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Russia Memo Distraction Escalates

While you are tweeting Nunes, Russia is plotting its midterms attack. Mother Jones: “It is working — the Trump-GOP campaign to distract attention from the Russia scandal. And this is placing the nation—literally and seriously — at risk… Russian intervention in a handful of critical races could mean the difference between a House that continues to protect Trump and undercut the Russia scandal and a House that challenges Trump and digs aggressively. So there could be much incentive for Moscow to resort to its dirty tricks again. This threat from Russia should be in the headlines — more than the antics of Nunes. Democrats ought to be publicly demanding more information from Pompeo and pressing Trump on what is being done to prevent a repeat of 2016. Trump’s sidestepping of the sanctions law ought to be fully examined in light of Pompeo’s underplayed warning.”

Judge Strikes Down FL Denial Of Felons’ Voting Rights

Judge strikes down Florida’s system for denying felons’ voting rights. Tampa Bay Times: “The state of Florida routinely violates the constitutional rights of its citizens by permanently revoking the ‘fundamental right’ to vote for anyone convicted of a felony, a federal judge ruled Thursday. U.S. District Judge Mark Walker said the Florida ‘scheme’ unfairly relies on the personal support of the governor for citizens to regain the right to vote. In a strongly-worded ruling, he called the state’s defense of voter disenfranchisement ‘nonsensical,’ a withering criticism of Gov. Rick Scott, the lead defendant in the case. ‘Florida strips the right to vote from every man and woman who commits a felony,’ Walker wrote. ‘To vote again, disenfranchised citizens must kowtow before a panel of high-level government officials over which Florida’s governor has absolute veto authority. No standards guide the panel. Its members alone must be satisfied that these citizens deserve restoration… The question now is whether such a system passes constitutional muster. It does not.'”

Trump Guts CFPB’s Ability to Curb Racial Discrimination

Trump Guts CFPB’s Ability to Curb Racial Discrimination by Banks. Common Dreams: “The White House reportedly ‘stripped’ a key Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) office of the power to take action against financial firms accused of breaking laws against racist lending practices. Instead of enforcing anti-discrimination laws and penalizing criminal banks, the CFPB’s Office of Fair Lending and Equal Opportunity will now be focused on “advocacy, coordination, and education,” according to an email sent to bureau employees by White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney, who was installed as the CFPB’s acting director by President Donald Trump over objections of consumer advocates.”

SOTUS Poised To Rule On Voting Rights

SOTUS to make rulings that will shape elections for years to come. Alternet: “Recent signals from the Court suggest extreme politics may step on voting rights. The U.S. Supreme Court, dominated by a Republican-appointed majority, is poised to issue a series of voting rights rulings this spring that will set the stage for elections for years to come. The majority of these cases involve gerrymandering — a process in which legislatures, in states with one-party rule, draw electoral districts to lock down their power after the once-a-decade U.S. Census. They do that by aggressively segregating reliable voters, typically ‘packing’ their base into easily won seats; while ‘cracking’ their opponent’s voters into multiple districts. Such mapmaking can give its author’s party a starting-line advantage of 6 percent or more with likely voter turnout.”

Pence’s IN Medicaid Drops Thousands From Coverage

Indiana’s brand of Medicaid drops 25,000 people for failure to pay premiums. NPR: “As the Trump administration moves to give states more flexibility in running Medicaid, advocates for the poor are keeping a close eye on Indiana to see whether such conservative ideas improve or harm care. Indiana in 2015 implemented some of the most radical changes seen to the state-federal program that covers nearly 1 in 4 low-income Americans — including charging some adults a monthly premium and locking out for six months some of those who don’t pay their premiums. The changes were a part of Indiana’s deal with the Obama administration to expand Medicaid eligibility, adding about 240,000 Hoosiers to the Medicaid rolls under the Affordable Care Act. The controversial monthly fees and lockout provisions were spearheaded by then-Gov. Mike Pence, now vice president, and his top health consultant, Seema Verma, now head of the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. That demonstration project, known as Healthy Indiana, is up for renewal in February; state officials seek to add work requirements similar to what CMS approved for Kentucky last month and to widen who is subject to lockouts.”

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