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Melania Trump wins damages, apology from Daily Mail publisher (defamation suit)

U.S. first lady Melania Trump has accepted an apology and damages from the publisher of the Daily Mail newspaper for reporting rumors about her time as a model, the two parties in the lawsuit said Wednesday.

In a joint statement, the parties said the Mail retracted its false statements that Trump “provided services beyond simply modeling” and agreed to pay damages and costs.

It also admitted as false its published claim “that Mr and Mrs Trump may have met three years before they actually met, and ‘staged’ their actual meeting as a ‘ruse.’”

“We accept that these allegations about Mrs Trump are not true and we retract and withdraw them. We apologise to Mrs Trump for any distress that our publication caused her,” the statement continued.

Read more at CBS News: Melania Trump wins damages, apology from Daily Mail publisher

Senate confirms Gorsuch to Supreme Court (SCOTUS Nomination)

Senate confirms Gorsuch to Supreme Court (SCOTUS Nomination)

The Senate on Friday confirmed Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, giving President Trump the biggest victory of his first 100 days in office.

The 54-45 vote caps a bitter political battle that began with the death of Justice Antonin Scalia more than a year ago and resulted in the Senate triggering the “nuclear option,” breaking Democrats’ blockade and ending filibusters for Supreme Court nominees.

Three Democrats facing reelection next year in strongly pro-Trump states voted for Gorsuch: Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), and Joe Donnelly (Ind.).

But two Democrats facing reelection in 2018 in states Trump won by double digits — Sens. Claire McCaskill (Mo.) and Jon Tester(Mont.) — voted no, a reflection of Trump’s slumping approval rating among independents and the boiling rage of the Democratic base over his 2016 electoral victory.

Gorsuch will be sworn in as the Supreme Court’s 101st associate justice on Monday.

Chief Justice John Roberts is set to administer the Constitutional Oath in a private ceremony at 9 a.m., and Justice Anthony Kennedy will administer the oath at a public ceremony at the White House later in the morning.

Read more at The Hill: Senate confirms Gorsuch to Supreme Court, giving Trump big win | TheHill

AAEC – Today’s Political Cartoons

AAEC – Today’s Political Cartoons

Daily political cartoons by members of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists (AAEC). The site also includes editorial cartoon archives, cartoonist profiles and articles about cartoon news & history.

Source: AAEC – Today’s Political Cartoons

U.S. strikes Syrian military airfield in first direct assault on Bashar al-Assad’s government

U.S. strikes Syrian military airfield in first direct assault on Bashar al-Assad’s government

The U.S. military launched 59 cruise missiles at a Syrian military airfield early Friday in the first direct American assault on the government of President Bashar al-Assad since that country’s civil war began nearly six years ago.

The operation, which the Trump administration authorized in retaliation for a chemical attack killing scores of civilians this week, dramatically expands U.S. military involvement in Syria and exposes the United States to heightened risk of direct confrontation with Russia and Iran, both backing Assad in his attempt to crush his opposition.

Syria and Russia swiftly denounced the attack, launched at around 3:40 a.m. local time Friday (8:40 p.m. EDT Thursday) from U.S. ships in the eastern Mediterranean.

Source: U.S. strikes Syrian military airfield in first direct assault on Bashar al-Assad’s government

Trump could blow up Obamacare with one move

Trump could blow up Obamacare with one move

“It’s one thing to say we’re going to watch Obamacare collapse,” said Kathy Hempstead, who oversees coverage programs for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “It’s another to shoot it in the head.”

Read more at Politico: Trump could blow up Obamacare with one move

President Trump says that Obamacare is going to explode.

But if that happens, it is likely because his administration supplies the spark that detonates the marketplaces.

The White House could decide at any time to eliminate subsidies relied upon by insurers to lower costs for Obamacare’s poorest customers, as a result of a court win by House Republicans last spring.

Read more at Politico: Trump could blow up Obamacare with one move

Money, Money, Money! Economic Policy and American Government: Mr. Rodman’s Top 12 Highlights from Chapter 18

Money, Money, Money! Economic Policy and American Government: Mr. Rodman’s Top 12 Highlights from Chapter 18

Mr. Rodman’s Top 12 Highlights from Chapter 18: Economic policy and the U.S. Government’s approach to fiscal policy, monetary policy, budgeting for fiscal years – including deficits, mandatory expenditures, discretionary spending, GDP, unemployment and inflation. We also look at the phases of the business cycle, how the Fed uses monetary policy to grow or slow the economy, and how the Executive and Legislative branches use fiscal policy to grow or slow the economy. In addition, we examine the different types of taxes, such as progressive, regressive and flat or proportional taxes, how the budget process works, the different types of economic policy — from Classical to Keynesian to Reaganomics and Monetarist thinking. We then wrap it up looking at the benefits and challenges of the free trade debate, different world trade organizations and agreements, such as WTO, GATT and NAFTA, and the impact of regulation and deregulation over the years.
House GOP abandons ObamaCare repeal effort in stunning defeat | TheHill

House GOP abandons ObamaCare repeal effort in stunning defeat | TheHill

Republicans abandoned their effort to repeal ObamaCare in a stunning defeat Friday, pulling legislation that was headed for an embarrassing loss on the House floor.

Read more at The Hill: House GOP abandons ObamaCare repeal effort in stunning defeat | TheHill

President Trump asked Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to pull the measure a day after issuing an ultimatum that the House had to vote on it, a GOP aide said.

The decision is a huge setback for Trump, Ryan and the GOP, which has promised for years to repeal ObamaCare.

“We are going to be living with ObamaCare for the foreseeable future,” Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said at a news conference after he met with his conference and told them the party would be moving on.

Read more at The Hill: House GOP abandons ObamaCare repeal effort in stunning defeat | TheHill

The GOP bill that was debated on the floor Friday seemed doomed to failure. The Hill’s Whip List said 36 Republicans would vote no, with many more possibly voting against the measure. The GOP could only afford 22 defections.

Read more at The Hill: House GOP abandons ObamaCare repeal effort in stunning defeat | TheHill

The Health-Care Debacle Was a Failure of Conservatism – The New Yorker

The Health-Care Debacle Was a Failure of Conservatism – The New Yorker

Let the recriminations begin! Actually, the health-care-failure finger-pointing got under way well before Friday, when Donald Trump and Paul Ryan cancelled a House vote on the American Health Care Act. A day earlier, aides to the President let it be known that he had come to regret going along with Ryan’s idea of making health care his first legislative priority.

In the coming days and weeks, there will be more of this blame shifting, and, in truth, there is plenty of blame to go around. Ryan failed to unify the House Republican caucus. Trump’s staff allowed him to endorse a bill that made a mockery of his campaign pledge to provide health insurance for everybody. And Trump himself blundered into a political fiasco, apparently believing he could win over recalcitrant Republican members of Congress simply by popping over to Capitol Hill.

Read more at The New Yorker: The Health-Care Debacle Was a Failure of Conservatism – The New Yorker

Schumer: Democrats will filibuster Gorsuch nomination

Schumer: Democrats will filibuster Gorsuch nomination

Senate hearings on Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch ended Thursday on a confrontational note, with the body’s top Democrat vowing a filibuster that could complicate Gorsuch’s expected confirmation and ultimately upend the traditional approach to approving justices.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he will vote no on President Trump’s nominee and asked other Democrats to join him in blocking an up-or-down vote on Gorsuch.

Under Senate rules, it requires 60 votes to overcome such an obstacle. Republicans eager to confirm Gorsuch before their Easter recess — and before the court concludes hearing the current term of cases next month — have only 52 senators.

Read more at The Washington Post: Schumer: Democrats will filibuster Gorsuch nomination – The Washington Post

FBI Director Comey Testifies at House Hearing on Russian Interference in the U.S. Election

FBI Director Comey Testifies at House Hearing on Russian Interference in the U.S. Election

James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director, confirmed early in Monday’s hearing that the bureau is indeed, as has been widely reported, investigating the interference by Russian intelligence in the 2016 American presidential election — including any possible collusion by aides and associates of President Trump.

Read more at The New York Times: Highlights From the House Hearing on Russian Interference in the U.S. Election – The New York Times

Mr. Comey said the investigation will cover “the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.”

The F.B.I. director noted that the inquiry is technically a counterintelligence investigation, focusing not on criminal conduct but on Russian intelligence activities. But he said F.B.I. agents will conduct “an assessment of whether any crimes were committed.”

Read more at The New York Times: Highlights From the House Hearing on Russian Interference in the U.S. Election – The New York Times

Ivanka Trump moves into West Wing office, acknowledges ‘no modern precedent’ for role

Ivanka Trump moves into West Wing office, acknowledges ‘no modern precedent’ for role

Though Ivanka Trump lacks a formal White House job, the president’s older daughter is moving into her own West Wing office, an administration spokesperson said  — a move that increases her profile as an influential, though unofficial, adviser to her father.

Read more at The Washington Post : Ivanka Trump moves into West Wing office, acknowledges ‘no modern precedent’ for her role – The Washington Post

Ivanka Trump will not be on the government payroll or officially bound by its ethics rules, but she said in a statement to Politico that she will “voluntarily” follow those restrictions, anyway. She also acknowledged the unusual nature of her emerging role.

“I will continue to offer my father my candid advice and counsel, as I have for my entire life,” Ivanka Trump in the statement. “While there is no modern precedent for an adult child of the president, I will voluntarily follow all of the ethics rules placed on government employees.”

Read more at The Washington Post : Ivanka Trump moves into West Wing office, acknowledges ‘no modern precedent’ for her role – The Washington Post

President Trump has named Ivanka, 35, the mastermind behind his child-care and maternity leave plans, the first proposals on such issues from a Republican president. Since the election, she has sat in meetings with world leaders, including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Politico reports she is also working to obtain a security clearance and will receive this week government communications.

Read more at The Washington Post : Ivanka Trump moves into West Wing office, acknowledges ‘no modern precedent’ for her role – The Washington Post

5 things to watch as Gorsuch gets grilled

5 things to watch as Gorsuch gets grilled

Trump’s Supreme Court nominee faces the Senate’s bright lights. Neil Gorsuch heads into his confirmation hearings on Monday with a singular goal: Be boring.

The impeccably polished Supreme Court nominee has, so far, encountered few obstacles in his path toward confirmation. He’s privately impressed senators, while opponents have struggled to make criticism against him stick. Not to mention, Gorsuch’s nomination has flown under the radar as a distracted Washington hurtles from one controversy to another under President Donald Trump.

Read more at Politico: 5 things to watch as Gorsuch gets grilled

What the Senate Should Ask Judge Gorsuch

What the Senate Should Ask Judge Gorsuch

A few good questions could rescue the Supreme Court hearings from the charade they’ve become.

Read more at Politico: What the Senate Should Ask Judge Gorsuch

When Judge Neil Gorsuch faces the Senate Judiciary Committee today, will we see a series of crisp, clear exchanges on the nature of the Constitution, the role of precedent, the limits of presidential power? Or will we see what one legal scholar called “a vapid and hollow charade, in which repetition of platitudes has replaced discussion of viewpoints and personal anecdotes have supplanted legal analysis”?

If the last 30 years are any guide, put your money on the second option.

Read more at Politico: What the Senate Should Ask Judge Gorsuch

Ever since Judge Robert Bork offered the Senate an honest account of his judicial philosophy in 1987 and watched it torpedo his chances, nominees have steadfastly refused to engage on controversial legal issues—insisting that they must avoid prejudging cases by remaining silent about any significant issue that might conceivably come before the court. Those nominees include Elena Kagan, the legal scholar who authored that 1995 jab at the process, and who notably lost her enthusiasm for revealing questions and answers when she was the one being questioned as a nominee.

Read more at Politico: What the Senate Should Ask Judge Gorsuch

Civil Rights and American Government – The Top 12 Highlights of Chapter 16

Civil Rights and American Government – The Top 12 Highlights of Chapter 16

Watch the Top 12 Highlights of Chapter 16. From origins of the Civil Rights movement to anti-discrimination laws and actions today, the Top 12 Highlights from Chapter 16 addresses the issues facing minorities in America today. From the end of Reconstruction in 1877 to the Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896, from the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s to the anti-discriminatory lending practices of financial institutions with steering and redlining in America today, we examine the impact American Government has had on providing equity and equality to minorities in the U.S. — and the ongoing struggles today.

Watch the Top 12 Highlights of Chapter 16

CBO: 24 million fewer insured under House bill repealing Obamacare

CBO: 24 million fewer insured under House bill repealing Obamacare

Roughly 24 million more people would be uninsured over a decade if the House Republican Obamacare repeal bill is enacted, according to a much-anticipated Congressional Budget Office analysis that could threaten GOP hopes of getting the measure through the House in the coming weeks.

The legislation would lead to 14 million more people being uninsured in 2018 alone. The nonpartisan scorekeeping office also forecast the GOP plan would cut the deficit by $337 billion over a decade, primarily because of the legislation’s cuts to Medicaid and private insurance subsidies.

Read more at Politico: CBO: 24 million fewer insured under House bill repealing Obamacare

Sen. Van Hollen (D-MD) led Congress in contributions from lobbyists

Sen. Van Hollen (D-MD) led Congress in contributions from lobbyists

Sen. Chris Van Hollen‘s (D-Md.) star has been on the rise in the Democratic party: After seven terms in the House, he won a Senate seat last November, and now occupies a much-coveted spot on the Appropriations committee while also chairing the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the party’s fundraising arm for its Senate candidates.

Read more at Open Secrets: Van Hollen led Congress in contributions from lobbyists – OpenSecrets Blog

A knack for raising money has helped propel Van Hollen’s steady ascent, which in turn has attracted more donors — many of whom are lobbyists. They like him so much that, in the 2016 election cycle, Van Hollen was the top congressional recipient of campaign contributions from federally-registered lobbyists.

In fact, the median member of the 100 congressional candidates who received the most lobbyist money in the 2016 cycle got less than one-seventh of Van Hollen’s haul.

Read more at Open Secrets: Van Hollen led Congress in contributions from lobbyists – OpenSecrets Blog

Read more at Open Secrets: Van Hollen led Congress in contributions from lobbyists – OpenSecrets Blog

Of the top 100 recipients of lobbyist money, 40 were Democrats and 60 were Republicans — but that ratio wasn’t represented among those who received the most cash. Van Hollen raked in the most money from lobbyists in the 2016 cycle, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) was next, but a wide gulf separated him from Van Hollen.

Read more at Open Secrets: Van Hollen led Congress in contributions from lobbyists – OpenSecrets Blog