Politics & Government

Politics, elections, law, military and veteran's affairs

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This is Lulu's log - stardate June 25th, 2017, where we consider matters of space, the stars and the universe.

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Moments into his highly anticipated on-camera briefing Wednesday — the first after a seven-day absence — Trump press secretary Sean Spicer was asked about the persistent rumor that he will soon transition into a new role within the White House communications team — one that removes him from the spotlight and into a less visible position.

He opted for an indirect response to a very direct question: "I'm still here."

President Trump took to Twitter to question his predecessor's judgment and actions — at the end of a week characterized by a steady drumbeat of questions about how and when the Obama administration chose to respond to Russian interference in the 2016 election.

"Why no action?," the president asked in the first of two tweets Saturday evening that suggested the Obama administration didn't do enough — and soon enough — to stop Russia last year.

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In a major property rights decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has delivered a decisive victory to state and local governments and environmental groups.

By a 5-to-3 vote, the justices made it much harder for property owners to get compensation from the government when zoning regulations restrict the use of just part of landowners' property.

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Another no vote emerged from the Senate yesterday.

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DEAN HELLER: This bill - this bill that's currently in front of the United States Senate - not the answer. It's simply not the answer.

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What's In The GOP Health Care Bill

Jun 24, 2017

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President Trump has brought on an eclectic team of outside lawyers to help him navigate the various investigations into Russian meddling in the election. At least six congressional committees are investigating.

Arkansas's pesticide regulators have stepped into the middle of an epic battle between weeds and chemicals, which has now morphed into a battle between farmers. Hundreds of farmers say their crops have been damaged by a weedkiller that was sprayed on neighboring fields. Today, the Arkansas Plant Board voted to impose an unprecedented ban on that chemical.

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Back before inauguration, Donald Trump announced a deal with the air conditioning and heating company Carrier to keep one of their manufacturing plants on U.S. soil. Here's President-elect Trump in December at that factory in Indianapolis.

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Let's bring in our Friday commentators to talk about this health care bill and the rest of the week in politics. We've got E.J. Dionne of The Washington Post and the Brookings Institution. Hi there.

Friday News Roundup - International

Jun 23, 2017

America’s relationship with North Korea worsens after 22-year-old Otto Warmbier’s return home in a coma. He died shortly after. The President has called Warmbier’s death “a disgrace.” What now? Also, the latest attack on London and Saudi Arabia’s King rewrites the rules on succession.

GUESTS

Tom Bowman, Pentagon correspondent, NPR.

Michael Goldfarb, Host of the First Rough Draft of History Podcast

Friday News Roundup - Domestic

Jun 23, 2017

For all the talk this week, one group has been unusually quiet: the National Rifle Association. We’ll discuss why gun owners in particular have concerns surrounding the death of Philando Castile and why some want the NRA to speak out. Plus, back room dealing on healthcare, and is the President’s front man moving on?

GUESTS

Maria Hinojosa, Anchor and executive producer of NPR’s Latino USA

Laura Meckler, Staff writer, The Wall Street Journal

Shawna Thomas, Washington bureau chief, Vice News

Andy Slavitt understands the inner workings of the U.S. health care system better than most. From 2015 to 2017, he ran the Affordable Care Act, sometimes called Obamacare, as head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Since leaving that post in January, he's been an outspoken critic of the Republican proposals to dismantle it.

Yesterday, shortly after the release of the Senate bill, he tweeted, "It's the ugly step-sibling of the House bill." And this morning his message was, "We must start over. It's too important."

The list of perks Dan Teran's company offers sounds pretty dreamy.

Anyone working 120 hours a month gets employer-sponsored medical, dental and vision insurance. His company, Managed by Q, also offers a matching 401(k) retirement program, paid time off, a stock option program for all employees, and 12 weeks of paid parental leave.

Those are highly unusual perks, considering most are part-time workers who work only when they're available. Also, Teran's company does janitorial, building maintenance and temporary secretarial work, where such benefits are almost unheard of.

Updated 12:30 p.m. ET

President Trump kept one of his campaign promises, signing a bill Friday to make it easier for the secretary of veterans affairs to fire and discipline employees. It came in response to the 2014 VA scandal in which employees covered up long wait times while collecting bonuses.

The bill, which passed earlier this month with strong bipartisan support, also gives the secretary authority to revoke bonuses and protects whistleblowers who report wrongdoing.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Now that the bill is out, we are examining just how the Senate Republicans want to change the American health care system. Here's President Trump talking about that bill this morning on "Fox & Friends."

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And we're going to dig into the new Senate health care bill this morning.

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