U.S. Politics

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Morning Read: CNN Interviews Syrian Refugee Family in Rutland

Posted By on Thu, Jan 26, 2017 at 8:58 AM

CNN on Wednesday night aired an interview with one of the two Syrian refugee families that have arrived in Rutland. The segment aired just hours after reports surfaced that President Donald Trump plans to stop refugees from Syria from entering the U.S. via an executive order.

Hazar Mansour, a French teacher, said on the program "Anderson Cooper 360°" that she, her husband and their two small children are happy to be in Vermont. They fled Damascus during a civil war in Syria that, according to the United Nations, has killed more than 400,000 people. They made it to Turkey and then went through two years of background checks before arriving in Rutland two days before Trump's inauguration, Mansour said.

"We were worried about ourselves, worried about our children," Mansour said. "We want to live in peace. It's better than living in the war situation we were in."
"I like Vermont and the people of Vermont," said her husband, Hassam Alhallak, an accountant.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Louras: Trump Plan Would Be ‘End of Refugee Resettlement for Rutland’

Posted By on Wed, Jan 25, 2017 at 5:14 PM

Rutland Mayor Chris Louras - CALEB KENNA
  • caleb kenna
  • Rutland Mayor Chris Louras
President Donald Trump’s reported plan to stop admitting Syrians to the United States would prevent more refugees from moving to Rutland and keep the city from becoming a resettlement hub, Mayor Christopher Louras told Seven Days.

Last week, two Syrian families arrived in Rutland from a Jordanian refugee camp, after months of heated debate in the city. They were to be the first of an expected 25 families.

But Louras, who has staked his mayoral legacy on his plan to make Rutland a refugee resettlement hub, said the plan appears to be dead after multiple media outlets reported that Trump plans to sign an executive order to stop accepting refugees from Syria. The Associated Press reported that he further intends to temporarily suspend immigration from several other predominantly-Muslim countries.

“I think that these first two families are the only two families,” Louras said. Barring some unexpected development, he continued, “I’d say it’s the end of refugee resettlement for Rutland. While not a shock, it certainly is just as much a kick in the gut as if it had been a surprise.”

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Monday, January 23, 2017

Walters: VT GOPers Seek to Amend US Constitution

Posted By on Mon, Jan 23, 2017 at 7:59 AM

The Convention of States website - SCREENSHOT
  • Screenshot
  • The Convention of States website
It was little noticed at the time, but last September a nationwide gathering of conservatives took a symbolic step toward remaking the U.S. Constitution. Three Vermont lawmakers participated: Rep. Bob Helm (R-Fair Haven), Rep. Lynn Batchelor (R-Derby Line) and Rep. Vicki Strong (R-Irasburg).

“It was a learning experience for everyone,” Batchelor says. “We had a wonderful, wonderful, eye-opening experience.”

The event was called the Convention of States, and it was meant to be a model of what’s called an Article V Convention. There are two ways to amend the Constitution: the first begins with Congress adopting an amendment. But under the Constitution’s Article V, the states may also initiate a convention. This has never happened in American history and legal scholars disagree over some key aspects of the process.

The COS took place in Williamsburg, Virginia. It was organized by a group called Citizens for Self-Governance — which, according to the left-leaning Center for Media and Democracy, has ties to the Tea Party movement, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the conservative mega-donors Charles and David Koch.

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Saturday, January 21, 2017

‘Viva the Vulva!’ Vermont Women March on Washington, D.C.

Posted By on Sat, Jan 21, 2017 at 5:26 PM

Vermonters gathered on the steps of the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill prior to the rally and march. - COURTESY OF BOB PIERNO
  • Courtesy of Bob Pierno
  • Vermonters gathered on the steps of the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill prior to the rally and march.
Some of the estimated 3,000 Vermont women marching in Washington on Saturday said they had journeyed 500 miles or more with the aim of transforming their anger and despair into affirmation and hope.

“The election result was so negative,” lamented Nina Brundage, an 18-year-old student from Waterbury. “But now there’s a positive movement coming out of it.”

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Scenes From the Women’s March on Montpelier

Posted By and on Sat, Jan 21, 2017 at 1:44 PM

The Statehouse lawn, covered with people - JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • The Statehouse lawn, covered with people
Thousands of people attended the Women’s March in Montpelier Saturday afternoon in a jubilant celebration outside the Statehouse.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) made an appearance and addressed the crowd to thunderous applause.

“Too many women have fought for too many years for equal pay for equal work; we are not going back,” he told those assembled.

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Friday, January 20, 2017

Vermonters Join Inaugural Protests in Washington, D.C.

Posted By on Fri, Jan 20, 2017 at 5:17 PM

Demonstrators march on the street near a security checkpoint inaugural entrance. - AP PHOTO/JOSE LUIS MAGANA
  • AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana
  • Demonstrators march on the street near a security checkpoint inaugural entrance.
Inauguration Day has proven chaotic in parts of downtown Washington, D.C., with masked anti-Trump demonstrators clashing with police and smashing windows as flash grenades explode at intersections and military choppers hover above the nation’s capital.

Some Vermonters joined in street-level nonviolent resistance to the Republican regime, which got off to a disorganized start. At least three marches of 2,000 or so protesters meandered separately along avenues devoid of cars and lined with soldiers in combat fatigues and police officers wearing black gas masks.

Even the peaceful protests have had a bitter tone. A frequent chant was heard of “No KKK! No Fascist USA! No Trump!” Placards bobbing above crowds of marchers bore messages such as “Dump the Racist Rapist,” “Not Mein Fuhrer,” “Trump: You Can Kiss My Ass But Not Grab My Pussy” and, incongruously, “Seek the Living Jesus.”

The day’s most joyous moments were supplied by a Bread and Puppet contingent featuring a bouncy brass band, women with painted faces dancing on stilts, and whooping banner wavers who periodically fell writhing in the street. A slogan shouted by this group echoed in contrast to other marches’ militant choruses. “We’re all in the same boat,” the Bread and Puppet celebrants sang. “Keep the boat afloat!”

A group of 10 workers from City Market/Onion River Co-op in Burlington were gathered near the corner of K and 13th streets, half a dozen blocks from the inaugural parade route. They wore black T-shirts emblazoned with their union’s name — UE Local 203.

Shawn Corey, one of the co-op grocery store’s workers, said he had driven overnight from Burlington to Washington, D.C., “because this election was disastrous, and when I think something is wrong, I do something about it.”

Jillian Phayer, another City Market employee, added that she had come to protest Donald Trump’s inauguration for a variety of reasons. Defense of women’s rights is one, Phayer said, “but I’m primarily worried about climate change.” Pointing toward a group of protesters hemmed in by police 50 yards away, Phayer declared, “None of what we’re here for will mean anything if we don’t have a livable planet.”

The day’s anti-Trump actions seemed “a bit disorganized,” Phayer acknowleged. “It’s inevitable,” she added. “There are a lot of angry and frustrated people here today. It’s an unpredictable situation, and that can be toxic.”

Protesters took to the streets in Washington, D.C. on Friday. - KEVIN J. KELLEY
  • Kevin J. Kelley
  • Protesters took to the streets in Washington, D.C. on Friday.

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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Shumlin to Head to Harvard as Visiting Fellow

Posted By on Thu, Jan 19, 2017 at 12:56 PM

Then-governor Peter Shumlin in the Statehouse - FILE: JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • File: Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • Then-governor Peter Shumlin in the Statehouse
Former governor Peter Shumlin has a new gig — enticing Harvard undergrads to get involved in politics.

The Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics has selected Vermont’s recently-departed gov as one of its visiting fellows for Spring 2017. Shumlin will mingle with students, professors and researchers, imparting political wisdom based on his experience in the governor’s office, and in the state Senate and House before that.

The institute was established in 1966 with the purpose of “inspiring undergraduates to lead lives of purpose by committing themselves to the practice of politics and governing, and to public service and the countless opportunities to serve at home and around the world.”

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Vermont Congressional Delegation to Attend Trump Inauguration

Posted By on Tue, Jan 17, 2017 at 2:43 PM

Vermont’s congressional delegation and their spouses - MATTHEW THORSEN
  • Matthew Thorsen
  • Vermont’s congressional delegation and their spouses
Updated at 5:11 p.m.

Vermont’s congressional delegation will attend president-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration on Friday, despite a boycott movement gaining momentum among their colleagues.

Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), as well as Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vt.), won’t be joining the protest, spokespeople for all three confirmed.

In a statement issued Tuesday, Welch said he’s heard from a number of Vermonters asking him to take part in the boycott.

“However, I believe the inaugural ceremony is about more than any individual. It is about the peaceful transition of power enshrined in our Constitution,” he said. “I believe it is my job to participate in, and be a witness to, this touchstone of our democracy and powerful symbol to the world. So, while I respect the decision of some of my colleagues to stay home, I will attend, but not celebrate, Friday’s ceremony.”

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Friday, January 13, 2017

Norwich University Band to Perform at Trump’s Inauguration

Posted By on Fri, Jan 13, 2017 at 2:27 PM

The Norwich band - FILE
  • File
  • The Norwich band
Updated at 2:50 p.m.

The Norwich University Regimental Band and Drill Team will perform at president-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration on Friday, January 20, in Washington, D.C.

The university, home to the oldest collegiate band in the country, has been invited to perform at seven other inaugurations, most recently President Barack Obama’s in 2013.

“The Norwich University Regimental Band and Drill Team is proud to represent the university and the State of Vermont,” assistant commandant and director of bands Todd P. Edwards said in a statement announcing the news.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Morning Read: Post Walks Back Burlington Electric Hacking Story

Posted By on Tue, Jan 3, 2017 at 9:15 AM

The Washington Post on Monday night continued to walk back a story it published Friday alleging that Russian hackers had “penetrated” the U.S. electric grid through a Vermont utility, later identified as the Burlington Electric Department.

In an editor’s note appended to the story a day after publication, the Post retracted its most explosive assertion, which had been sourced to anonymous federal officials:

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that Russian hackers had penetrated the U.S. electric grid. Authorities say there is no indication of that so far. The computer at Burlington Electric that was hacked was not attached to the grid.
The original story continued to assert that malware discovered on a BED laptop last Friday was “associated with the Russian hacking operation dubbed Grizzly Steppe by the Obama administration.” But in a follow-up story published Monday night, the Post called into question even that suggestion.

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