Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

There's no mystery about the Republican agenda. For at least the past 40 years, the G.O.P.'s central policy goal has been upward redistribution of income: lower taxes for the wealthy, big cuts in programs that help the poor and the middle class. We've seen that agenda at work in the policies of every Republican president from Reagan to Trump, every budget proposal from party stars like Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House. This policy agenda is, however, deeply unpopular. Only small minorities of voters favor tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations; even smaller minorities favor cuts in major social programs. So how does the G.O.P. stay politically competitive? The answer is that the party has mastered the tactics of bait and switch: pretending to stand for one thing, then doing something quite different in office. read more

When Brian Hogan got a call that his wife had suffered a massive heart attack, he knew he had to get to the hospital fast. So Hogan asked his neighbor to take care of his 10-year-old daughter, then headed 60 miles east to the intensive care unit in Asheville, North Carolina. What happened next would eventually expose a practice by a child welfare agency that illegally removed potentially hundreds of children from their homes in this poverty-stricken mountain community

President Donald Trump did not follow specific warnings from his national security advisers when he congratulated Russian President Vladimir Putin Tuesday on his reelection, including a section in his briefing materials in all-capital letters stating "DO NOT CONGRATULATE," according to officials familiar with the call. Trump also chose not to heed talking points from aides instructing him to condemn Putin about the recent poisoning of a former Russian spy in the United Kingdom with a powerful nerve agent, a case that both the British and U.S. governments have blamed on Moscow. read more

President Donald Trump can't avoid a former "Apprentice" contestant's defamation lawsuit and may be forced to respond under oath to allegations of sexual assault and his treatment of women. Summer Zervos, a contender on The Apprentice in 2005, sued Trump in January 2017 alleging he "ambushed" her on more than one occasion starting in 2007, kissing her, touching her breast and pressing his genitals against her. On Tuesday, New York State Supreme Court Justice Jennifer Schecter denied the president's request to throw out the lawsuit or delay it until he leaves office. read more

A retired United States Army lieutenant colonel and Fox News contributor quit Tuesday and denounced the network and President Donald Trump in an email to colleagues. "Fox has degenerated from providing a legitimate and much-needed outlet for conservative voices to a mere propaganda machine for a destructive and ethically ruinous administration," wrote Ralph Peters, a Fox News "strategic analyst." read more

The United States Supreme Court declined to hear a request from Republican legislators in Pennsylvania who wanted the court to block a new congressional map in the state. It's the second time the high court has rejected the case, and there were no noted dissents. The decision means that Pennsylvania's upcoming May primaries in the state's new districts will go forward without delay, and the new map is likely a boon for Democrats come general elections this fall. The deadline to qualify to run for the redrawn seats is Tuesday. Pennsylvania's Supreme Court struck down the state's congressional map earlier this year, determining that the map, drawn in 2011, violated the state's constitution.

On March 15, the Department of Homeland Security together with the FBI announced that Russian government hackers infiltrated critical infrastructures in the U.S. -- including "energy, nuclear, commercial facilities, water, aviation, and critical manufacturing sectors." According to the DHS-FBI report, malicious Russian activities have been ongoing since at least March 2016. The Russian malware, which has been sitting in the control systems of various U.S. utilities, allows the Russians to shut off power or sabotage the energy grids. And they have done it before: The same malware that took down Ukraine's electrical grid in 2015 and 2016 has been detected in U.S. utilities. The potential damage of a nationwide black out -- let's say on Election Day -- would be significant, to say the least. And while Russian trolls and bots have captured public attention, they are already yesterday's game. As I write in a recent Brookings paper, the future of political warfare is in the cyber domain.   read more

Susan Pompeo, wife of Central Intelligence Agency chief Mike Pompeo, has taken on an unusually active role for a CIA spouse in agency affairs since he started the job in January 2017, regularly spending her days at the agency, traveling with her husband, and attending agency social events -- seven sources with knowledge of the matter told CNN. The Washington Post was first to publish a story detailing concerns over Pompeo's role, CNN has been reporting on the story for a number of weeks. Susan Pompeo is the "Honorary Chair" of the Family Advisory Board, according Ryan Trapani, a CIA spokesman. The board serves as a liaison between the agencies and families, whose members serve a two-year term and provide families with access to educational resources. She often attends or hosts events "in support of the agency," Trapani said.

After terrorists struck the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, a New York ferry captain who later became a city firefighter helped evacuate hundreds of people from Lower Manhattan. He was Thomas Phelan, 45, one of the many heroes who came to the city's rescue after the attack. Phelan died on Friday, authorities said, one of the thousands of victims of cancer linked to the 9/11 attack.
Phelan worked for Circle Line Statue of Liberty ferry cruises when the twin towers were hit and helped ferry people from Lower Manhattan, FDNY spokesman Jim Long confirmed. In 2003, Phelan joined the fire department as a firefighter and eventually was promoted to marine pilot, Long said. read more

They came before the sun rose, about a dozen cops in plainclothes who broke down the door to an East New York building and burst into a first-floor apartment. Inside -- sound asleep -- were Luis Vargas, 54, his sister, Lillian Vargas, 53, their elderly mom and a 5-year-old niece. They were jolted awake as cops tore through their apartment, breaking two TVs, emptying containers of rice and pulling clothes out of closets, the family said. "Where's the guns?" he demanded, according to Luis Vargas. "Where's the drugs?" Ultimately, the cops -- who did not have a search warrant -- found nothing more than two bottles of sedatives for Lillian Vargas, who said she tried without luck to show police the paperwork from her doctor to prove the pills were legally prescribed. But it made no difference to the officers, who handcuffed her and dragged her into the January cold dressed only in a robe.

At least two people were injured at Great Mills High School in Maryland and the shooter died, according to a press conference by the St. Mary's Sheriff Department. "Scene is contained and safe at Great Mills High School. Buses are transporting students to reunification location at James Forrest Career and Technology Center. We have two confirmed victims; no reported fatalities. One victim transported to MedStar St. Mary's Hospital, one to Washington Hospital Center and the shooter has been transported to Charles Regional." read more

President Trump has stepped up his attacks on special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's investigation in recent days, and his lawyer even suggested that the inquiry should be shut down. And just in case the direction in which this whole thing is headed wasn't clear, Trump has now hired a lawyer who argues the president is being framed. Trump's legal team on Monday announced the hiring of Joseph E. diGenova, a former U.S. attorney who served as an independent counsel and a special counsel in the 1990s and was later hired by the New York Senate to investigate Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D). The hiring was first reported by the New York Times.

President Trump has ratcheted up his criticism of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, calling out Mueller by name for the first time and asking if anyone thinks the investigation is fair given that the investigative team includes "13 hardened Democrats" and "Zero Republicans" -- despite Mueller himself being a registered Republican. But that's not how most Americans view things. Mueller is largely seen as running a fair investigation, and confidence has held steady or even grown over recent months, despite increasing scrutiny from Republicans and Trump of the investigation. A Pew Research Center poll released last week found that 61 percent of Americans are very or somewhat confident that Mueller "will conduct a fair investigation," up six percentage points from 55 percent who said the same in January, and from 56 percent in December.

Texas has been rocked by a fifth explosion this month as police hunt a suspected serial bomber. A FedEx worker was injured after a package containing nails and shrapnel blew up at a distribution centre in Schertz, San Antonio Fire Department said. It is the fifth blast to hit the US state in March, which have so far killed two people. On Sunday, two cyclists in Austin were injured in an explosion involving a tripwire device. The FedEx employee is believed to have suffered non-life threatening injuries in the latest explosion, which happened at about midnight local time. The FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are at the scene.

The US Air Force will this summer begin testing a laser that will be mounted on an F-15 warplane, an official said Monday. The Pentagon last year awarded a $26 million contract to Lockheed Martin for a laser program called SHiELD (Self-protect High Energy Laser Demonstrator.) The idea is to put a laser system on aircraft with an output of about 50 kilowatts to test their ability to zap drones or cruise missiles. Military laser beams are invisible to the naked eye. By focusing a beam on a target, the technology rapidly heats it up inside, causing it to crash or explode.


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