Petition: Stop the cuts to Food Stamps

The Trump administration recently announced changes to SNAP that will cause hundreds of thousands of people to lose access to their “food stamp” benefits. Will you sign the petition to urge Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to stop these attacks on families who depend on SNAP?

USDA’s newly proposed rules for SNAP will cut food stamp benefits for hundreds of thousands of hungry people. We demand that you stop these proposed changes before they take effect on April 1, 2020.

According to Feeding America, “SNAP provides families with their basic nutritional needs to get them through temporary hard times. It helps people get back on their feet and on the road to a better life.”

But the Trump administration has been working for the last three years to undermine SNAP as part of their agenda to limit access to public assistance programs.

This newly announced attack on SNAP is especially outrageous, because Congress rejected these proposed changes to the program during the Farm Bill debate last year. The House rejected them in a bipartisan vote of 330-83, and the Senate voted down a similar amendment 68-30.

But now, Sonny Perdue, Trump’s secretary of agriculture, is moving forward with these changes through an undemocratic “executive order” that targets very poor people struggling to work—many of whom are homeless, living in small towns and rural communities with little or no access to employment, or have health conditions that prevent them from working.

Click here to add your name to this petition, and then pass it along to your friends.

Thank you.

—Matthew Hildreth, RuralOrganizing.org

Trump administration moves to eliminate food stamps for 700,000 of his constituents. (He’s a Christian.)

The US Department of Agriculture has finalised a rule tightening work requirements for government food assistance.

Emma Goldman Quote: “Ask for work. If they don’t give you ...
With the implementation of a new work requirement rule, the US government could potentially take food assistance away from nearly 700,000 Americans 

The administration of United States President Donald Trump on Wednesday said it will make it harder for states to keep men and women in the country’s food stamp programme, a move that is projected to end benefits for nearly 700,000 people.

Trump has argued that many Americans receiving food stamps through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP, do not need it given the strong economy and low unemployment. The programme provides free food to 36 million Americans.

More:

Three million could lose food stamps under new Trump proposal

New US rule would target immigrants who use public benefits

Food prices are skyrocketing, and economists are worried

The administration has finalised a rule that tightens guidelines on when and where states can waive limits on how long certain residents can receive benefits. The changes will move more “able-bodied” adults into the workplace, said US Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.

“States are seeking waivers for wide swaths of their population[s], and millions of people who could work are continuing to receive SNAP benefits,” he told reporters.

The US generally limits the amount of time that adults can receive food stamps when they are aged 18-49 and who do not have dependents or disability benefits. The limitations are usually three months within a 36-month period unless the adults meet certain work requirements.

States can apply for waivers to this time limit due to tough economic conditions. However, counties with an unemployment rate as low as 2.5 percent have been included in waived areas, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), the agency that runs SNAP.

The USDA is stiffening guidelines defining where recipients can reside to be eligible for waivers and standards for demonstrating whether an area has enough jobs to justify a waiver.

The US unemployment rate was 3.6 percent in October.

“We need everyone who can work to work,” Perdue said.

But critics say the moves will hurt poor Americans.

“This is an unacceptable escalation of the administration’s war on working families, and it comes during a time when too many are forced to stretch already-thin budgets to make ends meet,” said US Congressional Representative Marcia Fudge, an Ohio State Democrat.

The administration has sought to tighten requirements for food stamps without congressional approval after the US Congress blocked a Trump-backed effort to pass new restrictions through the Farm Bill last year.

The latest rule will take effect next year and save the government $5.5bn over five years by removing about 688,000 people from the food stamps rolls, said Brandon Lipps, a USDA deputy undersecretary.

“For those impacted, it will mean less nutritious meals or meals that are skipped altogether,” said Cassie Ramos, policy associate for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, an advocacy group.

Apple changes Crimea map to meet Russian demands

Apple iPhoneImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Apple has complied with Russian demands to show the annexed Crimean peninsula as part of Russian territory on its apps.

Russian forces annexed Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014, drawing international condemnation.

The region, which has a Russian-speaking majority, is now shown as Russian territory on Apple Maps and its Weather app, when viewed from Russia.

But the apps do not show it as part of any country when viewed elsewhere.

Apple Weather app lists Crimea as part of RussiaImage copyrightAPPLE WEATHER
Image captionThe Apple Weather app now lists Crimea as part of Russia
Apple Map showing CrimeaImage copyrightAPPLE MAPS
Image captionApple Maps does not show a border between Crimea and Russia

The State Duma, the Russian parliament’s lower house, said in a statement: “Crimea and Sevastopol now appear on Apple devices as Russian territory.”

Russia treats the naval port city of Sevastopol as a separate region.

The BBC tested several iPhones in Moscow and it appears the change affects devices set up to use the Russian edition of Apple’s App Store.

Apple had been in talks with Russia for several months over what the State Duma described as “inaccuracy” in the way Crimea was labelled.

The tech giant originally suggested it could show Crimea as undefined territory – part of neither Russia nor Ukraine.

But Vasily Piskaryov, chairman of the Duma security and anti-corruption committee, said Apple had complied with the Russian constitution.

He said representatives of the company were reminded that labelling Crimea as part of Ukrainian territory was a criminal offence under Russian law, according to Interfax news agency.

“There is no going back,” Mr Piskaryov said. “Today, with Apple, the situation is closed – we have received everything we wanted.”

He said Russia was always open to “dialogue and constructive co-operation with foreign companies”.

Apple has not yet commented on the decision.

Google, which also produces a popular Maps app, does not show Crimea as belonging to either Russia or Ukraine on its maps.

However, it uses the Russian spelling of Crimean place names, rather than the Ukrainian spelling, on its maps in Russia.

Most of the international community, including the EU and the US, does not recognise the annexation of Crimea to Russia.

The loss of Crimea is a deep wound for Ukrainians. Shortly after the peninsula was annexed in early 2014, a separate conflict broke out in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions when separatists moved against the Ukrainian state.

Ukraine and the West accuse Russia of sending its troops to the region and arming the separatists.

Moscow denies this but says that Russian volunteers are helping the rebels. More than 13,000 people have been killed in the conflict.

The BBC does not show Crimea as part of Russia on its maps, but shows a dotted line to mark disputed territory.

US Navy secretary says Trump tweet not a formal order

Trump must issue formal order to stop review of Edward Gallagher, who was acquitted of war crimes, Richard Spencer says.

The Navy notified Gallagher he will face a review early next month to determine if he should remain on the elite force [File: John Gastaldo/Reuters]
The Navy notified Gallagher he will face a review early next month to determine if he should remain on the elite force [File: John Gastaldo/Reuters]

The secretary of the United States Navy has said he does not consider a Twitter post by President Donald Trump an order and would need a formal order to stop a review of a sailor who could lose his status as a member of its elite SEAL commando unit.

Trump on Thursday tweeted that the Navy should “get back to business” rather than convene a board to determine whether Navy Special Warfare Operator Edward Gallagher – who had been accused of war crimes but was found guilty only of a lesser offence – should retain his qualification as a Navy SEAL.

More:

Referring to Trump’s tweet, Navy Secretary Richard Spencer said on Saturday: “I don’t interpret them as a formal order.”

He added: “I need a formal order to act.”

Trump had insisted in his tweet that the Navy “will NOT be taking away Warfighter and Navy Seal Eddie Gallagher’s Trident Pin”, inserting himself into an ongoing legal review of the sailor’s ability to hold onto the pin that designates him a SEAL.

The Navy on Wednesday had notified Gallagher that he will face a review early next month to determine if he should remain on the elite force.

Multiple US news outlets reported in recent days that Spencer had threatened to resign over the issue, a claim he sharply denied.

“Contrary to popular belief, I am still here. I did not threaten to resign,” Spencer said, speaking at a forum in Halifax, Canada, while also acknoledging that he serves at the pleasure of the president.

“The president the United States is the commander in chief. He’s involved in every aspect of government and he can make decisions and give orders as appropriate,” he said.

Convicted

Gallagher had been accused in the stabbing death of a wounded captive fighter of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) armed group in Iraq in 2017, attempted murder of other civilians and obstruction of justice.

In July, he was acquitted of charges related to those accusations, but was convicted of a lesser charge: posing with the slain fighter’s body in a group picture with other SEALs.

As a result, he was demoted one rank, from chief petty officer to petty officer first class.

On November 15, Trump reversed the demotion handed down to the 40 year old under his conviction.

Gallagher’s lawyers have accused the Navy of trying to remove the SEAL designation in retaliation for Trump’s decision last week to restore Gallagher’s rank.

Gallagher filed a complaint with the inspector general accusing a rear admiral of insubordination for defying Trump’s actions. Rear Admiral Collin Green is the Naval Special Warfare commander.

Under the review procedure, a five-person board will convene on December 2 behind closed doors.

It will include one SEAL officer and four senior enlisted SEALs, according to two US officials cited by The Associated Press news agency.

Trump’s initial order in Gallagher only referred to restoring his rank, but it did not explicitly pardon the SEAL for any wrongdoing.

Green also notified three SEAL officers who oversaw Gallagher during the deployment – Lieutenant Commander Robert Breisch, Lieutenant Jacob Portier and Lieutenant Thomas MacNeil – that they are also being reviewed, according to the officials.

Removing their Trident pins means they would no longer be SEALs but could remain in the Navy. The Navy has revoked 154 Trident pins since 2011.

Report: Mike Pompeo Planning to Resign as Secretary of State

H8 mike pompeo secretary state time magazine resigning senate kansas

Time magazine is reporting Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is planning to resign from the Trump administration and run for a U.S. Senate seat in Kansas next year. Pompeo has come under fire during the ongoing impeachment hearings against President Trump, with many criticizing him for failing to defend State Department officials and protect U.S. policies against Trump’s efforts to politicize foreign affairs. Pompeo has not publicly confirmed his planned resignation.

Trump backers Jon Voight and James Patterson honoured with national medal

Voight is one of Trump’s few vocal Hollywood supporters, and has hailed him as ‘the greatest president of this century’.

Jon Voight poses before the premiere of Maleficent: Mistress of Evil in Los Angeles [File: Mario Anzuoni/Reuters]
Jon Voight poses before the premiere of Maleficent: Mistress of Evil in Los Angeles

Oscar-winning actor Jon Voight, singer and musician Alison Krauss and mystery writer James Patterson are among the artists and philanthropists being honoured by President Donald Trump for their contributions to the arts or the humanities, the first recipients of prestigious national medals since Trump took office.

The White House announced four recipients of the National Medal of Arts and four of the National Humanities Medal in a statement on Sunday night.

Voight is one of Trump’s few vocal Hollywood backers, and has hailed him as “the greatest president of this century”.

Trump is also honouring the musicians of the US military, who frequently entertain at White House events.

He will award the medals during a ceremony at the White House on Thursday.

While the honours had been an annual affair during past administrations, they have not been awarded since Trump’s inauguration in January 2017.

The most recent arts or humanities medals were bestowed by President Barack Obama in September 2016.

The recipients of the National Medal of Arts are:

  • Alison Krauss, the bluegrass-country singer and musician, “for making extraordinary contributions to American music”. The White House misspelled her name in its release.
  • Sharon Percy Rockefeller “for being a renowned champion of the arts, generous supporter of charity, and a pioneer of new ideas and approaches in the field of public policy”.
  • The Musicians of the United States Military “for personifying excellence in music and service to country”.
  • Jon Voight “for his exceptional capacity as an actor to portray deeply complex characters”. He starred in Midnight Cowboy, the 1969 film that won an Academy Award for Best Picture, and he won the Best Actor Oscar for 1978’s Coming Home. He appears in the Showtime series Ray Donovan.

The recipients of the National Humanities Medal are:

  • The Claremont Institute “for championing the Nation’s founding principles and enriching American minds”.
  • Teresa Lozano Long “for supporting the arts and improving educational opportunities” through scholarships and philanthropy.
  • Patrick O’Connell, the chef at The Inn at Little Washington, “for being one of the greatest chefs of our time”.
  • James Patterson “for being one of the most successful American authors of our time”. He wrote a book about Jeffrey Epstein, the disgraced financier who killed himself while awaiting trial on charges of sexually abusing teenage girls. The book includes several references to Trump, including an account of the men’s falling out.

The National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities solicit candidates for the medals and compile proposed winners.

The White House, which sometimes adds its own nominees, traditionally approves and announces them before a presidential ceremony.

Trump has had an uneasy if not hostile relationship with many in the arts and the humanities who oppose his policies and have denounced his presidency.

He has been largely shunned by Hollywood and has skipped events like the annual Kennedy Center gala that is one of Washington’s premier social gatherings after some honourees said they would not attend if Trump was part of the ceremony.

Trump defends Biden over North Korea’s ‘rabid dog’ jibe

Joe Biden and Donald TrumpJoe Biden is seen as Donald Trump’s biggest rival in the Democratic race for the 2020 presidential election nomination

As the race for the 2020 presidential election gathers pace, the bitter war of words between US President Donald Trump and his main political rival Joe Biden is expected to escalate.

Seen as the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination, Mr Biden has been the main target of Mr Trump’s verbal broadsides so far.

But some insults, it seems, go too far, even for President Trump.

On Sunday Mr Trump tweeted a rare, albeit backhanded, defence of Mr Biden in response to a vicious verbal attack by North Korea.

The surprising tweet was addressed to “Mr Chairman”, an apparent reference to North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un.

In the tweet, Mr Trump said although Mr Biden was “sleepy and very slow”, he was “not a rabid dog”, as North Korea had called him.

The president’s comments were included in a retweet of a conservative commentator’s post about North Korea’s attack on Mr Biden.

North Korea had lambasted Mr Biden for having the “temerity to dare slander the dignity” of its leader, Mr Kim.

“Rabid dogs like Biden can hurt lots of people if they are allowed to run about,” a statement, carried North Korea’s official KCNA news agency, said on Thursday. “They must be beaten to death with a stick.”

Watch the moment Donald Trump met King Jong-un and stepped foot inside North Korea

It is not clear what drew the ire of North Korea, though Mr Biden has been critical of the Trump-Kim summits this year and last.

In response to the North Korean jibe, Mr Biden said he saw such insults “as a badge of honour”.

In contrast, Mr Trump’s relationship with Mr Kim has been more amicable as he seeks to convince North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons through summitry rather than threats.

Mr Trump has lavished Mr Kim with compliments, describing him as “very sharp” and a “real leader”.

Mr Biden, on the other hand, has frequently been on the receiving end of Mr Trump’s jibes.

The impeachment inquiry, which centres on whether Mr Trump withheld military aid from Ukraine in exchange for an investigation into Mr Biden and his son, has intensified their long-running feud.