Episode 14: Show Notes and Sources

  1. History’s Greatest Monster
    1. Travis – Ajit Pai – For continuing with his plan to roll back net neutrality despite overwhelming public outcry.  Vote was 2-1 along party lines.  The vote opens another period of public comment so keep them coming!  The final vote will be held later in 2017.  Make your voice hear here.
    2. Dave – Lindsey Graham for saying that now that a special prosecutor has been named to investigate Trump’s ties to Russia, the senate judiciary committee should go back to investigating clinton’s emails. Said this live on FoxNews
    3. Bob – Stephen Miller – Trump’s senior advisor for policy – 32 years old
      1. Formerly Jeff Sessions’s Communications Director and Michele Bachman’s press sec
      2. Hung out with Richard Spencer at Duke – leader of the Alt Right
      3. Wrote a lot of Trump’s most xenophobic speeches – his weird RNC address after the nomination
      4. Drafting Trump’s big address on Islam for next week – what could possibly go wrong?
    4. Curtis
  2. The Big List
    1. Turkish President’s Bodyguards Attack Protestors in Washington DC leaving many injured.
      1. Washington DC Police broke  up the fight. 9 people were hospitalized, 1 is critically injured.
    2. Russia
      1. Trump reveals code-word information to Russian government in Oval meeting
        1. Timeline of events:
          1. Washington Post initially released story that Trump “boasted” to Russian officials about his inside knowledge of a looming threat. Tells top Russian officials about code-word clearance intel not shared with U.S. allies
          2. WH defends Trump “This story is false”
          3. Then Trump, via Twitter (because, you know) confirms he did
        2. After Trump’s meeting, senior White House officials took steps to contain the damage, placing calls to the CIA and the National Security Agency.
        3. Highest classification level, called “code-word” – not given to US allies
        4. H.R. McMaster confirmed that Trump “wasn’t even aware where this information came from” and he “wasn’t briefed on the sources and methods”
        5. Involves a partner country with access to ISIS – probably Jordan
          1. Per BuzzFeed it was Israel, who is quoting two israeli intelligence officials
          2. https://www.buzzfeed.com/sheerafrenkel/israeli-official-trump-sharing-intelligence-with-russia-is
          3. Israeli Official: “There is a special understanding of security cooperation between our countries, to know that this intelligence is shared with others, without prior knowledge? That is, for us, our worst fears confirmed”
        6. Apparently related to ISIS threats involving laptops on computers
        7. Puts American lives in danger on the ground, and means that partner will be less likely to share intelligence in the future
        8. Most alarmingly, officials said, Trump revealed the city in the Islamic State’s territory where the U.S. intelligence partner detected the threat.
          1. The identification of the location was seen as particularly problematic, officials said, because Russia could use that detail to help identify the U.S. ally or intelligence capability involved. Officials said the capability could be useful for other purposes, possibly providing intelligence on Russia’s presence in Syria. Moscow would be keenly interested in identifying that source and perhaps disrupting it
          2. President Donald Trump revealed above-top-secret classified information to Russia during a meeting with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador last week. That information came from an Israeli spy who is now reported to have been the “most valuable source of information on external plotting by Islamic State.”
        9. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-revealed-highly-classified-information-to-russian-foreign-minister-and-ambassador/2017/05/15/530c172a-3960-11e7-9e48-c4f199710b69_story.html
        10. Tweet from Trump 8:10AM 16May2017
          1. I have been asking Director Comey & others, from the beginning of my administration, to find the LEAKERS in the intelligence community…..
        11. During the meeting Trump said he fired Comey to ease the pressure
          1. https://nyti.ms/2rAvfUt
          2. “I just fired the head of the F.B.I. He was crazy, a real nut job,” Mr. Trump said, according to the document, which was read to The New York Times by an American official. “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”
          3. NBCNews is reporting, via Twitter: White House officials tell @NBCNews they do not dispute this account as reported by the New York Times.
          4. https://twitter.com/NBCNightlyNews/status/865648659957821444
      2. Memo written by Comey says Trump asked him to end investigation of Michael Flynn
        1. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/16/us/politics/james-comey-trump-flynn-russia-investigation.html
        2. Comey has a history of writing memos after questionable meetings where the content of the meeting may come into question later
          1. Mr. Comey was known among his closest advisers to document conversations that he believed would later be called into question, according to two former confidants, who said Mr. Comey was uncomfortable at times with his relationship with Mr. Trump.
          2. Mr. Comey’s recollection has been bolstered in the past by F.B.I. notes. In 2007, he told Congress about a now-famous showdown with senior White House officials over the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program. The White House disputed Mr. Comey’s account, but the F.B.I. director at the time, Robert S. Mueller III, kept notes that backed up Mr. Comey’s story.
          3. Mr. Comey created similar memos — including some that are classified — about every phone call and meeting he had with the president, the two people said. It is unclear whether Mr. Comey told the Justice Department about the conversation or his memos.
        3. Occurred in an Oval Office meeting in February, day after Flynn was fired
          1. Trump asked those present, VP Pence and AG Sessions to leave
        4. The memo was part of a paper trail Mr. Comey created documenting what he perceived as the president’s improper efforts to influence a continuing investigation.
          1. An F.B.I. agent’s contemporaneous notes are widely held up in court as credible evidence of conversations.
          2. Shared with senior FBI officials and close associates
        5. “I hope you can let this go” Trump told Comey, per memos
      3. Wednesday: Special prosecutor has been announced by deputy AG Rosenstein
        1. Robert Mueller, former former FBI director, named under W in 2001 and asked to be kept on by Obama for 2 years, 2011-2013
        2. Mueller resigned from private law firm to avoid conflicts of interest
        3. Appointed by “Big” Rod Rosenstein because of Sessions’ recusal
        4. Under the order signed Wednesday by Rosenstein, Mueller is tasked with investigating “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump’’ as well as “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation’’ and any other matters that fall under the scope of the Justice Department regulation covering special counsel appointments.
        5. Officials said the appointment was being made under a Justice Department statute that has only been used once, in 1999, though the Justice Department has made other special counsel appointments more recently under different authority.
        6. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein names Robert Mueller as special prosecutor to investigate the Trump-Russia connection.
      4. Trump campaign had contact with undisclosed Russians at least 18 times
        1. Michael Flynn and other advisers to Donald Trump’s campaign were in contact with Russian officials and others with Kremlin ties in at least 18 calls and emails during the last seven months of the 2016 presidential race, current and former U.S. officials familiar with the exchanges told Reuters.
        2. Six of the previously undisclosed contacts described to Reuters were phone calls between Sergei Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the United States, and Trump advisers, including Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser, three current and former officials said.
        3. Conversations between Flynn and Kislyak accelerated after the Nov. 8 vote as the two discussed establishing a back channel for communication between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin that could bypass the U.S. national security bureaucracy, which both sides considered hostile to improved relations, four current U.S. officials said.
        4. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-russia-contacts-idUSKCN18E106
      5. Comey requested to testify in front of Senate Intelligence Committee
        1. Comey said he would testify but only in public forum
        2. McConnell (SEN-R-KY) said that he would like to hear Comey’s testimony ASAP
        3. Comey agrees, Friday 5/19 evening, that he will testify in opening hearing
        4. https://www.washingtonpost.com/powerpost/former-fbi-director-comey-to-testify-publicly/2017/05/19/745a285c-3ce6-11e7-a058-ddbb23c75d82_story.html?hpid=hp_hp-top-table-main_comeytestify-730pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.2fa92b0f6dab
      6. On Friday, Michael Flynn Defies Congressional Subpoena.
        1. the chairman of the Senate intelligence committee said Thursday that ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn hasn’t responded to a subpoena from the panel in its probe of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
        2. Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina had said hours earlier Flynn’s lawyer had informed the panel he would not comply with the subpoena.
        3. The committee issued the subpoena for Flynn’s records on May 10 after he declined to cooperate with an April 28 request for documents. That request was similar to ones received by other Trump associates, including former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, Trump associate Roger Stone and former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page
        4. Legal experts say that it’s unlikely Flynn would agree to turn over the personal documents because he would be waiving his constitutional protection against self-incrimination by doing so.
        5. Why is Flynn in trouble?
          1. In December 2015, Flynn was paid $45,000 to speak at an event hosted in Moscow by the Kremlin-backed network RT, during which he was seated with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He also received payments for additional speeches to Russian firms Kaspersky and Volga Dnepr
          2. As a retired military officer, Flynn is prohibited under the emoluments clause of the Constitution from accepting payment from a foreign government without advance permission from both the secretary of State and the secretary of the Army.
      7. Manafort Mansion Mortgage issue
        1. Federal investigators have subpoenaed records related to a $3.5 million mortgage that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort took out on his Hamptons home just after leaving the campaign, according to a source familiar with the matter.
        2. The mortgage document that explains how Manafort would pay back the loan was never filed with Suffolk County, New York — and Manafort’s company never paid up to $36,000 in taxes that would be due on the loan.
        3. In addition, despite telling NBC News previously that all his real estate transactions are transparent and include his name and signature, Manafort’s name and signature do not appear on any of the loan documents that are publicly available. A Manafort spokesperson said the $3.5 million loan, which was taken out through a shell company, was repaid in December, but also said that paperwork showing the repayment was not filed until he was asked about the loan by NBC News.
      8. Still on Friday
        1. Russia probe reaches current White House official, people familiar with the case say
        2. The law enforcement investigation into possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign has identified a current White House official as a significant person of interest, showing that the probe is reaching into the highest levels of government, according to people familiar with the matter.
        3. The senior White House adviser under scrutiny by investigators is someone close to the president, according to these people, who would not further identify the official.
        4. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/russia-probe-reaches-current-white-house-official-people-familiar-with-the-case-say/2017/05/19/7685adba-3c99-11e7-9e48-c4f199710b69_story.html?tid=a_breakingnews&utm_term=.f773ff7b1701
      9. And Then, CNN reports
        1. http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/19/politics/donald-trump-white-house-lawyers-research-impeachment/index.html?adkey=bn
        2. White House lawyers have begun researching impeachment procedures in an effort to prepare for what officials still believe is a distant possibility that President Donald Trump could have to fend off attempts to remove him from office, two people briefed on the discussions tell CNN.
    3. Betsy DeVos and Trump proposed education budget emerges
      1. https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/trumps-first-full-education-budget-deep-cuts-to-public-school-programs-in-pursuit-of-school-choice/2017/05/17/2a25a2cc-3a41-11e7-8854-21f359183e8c_story.html
      2. http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2017/05/17/the_trump_administration_wants_to_end_the_public_service_loan_forgiveness.html
      3. The documents — described by an Education Department employee as a near-final version of the budget expected to be released next week — offer the clearest picture yet of how the administration intends to accomplish that goal.
      4. $10.6 billion proposed cuts to the Department of Education
      5. Propose ending the federal student loan forgiveness program
        1. Student borrowers can have their debts erased if they spend 10 years working for a government or nonprofit employer
        2. Created in 2007 to encourage more Americans to go into public service and pursue careers as social workers, teachers, public defenders or doctors in rural areas. There are at least 552,931 people on track to receive the benefit, with the first wave of forgiveness set for October. It’s unclear how the proposed elimination would affect those borrowers.
      6. Changes the five income-driven student loan repayment plans with single plan
        1. change would likely benefit many undergraduate borrowers, who currently can have the balance of their loan forgiven after paying 10 percent of their income for 20 years. Trump’s proposal — which makes good on a campaign promise — would raise the maximum payment to 12.5 percent of income, but shorten the payment period to 15 years.
        2. The proposal is less sweet for borrowers who take out loans to earn advanced degrees. They currently pay monthly bills capped at 10 percent of income for 25 years. Under the new plan, they’d pay more (12.5 percent of income) for longer (30 years).
      7. Highlights
        1. The spending proposal would maintain funding for Pell Grants for students in financial need
        2. But it would eliminate more than $700 million in Perkins loans for disadvantaged students
        3. Nearly halve the work-study program that helps students work their way through school, cutting $490 million
        4. Take a first step toward ending subsidized loans, for which the government pays interest while the borrower is in school
        5. hundreds of millions of dollars that public schools could use for mental health, advanced coursework and other services would vanish
        6. Dedicate no money to a fund for student support and academic enrichment that is meant to help schools pay for, among other things, mental-health services, anti-bullying initiatives, physical education, Advanced Placement courses and science and engineering instruction
        7. Congress created the fund, which totals $400 million this fiscal year, by rolling together several smaller programs. Lawmakers authorized as much as $1.65 billion, but the administration’s budget for it in the next fiscal year is zero.
        8. Cuts a $15 million program that provides child care for low-income parents in college
        9. Cuts a $27 million arts education program
        10. Cuts two programs targeting Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian students, totaling $65 million
        11. Cuts two international education and foreign language programs, $72 million;
        12. Cuts a $12 million program for gifted students
        13. Cuts $12 million for Special Olympics education programs.
        14. Other programs would not be eliminated entirely, but would be cut significantly. Those include grants to states for career and technical education, which would lose $168 million, down 15 percent compared to current funding; adult basic literacy instruction, which would lose $96 million (down 16 percent); and Promise Neighborhoods, an Obama-era initiative meant to build networks of support for children in needy communities, which would lose $13 million (down 18 percent).
      8. The administration would channel part of the savings into its top priority: school choice. It seeks to spend about $400 million to expand charter schools and vouchers for private and religious schools, and another $1 billion to push public schools to adopt choice-friendly policies.
      9. Trump is seeking an additional $158 million for salaries and expenses in the Education Department, up 7 percent, money that according to the budget documents would go toward loan-servicing costs, improved information-technology security, auditing and investigations and additional security costs for the secretary. DeVos has contracted with the U.S. Marshals Service to provide security rather than using the in-house security team that guarded previous secretaries.
      10. Trump is seeking $106.8 million for the civil rights office, unchanged from the funding level over the first half of fiscal 2017. But — thanks to a recent bump from Congress — the proposed total is $1.7 million less than the office is now receiving. The spending proposal would result in the loss of more than 40 of roughly 570 positions.
      11. The reasoning?
        1. “It’s time for us to break out of the confines of the federal government’s arcane approach to education,” DeVos said this month in Salt Lake City. “Washington has been in the driver’s seat for over 50 years with very little to show for its efforts.”
  3. Lightning Round
    1. Trump puts $28 million Caribbean estate up for sale, potentially giving an opportunity for someone to earn political favors by purchasing it.
      1. Trump would be required to disclose the money he received in payment but the purchaser could remain anonymous.
      2. Arun Jagtiani, owner of Island Real Estate told the Washington Post that the listed price overstates the value of the property by $10 million, adding, “If someone does pay anything close to the asking price, it will be because they are paying a premium to say they own a property that was once owned by President Trump.”
    2. North Carolina Senate, controlled by Republicans, cut education funding, but only in Democratic districts
      1. During a budget debate in the state Senate that started Thursday and went into the early hours of Friday, Republicans became annoyed at Democrats who, the Republicans thought, were unnecessarily offering amendments and prolonging the session. According to the News & Observer, Democrats offered five amendments pushing funding priorities, each of which was voted down.
      2. At about 1 a.m. Friday, the Republicans halted the proceedings and went into private talks. At about 3 a.m., they returned, and a Republican senator introduced an amendment of his own.
      3. This amendment proposed $1 million in new funding to fight North Carolina’s opioid epidemic, which has been called the most severe public health issue in the state. That’s an issue that would seem to be bipartisan — but there was a twist.
      4. The money to fund new pilot programs for this cause had to come from somewhere, and the Republicans decided to take it out of education programs in Democratic districts, along with other things the Democrats had wanted.
      5. The News & Observer said a rural district in northeastern North Carolina “took the biggest hit” from the amendment, with $316,646 cut from two early college high schools and the state banned from financially supporting a science, math and technology program that has helped many African American and low-income families.
    3. 50+ farmworkers in California poisoned by pesticide recently unbanned by Trump’s EPA
      1. https://thinkprogress.org/farmworkers-california-chlorpyrifos-35a15557905d
      2. http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2017/05/california-farm-workers-just-got-poisoned-nasty-pesticide-greenlghted-trump
      3. On May 5, more than 50 farmworkers outside of Bakersfield, California, were exposed to a highly toxic pesticide that apparently drifted from a nearby field—at a high enough level that “twelve people reported symptoms of vomiting [and] nausea and one person fainted,”
      4. According to the news report, the poisoning was caused by a chemical called chlorpyrifos. used on a variety of crops like oranges, apples, cherries, grapes, and broccoli. It can cause neurotoxic symptoms in humans like nausea, dizziness, and confusion. When exposed to high dosages, humans can suffer from respiratory paralysis or death.
      5. A study by researchers at Columbia University found that exposure was linked to brain function and lower IQ among children.
      6. During the Obama administration, EPA scientists recommended taking chlorpyrifos off the market. Despite the scientific evidence, new EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt rejected the ban on chlorpyrifos on the grounds that the agency needs to “provide regulatory certainty” for the thousands of U.S. farms that rely on chlorpyrifos.
      7. Dow Chemical donated $1 million to fund President Donald Trump’s inauguration ceremony. In a letter to the Trump administration sent in April, Dow Chemical asked the administration to “set aside” and ignore research showing that the pesticide could be harmful to endangered species.
    4. New poll suggests, for the first time, that more Americans support Trump impeachment than not
      1. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/trump-impeachment-poll-latest-majority-americans-remove-president-a7738891.html
      2. The poll, conducting by Democratic polling company Public Policy Polling, found that 48 per cent supported such a move, while 41 per cent opposed it.
        1. Which, of note, is a +7 margin. Nixon only had a +1 margin, which happened after the Saturday night massacre 44 for, 43 against. Nixon resigned almost 10 months after the Saturday night massacre
      3. The same poll found Americans were evenly divided on the issue just three months before.
      4. Researchers surveyed voters between 12 and 14 May – after Mr Trump’s surprising dismissal of FBI director James Comey, but before revelations from the Washington Post that the president had reportedly shared classified information with Russian officials.
    5. Jason Chaffetz say she will resign from congress next month
      1. June 30th last day in office
      2. Odd timing considering he was just elected, and while there were rumors saying he was going to resign early, it came out after special prosecutor was named
  4. Kentucky
    1. Pension in big trouble
      1. Under the new numbers presented to the board, KRS’ official unfunded pension liability of $18.1 billion will increase by somewhere between $3.6 billion and $4.5 billion, KRS executive director David Eager said.
      2. Following Thursday’s board vote, the primary state pension fund operated by KRS — known as the Kentucky Employees Retirement System (Non-Hazardous) — has only 13.81 percent of the money it is expected to need in coming years, down from 15.97 percent. That fund covers 122,146 active state workers and retirees.
      3. KRS, already considered one of the country’s worst-funded state retirement systems, is responsible for providing pensions to about 365,000 past and present employees of state and local governments. Last year, it paid $1.9 billion in pension benefits, up from $1.8 billion in 2015.
    2. Andy Beshear, Kentucky AG, might investigate Governor Bevin’s house deal
      1. Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear is exploring whether he has the authority to investigate details surrounding the purchase of a Jefferson County house where Gov. Matt Bevin’s family now lives.
      2. “This is one of the worst cases of personal enrichment by a governor,” Beshear said in a written statement Wednesday. “News reports suggest he is personally enriching himself and his friends, getting a Louisville mansion at half the price from a state contractor, donor and political appointee, and giving his best friend a $250,000 job. Because the governor refuses to be direct and honest, someone must investigate.”
      3. Last month, The Courier-Journal of Louisville reported that Bevin’s family had moved into a house recently purchased by Anchorage Place LLC. State business registration documents do not say who owns Anchorage Place LLC and Bevin has refused to identify the owner.
      4. The house was sold at what appears to be a discounted price by a company called The Anchorage LLC, which is owned by Louisville businessman Neil Ramsey. Ramsey has donated to Bevin’s political campaigns and was appointed by Bevin to the board of the Kentucky Retirement Systems.
      5. Beshear also expressed concern that the Bevin administration has hired two people in recent weeks who will be making about $250,000 annually. In particular, he cited the hiring of Vivek Sarin, a Shelbyville businessman who is a personal friend of Bevin, to improve the state’s workforce development strategies.
  5. General Quarters
    1. Call your representatives and senators
      1. Call your rep’s this week – they are in recess all week
        1. Raise hell for their Yes vote on ACHA – make them pay a price
        2. Senate will be watching to see if there is pushback on the House vote
          1. If there is, they will be more hesitant to vote Yes themselves
          2. If not, they’ll see there is no price to pay for stripping 24M Americans of healthcare
      2. Demand an independent investigation into Trump’s links with Russia.  Especially since the recent firing of James Comey.  Also, ask them to hold town halls.
      3. Call them to PROTECT net neutrality
        1. Comment on the FCC website on issue 17-108 (Restoring Internet Freedom) to preserve the Title II protections for net neutrality.
    2. Committee to Protect Journalists – Trump proposed jailing reporters according to the Comey memo – help them out
  6. Super Happy Fun Time
    1. Curtis – (*tentative) T-Rex bite force probably way stronger than previously thought (or depicted in movies)
      1. 8000 pound bite force would bite through lawyers even easier
      2. 431,000 PSI at the tip of the teeth.  That’s fucking nuts.
    2. Dave – In 2011 a rare fully preserved dinosaur was found and it was revealed this week. Discovered 17 miles north of Fort McMurray Alberta, it’s so complete that it almost looks alive. http://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2017/06/dinosaur-nodosaur-fossil-discovery/
    3. Travis – Rates of Bullying have Fallen by Half in the Last Decade.
      1. Appears to be thanks to more national awareness of bullying and school administrations making efforts to punish bullies.