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Monday, February 27, 2017

After White House Visit, Scott Describes Trump as Cordial

Posted By on Mon, Feb 27, 2017 at 6:19 PM

Gov. Phil Scott and his wife, Diana, at the White House - COURTESY OF THE GOVERNOR'S OFFICE
  • Courtesy of the governor's office
  • Gov. Phil Scott and his wife, Diana, at the White House
When Gov. Phil Scott went to the White House for dinner Sunday night, there was no snub from the Donald. There was no overt sneer over the fact that Vermont’s Republican governor had once called the man who went on to become president “offensive.”

“He was cordial to everyone,” Scott said of President Donald Trump, who hosted the nation’s governors at a state dinner.

Like the other governors and their spouses, Scott and his wife, Diana, were introduced to the president and first lady Melania Trump. She was making a rare White House appearance for the event.

“You had your picture taken and then you were shuffled off to another room,” Scott said Monday in a phone interview as he prepared to return to Vermont from a four-day National Governors Association meeting that included two White House events. “I never met him one-on-one.”

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Welch Will Bring an Iraqi Immigrant to Trump Speech

Posted By on Mon, Feb 27, 2017 at 5:35 PM

Rep. Peter Welch, left, with Ahmed Alsaeedi - COURTESY: OFFICE OF REP. PETER WELCH (D-VT.)
  • Courtesy: Office of Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.)
  • Rep. Peter Welch, left, with Ahmed Alsaeedi
Rather than take a family member to President Donald Trump’s first congressional address Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) is bringing Ahmed Alsaeedi of Burlington, an Iraqi man who immigrated to the United States after working for the U.S. as an interpreter during the Iraq War.

A number of Democratic congressmen are bringing immigrants and foreigners as their plus-ones to protest the president’s executive order on immigration.

Trump’s order — stayed by a federal judge — sought to bar refugees and residents of seven Muslim-majority countries, including Iraq, from entering the U.S. Initially, the ban applied to Iraqi interpreters, who sometimes receive what are known as Special Immigrant Visas, but the Trump administration later amended the order to exclude that particular program.

Alsaeedi came to the U.S. with a Special Immigrant Visa.

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Friday, February 17, 2017

Scott 'Resistant' to Using Vermont Guard for Immigration Roundup

Posted By on Fri, Feb 17, 2017 at 2:39 PM

Gov. Phil Scott speaks last week about a bill to defy President Donald Trump’s immigration order as Attorney General T.J. Donovan and others listen. - TERRI HALLENBECK
  • Gov. Phil Scott speaks last week about a bill to defy President Donald Trump’s immigration order as Attorney General T.J. Donovan and others listen.
Following a report that President Donald Trump has considered deploying the National Guard to detain undocumented immigrants, Gov. Phil Scott told reporters Friday that, in Vermont, he would "be resistant to use military force to deport."

The Associated Press reported earlier Friday that a draft proposal from the administration asked governors in 11 states — not including Vermont — to deploy Guard members for this purpose. The Trump administration declined to comment before the story's publication, but White House press secretary Sean Spicer later called the AP report "100 percent not true."

Asked during his weekly press conference how he'd respond if Vermont were added to the list of states, Scott responded with characteristic caution.

"I would seek advice from general counsel as well as the attorney general," he said.

In response to further questioning from reporters, the Republican governor said he would be "resistant" to the proposal. "Well, I don’t want us to become militant," he said, adding, "We need, actually, more citizens in Vermont."

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Walters: Sanders Alums Back Purity Test for Senate Dems

Posted By on Fri, Feb 17, 2017 at 1:34 PM

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaking outside his Burlington home in August 2016. - FILE: PAUL HEINTZ
  • File: Paul Heintz
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders speaking outside his Burlington home in August 2016.
Updated at 3:31 p.m. to reflect additional confirmation votes.

Former staffers of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) presidential campaign have founded a new group aiming to hold Democrats’ feet to the progressive fire.

WeWillReplaceYou.org wants U.S. senators to “do everything [they] can to Resist Trump.” Organizers see Democratic efforts as “not nearly … enough,” and they vow to raise up primary challengers for any who fail to meet their expectations. The group promises that it “won’t accept anything less than full opposition” to President Trump’s administration.

By its own definition of “full opposition,” there is not a single member of the Democratic caucus who comes close to meeting its criteria. Not one. Including Sanders himself.

The group is run by activists from environmental, racial-equality and immigrants’ rights organizations. Two belonged to the Sanders orbit: Claire Sandberg, former digital organizing director for his presidential campaign, and Kenneth Pennington, a former Sanders Senate and campaign staffer — and former digital director for Our Revolution, Sanders’ post-campaign advocacy organization. At least three other organizers are connected to 350.org, the climate-change activist movement founded by Vermont environmentalist Bill McKibben.

“Our message to Democrats is pretty straightforward: Fight Trump or we’ll find someone who will,” Sandberg told NBC News. “Our goal is not [to] primary every single Democratic member of Congress. It’s to push Democrats who are there to do better.”

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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Vermonters Visit Muslim Canadian Family Turned Back at Border

Posted By on Tue, Feb 14, 2017 at 3:31 PM

Fadwa Alaoui, in red, with her husband, Hamid Adlaoui, in their home in Brossard - COURTESY OF ANDY SOLOMON
  • Courtesy of Andy Solomon
  • Fadwa Alaoui, in red, with her husband, Hamid Adlaoui, in their home in Brossard
Richmond neurologist Andy Solomon and his family had participated in marches in Washington, D.C. and Montpelier, called their elected officials, and tried to find as many ways as possible in recent weeks to protest President Donald Trump's administration.

They were contemplating what to do next when Solomon saw a report from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation that left him aghast.

Fadwa Alaoui, a Moroccan-born Canadian citizen who is Muslim, her two children and an adult cousin were turned away at the border last week as they tried to go on a shopping trip to Burlington. Alaoui's parents live in Chicago, and she'd visited the U.S. on several occasions previously. But American border guards inspected her cellphone, quizzed her about Trump and her faith — and then wouldn't allow her in the country after waiting four hours to enter Highgate Springs, she told the CBC.

"He said, 'Do you practice? Which mosque do you go to?" she told the news outlet. "What is the name of the imam? How often do you go to the mosque? What kind of discussions do you hear in the mosque? Does the imam talk to you directly?'"

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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Walters: Sanders' Spandex SmackDown

Posted By on Wed, Feb 8, 2017 at 1:29 PM

Advertisement for Sen. Bernie Sanders' and Sen. Ted Cruz's CNN debate - COURTESY: CNN
  • Courtesy: CNN
  • Advertisement for Sen. Bernie Sanders' and Sen. Ted Cruz's CNN debate
Turned out, "WWE SmackDown" was the perfect lead-in.

"SmackDown," the pro wrestling show, aired Tuesday at 8 p.m. on the USA Network. Then, at 9 p.m. on CNN, came the main event: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in a made-for-TV debate on the future of the Affordable Care Act.

CNN’s promotional material even looked like a fight poster. The two protagonists in grim closeup, their names in stark bold print: “SANDERS vs. CRUZ.” Mano a mano! You can’t miss it!

A pro wrestling match is a gymnastics routine in the guise of mortal combat. A good fight gives the impression of danger while preserving the safety of the combatants. And that’s pretty much what we got between the two senators on Tuesday: experienced, talented masters of their genre, showing off their moves and doing no real damage.

Sanders and Cruz performed well. They’d obviously spent serious time preparing for the encounter. They played their respective roles to the hilt. They hit their marks, made their points and rarely exceeded their time limits. There was the occasional heated exchange — usually, conveniently, just before a commercial break.

It all seemed so … scripted.

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Friday, February 3, 2017

Vermont U.S. Attorney Eric Miller Announces His Resignation

Posted By on Fri, Feb 3, 2017 at 10:51 AM

U.S. Attorney Eric Miller (center) - FILE: MARK DAVIS
  • FIle: Mark Davis
  • U.S. Attorney Eric Miller (center)
Vermont's United States attorney, Eric Miller, has resigned from the post effective February 10, his office announced in a news release Friday morning.

Miller was a holdover from former president Barack Obama's tenure and was likely to be replaced by President Donald Trump. The U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed Miller in 2015 after Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) recommended him for the position.

"Serving as Vermont's United States Attorney has been the highest honor of my career, and I am grateful for the trust placed in me by President Obama, Senator Leahy and the people of Vermont," Miller said in a statement.

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Thursday, February 2, 2017

Walters: Leahy, Sanders Mum Over Court Filibuster

Posted By on Thu, Feb 2, 2017 at 12:41 AM

Sens. Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders - FILE: MATTHEW THORSEN
  • File: Matthew Thorsen
  • Sens. Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders
Even before President Donald Trump nominated U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court on Tuesday, some Democratic senators were already calling for a filibuster. In an interview with Politico, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) said he would oppose any nominee besides U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Merrick Garland, whose nomination to the Supreme Court by then-president Barack Obama was stonewalled by Republicans for months.

“This is a stolen seat,” said Merkley, the sole Democratic senator to endorse Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) 2016 presidential campaign. “We will use every lever in our power to stop this.”

Unlike Merkley, neither Sanders nor his senior Vermont colleague, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), was willing to utter the ‘F’ word on Wednesday.

In a statement issued shortly after Gorsuch’s nomination, Sanders said that while the Supreme Court “plays an enormously important role in American life,” that role has, in recent years, “been largely negative.”

“I look forward to questioning Judge Gorsuch about his positions on the most important issues that impact Vermonters and all Americans and his views on recent Supreme Court decisions,” he continued.

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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Hundreds Brave Cold to Protest Trump at Burlington Rally

Posted By on Tue, Jan 31, 2017 at 8:38 PM

The rally in City Hall Park in Burlington - MARK DAVIS
  • Mark Davis
  • The rally in City Hall Park in Burlington
Several hundred people marched in frigid downtown Burlington on Tuesday night to air grievances against President Donald Trump’s two-week-old administration.

Rights and Democracy and the Burlington branch of the International Socialist Organization organized the rally after Trump signed an executive order closing the country to refugees and people from seven countries. Protesters filled a large swath of City Hall Park before they marched up Church Street.

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Monday, January 30, 2017

After Trump Order, UVM Warns Some Students Not to Leave the U.S.

Posted By on Mon, Jan 30, 2017 at 5:20 PM

University of Vermont campus in Burlington - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • University of Vermont campus in Burlington
Don’t travel outside the U.S. for the next 90 days.

That’s the advice University of Vermont President Tom Sullivan is giving to members of the campus community who have visas from Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Iran or Iraq.

President Donald Trump’s controversial executive order on immigration bars citizens of those seven countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days.

Sullivan is apparently worried the order could make it hard for UVM students and staff to get back into the U.S. should they leave. Sullivan emailed the campus community on Sunday.

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