Wednesday, May 10, 2017
► In today’s NY Times — FBI Director Comey fired amid probe of Russian election meddling — President Trump on Tuesday fired the director of the F.B.I., James B. Comey, abruptly terminating the top official leading a criminal investigation into whether Trump’s advisers colluded with the Russian government to steer the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. The stunning development in Mr. Trump’s presidency raised the specter of political interference by a sitting president into an existing investigation by the nation’s leading law enforcement agency.
► In today’s Washington Post — Lawmakers fear Comey’s removal might upend or stall Russia probe — Legislators on both sides of the aisle are calling for an independent body to continue the investigation into possible collusion between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign during the 2016 election.
► From Politico — Behind Comey’s firing: An enraged Trump, fuming about Russia — President Donald Trump weighed firing his FBI director for more than a week. He had grown enraged by the Russia investigation, two advisers said, frustrated by his inability to control the mushrooming narrative around Russia. He repeatedly asked aides why the Russia investigation wouldn’t disappear and demanded they speak out for him. He would sometimes scream at television clips about the probe, one adviser said.
► MUST-READ in today’s NY Times — Donald Trump’s firing of James Comey (editorial) — The American people — not to mention the credibility of the world’s oldest democracy — require a thorough, impartial investigation into the extent of Russia’s meddling with the 2016 presidential election on behalf of Donald Trump and, crucially, whether high-ranking members of Mr. Trump’s campaign colluded in that effort. By firing the F.B.I. director, James Comey, late Tuesday afternoon, President Trump has cast grave doubt on the viability of any further investigation into what could be one of the biggest political scandals in the country’s history. Comey was fired because he was leading an active investigation that could bring down a president.
► Meanwhile, from The Hill — Senate Republican leader defends Trump decision to fire Comey
► From TPM — McConnell defends Trump’s firing of Comey, opposes new investigations — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Wednesday defended President Donald Trump’s decision to fire James Comey as director of the FBI. McConnell also argued against appointing a special prosecutor to investigate Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Hanford waste tunnel collapses, no airborne radiation detected — An emergency was declared at the Hanford nuclear reservation in Eastern Washington state on Tuesday after the roof of a tunnel used to store highly radioactively contaminated waste collapsed. Several thousand workers were ordered to take shelter, most of them for several hours, in buildings with ventilation systems shut down to protect against any possible airborne contamination.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Seattle Mayor Ed Murray won’t seek second term: ‘It tears me to pieces to step away’ — Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s announcement that he is ending his campaign for re-election amid allegations of child sexual abuse ends a political career that has spanned decades.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Boeing sent 580 layoff notices to union workers in April — Most went to union workers: 217 to members of IAM District Lodge 751 and 277 to SPEEA members. It is not clear how many non-union workers were laid off. Company executives have indicated more layoffs could come later this year.
ALSO at The Stand — Amid Boeing job cuts, legislators eye tax break accountability
► In today’s Seattle Times — That’s rich: Seattle and the world’s two wealthiest men (by Jon Talton) — Earlier this spring, Bloomberg calculated that the No. 1 and No. 2 richest people on the planet were Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos. One can hardly say Seattle is an anti-business blue-city hellhole when it attracts such moguls — and, more importantly, the headquarters and thousands of well-paying jobs from their enterprises.
► From KNKX — Still no budget deal halfway through Washington’s special session — As budget talks creep along behind the scenes, outside groups are exerting pressure on lawmakers. Democrats are getting pressure from the state teachers’ union, who have been sending unionized teachers down to the Capitol every day of the special session to sort of occupy the Capitol. On some days the number of teachers have outnumbered the number of state lawmakers. But that’s because most days, only the budget negotiators are at the Capitol.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Muster bipartisan compassion to fight toxic AHCA (editorial) — Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Spokane), a wholehearted supporter of the Republican health care plan, has some explaining to do if she expects to win re-election next year. Nearly half the children she represents in her Eastern Washington district stretching from the Canadian border to Oregon — 47 percent as of 2015 — depend on government health care because their families can’t afford other coverage… McMorris Rodgers has faced family medical challenges. So it’s surprising that she voted to remove limits on out-of-pocket medical expenses and increase costs for those with pre-existing conditions… Should the richest and healthiest people contribute more to ensure the sick and poor are cared for? It’s sad this is being debated. Supporters of AHCA — which cuts taxes for the rich while reducing help we provide to older and sicker people — must reconcile this with their faith.
ALSO at The Stand:
Federal, state Medicaid cuts are the real ‘death panels’ (by Brendan Williams)
► In the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin — McMorris Rodgers’ vote shows cruel disregard (letter) — A party that claims to be “pro-life” has just voted in a bill that will condemn many Americans to death. A party that includes many self-proclaimed Christians has turned its back on the sick, the poor, the elderly. And our elected representative, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, was among the most enthusiastic supporters of this legislative attack upon the most vulnerable.
► From Spokane Public Radio — Progressive group holds Town Hall, minus McMorris Rodgers — A series of speakers criticized McMorris Rodgers for her vote last week in support of the House Republican health care plan. Many shared their own stories and talked about their worries that the new plan would lead to many people losing their health care.
► In today’s (Longview) Daily News — Health care talk dominates Herrera Beutler town hall — The meeting, held via conference call, drew over 5,000 participants. As Herrera Beutler started taking questions the tone was mostly cordial: many callers thanked her for her “no” vote last week on the American Health Care Act. But she reaffirmed that she does not support universal health care.
► From Politico — Poll: Support for GOP health bill declines — Only 38 percent of voters approve of the GOP-drafted health care bill, the new poll shows — down from 42 percent last week, prior to the House’s party-line vote to advance the measure. In fact, voters have a more positive opinion of the law the new legislation seeks to supplant: Half of voters now approve of the 2010 Affordable Care Act.
► In today’s Washington Post — Senate Republicans face their own divisions in push for health-care overhaul — a group of Republican senators , which presently numbers 13, is at the center of a fragile connection between hard-liners and leadership that may be the Senate’s best chance to pass its own version. The strategy is to keep them talking until consensus is reached, in a process that could drag on for months.
► From The Hill — Reporter arrested after repeatedly questioning Health secretary — Dan Heyman, a reporter for Public News Service, said he was arrested at the West Virginia State Capitol after trying to ask Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price a question about the House-passed healthcare bill to repeal and replace ObamaCare.
► From NPR — Businesses push back on paid sick leave laws — Business groups are helping draft a Republican proposal in the House of Representatives. The terms aren’t finalized, but the basic idea is to set a floor for the amount of paid sick leave employers could voluntarily offer. If that minimum threshold is met, she says, the employer would then be exempt from state or local regulations.
► In today’s Columbian — Raise the federal gas tax (editorial) — Many Republicans in Congress, beholden to a no-new-taxes pledge regardless of how it limits the nation’s ability to deal with problems, have shot down the idea. Nobody likes to pay higher taxes, and the gas tax is especially regressive in that it hits nearly all Americans regardless of their ability to pay. But nobody likes crumbling roads and bridges, either, and the United States is increasingly faced with transportation corridors that serve as roadblocks to prosperity. The nation’s backlog of highway repair projects is estimated to be $740 billion, and one in every five miles is judged to be in disrepair.
► In today’s Washington Post — U.S. Census director quits as funding crisis looms for 2020 count — John H. Thompson’s resignation, which surprised census experts, follows an April congressional budget allocation for the census that critics say is woefully inadequate.
► From the AFL-CIO — 5 things you need to know from the AFL-CIO’s new Executive Paywatch Report — On Tuesday, the AFL-CIO released the 2017 edition of its Executive Paywatch report. The average compensation for an S&P 500 CEO last year was $13.1 million. In contrast, production and nonsupervisory workers earned only $37,632, on average, in 2016. The average S&P 500 CEO makes 347 times what an average U.S. rank-and-file worker makes.
► In the NY Daily News — Google exec Sundar Pichai leads the pack of highly compensated CEOs with $200M salary in 2016 — Google exec Sundar Pichai made over $200 million in 2016 — doubling his pay from the year before, which was already more than 2,000 times what the average American worker earned. Pichai’s not alone, according to the AFL-CIO’s annual executive paywatch report, released Tuesday.
► From AP — In Wisconsin, ID law proved insurmountable for many voters — By one estimate, 300,000 eligible voters in the state lacked valid photo IDs heading into the election; it is unknown how many people did not vote because they didn’t have proper identification. But it is not hard to find the dying woman whose license had expired or the recent graduate whose student ID was deficient — or Harris, who at 66 made her way to her polling place despite chronic lung disease and a torn ligament in her knee. She had lost her driver’s license just before Election Day. Aware of the new law, she brought her Social Security and Medicare cards as well as a county-issued bus pass that displayed her photo. Not good enough. She was turned away.
► From The Nation — Wisconsin’s voter-ID law suppressed 200,000 votes in 2016 (Trump won there by 22,748) — A new study by Priorities USA shows that strict voter-ID laws, in Wisconsin and other states, led to a significant reduction in voter turnout in 2016, with a disproportionate impact on African-American and Democratic-leaning voters.
► In today’s NY Times — Why Yale graduate students are on a hunger strike (by Jennifer Klein) — Two weeks ago, Yale graduate student teachers began a hunger strike to pressure the school to negotiate with their union… The measures these graduate student teachers are taking are dramatic. But their cause — a fight for decent, secure wages and comprehensive benefits — has implications for the entire labor market.
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