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Member since: Fri Apr 4, 2014, 04:21 PM
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Russiagate: The Depth of Collusion

Source: Center for American Progress Action Fund, by Max Bergmann

Introduction and summary

According to the U.S. intelligence community report released on January 6, 2017, Russia mounted an “unprecedented” intervention into our 2016 presidential election with the expressed intent “to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process” and to elect Donald Trump. Therefore, there were effectively two campaigns to elect Donald Trump in the 2016 cycle: the Trump campaign and the Russian campaign. At question is whether these campaigns acted entirely independently of each other or whether there was collusion—which, in this context, entails secretly working with the Russians to advance their campaign in a U.S. election. It is now clear there was collusion.

“The Crown prosecutor of Russia [Yuri Chaika, Russian Prosector General] met with his father Aras [Agalarov] this morning and in their meeting offered to provide the Trump campaign with some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father. This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump—helped along by Aras and Emin [Agalarov].” [emphasis added]

Donald Trump Jr. responded 17 minutes later at 10:53 a.m.:

“Thanks Rob I appreciate that… if it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer. Could we do a call first thing next week when I am back?” [emphasis added]


Read it all and everything we know now at:

Solar eclipse 2017: Times, how much of the sun will be blocked in 102 Alabama cities

Reference and reminder!

Source: al.com, by Leada Gore

The total solar eclipse on Aug. 21 will cut a swatch across North America, with the path of totality - where the sun will be completely blocked by the moon - about 70 miles wide. The path stretches from Salem, Oregon through Charleston, South Carolina but even if you're outside that zone, the Great American Eclipse will still be pretty spectacular.


Observers outside the path of totality will still see a partial solar eclipse where the moon covers portions of the sun's disk. And while Alabama is outside the path, the view here will still be impressive with almost 98 percent of the sun blocked out in some cities in North Alabama.


Gulf Shores - 1:34:36 pm CDT - 80.2% of the sun

Montgomery - 1:34:36 pm CDT - 89.6% of the sun

Birmingham - 1:31:56 pm CDT - 92.6% of the sun

Huntsville - 1:30:52 pm CDT - 96.9% of the sun

Mentone - 1:33:08 pm CDT - 97.8% of the sun

All the rest at: http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2017/08/solar_eclipse_2017_times_how_m.html#incart_river_home

Blue Cross requests 15 percent increase for Obamacare plans in 2018

Source: al.com, by Amy Yurkanin

Blue Cross Blue Shield, the only Alabama company that sells individual policies on the federal exchange, is requesting average premium increases of 15 percent next year, but rates for some customers could jump by 20 percent.

About 90 percent of the 190,000 consumers in Alabama who buy individual policies through the federal exchange receive subsidies to offset the cost of premium increases. Higher-income people who don't qualify for subsidies but still purchase insurance through the exchange will have to pay full cost.

In its rate increase justification, Blue Cross cited policy changes that have been proposed by President Donald Trump. After the failure of GOP-led efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare, the president has suggested he would "let Obamacare implode" by taking steps to undermine policies that expand coverage and cut costs.

Recently, Trump tweeted that he might end cost-sharing reductions - federal payments to insurance companies to help make health care more affordable to low-income people. Cost-sharing reductions are only available for silver-level plans.

The company's statement also said it expected fewer healthy customers to sign up if federal authorities stopped enforcing the individual health insurance mandate, which requires people to obtain coverage or pay a tax penalty. Although Trump cannot end the mandate, he can instruct the IRS to reduce enforcement or increase exemptions. Insurers worry that such moves would take healthy customers out of the risk pool and increase costs for those who remain.

Read it all at: http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2017/08/blue_cross_requests_increase_o.html#incart_river_home

Who will be hurt by cutting off insurance company subsidies? Can you guess?


The Center For American Progress Is Releasing A 50-Page Report Claiming Trump-Russia Collusion

Source: Buzzfeed, by Lissandra Villa

The Center for American Progress has written a nearly 50-page report for Democrats in Congress, making the case for collusion between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia. The report, a draft of which was reviewed by BuzzFeed News ahead of its release Wednesday, makes the bold claim “it is now clear there was collusion” and that “this is the biggest political scandal in American history.”

“We're... trying to convey that it’s time to stop beating around the bush on Trump’s collusion with Russia. There is a mountain of evidence that Trump and his associates colluded with Russia and it’s time to start saying so,” Adam Jentleson, senior strategic adviser and the former deputy chief of staff for Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, told BuzzFeed News in an email.

“I think the reason why we’re putting this report out is that we need to sort of face the facts of what’s staring us in the face here,” Max Bergmann, a senior fellow at CAP and author of the report, told BuzzFeed News. “When you piece it all together and you lay out the facts, all the information that we know… the picture becomes very clear. And what is clear is that the president’s campaign was willing to collude with Russians and did.”

The draft of CAP’s report lays out everything the public knows about how the Trump campaign and Russia interacted during the campaign based on information gathered from press reports and congressional testimony. According to CAP, the evidence should be enough for Democrats to argue the campaign colluded with Russia.

Read it at: https://www.buzzfeed.com/lissandravilla/the-center-for-american-progress-is-releasing-a-nearly-50?utm_term=.bs0Wz4YPg#.kuvyNXW82

Trump to members of his New Jersey golf club: 'That White House is a real dump'

Source: Business Insider, by Allan Smith

President Donald Trump reportedly told a group of members at his Bedminster, New Jersey golf club that the reason he frequented the golf property so often was because "that White House is a real dump."

The comment was reported Tuesday in a Golf.com profile on the president which will appear in Sports Illustrated this week.

"Chatting with some members before a recent round of golf, [Trump] explained his frequent appearances: 'That White House is a real dump,'" Golf.com reported.

The publication wrote that the president is "often at his most unguarded among the people who pay for their proximity to him."

Read the rest at: http://www.businessinsider.com/trump-white-house-real-dump-2017-8

August Premieres - the Dog Days of Summer

While great shows continue their summer runs, a few things pop up in August!

File under "Why the hell not?"

"The Lowe Files" A&E, August 2, 10 PM ET

Maybe? "The Sinner" USA, August 2, 10 PM ET

Interesting? "Wild West" BBC America, August 19, 9 PM ET


"Saturday Night Live: Weekend Update" NBC, August 10, 9 PM ET

House Republicans have spent 378 hours on votes to undercut Obamacare that went nowhere

Source: WaPo, by Philip Bump

After one of the recent failed Senate votes to overhaul Obamacare, a reader posed a question: How much time has Congress spent actually trying to throw out the law, without success? It’s a good question, and one for which we can probably never have a concrete answer.

As it turns out, you can figure out precisely how much time a bill spent in debate on the floor of the House, thanks to data at Congress.gov. So, setting aside those bills that were signed into law, we estimate that, between 2011 (when Republicans took control of the body) and this year, the House spent about 377.6 hours debating and passing anti-Obamacare bills that never became law.

How much time is that? It’s nearly 16 solid 24-hour days. If you assume Congress actually only works 12-hour days — a generous assumption — that’s a full month of time spent on an effort that went nowhere. It’s like they added in an extra August recess over that six-year period.

It’s a valid question to ask whether this is a bad thing. Is it bad for legislators to debate and pass bills even if they don’t become law? I suspect that the point of the reader who emailed was that a lot of time had been burned on a fruitless enterprise — and one that, until Jan. 20 of this year, was obviously fruitless, given the president. These days, of course, passing a law to repeal Obamacare might actually be something that could take effect.

If only Republicans in the House had proposals that could pass the Senate.

Read it all at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/politics/wp/2017/07/31/house-republicans-have-spent-378-hours-on-votes-to-undercut-obamacare-that-went-nowhere/?utm_term=.3364992bb9b7&wpisrc=nl_health202&wpmm=1

Judge blocks motion to immediately restore voting rights of many Alabama felons

Source: al.com, by Connor Sheets

A federal judge turned down an advocacy group's request that Alabama swiftly reinstate many recently convicted felons' voting rights and take immediate steps to educate people about the impact of a new state law that restores access to the ballot for tens of thousands of felons.

In May, the state Legislature passed a law, signed later that month by Gov. Kay Ivey, that created an official list of several dozen crimes "of moral turpitude," that automatically led to disenfranchisement for anyone convicted of them in the state. No other criminal convictions can be used to bar someone from voting.

One key implication of the law's passage is that thousands of felons who were previously disenfranchised have now regained the right to apply to register to vote.

"While we are disappointed that the Court did not order the relief we sought, we are still heartened that Alabama has taken the step of defining 'moral turpitude' and therefore who can and cannot vote," Lang said via email.

"We will continue to encourage the state to publicize the requirements to vote, amplify the voices of those helping individuals determine their right to vote, and continue to pursue the rest of our case."

Read it all at: http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2017/07/judge_blocks_immediate_restora.html#incart_river_home

Judge nixes Alabama law putting pregnant girls through trial

Source: AP, by Kim Chandler

A federal judge has struck down Alabama's one-of-a-kind law that enabled judges to put minors seeking abortions through a trial-like proceeding in which the fetus could get a lawyer and prosecutors could object to the pregnant girl's wishes.

Alabama legislators in 2014 changed the state's process for girls who can't or won't get their parents' permission for an abortion to obtain permission from a court instead. The new law empowered the judge to appoint a guardian ad litem "for the interests of the unborn child" and invited the local district attorney to call witnesses and question the girl to determine whether she's mature enough to decide.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan Russ Walker sided Friday with the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama , writing that the law unconstitutionally and impermissibly imposes "an undue burden on a minor in Alabama who seeks an abortion through a judicial bypass," and violates the girl's confidentiality by potentially bringing other people from her life into the process.

Walker noted in a footnote of the ruling that, under the law, a girl seeking court permission for an abortion in Alabama could face both a lawyer for the fetus and "the chief prosecuting authority of the county in which the minor resides, empowered by the act to represent the state's public policy to protect unborn life, and backed by substantial state resources."

Read it all at: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_ABORTION_LAW_ALABAMA?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT
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