The Trump Administration to Congress: Drop Dead | The New Yorker

“In addition to refusing Congress’s demands for documents, Trump’s legal team is moving to prevent key witnesses from testifying at hearings, or to place strict limits on what they say, by looking to assert executive privilege retroactively over issues covered in the Mueller report. An appearance by by Robert Mueller himself, which had been rumored to be in the works for this week, didn’t take place. And it looks like Don McGahn, the former White House counsel, won’t be appearing next week, either. The Washington Post reported on Friday evening that “any hopes of . . . McGahn facing a congressional panel on Tuesday are slim, as the White House moves to block all current and former aides from cooperating with congressional inquiries.”

Source: The Trump Administration to Congress: Drop Dead | The New Yorker

Mueller Report Says Trump Committed Crimes – The Atlantic

Mueller does not accuse the president of crimes. He doesn’t have to. But the facts he recounts describe criminal behavior. They describe criminal behavior even if we allow the president’s—and the attorney general’s—argument that facially valid exercises of presidential authority cannot be obstructions of justice. They do this because they describe obstructive activity that does not involve facially valid exercises of presidential power at all.

Source: Mueller Report Says Trump Committed Crimes – The Atlantic

When Your President is a Global Cancer

Right now we need to admit that our nation is sick and rapidly declining. There is little doubt that this President is a parasite, a national cancer—and his Administration is rapidly sucking the goodness and the progress from us day by day, offense by offense, attack by attack, violation by violation.

Source: When Your President is a Global Cancer

Trump’s Ever More Powerful Weapons Against Journalism

President Donald Trump greets military families at the White House for the Fourth of July. (Alex Brandon / AP)
Jacob Sugarman

Shortly after five staffers at the Capital Gazette were gunned down in their Annapolis, Md., office, President Donald Trump refused a request from the city’s mayor, Gavin Buckley, to lower American flags on federal property to half-staff. The White House eventually reversed its decision, but the episode underscores the contempt that this administration holds for the press.

Last month, after spending the better part of two years railing against purveyors of “fake news,” the president called the media the “enemy of the American people.” Now the Department of Homeland Security is reportedly compiling a database of journalists, editors, correspondents and bloggers to identify the leading voices in their respective fields.

According to an April 5 report in Bloomberg Government, DHS was searching for a contractor to help it monitor more than 290,000 global news sources in over 100 languages, including Arabic, Chinese and Russian, all of which will be translated to English in real time. These outlets would include newspapers and magazines, television and radio, podcasts and social media.

“The DHS request says the selected vendor will set up an online ‘media influence database’ giving users the ability to browse based on location, beat, and type of influence,” Bloomberg’s Cary O’Reilly reveals. The database would include, “[f]or each influencer found, present contact details and any other information that could be relevant, including publications this influencer writes for, and an overview of the previous coverage published by the media influencer.”

If the project sounds like a First Amendment violation waiting to happen, that’s because it is. While DHS insists that the database will “protect and enhance the resilience of the nation’s physical and cyberinfrastructure,” perhaps against foreign interference in future elections, the potential for censorship and other abuses of power is virtually limitless.“Unfortunately, increasing government encroachment on the freedom of the press is the sinister backdrop to all of this,” writes Forbes’ Michelle Fabio. “Freedom House, which has monitored the status of the press for nearly 40 years, recently concluded that global media freedom has reached its lowest level in the past 13 years.”

The independent watchdog blames “crackdowns on independent media in authoritarian countries like Russia and China,” but it also cites “new threats to journalists and media outlets in major democracies”—Trump chief among them.

If the project sounds like a First Amendment violation waiting to happen, that’s because it is. While DHS insists that the database will “protect and enhance the resilience of the nation’s physical and cyberinfrastructure,” perhaps against foreign interference in future elections, the potential for censorship and other abuses of power is virtually limitless.

“Unfortunately, increasing government encroachment on the freedom of the press is the sinister backdrop to all of this,” writes Forbes’ Michelle Fabio. “Freedom House, which has monitored the status of the press for nearly 40 years, recently concluded that global media freedom has reached its lowest level in the past 13 years.”

The independent watchdog blames “crackdowns on independent media in authoritarian countries like Russia and China,” but it also cites “new threats to journalists and media outlets in major democracies”—Trump chief among them.

“No U.S. president in recent memory has shown greater contempt for the press than Trump in his first months in office,” reads Freedom House’s 2017 report. “He has repeatedly ridiculed reporters. … Such comments suggest a hostility toward the fundamental principles and purposes of press freedom, especially the news media’s role in holding governments to account for their words and actions—as opposed to the government holding the media to account.”

Barack Obama’s eight years in office were marked by an overt hostility toward leakers and whistleblowers; Leonard Downie’s report for the Committee to Protect Journalists in 2013 called the White House’s treatment of the press “the most aggressive I’ve seen since the Nixon administration, when I was one of the editors involved in the Washington Post’s investigation of Watergate.”

The DHS’ latest venture reveals where disdain for journalists can lead, and the extent to which it can be weaponized.

Jacob Sugarman
Jacob Sugarman is a graduate of the Arthur L. Carter Institute of Journalism whose writing has appeared in Salon, AlterNet and Tablet, among other…

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Presidential Election 2016: An American Tragedy – The New Yorker

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Presidential Election 2016: An American Tragedy – The New Yorker

The electorate has, in its plurality, decided to live in Trump’s world.SOURCE PHOTOGRAPH BY JOE RAEDLE / GETTY

The election of Donald Trump to the Presidency is nothing less than a tragedy for the American republic, a tragedy for the Constitution, and a triumph for the forces, at home and abroad, of nativism, authoritarianism, misogyny, and racism. Trump’s shocking victory, his ascension to the Presidency, is a sickening event in the history of the United States and liberal democracy. On January 20, 2017, we will bid farewell to the first African-American President—a man of integrity, dignity, and generous spirit—and witness the inauguration of a con who did little to spurn endorsement by forces of xenophobia and white supremacy. It is impossible to react to this moment with anything less than revulsion and profound anxiety.

Source: Presidential Election 2016: An American Tragedy – The New Yorker

America’s New Demons and the Second Coming of the Neocons :: CounterPunch

Photograph by Krassotkin (derivative), Gage Skidmore (Donald Trump), Gage Skidmore (Hillary Clinton), distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license.

The horror of a Clinton v. Trump election is making everybody who pays attention a little crazy. Not paying attention isn’t easy – not with everybody hooked into social (actually anti-social) media and with“ news” and commentary coming from every direction.The hypocrisy is breathtaking.In the midst of it all, the American propaganda system, the one that supposedly doesn’t exist, has gone berserk — targeting RT America (formerly Russia Today).

Anyone who relies on The New York Times or The Washington Post or NPR or, worse, CNN or MSNBC, to find out what’s shaking – or rather what the guardians of the status quo want people to think is shaking (and “fit to print”) — and who also has access to RT America on satellite TV or a handful of cable stations, or who goes to the trouble of watching it over the internet, will know what I mean.RT America is a better source for news and commentary than America’s finest by many orders of magnitude.  It is less biased too.The Russian government funds it, but this doesn’t make its output propaganda – not unless anything funded by governments is propaganda by definition. RT America is more like the BBC or CBC than, say, Radio Free Europe.

Source: America’s New Demons and the Second Coming of the Neocons