Trump’s ‘Pocahontas’ Quip at Navajo Code Talker Event Sparks Backlash

At a ceremony that was supposed to be about honoring American heroes, President Trump, in an aside, took a verbal swipe at Senator Elizabeth Warren. It was an ungracious act, not in keeping with the spirit of the occasion, but by itself not a major breach of etiquette. His choice of words in reference to her, however, was inappropriate to say the least:

During an Oval Office event honoring Native American code talkers for their service during World War II Monday, President Donald Trump made a quip about Sen. Elizabeth Warren, terming her ‘Pocahontas’ in an aside that received swift backlash shortly afterward.

“We have a representative in Congress who has been here for a long time … longer than you. They call her Pocahontas!” Trump said, referring to the Native American woman who married an English settler in Virginia in the early 1600s. Though Trump did not name Warren, D-Mass., Monday, he has previously used the nickname Pocahontas in reference to her.

During her first run for U.S. Senate in 2012, the Boston Herald reported that Warren registered as a minority in law school directories in the 1980s. Warren defended herself by claiming she was told of her Native American ancestry by family members and that the registry was made in order to meet persons with similar backgrounds, rather than to advance her career.

In an interview with MSNBC shortly after Trump made the remark Monday, Warren said that it was “deeply unfortunate that the president of the United States cannot even make it through a ceremony honoring these heroes without having to throw out a racial slur.”

“Fellow Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey defended Warren via Twitter Monday afternoon, agreeing that what was said in the Oval Office was a ‘slur’ that disparaged ‘the Native American war heroes, standing right beside the president, who risked their lives to protect his right to make such a disgusting comment.'”

And the Alliance of Colonial Era Tribes, an association of American Indian nations, also took exception to Trump’s Pocahontas comment, “noting earlier denunciations by Native Americans when the president previously invoked the name Pocahontas in a way that denigrates others.”

“The name becomes a derogatory racial reference when used as an insult,” reads part of the statement from Dr. J.R. Norwood, the ACET’s general secretary. “American Indian names, whether they be historic or contemporary, are not meant to be used as insults. To do so is to reduce them to racial slurs.”


Attorney General Sessions Is Dramatically Reshaping the Justice Department

While Special Counsel Robert Mueller continues to investigate the possibility that Russia and the Trump campaign colluded in the 2016 presidential election, nobody seems to be paying much attention to “dramatic and controversial changes in policy” Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made “since taking over the top law enforcement job in the United States nine months ago.”

From his crackdown on illegal immigration to his reversal of Obama administration policies on criminal justice and policing, Sessions is methodically reshaping the Justice Department to reflect his nationalist ideology and hard-line views — moves drawing comparatively less public scrutiny than the ongoing investigations into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with the Kremlin.

Sessions has implemented a new charging and sentencing policy that calls for prosecutors to pursue the most serious charges possible, even if that might mean minority defendants face stiff, mandatory minimum penalties. He has defended the president’s travel ban and tried to strip funding from cities with policies he considers too friendly toward undocumented immigrants.

Sessions has even adjusted the department’s legal stances in cases involving voting rights and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues in a way that advocates warn might disenfranchise poor minorities and give certain religious people a license to discriminate.

And with regard to immigration:

Sessions, unlike past attorneys general, has been especially aggressive on immigration. He served as the public face of the administration’s rolling back of a program that granted a reprieve from deportation to people who had come here without documentation as children, and he directed federal prosecutors to make illegal-immigration cases a higher priority. The attorney general has long held the view that the United States should even reduce the number of those immigrating here legally.

Cali Man Plans to Launch Himself in a Home-Made Rocket to Prove Earth Is Flat

Mike Hughes, a 61-year-old limo driver in California, has built himself a steam-powered rocket out of scrap metal parts in his garage in which he hopes to launch himself miles up into the sky.

Hughes says he’s doing it to prove that astronauts lied about the shape of the Earth. He expects to take pictures showing that the Earth is actually a flat disc.

Good luck with that.

Split From Trump Could Mean Flynn Is Now Cooperating With Mueller

There has been a rather ominous new development in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections and the possible collusion of the Trump campaign with Russia.

From the New York Times:

Lawyers for Michael T. Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, notified the president’s legal team in recent days that they could no longer discuss the special counsel’s investigation, according to four people involved in the case, an indication that Mr. Flynn is cooperating with prosecutors or negotiating such a deal.

Mr. Flynn’s lawyers had been sharing information with Mr. Trump’s lawyers about the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, who is examining whether anyone around Mr. Trump was involved in Russian efforts to undermine Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

That agreement has been terminated, the four people said. Defense lawyers frequently share information during investigations, but they must stop when doing so would pose a conflict of interest. It is unethical for lawyers to work together when one client is cooperating with prosecutors and another is still under investigation.

Trump’s FCC Chairman Announces Plans to Repeal the Neutrality of the Internet

Trump-designated Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai is by all accounts hell bent on scrapping the “net neutrality regulations that require internet providers to treat all content equally.”

The net neutrality provisions, which were “enacted by the Obama administration in 2015,” limit the power of “monopolistic internet providers like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon” to control how its customers access online content.

So now Pai has set up a meeting of the FCC on December 14 to vote on the repeal.

And it’s a foregone conclusion that the vote will result in a win for Pai’s agenda, and the telecom industry, which, according to “regulators, consumer advocates and some tech companies,” will give internet service providers even more power than they already have “to block or slow down rival offerings.”

A repeal also opens the ability for ISPs to charge a company like Netflix for a faster path to its customers. Allowing this paid-priority market to exist could skew prices and create winners and losers among fledgling companies that require a high-speed connection to end users.

Pai, who was appointed by President Donald Trump, said in an interview on Fox News Radio that Trump did not have any input on his proposal. Asked whether deregulation would result in higher prices and put speedy internet access out of the reach of blue-collar Americans, Pai said “it’s going to mean exactly the opposite.”

“These heavy-handed regulations have made it harder for the private sector to build out the networks especially in rural America,” Pai said.

Consumer groups and internet companies, however, are not buying Pai’s reassurances. Neither is the paying public out there:

A data firm called Emprata that was backed by a telecom industry group found in August that after filtering out form letters, the overwhelming majority of comments to the FCC — about 1.8 million — favored net neutrality, compared with just 24,000 who supported its repeal.

Carmen Scurato, director of policy and legal affairs for the National Hispanic Media Coalition, said ISPs’ ability to impose monthly caps on data use already act to raise prices and limit access. Repealing net neutrality, she said, “is just erecting more barriers.”

In an article chillingly titled, “The Republican Plan to Nuke the Internet Is About to Be Revealed,” Vanity Fair columnist Maya Kosoff recaps the necessity of the strict Obama era regulation “to prevent large Internet service providers from destroying small businesses or overcharging consumers.”

Kosoff writes:

While the exact details of the plan are not yet public, Pai’s initial proposal, which sought to undo the Title II classification of service providers, was a roadmap to radically reshape the Internet. Rather than actually enforcing net-neutrality rules, the F.C.C. would ask Internet providers to promise in writing not to slow down competitors’ traffic or block Web sites, a voluntary system that the agency would not enforce. Enforcement powers would instead be handed to the Federal Trade Commission, which could punish Internet service providers for deceptive or unfair trade practices, but could not force them to make such promises to consumers in the first place. There would be nothing to stop Internet providers from changing their terms of service to allow them to control access speeds at will, though I.S.P.s have curiously insisted that they would welcome laws that ban throttling content.

U.S. Court Allows Part of Trump Travel Ban to Go Into Effect

Reuters reports that the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday has “let part of President Donald Trump’s latest travel ban go into effect, ruling that the government can bar entry of people from six Muslim-majority countries if they have no connections to the United States.”

The ruling means that “the ban will apply to people from Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Chad who do not have connections to the United States. Those connections are defined as family relationships and ‘formal, documented’ relationships with U.S.-based entities such as resettlement agencies and universities.”

GOP Lawmaker Says Special Council Mueller Puts U.S. at Risk of a Coup D’état

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) has called for special counsel Robert Mueller to resign or be fired.

In a speech on the House floor Wednesday, Gaetz said, “We are at risk of a coup d’état in this country if we allow an unaccountable person with no oversight to undermine the duly-elected President of the United States. That is precisely what is happening right now with the indisputable conflicts of interest that are present with Mr. Mueller and others at the Department of Justice.”

Last week, Gaetz introduced a resolution that argues Mueller is compromised because he served as FBI director when the Obama administration signed off on a deal allowing a Russian company to purchase a Canadian energy company with uranium operations in the U.S. in 2010.

“These deeply troubling events took place when Mr. Mueller was the Director of the FBI. As such, his impartiality is hopelessly compromised. He must step down immediately,” Gaetz said in a statement Friday.