President Donald Trump reached a presidential milestone at his Palm Beach County, Florida, golf club on Saturday: One hundred days in office at a golf club that bears his name. Trump, once a critic of presidential golfing, has ignored his own advice and made a habit of visiting some of the many golf courses emblazoned in his moniker. The habit is part of the broader trend of the President and first lady making frequent trips to properties owned and operated by the Trump Organization. According to CNN's count, Trump has exclusively visited four golf clubs he owns during his presidency: Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Florida; Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Florida; Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia; and Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. read more
Chaos here, backlash there, shock everywhere. And in Washington and around the globe another gasping chorus of WTF commentary: reckless, not normal, reality show run amok. And so on, et cetera, et cetera, for the one-hundredth-and-can't-remember time of the Trump Era. But there is something different about this week's spasm of sudden policy lurches, graceless personal insults, oozing scandal news, and ceaseless West Wing knife fights. That's left many in Washington and beyond wondering what happens in the inevitable moments -- every modern president has faced them -- when outside events take over, and the government has to deal with a major military confrontation, a major natural disaster or some other catastrophe.
Every member who opposed the short-term prohibition on sales was Republican. For approximately 15 minutes, the Florida state Senate appeared to back a new measure that would have prohibited the sale of AR-15s for two years. Then Republicans overturned it. In a rare Saturday morning session, the state lawmakers considered a short-term ban on the assault-style rifle used to slaughter 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, last month. Democratic lawmakers attempted to put the gun restriction into a bill, SB 7026, that would invest money in mental health and school safety programs. After the upper chamber debated for nearly an hour, Senate President Joe Negron (R) ruled that the amendment temporarily banning the sale of AR-15s had passed in an unrecorded voice vote, the Tampa Bay Times reported. A quarter-hour later, that ruling was overturned by a roll call vote of 21-17.
Mike Lofgren: What has become of the Republican Party, which I once served on Capitol Hill and which I now consider a dangerous extremist movement on a par with the ruling Fidesz party in neo-fascist Hungary? Where did its principles go? What became of Ronald Reagan's "party of ideas"? One by one, those ideas were tossed aside for expediency and power -- except the tax cut. A time traveler from the Reagan era would no longer recognize the Republican Party, but most Republican politicians feel no embarrassment supporting policies they once condemned. read more
Inside the White House, aides over the past week have described an air of anxiety and volatility -- with an uncontrollable commander in chief at its center. These are the darkest days in at least half a year, they say, and they worry just how much farther President Trump and his administration may plunge into unrest and malaise before they start to recover. As one official put it: "We haven't bottomed out." Still, Trump's friends are increasingly concerned about his well-being, worried that the president's obsession with cable commentary and perceived slights is taking a toll on the 71-year-old. "Pure madness," lamented one exasperated ally. Retired four-star Army general Barry McCaffrey said the American people -- and Congress especially -- should be alarmed. "I think the president is starting to wobble in his emotional stability and this is not going to end well," McCaffrey said.
Vodafone 4G network will enable first live-streaming of HD video from the Moon's surface to a global audience. The Moon will get 4G coverage next year, 50 years after the first NASA astronauts walked on its surface. Vodafone plans to create the first 4G network on the Moon to support a mission by PTScientists in 2019 and has today appointed Nokia as its technology partner. Berlin-based company, PTScientists is working with Vodafone Germany and Audi to achieve the first privately-funded Moon landing. Mission to the Moon is due to launch in 2019 from Cape Canaveral on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Vodafone's network expertise will be used to set up the Moon's first 4G network, connecting two Audi lunar quattro rovers to a base station in the Autonomous Landing and Navigation Module (ALINA). Nokia, through Nokia Bell Labs, will create a space-grade Ultra Compact Network that will be the lightest ever developed - weighing less than one kilo, the same as a bag of sugar.
A prominent Kremlin-linked Russian politician has methodically cultivated ties with leaders of the National Rifle Association and documented efforts in real time over six years to leverage those connections and gain deeper access into American politics, NPR has learned. Russian politician Alexander Torshin said his ties to the NRA provided him access to Donald Trump -- and the opportunity to serve as a foreign election observer in the United States during the 2012 election. Torshin is a prolific Twitter user, logging nearly 150,000 tweets, mostly in Russian, since his account was created in 2011. Previously obscured by language and sheer volume of tweets, Torshin has written numerous times about his connections with the NRA, of which he is a known paid lifetime member. NPR has translated a selection of those posts that document Torshin's relationship to the group. read more
Frustration with House Democrats' campaign arm is boiling over. Three leading progressive organizations launched a petition campaign Friday demanding that the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee "stop attacking progressives." The petition, which is directed at DCCC Chairman Rep. Ben Ray Luján (N.M.), is a joint initiative of Justice Democrats, a progressive group that backs left-leaning primary candidates; Credo, a liberal, issue-based, online organizing outfit; and Our Revolution, the legacy group for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' 2016 presidential run. "We call on Chairman of the DCCC Ben Ray Luján to stop attacking progressives," a version of the petition circulated by Justice Democrats states. "Democrats should fight for progressive values and offer a clear contrast to [President Donald] Trump and the Republican Party." read more
For decades, the federal government, with the support of the National Rifle Association, has made it very difficult to answer a question at the heart of American public health and safety: Does gun control work? The answer is hugely important given that guns killed nearly 39,000 Americans in 2016 alone. But after research on gun violence in the 1990s found that firearms do not -- contrary to NRA talking points -- make people safer, the group backed a federal funding freeze on gun policy research. But studies have gone on -- just without federal funding. And on Friday, a nonpartisan think tank, the RAND Corporation, released the results so far of its Gun Policy in America initiative, a two-year dive into the research on gun violence and the laws trying to curtail it. read more
President Donald Trump bemoaned a decision not to investigate Hillary Clinton after the 2016 presidential election, decrying a "rigged system" that still doesn't have the "right people" in place to fix it, during a freewheeling speech to Republican donors in Florida on Saturday. In the closed-door remarks, a recording of which was obtained by CNN, Trump also praised China's President Xi Jinping for recently consolidating power and extending his potential tenure, musing he wouldn't mind making such a maneuver himself. "He's now president for life. President for life. No, he's great," Trump said. "And look, he was able to do that. I think it's great. Maybe we'll have to give that a shot some day." read more
James Fallows: Former GOP Operative Mike Lofgren: Democrats have more leverage on the [gun control] issue than they think -- if only they would use brass knuckles instead of powder-puffs. They simply must, day after day, take to the House and Senate floors and say that Republicans in general, and McConnell, Ryan, and Trump in particular, would prefer to see school children massacred than face the wrath of the NRA. To repeat, McConnell and company would prefer to see kids murdered rather than annoy the gun lobby. Brutal? yes. But is it true? Demonstrably. read more
Central Texas' local PBS station, which has been on the air for more than four decades, is going dark. The Central Texas College Board of Trustees voted four to two Tuesday to shut it down. The board cited budget concerns as one of their main reasons. Reverend Jimmy Towers, a member of the CTC Board of Trustees, said it was an extremely difficult decision because of its heritage, function and its legacy for Killeen, but it would have cost the college, the federal government--and basically taxpayers--millions to keep it running. He said the TV station's time is up. Towers is the pastor at the LifeWay Fellowship in Killeen. read more
Not since Richard Nixon started talking to the portraits on the walls of the West Wing has a president seemed so alone against the world. One source -- who is a presidential ally -- is worried, really worried. The source says this past week is "different," that advisers are scared the President is spiraling, lashing out, just out of control. For example: Demanding to hold a public session where he made promises on trade tariffs before his staff was ready, not to mention willing. "This has real economic impact," says the source, as the Dow dropped 420 points after the President's news Thursday. "Something is very wrong." Even by Trumpian standards, the chaos and the unraveling at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue are a stunning -- and recurring -- problem. "Morale is as bad as it's ever been," says another source familiar with the situation inside the White House, "The good people are being driven crazy."
How many airline passengers does it take to kill a $40 million tax break for Delta Air Lines? Only 13. The Georgia legislature removed a jet-fuel tax break from a larger tax package Thursday. Lawmakers were upset that Delta, which is headquartered in Atlanta, dropped the National Rifle Association from a discount-fare program in an effort to appear neutral on gun policy. But the airline said only 13 passengers ever bought tickets with an NRA discount. That translates into each discount costing the airline about $3 million in tax breaks. "We are in the process of a review to end group discounts for any group of a politically divisive nature," Bastian said in a note to employees.
President Trump's latest tough talking on trade has upset stock markets, angered US allies around the world and even drawn criticism from members of his own party. Whether it represents the start of a global trade war is likely to depend on the reaction from China, which Trump has repeatedly slammed for killing American jobs with its unfair trade practices. The tariffs on US steel and aluminum imports that Trump announced Thursday are "definitely the start of more aggressive trade measures by the Trump administration to protect US industry from what it sees as predatory practices of others," said Scott Kennedy, an expert on the Chinese economy at the Center for Strategic & International Studies in Washington. read more
California gave the official green light for self-driving cars without humans inside to begin testing on public roads. The first permits could be issued as early as April 2. On Wednesday, the state DMV released a new proposal for updates to its autonomous vehicle policy that would allow companies to deploy vehicles on public roads without drivers. As early as 2018, a Californian might glance into the lane next to them and see a car without a driver, rearview mirrors, gas and brake pedals, or a steering wheel. That's right: truly driverless vehicles will soon be welcome in the Golden State. read more