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Hometown: America's Finest City
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Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 11,985

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Dozens hurt, 1 dead in violent day of protests in Venezuela

Source: AP

Dozens of people were injured and a 27-year-old man killed Wednesday during another day of violent clashes in Venezuela's capital during demonstrations demanding elections.

National guardsmen launched tear gas and a group of armed pro-government militiamen harassed protesters as they tried to march to the Supreme Court. One masked militia member fired several shots into the air. The militia later dispersed after officers intervened.

At least 93 people were injured in Caracas and demonstrator Miguel Castillo was killed. Authorities also announced that Anderson Dugarte, 32, died from a gunshot wound he suffered Monday at a protest in Merida. The violence pushed the death toll to at least 38 in more than a month of street protests and political turmoil.

Castillo had studied communications at Santa Marta University and friends and opposition leaders vowed to march to the site of his death Thursday morning.

Read more: https://www.yahoo.com/news/dozens-hurt-1-dead-violent-day-protests-venezuela-215605677.html

Trump 'planning smear campaign' against Sally Yates while she testifies against administration

Source: The Independent

Donald Trump's administration reportedly planned to smear former deputy attorney general Sally Yates ahead of her testimony before a Senate subcommittee on his presidential campaign’s ties to Russia.

Ms Yates will give evidence about alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.

James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence in Barack Obama’s Administration will also testify.

The White House planned on branding Ms Yates a “Democratic operative” intent on sabotaging Mr Trump, who was willing to twist facts, news website Axios reported.

Read more: https://www.yahoo.com/news/trump-apos-planning-smear-campaign-122146309.html

States brace for big decisions under GOP health care changes

Even as the Republican health care overhaul remains a work in progress, states are planning for big changes that could swell the ranks of the uninsured and hit them with higher costs.

A key tenet underlying the GOP plan is to give states more authority over how to structure their health care markets. That approach is welcome in states that want fewer mandates from the federal government but is causing alarm in states that embraced former President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act.

This is especially true for states that expanded their Medicaid programs and could now see a huge pool of federal health care money evaporate. They will face tough decisions about balancing costs and care.

States' preparations come even as Republican members of the U.S. Senate promise significant revisions to the health care bill that narrowly passed last week in the House. Some governors already have begun pressing their senators to soften the bill in ways that would lessen the financial blow to the states.


Trump team's curious query tripped concerns about Flynn

In late November, a member of Donald Trump's transition team approached national security officials in the Obama White House with a curious request: Could the incoming team get a copy of the classified CIA profile on Sergey Kislyak, Russia's ambassador to the United States?

Marshall Billingslea, a former Pentagon and NATO official, wanted the information for his boss, Michael Flynn, who had been tapped by Trump to serve as White House national security adviser. Billingslea knew Flynn would be speaking to Kislyak, according to two former Obama administration officials, and seemed concerned Flynn did not fully understand he was dealing with a man rumored to have ties to Russian intelligence agencies.

To the Obama White House, Billingslea's concerns were startling: a member of Trump's own team suggesting the incoming Trump administration might be in over its head in dealing with an adversary.

The request now stands out as a warning signal for Obama officials who would soon see Flynn's contacts with the Russian spiral into a controversy that would cost him his job and lead to a series of shocking accusations hurled by Trump against his predecessor's administration.


Venezuela's 'anti-capitalist' constitution

With hundreds of thousands of protesters taking to the streets daily and international pressure mounting, embattled President Nicolas Maduro is doing something that once seemed unthinkable: Tearing up the constitution written by his beloved political godfather, the late President Hugo Chavez.

Chavez pushed through what he called an "anti-capitalist" constitution soon after he launched his socialist revolution here in 1999. Maduro's move to rewrite that charter could allow him to postpone elections he was sure to lose. But many are appalled that he wants to mess with one of Chavez's signature acts as president. How did a constitution come to be so important in a country that's rewritten its founding document more than two dozen times?

Here's a look at Chavez's constitution and why it's such a big deal in Venezuela:


Republicans' health-care bill would be comical if it weren't so dangerous

In a Washington used to the accidentally comic stylings of congressmen like Louie Gohmert and Ted Yoho, it’s still surprising when a real comedian like Jimmy Kimmel knows more about policy than they do.

But Kimmel’s moving monologue this week about his newborn son’s brush with death made us suspect he did.

And House Republicans’ performance on the American Health Care Act proved it.

The bill that passed the House Thursday in a party-line 217-213 vote should, in all seriousness, be rechristened the Drunk Drivers’ Health Care Act. The way Republicans passed it is just that reckless.


Tesla plugs older Model S as new buyers turn to Model 3

Electric-car maker Tesla Inc on Wednesday reported first-quarter revenue that more than doubled, and while saying the upcoming Model 3 was on schedule for July, it downplayed the mass-market vehicle to give a sales pitch for its more expensive Model S.

Chief Executive Elon Musk's bold approach to cars, space exploration and clean energy has fueled investor enthusiasm for Tesla. But skeptics are waiting to see if Musk can fulfill his promise of producing 500,000 cars per year in 2018, or six times Tesla's 2016 production.

Shares were down about 2 percent in after-hours trade following the results.

The automaker's comments underscored the additional challenge of keeping up demand for its older models.


I think the Model 3 is on the road to be a phenomenal success.

Venezuela Is Heading for a Soviet-Style Collapse

Venezuela is not the first developed country to put itself on track to fall into a catastrophic economic crisis. But it is in the relatively unusual situation of having done so while in possession of enormous oil assets. There aren’t many precedents to help understand how this could have happened and what is likely to happen next.

There is, however, at least one — the Soviet Union’s similar devastation in the late 1980s. Its fate may be instructive for Venezuela — which is not to suggest Venezuelans, least of all the regime of Nicolás Maduro, will like what it portends.

Venezuela has been ailing ever since the decline in oil prices that started in June 2014, and there is no reason to think this trend will shift anytime soon. Energy prices move in long quarter-century circles of one decade of high prices and one decade of low prices, so another decade of low prices is likely. Similarly, the biggest economic blow to the Soviet Union was the fall in oil prices that started in 1981 and got worse from there.

But the deeper problem for the Soviet Union wasn’t the oil price collapse; it’s what came before. In his book Collapse of an Empire, Russia’s great post-Soviet reformer Yegor Gaidar pointed out that during the long preceding oil boom, Soviet policymakers thought that they could walk on water and that the usual laws of economic gravity did not apply to them. Soviet policymakers didn’t bother developing a theory to make sense of their spending. They didn’t even bother paying attention to their results. The math seemed to work out, so they just assumed there was a good reason.


Assange demands Sweden drop arrest warrant

Source: AFP

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange filed a new motion in Sweden Wednesday calling for a European arrest warrant over rape allegations to be dropped, after the United States said it was seeking to arrest him, his lawyer said.

The 45-year-old Australian denies the accusations in Sweden that date back to 2010, which he fears will see him extradited to the United States.

He has been holed up at the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012 and risks being arrested by British police as soon as he steps out of the building.

His Swedish lawyer Per Samuelsson said the new motion was filed because US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in April that arresting Assange would be "a priority".

Read more: https://www.yahoo.com/news/assange-demands-sweden-drop-arrest-warrant-085736747.html

The Ecuadoreans must be getting mighty sick of ol' Julian hanging out in the embassy.


WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—A class of fourth-grade students touring the White House on Monday had a chance encounter with Donald Trump and were able to answer several of his questions about the Civil War.

The students, on a field trip organized by their Bethesda, Maryland, elementary school, happened upon Trump outside the Oval Office and “cleared a lot of things up for him,” their teacher said.

After Trump invited the children into his office, the ten-year-olds briefed him on the causes of the Civil War, including slavery, states’ rights, and regional economic differences.

“It was really cool,” Tracy Klugian, who had done a diorama about the Civil War while in third grade, said. “Someday I’ll be able to tell my kids that I met the President and taught him about history.”

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