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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

AG Sessions Threatens Burlington, State Over Immigration Policies

Posted By on Wed, Nov 15, 2017 at 7:34 PM

  • U.S. Marshals Service
  • Jeff Sessions
Updated on November 16, 2017.

The Justice Department threatened to cut federal funding for the state of Vermont and the city of Burlington in letters that warned each may be violating federal immigration law.

The government agency sent the letters Wednesday to 29 different jurisdictions "that may have laws, policies, or practices that violate 8 U.S.C. 1373, a federal statute that promotes information sharing related to immigration enforcement."

“Jurisdictions that adopt so-called ‘sanctuary policies’ also adopt the view that the protection of criminal aliens is more important than the protection of law-abiding citizens and of the rule of law,” U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “I urge all jurisdictions found to be potentially out of compliance in this preliminary review to reconsider their policies that undermine the safety of their residents."

The letters give each jurisdiction until December 8 to prove they're in compliance.

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Monday, November 13, 2017

After Ad Is Pulled, Sean Hannity Fans Bash Keurig Machines

Posted By on Mon, Nov 13, 2017 at 1:15 PM

A still-intact Keurig machine - DREAMSTIME
  • Dreamstime
  • A still-intact Keurig machine
A group of Sean Hannity-loving diehards is taking aim at Vermont-based Keurig Green Mountain.

The Fox News host's fans are upset that the coffee machine-making company has pulled its ads from Hannity's show after he showed support for Roy Moore, the Republican Alabama U.S. Senate candidate accused of having made sexual advances on teenaged girls as young as 14.

The company's brewing machines became blameless victims in a bizarre saga. Hannity supporters posted videos on social media of themselves bashing their Keurig machines with golf clubs, hammers and even dropping them from second-floor apartments.

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Sunday, November 12, 2017

Walters: A Roomful of Angst Over Tax Reform

Posted By on Sun, Nov 12, 2017 at 10:29 PM

Left to right: Bill Sayre, Congressman Peter Welch and tax commissioner Kaj Samsom - JOHN WALTERS
  • John Walters
  • Left to right: Bill Sayre, Congressman Peter Welch and tax commissioner Kaj Samsom
On Friday, Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vt.) talked federal tax reform with representatives of Vermont’s business and nonprofit communities and government officials.

The meeting, at the Burlington headquarters of the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce, brought together a politically diverse group. But common themes quickly emerged: All acknowledged the need for tax reform, and all were dismayed at the breakneck pace and lack of transparency in the Republican majority’s process.

“What I’m hearing is a lot of confusion,” said Betsy Bishop, president of the Vermont Chamber of Commerce. “Is it good or bad? No one knows.”

“I want opportunities for my customers to have a more simple, efficient tax system,” said Michael Seaver, Vermont president of People’s United Bank. “There is no confidence that this process will lead to that. There’s been no visibility in the process.”

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Friday, November 10, 2017

Walters: Keith Ellison Energizes Democrats

Posted By on Fri, Nov 10, 2017 at 8:59 AM

Congressman Keith Ellison - JOHN WALTERS
  • John Walters
  • Congressman Keith Ellison
For once, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) wasn’t the best speaker in the room.

Sanders took second billing Thursday night at a packed Democratic Party fundraiser in Burlington’s ECHO Leahy Center for Lake Champlain. The lead act was Congressman Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the only Muslim in Congress and one of the most prominent supporters of Sanders’ 2016 presidential candidacy.

Ellison proved himself to be a masterful speaker. Without using any overt theatrics or speechifying gimmickry, he held the crowd’s attention through a 25-minute speech. Not bad, when you consider that everyone had been on their feet for at least two hours when Ellison walked to the podium.

He had been preceded by a host of others, including state Democratic party chair Faisal Gill, Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger and Burlington City Councilor Joan Shannon, and — a bit oddly — Don Sinex, the man behind the redevelopment of the Burlington Town Center. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) appeared via video message; he had stayed in Washington, D.C. because his wife, Marcelle, had surgery earlier in the day.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Border Patrol Breaks Up 15-Person Smuggling Attempt in Derby

Posted By on Wed, Oct 11, 2017 at 1:02 PM

A sign near the border - FILE: MARK DAVIS
  • File: Mark Davis
  • A sign near the border
Authorities arrested three people after U.S. Border Patrol agents disrupted an attempt to smuggle 15 undocumented immigrants from Canada into Vermont, the U.S. Attorney's Office said Wednesday.

Agents took into custody 11 Guatemalan citizens, four Mexicans and their driver, Hector Ramon Perez-Alvarado, who is also undocumented and from Honduras, federal authorities said.

Perez-Alvarado was arrested, as were two Mexican men: Noe Perez-Ramirez and Alberto Alvarado-Castro, both of whom were charged with attempting to reenter the country after having been previously deported. Authorities said Alvarado-Castro had several prior felony burglary convictions in the U.S.

All three appeared in U.S. District Court in Burlington on Tuesday and did not oppose prosecutors' requests to hold them in prison pending trial.

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Friday, September 22, 2017

Trump Nominates Prosecutor Nolan for Vermont U.S. Attorney

Posted By on Fri, Sep 22, 2017 at 5:39 PM

Donald Trump in Burlington last year - FILE: JAMES BUCK
  • File: James Buck
  • Donald Trump in Burlington last year
President Donald Trump on Friday nominated Assistant U.S. Attorney Christina Nolan to serve as Vermont's U.S. Attorney.

Nolan, a native Vermonter who graduated from the University of Vermont and Boston College Law School, would become the first woman to hold the top federal prosecutor's job in Vermont if the U.S. Senate confirms her.

Both U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Republican Gov. Phil Scott recommended Nolan in June, calling her a "fair and tough" prosecutor.
In a joint statement Friday, Leahy and Scott pledged to advocate for her confirmation.

"Christina is a tough and well-respected prosecutor who is uniquely familiar with the challenges of our state’s opioid crisis," they said. "We were both impressed by Christina’s passion for the state of Vermont and for the mission of a prosecutor — to seek justice and improve our communities — as well as her thoughtfulness and leadership."

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Thursday, September 21, 2017

On a Big Stage, Sanders Counters Trump on Foreign Policy

Posted By on Thu, Sep 21, 2017 at 3:03 PM

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) delivers his foreign policy speech at Westminster College Thursday. - YOUTUBE SCREENSHOT
  • Youtube screenshot
  • U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) delivers his foreign policy speech at Westminster College Thursday.
Two days after President Donald Trump promoted an every-country-for-itself approach in a speech at the United Nations, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) called for international collaboration.

Sanders, who studiously avoided discussing foreign policy during his presidential campaign, chose a high profile and historically significant venue to address the topic Thursday. He made his remarks during same event at which Winston Churchill gave his famous Iron Curtain speech — at the John Findley Green Foundation lecture at Westminster College in Missouri.

Widely considered a potential presidential candidate in 2020, Sanders has cemented his role as a foil to Trump; last week, he grabbed headlines after unveiling his Medicare-for-all health care proposal.

“The goal is not for the United States to dominate the world. Nor, on the other hand, is our goal to withdraw from the international community and shirk our responsibilities under the banner of ‘America first,’” Sanders told an audience of students and faculty. “Our goal should be global engagement based on partnership, rather than dominance.”

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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

During Harvard Event, Shumlin Analyzes His Single-Payer Failure

Posted By on Tue, Sep 19, 2017 at 11:44 PM

Former governor Peter Shumlin (left) with top health care staffers, Robin Lunge and Lawrence Miller - FILE: PAUL HEINTZ
  • File: Paul Heintz
  • Former governor Peter Shumlin (left) with top health care staffers, Robin Lunge and Lawrence Miller
Peter Shumlin told a group of Harvard University scholars Tuesday that he didn’t have the political capital to pass single-payer health care in Vermont.

The three-term Democratic former Vermont governor revisited his signature political failure during a live-streamed interview with Harvard public health professor John McDonough.

“Was that a policy decision or was that a political decision, do you think?” asked McDonough, referring to Shumlin’s decision to pull the plug on single-payer.

“They’re always both,” Shumlin responded. “There was no way I was gonna get the votes in either the House or the Senate to pass the single-payer plan that I wanted to pass ... I had Progressive senators coming to me saying, ‘What if we just slowed down?’”

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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Walters: Welch on DACA, 'Surreal Atmosphere' of Trump Meeting

Posted By on Thu, Sep 14, 2017 at 1:18 PM

Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) speaks at a press conference at the Burlington International Airport. - FILE: ALICIA FREESE
  • FIle: Alicia Freese
  • Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) speaks at a press conference at the Burlington International Airport.
Uncertainty is in the air over Washington, D.C., as top congressional Democrats say they have a deal on enacting into law the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program while President Donald Trump insists otherwise. For Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vt.), it's just the latest example of what he calls "an improvisational president. He goes from meeting to meeting, and whatever happens in that meeting is the news of the moment."

Welch attended a meeting on Wednesday that included Trump and 14 members of Congress, split equally between Republicans and Democrats. Welch describes "a quite surreal atmosphere" in which the president talked of bipartisan action while congressional Republicans continue to freeze out the Democrats.

"The president indicated support for the Dreamers [those early arrivals who face deportation unless DACA is extended], but also mentioned security issues," Welch says. "I urged the president to not link security issues with the treatment of the Dreamers, and said that this calls for a Lincolnesque moment in presidential leadership, where we do the right thing because it’s the right thing."

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Friday, September 8, 2017

Walters: Federal Budget Deal Eases Strain on Vermont

Posted By on Fri, Sep 8, 2017 at 5:45 PM

Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Ashe (left) and House Speaker Mitzi Johnson - FILE: TERRI HALLENBECK
  • File: Terri Hallenbeck
  • Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Ashe (left) and House Speaker Mitzi Johnson
In rapid-fire sequence, the U.S. Senate and House this week passed a bill providing assistance for those affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and postponed an imminent deadline on raising the federal debt limit. The bill maintains federal spending at roughly current levels and allows the government to continue functioning until December 8.

As a consequence, Vermont legislative leaders plan to cancel an October special session that was scheduled in anticipation of significant federal budget cuts.

“As soon as the president signs [the bill], we will cancel the October session,” said House Speaker Mitzi Johnson (D-South Hero). Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Ashe (D/P-Chittenden) will also hold off on officially canceling the session until the bill becomes law, although he said “it looks 99 percent certain.”

“This takes the immediate pressure off,” said Finance Commissioner Adam Greshin. “It means a continuation of the status quo. Under the circumstances, that’s good news.”

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