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Rising daycare costs have put the spotlight on Washington state in a country offering little support for parents seeking childcare
....In most other advanced economies, parents don’t pay for childcare by themselves but share the cost with the government, their employers, or labor unions. That’s usually not the case in the US, where in 2011, a typical two-income family paid more than twice their share of income toward childcare compared with families in other countries that belong to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
While some state and federal programs subsidize daycare, they have failed to keep childcare costs low for a majority of US families, Malik said. Existing policies, such as the childcare tax credit and flex spending accounts for day care, disproportionately benefit parents who can afford childcare up front and pay substantial taxes. Proposals to extend help to more families have repeatedly died in Congress.
....On 1 January, the minimum wage rose again in Washington, to $11.50 an hour, and in 2020, it will make its last scheduled increase, to $13.50. Perry wonders how many families aren’t going to be able to afford the resulting costs without any additional help.
Over the past few years, natural gas has become the primary fuel that America uses to generate electricity, displacing the long-time king of fossil fuels, coal. In 2019, more than a third of America's electrical supply will come from natural gas, with coal falling to a second-ranked 28 percent, the Energy Information Administration predicted this month, marking the growing ascendency of gas in the American power market.
But new peer-reviewed research adds to the growing evidence that the shift from coal to gas isn't necessarily good news for the climate.
A team led by scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory confirmed that the oil and gas industry is responsible for the largest share of the world's rising methane emissions, which are a major factor in climate change—and in the process the researchers resolved one of the mysteries that has plagued climate scientists over the past several years.
Brussels targets single-use plastics in an urgent clean-up plan that aims to make all packaging reusable or recyclable by 2030
The EU is waging war against plastic waste as part of an urgent plan to clean up Europe’s act and ensure that every piece of packaging on the continent is reusable or recyclable by 2030.
Following China’s decision to ban imports of foreign recyclable material, Brussels on Tuesday launched a plastics strategy designed to change minds in Europe, potentially tax damaging behaviour, and modernise plastics production and collection by investing €350m (#310m) in research.
Speaking to the Guardian and four other European newspapers, the vice-president of the commission, Frans Timmermans, said Brussels’ priority was to clamp down on “single-use plastics that take five seconds to produce, you use it for five minutes and it takes 500 years to break down again”.
In the EU’s sights, Timmermans said, were throw-away items such as drinking straws, “lively coloured” bottles that do not degrade, coffee cups, lids and stirrers, cutlery and takeaway packaging.
The former Dutch diplomat told the Guardian: “If we don’t do anything about this, 50 years down the road we will have more plastic than fish in the oceans ... we have all the seen the images, whether you watch [the BBC’s] Blue Planet, whether you watch the beaches in Asian countries after storms.
We are destroying the world’s biodiversity. Yet debate has erupted over just what this means for the planet – and us.
....Even as the Permian-Triassic extinction event shows the fragility of life, it also proves its resilience in the long-term. The lessons of such mass extinctions – five to date and arguably a sixth happening as I write – inform science today. Given that extinction levels are currently 1,000 (some even say 10,000) times the background rate, researchers have long worried about our current destruction of biodiversity – and what that may mean for our future Earth and ourselves.
In 2009, a group of researchers identified nine global boundaries for the planet that if passed could theoretically push the Earth into an uninhabitable state for our species. These global boundaries include climate change, freshwater use, ocean acidification and, yes, biodiversity loss (among others). The group has since updated the terminology surrounding biodiversity, now calling it “biosphere integrity,” but that hasn’t spared it from critique.
A paper last year in Trends in Ecology & Evolution scathingly attacked the idea the idea of any global biodiversity boundary.
....Yes, life itself survived the Permian-Triassic mass extinction event – but most species did not. Believe me, humans probably wouldn’t have survived the tens-of-millions of years that followed the Great Dying: oxygen levels were dangerously low, food would have been scarce, and the world would have looked largely barren and wasted even as some species and ecosystems managed to survive. Outside the moral dilemma of extinction, there is no question that if humans push more-and-more species into oblivion there will be impacts on our society – and they could become catastrophic.
Humans evolved 248 million years later in an Earth that was far more biodiverse and rich, a kind of Eden of abundance and diversity. But our current actions risk all that – and perhaps ourselves.
Retailer outlines five-year aim to replace all plastic packaging with trays made of paper and pulp
....As it was technologically and practically possible to create less environmentally harmful alternatives, “there really is no excuse any more for excessive packaging that creates needless waste and damages our environment”, Walker added.
Iceland has already removed plastic disposable straws from its own label range and new food ranges in the next few months will use paper-based food trays.
The move, which has been welcomed by environmental campaigners, comes amid growing concern over plastic pollution in the world’s oceans, where it can harm and kill wildlife such as turtles and seabirds.
Greenpeace UK executive director John Sauven, called the announcement a “bold pledge” and that it was “now up to other retailers and food producers to respond to that challenge”.
Campaigners say London mayor has fudged a similar manifesto promise to divest the city’s remaining pension funds from fossil fuels
Campaigners say London mayor has fudged a similar manifesto promise to divest the city’s remaining pension funds from fossil fuels
Chickens for sale in Britain’s supermarkets are showing record levels of superbugs resistant to some of the strongest antibiotics, new research from the government has found.
The results are concerning because resistance to antibiotics among livestock can easily affect resistance among humans, rendering vital medicines ineffective against serious diseases.
The Food Standards Agency, which tested a large sample of fresh whole chickens from retailers, reported “significantly higher proportions” in the last 10 years in instances of campylobacter, a harmful pathogen, that were found to be resistant to the antibiotics commonly used to treat it.
The agency warned: “This survey provides evidence that AMR [anti-microbial resistant] campylobacter are to be found on whole fresh chickens sold at retail in the UK. It is therefore important to handle chicken hygienically and cook thoroughly to reduce the risk to public health.”
Administration’s policy allows states to impose work requirements for people on Medicaid, meaning sick or injured Americans ‘have to go to work, no matter what’
....This week, the Trump administration announced a new policy that allows states to require Medicaid patients to work.
Six in 10 already do.
“I work with Appalachian, salt-of-the-earth, ‘Rah! Rah! America’ individuals,” Leroy said. “To have them clumped into – ‘Well, these people just don’t want to work’ – well, of course they want to work. I have all these working poor people that are making minimum wages.”
....The politics of welfare are complex. In the 1990s, under Bill Clinton, reforms transformed “pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps” from an ethos to a matter of public policy. Now, the 10 states looking to implement work requirements for Medicaid coverage are all led by Republican governors or legislatures.
The changes allow states to require Medicaid recipients who are not children, elderly, disabled or pregnant to either work or perform “community engagement”, which can include going to school, looking for a job, volunteering or caregiving.
As many as 6.3 million people could lose Medicaid benefits as a result, an analysis by the left-leaning Center for American Progress found. About two-thirds of those individuals are believed to be students or caregivers who may not meet the strict requirements.
Unprofessional journalists are 'roasted'
Gloucester city council’s poster implies they are not worth our compassion. This is a travesty of human decency
This sinister use of Newspeak tells the upstanding citizenry to stop feeling bad about not helping those in need, under the pretence of educating and informing.
....So that’s the propaganda. What about the fact?
During the weeks I spent listening to and recording homeless people in London – first-hand accounts of their lives are in my book Four Feet Under – I met a man called Benji who said, “Come on, why are we homeless, for God’s sake? Yeah, I’m going to chuck all my gear away, empty my bank account and give it to somebody and sleep on the street. Sure. Right, I’m going to do that!”
No one in their right mind thinks it’s a clever scam to sit on a freezing pavement suffering the humiliation of asking people for a few coins. And frankly, there are many people out there who are seriously mentally ill and are chaotically struggling to stay alive. And if there are scammers? So what? They would be such an insanely tiny percentage that they are of no interest or relevance to the big picture: why are our streets starting to look like Hogarth sketches?
Not once did I meet a single person who likes begging. Most were mortified. Some flat out refused to do it. It is a horrible part of a horrible life, lived out in the open, scrutinised and judged. Hunger, loneliness, physical illness, being beaten up, sometimes raped or set alight are the diet of the homeless. But you can’t see all this under the tatty clothes and worn faces, down there somewhere at knee level. You certainly won’t see it in the poster with the faceless, hoodied man – he is meant to radiate menace.
Homelessness is not a lifestyle choice of the criminal classes, despite efforts to convince you otherwise. It is barely a life at all.
People are homeless for lots of reasons – fleeing domestic violence or sexual abuse, loss of a job and a partner often at the same time, leaving the care system with scant resources and being severely mental ill – to name a few.
Lots of people just can’t manage life and when it falls apart, so do they.
Despite failing in their effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Republicans continue to stigmatize Medicaid recipients as spongers who take advantage of the system.
Photograph By Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call / Getty
Despite the impression you might get from social media and cable news, there’s a lot more to the Trump Administration than the daily drama at the White House. In policy terms, the real action is taking place at other federal departments and agencies, where Trump’s Republican appointees are trying to enact the Party’s radical and regressive agenda.
This agenda has nothing to do with the economic nationalism and the pledges to defend the welfare state—Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid—that Donald Trump campaigned on. It is, instead, the agenda of billionaires far more ideological than Trump, such as the Koch brothers, the Mercer family, and the Ricketts family, who want to limit the government’s role in areas ranging from the environment to labor relations to health care to financial regulation. As the historian Josh Zeitz pointed out in a piece for Politico a couple of months ago, the ultimate aim of this agenda is to roll back not merely the regulatory reforms of Barack Obama but the entire Great Society vision of Lyndon Johnson.
On Thursday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or C.M.S., issued new guidelines that will allow individual states to impose work requirements on recipients of Medicaid, the federal program that provides health-care coverage to poor people. Since 1965, when the Johnson Administration created Medicaid, the only requirement for enrolling in the program has been eligibility based on income. Now, under the new guidelines, states will be able to deny Medicaid to otherwise eligible people who fail to meet the new work requirements.
The Medicaid announcement came a day after the Wall Street Journal reported that the Treasury Department is on the verge of relaxing federal rules that oblige banks to lend in poor neighborhoods. Democrats and housing activists have claimed that such changes could lead to the return of “redlining”—a banking practice that for decades denied mortgage financing to minority neighborhoods. Some banking experts said that the changes being considered wouldn’t go that far, but that they could reduce the incentives for banks to make loans, particularly mortgage loans, in poor neighborhoods.
Both of these potential changes—to Medicaid and to bank rules—are the work of Trump appointees who have been preparing the ground for months.
....For decades now, the American Bankers Association and other financial lobbying groups have been demanding relief from the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act. In Mnuchin and Otting, they have found two sympathetic listeners. Medicaid has long been a target for conservative Republicans: if their efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act had succeeded last year, the Party would have rolled back an expansion of the program that has enabled an additional fifteen million Americans of modest means to obtain health insurance.
Despite failing in that effort, Republicans continue to stigmatize Medicaid recipients as spongers who take advantage of the system. “I think there are certainly cases where that happens,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said during one of her daily briefings last week. “We don’t think that’s the overwhelming majority, but certainly that’s an issue, and something we want to be able to address.”
It’s the same Republican playbook from which the recently passed tax bill was taken: favors for rich and powerful interest groups, cuts and opprobrium for the poor. No wonder G.O.P. leaders are so reluctant to criticize Trump. As I’ve noted many times before, he’s giving them what they want.
"There is no reason to delay implementation of this rule—unless you are more concerned with the needs of payday lenders than you are with the interests of the consumers these financial bottom-feeders prey upon."
Consumer advocates have fought against the payday loan industry for years, with the CFPB finally implementing on a rule forcing lenders to vet borrowers. Under new leadership, the agency is now reconsidering the rule. (Photo: Taber Andrew Bain/Flickr/cc)
The government must realise it’s hopelessly out of step with sensible drug policy. Legalisation would take the market out of the hands of criminals
A man smoking cannabis. Photograph: Brandon Marshall/Rex
....Unlike decriminalisation, a legalised, regulated market would drive many street dealers out of existence. This is especially important for underage drug users because, unlike regulated shops and pharmacies, street dealers don’t ask for ID. They also tend to be unreliable sources of information on recommended dosage, and black market drugs are rarely pure. When I go to the pub, I know whether I’m getting beer or vodka; drug buyers on the street can only hope they’re getting what they’re paying for. The UK-based drug testing organisation The Loop has reported finding drugs laced with everything from concrete to crushed-up malaria tablets at music festivals.
Legalisation also opens up the opportunity for significant tax revenue, which could be used to fund treatment and addiction services properly. Recent estimates have suggested that a legal UK cannabis market alone could be worth nearly £7bn a year, raising £1.05bn in tax. And while decriminalisation is a blunt tool for all drugs, legalisation allows the government to tailor regulations to suit the potential harm levels of different substances. We don’t regulate alcohol in the same way as cigarettes, and we shouldn’t treat cannabis and MDMA in the same way as heroin.
Some parts of the world have attempted to compromise between decriminalisation and legalisation, with poor results. When I lived in Washington DC for a year after graduating, it was legal to grow and possess cannabis for personal consumption, but illegal to sell it. Within two weeks of arriving, I was offered a $20 bottle of water with a “free gift” of cannabis, on my morning commute.
The transit workers’ union says some stations on Line 12 are too dangerous to stop at. What will the city do?
A Paris metro train running on Line 2, which crosses Northern Paris. Christian Hartmann/Reuters
In one section of the Paris metro, drug dealing and abuse has gotten so bad that some train drivers are refusing to stop at stations. Following a bad year for accidents and assaults, the trade union that represents workers of Paris transit body RATP warned last week that the North Paris stations on Metro Line 12—notably Marx Dormoy, Porte de la Chapelle and Marcadet – Poissonniers—are now so overrun with people selling and smoking crack that drivers no longer feel safe dropping off or picking up passengers there.
While regular services continue, some drivers have admitted that if fights or disturbances appear to have broken out on the station platform—or if too many addicts are massed on the platform—they will drive straight through to the next stop. It’s an occurrence they say is becoming more frequent.
If the protest from employees is new, problems with crime and public order in this part of Paris are not. The area where the stations are located has been one of Paris’s poorest ever since it was built up in the 19th century—nowadays much of its population is people whose families have arrived within the past 50 years from Africa (both North and Sub-Saharan) and, in the area’s southern reaches, South Asia. Straddling the train tracks trailing out of the Gare du Nord, the attractive but rundown streets around the Paris quarter of Goutte d’Or are one of the few pockets of Paris proper that have remained affordable—and as a result have, to residents’ chagrin, become a sort of corral for petty crime problems more rigorously combated elsewhere in the city. In fact, some residents complain that their relatively low social status has led the authorities to disregard problems with street crime that affect their safety and quality of life for too long.
When it comes to public drug sale and use, something is still shifting, and conditions are getting worse...
It already has more electric cars than any other country in the world and also has shipping projects underway
A Norwegian Airlines Boeing 737. The country’s short-haul airliners are set to be entirely electric by 2040. Photograph: Alamy
....Avinor, the public operator of Norwegian airports, “aims to be the first in the world” to make the switch to electric air transport, chief executive Dag Falk-Petersen said.
“We think that all flights lasting up to 1.5 hours can be flown by aircraft that are entirely electric,” he said, noting that would cover all domestic flights and those to neighbouring Scandinavian capitals.
In the near future, Avinor plans to launch a tender offer to test a commercial route flown with a small electric plane with 19 seats, starting in 2025.
Norway, the largest oil and gas producer in western Europe, is paradoxically a leader in the field of electric transport.
By market share, it has more electric cars on the road than any other country in the world – electric and hybrid vehicles represented more than half of new car registrations in 2017 – and also has several projects underway for electric vessels.
“When we will have reached our goal, air travel will no longer be a problem for the climate, it will be a solution,” Falk-Petersen said.
A new report finds that federal disaster-mitigation grants produce an average of $6 in societal savings for every dollar spent.
In San Juan, Puerto Rico, recovery from Hurricane Maria has been uneven. Carlos Giusti/AP
....For years, King had been troubled by the war in Vietnam and raised it privately in conversations with the Democratic President Lyndon Johnson. As the conflict dragged on, King felt he had no choice but to publicly denounce the war.
In an April 1967 speech at Riverside Church in New York City, the civil rights leader publicly denounced American involvement in Indochina.
....The Liberal Backlash
The backlash from a liberal establishment that had once praised King for his civil rights campaign came as hard and fast as his allies had feared.
The New York Times editorial board lambasted King for linking the war in Vietnam to the struggles of civil rights and poverty alleviation in the United States, saying it was “too facile a connection” and that he was doing a “disservice” to both causes. It concluded that there “are no simple answers to the war in Vietnam or to racial injustice in this country.” The Washington Post editorial board said King had “diminished his usefulness to his cause, his country and his people.”
Voters "want us to be on the side of ordinary people, not with the big special interests," said Sen. Ed Markey, who introduced the legislation
Open internet defenders are calling on Americans to continue "melting the phonelines" of their representatives following news on Monday that a bill aimed at overruling the Republican-controlled FCC's order to kill net neutrality is just one Republican vote shy of the 51 needed for passage.
"Your calls are working. Your pressure is working. Keep it up!"
—Craig Aaron, Free Press
Introduced by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) in December, the legislation looks to make use of the Congressional Review Act (CRA), which allows lawmakers to pass a "resolution of disapproval" to nullify new regulations.
As Common Dreams has reported, more than a dozen Senate Democrats were slow to co-sponsor the legislation, but they ultimately signed on in the face of immense public pressure. Organizers are urging constituent voters nationwide to keep up the calls, letters, and emails urging members of Congress to support Markey's bill and take a stand against the FCC's attack on the open internet.
....Cardin has remarkably few achievements for being in Congress for so many years. One of his few distinctions is that he has become one of the Senate’s most reliable and loyal supporters of AIPAC’s agenda and the Israeli government, if not the single most loyal. In 2015, he joined with Lindsey Graham in kicking off the annual AIPAC conference, causing neocon columnist Jennifer Rubin to gush about how identical they sounded.
But Cardin’s crowning achievement came last year when he authored a bill that would have made it a felony to support a boycott of Israel – a bill that was such a profound assault on basic First Amendment freedoms that the ACLU instantly denounced it and multiple Senators who had co-sponsored Cardin’s bill (such as Senator Kirsten Gillibrand) announced that they were withdrawing their support.
Despite all of this, or perhaps because of it, establishment (a.k.a. neoliberal) Democrats wasted no time in mocking and denouncing Chelsea Manning’s bid to become the first ever trans woman in the Senate, instead quickly lining up in support behind the straight white male who has wielded power for decades. To demean Manning, many of these establishment Democrats invoked the primary tactic they now reflexively use against anyone they view as a political adversary: they depicted her as a tool of the Kremlin, whose candidacy is really just a disguised plot engineered by Moscow.
As the retail landscape undergoes a dramatic transformation, analysis finds 129,000 women lost jobs last year while men actually gained positions
The undeniable collapse of integrity, honesty and decency in our public and private life has fueled racial hatred and contempt
Black students are 1.5 times more likely to drop out than their white and Asian counterparts. Understanding why is vital
....Speaking to the Guardian in 2016, Britain’s first black studies professor, Kehinde Andrews, said he believed universities entrench racism rather than challenge it. “Are universities producing knowledge that challenges racism?” he asked. “I would argue they are not.”
....Understanding how and why race and ethnicity play a role in what the Social Market Foundation terms the higher education “completion gap” is as important for the UK’s economy as it is for reducing society’s ingrained structural inequalities. But while the SMF’s report calls for the government to create an “innovation challenge fund” to help improve retention of students from ethnic backgrounds, its recommendations for how the institutions themselves can help eradicate their own internal prejudices are less clear cut.
Operation targeting ‘terror nests’ would risk inflaming tensions between Trump administration and Ankara
Turkish troops and tanks near the Syrian border are making final plans to attack the US military’s Kurdish partners inside northern Syria as tensions between Ankara and Washington near unprecedented levels.
Ahead of a widely expected incursion, the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, threatened to “destroy all terror nests”, a reference to Kurdish forces that the US has used as proxies in the fight against Islamic State (Isis) and Turkey views as a subversive threat.
Tensions over the Kurds, which have tested relations between two nominal allies for the past three years, spiked over the weekend, when Washington announced it would raise a border force from the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Defence Force, which led the battle against Isis in north-east Syria.
Ankara views the Syrian Kurds as an extension of the Turkish Kurdish PKK, with whom it has fought a four decade insurgency inside its borders. It has vowed not to allow Kurdish groups to dominate its border with Syria.
We need to address the questions raised by rapid automation, and find new ways to redistribute power
....So what might the progressive politics of the 2020s and 2030s look like? Clearly, our most glaring inequalities call for action that only a powerful central state can carry out. We should start, at long last, to move tax policy towards concentrations of wealth and assets, not least land and property. The line should be redrawn between what ought to be considered public services and utilities, and things best left to the private sector, a point underlined by the nightmarish collapse of the outsourcing giant Carillion. Investment needs to be forcibly pushed into places long deprived of it.
People who are flexible, original thinkers show signature forms of connectivity in their brains, study shows
....One of the barriers to creative thinking is the ease with which common, unoriginal thoughts swamp the mind. Some people in the study could not get past these. For example, when asked for creative uses for a sock, soap and chewing gum wrapper, less creative people gave answers such as “covering the feet”, “making bubbles” and “containing gum” respectively. For the same items, more original thinkers suggested a water filtration system, a seal for envelopes, and an antenna wire.
Reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study found distinct patterns of brain activity in the most and least creative people. In the highly original thinkers, the scientists saw strong connectivity between three networks of the brain. One, known as the default mode network, is linked to spontaneous thinking and mind wandering, while a second, the executive control network, is engaged when people focus in on their thoughts. The third, called the salience network, helps to work out what best deserves our attention.
The first two of these three brain networks tend to work against one another, Beaty said, each dampening the other down. But the scans suggest that more creative people can better engage [the 2nd and 3rd networks] at once. “It might be easier for creative thinkers to bring these resources to bear simultaneously,” he said.
Republican tax cut will widen the trade and current-account deficits, the opposite of what was promised
....No matter how you look at it, the Republican tax cut, by widening the budget deficit, will fuel growth in the US current-account deficit. It’s the early 1980s all over again [when Reagan's tax-cuts tripled the national debt]. But it’s not morning in America.
If we stand together against powerful special interests we can eliminate poverty, increase life expectancy and tackle climate change
This is a pivotal moment in world history. With the explosion in advanced technology and the breakthroughs this has brought, we now have the capability to substantially increase global wealth fairly. The means are at our disposal to eliminate poverty, increase life expectancy and create an inexpensive and non-polluting global energy system.
This is what we can do...
The decisions that these zealots make will affect the lives of millions of women decades from now
....After years of this type of erosion, the Trump administration is now taking big and permanent swings at reproductive rights by nominating extreme anti-choice figures to serve as judges in lifetime positions.
The first attack came in the form of supreme court justice Neil Gorsuch, who has a disturbing record of ruling against women’s rights, but it goes far beyond the high court. For all levels of the federal judiciary, Republicans are pushing through Trump’s staunchly anti-abortion judges at a rapid clip and putting reproductive rights in jeopardy for generations to come.
....Judges need to be fair-minded thinkers able to consider legal questions without bias, not narrow-minded ideologues working to curtail reproductive rights at any price.
Other Trump nominees, including Howard Nielson and Kyle Duncan, have supported laws aimed at shutting down abortion clinics through medically unnecessary regulations. Another, Matthew Kacsmaryk, disputes the reasoning of the Roe decision and uses quotation marks when writing about the “fundamental right” to abortion, presumably to emphasize his disdain for such an outrageous characterization.
For these nominees, the Senate still can, and absolutely should, reject their nominations. But many of Trump’s disturbing picks have already been confirmed by the Senate – a fact that Trump likes to brag about during news conferences. John Bush, a Trump nominee who is now a judge on a powerful appeals court, has compared abortion to slavery, calling them “the two greatest tragedies in our country”.
Steven Grasz, now an appellate court judge, wrote a law review article on “Why There is No Constitutional Right to Kill a Partially-Born Human Being” and has argued that Medicaid coverage should be denied to women seeking abortions after surviving rape. He was confirmed by Republicans for a lifetime position as a federal judge despite being rated unanimously as “not qualified” by the American Bar Association. Taken together with the Trump nominee who memorably could not answer even the most basic legal questions during his Senate hearing, it’s clear that they are selling out our judicial system with embarrassingly unfit nominees to get the agenda they want...
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