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WV Teachers Demand Affordable Health Care

WV public schools closed despite deal that was to end strike. CNN: “All West Virginia public schools will remain closed Thursday, which was the day teachers were to return to work after what is turning into a week-long strike over pay and benefits. West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice had reached a tentative pay deal with union leaders Tuesday that was designed to end the strike and send teachers back into the classroom on Thursday. The agreement provides for a 5% pay raise the first year, and is now a bill going through the state’s legislature. However, the deal didn’t include a fix to the Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA), which employees say requires them to pay premiums that are too high. That so far remains a major sticking point.”

Trump Veers From NRA Script To Gun Control And Back Again

Trump Stuns Lawmakers With Seeming Embrace of Gun Control. NYT: “Trump stunned Republicans on live television Wednesday by embracing gun control and urging a group of lawmakers at the White House to resurrect gun safety legislation that has been opposed for years by the powerful National Rifle Association and the vast majority of his party. In a remarkable meeting, the president veered wildly from the N.R.A. playbook in front of giddy Democrats and stone-faced Republicans. He called for comprehensive gun control legislation that would expand background checks to weapons purchased at gun shows and on the internet, keep guns from mentally ill people, secure schools and restrict gun sales for some young adults. He even suggested a conversation on an assault weapons ban. At one point, Mr. Trump suggested that law enforcement authorities should have the power to seize guns from mentally ill people or others who could present a danger without first going to court. ‘I like taking the guns early,’ he said, adding, ‘Take the guns first, go through due process second.’ The declarations prompted a frantic series of calls from N.R.A. lobbyists to their allies on Capitol Hill and a statement from the group calling the ideas that Mr. Trump expressed ‘bad policy.’ Republican lawmakers suggested to reporters that they remained opposed to gun control measures.”

Oakland Mayor Challenges ICE On Immigration Sweeps

ICE attacks Oakland mayor for warning residents about immigration sweeps. LA Times: “The war of words between the Trump administration and officials in California over immigration intensified around federal sweeps in the north of the state that ended with more than 150 arrests. Over the weekend, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf alerted residents that she had heard from multiple sources that Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents would be conducting operations there imminently; she urged those in the country illegally to take precautions. Oakland, like many California cities, has declared itself a sanctuary for those here illegally, and officials there have vowed to fight President Trump’s immigration crackdown. Schaaf has been praised and condemned for giving residents advance notice.”

Questions Over HUD’s Lavish Spending, Retaliation

Gowdy seeks answers on allegations of excessive spending, retaliation at HUD. Politico: “Rep. Trey Gowdy, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, on Wednesday requested that Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson turn over all documents and communications pertaining to allegations by a high-ranking civil servant that she was the target of reprisals after sounding the alarm on agency spending… HUD official Helen Foster, in a sworn complaint to the Office of Special Counsel, raised concerns over spending at the department, including Carson’s plans for redecorating. According to Foster’s lawyers, she was demoted without warning or explanation in July 2017, less than a year after being promoted to the role of chief administrative officer. In her position, Foster oversaw spending and office space at HUD. In January 2017, Foster’s legal team says, she was instructed to ‘find money’ for redecorating after Carson’s wife sought funds to purchase furniture. The amount was said to have exceeded the $5,000 legal limit, prompting Foster to voice her objection. Craig Clemmensen, the designated acting secretary at the time, replied that the $5,000 ‘will not even buy a decent chair,’ according to the complaint.Foster also expressed concerns over the more than $10 million departmental shortfalls that took place under her predecessor at HUD.”

GOP Banks On Tax Cuts To Tip Midterms

How tax cuts could decide the midterms. The Atlantic: “The biggest threat to Democrats in the 2018 election may be the risk of repeating their biggest mistake in the 2016 election. That mistake was Hillary Clinton’s decision to focus almost all of her effort on convincing voters that Donald Trump did not share their values, while failing to effectively challenge his promise that he would represent their economic interests. That failure helped Trump win despite exit polls showing about three-fifths of voters doubted he had the experience or temperament to succeed as president. The comparable risk for Democrats this year is that they will be caught in an endless succession of Trump-centered battles—both cultural (guns, immigration) and personal (Russia, White House chaos)—and fail to effectively challenge the GOP claim that its tax-cut plan is benefiting average families. Republicans expect that if voters believe the party is putting more money in their pockets, even many people recoiling from Trump’s performance will still vote to maintain GOP control of Congress. That’s why so many Republican strategists believe that talking up the tax plan is the key to avoiding a worse-case scenario this fall.”

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