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Тимоти Майкл Кейн
19 января, 00:14

Standing Rock and the Trump Transition

Jerome Whitington and Eben Kirksey In the face of months of protests and legal campaigning, last December the US Army Corps of Engineers rejected the last critical environmental permit needed for completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The Pipeline is meant to service the Bakken oil fields and is the largest single project to expand fossil energy transportation for oil and gas. The move to re-evaluate the pipeline was cautiously praised by many, yet Energy Transfer Partners promised they would continue with their plans, optimistic that the Trump administration would view energy development more favorably. After all, Donald Trump has a sizable personal financial stake in the $3.8 billion energy project. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe stated, "We hope that [Energy Transfer Partners CEO] Kelcey Warren, [North Dakota] Governor Dalrymple, and the incoming Trump administration respect this decision and understand the complex process that led us to this point." However, Reuters reported Kelcey Warren personally donated more than $100,000 to Donald Trump's presidential campaign. The idea that the pipeline does not need a full environmental review because it technically does not cross Native land is clearly a farcical disavowal of regulatory requirements. Yet it is precisely this position that we expect the Trump Administration to take. In the Army Corps's decision, Assistant Secretary Jo-Ellen Darcy addressed this in a memo outlining problems with the Dakota Access Pipeline: "The proposed crossing of Lake Oahe is approximately 0.5 miles upstream of the northern boundary of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's reservation. The Tribe relies on Lake Oahe for drinking water and irrigation, portions of Lake Oahe downstream from the proposed crossing remain within the Tribe's reservation boundaries, and the Tribe retains water, hunting and fishing rights in the lake." Democratic Members of Congress played a key role in blocking the pipeline's route under Lake Oahe. On November 28, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid spoke on the floor and released a statement 'The Violence at Standing Rock Must End,' in which he pointed out: "The simple truth is that Indian tribes - whether the Moapa Paiute or the Standing Rock Sioux - are exposed to more pollution than their fellow Americans. That is the way it is. We don't talk a lot about the people who are severely impacted by the century of practically limitless pollution - Indians. This is not an urban-rural phenomenon. It's everywhere and it's dangerous. From South Dakota to Nevada, Native Americans are on the front lines of these environmental and public health catastrophes." As the new Congress prepares for the presidential transition, a number of key Senators and Representatives in the House have a track record of supporting the Dakota Sioux. We believe the next few weeks will prove a crucial period when scholars can play an important role in supporting these efforts. Communicating with your congressional members is an effective way for scholars to provide support for Native sovereignty and environmental protection. Academics continue to play a small but important role in applying selective pressure on decision makers. To take the discipline of anthropology as an example, the American Anthropological Association has released a statement on Standing Rock, and its members have been engaged in congressional advocacy to provide support for efforts in Washington. In this environment, the progressive Democratic members of Congress are in a unique position to block specific changes that are in store. While many have already demonstrated support, their effort cannot be taken for granted. For others--especially conservative Republican congress people--hearing from a concerned public can be critical in softening their position or making it less of an obvious priority. Dozens of Congress members and Senators listed below took action in 2016 on the Dakota Access Pipeline--by speaking on the floor, by writing letters to administration officials, by calling local law enforcement agents to account for their violent tactics. Now we need them to form a dedicated position in the face of the pro-development House, Senate and Executive branches. Standing Rock Tribal Chairman David Archambault II recently said: "The nation and the world are watching. The injustices done to Native people in North Dakota and throughout the country must be addressed." Take a moment to see where your Senators and Congress members stand on Standing Rock. Reach out and thank them for taking action and encourage them to remain vigilant in 2017. If your member has not yet taken action, encourage them to take a stand--especially if they have a record of pro-energy development positions. Personal contact can make an incredible difference. You can look up your Congressional Representative here, and your Senators here. In our experience, writing directly to them or, better yet, establishing face-to-face contact (showing up at a meeting to make a statement) are the most effective ways to communicate. Calling their local or national office, and/or emailing them, however, is decreasingly effective. Senators and Congressional members who have publicly supported the Standing Rock Sioux: Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) Rep. Ted Lieu (D-MI) Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ) Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL) Rep. Donna F. Edwards (D-MD) Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) Rep. James McGovern (D-MA) Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-MI) Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA) Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA) -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

18 января, 23:27

DeVos becomes social media sensation after bumpy hearing

Betsy DeVos has gone viral — and not in a good way. Following her bumpy confirmation hearing Tuesday night, President-elect Donald Trump’s Education secretary pick was a social media sensation Wednesday. Video snippets showed DeVos struggling to answer questions about the best way to measure student performance. Her suggestion that allowing states to permit guns in and around schools could help protect against grizzly bears was relentlessly mocked on Twitter. Perhaps most damaging was DeVos’ suggestion that states should handle enforcement of a federal law that protects the civil rights of children with disabilities. Several special education advocates said her responses hardened their concerns about her — and showed her unfamiliarity with important topics in education. “At this point, we are definitely sounding the alarm of concern,” said Denise Marshall, executive Director of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates. “It’s clear she has no clue about the requirements under the law. That’s a dangerous thing.”Curt Decker, executive director of the National Disabilities Rights Network, said that what DeVos struggled to answer “seems to be a basic piece of information that anybody in the education community would have.”Despite the negative buzz, DeVos has widespread backing among Republicans. It’s unlikely her performance will threaten her ability to get confirmed by the education committee and later the full Senate. But the performance did appear to harden the opposition from some previously uncommitted Senate Democrats. Shortly after midnight Wednesday, Cory Booker (D-N.J.), a past supporter of school vouchers, issued a statement saying her testimony raised “a number of concerns.” Missouri's Claire McCaskill, a red state Democrat, retweeted some of DeVos’ exchanges with Senate Democrats. “After watching my colleagues question DeVos it is now crystal clear why the Chairman limited questioning,” McCaskill tweeted, suggesting that Lamar Alexander’s decision to curb lawmakers’ time to one round of questions protected her from more embarrassing exchanges.Even before the hearing, DeVos was a top target of Democrats. And many special education advocates have long been concerned about DeVos’ views on special education, in part because she’s such a strong proponent of charter schools and voucher programs. Charter schools enroll a smaller percentage of special education students than traditional public schools, and there have been complaints that some push out special need students because they are more difficult to serve. In turn, in many states where school vouchers exist, students who attend a private school give up many of their rights under federal education law, Marshall said. During the hearing, one exchange on special education law prompted some gasps from spectators in an overflowed room. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) had followed up to an earlier question by stressing to DeVos that “federal law must be followed where federal dollars are in play.”“Were you unaware that it is federal law?” Hassan asked.“I may have confused it,” DeVos said.Earlier, Tim Kaine had asked DeVos whether all schools that receive taxpayer funding should be required to meet the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. “I think that is a matter better left to the states,” DeVos responded. The grizzly bear comment came in response to questions from Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) about gun control in schools. DeVos said decisions on gun access should be made by local and state governments. She then referred to a small rural school in Wapiti, Wyo., where earlier in the hearing, Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) had said the school had to ward off grizzly bears. “I would imagine that there is probably a gun in the schools to protect from potential grizzlies,” DeVos said. The exchange on testing came in response to a question from Al Franken (D-Minn.) on the issue of student growth and proficiency when it comes to standardized testing. Franken asked for her thoughts on using tests to measure whether students are making progress, as opposed to focusing on whether students meet a particular proficiency standard. “I think if I am understanding your question correctly around proficiency, I would correlate it to competency and mastery, so that each student is measured according to the advancements that they’re making in each subject area,” DeVos said. “Well that’s growth. That’s not proficiency,” Franken shot back. He added, “This is a subject that has been debated in the education community for years. … It surprises me that you don’t know this issue.”The criticism online of DeVos’ performance was at times blistering — even among some Republicans. "Ppl I respect, think highly of Betsy Devos. But clips of her confirmation hearing made me want to cover my eyes. Not prepared for hard q's," Republican strategist Ana Navarro tweeted.DeVos’ supporters dismissed the criticism of her performance and said the hearing was dominated by political theatre. “It was clear that the goal of the Democrats was to not allow her to answer the questions and then criticize her for a lack of answer or what they saw as an incorrect answer,” said Gary Naeyaert, executive director of Great Lakes Education Project, a “school choice” advocacy organization founded by DeVos and her husband. “There was definitely a 'gotcha' mindset.”Naeyaert had a simple explanation for DeVos’ much-criticized answer on special education laws: “I think she misheard a portion of the question and she clearly corrected herself.”Ed Patru, a spokesman for a group of allies supporting DeVos’ confirmation, said Wednesday that DeVos “absolutely believes states must adhere to federal law as it pertains to students with special needs.” Patru said that DeVos is also “deeply sympathetic” to “the many parents of kids with special needs kids for whom [federal law] is not working correctly because of the uneven way in which it is being implemented.”Alexander has said he wants the Senate’s education committee to vote on DeVos’ confirmation next Tuesday. But he’s said it won’t hold the vote if a review by the Office of Government Ethics related to DeVos’ financial holdings isn’t complete by Friday — Trump’s swearing-in day. Following the hearing, Alexander said DeVos handled herself with “great pleasantness” and is well qualified.“I believe she will be confirmed,” Alexander told reporters. That’s not good news to Christina Mills, a board member on the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund who is physically disabled.DeVos’ answers on special education confirmed Mills' suspicions about her — and she said Wednesday she planned to write senators telling them to oppose her nomination. “It certainly made it more solid. It solidified what she was all about. That’s for sure,” Mills said of her opposition to DeVos.

18 января, 18:22

Betsy DeVos, Trump's Education Pick, Seems Unfamiliar With A Major Federal Education Law

Donald Trump’s nominee for education secretary appeared stumped by senators when they asked her about a federal education law related to discrimination during her confirmation hearing Tuesday night. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) asked Betsy DeVos about how she’d enforce the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. IDEA, as the law is known, requires that public schools provide children with disabilities a “free and appropriate” education just like other students. As DeVos danced around his questions, Kaine grew agitated, asking her point-blank if schools should have to follow federal law. “Should all K-12 schools receiving government funding be required to meet the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act?” he asked. “I think they already are,” DeVos responded, suggesting that no school is failing to meet the law. “But I’m asking you a ‘should’ question,” Kaine followed up. “Should all schools that receive taxpayer funding be required to meet [the law]?” “I think that’s a matter that’s best left to the states,” DeVos responded, essentially saying the federal government should abdicate enforcement of its own law. Kaine pretty much lost it at that point. “So some states might be good to kids with disabilities, other states might not be good, and then what? People can just move around the country if they don’t like [the schools]?” When it was her turn to quiz DeVos, Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), who has a son with special needs, returned to the topic of IDEA, and wanted to pin down whether DeVos was even familiar with it. “That’s a federal civil rights law,” Hassan said. “So do you stand by your statement a few minutes ago that it should be up to the state whether to follow it?” “I may have confused it,” DeVos responded. DeVos is a controversial pick to run the Department of Education. A billionaire from one of Michigan’s wealthiest families, DeVos has never been a teacher or worked as a school administrator, and her children did not attend public school. Her education experience is primarily as a political donor, steering money toward “school choice” reforms to bolster charter and private schools. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

18 января, 02:03

DeVos dodges toughest questions about public school plans

Despite some stumbles, she appears on the path to confirmation

17 января, 17:17

Laura Ingraham Considering Run For Senate In Virginia

WASHINGTON ― Conservative radio host Laura Ingraham is “considering” challenging Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Hillary Clinton’s running mate in the 2016 presidential election. “I think it’s always good to mix things up, and I’ve been in Washington for a long time ... I’ve had a privilege to serve the country and the judicial branch as a law clerk, at the executive branch for President [Ronald] Reagan. And it might be something I’m interested in,” Ingraham told “Fox & Friends” on Tuesday. The influential conservative commentator said she has not yet made a decision on running, but a “number of folks in Virginia who are well-connected” are pushing her to challenge Kaine in 2018. “It’s very flattering. I’ll decide in the future,” she added. Peter Anthony, Ingraham’s business partner, has reportedly bought web domain names in case she decides to run, including ingrahamsenate.com, ingrahamforvirginia.com and ingraham2018.com. An author and Fox News contributor who runs the conservative website LifeZette, Ingraham was one of Donald Trump’s most prominent supporters during his campaign. Most recently, she was under consideration to be White House press secretary. The 2018 Virginia Senate race is shaping up to be one of the marquee contests in the country. Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.), who just won re-election, is considered a favorite among some in the state GOP to challenge Kaine, according to The Washington Post. Also possibly in the mix: former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.). “I did hear through the grapevine that Eric Cantor is interested in running,” Ingraham said on “Fox & Friends.” -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

17 января, 13:30

Betsy DeVos faces the HELP Committee: Five things to watch

Senate Democrats are expected to grill Betsy DeVos with tough questions on Tuesday — part of a strategy to paint Donald Trump’s Education secretary pick as an enemy of public education. Democrats’ opposition has been hardened by the fact that DeVos is a longtime GOP donor with ties to anti-gay rights and anti-organized labor groups. DeVos, a billionaire, has long wielded influence in Michigan politics — where she previously ran the state’s Republican Party — and in the school choice advocacy world, where she’s spent millions pushing for charter schools and voucher programs. But DeVos has never held elected office, and both sides will be watching to see how she handles the spotlight during her confirmation hearing before the Senate HELP Committee. Senators also want to hear her speak publicly for the first time on many critical education issues, ranging from student loan oversight to the federal government’s role in funding preschool.Republican HELP senators — four of whom have received campaign contributions from DeVos — will likely warmly welcome her as a potential Education secretary. Her views on K-12 education are very much in line with many GOP lawmakers, and she has strong ties to Republican establishment figures such as Jeb Bush. Even though Democrats such as ranking member Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) say they are troubled by DeVos’ record, it’s unlikely they can thwart her nomination. Democrats view the hearing as their chance to get DeVos on the record regarding her specific viewpoints, and to get assurances from her on issues such as civil rights enforcement. Here are five things to watch during Wednesday’s hearing.INTERACTION WITH SENATORS: HELP Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) has called DeVos an “excellent” pick. She’s also likely to find an ally in fellow Republicans such as Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), who spoke at the aviation charter school in Michigan that DeVos’ husband founded. On the Democratic side, Murray has set the tone that she’s not happy with DeVos’ record when it comes to both vouchers and charter schools. Murray has also said she’s concerned about DeVos’ "extensive financial entanglements and potential conflicts of interest." Other Democratic senators on the committee to watch include party stars Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), along with Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent. Kaine’s home state of Virginia has very few charter schools and he received enthusiastic support from teachers unions during his campaign as Hillary Clinton’s running mate. Warren is known for her sharp line of questioning during committee hearings, and has already said she’s “extremely concerned” about DeVos’ support for vouchers. Sanders has been highly critical of for-profit charter schools. FOR-PROFIT EDUCATION: DeVos’ views on the role of for-profit companies in both K-12 and higher education will likely get scrutiny. DeVos and her husband, Dick, are considered architects of Michigan’s charter school laws because of their pro-charter lobbying and large campaign donations to charter-friendly state lawmakers. Today, school systems in Detroit, Flint and Grand Rapids enroll some of the highest percentages of charter school students nationwide. But the state’s charter schools perform worse, on average, than traditional public schools on the “nation’s report card” — problems critics attribute to Michigan’s high number of for-profit charter school companies. On the higher education front, the Obama administration, at the urging of progressive senators like Warren, has taken an aggressive approach to regulating for-profit colleges. It’s widely assumed that the Trump administration will adopt a more pro-business stance when it comes to the sector, but neither Trump nor DeVos have revealed their views on for-profits. CIVIL RIGHTS ISSUES: Very few topics out of the Education Department stir up emotions on both sides of the aisle like the Office for Civil Rights. Under Obama, the office became more active on issues such as campus sexual assault, transgender student bathroom access and student discipline — and conservatives complained of federal overreach. Democrats want to pin DeVos down on how she will handle these matters. They also want assurances from her that she will protect special-needs students, immigrants and English language learners. She and her family’s donations to groups that support anti-gay rights causes could be scrutinized by Democrats during the hearing. DeVos may also be asked for her views on sexual assault cases should be handled by college administrators. QUESTIONS ON EXPERIENCE AND IDEOLOGY: DeVos has no direct experience working in education. She has never been a school teacher or college president. Democrats have questioned her qualifications for the job — and will likely do so again during the hearing. They also see her as having an ideological view that is hostile toward traditional public schools. The Republican establishment, meanwhile, is much more receptive to DeVos’ education views. On a more practical level, DeVos will likely take questions on how she views the federal role under the Every Student Succeeds Act, which gave states more power than No Child Left Behind. She could also field questions about her views on the Common Core standards, which are in use in more than 40 states. Trump campaigned heavily against the Common Core, and DeVos took heat from some conservative groups for her connections to groups that support the standards. The day Trump named her as his pick, DeVos issued a statement insisting she personally opposed Common Core — a statement she reiterated later at a Trump rally in her hometown of Grand Rapids. ISSUES BEYOND K-12: Very little is publicly known about DeVos’ views on higher education and early childhood education. The Education Department oversees the nation’s massive student loan program, and this role has only grown in significance as the department reviews loan-forgiveness claims from hundreds of thousands of former for-profit college students who say they were defrauded by their schools. Senators will want to know where DeVos stands on everything from income-based repayment plans to Obama’s “Scorecard” on college costs. Senators might also ask for details on how she views the federal role in early childhood education — an area of focus for the Obama administration.

17 января, 13:27

Senate Democrats expected to grill Betsy DeVos: 5 things to watch

Democrats will seek to paint Betsy DeVos as Public School Enemy No. 1 on Tuesday during her confirmation hearing — part of a long-shot effort to thwart her confirmation to be Education secretary. DeVos, a billionaire philanthropist and GOP donor from Michigan, is an education activist with no conventional education experience in a classroom. She’s used her massive wealth to lobby for state voucher programs and the expansion of charter schools nationwide — work her backers say has boosted educational opportunities for low-income kids.But DeVos’ limited experience working with traditional public schools also leaves her open to questions about her qualifications for the Cabinet post. Democrats bristle at some of the conservative causes DeVos has championed. For example, she and her husband, Dick, have given money to groups opposed to gay rights and in favor of "right to work" laws opposed by unions. DeVos could face tough questioning from several members of the Senate education committee, including Democrats Elizabeth Warren and Tim Kaine, and independent Bernie Sanders. Republican committee members — four of whom have received campaign contributions from DeVos — will likely warmly welcome her. DeVos’ views on K-12 education are very much in line with those of many GOP lawmakers, and she has strong ties to Republican establishment figures such as Jeb Bush. Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander has called her an “excellent” pick, and Republican Sen. Tim Scott, a member of the committee, has called her a “smart woman” with an “unequivocal commitment” to education. Here’s POLITICO’s guide on the issues to watch for DeVos’ confirmation hearing: Questions on experience and ideologyDemocrats have questioned DeVos’ qualifications for the job — and will likely do so again during the hearing. They also see her as having an ideological hostility toward traditional public schools.“Your active political fundraising of course does not disqualify you from holding public office, but it does raise questions about whether you will be able to discharge your duties fairly on behalf of all Americans, including those without the wherewithal to contribute to causes or candidates you support,” Warren and Sanders recently wrote to DeVos, joined by four Democratic lawmakers.On a more practical level, DeVos will likely take questions on how she views the federal role in education under the Every Student Succeeds Act, the law governing K-12 schools that shifted more power to the states. And DeVos’ views on the controversial Common Core standards, which detail what K-12 students should know in English and Math at the end of each grade, could also come up. President-elect Donald Trump campaigned heavily against the Common Core standards, and DeVos has been criticized by some conservatives for her connections to groups that back the standards. The day Trump named her as his pick, DeVos issued a statement saying she personally opposed Common Core — a statement she reiterated later at a Trump rally in her hometown of Grand Rapids.Civil rightsThe Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights inflames passions on both sides of the aisle. The office under Obama dramatically ramped up oversight on issues of campus sexual assault, transgender student bathroom access and student discipline — actions that conservatives viewed as federal overreach. Democrats want to pin DeVos down on how she will handle these matters. Along those lines, they may question her about her $10,000 in donations that she and her husband gave to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. FIRE has sued the Obama administration to raise the standard of proof for victims of sexual assault in university administrative hearings — contending the current standard is unfair to the accused.How Democrats deal with DeVosAt a minimum, Democrats will want to spotlight the problems they see with private school vouchers, in hopes of making it more difficult for DeVos or Trump to expand them. Democrats already achieved a small victory in the scheduling of the hearing. It was initially slated for last Wednesday, but was pushed back nearly a week after Democrats complained that DeVos’ paperwork had not yet been fully reviewed by the Office of Government Ethics. Alexander and Washington Sen. Patty Murray, the committee’s ranking member, said the decision to delay the hearing was made "at the request of the Senate leadership to accommodate the Senate schedule,” but sources said the delay in the ethics review process contributed to the decision. Is DeVos ready? DeVos has long wielded influence in Michigan politics — where she previously ran the state’s Republican Party — and in the school choice advocacy world. And her family has long been in the public spotlight. She is married to Dick DeVos, an unsuccessful GOP candidate for governor of Michigan, former president of Amway and the former president of the Orlando Magic NBA franchise.Over the years, DeVos has written blunt-talking commentary defending her family’s political advocacy and in support of closing the Detroit public school system. But she’s never held elected office, and the hearing may be one of the first times she’s asked to speak extensively in public about her views on higher education and early childhood programs. It remains to be seen how she handles pointed questions from Democrats.Will DeVos’ performance affect quick confirmation?Alexander has said the committee will vote on her confirmation on Jan. 24. Given Republicans’ 52-seat Senate majority and DeVos’ widespread support among GOP senators, she’s expected to be confirmed by the HELP Committee and, then, the full Senate barring bombshell revelations or an unexpectedly dismal performance.

13 января, 00:00

Should America Pick A Secretary of State Who Faces Fraud Investigations?

Among the most disturbing aspects of Rex Tillerson's confirmation hearing -- he failed to disavow the idea of "a national registry for American Muslims"; he declined to offer an opinion on whether Vladimir Putin (pictured above with Tillerson) had committed war crimes; he said he didn't view climate change "as the imminent national security threat that perhaps others do"; and more -- was his general refusal to answer questions about ExxonMobil, the company where he has worked for 41 years and where he has been the CEO since 2006. The members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee were entitled to ask Tillerson about his career, his successes and failures, and the record of the company he has run, including its relationship with Vladimir Putin's Russia and its conduct with respect to climate change. Tillerson refused. When asked by Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) about the ongoing controversy about whether Exxon knew about the magnitude of the climate change threat, but concealed it from the public, Tillerson replied with a prepared answer: "Senator, since I'm no longer with ExxonMobil, I'm in no position to speak on their behalf. The question would have to be put to them." When Kaine persisted, asking."Do you lack the knowledge to answer my question or are you refusing to answer my question?," Tillerson responded, "A little of both." The Senate should reject Tillerson's response as entirely inadequate. The Senate, and the public, have a right to answers regarding Exxon's conduct while Tillerson was at the helm -- especially because Exxon's alleged deceptions on climate change are, right now, the subject of multiple federal and state law enforcement investigations. Investigative reporting in the past year demonstrated that Exxon scientists have known and had told Exxon management for decades that burning fossil fuels was heating up the planet. But rather than educate the public on the dangers and change its business strategy, Exxon instead spent millions supporting efforts to publicly question and deny the science of climate change. There also are questions as to whether ExxonMobil has properly accounted for its oil reserves in the wake of global price drops and evidence of global warming. Responding to those reports and other evidence, New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman issued a subpoena to ExxonMobil in November 2015. In response, ExxonMobil has provided Schneiderman with more than 700,000 pages of documents relating to climate change. On October 26, 2016, a New York judge ordered ExxonMobil to give Schneiderman additional records. Meanwhile, in April 2016, Massachusetts attorney general Maura Healey issued her own civil demand, seeking 40 years of climate change documents from ExxonMobil. Yesterday, a Massachusetts judge handed Healey a big victory, ordering ExxonMobil to comply. Suffolk County Superior Court Judge Heidi Brieger firmly rejected the company's claim that Healey was on a political crusade or acting out of bias against the company. ExxonMobil has responded aggressively to these investigations, filing an unprecedented federal lawsuit in its home state of Texas, in which it seeks to question under oath both Healey and Schneiderman about their motives for investigating the company. The judge in the case initially give ExxonMobil the green light to conduct such a probe, but he has backed off, for now, after the two attorneys general complained to a federal appeals court. In the wake of her court victory over the company yesterday, Healey said, "Exxon must now end its obstructive tactics and come clean about whether it misled Massachusetts consumers and investors about what it knew about climate change, its causes and effects." But the New York and Massachusetts investigations are not the only ones focused on ExxonMobil and climate change. ExxonMobil also faces an investigation from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, initiated in August 2016, examining a similar set of issues. In addition, in January 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice, responding to a congressional request to investigate ExxonMobil, referred the matter to the FBI. There are a number of reasons to be concerned about Tillerson, not least that a man who has built a close business relationship with Putin and received Russia's Order of Friendship decoration is the wrong choice to check the wildly pro-Putin impulses of Donald Trump and designated national security adviser Michael Flynn. But the law enforcement investigations are a central problem. If Tillerson were confirmed as Secretary of State, he would take the job under a cloud. Law enforcement agencies are actively investigating the allegedly deceptive behavior of the company he ran. He might be tied up in the litigation, with his own conduct at issue, and be forced to answer questions from investigators working for his own government. At the other extreme, Tillerson's powerful role in the government might create pressure for federal investigators to ignore the facts and shut down the investigation, especially under a president who shows little disregard for rules or ethics. Given the ongoing fraud investigations against his company, the Senate should not confirm Tillerson, especially if he refuses to address senators' questions, right now, about ExxonMobil and climate change. This article also appears on Republic Report. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

12 января, 21:08

Senate panel advances Mattis waiver to run Pentagon

The Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday easily approved legislation to exempt James Mattis from the seven-year waiting period for retired military officers to become Defense secretary.The committee passed the waiver for Mattis, who retired from the Marine Corps in 2013, by a vote of 24-3 immediately following his confirmation hearing. Three Democrats — Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts — voted against it. The measure is now headed to the Senate floor, where leaders hope to take it up as early as Thursday afternoon, when the House Armed Services Committee is also scheduled to vote on the waiver.The exempting legislation is on the fast-track so Trump can sign it into law on Inauguration Day, allowing Mattis to be confirmed on day one.Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) argued the waiver should be approved because the U.S. is at war and the Trump administration needs Mattis as quickly as possible.Democratic senators on the committee said they had significant concerns about eroding the principle of civilian control of the military but most concluded that Mattis understood the implications and supported a one-time exemption.“I am extremely concerned by the precedent that your assuming this office would set,” said Blumenthal. While he voted against the waiver, he also told Mattis: “Let me say very bluntly, if there were ever a case for a waiver of that principle, it is you and this moment in our history.”Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), who was Hillary Clinton’s pick for vice president, and other Democrats also argued that Mattis would be an important voice advising the Trump administration.“Features of the times, features of frankly my concerns about the incoming administration, and features in your background I think make this an opportune moment to make an exception,” Kaine said.Senators still told Mattis that he had to be aware of his new and different role — and Mattis even slipped into his former role as a general on Thursday, when he told Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) he would offer his “best military advice.”“You need to move from being a warrior to a manager,” Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) told Mattis.The issue is a bit more contentious in the House after the Trump transition team canceled Mattis’ scheduled appearance before the Armed Services Committee on Thursday.Ranking Democrat Adam Smith of Washington said he’s lobbying his Democratic colleagues to oppose the waiver if the chamber does not hear from Mattis on the issue of civilian control.But without Republican defections, House Democrats can’t stop the waiver from advancing. House Republican leaders plan to hold a floor vote on the measure Friday.

12 января, 18:26

Donald Trump's Supreme Court Pick Coming Within 2 Weeks Of Inauguration

function onPlayerReadyVidible(e){'undefined'!=typeof HPTrack&&HPTrack.Vid.Vidible_track(e)}!function(e,i){if(e.vdb_Player){if('object'==typeof commercial_video){var a='',o='m.fwsitesection='+commercial_video.site_and_category;if(a+=o,commercial_video['package']){var c='&m.fwkeyvalues=sponsorship%3D'+commercial_video['package'];a+=c}e.setAttribute('vdb_params',a)}i(e.vdb_Player)}else{var t=arguments.callee;setTimeout(function(){t(e,i)},0)}}(document.getElementById('vidible_1'),onPlayerReadyVidible); President-elect Donald Trump promised Wednesday that he’ll be announcing his choice for the Supreme Court seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia within two weeks of taking office on Jan. 20. The time frame and the fact his transition team has met with “numerous” candidates were the only new revelations about the impending nomination, which was an important plank of his campaign and the reason many social conservatives and evangelicals held their noses to elect him president. “I’ll be making that decision, and it will be a decision which I very strongly believe in,” Trump said during his long-awaited news conference on how he plans to deal with business conflicts. “I think it’s one of the reasons I got elected. I think the people of this country did not want to see what was happening with the Supreme Court, so I think it was a very, very big decision as to why I was elected.” Later on Wednesday, Vice President-elect Mike Pence told reporters he has been meeting with Democratic senators to give them a sense of Trump’s plans for the Supreme Court. “Today was really about talking about our legislative agenda, but also meeting with members of the Senate to get their input on the president’s decision about filling the vacancy on the Supreme Court,” Pence said, according to CNN. The former Indiana governor met with Democratic Sens. Tim Kaine (Va.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.) and Joe Manchin (W.V.). Pence may be trying to get to 60 — the number of senators needed to break an expected filibuster and move forward on a vote on a Trump nominee. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has said he expects a “mainstream” candidate to succeed Scalia ― or, if not, for Senate Republicans to expect a fight. Unlike President Barack Obama, who kept his cards close and put a lot of thought into his nominees to the high court, Trump has made no bones about relying on the input of two conservative organizations, The Federalist Society and The Heritage Foundation, to shape his list of 21 potential nominees. “Jim DeMint was also very much involved, and his group, which is fantastic, and he’s a fantastic guy,” he said Wednesday, singling out the Heritage president and former South Carolina senator. Strangely, Trump also said his list now contains 20 names, which suggests someone may have been removed from it — perhaps Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), who in the lead-up to the election was a fierce Trump critic and brushed off a possible nod to replace Scalia. Among those rumored to be closest to getting Trump’s seal of approval are a handful of federal appeals judges, including U.S. Circuit Judge William Pryor of the 11th Circuit, and U.S. Circuit Judge Diane Sykes of the 7th Circuit. Trump said Wednesday his shortlist is made up of judges who are “outstanding in every case,” but for all the public knows, he may very well rely on looks to make his final choice. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

12 января, 15:00

Democrats Play Nice And Normal With Trump In Nominee Hearings

function onPlayerReadyVidible(e){'undefined'!=typeof HPTrack&&HPTrack.Vid.Vidible_track(e)}!function(e,i){if(e.vdb_Player){if('object'==typeof commercial_video){var a='',o='m.fwsitesection='+commercial_video.site_and_category;if(a+=o,commercial_video['package']){var c='&m.fwkeyvalues=sponsorship%3D'+commercial_video['package'];a+=c}e.setAttribute('vdb_params',a)}i(e.vdb_Player)}else{var t=arguments.callee;setTimeout(function(){t(e,i)},0)}}(document.getElementById('vidible_1'),onPlayerReadyVidible); WASHINGTON — Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson answered Democratic Sen. Tom Udall’s questions on climate change Wednesday, but he left a fair amount of wiggle room. Democrats regard the topic as a vital issue, one that they’ve signaled will be a key focus in expected battles with President-elect Donald Trump’s administration. But Udall, of New Mexico, was impeccably polite to the former Exxon Mobil CEO, even after Tillerson declined to give a simple yes or no answer to whether he agreed with the energy company’s position that climate change is caused by human activity and that it poses a real risk. Udall moved on, and thanked the oil man very much. His dodgy answer didn’t go unnoticed, however, and another senator stepped into the breech to press the nominee. It was Republican Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, who asked Tillerson again and then cut him off for running on too long. “This is not quite as succinct as I was hoping,” Corker said, looking at least mildly annoyed. As Corker tried to pin Tillerson down, Udall interrupted the chairman to say, “I think we should let him finish.” Udall said it with a smile and a chuckle that suggested he realized the oddity of a Democrat being more solicitous of a Trump nominee than a GOP committee boss. But the moment also said something about how Democrats intend to deal with the incoming Trump administration: They’re going to play ball, and play by the rules. It’s a theme that could be seen across the first two days of hearings on Trump’s choices to run his government. There were certainly moments when Democrats gave nominees grief. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) forced Tillerson to outright refuse to answer what he knew about Exxon hiding climate science data for decades. A day earlier, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) deadpanned his way through questions of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the attorney general nominee, to reveal that Sessions’ claimed personal involvement in 20 to 30 civil rights cases, but the involvement often amounted to Sessions signing his name. function onPlayerReadyVidible(e){'undefined'!=typeof HPTrack&&HPTrack.Vid.Vidible_track(e)}!function(e,i){if(e.vdb_Player){if('object'==typeof commercial_video){var a='',o='m.fwsitesection='+commercial_video.site_and_category;if(a+=o,commercial_video['package']){var c='&m.fwkeyvalues=sponsorship%3D'+commercial_video['package'];a+=c}e.setAttribute('vdb_params',a)}i(e.vdb_Player)}else{var t=arguments.callee;setTimeout(function(){t(e,i)},0)}}(document.getElementById('vidible_2'),onPlayerReadyVidible); More often, though, Democrats took the mild-mannered approach, in sharp contrast to the heated criticisms President Barack Obama’s nominees faced from Republicans across his eight years. When Sessions came before the Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, the ranking Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, opened up by laying out many of Sessions’ votes that Democrats find deplorable. She didn’t raise questions about claims of racism. And she started the clear recitation of his votes with something of an apology, saying that since she’s known Sessions in the Senate for 20 years, “That makes this very difficult for me.” Indeed, even after watching Republicans roadblock President Obama for the last six years and after watching Trump topple Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton with a daily fusillade of insults and unsubstantiated charges, responding in kind seems to be very difficult for Democrats. Some observers see that in a positive light and as the natural strategy for new Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who has said he’ll work with Trump when Trump agrees with Democrats and fight him when he disagrees with Democrats. “This is the real world, and you’ve got to throw hard ones at the head when they do the same to your batters,” said Baruch College political scientist Douglas Muzzio, who has followed Schumer since he was an assemblyman in Brooklyn.  You have to stand firm, but you don’t stand firm nine days before the inauguration. You play it straight, and maybe bend over backwards for his nominees. You play ball until he cheats. Baruch College political scientist Douglas Muzzio “You have to stand firm, but you don’t stand firm nine days before the inauguration,” Muzzio added. “You play it straight, and maybe bend over backwards for his nominees. You play ball until he cheats.” Kaine, who was Clinton’s running mate, felt like Tillerson cheated at least a little when he refused to answer the question about Exxon Mobil’s climate data chicanery. He still felt, though, that Democrats would not be well served trying to play in the same realms of fake news and false outrage that Trump rumbled through on the way to the White House. “I used to say I never lost a race, and I have to slightly amend it. I’ve never lost the popular vote in any race, and that’s nine elections in Virginia, where I’ve always come out on the winning end,” Kaine said after the hearing when asked if there were any lessons Democrats could take from the GOP’s recent examples. “I think my people want me to be about the substance.” There are some Democrats who can be expected to throw some bombs in Trump’s direction, primarily Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and 2016’s Democratic primary runner-up, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). But even other liberals are inclined to stick with the strategy of drawing a serious contrast with the explosive Trump and being tough only when it seems truly warranted. “That’s been part of the conversation over the last two weeks in terms of trying to make sure that we’re still in character, that we’re still the party that believes in governing, we’re still the sane folks,” Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) said. “But we understand that these are no ordinary times, and it’s going to require not just extraordinary measures, procedurally, but we have to tap into both the anger and the fear that people are feeling out there.” It could be argued Trump did exactly that with a campaign that warned of immigrant rapists, terrorist-inspired refugees and imaginary surges in the national crime rate. How a party responds to voter fears and concerns without adopting more of a hardball approach is a puzzle. A senior Democratic aide didn’t see it as such a difficult problem and argued that the unorthodox nature of Trump’s campaign — in which he adopted a number of traditional Democratic positions, such as a tough stance on trade and an interest in rebuilding infrastructure — would spark strife and gridlock among the GOP and leave Trump only with his trademark insults to push back at Democrats. Trump can either come to us like he campaigned on some issues, or he can run away from us and not get stuff done. Democratic aide “If we’re in the position where he’s calling us names and we’re talking about things that matter to people, that’s a good place for us,” said the aide, speaking anonymously in order to offer candid observations.  “We’re unified. Trump can either come to us like he campaigned on some issues, or he can run away from us and not get stuff done,” the aide said. Still, not all observers are sold on the idea that Democrats can succeed if they stick with the advice Michelle Obama famously offered in the 2016 campaign: When the other side goes low, Democrats go high. Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, thought Democrats like Schumer might be trying very carefully to draw strong contrasts by maintaining a calm bearing. “The other option, though, is not so good, meaning the Democrats are just more reluctant to engage in the kind of hardball legislative tactics that Republicans thrive on, that in the end they are more committed to governance, they are more committed to the political process working than Republicans, and that because of that they’re not willing to do what is necessary to really obstruct,” Zelizer said. He did not think the party’s prospects of advancing its agenda were very good if it couldn’t also find an inner tough guy to go along with drawing contrasts. “It didn’t work for Obama. He tried that again and again with Republicans post-2010, and they continued to do the obstruction, and it worked well for them,” Zelizer said. “Hillary Clinton tried to do it in 2016 in a campaign where she constantly contrasted a deliberative, thoughtful approach to chaos on the campaign tail and she lost. I think if Democrats try that again, it’s not clear that it’s going to work for them.” Kaine has heard such discussion. But after seeing and suffering from the Trump phenomenon, staying substantive and even polite is still the right strategy, as far as he’s concerned. He added that it doesn’t mean he and other Democrats have to roll over, though. “You can be tough about the substance,” Kaine said, noting how he put Tillerson on the spot in Wednesday’s hearing. “But you don’t have to be a jerk to do it.” -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

12 января, 13:21

Exxon Mobil Told To Hand Over Decades Of Climate Documents In Major Legal Blow

Exxon Mobil encountered a major setback on Wednesday when a Massachusetts judge ordered the oil company to turn over 40 years of documents related to climate change. The ruling represents a huge win for the state’s attorney general Maura Healey, who is investigating how much Exxon knew about the link between fossil fuels and climate change and if it intentionally hid such information from the public. “Exxon must now end its obstructive tactics and come clean about whether it misled Massachusetts consumers and investors about what it knew about climate change, its causes and effects,” Healey said in a statement provided to The Boston Globe. An Exxon spokesperson told the Globe it was reviewing the decision. Healey began the probe last year alongside New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman after several outlets published major investigations alleging Exxon knew about climate change for decades and intentionally worked to sow doubt among the public. The oil company retaliated with a lawsuit against Healey after she announced her investigation, claiming the attorney general was politically motivated and that she was acting outside her jurisdiction.  “[Healey and Schneiderman] are incapable of impartial investigations and are attempting to silence political opponents who disagree on the appropriate policies to address climate change,” the company said in October, according to The Associated Press. That case, based in Texas, is still pending. ... it’s good to see that the courts may yet hold Exxon responsible for the damage it’s done to this planet and to our democracy. 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben The Massachusetts ruling was particularly timely because it occurred on the same day former Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson refused to say during the first day of his confirmation hearing to become secretary of state whether the company knew about the climate phenomenon. “Since I’m no longer with Exxon Mobil, I can’t speak on their behalf,” said Tillerson, who worked at the oil giant for 41 years and retired in December. “The question would have to be put to Exxon Mobil.” “Do you lack knowledge to answer my questions or are you refusing to answer my question?” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) asked. “A little of both,” Tillerson replied. But despite the former CEO’s maneuvering, environmentalists hailed Wednesday’s legal ruling and the timing of the decision. “Rex Tillerson may be trying to make his getaway, but it’s good to see that the courts may yet hold Exxon responsible for the damage it’s done to this planet and to our democracy,” 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben said in a statement. “This is a huge victory for democracy and uncovering the truth about Exxon’s decades of deception and with Rex Tillerson poised to be the next U.S. Secretary of State, the timing couldn’t be better,” said Tamar Lawrence-Samuel, policy director for the watchdog group Corporate Accountability International, in a statement. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

12 января, 13:19

James Mattis: What to watch

The confirmation of James Mattis as President-elect Donald Trump’s Defense secretary is not considered controversial, as the retired Marine general is respected on both sides of the aisle. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be a bit of fireworks at his confirmation hearing in the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday.Here’s what to watch:The Mattis waiverAs a retired four-star general who left the military in 2013, Mattis requires Congress to exempt him from the law that mandates a seven-year cooling off period before military officers can serve as Defense secretary. Both the House and Senate are fast-tracking that legislation with the goal of moving it through both chambers by the end of the week, but Mattis is sure to get pointed questions on the issue of civilian control of the military — many Senate Democrats are holding off supporting Mattis until they hear from him on the issue. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) is one of the few lawmakers so far who’s declared opposition to the waiver, but Mattis will be choosing his words carefully to keep those numbers low in the Senate.In a sign of the issue’s delicacy, Mattis had agreed to take the rare step of also testifying in the House Armed Services Committee this week — before the Trump transition team canceled his testimony Wednesday.The move angered House Democrats, who are likely to vote against the waiver but can't stop it on their own. Senate Democrats, however, can do so because the waiver needs 60 votes, and they may press Mattis harder on the issue now in light of the scrapped House testimony.RussiaDemocrats will look to put daylight between Mattis and Trump when it comes to Russia, where the president-elect and his choice for Defense secretary have issued starkly different assessments.Trump has praised Russian President Vladimir Putin and called for warmer relations with Russia, but Mattis has accused the Kremlin of seeking to “break NATO apart” and warned about the threat Russia poses to the U.S. Mattis seems to have convinced Trump to change his mind on the usefulness of torture, and many lawmakers are hoping he can do the same when it comes to Russia. That extends beyond Democrats to Republicans like Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who are pushing for new sanctions against Russia for its election-year hacking. Mattis’ willingness to publicly state views that clash with Trump’s could hint at how willing he’ll be to push back against Trump on the issue, too.Iran dealAs U.S. Central Command chief, Mattis fell out of favor with the Obama White House over his hawkish views toward Iran, but there are hopes that in the Trump administration he’ll be a voice of caution when it comes to tearing up the nuclear deal, which Trump repeatedly ripped on the campaign trail. At an event last year, Mattis said there was “no going back” on the agreement, for better or worse, and the next administration should not walk away from it.He’ll likely be asked to reaffirm those views in an effort by Democrats to get him on record publicly on the nuclear accord. At the same time, the comments could be used against him from conservative senators opposed to the deal, like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).Combat troopsDemocrats opposed to increasing U.S. combat troops in Iraq and Syria will press Mattis to nail down his views on putting boots on the ground in the fight against the Islamic State. The Republican president-elect has vowed to quickly defeat the Islamic State, but he’s been vague on how he intends to do that. Mattis is also likely to get questions — particularly from Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) — on his views about an Authorization for Use of Military Force against the Islamic State. Congress failed to pass a war authorization during the Obama administration, and Kaine has said he wants to try again under the new administration to give Congress a say in war powers. Like the current Pentagon, expect Mattis to back a new AUMF from Congress.Personnel issues Mattis will get quizzed on several personnel issues, from allowing women to keep serving in all combat roles to lifting the ban on transgender service members serving openly.Democrats are concerned that the Trump administration will roll back those changes and more that occurred under the Obama administration and will try to get Mattis on record about them.Another issue that could come up: Gillibrand’s push to take prosecuting military sexual assault cases outside the chain of command. It’s worth remembering she had supporters in Republican Cruz and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and Trump’s comments have drawn scrutiny. As a retired general, Mattis is unlikely to agree with Gillibrand, as the brass has consistently opposed her efforts.Parochial asksHow many times will Mattis be asked to visit a senator’s state? Confirmation hearings for Defense secretaries are the perfect opportunities for enterprising senators to tout their home-state interests, and several are sure to offer invitations to visit bases, shipyards and other military installations back home.It makes sense from the lawmakers’ perspective: Bases are often competing against one another for who will get the new F-35 squadron and who will keep their Army brigade combat team, decisions that are ultimately made by the Defense secretary. Certain states also have vested interest in fights between the services, whether it’s nuclear weapons in Nebraska or shipbuilding in Virginia.In the case of Mattis’ hearing Thursday, it’s advantage Nebraska: It’s the only state that now has both its senators on the committee.

12 января, 03:55

The top takeaways from Tillerson’s rocky Hill performance

Florida Republican Marco Rubio seemed exasperated with some of his answers on Russia.

12 января, 02:20

Dems want assurances from Mattis on women in combat

They worry the incoming Trump administration will roll back Obama's moves on military social issues.

11 января, 21:21

Trump Loves Putin. We Need A Secretary Of State Who Doesn't.

There are several possible explanations for Donald Trump's frequently professed deep admiration for Russian president Vladimir Putin: His esteem for authoritarian dictators as men who get things done; his desire to embarrass President Obama by claiming Putin is a better leader; his pandering to alt-right voters who admire Putin as they pine for global white nationalist domination; the possible desire to protect or expand business interests tied to Russia; the ties of Trump advisors like Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn to Russian interests; the strong evidence that Putin used cyber-hacking and fake news disinformation to help Trump defeat Hillary Clinton; and, as newly reported, the unconfirmed possibility that Putin holds compromising personal and financial information about Trump. Whatever the true reasons, Trump's love of Putin, who engages in blatant human rights abuses at home and dangerous aggression outside his borders, threatens American interests and values. The United States should continue to seek cooperation with Russia where doing so makes us stronger, just as we did during the Cold War, but we cannot sacrifice our security to the kind of improper considerations that seem to motivate Trump. Given Trump's troubling embrace of Putin, the U.S. Senate must demand a Secretary of State who will approach Russia in a clear-eyed, principled way, who will push back on Trump's bizarre Putin love. This morning's opening of his confirmation hearing underscored that Trump's nominee, Rex Tillerson, is not that person. Tillerson has spent more time with Putin than almost any other American, and he has developed close ties with the Russian president. Those ties are based on commerce -- on his multinational company and Russia making each other wealthier -- rather than on protecting U.S. interests. In 2011, Tillerson reached a major deal with Russia -- not a breakthrough for peace or justice but instead an agreement between ExxonMobil and Rosneft, Russia's state oil company, to explore and drill for oil in the Siberian arctic, a deal worth tens or even hundreds of billions of dollars. In pursuing the deal, Tillerson has developed strong personal ties to Rosneft head Igor Sechin, an ex-KGB agent close to Putin. In 2012, Russia awarded Tillerson one of its highest honors, the Order of Friendship decoration. The Exxon deal with Rosneft was halted after the Obama Administration imposed sanctions on Russia, and on Sechin personally, in the wake of Russia's aggression in Ukraine and Crimea; Tillerson responded by expressing opposition to U.S. economic sanctions. Pressed on this point by Senate Foreign Relations Committee members this morning, Tillerson asserted that, to his knowledge, ExxonMobil had not "directly" lobbied against sanctions against Russia. In fact the company has lobbied against Russia sanctions, and indeed lobbied just last month helped defeat legislation that would have made it harder for the Trump administration to lift the Russia sanctions, and thus harder for ExxonMobil to resume drilling. After a break in the hearing, Tillerson and committee chairman Bob Corker (R-TN) engineered a dialogue in which Tillerson tried to clarify his denial: Tillerson didn't personally lobby against sanctions but was "engaged in how the sanctions would be constructed." That didn't make much sense, or address the efforts of company lobbyists other than Tillerson. In his prepared testimony, Tillerson repeatedly asserted that Russia poses dangers to the United States. And he has agreed to divest financially from ExxonMobil if confirmed. But he has not erased the serious risk he will see U.S. foreign policy, including regarding Russia, through the prism he has been behind for 41 years at Exxon -- where corporate earnings take precedence over U.S. security. Where making money takes precedence over human rights abuses, which has been Exxon's course in multiple countries. Where making money takes precedence over the urgent need to fight terrorism, as Exxon did in doing business with Sudan, Syria, and Iran, all under U.S. sanctions for sponsoring terrorists. And where making money takes precedence over the global environment, including the enormous threat of climate change from the burning of fossil fuels. Although Tillerson and his company have stopped pretending in public, in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence, that global warming isn't real, he has continued to minimize the threat, claiming that it is "an engineering problem" that is "manageable." Meanwhile, ExxonMobil has continued funding think tanks that have questioned and denied climate change. In the wake of recent investigative reporting that demonstrated that Exxon scientists have known and told Exxon management for decades that burning fossil fuels was heating up the planet, but that Exxon instead pursued a strategy of public denial, the New York and Massachusetts attorney generals have launched fraud investigations against the company. Tillerson's ExxonMobil has responded by aggressively trying to derail these probes, through an unprecedented lawsuit against the two AGs in its home region of Dallas. Exxon may have strong motivations for stalling the AG investigations. The Exxon-Rosneft drilling deal was made possible by global warming that has melted Arctic ice. It seems possible, then, that Tillerson's ExxonMobil was sharing with Putin's Russia its knowledge about the acceleration of climate change, as it continued to fund efforts to conceal the risks of climate change from the American people. When asked at today's hearing by Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) if Exxon knew about climate change yet funded climate denial, Tillerson said that the question needed to be put to ExxonMobil. Asked by Kaine if he was refusing to answer or if instead he lacked the knowledge to answer, Tillerson replied, "Both." Then asked by Kaine if he had signed a confidentiality agreement with his company, Tillerson said, not to his knowledge. It was a slippery, evasive performance for someone seeking consent from the Senate to assume one of the most critical posts in our government. Trump tweeted in 2012, "The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive" and during the campaign he pledged to withdraw the U.S. from the landmark Paris climate accord. When questioned by the New York Times after the election, Trump shifted, saying he had "an open mind" about the Paris agreement. But Senators have to be concerned about Tillerson becoming Trump's point man on the Paris accord -- and the Russian sanctions. At Exxon, Tillerson has prioritized corporate profits over climate protection, human rights, and concerns about Russian aggression, and he knows that his subordinates at Exxon want to move ahead with drilling in the Arctic, dangerous gas fracking in America, and much more. (As Tillerson once said, "My philosophy is to make money. So if I can drill, and make money, that's what I want to do.) Asked by Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) today whether the Trump administration would honor the Paris agreement, Tillerson said only that his State Department would conduct a "fulsome review" of the issue and that there would be "no space" between him and Trump on the issue.  Which was hardly reassuring. Asked by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) whether he supported the new sanctions imposed by the Obama Administration for Russia's interference in the U.S. election, Tillerson tried to change the subject, saying the U.S. needed a comprehensive cybersecurity policy. When Rubio persisted, Tillerson said he would have to study the issue. When Rubio asked if Putin had committed war crimes in Syria and Chechnya, Tillerson said he would need to study that. When Rubio then asked if Putin has murdered political opponents, Tillerson said he hadn't studied that and needed to review the available classified information linking Putin to the many deaths of Russians who have crossed him. While Tillerson's backers stress that he was recommended to Trump by former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, they don't mention that Rice and Gates run a consulting firm whose clients include ExxonMobil.  That reality only adds to the concern that Tillerson's appointment is part of an overall corporate takeover of the government, where, under Trump, the interests of big companies take precedence over workers, consumers, safety, and the environment. But as to the State Department, the dangers are even deeper.  If you combine Tillerson's profit-driven affection for Russia, with Trump's own crazy love for Putin, it creates serious risk that American security interests could be compromised. This article also appears on Republic Report. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

11 января, 13:21

What to watch for at Tillerson's confirmation hearing

Rex Tillerson enters his secretary of state confirmation hearing Wednesday as Donald Trump’s highest profile pick to face GOP resistance, giving the former ExxonMobil CEO little leeway for missteps if he wants to win quick confirmation.With Trump’s lack of foreign policy experience and his pro-Russia tilt drawing questions from Republicans and condemnations from Democrats, Tillerson will need to explain not only the next president’s philosophy toward Vladimir Putin but also his own. At ExxonMobil, Tillerson developed a chummy relationship with Putin and he opposed sanctions directed at Russia – generating unease among a bloc of hawkish Republicans.But Sen. Marco Rubio is the lone GOP Tillerson skeptic on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that will examine Tillerson, and the Floridian who lost to Trump in the primary isn’t tipping his hand on Tillerson ahead of the hearing that’s expected to stretch over two days. If Democrats on the panel all vote against Tillerson, Rubio may find himself as the deciding voice on whether Tillerson clears the committee or goes to the full Senate floor vote with an “unfavorable” recommendation. Rubio’s questions on Russia and Tillerson’s worldview could be the most consequential portion of the secretary of state hopeful’s confirmation hearing, but Tillerson will be blitzed by Democrats on topics ranging from human rights to climate change to his complicated personal finances to test his ability to think on his feet. "Mexico and our trade with Mexico ... Cuba ... and then probably climate change," said Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), a panel member, as he ticked off all his concerns. "He's indicated that he wants [to give tax information]. That might be an area to explore too."Here’s POLITICO’s guide to Tillerson’s confirmation hearing: Russia and RubioSens. John McCain (Ariz) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.).and Rubio hold the keys to Tillerson’s confirmation. McCain said in an interview this week that he still has “concerns” about Tillerson. If those hawks aren’t convinced that the oil executive is appropriately cool to Putin and Russia as secretary of state, it would signal deeper problems for Tillerson’s fate.Tillerson has done at least three mock confirmation hearings -- called “murder boards” -- and the people running them are confident he can answer difficult questions. He’s likely to give simple and vague answers about his previous work with Russia, according to a transition source familiar with the preparations. Tillerson can win confirmation on Republican votes alone, needing only a simple majority since the chamber’s rule change 2013. Since McCain and Graham are not on the committee, Rubio may have the best chance of drawing out Tillerson’s feelings on Russia, but he shrugged off the notion that he would only concentrate on Russia, and said his questioning will cover the “whole world.”“I’ll do what I believe is the right thing for America,” Rubio said in an interview. "We’re going to be fair, we’re going to take it very seriously. It’s a very important position,” Rubio said. The committee’s chairman, Bob Corker of Tennessee, has said Tillerson is well-prepared to face skepticism about his foreign policy readiness and predicted he will win broad support from the Senate. But if Tillerson makes a misstep, particularly on Russia, it could undermine his support within the Republican Party.How Democrats deal with TillersonInterviews with several Democrats indicate their cross-examination will center on how the man who helmed the massive energy conglomerate for a decade can change course to focus solely on the interests of the United States. Expect lots of questions about how Tillerson can avoid conflicts of interest related to ExxonMobil, which operates in dozens of countries around the world. “If you’re the CEO of ExxonMobil your responsibility is to shareholders. If you’re a potential secretary of state you’re responsibility is to the American people,” said Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), the panel’s top Democrat. “Your relationship with Russia -- how would you have handled that relationship as secretary of state?”But it's not just Russia. Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said on Tuesday that he hopes his party also concentrates on ExxonMobil's dealings with Iran, an exceedingly unpopular country in most senators' views. "Did Mr. Tillerson direct his company to deal with a state sponsor of terrorism to simply line the company’s pockets? These are questions that Rex Tillerson must answer at his hearing," Schumer said. A fair climate?Tillerson’s long public record on energy policy is ripe for scrutiny. Those questions can cut both ways: Exxon has backed groups that dispute climate change science and is in a legal dispute over whether it misrepresented its knowledge of the threat from greenhouse gases. But it’s also drawn scorn from conservatives for recommending a carbon tax as the best policy to slow rising global temperatures. “The thing that I’m probably most concerned about is ExxonMobil’s history of funding climate denial,” said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), a committee member. Tillerson has sought to stake out some green stances, supporting the 2015 Paris climate agreement that’s been virulently opposed by many Republicans, and he’s criticized coal -- a parochial cause of many senators. At the Council on Foreign Relations in 2012, he touted natural gas as superior to coal because it has “none of the other elements that are of concern to public health.”Coal-state senators will be watching Tillerson closely to see whether his rhetoric jibes with Trump, who campaigned as a friend of the coal states. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) said she’s spoken to Tillerson about the matter and found him to be responsive. “He expressed to me the desire to move forward with research and development for clean coal technologies and carbon capture. And I think that’s the future of coal. So I’m not concerned,” she said.Is Tillerson ready?Often overlooked in the back-and-forth over Tillerson’s multimillion-dollar divestiture agreement with ExxonMobil and his Order of Friendship award from Russia is that the business executive has no governing experience.“It’s a fair statement to say that there’s a learning curve here on foreign policy for someone who has not served in a foreign policy,” Cardin said. “What I want to understand is how he comes to make those decisions.”Cardin said in his private meeting with Tillerson he brought up the U.S.’ role in defending human rights, fighting human trafficking and cracking down on corruption -- issues that he said probably weren’t on Tillerson’s radar at ExxonMobil but are important for the nation’s top diplomat.But Corker says his own research indicated that Democrats are privately finding Tillerson is on the same page as them on some of their progressive priorities.“Some of the meetings with Democrats, I think they’ve been surprised on his positions on a number of things they care about deeply,” Corker said. Will Tillerson’s performance affect quick confirmation? Tillerson is one of two Trump nominees who will have hearings that will span more than one day, the other being Sen. Jeff Sessions’s (R-Ala.) hearing to be Trump’s attorney general. Corker said he doesn’t want to stuff Democrats and is eager to maintain his bipartisan reputation for working with them, not against. Corker has suggested his hearing will be wide-ranging and free-wheeling. “We’ll continue as long as we want to ask questions. There are a lot of Republicans that want to ask questions. That part’s not partisan. Many of the members of the committee have a lot of questions,” Corker said .But at the same time he is hopeful that his committee can get Tillerson’s nomination through his committee before Inauguration Day, suggesting a swift confirmation process will follow even a lengthy hearing. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is hoping to prioritize Tillerson's confirmation, but Democrats may delay those efforts depending on his Wednesday performance. Eli Stokols contributed to this report.

11 января, 00:41

Rex Tillerson Can Expect A Lot Of Questions About His Record On Climate Change

Rex Tillerson, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of state, will likely face plenty of tough questions during his confirmation hearings on Wednesday: about his close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, deals his former company made with Iran, and the secretive oil venture he oversaw in the tax haven of the Bahamas. But senators will also probably focus on the outgoing Exxon Mobil Corp. CEO’s climate change record. Tillerson, 64, is a Texas-born oil man who spent 41 years at the world’s largest publicly listed energy company and has a complicated history on the subject. Under his decade-long tenure as chief executive, Exxon Mobil shifted its public messaging on climate change by ending years of funding a Big Tobacco-style disinformation campaign and finally acknowledging that human activity is causing the Earth to get warmer. The company announced in 2009 that it was in favor of taxing carbon and that it had begun investing in algae-based biofuels. It cam out in support of the Paris climate accord in 2015, which more than 180 countries have signed.  Despite these attempts to burnish Exxon Mobil’s public image, Tillerson’s record at the helm remains less straightforward. The company has continued to lavish money on think tanks and advocacy groups that deny fossil fuels worsen climate change, even though it pledged in 2007 to stop doing so. Its political donations overwhelmingly have gone to Republicans who have battled environmental regulations, including the Obama administration’s rules curbing greenhouse gas emissions. And Tillerson has openly mocked the renewable energy industry, even as rival oil giants sunk money into wind, solar and battery storage projects. “While we’ve seen some shifts in rhetoric, the company’s conduct does not back up its words,” Kathy Mulvey, climate accountability campaign manager at the nonprofit Union of Concerned Scientists, told The Huffington Post on Monday. “We’re still seeing Exxon Mobil, for example, playing a leadership role in funding groups that spread disinformation on climate science and policy.” Despite the firm’s supposed evolution on global warming, neither Exxon Mobil nor Tillerson owned up to the years the company spent funding organizations whose chief purpose seemed to be seeding doubt over climate science. That funding has been under increased scrutiny since October 2015, when InsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times published documents revealing that Exxon Mobil chose to continue funding disinformation campaigns even though its scientists understood global warming decades ago. The reports provoked a group of state attorneys general to begin investigating corporations, including Exxon Mobil, for allegedly misleading the public on climate change. “I’m deeply interested in the record of Exxon Mobil when Mr. Tillerson was in leadership in funding organizations that tried to muddy up or deny the reality of climate science,” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), who sits on the Senate committee tasked with grilling Tillerson, said Tuesday on “CBS This Morning.” “Exxon Mobil is an organization filled with scientists and engineers and from what I’ve read, they understood decades ago that humans were affecting climate in ways that could be dangerous, but the allegation is that they then made the decision to cover that evidence up as long as they could for their own financial benefit,” Kaine said. “And I want to explore what Mr. Tillerson knows about that.” Five of the 10 Democratic senators on the committee scored 100 percent on the League of Conservation Voters’ 2015 ranking, meaning they voted in favor of environmentally friendly bills whenever presented with one. Kaine ranked the lowest, with 88 percent, despite a 91 percent lifetime score.  The environmental advocacy group NextGen Climate released an ad on Tuesday that shows Tillerson, while in his role leading Exxon Mobil, telling an audience at the University of Texas that he was “not here to represent the United States government’s interests.” Tom Steyer, the group’s billionaire founder, said the ad shows how Tillerson “puts corporate interests over American interests” ― and may continue to do so as secretary of state. “The American people deserve more assurance than we’ve received so far that he will be able to represent their values when U.S. policy goals conflict with Exxon’s ongoing corporate interests,” Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) said in a statement.  Tillerson’s meager record of public service could become another sticking point as senators probe his résumé. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) said Monday that he planned to pepper Tillerson with questions about how his career as an oil executive qualified him to lead the State Department. “After talking with him, I still have significant questions about Mr. Tillerson’s foreign policy views and how his four-decade career at one of the largest oil companies in the world prepares him to be our nation’s top diplomat,” Merkley said in a statement. “I look forward to further exploring Mr. Tillerson’s views at his confirmation hearing.” type=type=RelatedArticlesblockTitle=Related Coverage + articlesList=585d6ca1e4b0eb5864863a13,5873a3f4e4b043ad97e48f52,585ab45de4b0d9a59456ba9d,58595878e4b03904470ac0e6,584ee51de4b0bd9c3dfdbce8 -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

11 января, 00:41

Rex Tillerson Can Expect A Lot Of Questions About His Record On Climate Change

Rex Tillerson, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of state, will likely face plenty of tough questions during his confirmation hearings on Wednesday: about his close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, deals his former company made with Iran, and the secretive oil venture he oversaw in the tax haven of the Bahamas. But senators will also probably focus on the outgoing Exxon Mobil Corp. CEO’s climate change record. Tillerson, 64, is a Texas-born oil man who spent 41 years at the world’s largest publicly listed energy company and has a complicated history on the subject. Under his decade-long tenure as chief executive, Exxon Mobil shifted its public messaging on climate change by ending years of funding a Big Tobacco-style disinformation campaign and finally acknowledging that human activity is causing the Earth to get warmer. The company announced in 2009 that it was in favor of taxing carbon and that it had begun investing in algae-based biofuels. It cam out in support of the Paris climate accord in 2015, which more than 180 countries have signed.  Despite these attempts to burnish Exxon Mobil’s public image, Tillerson’s record at the helm remains less straightforward. The company has continued to lavish money on think tanks and advocacy groups that deny fossil fuels worsen climate change, even though it pledged in 2007 to stop doing so. Its political donations overwhelmingly have gone to Republicans who have battled environmental regulations, including the Obama administration’s rules curbing greenhouse gas emissions. And Tillerson has openly mocked the renewable energy industry, even as rival oil giants sunk money into wind, solar and battery storage projects. “While we’ve seen some shifts in rhetoric, the company’s conduct does not back up its words,” Kathy Mulvey, climate accountability campaign manager at the nonprofit Union of Concerned Scientists, told The Huffington Post on Monday. “We’re still seeing Exxon Mobil, for example, playing a leadership role in funding groups that spread disinformation on climate science and policy.” Despite the firm’s supposed evolution on global warming, neither Exxon Mobil nor Tillerson owned up to the years the company spent funding organizations whose chief purpose seemed to be seeding doubt over climate science. That funding has been under increased scrutiny since October 2015, when InsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times published documents revealing that Exxon Mobil chose to continue funding disinformation campaigns even though its scientists understood global warming decades ago. The reports provoked a group of state attorneys general to begin investigating corporations, including Exxon Mobil, for allegedly misleading the public on climate change. “I’m deeply interested in the record of Exxon Mobil when Mr. Tillerson was in leadership in funding organizations that tried to muddy up or deny the reality of climate science,” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), who sits on the Senate committee tasked with grilling Tillerson, said Tuesday on “CBS This Morning.” “Exxon Mobil is an organization filled with scientists and engineers and from what I’ve read, they understood decades ago that humans were affecting climate in ways that could be dangerous, but the allegation is that they then made the decision to cover that evidence up as long as they could for their own financial benefit,” Kaine said. “And I want to explore what Mr. Tillerson knows about that.” Five of the 10 Democratic senators on the committee scored 100 percent on the League of Conservation Voters’ 2015 ranking, meaning they voted in favor of environmentally friendly bills whenever presented with one. Kaine ranked the lowest, with 88 percent, despite a 91 percent lifetime score.  The environmental advocacy group NextGen Climate released an ad on Tuesday that shows Tillerson, while in his role leading Exxon Mobil, telling an audience at the University of Texas that he was “not here to represent the United States government’s interests.” Tom Steyer, the group’s billionaire founder, said the ad shows how Tillerson “puts corporate interests over American interests” ― and may continue to do so as secretary of state. “The American people deserve more assurance than we’ve received so far that he will be able to represent their values when U.S. policy goals conflict with Exxon’s ongoing corporate interests,” Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) said in a statement.  Tillerson’s meager record of public service could become another sticking point as senators probe his résumé. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) said Monday that he planned to pepper Tillerson with questions about how his career as an oil executive qualified him to lead the State Department. “After talking with him, I still have significant questions about Mr. Tillerson’s foreign policy views and how his four-decade career at one of the largest oil companies in the world prepares him to be our nation’s top diplomat,” Merkley said in a statement. “I look forward to further exploring Mr. Tillerson’s views at his confirmation hearing.” type=type=RelatedArticlesblockTitle=Related Coverage + articlesList=585d6ca1e4b0eb5864863a13,5873a3f4e4b043ad97e48f52,585ab45de4b0d9a59456ba9d,58595878e4b03904470ac0e6,584ee51de4b0bd9c3dfdbce8 -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

08 января, 15:22

The End of the Kennedy Mystique

What 'Jackie' says about the eclipse of America’s onetime royal family — and the kind of Democrat the party needs now.