Republicans hide a rollback on the regulation of gun silencers inside an otherwise innocuous federal lands bill


Silent and deadly: Gun industry eyes a sneaky and dangerous new revenue streamEnlarge(Credit: Getty/Radiomoscow)

Donald Trump campaigned on the claim that he would be a “law and order” president, and the 2016 Republican platform called for more “gratitude and support” for law enforcement and expressed concern over “the murder rate soaring in our great cities.” (That last part, at least, was pretty much a fabrication.) Despite that high-minded rhetoric, congressional Republicans are pushing forward with a stealth bill that will make life easier for contract killers and make it more dangerous for police to protect themselves from gun violence.

On Tuesday, the House Committee on Natural Resources will hear testimony about the innocuously titled “Sportsmen’s Heritage and Recreational Enhancement Act” (or SHARE Act), introduced by Rep. Jeff Duncan, a South Carolina Republican. Buried in the middle of a bunch of provisions regarding hunting and fishing on federal lands, however, is a provision that would roll back parts of an 80-year-old law — passed in response to the St. Valentine’s Day massacre of 1929 —  that regulates the sale of firearm silencers.

“Silencers distort the sound of a gun, and in the wrong hands, they put people’s safety at risk,” John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, explained to Salon.

Under the National Firearms Act of 1934, people who buy gun silencers must pay a $200 tax and go through a cumbersome registration process with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. When Trump won the election, the NRA made it a top priority to push for the end of these regulations. The campaign largely involved rebranding silencers as “suppressors” and arguing that they are necessary for firearm safety, because they supposedly protect people’s hearing during sport shooting.

Gun safety advocates argue, however, that silencers make it easier for criminals to operate and put the lives of police officers at risk. They also argue that the gun lobby has cynical motivations for wanting to get rid of silencer registration and taxes: Profit.

“NRA leadership and their congressional allies are working behind closed doors to prop up lagging gun sales by making it easier for gun companies to sell silencers,” Feinblatt argued, adding that the bill’s backers “put profits ahead of public safety.”

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Irma Won’t “Wake Up” Climate Change-Denying Republicans. Their Whole Ideology Is on the Line. – Naomi Klein September 11 2017


Image: NOAA/NASA/UWM-CIMSS, William Straka III`

As one of the most powerful storms ever recorded bore down on the continental United States, with much of Florida under evacuation order, President Donald Trump was focused on a matter of grave urgency.

He gathered his cabinet at Camp David and said there was no time to waste. With Hurricane Irma set to potentially devastate huge swaths of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, now was the time, he said, to rush through massive … tax cuts.

Yes, that’s right. He wasn’t focused on getting massive aid to those most affected. He wasn’t focused on massive change to our energy and transit systems to lower greenhouse gas emissions so that Irma-like storms do not become a thrice-annual occurrence. His mind was on massive changes to the tax code — which, despite Trump’s claims that he is driven by a desire to give the middle class relief, would in fact hand corporations the biggest tax cut in decades and the very wealthy a sizable break as well.

Some have speculated that seeing the reality of climate change hit so close to home this summer — Houston underwater, Los Angeles licked by flames, and now southern states getting battered by Irma — might be some kind of wake-up call for climate change-denying Republicans.

As Trump’s address to his cabinet makes clear, however, Irma only makes him want to double down on his reckless economic agenda. Flanked by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, he explained that they were going to discuss “dramatic tax cuts and tax reform. And I think now with what’s happened with the hurricane, I’m gonna ask for a speed up.”

Some have pointed out that this is a classic example of what I have called the “shock doctrine” — using disasters as cover to push through radical, pro-corporate policies. And it is a textbook case to be sure, especially because when Trump made his remarks, Irma was at the very height of its potential threat.

But Trump’s timing is even more revealing for what it shows about what’s really driving climate change denial on the right. It’s not a rejection of the science, but a rejection of the consequences of the science. Put simply, if the science is true, then the whole economic project that has dominated American power structures since Ronald Reagan was president is out the window, and the deniers know it.

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POTUS pressured to dump nationalist wing – BY JONATHAN EASLEY AND JORDAN FABIAN – 08/15/17 06:00 AM EDT


Trump pressured to dump nationalist wing
© Greg Nash

Pressure is mounting on President Trump to dump his controversial chief strategist Stephen Bannon after this weekend’s racial violence in Charlottesville, Va., provoked widespread anger at the nationalist wing of Trump’s White House.

Democrats, and some Republican critics of Trump, are demanding he cut ties with Bannon, the former Breitbart News chairman who once described his site as the “platform for the alt-right.”

Adviser Sebastian Gorka, who once wrote for the publication, has also come under criticism.

“If he doesn’t want this to consume his presidency, he needs to purge anyone involved with the alt-right,” said Rick Tyler, the former campaign spokesperson for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).“Breitbart has become a pejorative … It has been a vehicle for the alt-right,” Tyler said. “You can’t allow the Oval Office to be a vehicle for the alt-right.”

That sentiment was echoed countless times over the weekend by a broad spectrum of Washington insiders, including establishment Republicans and Democratic lawmakers.

“If the president is sincere about rejecting white supremacists, he should remove all doubt by firing Steve Bannon and the other alt-right white supremacist sympathizers in the White House,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement Monday.

She said the president’s widely panned initial reaction to the Charlottesville violence was a “direct reflection of the fact” that Bannon “is an alt-right white supremacist sympathizer and a shameless enforcer of those un-American beliefs.”

When the president arrived back in Washington on Monday from his New Jersey golf club, he ignored a shouted question from a reporter about whether he’d fire Bannon and Gorka.

The White House did not respond when asked if the president still has confidence in Bannon and Gorka.

Bannon’s allies and Breitbart’s defenders are frustrated by what they view as the reactionary response to tar them as racists every time a racially-charged event takes over the news cycle.

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Republicans stand up to Trump over Charlottesville comments – NANCY COOK 08/13/2017 05:08 PM EDT


Members of his party are starting to carefully take on the president, though they have so far remained willing to work on his policy agenda.

Republican lawmakers this weekend took President Donald Trump to task over what they deemed a weak response to white supremacist groups and violent clashes in Charlottesville, Va., the latest sign that Trump’s grip on the party may be weakening.

The outspoken group included past Trump antagonists such as Sens. Ben Sasse, Jeff Flake and Marco Rubio, but it also included prominent conservative voices who aren’t known as fierce critics of the administration, such as Sens. Orrin Hatch and Cory Gardner.

The Republicans joined civil rights leaders and Democrats who reacted angrily when Trump said Saturday he condemned “this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides — on many sides.” His repetition of “many sides” struck critics as seeming to equate the white supremacist groups who organized the rally with counter-protesters, though the White House later sought to recast his statement to be more critical of hate groups.

One woman was killed and more injured Saturday when a car plowed into a group of counter-protesters. Police later charged a man who had been photographed holding a symbol of one of the groups that organized the Charlottesville event, the Associated Press reported.

“This isn’t a time for innuendo or to allow room to be read between the lines. This is a time to lay blame,” Gardner, a Coloradoan who is considered a rising star in the party, said on CNN Sunday.

“This president has done an incredible job of naming terrorism around the globe as evil,” Gardner continued. “He has said and called it out time and time again. And this president needs to do exactly that today.”

“We should call evil by its name,” Hatch, the Utah Republican, wrote on Twitter Saturday.

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Arizona Republicans Banned Mexican American Studies. The Fight Is Now Back in Court. – Edwin Rios Jul. 2, 2017 6:00 AM


Did a 2010 law violate Latino students’ constitutional rights?

Protesters rally in support of Tuscon Unified School District in 2011 after Arizona state superintendent announces Mexican-American Studies program violates state law.Ross D. Franklin/AP

Seven years ago, Arizona Republicans passed a measure, HB 2281, that sought to limit ethnic studies programs in public schools.

Specifically, the bill set out to ban courses that “promote the overthrow of the United States government,” “promote resentment toward a race or class of people,” “are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group,” or “advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals.” Only one program in one school district qualified to be shut down: the Mexican American studies program in the Tucson Unified School District.

Since then, parents and students from the district have protested HB 2281. This week, attorneys on behalf of Tucson students argued in federal district court that the state violated Latino students’ constitutional rights—and that the law should be tossed out.

When did the Tucson program start?

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Ossoff falls short of win, Georgia election heads to runoff – Elena Schneider 04/18/17 07:05 PM EDT


Republicans prevented a loss in a GOP-friendly district Tuesday, but they still face a fight in the runoff.

Georgia Democrat Jon Ossoff, a 30-year-old political novice, fell just short of a shocking victory in a House race that had captured the attention of the political world as a referendum on President Donald Trump.

The results left Democrats hoping for an upset deflated at the ballot box once again, but Ossoff will get another crack at the district in a June runoff, when relieved Republicans are looking forward to a one-on-one race between Republican Karen Handel and the upstart Democrat.

Ossoff had 48 percent of the vote when the Associated Press declared that he would miss the 50 percent threshold for victory and instead qualify for a one-on-one runoff in June. The AP also declared that Handel, Georgia’s former secretary of state, qualified for the runoff with a second-place finish. Handel took 20 percent of the vote in the race for Georgia’s 6th District, left open by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who had held the seat since 2004 without a serious challenge. Handel got nearly twice as much as the next-highest candidate, fellow Republican Bob Gray.

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Republicans may not want POTUS to end Obamacare payments – By Paige Winfield Cunningham April 14 at 4:15 PM


Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Some influential Republicans in Congress don’t want a fight President Trump is threatening to pick over extra Obamacare payments to insurers.

Trump suggested this week that as Congress seeks to fund the government beyond April, Republicans should refuse to pay for cost-sharing subsidies provided through the Affordable Care Act to low-income Americans. There’s widespread agreement that without the subsidies, insurers would be forced to hike premiums next year, worsening conditions in the Obamacare insurance marketplaces.

The president told the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday that not only would such a move cause Obamacare to “die,” it could also be used to force Democrats to negotiate on repealing the health-care law altogether. “Without the payments, Obamacare is gone, just gone,” Trump said.

[Trump’s threat prompts Democrats to play hardball over Obamacare payments]

Many Republicans are well aware that the public is likely to blame them for premium increases, now that they control both Congress and the White House and have so far failed to agree on a health-care replacement plan. And Democrats are keenly aware of the shifting dynamics, seizing every opportunity they can to insist Republicans now own the health-care law.

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