HKONJ

I'm hoping there will be some live-streaming of the march today. If it happens, you'll be able to find it here.

https://livestream.com/accounts/5188266/events/8048212

Trump blocks release of Democrats' memo on Carter Page investigation

A blatant effort to conceal damning evidence of Russian involvement with his administration:

In a letter to House intelligence committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., the White House said it could not release the Democrats' memo because the Justice Department "has identified portions...which it believes would create especially significant concerns for the national security and law enforcement interests."

That explanation stands in stark contrast to his release of the GOP memo last Friday. The president approved its release over the strong objections of the FBI, which warned that it could jeopardize national security. The president's refusal to release the Democrats' memo also goes against the committee's unanimous, bipartisan decision Monday to make it public.

Trump is playing an extremely dangerous game here, and it's a good bet he doesn't realize it. Mueller is a lot more intelligent than he is, and is likely watching this circus to see which animals might turn on their trainers. Or which animals are performing too well. It's complicated, which means Trump is way out of his depth. In order to understand just how silly and off-topic this dueling memo thing is, you need to grasp the significance of the FBI's target of those investigations, Carter Page himself:

Saturday News: Primary problems

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COURT OF APPEALS GRANTS GOP REQUEST TO BLOCK JUDICIAL PRIMARIES: Primary elections for statewide judicial races in North Carolina are canceled again after an appeals court granted a request on Friday from Republican lawmakers to temporarily halt a federal judge’s ruling. The announcement came in a two-paragraph notice from a clerk at the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The decision comes three days before the filing period was to open for candidates seeking the four statewide judicial seats on the ballot in the 2018 elections. Barring any further action by the courts, state elections officials said in a subsequent memo, candidates seeking judicial seats in 2018 will file for election from June 18 to June 29.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/article199328524.html

Urban Institute slams NC Republicans for mistreatment of unemployed

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That "Rainy Day Fund" is dripping with blood:

A 2013 state law cut both the size and duration of unemployment benefits in North Carolina. Lawmakers said they made the change because the trust fund that pays for the program had a $2 billion deficit.

The fund has recovered and had $3.17 billion in the bank as of December, but that was a result of “a radical reduction in the generosity of your program to the claimants,” said Wayne Vroman of The Urban Institute, a Washington-based economic think tank that studied the state’s unemployment insurance program.

That's actually a $5 billion dollar swing, generated on the backs of those already struggling to survive. Five billion that would have been almost exclusively injected back into the economy, helping untold others laboring on the margins. More depressing and infuriating numbers:

Another GOP power grab under scrutiny by the court today

When your arrogance far outweighs your common sense:

A three-judge panel will take up motions to dispose of two issues in the separation of powers case, Cooper v. Berger. The first issue involves House Bill 239, a measure that reduced the Court of Appeals from 15 judges to 12, and the second involves a voucher mandate in the budget bill, Senate Bill 257. Cooper argues that Section 1 of HB239 purports to shorten three appellate judicial terms to fewer than eight years. He asks the court to declare it unconstitutional and therefore “void and of no effect.”

As for the voucher mandate, Cooper argues that it’s unconstitutional because the General Assembly mandated what he could include in his base budget. “By mandating what the Governor must include in his proposed budget, the General Assembly is exercising core executive power in violation of separation of powers,” the complaint states.

The key word there is "proposed." The Governor's budget proposal is non-binding. The General Assembly is free to write a completely different Budget, which incorporates little or nothing from what the Governor asks for. By dictating what the Governor must ask for, this bill amounts to a contradictory and oxymoronic "forced bi-partisanship." Allowing Republicans to disingenuously claim "Both we and the Governor support this funding." This is the kind of crap military juntas in third-world countries pull to control their civilian figurehead leaders. And the fact that it has become second nature to NC's GOP cabal should scare the living hell out of everybody.

Friday News: You will be missed, sir

AFTER A LONG LIFE OF PUBLIC SERVICE, REP. MICKEY MICHAUX ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT: A political fixture in Durham and the General Assembly, N.C. Rep. H.M. “Mickey” Michaux, 87, announced Thursday that he will retire from elected office. After King was assassinated, Michaux said Thursday in a speech at the General Assembly, he told himself he’d never go into politics. Now, after winning 22 elections to represent Durham in the General Assembly, Michaux is in his 43rd year in politics. It’ll be his last, he said Thursday, announcing he doesn’t plan to run for re-election. When he first joined the legislature, he was just the third African-American person ever elected. They decided to band together. “We were referred to as smart Negroes. That was to our face. So we decided we need to have our caucus, so we started the first black caucus,” he said. Michaux touched on his accomplishments in advancing civil rights in his speech to lawmakers Thursday. “I want you to be very careful what you do when I’m not here,” he told them.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/counties/durham-county/article199194364.html

Legislative malpractice: Using school children to extort money and power

See below for excerpts of the bill's text:

Bumbling towards war: U.S. airstrike targets Syrian government-backed militia

Bringing us that much closer to a clash with Russian forces:

The Russian military says a U.S. strike on government-backed troops in eastern Syria reflects Washington's efforts to make a grab for the nation's economic assets. The overnight attack, which killed about 100 according to a U.S. military, came when hundreds of attackers launched an assault on U.S.-backed forces known as the Syrian Democratic Forces who were accompanied by U.S. advisers in the oil-rich Deir el-Zour province.

The Russian Defense Ministry said Thursday the U.S. strike wounded 25 pro-government Syrian volunteers. It noted that the government-backed Syrian forces had failed to coordinate their action with the Russian military prior to launching the mission.

On the plus side, that last sentence is a tacit admission by the Russians those Syrian troops made a mistake in attacking a group with U.S. advisors in it. But that's not much of a plus. It still leaves two wildly different conclusions that could be drawn, neither of them good: a) The Russians are not exerting a level of control over Syrian forces that might prevent catastrophe, or b) They are lying about that prior coordination and maybe even engineered the attack knowing there were Americans present. You might be tempted to dismiss that second possibility because of its recklessness, but take it from an old Cold Warrior: Russian strategy can be very complex. They might view the deaths of a handful of American military advisors as the best way to get the U.S. *out* of that theater of conflict, especially if it appears to be an unfortunate "accident." And filed under the category, "Sounds great but may be dangerous as hell":

Thursday News: Ace in the hole?

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ORIGINAL GERRYMANDERING LAWSUIT BACK IN ACTION: Democrats and voters who filed the first lawsuit this decade challenging North Carolina lawmakers’ redistricting plans went back to state court on Wednesday, seven years after challenging the 2011 election maps, seeking relief from districts they contend still weaken the overall influence of black voters. While that case is on appeal at the U.S. Supreme Court, the critics of the Republican redistricting plans are trying a different appeal to state judges, and they’re doing it through a case that has taken a tortuous path back to Wake County Superior Court, where it stands today. “The stay entered yesterday by the United States Supreme Court does not deprive this state court of the authority or duty to interpret the state constitution and to ensure that Joint Plaintiffs are afforded full constitutional relief,” the 15-page request for relief submitted by the Southern Coalition for Social Justice states.
http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/state-politics/article198867404.html

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