INTEL REPORT--Time for a pop quiz on Trump’s Wall.

Question 1: How much will it cost us? Trump & Company says the price tag is $5.7 billion. But — pssssst — that only buys a starter wall of 230 miles, covering barely a tenth of our 2,000-mile Mexican border.

The dirty little secret is that the full barricade Trump wants will cost us at least $25 billion. For something that isn’t needed and won’t work.

Question 2: By shutting down the government of the United States in a petulant attempt to make Congress pony up his wall money, didn’t he hurt families who come to tour the capital city, hoping to visit national monuments and museums, only to find them closed?  

Yes, but — pssssst — there was one exception. The “clock tower” of the historic, 1899 Old Post Office Building got a special reprieve to remain open to tourists throughout the presidential shutdown.


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INTEL REPORT--In a short, viral video shared widely since Friday, Catholic high-school students visiting Washington, D.C., from Kentucky for the March for Life appeared to confront, and mock, American Indians who had participated in the Indigenous Peoples March, taking place the same day.

By Saturday, the video had been condensed into a single image: One of the students, wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat, smiles before an Omaha tribal elder, a confrontation viewers took as an act of aggression by a group of white youths against an indigenous community — and by extension, people of color more broadly. Online, reaction was swift and certain, with legislators, news outlets, and ordinary people denouncing the students and their actions as brazenly racist.

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INTEL REPORT--Our lunatic head of state’s favorite new tactic shouldn’t surprise anyone: threatening to declare a state of emergency over his ridiculous wall. Authoritarians are abusers — and abusers love nothing more than creating false, imaginary emergencies with which to justify their escalating abuse. Any abusive relationship is a series of false emergencies, really, about an abuser’s unmet narcissistic demands — love me, adore me, obey me, more, harder, faster. See what you made me do? I had to build a wall, to keep you where you belong!

Listen. He’s going to use this threat…forever. Get used to it. The next two years are going to be this threat dangled over the head of America like a giant sword hanging from the slenderest thread. Until either impeachment happens, or the end of term does, this threat of declaring an emergency is going to be used on a more or less daily basis. Fake News! You can’t investigate me! Waaah!! Where’s my pacifier! No — you made me hit you! Emergency!!!

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INTEL REPORT--One of Trump’s most admirable qualities, according to his supporters, is his “strength.” Nate Silver has written that this attribute seems “fundamental to his appeal.” In a paper for the Journal of Social and Political Psychology, Thomas Pettigrew isolated five psychological factors driving Trump support: the first two on his list being authoritarianism and social dominance orientation, two phenomena indicating high valuation of strength and toughness. The data bear this out. Throughout Trump’s presidency, he has retained positive polling numbers on the attribute of “strength” from a majority of Republicans, even as his overall support has dipped.

Yet the strength Republicans perceive in Trump is merely a facade. Trump’s actions may at times take on the appearance of strength, but—unlike the truly strong—he exhibits that strength only when the repercussions will be levied against someone else.

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INTEL REPORT--High school freshman Crista Ramos used to be mostly preoccupied with school, friends, and soccer practice with her team, the Richmond Lionesses.

All that changed in January when the Trump administration announced plans to end the humanitarian protections that allow her mother and about 260,000 other immigrants from El Salvador to lawfully live and work in the United States.

Since then, the Bay Area teen and U.S. citizen has become an outspoken advocate to preserve Temporary Protected Status, becoming the lead plaintiff in a landmark class-action lawsuit.

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INTEL REPORT--After the shock and awe of the headline wears off, feel free to continue reading the rest of this article. 

You good? Alright, cool. 

On Friday, NBC News announced that it was officially kicking its controversial host Megyn Kelly to the curb. The unceremonious divorce ends a year-long, lackluster fling with NBC that included poor ratings, a guest appearance by some imbecile named Alex Jones, and this ridiculous quote (completely bereft of cultural awareness) on blackface: 

“But what is racist?”  

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INTEL REPORT--As President Trump’s government shutdown enters its 19th day, some high profile Republicans are beginning to break ranks. Many on the left have seen the shutdown as unnecessary, as President Trump is refusing to drop his demand for his ineffective, unpopular, and costly wall ($5.7 billion) to end a crisis at the border of his own making.

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PRIVACY WATCH--There is a classic debate—one that might come up in high school classrooms—about "privacy versus security," as though those are two sides of one coin. To what degree are we willing to forfeit our privacy in order to live in a safe society? But this debate often misses the inequities in how "security" is enforced in practice. People of color, the poor, and those who are already disenfranchised by the criminal justice system are disproportionately subjected to surveillance. 

Immigrants, both undocumented and legal, are among those most vulnerable to surveillance. Given the Trump administration's ramped-up commitment to immigration enforcement, the stakes are high. The state is watching all of us, but it's not watching everyone equally.


Surveillance in the United States has often begun at flashpoints: wartime or moments of crisis deemed so dangerous that civil liberties went out the window. This phenomenon is old: During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus and arrested a military officer.

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INTEL REPORT--I love New Year’s. It’s as if everyone had the same birthday and we all have complete license to wish each and every one of us—even the strangest of strangers—well. The holiday doesn’t carry any deep national or religious significance. We don’t have to wave flags or feel obliged to muster gratitude for people whose bloodlines we happen to share. Nor is it organized around any long forgotten commemoration or some dumb game. It’s just a wonderfully arbitrary line in the sand that separates yesterday from today, the immediate past from the future.

New Year well-wishers don’t have to speculate whether you’re Christian, or Hindu, or Jewish, or atheist to decide whether to hide behind some muddled insignificance like “Happy Holidays!” New Year’s is non-discriminatory—a one-size-fits-all celebration. Never mind Thanksgiving, January 1 is really the universal holiday that everyone embraces equally.

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INTEL REPORT--Trump doesn’t want the public to think the stock market has tanked because of Trump’s government shutdown, his trade war with China, and the $1.9 trillion increase in the nation’s debt caused by his tax cut for corporations and the wealthy. (Actually, these are the major reasons for the market’s drop.)

So he’s blaming the Fed and its chair, Jerome Powell, for raising interest rates. And he’s ordered his staff to find a legal rationale for removing Powell. (It’s highly unlikely Trump has legal authority to do this, but like every other illegal thing Trump has tried, it may end up in the federal courts.)

Which is rattling investors even more, because they worry Trump is trying to turn the Fed into his own political tool.

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INTEL REPORT--After being offered the chance of a lifetime to perform in front of 100 million viewers, some of the music industry’s biggest stars, including Cardi B, Andre 3000, and Usher, have reportedly responded to offers to perform at halftime of Super Bowl by telling the National Football League: “Nah, bruh. I’m good.” (Photo above: (L-R) Rihanna, Mary J. Blige, Cardi B, Andre 3000Photo: Pascal Le Segretain, Theo Wargo, Kevin Winter, Frederick M. Brown)

The NFL reportedly tapped the alabaster quintuplet, Maroon 5, to play the halftime show in this year’s big game, set for February 3 in Atlanta’s Mercedes Benz Stadium.

 That’s right. The brilliant minds at NFL headquarters asked the whitest group since the Oak Ridge Boys to headline the biggest event in the city whose music scene is this generation’s version of Motown. When the Super Bowl was in Minnesota, no one petitioned for the Ying Yang Twins to headline the halftime performance. We were cool with Justin Timberlake performing his “Man in the Woods” bullshit. But Maroon 5? In Atlanta?

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INTEL REPORT--At last, some good news. A President’s corrupt lawyer was sentenced to jail time. Let me try and interpret it as best I can. In times like these — we shouldn’t underestimate the power of such events, and what they mean. I’ll sum up my thoughts in this simple dictum: the test of American institutions isn’t just negative — it’s positive. Here’s what I mean by that.

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INTEL REPORT--The “justice” system Trump’s opponents want to nail him with and then use to impeach him, wasn’t designed to choose leaders or get rid of them — so why do it? (Photo: Donald Trump/cc/flickr)

Why? Because it bypasses democratic politics in favor of the legal system, or the quasi-legal impeachment process. But democratic electoral politics operates in its own, independent realm.

For instance, Marion Barry was a U.S. civil rights leader who got elected mayor of Washington D.C. in the ’80s. The FBI entrapped him in a crack sting and he went to jail. Then he got reelected. His slogan was, “He isn’t perfect but he’s perfect for D.C.” Voters got the distinction.

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