Supreme Court Could Kill Gopher Frog

The highest court in the US on Monday announced it would take up a case that pits the well-being of an endangered amphibian against the interests of private developers. Louisiana landowners are asking the Supreme Court to overturn a decision by the US Fish and Wildlife Service that classified 1,500 acres of land as a critical habitat for the dusky gopher frog. The designated tract cuts right through property owned by timber company Weyerhaeuser, which had intended to use the land for residential and commercial development projects.… Keep Reading

Senate Democrats Push Controversial FISA Reauthorization to Finish Line

Liberals’ trepidation about the President of the United States were shelved in the Senate on Thursday, as 21 Democrats voted to renew powerful surveillance powers for the executive branch. In a 65-34 vote, the Senate concurred with a House bill to extend Section 702 of the Foreign Surveillance Intelligence Act for six years with minimal reforms. The legislation now goes to President Trump’s desk for signature. The spying authority gained notoriety following the disclosures of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden in 2013. Section 702 is geared toward… Keep Reading

Don’t Give the CFPB a Single Dime, Mulvaney Asks Fed, Amid Trojan Horse Assault on Agency

Watchdogs’ worst fears about Mick Mulvaney undermining the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are proving well-founded. The interim CFPB director and top White House aide has asked for no additional money from the Federal Reserve for the next fiscal quarter, according to a Tuesday letter obtained by the conservative Washington Examiner. Since the CFPB opened its doors earlier this decade, it has received on average roughly $500 million per year from the Fed, which oversees agency finances. The funds have been used to win about $2… Keep Reading

Banking Committee Discusses Money Laundering 101 (No Bitcoin Necessary)

The recent wild fluctuations in the value of cryptocurrencies has the Senate Banking Committee probing potential consequences. The panel is scheduled to hold a hearing on virtual currencies early next month, committee leaders announced last week. And at a Wednesday hearing on the Bank Secrecy Act, some members voiced concerns about the use of cryptocurrencies in money laundering. Bitcoin, the most prominent of virtual currencies, saw its value explode 800 percent in the second half of last year. Roughly half of the spike occurred in… Keep Reading

Private Market Fail–US Indefinitely Reliant on Russian Government for Space Travel

America’s future in space is largely in the hands of private companies whose work continues to be delayed and filled with uncertainty, a government watchdog testified on Wednesday. NASA contractors Boeing and SpaceX were supposed to have commercial crew transport systems ready to be certified for launch by 2017, providing the US with its own manned space flight system for this first time since the Space Shuttle program was retired in 2011. But those time schedules have since shifted. The certification date is now 2019.… Keep Reading

DHS, DOJ Link Terrorism and Immigration in Transparently Bogus Report

The Trump administration released a report on Tuesday that dubiously tied terrorism to immigration. The analysis, released by the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security, was ordered by President Trump’s Executive Order 13780–the legal basis of the administration’s proposed Muslim ban. “This report reveals an indisputable sobering reality–our immigration system has undermined our national security and public safety,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions claimed in a press release. In their conclusion, the agencies relied on data focusing on convictions in federal courts since the Sept. 11,… Keep Reading

Specter of Shkreli Looms over Trump HHS Pick, Under Barrage of Criticism for Eli Lily Price Hikes

President Trump’s second pick to run the Department of Health and Human Services acknowledged that he oversaw the jacking up of drug prices, as as a pharmaceutical executive. Alex Azar deflected criticism from Democrats on Tuesday, while testifying before the Senate Finance Committee. The nominee said high prices were a systemic problem, and that he wasn’t personally responsible for the trend, as the former President of Eli Lily. “I don’t know that there is any drug price of a branded product that has ever gone… Keep Reading

SCOTUS Declines Hearing for Oregon Christmas Bombing Case Marred by Entrapment, Warrantless Surveillance Claims

The Supreme Court declined the opportunity to hear a challenge to penetrating internet surveillance powers exposed by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. Justices turned down the appeal of Mohamed Osman Mohamud in a series of orders issued on Monday. They gave no reason why, as per standard procedure, considering the high number of cases before the court. Mohamud was found guilty of attempting to set off explosives at a Portland, Ore. Christmas tree lighting in November 2010, in the name of Islamist fundamentalism.… Keep Reading

Wyden: Use Looming Shutdown Fight to Protect Legal Weed

Lawmakers could use an upcoming spending fight to void Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ latest crackdown on marijuana use. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) reacted on Thursday to Sessions rescinding an Obama-era guidance that relaxed federal enforcement of marijuana laws in states that had legalized recreational use of the substance. In a statement, Wyden called the Attorney General’s move part of an “extremist anti-marijuana crusade.” “Any budget deal Congress considers in the coming days must build on current law to prevent the federal government from intruding in state-legal, voter-supported… Keep Reading

CHIP to be Spared from GOP Congressional Chaos–Children’s Heath Insurance Program set for Five-Year Extension

Congress appears poised to finally ensure that millions of kids who rely on the federal government for healthcare won’t have to depend on the legislative process for the rest of President Trump’s first term. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) touted a proposed five-year renewal of the Children’s Health Insurance Program on Thursday morning. CHIP expired in October, as Congressional Republicans scrambled to ram through landmark reductions to the corporate tax rate before the end of the year. “This month, we can set this right”… Keep Reading

Anti-Immigrant Republicans Rearing Ugly Heads As Dreamer Deadline Looms

Hardline xenophobic elements within the Trump administration and the Republican Party are beating the drums about immigration, two months before the status of Dreamers is set to expire. Thomas Homan, Immigration and Customs Enforcement acting director, said Tuesday that local officials who don’t fully cooperate with the agency should face criminal prosecution. “We gotta take [sanctuary cities] to court, and we gotta start charging some of these politicians with crimes,” Homan said in a Fox News interview. Homan made remarks the day after California became… Keep Reading

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