WTF Community

Day 572

Updated 8/14/2018 3:51 PM PDT

1/ Omarosa released audio of Trump campaign aides discussing how to handle the potential release of a tape where Trump used the "n-word." Trump claims he never said the word, tweeting that "I don't have that word in my vocabulary and never have" and that Omarosa "made it up." The audio appears to corroborate Omarosa's claims that Trump aides were aware of the recording and talked about how to handle it. Trump tweeted that, according to "The Apprentice" producer Mark Burnett, the long-rumored tape of him using a racial slur doesn't exist. (CBS News)

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

In a press release on Monday, the Department of Housing and Urban Development made its firmest commitment yet to tear down the Obama-era framework for enforcing the Fair Housing Act.

In a public notice dated Thursday, Aug. 9, HUD outlined its reasons for quashing the 2015 “affirmatively furthering fair housing” rule (AFFH), which had been the strongest effort in decades to crack down on segregation and discriminatory practices in and by American cities and suburbs. HUD Secretary Ben Carson cited the Obama administration’s “unworkable requirements” in a statement, saying the rule “actually impeded the development and rehabilitation of affordable housing.” Under AFFH, Carson said, cities and other HUD grantees had “inadequate autonomy” according to his understanding of federalism.

Neither criticism, fair housing experts say, is accurate. The AFFH rule told cities to set fair housing goals, but not how to meet them. It was flexible on doctrinaire questions like: Should assistance go to people or places?

Neither did the rule seem likely to dampen the supply of affordable housing. “It’s important and worthwhile and corresponded to the importance of what it’s designed to do,” says Andrea Ponsor, the COO of Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future, which advocates for the preservation and production of affordable rental housing. “We were very supportive of the rule and we don’t feel like it had its opportunity to work yet.”

The MIT team also called all the cities who had been set to submit AFFH plans for the most recent cycle, before Carson killed the rule in January: “We found cities were very bewildered. Right as they were about to submit, HUD pulled the rug out from under them. To their credit, many submitted their AFFH plans anyway, under the AI frame.”

In the future, jurisdictions working with HUD won’t have the option of using the more demanding results-oriented “Local Government Assessment Tool” developed for the AFFH rule: Carson’s HUD took it offline in May


Was the fix always in…for Kobach’s win?

@AriBerman (The Nation)

Kris Kobach won KS GOP gov primary by 300 votes. His proof of citizenship law, which federal court struck down, blocked 35,000 from voting

The A.C.L.U. has filed four suits against Kobach since he was elected in 2010. All of them challenge some aspect of his signature piece of legislation, the Secure and Fair Elections Act, or SAFE Act, a 2011 state law that requires people to show a birth certificate, passport or naturalization papers to register to vote. Kobach has long argued that such a law is necessary to prevent noncitizens from registering to vote, a phenomenon that he has repeatedly claimed is both pervasive and a threat to democracy. The A.C.L.U. has countered that the real purpose of the law is not to prevent fraud but to stop the existing electorate from expanding and shifting demographically. The same principle informed the “grandfather clauses” of the Jim Crow era, which exempted most white voters from literacy tests and poll taxes designed to disenfranchise black voters. Even a seemingly small impediment to registration, like a new ID requirement, favors the status quo, and in Kansas, and indeed nationally, the status quo favors the Republican Party.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 outlawed tactics that prevented blacks, Hispanics and other minority groups from voting. But for decades, Republicans have fought to circumvent the law by describing their proposed restrictions — requiring specific forms of identification to vote, preventing early voting, purging voting rolls — as colorblind security measures, even though there is little evidence of any individual voter fraud in the United States. The A.C.L.U. has repeatedly argued that the Kansas law discriminated against minorities, young people and low-income people, all of whom are more likely to be registering for the first time and less likely to have immediate access to citizenship papers, because they can’t afford them or were more transient and don’t have copies of their documents at hand. No state has been as aggressive as Kansas in restricting ballot access, and no elected official has been as dogged as Kobach.

Standing before Judge Julie Robinson in Kansas City, Orion Danjuma, one of the A.C.L.U. lawyers, noted that Kansas’s proof-of-citizenship law applied only to people registering or updating their registrations after 2013. “Tens of thousands of Kansans have already been prevented from registering to vote because of this requirement,” Danjuma said — one in seven new registrants. Close to half of those were under 30.


@costareports (Robert Costas - Wapo)

A reminder here that the real news isn’t always a splashy headline. “The Senate already has installed 24 appellate judges since Trump was sworn in, the highest number for a president’s first two years in office.”


The Senate will return Wednesday from an abbreviated summer recess to confirm two more federal appeals court judges by the end of the week. That would come on top of a record-breaking string of confirmations: The Senate already has installed 24 appellate judges since Trump was sworn in, the highest number for a president’s first two years in office.

While much of the focus has been on Kavanaugh and Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, the Senate’s rapid approval of appellate judges is likely to have its own broad impact on the nation, as the 13 circuit courts will shape decisions on immigration, voting rights, abortion and the environment for generations.

Twitter suspends Alex Jones for urging people to keep “battle rifles” ready.

After holding out for a few weeks, Twitter joined the chorus of social media and tech giants that have punished conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for questionable content. Twitter suspended Jones from his account on Tuesday after he tweeted out a link to a video in which he calls for his supporters to get their “battle rifles” ready for the media and others.

But the catch is that Jones’ ban will last just seven days —the InfoWars host will not be able to tweet or retweet from his personal account during that week. The InfoWars Twitter account has not been affected by this suspension.


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