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#1021
Jessica

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Trump moves to cap pay raise for civilian government workers at 1 percent

Source: The Hill



President Trump on Monday said federal civilian worker pay increases would be capped at 1 percent next year, sparking criticism from groups representing government employees.

The president argued in a statement that the move was necessary to "put our Nation on a fiscally sustainable course."

"This alternative pay plan decision will not materially affect our ability to attract and retain a well‑qualified Federal workforce," Trump said. "[O]ur pay system must reform to align with mission-critical recruitment and retention goals, and to reward employees whose performance provides value for the American people."

In August 2018, Trump initiated an effort to freeze federal civilian worker pay rates. He later implemented the freeze by executive order, but that move was later nullified by Congress in a spending deal.

 


Read more: https://thehill.com/...rs-at-1-percent



#1022
Jessica

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Federal employee retirement benefits would be cut under Trump's budget

Source: Washington Post


By Eric Yoder
Feb. 10, 2020 at 1:46 p.m. EST


President Trump has again proposed reducing the value of federal retirement benefits while requiring most federal employees to pay more toward those benefits. ... In some cases, the benefits would be reduced only for future retirees, but in other cases, those already retired would face a cut, as well.

The proposals, outlined in Trump's budget released Monday, would require changes in law. They are likely to face opposition from Democrats in Congress and federal employee organizations that have thwarted them in prior years. ... The budget also proposes a 1 percent pay increase for federal employees while recommending 3 percent for military personnel.

Trump had recommended pay freezes in his prior two budgets, though he ultimately agreed to an average 1.9 percent raise for 2019 and an average 3.1 percent raise for 2020, with some variation by locality. In 2017, he had recommended a 1.9 percent average raise for 2018, which Congress accepted.

{snip}

A final proposal would reduce the interest rate paid in the Government Securities G Fund of the Thrift Savings Plan, the 401(k)-style retirement savings program for federal employees. That fund consists of special Treasury Department securities that in recent years have paid about a 2 percent interest rate. ... The proposal would reduce that rate to a small fraction of 1 percent, reducing the return to investors by a projected $10.5 billion over 10 years.

“We oppose a change to the G Fund interest rate as it would make the G Fund inadequate and ineffective for TSP investors and would meaningfully impact the retirement savings of millions of Thrift Savings Plan participants,” TSP spokeswoman Kim Weaver said in an email. ... Of the $633 billion in the TSP as of year-end 2019, about 40 percent was in the G Fund. That fund is especially popular among retirees and those close to retirement because of its stability.

Eric Yoder is a National reporter at The Washington Post. He has reported for The Post since 2000, concentrating on federal employee issues, the budget and government management policies. Follow https://twitter.com/EricYoderWP

 

Read more: https://www.washingt...afaa_story.html



#1023
wjfox

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This college was accredited by a DeVos-sanctioned group. We couldn’t find evidence of students or faculty.
 
Published 5:31 PM EST Feb 16, 2020
 
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Reagan National University was supposed to be a place of higher learning, but it was unclear how it awarded degrees. By all appearances, at present, it has no students, no faculty and no classrooms. 
 
An agency meant to serve as a gatekeeper for federal money gave the university approval to operate anyway.
 
That accrediting agency, financially troubled and losing members fast, exists mainly because it was saved by the Education Department in 2018.
 
Accreditation might be the driest part of higher education, but these independent groups have huge importance: If they approve a college, the government agrees to give federal grants and loans to the students there. 
 
The agency in question, the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges & Schools, has a history of approving questionable colleges, with devastating consequences. It accredited ITT Tech, Corinthian Colleges and Brightwood College, massive for-profit universities whose sudden closures last decade left thousands of students without degrees and undermined the value of the education of those who did graduate. Those closures led President Barack Obama’s Education Department to strip ACICS’ powers in 2016. 
 
After a federal court decision, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and President Donald Trump's administration reinstated the accrediting agency.
 
 
 
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A sign for Reagan National University is posted outside one of two locked doors in the office building at 114 S. Main Ave on Wednesday, Jan. 29, in downtown Sioux Falls.


#1024
Future_Investigator

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Internal socio-political tensions are heating up. The country is overdue for a recession. The president has escaped impeachment. And it's an election year. I think the US is going to be in a state of chaos by the end of the year.



#1025
Jessica

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Utah Senate votes to unanimously decriminalize polygamy among consenting adults

Source: Reuters


BY JENNIFER DOBNER REUTERS
Posted February 18, 2020 4:29 pm
Updated February 18, 2020 4:38 pm



The Utah state Senate voted unanimously on Tuesday to effectively decriminalize polygamy among consenting adults, approving a bill to reduce the penalty for plural marriage from a felony to an infraction on par with a traffic ticket.

The Republican-sponsored bill easing the law on polygamy, a practice with deep religious roots in the predominantly Mormon Western state, now moves to the Utah House of Representatives, where it is likely to face greater resistance.

Under current law, the practice of polygamy in Utah – typically involving a man who cohabitates with and purports to marry more than one wife – is treated as a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

If the newly passed Senate bill becomes law, punishments for plural marriage would be limited to fines of up to US$750 and community service. No jail time could be imposed.

 


Read more: https://globalnews.c...decriminalized/



#1026
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Roger Stone's sentencing to move ahead after judge refuses new trial request
 
Thu 20 Feb 2020 07.00 GMT
 
Roger Stone, a longtime ally of Donald Trump and a self-described political dirty trickster, is set to be sentenced on Thursday for his attempts to sabotage a congressional investigation that posed a political threat to the president.
 
The sentencing will go ahead despite an 11th-hour request by Stone’s defense team for a new trial following Trump’s claim that the conviction “should be thrown out”.
 
The judge, Amy Berman Jackson of the US district court for the District of Columbia, on Tuesday refused the motion, determining that postponing the sentencing would not be “a prudent thing to do given all the circumstances”.
 
Stone, 67, a flamboyant Republican operative who began his political career as a junior staffer on Richard Nixon’s re-election campaign in 1972, was convicted in November on seven felony charges, including lying to Congress, tampering with a witness and obstructing the House investigation into whether the Trump campaign conspired with Russia in the 2016 presidential election.
 


#1027
wjfox

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PJ9yNCc.jpg



#1028
Jessica

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Trump signs order diverting water to California farmers against state wishes

Source: The Hill

Trump signs order diverting water to California farmers against state wishes
Rebecca Beitsch 9 hrs ago



President Trump on Wednesday signed an order in California to reengineer the state's water plans, completing a campaign promise to funnel water from the north to a thirsty ag industry and growing population further south.

The ceremonial order comes after the Department of Interior late last year reversed its opinion on scientific findings that for a decade extended endangered species protections to various types of fish - a review that had been spurred by the order from Trump.

Trump said the changes to the "outdated scientific research and biological opinions" would now help direct "as much water as possible, which will be a magnificent amount, a massive amount of water for the use of California farmers and ranchers."

"It would be different if you had a drought," Trump added of restrictions. "You don't have a drought. You have tremendous amounts of water."

 



Read more: https://www.msn.com/...aQvX?li=BBnb7Kz



#1029
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Virginia lawmakers vote to loosen restrictions on welfare, end ban on assistance for drug felons
 
The General Assembly passed a package of legislation this week to loosen restrictions on food and cash assistance programs for the poor.

One bill repeals a “child cap” aimed at discouraging women receiving welfare from having additional children after they’ve enrolled, which the NAACP opposed when it passed in 1995 and advocates call plainly discriminatory.

Another will allow disabled, homeless and elderly food stamp recipients to use their benefits to purchase hot meals in restaurants.

A third will end a ban on cash and food assistance for people convicted of felony drug charges.

The bill addressing felons easily drew the most debate, with Republicans arguing convicted drug dealers should not be eligible for public assistance and Democrats arguing the law punishes children for their parents’ crimes.

“Statistically, most drug convictions are from low income households and thus are unable to reenter society without (assistance),” said Sen. Mamie Locke, D-Hampton, who proposed the legislation in the Senate. Without help, she said offenders are more likely to commit additional crimes “which costs more money to imprison them than the cost of benefits.”

Under current law, people convicted of felony distribution or manufacture of drugs are ineligible and people convicted of felony possession are only eligible if they comply with court orders, complete a substance abuse program and participate in periodic drug screenings.

 



#1030
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Federal Reserve Cuts Interest Rates By Half Percentage Point

Source: Wall Street Journal


The Federal Reserve cut its benchmark rate by a half percentage point on Tuesday morning, delivering a booster shot to stem potential economic disruptions from the spreading coronavirus epidemic.

Tuesday’s cut, which lowered the federal-funds rate to a range between 1% and 1.25%, is the first to occur in between a scheduled policy meeting since the 2008 financial crisis.

The action was approved unanimously. In a statement, the central bank also held out the prospect for further stimulus. “The committee is closely monitoring developments and their implications for the economic outlook and will use its tools and act as appropriate to support the economy,” the statement said.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell is scheduled to hold a press conference at 11 a.m. ET.

 


Read more: https://www.wsj.com/...247606?mod=e2tw



#1031
Jessica

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U.S. adds 183,000 private-sector jobs in February, ADP says

Published: Mar 4, 2020 8:40 a.m. ET

Zandi sees weaker job growth going forward

By GREG ROBB
SENIOR ECONOMICS REPORTER



The numbers: Private-sector employment slowed a bit in February, according to the ADP National Employment Report released Wednesday. The private sector added 183,000 in February, down slightly from 209,000 in the prior month. The February gain was higher than the 165,000 job gain expected by economists surveyed by Econoday.

What happened: Large businesses did well in February, adding 133,000 jobs. Small businesses added 24,000 jobs and medium-sized businesses added 26,000. ... According to data on 10 major industries tracked by ADP, education and health care had strong job gains, along with leisure and hospitality.

Big picture: It is still too soon to see any impact of the coronavirus impact on the data.

Economists expect a 170,000 rise in nonfarm payrolls in February, down from 225,000 in the prior month, according to a MarketWatch survey. The unemployment rate is expected to tick down to 3.5%.

Economists have become wary of using the ADP data to predict the government’s employment data because there have been large deviations recently. For instance, the January ADP report showed that 291,000 jobs were added in the private sector, while the Labor Department showed 206,000.

 

{snip}

Read more: https://www.marketwa...says-2020-03-04



#1032
Jessica

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Supreme Court says Trump administration may continue 'Remain in Mexico' policy for asylum seekers

Source: Washington Post



The Supreme Court on Wednesday said the Trump administration may continue its “Remain in Mexico” policy for asylum seekers while lower-court challenges continue, after the federal government warned that tens of thousands of immigrants amassed at the southern border could overwhelm the immigration system.

The justices reversed a decision of a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, which had ordered the policy be suspended Thursday on parts of the border. Justice Sonia Sotomayor was the only noted dissenter. The Trump administration had warned the justices of a dire situation without their intervention.

“Substantial numbers of up to 25,000 returned aliens who are awaiting proceedings in Mexico will rush immediately to enter the United States,” Solicitor General Noel Francisco wrote in a brief. “A surge of that magnitude would impose extraordinary burdens on the United States and damage our diplomatic relations with the government of Mexico.”

The program — officially known as the Migrant Protection Protocols, or MPP — is among the tools the Trump administration has used to curb mass migration from Central America and elsewhere across the southern U.S. border.

 


Read more: https://www.washingt...e96f_story.html



#1033
Yuli Ban

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DOJ seeks new emergency powers amid coronavirus pandemic

The Justice Department has quietly asked Congress for the ability to ask chief judges to detain people indefinitely without trial during emergencies — part of a push for new powers that comes as the coronavirus spreads through the United States.

Documents reviewed by POLITICO detail the department’s requests to lawmakers on a host of topics, including the statute of limitations, asylum and the way court hearings are conducted. POLITICO also reviewed and previously reported on documents seeking the authority to extend deadlines on merger reviews and prosecutions.
A Justice Department spokesperson declined to comment on the documents.
The move has tapped into a broader fear among civil liberties advocates and Donald Trump’s critics — that the president will use a moment of crisis to push for controversial policy changes. Already, he has cited the pandemic as a reason for heightening border restrictions and restricting asylum claims. He has also pushed for further tax cuts as the economy withers, arguing that it would soften the financial blow to Americans. And even without policy changes, Trump has vast emergency powers that he could legally deploy right now to try and slow the coronavirus outbreak.


And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.


#1034
wjfox

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Map: Watch the real-time spread of coronavirus in the U.S.

https://www.pbs.org/...coronavirus/us/



#1035
wjfox

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Lieutenant Governor of Texas, Dan Patrick, says grandparents would be willing to die to save the economy for their grandchildren:

 

https://twitter.com/...245135129346050



#1036
Jessica

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White House, Senate reach historic $2 trillion stimulus deal amid growing coronavirus fears

Source: CNN



"Ladies and gentleman, we are done," White House legislative affairs director Eric Ueland said right before 1 a.m. after leaving Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's office following negotiations that have gone around the clock since last Friday. "We have a deal."

The full details have yet to be released. But over the last 24 hours, the elements of the proposal have come into sharper focus, with $250 billion set aside for direct payments to individuals and families, $350 billion in small business loans, $250 billion in unemployment insurance benefits and $500 billion in loans for distressed companies.
The stimulus bill also has a provision that would block President Donald Trump and his family, as well as other top government officials and members of Congress, from getting loans or investments from Treasury programs in the stimulus, according to Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's office.

The package, if it passes Congress, would be the most significant legislative action taken to address the rapidly intensifying coronavirus crisis, which is overwhelming hospitals and grinding much of the economy to a halt.
Schumer called it "the largest rescue package in American history," in remarks on the Senate floor in the early hours of Wednesday morning. "This is not a moment of celebration -- but of necessity," he said.

 



Read more: https://www.cnn.com/...irus/index.html



#1037
wjfox

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This didn't age well...

 

 

Hk0aXEm.png

 

 

 

 

8Sja6Lk.jpg



#1038
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'Holy Crap This Is Insane': Citing Coronavirus Pandemic, EPA Indefinitely Suspends Environmental Rules

Published on Friday, March 27, 2020

The Environmental Protection Agency, headed by former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler, announced on Thursday a sweeping and indefinite suspension of environmental rules amid the worsening coronavirus pandemic, a move green groups warned gives the fossil fuel industry a "green light to pollute with impunity."

Under the new policy (pdf), which the EPA insisted is temporary while providing no timeframe, big polluters will effectively be trusted to regulate themselves and will not be punished for failing to comply with reporting rules and other requirements. The order—applied retroactively beginning March 13, 2020—requests that companies "act responsibly" to avoid violations.

"EPA is committed to protecting human health and the environment, but recognizes challenges resulting from efforts to protect workers and the public from COVID-19 may directly impact the ability of regulated facilities to meet all federal regulatory requirements," Wheeler said in a statement. "This temporary policy is designed to provide enforcement discretion under the current, extraordinary conditions, while ensuring facility operations continue to protect human health and the environment."

[...]

Cynthia Giles, former head of the EPA's Office of Enforcement under the Obama administration, told The Hill that the new policy is "essentially a nationwide waiver of environmental rules for the indefinite future."

"It tells companies across the country that they will not face enforcement even if they emit unlawful air and water pollution in violation of environmental laws, so long as they claim that those failures are in some way 'caused' by the virus pandemic," said Giles. "And it allows them an out on monitoring too, so we may never know how bad the violating pollution was."

 

https://www.commondr...s-environmental



#1039
caltrek

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^^^Sounds like a variation of the Shock Doctrine.  Use the crisis as what should be understood as an unwarranted excuse to achieve certain ideological goals. While elites are playing such games, fringe groups are also demonstrating their detachment from what should be common sense:

 

Self-Quarantine Orders Meet the Right-Wing Militia Movement

 

https://www.motherjo...litia-movement/

 

Introduction:

 

(Mother Jones) It was only a matter of time before efforts to contain the coronavirus bumped up against the Sagebrush Rebellion.

 

Yesterday, Idaho‘s Republican governor Brad Little issued a self-isolate order closing all nonessential businesses in the state, banning all gatherings, and ordering a halt to unnecessary travel. The order was designed to prevent the community spread of the novel coronavirus, which has infected more than 123 people in Idaho so far. But the order has already stirred up a hornet’s nest from those who aren’t inclined to follow such a directive without a fight: Namely the Bundy family and their followers in the right-wing militia movement who have engaged in armed standoffs with the federal government in the past over attempts to enforce the law.

 

On Thursday, Ammon Bundy, one of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s 14 children, posted a video on Facebook inviting people to a public meeting in Emmett, Idaho, where he lives, to talk about the coercive measures included in the governor’s self-isolate order. He read from the 11-page document, explaining that it would prevent people from gathering, riding a scooter, or traveling around the state. What’s more, law enforcement would be empowered to issue fines or even put violators in jail.

 

“The last time it was illegal to meet together as a people on this land was before the Revolutionary War,” he said. “Since we won our independence, it has never been illegal to assemble as a people.” Bundy then offered a brief tutorial on First Amendment rights and Supreme Court decisions acknowledging Americans’ “natural rights” to assemble peacefully.

 

“It does not matter what is most safe or not, what is good or not,” he said. “Because in this case, the government does not have the right to do what they’re doing. They do not have a right to restrict you from going to church, worshiping, having meetings, or being with your family, grieving with them. They do not have that right.”

 

"It does not matter what is most safe or not..."  Therefore, defy the government simply because it is the government, even if it is acting to promote the public health and safety.  It is as if these people have indeed already been sucked into the stupidity singularity.  It is not that information cannot escape that singularity.  Rather, it would seem that reasoned logic and information cannot enter, at least not without being warped and twisted beyond recognition.


The principles of justice define an appropriate path between dogmatism and intolerance on the one side, and a reductionism which regards religion and morality as mere preferences on the other.   - John Rawls


#1040
Jessica

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U.S. Plans to Stop Collecting Import Tariffs for Three Months, Officials Say

Source: The Wall Street Journal.
 

WSJ NEWS EXCLUSIVE POLITICS

U.S. Plans to Stop Collecting Import Tariffs for Three Months, Officials Say

Move aimed at helping U.S. businesses

By Alex Leary and William Mauldin
Updated March 27, 2020 7:04 pm ET

WASHINGTON—The Trump administration is preparing to suspend collection of import tariffs for three months to give U.S. companies financial relief amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to administration officials.

“Customs duties will be suspended for three months,” a senior administration official said Friday.

Companies would still be liable...

TO READ THE FULL STORY
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Read more: https://www.wsj.com/...say-11585349037







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