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AMY GOODMAN: So I want to talk about sanctuary cities and states. Kevin de León, you have introduced a bill to make California a sanctuary state. Last week, Fox News's Bill O'Reilly asked Trump about your bill.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, I think it's ridiculous, sanctuary cities. As you know, I'm very much opposed to sanctuary cities. They breed crime. There's a lot of problems. If we have to, we'll defund. We give tremendous amounts of money to California.
BILL O'REILLY: So you're going to defund
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: CaliforniaCalifornia, in many ways, is out of control, as you know. Obviously, the voters agree; otherwise, they wouldn't have voted for me.
BILL O'REILLY: So, defunding is your weapon of choice.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well, it's a weapon. I don't want to defund a state or a city.
BILL O'REILLY: But you're willing to do it.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I don't want to defund anybody. I want to give them the money they need to properly operate as a city or a state. If they're going to have sanctuary cities, we may have to do that. Certainly, that would be a weapon.
AMY GOODMAN: So, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, your response? The defunding of the state of California and what exactly a sanctuary state means?
SEN. KEVIN DE LEÓN: Well, a couple things, Amy. Far from being out of control, we are the sixth-largest economy, not nationally, but in the entire world. We're an incredible tapestry of different ethnicities and hues and immigrants from all over the nation, from all over the world.
But let me underscore something. I'm going to make up a word, because I think he's weaponizing federal funding. When the president makes the threats that he has made as of recent, that he's going to withhold dollars from California, what he's doing is he's threatening senior citizens who have the early signs of dementia or Alzheimer's, or children who havewho are on the spectrum of Asperger's or autism. He is threatening to punish and to hurt people. That's mean-spirited. That's vindictiveness. That is spitefulness. That's not who we are as a nation. And, just as importantly, it's illegal. It's unconstitutional. This is not a monarchy. This is a republic. The president, by fiat, cannot threaten a state like California to withhold dollars. And let me be very clear about something: Those dollars belong to the people of California. They are our tax dollars by hard-working Californians. They are not Donald Trump's dollars. He's not giving it to us out of the largesse of his heart because it's a gift to California. Those are the constituents of the hard-working taxpayers of California.
So, what I'm attempting to do is to make sure that we're not a cog in the deportation machine of Donald Trump, that in order for Donald Trump to be successful in separating children from mothers, and mothers from children, he needs to commandeer local police departments, he needs to commandeer local sheriffs, he needs to commandeer state highway patrol, to be an extension of the federal immigration authorities. I want to make sure that he doesn't use our tax dollars, our hard-earned tax dollars, to separate children from their mothers by commandeering our local police agencies as well as resources. I'm clearly aware that federal immigration law is the sole exclusive jurisdiction of the federal government and Homeland Security and ICE. But if you think that the state of California is going to cooperate with you, be very clear about one thing: We're not going to lift one single finger, nor are we going to spend one single cent, to help this man separate children from their mothers. It's just not who we are as a state. It's not who we are as a great country.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Steve Choi, New York City, obviously, is in the same situation, declaring itself aMayor de Blasio has declared New York City a sanctuary city. Your sense of the threats of cutoffs of funds to municipalities, especially in lieu of the fact of how much money New York City provides the rest of the nation in its taxes?
STEVEN CHOI: Yeah. I mean, there is a threat, but I thinkI want to start by saying the term "sanctuary" is a little bit misleading. Really, when we are talking about sanctuary, we're talking about two things. One is a confidentiality policy that says that when city and state employees are talking to people, they're not asking about immigration status. And we're also talking about detainer policies that basically say, if people are caught up in the criminal justice system and ICE issues a detainer, those don't have to be respected. Those are commonsense policies that make our cities and our states safer.
There was a mayor of New York City who believed so strongly in these policies that he filed a lawsuit that went all the way up to the Supreme Court and said, "If you're undocumented and you're hard-working, we don't want you to feel like you're a fugitive. We want you here in the city." That was Rudy Giuliani back in 1997. So if it's good enough for Rudy Giuliani in 1997, it should be good enough for Donald Trump in 2017.
I do want to note, though, that "sanctuary" is a little bit misleading. I think the issue is that we do need to make sure that, in California and New York, cities and states are not doing anything to actually make deportations happen. But there's nothing that stops ICEas we saw this past weekend, there's nothing that stops ICE from coming to New York City, doing raids, engaging in kinds of actions that are going to sweep people up. And so, I think we need to make sure that when people use the term "sanctuary," they're not providing a misleading sense of hope that ICE can't come into these cities and states, because they can.
AMY GOODMAN: Kevin de León, how do you protect people in Los Angeles, in San Francisco, throughout California, in Sacramento, around this issue that, of course, ICE is there, they're raiding people? Do you think, in fact, Los Angeles was targeted for being a sanctuary city? People are talking about that in Austin. Activists are saying in Texas, you have the governor, who has cut off funds to Austin, because it's a sanctuary city, and says he wants to put a ban on any kind of sanctuary legislation.
SEN. KEVIN DE LEÓN: A couple things, Amy, as well as Juan, is I do agree with Steve. The terminology, "sanctuary city," "sanctuary state," is a bit misleading, because it gives you the perception that you have an invisible force shield, and as long as long as you get behind that invisible force shield, you are safe. That's not the reality. Federal immigration law is exclusive jurisdiction of the federal government, Homeland Security and ICE. If you are undocumented, you can be detained, and you can eventually be deportedhopefully, after due process.
But the reality is this: It's very difficult to know if Homeland Security and ICE stepped up their efforts because of Donald Trump, because the lack of transparency and accountability. Now, during President Barack Obama's administration, there was more collaboration, more cooperation. The reason why is that they didn't want to instill fear and panic among immigrant communities throughout Southern California and elsewhere. That's not the case with this new administration. It was very difficult to secure the necessary information to know exactly who they were going after and who they were not going after. That breeds mistrust.
A couple things I want to highlight, too, is when Donald Trump said that sanctuary cities breeds more crime, that can't be farther from the truth. In fact, we have empirical evidence, real data, that clearly states that sanctuary cities, or so-called, quote-unquote, "sanctuary cities," they have actually less crime than non-sanctuary cities.
And let me go back to the governor of the state of Texas and his punishment of a city, a great city like Austin, Texas. This shows you how different states are dealing with the issue of immigration, or, the lack thereof, immigration reform. And this is a very clear reflection of the abdication of responsibility, political and legal responsibility, of the Congress to deal with this issue, combine border security as well as a pathway to legal residency and citizenship.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to endI want to end with Steven Choi, just asking: If ICE comes to your door, do you have to open it?
STEVEN CHOI: You don't have to open it. If they ask you questions, you don't have to answer them. You can request a lawyer. I mean, these are some of the basic rights.
AMY GOODMAN: They have to show you a warrant? They have to slip that through the door?
STEVEN CHOI: They have to. They have to.
AMY GOODMAN: And they most usually don't have one?
STEVEN CHOI: I think what we've found is often that ICE thinks that they are going to a certain place, and they'll call them collateral targets. That's their term, about people who may not necessarily be the target, who get swept up. I mean, the fact is, we do need to educate folks
AMY GOODMAN: Five seconds.
STEVEN CHOI: because they have rights that are guaranteed, and we need to make sure everybody knows about them.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Today, hundreds of fast-food workers plan to converge on the corporate offices of labor secretary nominee Andrew Puzder and demand the fast-food mogul withdraw his nomination. Puzder is head of the company that franchises the fast-food outlets Hardee's and Carl's Jr. He's a longtime Republican donor who's been a vocal critic of raising the minimum wage, of the Fight for 15 movement, of expansion of overtime pay, and of paid sick leave and the Affordable Care Act. Puzder's Senate confirmation hearing is scheduled for Thursday. The hearing has been postponed four times previously. Last week, Puzder became the second of Trump's Cabinet nominees to acknowledge hiring an undocumented worker. The first was commerce secretary nominee and billionaire Wilbur Ross. Similar practices have led to the rejection of past Cabinet nominees, including two of President Clinton's nominees for attorney general in 1993.
AMY GOODMAN: The Riverfront Times in St. Louis also reports that Andrew Puzder was accused of abusing his former wife multiple times. Puzder's ex-wife even went on Oprah decades ago in disguise to speak about the domestic violence.
Meanwhile, a recent survey by Restaurant Opportunities Centers United has found a shocking two-thirds of women working at Puzder's restaurants experience sexual harassment at work. One-third of Puzder workers said they've had some of their wages stolen or not received required breaks. The report also called into question the food safety standards at Puzder's restaurants, with nearly 80 percent of Puzder workers saying they had prepared or served food while they were sick.
Well, for more, we go now to Washington, D.C., where we're joined by Saru Jayaraman, who is co-founder and co-director of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United, known as ROC United. Their new report is titled "Secretary of Labor Violations?: The Low Road Business Model of CKE Restaurant Inc's Andrew Puzder." And in Los Angeles, we're joined by Maggie Guerrero, who worked as a shift leader at a Carl's Jr. for two years.
We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Saru, I believe that the date has now been set for Thursday for Puzder's confirmation hearing, put off five times. It is quite astounding. Can you talk about your concerns about the head of Carl's and Hardee's becoming the secretary of labor under Donald Trump?
SARU JAYARAMAN: Absolutely. First, it has to be understood that as the leader of CKE restaurant chains, Andy Puzder is not just a CEO of a fast-food company, he's also a leader in the National Restaurant Association, a trade lobby that has essentially lobbied for almost a century to keep wages as low as inhumanely possible, including keeping wages for fast-food workers at $7.25 and tipped workers at $2.13 an hour. Today is actually our annual day of action, 2/13, to highlight the fact that the wage has been stuck at $2.13 an hour for a quarter-century. And it's that kind of policy that the National Restaurant Association and Andy Puzder have been lobbying for successfully for the last many, many decades.
Now, in his own restaurants, Andy Puzder not only, you know, has said, "I wish I could replace these workers with robots. You know, I don't actually believe in the minimum wage at all," but has been found in very serious violation, not only by our report, which was pretty overwhelming, but also by the very department that he is now charged to run. The Department of Labor has found that more than half of his restaurants were in violation of basic wage and hour laws, like not paying overtime, not payingnot providing breaks, workers working off the clock and, worst of all, as you mentioned, just incredible amounts of sexual harassment.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, Saru, on this issue of his stance on the minimum wage and the Fight for 15, here he is, Andy Puzder, on Fox Business News in 2015.
ANDREW PUZDER: If your concern is to create entry-level jobs for young Americans, then a $15 minimum wage is something you should be protesting against. And thisDr. Carson brought this up. Labor participation for minority youth is really very low. My friend Art Laffer and I had an article in Investor's Business Daily on that about a year and a half ago. But even if you look at labor participation for 16-to-19-year-olds for every race, the reality is that we've hit four historic lows this year, and they'veand that goes back to when the Bureau of Labor Statistics started recording the data in 1948. So, fewer young people are working or looking for work than has been the case since 1948. If your objective is to bolster and support the unions, and you're not all that concerned about whether young people will have entry-level jobs, then you should be protesting in favor of a $15 minimum wage. And I think most people are concerned about young people in this country, and fewer people are concerned about big labor.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: That was Andy Puzder on Fox Business in 2015. Last year, in an interview with Business Insider, labor secretary nominee Puzder sang the praises of restaurant automation. He saidhe's quoted as saying that machines are, quote, "always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there's never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case." In other words, robots are completely docile workers, as far as he's concerned.
SARU JAYARAMAN: Exploitable. I mean, the fact thatyou know, when we did this survey, we did it over the holidays, the busiest time for restaurant workers, and 900 workers from his company reached out to usit was overwhelmingover a two-week period. Five hundred and sixty-four filled out these surveys, and two-thirds of a mostly female workforce said they experienced very scary, pretty horrific sexual harassment. You've heard about the ads at Carl's Jr., with nearly naked women. And young women reported in our survey being asked by customers, "Why aren't you dressed like the women in the ads? I'll take you anyway," and then following them out into the parking lots, grabbing them, touching them, and workers complaining about these things, and management doing nothing at all. So, yes, if you want a robot who's willing to be touched and not complain about it, you know, I suppose that's the direction you want to go. But clearly, he hasn't done that. He hasn't automated his restaurants. He still has tens of thousands of workers in his restaurants. And they are obviously really suffering, or they wouldn't have reached out to us in the way that they did.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: What about this argument that with a lower minimum wage, you have a greater workforce participation rate in the country?
SARU JAYARAMAN: Yeah, what's amazing about that is that our industry right now is actually going through the worst labor shortage in the history of our industry in every major metropolitan area, even as wages are going up. The plurality of his restaurants are in California, where wages are going up to $15, and we are experiencing in California the worst labor shortage in the history of the United States in the restaurant industry. And so, you know, the contrary is true: Jobs continue to grow in this industry at ever-increasing rates, even as wages are going up.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And I wanted to ask you about his other activities. He's not only a businessman, as you say, a leader of the Restaurant Association, but he's also very active in other conservative Republican issues. Are you aware or knowledgeable about some of those?
SARU JAYARAMAN: Yes. I mean, he's been very ideological on issues of choice and, you know, all kinds of issues pertaining to women. He has actually supported mostly Republican, but some Democrats, as well, on these issues, and, through the National Restaurant Association, has spent millions of dollars to prevent the minimum wage from going up and other worker protections, has fought against healthcare reform, against policies like paid sick days. So this is a man who, you know, paid like $700,000 towards the Trump campaign, a very ideological Republican capitalist that reallyyou have to understand, with Andy Puzder going into the head of the Department of Labor, that's essentially giving this trade lobby, that has been lobbying really since slavery times to keep wages as low as possible, if notyou know, or not have them at allyou're essentially giving the National Restaurant Association a seat in the Cabinet and the complete control over the very department that is supposed to be looking out for the welfare of workers.
AMY GOODMAN: During an appearance on Fox News's Fox & Friends in 2015, Andy Puzder claimed many workers don't want higher wages, because they're afraid of losing government benefits. This is Puzder speaking to Steve Doocy on Fox.
ANDREW PUZDER: The policy guys call it the welfare cliff, because you get to a point where if you make a few more dollars, you actually lose thousands of dollars in benefits.
ANDREW PUZDER: And quite honestly, these benefits are essential for some people. They're how they pay the rent. They're how they feed their kids.
ANDREW PUZDER: So, what happens is, we have people who turn down promotions, or, if minimum wage goes up, they want fewer hours. They want less hours because they're afraid they'll go over that cliff
ANDREW PUZDER: and really make the distance between dependence and independence too broad a gap.
STEVE DOOCY: And it's got to drive you nuts, because
STEVE DOOCY: you're always looking for good people to run your stores. And if they would just take the next step, take thea next step up the ladder, next thing you know, they could be a manager making $80,000, but they don't want to lose the free stuff from the government.
ANDREW PUZDER: Yeah, it reallyit really locks people into poverty. It's a system that doesit just isit was well-intended, intended to relieveto help people who need relief, but it really locks them into poverty, and we need a different system.
AMY GOODMAN: So, that is Andrew Puzder on Fox & Friends with Steve Doocy. Saru Jayaraman, your response?
SARU JAYARAMAN: The amazing thing about these comments is that they are essentially admitting that they, as not just CKE, but as an industry, are relying on taxpayer dollars for the survival of their workers. The kinds of benefits they're talking about are food stamps, Medicaid, all kinds of public assistance that these workers rely on because their wages are absurdly low. And the real solution is not to find a way to allow these workers to continue to rely on these taxpayer-funded benefits, but to pay them enough that they can actually survive without benefits, which is what most of these workers want. In fact, the taxpayer pays $16.5 billion on taxpayer-funded benefits just for this one industry alone. And so, it's important to realize that the National Restaurant Association argues both to keep the minimum wage as low as possible, and argues against raising the minimum wage because these workers need benefits, which they are essentially relying on to subsidize their workers' wages and survival. It's an unsustainable business model, and the real solution is to raise the wage to the point where the workers don't have to rely on benefits at all.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, it's unsustainable for everyone but the corporate executives, right?
SARU JAYARAMAN: That's right. That's right.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Because Puzder made about $4.4 million in 2012?
SARU JAYARAMAN: In some years, it's estimated he's made as much as $10 million. If you look at the reimbursements he's received for his own medical expenses, they're pretty extraordinary. They're larger than some workers' wages in a whole year, just for his medical reimbursements. So, it's incredibly hypocritical.
AMY GOODMAN: Let me ask you about this new controversy that's come out, Andy Puzder facing increasing criticism over his admission that he hired an undocumented housekeeper. Puzder says he and his wife employed an undocumented housekeeper for a number of years, then fired her after learning she didn't have U.S. work documents. And in the midst of, you know, him being considered for secretary of labor is when he fired her. He also says they provided her help in obtaining U.S. documentation. Puzder is the second of Trump's Cabinet nominees who has acknowledged hiring an undocumented worker. The first was commerce secretary nominee billionaire Wilbur Ross. Similar practices have led to the rejection of past Cabinet nominees, like two of President Clinton's nominees for attorney general, Zoë Baird and Kimba Wood, in 1993. Saru, your response, for his hiring of the undocumented housekeeper and what happened next in this issue across, whoever does this?
SARU JAYARAMAN: I think the key question is: If this man didn't know that his domestic worker was undocumented, then why didn't he pay taxes for her employment from the first place? Why did he, when he said he learned about her status, then go say he went back and paid back taxes? The truth is that this man employs millions of undocumented workers. The industry employs millions of undocumented workers. The industry relies on immigrants, both undocumented and documented. The National Restaurant Association has said many, many times that the industry would collapse without these workers.
The real question is: Under what conditions do these workers survive and work in this country? The administration, in the same breath as bringing on this man, who has now said he definitely had an undocumented domestic worker and has many more in his companyin the same breath, is, you know, saying that they're going to get rid of millions of undocumented workers. You know, when you put the National Restaurant Association, which has said so many times that its industry would collapse without these workers, in charge of a Cabinet position, you know that they don't really actually want to get rid of these workers. They want to create a climate of fear, in which workers, like robots, won't speak up, won't complain about anything at all. That's really what's going on here. It's a bit of a schizophrenic kind of policy, in which you have one man in charge of workers, who has hired undocumented workers and says he prefers robots, and on the other hand, the administration is going out, engaging in raids, talking about immigration enforcement, when in fact we all know that these CEOs absolutely depend on these workers, not just as domestic workers, but in their companies, to do the work to make the millions that they want to make.
AMY GOODMAN: And the accusation against Puzder of domestic abuse by his ex-wife, who even went on Oprah in disguise to speak about his domestic violence? In a 1988 petition, the ex-wife, Lisa Fierstein said Puzder had, quote, "assaulted and battered [her] by striking her violently about the face, chest, back, shoulders, and neck, without provocation or cause," and that, as a consequence, she suffered severe and permanent injuries. His ex-wife would later withdraw the allegations as part of a 1990 child custody agreement. But, Saru, how does this fit in?
SARU JAYARAMAN: You know, I won't comment to what happened to his wife, since she withdrew her charges. I will say it's important to keep that in mind as you look at the ads. You've seen these ads of Carl's Jr. restaurants in which they have nearly naked women holding up burgers in front of their breasts or lying on the floor eating a burger or feeding burgers to each other in naked positions. And then you look at the data from our report and other reports showing that young women, often very young women, 16-, 17-, 18-year-old girls, were harassed, grabbed, assaulted in various ways, as I said, told by customers, "Why aren't you dressed like the girls in the ads?"
Clearly, this is a man who doesn't respect women at all, is fine with women being degraded in his ads, and has said, "Well, ugly women don't sell burgers," and then is also fine with young women being assaulted in his restaurants when they're trying to do their job. I mean, two-thirds of women in our survey said that they had been sexually harassed in various ways. That's 1.5 times the rate of the rest of the industry, which already, by the way, has five times the rate of sexual harassment of the entire rest of the economy. So you're talking about the worst sexual violator of any company in an industry that's already the worst sexual harasser of any industry. And this is the man who's in charge of the welfare of women workers in our country. It's horrific.
AMY GOODMAN: And finally, Saru, while we have you on, as an organizer of the restaurantas an organizer of ROC, I wanted to ask you about these raids across the country, over 600 people. In a moment, we're going to speak to the Senate president in California. The effect on working people in Carl's, in Hardee's, all over the country, and beyond, of course, what this has meant?
SARU JAYARAMAN: Yeah, this industry, as I said, is the largest employer of undocumented workers, of immigrants of all different kinds and Muslim immigrants. And what we are seeing is that these raids, these actions, are really meant to strike fear in the heart of workers, to keep them from speaking up, to keep them from doing anything that would expose themselves or make themselves a target. And what we need to do as a nation, as an industry, is stand up. Many of our employers have come forward and formed something called sanctuary restaurants, not saying that they're going to harbor undocumented immigrants, but really saying they're going to stand by their workers of all identities. And we, as workers, just need to continue to resist, because we can't allow them to think that we're going to roll over and be afraid when they engage in these kinds of actions, which is precisely their point. So, actually, on March 8th, International Women's Day, we are calling for a national action on the Department of Labor. We will be gathering in front of the Department of Labor with thousands of women workers from across the country.
Gen. Flynn had to resign. He was National Security Adviser. He has been with Trump longer than any of the other names around Trump. This throws the Administration into some disarray and leaves Trump without someone he trusted for advice - although Flynn might continue to give Trump advice from the shadows. A transcript of the call to the Russians in question exists and that seems to have been Flynn's undoing. At this point, the transcript will remain secret, but what was discussed, generally, is not. There is obviously much more to this story to come out. I don't think Flynn jumped. He was pushed and it is my guess not pushed by Trump, so it will be interesting to know who pushed him out. He is replaced by Kellogg as acting NSA. Ideologically and politically Flynn was close to Bannon. He was accused of breaking the Logan Act. :Telephone:


I wonder if this played some part in Yates being fired. The truth here as well as the raw power politics of L'affair Flynn is complex and will play on for a long time. Flynn was the initiator or a facilitator of the Pizzagate invention, and I wonder if this is in part payback - though I'd think his general plans and politics would be more important.

My early thoughts are that someone or group within some intelligence agency pushed Flynn out by being able to document what was said in those talks he had with people in Russia. I don't think they really were concerned with the Logan act per se - this was the first blow to Trumpf from whatever group in US Intelligence is against him. It won't be the last! This will not be a stable Administration I believe...and can't say I am upset by that...however, an unstable personality heading an unstable Administration could be a dangerous brew.....

Mike Flynn might be done but Trump's nightmare has just begun

[Image: Richard-Wolffe-L.png?w=300&q=55&auto=for...2&fit=max&]
Richard Wolffe

This resignation and scandal is not a surprise. After all, we have a president who is too careless to handle a national security incident in a confidential manner
Why didn't Trump do to Flynn what he has done to so many reality TV contestants: fire him' Photograph: Carlos Barria/ReutersTuesday 14 February 2017 05.44 GMTLast modified on Tuesday 14 February 201711.40 GMT

Cast your mind back to four months ago, when Donald Trump was just a long-shot candidate with a hot-headed adviser by the name of Michael Flynn.
It was the homestretch of the presidential election and national security wasn't some side issue, mentioned in passing. Trump promised he would be a tough national security president with the toughest national security team.

In fact, one of his favorite arguments was that Hillary Clinton couldn't be trusted with the country's national security because, he claimed, she couldn't be trusted with her private email server.
It sounded ridiculous at the time. But after a month of this gonzo president, our memories are already fading. Propaganda will do that to you, as George Orwell warned us all in 1984. Sometimes two and two are four. Sometimes they are five.
Still, it's true that the Trump campaign seized on the preposterous FBI investigation into Clinton's emails to issue this press release: "Clinton's Careless Use of a Secret Server Put National Security At Risk."

Less than a week later, at their second presidential debate, Trump took the attack one step further, threatening to jail Clinton if he ever took power: "She didn't know the word the letter C on a document. Right? She didn't even know what that word what that letter meant."
Let's just pretend that Trump knew that C means Confidential, not Classified, as he was suggesting. Let's even play along with the notion that Clinton's server was a security risk to the country.

Now: what do Michael Flynn and Mar-a-Lago mean for national security?
To the fee-paying members of Trump's Florida club, it means greater access to watch the president and Japanese prime minister reacting to the news of a North Korean missile launch in real time: huddling over documents and making phone calls on cellphones in public.
Or as one guest, Richard DeAgazio, put it on Facebook: "HOLY MOLY!!! It was fascinating to watch the flurry of activity at dinner when the news came that North Korea had launched a missile in the direction of Japan. The Prime Minister Abe of Japan huddles with his staff and the President is on the phone with Washington DC…Wow…the center of the action!!!"

Never mind classified information. Here is a president who is so careless that he can't handle a national security incident in a confidential manner.
This kind of spectacle does wonders for the fees at Mar-a-Lago, where initiation has just doubled from $100,000 to $200,000 since its owner became president. But it does little for the national security of the country or its allies.

In case you think this is just one small lapse over dinner, Mr DeAgazio also posted to Facebook photos of the military aide carrying the nuclear codes that are frighteningly close to Trump's trigger-happy mouth.
These are just minor details in the life of a commander-in-chief whose national security adviser was himself a national security risk.

Michael Flynn was so careless about his cellphone conversations, and so mistaken about his foreign policy priorities, that he called the Russian ambassador to the US before taking office.
Clearly clueless about how such conversations are transcribed by all parties, he talked about President Obama's sanctions against Russia for interfering with the election that ended with Trump in the White House.
Then he denied talking about those sanctions at all, allegedly misleading the vice-president Mike Pence, who in turn misled the American people on national television about the same call.

Based on those reports that he misled the vice-president, Flynn could have been compromised by Russian blackmail. But then again, the Russians might already have enough ammunition against him if he accepted secret payments from the Kremlin when he traveled to Moscow in 2015.

Thank goodness for the independence and counter-intelligence activities of the justice department, who allegedly warned the White House that Flynn was a possible blackmail target several weeks ago.
Why didn't Trump do to Flynn what he has done to so many reality TV contestants in his only real preparation for his current job? Why didn't he just fire him instead of allowing him to quit?
After all, that is exactly what he did to the woman who warned him that Flynn was compromised. Acting attorney general Sally Yates was removed from her job for defending the Constitution by refusing to uphold the travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries that remains blocked by several federal courts.

We can't be sure what's going on underneath Trump's coiffured combover. Unless he's watching cable news and simultaneously tweeting about his thoughts in real time.
Instead we have to rely on his public comments about Vladimir Putin's Russia and his own United States. Comments like the ones he made barely a week ago, when Bill O'Reilly of Fox News dared to suggest that Putin was a killer. "We've got a lot of killers," said Trump. "What, do you think our country's so innocent?"

Trump is correct: his version of America is not so innocent. It's the kind of place where a candidate can accuse his opponent of running a foundation that is "a criminal enterprise" for accepting money from foreign governments. Then, once that candidate becomes president, he can allow foreign governments to give his businesses money in Washington DC and Mar-a-Lago.

Perhaps Trump's real problem with the Clinton Foundation wasn't about Hillary's character. It was just professional jealousy.
The only things protecting Trump from impeachment for his egregious behaviour are his poll numbers and the false sense of security they give to Republicans in Congress.
Sadly for Trump, those numbers are tumbling faster than the ratings of Celebrity Apprentice. In just three weeks, Trump has lost 5 points in his Gallup approval polls to hit 40%.
It took Richard Nixon four years to reach this low point, just a year before he quit the presidency. At this rate, Trump will reach Nixon's all-time low of 24% approval before the end of April.
We have barely begun to scrape the surface of Trump's fatal compromises with Russia. It was only last week that US officials say they corroborated some of the communications in the famous British dossier detailing those compromising situations.
Trump can pretend all he likes. He can bluster his way through TV interviews and at the presidential podium about everything from the tiny crowds at his inauguration to supposed illegal voting by non-citizens.
But sooner or later, the presidency and the constitution it is supposed to defend catches up with you. A commander-in-chief can't compromise his own nation's security and expect to keep his job.
Flynn's short White House career may be over. But Trump's nightmare-a-lago has only just begun.

February 14, 2017 | Oliver Ortega

Trump Not Qualified to Serve in his own Cabinet

[Image: image02-1-700x470.jpg] President Donald J. Trump departs from the Pentagon alongside Secretary of Defense James Mattis on Jan. 27, 2017, in Washington, D.C. Photo credit: Jim Mattis / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
President Donald Trump would have a hard time getting into his own cabinet given his business entanglements, ethics experts told WhoWhatWhy. With Trump's apparent decision not to separate himself from his businesses, the potential for conflicts of interest in his White House not just financial but political and even military are mind-boggling.
Why are cabinet nominees held to a higher ethical standard than their boss? Because they are legally obligated to divest from investments that might conflict with their governmental roles. But the same requirement doesn't apply to the presidency, a loophole Trump is exploiting.
One Trump cabinet nominee has already withdrawn due to potential conflicts of interest. Vincent Viola, an investment banker whom Trump picked for Secretary of the Army, opted to drop out of contention earlier this month rather than divest from his business dealings, including an attempt to acquire shares of an airline receiving government subsidies.
If Trump were to be selected for the same role under a different president, his current financial set-up, a revocable blind trust overseen by his son, would not be enough to pass ethical muster. He'd have to divest from his real estate and any other assets in the dozens of foreign countries he has dealings with, said Richard Painter, who served as chief ethics lawyer in the George W. Bush White House.
"Holdings outside the United States are incompatible with any [cabinet] position having to do with national security," Painter told WhoWhatWhy.
Another post Trump would surely have trouble getting confirmed for is Treasury Secretary, according to Richard Briffault, a law professor at Columbia University.
His real estate holdings would also be at issue here given his extensive dealings with the very banks he would be overseeing. An analysis by the Wall Street Journal showed Trump owes at least hundreds of millions of dollars to more than 150 different financial institutions.
Trump's hotel business would also get in the way of leading the departments of Labor and Homeland Security, Briffault told WhoWhatWhy. For decades, Trump has hired foreign workers for seasonal shifts at his Mar-a-Lago Club, which flies in the face of his pro-American worker rhetoric.
Every president since Jimmy Carter has released his tax returns, but the disclosure isn't required by law. Trump has stated he will not release his returns.
Without Trump's tax returns, however, it's hard to gauge the full extent of his investments, and therefore his potential conflicts of interest. As a cabinet nominee, Painter said, he would most likely be compelled by the Senate to produce his tax returns before a confirmation vote.
[Image: image01-6-1024x682.jpg]Eric Trump (left). Senator David Perdue and Vincent Viola (top right). Ivanka Trump shoes for babies and toddlers. Photo credit: Disney | ABC Television Group / Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0), US Senate and Jonathan Bowen / Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

Of course, putting the fox in the hen house, politically speaking, is nothing new. Industry insiders have long taken top positions at key regulatory and cabinet departments involved in overseeing their very companies, usually after distancing themselves from their assets for the duration of their tenure.
Secretary of State and former Exxon-Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson has agreed to sell his shares in the fossil fuel giant; the company also signed an additional agreement with ethics regulators. Recently confirmed Education Secretary and rightwing billionaire Betsy DeVos has said she intends to divest from a number of education-related ventures, including a student-loan collection service.
In contrast, Trump has refused to divest or put his assets in a blind trust not handled by a family member, arguing that as President he's under no legal obligation to do so. The president handed control of the Trump Organization to his eldest son, Donald Jr., and to the organization's chief financial officer. But Trump can rescind their authority at any time, and the scheme falls way short of what the Office of Government Ethics recommends, though the arrangement seems well within the law.
The U.S. code actually exempts the president and vice president from conflict of interest laws, a legal interpretation supported by a Congressional Research Office report back in October.
Still, most recent presidents have put their personal assets in a blind trust to avoid the appearance of corruption. And Painter and other ethics experts warn that Trump may be running afoul of the emoluments clause in the Constitution, which bars federal officials from receiving payments from foreign governments.
Concerns stem from the fact that Trump's business ventures span the globe from a resort in Indonesia to golf courses in the British Isles which could serve as cover for such payments.
"He's taken very few steps," Briffault said. "He doesn't seem to be interested in the kind of real separation from his business and government interest that would be required of anyone."
Trump's refusal to distance himself from his business interests has become all the more troubling in light of recent moves further blurring the line between his politics and his businesses.
The Pentagon is looking into leasing space in Trump Tower, directly enriching Trump with taxpayer money in the course of fulfilling the customary function of keeping a place for military officials near the president's residence.
On Wednesday, Trump berated department store chain Nordstrom for dropping his daughter's clothing line, prompting the company's stock to drop briefly, and top aide Kellyanne Conway came under fire for plugging Ivanka's products during a media interview the next day.
Eric Trump recently made a business trip to Uruguay to oversee a Trump Tower in construction there, costing taxpayers nearly $100,000 for the security detail.
The controversial executive order banning immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries, but not from others, has raised eyebrows for reasons beyond the moral issues involved. The Trump business empire has extensive ties to major Muslim countries untouched by the ban such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia but none in the seven countries specifically targeted by the ban..
Further, no citizen of those seven countries has been responsible for a deadly attack on US soil for over two decades, while Egyptian and Saudi nationals were prominent among the hijackers on 9/11.
Is this a harbinger of how policy decisions can be shaped by financial conflicts of interest in an administration headed by an ethics-light president with global business connections? Only time will tell.
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I said we will get the criminals out, the drug lords, the gang members. We're getting them out. General Kelly, who's sitting right here, is doing a fantastic job. And I said, at the beginning, we are going to get the bad ones, the really bad ones. We're getting them out. And that's exactly what we're doing. I think that in the end, everyone is going to be extremely happy.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, here in New York City, immigration agents arrested at least 40 people over the last week, even though it's a sanctuary city. Officials said 95 percent had criminal convictions.
To talk more about who's being targeted, we're joined by two prominent immigrants' rights activists here in New York. Both of them are also immigrants whose criminal records put them at risk of deportation. Abraham Paulos is executive director of Families for Freedom, which includes many members whose lives have been affected by the intersection of the criminal justice system and immigration enforcement. Also with us, Ravi Ragbir. He's executive director of the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City, an interfaith network that helps immigrant families stay together. Ravi faces deportation when he goes to his ICE check-in on March 9th.
We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Ravi, let's start with you. Tell us your story and why you face deportation in the next few weeks.
RAVI RAGBIR: Well, like you said, I have a criminal conviction. This was back in 2000. I was convicted for fraud. Basically, what you havewhat caused the collapse of the economy and what Mnuchin is now being said, he's the foreclosure king. I ended up working for one of those organizations. And just following their own rules, I was placed in criminal proceedings, convicted. And now, because of that, I am facing deportation. I have
AMY GOODMAN: That was more than 15 years ago.
RAVI RAGBIR: This was more than 15 years ago. I have a green card. My wife is a citizen. My daughter is a citizen. And, you know, it'seven with that, it still doesn't change the fact that I am in a high probability that I will be detained and deported.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And how long have you been in the country?
RAVI RAGBIR: I've been in the country over 25 years.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And under the Obama administration, what was happening? Because you had the criminal conviction 15 years ago. How were they dealing with it? And what are your worries about the changes under Trump?
RAVI RAGBIR: Well, under the Obama administration, I mean, things were still very difficult. We talked about this being a sanctuary city, and we're not going to go into that topic right now. But he, himself, has created this machinery, this beast, this monster, that all Trump has to do is release it. And he is releasing it. You asked me what has happened with my case under the Obama administration. Well, there were still certain rules and regulations that they sort of upheld, and one of which is, when I waswhile I'm still fighting my case in court, they did not deport me. And I still have my case in court, but under this administration, I'm not sure if that will havehold any water.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And this New Sanctuary Coalition, my understanding is it was formed almost the day after the election in November? Or
RAVI RAGBIR: No, no, no.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: OK. But talk about coalition then.
RAVI RAGBIR: The coalition was formed in 2007
RAVI RAGBIR: under the Bush administration, when we were trying towhen they started this, because they saw the impact it had on the immigrant community, on the faith communities that welike the old 1980s and the sanctuary of the civil rights and the Holocaust, they had to protect their members, their congregation. And they started in 2007. I took over in 2010. I'm sure you know of the Bring Jean Home Campaign. That's when I took over. And we mobilized, and we built the sanctuary to protect our people of color immigrants. One of the things that weyou need to notice is that in 2009, when we started ICE Out of Rikers, that's when the term "sanctuary city" started to come together, because we were the ones who initiated that nondetainer policy, I'm sure, in New York City and which became a model to all of the country.
AMY GOODMAN: We just did a segment last week on Guadalupe García de Rayos, who was in Texas, and she wasshe was in Arizona, and she was deported. She had to go to a check-in, and that's where they picked her up. She went to this check-in every year for eight years. But this time they handcuffed her, and they deported her almost immediately. You face that same kind of check-in. Is this going to deter people from showing up at check-ins? Are you going to show up at your check-in?
RAVI RAGBIR: I am going to show up at my check-in. And it will deter people, because they will be afraid that they will be handcuffed. I used to report three times a week, in the beginning of when I was released from detention, three times a week, with a curfew and many other restrictions on my freedom. But still, even though it will cause a lot of trauma and a lot of terror in us, a lot of us will still want to go to check-ins, because we have no choice. We are caught between a beast and a sharkright?where we don'tno matter where we are, we will be eaten alive. And if we don't go, we will be targeted, and we'll become a fugitive. We'll bewe are already on the NCIC database. And as soon as we interact with any law enforcement, we will be arrested and taken away.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Abraham Paulos, tell us your story. You're also worried about possible deportation as a result of your past history.
ABRAHAM PAULOS: Well, I mean, I wouldn't say worried. I'm not scared about all that. I mean, I think that I came here in 1981 from Sudan. I'm Eritrean. There was a war happening there. And I actually came to the United States to another war called the war on drugs, the war on crime, the war on poverty, particularly during the '90s, whichthat was the last time that immigration laws had actually passed in this country, the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act and also the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act. So, as much as there is a lot of worry around the priorities or what have you, I just really want to remind people that the laws haven't changed. And when they did change, it was under a Clinton administration, that continues to grow. So, George Bush, at his time of presidency, had also deported more people than any other president before. Right? And then Obama, and we'll see how Donald Trump does.
And so, essentially, you know, in 2003, I went for my citizenship, but because of my arrest, I was denied. But it was also a couple of weeks after Department of Homeland Security was, you know, sort of created. And so, what you're seeing is this law enforcement agency, particularly Immigration and Customs Enforcement, continuing to grow. It really started in the '80s and '90s. And so, that's essentially my story. I mean, more recently, about six, seven years ago, I got picked up in Brooklyn for a robbery that I physically couldn't have done, but NYPD, bang-up job they do in the city, and I ended up in Rikers. And it was in Rikers that I had found out that ICE had an office in Rikers and that it was best that I leave. And that's where Families for Freedom found me.
AMY GOODMAN: And explain that and the battle that was waged around ICE being at Rikers, what that means, that you can have two people who committed or didn't commit a crime, because you can be at Rikers without even being convicted.
AMY GOODMAN: One gets out and goes home. They serve the same amount of time there. The other one is picked up by ICE and taken away.
ABRAHAM PAULOS: Absolutely. And this has been the main way that New Yorkers have been getting deported. Right? And so, New Yorkers have been getting deported by the planeloadspardon the pun. And usually it was through a detainer. There was also another program called Secure Communities, which is a fingerprint-sharing program that basically takes every one citizen and checks him against an immigration database. If you get a so-called hit, a detainer comes out, which is essentially a hold, that says anyone who's held as foreign-born or a noncitizen in Rikers will be held for immigration to come pick up and start their deportation process. I just also want to like make clear that in New York, most New Yorkers who have gotten deported, their process has started with the NYPD.
AMY GOODMAN: So, let's talk about that, that process starting with the NYPD. On Saturday, hundreds protested the New York Police Department's "broken windows" policing strategy of arresting people for low-level offenses, which can funnel them into this process that can result in deportation. This is Albert Saint Jean, who is a Haitian-American fellow with the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, who was addressing Mayor Bill de Blasio.
ALBERT SAINT JEAN: He has to get his house in order, if he really wants a sanctuary city, a freedom city, you know, where we canwhere we can feel free to walk around in our own communities without feeling like I did something wrong just for existing, where we don't have to makelike, where little mistakes won't ruin the rest of our lives.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: What about this issue of how the city administration and the police department is dealing with this issue? How was it under Mayor Bloomberg, and how has it changed, if at all, under Mayor de Blasio?
ABRAHAM PAULOS: Well, I mean, under Mayor Bloomberg, Executive Order 42 was passed, and this was sort of an amendment for Executive Order 34. And essentially what it was, was just basically regulating city agencies and their data sharing or information sharing, or collecting confidential information, which immigration status actually is. So, under Bloomberg, I mean, really, what you're starting to see is that the NYPDI mean, New York City is just really becoming a police state. But the NYPD is growing and growing. I mean, last year, we had 1,300 new police officers. The budget for the NYPD is around what? $75 billion. The budget for education in New York City is around what? $29 billion. And so what you're seeing is that, particularly under de Blasio, you're starting to see that no one is really standing up to the NYPD. And you can see this under the NYC ID, in whichthat NYPD made sure that they wanted to be in the room toso that they would accept this ID or not. And so, I think that, in general, we're seeing more of the same, and nothing has really changed.
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: But the city has said that the NYC ID information is private information, right?
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: That it's not going to be shared with otherwith law enforcement agencies.
ABRAHAM PAULOS: That's not necessarily true, right? So, the cityI mean, the city says a lot of things, first of all. Right? And at first, they said that they needed to collect the records or keep the records, but that's what NYPD said. And now they're saying they don't need to do it. But what probably will not be destroyed are people's names, addresses and photos. Outside of that, what more do you need?
RAVI RAGBIR: Well, I do want to address that, because
AMY GOODMAN: Ravi Ragbir.
RAVI RAGBIR: the status does not show up on the municipal ID. So we use municipal ID as a tool to protect us in the space if there's an ICE raid or if the ICE is coming into this area. So, the new way that they're using municipal ID is they're not taking any documents, keeping any documents. They're not even scanning them. So, moving forward, anyone who's getting a municipal ID is safe throughout the process.
ABRAHAM PAULOS: Which they should have never collected in the first place. That's what I'm trying to say, Ravi. You know what I mean? Like, if they're going to say, "Oh, we need this," and the NYPD, you know, says, "We need this," and then all of a sudden you don't need it, that sounds like somebody made a mistake.
AMY GOODMAN: Can I ask you what "sanctuary" means to you?
RAVI RAGBIR: "Sanctuary" means a number of things. You know, the original meaning of "sanctuary" is where the physical space is beingis where you can seek refuge in. You have the Underground Railroad through the slave trade. You have the sanctuary through the Holocaust, which I mentioned earlier, where the building itself becomes sanctuary. But sanctuary is more than that right now. We are talking about sanctuary as being taken out of the churches, out of the houses of worship, into the streets, into the Federal Plaza, where we have our faith leaders going into immigration to work with them to protect them and stand up to the inhumanity that they're seeing, because when they observe what is happening, we can thenthey can speak to it firsthand, because they have seen what is happening and the inhumanity of what they're observing.
AMY GOODMAN: Talking about immigration, Abraham, you are affected not only by the immigrant roundups and the people that are dealing with this, but also the Muslim ban.
ABRAHAM PAULOS: Well, I mean, yeah, I was born in an Islamic country. I mean, I think that, you know, this is about race, you know, just in general. I think we just really need to call it for what it is. We're living under white supremacy, and we've been living under white supremacy for hundreds of years. Like Donald Trump is not the first white supremacist to sort of be president. We had 43 before, and some of them owned slaves. And so I think that
AMY GOODMAN: Well, we have 10 seconds. You're wearing a T-shirt that says "deportee." Do you expect to be deported?
ABRAHAM PAULOS: I don'tyou know, I'm not afraid. I just want to put that out there. And I don't think that our communities should be afraid of this, because this is, you know, a situation in which we've been dealing with for a long time.
AMY GOODMAN: We turn to Stephen Miller, President Donald Trump's senior White House policy adviser. Over the weekend, Miller appeared on the major networks to defend Trump's travel ban. Speaking on the CBS program Face the Nation Sunday, Miller said Trump's authority will not be questioned.
STEPHEN MILLER: The end result of this, though, is that our opponents, the media and the whole world will soon see, as we begin to take further actions, that the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned.
AMY GOODMAN: Viewers took to Twitter to blast Miller's appearance, [described by RawStory] as scripted and robotic, but Trump expressed glowing approval, tweeting, quote, "Congratulations Stephen Miller- on representing me this morning on the various Sunday morning shows. Great job!" unquote.
Several reports have identified 31-year-old Stephen Miller as the architect of Trump's controversial executive order that temporarily banned people from seven Muslim countries from entering the United States. Miller reportedly also wrote Trump's aggressively nationalist inauguration speech, along with Trump's chief strategist, Steve Bannon, and in July penned a draft of Trump's acceptance speech to the Republican National Convention.
Mother Jones reports Miller's central role in the Trump administration has been drawing praise from white nationalist leader Richard Spencer, who famously coined the term "alt-right" to describe the insurgent right-wing movement that's attracted white nationalists and supremacists. Spencer told Mother Jones last year, quote, "Stephen is a highly competent and tough individual. ... So I have no doubt that he will do a great job," unquote.
Prior to serving as top aide to Trump's presidential campaign, Stephen Miller worked as a former staffer for then Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the new attorney general, who has a record of opposing the Voting Rights Act, supporting anti-immigration legislation and making racist comments.
Well, for more, we're joined by two guests. In Miami, Florida, we're joined by Fernando Peinado, a national political reporter at Univision. His new piece is headlined "How White House advisor Stephen Miller went from pestering Hispanic students to designing Trump's immigration policy." And in Los Angeles, we're joined by Cynthia Santiago, who attended Santa Monica High School with Stephen Miller. She was the first Latina president of the school's Associated Student Body. Santiago is a currently an immigration defense attorney who recently assisted people impacted by Trump's travel ban at LAX, at the Los Angeles airport.
Fernando and Cynthia, welcome to Democracy Now! Fernando, let's begin with you. Why did you take on this as a subject for Univision?
FERNANDO PEINADO: Well, as you can imagine, for us, immigration topics are very important, but that our audience wants to know. And, well, it turns out that Mr. Miller, he went to this high school in Santa Monica, where he studiedhe woke up politically and developed his hard-line positions. At that time, he started writing in articles for the student newspaper and other local newspapers. He contributed to radioconservative radio shows. And in this high school, it turned out that the Latinos are the most important minority. So, we decided to take a look intoa closer look into those years and talk to students who knew him.
AMY GOODMAN: And talk about what you found. Univision obtained a video made by four of his high school classmates for an audio-visual production class at the time. The video contains fragments of a brief 90-second speech by Miller during his junior year at Santa Monica High School in the spring of 2002, including a controversial reference to the job of janitors.
AMY GOODMAN: Let's play a clip.
STEPHEN MILLER: I'm Stephen Miller. Some of you may or may not know who I am. We don't have time to get into that right now. ... I'm the only candidate up here who really stands out. ... I will say and I will do things that no one else in their right mind would say or do. ... Am I the only one who is sick and tired of being told to pick up my trash, when we have plenty of janitors who are paid to do it for us?
AMY GOODMAN: That was Stephen Miller speaking in his junior year at Santa Monica High School in 2002, now Donald Trump's senior White House policy adviser. Comment on what he said, Fernando, that quote, if you could go ahead.
FERNANDO PEINADO: OK. I talked with one of hishis best friend at the time, Chris Moritz. He said it was just a joke. But actually, he made that comment before around 2,000 students in the amphitheater of the school. And many students I interviewed, they said that this comment was perceived as offensive, because the janitors were all people of color. It turned out, students that I interviewed, they described Miller as a provocateur. Some said that he enjoyed offending people. And some even described incidents, altercations, in which Miller said things like "Speak English. This is America," to students who spoke Spanish in the hallways. And that's what they told me.
AMY GOODMAN: Cynthia Santiago, when did you come to know Stephen Miller? Talk about his views in high school, your experience of him there, and what you're seeing today, with him in one of the highest positions in the White House, advising President Trump.
CYNTHIA SANTIAGO: Yes. When I was in high school, about my junior year, which is the same junior year of 2002, I first came across an article that he had written for a local newspaper. And in that article, he made reference to Latino students, that he basically said "lacked basic English skills." And in that same article, he made a reference that there was some causal link, that the reasonthat would be the reason why these Latino students were not in the honors classes. He pointed out that there was a small number of Latino students in honors classes, and therefore it was because of their lacking basic English skills. These comments were very degrading, because he didn'the made an overgeneralization. He didn't make ahe didn't make a link, or he didn't even try to address the issues of academic inequality and disparity in access to those classes.
So, those were some of the statements he made, and that's when I became aware of him and, you know, aware that he was starting to provide more commentary. He was starting to have more interactions with students. And he also made those statements to some students about speaking English only in this country. And so, those were signs that
AMY GOODMAN: Can you elaborate on that?
CYNTHIA SANTIAGO: he would use generalizations of people.
AMY GOODMAN: Cynthia, can you elaborate on that, about the issue of speaking English only and his views on this, what he talked about in high school?
CYNTHIA SANTIAGO: So, in high school, I was also a member of Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano/Chicana de Aztlán. It's MEChA. And it promoted cultural heritage and pride in your background, but it also promoted, you know, an access to higher education. And he was known to go to those meetings and stand outside and harass some of the members that were trying to leave those meetings. So, you know, I believe that the statements about English only were because he viewed these groups, the groups of pride and heritage, as being groups that, you know, didn't promote American values.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about a speech he gaveI think you were on the stage at the time of this speechwhen he ran for election in Santa Monica High School?
CYNTHIA SANTIAGO: Yes. So, I was a candidate for the student body president, and I was also on stage. And when he said the speech, immediately students were reacting to him. And you can tell that in the video, that students were booing, and students were getting louder tobecause they were extremely, you know, upset about this kind of a statement, because a lot of students perceived these as statements of racistas racist statements, because theythe janitors at our campus were individualsyou know, Latino and African-American janitors. It also, you know, sparked
AMY GOODMAN: For those who couldn't quite hear the video I justat the end of that clip that we played, Stephen Miller said, "Am I the only one sick and tired of being told to pick up our trash, when we have plenty of janitors who are paid to do it for us?"
CYNTHIA SANTIAGO: And generally, most students also felt, you know, even though we were teenagers, that we viewed our custodians, our janitors on campus, as people deserving of dignity and respect. And those statements were notyou know, they were quite the contrary of what you would treat staff and individuals and human beings.
AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask Fernando Peinado about what radicalized Stephen Miller. Now, some might be saying, "Why are you going back to high school? That's a real stretch." Now, for someone like, what, President Trump, he's 70 years old. But for someone like Stephen Miller, right now he's 31 years old, so high school is justis less than 15 years away. I wanted to turn to comments by Stephen Miller during his appearance on Fox News Sunday, speaking about recent immigration raids.
STEPHEN MILLER: Right now, as a result of the president's order, greatly expanded and more vigorous immigration enforcement activities are taking place. It is true that Operation Cross Check is something that happens every year. But this year, we've taken new and greater steps to remove criminal aliens from our communities.
AMY GOODMAN: Before we go back to Fernando, I wanted to ask Cynthiawhat you're doing now, what, 15 years after high school, is you are involved in challenging what many have called, including President Trump, the Muslim ban, this what Stephen Miller has so clearly defended and, many say, helped to craft. Your thoughts?
CYNTHIA SANTIAGO: Yes. It's very unsettling that a person with these types of views, or a person, you know, that expressed these views many years ago, and still seems to express them, is in a position of authority. And if he was part of that team that crafted this, this is unsettling, because it truly doesn't represent a person who values what it is, the balance of power, rights in this country, the branches of government. And so, it is unsettling and frightening that someone could be in a position as he holds, without some extreme vetting, extreme vetting to determine if he's able to be in that position, given all his views.
AMY GOODMAN: And finally, Fernando, what radicalized him? He talks about reading the works of Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association. What was your sense, from what you found?
FERNANDO PEINADO: Well, my sense, from what I found, is that he caught the attention of well-known conservatives nationally. And he spoke of them as mentors. So I guess he was encouraged by these well-known figures to follow this path. But, well, he has said that it was this reading about the Second Amendment, about gun rights, that made him discover these ideas. And then, the thing is, he studied writing a lot. He paid a lot of attention to issues of race and culture. He started this war against multiculturalism, and he started advocating for assimilation, total assimilation. He finds it un-American to express other identities that arethat he doesn't perceive as American, that he seemshe perceives them as foreigneras foreign.
AMY GOODMAN: The New York Times and CNN are reporting phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald Trump's presidential campaign had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the lead-up to the November elections. The Times reports U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies intercepted the communications around the same time they were discovering evidence that Russia was trying to disrupt the presidential election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee.
The New York Times and CNN published their stories Tuesday night, less than 24 hours after Trump's national security adviser, Michael Flynn, resigned following revelations he spoke with the Russian ambassador about U.S. sanctions during a late December phone call. Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates had warned Trump's administration weeks ago that Flynn might be lying about the call, but the White House took no action for 17 days. Days after Yates issued the warning, Trump fired her for refusing to enforce his Muslim ban.
Michael Flynn is at least the third Trump official to reportedly have ties to Russia. Others include Trump's former campaign chair, Paul Manafort, and former Trump adviser Carter Page. According to The New York Times, call records show Manafort was in touch with Russian officials before the election.
Hours before the Times published its exposé, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was questioned if anyone from the Trump campaign was in touch with Russia before the election.
JONATHAN KARL: Back in January, the president said that nobody in his campaign had been in touch with the Russians. Now, today, can you still say definitively that nobody on the Trump campaign, not even General Flynn, had any contact with the Russians before the election?
PRESS SECRETARY SEAN SPICER: My understanding is that what General Flynn has now expressed is that during the transition periodwell, we were very clear that during the transition period, he didhe did speak with the ambassador.
JONATHAN KARL: I'm talking about during the campaign.
PRESS SECRETARY SEAN SPICER: I don't have anyIthere's nothing that would conclude me that anything different has changed with respect to that time period.
JONATHAN KARL: And why would the presidentif he was notified 17 days ago that Flynn had misled the vice president, other officials here, and that he was a potential threat to blackmail by the Russians, why would he be kept on for almost three weeks?
PRESS SECRETARY SEAN SPICER: Well, that'sthat's notthat'sthat assumes a lot of things that are not true. The president was informed of this. He asked the White House counsel to review the situation. The first matter was whether there was a legal issue. And we had to review whether there was a legal issue, which the White House counsel concluded there was not, as I stated in my comments. This was an act of trust.
AMY GOODMAN: On Tuesday morning, President Trump initially responded to Michael Flynn's resignation by tweeting, quote, "The real story here is why are there so many illegal leaks coming out of Washington? Will these leaks be happening as I deal on North Korea etc.?" Earlier today, Trump tweeted, "The fake news media is going crazy with their conspiracy theories and blind hatred. @MSNBC & @CNN are unwatchable. @foxandfriends is great!" he tweeted. He then added, "Information is being illegally given to the failing @nytimes & @washingtonpost by the intelligence community (NSA and FBI?).Just like Russia," unquote. The pro-Trump website has described the dismissal of Flynn as part of a "deep state coup."
On Capitol Hill, Congressman Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, called for a congressional probe into Trump's ties to Russia.
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS: Why did Flynn continue to sit in on mostthe most sensitive classified meetings until just two days ago? Ladies and gentlemen, something is wrong with that picture. Who at the White Houseand I want the press to press these questions. Who at the White House decided to do nothing for three weeks as Flynn sat in on meeting after meeting after meeting? Did the president decide to wait? Did counsel decide to wait? Something is wrong here.
AMY GOODMAN: We go now to Washington, D.C., where we're joined by Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu of California, a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, served on active duty in the U.S. Air Force and continues to serve as a colonel in the Air Force Reserves.
Congressman, welcome to Democracy Now! Your response, first of all, to the resignation, the forced resignation, of General Mike Flynn as national security adviser?
REP. TED LIEU: Well, thank you, Amy, for that question. And let me say that, America, we have a problem. The president of the United States knew for weeks that his national security adviser lied to the vice president, lied to the American people and was vulnerable to blackmail by the Russians. And the president did nothinguntil the press exposed the truth a few days ago. That means the president placed the interests of Russia above that of the American people. That is not acceptable. And then we learn, last night, that Trump campaign aides had multiple contacts with Russian intelligence agents during the presidential campaign. And it's a safe bet to say they were not talking about the weather.
AMY GOODMAN: So talk about the significance of this. Again, what the allegations are, is during the campaign, Manafort, among them, the campaign chair, didn't just have a conversation with, but repeated contacts with. What was the significance? And what do you understand was the context for these communications?
REP. TED LIEU: We don't know what the content of the conversations were, but the fact that they were even with Russian intelligence agents raises huge red flags. And because there were many of these contacts, that aggravates the red flags. And what this shows is there is now the possibility of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. If in fact there was collusion, that is a serious federal crime, and then it raises issues of what did Donald Trump know and when did he know it.
AMY GOODMAN: So let's talk about what did Donald Trump know and when did he know it. Flynn said in his resignation letter that he had inadvertently briefed the vice president-elect and others with incomplete information. Why do you think it took Trump weeks? I was also interested in Sean Spicer's White House press briefing yesterday, that he talked about the vice president and others were giventhat according to the president, the vice president and others were given false information. They don't actually say that the president was.
REP. TED LIEU: Donald Trump, according to media reports, knew for weeks, from the Department of Justice, that Michael Flynn was vulnerable to blackmail by the Russians, because he lied about the content of his conversations with the Russian ambassador when he told Vice President Pence that they did not discuss sanctions, when in fact they did. And Michael Flynn's resignation letter essentially confirms that fact. So Donald Trump knew. You now had a U.S. national security adviser in that position who could be blackmailed by the Russians, and Donald Trump was OK with thatuntil a few days ago, when the pressand thank goodness for the pressexposed what had happened.
AMY GOODMAN: Let's turn to Donald Trump speaking in July, candidate Trump, when he called on Russia to hack Hillary Clinton's email.
DONALD TRUMP: Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.
AMY GOODMAN: That was in July, Congressman Lieu.
REP. TED LIEU: No American should ask a foreign government to hack another American's emails. That is completely unacceptable. And now Donald Trump is president of the United States, and we're learning more about the contacts of his campaign with the Russian government. We absolutely need a bipartisan congressional probe. This is serious. We have a Russia that has done this huge, massive cyber-attack on the United States to influence our elections. I encourage everybody watching to go ahead and google "unclassified intelligence report," and you will see that this unclassified intelligence report on Russia shows that they hacked our government, they hacked 20 state election boards, and they tried to undermine our democracy and help Trump and hurt Secretary Clinton. Highly disturbing.
AMY GOODMAN: President Trump is tweeting up a storm this morning. Among his tweets, "This Russian connection non-sense is merely an attempt to cover-up the many mistakes made in Hillary Clinton's losing campaign." Congressman Lieu, your response?
REP. TED LIEU: That is a bizarre tweet. The press doesn't care at this point about Hillary Clinton's campaign. What they care about is was there collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, what are the connections between Trump associates and Russian intelligence agents, and what did Trump know and when did he know it, because these are very serious allegations. These are the kind of allegations that get people sent to federal prison.

Tennessee Decides It Is Not Backward Enough

The Dumbing Down of America Continues under Trump

[Image: 1-7-700x470.jpg] Photo credit: CHRISTOPHER DOMBRES / Flickr
In the spring of 2012, we ran the following short article about the triumph of know-nothingism in education. And today the subject has never been more apt. Pending the confirmation vote, we will have an accomplished Climate Denier as head of the Environmental Protection Agency, for instance, plus every other manner of weirdly counter-intuitive choice for other cabinet positions.
Possibly the greatest triumph of know-nothingness was the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary, a person with no relevant credentials whatsoever.
But she has a mission. She says it is to "advance God's kingdom." Even though 85% of American children attend public schools, she wants to end free public education, and to divert funds from public schools to private, religious, or charter schools.
According to the Detroit Free Press, Michigan's charter schools "rake in taxpayer money and refuse to detail how they spend it," were "steering lucrative deals to themselves or insiders" and more charter schools were ranking below the 25th percentile than public schools. And even charter advocates say she is partly responsible for "the biggest school reform disaster in the country." (To hear our podcast on DeVos, please go here.)
While the piece below is about Tennessee public schools, we do want to point out that the state has some very fine teaching institutions for example, Vanderbilt University.
We also want to note that a surprising number of people with lofty degrees from elite schools, like Harvard and Yale, peddle some pungent excrement of their own.
We are thinking of two in particular who attained very high office: one got his MBA from the Harvard Business School; the other went to the acclaimed Wharton School… or so he says.
The following article first appeared on WhoWhatWhy April 16, 2012
In the beginning, there was light. But then we became dim bulbs.
[Image: 2-5-1024x682.jpg]Anti-Evolution League, at the Scopes Trial, Dayton Tennessee. Photo credit: Mike Licht / Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The other day, I saw two articles highlighted, separately, in the same publication. One mentioned that cases of dementia are destined to grow dramatically in America in coming years. The other explained how the state of Tennessee is intent on making students more stupid.
Tennessee has now passed a law permitting teachers to present students with alternatives to well-known scientific principles. The bill easily passed both houses of the legislature, and the governor let it become law without his signature.
Presumably he realized that he was in a difficult position but aren't we all? Louisiana has a similar law, and who knows what state will be next.
Why worry about our older citizens losing their minds on the one hand, while we're rotting the minds of our children, voluntarily? Per Slate:
The new law bars schools and administrators from prohibiting teachers from "helping students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories covered in the course being taught." But, as the effort's critics have been quick to point out, the only examples the legislation gives of "controversial" theories are "biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning."
…The law's supporters, including the Knoxville-based Center for Faith and Science International, argue that it promotes critical thinking skills. But opponents, who include the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Tennessee Education Association, the American Civil Liberties Union, and the National Association of Biology Teachers, argue that the new rules are essentially allowing teachers to depict evolution and global warming as scientifically controversial subjects, when the actual controversy surrounding them comes from the political and religious spheres, not from scientists.
Probably, soon, challenges to the earth being round…will get a good airing.
Not just an airing America specializes in repackaging, artfully, the most improbable scenarios. Just as George W. Bush became a "compassionate conservative," and making life even harder for poor mothers with small children became "welfare reform," one Christian-preferring God planning the world, warts and all, for the rest of us, gets labeled "intelligent design."
Keep in mind that Tennessee is the state that in 1925 held the infamous Scopes Trial in which a high school science teacher was convicted of violating a law prohibiting the teaching of evolution. (The conviction was overturned, but only on a technicality.)
With almost no national conversation on these kinds of big steps backwards, it is worth asking: in the near-century since the Scopes trial, really, how much have we progressed? And who, oh who, will want to hire graduates of Tennessee's educational system?
Wayne Madsen ‏@WMRDC 1h1 hour agoMore

Neo-Nazis build power base in Alexandria VA to mutually coordinate policies with Trump White House.