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Melania Trump's Spokeswoman Reveals Giuliani Has No Idea What He's Talking About—And Everyone Else Seems to Agree

June 7, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

Rudy Giuliani is being rebuked on all sides.


Since Rudy Giuliani became President Donald Trump's lawyer, he's made a lot of wild and outrageous claims. And many of them, it turns out, are just not true.

The former New York mayor faced a stern rebuke on Thursday from a spokeswoman of First Lady Melania Trump on the topic of the president's alleged affair with Stephanie Clifford, who is better known as porn star Stormy Daniels. The day before, Giuliani had claimed that the first lady didn't believe Clifford and trusts her husband when he says the affair never happened.

But when New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman asked the first lady's spokeswoman about these claims, she said: “I don't believe Mrs. Trump has ever discussed her thoughts on anything with Mr. Giuliani.”

CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins noted in response to the spokeswoman's comment: “He's not exactly popular in the White House…”

It wasn't even clear why Giuliani was discussing the Clifford affair in the first place — his role is to serve as Trump's defense in the Russia investigation. But Giuliani arguably made an even bigger misstep when it came to another topic even further outside his purview: North Korea.

This week, Giuliani claimed that the country's leader Kim Jong begged Trump “on his hands and knees” to go to the canceled Singapore summit. 

When asked about these comments Thursday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo likewise dismissed Giuliani's comments and said he was “not being serious.”

“Rudy doesn’t speak for the administration when it comes this negotiation,” Pompeo said.

Watch the clip below:

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'Your Silence Is Going to Get Someone Killed!': MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace Unleashes Furious Tirade At Trump Enablers

June 7, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

“How does no one quit when the president is constantly tweeting smears about law enforcement?


President Donald Trump's unfettered attacks on the FBI agents investigating him and his campaign have disturbed many of his critics, but MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace took particular ire with his continued smear campaign on Thursday.

She made it clear that she doesn't just hold him responsible, but also those around him.

“How does no one quit when the president is constantly tweeting smears about law enforcement?” she asked on her show “Deadline: White House.”

“One word: Power,” said guest Nick Confessore. “To be in power, to have power, to have access to power. The president is the most powerful guy in the world, and they are defending his hold on that office.”

He added: “It's no surprise to me at all that his course of action in his presidency is to further sow doubt about the institutions.”

But those answers weren't satisfying to Wallace, inspiring her to express her deep outrage at Trump's enablers.

“I know he doesn't care,” she said. “Here are the things I know, and here are the things I'm tired of hearing on this show: His base is unshakable, the president's comfortable obliterating norms, nothing's going to happen. Something's going to happen! Somebody's going to get hurt! And where is the outcry for the enablers? There are real people who are standing by — the Justice Department just greenlet a third briefing of classified information about a Republican informant. None of us should know his name, but we all do! Because the president wants to know what he knew about the counterintelligence investigation into his campaign.”

She continued: “And I guess my question is: When do people stand up and say 'You are tainted! Your silence is going to get someone killed!'”

Watch the clip below:

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'It Really Is Topsy-Turvy Land': Fox News' Shep Smith Dismantles Trump's 'Absurd' Coddling of Dictators

June 7, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

“I don't know if we need to be friends with a murderer.”


President Donald Trump's foreign policy is not just baffling to American allies — it's causing widespread confusion at home as well.

“It really is topsy-turvy land,” said Fox News host Shep Smith on Thursday while discussing Trump's most recent press conference with Axios reporter Alayna Treene.

During the event with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump had said he plans to invite North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to the White House if their upcoming summit in Singapore goes well.

“For clarity, Kim Jong-un murdered his brother. That's just the beginning. Kim Jong-un has had generations of families locked up for things granddad did,” Smith said. “We're talking about him having a visit to the White House. It is hard to wrap your head around.”

He continued: “You want to make things better on the Korean peninsula? Of course. … But I don't want to know if we need to be friends with a murderer. I'm not sure if it's in the cards.”

At the same time, Smith pointed out, Trump is treating American allies terribly. On the one hand, he's declared Canada a national security threat to justify slapping tariffs on its goods. On the other, the Commerce Department just announced a deal to begin trading again with the Chinese telecommunications company ZTE, which the military community believes is an actual national security threat.

“What we see with the administration, things happen quickly and Trump thinks on his feet,” Treene said. “But the long game isn't always in play.”

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…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Hardware Store Owner Put Up ‘No Gays Allowed’ Sign Following Supreme Court Bakery Ruling

June 7, 2018 in Blogs

By David Badash, The New Civil Rights Movement

He replaced it later with a sign that took a bit more of a “legal” tone.


It was 2015, days after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled same-sex couples have the same rights and responsibilities as different-sex couples to marry. Tennessee hardware store owner Jeff Amyx was not putting up with that, so instead he put up a sign saying, “No Gays Allowed,” and told folks he was banning “the homosexual people.”

Shortly after, Amyx replaced it with a sign that took a bit more of a “legal” tone: “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone who would violate our rights of freedom of speech & freedom of religion.”

He wants you to know he doesn’t hate gays, he hates sin, by the way.

And, “on Monday, Amyx posted a sign saying ‘No Gays Allowed’ at his store again,” Syrause.com reports.

This week’s Supreme Court ruling in favor of an anti-gay Christian baker prompted Amyx to post the new “No Gays Allowed” sign, because why not? Amyx, a Baptist minister, told WBIR that after the cake baker’s win, he’s seeing “a ray of sunshine” and a “great win.”

Which has emboldened him once again.

“This is ‘happy days’ for Christians all over America, but dark days will come,” Amyx warned this week. “Christianity is under attack. This is a great win, don’t get me wrong, but this is not the end, this is just the beginning,” he claims, of the supposed war on Christians.

Back in 2015 when marriage equality became the law of the land Amyx was certain he and his fellow Christians were being persecuted. (Despite selling bumper stickers in his shop that read, “Choose God or Gays,” Amyx may be surprised to learn that many gay people are also Christians.)

“They gladly stand for what they believe in, why can’t I? They believe their way is right, I believe it’s wrong. But yet I’m going to take more persecution than them because I’m standing for what I believe in,” Amyx said then.

Here’s WBIR’s interview with Amyx this week:

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Government Loan Programmes Are Failing the Most Vulnerable Students

June 7, 2018 in Economics

By Diego Zuluaga

Diego Zuluaga

To extend credit to people in the knowledge that they are
unlikely to repay is decried by some as predatory lending. Those
suspected of engaging in this practice will face scorn from
regulators and opprobrium in the media.

Yet predatory is not an inaccurate sobriquet for government
policy towards the funding of higher education. So doggedly have
administrations around the world pursued the goal of giving
everyone a degree, that they haven’t stopped to ponder
whether this drive benefits taxpayers — or, indeed, students
themselves.

As so often with government-induced disasters, the original
motivation was laudable. Because human capital accumulation raises
worker productivity and therefore salaries, higher education was
viewed as a driver of increased prosperity and social mobility.
Moreover, since higher productivity raises output and tax revenue,
having more educated workers became not just a private but a social
good in politicians’ minds.

Governments on both sides
of the Atlantic are trapping many young people in debt at the start
of their working life in pursuit of qualifications that, plainly,
do not benefit them.

However, the crisis and its aftermath have forced an unwanted
reckoning. Even as enrolment rates have climbed strongly, rising
from 49 to 69 per cent among US high school graduates
— especially those from lower-income backgrounds – between the
1970s and 2016, and reaching 49 per cent among all 18-year-olds in
Britain, the expected returns have failed to materialise for
many.

A 2014 report from the Urban Institute, using a
conservative methodology, found 25 per cent of US bachelor’s
degree holders working in occupations for which they were
overqualified. In Britain, as many as 16 per cent of those in employment
between the ages of 16 and 64 were “overeducated” in
2015, up from 13 per cent in 2006.

Overqualification need not be a concern so long as it’s
the product of choice. It is generally associated with lower median
earnings than occupations which require a university degree. But
plenty of less-than-well-paid jobs, such as journalism, political
activism and creative writing, feature a preponderance of
university graduates in their ranks.

The problem arises when overqualification stems from
graduates’ inability to find suitable work.

It may be that their specific skills do not match the needs of
firms – which might require more introverted computer scientists
and fewer eloquent philosophers — or that the skills taught
in universities do not add up to much valuable human capital.
Economist Bryan Caplan has persuasively contended that college education
is more a signalling device than a provider of hard skills. If that
is the case, then encouraging university attendance will …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Poland Wants an American Garrison: Let Germany Do It!

June 7, 2018 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

For years American officials have variously demanded, urged, and
begged European governments to increase military outlays. For years
the Europeans have instead reduced their spending, manpower, and
procurement. There has been a slight uptick in their defense
efforts under President Donald Trump, but most NATO members,
including large and important nations such as Germany, Italy, and
Spain, aren’t coming close to meeting the official standard of
spending 2 percent of their GDPs on defense.

Now Poland, which fell just short of that level last year, is
requesting that Washington establish a permanent base and garrison.
Warsaw says it will kick in a couple billion dollars, while
Washington can pick up the change on its way to confronting
nuclear-armed Russia in a crisis.

But instead of sticking America with yet another tab, it would
make more sense for Poland to send its bill to Berlin. German
Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for European leadership on
defense. But her coalition partners won’t let the continent’s
dominant nation and biggest economy meet its military obligations.
The Germans should garrison their neighbor in return for the
cash.

The transatlantic alliance made sense when it was established in
1949. Western Europe was still recovering from World War II and
Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Union was a cautious predator. The continent
required time to reestablish something approaching a reasonable
balance of power.

Before taking office
Trump seemed to understand that European free-riding was
counterproductive. What about now?

Still, Dwight Eisenhower, who served as NATO’s first
Supreme Allied Commander, warned against a permanent American
presence that would “discourage the development of the
necessary military strength Western European countries should
provide themselves.”

Allied outlays remained anemic even after the continent’s
recovery. The end of the Cold War triggered a rush to demobilize
while NATO expanded toward the new Russian Federation’s
shrunken borders—despite contrary Western assurances given to
Soviet and later Russian officials. Few considered how to defend
new members, essentially treating the alliance as a
gentleman’s club to which every respectable nation should
belong.

The Russo-Georgian war of 2008 and especially the 2014 conflict
between Ukraine and Russia have since reminded Europeans that NATO
is, in fact, a militaryalliance. Yet only
“new” Europe, as Donald Rumsfeld called it, seemed much
worried about Moscow’s intentions, demanding guarantees that
the alliance would hold off Vladimir Putin and his hordes.

“Old” Europe offered its formal assent but not much
more. Instead, Washington created a special budget line to augment
its forces in Europe. First came the European Reassurance
Initiative, which then morphed into the European Deterrence
Initiative. At $6.5 billion this year, the EDI spends more than
Belgium, Denmark, Romania, and Greece devote to their entire
militaries. Meanwhile, the pending …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Republicans, Don’t Let Trump Bully You on Tariffs

June 7, 2018 in Economics

By Daniel J. Ikenson

Daniel J. Ikenson

For several months, President Trump has been vandalizing the
global economy and subverting the rules of international trade with
his wrecking ball of tariff indiscretions. Finally, someone in
Congress is doing something to stop this menace. Senator Bob
Corker, a Republican from Tennessee, introduced legislation on
Wednesday that takes back some of the authority President Trump has
been abusing under the guise of protecting national security.

Mr. Corker, who is retiring, attracted six Republican
co-sponsors for the bill, which would amend the Trade Expansion Act
of 1962 to require the president to get approval from Congress for
any tariffs proposed on national security grounds. But the Senate
majority leader, Mitch McConnell, said he would not allow the
legislation to come to the floor as a stand-alone bill. House
Speaker Paul Ryan seems similarly uninterested in a bill likely to
be vetoed by Mr. Trump. “You would have to pass a law that he
would want to sign into law,” Mr. Ryan said. “You can
do the math on that.”

For several months,
President Trump has been vandalizing the global economy and
subverting the rules of international trade with his wrecking ball
of tariff indiscretions. Finally, someone in Congress is doing
something to stop this menace.

Why don’t the president’s trade transgressions
elicit meaningful resistance from party leadership? His trade views
are disdainful of freedom and informed by economic fallacies, yet
Republican leaders have watched quietly from the sidelines as Mr.
Trump misappropriates his authorities to disrupt global supply
chains, inflict pain on American trade partners, generate enormous
amounts of domestic collateral damage and make the United States an
international scofflaw.

The United States Constitution vests authority in Congress to
collect duties and to “regulate commerce with foreign
nations.” But over the course of the 20th century, Congress
delegated some of its authority to the president. In most cases,
the statutes giving the executive branch the authority to raise
tariffs require that certain conditions be met and that any actions
taken be subject to limitations, as well as judicial review.

President Trump has found a way to weaponize these statutes to
advance his “America First” agenda. Since taking
office, he has initiated six investigations under three highly
contentious laws. Five of those investigations — on steel,
aluminum, washing machines, solar panel components and Chinese
technology products — have led to the president imposing or
announcing tariffs on imports of more than 1,500 products valued at
about $100 billion. A new investigation of whether imports of
automobiles and parts constitute a national security threat could
raise the value of sanctioned imports to $400 billion. Factoring in
the likelihood of retaliation against American exporters, …read more

Source: OP-EDS