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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Gasoline Prices Surge After Colonial Pipeline Shutdown, East Coast Fuel Shortages Loom

Gasoline prices have exploded higher once again this morning - topping the Maginot Line of $2.00 for the first time since July 2015 - following reports that the main conduit for fuel from the Gulf to the East Coast has been shut due to Hurricane Harvey.

Motor fuel prices climbed as much as 6.6 percent in New York, advancing for an eighth session, while crude oil was little changed. Harvey has shuttered about 23 percent of U.S. refining capacity, potentially cutting fuel-making ability to the lowest level since 2008 and depriving the Colonial Pipeline of supplies.

Its operator was forced to shut the main diesel line late Wednesday and planned to halt its gasoline line Thursday, meaning motorists from Maine to Florida may soon see higher prices at the pump.

Colonial, which is the biggest single fuel transporter in the US, shipping more than 2.5m barrels a day on its line - or roughly one in every eight barrels of fuel consumed in the country - said in a statement late on Wednesday that its line carrying diesel and jet fuel would shut on Wednesday evening, followed by its gasoline pipe on Thursday.   

And that sent front-month RBOB above $2...



Additionaly, WTI prices are lower following news that the strategic petroleum reserve has authorized release of 500,000 barrels of crude to Phillips 66 Lake Charles refinery...

As gasoline surged to a two-year high, U.S. oil prices lost about 4 percent since Harvey made landfall as demand from refiners fell. As Bloomberg notes, this sent cracks -- the premium of the refined fuel over crude -- higher in New York, while the storm also triggered a flurry of trans-Atlantic gasoline trading and disrupted exports of liquefied petroleum gas, causing prices to rise in Asia.

“Harvey is driving cracks to the sky,” said Bjarne Schieldrop, chief commodities analyst at SEB AB in Oslo. “Crude oil prices have declined while oil product prices have increased.”

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The Black Church and the Democratic Party: Unholy Alliance or Doublethink?

Trump Warns Congress: Don't Blow a Once in a Generation Chance to Pass Tax Reform

Katie Pavlich 

Speaking from Springfield, Missouri Wednesday afternoon, President Trump kicked off a major tax reform tour and called on Congress to act accordingly when it comes to getting a bill passed. 

"This is our once in a generation opportunity to deliver real tax reform for everyday, hardworking Americans," Trump said. "This is our opportunity to deliver real tax reform for Americans. I am fully committed to working with Congress to get this job done."

"I don't want to be disappointed by Congress," he continued. 

The President called on Democrats to end their obstruction for the sake of the American taxpayer. 

"Put the partisan posturing behind us and come together as Americans, to create the 21st century tax code that our people deserve," he said. "What could possibly be more bipartisan than helping people keep more of what they earn?"

While he didn't get into specific details about a plan, the President laid out a series of principles he believes should be considered as a tax reform bill is drafted: simplifying the code, lowering rates that promote job growth and offering a system that encourages investment at home. 

"We will lower taxes on middle income Americans, so they can keep more of their hard-earned paychecks," he said. "Lower taxes on American business, means higher wages for American workers and it means more products made right here, in the USA."

"It's time to give American workers the pay raise that they've been looking for, for many, many years," the President continued. "We need a tax code that is simple, fair and easy to understand."

The President classified his ideas as "pro-American tax reform" that will allow companies to hire in the U.S. and expand at home, not overseas. 

"I am asking every member of Congress, which we have many here today, to join me in unleashing America's potential," Trump said. "It's time to invest in our country, to rebuild our communities and to hire our great American workers."

Charlie Daniels: CNN Produces More 'Bull' than I Pull Out of My Barn

Cortney O'Brien 

Singer Charlie Daniels, known for his incredibly popular "Devil Goes Down to Georgia" diddy from 1979, posted one heck of a tweet about CNN this week.

Daniels, who is safely the most talented violinist in the conservative movement, said he has seen more "bull" on Jeff Zucker's network than his own barn.

It so happens that Tuesday was also the day CNN was lambasted live on TV by a Hurricane Harvey survivor in Houston who had had enough of the cameras in her and her shivering children's faces. Brian Stelter defended the broadcast, noting that the mother had agreed off camera to an interview. Yet, when it came time to talk, she broke down, screaming and swearing at reporter Rosa Flores and her photographers for shoving lights in victims' faces instead of helping.

CNN is not the only network to have covered the storm and its survivors down in Texas. However, CNN has often been a source of President Trump's ire this past year after sparring with reporters like Jim Acosta and Katy Tur. It was their decision to report 24/7 on unsubstantiated ties between Russia and Trump, however, that earned CNN the nickname "fake news." At one point, they were forced to retract a piece in which they linked then-Trump associate Anthony Scaramucci to a Russian investment fund. The mishap resulted in a few resignations, but that has not stopped CNN from reporting obsessively over Russia, even in light of reports that they are lagging behind Nick-at-Nite in ratings. 

Daniels has also been speaking out about the movement to take down Confederate statues across the country after the devastation in Charlottesville. Erasing history is an ISIS-like tactic, he argued.

"If you don't like it, don't look at it," he said.

"Why Does The Southern Poverty Law Center Have Millions In Offshore Accounts?"

Why Does The Southern Poverty Law Center Have Millions In Offshore Accounts?
By Jim Treacher
31 Aug 2017, 09:00 AM

I’ve been skeptical of the Southern Poverty Law Center ever since August 2012, when their “Hate Map” (shown below) inspired a man named Floyd Lee Corkins to try to murder the employees of the Family Research Center in DC and smear Chick-fil-A sandwichesin their dead faces. (Why Chick-fil-A? Because it’s “hate chicken,” of course.) Corkins specifically pointed to the “Hate Map” as his inspiration. The SPLC told him exactly where to go and exactly why he should hate those people.

Corkins’ attempt at political mass murder was thwarted by a brave security guard named Leo Johnson, which certainly saved the SPLC a lot of embarrassment. Pointing out ideological targets for angry gunmen to attack isn’t a good look for a “civil rights” organization. Fortunately, they have the media on their side, so they get a pass from the same people who blamed Sarah Palin for the Gabby Giffords shooting.

But how does the SPLC afford to keep harassing people who say things they don’t like? How do they pay their bills? As it turns out, they have more money than they know what to do with.Joe Schoffstall, Washington Free Beacon:

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a liberal, Alabama-based 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charitable organization that has gained prominence on the left for its “hate group” designations, pushes millions of dollars to offshore entities as part of its business dealings, records show…

The SPLC has turned into a fundraising powerhouse, recording more than $50 million in contributions and $328 million in net assets on its 2015 Form 990, the most recently available tax form from the nonprofit. SPLC’s Form 990-T, its business income tax return, from the same year shows that they have “financial interests” in the Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands, and Bermuda…

“It is unethical for any US-based charity to invest large sums of money overseas,” said [Amy Sterling Casil, CEO of Pacific Human Capital]. “I know of no legitimate reason for any US-based nonprofit to put money in overseas, unregulated bank accounts.”

Well, I’m sure it’s all above-board. I’d ask questions about it, but then somebody might call me a racist or a homophobe or something awful like that. I wouldn’t want to impede the SPLC’s very important work, like… um… going on TV and slandering conservatives? I’m not sure what else they really do.

But hey, they’ve found the solution to southern poverty. Just take the huge stacks of cash you make by fear-mongering and lying about people, and stash it even farther south!

Feds Quickly Release Trump Lawyer’s Emails To Liberal Group, Bury Dem Records For Years

Paper Burning/Getty Images
EXCLUSIVE: Feds Quickly Release Trump Lawyer’s Emails To Liberal Group, Bury Dem Records For Years
By Ethan Barton
30 Aug 2017, 08:46 PM

A liberal news outlet waited just four months before a federal agency gave it more than 1,000 pages of a Republican’s emails, while conservative groups’ requests have been ignored for years, according to documents obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group.

Records show the Federal Election Commission (FEC) reviewed more than4,400 pages of emails related to a Freedom Information Act (FOIA) request filed by Andy Kroll, a reporter with the liberal news outlet Mother Jones. Kroll sought all emails Don McGahn sent between July 2008 through September 2013 while he was an FEC commissioner.

The FEC received Kroll’s request Jan. 30, 2017, and released more than 1,000 pages of McGahn’s emails in June. McGahn became White House counsel 10 days before the request was received.

FOIA requestors can ask for priority handling for particular newsworthy or time-sensitive documents, but Kroll did not ask for such treatment, records show. He did not receive the records in time for use in an April article and has not published any stories using information from this FOIA request, the Mother Jones Washington Bureau Chief told TheDCNF.(RELATED: FEC Has Kept Documents About Democrats Secret For Years)

Meanwhile, the FEC hasn’t released records related to 17 FOIA requests filed more than three years ago, many of which were submitted by conservative groups, including some seeking documents on taxpayer- and foreign-funded travel by Democratic commissioners. (RELATED: Campaign Finance Watchdog Concerned About Russian Influence Took Foreign Gifts) 

The National Republican Lawyers Association, for example, filed the oldest outstanding request six years ago, seeking correspondence between the Democratic FEC commissioners and outside groups.

Additionally, conservative group or officials with such organizations filed eight of the 10 next oldest outstanding FOIA requests, all of which are more than four years old. The Government Accountability Institute filed five of those, and Judicial Watch and American Center for Law & Justice officials each filed one.

Bill McGinley, the present White House cabinet secretary, filed one in July 2013 while working at the law firm Patton Boggs.

The descriptions in the FEC’s FOIA log were typically too vague to determine how complex those requests are. More recent requests, however, are more clear.

A Fox News FOIA request sought records on FEC commissioners’ travel, while The Wall Street Journal requested travel documents for just one official over for a less-than-two-year period. Both were requested in 2015.

More recently, Rudy Takala – an editor with The Hill who was a Washington Examiner reporter at the time – has only received some documents in response to an October 2016 FOIA request. He asked for a number of documents, including a list of the staff who went to either the Republican or Democratic national conventions, which he still hasn’t received.

Cause of Action Institute filed a lawsuit against the FEC for records on Takala’s behalf on Aug. 23. Similarly, the Center for Public Integrity has sued the FECthree times in two years for failing to comply with FOIA requests.

“The FEC has not been able to provide me with a handful of receipts from commissioners who attended the presidential nominating conventions more than a year ago, but it was able to review more than 4,400 of Don McGahn’s emails within a matter of months,” Takala told TheDCNF. “It’s hard to think of any credible way to explain that discrepancy. A reasonable person could certainly be led to believe that the agency is responding to FOIA requests selectively.”

The FEC did quickly provide TheDCNF with records cited in this story. The requests, however, sought two specific documents amounting to 17 pages.

“We don’t comment on matters that could be connected with pending litigation,” FEC spokeswoman Judith Ingram told TheDCNF.

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GOP lawmaker: Trump can't bully senators, 'this isn't the Apprentice

GOP lawmaker: Trump can't bully senators, 'this isn't the Apprentice'
By Julia Manchester - 08-30-17 18:01 PM EDT

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) on Wednesday pushed back on President Trump's recent criticisms of members of his own party ahead of the president's meeting with congressional leaders next week.

"You're not going to bully United States senators, this isn't The Apprentice," Cole told The Associated Press, referencing the television show that Trump hosted before running for president.

"You can't look at them and say you're fired, you're going to need their vote and you oughtta remember that they're going to be at the table in every major deal you need for the next three years. So I just don't think that's a productive way to proceed," he added.

Cole's comments come after Trump, who has yet to obtain a major legislative achievement, has launched a series of public attacks on various Republican lawmakers.

Trump has pushed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to advance his legislative agenda, which saw a major defeat following the collapse of ObamaCare repeal in July. Sources close to McConnell said earlier this month that he was stunned by Trump's attacks.

The president has also gone after GOP senators such as John McCain (Ariz.) and Jeff Flake (Ariz.) in recent weeks, lawmakers who have been vocal critics of the president on various issues.

The president is scheduled to appear with lawmakers on Capitol Hill next week.

House Republicans were planning on cutting nearly $1 billion from disaster accounts to fund the president's proposed southern border wall, though Tropical Storm Harvey has since led to bipartisan calls for more federal funding to aid affected areas parts of Texas and Louisiana.

The Washington Post reported Wednesday that Trump could request an emergency funding package to address damage from Harvey, which has brought catastrophic flooding to Texas.

Federal judge temporarily halts Texas sanctuary city ban

Federal judge temporarily halts Texas sanctuary city ban
By Julia Manchester and Reid Wilson - 08-30-17 21:30 PM EDT

A federal district judge on Wednesday ruled to temporarily block a new Texas law that would have banned sanctuary cities in the state, just two days before the law was set to take effect.

Federal District Court Judge Orlando Garcia granted a preliminary injunction of the sanctuary cities ban, Senate Bill 4, saying in his ruling that the law would have eroded the relationship between local law enforcement and immigrant communities.

In a 94-page ruling, Garcia wrote that there "is overwhelming evidence by local officials, including local law enforcement, that SB 4 will erode public trust and make many communities and neighborhoods less safe," adding that "localities will suffer adverse economic consequences which, in turn, will harm the state of Texas."

The new law was preempted by federal immigration law, which supersedes state law, the judge found.

"The Court cannot and does not second guess the Legislature," Garcia continued. "However, the state may not exercise its authority in a manner that violates the United States Constitution."

Garcia, who was appointed by former President Bill Clinton in 1994, is the Chief United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas.

The law, signed by Gov. Greg Abbott (R) in May, allows Texas state officials to fine local officials who implement policies aimed at limiting enforcement of federal immigration laws. State officials can even remove those local officials from office, the bill says.

Proponents of the bill said the judge's ruling put Texas residents at risk.

"Today's decision makes Texas's communities less safe," Abbott said. "Because of this ruling, gang members and dangerous criminals ... will be set free to prey upon our communities."

Attorney General Ken Paxton (R), who would have the power to impose sanctions and remove local officials under the new law, said his state has the "sovereign authority and responsibility" to protect its citizens. He said his office would appeal the ruling.

Paxton had asked to consolidate several suits against the ban on sanctuary cities in federal court in Austin, 80 or so miles from Garcia's courtroom in San Antonio. Garcia, a former member of the Texas House of Representatives, was appointed to the federal bench by Bill Clinton in 1994.

Opponents of the bill said Wednesday's ruling came at the right time, just hours before the law was scheduled to go into effect on Friday. The suit was brought by some of the largest cities and counties in Texas, including San Antonio, El Paso County, Austin, Travis County, Houston and other groups.

"The court was right to strike down virtually all of this patently unconstitutional bill," said Lee Gelernt, the deputy director of the ACLU's Immigrants Rights Project, who argued the case on behalf of those who opposed the bill. "Senate Bill 4  would have led to rampant discrimination and made communities less safe."

"Proponents of SB4 failed to grasp the detrimental impact this bill will have on every community in Texas," state Rep. Rafael Anchia (D) said in a statement. "SB4 was never about making us safer."

Updated 10:40 p.m.

Book tours are testing ground for 2020 race

Book tours are testing ground for 2020 race
By Amie Parnes - 08-31-17 06:00 AM EDT

Former Vice President Joe Biden will release a new book this fall that could also serve as a test for whether the country is interested in seeing him run for president.

Longtime advisers to Biden see his memoir, "Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship and Purpose" as the ultimate test for whether or not he'll wade into a potentially crowded 2020 field.

"It's a chance to step out on his own terms with a character reinforcing narrative that reintroduces himself to America as more than a vice president," said one former senior aide. "

His book tour will be a vital test. Can he generate enthusiasm and crowds, and subtly market his character and conviction, his values and vision to a national audience?

"It's a great soft launch for a potential campaign," the confidant said.

Biden's book is due to be published on November 14th, nearly a year after Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election to Donald Trump.

He's just the latest potential 2020 candidate to come out with a new book.

Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Al Franken (D-Minn.) have also released books this year, while Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) came out with a book this month aimed at young readers: Bernie Sanders Guide to Political Revolution."

Political books can personalize a politician, and bring their ideas to a wider audience. It's also an excuse to do the talk show circuit, from cable news to the late-night entertainment gab fests.

And then there's the tour, which can put a politician in front of crowds around the country in what can look like a surrogate campaign.

"It's mostly a vehicle to get in front of people," said Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons. "They can road test their ideas and it's a great way to tell your story all over the country."

Biden's book tour will take him through the swing states of Florida, Michigan and Wisconsin - which all helped catapult Trump to theWhite House.

David Wade, the longtime chief of staff to 2008 Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, said the right book can make political waves.

Barack Obama's 2006 book "Audacity of Hope" was on the bestseller list for 30 weeks after it published. Michiko Kakutani, the esteemed New York Times book critic, called his earlier memoir Dreams From My Father, "the most evocative, lyrical and candid autobiography written by a future president."

"Done right by the right candidate, they're powerful tools, because you can reveal a candidate's humanity, use a book tour to road test your ideas, expose them to a national audience, and control the narrative from the start," said Wade, who has been through the publishing process with Kerry and other politicians.

Some books by politicians are difficult to get through, while others can define the candidate.

"Presidential candidate books are like looking for pearls in oysters: when you open up most of them, you're won't find anything worth your time," Wade said. "The books that strike a nerve are the ones that capture a personality and inspire."

He said Sen. John McCain's "Faith of My Fathers," originally released in 1999 is one such book. Wade described the book--which spent 24 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller list and was made into a television film in 2005-- as launching a movement by connecting "a powerful personal narrative to the values of his campaign."

"But most politicians don't have that personally compelling biography, and most campaign policy books are dry and cautious, read mostly by opposition researchers and taken out of context to attack a record," he said.

Political books can be deadly dull - sometimes intentionally.

Hillary Clinton's last book about her years as secretary of State, "Hard Choices," was described by one critic as having "the excitement of reading a dictionary-and probably on purpose."

Clinton also drew negative headlines on the subsequent 2014 book tour when she said she and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, left the White House "dead broke" and in debt. It instantly became a Republican talking point.

Clinton will release a book about the 2016 presidential race on Sept. 12.

Warren's "This Fight is Our Fight" reached the top of the New York Times bestseller list for hardcover, and remained on the list for several weeks before falling off.

But Warren's book is the exception, according to one top New York literary agent familiar with political books.

"The truth is that I'm not sure it serves politicians to publish books prior to their candidacy unless they're conservative [books] rallying their base," the agent said.

"Liberal people don't buy books that confirm their extant opinions unless the book has value-added material and insights."

Biden's book could be an exception, the agent predicted, since it is expected to delve into his grieving for his 46-year-old son Beau, who died in 2015 after battling brain cancer.

"Understanding his loss would help endear him to a large swath of voters," the agent said, adding that it's likely to resonate with readers - which could win Biden votes if he runs again.

A spokeswoman for Biden did not respond to a request for comment,  but publisher Flatiron Books says the memoir will be an "intimate" reflection on his more than four decades in public life.

The book-which the former vice president has been working on for much of 2017- will be a "personal story from a father, grandfather, husband and friend as he confronts the inevitability of devastating personal loss, while trying to balance his duty to his family and his country," the publisher says.

Sources close to Warren and Franken point to other books the both senators have written along the way, and say their latest tomes have nothing to do with their political aspirations.

A spokesman for Sanders also did not want to comment about his future plans.

Those in Biden's circle say he's focused on his immediate plans at his foundation and his work at the University of Pennsylvania.

"I think he's excited about finally sharing his story in his own words and then he'll figure out the rest," said one confidante when asked about another presidential run.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Indigenous Peoples Day or Diversity Day? L.A. is Poised to Rename Columbus Day, but Councilmen Have Different Ideas

Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino has long been effusive about his Italian heritage, bringing opera singers to City Hall and posting YouTube videos about his family’s tomato sauce and his parents’ move from Sicily.

Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, a member of the Wyandotte Nation, is equally passionate about his Native American roots. When he took office four years ago, he was sworn in by his tribe’s chief, who performed a traditional blessing at the event.


O’Farrell wants the council to rename the holiday, at least on the city calendar, as Indigenous Peoples Day, arguing that Columbus’ arrival in 1492 resulted in centuries of anguish for the continent’s native population. Buscaino, on the other hand, has been pushing for a different name change — last week, he floated Diversity Day — to prevent Italian Americans who have long celebrated Columbus Day from feeling excluded or replaced.


The two men at the center of the Columbus Day debate come from different worlds. Buscaino, a former officer with the Los Angeles Police Department, grew up in a working-class Italian family in San Pedro. His dad was a commercial fishermanwhile his mother skinned fish at a cannery on Terminal Island, according to a video on Buscaino’s Italian heritage.

Since winning election in 2012, Buscaino has used his office to promote the culture and accomplishments of Italy and Italian Americans. He drummed up tens of thousands of dollars from the city budget to support Italian American Heritage Month. Last summer, he took his family — and three council colleagues — on a business and cultural exchange trip to Italy.


O’Farrell, for his part, grew up in a suburb of Oklahoma City, in a section of the state referred to as Tornado Alley. His grandfather twice served as chief of the Wyandotte tribe in Oklahoma. His mother, who worked at one point as a researcher for the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, told stories about performing in powwows and warned there was a darker story behind Columbus Day.


After taking office, O’Farrell has identified funding for Native American Heritage Month and spoken out against the Dakota Access Pipeline project, saying it would harm the ancestral lands of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

O’Farrell compared his proposal to the ongoing campaign to remove statues of Confederate military figures from the Civil War.


Emiliano Martinez, a sound engineer who lives in O’Farrell’s district, described Columbus as a symbol of genocide. “He’s the same as Hitler to us,” said Martinez, who is Native American.

O’Farrell’s plan would require the city to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day on the second Monday in October, the same day as the federal Columbus Day holiday, which serves as a day off for city employees. As part of the proposal, the city would celebrate a separate Italian American Heritage Day on Oct. 12, the day of Columbus’ arrival.

Buscaino has criticized that idea, arguing in the L’Italo-Americano newsletter last year that council members should not “replace one culture for another.” Two months ago, Buscaino unveiled a plan for renaming Columbus Day locally as Immigrant Heritage Day — a move that would have pushed Indigenous Peoples Day to August or September.


In recent days, Buscaino has discussed the idea of having Columbus Day renamed locally as Diversity Day.

“We want a day that’s going to embrace Los Angeles, not divide Los Angeles,” he told The Times last week.


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