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Democrats Demand Investigation Of Government Abuses By Republican Convention

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Two Democratic congressmen are calling on the Office of Special Counsel to immediately launch an investigation into whether Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and other Trump administration officials violated federal law by participating in the Republican National Convention this week in their official government capacities.

In a letter (pdf) dated Wednesday, Reps. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) and Don Beyer (D-VA) urged Special Counsel Henry Kerner to examine whether Wolf and other members of the Trump administration "violated the Hatch Act on August 25, 2020 through using their positions, official resources, and the White House itself, to participate in the Republican National Convention."

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Former OSHA Officials Warn Against Trump Policy Toward Infected Workers

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

President Donald Trump's Labor Department has quietly issued guidance informing most employers in the United States that they will not be required to record and report coronavirus cases among their workers because doing so would supposedly constitute an excessive burden on companies.

The new rules, released Friday by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), were met with alarm by public health experts and former Labor Department officials who said the new rules are an absurd attack on transparency that could further endanger frontline workers.

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Evidence Supporting Iran General’s Killing Is ‘Razor-Thin’

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

The Trump administration has publicly insisted that the U.S. assassination of Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani was justified because he was planning “imminent attacks” against American forces and diplomats in the region, but the White House has yet to offer a shred of evidence substantiating this narrative.

That may be because, as New York Times reporter Rukmini Callimachi wrote in a detailed Twitter thread over the weekend, the evidence is sparse to non-existent.

According to two U.S. officials who received intelligence briefings in the wake of Soleimani’s assassination, which was ordered by President Donald Trump, “the evidence suggesting there was to be an imminent attack on American targets is ‘razor thin,’” Callimachi reported.

“In fact the evidence pointing to that came as three discrete facts,” she wrote. Those three facts, according to Callimachi, were Soleimani’s “pattern of travel,” his request for the Iranian Supreme Leader’s approval for an unspecified “operation,” and Iran’s supposed “increasingly bellicose position towards American interests in Iraq.”

“As one source put it, a) + b) + c) is hardly evidence of an imminent attack on American interests that could kill hundreds, as the White House has since claimed,” Callimachi wrote. “The official describes the reading of the intelligence as an illogical leap.”

Callimachi closed her viral Twitter thread by raising a question about the timing of Soleimani’s assassination.

“Why now?” she asked. “Hard to decouple his killing from the impeachment saga.”

CNN legal analyst Susan Hennessey said in response to Callimachi’s tweets that “if this thread is accurate then both the policy and legal justifications for the strike [are] about to crumble.”

Yale Law School professor Oona Hathaway, an expert in international law, echoed Hennessey:

Ezra Levin, co-executive director of progressive advocacy group Indivisible, put it more bluntly: “They’re lying to distract from impeachment. They’re lying to get us to war. They’re lying to shore up reelection. Don’t buy any of it.”

Trump, in remarks to reporters Friday, claimed Soleimani was plotting “sinister” attacks on Americans, parroting Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s claim that the Iranian general “was actively plotting in the region to take actions… that would have put dozens if not hundreds of American lives at risk.”

“But we caught him in the act,” Trump said. “Under my leadership, America’s policy is unambiguous towards terrorists. We will find you, we will eliminate you.”

During a press briefing on Friday, State Department officials repeatedly declined to offer specific details about the supposed intelligence on these “imminent” attacks that purportedly led Trump to order the strike on Soleimani, which also killed a prominent Iraqi militia leader.

One official chafed at a question that likened the Trump administration’s claims about Iran to the Bush administration’s falsehoods in the build-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

“You’re not going to make the Iraq comparison,” the official said when asked why the White House’s narrative about imminent Iranian attacks should be believed.

After reading a transcript of the State Department briefing, Ploughshares Fund president Joe Cirincione said he “could not believe the arrogance of the State officials.”

“Insulting reporters, refusing to answer direct questions,” Cirincione tweeted. “They did not provide one iota of evidence to back up their claims of imminent attack.”

How Trump And Mnuchin Slipped Billions In New Tax Breaks To Corporations

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

A “disturbing” New York Times story details how President Donald Trump’s Treasury Department, led by former Goldman Sachs banker Steve Mnuchin, has quietly weakened elements of the 2017 tax law in recent months to make it even friendlier to wealthy individuals and massive corporations.

Lobbyists representing some of the largest corporations in the world, the Times reported, targeted two provisions in the original 2017 law designed to bring in hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue from companies that had been dodging U.S. taxes by stashing profits overseas.

“The corporate lobbying campaign was a resounding success,” the Times noted. “Through a series of obscure regulations, the Treasury carved out exceptions to the law that mean many leading American and foreign companies will owe little or nothing in new taxes on offshore profits… Companies were effectively let off the hook for tens if not hundreds of billions of taxes that they would have been required to pay.”

The two provisions are known by the acronyms BEAT (base erosion and anti-abuse tax) and GILTI (global intangible low-taxed income). Shortly after Trump signed the $1.5 trillion tax bill—which slashed the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%—lobbyists from major American companies like Bank of America and General Electric as well as foreign banks swarmed the White House in an effort to gut the BEAT and GILTI taxes.

Trump’s Treasury Department largely granted the lobbyists’ wishes, turning what was already a massive corporate handout into an even more generous gift to big companies and banks.

The Times reported:

The Organization for International Investment—a powerful trade group for foreign multinationals like the Swiss food company Nestlé and the Dutch chemical maker LyondellBasell—objected to a Treasury proposal that would have prevented companies from using a complex currency-accounting maneuver to avoid the BEAT… This month, the Treasury issued the final version of some of the BEAT regulations. The Organization for International Investment got what it wanted.

The lobbying surrounding the GILTI was equally intense—and, once again, large companies won valuable concessions… News Corporation, Liberty Mutual, Anheuser-Busch, Comcast and P.&G. wrote letters or dispatched lobbyists to argue for the high-tax exception. After months of meetings with lobbyists, the Treasury announced in June 2019 that it was creating a version of the exception that the companies had sought.

David Enrich, financial editor for the Times, said the newspaper’s estimate that major companies received tens of billions of dollars in additional tax breaks thanks to the Treasury Department is “conservative.”

“The cumulative effect,” said Enrich, “is that a tax law already disproportionately benefiting the richest of the rich has become an even greater windfall for the world’s largest companies and their shareholders.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, tweeted in response to the Times story that “Trump is the most corrupt president in history, and here’s the latest example of how that corruption helps giant corporations at the expense of small businesses and working families.”

“Too many corporations are cashing in on all the benefits of America while skipping out on the bill,” said Warren. “Companies that make massive profits shouldn’t be paying less in federal income taxes than working families.”

As Hunter Blair of the Economic Policy Institute noted on the two-year anniversary of the passage of Trump’s tax cuts last week, “the $4,000 annual boost to average incomes that the White House Council of Economic Advisers promised to working families because of the [Tax Cuts and Jobs Act] did not—and will not—happen.”

“While it’s been worse-than-advertised for working families,” Blair wrote, “the TCJA has been an even bigger boon to large corporations and rich households.”

Trump Retweets Posts Naming Alleged Whistleblower

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

President Donald Trump retweeted an article and a Twitter post naming late last week naming the alleged whistleblower who came forward to sound the alarm about president’s conduct toward Ukraine, which ultimately led to his impeachment by the House of Representatives.

The president retweeted a post by his 2020 reelection campaign’s official “War Room” account, which linked to a Washington Examiner article that uses the alleged whistleblower’s name in the headline.

“I believe tonight marks the first time president trump has retweeted a tweet featuring The Name before, and that tweet came from his campaign war room,” said Daily Beast reporter Asawin Suebsaeng.

Unlike the Examiner and other right-wing publications, most news outlets have declined to publish the alleged whistleblower’s name amid concerns for the person’s safety.

Trump has suggested behind closed doors that the people who provided the whistleblower with information should be executed. The president has also publicly demanded to “meet” the whistleblower and claimed to know the person’s identity.

“He hates Trump,” the president said of the individual last month.

As The Daily Beast reported:

Trump had gossiped for weeks about this alleged whistleblower with various friends, media figures, and senior administration officials, and had asked some people if they thought it was a good idea for him to publicly announce or tweet the name. Several people close to the president, such as Ivanka Trump and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, had privately cautioned him against saying or posting the name in public, arguing it would be counterproductive and unnecessary.

Multiple sources close to Trump had told The Daily Beast last month that they were genuinely shocked the president hadn’t already rage-tweeted the name or blurted it out to the cameras, given his massive fury at the individual. On Thursday night, President Trump’s restraint appeared to slip.

Legal experts have said that “outing” a whistleblower likely amounts to a violation of federal law.

“Despite mentions on several conservative websites and social media accounts, the identity of the whistleblower has not been confirmed or widely circulated,” Eric Havian and Michael Ronickher, who have both represented whistleblowers, wrote in an op-ed earlier this month. “The most vocal Trump defenders in Congress have fallen into lockstep, excoriating Democrats for maintaining the whistleblower’s anonymity while in almost every case carefully avoiding disclosure themselves.”

“The Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act makes it unlawful to take any ‘action constituting reprisal’ against whistleblowers who follow the proper procedures to report national security concerns, as the whistleblower did here,” wrote Havian and Ronickher. “The law is clear that ‘outing’ a whistleblower can indeed constitute retaliation and reprisal.”

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

Legal Witness Karlan Says Sondland Gave ‘Chilling Evidence’ Of Trump’s Impeachable Offenses

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Stanford Law School professor Pamela Karlan on Wednesday told House impeachment investigators that the “most chilling” evidence that President Donald Trump was pursuing his own political gain in Ukraine came from the November 20 testimony of Gordon Sondland, the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union.

Karlan, one of four legal scholars to testify during Wednesday’s Judiciary Committee hearing, said she spent her entire Thanksgiving break reading transcripts from previous public impeachment hearings in the House Intelligence Committee.

The “most striking” line from the witness testimony, said Karlan, was Sondland’s claim that Trump did not care whether Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky actually opened an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden.

“He had to announce the investigations. He didn’t actually have to do them, as I understood it,” Sondland told impeachment investigators last month. “The only thing I heard from [Trump’s personal attorney Rudy] Giuliani or otherwise was that they had to be announced in some form, and that form kept changing.”

Karlan told the Judiciary Committee that Sondland’s testimony undermines the Republican narrative that Trump’s behavior toward Ukraine stemmed from geniune concerns about corruption.

“What I took that to mean was this was not about whether Vice President Biden actually committed corruption or not,” Karlan said. “This was about injuring somebody who the president thinks of as a particularly hard opponent. That’s for his private beliefs.”

“There’s a lot to suggest here that this was about political benefit,” Karlan added. “What the Constitution cares about is that we have free elections. And so it is only in the president’s interest, it is not the national interest, that a particular president be elected or be defeated at the next election. The Constitution is indifferent to that.”

Three of the four legal scholars who testified Wednesday, including Karlan, said they believe Trump committed the “impeachable high crime and misdemeanor of abuse of power” by soliciting Ukrainian interference in the 2020 presidential election.

The lone outlier was George Washington University professor Jonathan Turley, who was called to testify by Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee.

During her opening remarks (pdf), Karlan said the evidence that has emerged from the House impeachment inquiry into Trump “reveals a president who used the powers of his office to demand that a foreign government participate in undermining a competing candidate for the presidency.”

“And it shows a president who did this to strong-arm a foreign leader into smearing one of the president’s opponents in our ongoing election season,” said Karlan. “Put simply, a candidate for president should resist foreign interference in our elections, not demand it. If we are to keep faith with the Constitution and our Republic, President Trump must be held to account.”

Karlan asked viewers to “imagine living in a part of Louisiana or Texas that’s prone to devastating hurricanes and flooding.”

“What would you think if you lived there and your governor asked for a meeting with the president to discuss getting disaster aid that Congress has provided for?” Karlan asked. “What would you think if that president said, ‘I would like you to do us a favor? I’ll meet with you, and send the disaster relief, once you brand my opponent a criminal.’”

Watch:

Impeachment HQ, a joint project of progressive groups Stand Up America and Defend the Republic, said in an email to supporters Wednesday that the first impeachment hearing in the House Judiciary Committee “has been absolutely devastating for Donald Trump.”

“The country’s leading constitutional scholars testified under oath that Trump’s conduct meets the constitutional standard for impeachment,” the groups said.

#NunesResign Trends After Republican Implicated In Ukraine Scheme

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Calls for Republican Rep. Devin Nunes to resign spread rapidly on social media Friday night following reports that Lev Parnas, an indicted associate of President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, is willing to testify to House impeachment investigators that Nunes met with a former Ukrainian prosecutor in an effort to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden.

Parnas’ attorney Joseph Bondy told CNN Friday that his client “learned from former Ukrainian Prosecutor General Victor Shokin that Nunes had met with Shokin in Vienna last December,” news that sparked the trending Twitter hashtag #NunesResign.

According to CNN, Parnas and Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee and a fervent Trump defender, “began communicating around the time of the Vienna trip.”

“Parnas says he worked to put Nunes in touch with Ukrainians who could help Nunes dig up dirt on Biden and Democrats in Ukraine,” CNN reported. “That information would likely be of great interest to House Democrats given its overlap with the current impeachment inquiry into President Trump, and could put Nunes in a difficult spot. Bondy tells CNN his client is willing to comply with a congressional subpoena for documents and testimony.”

Nunes has repeatedly claimed during public impeachment hearings that Ukraine may have meddled in the 2016 election in an effort to harm Trump’s campaign.

“President Trump had good reason to be wary of Ukrainian election meddling against his campaign,” Nunes said Thursday.

Fiona Hill, a former member of Trump’s National Security Council, testified Thursday that Nunes’ claim of Ukraine election meddling is a “harmful” fiction.

CNN story came days after The Daily Beast reported that Parnas, who was indicted last month on campaign finance charges, “helped arrange meetings and calls in Europe” for Nunes.

In a statement to far-right outlet Breitbart News, Nunes accused CNN and The Daily Beast of “defamation” and said he plans to sue both publications.

“I look forward to prosecuting these cases, including the media outlets, as well as the sources of their fake stories, to the fullest extent of the law,” Nunes said. “I intend to hold The Daily Beast and CNN accountable for their actions. They will find themselves in court soon after Thanksgiving.”

When CNN asked Nunes earlier this month about the reported Vienna trip, Nunes refused to answer.

“I don’t talk to you in this lifetime or the next lifetime,” the California Republican said. “At any time. On any question.”

Sen. Graham Rams Anti-Asylum Vote Before Democrats Even Speak

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Senate Democrats and progressive advocacy groups accused Sen. Lindsey Graham of breaking Judiciary Committee rules Thursday after the South Carolina Republican forced a vote to advance his “dangerous and immoral” anti-asylum legislation.

The bill, titled the Secure and Protect Act of 2019 (S.1494), is condemned by human rights organizations as a sweeping attack on asylum seekers and an effort to expand President Donald Trump’s xenophobic deportation force.

Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, waived the panel’s rules to force a vote on S.1494 before Democrats were permitted to speak on the legislation.

“The clerk will call the roll,” Graham said as Democrats protested.

The South Carolina Republican ignored Democrats’ objections and the legislation advanced out of the Judiciary Committee along party lines.

“Lindsey Graham is so desperate to attack asylum seekers that he just broke the rules of his own committee to advance his bill,” tweeted progressive advocacy group Credo Action.

Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, called Graham’s move “outrageous.”

Watch:

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) denounced Graham’s violation of the Senate rules and blasted the contents of his bill.

Leahy said the bill gives Trump everything he wants in his “political war on immigration.”

“It allows for the indefinite detention of immigrant children. It ratchets up the cruelty against refugees seeking asylum,” Leahy said. “It’s as partisan and shortsighted as it gets. This is supposed to be the Senate Judiciary committee—not the Donald Trump committee.”

In a statement on Thursday, progressive advocacy group Human Rights First echoed Leahy’s assessment.

“The bill is an extremist attack on U.S. laws protecting children and refugees,” said Eleanor Acer, director of Human Rights First’s refugee protection program. “The Trump administration has thus far decimated the U.S. resettlement and asylum systems through executive fiat, but this bill would essentially enact its cruel policies into law. Senator Graham has taken Stephen Miller’s anti-asylum wish list and drafted a bill around it.”

“If enacted,” said Acer, “the provisions in this bill would deport children to trafficking and abuse, return refugees to persecution, strand them in highly dangerous countries, rush those who do seek asylum through rigged hearings, and prevent their release from immigration jails.”

House Ways And Means Committee Subpoenas Trump Taxes

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

After Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin repeatedly refused to comply with requests to hand over President Donald Trump’s tax returns—which some legal experts say is clearly required under federal law—the House Ways and Means Committee late Friday subpoenaed both Mnuchin and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig for the documents.

“The IRS is under a mandatory obligation to provide the information requested,” states the subpoena. “The IRS has had more than four weeks to comply with the committee’s straightforward request. Therefore, please see the enclosed subpoena.”

Stand Up America, a progressive advocacy group that has been pressuring House Democrats to subpoena Trump’s tax returns, applauded House Ways and Means Chairman Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.) for taking action Friday night after the White House “illegally blocked” his initial request.

“The American people deserve the truth about Trump’s deeply concerning conflicts of interest and his profiting from the presidency—and Congress is one step closer to delivering those answers,” Stand Up America founder and president Sean Eldridge said in a statement.

“Compliance is not optional,” Eldridge added. “If Secretary Mnuchin fails to comply with these subpoenas, Chairman Neal has no option but to hold him in contempt of Congress and take them to court.”

Trump has vowed to fight all subpoenas issued by congressional Democrats.

On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee voted to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a subpoena for the unredacted Mueller Report and all underlying evidence.

In the face of the Trump White House’s refusal to comply with congressional oversight efforts, progressives have urged Democrats to begin sending administration officials to jail.

IMAGE: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, left, and House Ways and Means chairman Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA).

Progressives, Advocacy Groups Demand Impeachment Hearings

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

After Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 400-page report detailed numerous instances in which President Donald Trump may have attempted to obstruct justice, progressive lawmakers and advocacy groups on Thursday made the case that it is the duty of Congress to begin impeachment proceedings.

Mueller’s report is clear in pointing to Congress’ responsibility in investigating obstruction of justice by the president,” tweeted Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). “As such, I’ll be signing onto Rashida Tlaib’s impeachment resolution.”

Formally introduced last month, Tlaib’s resolution directs the House Judiciary Committee to immediately begin investigating whether Trump “committed impeachable offenses.”

Ocasio-Cortez went on to acknowledge the political tensions surrounding the impeachment issue, but concluded Mueller’s report “squarely puts this on our doorstep.”

Ocasio-Cortez’s call for an impeachment probe—which was joined by Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Al Green (D-Texas), and others—came after House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) quickly dismissed the growing demand for impeachment proceedings, saying they would “not be worthwhile at this point.”

The Washington Post‘s Greg Sargent denounced Hoyer’s remarks as “straight-up abdication” and “dereliction of basic duty.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who has previously said moving to impeach Trump is “just not worth it,” announced following the Mueller report rollout that the House Democratic caucus will hold a conference call Monday to discuss the special counsel’s findings.

Progressive advocacy groups argued there’s no reason for delay.

“We will not treat this as normal,” MoveOn said in a petition that has garnered nearly 160,000 signatures. “And politicians in Washington must not continue to conduct business as usual. Everyone in Congress must look in the mirror and decide how they will fulfill their oath to defend our Constitution—and which side of history they want to be on.”

 

Credo Mobile echoed this call in a petition of its own, demanding that House Democrats “immediately act to defend our democracy” by launching impeachment hearings against both Trump and Attorney General William Barr, who was accused of acting as the president’s personal lawyer during a press conference ahead of the Mueller report’s release.

“Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats have a choice to make, and the path they choose will speak volumes about their commitment to our democracy and to the communities Trump threatens every day: Will they continue to play politics as usual or will they step up to use their power to impeach both Donald Trump and William Barr?” Credo’s petition reads.

In an open letter to House Democrats on Thursday, The Intercept‘s Mehdi Hasan argued Mueller’s findings provide “a clear and detailed road map for impeaching Donald Trump.”

Citing the Mueller report’s statement that “Congress has authority to prohibit a president’s corrupt use of his authority in order to protect the integrity of the administration of justice,” Hasan wrote: “[T]he time for waiting is over. And the moment for impeachment hearings has arrived.”

“Look, I get it. You’re afraid,” he added. “You’re afraid of the backlash from your Republican counterparts. You’re afraid of losing in the Senate, where—right now—you lack a majority to convict Trump. You’re afraid that impeachment hearings will distract from your party’s 2020 presidential campaign. But your job, first and foremost, is to preserve democracy and protect the rule of law. That’s the job assigned to you by the Constitution and also what’s expected of you by the American people. You cannot walk away from it.”

‘Historic’ Senate Resolution Withdraws Support For War In Yemen

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

In a major step toward ending U.S. complicity in the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, the Senate on Wednesday passed a War Powers resolution to cut off American military support for the Saudi-led coalition’s assault on Yemen.

The final vote count was 54-46.

“This is historic. For the first time in 45 years, Congress is one step closer to withdrawing U.S. forces from an unauthorized war,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the lead sponsor of the resolution, declared following the vote. “We must end the war in Yemen.”

Kate Gould, legislative director for Middle East policy at the Friends Committee on National Legislation, applauded the grassroots activists who have been working tirelessly to end America’s disastrous role in Yemen.

“The Senate has now taken a decisive step in ending the American facilitation of the Yemen war and the world’s largest humanitarian crises,” Gould said. “Millions of grassroots activists, who helped make this vote a reality, want their lawmakers to end this unconscionable war.”

Passage of the resolution comes as the Saudis continue to launch deadly airstrikes in Yemen with U.S. backing, worsening a crisis that has already resulted in mass suffering and tens of thousands of deaths. Earlier this week, dozens of civilians—including women and young children—were killed by Saudi airstrikes in Yemen’s Kushar district.

According to the United Nations, 14 million Yemenis could soon be on the brink of starvation if the bombing continues. Save the Children, a London-based human rights organization, estimated in a report last November that 85,000 Yemenis under the age of five have starved to death since the Saudi-led coalition began bombing the country.

 

“The fact is that the United States, with little media attention, has been Saudi Arabia’s partner in this horrific war. We have been providing the bombs the Saudi-led coalition is using, refueling their planes before they drop those bombs and assisting with intelligence,” Sanders said during a speech on the Senate floor ahead of the vote. “The bottom line is the United States should not be supporting a catastrophic war led by a despotic regime with a dangerous and irresponsible foreign policy.”

“This Senate vote moves us one step closer to ending U.S. support for the catastrophic war in Yemen, a war that makes America complicit in the worst humanitarian crisis in the world,” Paul Kawika Martin, senior director for policy and political affairs at Peace Action, said in a statement.

In addition to putting an end to America’s role in the slaughter of Yemeni civilians, supporters said the resolution also reasserst Congress’ constitutional authority over war.

“Congressional authority over war was designed to avoid the type of situation that’s been unfolding in Yemen, where unauthorized U.S. military support began without public debate or scrutiny,” Martin said. “The Senate’s vote to end the U.S. role in Yemen is also a vote to re-democratize our nation’s foreign policy.”

The Yemen War Powers resolution will now head back to the House of Representatives, the final roadblock before the measure reaches President Donald Trump’s desk.

In a statement before Wednesday’s vote, the White House said it “strongly opposes” the resolution and suggested Trump will veto the measure if it passes the House. A two-thirds majority vote by both chambers of Congress would be needed to override a possible Trump veto.

Study: Richest 0.00025 Percent Of Americans Own More Than Bottom 150 Million

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

As survey data continues to show that raising taxes on the wealthy is extremely popular among the U.S. public, new research by inequality expert and University of California, Berkeley economist Gabriel Zucman found that the richest 0.00025 percent of the American population now owns more wealth than the 150 million adults in the bottom 60 percent.

Zucman, who helped Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) develop her “Ultra-Millionaire Tax” proposal, observed in a working paper (pdf) that “U.S. wealth concentration seems to have returned to levels last seen during the Roaring Twenties.”

According to Zucman’s research, the richest 0.00025 percent—just 400 Americans—have seen their share of America’s national wealth triple since the 1980s, while the wealth of much of the U.S. population has stagnated or declined.

Steven Greenhouse@greenhousenyt

The 400 richest Americans have tripled their share of the nation’s wealth since the early 1980s and now own more of the country’s riches than the 150 million adults in the bottom 60% of the wealth distribution. https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2019/02/08/wealth-concentration-returning-levels-last-seen-during-roaring-twenties-according-new-research/?utm_term=.5ba7d345a34b 

 

As the Washington Post’s Christopher Ingraham noted in a breakdown of Zucman’s research, adults in the bottom 60 percent of the wealth distribution “saw their share of the nation’s wealth fall from 5.7 percent in 1987 to 2.1 percent in 2014.”

Consolidation of wealth at the very top, Ingraham observes, “is eroding security from families in the lower and middle classes, who rely on their small stores of wealth to finance their retirement and to smooth over economic shocks like the loss of a job. And it’s consolidating power in the hands of the nation’s billionaires, who are increasingly using their riches to purchase political influence.”

Zucman’s research comes as members of Congress and 2020 presidential candidates are pushing a variety of plans to begin reducing America’s staggering wealth and income inequality by raising taxes on those at the very top.

Warren,  who officially launched her 2020 presidential campaign on Saturday, has proposed an annual tax of two percent on assets over $50 million.

Last month, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)—who is reportedly close to announcing his 2020 candidacy—introduced the For the 99.8% Act, which would establish a 77 percent tax on all estates over $1 billion.

And Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has suggested imposing a top marginal tax rate of 70 percent on those who make over $10 million.

Pointing to polling data showing that 76 percent of Americans believe the rich should pay more in taxes, Indivisible’s Chad Bolt concluded: “Raising taxes on the wealthy isn’t just good policy. It’s also good politics.”

Kavanaugh Abortion Dissent Spurs Fresh Effort To Oust Senator Collins

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

After Justice Brett Kavanaugh was condemned on Thursday for declaring “war” on Roe v. Wade by dissenting against the Supreme Court’s decision to block a Louisiana anti-abortion law, reproductive rights groups quickly turned their ire toward Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) for casting the decisive vote to confirm the right-wing judge—and ramped up their efforts to oust her in 2020.

“Paging Senator Collins—this is on you,” UltraViolet declared on Twitter after the high court’s 5-4 decision.

A grassroots fundraising effort to unseat Collins after her decisive vote last year to confirm Kavanaugh has already raised millions of dollars, and the advocacy group Demand Justice announced in an email to supporters on Friday morning that it will run digital ads in Maine highlighting the judge’s dissent in the Louisiana case as yet another reason the Maine Republican should be ousted in 2020.

“Brett Kavanaugh has declared war on Roe, and Susan Collins is the one who made it possible,” Demand Justice director Brian Fallon said. “Even as it was obvious to everyone else that Kavanaugh was a partisan warrior committed to rolling back abortion rights, Collins defended her vote for him by promising that he would follow Supreme Court precedent. It only took four months for Kavanaugh to prove Collins’ promises were a sham.”

Highlighting new reports that Collins received more donations from Kavanaugh supporters than Mainers in the last quarter of 2018, Fallon declared that the Republican senator “now owns every decision” the right-wing judge makes.

“We will make sure the people of Maine don’t forget Collins’ vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh,” he concluded.

Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, wrote on Twitter that all of the senators who voted to confirm Kavanaugh as complicit in the judge’s attack on reproductive rights.

“Trump justices—Kavanaugh and Gorsuch—dissented in this case that would have ended legal abortion in Louisiana,” Hogue wrote. “We were called hysterical for expressing concern they would rule against Roe v. Wade and our fundamental freedom but here we have it.”

“Senator Susan Collins, Senator Cory Gardner [R-Colo.], and every single one of you that climate Kavanaugh was no threat to Roe v. Wade or precedent: You own this,” Hogue concluded.