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Trump hotel in D.C. made $2 million profit in 4 months, now charges highest rates in town

President Trump and his family own, operate, and profit bigly from the most expensive hotel in the nation’s capital. Driving the inflated rates at the Trump International Hotel in Washington: favor-seekers from around the world know to stay there when they hope to curry favor with Trump’s government.

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Splish splash it's a hedgehog takin' a bath ♪♫♬

“Chappi found out a way to enjoy bath time. 😍🐾💦”

“Splish splash I was taking a bath”

By request of @yayboobs 

[instagram]

Chappi found out a way to enjoy bath time. 😍🐾💦 #hedgehogsofinstagram #hedgie #hedgiemom #bathtime #cute

A post shared by Chappaquiddick 💫 (@chappi_momma) on

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U.S. court tosses murder conviction of Blackwater guard Nicholas Slatten in massacre of 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians

A U.S. Federal appeals court today threw out the murder conviction of former Blackwater security guard Nicholas Slatten, who had been sentenced to life in prison for his role in the 2007 massacre of 14 unarmed Iraqi civilians in Baghdad.

Slatten and other former staff of military security contractor Blackwater (renamed Xe Services, now Academi, run by Erik Prince, brother of Trump DOE chief Betsy DeVos) were the focus of a high-profile legal case that has stretched on for a full decade.

Dozens of people from Iraq traveled to the United States for the trial, as we reported ten years ago here on Boing Boing. And the judge who sentenced Slatten to life in prison decided he was a nice guy who deserved a break (from the death penalty).

From Reuters:

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ordered a new trial after tossing out the murder conviction of former security contractor Nicholas Slatten.

The three-judge panel said Slatten should have had a separate trial instead of being tried alongside his former colleagues. At a new trial, Slatten would be able to introduce evidence that one of his co-defendants had fired the first shot.

Separately, the court said Paul Slough, Dustin Heard and Evan Liberty, who were all convicted of manslaughter and other offenses over their respective roles in the incident, should be re-sentenced because their 30-year prison terms were too long. The court also threw out one of Liberty’s convictions for attempted manslaughter.

No word from the Justice Department, or lawyers for the defendants.

The mass killing at a traffic circle in Iraq’s capital city on Sept. 16, 2007 was notable for its sheer brutality, and brought into focus concerns over the growing number of private military contractors working alongside U.S. military forces in Iraq and other mideast war zones.

Erik Prince, the founder and chief of the many-times-renamed firm at the center of this story, is now advising President Donald Trump’s regime on how to further privatize American military operations overseas.

We’ll always have the Seychelles.

In the Reuters photo above from September 20, 2007, one of the people who was wounded the Blackwater shooting attack is helped by his relatives in a hospital in Baghdad, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki at the time said the U.S. embassy should stop using American security firm Blackwater after the deadly shooting, saying he would not allow Iraqis to be killed in “cold blood”.

PHOTO, TOP: Blackwater Worldwide security guard Nick Slatten (C) and attorneys leave the federal courthouse after being arraigned with 4 fellow Blackwater guards on manslaughter charges for killing unarmed civilians in a 2007 shooting in Baghdad, in Washington in this January 6, 2009 file photo. (Reuters)

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Senate fails to pass 'Skinny Repeal' of Obamacare; McCain cast crucial 'No' vote

After 7 years of grandstanding, the GOP failed to pass its utterly indefensible ‘skinny repeal’ bill to destabilize American healthcare. The Republicans, led by Mitch McConnell, lost on a 51-49 vote that included some surprise yesses and nos.

What a weird night this has been in America. GOP Senators wrote a health care bill over sandwiches at lunch, released the text at night, wouldn’t answer reporter’s questions about the content of the bill, then held a vote at 1am. And they failed.

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Trump gave a weird speech to thousands of Boy Scouts in which he relitigated election & crowd sizes (again)

Trump relitigated the 2016 election, boasted about his inauguration crowds, and told other inappropriate fabulisms to a crowd of children at the 2017 Boy Scout Jamboree today, because nothing matters anymore.

“The hottest people in New York were at this party. A lot of successful people were there. And I was invited to the party,
I was very young…”

As you watch, and read the transcript, remember. The audience is primarily children. Could have been me mis-hearing, but I could swear he mis-speaks, “their road to American sex.”

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Trump lawyers are exploring his pardoning powers, and how to monkeywrench Mueller's Russia investigation

Lawyers for President Donald Trump are working on a conflict of interest case against special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, reports the Washington Post, and Trump has asked advisers about his power to pardon aides, family members, and himself, for any possible crimes linked to Mueller’s probe.

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Trump meets with military drone makers and VCs

President Donald Trump today “offered support for emerging technologies including unmanned aerial vehicles and next-generation wireless networks in a meeting on Thursday with the chiefs of AT&T Inc and General Electric Co and other business leaders,” reports Reuters.

At the White House today, Trump met with venture capitalists, and with telcom and drone executives, and they talked about how the federal government can speed technologies to market.

U.S. President Donald Trump (C) holds an event highlighting emerging technologies, in the East Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., June 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

The meeting, which lasted more than three hours including breakout sessions, is part of Trump’s effort to tap industry experts on how to boost U.S. competitiveness in various fields and create jobs.
On Monday, Trump met with the heads of 18 U.S. technology companies including Apple Inc, Amazon.com Inc and Microsoft Corp, seeking their help to make the government’s computing systems more efficient.

He will meet with energy industry leaders next week.

“We want them to create new companies and lots of jobs,” Trump told the executives on Thursday. “We’re going to give you the competitive advantage that you need.”

In attendance were chief executives of several drone companies including Kespry Inc, AirMap, Airspace Inc, Measure UAS Inc, Trumbull Unmanned, and PrecisionHawk Inc.

Drone makers argued that the administration should move faster to approve broader commercial use of drones and noted that the Transportation Department does not require automakers to win pre-approval of self-driving vehicle technologies.

Senior executives at Xcel Energy Inc, Verizon Communications Inc and CenturyLink Inc also took part. Venture capital firms included Revolution LLC, headed by AOL co-founder Steve Case, 500 Startups, Cayuga Ventures, Epic Ventures and Lightspeed Ventures.

Obama administration rules opened the skies to low-level small drones for education, research and routine commercial use. The Trump administration is considering whether to expand drone use for deliveries beyond the view of an operator. Security issues would need to be addressed.

PHOTO, TOP: U.S. President Donald Trump (L) looks at a drone with Kespry CEO George Mathew (R) during an event highlighting emerging technologies, in the East Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., June 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

And in the department of interesting timing:

U.S. set to approve India’s purchase of drones before Modi visit

The United States is expected to approve India’s purchase of a naval variant of the Predator drone, a source familiar with the situation said, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi tries to revitalize relations with Washington when he meets President Donald Trump for the first time.

Securing agreement on the purchase of 22 unarmed drones is seen in New Delhi as a key test of defense ties that flourished under former President Barack Obama but have drifted under Trump, who has courted Asian rival China as he seeks Beijing’s help to contain North Korea’s nuclear program.

The deal would still require approval by Congress. California-based General Atomics, the maker of the Guardian drone sought by India, declined to comment.

U.S. President Donald Trump (L) meets with technology and telecommunications executives, including Dyan Gibbens from Trumbull Unmanned and Darius Adamczyk (R) from Honeywell, at the White House in Washington, U.S., June 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses a gathering after he inaugurated Kochi Metro at a stadium in Kochi, India, June 17, 2017. REUTERS/Sivaram V/File Photo

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America knows the GOP's health care plan would harm Americans, new poll reveals

A Reuters/Ipsos poll June 9-13 shows “a majority of the country thinks the American Health Care Act would be harmful for low-income Americans, people with pre-existing health conditions and Medicaid recipients.”

41 percent of American adults polled are opposed to the House plan. 30% support it. Another 29% said they “don’t know.”

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Multiple attacks in London described as ‘Potential Act of Terrorism’

Multiple attacks in London tonight are being described as a coordinated ‘potential act of terrorism’ by British Prime Minister Theresa May. London police confirm that more than one person was killed as a van plowed into a crowd of people at the London Bridge. One man was seen leaving the van, then running toward Borough Market, carrying a large knife. Reports of stabbings followed soon after.

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Macron rewrites Trump campaign slogan as “Make Our Planet Great Again”

Emmanuel Macron, the President of France, rewrote U.S. President Donald Trump’s ‘MAGA’ campaign slogan today in protest of the administration’s absurd withdrawal from the Paris climate accords. “Make Our Planet Great Again,” says Macron. We’re in alignment with Nicaragua and Syria, says Trump.

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Trump 'Crazy': President described by fired FBI director Comey as 'outside realm of normal'

When President Donald Trump accused outgoing President Barack Obama in March of ‘wiretapping’ him, James B. Comey, then the FBI director, was “flabbergasted,” reports the New York Times in a breakdown of Comey’s thuggish dismissal that includes jawdropping detail. The president, Comey told his FBI associates, was “outside the realm of normal,” even “crazy.”

Those are the words he used, reports the Times.

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Obama to end silence with first post-presidency speaking appearance in Chicago

Former U.S. President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama have been enjoying an extended post-presidency vacation around the world, but that’s about to end. Barack Obama is slated to break his silence in Chicago on Monday, April 24. If you’re hoping he will rip into Donald Trump, we’ve got sad news for you.

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Trump, 'Art of the Deal' President, 'grapples with rare bout of self-doubt' as Trumpcare implodes

The chaos surrounding Donald Trump and Paul Ryan’s monster of a health care bill grows: a long-planned vote in Congress was called off today, representing a devastating blow to the narcissist-in-chief’s bravado. Late news on Thursday night, “The President told Steve Bannon and Reince Priebus to go to the capital and tell Ryan to call a vote tomorrow,” reports MSNBC at 11:30pm ET.

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'A Border Agent Took My Sister and Me Into a Closet and Sexually Assaulted Us,' say teen sisters

Two sisters who were trying to escape violence and poverty in Guatemala for a better life “became so desperately lost trekking across the Texas desert that when they saw a U.S. Customs and Border Protection truck, they waved for help,” reports the Los Angeles Times. An officer in that truck later confined them by force, and sexually assaulted them, one by one.

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Snap is developing drone for users to share overhead videos and photos: NYT report

One of the products that Snapchat owner Snap Inc. is developing as “a modern-day camera company” is a drone, reports the New York Times today.

Sources for this bold claim are “three people briefed on the project who asked to remain anonymous because the details are confidential.”

The drone would help users take videos and photographs from overhead, then share that visual data with Snap, and presumably, other users of the service.

Snap is scheduled to go public later this week in a long-anticipated IPO.
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U.S. Homeland Security staff were unable to access DHS computer network because the security certificates expired

Some employees with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security who work in the Washington, D.C. area and in Philadelphia, PA were unable to access the DHS computer network on Tuesday, reports Reuters, citing “three sources familiar with the matter.”

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North Korean diplomat sought in Kim Jong-nam's death, hinting at Kim Jong-un's involvement

Police in Malaysia said Wednesday they want to question a senior diplomat from the North Korean embassy in their ongoing investigation into the recent killing of Kim Jong-nam. This twist suggests the possible involvement of the North Korean government in the deadly poisoning of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s estranged half brother.

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Judge blocks Texas from defunding Planned Parenthood

Authorities in Texas who falsely claimed that Planned Parenthood sells fetal body parts are prohibited from withholding federal Medicaid funds from Planned Parenthood, a federal judge ruled today. This is a significant legal victory for Planned Parenthood, which is under renewed conservative attack under President Donald Trump.

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Trump EPA nominee Scott Pruitt ordered to release his fossil fuel emails, as EPA staff revolt

A state judge today ordered the office of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to release thousands of documents, including emails, related to Pruitt’s conversations with energy industry executives. Tomorrow, the United States Senate votes on Pruitt’s nomination to run the Environmental Protection Agency, for the administration of Donald Trump.

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Harward says no to Trump's national security adviser job, citing 'shit sandwich'

Ret. Vice Adm. Bob Harward, a former U.S. Navy Seal, rejected President Donald Trump’s offer to become new national security adviser.

Trump is reportedly trying to win him back.

The “well-liked navy veteran who is close to James Mattis, US defence secretary” was to replace Mike Flynn after Flynn resigned in a cloud of suspicion, over alleged contact with Russian agents.

A friend of Harward’s has been quoted in the press as saying Harward was reluctant to take the job because the White House seems unstable. Harward called the offer a “shit sandwich,” his friend said.

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FBI randomly releases documents from Trump's 1973 racial discrimination case

This has not been a good week for Donald Trump. Today, seemingly at random, the FBI released hundreds of pages of documents related to the 1970s investigation into racial discrimination at Trump Management Company. The firm rented out apartment homes in New York, and was founded by President Donald Trump’s late father, Fred. The young Donald J. Trump carried on his dad’s legacy, in every respect.

“This release consists of FBI materials on an investigation conducted between 1972 and 1974 into allegations that the Trump Management Company had discriminated against applicants for apartment rentals on account of their race,” reads the introductory statement on the FBI.gov records archive.

The files contain 389 pages of interviews, notes, and other material generated by or used by the Justice Department in its 1973 housing racial bias case in New York against Fred Trump and his son, Donald J. Trump.

More at The Washington Post and The Hill.

From WaPo:

One affidavit from an unnamed former Trump Management employee, who said that he had been fired, said that Fred Trump told him “it was absolutely against the law to discriminate” but later told him “he also wanted to get rid of the blacks that were in the building.”

Trump and his father settled the case in 1975 without admitting wrongdoing, but they were required to take out advertisements saying they welcomed renters of all races. Trump said in an interview with The Post last year that he believed the charges brought against him and his father were unfair, and that the company never discriminated.

An earlier Washington Post piece with background on the 1973 legal matter is here.

Politico reported that a man who had once worked as a doorman at a Trump property during that era said his supervisor told him to tell potential black tenants the rent was “twice as much as it really was, in order that he could not afford the apartment.”

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Trump aides were in constant contact with top Russian officials during campaign

This is so much bigger than Watergate. America has not seen a political crisis of this magnitude for generations. The other shoe drops on #Flynngate tonight. Trump, Manafort, and Flynn’s activities “raise a red flag.” The U.S. government is in “unbelievable turmoil.” Who is in charge of America?

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Vindictive Trump dragged on providing aid to 188,000 Americans displaced by Oroville dam crisis

By delaying federal aid for days while he partied at Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump failed evacuees threatened by a failing spillway in Northern California’s Oroville Dam complex. Some 188,000 people from counties that mostly supported him were evacuated when authorities said the risk of a sudden and dramatic overspill became too high, but Orange Julius remained silent for days after California governor Jerry Brown requested he declare a federal emergency in the state.

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Despite Trump's vow to kill ACA, the American Cancer Society held annual fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago

Jonathan Peltz at the Miami New Times: “’Donald Trump’ and ‘protecting patients’ access to health care’ are two phrases that aren’t generally associated with each other. But that fact didn’t seem to bother the American Cancer Society (ACS), which hosted its fundraiser Rock Palm Beach at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago [on February 10].”

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