Trump to ask Congress for deep cuts to EPA and domestic programs

Military spending would get the biggest boost in Trump’s proposed budget, with the environmental and state departments facing the greatest reductions

Donald Trump will ask Congress for dramatic cuts to many federal programs, with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of State stand out as targets for the biggest spending reductions.

Under his federal budget proposal, funding would disappear altogether for 19 independent bodies that count on federal money for public broadcasting, the arts and regional issues from Alaska to Appalachia. Meanhile, he will seek to increase defense spending, start building a wall on the border with Mexico and spend more deporting undocumented immigrants.

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Republicans concede healthcare bill must change in order to pass

House speaker Paul Ryan said he and other Republican leaders will make ‘necessary improvements’ to the legislation as they scramble to boost support

Their healthcare overhaul imperiled from all sides, the White House and top House Republicans acknowledged on Wednesday that they would make changes to the legislation in hopes of nailing down votes needed to pass the the party’s showpiece legislation soon.

House speaker Paul Ryan declined to commit to bringing the measure to the House floor next week, a fresh indication of uncertainty. Republican leaders have repeatedly said that was their schedule, but opposition mushroomed after a congressional report concluded this week that the measure would strip 24 million people of coverage in a decade.

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Trump heaps praise on Twitter and denies using it to spread falsehoods

The president said the platform has been invaluable for pushing his message, and defended his tweets about wiretapping

It’s official: Donald Trump is the first Twitter president of the United States.

In an interview with Tucker Carlson of Fox News, Trump put into words what many people have long been suspecting, that were it not for his mastery of hyperbole in 140 characters, he would not now be occupying the most powerful office on Earth.

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Dutch Vote in Droves — But Not for Geert Wilders, Breitbart’s Candidate for Prime Minister

Votes are being counted by hand in the Netherlands, to assuage fears of tampering by Russian hackers, but exit polls and partial returns suggest an overwhelming rejection of Geert Wilders, whose anti-Muslim campaign rhetoric thrilled American racists but appealed to a narrow minority of Dutch voters in Wednesday’s parliamentary election.

Despite, or perhaps because of, political and financial support from Americans obsessed with the supposed threat from Muslim immigration — like Representative Steve King of Iowa and the Breitbart contributor David Horowitz — Wilders was on course to take just 13 percent of the vote, failing in his bid to deliver a third successive election-night shock for right-wing populism, following victories for Brexit and Donald Trump.

Although the Dutch system of proportional representation, combined with a splintering of support among more than a dozen parties, made it unthinkable for Wilders and his Party for Freedom, or PVV, to win an outright majority, opinion polls throughout 2016 had suggested that he was on course to lead the largest party in the next parliament. Had that come about, Wilders could have insisted on the right to try to form a coalition government, even if his noxious platform of banning Muslim immigration, closing mosques and withdrawal from the European Union repulsed most other parties.

As the votes were counted, however, Wilders and the PVV looked unlikely to win much more than the 13 percent of the vote projected in the exit polls, giving them 19 of the 150 seats in parliament, and the incumbent prime minister, Mark Rutte, declared victory on behalf of his People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy, or VVD.

Throughout election day, Rutte’s party ran radio ads reminding voters to head to the polls to avoid a local remake of Brexit or Trump.

Perhaps inspired by the sinking feeling so many in the Netherlands experienced the morning after those previous votes, turnout spiked to about 80 percent, and polling places in multicultural, left-leaning Amsterdam had to be kept open late to accommodate the crowds.

While the result was in line with predictions from experts of Dutch politics — some of whom scolded foreign journalists for having exaggerated the chance of an upset victory by Wilders — Rutte and the leader of the newly popular Green-Left Party, Jesse Klaver, both hailed the election as a sign that the Netherlands had repelled the threat of extreme nationalism.

As lengthy coalition talks commence in the Netherlands, and attention turns to other local subplots less covered in the foreign press — like the surge in support for the Green-Left, or GroenLinks party, which looked set to gain 11 seats, the collapse of Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem’s Labour Party, and the clear rejection of Wilders by young voters, who gave 97 percent of their votes to other parties — elections pitting far-right nationalists against the established order still loom in France and Germany.

For that reason, the repudiation of Wilders by about 87 percent of Dutch voters was greeted with relief by the German foreign ministry and Emmanuel Macron, France’s former economy minister, who currently leads in the polls to be the next French president, but could face a perilous run-off against Marine Le Pen, a more popular extreme nationalist than Wilders.

“The Netherlands shows us,” Macron wrote, “that the breakthrough of the extreme right is not inevitable and European progressives are growing in strength.”

Sarah de Lange, a professor of political science at the University of Amsterdam, agreed that the so-called “patriotic spring” Wilders predicted — victories for right-wing nationalists across Europe this year — had failed to materialize.

But, as de Lange and the Irish journalist Naomi O’Leary both noted, it is important not to oversimplify the results, since some Dutch parties, including Rutte’s center-right VVD, embraced elements of Wilders’s nationalism during the campaign, and a new level of xenophobia has become part of the political landscape in the Netherlands.

The post Dutch Vote in Droves — But Not for Geert Wilders, Breitbart’s Candidate for Prime Minister appeared first on The Intercept.

Loose talk came back to haunt Trump in judge’s travel ban ruling

Hawaii judge’s insistence that Trump’s talk of banning Muslims must be taken literally is a reminder of the enduring power of language

For months, critics of the president have been told that they should take Trump’s words seriously, but not literally.

On Wednesday night federal district judge Derrick K Watson refused to take the bait. He insisted that Trump’s words on “banning Muslims” should be taken seriously and literally.

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Apple, Google, Facebook skip legal challenge to new travel ban

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Apple Inc, Alphabet Inc’s Google and Facebook Inc are among more than 60 technology companies that appear to have backed away from the legal fight against U.S. President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban, deciding not to put their weight behind a lawsuit seeking to block the second version of his executive order.