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Thursday's Mini-Report, 4.19.18

04/19/18 05:30PM

Today's edition of quick hits:

* Good move: "Michael Cohen, the embattled lawyer for President Donald Trump, has dropped a pair of lawsuits against BuzzFeed and the research firm Fusion GPS over the preparation and publication of a dossier that contained lurid allegations about the president."

* This was the wrong call: "Jim Bridenstine, perhaps the most politically controversial NASA administrator in history, was confirmed today on a party-line vote in the Senate, giving the US space agency a permanent leader for the first time in 15 months. The 50-49 vote puts the Oklahoma congressman in charge of the sprawling space agency and its $20-billion annual budget."

* Things are getting weird in Missouri: "Gov. Eric Greitens' attorneys have asked a Cole County judge to issue a restraining order blocking Attorney General Josh Hawley from investigating the governor."

* The latest on McCabe: "The Justice Department's inspector general has referred to federal prosecutors his findings that Andrew G. McCabe, the former F.B.I. deputy director, had repeatedly misled investigators, a person familiar with the matter said on Thursday."

* In case you missed last night's show: "Karen McDougal, the former Playboy model reported to have had an affair with Donald Trump a decade ago, has reached a deal with the owner of The National Enquirer allowing her to discuss the reports in public, she and her attorney said Wednesday."

* The list of Pruitt controversies never seems to end: "A group of Colorado homebuilders paid for a luxury hotel stay last fall for EPA chief Scott Pruitt, eight months after the Trump administration began work on a major priority for their industry by unwinding an Obama-era wetlands regulation."

* Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson tell their story: "One week after they were arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks, the two black men seen in a cellphone video viewed more than 11 million times went on 'Good Morning America' Thursday to describe how arriving 10 minutes early to a business meeting landed them in handcuffs."

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Image: President Trump Signs Executive Orders Regarding Trade

Ignoring slavery, Trump says human trafficking has reached all-time high

04/19/18 02:36PM

Donald Trump was in the Florida Keys today, talking up his demands for a border wall, complaining about Democrats, and raising the prospect of a political "revolution" in California in opposition to so-called "sanctuary cities." All of this would've been quite forgettable had it not been for the president's final, unscripted thought on the subject:

"We can't emphasize enough: not only drugs. The drugs are a big factor, but you look at, human trafficking is worse than it's ever been in the history of this world. And who would think in this modern-day age?"

Yes, right, who would think in his modern era that human trafficking would be worse than it's ever been in the history of this world?

Look, no one should downplay the significance of human trafficking. It's horrific and international officials should make every effort to rid the world of this scourge.

But to think human trafficking is worse now than it's ever been in the history of this world is forget that the Atlantic slave trade happened.

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United Nations Headquarters' General Assembly Building and Secretariat Building in New York City, USA, Sept. 24, 2015. (Photo by Matt Campbell/EPA)

At international meeting on women, Team Trump pushes abstinence message

04/19/18 12:55PM

The annual U.N. Commission on the Status of Women -- the international body's "most important meeting on women's empowerment," according to a U.S. official -- recently wrapped up a two-week session. BuzzFeed's report on the event suggests the delegation from the Trump administration wasn't exactly well received.

In closed-door meetings at the United Nations in March, Trump administration officials pushed socially conservative views on women's rights issues -- including abstinence-based policies over information about contraception -- that were further to the right than those expressed by most other countries present, including Russia and the representative for the Arab states, UN officials who attended the meetings told BuzzFeed News.

The Trump officials' approach at the UN meeting makes it clear that the administration intends to extend its views on abortion, contraception, and sexual education beyond US borders to an extent that is unusual even for Republican administrations.

According to the report, the Trump administration tapped culture-war activist Bethany Kozma to help represent the United States; she declared that the U.S. is a "pro-life nation"; and administration officials proceeded to isolate the United States on family planning issues throughout the international gathering.

In case this isn't obvious, in the Obama era, U.S. officials helped take the international lead at forums such as these. We've since taken a big step in a regressive direction, and according to International Women's Health Coalition Director Shannon Kowalski, the Trump administration is even "further to the right" and "far more extreme" than the Bush/Cheney administration.

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