The women using Facebook groups to expose government goons in Sudan

Women in Sudan are using private Facebook groups created to creep on crushes to dox state security officers brutalizing demonstrators during huge anti-government protests sweeping the country. When security agents and police abusing their power have had their identities exposed, they have been hounded by people in their own neighborhoods, beaten up, and sometimes even chased out of town.

The groups — only accessible via a virtual private network (VPN) after the government blocked social media — are part of the response to a brutal crackdown on anti-government protests that have swept the country since December. They are the largest ever against the regime of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who took office in 1989 and whom protesters accuse of enforcing oppressive laws and wrecking the economy. At least 57 people have been killed in the protests, and countless others have been shot at, teargassedhad their hair cut off by officers, and tortured.

Sudan’s morality laws prevent women from gathering in public; dictate the clothes they wear; and authorize the use of corporal punishment, like lashing and stoning, if they violate or criticize the rules. As a result, private Facebook groups have become a popular way for millions of Sudanese women to safely communicate with one another.

Bernie 2020 nears

Bernie Sanders, inching closer to a second bid for the White House, has recorded a campaign video in which he says he is running for president in 2020, according to two people familiar with the spot. It’s the latest sign the independent senator, the runner-up in the 2016 contest for the Democratic nomination, is nearing a presidential announcement.

Another hint that Sanders is getting closer to a launch: As POLITICO reported this week, the Sanders team has been interviewing people for top staff positions. Chuck Rocha, a political consultant who advised Sanders’ 2016 campaign, is expected to join him again if a second bid materializes.

It is unclear when, or even whether, the Sanders video will be released. It’s possible that Sanders could launch a 2020 campaign with an exploratory committee and then formally declare his candidacy later, a route other presidential candidates, such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren, have taken.

A swing-state swing toward renewables

Ohio’s political conservatives strongly favor renewable energy over coal and especially over nuclear power, a new poll commissioned by the Ohio Conservative Energy Forum has found.

“Conservatives in Ohio are strong supporters of renewable energy, with a clear majority, 70 percent, wanting 50 percent or more of their energy to come from renewable sources,” concluded Jim Hobart, a partner at Public Opinion Strategies, a national polling firm which does research for Republican candidates. The poll was the third such survey Public Opinion Strategies had done for the the Ohio Conservative Energy Forum. It found growing support for clean energy. And a willingness to pay extra for it.

Conservative Ohio voters “also view renewable energy as a job creator in the state, with low-income conservatives and conservative men being especially likely to say that the increased use of renewables would create jobs in Ohio,” Hobart’s summary of findings points out.

Too black, or not black enough — Kamala Harris is facing the same impossible standard that Obama did

Harris should be questioned about her record as a senator and an attorney general, and her tenure as San Francisco’s district attorney, but too much of the conversation about her is instead dominated by insecurities that have nothing to do with determining whether she would be a good president.

The economist and author Boyce Watkins, who is black, tweeted, “If #KamalaHarris went to an #HBCU, what do you think led her to marry a white man?” Harris had to address this in her [recent] Breakfast Club interview. She said she’s married to her white husband because she loves him. Imagine that.

In a nod to the racist birther conspiracy that enveloped President Barack Obama, a tweet claiming that Harris wasn’t eligible to run for president because of her immigrant parents went viral. It has been repeated as fact so often that Harris is now forced to explain her ethnic background.

Was nothing learned from Obama’s run for president? He faced the same inane, pointless questions about his mixed-race identity as Harris. Just like Obama, Harris has exposed narrow-minded views of blackness with her presidential run. Harris is a multiracial woman who was born in Oakland, went to high school in Montreal, and worshipped with both Hindus and Baptists. She’s a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, and yet, by her account, knows how to make an incredible Bolognese and a mean pot of collard greens. If the criterion for running for president is being authentically American, people have to accept that this is what that looks like.

And even when existing gun control laws should help prevent a tragedy…

Aurora shooter Gary Martin had his gun license strip after a felony conviction was discovered when he applied for a concealed carry card. He lost his card but still kept his gun. And that gun was used to kill 5 people and wound 5 police officers Friday. Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman said authorities are now investigating which law-enforcement agency was responsible for following up with Martin after he lost his license and why he still had a gun five years later. The criminal background check done when Martin applied for his gun license did not find his felony conviction. It wasn’t until he was fingerprinted for the concealed carry card that it popped up in his background.

Stacy St. Clair
Chicago Tribune reporter, via Twitter

President Trump will spend Saturday monitoring the national emergency from his golf club

Photo: President Donald Trump seen departing his Mar-a-lago vacation resort in Palm Beach, Florida on Saturday to travel to the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Inmates reportedly faced reprisals at federal prison in Brooklyn after protesting against lack of heat

Jordan remembers jolting awake in his cell at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York, in the early-morning hours of Saturday, February 2. He had been hit with pepper spray to the face. Jordan, who The Intercept is identifying by a pseudonym, said guards sprayed and shackled him and his cellmate, then led them, partially blinded, to a shower area to rinse off. Next, he spent several hours in a “freezing” unit wearing only boxers and a T-shirt, before being transferred to solitary confinement. …

Accounts from incarcerated people, their family members, and lawyers sketch a picture of widespread protests at the Sunset Park detention facility. People across multiple housing units undertook coordinated acts of nonviolent disobedience and at least three hunger strikes. Retaliation by Metropolitan Detention Center staff ranged from pepper spray and solitary confinement to shutting off toilets across entire units. All told, men on at least four housing units inside the jail say they took part in some sort of collective protest of their conditions. In each instance, they say their actions were met with official retaliation.

Despite making $11.2 billion in profits last year, Amazon once again paid no federal taxes — because this is America

Amazon, the e-commerce giant helmed by the world’s richest man, paid no federal taxes on profit of $11.2 billion last year, according to an analysis of the company’s corporate filings by the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), a progressive think tank. Thanks to a variety of tax credits and a significant tax break available on pay handed out in the form of company stock, Amazon actually received a federal tax rebate of $129 million last year, giving it an effective federal tax rate of roughly -1 percent.

It is the second year in a row the company has enjoyed a negative federal tax rate on a multibillion dollar profit. That would place the company’s effective federal tax rate below the rate paid by the poorest 20 percent of American households, which had an effective federal tax rate of 1.5 percent in 2015, according to the Tax Policy Center. …

Like many other large companies, Amazon reduces its effective tax rate each year using a variety of credits, rebates and loopholes. For Amazon, the most lucrative of those was a tax break for pay given out in the form of stock options, which allowed the company to shave roughly $1 billion off its 2018 tax bill, [ITEP senior fellow Matthew Gardner] said. That would represent nearly half of the total federal tax bill levied on the company’s profit of $11.2 billion, he said.

Previous ITEP analysis has shown that between 2008 and 2015, profitable Fortune 500 companies paid an average effective federal tax rate of 21.2 percent, well under the statutory 35 percent rate in effect in that period. One hundred of the companies had paid zero or negative tax in at least one profitable year, and 58 of them had multiple zero-tax years while being profitable.

As expected, House Democrats are pursuing details about Trump’s private Putin meetings

House Democrats are taking their first real steps to force President Donald Trump to divulge information about his private conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin, setting up an extraordinary clash with the White House over Congress’ oversight authority.

Rep. Adam Schiff, the Intelligence Committee chairman, and Rep. Eliot Engel, the Foreign Affairs Committee chairman, told POLITICO they are actively consulting with House General Counsel Douglas Letter about the best way to legally compel the Trump administration to turn over documents or other information related to the president’s one-on-one discussions with the Russian leader.

“I had a meeting with the general counsel to discuss this and determine the best way to find out what took place in those private meetings — whether it’s by seeking the interpreter’s testimony, the interpreter’s notes, or other means,” Schiff (D-Calif.) said in a brief interview.It’s a development that indicates Schiff and Engel are close to taking action on the matter; key members of the majority party often consult with the chamber’s general counsel on issues that could end up playing out in court. Democrats want to ensure that they are on the strongest possible legal ground because they anticipate the Trump administration will mount spirited challenges.

More details on the deadly mass shooting at an Aurora, Illinois workplace on Friday

A 15-year veteran of a manufacturing business who was being terminated opened fire inside the company’s Aurora plant Friday afternoon, killing five people and wounding five police officers who responded to the scene, police said.

Authorities said the gunman, 45-year-old Gary Martin, of Aurora, was also killed in the shootout at Henry Pratt Co., a manufacturer of industrial valves. The names of the victims were not released Friday evening. A sixth officer suffered a knee injury. It wasn’t clear how he was injured, but he wasn’t shot.

On Saturday morning, authorities announced that the shooter had numerous prior arrests for traffic violations and domestic violence. They also released the names of the victims:

Clayton Parks, of Elgin Illinois. Mr. Parks was the Human Resources Manager at Henry Pratt.

Trevor Wehner, of Dekalb, Illinois. Mr. Wehner was a Human Resources Intern at Henry Pratt and a student at Northern Illinois University.

Russell Beyer, of Yorkville, Illinois. Mr. Beyer was a Mold Operator at Henry Pratt.

Vicente Juarez of Oswego, Illinois. Mr. Juarez was a Stock Room Attendant and Fork Lift Operator at Henry Pratt.

Josh Pinkard, of Oswego, Illinois. Mr. Pinkard was the Plant Manager for Henry Pratt.

Another shooting victim, a male employee of Henry Pratt, was treated at an area hospital for non-life-threatening gunshot wounds sustained during the shooting incident.

A big step closer to legal weed in New Jersey

Gov. Phil Murphy and state legislative leaders have reached a deal in principle on how to tax and regulate marijuana in New Jersey after months of negotiations, paving the way to bringing legal weed to the Garden State.

Multiple legislative and industry sources confirmed an agreement was in place on a bill that would tax marijuana by the ounce, rather than the contentious sales tax that had divided Murphy and state Senate President Stephen Sweeney. Those sources requested anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the deal.

State Sen. Nicholas Scutari, D-Union, the prime sponsor of the legalization bill, refused to reveal any of the details of the negotiation. But he said they were as close as they had ever been in reaching an agreement. … The final bill would also address clearing marijuana convictions from criminal records — expungements. That’s a key component to the effort to legalize marijuana. Legislators have been crafting a new expungement bill that could be introduced as early as next week.

Donald Trump Seemed Bored While Declaring a National Emergency
The president made a low-energy attempt at seizing authoritarian power in the Rose Garden on Friday.
programming note
programming note
CBS Deems Trump’s National Emergency Speech Less Important Than Price Is Right
Twenty minutes after his 8-minute speech began 40 minutes late, it was back to the Big Wheel.
intellectual property
intellectual property
Even If The Fortnite Lawsuits Fail, This Issue Isn’t Going Away
Being able to perfectly reproduce movements into infinity is a new, legally unexplored issue.

As New York’s David Wallace-Wells puts it, “Sometimes it almost feels like western intuitions of climate doom are just projections of imperial decline.”

China is taking its renewable energy push to new heights, with scientists revealing plans to build the first solar power station in space.

A solar power station orbiting the earth at 36,000 kilometres could tap the energy of the sun’s rays without interference from the atmosphere, or seasonal and night-time loss of sunlight, Chinese media reported.

A researcher from the China Academy of Space Technology Corporation, Pang Zhihao, said a space solar power station held the promise of providing “an inexhaustible source of clean energy for humans”.

It could reliably supply energy 99 per cent of the time, at six-times the intensity of solar farms on earth, he said.

The next step will be a Megawatt-level space solar power station, slated for construction in 2030.

The legal challenges to Trump’s national emergency are rolling in

We believe your declaration of an emergency shows a reckless disregard for the separation of powers and your own responsibilities under our constitutional system. The Constitution vests the Congress with the power of the purse and expressly provides that “no money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law.” Congress has entrusted you and your predecessors with emergency authority in order to respond quickly and effectively to real crises, such as wars and disasters.

The Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over the National Emergenices Act, did so based on an understanding that the President would “tae care that the laws be faithfully executed” and would resort to this authority only when absolutelly necessary. By fabricating an emergency in order to bypass the political process for allocating a budget, you appear to be abusing both this trust and your own oath of office.

The House Judiciary Committee

Harris secures an important home-state endorsement

Kamala Harris is a fearless fighter. A voice for the voiceless and vulnerable. From advancing equality to defending immigrant communities to expanding opportunity, she’ll do what’s right. Proud to endorse @KamalaHarris for President.

Any press is good press?

Photo: Media Matters
russia investigation
russia investigation
Mueller Recommends Paul Manafort Receive Up to 24 Years in Prison
Unfortunately for Manafort’s chances of ever getting out of prison, this recommended sentence only deals with his financial convictions in Virginia.

Trump’s emergency declaration faces its first court hurdle

A consumer advocacy group filed the first lawsuit late Friday challenging President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration, suing on behalf of Texas landowners and an environmental group who say they’ll be affected by border wall construction.

The case, filed by Public Citizen in federal district court in Washington, DC, is the first of what are expected to be multiple lawsuits challenging Trump’s unprecedented decision to declare a national emergency in order to access $3.6 billion in military construction funds to pay for more sections of the wall he promised to build along the US–Mexico border.

Public Citizen is arguing the president exceeded his authority under the federal National Emergencies Act because there is no emergency at the southern border, and that his declaration of a national emergency in order to build the wall violates the separation of powers — essentially, that it’s unconstitutional for Trump to declare an emergency because Congress already refused to appropriate the money.

Public Citizen is one of several groups that have announced plans to sue the administration, but are the first to file. House Democrats are considering going to court to challenge the emergency, as are Democratic attorneys general. At a press conference Friday, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said his office was likely to pursue legal action.

Key sections from Mueller’s sentencing recommendation for Paul Manafort

The defendant stands convicted of the serious crimes of tax fraud, bank fraud, and failing to file a foreign bank account report. Manafort was the lead perpetrator and a direct beneficiary of each offense. And while some of these offenses are commonly prosecuted, there was nothing ordinary about the millions of dollars involved in the defendant’s crimes, the duration of his criminal conduct, or the sophistication of his schemes.

Together with the relevant criminal conduct, Manafort’s misconduct involved more than $16 million in unreported income resulting in more than $6 million in federal taxes owed, more than $55 million hidden in foreign bank accounts, and more than $25 million secured from financial institutions through lies resulting in a fraud loss of more than $6 million.

Manafort did not commit these crimes out of necessity or hardship. He was well educated, professionally successful, and financially well off. He nonetheless cheated the United States Treasury and the public out of more than $6 million in taxes at a time when he had substantial resources. Manafort committed bank fraud to supplement his liquidity because his lavish spending exhausted his substantial cash resources when his overseas income dwindled.

Special counsel investigation

Special counsel recommends Manafort receive a sentence somewhere between 19.5 to 24.5 years, potentially putting him in prison until he is 93

JUST IN: Special Counsel Mueller recommends former Trump campaign chairman Manafort be sentenced to 19-24 years in prison - court filing
You Can’t Stop a Power Grab by Fact Checking It
Trump’s national emergency stems from an ideological problem, and it won’t be fixed by fact checking.

China has its own fascinating relationship with debt

“Of the 22.9 trillion yuan ($3.4 trillion) of outstanding mortgage debt held by Chinese people as of the end of 2017, 47.1% of that is tied up in residences that now stand empty”
william weld
william weld
William Weld and the Strange Allure of No-Hope Primary Challenges
So many people think Trump ought to have a primary challenger that they’ll exaggerate the importance of anyone who shows up.

The House Oversight Committee chairman believes Trump’s attorneys may have lied about Cohen’s payments to women alleging they had affairs with the president

“It now appears that President Trump’s other attorneys — at the White House and in private practice — may have provided false information about these payments to federal officials,” [Elijiah] Cummings (D-Md.) wrote in a letter to White House Counsel Pat Cipollone.

Cummings named Sheri Dillon and Stefan Passantino as the two attorneys who might have made false statements to the Office of Government Ethics (OGE), citing documents the committee obtained from the office.

According to Cummings, Dillon “repeatedly stated to federal officials at OGE that President Trump never owed any money to Mr. Cohen in 2016 and 2017.” Passantino, who served as deputy White House counsel for compliance and ethics, reportedly told OGE that Trump and Cohen had a “retainer agreement” — a claim that was later contradicted by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York.

The 9/11 fund is running out of money and victims will suffer

The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund plans to cut future payouts in half — and in some cases by as much as 70 percent — as it struggles with a surge of new claims from those who have gotten sick and the families of those who have died, officials announced Friday.

The fund was opened by the federal government in 2011 to compensate for deaths and illnesses linked to toxic exposure at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Pa., after terrorists crashed four hijacked airliners in 2001. To date, the $7.3 billion fund has paid about $5 billion to roughly 21,000 claimants. About 700 were for deaths that occurred long after the attacks.

Four injured in Aurora, Illinois shooting

Multiple people have been injured at a manufacturing plant in Aurora, Illinois, on Friday and a shooter has been apprehended, authorities said.

Officers responded to reports of an active shooter at the Henry Pratt Company, the city announced just after 2 p.m. CST. The Aurora Police Department tweeted at 3:30 p.m. that the situation “has been secured. Shooter is no longer a threat to the area.”

At least two patients have been admitted at Amita Health/Presence Mercy Medical Center, the hospital told NBC News. There is no information on their conditions yet.

Another two patients are being treated at Rush Copley hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Heartbreaking: The worst person you know just made a great point

Look, the only national emergency is that our president is an idiot.

Ann Coulter

Kamala Harris lands a big endorsement

Dolores Huerta, the iconic labor and civil rights leader who co-founded what became the United Farm Workers, is endorsing Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) for president, according to a statement shared first with POLITICO.

Huerta, who started the National Farmworkers Association alongside the late Cesar Chavez, is also signing onto Harris’ campaign as a California co-chair, joining Rep. Barbara Lee, a former Congressional Black Caucus chair, who endorsed Harris on Wednesday.

Huerta’s backing is a significant development in the early stages of the 2020 campaign and gives the California senator a leading voice in the labor movement and among Latinos nationally.

Sarah Sanders joins the club

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has interviewed White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, she told CNN on Friday.

“The President urged me, like he has everyone in the administration, to fully cooperate with the special counsel. I was happy to voluntarily sit down with them,” Sanders said in response to a question from CNN.

The interview is one of the final known interviews by Mueller’s team. It came around the same time as the special counsel interviewed former White House chief of staff John Kelly, well after a number of other senior officials, including former White House communications director Hope Hicks and former press secretary Sean Spicer, were brought in for questioning.

Even If You Delete Your Account, Twitter Doesn’t Delete Your DMs
A new report from a security researcher might make you think twice about your messages.

Roger Stone ordered to shut up

BREAKING: GAG ORDER on Roger Stone’s criminal case, per judge. No statements can be made by lawyers involved. Nobody including Stone can speak about the case around the courthouse. Stone isn’t restricted as generally as his lawyers
national emergency declaration
national emergency declaration
Trump Declared a National Emergency Because He’s a Fox News Addict
With his emergency declaration, Trump prioritized pleasing Sean Hannity over appealing to swing voters. That is an idiotic 2020 strategy.

Colin Kaepernick strikes a deal with the NFL

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and Carolina Panthers safety Eric Reid have reached a settlement with the NFL concerning their collusion grievances against the league, it was announced Friday.

“For the past several months, counsel for Mr. Kaepernick and Mr. Reid have engaged in an ongoing dialogue with representatives of the NFL,” attorney Mark Geragos and the NFL said a joint statement issued Friday. “As a result of those discussions, the parties have decided to resolve the pending grievances. The resolution of this matter is subject to a confidentiality agreement so there will be no further comment by any party.”

Kaepernick filed a grievance last fall under the collective bargaining agreement alleging collusion against signing him to an NFL contract.

British students walk out to protest inaction on climate change

Thousands of schoolchildren and young people have walked out of classes to join a UK-wide climate strike amid growing anger at the failure of politicians to tackle the escalating ecological crisis.

Organisers said more than 10,000 young people in at least 60 towns and cities from the Scottish Highlands to Cornwall joined the strike, defying threats of detention to voice their frustration at the older generation’s inaction on the environmental impact of climate change.

Anna Taylor, 17, one of the most prominent voices to emerge from the new movement, said the turnout had been overwhelming. “It goes some way to proving that young people aren’t apathetic, we’re passionate, articulate and we’re ready to continue demonstrating the need for urgent and radical climate action.”

Why these people spent Valentine’s Day with Howard Schultz

“We bought these tickets before he said he might run. We’re not fans. I’m definitely not broadcasting that I’m here on social media; I’m anonymous,” said Courtney Adams, a nanny who had driven almost three hours with her sister-in-law to be here because she didn’t want to eat the ticket. “I mentioned we bought these tickets before he said he might run for office, right?”


“Valentine’s Day is always a disaster,” said Tom Sheeran, sitting beside his date, Theresa Harrison, in a center pew. “Restaurants are always crowded, roses are expensive, people are miserable, so how could this be any worse?”


“My wife’s in Ethi­o­pia. and I didn’t have any plans for Valentine’s Day, so why not?” Selcuk Karaoglan said. “But I don’t really even like Starbucks.”

the top line
the top line
Don’t Worry About a Recession. Yet.
New retail data shows a slowdown by consumers. But how does that square with red-hot job numbers?
national emergency declaration
national emergency declaration
Trump Counting on Supreme Court to Vindicate His Emergency Declaration
Trump did the legal case for his emergency declaration no good in his rambling press appearance announcing it.

The border crisis is fake, but the military housing crisis is real

Deeply troubled by military housing conditions exposed by Reuters reporting, the U.S. Army’s top leadership vowed Friday to renegotiate its housing contracts with private real estate firms, test tens of thousands of homes for toxins and hold its own commanders responsible for protecting Army base residents from dangerous homes. …

The Reuters reporting described rampant mold and pest infestations, childhood lead poisoning, and service families often powerless to challenge private landlords in business with their military employers. Many families said they feared retaliation if they spoke out. The news agency described hazards across Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps base housing communities.

Here’s where Trump’s getting his border wall money

In addition to $1.375 billion included in the bill passed by Congress, Trump plans to draw money from a mixture of drug forfeiture funds, military projects and other accounts.

Trump is eyeing about $600 million from a Treasury Department drug forfeiture fund and $2.5 billion from a Defense Department drug interdiction program, according to officials.

In addition, the president wants to use $3.6 billion in military construction funds to help build his new border barriers.

This one is going to come back to bite him

“I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster,” President Trump says of his national emergency declaration.
the tweet beat
the tweet beat
Twitter Still Won’t Let You Edit Tweets, But Might Let You Clarify Them
Jack Dorsey said the company is considering a new feature.

That’s a new one

Trump refers to MS-13 members as “gang monsters.”

Not really making the case for his emergency

Trump speech veering from topic-to-topic: North Korea, China, wall, Angel Moms, drugs, markets.
interesting times
interesting times
Andrew Sullivan: New Hope and New Danger on the Left
As a tide of youthful energy pulls Democrats to the left, they should pay close attention to the successes and failures of Britain’s Labour Party.

Trump announces his intention to declare a national emergency

Trump: “I’m going to be signing a national emergency…” then adds other presidents have done it. “They sign it nobody cares.”
the national interest
the national interest
Trump’s Emergency Declaration Shows He Is Unfit for Office
At worst, the president is trashing the Constitution. At best, he is using the courts to rescue him from a massive blunder.

She’s back

Supreme Court says Justice Ginsburg is back for today’s private conference, first time in the building since lung cancer surgery in December. #SCOTUS

This should go over well in Texas

Stephen Miller, Russ Vought and others had AM call with surrogates to sell deal. Said quick construction would “shock” people, effort is being made to keep California from having jurisdiction to sue, most action will be in Texas, Trump will “veto” any move to block declaration.

They also promised aggressive use of eminent domain.

How Cuomo, de Blasio, and Bezos Blew the Amazon Deal
No one took responsibility for selling it. In the vacuum left by the company, the mayor, and the governor, opponents pounced.

Reminder: Trump is 72, not 2

Trump can be combustible and sometimes acts rashly when he feels cornered, so some Republican senators spent recent days on the phone, soothing him and trying to persuade him to hold his fire. McConnell also asked Trump to withhold judgment until the details of the deal were finalized.

Democrats decided in the final days they needed to be careful with their language, worried they could provoke Trump into another shutdown.

“He doesn’t seem to work on a totally rational basis,” Schumer said in the Post interview. “Little comments throw him off.”

2020 presidential election
2020 presidential election
First 2020 Democratic Debate Will Be Two-Day, 20-Candidate Free-for-All
Democrats won’t have a “kiddie table” debate or any other means of winnowing their enormous field.

Trump gets his first primary challenger

Former Massachusetts Gov. William F. Weld is launching a presidential exploratory committee to challenge President Trump in the Republican primaries, saying the country is “in grave peril” and he “cannot sit quietly on the sidelines any longer.”

Weld becomes the first Republican to officially announce he is exploring a run against Trump, and sets up a potential match-up in the first-in-the-nation New Hampshire presidential primary and in other states.

Doesn’t sound like a guy gearing up for a Senate run

Beto O’Rourke is hitting the road again, this time for the Midwest.

Following a massive rally in his hometown of El Paso, Texas, on Monday, the former Texas congressman and potential presidential candidate will visit with students at University of Wisconsin, Madison on Friday. He will then travel to Chicago, where he will address a national conference of the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute on Saturday. Julián Castro, who has already declared for president, is also scheduled to speak at that event.

the national interest
the national interest
Putin Told Trump North Korea Couldn’t Launch Missiles, and He Believed It
Harrowing evidence Trump’s insane credulity on North Korea is influenced by Russia.

A peek at the fallout for real estate investors betting on Amazon coming to Queens

The real-estate investment firm Savanna had a commitment from Amazon to lease the majority of a 1.4 million-square-foot office tower in Long Island City. Now with the building’s main tenant,Citigroup Inc., likely to leave in 2020, Savanna faces a one-million-square-foot hole in the building that it now needs to fill.

A Savanna spokesman declined to comment on Thursday.

Manufacturing company Plaxall Inc., which owns a massive development site in Long Island City where Amazon planned to build part of its new headquarters, missed out on a sure windfall.

Plaxall’s managing directors Paula Kirby, Tony Pfohl and Matthew Quigley said in a statement they were “extremely disappointed by this decision.”

Amazon’s reversal could also hurt developers who had bought development sites or filed plans for new buildings in the area in recent months and were hoping that an influx of 25,000 new Amazon jobs could boost rents and property values.

Since Nov. 12, when The Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon had chosen Long Island City, 31 commercial and multifamily properties have sold in Long Island City for a combined $553 million, according to real-estate data company Reonomy, although some of these contracts may have been signed before the announcement.

Trump probably won’t be speaking of “my generals” so fondly today

The US commander who has been leading the war against ISIS told CNN Friday that he disagreed with Donald Trump’s decision to pull troops out of Syria and warned that the terror group was far from defeated, in a stark public break with the President.

Joseph Votel, the top American general in the Middle East, also said that the US-backed forces on the ground in Syria were not ready to handle the threat of ISIS on their own.

“It would not have been my military advice at that particular time … I would not have made that suggestion, frankly,” Votel said of the troop withdrawal. “(The caliphate) still has leaders, still has fighters, it still has facilitators, it still has resources, so our continued military pressure is necessary to continue to go after that network.”

world view
world view
Trump Gathers Iran Foes Around His Latest Dumpster Fire
After teasing Jared Kushner’s Middle East peace plan, in Warsaw Trump officials only displayed disdain for old allies and eagerness for Iran conflict.

Jeff Bezos may have considered buying A.M.I. to determine who leaked his extramarital texts

In October, Lauren and Bezos had their first publicity scare when they spotted a paparazzo taking long-lens photos of them from the Santa Monica beach. Then, at dinner at Santa Monica restaurant Capo, Lauren noticed a reporter snapping photos of their table. Michael said they were increasingly nervous when they left the restaurant and Bezos’s car hadn’t arrived. “We were literally standing on the street with Jeff Bezos and his mistress. I got very protective of him. I said, ‘We need to get you into an Uber,’” Michael recalled.

Two months later, they were outed. On the morning of January 7, Michael was on a Caribbean cruise when he was alerted that the Enquirer had called Bezos and Lauren for comment on their affair. “Lauren and Jeff called me like 911. They were terrified,” Michael recalled. According to Michael, they discussed various options regarding how to respond to the story. One option even included Bezos buying A.M.I.—not such an outlandish consideration given the seriousness of the breach and the fact that, for Bezos, the price of the tabloid company is essentially a rounding error—to find out the source of the leak. “We discussed the possibility to buy A.M.I.—not to kill the story, but to find out the source. They said that’s not a bad idea. We discussed numbers and the name of the LLC that we’d use. It would be called BOBO LCC”—short for Lauren’s helicopter filming company, Black Ops, and Bezos’s space company, Blue Origin—“that’s the level of detail we went into.”

national emergency declaration
national emergency declaration
What to Expect When You’re Expecting a National Emergency
Everything you need to know about Trump’s plan to declare a national emergency to fund a southern border wall.

Facebook may be tracking people who threaten Facebook employees

In early 2018, a Facebook user made a public threat on the social network against one of the company’s offices in Europe.

Facebook picked up the threat, pulled the user’s data and determined he was in the same country as the office he was targeting. The company informed the authorities about the threat and directed its security officers to be on the lookout for the user.

The incident is representative of the steps Facebook takes to keep its offices, executives and employees protected, according to more than a dozen former Facebook employees who spoke with CNBC. The company mines its social network for threatening comments, and in some cases uses its products to track the location of people it believes present a credible threat.

One of the tools Facebook uses to monitor threats is a “be on lookout” or “BOLO” list, which is updated approximately once a week. The list was created in 2008, an early employee in Facebook’s physical security group told CNBC. It now contains hundreds of people, according to four former Facebook security employees who have left the company since 2016.

If Trump is sticking with his national emergency stunt, it will most likely occur tomorrow morning at 10 a.m.

President Trump will deliver remarks in the Rose Garden tomorrow AM, per the WH:

The LA Times owner must not be aware that most books don’t earn out their advances

The Los Angeles Times Guild is raising concerns about a proposal from the newspaper’s management to assert “unfettered control” over the outside projects — books and TV shows, for example — of its journalists, according to an open letter released on Wednesday. The proposal, according to the guild, has come in the late stages of negotiations over a union contract. “The company has proposed a draconian policy on books and other creative projects that, as a condition of employment, would go far beyond the work-for-hire standards of U.S. copyright law and the relicensing practices historically allowed by The Times,” reads the letter.

“If we have a book idea related to our work, even if fictional, the company wants unfettered power to claim control over whether it gets written, who owns the copyright and what we might get paid for it,” it continues. “The company also wants to claim the film rights to such books even if the company grants permission for the book to be written, on unpaid leave, for an outside publisher.”

Mark Kelly is so hot right now

Mark Kelly’s campaign for Arizona’s U.S. Senate seat in 2020 reported raising more than $1.1 million in individual contributions since announcing his candidacy Tuesday. 

The retired astronaut and Tucson Democrat launched his campaign for the seat Tuesday morning. By Wednesday evening, his fundraising haul was closing in or eclipsing that of two recent entrants to the 2020 Democratic presidential race. 

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris of California, for example, raised about $1.5 million within 24 hours of announcing she was leaping into the crowded Democratic presidential primary. Sen. Amy Klobuchar raised $1 million over a 48-hour period. 

Republicans were also surprised by Trump’s plan to declare a national emergency

“I wish he wouldn’t have done it,” said Chuck Grassley. “If [Trump] figures that Congress didn’t do enough and he’s got to do it, then I imagine we’ll find out whether he’s got the authority to do it by the courts.”

“In general, I’m not for running the government by emergency, nor spending money. The Constitution’s pretty clear: spending originates and is directed by Congress,” said Rand Paul. “So I’m not really for it.”

“I’m not enthusiastic about it, but I don’t know whether that’s actually going to happen, and if so, what follows from there. I don’t know what authority he may or may not invoke,” said Sen. Pat Toomey.

Marco Rubio simply called it a “bad idea.”


After months of budget negotiations, the bill is finally on the president’s desk

300-128, House sends spending bill to Trump’s desk. Bills passed both chambers by veto-proof majority

Lawmakers respond to Trump’s plan to declare a national emergency

“I think it’s a mistake on the president’s part. It undermines the role of Congress and the appropriations process, and it’s not good policy.” – Senator Susan Collins of Maine

“This is crazy. And I think the real damage is incalculable.” – Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado

“All of us will come to regret this.” – Senator Chris Coons of Delaware

“This is ridiculous. I have opposed every effort to build the wall because the American people should not have to pay for the president’s vanity project. We don’t need it.” – Senator Kamala Harris of California

ABC News
donald trump
donald trump
White House Tries to Hide Official News That Trump Is Obese
The White House released Trump’s physical showing that he is obese just after announcing that the president intends to declare a national emergency.

According to Andrew McCabe, Jeff Sessions could be a very Trump-like boss

He didn’t read intelligence reports and mixed up classified material with what he had seen in newspaper clips. He seemed confused about the structure and purpose of organizations and became overwhelmed when meetings covered multiple subjects. He blamed immigrants for nearly every societal problem and uttered racist sentiments with shocking callousness.

This isn’t how President Trump is depicted in a new book by former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe. Instead, it’s McCabe’s account of what it was like to work for then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The FBI was better off when “you all only hired Irishmen,” Sessions said in one diatribe about the bureau’s workforce. “They were drunks but they could be trusted. Not like all those new people with nose rings and tattoos — who knows what they’re doing?”

Ahead of national emergency declaration, DOJ steps in to tell president the move will be blocked, at least temporarily

The Justice Department has warned the White House a national emergency declaration is nearly certain to be blocked by the courts on, at least, a temporary basis, preventing the immediate implementation of the president’s plan to circumvent Congress and build the wall using his executives powers, ABC News has learned.

However, a senior White House official tells ABC News that the White House is confident the administration can ultimately win the case on appeal.

By declaring a national emergency at the border, the president could potentially free up billions of dollars to begin work on construction of a southern border wall. Much of that money would be pulled from the Department of Defense.

dog in big fire: this is fines
dog in big fire: this is fines
Facebook May Have Earned Itself a Billion-Dollar Fine
The social network is reportedly in negotiations with the FTC.

The results of Trump’s physical were released after the White House said he’d declare a national emergency over the wall. Not hard to see why.

President Donald Trump is in good overall health, although a 4-pound weight gain since last year puts him into the obese category, according to a memo from the White House physician on Thursday.

The new details on his health come after Trump, 72, underwent four hours of tests at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Friday for his annual physical. …

Trump came in at 6 feet, 3 inches tall with a weight of 243 pounds, the memo said.

That put Trump’s body-mass index at 30.4 and anything greater than 30 is considered “obese,” according to the National Institutes of Health.

national emergency declaration
national emergency declaration
Trump to Sign Spending Bill, Declare National Emergency to Build the Wall
Trump avoids another shutdown and an admission of failure, but an emergency declaration over the wall could create a legal and political quagmire.

The first Democratic primary debate will be in June and this is how the DNC will set the field

For its first two debates this year, the DNC said a candidate may qualify for the stage either by reaching 1 percent support in three separate polls — including national polls or early nominating state polls — or by meeting a grass-roots fundraising threshold.

For the first debate, a candidate seeking to qualify through the fundraising method must receive donations from 65,000 people in at least 20 different states, the DNC official said.

The fundraising metric is a departure for the DNC, which had relied in previous election cycles on polling. But the DNC official said that because of the large size of the 2020 primary field, the DNC believed polling alone this year might not adequately reflect a candidate’s strength.

If more than 20 candidates qualify for a debate, the field will be winnowed using a methodology that gives preference to candidates meeting both the polling and fundraising thresholds, followed by candidates with the highest polling average.

A legal battle is sure to follow Trump’s emergency declaration

Declaring an emergency under the 1976 National Emergency Act would let Trump sidestep Democratic opposition to his demand for more wall funding, but it could draw legal challenges from lawmakers and others who view it as a power grab. …

“Everyone’s going to come out of the woodwork,” said Stephen Vladeck, a University of Texas law professor who teaches national security law. “I think we’re going to see an array of lawsuits that actually would all have to be dealt with separately.”

Litigation could go all the way to the Supreme Court, which has recently smacked down attempts by both Trump and President Barack Obama to make end runs around Congress.

Shutdown averted

President Trump will sign the government funding bill, and as he has stated before, he will also take other executive action - including a national emergency - to ensure we stop the national security and humanitarian crisis at the border. The President is once again delivering on his promise to build the wall, protect the border, and secure our great country.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders
prime humor
prime humor
Why I’m Leaving New York
Amazon’s Jeff Bezos weighs in on the company pulling out of Long Island City.

Something for everyone

McCONNELL on floor says Trump WILL SIGN the border deal and at same time issue national emergency declaration

A memorial garden outside of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School marks the first anniversary of a shooting that killed 17

Photo: Cristobal Herrera/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock
25th amendment
25th amendment
The FBI’s Aborted Plan to Remove Trump From Office Was Delusional
Andrew McCabe says the DOJ considered lobbying Trump’s Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment. That sounds undemocratic — but it’s really just dumb.
clarence thomas
clarence thomas
Is Trump Trying to Ease Clarence Thomas Off the Supreme Court?
A Thomas retirement this year would probably give conservatives an extended hold on the Supreme Court.

Uh oh

News — President Trump’s aides now say they are less certain he will sign the bipartisan spending compromise, a major shift from earlier this week when they indicated privately he would. He is increasingly concerned about what’s in the 1,100-page legislation. W @Kevinliptakcnn

AOC takes a victory lap now that Amazon is Ama-gone

Anything is possible: today was the day a group of dedicated, everyday New Yorkers & their neighbors defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world.
government shutdown
government shutdown
Congress Set to Pass Deal to Avoid Shutdown, But Trump Could Still Kill It
Trump has been noncommittal about signing the funding bill. It mostly represents his surrender, so he may just be pondering how to spin it.