You are browsing the archive for 2018 May 28.

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Hero Immigrant Who Scaled a Building to Save a Dangling Baby Will Become a Naturalized Citizen

May 28, 2018 in Blogs

By Elizabeth Preza, AlterNet

Mamoudou Gassama met with French president Emmanuel Macron on Monday.


A 22-year-old migrant from Mali saved a child who was dangling from a balcony in Paris—and with now be granted French citizenship, CNN reports.

Incredible footage of the incident shows Mamoudou Gassama scaling the side of an apartment building to rescue a four-year-old boy as the crowd below cheers him on.

Gassama told CNN-affiliate BFM TV he was watching a football game at a restaurant when he saw the child was in trouble.

“I like children,” he said. “I would have hated to see him getting hurt in front of me. I ran and I looked for solutions to save him and thank God I scaled the front of the building to the balcony.”

Gassama told French President Emmanuel Macron he “didn’t think” about helping the child. “I climbed up and God helped me,” he said.

The boy is in care, CNN reports, and his father is expected to be sentence in September for abandoning his parental responsibilities.

Watch the footage below:

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Yankees Fans Boo Trump Lawyer Rudy Giuliani On His Birthday

May 28, 2018 in Blogs

By Elizabeth Preza, AlterNet

Giuliani was attending a Memorial Day game at Yankee Stadium.


Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani was booed at Yankee Stadium on Monday after an announcer asked the crowd to wish him a happy birthday, the New York Daily News reports.

Reporter Adrian Carrasquillo described the boos as “thunderous.”

Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, is now leading Donald Trump’s legal defense in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. He told CNN’s Dana Bash on Sunday that the strategy behind Trump’s aggressive attempts to discredit that investigation is to curry favor with the “public opinion.”

“They're giving us the material to do it,” Giuliani said. “Of course, we have to do it in defending the President. To a large extent, remember Dana, what we're doing here, it is the public opinion, because eventually the decision here is going to be impeach or not impeach.”

If the reaction from Yankee fans is any indication, the president might want to come up with a new strategy.

 

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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America’s Megalomaniac: Delicate Balance in Trump’s Brain Between Glorification and Mortification Can Tip Either Way at Any Moment

May 28, 2018 in Blogs

By Robert Reich, AlterNet

Trump’s goal has nothing to do with peace on the Korean peninsula, or even with making America great again. It’s all about making Trump feel great.


I spent last week at a conference in South Korea, during which time Trump went from seeking a meeting with Kim Jong un to cancelling it, then suggesting it might be back on. 

“What does Trump want?” South Korean officials at the conference kept asking me. Notably, no one asked what the United States wants. They knew it was all about Trump. 

Trump’s goal has nothing to do with peace on the Korean peninsula, or even with making America great again. It’s all about making Trump feel great.

“They are respecting us again,” Trump exulted to graduating cadets at the Naval Academy last Friday. “Winning is such a great feeling, isn’t it? Nothing like winning. You got to win.”

In truth, the United States hasn’t won anything, in Korea or anywhere else. After fifteen months of Trump at the helm, America is far less respected around the world than it was before.

The only thing that’s happened is Trump is now making foreign policy on his own – without America’s allies, without Congress, even without the State Department. Trump may consider this a personal win but it hardly makes America safer.

Some earnest foreign policy experts are seeking to discover some bargaining strategy behind Trump’s moves on North Korea. Hint: There’s no strategy. Only a thin-skinned narcissist needing flattery and fearing ridicule.

Trump got excited about a summit with Kim when he thought it might win him praise, even possibly a Nobel Peace Prize. He got cold feet when he feared Kim might be setting Trump up for humiliating failure. Now he’s back to dreaming about the Prize.

The delicate balance in Trump’s brain between glorification and mortification can tip either way at any moment, depending on his hunches. All international relations become contests of personal dominance.  

He rejected the 2015 Iran treaty for no apparent reason other than Obama had entered into it. Trump couldn’t care less that by doing so he has harmed relations with our traditional allies, …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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School Bans Gay Valedictorian from Honoring Parkland Students — Claims His Graduation Speech Was 'Inconsistent' with Catholic Values

May 28, 2018 in Blogs

By David Badash, The New Civil Rights Movement

Christian Bales says he doesn’t know if being gay was the reason for being denied the traditional right and honor to deliver his speech.


Officials from a Catholic high school and the diocese that runs it banned its own valedictorian, Christian Bales, from delivering his graduation speech. Bales says he doesn't know if being gay was the reason for being denied the traditional right and honor.

Administration officials at Covington, Kentucky's Holy Cross High School first used an excuse other schools have tried to bar the student from speaking: he missed the deadline to submit his speech for review. But Bales says he was never given a deadline to submit his speech.

The school and the diocese then told him he could not deliver his speech because its content was too political. In a statement to WCPO a spokesman said Bales' speech was “inconsistent with the teaching of the Catholic Church.

It's unclear how that's possible. The entire text of Bales speech can be read online. You can also watch it below. In it, he delivers a theme of young people empowering themselves to further issues of social justice – which once was a pillar of Catholic teachings.

Bales' speech is in part a tribute to the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, who went on to literally change America this year after a gunman shot and killed 17 people on their campus in February.

“The young people will win,” Bales says in his speech, repeating a phrase used by the Parkland student survivors, “because we’re finished being complacent,” he says.

“There’s a misguided notion that wisdom is directly proportional to age, but we’re disproving that daily. Sometimes the wisest are the youngest in our lives, the ones who haven’t yet been desensitized to the atrocities of our world. Therefore, we young people must be the educators. The young people must be willing to speak candidly about issues, and we mustn’t tremble in the face of the institutions that try to silence us,” Bales' speech urges.

Sadly, his own school and diocese did just that.

Bales was not allowed to deliver his remarks …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Veterans Group Slams Trump's 'Most Inappropriate' Memorial Day Message

May 28, 2018 in Blogs

By Taylor Link, Salon

Trump praised his economy and the unemployment rate of people of color and women in a tweet about Memorial Day


President Donald Trump commemorated Memorial Day on Monday with a tweet that only the 45th president would find appropriate.

Trump wished everyone a happy Memorial Day before he congratulated himself for his perceived achievements.

For any other president, the message would have reflected a new low for the Oval Office. But it's this type of sentiment and self-flattery that Americans have grown accustomed with Trump. Some people, including the team behind VoteVets, a veterans group dedicated to electing progressive veterans, have chosen not to allow Trump's depravity to become normalized. The group responded to Trump's tweet on Monday, calling it the “most inappropriate” and “appalling.”

It wasn't just the self-serving lip service that provoked outrage on Twitter. It was that Trump was speaking for fallen soldiers to promote his agenda.

The current president often advertises himself as a fighter for veterans of the military. Yet Trump's actual track record in this area is far from pristine. The president notoriously disgraced Sen. John McCain for being a prisoner of war. He started a feud with a Muslim family of a slain U.S. soldier, Human Saqib Muazzam Khan.

Trump's latest comment on veterans only proves that Trump's first and only concern is himself. After Trump's Memorial Day tweet, the president returned to his normal Monday routine: Tweeting about the investigation into Russia election interference.

For every tweet about Memorial Day, Trump had two tweets about “Spygate” — his new conspiracy theory that delegitimizes the investigation into his campaign. Trump tweeted Monday that former acting Attorney General Sally Yates was “part of concerns” and that the Obama administration took actions that “goes to the heart of our electoral system.”

A normal Monday for the president.

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Italian Voters Head for Euro Showdown

May 28, 2018 in Economics

By Alberto Mingardi

Alberto Mingardi

MILAN — So Italy will not be the first country in Western
Europe to be led by Euroskeptic populists after all. Or, at least,
not for the next few months. On Sunday, Italy’s head of
state, President Sergio Mattarella blocked the formation of a new government
supported by the far-right League and the anti-establishment 5Stars
Movement, a sort of “grand coalition of the extremes.”

The two parties wanted Paolo Savona, an 82-year-old technocrat
who has fantasized in public about a “secret plan to leave
the euro,” as the all-powerful economy minister. And they
refused to back down when Mattarella pushed back. The Italian
president probably feared the effect of Savona’s appointment
on a number of treasury auctions this week, and that Italy losing
access to the bond markets was a very concrete possibility.

Italians are angry at the
establishment, but are afraid of impending financial
disaster.

What happens now? Mattarella has sent for Carlo Cottarelli, an International
Monetary Fund technocrat who is widely known in Italy as an enemy
of government waste. (He was a consultant in charge of the
government spending review, before then-Prime Minister Matteo Renzi
fired him.) Cottarelli may form a new executive and go for a
confidence vote to the chambers. He’s unlikely to win a
plurality, but will be able to stay on to the next election, which
seem likely to be held in September or October.

Politics sometimes is gambling with other people’s money.
League leader Matteo Salvini staged a dust-up over the
appointment of Savona, so he can go back to the ballot in the hope
of cashing in on a post-election surge in popularity. Mattarella,
for his part, gambled that the next three months will see major
changes in the Italian political scene, resulting in an electoral
outcome completely different from the last one. Nothing is certain,
at the moment.

In refusing to give a green light to the new government,
the Italian presidentstressed he would consider
the impact to people’s savings, which the Italian
constitution “encourages” and, crucially,
“protects.” Governments may jeopardize them by
accident, but not on purpose. In his speech, Mattarella has also
performed the quintessential political act: He has chosen the
electoral battlefield.

The president of the republic has made allegiance to the
European Union and the euro an implicit theme of the next electoral
campaign. Referenda on international treaties are prohibited by the
Italian constitution, but that’s nonetheless in effect what
the next electoral campaign will be.

If the next election is to be a Yes/No referendum on the euro,
it is difficult to forecast how it will …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Restoring Accountability to the Business of Banking

May 28, 2018 in Economics

By John A. Allison, Lydia Mashburn

John A. Allison and Lydia Mashburn

On Thursday, President Trump signed the Economic Growth,
Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act — the first
significant financial regulatory reform bill to become law since
the crisis-era Dodd-Frank Act. Although some may claim this
represents an undoing of Dodd-Frank, what the president enacted is
far from the anticipated overhaul. Instead, the changes primarily
give community banks relief from regulations — which makes
sense since they weren’t the drivers of the financial crisis
and are crucial for economic growth.

If small businesses are engines of economic growth in the U.S.,
community banks have long specialized in providing much of their
fuel.

Community banks, building on their direct personal relationships
with customers and deep understanding of their local economies, are
able to provide small-business loans, home mortgages and other
forms of consumer credit. Their on-the-ground perspective gives
them detailed knowledge of each loan’s risks and rewards, and
the risks their borrowers face.

If small businesses are
engines of economic growth in the U.S., community banks have long
specialized in providing much of their fuel.

Dodd-Frank made many banks’ relationship-based loans
impossible, as regulators favored check-the-box loans that met
their own definitions of “safe.”

Two especially harmful regulations are the Qualified Mortgage
rule and the Ability-to-Repay rule. Combined, they push banks to
primarily issue mortgages that meet standards established by the
government-sponsored enterprises, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Besides making it nearly impossible for a bank to adjust mortgage
terms according to a homebuyer’s needs, the rules, in
conjunction with myriad reporting requirements, have added hundreds
of pages of paperwork to mortgage applications and make it
difficult for consumers to qualify for mortgages.

These mortgage regulations have had a chilling effect: From 2015
to 2016, when the Qualified Mortgage rule took full effect,
relationship-based mortgages fell from 14 percent to just 9 percent
of a typical bank’s mortgage lending.

Perhaps the costs would be warranted if the return is safety.
But the evidence suggests that community banks are good at making
sound mortgage loans, with their relationship-based loans
outperforming even the highest quality fixed-rate and prime
mortgages. Whether Fannie and Freddie standards make for safe
mortgages, the subprime crisis leaves little confidence.

In the post-crisis world, community banks are also subject to
more stringent prudential regulatory standards.

Prudential regulations are meant to make the financial system
less prone to failure. In reality, they substitute the
banker’s risk judgments with the regulator’s —
and make riskier options seem cheaper. While arguably needed for
larger and “systematically important” banks, they make
little sense for small banks.

International risk-weighted capital standards are one example.
If a bank holds mortgage-backed securities or sovereign debt,
regulators count those assets as being …read more

Source: OP-EDS