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Here's Why Trump Doesn't Fight Back Against Stormy Daniels' Lawyer

May 11, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

Trump prides himself on going after his critics — but he leaves Michael Avenatti alone.


Michael Avenatti has become a near-ubiquitous presence on cable news in recent weeks and months, so much so that speculation has inevitably arisen suggesting he may get his own network show. This week he even broke a major story in his own right, revealing that President Donald Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen used a shell company since the election to take payments from major companies, including one backed by a Russian oligarch.

But while Avenatti attracts substantial attention and has created serious problems for the president, Trump largely ignores the media-savvy attorney.

Since Trump prides himself on “counterpunching” and going after his critics, it is suspicious that he remains silent on the man representing Stephanie Clifford, who is better known as Stormy Daniels. Clifford is suing Trump and Cohen to break a non-disclosure agreement she signed that requires her to keep quiet about an affair she says she had with the president in 2006.

According to the Daily Beast, sources close to the president say he has no interest in going after Avenatti, whom he calls a “total loser.” Some Republicans reportedly believe that attacking Avenatti would only raise his status. But Trump famously attacked former Miss Universe contestant Alicia Machado during the 2016 campaign, even though there was clearly no benefit in doing so. It seemed, then, that he couldn't help himself. 

Perhaps Trump has learned to control himself, if only somewhat. But there's also the possibility that Trump is genuinely afraid of what Avenatti could find out. This week's revelations — which have been largely corroborated — prove that the lawyer had a stronger hand than it initially appeared.

Cohen may be a major weak link in any defense Trump tries to build against his legal troubles. Reports suggest that Trump was infuriated when Cohen's office was raided by federal investigators in a case that was supposedly connected to Clifford's lawsuit. But the newest revelations indicate that Mueller may actually be more involved in the Cohen case than previously assumed, which raises even more legal perils for the president.

As …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Alt-Right Neo-Nazis Are Planning to Rally at White House If Banned from Charlottesville

May 11, 2018 in Blogs

By Jared Holt, Right Wing Watch

These sick white supremacists are already planning their comeback.


Jason Kessler, the extremist behind last year’s violent alt-right “Unite the Right” rally at which a counter-protester was killed, said that if he is denied a permit to host an anniversary event in Charlottesville, Virginia, this summer that activists will demonstrate outside of the White House instead.

Kessler applied for a permit to host another Unite the Right rally last year, but the city of Charlottesville denied his request, citing a “danger to public safety.” He is currently suing Charlottesville, arguing that the city is suppressing his First Amendment rights and is to blame for the violence that occurred at last year’s event. The University of Virginia has also banned Kessler from organizing on their campus.

Yesterday, Kessler appeared on the white nationalist podcast hosted by Jean Francois Gariépy to promote his follow-up rally and dismiss the fact that many of the alt-right figures who headlined last year’s event told Newsweek’s Michael Hayden that they did not plan to attend Kessler’s anniversary rally. Kessler went on to say that the violence at last year’s rally was “necessary because people had to be shaken out of this comfort that they were in” and that he hoped to transform the alt-right into a “white civil rights movement.”

He then told Gariépy that he has a backup plan if his lawsuit against Charlottesville fails.

“I do have a backup plan, for people who have been asking, and that is going to be in front of the White House. So, if Charlottesville denies our permit for any reason, it’s not safe, we’re going to get in vans and we’re going to go to Lafayette Park in front of the White House,” Kessler said.

Kessler said he anticipates a ruling in his lawsuit in July but in the meantime, people who wish to participate should book hotel rooms mid-way between Charlottesville and Washington.

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When German Immigrants Were America’s Undesirables

May 11, 2018 in History

By Becky Little

World War I propaganda poster from the US intelligence office 'Don't talk, the web is spun for you with invisible threads, keep out of it, help to destroy it, spies are listening,' showing Kaiser Wilhelm II as the spider. (Credit: Photo12/UIG/Getty Images)

In a recent interview, White House chief of staff John Kelly told NPR that undocumented immigrants are “not people that would easily assimilate into the United States, into our modern society.” And he listed a few reasons why:

“They’re overwhelmingly rural people,” he said. “In the countries they come from, fourth-, fifth-, sixth-grade educations are kind of the norm. They don’t speak English … They don’t integrate well; they don’t have skills.”

Kelly was talking specifically about immigrants from Latin American countries. But a century before, this line of thinking was used against another group that didn’t seem to be able to “assimilate”: German Americans.

At the time, these roughly eight million Americans were the country’s largest non-English-speaking group. Many had come over in a migration wave in the late 19th century. Once here, they built restaurants and guesthouses that, in the German tradition, each had their own beer brewery. In 1910, the U.S. had 554 German-language newspapers, as well as German-language school systems that coexisted with English-language schools.

“By 1917 these immigrants who came to Cincinnati or St. Louis or Milwaukee or New York or Baltimore were fully integrated into American society,” says Richard E. Schade, a German studies professor at the University of Cincinnati. But when the U.S. entered World War I, these immigrants came up against a new “anti-German hysteria.”

World War I propaganda poster from the US intelligence office ‘Don’t talk, the web is spun for you with invisible threads, keep out of it, help to destroy it, spies are listening,’ showing Kaiser Wilhelm II as the spider. (Credit: Photo12/UIG/Getty Images)

Because Germany was one of America’s adversaries in the war, many Anglo-Americans began to fear that German Americans were still loyal to the Kaiser, or German emperor. Suddenly, German Americans became “hyphenated Americans” who suspiciously practiced their own traditions instead of “assimilating” into Anglo-American culture. As President Woodrow Wilson once admonished: “Any man who carries a hyphen about with him, carries a dagger that he is ready to plunge into the vitals of this Republic when he gets ready.”

With the war, German Americans became a perceived security threat. They also got a new nickname.

“The number one American term for Germans in the …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Trump Was Reportedly Furious with Homeland Security Chief for Not Separating Enough Kids from Their Families

May 11, 2018 in Blogs

By Kerry Eleveld, Daily Kos

The president's twisted logic on immigration is becoming even clearer.


Buried in the New York Times story about Donald Trump's extended tirade against his Homeland Security chief was the real reason he was so peeved at her—and it's downright evil:

One persistent issue has been Mr. Trump’s belief that Ms. [Kirstjen] Nielsen and other officials in the department were resisting his direction that parents be separated from their children when families cross illegally into the United States, several officials said. The president and his aides in the White House had been pushing a family separation policy for weeks as a way of deterring families from trying to cross the border illegally.

Just to be clear, Nielsen and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) under her direction haven't shown any hesitation about separating families. Remember DHS separating a 7-year-old girl and her 39-year-old mother—asylum seekers fleeing violence—for four entire months without ever giving a single damn explanation for it?

In fact, this week Nielsen defended the agency's so-called “zero tolerance” policy on NPR, saying undocumented immigrants shouldn't be treated differently than U.S. citizens—even when their kids.

“That's no different than what we do every day in every part of the United States — when an adult of a family commits a crime,” she told NPR. “If you as a parent break into a house, you will be incarcerated by police and thereby separated from your family.”

“Illegal aliens should not get just different rights because they happen to be illegal aliens,” she added.

Let’s not even get into what a twisted and pitiful analogy that is.

Anyway, apparently DHS isn't being cruel and evil enough for Trump’s tastes and he’s pissed about it. We have a very sick man leading our country, and his vileness is seeping down into every agency under his direction. 

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Source: ALTERNET

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Newark's Novel but Frightening Crime-Fighting Scheme

May 11, 2018 in Economics

By Matthew Feeney

Matthew Feeney

Officials in Newark, N.J., have come up with a
novel and frightening
crime-reduction scheme: outsourcing
surveillance to anyone with an Internet connection.


Citizen Virtual Patrol
allows the public to watch the
livestreams of dozens of surveillance cameras across the city. If
Newark’s mayor gets his way, these cameras will be the first of
several hundred. These cameras are unlikely to reduce crime. What’s
more likely is that they will establish a neighborhood panopticon
manned by nosy residents thrilled at the prospect of being
informants or vigilantes.

These residents, who aren’t trained law enforcement officials,
should be kept far away from spy cameras.

Newark officials and
residents want to live in a city with less violent crime, but
allowing citizens to act as vigilantes and to snoop on one another
is one proposal where the potential costs far outweigh the
potential benefits.

It’s highly unlikely that someone casually browsing the Citizen
Virtual Patrol website will witness a serious crime in progress.
However, that doesn’t mean that private citizens looking through
these surveillance feeds won’t convince themselves that they’re
watching potential criminals. If Citizen Virtual Patrol is fully
implemented, we should be prepared for police to receive baseless
calls about “suspicious” individuals who are in fact law-abiding

Airbnb guests
,
Ivy league professors
, or (ironically)
police officers
. Worse, residents could use Citizen Virtual
Patrol as a tool for vigilantism, opting to handle suspected
criminals by themselves rather than call law enforcement.

There is also the potential for these cameras to regularly
record behavior that is legal but perhaps sensitive or not to
everyone’s liking. At least one of the Citizen Virtual Patrol
cameras is right next to a mosque. Two are just outside a hospital.
If the program expands, expect these surveillance cameras to keep a
watchful eye over strip clubs, churches, Planned Parenthood
centers, liquor stores, and Alcoholics Anonymous meeting
venues.

Those who regularly visit these sites may reconsider doing so if
they know they’re under the constant gaze of prying neighbors and
judgmental busybodies around the world. It’s true that a passerby
on the street could recognize anyone walking into a mosque or an
Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, but the constant surveillance Citizen
Virtual Patrol makes possible would allow the curious among us to
determine revealing patterns of behavior.

Even those who don’t want to identify Muslims and alcoholics or
keep an eye out for crimes in progress could use Citizen Virtual
Patrol for nefarious ends. Possessive spouses, as well as stalkers,
could use the service to keep an eye on their targets. Criminals
could also use the service, using it to …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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'Willful Ignorance': CNN Panel Stunned by White House Refusal to Denounce Staffer's Cruel McCain Joke

May 11, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

A staffer has been widely reported to have made an inappropriate joke about McCain dying.


A CNN panel seemed baffled Friday after Sarah Sanders held the White House press briefing and failed to denounce an aide's uncouth joke about Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) brain cancer.

On Thursday, multiple outlets reported that communications staffer Kelly Sadler said of McCain “he's dying anyway” in a discussion about his opposition to the nomination of Gina Haspel for CIA director. Haspel has been a controversial pick because of her past involvement in the CIA's torture program and destruction of evidence, and McCain faced torture while he was a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

“Willful ignorance, I would say, is what we've just witnessed,” said anchor Brianna Keilar after Sanders refused to condemn the comment.

“For the life of me, I can't understand,” politics analyst Gloria Borger said. “The staffer has admitted she did it, she called Megan McCain to apologize. Yes, it was a leak, but it was accurate. And why the White House can't say: Look, we've spoken to her, we've told her why we think this is inappropriate. We think we need to move on from this, this is not the way anyone in the White House ought to conduct themselves.”

She continued: “But by refusing to even say what she said was hurtful, wrong, tasteless — you know, use whatever adjective you want — you sort of extend this story. And of course, the underlying story, which is that the president and Sen. John McCain don't get along.”

Watch the clip below:

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Watch Sarah Palin Defend How Much 'Fun' She Had With McCain in 2008—Even Though He Regrets Choosing Her

May 11, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

The former vice presidential candidate said McCain's remarks were like a “gut punch.”


Former Alaska Governor and one-time vice presidential hopeful Sarah Palin said Friday that she remembers the 2008 campaign with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) fondly, even though he now says he wishes he had never chosen her to be his running mate.

Asked whether McCain's revelation hurt, she said, “Well, I don't lie, so I'll tell you, a bit. You know, I think I described it earlier as a 'gut punch.'”

She continued: “I'm going to choose to look back on the good times that we did have together. Because you know, a lot of that campaign was fun for us personally and for our families. And you know, I will never disparage someone who has served our country and has made a lot of sacrifices. That's how I look at him, as someone who has served all those years, and I certainly appreciate that, and many other aspects that I see, characteristics that I appreciate in Sen. McCain.”

In his new book, The Restless Wave, McCain says that he wishes he had chosen Sen. Joe Lieberman, a long-time independent who had caucused with the Democrats, as his running mate.

Watch the clip below:

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Source: ALTERNET

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Watch the Government Test Gas Masks on Children During the Cold War

May 11, 2018 in History

By Allison McNearney

History Flashback takes a look at historical “found footage” of all kinds—newsreels, instructional films, even cartoons—to give us a glimpse into how much things have changed, and how much has remained the same.

Since chemical warfare exploded on the scene with lethal and terrifying force at the Second Battle of Ypres during WWI, nations have been attempting to create defenses for both soldiers and civilians against weapons that are largely invisible and indiscriminately deadly. Gas masks have been on the front lines of this effort.

During the 20th century, authorities were particularly concerned with how to protect the youngest generation from the sins of their fathers. During both World Wars and the Cold War, they created school drills and new mask designs that tried to make the experience less frightening and more protective for the little ones. Except, that is, for that time in the 1960s when the U.S. government decided to use children as gas mask guinea pigs.

Gas masks were a miner’s best friend.

Today, we mostly think of gas masks as a defense against the threat of chemical warfare, but the invention has its roots in a more functional—though no less harrowing—place. Throughout history, certain workers have braved the dangers of smoke and noxious gasses while on the job. In ancient Greece, sponges were used as a form of protection; during the plagues of the 17th and 18th centuries, doctors donned beak-like masks filled with sweet smelling herbs and spices, which they thought would protect them from both contagion and foul odors.

But the more modern ancestor of what we today know as the gas mask began appearing around the turn of the 19th century, when protective gear was first invented for miners. Over the next hundred years, these early masks would go through a series of improvements. Charcoal was added to purify the incoming air, a respirator system was invented, and the masks were made increasingly lighter and more effective in their fit. Each of these changes occurred with an eye towards keeping civilians like firemen, rescue divers and miners safe in the workplace.

And then, World War I broke out.

In 1915, the need for gas masks abruptly changed when the Germans first dispersed chlorine gas across the battlefield of Ypres. The Allies were wholly unprepared for this new form of warfare. While scientists and medical professionals quickly rushed to find …read more

Source: HISTORY

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The Quiet Triumph of Economics

May 11, 2018 in Economics

By Diego Zuluaga

Diego Zuluaga

If an economist from 1918 could be transported to the present
day, he – back then, it was always he – would be both impressed and
disappointed.

He’d be impressed because economic science has long
settled what in his time was the most pressing empirical issue: whether a
system of production coordinated and planned from the top could
yield better outcomes than the independent actions of individual
people guided by the price system.

Today, there is no serious intellectual case for the planned
economy. That proponents of more central planning — through,
for example, industrial policy — wrap their arguments
in vague language about “long-term strategy” and “mission-oriented directionality”
is a testament to the lack of economic credibility such views
command.

The economist from 1918 would also be disappointed, however, for
the answers to other fundamental questions of economic policy
remain as elusive as ever.

There is ample room for
improvement in the way that economic science is conducted. But
those calling to tear economics textbooks apart and start over
should ponder the accumulated evidence.

What causes the business cycle, and how can downturns best be
combatted? What is the optimal mix of taxes and how high should
they be? Does the distribution of income and wealth have
consequences which economic policy should address?

More theories have been put forward to address these puzzles
than were available 100 years ago. But economists remain divided as
to their relative merits.

Furthermore, economic practitioners struggle, as ever, to
communicate their findings to the public. So yawning is this gap
that the subjects where there is the greatest consensus among economists
such as the benefits of free trade, immigration and competition
— remain hotly contested among the general population.
Indeed, there is no shortage of well-meaning people who blame the recent populist surge
across the West on a failure of economics.

Yet, expectations that economic science will eventually deliver
permanent political stability and universal contentment are
destined for disappointment. But what economics can do is help to
avoid the perennial instability and spiral of poverty
characteristic of 1960s China and 2010s Venezuela.

Think of economics, therefore, not as a recipe for the good
life, but as an insurance policy against the worst consequences of
human folly.

As with any insurance plan, there is a premium that must be paid
in the short term. Thus there should be no price controls on politically contentious
items. Subsidies to favoured industries must also be avoided. Tight
controls on the movement of goods, capital and …read more

Source: OP-EDS