  of racist southern politics of the 1960s as segregationists fought civil rights legislation. Note Trump's use of "people like yourselves" talking to his white audience vs "those people" when referring to black football players.

The Hill - NFL commissioner Roger Goodell fired back at President Trump on Saturday for encouraging league owners to remove players who take a knee during the national anthem, saying Trump’s “divisive comments” show “an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL.”

“The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture,” Goodell said in a statement. “There is no better example than the amazing response from our clubs and players to the terrible natural disasters we've experienced over the last month.”

“Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities.”

The NFL chief's comments came the morning after Trump told a crowd at a rally for Alabama Senate candidate Luther Strange (R) that NFL players will stop kneeling if fans left games.

"When people like yourselves turn on television and you see those people taking the knee when they are playing our great national anthem – the only thing you could do better is if you see it, even if it's one player, leave the stadium," Trump said. "I guarantee things will stop."

Trump also said NFL owners should fire players if they refuse to stand during the national anthem.

"Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a b---- off the field right now,'" he continued, adding, "'He is fired.'"

The head of the NFL Players Association, the union representing professional football players, also hit back at Trump, vowing the union “will never back down” from protecting players’s right to protest.

Briti9sh abusing activists at airports

Intercept - It was not the first time Muhammad Rabbani had problems when returning to the United Kingdom from travels overseas. But on this occasion something was different — he was arrested, handcuffed, and hauled through London’s largest airport, then put into the back of a waiting police van.

Rabbani is the 36-year old international director of Cage, a British group that was founded in 2003 to raise awareness about the plight of prisoners held at the U.S. government’s Guantanamo Bay detention site. Today, the organization has a broader focus and says it is working to highlight “the erosion of the rule of law in the context of the War on Terror.” Due to its work campaigning for the legal rights of terrorism suspects, Cage has attracted controversy, and Rabbani has faced the government’s wrath.

His trouble at Heathrow Airport in late November began with a familiar routine. Often, on his return to the U.K. from foreign trips, he was stopped by police and questioned under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act – a sweeping power British authorities can use at the border to interrogate and search people without requiring any suspicion of wrongdoing. People questioned under Schedule 7 have no right to remain silent or receive legal advice, and they can be interrogated for up to nine hours. Rabbani estimates that he has been stopped under Schedule 7 about 20 times. Usually, he was let free after a few questions without any charges or arrest. But not this time.

Rabbani was returning to London after a business trip to one of the Gulf states. He had been meeting with an individual whom he says was previously detained by U.S. authorities and suffered “years of torture” at the hands of his American captors. The person provided Rabbani with information about his treatment, including names of particular individuals allegedly involved in carrying out the acts of torture. These details, Rabbani says, were provided on a confidential basis and were to be used by Cage as part of a pending legal action against the U.S. government.

As he arrived back at Heathrow, Rabbani was pulled aside by a police counter-terrorism officer at the passport control desk. At first, the conversation was polite. But the tone changed when the officer began asking Rabbani about his work for Cage. He requested that Rabbani accompany him to a room inside the airport where he would be subjected to a formal “examination” under Schedule 7, which is supposed to be used solely to determine whether a person is directly involved in the “commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism.”

In the interrogation room there were two police officers who searched all of Rabbani’s luggage and questioned him further about his travels – Whom did he meet? Where did he go? Where did he stay and for how long? After a while the conversation turned to the electronic devices Rabbani was carrying, which included a silver MacBook Air, a SIM card, a flash drive, and an iPhone. The officers asked Rabbani to turn over his passwords so that they could access the devices – and said that if he did not provide them, they would arrest him.

In Aug. 2013, David Miranda, the partner of Intercept co-founding editor Glenn Greenwald, was detained in the same London airport and similarly interrogated under Schedule 7. Miranda had been assisting Greenwald’s reporting on documents about government surveillance leaked by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. Last year, in a significant victory for privacy rights, a judge in the Miranda case ruled that Schedule 7 was “not subject to adequate safeguards against its arbitrary exercise.” As a result, the British government made changes to a code of practice that outlined how officers should conduct their searches. Officers are now told that they should “cease reviewing, and not copy” information which they have grounds to believe is attorney-client privileged, is journalistic material, or is another kind of information held in confidence, which a person has “acquired or created in the course of any trade, business, profession or other occupation.”

Jazz break