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Meyerson on TAP
As the Senate begins its deliberations on DACA, the ICE Deport Anyone Campaign rolls on. On the Prospect home page today, we’ve posted an article by David Bacon on the efforts of California unions to defend immigrants—and not just their own members—from expulsion, and co-published a piece with Capital & Main on the 5,000 DACA recipients in California who are teachers.
In its zeal to meet deportation quotas, ICE has shown complete indifference to such trivialities as whether their detainees have committed serious crimes or are esteemed members of their communities. As a piece in Monday’s Washington Post documented, ICE arrested 37,734 “non-criminals” in 2017, breaking up families and communities in the process.
The closest parallel in American history to ICE’s current expulsion mania is the grim saga of the Fugitive Slave Act. The act, passed by a Southern-dominated Congress in 1850, effectively gave police power to slaveholders and their agents to go into the non-slave states of the North to capture and re-enslave African Americans who’d achieved the status of free men and women by crossing the Mason-Dixon line. Then as now, federal law conscripted the local authorities in Northern states—where the pursued were welcome—to cooperate with the hunters, and on occasion federal forces were sent to help in the apprehensions.
And then as now, the reason that federal forces were sent was that many in those Northern states sought to thwart the slaveholders and the soldiers. African Americans concealed their hunted brothers and sisters, on a couple of occasions overpowering the slaveholders to free them again. State and local governments passed laws forbidding such cooperation, much as California has passed such laws today. Masses of people turned out to protest the seizures, just as rapid response teams do today.
Underpinning both these abysmal episodes in our history is a sectionalized racism. The Fugitive Slave Act effectively imposed Southern slave codes on Northern states that had no desire to enforce them. The ICE raids impose the racism and xenophobia of the worst parts of Trump’s base, disproportionately clustered in heavily white regions home to few if any immigrants, on states like California and New York, where immigrants are not just welcome but an axiom of local life.
In response, a number of local and state governments have offered legal assistance to ICE arrestees and forbidden police cooperation with them, while activists have turned out in the streets and the courts to support the detainees. All necessary actions, but there’s still more that could be done. At least so long as ICE continues to arrest and deport immigrants with no regard for what they’ve done and who they are, ICE agents should be treated as Northerners treated the slaveholder-kidnappers. Sit-down demonstrations obstructing ICE offices seem a good way to start. ~ HAROLD MEYERSON

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Posted Feb 15, 2018 12:39 PM

Andrew Siddons
@asiddons
Democrats Pan Bill Curbing Lawsuits by People With Disabilities Questions Could Derail Confirmation of Trump’s Indian Health Nominee HHS Pick Grilled on Drug Prices
The House on Thursday passed, 225-192, a bill that supporters say would deter predatory lawsuits filed under a landmark disability rights law, over objections from its critics that the bill would undermine decades of progress for access to places like restaurants, theaters and other private establishments.
The bill would require potential plaintiffs to notify businesses who aren’t in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act before filing a lawsuit. As originally written, it would give the businesses six months to demonstrate their intent to comply, but an amendment adopted on Thursday shortened that timeline to four months.

While several House Democrats joined with most Republicans to support the bill, they were mostly from California, where a local law carries higher penalties for violators, who also have to pay the plaintiff’s attorneys’ fees. The bill’s supporters believe it would deter what they describe as “legal shakedowns” for violations that would otherwise cost far less to correct.

In the Senate, the bill’s fate is less certain. While Democrats from states where the lawsuits are more prevalent — such as California, Florida and New York — could join Republicans, the majority would still need support from several more members to clear the Senate’s 60-vote threshold. There is no companion measure in the Senate.
The bill faced vocal opposition from groups supporting people with disabilities and most House Democrats, which would likely continue if taken up by the Senate. Throughout the morning, the House gallery filled with individuals who were blind and using wheelchairs, and protestors interrupted the final vote just before it began. The Capitol police dragged a man out of the gallery and removed more than a dozen people in wheelchairs from the gallery.
Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., who uses a wheelchair due to an accidental shooting that decades ago left him paralyzed, said that the bill ignores the underlying problem of predatory lawsuits and would lead to more businesses ignoring ADA requirements.”The idea that places of public accommodation should receive a free pass for six months before correctly implementing a law that has been a part of our legal framework for nearly three decades creates an obvious disincentive for ADA compliance,” he said on the House floor Thursday.
The bill’s supporters believe that, by giving businesses more time to comply and reducing their risk of paying legal fees, it would have the opposite effect.
Unethical lawyers, said Judiciary Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va., “abuse the law to shake-down businesses, taking away money from compliance and putting it into their own pockets.”
House Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rogers, whose son has Down Syndrome, explained why she went against the party grain.
“Any changes should preserve the spirit of the ADA and reduce the burden on individuals with disabilities to bring legitimate compliance claims … as part of that community, I could not in good conscience vote for this bill.”
Scott J. Topolski, a Florida attorney who handles ADA defense at the firm Cole Schotz, said that if lawyers are less likely to take up the cases, it didn’t seem to be “terribly complicated” for a non-attorney to notify a business of their non-compliance. Still, he acknowledged that the law would likely reduce the number of lawsuits filed.
“Plaintiff’s attorneys may be less likely to want to proceed with one of these types of cases if they know they are not going to get paid by the business owners,” he said in an interview.
Groups that oppose the bill, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, argue that the bill would not actually reduce the number of frivolous suits, but would just delay them until after the extended compliance period ended.
The House adopted four amendments to the measure by voice vote ahead of its passage, including the language to shorten the compliance timeline. Another eliminated the bill’s requirement that the written notice of the violation cite the specific sections of the ADA, which would likely make it easier for a non-lawyer to file a notice.
The bill would require the Department of Justice to develop a program for promoting disability access, and one amendment would require it to make educational publications available in languages other than just English. Another amendment clarifies that if a business owner fails to make progress after the compliance period, they would still be liable.
The House rejected, by voice vote, an amendment that would have allowed for additional punitive damages to be incurred if businesses were still in violation after the compliance period.
The House also rejected, 188-266, an amendment from Langevin that would have reduced the bill simply to its requirement that the Justice Department pursue ADA educational programs.

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Considering all of the political news and ongoing Tweet “governing”, we are still no closer to proper legislation of any sort. We have 1 cabinet member complaining about his treatment by  the voters while he flying (now he wants to fly first class on our dime). We have TOTUS still earning from his businesses while serving(?). We have a Congress who seems to be afraid to anger the “Child”. We have well known  and documented misogynist (possible pedophile) sitting in the Oval office. I cannot see what there is to hide since the intentions of this administration and the complicit Congress are clear. They have no moral responsibility to us and it seems will not do anything for us. This ongoing stream of lies from Washington is hotter than a lava flow and unfortunately hardens into what appears true. It is as always incumbent on the voters to be educated on activities in Government and understand that our current Government leaders from Municipal to Federal appear to be consummate liars. They make proposals that sound good but like an onion you have peel back the layers to get at the truth. Every bill, proposal or law making activity is steeped in the tired practice of inserting “other” issues into them that will be passed along with the major or public part of the proposal. These “secret insertions” are sometimes items that will bite us (the voters) down the road while we coast along not seeing the warning signs.

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Apparently Mr. Pruitt feels ill used by the people he is supposed to advocate for, I guess his rollback of environmental protections for the country’s health should not be a flash point for the voters. Suppose he did the job he is supposed to do (serve the people) maybe his travel experience would improve. His actions along with a few other cabinet minister’s travel habits explain why this administration’s policies do not bode well for us.MA

EPA: Pruitt faced profanities from fellow passengers when he flew coach
Brandon Carter 8 hrs ago

© Provided by The Hill
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) revealed that Administrator Scott Pruitt faced profanities and confrontations while traveling after controversy surrounding his use of first-class flights.

The director of the EPA’s Office of Criminal Enforcement, Henry Barnet, told Politico that Pruitt was “approached in the airport numerous times” and had profanities “yelled at him” during his travels.
Barnet told the publication that one specific incident saw a person approach Pruitt and shout “Scott Pruitt, you’re f—ing up the environment” while recording it on a cellphone.
“The team leader felt that he was being placed in a situation where he was unsafe on the flight,” Barnet told Politico.
“We felt that based on the recommendation from the team leader, the special agent in charge, that it would be better suited to have him in business or first class, away from close proximity from those individuals who were approaching him and being extremely rude, using profanities and potential for altercations and so forth,” he continued.
The EPA’s defense of the administrator’s traveling habits comes after The Washington Post reported Sunday that Pruitt frequently flies first class on official trips, costing taxpayers thousands of dollars.
CBS News reported late Tuesday that Pruitt flew business class in June on an Emirates flight back from Italy after obtaining a waiver to rules that require official travel to be on United States-flagged airlines.
On Tuesday, Pruitt blamed his first-class flying on interactions that have “not been the best.”
He told the New Hampshire Union Leader that his security detail dictated his travel choices, and he played no role in the decisions.
“We live in a very toxic environment politically, particularly around issues of the environment,” Pruitt said.
“We’ve reached the point where there’s not much civility in the marketplace and it’s created, you know, it’s created some issues and the [security] detail, the level of protection is determined by the level of threat.”
Pruitt and his family have received far more threats than previous EPA leaders. E&E News reported that the EPA’s inspector general opened about 70 investigations into threats in 2017, about double the previous year.
In response, Pruitt and the EPA have taken additional security measures that his predecessors didn’t.

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A case study in the political right’s capitulation to Trump, and the threat it poses to its political future.

Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

Conor Friedersdorf Feb 13, 2018 Politics
Last month, Mollie Hemingway, the Fox News contributor and senior editor at The Federalist, declared herself a Donald Trump supporter for the first time. “I wasn’t a Trump supporter,” the headline of her Washington Post op-ed stated. “I am now.”
She cited his actions on judicial nominees, climate policy, regulatory reform, tax cuts, guidelines on how colleges should adjudicate sexual assault, and foreign policy.
Large swaths of the Republican Party and the conservative movement have now reconciled themselves to supporting President Trump, including figures far more famous, powerful, and influential than any journalist. A strong case could be made that this particular endorsement didn’t really change anything, especially since its author was already openly anti-anti-Trump in her orientation.
Still, if the GOP loses the ability to win elections during the next decade because its leadership has lost the trust of too many people in too many groups—Latinos, blacks, Asian Americans, Muslims, immigrants, anti-racists, anti-sexists, citizens who worry about the minimum civic virtues a republic requires to thrive—I will recall her endorsement as an illustration of how it happened.
None of the beliefs she affirmatively endorses is deplorable. Indeed, if all Americans were like Mollie Hemingway, neither racism nor sexism would be a problem in America. But it matters that thought-leaders like her no longer consider deplorability a dealbreaker. They can no longer be trusted to oppose racism or sexism. With a civic arsonist in the White House, they decline to summon the fire department.
In short, they have become irresponsible citizens.
Were Hemingway oblivious to Trump’s least defensible qualities, or the damage that his comportment does to America’s civic fabric—matters to which many enthusiastic Trump supporters are oblivious—her posture would be less damning. Who can blame someone for failing to oppose that which they don’t see?
But she saw his flaws clearly and chose to support him anyway.
It is one thing to vote for Trump as the lesser of two evils, or to do too little to oppose him. It is quite another to support and extol Trump, despite his deplorable behavior, because he has advanced a domestic agenda that accords with one’s policy preferences. “My expectations were low—so low that he could have met them by simply not being President Clinton,” Hemingway declared. “But a year into this presidency, he’s exceeded those expectations by quite a bit. I’m thrilled. “Ponder what it means to be thrilled, knowing what she knows. Hemingway knows that Trump rose to power denigrating Muslims, praising authoritarians, and stoking violence at his campaign rallies. While criticizing Clinton, she acknowledged Trump’s rhetoric about Muslims is “extreme” and “also dangerous.” In office, Trump has retweeted anti-Muslim propaganda films posted by a far-right politician in Europe and imposed a travel ban targeted at Muslim countries that initially barred even existing visa holders from reentry. “The rollout was arbitrary and capricious,” Hemingway herself declared of that attempt at a travel ban, “and therefore a threat to the rule of law.”
Why would Muslim Americans, or anyone who values their own liberty, trust a coalition that recognizes Trump’s campaign-trail bigotry, elevates him anyway, sees his subsequent disregard for the rule of law, and still feels thrilled at his tenure?
Hemingway has written with clarity about Trump’s behavior on matters having to do with comportment, rather than policy, and their effect on American culture. “I fear the republic is lost,” she wrote after one of Trump’s debate performances. “We are an uneducated people that praise ignorance, celebrity, and entertainment over statesmanship. We are degenerates, immoral, and lost. We the people have not acted as those concerned about preserving the gift of self-government. The fraying fabric of society is putting the republic at risk.”
Hemingway also called Trump “a narcissist who takes no responsibility for the negative consequences of his ill-conceived and incoherent verbal spews.”
In office, Trump’s comportment has not changed. In fact, Hemingway’s recent declaration of support for him notes, “Like most people, I don’t particularly like Trump’s rhetorical style, juvenile insults and intemperate disposition—on full display in recent days.” But now that he has shown himself to advance a policy agenda more to her liking than she expected, his comportment and its consequences for the nation elicit a different reaction. “At the same time,” she declares, “having followed his career for decades, I am not surprised that he wakes up each morning as Donald Trump.” As if lack of surprise makes it better!
“Yes, he lies or exaggerates. Yes, he insults people,” she once said on Fox News.
“Another great argument to deploy against Trump is that he plays fast and loose with the facts,” Hemingway wrote in the early days of his administration. “This is an easy argument to make because not only does everyone know this, they’ve known it for decades. There are hundreds of examples of his imprecision,” she added, “from claiming without evidence millions of fraudulent votes cast to a larger crowd size at his inauguration, to give two recent examples.”
Why would anyone who values the civic virtues necessary to preserve the republic trust those who cease to care that it is fraying, throwing support to a man they see as a lying, juvenile insult-monger so long as they’re getting their way?
Then there is Trump’s treatment of women.
When he was accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women during the 2016 campaign, Hemingway wrote, “None of it is particularly surprising for a man who spent decades bragging about his sexual prowess, adultery, handsiness, sexual entitlement, and so on and so forth. That this information is coming out is all so obvious that if you saw all these warning signs—and everyone saw these warning signs—and still supported Trump, you should look inward.” Will Hemingway now look inward the next time Trump mistreats a woman? Trump is “reprobate and immoral,” she wrote back then, adding that “he chose the wanton, unscrupulous lifestyle and bragged about it.”

Even during his presidency, she has referred to him as “known perv Trump.” What does it mean for her to write that one month and declare her unsolicited support the next?
It means that her standards have been corrupted.
These are just a fraction of Trump’s flaws—the subset openly acknowledged by Hemingway, who spends most of her time on Fox News and The Federalist attacking the left, the media, and matters that don’t touch on the president. While it is more than sufficient to illustrate that a leading voice on the right has grown comfortable vesting extreme power in a man whose abysmal character is clear to her, a more complete reckoning with what Trump has done goes farther toward clarifying why being tied to him puts the whole Red Tribe in peril.
It may be, for example, that Hemingway, who lives in the Washington, D.C., area and focuses on the culture war more than threats to liberty from police, does not devote a lot of thought to Joe Arpaio, the Arizona sheriff who Donald Trump pardoned.
But Americans who might be taken to be Mexican or Guatemalan or El Salvadoran by a passing cop may know that Arpaio presided over a law-enforcement agency that routinely violated the civil rights of people of Hispanic descent, including American citizens; that he was investigated by the Department of Justice, who declared that they found one of the worst patterns of racial profiling that they had ever seen; that he was ordered to stop violating the Constitution; that he continued to violate constitutional rights so flagrantly that he was convicted of criminal contempt of court; and that Trump pardoned him for that transgression.
If you were an American of Hispanic origin, would you trust this president or the people who enthusiastically support him to protect your constitutional rights?
That demographic had nothing to fear from Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, or George W. Bush, but they’d be wise to fear a Trumpist coalition, and justified in supposing that a commentator like Hemingway would never volunteer support for a politician who treated Christians like her the way that Trump treats Mexicans and Muslims, regardless of what domestic agenda was being pursued.
Racism, sexism, and other bigotries will probably always exist in all of America’s major political coalitions. Misbehavior that undermines the civic fabric will never be eradicated, either. But in the past, most conservative pundits ensured that the Republican Party’s leadership rejected the bigoted pathologies that threaten to tear diverse, pluralistic societies apart. Today, many of the people who once would’ve kept deplorability in check opportunistically embrace a deplorable.
“The Trump nomination may result in principled conservatives leaving the party or laying very low,” Hemingway wrote in 2016, “but if this election has shown anything, it’s that principled conservatives aren’t in nearly as abundant supply as they might wish.” The Trump presidency is showing that principled conservatives are in even shorter supply than they seemed on election day. Like all winning coalitions, the American right is having a hard time imagining how fleeting its political ascendence will be, or the consequences its lack of principle will have in the long term. I expect that its moral failures will echo across American politics for years, undermining the right’s ability to credibly advance its best and worst alike.
When Trumpism ends, as every coalition built around a president must eventually end, will there be enough people on the right unsullied by his indefensible behavior to rebuild? As a fan of free markets and small government I fear not. I fear the right is discrediting itself for a generation, robbing America of the benefits of having two competing ideologies at their respective best.
In the long run, the right’s best hope lies in the shrinking faction of politicians and pundits that is happy to note when it favors a discrete policy pursued by the president, but that remains perspicacious enough to assert the overall posture of Never Trump.

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Clean Coal? MA

February 6, 201811:01 AM ET
Heard on All Things Considered

Howard Berkes  &   Adelina Lancianese
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Updated on Feb. 6 at 3:49 p.m. ET
Epidemiologists at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health say they’ve identified the largest cluster of advanced black lung disease ever reported, a cluster that was first uncovered by NPR 14 months ago.

NPR Continues To Find Hundreds Of Cases Of Advanced Black Lung
Black Lung Returns To Coal Country
In a research letter published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, NIOSH confirms 416 cases of progressive massive fibrosis or complicated black lung in three clinics in central Appalachia from 2013 to 2017.
“This is the largest cluster of progressive massive fibrosis ever reported in the scientific literature,” says Scott Laney, a NIOSH epidemiologist involved in the study.
“We’ve gone from having nearly eradicated PMF in the mid-1990s to the highest concentration of cases that anyone has ever seen,” he said.
The clinics are operated by Stone Mountain Health Services and assess and treat coal miners mostly from Virginia, Kentucky and West Virginia, a region that includes what have historically been some of the most productive coalfields in the country.
“When I first implemented this clinic back in 1990, you would see … five [to] seven … PMF cases” a year, says Ron Carson, who directs Stone Mountain’s black lung program.
The clinics now see that many cases every two weeks, he says, and have had 154 new diagnoses of PMF since the fieldwork for the NIOSH study concluded a year ago.
“That’s an indication that it’s not slowing down,” Carson says. “We are seeing something that we haven’t seen before.”
Laney acknowledges that the full scope of what he calls an epidemic is still unknown. “Even with this number, which is substantial and unacceptable, it’s still an underestimate.”
“Nobody looks forward to dying”
PMF, or complicated black lung, encompasses the worst stages of the disease, which is caused by inhalation of coal and silica dust at both underground and surface coal mines. Miners gradually lose the ability to breathe, as they wheeze and gasp for air.
Edward Brown is a 55-year-old former coal miner with progressive massive fibrosis, or complicated black lung disease.
“I’ve seen it too many times,” said Charles Wayne Stanley, a Stone Mountain client with PMF, who spoke with NPR in 2016. “My wife’s grandpa … [I] watched him take his last breath. I watched my uncle die with black lung. You literally suffocate because you can’t get enough air.”
Lung transplants are the only cure, and they’re possible only when miners are healthy enough to qualify.
“[I] can’t breathe, you know. [I] can’t do nothing hardly like I used to,” says Edward Brown, a 55-year-old retired miner from Harlan, Ky., who was diagnosed with PMF at both Stone Mountain and another medical clinic.
“That’s all I got to look forward to is to get worser and worser,” Brown says, pausing for a deep sigh and nervous chuckle. “Nobody looks forward to dying, you know, but it’s a-comin’ and then that worries me.”
Brown’s age and disease fit another finding of the NIOSH study and a trend Carson first disclosed to NPR in December 2016.
“Miners are dying at a much younger age,” he says, noting that in the 1990s, the clinic’s PMF diagnoses typically involved miners in their 60s, 70s and 80s. Now the disease strikes miners in their 50s, 40s and even 30s with fewer years mining coal.
“A high proportion” of the miners in the NIOSH study had severely advanced disease and “coal mining tenure of less than 20 years, which are indications of exceptionally severe and rapidly progressive disease,” the study says.
The lung of deceased West Virginia coal miner Chester Fike was taken out during a double lung transplant when he was 60. He worked in the mines for 35 years.
NIOSH
The Stone Mountain study follows a NIOSH review of cases at a small clinic in Coal Run Village, Ky., in 2016. NIOSH researchers confirmed 60 diagnoses of PMF there in 20 months. That alarmed them because NIOSH had earlier reported only 99 cases nationwide in five years.
At the same time, an NPR survey of 11 black lung clinics in Kentucky, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio identified 962 cases, 10 times the original NIOSH count. Since then, NPR’s ongoing survey of clinics has counted nearly 1,000 more cases.
The NPR investigation also found that the likely cause of the epidemic is longer work shifts for miners and the mining of thinner coal seams. Massive mining machines must cut rock with coal and the resulting dust contains silica, which is far more toxic than coal dust.
The spike in PMF diagnoses is also due to layoffs and retirements brought on by the decline in coal mining. Miners who had put off getting checked for black lung earlier began streaming into clinics, especially if they needed the medical and wage replacement benefits provided by black lung compensation programs.
A public health emergency?
There is also concern for the 50,000 coal miners still working.
“They really need to declare this a public health emergency,” says Joe Wolfe, an attorney in Norton, Va., who helps miners file claims for black lung compensation.
“If you had 400 cases of E. coli, [NIOSH] would flood the area with technicians and doctors and nurses checking people’s health,” Wolfe adds. “There are people literally working in the mines right now … that have complicated black lung that do not have a clue.”
NIOSH doesn’t have that authority, according to David Weissman, who directs the agency’s respiratory health program in Morgantown, W.Va. Public health emergencies are declared by the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“But I will say that this is a very important problem. We’re very passionate about this problem,” Weissman says. “And we’re going to keep doing everything in our power to address it.”
Multiple NIOSH and independent studies are underway or planned to try to pinpoint the number of miners who have the disease, as well as the causes.
A mining disaster in slow motion
The disease spiked in the 1960s and ’70s but then plummeted with the passage of mine safety laws.
Coincidentally, new federal regulations that are supposed to limit exposure to dangerous levels of coal and silica dust were fully implemented in 2016, a few months before NPR first reported the PMF epidemic. The Trump administration recently announced a “retrospective study” of the new regulations, a move that has mine safety advocates concerned, especially given the epidemic of the disease caused by mine dust.
“It would be outrageous for any undercutting of those regulations that puts miners [back] in harm’s way and subjects even more of them to this terrible disease,” says Joe Main, the former mine safety chief at the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration.
“When we think we know as much as we thought we should know about the disease, the next day [there’s] worse information,” says Main. “It shows that the depth of the disease is worse than what we knew the day before.”
Main pushed for the tougher mine dust exposure limits. His successor at MSHA is David Zatezalo, a former mining company executive.
“We are not proposing to weaken this rule,” Zatezalo tells NPR in a written statement. “We are planning to collect feedback on the rule from stakeholders, which was both a commitment previously made by MSHA, and a directive from President Trump, who strongly supports America’s miners.”
Zatezalo did not respond to requests for an interview. His agency’s formal notice for the “retrospective study” labels it a “deregulatory” action, which implies less regulation.
At a congressional hearing today in Washington, Zatezalo was asked directly about his agency’s “retrospective study” of the tougher mine dust limits imposed by the Obama administration.
“Do you plan to rollback any aspect of the 2014 respirable dust rule?” asked Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., the ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.etary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health, was asked about the advanced black lung epidemic at a congressional hearing in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 6, 2018.
“I do not,” Zatezalo responded.
Zatezalo was also asked about his agency’s own description of the “retrospective study” of the new mine dust regulations as “deregulatory.”
“I can’t tell you why it was listed as a deregulatory item,” Zatezalo responded, unless, he added, that had something to do with the frequency of testing using new dust monitors.
“Each case of advanced black lung disease is an entirely preventable tragedy, and represents mine operators’ unwillingness to adequately control mine dust exposures, and safety regulators failure to set, monitor and enforce standards necessary to protect miners,” Scott said in a statement to NPR.
“MSHA should not bend to pressure from well-connected coal mine executives to roll back the regulations,” Scott added. “The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) cannot keep looking the other way while the burden of this preventable disease grows.”
The burden is clear on the walls of Ron Carson’s office at the Stone Mountain black lung clinic in St. Charles, Va. They’re lined with photographs and other mementos of clinic patients, some who died from the disease.
Carson describes a kind of mining disaster in slow motion, in which the disease takes years to develop, even though it strikes quicker now, and in which each death is solitary. He points to a half sheet of white paper tacked to his bulletin board. It shows a phrase he printed out from an article about black lung.
“Mining disasters get monuments,” Carson says, his voice softening. “Black lung deaths get tombstones. And I’ve seen many a tombstone in [the last] 28 years from black lung. And I’m seeing more now. A lot more now.”


Sen. Tammy Duckworth: ‘Cadet Bone Spurs’ Won’t Tell Me When to Clap

HuffPost
Rebecca Shapiro
3 hrs ago
Iraq War veteran and U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) criticized President Donald Trump for calling Democrats who did not clap during his State of the Union address “treasonous” on Monday.
“We don’t live in a dictatorship or a monarchy,” Duckworth tweeted soon after he made the comment. “I swore an oath ― in the military and in the Senate ― to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States, not to mindlessly cater to the whims of Cadet Bone Spurs and clap when he demands I clap.”

This is not the first time Duckworth, a Black Hawk helicopter pilot who received the Purple Heart after she lost both her legs in Iraq when her helicopter was stuck by a grenade, has referred to Trump as “Cadet Bone Spurs,” a reference to Trump’s stated reason for not being drafted during the Vietnam War.
During a floor speech last month, she also called Trump a “five-deferment draft dodger” as she slammed the president for criticizing Democrats’ support for the military.
“I spent my entire adult life looking out for the well-being, the training, the equipping of the troops for whom I was responsible,” she said. “I will not be lectured about what our military needs by a five-deferment draft dodger.”

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JANUARY 18, 2018
Meyerson on TAP
Six days ago, I was having an email exchange with the author of a piece I was editing on how Democrats can both turn out their base and reach out to voters outside their base in the 2018 midterms. We were going back and forth on three points in the piece—chiefly, on whether Latinos could be said to have realigned themselves more toward the Democrats during the 1990s (the author’s position) or whether so many new Latino voters came forth during that decade that their Democratic shift was more a surge than a realignment (my position).
After dredging up the exit poll percentages from the California gubernatorial elections of 1990, 1994, and 1998, and doing the numerical calculations (candidate preference percentage times Latino share of the electorate times raw number of votes cast) to come up with the steadily declining number of Latino votes for the Republican gubernatorial candidates in those three elections, the author quietly and indisputably won his point.
He then added: “I’m a trifle indisposed though I will try to do some revisions on points 2+3 later this morning. (Actually I’m at Sibley [a Washington, D.C., hospital] dealing with a flare-up of leukemia!). Can you point me to more data sources on the CA question?”
The indisposed author—Paul Booth—suddenly and shockingly died yesterday, succumbing to his flare-up of leukemia. So suddenly and unexpectedly that his wife, the legendary organizer Heather Booth, was on Capitol Hill getting herself arrested for demanding justice—and legal standing, and a path to citizenship—for DACA recipients and the other undocumenteds.
For decades, Paul had been one of the labor movement’s key strategists. As AFSCME’s organizing director, and then consigliore to the union’s presidents, Paul devised the nation’s very first living-wage campaign, helped mastermind the 1995 insurgency that ousted the old-line cold warriors from the leadership of the AFL-CIO, and mentored scores—perhaps hundreds—of union leaders and organizers, movement activists and elected officials. His organizing pedigree was as long and distinguished as any figure’s in American politics: As national secretary of Students for a Democratic Society in 1965, he organized the first anti-Vietnam War demonstration in the nation’s capital. The following year, he became one of the first of numerous New Left veterans who entered, renewed, and, with varying degrees of success, transformed the main institution of the Old Left: the labor movement. The union presidents who hired Paul—first, Ralph Helstein at the Packinghouse Workers, then Jerry Wurf at AFSCME—were democratic socialists who found in Paul a comrade, a kindred spirit, and a brilliant analyst and tactician.
Some labor leaders are bombastic. Paul was quiet, ironic, self-effacing, witty, warm, scholarly, and diligent—just the kind of guy who’d crunch the numbers to make a point about Latino realignment, whose commitment to a decent future for his nation was such that he’d research and rewrite from his hospital bed on what the Democrats needed to do to win in 2018 (we’ll post that article tomorrow), who could dismiss his own illness as a trifle indisposition.
There was nothing trifling about Paul’s life or work. Damn your indisposition, Paul. We’ll miss you. ~ HAROLD MEYERSON

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Marcy Wheeler, HuffPost Fri, Feb 2 5:40 PM CST

For the last three weeks, privacy advocates have been buffeted by two political whirlwinds. First, the reauthorization of the FISA Amendments Act two weeks ago, authored by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes. And then today, the release of a partisan memo, authored by Nunes’ staffers, purporting to show FBI and Department of Justice abuses of the individual Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act application process.
Because Nunes and others ― up to and including House Speaker Paul Ryan ― claimed to be motivated by a concern about civil liberties, it was generally assumed the privacy community would join the clamor. But those of us who’ve been through several surveillance fights with these posers know the reality is far more complex. Ultimately, two principles are at issue: the rule of law and privacy. In both instances, Nunes and Ryan are on the wrong side of the issue.
The FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act extended a key part of FISA, called Section 702, that lets the government ask domestic telecommunications and tech providers for help spying on foreigners overseas. But that word “target” is misleading, because under the program, the government obtains the American side of any conversation with a targeted individual. The FBI can obtain that information in raw form and routinely queries the data when it gets leads to find out if Americans have been speaking to suspicious foreigners. That amounts to warrantless access of Americans’ communications, and exposes certain groups, like Chinese-Americans and Muslims, to far more scrutiny than others.
Also under Section 702, the government obtains certain entirely domestic communications that have obscured their location. While it has to purge most of those communications, the NSA can keep any that it shows are evidence of eight enumerated crimes. Again, this is warrantless surveillance of Americans, done in the guise of foreign intelligence collection.
A mere three weeks ago, Nunes and Ryan were happy to have Americans surveilled with no evidence whatsoever of wrong-doing.
During the 702 reauthorization debate, reformers like Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and Reps. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), tried to add protections in these instances, most notably by requiring a warrant before the FBI searches for communications involving Americans. The law authored by Nunes, however, only provides such protection to people for whom the FBI already has probable cause that they are committing a crime. Nunes’ law flips the Fourth Amendment on its head, providing protection only to criminal suspects and not for those against whom the FBI has no evidence of wrongdoing.
A mere three weeks ago, Nunes and Ryan were happy to have Americans surveilled with no evidence whatsoever of wrongdoing. Back then, Ryan backed suspicionless, warrantless searches of Americans as a necessary trade off. “This [bill] strikes the balance that we must have between honoring and protecting privacy rights of U.S. citizens, honoring civil liberties, and making sure that we have the tools we need in this day and age of 21st century terrorism to keep our people safe.”
Today, however, when a former Trump campaign adviser is at issue, Nunes and Ryan have discovered the due process they personally refused for so many Americans. The Nunes memo purports to show that an individualized FISA application against Carter Page did not adequately inform the FISA court about the political source of one piece of evidence among others. The memo argues the FBI did not adequately reveal “the political origins of the Steele dossier,” intelligence reporting paid for by the Democratic Party.
The application instead presented Steele as someone (the memo admits) who was a “longtime FBI source” with a “past record of credible reporting.” But even on that key issue, the memo is unclear whether DOJ knew precisely who was paying for Steele’s work. Indeed, it makes no mention that Republican billionaire Paul Singer was the first political actor to pay Fusion GPS, the firm that hired Steele, for dirt on Trump, though Singer himself did not fund any of Steele’s work. In other words, on the central question of whether the FBI could have attributed Fusion’s intelligence to Hillary Clinton and the Democrats or to someone else, the memo doesn’t make its case.
Now, the role of consultants like Steele in judicial proceedings is a matter of grave concern. Consultants with an inadequate grasp of the Arabic language or Islamic faith have long been used by DOJ as witnesses against terrorism defendants, and defense attorneys have suspected consultants ― perhaps the very same ones ― provided intelligence used in FISA applications, just as Steele provided intelligence for the Page application. More recently, consultants assessing crime patterns and recidivism rates have been shown to rely on biased algorithms.
Yet none of the people pushing this Nunes memo have ever uttered a peep about due process concerns posed by outright incompetent consultants in the past. Here, however, they’re wailing that a consultant they admit has been reliable in the past got paid differently than in the past and that wasn’t fully briefed to the court.
The way to deal with both of these issues is to conduct actual oversight of the general problem, not extend protections just to one man like Page.
The sudden interest in problems Nunes and Ryan showed no interest in just weeks ago is all the more telling, given several details about this memo.

First, as the memo lays out, starting in October 2016 the FBI obtained and then renewed a FISA warrant against Page four times. That means over the span of at least nine months, the FBI demonstrated that a wiretap of Page demonstrated useful foreign intelligence, and FISA judges agreed with that assessment over and over. The memo either doesn’t mention or obscures an earlier FISA warrant, obtained in 2014 during a period when Page was being actively recruited by Russian spies who were either expelled or imprisoned. Effectively, then, the GOP memo admits that something about Page, something well beyond the Steele dossier, raised real concerns about whether he was spying for Russia. And the FISA court agreed that it was a real concern.
The memo also complains that the Page application mentions George Papadopoulos, another former Trump foreign policy aide who in October pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with people working on behalf of Russia. It reads: “The Page FISA application also mentions information regarding fellow Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos, but there is no evidence of any cooperation or conspiracy between Page and Papadopoulos.” That’s not entirely true. As the committee itself learned in testimony, Page was copied on at least one of the emails Papadopoulos sent to the campaign detailing his own activities.
Moreover, the memo is silent about whether the Papadopoulos reference in the application served to do anything more than inform the court that, in response to a tip about Papadopoulos’ actions, the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation into whether Russians were attempting to compromise Trump via his foreign policy advisers. Effectively, this amounts to saying that because the FBI was investigating Page in the context of other concerns that Russians were trying to infiltrate the Trump campaign (concerns Papadopoulos’ guilty plea validate), it should be deemed an abuse. As with 702 reauthorization, they’re trying to extend protections just to those against whom there is credible evidence of wrong-doing.
Finally, there’s the larger conduct. This memo was written for a guy, Devin Nunes, who was a Trump transition official. That transition period has already netted one guilty plea ― that of former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, for lying to the FBI. Multiple reports make clear that Trump permitted the release of this memo explicitly as a way to delegitimize a legally constituted investigation into him, his family, and associates like Nunes. In the same way that Nunes and Ryan are pushing for further review only for a man who, abundant other evidence suggests, fostered legitimate suspicion, they’re also saying that they only care to scrutinize FBI and DOJ actions if they themselves might be subject to them.
Every single privacy activist I know cares about privacy in significant part to ensure the rule of law and to prevent the arbitrary exercise of justice to focus just on select groups like Muslims or Chinese-Americans, rather than those who pose the greatest risk to society, like people allegedly doing Russia’s secret bidding. Yet the actions of Ryan and Nunes reverse that, using a sham concern for civil liberties as a way to prevent themselves, their associates, and the president from being subject to the rule of law like the rest of us would be.
If we’re going to have this secret surveillance ― and Nunes and Ryan insist we need it ― the key to protecting Americans is drafting the law to provide protections and ensuring those standards are met. Section 702, as Nunes and Ryan reauthorized it, fails that test, because it permits the warrantless access of completely innocent Americans’ communications. And for all its bluster, the Nunes memo doesn’t tell us critical details we need to assess whether what happened to Page was improper specifically, or simply indicative of known concerns about outside consultants that Nunes and Ryan have long ignored (and continue to ignore with all other Americans). By all means let’s examine the role of consultants in FBI investigations. By all means let’s scrutinize whether the FISA process works as well as the DOJ claims.
But let’s do that for all Americans, and not just those about whom the FBI has real reason to worry.
Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog and is the author of “Anatomy of Deceit.” Follow her on Twitter at @emptywheel.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

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FEBRUARY 1, 2018
Meyerson on TAP
When is a commitment of $1.3 trillion worth precisely zero? When Donald Trump makes it in his State of the Union address.
On Tuesday night, Trump promised that he’d put before Congress a massive investment in infrastructure, to the tune of $1.5 trillion. What he neglected to say was that just $200 billion of that would actually be federal dollars. The balance would be funds that he hoped—if conditions were right, if the wind was from the east, if the weather was sunny and the creek didn’t rise—would come from state and local governments and private investors. That is, from sources the federal government does not control.
Traditionally, the federal government has picked up the lion’s share of infrastructure spending—and since that hasn’t amounted to all that much in recent decades, we have some of the industrialized world’s worst roads, rails, and airports to show for it. State and local governments, which often have limited bonding capacity and which can’t run deficits (unlike the feds), have seldom been able to pick up as much as half the cost of such projects, even during these decades when those projects have been too few and far between.
For a number of months, however, the word in Washington was that Trump’s administration would pony up no more than 20 percent of the trillion dollars it was touting. In the SOTU, however, that trillion magically grew to a trillion and a half, while the federal commitment remained anchored at $200 million, which would come to 13-and-a-third percent of the newly enlarged commitment.
So why stop there? Since the federal share won’t go any higher than that $200 mill, why not pledge a $5 trillion infrastructure project? A $10 trillion project? Once you begin taking credit for projects to be funded (or not) by other people’s money, resulting from other people’s autonomous decisions, there’s a whole lot you can take credit for. Why not take credit not just for the federal tax cut but for state and local tax cuts, too? Trump has gone beyond the doctrine of l’état c’est moi. L’état plus the 50 little états and Lord knows how many cities, counties and private investors—they’re all, as Trump sees them, moi, aussi. ~ HAROLD MEYERSON

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