The Obama administration has had some pretty serious defeats before the Supreme Court recently, but Tuesday wasn't one of those cases. In a 6-2 decision, the justices ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency can use the Clean Air Act to regulate pollution from one state crossing into another. (Justice Samuel Alito recused himself, and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas are the dissenters.) The decision overturns a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia circuit.
This upholding of the 2011 "good neighbor" rule is not just a win for the White House and EPA but also for states along the Eastern Seaboard who have spent decades breathing the smog and fumes sent over from Appalachia and the upper Midwest, where air quality rules are more lax. It's a loss for the coal industry, since coal-fired plants will have to install expensive equipment to "scrub" emissions of smog-causing pollutants or close down.
But the ruling is more than that — it provides, or hints at, maybe the biggest tool the Obama White House has to fight climate change. "It's a big win for the EPA, and not just because it has to do with this rule," Harvard environmental law expert Jody Freeman tells The New York Times. "It's the fact that it's setting the stage and creating momentum for what's to come." And what's to come is a broader use of the Clean Air Act to, well, clean our air of some heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions. Peter Weber
In 2015, a public commenting period led to Obama-era guidelines protecting net neutrality. But bots intent on dismantling net neutrality took over this round, Vanity Fair reported, borrowing real Americans' addresses to leave hundreds of thousands of comments under fake identities advocating against the rules. And with FCC chairman Ajit Pai's Monday confirmation that net neutrality rules are coming down, it looks like they're getting their wish.
In an open letter to Pai, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman revealed that he's been investigating these questionable comments for months. But the FCC hasn't cooperated:
Over the last 6 mos, my office has investigated a massive scheme to corrupt the @FCC's comment process on #NetNeutrality by impersonating 100,000s of real Americans.
The FCC has been unwilling to provide information that is critical to the investigation: https://t.co/xxFjSg6Pxf
— Eric Schneiderman (@AGSchneiderman) November 22, 2017
Schneiderman said the situation likely violated state laws, as it used New Yorkers' identities to leave fake comments. Yet despite multiple requests, the FCC has refused to aid Schneiderman's investigation — meaning "the door is open for (this) to happen again and again," he wrote. Kathryn Krawczyk
The Trump Organization is walking away from its struggling hotel in Manhattan's SoHo neighborhood, The New York Times reports. It is the second hotel the organization has removed its name from this year, after a similar situation developed in Toronto.
The SoHo building, which also has condominiums, closed its main restaurant earlier this year due to a decline in business "since the election," in the words of one of its lawyers. The owner of the building, the CIM Group, reportedly reached a deal to buyout the Trump Organization from the property; the Trump company manages daily operations at the building. "The Board and CIM have been first class in every regard," said the CEO of Trump Hotels, Eric Danziger, in a statement. "We have truly enjoyed our relationship and look forward to exploring new opportunities in the future."
Ahh, Thanksgiving. That special time of year when you set out your most over-the-top centerpiece, strap on your eating pants, and gather around the table to talk tax policy with relatives you only see once a year.
That's what Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) imagines happens, anyway. On Monday, Schumer tweeted a chart made by the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, instructing his followers to bring it to "Thanksgiving dinner" to whip out when "that family member who always talks politics tells you the Republican tax bill helps the middle class," the Washington Examiner reports.
Bring this chart to Thanksgiving dinner. It’ll come in handy when that family member who always talks politics tells you the Republican tax bill helps the middle class. pic.twitter.com/2EpZ5PxcDY
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) November 19, 2017
But Schumer wasn't done delivering graphics for you to surprise your unsuspecting relative with at some point between the turkey carving and the pumpkin pie:
Oh, don’t forget to show your Uncle this as well! pic.twitter.com/YHRGTvvwAo
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) November 19, 2017
Happy Thanksgiving to you too, Chuck! Jeva Lange
Rep. John Conyers' legacy was upended Monday when a BuzzFeed News report detailed sexual harassment allegations made against the Michigan Democrat. Now, the editorial board of the Detroit Free Press, his slightly left-leaning hometown paper, is calling for him to step down.
The longtime congressman is known as a civil rights icon and a co-founder of the Congressional Black Caucus, facts the Free Press acknowledged in its scathing editorial published Tuesday. But he's also been accused of making sexual advances toward an employee — and having her fired when she refused.
That's enough to spark an inquiry into Conyers, the Free Press said. But his misconduct runs deeper: If the victim dropped her formal complaint against Conyers, his office said it would "re-hire" her and pay her as a temporary employee. The woman eventually agreed to those terms, receiving more than $27,000 over the course of three months. It's similar to a time Conyers kept paying his former chief of staff even after she was fired — payments the Free Press said look like "hush money."
While the editorial board did suggest reforming the Congressional Office of Compliance so these payoffs don't keep happening, that is "not the point with Conyers." "It's a betrayal that breaches the most fundamental trust that exists between a public servant and the people that person represents," the Free Press wrote.
Russian ads reportedly reached an estimated 126 million Facebook users during the presidential campaign, likely leaving some people wondering if they are among those who might have fallen for Kremlin propaganda. On Wednesday, the social media giant announced that it will be creating a page to help users identify which accounts they liked or followed that were discovered to be linked back to a Russian "troll farm," Axios reports. Facebook says to expect the tool to be available in its Help Center by the end of the year, The Hill reports.
The Senate Judiciary Committee's Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) had demanded that Facebook "individually notify any and all users who received or interacted with [Russian] advertisements and associated content," issuing similar orders to Twitter and Google. Facebook, though, will not tell users "whether they were exposed to content from the [Russian troll farm's] pages in their Newsfeed, even if they didn't follow them," Axios notes.
Trump's chief economic adviser apparently faked a bad cellphone connection to get off the phone with him
Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) told CNN on Wednesday that he once convinced White House chief economic adviser Gary Cohn to pretend he had bad cell service to get off the phone with President Trump. Trump apparently called Cohn during the middle of a meeting and talked for 15 minutes before Carper gave Cohn some advice, saying: "Gary, why don't you do this, take the phone … and just say 'Mr. President, you're brilliant but we're losing contact and I think we're going to lose you now, so goodbye.'"
Democratic Sen. Tom Carper says White House economic adviser Gary Cohn faked a bad connection to get President Trump off the phone so they could have a conversation on tax reform without him https://t.co/qcUnSEsysl
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) November 22, 2017
CNN's John Berman held back laughter as he asked if Carper actually convinced Cohn to fake a bad connection. The senator replied, "I don't want to throw [Cohn] under the bus, but yes." Berman's co-host Poppy Harlow then quipped, "I think you just did."
Although Trump may not hear about this incident, as he claims to watch CNN only when forced, Carper's story would likely reignite the president's displeasure with Cohn. In September, The New York Times reported Trump was refusing to make eye contact with Cohn after the Goldman Sachs alum publicly disagreed with Trump's response to the deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August.
The White House has denied Carper's recollection of the phone call. Kelly O'Meara Morales
White House spokesperson tells @CNN: "Senator Carper’s claim is completely false. Gary Cohn left the room and continued to speak with the President privately for several minutes before they concluded the call." https://t.co/7MFxTwn43Z
— David Wright (@DavidWright_CNN) November 22, 2017
Your inner goddess will undoubtedly say "Yeah, right" when she hears all the supposed benefits of using a Vortix Eye Massager ($485). The battery-operated plastic mask aims foremost to soothe the fine muscles and nerves of the eyes and temples using vibration, air massage, and heat. Fine: Every goddess with a desk job or smartphone has once said, "Mine eyes, they are strained and sore." Vortix promises more than relief, though, claiming that eye massage tames stress, insomnia, migraines, and dark circles. Oh, and one more thing: Because it stimulates neglected nerves, it can, ostensibly, restore a user's vision.