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'Lindsey Graham Is a Danger to the Country': Rand Paul Warns Against Reckless Republican War-Mongering

June 11, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

CNN's Wolf Blitzer was taken aback by the lawmaker's harsh rebuke of a fellow Republican.


While U.S. senators often go out of their way not to excessively disparage their colleagues in personal terms, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) took the rare step Monday of declaring fellow Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham (SC) a “danger to the country.” 

Paul made the comments on CNN while discussing the North Korea summit with Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room.” Blitzer noted that Graham has called for a vote on an authorization of the use of military force against North Korea should President Donald Trump's negotiations fail.

“Lindsey Graham is a danger to the country by even proposing ideas like authorizing war with Korea, my goodness,” Paul said. ”That should be something that is seen as naive and seen as something that really serious people shouldn't really even be discussing.”

“You're calling a fellow Republican senator a 'danger to the country'?” Blitzer asked. “I want you to elaborate.”

 ”Well, if you've watched over time, I think what you've seen with Lindsey Graham is a naive worldview where he believes that war is always the answer, and that also means that expenditures for war are always the answer,” Paul said. “And so I think that's bankrupting us as a country. But it's also gotten us involved in dozens and dozens of wars, where it's not really clear what the American interest is in those wars. And I think sometimes the reaction to our involvement in those wars is actually worse than had we not been involved at all.”

Watch the clip below:

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'Their Blood Is on Your Hands': Democratic Senator Blasts Jeff Sessions' 'Shameful' Decision on Refugees

June 11, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

“Once again, an administration that claims to be tough on crime is actually just tough on crime victims.”


Attorney General Jeff Sessions' ruling Monday that the Justice Department would no longer consider domestic abuse and gang violence to be reasons for seeking asylum was met with immediate outrage and alarm.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) was particularly caustic in his response to Sessions' deeply troubling decision.

“Once again, an administration that claims to be tough on crime is actually just tough on crime victims,” Blumenthal said in a statement. “Today’s shameful decision by the Attorney General slams the door in the face of women fleeing brutal violence, LGBT refugees fleeing persecution, and thousands of others seeking safety in the United States.”

He continued: “America is better than this, but apparently Attorney General Jeff Sessions is not. Today’s decision will send untold numbers of refugees to their deaths. Attorney General Sessions: their blood is on your hands.”

The decision still allows that people immigrants seeking asylum in the United States on grounds of domestic abuse or gang violence can still apply, but it makes it very unlikely they will be successful. Not even legitimate and verified threats that pose an imminent danger toward the asylum-seekers will be considered justification for the claim.

Instead, immigrants must show, among other criteria, that “government protection from such harm in their home country is so lacking that their persecutors’ actions can be attributed to the government.”

In other words, the fact that people are extremely likely to be killed or otherwise victimized in their home country is not enough, in Sessions' view, to ground their asylum claim. That threat must essentially be coming from their government — and they must be able to prove this fact.

As Blumenthal argues, it's hard to escape any conclusion other than that this policy will result in tragic and avoidable deaths.

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'Really Bad Attitude': Ex-U.S. Ambassador to Canada Slams Trump Administration's 'Unconscionable' Treatment of Trudeau

June 11, 2018 in Blogs

By Elizabeth Preza, AlterNet

Bruce Heyman said he's embarrassed by Donald Trump's behavior at the G-7 meeting.


Bruce Heyman, the former U.S. Ambassador to Canada, on Monday slammed Donald Trump’s treatment of Justin Trudeau, and Canada in general, demanding the president apologize for his surrogate’s claim there’s a “special place in hell” for people like the Canadian prime minister.

“That's unconscionable,” Heyman said.“Anybody who represents the United States of America from the White House using that kind of language with any world leader of any type, I think is uncalled for. When you use it with your best friend, your next door neighbor, your greatest ally, and I think one of your singular best trading partners, it's completely uncalled for, unprofessional, and I call for, today, an apology. I think he should apologize to the prime minister. But more importantly, he should apologize to the Canadian public. Using that type of language is not professional, it's not called for, and I tell you, I was deeply disappointed to see this lack of professionalism on his part.”

Heyman added he’s “of course … embarrassed” about Trump’s behavior during the  G-7 meeting, arguing the United States “was doing everything it could do to disrupt this meeting.”

“The president, coming late, stands before the cameras and says, ‘Why don't we add Russia to the group’. I mean seriously, Russia, who took over Crimea, all the violence that's taken place in Ukraine, the poisoning of people in the U.K., the influence in our election this last time period,” Heyman recounted. “This is completely unacceptable, and he knew it would be.”

Noting the president said last week the most important part about his upcoming meeting with Kim Jong-un os “attitude,” Heyman argued Trump “has had a really bad attitude with his partners and his allies.”

“I think he set the news in a completely wrong direction as he headed off to Singapore,” Heyman said. “I think we're in a difficult place now, I'd like to see this thing settle down. Let's use diplomacy and find a path to success with the Canadians in particular.”

Watch below:

<Img align="left" border="0" height="1" width="1" alt="" style="border:0;float:left;margin:0;padding:0;width:1px!important;height:1px!important" …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Trump Administration Will No Longer Grant Asylum to Victims of Domestic Abuse and Gang Violence

June 11, 2018 in Blogs

By David Badash, The New Civil Rights Movement

Effective immediately, the DOJ will refuse those who come to America seeking asylum for those reasons.


Despite President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions' claims, asylum seekers have a legal right to come to America and file for asylum status. The only way to deny victims of domestic violence or gang violence is to alter the asylum policy itself.

Which the Attorney General has now done.

Effective immediately, the DOJ will refuse those who come to America seeking asylum for those reasons.

Evan Halper, who broke the story at the Chicago Tribune, writes:

“Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions has ordered immigration judges to stop granting asylum to most victims of domestic abuse and gang violence, a move that would block tens of thousands of people, especially women, from seeking refuge in America.”

“Generally, claims by aliens pertaining to domestic violence or gang violence perpetrated by non-governmental actors will not qualify for asylum,” Sessions wrote in his ruling. “The mere fact that a country may have problems effectively policing certain crimes—such as domestic violence or gang violence—or that certain populations are more likely to be victims of crime, cannot itself establish an asylum claim.”

This news comes as Americans grow increasingly outraged over the thousands of children who are being ripped from their parents arms because they are undocumented. Trump administration policy now mandates children be separated from their parents in a horrific attempt to reduce the number of people crossing the border illegally.

On Sunday that outrage grew over news that ICE and Border Patrol agents are taking children from parents by telling them they are just going to give them a bath. The children never return, and most likely will never see their parents again. Some are as young as 2 or 3.

As many said on social media, that's what the Nazis did to separate children from parents.

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'They Could Have Skyped': MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace Mocks Trump for Tamping Down Expectations Ahead of North Korea Summit

June 11, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

Trump's goals for the summit have been all over the map.


As President Donald Trump heads to his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, expectations for the meeting are all over the place. MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace pointed out Monday that Trump himself now seems to be setting up expectations to be pretty low — especially after the disastrous G-7 meeting last week.

“Fresh off the heels of a diplomatic debacle in Canada in which Donald Trump managed to clash with some of America's oldest and closest allies, Trump is trying his luck with one of America's adversaries, Kim Jong-un, in the hope that upon meeting Donald Trump, Kim will agree to denuclearize the Korean peninsula,” Wallace said on her show “Deadline: White House.” “That's the stated goal of America's Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: The complete and verifiable denuclearization of North Korea.”

But Wallace noted that Trump has already shown that he has different expectations for the Summit than Pompeo.

“At a minimum, I do believe at least we'll have met each other, we'll have seen each other, hopefully, we'll have liked each other, and we'll start that process,” Trump said at a press conference over the weekend. “So I would say that will be the minimal. And the maximum, I think you know the answer to that. But I think that will take a little bit of time.”

“'See each other'?” Wallace asked. “I hate to break this to the advance teams, but if that was all he was after, they could have Skyped!”

Watch the clip below:

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Capitalism's Critics Need to Be Told About Its 200 Years of Success

June 11, 2018 in Economics

By Ryan Bourne

Ryan Bourne

Sometimes, there’s nothing more controversial than a
self-evident truth, especially on Twitter.

Want to trigger a swarm of angry Corbynistas? Mention how
capitalism has greatly reduced material misery in the past 200
years. “If you honestly believe that, I actually feel bad for
you,” one replied. Others mused that capitalism was
responsible for slavery, war, poverty, hunger, and inequality. All
of which would be news to anyone who has studied pre-19th century
history.

Whether through ignorance or utopianism, lots of people forget
we live in unprecedented prosperity. Poverty is not a product of
capitalism, but has been with mankind for all time. The facts speak
for themselves. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, most people
lived on about £2.20 per day, or £800 per year in
today’s money, according to economic historian Deirdre
McCloskey. In 2015, average earnings for a full-time UK employee
were £27,600.

But it’s not just income. Capitalism has liberated us from
back-breaking agricultural and domestic toil, reducing average
hours worked considerably. Crop yields have risen. Undernourishment
has collapsed. Access to electricity has dramatically increased.
Global average life expectancy rose from 52.5 years in 1960 to 71.6
in 2015 alone.

Yes, there are costs to development, including on the
environment (though these days wealthy countries are far more
environmentally friendly than poor). But the idea capitalism itself
makes us sicker, more exploited and poorer is a historical
nonsense. The Corbynistas implicitly admit as much when they pivot
to extolling how rich we are to justify ramping up government
spending.

As the American conservative commentator Jonah Goldberg explains
in his new book, Suicide of the West, the past 200-plus years have
been a “miracle” in the truest sense of the word. The
take-off in human flourishing is largely unexplained by
conventional economics, because lots of the components we take as
partial explanations — trade, property rights, and
technological advances — were found in previous societies,
without the dramatic results. Both Goldberg and McCloskey conclude
that a combination of ideology and rhetoric, including the
elevation of individual liberty and innovation, were critical
factors that birthed the golden egg-laying goose.

The major problem is capitalism is unnatural. Human nature is
instinctively tribalistic, even socialistic. We’ve got rich
not because we are now free to act on our instincts, but because we
developed a system restraining them. But our innate, romantic
tribal desires live on. In an era in which civil society is weak,
we put more demands on politics to fulfil it, in turn blaming alien
capitalistic institutions for all ills. The result is fomenting
across developed countries. On the Left, through increasing
identity politics, and resurgent socialism; on the Right,
burgeoning anti-immigrant feeling and nationalism; on both, rabid
partisanship and …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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The U.S.-North Korea Summit: Some Daunting Obstacles

June 11, 2018 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

The on-again, off-again summit meeting between President Donald
Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un is on again. However,
crucial conditions must be met for the event to become anything
other than a brief photo opportunity that later descends into an
exchange of vitriol. Various experts have argued that Kim must
commit to his country’s complete de-nuclearization for the
summit to succeed. That may well be true, and it is highly
uncertain whether he is willing to take such a drastic step. Even
if he does, there also must be important changes in U.S. policy.
Two shifts are imperative.

One is that Washington must abandon its fixation on the
“Libya model” as the outcome it seeks. Vice President
Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and National Security
Advisor John Bolton have all invoked that model in recent weeks.
Their citation of the Libya agreement has led critics to wonder
whether those outspoken hawks are trying to sabotage the
negotiations. One could scarcely come up with an argument less
likely to induce Kim to compromise than highlighting the Libya
precedent.

Even if President Trump
is willing to embrace maximum diplomatic flexibility, the odds
still are against a comprehensive agreement emerging from the
summit.

An accord was reached between Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi
and the Western powers in 2003 following the U.S.-led invasion and
occupation of Iraq. The Libyan leader appeared to be trying to
avoid Saddam Hussein’s fate. Qaddafi agreed to abandon
Libya’s embryonic nuclear program and revive Tripoli’s
adherence to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. In exchange, the
Western powers agreed to lift the economic sanctions they had
imposed on Libya, normalize their relations with Tripoli, and
welcome Qaddafi’s government back into international forums
and institutions.

There are two problems with an attempt to apply the Libya model
to North Korea. First, there is a massive difference between the
Libyan and North Korean nuclear programs. Tripoli’s effort
was in its infancy, so agreeing to abandon it was not a huge
concession. Pyongyang’s program is far advanced. Indeed, most
experts believe that the country has enough nuclear material to
build more than a dozen weapons, and the regime very likely has
built and deployed nearly that number already. North Korea has
conducted several underground nuclear tests as well as multiple
tests of ballistic missile delivery systems. In other words,
Washington is asking Kim to give up an existing, albeit still
modest, nuclear arsenal. That is a much greater concession than
Qaddafi was expected to make.

But there is a second, even more important, reason why the Libya
model is sheer poison to North Korea. Kim and his colleagues
remember all-too-well what happened to …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Bad Rules Can Cost Money Even Before Being Implemented

June 11, 2018 in Economics

By Ike Brannon

Ike Brannon

Beryllium is not exactly the sexiest of the elements, but I feel
compelled to write about it just the same.

While it is relatively rare in the universe and has only a few
useful applications, it does happen to be incredibly useful in
those applications. For instance, because it is so light (its
atomic number is 4) and forms a strong alloy with other metals, it
is essential in the construction of satellites and spaceships.

It turns out the the metal is also harmful to humans should they
ingest it. For nearly all of us that is not remotely possible, but
for some people who work in the industries and occupations that
produce or use beryllium, especially those that do abrasive
blasting work, exposure can be a concern.

As it happens, workers in such industries also face potential
exposure from other possible contaminants as well, a reality that
some time ago led to OSHA to require that that companies take
multiple steps to protect these workers in some way.

When Washington imposes
confusing, unnecessary and burdensome regulations there are always
unanticipated winners and losers that go beyond mere compliance
costs.

Abrasive blasting is already subject to over two dozen OSHA
rules governing worker safety, including preventative measures to
avoid undue exposure to airborne chemicals. As a result, illnesses
from exposure to beryllium in these industries have been all but
nonexistent in the U.S.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration several years
considering whether to reduce the already-low exposure standards
for beryllium. It had preliminarily decided to exempt abrasive
manufacturers, since it did not appear that new regulations would
not result in any discernible safety improvements, but its final
regulation, issued in the waning days of the Obama Administration,
contained no such exemption.

I

argued at the time
that this last-minute increase in the
rule’s scope made no sense at all; it was done without public input
on those changes to the rule, it was unnecessarily intrusive on an
industry that had no instances of beryllium-related illnesses, and
it certainly flunked any objective cost-benefit analysis.

The Trump administration agreed that the haste with which OSHA
made those last minute changes was unwarranted, and in March 2017
it announced a delay of the rule to give it time to reconsider its
scope.

However, while the postponement may have allowed companies that
would have been affected by its implementation to avoid—or at
least delay—spending on costly methods to reduce beryllium
exposure, OSHA’s actions may nonetheless cost them.

Some abrasive manufacturers have begun to

seize on the proposed rule
to market their products as
“beryllium free.” The implication is that glass
abrasives …read more

Source: OP-EDS