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Trump Nuclear Deal with Saudi Arabia Would Need Review, Regulator Says

A nuclear regulatory official stressed that his agency will have the chance to weigh in on the outcome of atomic energy discussions between the Trump administration and Saudi Arabia—talks that have taken on a possible military dimension. Jeffery Baran, a member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said Wednesday that the body must make “certain statutory findings” before recommending the approval of export licenses. “We aren’t at that stage yet,” he said in testimony before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Baran was asked about… Keep Reading

FOIA Request for Pruitt Climate Science Denial Deemed Illegitimate by EPA, DOJ

The Trump administration is refusing to even respond to a public information request on climate science, accusing a public non-profit of trying to trigger an “endless fishing expedition.” Lawyers for the Justice Department and the Environmental Protection Agency made the claim in response to a lawsuit brought by the group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The organization had filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act to determine what sort of analysis EPA head Scott Pruitt relied on–when making declarative statements about climate… Keep Reading

Another Trump Ban Falls, Court Ruling Forces Military to Accept Transgender Troops Beginning Next Year

A federal judge in Washington ruled against the Trump administration on Monday, paving the way for transgender Americans to sign up for the military next year. Federal District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly shot down the White House’s argument that allowing transgender service would harm the armed forces. Within minutes of her ruling, Pentagon spokesperson Maj. David Eastburn confirmed to reporters that beginning Jan. 1, 2018, transgender individuals would be allowed to enlist in the military. That policy was established under the Obama administration, which had originally… Keep Reading

US-Europe Trump Divide Explored by Iranian Foreign Minister in NY Times Piece

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif is testing the Trump era schism between the US and Western Europe. In an op-ed published by The New York Times on Sunday, Zarif said Iran is “cautioning European countries against wavering on issues beyond the scope of the nuclear agreement and following in lock step behind the White House.” The agreement limiting Iran to civilian nuclear activity was signed in 2015 by every permanent member of the UN Security Council, Iran and Germany—to minimize the chance of replicating the… Keep Reading

Lawmakers Tie FISA Data Disclosures to Section 702 Reauthorization

The Director of the FBI defended the continued use of a controversial spying authority that expires at the end of the year. But, in an appearance on Capitol Hill Thursday, Christopher Wray was met with demands that the Bureau act more transparently about how it uses spying tools before any authorities are extended. Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act sunsets in three weeks. The statute’s expiration could curtail the ability of intelligence and law enforcement agencies to conduct powerful forms of surveillance. “I would implore the… Keep Reading

Louisiana Senator Advances Appellate Judge Nominee, Despite Warning: Never Tweet

A Republican Senator overcame his concerns about a judicial nominee’s tweets, voting to move the Texas Supreme Court Justice one step closer to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. John Neely Kennedy (R-La.) said he was afraid social media posts by Don Willett could sour the perceptions of potential litigants before him. Willett was approved Thursday by the Senate Judiciary Committee in an 11-9 vote along strict party lines. Kennedy joined his Republican colleagues in voting “yes.” “I share some of the concerns today expressed… Keep Reading

Pentagon Confirms: “Approximately 2,000” U.S. Troops on the Ground in Syria

The Department of Defense provided a revised count on the number of US soldiers participating in the Syrian Civil War—one that’s drastically higher than numbers provided just a month ago. Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon on Wednesday, Army spokesman Col. Rob Manning pegged the troop deployment number in Syria at roughly 2,000, and added: “it could be more, could be less.” That’s four times the number of deployed US soldiers that the Pentagon previously copped to last November. Officials did, however, acknowledge a few weeks… Keep Reading

Warren, Sanders Threaten Shutdown if G.O.P. Doesn’t “Respect Working People in this Country”

Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) raised the heat on Republicans’ scramble this week to keep the government funded. The two Senators called on their colleagues to increase spending on the neglected, patchwork federal safety net, and threatened to withhold support for a push to avert a government shutdown. The US government runs out of money on Friday. Congressional Republicans are hoping to pass a two-week extension of funding, while simultaneously attempting to finalize watershed legislation that would slash corporate tax rates. “The Republicans… Keep Reading

Some Dems Would Do Anything For Votes (But They Won’t Hurt Banks) – “Meat Loaf” References Pepper Dodd-Frank Rollback Vote

Divisions within the Democratic Party were laid bare on Tuesday, as the Senate Banking Committee voted 16-7 to grant relief to some of the largest financial institutions in the country. The left-wing of the party, led by Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), questioned the merits of both the process and the substance of the legislative package, clashing with colleagues on both sides of the aisle. Centrist Democrats, including Mark Warner (D-Va.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Joe Donnelly (D-Indiana), defended their proposals as… Keep Reading

Roberts Court Could Slow Advance of Gay Rights

The Supreme Court heard arguments on Tuesday in a case that could shield non-heterosexual Americans from discrimination in the marketplace. Justices listened to opening proceedings in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. At hand, is whether a baker in Colorado can be penalized for refusing to make a wedding cake for a same sex couple. Earlier this week, Justices showed an interest in pumping the brakes on civil rights. On Monday, the majority-conservative body declined to take up a case out of Houston that… Keep Reading

Christie Administration Appears Before SCOTUS In Bid to Legalize Sports Gambling

The US Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Monday in a case that could open up sports betting beyond the desert confines of Las Vegas. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, on behalf of his state, is challenging a 1992 federal prohibition on sports betting known as the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PAPSA). In Christie v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, lawyers for the Republican governor claim that the law, which prohibits the establishment of betting on competitive games between professional and amateur athletes, unconstitutionally… Keep Reading

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