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Author: ProPublic

The Mueller Report: Six tips to remember while waiting for what may or may not be coming

By nature, journalists constantly ask questions. When there are no realtime answers, the news media turns to speculation. For political issues that is a cottage industry. But until special counsel Robert Mueller’s office releases a final report on his investigation, the public and pundits alike must wait. Here are a few things to keep in mind until that content is known. 1. Don’t Predict. We do not know what Mueller will report, when he will report it, or even whether we will be able to read it. That is because Congress changed the law after special prosecutor Kenneth Starr’s...

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Federal proposals under consideration to regulate Facebook

For years, Congress and federal regulators have allowed the world’s largest social network to police itself — with disastrous results. Here are four promising reforms under discussion in Washington. A recent gathering in a Washington DC ballroom for an annual “tech prom,” hundreds of tech industry lobbyists and policy makers applauded politely as announcers read out the names of the event’s sponsors. But the room fell silent when “Facebook” was proclaimed — and the silence was punctuated by scattered boos and groans. These days, it seems the only bipartisan agreement in Washington is to hate Facebook. Democrats blame the...

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Red Cross helped leader get new job after forcing him out over sexual harassment

A senior Red Cross official harassed a subordinate and was accused of raping another. The charity’s now-general counsel David Meltzer praised him on his way out for “leadership” and “dedication.” When Save the Children hired Gerald Anderson in 2013, the global charity believed it was hiring a veteran humanitarian executive with a sterling resume. Anderson had spent more than 15 years working around the world for the American Red Cross, rising through the ranks to lead the group’s massive relief effort after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. After that, the Red Cross made him head of its half-billion-dollar response...

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A question of citizenship could sabotage 2020 census

The Justice Department is pushing for a question on citizenship to be added to the 2020 census, a move that observers say could depress participation by immigrants who fear that the government could use the information against them. That could have potentially large ripple effects for everything the once-a-decade census determines — from how congressional seats are distributed around the country to where hundreds of billions of federal dollars are spent. The DOJ made the request in a previously unreported letter, dated December 12, from DOJ official Arthur Gary to the top official at the Census Bureau, which is...

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The Trump Era of Dark Deregulation

At an event on December 14 to tout his administration’s efforts to rid the federal government of what he contends is burdensome red tape, President Donald Trump used oversized gold scissors to cut a piece of red ribbon strung between two stacks of paper. In short order, he promised, his administration would excise some 165,000 of the more than 185,000 pages in the Code of Federal Regulations. That’s no easy task. Changing federal regulatory laws can mean a congressional slog. And for federal agencies to rescind rules, they must engage in a time-consuming process that opens them to public...

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Tax loopholes for Billionaires survive despite Trump campaign promise

The tax treatment of so-called carried interest would not change in the overhaul proposed by House Republicans, retaining a big benefit for private-equity and hedge-fund titans. From early in the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump swore he’d do away with the so-called carried-interest loophole, the notorious tax break that allows highly compensated private-equity managers, real estate investors and venture capitalists to be taxed at a much lower rate than other professionals. “They’re paying nothing, and it’s ridiculous,” Trump said in August 2016. “These are guys that shift paper around and they get lucky.” They were, he concluded, “getting away...

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