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Thousands march to end family separation

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Thousands marched on D.C. to protest the Trump administration policy of separating immigrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border. PHOTO BY NICKOLAI SUKHAREVThousands marched on D.C. to protest the Trump administration policy of separating immigrant families at the U.S.-Mexico border. PHOTO BY NICKOLAI SUKHAREV  WASHINGTON, D.C. — Tens of thousands of protesters descended on the nation’s capital Saturday for the Families Belong Together March, chanting “Save Our Children” and objecting to President Trump’s family separation policy for immigrant parents.

“We’ve seen the state of our nation and decided we must take action,” said Jordon Dyrdahl-Roberts, one of many speakers at the event. “Life is about making choices … we face a million choices every day, but some choices are just daunting.”

Speaking from a stage at Lafayette Square, Dyrdahl-Roberts, a former employee with the Montana Department of Labor, explained that he resigned from his job in February when instructed to pass along information to Immigration and Customs Enforcement that would “be used to deport people,” adding that he “couldn’t do it and live with [himself],” and “just follow orders.”

In April 2018, the Trump administration implemented a “zero tolerance” policy for migrants attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, directing ICE and Customs and Border Protection officers to separate children if the detainees are parents. On June 20, Trump signed an executive order suspending the policy, and a federal court halted the practice through a nationwide injunction on June 26.

Amid concerns of continued separation of parents from children at the border and wanting to reunite families, the ACLU, MoveOn, National Domestic Workers Alliance, and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights organized the March, which drew an estimated 30,000 attendees.

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The press isn’t going to go anywhere, Mr. President

20180509 155426 2 1As a political columnist for the Montgomery County Sentinel, I am fortunate to have a ringside seat to a period in our nation's history like no other.
Still, as interesting and fascinating as I find covering this White House and Congress, it is also frustrating beyond words as the members of the press are subjected to a continuous barrage by both the current president and the members of his press office of misinformation, spin, avoidance, side-stepping, condescension, insults, threats, and downright lies.
I can't say it hasn't crossed my mind to wonder what it would be like if everyone in the White House press room decided enough is enough and simply got up and walked out together, in unison, as one body, in protest. Now, quite honestly, that will never happen, nor should it for some very important reasons.

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A threat to the federal government is a threat to all

NARFE sealI recently had the opportunity to listen to Steve Lenkart address a room full of federal service retirees and his message to them should be of the greatest concern for us all.
Steve has spent the last thirty years in and around the federal government with a specific focus on workforce policy. Among his many roles (not rolls, Mr. President), Steve served as the Executive Director of the Merit Systems Protection Board, to name just one. Steve is also running for president of NARFE.
NARFE stands for National Active and Retired Federal Employees and is an organization that has been at the forefront in the fight to protect the earned benefits of federal employees both active and retired since its inception way back in 1921.
Steve’s presentation was extremely informative and disturbing as well, as it shed light on the threat faced by federal employees from the current administration and Congress.
What should also be noted is that any threat to federal government employees impacts the effectiveness and efficiency of the running of our government and that impacts every American.

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Disturbing the Snow of Your Thoughts

trumpnmeCurious how old habits stay with you.
When I was a young boy and it snowed I loathed walking into either the front or backyard disturbing the fresh powder. It looked too pristine, too gentle and way too cool.
I wanted to preserve the moment – or the myth of the “perfect snow day”.

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Local officials unimpressed by Trump’s tough talk on opioid crisis

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WASHINGTON — Despite President Trump’s unveiling of a three-prong strategy to combat opioid addiction and his claims that his administration is “involved more than any administration, by far” in efforts to end the nationwide opioid epidemic, Montgomery County officials and a member of President Trump’s own opioid commission remain unconvinced that an executive branch led by a President who dismisses the efficacy of his own presidential commission while calling for the death penalty for drug dealers is truly committed to fighting opioid abuse.

The new plan comes nearly three weeks after the White House held an opioid summit featuring cabinet secretaries and officials from various executive branch agencies who highlighted their accomplishments over the past year and previewed future plans for an audience of addiction treatment professionals, law enforcement, and ordinary Americans who have been affected by the epidemic or lost loved ones to it.

“The administration is going to be rolling out policy over the next three weeks, and it will be very, very strong,” Trump said while speaking toward the end of a White House’s opioid summit, which featured cabinet secretaries and officials from various executive branch agencies who highlighted their accomplishments over the past year and previewed future plans for an audience of addiction treatment professionals, law enforcement, and ordinary Americans who have been affected by the epidemic or lost loved ones to it.

The March 1 event was emceed by Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s former campaign manager and one of the few senior advisors who has been with him since he became President in January of last year. Trump selected Conway, a veteran GOP pollster, political consultant and television pundit, to be the White House’s “opioid czar” in November despite her lack of qualifications or experience in medicine, public health or any other relevant field.

Nevertheless, Conway boasted that the administration has made “great progress” against opioids thanks to the work of the President’s Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis and Trump’s decision last year to order then-Acting Health and Human Services Secretary Don Wright to declare the crisis a Public Health Emergency. But Trump himself seemed to dismiss the idea that implementing the recommendations of his own commission would be effective in reducing the opioid scourge’s effects on the nation.

“If you want to be weak and you want to talk about just blue-ribbon committees, that’s not the answer,” said Trump, who then suggested that a solution could be found in harsher punishments – not prevention or treatment.

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Trump uses local killing to justify immigration crackdown

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WASHINGTON — When a Fairfax County jury convicted Wilmer Sanchez-Serrano last November for his role in the stabbing death of 15-year-old Watkins Mill High School student Damaris A. Reyas Rivas one year before, one might have reasonably assumed Rivas’ loved ones could put her tragic death behind them and, with at least one of her killers behind bars, begin to heal.

But in their quest to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws, the Trump administration returned Rivas to the headlines Wednesday when Acting Assistant Attorney General John Cronan invoked her name at a White House law enforcement roundtable on MS-13, the gang to which Sanchez-Serrano – as well as the other 10 suspects arrested in connection with her death – claimed membership.

“In January of last year, Damaris Reyes Rivas, a 15-year-old girl from a suburb of D.C., was stabbed 13 times with knives and a wooden stake by MS-13 members,” Cronan said, while briefing President Donald Trump, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirsten Nielsen, and several members of Congress. “Damaris's killers filmed her murder so that they could show their leaders back in El Salvador, and Damaris's body was then barbarically dumped next to railroad tracks that run under the Beltway,” he said.

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Setting the record straight for 2017

20170712 152519After an entire year of Trump in the Oval Office, it might just be the right time to set some of the record straight as we enter his second year in office. Let's begin with the oft-heard phrase “see something, say something” as an essential element of the war on terrorism. In his very own words during the presidential campaign: “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.”
In essence, Trump is identifying an entire religious group as a threat to the security of the United States. The reality, of course, is that most, if not almost all, terrorist attacks on U.S. soil are conducted by homegrown terrorists who either entered the country legally or were actually born in the U.S. but became “radicalized” years after entering the United States. This reality necessitates the need to have those familiar with the activities of terrorists prior to the attack say something when they see something.
Problem: Is ostracizing an entire religious community conducive to encouraging the members of that religious community to “say something when they see something?” Certainly not conducive; more likely counterproductive, but that is the Trump way!

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About that White House Press Christmas party

IMG 0341The annual White House Christmas party for reporters is always worthy of a few jokes.
During the course of the year a popular joke among the press corps is “Man you pissed them off. You won’t get an invitation to the Christmas party.”
Apparently April Ryan, the African-American reporter from American Urban Radio Networks, did just that. She angered the Trump administration so much she didn’t get invited to this year’s Christmas party.
“I’m okay,” she said later. “Everybody’s more upset than I am.”

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State and local officials stress importance to “fight for Marylanders” at JCRC breakfast

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JCRC logoA number of state and local representatives stressed the importance of speaking out against Congress’s proposed cuts to programs aimed at helping the state’s most vulnerable as well as standing up for the values Marylanders hold dear, during a Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington legislative breakfast Nov. 30.

“We need all hands on deck” to work against the Trump administration’s budget, said U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.)

“We are going to need engagement by everyone of you. We are going to need enormous amounts of selflessness,” said Chuck Short, special assistant to County Executive Ike Leggett.

A who’s who of Maryland legislators and candidates were among the 200 attendees at the second annual Schmooze and Nosh Maryland Legislative Breakfast at Congregation Har Shalom in Potomac. The event was sponsored by JCRC, which represents more than 100 synagogues and organizations in the D.C. area.

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Welcome to the ‘Never mind Obama, it’s all about me’ Donald Trump presidency

Pres. Obama 12 31 12I can remember quite vividly the days during the 2016 presidential when Hillary Clinton was portrayed as a “third term of Obama.” Considering the current disaster in the White House, a third Obama term would be quite welcome and be a major step in returning some dignity to the American presidency.
When considering what was accomplished by President Obama during a time in which the Republicans held a majority in both houses of Congress as compared to a Trump administration which has the benefit of that same Republican majority in both houses, one can only be amazed at the magnitude of the difference.

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