fresh voices from the front lines of change







Trump's Ruthless Bid To Destroy Health Care

Why Trump’s new push to kill Obamacare is so alarming. NYT: "In a stunning two-sentence letter to a federal appeals court, the Justice Department announced on Monday that it would now seek the invalidation of the entire Affordable Care Act — every last one of its thousands of provisions. The irresponsibility of this new legal position is hard to overstate. It’s a shocking dereliction of the Justice Department’s duty, embraced by Republican and Democratic administrations alike, to defend acts of Congress if any plausible argument can be made in their defense. Nor is the Affordable Care Act some minor statute that can be shoved aside without disruption. It is now part of the basic plumbing of the American health care system. It guarantees protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions. It expanded Medicaid to cover 12.6 million more people, and it offers crucial protections to the 156 million Americans who get insurance through employers. Unceremoniously ripping up the law would inflict untold harm on the health care system — and on all Americans who depend on it. Yet the Trump administration has now committed itself to doing just that."

DeVos Wants To Give Special Olympics Money To Charters

Betsy DeVos wants to gut funding for the Special Olympics. Vice: "Education secretary Betsy DeVos would like to do America’s children a favor: gut the beloved Special Olympics program, and invest a couple million in charter schools. 'We are not doing our children any favors when we borrow from their future in order to invest in systems and policies that are not yielding better results,' DeVos said in prepared remarks to Congress discussing the Department of Education’s budget proposal, filed by President Trump earlier this year. The proposal would eliminate the nearly $18 million previously allocated for the Special Olympics, and allocate an additional $60 million to charter school funding, according to the Detroit Free Press. Overall, her department would lose 10 percent of its budget if Trump’s proposal were taken up by Congress. DeVos has long been a proponent of school choice and charter schools. The Special Olympics benefits both adults and children with development and physical disabilities, and held its first quadrennial games in 1968."

The Corruption Of The Charter School Industry

How one couple worked California charter school regulations to make millions. LA Times: "The warning signs appeared soon after Denise Kawamoto accepted a job at Today’s Fresh Start Charter School in South Los Angeles. Though she was fresh out of college, she was pretty sure it wasn’t normal for the school to churn so quickly through teachers or to mount surveillance cameras in each classroom. Old computers were lying around, but the campus had no internet access. Pay was low and supplies scarce — she wasn’t given books for her students. She struggled to reconcile the school’s conditions with what little she knew about its wealthy founders, Clark and Jeanette Parker of Beverly Hills. The Parkers have cast themselves as selfless philanthropists, telling the California Board of Education that they have 'devoted all of our lives to the education of other people’s children, committed many millions of our own dollars directly to that particular purpose, with no gain directly to us.' But the couple have, in fact, made millions from their charter schools. Financial records show the Parkers’ schools have paid more than $800,000 annually to rent buildings the couple own. The charters have contracted out services to the Parkers’ nonprofits and companies and paid Clark Parker generous consulting fees, all with taxpayer money, a Times investigation found. How the Parkers have stayed in business, surviving years of allegations of financial and academic wrongdoing, illustrates glaring flaws in the way California oversees its growing number of charter schools. Many of the people responsible for regulating the couple’s schools, including school board members and state elected officials, had accepted thousands of dollars from the Parkers in campaign contributions."

Money Laundering Through Trump Properties

Former Trump associate accused of trying to launder stolen money through Trump company. ThinkProgress: "Special counsel Robert Mueller may have finished his investigation into whether President Donald Trump colluded with Russia, but a number of other probes into alleged wrongdoing by the president and his inner circle continue. Now, the president’s former business partner Felix Sater is accused in federal court of trying to launder billions of dollars of stolen money through Trump Tower Moscow. Sater also allegedly laundered millions through down-payments on condo purchases at the Trump SoHo property. BTA Bank and the city of Almaty, Kazakhstan, filed a lawsuit at a federal court in Manhattan on Monday alleging Sater conspired with Ilyas Khrapunov, a Kazakh businessman, to use $4 billion allegedly stolen years earlier from the bank and city to finance the the Trump Tower Moscow project in 2012. Plans to build the tower were dropped in the final months of the 2016 presidential election, and the building never materialized, but Sater found other ways to launder the money, the lawsuit says. Sater and Khrapunov invested $3 million in the Trump SoHo development in New York City and other U.S.-based real estate “schemes,” according to the court filing. Khrapunov is accused of using some of the money, allegedly stolen by his father-in-law, to help procure immigration status for his sister."

Mueller's Demurral Expands Presidential Powers

Mueller’s investigation erases a line drawn after Watergate. NYT: "After Watergate, it was unthinkable that a president would fire an F.B.I. director who was investigating him or his associates. Or force out an attorney general for failing to protect him from an investigation. Or dangle pardons before potential witnesses against him. But the end of the inquiry by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, made clear that President Trump had successfully thrown out the unwritten rules that had bound other chief executives in the 45 years since President Richard M. Nixon resigned under fire, effectively expanding presidential power in a dramatic way. Mr. Mueller’s decision to not take a position on whether Mr. Trump’s many norm-shattering interventions in the law enforcement system constituted obstruction of justice means that future occupants of the White House will feel entitled to take similar actions. More than perhaps any other outcome of the Mueller investigation, this may become its most enduring legacy."

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