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Senate confirms Trump intelligence nominee Dan Coats

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The U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to confirm former Republican Senator Dan Coats to be President Donald Trump’s director of national intelligence and to approve Army Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster as his national security adviser.

The vote was 85-12 to confirm Coats, who also served as ambassador to Germany under former President George W. Bush. Fifty-one votes were required for confirmation.

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The only Republican who voted against Coats was Senator Rand Paul, one of the Senate’s leading privacy advocates, as are several of the Democrats who also voted against Coats.

Democratic Senator Ron Wyden had said he would object to Coats’ nomination because he felt the office of the Director of National Intelligence had not provided the committee with enough information about how many Americans’ communication records had been subjected to government surveillance.

McMaster was also approved as Trump’s national security adviser by an overwhelming margin, with 85 senators in favor and just nine opposed, as voting continued.

The Senate does not normally approve a president’s national security adviser, but McMaster’s reappointment to his new position had to be considered by the Senate because he is an active-duty military officer.

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McMaster, 54, who is known for speaking his mind and challenging his superiors, replaces retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, who was fired as national security adviser on Feb. 13 after reports emerged that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence about speaking to Russia’s ambassador to the United States about U.S. sanctions before Trump took office.

Coats, 73, replaces James Clapper, who retired as President Barack Obama left office in January.

Coats was a member of the Senate intelligence committee until he retired from the Senate at the end of last year. He pledged during his confirmation hearing on Feb. 28 to support a thorough investigation of any Russian effort to influence the 2016 presidential election.

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(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Leslie Adler)


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‘Resistance’ liberals love the FBI and CIA — but history says they don’t love you back

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A freaky moment recently transpired on television. In a nonfiction adaptation of “American Horror Story,” Bill Maher, nominally a member of the liberal “Resistance,” led his audience and guests in applauding and paying tribute to the FBI and CIA. To her credit, panelist (and rival talk-show host) Krystal Ball remained stoic, refusing to bring her hands together or smile. But even she allowed the moment to pass without noting the obvious: The CIA and the FBI are two of the most anti-democratic and violent forces in the history of our country.

Maher’s weird and historically illiterate “tribute” to two organizations with endless résumés of human rights violations, political persecution of dissidents and overseas coups directed at democratic governments — not to mention stunning failure at the principal tasks of their mission — punctuated his declaration of gratitude for “our safety” since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The comedian and commentator then tried to dress this right-wing, jingoistic bromide in progressive drag by reminding the crowd that President Trump has “disrespected” both agencies.

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According to media, Russia has ‘oligarchs’ — but America only has ‘businessmen’

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Even in corporate media, you will occasionally see references to the United States as an “oligarchy.” That is the judgment of former President Jimmy Carter, of peer-reviewed academic studies, and even opinion pieces in our most prestigious media (e.g., Washington Post, 4/8/14; New Yorker, 4/18/14). Indeed, Paul Krugman has been saying it in the New York Times (11/3/11, 5/15/157/15/19) for years.  Just three men hold more wealth than the bottom 50% of the country combined, and the richest people in society use their money to influence media, society and the government.

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Swiss holding ‘funeral march’ to mark disappearance of an Alpine glacier

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Dozens of people will undertake a "funeral march" up a steep Swiss mountainside on Sunday to mark the disappearance of an Alpine glacier amid growing global alarm over climate change.

The Pizol "has lost so much substance that from a scientific perspective it is no longer a glacier," Alessandra Degiacomi, of the Swiss Association for Climate Protection, told AFP.

The organisation which helped organise Sunday's march said around 100 people were due to take part in the event, set to take place as the UN gathers youth activists and world leaders in New York to mull the action needed to curb global warming.

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