The Daily Moth 12-13-17

December 14, 2017

 

 

Doug Jones Wins Special Election in Alabama; Texts by FBI Investigator Peter Strzok Revealed; FCC To Vote on Net Neutrality Repeal Tomorrow; Republican Lawmakers Find Unity on Tax Bill; Minnesota Governor Announces Lt. Governor Tina Smith As Replacement for Al Franken; Deaf Woman Will Appear on “Xploration Outer Space” This Saturday

 

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Hello, welcome to the Daily Moth! It is Wednesday, December 13.

 

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Democrat Doug Jones won last night’s special election in Alabama, defeating Republican Roy Moore by more than one percent — 49.9% to 48.3%. It was a very close race that had Roy Moore leading in the first hours when poll results were released, but at the last hour, voting results tipped it in favor of Doug Jones. 

 

AP (Associated Press) declared Doug as the winner at 10:23 pm EST. Shortly after that, various news media also said Doug won. 

 

Doug then gave his victory speech to a cheering crowd. He said he believed the people of Alabama have more in common than to divide us, that they have shown the country how they can be unified. 

 

He applauded his team’s volunteers who knocked on 300,000 doors and made 1.2 million phone calls across the state. He thanked the African-American community, his friends in the Latino community, and said “Happy Hanukkah” to all of his Jewish friends. 

 

He said his campaign was about dignity and respect, about the rule of law, and making sure everybody in Alabama, regardless of their zip code, would get a fair shake in life. 

 

He closed his speech by quoting Martin Luther King saying, “the moral arc of the universe is long but it bends towards justice” — saying that voters bent that aim right through the heart of Alabama. 

 

Later that night, Roy Moore gave a speech with many expecting him to concede (accept defeat) — but he didn’t. He said the vote is not over, that they will follow the rules about a possible recount. He said God is always in control. 

 

Then Roy said he has been put in an unfavorable and unfaithful light, been put in a hole. He quoted a Bible scripture about struggle and waiting on the Lord to “save” him. He said we need to wait on God and let this process play out. He thanked his supporters and said they should go home because it would take some time. 

 

So far, he has not yet conceded, and there is no news of a “recount.” The Alabama Sec. of State Merrill said although the results are not yet certified, it is more likely that Doug Jones is the winner. Roy might demand a recount, though. 

 

It was somewhat a shocking win, because Alabama is a very Republican state and there has not been a Democrat Senator elected there in 25 years. But it was somewhat not surprising, because Roy Moore was bombarded by serious accusations of having sexual or romantic relationships with minors 40 years ago. 

 

There was a very strong voter turnout by black voters, who made up 29% of the total number of voters. 96% of them voted for Doug Jones. White voters made up 66% of the total, and 30% of them voted for Doug. There were many on Twitter who said black women made the difference, as they made up 17% of the electorate, with 98% of them supporting Doug Jones. Many voters said they picked Doug Jones to protect themselves. 

 

There were many write-in votes, which is when a voter decides not to support either Doug Jones or Roy Moore — and “writes in” another candidate. There were 22,780 write-in candidate, which is a significant number since Roy was behind by around 21,000 votes. It is likely those write in voters were Republicans who didn’t want to support Roy Moore — following the advice of Alabama Sen. Shelby ( R ) who suggested this idea. 

 

President Trump had been very involved in this race, tweeting often in support of Roy Moore, and giving a speech last week strongly endorsing him. Former White House strategist Steve Bannon was even more involved with Roy Moore, giving several speeches with him in Alabama. But it was not enough, as voters picked the Democrat. 

 

Now the U.S. Senate will be even more balanced, with 49 in the Democratic caucus and 51 Republicans. This is “bad news” for the Trump administration, as they will only be able to “lose” one voter if they want to pass legislation. (The VP Pence can break ties if it is a 50-50 vote, but if just two Republican Senators don’t agree with a bill, it is impossible to pass). 

Doug Jones will not immediately become a Senator though — as the vote tallies will have to be certified within the next few weeks before he takes the oath and start serving. He will 

 

Who is Doug Jones? He is 63, a former federal prosecutor, and is known as the one who successfully prosecuted two Ku Klux Klansmen who bombed a church in Birmingham in 1963 that killed four little girls, who were black. Both were imprisoned for life, one is still alive in prison and the other died in prison. 

 

He is viewed as a moderate Democrat and he has said in the past he wants bipartisan solutions to major issues such as healthcare and economy. 

 

Doug will be Alabama’s senator, replacing Jeff Sessions, who left his seat to become Trump’s Attorney General. Doug will serve the remainder of Sessions’ term, which continues up to the 2020 elections, in which he will have to run again for re-election. 

 

Many believe he will lose at that time if there is a strong Republican candidate without a scandal, as Alabama is still a very Republican state. Until then, a Democrat will represent the state along with the other senator, Republican Richard Shelby. 

 

Doug Jones Victory Speech: http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/12/politics/speech-doug-jones/index.html

 

Roy Moore’s “Unconcession Speech”: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/13/us/politics/roy-moore-speech-transcript.html?_r=0

 

https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/2017-elections/alabama-s-women-wrote-verdict-roy-moore-n829186

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2017/politics/alabama-exit-polls/?utm_term=.a8a1d4ecb64b

 

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Recently news broke that Special Counsel Robert Mueller removed a FBI investigator, Peter Strzok, from his team last summer, possibly because of his text messages to a FBI lawyer, Lisa Page, that showed his anti-Trump and pro-Hillary views. 

 

Now those text messages (375 of them) has been revealed after their bosses discovered their texts. 

 

The texts go back to 2015 and shows Strzok’s thoughts on Trump. I will share some of them. 

 

— One text said “Hillary should win 100,000,000 to 0, that Trump can not be president because of his comments” 

 

— On election day, when it was clear that Trump was going to win, Strzok said it was “f—— terrifying.” 

 

— One week after the election, Strzok texted that he didn’t like the idea of Jeff Sessions being Attorney General. 

 

— Both Strzok and Page texted opposition against Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, hoping he would fail. They also criticized the Republican party. 

 

— Prior to the election, both texted and agreed that Trump was an idiot, awful, and a loathsome human. 

 

— Both texted negative statements about Bernie Sanders, with Page saying she wanted to key a car with a Bernie bumper sticker, and Strzok saying Bernie was an idiot like Trump. 

 

Even though Strzok was removed during the summer, well before the most recent indictments against Manafort, Papadopoulos, and Flynn, those texts has increased criticism of Mueller’s team, with many accusing them of being biased against Trump. 

 

More than half of the 16 lawyers on the team have contributed to Democrats in the past. 

 

But Mueller himself used to be a registered Republican and was appointed as FBI Director by George W Bush in 2001 and remained in that position through the Obama administration, ending in 2013. 

 

In separate but related news, CNN reported that Strzok was the No. 2 investigator responsible for Hillary Clinton’s e-mail investigation and that he changed the words of the final report saying HIllary’s actions (using a private server) from “grossly negligent” to “extremely careless.” This is important because “gross negligent” actions can be considered criminal, but careless wasn’t. 

 

CNN also said Strzok was the one who officially “opened” the Russian investigation in 2016. 

 

All this was “ammo” for Republicans and those on Trump’s side who wanted to discredit the Mueller investigation. 

 

Today the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein sat for a House Judiciary Committee hearing. He said the Mueller team did the proper thing to remove Strzok and that he was confident Mueller didn’t allow there to be bias on the team. 

 

He was asked if there was any good reason to fire Mueller, and Rod said no. 

 

http://heavy.com/news/2017/12/peter-strzok-texts-lisa-page-emails-read-full-trump/

 

http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/04/politics/peter-strzok-james-comey/index.html

 

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Tomorrow is when the FCC Federal Communication Commission is scheduled to vote on repealing net neutrality rules, which could change consumers’ access to the internet by allowing internet service providers to slow down or speed up websites, have more control over internet access. The Daily Moth has released two previous videos that discusses this and it’s potential impact on the Deaf community. 

 

Today Senate Democrats, led by Sen. Murray (D-Washington) and signed by over 20 other Senators, sent a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to urge him to delay the vote because it could hurt K-12 and higher education. 

 

The Senators say the changes could cause the internet to become tiered and compartmentalized, more expensive, and hurt rural or low-income school districts who only have internet access at schools and depend on it for education. 

 

They also said there are many college classes that depend on online research and education that uses video instruction - and that they could be blocked or be pushed aside due to a competitor who “pays” more to the internet service provider. 

 

Most of the news reports and concerns have been very negative towards repealing net neutrality. Some raised concerns that the FCC was not acting to remove millions of comments that were labeled as “fake” -- comments that were in support of Net Neutrality. Some claimed the FCC was not cooperative in lawsuits that requested more information on their actions. 

 

But today a former FCC Chairman and current lobbyist for the cable/telecom industry, Ryan McBride, said people should calm down. He said internet service providers will not want to degrade the internet or block sites because it would cause them to lose profits due to public backlash. He said removing net neutrality rules would allow internet service providers to be free to provide even better internet because they would have burdensome regulations removed. 

 

Let’s look at another former FCC Chairman — Tom Wheeler— who retired in January and the one who approved the net neutrality rules — recently criticized Pai, saying he is selling out consumers and business owners to benefit major Internet service providers.” 

 

Tom said the FCC is now bending to the wishes of those they were supposed to oversee, that the big four internet providers — ATT, Verizon, Charter, and Comcast, will be able to make their own rules. 

 

Sen. Ed Markey (D, Mass.) said he doesn’t expect the FCC to change their minds — that they will move forward with repealing net neutrality rules. He said the next battle would be in court. 

 

https://www.usnews.com/news/education-news/articles/2017-12-13/senate-democrats-urge-fcc-chairman-ajit-pai-to-delay-net-neutrality-vote

 

https://www.recode.net/2017/12/13/16768700/net-neutrality-vote-fcc-commissioner-ajit-pai-michael-powell-light-touch-regulation

 

https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2017/12/tom-wheeler-slams-ajit-pais-plan-to-kill-net-neutrality-rules/

 

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It appears Republican lawmakers in both the House and Senate have agreed on the tax bill — that they have successfully reconciled the bill on key differences between the House and Senate version. 

 

They plan to send this bill to Trump’s desk next week for him to sign it into law, which would meet the Christmas deadline. 

 

Here’s what is being reported on the bill: 

 

— The top individual tax rate is cut to 37%, lower than the current top rate of 39.6% 

— The corporate tax rate is 21%, higher than what Republicans originally wanted at 20%

— The SALT (State and Local Taxes) Exemption will be up to $10,000 for property and income

— The estate (death) tax exemption would be doubled, not repealed (it is currently taxed if the property is at least $5.6 million — it means now only properties above $11 million will be taxed) 

 

Although Republicans have already wanted to pass this bill before Christmas, they are now in greater urgency because they will lose a GOP Senator, Alabama Republican Luther Strange, now that he’s set to be replaced by Democrat Doug Jones. Their tax bill passed on razor thin margins in the Senate (51-49) and they can’t afford to risk delaying this and allowing Democrats to block it. 

 

President Trump said they are very close to a historical legislative victory that will be good for businesses and working families. 

 

https://www.axios.com/gop-reaches-deal-on-tax-overhaul-plan-2517190065.html

 

https://www.wsj.com/articles/house-senate-republicans-reach-deal-on-final-tax-bill-1513185360

 

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Today Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton (D) announced the replacement for Sen. Al Franken (D), who will resign due to accusations of sexual misconduct. 

 

It is Minnesota Lieutenant Gov. Tina Smith. She is viewed as experienced in policy and getting people to work together, being credited with pushing the state legislature to approve the new Minnesota Vikings stadium. Before that position, she was the VP of Planned Parenthood in Minnesota, worked in the marketing department at General Mills, 

 

Franken supported this choice, saying he looks forward to working with her on the transition. 

 

Tina Smith will be the Senator up until November, and if she wants to continue in that position, she will have to win a special election to keep her seat and win a full term. 

 

https://www.mprnews.org/story/2017/12/12/lt-gov-tina-smith-to-fill-frankens-senate-seat

 

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Remember when I announced in July that a Deaf woman, Julia Velasquez, was selected in a contest to appear on a future episode of TV show Exploration Outer Space where she will go to Hawaii’s Hi-Seas area, which is designed to simulate what Mars is like — to train like a Mars astronaut?

 

The filming has already taken place and the show will be aired this Saturday morning at 8:30 am EST (9:30 am CST) for most cities, although it has already been aired in some cities. It will be on Fox, but also available on Amazon, Hulu, Roku, and Yahoo. There is a link where you can check where it will show in your local area, it’s in the transcript. 

 

Here is a trailer of the upcoming show — it doesn’t show Julia, but you’ll see other contestants and an idea of the research area. 

 

[Video clip] 

 

Nice, that looks like a lot of fun. An article on Xploration said there was one part where Julia suited up as an astronaut, outside, and the radio headsets that the other crew was using stopped working — so they had to use ASL to communicate and it helped them to be able to complete their mission -- showing that ASL was important. Awesome. 

 

After watching the show on Saturday morning, I’ll interview and ask her questions about her experience. 

 

 

Check your local TV listing: https://www.rotfeldproductions.com/tv-schedule/

 

Article about Julia Being Selected: http://www.xplorationstation.com/stories/Deaf-Winner-of-StudentAstronaut-Contest-Featured-on-Xploration-Outer-Space

 

Julia’s Contest Video: http://bit.ly/2ufmOlR

 

Moth Report in July: facebook.com/TheDailyMoth/videos/722198214648748/

 

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That is all for today. See you tomorrow and stay with the light! 

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