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Must Watch: Here Were the Big Moments from the Jake Tapper-Leeann Tweeden Interview

NewsBusters - Fri, 11/17/2017 - 04:54
<p>Amidst all the coverage Thursday devoted to KABC Radio host Leeann Tweeden’s sexual misconduct claims against Democratic Senator Al Franken (Minn.), the most important segment took place on CNN’s <em>The Lead </em>as Tweeden sat down for an emotional 33-minute-long interview with host Jake Tapper.</p>

New Museum of the Bible Is Also a Museum of Humanity

NewsBusters - Fri, 11/17/2017 - 04:39
<p>At a time when entertainment media routinely mock Christianity, a new museum is standing out by celebrating the Bible’s influence on America, in the world and in the media. The building houses everything from a page of the Gutenberg Bible to Elvis’ Bible.</p>

NBC Finally Discovers Menendez After Mistrial, CBS Boasts Outcome

NewsBusters - Fri, 11/17/2017 - 03:20
<p>The Big Three Networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) could finally breathe a sigh of relief on Thursday after the corruption trial against Democratic Senator Bob Menendez ended (at least for now) with a mistrial. Since the trial began 71 days ago, the network evening newscasts did everything in their power not to report it, effectively hiding it from their viewers. But Thursday evening saw all three of them find time to highlight Menendez’s good fortune.</p>

Bozell & Graham Column: Al Franken, Groping 'Giant of the Senate'

NewsBusters - Fri, 11/17/2017 - 03:06
<p>In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment/assault scandal, allegedly feminist entertainers are being accused left....and left. The latest is comedian/Senator Al Franken, who was undeniably proven with photographic evidence to have groped a woman’s breasts while she was asleep on an airplane returning from a USO tour in 2006. The woman, KABC radio anchor Leeann Tweeden, added he forced his tongue down her throat during a rehearsal of a skit for the soldiers.</p>

Vox Columnist Downplays UCLA Players' Crimes, Takes Cheap Shot at Trump

NewsBusters - Fri, 11/17/2017 - 01:36
<p>It has been known at least since Saturday that the three UCLA basketball players detained in China on shoplifting charges and forced to stay in the country while the rest of the team went home were accused of stealing merchandise from three stores. Somehow, that news never got through to's John Kirby, who shortly after noon on Thursday, claimed that the trio had only stolen "a pair of Louis Vuitton sunglasses," and seemed more interested in getting in digs at President Trump than relaying accurate facts.</p>

MSNBC: ‘Hannity and Fox News Are a Totally Corrupt Enterprise’ Defending 'Child Molestation'

NewsBusters - Fri, 11/17/2017 - 01:01
<p>On Thursday’s <em>Deadline: White House</em>, host Nicolle Wallace and MSNBC national affairs analyst John Heilemann took Sean Hannity’s statement that “the people of Alabama” “need to know the truth” concerning the Roy Moore accusations as evidence that Fox News supports people who “prey in a sexual manner on teenage girls.”</p>

CNN’s Tapper Grills Begala About Double Standard Over Clinton Allegations; Begala Spins

NewsBusters - Fri, 11/17/2017 - 00:49
<p>Prior to his emotional interview with KABC radio anchor Leeann Tweeden, CNN’s <em>The Lead</em> host Jake Tapper briefly grilled former Bill Clinton confidant Paul Begala on the late and sudden examinations on the part of the media concerning Clinton’s sexual misdeeds.</p>

Ex-CNN Reporter, Producer Celebrates Defeat of Republican 'Bigots'

NewsBusters - Fri, 11/17/2017 - 00:46
<p>In a piece on, titled, "Air Force Academy hoax doesn't change overall picture on hate crimes," CNN contributor Frida Ghitis (identified as a "former CNN producer and correspondent") used the revelation that an infamous incident of racist harassment against Air Force Academy cadets was actually a hoax as a springboard to attack "bigots" and "racists" on the "far right" who were too glad that the troubling incident turned out not to be a bonafide example of a racially motivated hate crime.</p>

Clinton Calls Uranium One Allegations a ‘Distraction,’ ‘Debunked,’ and a Signal of ‘Dictatorship’. Or is It?

The Stream - Thu, 11/16/2017 - 22:07

Hillary Clinton has declared allegations of wrong-doing in the Uranium One deal “debunked.” They’re just a “distraction” from the Trump-Russia investigation. The charges send a “signal that we’re going to be like some dictatorship.” The former Secretary of State made the remarks in a new interview with Mother Jones. 

Her pushback comes as Reuters identified the FBI’s undercover witness to Russia’s efforts to bribe, blackmail and scheme their way to U.S. uranium. William D. Campbell was a lobbyist for Rosatom, the Russian company allowed to buy Uranium One. His evidence reportedly includes recordings of the Russians explaining they were throwing money toward the Clinton Foundation -- a reported $145 million -- to influence Hillary. Campbell will soon testify before Congress.

Debunking Hillary’s Debunking

Hillary told Mother Jones the Uranium One allegations have been repeatedly debunked. You’ll see Politifact cited plenty as one of the debunkers. Only they did no such thing. The best the left-leaning Politifact could come up with was “Clinton Role Still Unclear.” 

Let’s make Hillary’s problem a little clearer. Let’s look at the feeble House of Cards erected to defend her.

Hillary Wasn’t Involved

First, there’s the line that “Hillary wasn’t involved in the decision.” The decision to allow the sale of Uranium One to the Putin-controlled Rosotom had to be approved by CFIUS. That’s the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. Clinton, as secretary of state, was a member of CFIUS and had to sign off on the deal. But, said Hillary in 2015, “I was not personally involved because that wasn’t something the secretary of state did.” (If Hillary could pass a football as well as she passes the buck she’d have a job in the NFL quicker than Kaepernick.)

The grunt work, we are told, was done by assistant secretary of state Jose Fernandez. He insisted in 2015 that Hillary “never intervened with me on any CFIUS matter.” 

Unfortunately, for Fernandez, WikiLeaks gave up the goods. Fernandez was in regular contact with Clinton campaign manager and consigliere John Podesta. In one email he declared “I would like to do all I can to support Secretary Clinton.” Podesta put him on the board of his Center for American Progress. As The Daily Caller reported, Fernandez got the gig just before he “personally attested” that Clinton had not influenced his decision. 

Still, you are supposed to believe that Madam Russia Reset had no opinion or input into a major decision involving Vladimir Putin.  

Further, The Podesta Group, founded by Podesta and brother Tom, was paid $200,000 to lobby for the Uranium One deal. You’re Mr. Hernandez. You want to make Hillary happy. The lobbying firm founded by her top honcho and one of her top bundlers -- a firm that is as much a part of Clinton’s political machine as pantsuits -- knocks on your door. “We think you should approve the Uranium One sale,” they say. Really. Does Hillary have to actually be in the room?

Surely, we can check through all of Hillary’s State Department emails and discern her involvement or lack thereof with Uranium One. Oh, wait. We can’t. She deleted 33,000 of them. 

Just One of Nine

Second, there’s the claim that “She was just one of nine department heads on CIFIUS.” Do her supporters really want to argue that Hillary Clinton, who as senator fought against such vital mineral sales, who was the Secretary of State, wouldn’t have ruled the room had she said no?

And anyway: If bookies bribe only one player on a baseball field, does that make the player any less guilty? 

And what of those other eight? Did they know how much money was flowing into the Clinton Foundation from interested parties? About the FBI investigation into Putin’s bribery, kickback, blackmail scheme? Did they know the FBI had an informant smack dab in the middle of the Uranium One deal? One had to know: then-Attorney General Eric Holder. Did he share with CFIUS the Russian efforts to grab our uranium by hook-or-crook? 

Only Four Million

Here’s a third: “But the $145 million was really only $4 million, if you look at the timing.” Politifact says most of the $145 million came from Bill Clinton BFF Frank Giustra. He says he sold his Uranium One stake 18 months before Hillary became secretary of state. If that’s true, “the donation amount to the Clinton Foundation from confirmed Uranium One investors drops from more than $145 million to $4 million.” 

According to the New York Times, an investor named Ian Telfer dropped between $1.3 million and $5.6 million on the Foundation. So even the $4 million figure is suspect. The total could be almost $10 million instead.

Which reminds me: Next time Hillary talks about Uranium One being a Trump administration-generated distraction, keep in mind it was the New York Times that helped break the story in April 2015. That was two months before Trump even announced he was running.

Remember, this notion that it was only $4 million is being used by Clinton supporters as a defense. This is astounding. “The prosecution is lying! My client didn’t stab the victim 145 times! He only stabbed her 4!” Hillary Clinton, supporters admit, got $4 million from investors with a direct interest in the Uranium One deal going through. 

No Big Deal

Finally, Hillary’s inventive (maybe desperate?) supporters just say, “It’s just not a big deal, don’t worry about it.” Former Clinton adviser Richard Goodstein said this Tuesday night on Tucker Carlson. Uranium isn’t even all that valuable or crucial anymore, he said. When Carlson countered that Vladimir Putin sure thought the sale was a big deal, that he had spent millions to help make it happen, Goodstein’s spin was classic. Putin was a bad businessman. 

Let’s put aside the fact that uranium is the stuff used to make nuclear bombs. And the fact that Russia found a way to skirt around the lack of a shipping license, making the claim the uranium never left the U.S. a flat out lie. Let’s just accept Goodstein’s premise that the U.S. mines are meaningless in the big scheme things. 

After all, says Goodstein, “Kazakhstan is the biggest source of uranium on the planet.” He went onto say that Russia is able to exert power over its neighbor and deals heavily with them in that regard. So to Kazakhstan we go. 

Kazakhstan Means Cash for the Clintons

When Russia bought Uranium One, it didn’t just get 20% of the U.S. uranium supply. It got control of Uranium One’s uranium assets in Kazakhstan. And thus, as we can infer from Goodstein’s own remarks, more power over Kazakhstan.

How did Uranium One get the Kazakhstan assets in the first place?

Remember Bill Clinton BFF Frank Giustra? Even though he had little experience in the mining business, he flew over to Kazakhstan with Bill Clinton. Clinton said nice things publicly about Kazakhstan’s dictator. A couple days later, Kazakhstan granted Giustra and his Ur-Asia mining company the extremely lucrative uranium mining rights. Soon after Giustra donated $31 million to the Clinton Foundation, with a pledge to donate $100 million more. 

Clinton Cash author Peter Schweizer  says the Clinton sweet talk came with hard ball. He told Fox News Wednesday night how the Kazakh minister of Kazatomprom, the Kazah atomic agency, claims the Clintons blackmailed him. Schweizer summarized what Moukhtar Dzhakishev stated in a video deposition

They granted that concession to Frank Giustra because Hillary Clinton, then a senator, blackmailed and threatened Kazakh officials, saying she would not cooperate with them getting U.S. money; that she would not meet with any Kazakh officials until the concession was granted.

The Washington Post actually reported on Dzhakishev’s claims in 2010:

Dzhakishev said a senior Kazakh official told him to look into the deal after then-Sen. Hillary Clinton canceled a meeting with him. Dzhakishev said he was told that “investors who currently work in Kazakhstan and have ties to Clinton have problems and meetings will be resumed only after Kazakhstan resolves the problems.”

“I called them, and they came. I met them in Astana and then Clinton’s aide, Tim Phillips, began to scream that this deal involves Democrats and is financed by them, and that we were hampering the deal,” Dzhakishev said.

Alert the Post. They are part of Hillary’s new vast right-wing conspiracy.

How Secretary DeVos could explain student loan interest rates - AEI - American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

American Enterprise Institute - Thu, 11/16/2017 - 22:03

Earlier this month, Politico published an interview with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and when the topic of student loans came up, DeVos bombed her answer. But she’s not alone.

Why is the interest rate on her student loans higher than the interest rate she pays on that pickup truck? REUTERS/Randall Mikkelsen

Her answer comes directly from the right’s misguided talking points on student loans. I’ll provide what I think would have been a better answer for DeVos, but first, here is the actual exchange from the interview:

Tim Alberta of Politico: How is it that I pay a 2.4 percent interest rate on my Ford Explorer, but my Navient [federal] student loan I pay six and a quarter?

DeVos: That’s a very good question.

Tim Alberta of Politico: Is there something that you plan to do about it? Not for me, but for everyone paying such high interest rates on student loans?

DeVos: The federal government took over student loans completely right after the economic downturn. And so . . . the market for student loans has been basically controlled by the federal government. . . . And, the federalizing of student loans was ostensibly to help pay for Obamacare. So you’re helping to pay for Obamacare I guess, with your student loans.

Here is a better response Secretary DeVos could have given to that question

Tim, there are good reasons why the interest rate you pay on a loan to finance your Ford Explorer is lower than what you pay on your federal student loan.

First, and perhaps most importantly, your auto loan is backed by collateral — your Ford Explorer. Your student loans are what those in the finance industry call an “unsecured” loan. That’s a fancy way of saying there is no collateral backing it. That matters for your interest rate. Your lender knows the value of the Ford Explorer and it can seize the car to recover on the loan if you don’t repay for some reason. For a student loan, the lender can’t repossess your education if you don’t repay. Additionally, there’s not an easy way to put a value on your education like there is for a car (although I think your education was certainly valuable).

See also:

What I’m getting at here is the car loan is less risky than the student loan. Lenders charge interest rates that reflect the riskiness of the loan so that they are adequately compensated for taking on that risk. That’s why it makes perfect sense that the interest rate on your car loan is so much lower than on your student loan. Consider that the share of auto loans over 90 days delinquent is about 4%. For student loans that figure is nearly three times higher.

What is the duration of your auto loan?

Reporter: It’s a five-year loan.

Right. Another kind of risk in a loan is “duration risk.” If lenders make a loan to you for a long period of time they want to charge a higher interest rate than if they lend for a short period of time. Longer-term loans are inherently riskier, because more can happen when the lender’s money is tied up for longer. That is why a 30-year mortgage has a higher interest rate than a 15-year mortgage. No one thinks that something funny is going on when they pay a higher interest rate for a longer-term mortgage, right? You said your auto loan was a five-year loan. Do you know what the duration of your student loan is?

Reporter: I think it’s like 20 years.

Then that is another way your student loan is riskier for the lender than your auto loan. The higher interest rate helps to cover it. Now, one more question: Did the bank that made you the auto loan check your credit?

Reporter: Pretty sure they did.

And if you had no credit history, or a bad credit history, they wouldn’t have made you that loan. Unless you did something like prove you had reliable income. Federal student loans don’t work like that. It’s what makes the program so important for increasing access to college. Every student is eligible regardless of her credit history, income, choice of college, major, etc. That policy does, however, contribute to the high delinquency rates. There are other benefits baked into your federal loan that private lenders find too costly to offer, like income-based repayment and loan forgiveness that also contribute to higher costs for taxpayers.

See also:

Finally, some of my colleagues in Congress, and even the smart folks working on the editorial staff at certain newspapers, might answer this question differently. They think that the interest rate on federal student loans has something to do with a “government takeover” of the market. I think they are referencing the 2010 law that ended the government’s guaranteed student loan program and replaced it with direct lending.

But that wasn’t a takeover of the private market because the guaranteed loan program was always a government program, just like other loan guarantee programs (the Federal Housing Administration, the program that made loans to Solyndra, etc.). Direct lending is just a different approach to a government program. Furthermore, in both the guaranteed loan program and the direct loan program, the government set the interest rate borrowers would pay on their student loans. The so-called takeover cannot have had anything to do with student loan interest rates because the federal student loan program has always been a government program.

Learn more:

Army Rescinds Waiver Program for Self-Mutilating Recruits

The Stream - Thu, 11/16/2017 - 22:00

The Army has decided to abandon plans to issue waivers to recruits with a history of self-mutilation or other mental health problems.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said Wednesday to reporters that a September waiver memo, first reported on by USA Today, had been dropped after "terrible" messaging of the policy. However, Milley maintained the memo did not constitute a real change in policy, but rather delegated the ability to issue waivers to a lower authority -- from Army headquarters to Army Recruiting Command.

"There wasn't a change in policy," Milley said, according to USA Today. "There cannot be a change in policy by someone who doesn't have the authority to change policy. I know it sounds circular."

However, Army officials previously told USA Today that the ban on issuing waivers, which was first imposed in 2009 after a spate of troop suicides, had been lifted.

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The original story also attracted the attention of GOP Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, who bristled over the fact that he hadn't been informed of the memo before reading about it in the news. He also questioned whether the Army was the right place for those with a history of self-harm.

"Self-mutilation is something that comes home to roost," McCain said. "Someone who self mutilates, I don't understand the eligibility there."

Milley spoke with McCain on Tuesday and told him the memo would be rescinded.

Moreover, the memo was also condemned by the Center for Military Readiness, a military policy organization, that argued not only should the Army not make it easier to obtain waivers, but the Army shouldn't be handing out any waivers for these conditions at all.

The Army is trying to meet a recruitment goal of 80,000 for September 2018.


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Trump’s big success? Putting insiders on the federal courts - AEI - American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

American Enterprise Institute - Thu, 11/16/2017 - 21:57

When Donald Trump told conservatives last year that they had to vote for him to get the kind of federal judges they wanted, I doubted him. I wrote in Bloomberg View that Trump could not be trusted to fight the Democrats for a cause in which he had never before shown the slightest interest.

As president, though, Trump has delivered. He nominated Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, to ecstatic reviews from the right, and the Senate confirmed him.

With less fanfare, Trump has also nominated a slew of conservative intellectual heavyweights to the appeals courts. Charlie Savage reports in the New York Times that “Trump has already appointed eight appellate judges, the most this early in a presidency since Richard M. Nixon.” Getting solid judges confirmed to the appeals courts remains one of his top selling points for conservatives, as it was in 2016.

More than a fifth of voters told exit pollsters a year ago that nominations to the Supreme Court were “the most important factor” in their decision, and they went 56 percent to 41 percent for Trump over Hillary Clinton. Trump has said more than once that the issue contributed to his victory. That understanding has helped to motivate his administration in following through on his promise. So, no doubt, has the widespread praise Gorsuch has received.

Trump’s relative lack of interest in legal issues, meanwhile, seems to have worked in favor of his promise. He has let conservatives who do care about these issues select potential nominees.

This isn’t simply a matter of outsourcing the job to the Federalist Society, as observers often put it. The broad network of politically active conservative lawyers centers on that organization but extends beyond it, and White House lawyers broadly share its perspective on the law. This network has spent decades perfecting the art of getting qualified conservative judges on the bench. (It is setting a lower bar for the district courts, unsurprisingly, which are getting a lower caliber of nominee.)

If that sounds like an “establishment,” it should — a “Republican establishment,” no less. The network is built on relationships among people who are, to various degrees, insiders. Many of them are veterans of past administrations. Many of them have elite academic credentials. Its members would have been working together, inside and outside a Republican administration, to staff the federal bench if any of Trump’s primary rivals had made it to the White House instead.

Trump’s ability to change the federal judiciary has also depended on the work of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Trump has had a tempestuous relationship with McConnell, and fans of the president frequently despise the senator. But it was McConnell who kept President Barack Obama from filling Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat on the Supreme Court, elevating the importance of that issue during the election and giving Trump an opportunity to nominate Gorsuch. McConnell has also made confirming appellate nominees a priority.

Putting conservatives on the federal courts has been Trump’s major success since the election. But he has not achieved it by “draining the swamp,” or shaking up the system, or following his gut once he took office. He has achieved it by collaborating with the Republican Senate leadership and deferring to experts in the field.

Down Syndrome Abortion Ban Clears the Ohio Senate

The Stream - Thu, 11/16/2017 - 21:55

The Ohio Senate passed a bill Wednesday banning abortions if a mother receives a diagnosis that her child will be born with Down syndrome.

The lawmakers passed Senate Bill 164 in a 20-12 vote Wednesday, after the Ohio House of Representatives voted in a 63-30 vote to pass its companion bill -- House Bill 214 -- at the beginning of the month.

Like House Bill 214, the Senate bill penalizes doctors for performing abortions on pregnant women who receive a positive test that their baby will have Down syndrome. However, authorities would not fine or punish a woman who aborts her baby after receiving a positive test for the congenital disorder. 

"We are continuously encouraged by how Ohio is on the forefront of protecting the unborn," Ohio Right To Life President Mike Gonidakis said in a statement, according to "All Ohioans regardless of the gender, skin color or disability deserve the right to live out their God-given potential and purpose."

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Not everyone is enthused about the ban. "It's ironic that those who claim they believe in limited government are once again choosing to insert themselves in a relationship that is sacred between that practitioner and their patient," said state Sen. Charleta Tavares, a Columbus Democrat who fears the bill will discourage doctors from practicing in Ohio.

"This bill sends a very clear message, that some disabilities are more worthy of life than others and that one disability -- Down syndrome -- is the most worthy," Jane Gerhardt told lawmakers on Tuesday. Her daughter has Down syndrome, but she thinks the bill divides the disability community by selecting what disabilities warrant protection.

"This is a sideways step and does not reach the ultimate goal," said Ohio state Sen. Matt Dolan, a Republican. Dolan voted against the bill  and thinks it should be rejected because the law would not treat all life equally and is likely unconstitutional. 

The Ohio General Assembly will have to send one bill to GOP Gov. John Kasich's desk to get enacted into law.


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Copyright 2017 The Daily Caller News Foundation

Clinics Offer Abortions to Women Who Aren’t Even Pregnant

The Stream - Thu, 11/16/2017 - 21:39

Private clinics in Mexico City are providing "abortions" for women who aren't even pregnant by giving them false positive tests, an investigative reporter discovered after visiting the clinics.

The clinics falsely told the women that they were pregnant by conducting ultrasounds which showed tiny specks or thickened lining of the uterine wall. Doctors would then inform the women that they were pregnant and should abort. The clinics failed to conduct any urine or blood tests to confirm the supposed pregnancies, as is standard procedure at abortion clinics and hospitals, according to BuzzFeed News.

An undercover BuzzFeed reporter went to two private clinics and told the doctor her period was late and that she'd taken a home pregnancy test and had seen a faint line. Without asking any further questions or taking blood and urine samples, the doctor told the reporter she was pregnant because he had seen a small speck on her ultrasound, and asked her which form of abortion she'd like.

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BuzzFeed also spoke with a group of psychology students that had gone to 12 private clinics -- some of which offered free abortions and some which did not -- in Mexico City and told doctors their periods were late and their home pregnancy tests were positive. After providing that information, six of the clinics offered the students abortions. These six clinics also told students they were between four and six weeks pregnant, and if they didn't abort they would faced potential miscarriage.

At all of the clinics, the women were charged for both the appointment and ultrasound, and at clinics where abortions were not free, the women had to also pay up front for the cost of a medicinal abortion, aspirin, and some kind of sedation or anesthesia.

This is business and gynecological fraud, the regional director at Latin America Women's Health and Progress told BuzzFeed.

Abortion has been legal in Mexico City since 2007, but is illegal everywhere else in Mexico. A high demand for abortions paired with the small geographical location wherein abortion is legal has prompted more private clinics to open, and current estimates place the number of abortion clinics in Mexico City at 55. The local government provides free abortions at 13 clinics.


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CNN Panel Brushes Aside Franken Allegations to Knock Moore; ‘He Was Just a Comedian’

NewsBusters - Thu, 11/16/2017 - 20:53
<p>A Thursday afternoon <em>CNN Newsroom</em> panel showcased political tribalism as three liberal journalists downplayed the disturbing sexual misconduct allegations against Democratic Senator Al Franken (Minn.) by harping on the fact that Franken was “just a comedian” while those against Roy Moore and President Trump were far more serious.</p>

House Passes Sweeping Tax Reform Bill

The Stream - Thu, 11/16/2017 - 20:00

The House passed a comprehensive tax reform bill Thursday in a significant step toward fulfilling the GOP leadership's goal of placing a bill on President Donald Trump's desk by the end of the year.

The bill passed 227 to 205, with 13 Republican defectors and no supporting votes from Democrats. The House version slashes the corporate rate from 35 to 20 percent, collapses the existing seven income brackets down to four and eliminates a plethora of popular deductions, resulting in a total of $1.4 trillion in individual and business tax cuts over the next decade.

"For the first time in 31 years we are wiping the tax code clean and replacing it with one that is fairer and simpler for everyone," GOP Rep. Devin Nunes of California, a member of the Ways and Means Committee, told the New York Times.

Republican leadership was ultimately unable to win over lawmakers from high tax states like New York and New Jersey, who remained opposed to the bill because of its elimination of the state and local tax deduction, a provision that compensated residents of high tax states by granting them deductions on their federal income tax. The House version keeps the property tax deduction, but caps it at $10,000, a concession that proved insufficient in winning over the New York and New Jersey delegations.

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Under the House plan, individuals will be taxed at 12, 25, 35 and 39.6 percent respectively. The bill nearly doubles the standard deduction and also increases the child tax credit, in an effort spearheaded by Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner, from $1,000 to $1,600.

In addition to lowering the corporate rate by 15 percent, the bill also moves the U.S. toward a structure that taxes companies based solely on their U.S. revenue, rather than their total global earnings. A measure designed to incentivize multinational corporations to return profits to the U.S. rather than keeping them in offshore tax shelters.

Individuals who report business earnings on their personal tax returns, such as sole proprietorships, partnerships and S corporations, would have their top rate lowered to 25 percent under the bill, rather than being taxed at the current top individual rate of 39.6 percent.

The GOP still faces the ominous task of reconciling the now passed House version with a Senate draft that is working its way through the Finance Committee and diverges from its counterpart on a number of key issues.


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NYT Blames Racism for America’s Appalling Aversion to Taxes, Says GOP Shreds Safety Net

NewsBusters - Thu, 11/16/2017 - 19:50
<p>Liberal <em>New York Times</em> economics reporter turned leftist economics columnist Eduardo Porter is appalled that Americans refuse to go along with confiscatory tax rates like the rest of the civilized world, and suggested racism is part of the problem, in Wednesday’s “Considering the True Cost Of Keeping Taxes Lower” on the front of the Business Day section. And reporter Alan Rappeport continued his snotty and quite selective concern about deficit spending, now that Republicans are threatening tax cuts.</p>

New Jersey Sen. Menendez’s Bribery Trial Ends in a Hung Jury

The Stream - Thu, 11/16/2017 - 19:44

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -- The federal bribery trial of Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez ended in a mistrial Thursday with the jury hopelessly deadlocked on all charges against the New Jersey politician and a wealthy donor. Prosecutors did not immediately say whether they plan to retry the lawmaker.

U.S. District Judge William Walls declared a hung jury after more than six full days of deliberations that had to be re-started midway through when a juror was replaced.

Outside the courthouse, a choked-up Menendez fought back tears as he blasted the prosecution and thanked the jurors "who saw through the government's false claims and used their Jersey common sense to reject it." He added: "I've made my share of mistakes. But my mistakes were never a crime."

Juror Edward Norris said that 10 jurors wanted to acquit Menendez on all charges, while two held out for conviction. Norris said that after the prosecution rested, “in my gut I was like, ‘That’s it? That’s all they had?'”

The inconclusive end to the 2 1/2 -month trial could leave the charges hanging over Menendez as he gears up for an expected run for re-election next year to the Senate, where the Republicans hold a slim edge and the Democrats want every vote they can get.

Menendez, 63, was accused of using his political influence to help Florida eye doctor Salomon Melgen in exchange for luxury vacations in the Caribbean and Paris, flights on Melgen’s private jet and hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to organizations that supported the senator directly or indirectly.

Prosecutors said Menendez, in return, pressured government officials on Melgen’s behalf over an $8.9 million Medicare billing dispute and a stalled contract to provide port screening equipment in the Dominican Republic, and also helped obtain U.S. visas for the 63-year-old doctor’s girlfriends.

The defense argued that the gifts were not bribes but tokens of friendship between two men who were “like brothers.” In Menendez attorney Abbe Lowell’s closing argument, he used the words “friend,” “friends” or “friendship” more than 80 times.

Menendez’s lawyers contended also that the government failed to establish a direct connection between Melgen’s gifts and specific actions taken by the senator.

Prosecutors said that didn’t matter. Melgen, they said, essentially put Menendez on the payroll and made the politician his “personal senator,” available as needed.

The two men faced about a dozen counts each, including bribery, conspiracy and honest services fraud. The most serious charge against Menendez, honest services fraud, is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. He was also charged with making false statements in failing to report gifts from Melgen on his financial disclosure form.

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Menendez smiled and embraced his son and daughter when it appeared the trial had reached a dead end. Then, as the judge announced the mistrial in the courtroom, the senator looked up at the ceiling and extended his hands, his palms facing upward.

Afterward, Menendez’s political adviser, Mike Soliman, said “all things indicate” the senator will run for re-election and an announcement will probably be made in the coming weeks. Menendez, who has been under indictment for 2 1/2 years, has already raised more than $2.5 million this year.

In a statement, the U.S. Justice Department said it will consider its next steps.

The jury deliberated most of last week, then restarted on Monday with an alternate after a member was excused because of a long-planned vacation. The jurors also said on Monday that they couldn’t agree on a verdict, but the judge asked them to keep trying.

This time, the jury said in a note that it had reviewed all of the evidence “slowly and thoroughly and in great detail.” ”We have each tried to look at this case from different viewpoints, but still feel strongly in our positions,” the jurors said, adding that they were “not willing to move away from our strong convictions.”

Melgen is already facing the possibility of a long prison sentence after being convicted in April of bilking Medicare out of as much as $105 million by performing unneeded tests and treatments.

The last sitting senator convicted of a crime was Ted Stevens of Alaska, a Republican found guilty in 2008 of concealing more than $250,000 in home renovations and other gifts. His conviction was later thrown out because of prosecutorial misconduct, and he died in a 2010 plane crash.

The Menendez case was the first major federal bribery trial since the U.S. Supreme Court in 2016 threw out the conviction of Republican former Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia and narrowed the definition of bribery.

In recent months, the McDonnell ruling led judges to overturn the convictions of at least three other public officials, including a former Louisiana congressman. Menendez’s lawyers had likewise hoped to get the case against the senator dismissed, but the judge refused.

Menendez, the son of Cuban immigrants, served in the House from 1993 until he was appointed to fill a Senate vacancy in 2006. He has chaired the Foreign Relations Committee and was a major player in the unsuccessful bipartisan “Gang of Eight” effort to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws in 2013.

More recently, he drew the ire of some fellow Democrats when he opposed President Barack Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran and efforts to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba.


Contact Porter at


Associated Press writer Anthony Izaguirre in Newark, N.J., contributed to this story.


Copyright 2017 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

John Yoo on Killer Robots, Space Weapons and The Future of Warfare | Close Encounters Ep. 1 - AEI - American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

American Enterprise Institute - Thu, 11/16/2017 - 19:26

In the first episode of Close Encounters, John Yoo and Ben Weingarten discuss Yoo’s new book ‘Striking Power: How Cyber, Robots, and Space Weapons Change the Rules for War’ and a series of topics including the revolution in military technology, what the future of war looks like on land, air and sea, ethical concerns around robots and autonomous weaponry, the Iran Deal, how to stop North Korea, why we are losing the War on Terror, and a great deal more.

NBC Stays Silent on Menendez, Mocks ‘Trump’s Water-Gate’ Instead

NewsBusters - Thu, 11/16/2017 - 18:41
<p>While NBC News has so far refused to cover the corruption trial of Democratic New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez, on Thursday, the Today show found plenty of time to laugh at President Trump for taking a sip of water during a White House address on Wednesday. The broadcast devoted two separate segments, totaling 2 minutes 38 seconds, to the President being mocked for his clumsy effort to stay hydrated.</p>


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