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IA Rep. Steve King Punished For Racism

IA Rep. Steve King Punished For Racism. NYT: "House Republican leaders removed Representative Steve King of Iowa from the Judiciary and Agriculture Committees on Monday night as party officials scrambled to appear tough on racism and contain damage from comments Mr. King made to The New York Times questioning why white supremacy is considered offensive. The punishment came on a day when Mr. King was denounced by an array of Republican leaders, though not President Trump. The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, suggested Mr. King find “another line of work” and Senator Mitt Romney said he should quit. And the House Republicans, in an attempt to be proactive, stripped him of the committee seats in the face of multiple Democratic resolutions to censure Mr. King that are being introduced this week. Those measures would force Republicans to take a stand on the House Democratic majority’s attempt to publicly reprimand one of their own."

Judge Blocks Trump Rollback Of Birth Control

Trump’s rollback of the birth control mandate is blocked nationwide. ThinkProgress: "Cost-free contraception for thousands is safe, after Pennsylvania District Judge Wendy Beetlestone temporarily blocked the Trump administration’s rollback of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) birth control mandate on Monday, issuing a nationwide injunction. The administration aims to allow virtually all employers (including universities and colleges, by way of student health plans) the right to refuse to cover employees’ birth control by citing religious or moral objections. But the courts haven’t let the policy take effect for long. A California judge already blocked the administration’s regulations in 13 states and Washington, D.C., on Sunday evening, though the regulations did briefly carry out everywhere else in the country on Monday before the nationwide injunction was issued. District Judge Haywood Gilliam was the first jurist to reach a decision, but limited the scope of his ruling to plaintiffs states and rejected a request for a nationwide injunction. The Trump administration claimed the regulations would affect 70,500 women’s access to cost-free contraception, but some organizations have disputed this estimate, saying a far greater number would be impacted."

Why The LA Teachers' Strike Matters

3 reasons to pay attention to the LA teacher strike. The Conversation: "The first mass teacher labor action of 2019 is unfolding in California as the United Teachers Los Angeles walked out for the first time in 30 years. This strike, which began on Jan. 14, isn’t just important to people in Los Angeles. Here are three reasons the nation should pay attention. With 640,000 students, and about 500,000 enrolled in the district’s public schools, Los Angeles represents the second largest school district in the United States. The only bigger district is New York City. Like strikes in Oklahoma, Arizona, Kentucky, Colorado and North Carolina, the Los Angeles teachers’ strike is essentially about greater investment in public education. For the Los Angeles teachers, this includes a 6.5 percent salary increase to make up for what the union calls 'stagnant wages.' The average teacher makes almost 19 percent less in wages than comparable workers. But beyond wages, teachers have begun to demand a greater commitment to investment in public education from their governing bodies, either school boards or state legislatures. The Los Angeles teachers strike suggests that the wave of teacher protests is not over. Teacher strikes and work stoppages have been preceded by a nationwide teacher shortage that continues to grow across many states, which do not have enough certified math, special education, science, and in increasing cases, elementary teachers – to meet the needs of their students. In California 80 percent of districts reported a teacher shortage in the 2017 to 2018 school year. Teacher shortages are most often blamed on low teacher pay, one of the commonalities across teacher strikes. As long as public schools remain underfunded, the nation can expect to see more teacher strikes in other school districts and states in the near future."

Senate Questions AG Nominee Barr On Ethics

Barr will be grilled about ‘unusual’ memo on Mueller’s obstruction probe. The Atlantic: "On the eve of his confirmation hearings, Attorney General nominee Bill Barr released prepared remarks vowing to allow Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation to run its natural course. 'I believe it is in the best interest of everyone—the President, Congress, and, most importantly, the American people—that this matter be resolved by allowing the special counsel to complete his work,' Barr wrote. 'The country needs a credible resolution of these issues.' As the likely next head of the Justice Department—Republicans have majority control of the Senate, all but ensuring his confirmation—Barr will be at the center of a tug-of-war between Trump, who has sought to exert greater control over the Justice Department and FBI, and Mueller, who is probing a potential conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia to win the 2016 election. At least one Democrat, Senator Chris Coons, plans to ask Barr whether he will commit to resigning as attorney general if the president asks him to break the law. Barr is an experienced choice; he served as George H.W. Bush’s Attorney General from 1991-1993, and had a long DOJ career before that. But an unsolicited, 19-page memo he wrote last June, attacking Mueller’s obstruction inquiry as “fatally misconceived” and arguing that Mueller should not be allowed to subpoena the president about obstruction, has rattled Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats—especially in light of a new report that frames the obstruction probe as a national security imperative."

Coal Lobbyist Seeks Approval To Run EPA

EPA rollbacks: Hurting Americans where they live. American Prospect: "The acting administrator is Andrew Wheeler, formerly a major coal lobbyist. In September, The New York Times reported that Wheeler is dissolving the top office advising him on the science that guides decisions about proposed health and pollution regulations. The EPA also placed Ruth Etzel, the head of the agency’s Office of Children’s Health, on a mysterious administrative leave. Both offices report directly to Wheeler. 'Clearly, this is an attempt to silence voices … to kill civil servants’ input and scientific perspectives on rule-making,' Michael Mikulka, president of Local 704 of the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents all of Region 5’s bargaining unit employees, told the Times. It strains the imagination to believe that in a nation with more than 1,300 Superfund sites and 450,000 contaminated 'brownfield' sites, an EPA trimmed to less than half its peak of employment can remotely begin to investigate, enforce, and monitor the immense variety of environmental threats under its purview. These range from industrial and transportation air pollution to coal ash and agricultural chemicals in our food supply and common household goods."

Trump Seeks To Force State Cuts To Medicaid

Backlash Against 'Relentless War on Medicaid' Waged by Trump. Common Dreams: "Following reporting that the Trump administration is planning an attack on Medicaid by seeking key changes in how the program is financed—changes it wants to make without Congressional approval—Democratic lawmakers and healthcare advocates are warning the proposal means healthcare for millions of Americans will be threatened as states will be forced to 'make draconian cuts.' The plan, Politico reported Friday citing 'three administration sources,' would involve states being able to opt for block grants instead of receiving open ended funding as they do now, for supposedly "more flexibility to run the low-income health program that serves nearly 75 million Americans, from poor children, to disabled people, to impoverished seniors in nursing homes." Another lawmaker chiming in was Senate Finance Committee member Bob Casey (D-Pa.), who offered a blunt "Hell no" to the plan. 'If the Administration tries to decimate Medicaid through executive action after its scheme was rejected by Congress and the American people, I will fight it with everything I have,' he tweeted."

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