Venezuela leader’s foes levy new sanctions and fresh strike

By Michael Weissenstein | Associated Press CARACAS, Venezuela — Opponents of President Nicolas Maduro at home and abroad tried again Wednesday to pressure the socialist leader into halting his plans to rewrite Venezuela’s constitution though there was no public sign their efforts were working. The Trump administration announced sanctions on 13 current and former members of Maduro’s administration, freezing their U.S. assets and barring Americans from doing business with them. The U.S. also joined with a dozen other regional governments in urging Maduro to suspend Sunday’s election of a national assembly for rewriting the charter. Those moves came as a coalition of Venezuelan opposition groups organized a second national strike… Read More

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Judge: Kobach Statements ‘Demonstrate a Pattern’ of Misleading Claims

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach could use a little credibility at the moment. President Trump’s so-called election-integrity commission, of which he is the de facto chief, has come under suspicion for both its methods and its purpose. But citizens seeking assurance about Kobach’s motives won’t find that from the federal courts. In a ruling yesterday, flagged by the indefatigable Rick Hasen, Judge Julie Robinson of the U.S. District Court of Kansas rejected Kobach’s request that she overturn a $1,000 fine levied on him by a U.S. magistrate judge. That wasn’t the most significant part of the ruling. Over 13 pages, Robinson carefully lays out ways in which Kobach appeared… Read More

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Senate embarks on new round of voting to peel back Affordable Care Act

By Kelsey Snell, Juliet Eilperin and Sean Sullivan | Washington Post WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans forged ahead with proposals aimed at revamping the Affordable Care Act Wednesday, hoping to produce some sort of legislation that could garner enough support to serve as the basis of negotiations with the House. But after winning a key procedural victory with the help of Vice President Mike Pence’s tiebreaking vote Tuesday, it appeared unclear what sort of health-care rewrite could gain traction. On Tuesday night, just hours after opening debate, Senate Republican leaders were unable to pass a bill that they had spent weeks crafting but that never gained sufficient traction with the rank-and-file.… Read More

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Comment: Argument against transgender troops echoes opposition to blacks, women, gays

By Philip Bump | Washington Post Seemingly out of the blue on Wednesday morning, President Trump took to Twitter to announce that he would not allow “Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.” The rationale? The military “cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.” The question of costs – presumably referring to procedures like gender reassignment surgery – was addressed in a Rand report that estimated a 0.04- to 0.13-percent increase in military health-care expenditures should transgender people be allowed to serve. Trump has proposed a 10 percent bump in overall military spending, which could certainly… Read More

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Analysis: The military spends five times as much on Viagra as it would on transgender troops’ medical care

By Christopher Ingraham | Washington Post On Twitter Wednesday morning President Donald Trump announced a ban on transgender people serving in the military, citing “medical costs” as the primary driver of the decision. “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail,” the president wrote. While Trump didn’t offer any numbers to support this claim, a Defense Department-commissioned study published last year by the Rand Corp. provides exhaustive estimates of transgender servicemembers’ potential medical costs. Considering the prevalence of transgender servicemembers among the active duty military and the typical health care… Read More

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Trump’s Miraculous Revival of the Health Care Bill

Like a figure in a classic Western—whether he’s a hero or villain depends on your political views—Donald Trump keeps being left for dead in the desert, and he keeps sauntering into the town saloon with a smirk on his face, to gasps all around. Tuesday afternoon, the Senate voted to proceed on debate on the latest attempt to repeal Obamacare. It is an early, incremental, and partial victory for the president, but it is a victory nonetheless. And it is the second time that a bill has appeared dead in one of the chambers of Congress, only to be resuscitated—in part by Trump’s refusal to let legislators move on. Related… Read More

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Trump bans transgenders in military; Bay Area outraged

President Trump announced early Wednesday on Twitter that the military will bar transgender people from serving “in any capacity,” citing “tremendous medical costs and disruption.” The announcement, which did not say what would happen to transgender people already in the military, was met with immediate outrage from gender-rights advocates in the Bay Area and beyond. “The President is creating a worse version of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,”’ said Aaron Belkin, director of the Palm Center, a San Francisco-based group that has done research on sexual minorities in the military. “As we know from the sad history of that discredited policy, discrimination harms military readiness. This is a shocking and ignorant… Read More

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Opinion: Eric Swalwell and Jackie Speier let down their pro-immigrant base

On Twitter, Congressmembers Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin) and Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough) proclaim their opposition to President Trump’s abuses of power. But last month, rhetoric didn’t match reality. Both Swalwell and Speier voted in favor of Trump’s attempts to demonize and deport millions of immigrants. The pair were the only California Democrats to join House Republicans in supporting HR 3004, a draconian bill that would punish people fleeing violence or desperately seeking to return to the only home they know. This proposal, riddled with constitutional violations, may never make it to Trump’s desk, let alone go into effect. Nonetheless, we are ashamed to see our representatives lend legitimacy to a xenophobic agenda.… Read More

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Trump to bar transgender individuals from armed forces

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump says he will bar transgender individuals from serving “in any capacity” in the U.S. armed forces. Trump said on Twitter Wednesday that after consulting with “Generals and military experts,” that the government “will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.” Trump added that “Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.” Transgender service members have been able to serve openly in the military since last year, when former Defense Secretary Ash Carter ended the ban. Military chiefs… Read More

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