Companies that help build Trump's wall could lose pension fund investments and California state contracts

It's not just Mexican cement giant Cemex that's refusing to bid on the Great Wall of Trump; many of the firms in the super-concentrated large-scale construction sector are signalling their unwillingness to participate in the wall's construction. Read the rest

Trump advisor Steve Bannon ordered conservative Republicans to vote for Trumpcare and they just laughed at him

Trumpcare went down in flames yesterday, and the flames smelled faintly of burning Trumphair. But the president's personal humiliation was shared with adviser Steve Bannon, according to reports, whose behavior around conservative Republicans made a joke of Trump's ultimatum.

Mike Allen quotes him thus:

"Guys, look. This is not a discussion. This is not a debate. You have no choice but to vote for this bill."

Bannon's point was: This is the Republican platform. You're the conservative wing of the Republican Party. But people in the room were put off by the dictatorial mindset.

One of the members replied: "You know, the last time someone ordered me to something, I was 18 years old. And it was my daddy. And I didn't listen to him, either."

Bannon's already plotting his revenge, reports Asawin Suebsaeng.

The general consensus seems to be that the failure to replace Obamacare is unexpectedly bad for both president and GOP: he's exposed as a crêpe leopard, and them as a bunch of unprincipled bickering morons with nothing to show for 7 years' empty ranting about Obamacare. Read the rest

"Obamacare is law of the land" as replacement fails in House

Republicans withdrew Trump's favored legislative plan to replace Obamacare on Friday, understanding that they lacked the votes to pass it in the House of Representatives. This despite the president's threat to leave Obamacare as law of the land if they did not give the American Health Care Act an up-or-down hearing today.

The GOP bill—a comically mangled "Obamacare Lite" stripped of everything people like about the original and little that they don't—held only a 17% public approval rating, according to a Quinnipiac poll. It attempted to please both conservatives, who want unfettered profitability for insurance companies, and GOP moderates, who are wary of killing quite so many poor people as this would entail.

Trump, however, made clear that he isn't blaming House Speaker Paul Ryan for its failure.

Run, Paul. Run!

Update:

The GOP's health care bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Health Care Act was scheduled for a House vote today, but was withdrawn just before. In an address, Speaker Paul Ryan said "we were close, but not quite there" and said that the United States would be living with Obamacare "for the foreseeable future."
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The BBC is using this excellent photo of Trump for everything

It's not even clear where it's from, but alongside various stories about Trump's healthcare legislation woes, it's been on the BBC News homepage for what, two days now? For this morning's one, they've started zooming into it. By tomorrow, if the legislation has yet to pass, we'll be inside his weird angry tired mouth.

If someone could figure out the source (it doesn't seem to be Reuters) that would be fabulous. I've used a fractal image enhancement application to make this 2600-pixel wide enlargement, but it's just not the same as a nice raw wire shot.

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Humiliated Trump issues ultimatum to GOP: pass healthcare act now or I'll never repeal Obamacare

Trump, his deal-making skills having failed him, simply ordered his party Thursday night to pass his unappetizing Obamacare replacement plan, or else. And the "else" is Obamacare, forever and ever and ever.

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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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Russian billionaire Deripaska paid Manafort to 'greatly benefit' Putin before Manafort joined Trump campaign

Before he worked for the Donald Trump presidential campaign, Paul Manafort worked for a Russian billionaire to help promote Russian president Vladimir Putin's agenda in the United States.

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Black man stabbed to death in NY. Police: White supremacist killer wanted to kill Black men. That's terror.

A white supremacist U.S. military veteran who had a known history of obsessively hating black men told police in New York that he stabbed a homeless black man to death to make a statement.

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FBI: We have evidence Trump team and Russia communicated mid-campaign, maybe to coordinate Clinton info dump

This seems like a big escalation in the Trump/Russia investigation story. Late Wednesday, the FBI said it has evidence that associates of Donald Trump communicated with Russia during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, possibly to coordinate the release of Hillary Clinton campaign info via Wikileaks.

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Schiff: I have 'grave concerns' over Nunes' Russia investigation leak to Trump

The Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee today leaked information to President Donald Trump about the ongoing investigation into whether Trump's campaign collaborated with Russia to swing the election to his favor.

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Bill Nye urges Trump to recommit to the U.S. Space Program

Bill Nye and The Planetary Society released a direct appeal to the Trump administration, asking that the government continue to focus on Mars and support commercial space industry. Trump proposed a reduction in the NASA budget. Read the rest

Trump approval rating "in the toilet"

After a few weeks of Donald Trump's presidency, only 37 percent of Americans are happy with it. It's the worst in 72 years of polling for a fresh president, reports Mary Papenfuss.

Barack Obama’s rating at this point in his presidency was 60 percent.

HuffPost Pollster’s aggregate, which combines publicly available polling data, currently puts Trump’s approval rating slightly higher at 44 percent, with 53 percent disapproving.

It’s not clear which of several issues may have torpedoed the president’s numbers.

With so much to work with, how can any one thing be given credit? The appearance of being a loser ties it all together, though, like a nice rug in room furnished with junk. CNN reports that FBI director James Comey is today expected to publicly rebut Trump's claim that Barack Obama, in cahoots with British intelligence, "wire tapped" him during the election campaign.

It's a moment of political theater that could end in humiliation for Trump, with Comey expected to say that there was no wiretapping, debunking allegations that Trump has repeatedly refused to withdraw.

The hearing could also shed light on the state of FBI investigations into the extent of Russian meddling in the election campaign. Republicans hope Comey will state that there is no evidence of collusion between Trump aides and officials from Moscow, a move that could begin to break up a cloud of Russian intrigue that has stifled the early weeks of the administration.

It is Comey, though! Since everyone's happy to cast him as kingmaker whenever he asks them to, who knows where whim will take him today? Read the rest

Russia's richest invested about $100 million in Trump Florida properties

Who are the wealthy Russian citizens who've invested a total of almost $100 million worth of properties owned by U.S. President Donald J. Trump? An investigative report by Reuters digs into that question.

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Senate Intel Committee to hold 'Disinformation' hearing on Russian hacking and Trump election win

In Washington today, members of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee said they have scheduled a hearing on Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election for March 30.

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Trump's big VA meeting at Mar-a-Lago weirdly canceled at last minute after this awkward moment

Well, that was awkward.

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Trump's travel and security estimated to cost half a billion dollars for 1 term

The obvious cruelty throughout Trump's smash-the-state budget shocked and awed America this week, but right after the thief-in-chief proposed to destroy an array of relatively low-cost federal programs that feed poor rural school children and keep grandmothers from freezing to death, he did something really extraordinary.

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Trump humiliated: administration apologizes to Britain for saying it wiretapped him for Obama

Another day, another Trumpwreck.

The BBC:

The US has agreed not to repeat claims the UK's communications intelligence agency wiretapped Donald Trump during the presidential election campaign.

GCHQ rejected allegations made by White House press secretary Sean Spicer, that it spied on Mr Trump, as "nonsense".

No 10 has now been assured by Mr Spicer he would not repeat the accusation.

CNN on the apology:

The White House has apologized to the British government after alleging that a UK intelligence agency spied on President Donald Trump at the behest of former President Barack Obama.

National security adviser H.R. McMaster spoke with his British counterpart on Thursday about press secretary Sean Spicer's comment from the White House podium about a Fox News report that said British intelligence helped wiretap Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign, a White House official said Friday.

The official described the conversation as "cordial" where McMaster described Spicer's comment as "unintentional."

I have to admit, I didn't expect it to be Theresa May to be the first international leader to publicly humiliate the dumb orange bastard like this, but it's not like she had to do any work. He gave it to her on a silver platter—or rather a gold-painted plastic one that plays the James Bond tune with a little beeper.

UPDATE: According to Buzzfeed, Trump admin insiders insist they did not apologize, but won't go on the record.

But US officials have been disputed whether the Trump administration had gone as far as an apology.

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