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New Budget Includes Massive Cuts To HUD

New HUD budget proposes massive cuts to affordable housing programs. ThinkProgress: "The federal government would largely abandon its longstanding commitments to keeping the poorest people in the country off the streets if President Donald Trump’s proposed budget for the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) were adopted. The plan unveiled Monday is less detailed than the equivalent proposals HUD has put out each of the past two years when the budget season wasn’t marred by a government shutdown, housing policy experts said. Closer analysis of how this year’s plan might differ from those precedents will have to wait until HUD releases full program-level specifics in the coming weeks. But the broad contours of the budget released Monday are consistent with longstanding Trump administration themes concerning the agency and its mission. It would impose rent hikes on the poorest tenants of publicly-subsidized rental housing, zero out all funding for the Community Development Block Grants program, and retreat from federal responsibilities on housing construction and maintenance in both urban and rural communities. 'They’re willing to pay for increases they want to the defense budget on the back of America’s poorest families,' Sarah Mickelson of the National Low Income Housing Coalition told ThinkProgress. 'We’re in the midst of this housing crisis and Trump wants to walk away from America’s commitment to housing and increase rents on poor families.'"

DeVos Wants Religious Schools To Get Federal Funds And Services

DeVos moves to allow religious groups to provide federally-funded services to private schools. The Hill: "Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced Monday her agency will no longer enforce a federal provision that prohibits religious organizations from giving private schools federally funded services. The decision is in response to a 2017 Supreme Court verdict that found that Missouri unconstitutionally denied a church-run preschool publicly-funded tire scraps for its playground. 'The Trinity Lutheran decision reaffirmed the long-understood intent of the First Amendment to not restrict the free exercise of religion,' DeVos said in a statement. 'Those seeking to provide high-quality educational services to students and teachers should not be discriminated against simply based on the religious character of their organization.' She added that a federal law overseeing all elementary, middle and high schools that mandates students receive 'equitable services' unconstitutionally bars contractors from having affiliations with religious organization."

Supermercenary Prince Admits Plan To Manipulate Elections

Demolishing Erik Prince: One TV interview shows how to deal with Trump's allies. Salon: "Erik Prince, the former Blackwater CEO, Trump lackey and brother of Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, made the wonderful mistake of appearing on Mehdi Hasan’s show, 'Head to Head,' on Al-Jazeera English. I’m sure he regrets the hell out of it now. Here’s why. In little more than two minutes, Hasan not only illustrated how the press should be confronting the Trump crime family, he also worked his way through Prince’s series of excuses, the likes of which the rest of us commonly refer to as 'gaslighting,' the tactic most often employed by Trump and his loyalists to make us feel like up is down, black is white, and we’re losing our minds. Hasan began by quizzing Prince about his November 2017 congressional testimony in which he denied having any contacts with the Trump campaign -- no 'official or unofficial' role in the Trump campaign save for posting some yard signs and writing 'papers.' It turns out, however, that among other behind-the-scenes schemes -- including an alleged meeting in the Seychelles to establish back-channel communications with the Russians -- Prince attended an August 2016 Trump Tower meeting in which reps from an Israeli firm, the Psy Group, briefed Prince, Donald Trump Jr., Stephen Miller and George Nader about using social media to manipulate voters."

How An American City Falls Apart

The tragedy of Baltimore. NYT: "It takes remarkable fortitude to remain an optimist about Baltimore today. I have lived in the city for 11 of the past 18 years, and for the last few I have struggled to describe its unraveling to friends and colleagues elsewhere. If you live in, say, New York or Boston, you are familiar with a certain story of urban America. Several decades ago, disorder and dysfunction were common across American cities. Then came the great urban rebirth: a wave of reinvestment coupled with a plunge in crime rates that has left many major cities to enjoy a sort of post-fear existence. Until 2015, Baltimore seemed to be enjoying its own, more modest version of this upswing. The city’s busy port and its proximity to Washington, metro Baltimore enjoyed higher levels of wealth and income — including among its black population — than many former manufacturing hubs.The subsequent regression has been swift and demoralizing. Redevelopment continues in some parts of town, but nearly four years after Freddie Gray’s death, the surge in crime has once again become the context of daily life in the city, as it was in the early 1990s. In 2017, the church I attend started naming the victims of the violence at Sunday services and hanging a purple ribbon for each on a long cord outside. By year’s end, the ribbons crowded for space, like shirts on a tenement clothesline."

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