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Trump's Tariffs Could Hurt Millions of Americans, But Media Focuses Instead on Presidential Drama

June 16, 2018 in Blogs

By Bobby Lewis, Media Matters

News reports and experts say the tariffs will hurt Americans in a number of ways.


On May 31, CBS News reported on retaliatory tariffs from Canada, Mexico, and the European Union, targeting numerous products including American steel and aluminum, playing cards, motorcycles, and tobacco. European Commission president Jean-Paul Juncker said that Trump’s move “leaves us with no choice but to proceed … with the imposition of additional duties on a number of imports from the U.S.”

News reports and experts say the tariffs will hurt Americans in a number of ways. Though the steel and aluminum industries stand to benefit, “almost every US industry” that uses these metals will be faced with higher manufacturing costs, which “will likely get passed on to consumers.” These higher costs could “kill hundreds of thousands of jobs” as companies scramble to offset artificially high prices. Retaliatory tariffs levied by other nations are threatening a wide range of businesses, from agriculture to commercial production. According to The New York Times, even Trump’s own Council of Economic Advisers concluded that the tariffs would hamper economic growth.  

But media coverage of U.S. allies’ responses to Trump’s economic attack centered on  the sensationalism and drama of the moment. Though CNN interviewed or cited economists in a few segments on the tariffs’ effects for American workers and business, the majority of the punditry  focused on the shock value of levying tariffs against U.S. allies. CNN also interviewed Stephen Moore, a Trump campaign economic advisor whom CNN hired as its in-house defender of the president who dodged policy questions to muddy the facts and obsequiously push the Trump agenda (which is how interviews with former or current Trump officials usually go); the network did not interview any workers who could potentially be hurt by the retaliatory tariffs.

Fox News, meanwhile, played up the personal drama Trump incited with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Fox personalities said that “the public spat between these world leaders [Trump and Trudeau] is something to watch,” argued that Trudeau should …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Chicago Mayor Signs Off on Elon Musk’s Neoliberal Vision for Public Transit

June 16, 2018 in Blogs

By Nicole Karlis, Salon

Academics, politicians are skeptical of the price tag and timeline


Serial entrepreneur Elon Musk’s new tunneling transportation enterprise, the Boring Company, has been selected to build a 12-minute, 18-mile rapid transit connection between Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and downtown. The contract is a big leap of faith for Musk's two-year-old enterprise, which has received little in the way of real-world contracts.

The Chicago Tribune reported that Musk’s company was chosen from four competing bids to build an underground tunnel that would contain a train that would move people between O’Hare and downtown Chicago. The new system would replace the oft-frustrating L train, which makes the same trip.

According to a video highlighting the technology's concept, the proposed tunnel would house a fully autonomous 16-passenger vehicle that would travel at 100 miles per hour. The cost per ride would be $20 to $25.

Yet Musk’s prototype has yet to be tested in the real world. That makes  Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s decision to go with Musk’s company particularly eyebrow-raising. Indeed, the Emanuel administration’s decision to reward the tunneling contract to the Boring Company constitutes a gamble on an entrepreneur with a reputation for being the consummate hypeman.

Reports that Emanuel was considering Musk for the project date back to last summer. In August 2017, the Chicago Tribune obtained emails under a Freedom of Information Act request that showed Emanuel was having preliminary conversations about the deal with Antonio Gracias, founder of Valor Equity Partners, an investment firm. A Chicago Tribune report found that Valor Equity and/or its owners had donated $7,100 to Emanuel during his third term. Furthermore, the Tribune reports that Gracias is also an investor in Musk's Tesla and SpaceX — though reportedly he has not invested in the Boring Company.

According to the Chicago Tribune:

Gracias said his firm has not invested in Musk's Boring Co. or drilling efforts, and said, “Mr. Musk never asked me to raise the topic with the mayor.” It was Emanuel who pitched the idea of Musk pursuing high-speed transportation in Chicago, said Gracias, who with his wife has contributed a total of $22,700 to the mayor's campaign fund.

“The mayor and I were discussing his vision to continue to improve the …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Republicans from Reagan to Trump: Replacing Courage with Cowardice

June 16, 2018 in Blogs

By Donald Sheppard, Salon

When did the GOP add cowardice to its platform?


My choice in political parties was clear from my first opportunity to vote. I supported everything the Republican Party stood for in America – fiscal conservatism, individual freedom and responsibility, free market capitalism, the works.

I was influenced, as so many Americans were, by Ronald Reagan. He defined Republicanism to me and other Americans by doing more than simply expressing the party’s values. Reagan lived them, winning enormous numbers of supporters to his side on the basis of his character alone. Even long-time Democrats awarded him their vote because he expressed values that Americans long cherished – trust, honesty, respect for others, equality for everyone, and keeping the promises you make.

Republicans scored congressional successes on Regan’s qualities over three presidential elections, counting George H.W. Bush’s coat-tails ride.

Where are they riding now?

Where are the Republicans who once shared Reagan’s celebrated vision of a great shining city on the hill?

Because we no longer fit that image. Very little glow shines from America to the world these days. And the hill we once stood upon has become an odorous pit of mud-slinging speeches and immoral behavior. We have become a nation led by a man whose primary attributes have little in common with Ronald Reagan or any other Republican leader in our history. The current Chief Executive of America shapes his actions with personal insults, unscrupulous business tactics, arrogant bragging, volatile decision-making, and hostile attitudes to our allies.

While multiple voices among America’s media, social groups, industry and other sectors shudder at the man’s behavior, one group appears to fashion its role according to three baboons from my childhood days – the ones who could see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil. Most Republican politicians refuse to acknowledge the unsavory antics of the current resident of the White House. Instead, they search for angles to support his capers and comments. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz burrow in the mud searching for compliments to bestow on the man who has treated them with the utmost disdain and, in the case of Cruz, threw insults …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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While No One's Looking, Republicans Are Waging a Guerrilla War on Your Healthcare

June 16, 2018 in Blogs

By Terry Schwadron, DC Report

Trump doesn't have the votes to kill Obamacare so now he just won't enforce it.


While Trump preens in the afterglow of his questionable achievements at the negotiating table with North Korea, let’s take a look elsewhere — at the Trump administration decision to abandon Obamacare requirements that health insurance cover pre-existing conditions.

Late last week, the government said in filings in a federal court case that the requirement to cover those who need healthcare the most will become “unconstitutional” next year as well as protections forbidding insurers to deny coverage to those with pre-existing medical conditions.

Indeed, the Justice Department declined to defend the federal law in a suit brought by states against the provisions of the Affordable Care Act. Just how that fits with an administration that seems fixated on “law and order” is a little hard to explain, but if it comes down to defending a law with which the administration disagrees, I guess that is within bounds.

The Health and Human Services secretary, Alex Azar, told a congressional hearing on Tuesday that he wants to preserve access to affordable insurance for those with pre-existing medical conditions, but he declined to disclose his view of an administration move that could undercut such consumer protections. He called the government’s move “a constitutional position . . . not a policy position” and sidestepped questions about whether he agreed with the legal decision.

Several senators, mostly Democrats, attacked the decision.

As The Washington Post noted, “The administration’s legal stance injects profound uncertainty into the political debate and the health-care landscape at a critical moment, just as insurance companies are developing rates for the coming year and as candidates head into a summer campaign season that both parties will try to use to solidify a foothold for their agendas.”

We can expect that this issue will top every local Democratic agenda in the mid-term elections in November.

Across the board, Republicans, Democrats and health professionals all say they have plans for providing healthcare, but none of these ideas ever seems to make it into legislation. So, instead, we have a guerrilla war underway …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Monticello Officially Recognizes the Rest of Thomas Jefferson’s Children

June 16, 2018 in Blogs

By Lucian K. Truscott IV, Salon

Our founding father, my 6th great-grandfather, had 6 children with his slave Sally Hemings


When my brother Frank and I visited our great aunts Mary Walker and Agnes Randolph at their home in Charlottesville in the early 1950s, they used to load us into the back seat of the family Buick and drive up the mountain to Monticello and drop us off for the day. My aunts had been born at Edgehill, the Randolph family plantation, just a few miles down the mountain. My aunts treated Monticello as the family home, and we were given the run of the place.

We played on our sixth great-grandfather's bed, we ran around upstairs in the unfinished bedrooms and played marbles in the Dome Room. We explored the cave-like work and storage rooms beneath the house, and we crawled out one of the upstairs windows onto the roof and playfully dropped pebbles on tourists as they passed by on the walks below.

If you took a tour of the place back then, you were unlikely to hear the word “slave.” Tours made it sound like Jefferson built the place and was the only person living there. The truth was far different. Jefferson owned as many as 600 slaves during his lifetime, and in the years after he retired to Monticello from the presidency, there were some 100 to 125 slaves living and working at his plantation every day.

Thomas Jefferson’s slaves built Monticello. They cleared the land and felled every tree, they sawed and finished every board, they made and laid every brick, they forged and pounded every nail in that house. They planted and harvested his vegetable garden and crops. They made his life at Monticello possible. Without slaves, Thomas Jefferson would not have had the time in the day to write the Declaration of Independence. Without slaves, the White House wouldn’t have been built. Neither would the Capitol building. In this and so many other ways, slaves are truly among the Founding Fathers and Founding Mothers of this country, and yet up there at Mr. Jefferson’s house, it was as if they …read more

Source: ALTERNET