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The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Off the Wall

By Elaine Godfrey

Today in 5 Lines

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer rescinded his offer to increase funding for Trump’s proposed border wall as part of a broader DACA deal. The New York Times reported that Attorney General Jeff Sessions was interviewed last week by the special counsel as part of the Russia investigation, and former FBI Director James Comey was questioned by the office last year. Two students were killed and 17 were wounded in a shooting at Marshall County High School in Benton, Kentucky. The Senate confirmed Federal Reserve Governor Jerome Powell to serve as chairman of the bank. And Trump will host French President Emmanuel Macron for an official state dinner on April 24.


Today on The Atlantic

  • Can Earth Sustain 10 Billion People?: We have 30 years to find out. (Charles C. Mann)

  • Refusing Treatment: The Trump administration is making it easier for medical workers to object to procedures on religious grounds. Reproductive-rights advocates worry that’s a slippery slope. (Olga Khazan)

  • The Pot and the Kettle: President Trump has reportedly criticized Cabinet members for transgressions that he himself has been accused of. Is he becoming more self aware? (David A. Graham)

Follow stories throughout the day …read more

From:: <a href=http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/AtlanticPoliticsChannel/~3/mfBT-QLkJe8/ target="_blank" title="The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Off the Wall” rel=nofollow>The Atlantic

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Russia’s Retaliation Against a Doping Whistleblower

By Julia Ioffe

On December 11, 2017, Russian authorities filed drug-trafficking charges against Grigory Rodchenkov, the whistleblower who exposed Russia’s state-sponsored doping program. It was his testimony, and the series of investigations it launched, that ultimately got the Russian national team banned from next month’s Olympic Games in South Korea.

News of the charges against Rodchenkov was reported by state-owned Russian outlets the next day, but The Atlantic has since learned that the timing was seemingly not accidental. A lawyer for Rodchenkov believes Russian authorities are retaliating for his client’s disclosures by making it more difficult for him to remain in the United States, where he fled in 2015 on a tourist visa. The day Rodchenkov was charged in Russia also happened to be the day he met with U.S. immigration officials in hopes of securing a more permanent basis for remaining in the United States. His lawyer, Jim Walden, rejects the charges. “It’s Russia,”  Walden says. “They can make up whatever they want to make up.”(In response to repeated requests for comment, the office of the prosecutor that filed the charges demurred, asking for the request to be faxed.)

The charges could significantly undercut Rodchenkov’s immigration case, and if the immigration …read more

From:: The Atlantic

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Is Trump Becoming Self-Aware?

By David A. Graham

Taking a job with Donald Trump means agreeing to sometimes be attacked by Donald Trump. This week’s victims are Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

“These trade deals, they’re terrible,” Trump told Ross, according to Jonathan Swan at Axios. “Your understanding of trade is terrible. Your deals are no good. No good.” The president rejected a trade deal that Ross thought was closed. Ross also reportedly falls asleep repeatedly in meetings.

Zinke’s problem is different. First the administration announced a major expansion of offshore oil drilling. Then Florida Governor Rick Scott protested, because drilling is unpopular among Floridians, and since Scott is a Republican Trump ally and likely 2018 U.S. Senate candidate, Zinke hastily announced Florida would no longer be covered by the change. That, of course, led governors in other states to demand the same treatment. More recently, the Interior Department has had to walk back the exception.

Swan again: “Trump has made clear to Zinke that he’s angry about this move, according to two sources with direct knowledge. Zinke’s decision is both legally and politically dangerous for the Trump administration. Zinke did not coordinate with anybody, and gave the White House no …read more

From:: The Atlantic

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Trump and Russia Both Seek to Exacerbate the Same Political Divisions

By Conor Friedersdorf

Last week, nearly 700,000 Twitter users were told that they unwittingly interacted with the Internet Research Agency, a Russian troll farm that tried to influence the 2016 election. “Twitter said that it had identified 3,814 IRA-linked accounts, which posted some 176,000 tweets in the 10 weeks preceding the election, and another 50,258 automated accounts connected to the Russian government, which tweeted more than a million times,” The Washington Post reported.

The news gave University of Washington Professor Kate Starbird and her academic colleagues an idea. They had recently authored a paper analyzing how Americans discussed police shootings on Twitter in 2016, focusing on the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. Their lab even created a “shared audience graph” that mapped out individual accounts participating in that political conversation: One cluster was organized around #BlackLivesMatter and another around #BlueLivesMatter.

Were any of the folks in those conversations Russian trolls?

In fact, “When Twitter released the 1st batch of accounts related to the RU-IRA troll factories, we cross-referenced those with our #BlackLivesMatter & #BlueLivesMatter data,” Starbird wrote on Twitter, and sure enough, “some of the most active & most influential accounts ON BOTH SIDES were RU-IRA trolls.”

Different Russian troll accounts were posing as supporters of #BlackLivesMatter and …read more

From:: The Atlantic

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Has the Tide Turned Against Partisan Gerrymandering?

By David A. Graham

Across the nation, judges are discovering that if you look for it, partisan gerrymandering actually is all around you.

Courts have historically been reluctant to strike down redistricting plans on the basis of political bias—unwilling to appear to be favoring one party—but Monday afternoon, the Pennsylvania state supreme court ruled that the state’s maps for U.S. House violate the state constitution’s guarantees of free expression and association and of equal protection.

That follows a ruling earlier this month in North Carolina, in which a federal court struck down the state’s maps, the first time a federal court had ruled a redistricting plan represented an unconstitutional gerrymander. The decision was stayed by the U.S. Supreme Court, which is already considering another partisan gerrymandering case from Wisconsin. The court has also agreed to hear another case, from Maryland, and rejected a case from Texas on procedural grounds.

The Pennsylvania case may be at once the most important in the immediate term and least important in the long term. That’s because it is based on the state constitution, which limits its reach but also means it is more likely to remain in place. Republican legislators vowed to seek a stay from …read more

From:: The Atlantic

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The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Cashing in Their CHIP

By Elaine Godfrey

Today in 5 Lines

A three-day shutdown of the federal government came to an end after Senate Democrats accepted an offer from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to pass a continuing resolution funding the government and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, while postponing debate on immigration legislation. The Senate voted 81-18 to pass the bill, which later passed in the House. In a statement, President Trump said he’s “pleased that Democrats in Congress have come to their senses.” During his speech to the Israeli parliament, Vice President Mike Pence stressed the administration’s commitment to relocate the American embassy. And the U.S. Army is reportedly preparing to increase the number of troops in Afghanistan by as many as 1,000.


Today on The Atlantic

  • ‘This Is a Direct Attack on the Church’: The U.S. Catholic Church is pushing back against the Trump administration’s decision to end Temporary Protected Status for Salvadorans, many of whom are very active in their church communities. (Emma Green)

  • Who’s the Shutdown Victor?: A White House official told Elaina Plott that Congress’s agreement to reopen the government was a “win for the White House; loss for Schumer.”

  • Dreamers in Limbo: Immigration activists are disappointed—and in …read more

    From:: <a href=http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/AtlanticPoliticsChannel/~3/EgKMhmuZMU0/ target="_blank" title="The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Cashing in Their CHIP” rel=nofollow>The Atlantic

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How Federal Workers Spent Their Unexpected Day Off

By Elaine Godfrey

It was almost 60 degrees in Washington on Monday, without a hint of snow in the forecast, but some federal workers got the day off, anyway.

One analyst working in the Government Accountability Office told me in an email that he was mentally preparing himself for a days- or even weeks-long period without pay due to the government shutdown. But now that a deal has been reached, he said, “today just feels like one of the lesser holidays, like Columbus Day.” The analyst, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak with the press, said he and his wife spent the afternoon at Costco, stocking up on toilet paper, eggs, and milk. He also split a slice of pizza with his daughter. “All in all, not a bad deal in exchange for congressional inaction,” he told me.

Lawmakers failed to pass a continuing resolution to fund the government last week, so starting midnight on Friday, non-essential arms of the government ceased operations. On Monday, many non-essential employees in Washington were asked to come to their offices and receive their furlough paperwork—documents ordering them not to work.

Many federal workers were upset by this turn of …read more

From:: The Atlantic

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Why Can’t People Hear What Jordan Peterson Is Saying?

By Conor Friedersdorf

My first introduction to Jordan B. Peterson, a University of Toronto clinical psychologist, came by way of an interview that began trending on social media last week. Peterson was pressed by the British journalist Cathy Newman to explain several of his controversial views. But what struck me, far more than any position he took, was the method his interviewer employed. It was the most prominent, striking example I’ve seen yet of an unfortunate trend in modern communication.

First, a person says something. Then, another person restates what they purportedly said so as to make it seem as if their view is as offensive, hostile, or absurd.

Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and various Fox News hosts all feature and reward this rhetorical technique. And the Peterson interview has so many moments of this kind that each successive example calls attention to itself until the attentive viewer can’t help but wonder what drives the interviewer to keep inflating the nature of Peterson’s claims, instead of addressing what he actually said.

This isn’t meant as a global condemnation of this interviewer’s quality or past work. As with her subject, I haven’t seen enough of it to render any overall judgment—and it is sometimes useful to respond …read more

From:: The Atlantic

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‘We’re Back at Square One’

By Priscilla Alvarez

Pro-immigrant activists reacted to news of a bipartisan pact to reopen the federal government with disappointment, resignation, and in some cases, outright anger at Democrats for agreeing to the deal.

“[Democrats] turned their back on us,” said Eliso Magos, a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals beneficiary, and an organizer for CASA, a Maryland-based organization that focuses on Latinos and immigrants. “It’s stressful as a DACA recipient not to know what’s going to happen next.” Magos’s work permit is set to expire in December 2019; he’s waiting for his permit to be renewed.

On Monday, the Senate voted for a stopgap spending bill—three days after the government first shut down. “The Republican leader and I have come to an arrangement: We will vote to reopen the government,” said Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Democrats and a handful of Republicans had originally voted against funding the government unless the status of 700,000 young immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally, and who were protected by the DACA program rescinded by the Trump administration in September, was dealt with.

Three days into the shutdown, however, Democrats changed their tune after an assurance from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that the …read more

From:: The Atlantic

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Republicans Claim Victory in the Shutdown Fight

By Elaina Plott

This story was updated on Monday, January 22 at 2:15pm

On Monday afternoon, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer addressed a scrum of reporters in the Capitol to announce that Democrats would provide the votes to keep the government open until February 8, given Mitch McConnell’s agreement to address “Dreamers” on the Senate floor next month.

The White House was quick to boast that Democrats had “cave[d].” “Win for White House; Loss for Schumer,” one official who had been involved in the talks texted me. “He didn’t really get much.”

Of course, the reality is that President Donald Trump didn’t have much to do with the deal—his last meeting with Schumer to avoid a shutdown was famously unproductive. Yet the official, speaking on condition of anonymity so as to describe confidential conversations, assured me that Trump’s legislative affairs team has been on the Hill in the last several days “working this” and giving “regular updates” to the president, who, the source added, “has been very engaged.” The official added that a group of senators supportive of Trump’s immigration vision were meeting at the White House on Monday afternoon.

Democrats are already struggling with how to spin this development, especially when, just three days ago, …read more

From:: The Atlantic

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‘An Assault on the Body of the Church’

By Emma Green

A woman fled El Salvador in fear of violence, just months before a deadly series of earthquakes destroyed many Salvadorans’ lives and homes. She settled in Maryland with her husband’s family and started to build a life. She worked first in hotel housekeeping, then as a teaching assistant at a neighborhood school. She had four children, who excelled in school. She invested deeply in her local Catholic church, serving as a catechist and usher, working with kids on Sunday mornings, and hosting a small prayer group in her home.

Now, after nearly two decades in the United States, the Trump administration may be sending her back to El Salvador, a country that still suffers from one of the world’s highest homicide rates, destabilizing gang activity, and a stalled economy. Many immigration advocates have pushed back on the decision, but perhaps none more strongly than the U.S. Catholic Church. Catholic leaders see these deportations not as a left-right political issue, but as threat to the families that make up the heart of their communities. As one local priest told me, “I see it as an assault on the body of the Church.”

The woman described above—whom I spoke with through a translator, …read more

From:: The Atlantic

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