Today's news -- February 6. 2017



DeVos opposition snowballs into avalanche *

Adversaries of Betsy DeVos are mounting a furious last-minute bid to sink her nomination for Education secretary, with tactics that include a “tie-breaker telethon” in Alaska, a flood of emails to U.S. senators and celebrity appeals to millions of Twitter followers. Teachers unions, civil rights advocates and a ragtag assemblage of other opponents are bombarding congressional offices with tens of thousands of phone calls and more than 1 million emails -- a massive but almost certainly doomed effort to vanquish one of President Donald Trump’s most controversial Cabinet picks.  Sen. Brian Schatz, a Hawaii Democrat, said on Twitter that the last three days had “been the busiest in Capitol switchboard history” by “almost double.” He urged opponents of DeVos to “keep it up.” The campaign kicked into high gear this week after two Republican senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, announced their opposition, leaving the charter schools advocate hanging by a 50-50 thread. Just one more “no” vote and DeVos is done — a prospect that seems tantalizingly close for Democrats but that GOP leaders say they’re confident won’t happen. Author Stephen King, a Maine resident, tweeted to his 2.8 million followers: “Thanks to Susan Collins for saying ‘No’ on Betsy DeVos. Notice that it's possible to be a good Republican and still say no to Donald Trump.” A final vote is expected Tuesday, and as it stands, Vice President Mike Pence is expected to be summoned to the Capitol to push DeVos over the top. DeVos cleared a key procedural hurdle Friday morning. But critics are going into overdrive, determined to try to turn one more Republican before Tuesday’s vote. George Takei, the activist and former “Star Trek” star, urged his 2.1 million followers to double down on their efforts. “With two GOP Senators defecting, Betsy DeVos could be denied,” he tweeted. “We need one more with courage.” Nebraska Republican Deb Fischer, whose mother was a public school teacher, is among those who have been caught in the crossfire. Fischer became a target after DeVos’ opponents assumed she was undecided. But Fischer, a DeVos supporter, said she was merely sticking to her longtime practice of keeping silent until she voted.  She now plans to change that policy. “There was such a to-do over this that, yes, I had to put out my statement before I voted,” Fischer said, adding that phone lines to her office were entirely tied up. Nevada Republican, Sen. Dean Heller, who also came out in support of DeVos, said on Twitter that his staff was struggling to keep up with all the calls. Teachers unions, who have long warred with DeVos over her support of charter school expansion and using taxpayer money for vouchers, among other things, are continuing to mobilize hundreds of thousands of their members across the country to call lawmakers. The country’s largest union, the National Education Association, says it has organized more than 80,000 phone calls and more than 1.1 million emails in the past four weeks. But the opposition to DeVos mushroomed into something bigger after clips from her bumpy confirmation hearing exploded across social media, reinforcing questions about her qualifications for the job and turning the nominee into a punchline on late night television. “Betsy DeVos teaches us that if you're born rich, never go to public schools, and hate public schools, someday you can run public schools,” tweeted comedian Mike Birbiglia. Billionaire philanthropist and education reformer Eli Broad, a Democrat who has donated to both parties and pushed for charter school expansion, penned a letter this week urging the Senate to reject DeVos. American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, who is usually on the opposite side from Broad, shares his position on DeVos. Education secretary nominees are usually given great deference by both parties, she said. But “DeVos breaks the mold.”


Why I won’t vote for DeVos


Senators: DeVos is the wrong choice


Pennsylvania senator still backs DeVos -- despite avalanche of calls


Pence plans to use tie-breaking vote to confirm DeVos for education post


Another billionaire weighs in against DeVos


Gillum says he stands with Florida teachers in opposing DeVos (FEA mentioned)


Pro-DeVos ads say “liberal” critics are full of “rage and hate”


DeVos confirmation hearings spark Title IX concerns


SNL takes a jab at DeVos during a mock Sean Spicer news conference


The expensive hoax of vouchers


Few Duval Teachers of the Year won controversial bonuses (FEA mentioned)


More teachers failing state-mandated Florida Teacher Certification Exam


Hispanics now largest demographic group in Palm Beach schools


Homeless students need more support from state and community


Santa Rosa school district, teachers at odds over contract


Challenge of Florida's third-grade retention law heads back to court


How school grades led to the elimination of recess


Computer coding as a foreign language? Florida lawmakers again push the idea


Lawmakers file bill to protect "religious expression" in state schools


Scott's budget, charter school funding and more


Arizona charter operator makes millions by real estate deals with taxpayer money


Fund UF push to hire faculty


FGCU to pick presidential finalists from pool including politicians, administrators


Find money for student mental health services


Can Florida cities insist on higher wages for workers?


Bilirakis gets earful at “listening session” to improve Obamacare — not repeal it


Another assault on public access


Roll back Florida's felon-voting ban


Invest in access to civil justice


Florida legislators take aim at taxpayers' aid to lure and retain companies


Scott confident agencies will survive session


Contrasting visions portend conflict for Florida leaders


Young says angry tone doesn't help; opposes killing Enterprise Florida, Visit Florida


Corcoran threatens to sue Visit Tampa Bay over financial records


Give state workers pay raises


Judge halts Trump’s immigration order nationwide


Appeals court rejects request to immediately restore travel ban


Trump lashes out a federal judge over ruling on travel ban


“So-called” judge criticized by Trump is known as a mainstream Republican


“An epic confrontation”: Has travel ban put White House and courts at odds?


Pence defends Trump’s criticism of judge who blocked travel ban


McConnell rebukes Trump's judge attack


Democrats raise issues of independent courts as Trump lashes out


Trump clashes early with courts, portending years of legal battles


Inside the White House-Cabinet battle over Trump’s immigration order


Where Trump’s travel ban stands


Lifting of travel ban sets off rush to reach U.S.


Refugees are already vigorously vetted. I know because I vetted them.


Trump is driving some of the world's brightest foreign students out of America


FSU immigration advocate leads efforts to return stranded Iranian student


Immigrants want to come to America and not shoot anyone


Government reveals more than 100,000 visas revoked due to travel ban


Trump is targeting up to 8 million people for deportation


Under crackdown, 1,000-plus “sanctuary” inmates could be detained in Miami-Dade


Miami-Dade turned over 11 people to immigration authorities under new policy


Once again, the ACLU takes its place on the front lines of a liberal resistance


Anti-Trump protests continue across U.S.


Anti-Trump protests aplenty in South Florida on Saturday


Thousands of FSU students protest Trump's executive order


Buckhorn to Tampa Muslims: “We will stand with you forever”


Executive order eliminating immigrant benefits would shock, distress South Florida


How protesters plan to get under Trump’s skin wherever he goes


Why activism is for everyone


Trump protesters borrow from tea party to put pressure on lawmakers


Women: Let's strike. Then Trump will see our power


GOP silence as mosques burn and bleed


People of all faiths protest at mosques over Trump’s immigration order


Broad challenge to Trump order may center on Cleveland doctor


Immigration order complicates U.S. businesses’ plans in the Mideast


Former top diplomats, tech giants blast immigration order as court showdown looms


Kerry and Albright ask courts to keep blocking Trump’s travel ban


White House pulls back from bid to reopen CIA “black site” prisons


Conway calls her critics “haters” after Bowling Green fiasco


Bowling Green massacre? Conway has taken alt facts up a notch


Is technology smart enough to fix the fake news frenzy?


I was on the National Security Council. Bannon doesn’t belong there.


Democrats aim to make Bannon a scarier Rove


How Stephen Miller's rise explains the Trump White House


Governor: White House interested in Wisconsin union law


Right to work is wrong for your family -- whether you are union or not


Trump says health law replacement may not be ready until next year


The folly of defunding Planned Parenthood


As White House backs down on voter fraud, debate far from over


Court finds unconstitutional racial gerrymandering in Alabama legislative districts


Trump has begun a frontal assault on financial reform


After Trump moves to undo financial regulations, Sanders calls him “a fraud”


If you want to kill the solid jobs recovery, repeal Dodd-Frank


A rules change from Trump means more money for Wall Street


Trump rolls back Obama rule that protected retirees from getting bilked by advisers


Springtime for scammers


Congress has rolled back two Obama-era rules that curbed pollution and corruption


GOP hurries to slash oil and gas rules, ending industries’ eight-year wait


Trump’s FCC quickly targets net neutrality rules


How fast-food chain led by labor nominee stiffed workers repeatedly


Labor secretary nominee poor choice to protect workers


Trump’s FDA pick could undo decades of drug safeguards


Pruitt is seen cutting the EPA with a scalpel, not a cleaver


What would happen to Florida if the EPA really did go away?


Obliterating EPA would create chaos, experts say


Trump's pick for Army secretary drops out


Trump missing top lieutenants across federal government


Trump repeats respect for “killer” Putin


Rubio criticizes Trump's latest defense of Putin


U.S. imposes new sanctions on Iran over missile test


Spicer falsely accuses Iran of attacking U.S. Navy vessel


What’s wrong with Flynn’s bluster on Iran? Plenty


Videos U.S. seized in Yemen raid appear to show nothing new


How the Supreme Court affects your classroom and your students (by Lily Eskelsen García)


Will the Supreme Court stand up to Trump?


Gorsuch must condemn Trump’s attack on a judge


Gorsuch to barnstorm the Senate this week


In fall of Gorsuch’s mother, a painful lesson in politicking


Obama and Gorsuch rubbed shoulders at Harvard, but their paths split


Can the Democrats be as stubborn as McConnell?


AME bishops sound a battle cry against the Trump administration


Trump’s lies are not the problem. It’s the millions who swallow them who matter


The deep denialism of Trump


In Trumpistan, things fall apart


Trust records show Trump is still closely tied to his empire


Early signs suggest Trump’s actions are taking a toll on Trump brand


Eric Trump’s business trip to Uruguay cost taxpayers $97,830 in hotel bills


“The Senate is coming apart”


Obama expanded our appreciation of African-American history


A lesson in black history


The hidden history of NASA’s black female scientists


The history the slaveholders wanted us to forget


The Democrats face up to their Trump problem


Warren: Democrats need to “grow a backbone”


How think tanks became engines of royal propaganda


What will Trump administration mean for NASA and space?


In age of Trump, scientists show signs of a political pulse





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