Saturday, April 7, 2018

Alaska About Equality And You'll Say Sure

Voters in Anchorage, Alaska have rejected a local "bathroom bill", showing that good ol' West-Of-The-Rockies "to each their own" does come in handy every now and again.

Anchorage voters have rejected an initiative that would have regulated access to restrooms and locker rooms by a person's sex at birth instead of gender identity, a local version of what's known nationally as a "bathroom bill" that sparked massive spending by an opposition campaign.

The latest election results released Friday show Proposition 1 was failing by a six-point margin, with 77,766 ballots counted. There are fewer than 1,000 ballots left to be counted, election officials said

Opponents of Prop. 1 declared victory Friday night. Lillian Lennon, an organizer with the Fair Anchorage campaign and a transgender woman, read the results aloud to a small group assembled at the city's election headquarters on Ship Creek.

"It means that Anchorage stood together as one community against a discriminatory proposition," Lennon said in an interview later.

Fair Anchorage raised more than $800,000 toward advertising, consulting services, phone banking, events and other campaign activities, making it one of the most expensive campaigns in the city's history. The records indicate a large infusion of Outside cash from various donors.

The city has fought bitter battles over LGBT rights in the past, most recently in 2012.

Good on you, Anchorage.  It's nice to be reminded that Sarah Palin isn't every Alaskan more than Rand Paul is every Kentuckian.

Immigration Nation, Con't

I've long said that the endgame of the Trump regime's immigration policy is to effectively end immigration, legal or otherwise, and begin mass deportation procedures of undocumented immigrants as the infrastructure to detain and process millions of people as enemies of the state is created to do just that.

We took yet another step towards that reality this week with new edicts from Dear Leader.

The Trump administration announced two measures late Friday to further restrict illegal border crossings.

The president issued a presidential memorandum ending a policy commonly called "catch and release," which released illegal immigrants from detention as they awaited an immigration court hearing.

The memo directs various government agencies, the Departments of Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, Justice and Defense to report within 45 days on measures they are taking to end "catch and release."

For example, the Defense Department is instructed to identify all existing facilities, including military sites, that can be "used, modified, or repurposed to detain aliens for violations of immigration law" at or near U.S. borders.

Within 60 days, the Departments of State and Homeland Security will report on diplomatic efforts to force countries to accept the repatriation of their nationals.

Within 75 days, the attorney general and secretary of homeland security will submit a report identifying additional resources needed to "expeditiously end catch and release practices

Considering illegal border crossings are actually at a near 50-year low, all that new infrastructure will have to be turned inward.

Earlier in the day, Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered federal prosecutors to adopt a "zero tolerance" policy toward people trying to enter the United States from Mexico illegally by targeting first-time offenders. Traditionally, people who were caught trying to cross the border for the first time were charged with misdemeanor crimes.

Now Sessions says, under a "zero tolerance" policy, illegal entry should be prosecuted to the "extent practicable." The order contained few specifics on how that policy will be implemented.

As The Associated Press reports:

"A conviction for illegal entry carries a maximum penalty of six months in prison for first-time crossers and two years for repeat offenses. In practice, many are deported after pleading guilty and spending a few days in jail. ...

"Smugglers and frequent offenders are usually charged with more serious crimes."

Sessions' order comes on the heels of his instruction to immigration judges, who are employees of the Justice Department, to meet a quota of 700 completed immigration cases each year.
That order is being opposed by the president of the immigration judges' union.

None of this is accidental, guys.  The Trump regime is constructing the means to round up, detain, process and deport millions of undocumented immigrants in the US.  This infrastructure will be used, and used in brutal fashion sooner than you think.  Some of it is already being used, and when the last logistical, social, and legal barriers to full implementation are removed over the next weeks and months, the storm will come with startling alacrity.

How much we can do in order to stop it depends largely on November's elections.

Environment Of Paranoia

Embattled EPA chief Scott Pruitt is under heavy pressure to resign (or to be fired by Trump) for the only actual punishable sin in this regime, making Donald Trump look bad.  Turns out even some Republicans are uncomfortable at how incompetent Pruitt is at grifting badly enough to get caught.

Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt’s concern with his safety came at a steep cost to taxpayers as his swollen security detail blew through overtime budgets and at times diverted officers away from investigating environmental crimes.

Altogether, the agency spent millions of dollars for a 20-member full-time detail that is more than three times the size of his predecessor’s part-time security contingent.

New details in Pruitt’s expansive spending for security and travel emerged from agency sources and documents reviewed by The Associated Press. They come as the embattled EPA leader fends off allegations of profligate spending and ethical missteps that have imperiled his job.

Shortly after arriving in Washington, Pruitt demoted the career staff member heading his security detail and replaced him with EPA Senior Special Agent Pasquale “Nino” Perrotta, a former Secret Service agent who operates a private security company.

An EPA official with direct knowledge of Pruitt’s security spending says Perrotta oversaw a rapid expansion of the EPA chief’s security detail to accommodate guarding him day and night, even on family vacations and when Pruitt was home in Oklahoma. The EPA official spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.

Perrotta also signed off on new procedures that let Pruitt fly first-class on commercial airliners, with the security chief typically sitting next to him with other security staff farther back in the plane. Pruitt’s premium status gave him and his security chief access to VIP airport lounges.

The EPA official said there are legitimate concerns about Pruitt’s safety, given public opposition to his rollbacks of anti-pollution measures.

But Pruitt’s ambitious domestic and international travel led to rapidly escalating costs, with the security detail racking up so much overtime that many hit annual salary caps of about $160,000. The demands of providing 24-hour coverage even meant taking some investigators away from field work, such as when Pruitt traveled to California for a family vacation.

The EPA official said total security costs approached $3 million when pay is added to travel expenses.

Millions in wasted taxpayer dollars is one thing, wasting even more in an effort to reassign personnel in an effort to cover up your waste and excess is to be expected if not encouraged in 2018, but wasting time and money because it makes you look like a wimp and that ends up embarrassing Trump, well, that's the real strike here against Pruitt in this day and age.
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