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Sunday, July 31, 2016

RSN: Trump and Russia: Even Historians See No Precedent

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FOCUS: Jane Mayer | Trump and Russia: Even Historians See No Precedent 
Donald Trump travelled to Moscow in 2013 to meet Vladimir Putin hoping to discuss plans for a Trump Tower near Red Square. (photo: AP/Getty Images) 
Jane Mayer, The New Yorker 
Mayer writes: "Like a maddeningly provocative amateur sportsman, Trump had once again served a ball that was so wild it was hard to tell if it was a mistake or a deliberate attempt to destabilize all of the accepted rules of the game." 

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MASSterList: MASSterList special edition | Lawmakers racing against time

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  • By Jay Fitzgerald and Keith Regan

    MASSterList special edition | Lawmakers racing against time

    Happening Today
    House and Senate Sunday session
    After getting little work done on Saturday due to inconclusive negotiations between House and Senate negotiators over major legislation, both chambers were back in session today in an attempt to finish up business before tonight’s end-of-session deadline. 
    Both chambers convened into formal session at 12 p.m. today.
    Four main pieces of legislation being negotiated in conference committee had yet to be released as of mid-afternoon Sunday.

    Today's News
    DeLeo ‘hopeful’ on passing major legislation – but makes no promises
    The behind-the-scenes standoff between House and Senate negotiators over four major bills – including those covering energy policies, economic development, ride-hailing regulations, non-compete agreements and other issues – continued well into Sunday afternoon on Beacon Hill, calling into question whether some key legislation will ever see the light of day before the session ends at midnight. It was the second day in a row of waiting as House and Senate negotiators tried to hammer out compromises on thorny issues dividing the two chambers.
    House Speaker Robert DeLeo was guardedly optimistic that compromises can be reached on all major items, reports State House News Service (pay wall). "It appears as though starting this morning or late last night, whatever it was, some good progress was made on all of them,” DeLeo said. “Are we there yet? No, but I'm hopeful that we're going to be able to come to an agreement on all of them.” But he said he couldn't promise agreement would be reached.
    "People try to wait to wait 'til the bitter end," DeLeo said, likening the legislature's deadline for roll call votes to the trading deadline in Major League Baseball or the pending start of a trial that spurs parties to reach compromise settlements. The speaker was adamant about one thing: He said the House wouldn't suspend the rule barring the Legislature from meeting in formal sessions beyond July 31.
    The Globe’s Joshua Miller has more on the conference-committee delays – and he looks at many of the other legislative items that are “poised to die a silent death” because of legislative inaction during this session.
    Rosenberg points finger at House
    Senate President Stan Rosenberg wasn’t exactly blaming the House for this weekend’s slow pace of legislative action, as Senate and House negotiators continued to toil behind the scenes to craft compromise bills on major legislation. But he sure was close to blaming the House. "It is challenging,” he said over the weekend, as reported by SHNS’s Katie Lannan (pay wall). “The largest and most complicated conference items came to the Senate in the last month after sitting in the House for many, many months, so that's challenging for us but we will continue to negotiate and try to work out the differences."
    On Sunday, Gov. Baker remained in Gloucester where he’s vacationing with his family for a few days, but his staff is saying the governor is keeping close tabs on what’s happening on Beacon Hill, reports SHNS’s Matt Murphy (pay wall). Baker has been participating in conference calls every few hours with Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, senior staff and cabinet secretaries. Baker has also spoken directly more than once with Senate President Stanley Rosenberg and House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Lannan reports.
    Speaker takes AG gun-authority bill off table
    One major development on Sunday didn’t require a conference committee report or vote: House Speaker Robert DeLeo made clear that House lawmakers will steer clear of last-minute legislation filed in reaction to Attorney General Maura Healey’s controversial crackdown on “copycat” assault weapons. DeLeo said that the bill is just too big and complex to be shoehorned into the already crammed agenda before this year’s session ends today. He added the issue was likely to be decided in court anyway, Gintautus Dumicius of MassLive reports. “There's no possible way we could have an issue such as a gun debate be debated and acted upon within two days," he said, while predicting legal action from the Gun Owners Action League. DeLeo avoided direct answers to questions about whether he thought Healey actually overstepped her authority by issuing her recent directive declaring that the sale of copycat assault weapons violated current state gun-control laws. 
    Meanwhile, the Globe's Yvonne Abraham says Healey has been bombarded with “vile, sexist, and homophobic” attacks from gun owners and gun rights activists due to her recent assault-weapons edict. “They’ve called Healey ugly, her agenda satanic, and taunted her for being gay. One person tweeted that he’d like to hire a homeless man to rape and disembowel the attorney general alive. A commenter on a gun nut blog tracked down her home address and posted it,” Abraham writes. 

    Lawmakers nix Walsh bid for liquor license control
    One of the only major bills to emerge from conference committee was a major disappointment for Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, whose high-profile bid to wrest control of his city’s liquor licenses from the state legislature died when House and Senate conferees agreed on the final language for a municipal modernization bill that didn’t include giving more authority to cities and towns to issue liquor licenses, Nicole Dungca of the Globe reports. The final version, expected to be voted on by both chambers today, keeps the license authority largely in the legislature’s hands. The Walsh administration, which pushed hard for the shift and enlisted the support of a dozen members of the city council along the way, says it will try again next year.
    Boston Globe
    'Municipal modernization,’ explained
    So what exactly is the “municipal modernization” bill that lawmakers have agreed upon this weekend? Gov. Baker once described it as “the most boring weed-whacking stuff you ever saw in your life.” But Matt Szafranski at Western Mass Politics and Insight takes a more erudite stab at explaining the legislation that emerged from conference committee. “Much of it revises technical jargon, streamlines processes or updates dollar values to reflect inflation,” he reports. “But the law also cuts city councils and town select boards and finance committees out of authorizing deficit spending for snow and ice removal. It is one of many changes to streamline municipal operations, but one that runs counter the budgeting system envisioned by the Municipal Finance Act, the state law that governs how localities budget, spend and borrow. Broadly speaking, the act gives municipal executives incredible control over spending, but local legislatures can halt virtually any action that financial obligates the community.”
    SHNS’s Michael Norton adds at MassLive: “Among the many provisions in the bill are an initiative aimed at bringing down the costs of textbooks in K-12 and public higher education, a required report from telephone and distribution companies on double poles, and numerous sections aimed at streamlining municipal government procurement and operations.”
    So Baker wasn’t oversimplifying after all: It’s the most boring weed-whacking stuff you ever saw in your life.
    Paid leave seen DOA in House
    While compromises eluded lawmakers working on major legislation over the weekend, the Senate on Saturday did give its stamp of approval to legislation that would mandate up to 16 weeks of paid family leave, according to an Associated Press account carried by the Lowell Sun. But the legislation is unlikely to be taken up by the House today and will likely join scores of other bills refiled for next session.
    Lowell Sun

    House restores $40 million
    While lawmakers waited for conference committee reports that never materialized Saturday (or most of Sunday, for that matter), House members did restore $40 million in funding to the fiscal 2017 budget that Gov. Baker slashed from his spending plan, reports the Herald’s Kathleen NcKiernan. That was in addition to the $86.4 million in overrides previously approved by House members, with senators going along with most of those overrides.
    Boston Herald
    When all else fails, just sing ‘God Bless America’
    Land transfer bills occupied the attention of the House of Representatives on Sunday afternoon as the clock wound down on the last day of formal sessions before January. At 2:45 p.m., the chamber was filled with the sound of chatter as members waited to find out whether their colleagues would reach agreement on time. House Speaker Robert DeLeo had just told reporters he would make no promises. Court officers were dispatched to cast roll calls for the reps negotiating the ride-hailing regulatory bill – a sign that at least they were meeting. If policy debate didn't dominate the chamber, camaraderie did. After DeLeo addressed the members, favorably contrasting their teamwork to the political divisions around the country, House Speaker Pro Tem Patricia Haddad led the House in singing "God Bless America." 
     -- Andy Metzger/State House News Service

    In other news from around the state …
    Revolving doors: Insiders help candidates win elections, then help themselves
    The Globe’s Mark Arsenault and Andrew Ryan have a big story this morning on how consultants who help candidates win elections then go on to represent corporate clients with interests before the very officeholders they helped elect. They name names – and people working for Gov. Baker, Attorney General Maura Healey, Treasurer Deb Goldberg, Mayor Marty Walsh and others have all done it. It’s perfectly legal. But some are questioning the practice, among them Pam Wilmot, executive director of Common Cause Massachusetts, and Jordan Libowitz, communications director for the nonprofit government watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “When it starts to look like access is for sale, it does raise questions about how the official is running things,” Jordan says.
    Boston Globe
    In New Bedford, pushback on Clinton’s speech claims
    A onetime mayor of New Bedford says Hillary Clinton’s mention of the Whaling City during her Democratic National Convention acceptance speech may have overstated the hurdles facing handicapped children seeking an education, Jack Spillane of the Standard-Times reports. While some current officials praised Clinton’s work and the progress made as a result of it, former Mayor John Markey said that at the time Clinton was in the city working for the Children’s Defense Fund, programs were in place that took children to handicapped-accessible schools, though they were often not in the students’ part of the city.
    Nearly 40 percent of traffic tickets tossed out
    Massachusetts drivers were found not responsible for nearly 40 percent of the 3.2 million traffic violation citations issued between 2012 and 2015, Todd Feathers of the Lowell Sun reports. In some categories, dismissal rates were much higher. For instance, 86 percent of tickets for driving with a suspended or revoked registration were vacated. Courts also threw out 66 percent of the tickets issued for driving under the influence of drugs.
    Lowell Sun

    Today's Headlines

    RSN: Trump's Hillary Email Baiting Sets Off Stupidity Storm

    Worth reading in its entirety! 

    Excerpt --- are you being sucked in by the noise? : 

    Keeping the public’s eye off the ball is no laughing matter
    Panetta is a smart, experienced guy, so he must be aware of what a colossal joke this is, even though CNN chose to swallow it whole. The DNC hack had little to do with the current presidential campaign and almost everything to do with the Democrats’ covert campaign against Bernie Sanders. Any honorable Democrat would denounce that. DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz resigned under pressure, without noticeable contrition, and Hillary Clinton promptly rewarded her with an honorary chairmanship of the Clinton campaign. The last thing Clinton wants is to run against the specter of a martyred Sanders. She would much, much prefer to run against Vladimir Putin and his imaginary alliance with Donald Trump. This is consistent with her decades-long demonization of Russia and support for American/NATO soft aggression against Russia initiated by President Clinton more than 20 years ago.
    By omission, Panetta endorses this Clinton policy of needlessly risking war, making endangerment equivalent to patriotic loyalty and, in time-dishonored fashion, equating the reduction of war between Russia and the U.S. somehow with disloyalty. It’s neo-liberal logic, so it doesn’t have to make sense. Especially not when it’s part of the framing of a false campaign trope.

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    FOCUS: William Boardman | Trump's Hillary Email Baiting Sets Off Stupidity Storm 
    Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks as he accepts the nomination during the final session of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, on July 21, 2016. (photo: Brian Snyder/Reuters) 
    William Boardman, Reader Supported News 
    Boardman writes: "This is old school Red-baiting (applied to a no longer Red Russia) with even less intellectual integrity than McCarthy-era smearing. No wonder that no evidence was produced by these unnamed spooks, all they had to do was impugn Putin, Putin, Putin, and people's minds started shutting down with pre-programmed fear." 

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    CounterCurrents: A Week Before Rio Games, Protesters Extinguish Olympic Flame, Humanising Hillary Clinton: The Democratic National Convention

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    Dear Friend,

    If you think the content of this news letter is critical for the dignified living and survival of humanity and other species on earth, please forward it to your friends and spread the word. It's time for humanity to come together as one family! You can subscribe to our news letter here 

    In Solidarity
    Binu Mathew

    A Week Before Rio Games, Protesters Extinguish Olympic Flame
    by Bill Van Auken

    Protesting workers and youth in Angra dos Reis, a coastal town about 100 miles south of Rio de Janeiro, blocked an Olympic procession Wednesday night, seizing and extinguishing the Olympic torch before being driven back by police firing teargas and rubber bullets.

    Enough Is ‘Not’ Enough: Is Kerala Poised For Social Darwinism?  
    by K M Seethi

    The row over the appointment of Harvard Professor, Gita Gopinath, as Economic Advisor to the CPI(M)-led Left Democratic Front (LDF) Chief Minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan, has thrown open an ideological foray within the left camp. The veteran leader V S Achuthanandan had written to the CPI (M) central leadership expressing his concern over her appointment. But the CPI (M) Politburo, however, in its meeting held in Delhi on 31 July seemed to have adopted a policy of non-intervention on the issue even as some of the members of the PB expressed their reservation on the issue

    The Deployment Of The US THAAD Missile In South Korea Signals Start Of New Cold War
    by Dr Vivek Kumar Srivastava

    South East Asia is in the grip of new cold war. There are two clear signals, after the Hague International Tribunals ‘verdict which clearly rejected the Chinese claim on the sea; the first    is that China- Russia have come together on the issue of South China Sea, this is visible as Russia and China have decided to organize    a joint drill in the disputed sea, second US has decided to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system in South Korea which Seoul has accepted.

    Why The Yemen Peace Talks Collapsed?
      by Abdus Sattar Ghazali

    Riyadh-based Yemen government in exile Thursday pulled out of the peace talks underway in Kuwait after Houthi militants and their allies formed a 10-member “supreme council” to run the war-torn nation. “The negotiations have completely ended,” said Abdallah al-Olaimi, a member of the exile government team to the talks. UN special envoy Ismail Ahmad Ould Cheikh Ahmed, who has been brokering the talks aimed at a peaceful settlement, condemned the move without formally announcing the collapse of negotiations.

    Humanising Hillary Clinton: The Democratic National Convention
    by Dr Binoy Kampmark

    Moving beyond idea, beyond type, beyond cardboard cuts, was always going to be a central feature of the Democratic National Convention in 2016. With a US presidential election set to run between two largely unpopular characters, Hillary Clinton needed to show that she was a touch more than merely the tried and the failed. To a large degree, the convention watchers felt that the task had been achieved, though that takes a good deal of presumption and make believe. The brush of humanity had been run over the candidate, and she was there, glowing away for the task at hand.

    Can #DNCLeak Spark Movement For Real Democracy In America?
    by Nozomi Hayase

    The DNC emails released by WikiLeaks showed that the Democratic National Committee has been implementing a coordinated force to undermine Bernie Sanders’ campaign and also the media’s collusion with the DNC. It is now clear that the democratic presidential primary was rigged from the start.

    Kashmir: Management Is No Solution
    by Raouf Rasool

    So what is it the state government is, and will do, to account for the “police excesses”? Police are not covered under AFSPA, and fall under the state government – no central nod is needed for much-needed corrections in it — so that the summer 2016 is not yet another 2010 or 2008 for that matter even 2009, when civilians killings at the hands of the men in Khaki were taken as a “necessary collateral” and nobody bothered to account for them.

    RSN: Trump Stirs Outrage After Lashing Out at Muslim Parents of Dead US Soldier, Progressives Must Build on Bernie's Movement to Transform the Country, but First We Must Elect Hillary

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    Robert Reich | Progressives Must Build on Bernie's Movement to Transform the Country, but First We Must Elect Hillary 
    Robert Reich. (photo: unknown) 
    Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Facebook Page 
    Reich writes: "Now that the convention is over, I want to say something to those of you who understand that the American political-economic system is at a crisis point - that the widening inequalities of income and wealth are undermining our democracy" 
    Snowden, Assange Trade Blows Over DNC Email Leak 
    Caroline Kelly, Politico 
    Kelly writes: "Edward Snowden knows a thing or two about leaks. The former CIA employee and government contractor weighed in on WikiLeaks' publication of thousands of emails by Democratic National Committee staffers, calling for greater transparency of government intelligence capabilities." 
    Trump Stirs Outrage After Lashing Out at Muslim Parents of Dead US Soldier 
    Jose A. DelReal and Anne Gearan, The Washington Post 
    Excerpt: "Republican Donald Trump lashed out Saturday at two Muslim American parents who lost their son while he served in the U.S. military in Iraq and who appeared at the Democratic National Convention last week, stirring outrage among critics who said the episode proves that Trump lacks the compassion and temperament to be president." 
    Ex-Fox News Employee Says Roger Ailes Sexually Exploited Her for 20 Years 
    Gabriel Sherman, New York Magazine 
    Sherman writes: "Laurie Luhn told the lawyers at Paul, Weiss that she had been harassed by Ailes for more than 20 years, that executives at Fox News had known about it and helped cover it up, and that it had ruined her life. 'It was psychological torture,' she later told me." 
    States' Flag-Burning Laws Unconstitutional, but Persist 
    David Mercer, Associated Press 
    Mercer writes: "At least 40 states still have flag-desecration laws, punishing those who burn or otherwise damage U.S. and, in most cases, state flags with fines or even jail time. A handful of Southern states extend that protection to Confederate flags. Yet, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in separate cases in 1989 and 1990 that flag burning and other forms of damage are constitutionally protected free speech." 
    Ireland Jails Three Top Bankers Over 2008 Banking Meltdown 
    Conor Humphries, Reuters 
    Humphries writes: "Three senior Irish bankers were jailed on Friday for up to three-and-a-half years for conspiring to defraud investors in the most prominent prosecution arising from the 2008 banking crisis that crippled the country's economy." 
    GMO Labels Are Now the Law of the Land 
    Nathanael Johnson, Grist 
    Johnson writes: "We're officially a country that labels GMOs now. President Obama signed a bill on Friday that requires food companies to label products with genetically engineered ingredients." 

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