Scott Baio: I rewatch Trump’s victory online for a pick-me-up

It’s a year later, but whenever Scott Baio needs a pick-me-up, he relives Nov. 8, 2016.

“I go online and I type in the words ‘moment Trump won’ and I watch the videos,” the 57-year-old “Joanie Loves Chachi” and “Charles in Charge” star said. “I’ll watch an hour of videos every once in a while and it’s great. It’s the best thing I could watch.”


Baio, an ardent supporter of President Trump who spoke at the Republican National Convention, distinctly recalls how he “didn’t want to watch” TV on election night, since he thought that Trump was going to get “killed” at the polls.

“I went upstairs into the bedroom and had my cellphone with me and I didn’t have any radio or television on. And I just laid there and was literally praying out loud.”

After his brother texted him saying Trump led Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhite House accuses Biden of pushing ‘conspiracy theories’ with Trump election claim Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton qualifies to run for county commissioner in Florida MORE in a key state, Baio said he figured the election gods were somehow answering his prayers.

“I thought to myself, ‘OK, [Trump’s] turned it around. If I get up and leave now, I’m going to jinx it because by me laying here, it’s working’ — like the universe cares about me laying on my bed,” Baio said.

“At that point I couldn’t take it anymore, and I said, ‘God, forgive me for breaking the mojo here, but I have to go downstairs and watch.’ ”

When the election was ultimately called for Trump, Baio said he was in complete shock, but felt “incredible.”

“He won when every person on the planet said he wouldn’t,” Baio said.

“What a roller coaster for me, and I’m sure millions of other people,” Baio said. “I was just floored by the whole thing.”

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Republican AGs tap Ark. attorney general for top campaign post

Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has been elected to lead the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) as the group hashes out its leadership ahead of the 2018 elections.

Rutledge takes over the group that has raised $14 million since the start of 2017, a RAGA official told The Hill, an internal record that far eclipses the $9 million it raised by this point in 2015.

“I am honored to be elected by my colleagues to lead RAGA during such a consequential cycle in which we have 30 races across the country. Just as I have done in Arkansas, Republican attorneys general will defend the rule of law and serve as the champions of opportunity,” she said in a statement.


“Whether it is Arkansas, or across our nation, job creators and hardworking Americans rely on Republican AGs to ensure that the federal government will roll back burdensome regulations.”

Rutledge took over as Arkansas’s attorney general after the 2014 elections — before that, she had a long career in law, both in private practice, as a county prosecutor, and in state government.

She also previously served as a lawyer for Republican political groups like the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Republican National Committee.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton will take over as the group’s vice chairman. The rest of the new executive committee includes Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi; Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr; Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill; Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt; Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry; Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson; and Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes.

Republicans currently hold 29 attorneys general positions across the country and RAGA supports efforts to reelect incumbents and boost the ranks of Republican attorneys general, a pivotal statewide office that will be at the center of many of the major policy pushes emanating from state governments and from the White House.

The RAGA recently lost a tough race in Virginia, where Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring secured another term over former federal prosecutor John Adams.

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Battlelines Drawn as GOP Readies 'To Make America Sick Again'

Republicans, “beside themselves” with excitement over their new power in Congress and, in less than three weeks, the White House, announced on Wednesday their plans for a swift attack on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare.

Repealing the ACA, said Vice President-elect Mike Pence after meeting with House Republicans, will be the incoming administration’s “first order of business,” with a goal of getting legislation to President-elect Donald Trump by Feb. 20. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) also spoke at the news conference, and said that the program, which allowed over 20 million Americans to gain health insurance coverage, “is a story of broken promise after broken promise after broken promise.”

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The Senate on Wednesday also voted “to take the first official step toward repealing President Barack Obama’s signature health care law,” as CNN reports. The chamber “voted 51-48 Wednesday to begin debating a budget that, once approved, will prevent Democrats from using a filibuster to block future Republican legislation to scuttle the healthcare law,” the Associated Press adds.

As expected, Obama on Wednesday also went to Capitol Hill where he held a closed door meeting with Democrats to urge them to fight against Republican efforts to repeal the law and instead “look out for the American people.”

“I think the president made a strong point that the individual provisions of the Affordable Care Act are popular and that we know we’re right on policy and we have to be able to get this message out to the American people,” said Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) following the meeting, The Hill reports. Added Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer: “They want to repeal it and then try to hang it on us. Not going to happen. It’s their responsibility, plain and simple.” 

The Republican attack on the ACA, along with planned assaults on Medicare and Medicaid, “would make America sick again and lead to chaos instead of affordable care,” Schumer said, invoking Trump’s campaign slogan.

The Guardian writes: “The dueling events on Capitol Hill illustrated the high stakes over healthcare reform, seen as Obama’s proudest domestic policy achievement but now facing demolition by a unified Republican government.”

DNC chair hopeful Keith Ellison, meanwhile, used his Twitter platform to denounce the Republican attacks on the healthcare program in a series of tweets, saying that the party is “playing politics with your health.”

Trump, for his part, also took to Twitter, where he “warned fellow Republicans to not fall into the trap of taking ownership of the health law’s shortcomings and cautioned them ‘don’t let the Schumer clowns out of this mess,'” as Politico reported:

While Ryan said “We have a plan” to replace the ACA, it’s not clear what that is, thus asks Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Ill.):

Meanwhile, advocates for a Medicare-for-all healthcare system argue that the focus should not be about keeping or repealing Obamacare.

According to Don McCanne, senior health policy fellow with Physicians for a National Health Program, “the debate should be over whether we continue to tolerate our overpriced system that leaves so many out, when we can adopt a proven health care financing system that makes health care truly accessible and affordable for everyone. That, of course, would be a single payer national health program—an improved Medicare that covers everyone.

“Do we simply continue to debate tweaks to a system in shambles, or are we finally going to fix it with an equitable system that actually covers everyone while containing costs through the beneficial tools of public financing and public administration?”

Water Protectors Arrested, Tear-Gassed for Peaceful Prayer Walk at DAPL Site

Water protectors battling the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline once again faced down police in riot gear, tear gas, and arrests on Monday as Indigenous activists attempted to hold a peaceful prayer walk at the pipeline drilling site alongside the Missouri River near Cannon Ball, North Dakota.

Observers were swift to call attention to the police crackdown:

While the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers last month denied an easement necessary for drilling under the Missouri River, the company behind the pipeline is looking to resume the project once President-elect Donald Trump takes office.

The Republican-dominated North Dakota legislature is also pushing legislation that would make it legal to run over protestors with cars, among other anti-protest measures.

Still, despite the odds, harsh winter weather, and growing tension, Indigenous water protectors and allies are continuing to maintain a presence near the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s reservation, to protect the Missouri River’s water.

In video footage taken at the scene Monday afternoon, water protectors can be seen peacefully chanting and singing in front of a line of riot police holding batons and other weapons:


And in footage filmed later in the evening, clouds of tear gas waft over the water protectors, and the sound of something being shot can be heard as the activists hold strong and continue their peaceful stand into the night:

At least three water protectors were arrested, Reuters reports. Participants in the action also claimed on social media that the police were firing rubber bullets, and alleged that one person was struck by a police snowmobile and taken in an ambulance from the scene:

“On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, ND law enforcement shot at and tear gassed people praying and expressing their 1st amendment rights,” observed Dakota/Lakota Sioux writer Ruth Hopkins on Twitter.

And despite widespread condemnation of such aggressive tactics, the police appear to be ramping up their presence. The Indigenous Environmental Network’s Dallas Goldtooth posted photos on Facebook Tuesday of “an AN/TWQ-1 Avenger vehicle,” a surface-to-air missile system, overlooking the protest camp.

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“This is intimidation tactics 101,” Goldtooth wrote. “Demonstrate the extent of your power in hopes to deter action.”

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Rights Groups Slam Trump's Proposed "Immigrant Crime Blotter"

Human rights groups are outraged over President Donald Trump’s plan to publish a “weekly list of crimes” committed by immigrants living in sanctuary cities.

The foreboding proposal, which was part of several executive orders cracking down on immigration and refugees, is “shocking in the extreme,” Human Rights Watch said Thursday.

“This is completely consistent with Trump’s xenophobic demonizing of immigrants throughout the campaign, of course, but the idea of a public list like this—a kind of weekly hate list—is still shocking in the extreme,” the group’s European media director, Andrew Stroehlein, told the Independent. “The measures this administration has announced against immigrants in its first few days will devastate families—including U.S. citizen families, naturally—and terrorize communities across the country.”

Trump’s plan read:

All this comes despite the fact that evidence points to immigrants being less likely than non-immigrants to commit crimes in the U.S., rather than the other way around.

The language echoes Trump’s infamously xenophobic campaign rhetoric, including his first speech as a candidate in 2016 calling Mexicans criminals and rapists—and is part of a series of sweeping executive actions on immigration, including an order to start construction on a border wall and a freeze on visas to immigrants from several countries in the Middle East and North Africa.


And it comes straight from the rightwing propaganda playbook. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which tracks hate crimes, noted that the order is reminiscent of content published at extremist website Breitbart News, which “has championed such hardline anti-immigrant ideas for years.”

Several White House staffers joined the team directly from the outlet—most notably, Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon.

Moreover, Wednesday’s orders broaden the definition of who is considered a criminal, as the New York Times pointed out, extending to anyone who crosses the border without documents or “abused any public benefits program.” (Under former President Barack Obama, only those who had committed serious crimes, were considered national security threats, or had arrived recently were targeted for deportation.)

“Mr. Trump is opening the door to deporting far more unauthorized immigrants than previous administrations,” the Times‘ Jennifer Medine wrote.

Amnesty International’s U.K. Refugee Program director, Steve Symonds, warned, “Singling out a section of society in such an obviously negative way would be reckless.”

“It risks seriously adding to fear and anxiety—already dangerously inflamed by poisonous rhetoric, including from the U.S. president—relating to migrants and those perceived to be migrants,” he said.

The orders were met Wednesday with widespread resistance from self-designated sanctuary cities, as mayor after mayor vowed to protect their undocumented residents.

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Leaked Trump Presidential Memo Would Free U.S. Companies to Buy Conflict Minerals From Central African Warlords

of a presidential memorandum Donald Trump is expected to sign within days suspends a 2010 rule that discouraged American companies from funding conflict and human rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of Congo through their purchase of  “conflict minerals.”

The memo, distributed inside the administration on Friday afternoon and obtained by The Intercept, directs the Securities and Exchange Commission to temporarily waive the requirements of the Conflict Mineral Rule, a provision of the Dodd Frank Act, for two years — which the rule explicitly allows the president to do for national security purposes. The memorandum also directs the State Department and Treasury Department to find an alternative plan to “address such problems in the DRC and adjoining countries.”

The idea behind the rule, which had bipartisan support, was to drain militias of revenue by forcing firms to conduct reviews of their supply chain to determine if contractors used minerals sourced from the militias.

The impending decision comes as Trump held a meeting Wednesday with Brian Krzanich, the chief executive of Intel, one of the leading firms impacted by conflict mineral regulations. At the White House today, Krzanich appeared with the president to announce a new manufacturing plant in Arizona.


Human rights advocates — who had celebrated the conflicts rule as a major step forward — were appalled. “Any executive action suspending the U.S. conflict minerals rule would be a gift to predatory armed groups seeking to profit from Congo’s minerals as well as a gift to companies wanting to do business with the criminal and the corrupt,” said Carly Oboth, the policy adviser at Global Witness, in a statement responding to a Reuters article that first reported the move.

“It is an abuse of power that the Trump administration is claiming that the law should be suspended through a national security exemption intended for emergency purposes. Suspending this provision could actually undermine U.S. national security.”

Read the full article at The Intercept.

© 2020 The Intercept / First Look Media

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Detained After Speaking Out, 22-Year-Old 'Dreamer' Faces Immediate Deportation

Lawyers for a 22-year-old “Dreamer” named Daniela Vargas, whose parents brought her to the United States from Argentina when she was just seven years old, say she faces deportation without a hearing after Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detained her Wednesday morning.

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Her arrest came just after she addressed an immigrant rights news conference in Jackson, Mississippi—and on the heels of remarks by President Donald Trump that supposedly indicated a softened stance on people like Vargas, undocumented immigrants who entered the country illegally as children.

Vargas is currently being held without bond at the LaSalle Detention Facility in Jena, Louisiana, according to her attorneys, who filed a stay of removal Friday. The Clarion-Ledger reports that “[i]f the stay is denied, Vargas could be deported to Argentina in two to three weeks.”

CNN reported Friday morning: “Her attorneys are working to prepare a package with personal statements about Vargas from people who know her, in hopes of it landing in sympathetic hands that will grant her a trial instead of immediate deportation.”

Vargas released a statement through her lawyers on Thursday evening:

Vargas had applied for renewal of her expired DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) status before being detained on Wednesday. But Abby Peterson, one of her lawyers, told the Jackson Free Press that it “appears that immigration officers are not taking her application into consideration.”

The Free Press further reported:



Writing Thursday at The Nation, Julianne Hing put Vargas’ detention and potential deportation in the context of Trump’s immigration crackdown.

“When Obama was in the White House, the safest place for young undocumented immigrants like Vargas was in the public eye,” Hing wrote. “Declaring one’s immigration status provided a kind of political protection from being seized by immigration agents. The federal government was sensitive to being publicly shamed for pursuing the ‘wrong’ undocumented immigrants for removal.”

“Those like Ms. Vargas just want a better life for themselves and their families and are true believers in the American dream—they should not be pushed further into the shadows.”
—U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, Mississippi

“What Vargas’s detention shows is that those days are over,” she continued. “The Trump administration is upending the unspoken norms of how the federal government will deal with undocumented immigrants. The once-safe places do not exist as such anymore. Those who were once the most sympathetic immigrants now join millions of other undocumented immigrants as the new targets.”

One rally was taking place Friday afternoon at the Mississippi state capitol building calling for Vargas’ release, while another was planned for later in the day outside the Department of Homeland Security in Washington, D.C.

A petition is currently circulating demanding the same.

“Our country must have immigration policies that are constitutional and remain true to our values,” U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said in a statement. “Ms. Vargas appears to have committed no crime and was only speaking out on behalf of her family, who is threatened by this President’s misguided immigration agenda. ICE’s assertion that her detention is ‘routine’ is absurd and seems anything but. Clearly, ICE resources used in this case would have been better utilized to find and detain dangerous criminals and get them off our streets.”

“As a DACA recipient she should be allowed to stay here,” Thompson said. “Those like Ms. Vargas just want a better life for themselves and their families and are true believers in the American dream—they should not be pushed further into the shadows.”

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"A Scandal": After FCC Bent Rules, Right-Wing Sinclair Network to Grow Even Bigger

Creating the nation’s largest local TV station conglomerate—and raising the frightening prospect of a network that would rival Fox News—conservative Sinclair Broadcast Group announced Monday it will buy Tribune Media for $3.9 billion.

Craig Aaron, president of the communications watchdog organization Free Press, called the deal “a scandal,” while former Federal Communications Commission (FCC) commissioner and Common Cause adviser Michael Copps said it was both “expected and disappointing.”

“Expected because the new FCC majority is foaming at the mouth to rubber stamp more massive media mergers,” Copps explained, “and disappointing because Sinclair is not known for the best journalism in the land, to put it mildly. Our nation’s civic dialogue suffers yet another blow with this merger.”

The deal must still be approved by the Trump administration’s FCC, which has “signaled its openness to media consolidation,” CNN notes.

Indeed, the FCC recently voted to reinstate a technical loophole called the UHF discount, thereby allowing broadcast companies to exceed the limit on how much of a nationwide audience they can reach. At the time, Jessica J. González, Free Press deputy director and senior counsel, said the decision was favorable for Sinclair and other big broadcasters, and as the New York Times reported Monday, “[t]he change effectively lowered Sinclair’s coverage of American households to about 25 percent, from a current limit of 39 percent, freeing it to pursue acquisitions.”

Now, if the merger is approved, 42 Tribune stations would be added to the Sinclair empire of 173 TV stations, many of which are affiliates of ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, and the CW. As the LA Times wrote, the deal “would give Sinclair a presence in the top three TV markets, with KTLA in Los Angeles, WPIX in New York, and WGN in Chicago.” Sinclair would also gain Tribune’s ownership stakes in the Food Network and CareerBuilder. 

The Baltimore Sun reports that the merger would give Sinclair ownership or control of TV stations in 72 percent of the United States. 

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Politico adds:

“There has also been speculation that Sinclair, with the addition of Tribune’s portfolio, could try to launch a rival to Fox News, though the company has not commented on the possibility,” media critic Brian Stelter noted at CNN.

Already, the New York Times wrote last week, Sinclair has used its existing network of local stations “to advance a mostly right-leaning agenda since the presidency of George W. Bush.”

The Times reported:

“More recently, Jared Kushner, [President Donald] Trump’s son-in-law and now a senior adviser in the White House, said at a meeting with business executives that the Trump campaign had reached an agreement with Sinclair to give more access to Mr. Trump and the campaign under the condition that the interviews be broadcast without commentary on the company’s affiliates, according to two people who had attended the meeting but were not authorized to discuss it,” the Times added. “Taped in Sinclair’s Washington bureau, the interviews with Mr. Trump were broadcast across several swing states.”


The Washington Post further reported Monday that “[i]n the most recent campaign, [Washington, D.C. station] WJLA, and Sinclair stations around the country, gave a disproportionate amount of neutral or favorable coverage to candidate Donald Trump compared with his rival, Hillary Clinton, according to internal documents supplied by people at WJLA.”

The Post continued:

All this raises significant alarm for media watchdogs like Aaron, who said Monday: “Sure looks like a quid pro quo: friendly coverage and full employment for ex-Trump mouthpieces in exchange for a green light to get as big as Sinclair wants. I feel terrible for the local journalists who will be forced to set aside their news judgment to air Trump-administration talking points and reactionary commentaries from Sinclair’s headquarters.”

“This deal would have been DOA in any other administration,” he said, “but the Trump FCC isn’t just approving it; they’re practically arranging it.”

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Schumacher to make FP1 debut in Germany with Alfa

Mick Schumacher will make his official entry into F1 next week when the young German driver takes part in the Eifel Grand Prix’s first practice session at the Nürburgring.

The current leader of the FIA Formula 2 Championship has tested for the Swiss outfit in the past – as well as with Ferrari – but it will be the first time since the Brazilian Grand Prix in 2012 that the Schumacher name will appear on an official F1 timesheet on a race weekend.

Schumacher will replace Antonio Giovinazzi in the opening free practice session, an appearance on home soil that should please the local crowd.

“I am overjoyed to get this chance in free practice,” said Schumacher. “The fact that my first participation in a Formula 1 weekend will take place in front of my home audience at the Nürburgring makes this moment even more special.

“I would like to thank Alfa Romeo Racing ORLEN and the Ferrari Driver Academy for giving me the opportunity to get another taste of Formula 1 air one and a half years after our common test drive in Bahrain.

“For the next ten days I’m going to prepare myself well, so that I can do the best possible job for the team and gain some valuable data for the weekend.”

Schumacher will be joined in FP1 by fellow Ferrari Driver Academy member Callum Ilott who will take part in the session with Haas, while the Scuderia’s third hopeful in line for an F1 drive, Robert Shartzman, will be handed an FP1 outing at the end of season Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

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Furthermore, all three drivers are set to test a 2018 Ferrari SF71-H on Wednesday at Fiorano.

Alfa Romeo team boss Frédéric Vasseur said:

“There is no doubt that Mick is one of the great talents coming through the feeder series’ ranks and his recent results have been showing it,” commented the Frenchman.

“He is obviously quick, but he is also consistent and mature behind the wheel – all hallmarks of a champion in the making.

“He impressed us with his approach and work ethic in those occasions he has been with us last year and we are looking forward to working with him once more at the Nürburgring.”

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Kontoor Brands creates foundation for sustainability

Global lifestyle apparel company, Kontoor Brands, led by labels Wrangler and Lee has announced its first set of global sustainability goals.

Wrangler and Lee have a longstanding commitment to help the impact of the fashion industry on the environment. Kontoor’s global sustainability strategy aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Its goals for the planet are to establish a science-based climate target by 2022, save ten billion litres of water by 2025 and to power 100 percent of its owned and operated facilities with renewable energy by 2025.

For the production of the product, its plan is to source 100 percent sustainable raw materials (forest-derived and animal-derived materials by 2023, cotton by 2025 and synthetics by 2030), and use 100 percent preferred chemistry by 2023.

Scott Baxter, president and CEO of Kontoor Brands, said in a statement: “Denim is known as being tough, durable and long-lasting. But the production process historically has been resource-intensive.

“We’re facing this challenge head-on by scrutinising every aspect of the denim lifecycle and investing as needed to develop more sustainable processes. With a little over one year behind us as a publicly traded company, we are proud of our initial steps in a long-term commitment to maximize value and innovate for a healthier future.”

Photo credit: Kontoor Brands

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