Millions join women’s marches in an historic international rebuke of Donald Trump

 

The Washington Post reports: Millions of women gathered in Washington and cities around the country and the world Saturday to mount a roaring rejoinder to the inauguration of President Donald Trump. What started as a Facebook post by a Hawaii retiree became a historic international rebuke of new president that packed cities large and small — from London to Los Angeles, Paris to Park City, Utah, Miami to Melbourne, Australia.

In Chicago, the demonstration was overwhelmed by its own size, forcing officials to curtail its planned march when the crowd threatened to swamp the planned route.

The Washington organizers, who originally sought a permit for a gathering of 200,000, said Saturday that as many as a half million people participated. [Continue reading…]

The Washington Post reports: By early afternoon, the number of people who had taken Metro Saturday was approaching half a million, Metro said.

More than 470,000 people had taken Metro by 1 p.m. Saturday, in what officials say is an unprecedented number of riders for a weekend. The crowds surpassed the ridership on Inauguration Day, and even ridership on a regular weekday. [Continue reading…]

 

USA Today reports: According to a sister march webpage, an estimated 2.6 million people took part in 673 marches in all 50 states and 32 countries, from Belarus to New Zealand — with the largest taking place in Washington.

The crowds were so large in some cities that marching was almost impossible. In Chicago, organizers halted the march and rallied at Grant Park instead as crowds swelled to 150,000, although thousands still marched. In New York City, the number was 200,000; in Boston, media reported more than 100,000 people marching in Boston Common. In Oakland, Calif., police estimated that about 60,000 people took part in the women’s march. San Francisco’s rally was scheduled to begin at 3 pm local time, with a march at 5 pm.

In D.C., the huge crowds come a day after empty space was spotted on the National Mall ahead of Trump’s inauguration speech and bare bleachers were noticeable along the inaugural parade route. [Continue reading…]

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Trump, Russia, and the news story that wasn’t

Liz Spayd, Public Editor for the New York Times, writes: Late fall was a frantic period for New York Times reporters covering the country’s secretive national security apparatus. Working sources at the F.B.I., the C.I.A., Capitol Hill and various intelligence agencies, the team chased several bizarre but provocative leads that, if true, could upend the presidential race. The most serious question raised by the material was this: Did a covert connection exist between Donald Trump and Russian officials trying to influence an American election?

One vein of reporting centered on a possible channel of communication between a Trump organization computer server and a Russian bank with ties to Vladimir Putin. Another source was offering The Times salacious material describing an odd cross-continental dance between Trump and Moscow. The most damning claim was that Trump was aware of Russia’s efforts to hack Democratic computers, an allegation with implications of treason. Reporters Eric Lichtblau and Steven Lee Myers led the effort, aided by others.

Conversations over what to publish were prolonged and lively, involving Washington and New York, and often including the executive editor, Dean Baquet. If the allegations were true, it was a huge story. If false, they could damage The Times’s reputation. With doubts about the material and with the F.B.I. discouraging publication, editors decided to hold their fire.

But was that the right decision? Was there a way to write about some of these allegations using sound journalistic principles but still surfacing the investigation and important leads? Eventually, The Times did just that, but only after other news outlets had gone first.

I have spoken privately with several journalists involved in the reporting last fall, and I believe a strong case can be made that The Times was too timid in its decisions not to publish the material it had. [Continue reading…]

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China’s winding down coal use continues — the country just canceled 104 new coal plants

Vox reports: Because China is such a behemoth, its energy decisions absolutely dwarf anything any other country is doing right now. Case in point: Over the weekend, the Chinese government ordered 13 provinces to cancel 104 coal-fired projects in development, amounting to a whopping 120 gigawatts of capacity in all.

To put that in perspective, the United States has about 305 gigawatts of coal capacity total. The projects that China just ordered halted are equal in size to one-third of the US coal fleet. If the provinces follow through, it’s a very, very big deal for efforts to fight climate change.

This move also shouldn’t come as a big surprise. In recent years, China, the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide, has been making major efforts to restrain its coal use and shift to cleaner sources of energy. When Donald Trump and other conservatives in the United States complain that China isn’t doing anything about climate change, they simply haven’t been paying attention. [Continue reading…]

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James Mattis is sworn in as defense secretary, pledges to build alliances

The Washington Post reports: Retired Marine Gen. James N. Mattis was confirmed and sworn in as President Trump’s defense secretary Friday, breaking with decades of precedent as a recently retired general became the Pentagon’s top civilian leader.

Mattis, 66, was approved with a 98-1 vote after the presidential inauguration and then sworn in by Vice President Pence. The new Pentagon chief released a statement to U.S. troops afterward that credited not only them, but intelligence personnel as “sentinels and guardians of our nation” — rhetoric that is in line with Mattis’s past statements, but stands in contrast to the way Trump has criticized the value of U.S. intelligence in recent weeks.

Mattis also pledged to work with the State Department to strengthen U.S. alliances abroad, some of which have been rattled by Trump questioning their worth.

“We need only look to you, the uniformed and civilian members of the Department and your families, to see the fundamental unity of our country,” Mattis’s statement said. “You represent an America committed to the common good; an America that is never complacent about defending its freedoms; and an America that remains a steady beacon of hope for all mankind.”

Many lawmakers and long-time foreign policy observers hope Mattis can be a moderating voice of experience in an administration that has notably few senior officials with national security experience in Washington. He will lead the Defense Department’s 1.9 million active-duty service members and reservists and oversee a budget of more than $580 billion as Trump prepares to expand the military. [Continue reading…]

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Why Michael Flynn, Trump’s national security adviser, is unlikely to last

 

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Interior Department told to stop tweeting after unflattering retweets about Trump

The Washington Post reports: The Interior Department was ordered Friday to shut down its official Twitter accounts — indefinitely — after the National Park Service shared two unsympathetic tweets during President Trump’s inauguration.

The first noted the new president’s relatively small inaugural crowd compared to the number of people former president Barack Obama drew to the National Mall when he was sworn into office in 2009. The second tweet noted several omissions of policy areas on the new White House website. A Park Service employee retweeted both missives on Friday.

“All bureaus and the department have been directed by incoming administration to shut down Twitter platforms immediately until further notice,” said an email circulated to Park Service employees Friday afternoon.

The email, obtained by The Post, described the stand-down as an “urgent directive” and said social media managers must shut down the accounts “until further directed.” [Continue reading…]

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Democrats block Pompeo CIA confirmation vote amid Trump’s feud with intel

McClatchy reports: An objection from three Democratic senators will delay the U.S. Senate’s vote to confirm Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo as the new director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont and Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said on Friday that they oppose “a rushed confirmation” of Rep. Mike Pompeo to serve as CIA director unless senators get the opportunity to debate the nomination.

“The importance of the position of CIA Director, especially in these dangerous times, demands that the nomination be thoroughly vetted, questioned and debated,” the senators said in a statement.

The vote had been expected to happen on Friday, after the swearing-in of Donald Trump as the 45th president.

The move means Trump likely will start his presidency without his own nominee at the head of the CIA.

The senators said the CIA can protect the nation “under the leadership of its senior professional personnel” in the meantime.

“Certainly the incoming administration acknowledges that this would be consistent with their decision to hold over 50 current administration national security appointees,” the senators said. “Our constituents expect Congress to be a check and balance on the incoming administration, not a rubber stamp.”

The CIA is locked in a battle with Trump over allegations that the Russian President Vladimir Putin was behind an effort to sway the election in Trump’s favor. [Continue reading…]

Politico reports: Newly-inaugurated President Donald Trump is settling into office this weekend with a mostly-empty Cabinet that will likely take weeks to fill.

He has a nasty nominations war in the Senate to blame.

Even as the chamber cleared two national security nominees on Friday, and vowed to take up a third on Monday, Democrats are threatening a prolonged fight over key administration posts, including for secretary of state, attorney general and Treasury secretary. [Continue reading…]

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White House petition calling for release of Trump tax returns exceeds 100,000 signatures required for response

The Independent reports: A petition calling for the immediate release of Donald Trump’s tax returns has reached the 100,000 signatures needed to prompt a White House response.

The petition, posted to the White House’s official website on Friday, demands for the new President to “immediately release [his] full tax returns, with all information needed to verify emoluments clause compliance.”

It states: “The unprecedented economic conflicts of this administration need to be visible to the American people, including any pertinent documentation which can reveal the foreign influences and financial interests which may put Donald Trump in conflict with the emoluments clause of the Constitution.” [Continue reading…]

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Donald Trump and the New World Order

Der Spiegel reports: A weak, perhaps disintegrating Europe wedged in between the two great powers U.S.A. and Russia, whose presidents get along better than most of their predecessors: For Europe, such a scenario would be the largest foreign and security policy challenge since World War II. For the last 70 years, Europe could depend on having America at its side. Now, this is no longer a certainty.

The power vacuum that America’s withdrawal is creating is particularly welcome to two countries: China and Russia. For the leadership in Beijing, the collapse of the old world order is akin to an act of God: America, China’s last rival on its path to becoming a superpower, is pulling back. Never before have the prospects been as good for the realization of the “Chinese Dream,” which Xi Jinping has made the slogan of his presidency.

Xi spoke of his global vision this week in Davos, at the annual gathering of the world’s economic and financial elite. The rules of international cooperation, he said, must be changed. Beijing isn’t happy with Western dominance of global organizations such as the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. China, with its population of 1.3 billion and significant economic strength, sees itself as an alternative. Beijing, Xi said, is prepared to take on more responsibility: “History is created by the brave.”

Are we headed for a world in which China — an authoritarian state in which the Communist Party leadership has a firm grip over the economy, controls the media and censors the internet — dominates the new global order? Will the 21st century see the realization of Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” or George Orwell’s “1984,” the most dystopian visions of the 20th century?

For the moment, that seems farfetched. But from Moscow’s perspective, new commonalities with the U.S. are emerging. Even before his inauguration, Donald Trump presented the Russian leadership with a significant gift: He branded NATO obsolete and called into question the alliance’s principle of collective defense. Things could hardly be going better for Moscow. Maintaining control over Russia’s immediate vicinity is one of the country’s core interests while NATO’s eastward expansion is seen as a traumatic infringement of that claim. Putin has finally found an ally, in Washington of all places, in his battle against a world order that he has long attacked as being unipolar and unjust. Like Trump, Putin would like a world free of the West’s constant moralizing, a world in which might makes right. [Continue reading…]

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Soros says markets to slump with Trump, EU faces disintegration

 

Bloomberg reports: It’s tough to be gloomier than billionaire George Soros right now.

America has elected a would-be dictator as president, the European Union is disintegrating, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May won’t last long as her nation prepares to secede from the EU, and China is poised to become an even more repressive society, the investor told Bloomberg Television’s Francine Lacqua from the World Economic Forum in Davos.

“It is unlikely that Prime Minister May is actually going to remain in power,” Soros said. She has a divided cabinet and base and Britons are in denial about the economic impact of Brexit, he said. [Continue reading…]

Watch the complete interview here.

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Trump promised to resign from his companies — but there’s no record he’s done so

By Derek Kravitz and Al Shaw, ProPublica, January 20, 2017

At a news conference last week, now-President Donald Trump said he and his daughter, Ivanka, had signed paperwork relinquishing control of all Trump-branded companies. Next to him were stacks of papers in manila envelopes — documents he said transferred “complete and total control” of his businesses to his two sons and another longtime employee.

Sheri Dillon, the Trump attorney who presented the plan, said that Trump “has relinquished leadership and management of the Trump Organization.” Everything would be placed in a family trust by Jan. 20, she said.

That hasn’t happened.

To transfer ownership of his biggest companies, Trump has to file a long list of documents in Florida, Delaware and New York. We asked officials in each of those states whether they have received the paperwork. As of 3:15 p.m. today, the officials said they have not.

Trump and his associates “are not doing what they said they would do,” said Richard Painter, the chief ethics lawyer for President George W. Bush. “And even that was completely inadequate.”

ProPublica’s questions to the transition team were referred to an outside public relations firm, Hiltzik Strategies, which declined to comment. The president’s team did not allow reporters to view documents, which they said were legal records separating Trump from his eponymous business empire. Dillon’s law firm, Morgan Lewis, has not released the records and they declined further comment, saying it doesn’t comment on client issues.

ProPublica looked at more than a dozen of Trump’s largest companies, which are registered or incorporated in three states. Officials in New York and Delaware said documents are logged as soon as they are received. In Florida, officials told us there is typically a day or two before documents are logged into the system.

Here is what we found:

  • Business filings for Trump Organization LLC, Trump’s primary holding company, had not been changed, according to New York’s Department of State. Wollman Rink Operations LLC, which runs the Wollman Rink in Central Park through an agreement with New York City, hasn’t been updated either. Trump is listed as the sole authorized representative of the company. 

  • Ivanka Trump is still listed as the authorized officer on records for two entities related to the Old Post Office in Washington, D.C., which the Trump family bought and turned into a hotel. No changes have been filed for either of the companies, which are registered in Delaware.

  • Documents on The Donald J. Trump Foundation, which Trump has said he would dissolve, haven’t been updated. The charitable foundation has been in a swirl of controversy over its collection and disbursement of funds and an active investigation by New York’s attorney general. (The foundation cannot legally dissolve until the investigation is complete, but the New York Attorney General’s office told ProPublica that Trump can resign as an officer at any time.)

  • In Delaware, where the majority of Trump’s businesses are registered, state officials told ProPublica that no amendments have been filed for four businesses tied to the Old Post Office and that the most recent filings for two businesses related to the Trump National Golf Club in Washington, D.C., were made more than a year ago.

  • In Florida, no changes have been made for years to three key Trump businesses operating there: the Trump International Golf Club in Palm Beach, the Mar-A-Lago Club, and DJT Holdings, which has controlling interest in most of Trump’s golf courses in the U.S. and abroad, according to the state’s Division of Corporations.

Even if Trump hands over his companies to a new trust, the plan fails to solve many of his bigger business conflicts, experts say. Terms of the trust that would insulate the president from the Trump Organization haven’t been made public. Trump’s decision not to divest his assets has also been heavily criticized by several former White House attorneys and ethics chiefs.

“What are the terms of the trust? Who is going to be the ethics monitor and what standards will he or she abide by?” said Norman Eisen, who served as the White House chief ethics lawyer under President Obama. “There are 1,000 unanswered questions.”

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An inaugural celebration that rings hollow

David Frum writes: Every presidency is different, but inaugural coverage is always the same. Commentators congratulate Americans on the peaceful transition of power and intone solemn sentences about democratic renewal.

There is something unnerving about these reassurances, something overstated, even hysterical. When a British prime minister loses the confidence of the House of Commons and must suddenly trundle out of 10 Downing Street (as some six dozen of them have done since the job was invented in the 1740s; a few more than once), nobody marvels on television how wonderful it is that he or she doesn’t try to retain power by force of arms. Nobody in Denmark thinks it extraordinary when one party relinquishes power to another. Ditto New Zealand or Switzerland—all of them treat peaceful transfers of power as the developed world norm, like reliable electricity or potable water.

Americans so insistently celebrate the peaceful transfer of power precisely because they nervously recognize the susceptibility of their polity to violence. The presidential election of 1860 triggered one of the bloodiest civil wars in human history. The presidential election of 1876 very nearly reignited that war. Since 1900, two presidents have been murdered; six more — Teddy Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan — were either wounded by a would-be assassin or else escaped by inches. [Continue reading…]

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