You are browsing the archive for 2018 July 11.

Avatar of admin

by admin

'Time Is Running Out on Michael Cohen': Michael Avenatti Predicts Trump's Former Lawyer Will Soon Face Charges

July 11, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

“I don't think this is going to be delayed well into the fall.”


Michael Cohen has recently been signaling his willingness to turn on President Donald Trump — and Michael Avenatti predicts he may very soon get his chance to do just that.

Cohen, who served as the president's lawyer and fixer for years, is under federal investigation, potentially for business and election-related crimes. Many suspect that given his close history with Trump and special counsel Robert Mueller's interest in the case, his wrongdoing may implicate the president as well.

“I think time is certainly running out — I don't think this is going to be delayed well into the fall,” Avenatti, a lawyer who has challenged both Cohen and Trump in court, told MSNBC's Ari Melber on Wednesday. “I know there's a lot of different factors at play right now. So I don't know that it's going to be tomorrow or the next day, or even next week, but I think time is running out on Michael Cohen.”

Pressed by Melber, Avenatti confirmed that he believes Cohen will be arrested by the end of the summer and that Cohen himself knows that. 

“I think he has some idea what those charges will be. I don't think he knows definitively,” Avenatti said.

Watch the clip below:

Related Stories

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

Avatar of admin

by admin

White House Blames 'Pastries and Cheese' for John Kelly's Pained Expression at Summit — Not Trump's Galling Attacks on Allies

July 11, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

It's not even clear the statement was supposed to be taken seriously.


As President Donald Trump lashed out at German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a NATO summit breakfast on Wednesday, White House chief of staff John Kelly sat with a pained expression on his face — an expression many read as disapproval at the president's attacks.

“Germany is a captive of Russia,” said Trump, citing the fact that Germany relies on Russia for its energy supply. “It's very inappropriate. … It certainly doesn't seem to make sense that they paid billions of dollars to Russia, and now we have to defend them against Russia.” 

All the while, Kelly fidgeted in his chair, looked away from Trump, looked down at the ground, and pursed his lips.

In a statement to the Washington Post, press secretary Sarah Sanders confirmed that Kelly was “displeased” — but she denied that it was for the reason people assumed.

He “was displeased because he was expecting a full breakfast and there were only pastries and cheese,” Sanders said.

The statement was so preposterous it's not even clear she actually expected anyone to believe it. Like so much of this presidency and Republican Party politics these days, it seems more like an attempt to troll the media and the administration's critics than an attempt to actually engage in a genuine public relations effort.

Watch the Washington Post's clip of the breakfast below:

Related Stories

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

Avatar of admin

by admin

Here's Why Trump's Commitment to Nominating Young Judges Will Leave a Mark on the Judiciary for Decades

July 11, 2018 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson, AlterNet

The president is shaping America's future in his frightening image.


The United States has yet to have a Generation X president (Barack Obama, born in 1961, is technically among the latter part of the Baby Boomer generation). But when President Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch, now 50, to fill a seat once held by the late Antonin Scalia, Gorsuch became the first Gen-Xer to join the U.S. Supreme Court. In fact, Trump has been nominating Gen-Xers exclusively for the High Court, and that is by no means a coincidence. If Trump has his way, there will be even more Gen X-ers on the Court—all of them far-right ideologues and rigid social conservatives who share the “strict constructionist” philosophy of Scalia and Justice Clarence Thomas.

In the past, presidents didn’t necessarily have a preference for Supreme Court nominees who were in their 40s or early 50s. For example, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, now 85, was already 60 when President Bill Clinton appointed her in 1993. Judge Merrick Garland, who would be on the Supreme Court today instead of Gorsuch had the vindictive Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell not refused to even consider him, was 64 when he received Obama’s nomination. Trump, however, is being quite strategic in his emphasis on Gen-X nominees; he wants to make sure he’s nominating ideologues who are likely to still be on the Court 30 or 35 years from now—and Judge Brett Kavanaugh fits that description. 

On Monday night, Trump officially announced that 53-year-old Brett Kavanaugh would be his nominee to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is now 81 and retiring from the Supreme Court after 30 years at the end of the month. Born February 12, 1965, Kavanaugh is, like Gorsuch, a Gen-Xer—and if he lives as long as Ginsburg, he could still be on the Court in 2050. Trump knows that all too well. 

Before Trump nominated Kavanaugh, others who were said to be on his “short list” of nominees included 46-year-old Amy Coney Barrett and 51-year-old Raymond Kethledge—both Gen-Xers, both “strict constructionists” in the Scalia/Thomas vein and a departure from …read more

Source: ALTERNET

Avatar of admin

by admin

Obama Leaves Trump in the Dust in Public's Ranking of the Best Presidents

July 11, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

“When asked which president has done the best job in their lifetimes, more Americans name Barack Obama than any other president.”


Despite President Donald Trump's fervent support among his base, a recently released

Somewhat surprisingly, President George H.W. Bush (10 percent) ranks behind President George W. Bush — despite the fact that the latter led the country into two endless and largely pointless wars and oversaw the start of the worst economic calamity since the Great Depression.

For those hoping that Trump's tenure is more of a blip on the radar rather than a sign of things to come, the poll offers some comfort. Younger people are far more likely to rank Obama among the best presidents than they are to favor Trump — a sign that Democrats' electoral strength had the potential to grow. And indeed, the fact that Democrats tend to be younger will necessarily skew the poll toward Obama, since younger people will have fewer presidents that were around “in their lifetimes” to choose from.

Even some Republicans appear to be feeling more favorably toward Obama. When the poll was conducted in 2011, only 5 percent of Republicans listed Obama among the best presidents — that number climbed to a (still quite modest) 13 percent in the newest round.

Overall, the poll shouldn't be too surprising. Given the relative strength of the economy, Trump's approval rating remaining in the low 40s, which reflects a pretty dismal failure to win over the public. Meanwhile, Obama — who Trump believed was overseeing a disastrous economy — left office with a Gallup approval rating at 59 percent.

Related Stories

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

Avatar of admin

by admin

'Never Before in History': Fox News' Shep Smith Assails Trump for 'Unprecedented' Attacks on NATO Allies

July 11, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

“The president could turn back the global clock centuries.”


Fox News' Shep Smith sounded the alarm Wednesday about President Donald Trump's relentless and unfounded attacks on NATO, warning, “The president could turn back the global clock centuries.”

Trump, Smith said, “upended world order in the way that no president has. He attacked our closest allies. He berated them and insulted them. He labeled Germany captive to Russia and he blasted NATO agreements that date to World War II.”

In fact, Trump's attack began long before this week's NATO summit. Trump first attacked the alliance as “obsolete” during the 2016 presidential campaign, and he has continued maligning American allies in office.

But Trump's favorite attack on NATO — that the allies fail to pay what the owe to the organization — is flatly false.

“The truth is every NATO country has paid its bills for NATO-shared budget,” Smith explained. “No country — not one — is delinquent. About four years ago, NATO members agreed to beef up their military, to spend 2 percent of their country's gross domestic product for defense by 2024. Obviously, that deadline is six years away, and a handful of those countries have reached that goal.”

Trump has now preposterously upped the demand, insisting that every member nation pay 4 percent of its GDP on defense — an amount the U.S. doesn't even live up to.

The president also singled out Germany for targeted criticism, despite its long history of providing crucial aid to the U.S.

“Germany is one of our closest allies,” said Smith. ”After the attacks of 9/11, we called on Germany's leadership to fight with us in Afghanistan. They answered. They fought with American troops for 17 years. When our soldiers are maimed and mauled in combat, they're flown to Germany.”

He added: “The president's attack on our NATO friends is drawing concern from quarters around this globe including from both sides of the political aisle here at home.”

Watch the clip below:

Related Stories

Avatar of admin

by admin

Are We on the Verge of a Chinese Credit Crunch?

July 11, 2018 in Economics

By Diego Zuluaga

Diego Zuluaga

If China were a Eurozone country, it would likely be regarded as
the next victim of the bond vigilantes.

The People’s Republic has more than doubled its stock of private
credit relative to GDP in the last ten years, even as output grew
at annual rates exceeding 6.5 per cent. Indeed, China accounts for
fully one-third of the global increase in private debt since the
financial crisis.

Only Ireland and Spain, at the height of their ill-fated housing
booms, can rival the Chinese credit explosion in rapidity and
scale.

Investors might be reassured if Chinese credit markets were free
and transparent. But that is manifestly not the case. Lending is
dominated by the “Big Four”
state-owned banks that were spun off from the People’s Bank of
China in the 1980s, as market reforms got under way. They still
account for 60 per cent of bank assets, most of which are loans to
state-owned industrial enterprises, often extended according to
political rather than business criteria.

The retail side doesn’t look much better. Until October of 2015,
bank deposit interest rates were capped. Such financial
repression not only fattened bank profits at the expense of their
depositors, but it also encouraged Chinese savers to reach for yield by buying houses,
speculating in illiquid stocks of largely state-owned companies,
and acquiring investment products in the country’s burgeoning
shadow banking sector. All three markets have of late shown signs
of overheating.

If China were a Eurozone
country, it would likely be regarded as the next victim of the bond
vigilantes.

Not all is bad news. Non-performing loans, which in the wake of
the 1997 Asian financial crisis represented an eye-popping 25 per cent of
total loans, have been brought down to manageable levels through a
mixture of public and private recapitalisation, and the purchase on
favourable terms of toxic assets. But even here, Chinese taxpayers
have had to pick up the tab for the bad decisions of state
cronies.

And it hasn’t been the astute management of Communist Party
chiefs that has helped the country avoid a financial crash so far,
but the breathtaking growth rates that China averaged between the
early 1990s and 2008. When an economy is growing at 10 per cent per
year, the weight of bad loans can halve in ten years, even with the
absolute value of bad loans growing annually at 3 per cent.

But a number of things have changed since 2008. Firstly, Chinese
growth seems to have permanently slowed. Official growth rates have
hovered around 6.5 per cent since 2015, one-third below …read more

Source: OP-EDS

Avatar of admin

by admin

Subsidies Galore: Corporate Welfare For Politically-Connected Businesses Is Bipartisan

July 11, 2018 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Congress created the usual special interest frenzy with its
latest iteration of the Farm Bill. Agricultural subsidies are one
of the most important examples of corporate welfare, money handed
out to businesses based on political connections.

Business plays a vital role in a free market. In real capitalism
there are no guaranteed profits. But corporate welfare eliminates
this handicap for the well-connected.

Business subsidies that allow politicians to channel economic
resources toward their preferred ends distort investment and trade.
Moreover, turning government into an engine of illicit profit
encourages what economists call rent-seeking. Well-organized
special interests usually triumph over the broader public and
national interest.

Aid comes in many forms.

Agriculture has spawned a gaggle of sometimes bizarre subsidies.
Like a dairy program which created milk surpluses, in turn
encouraging state price fixing, generating massive cheese stockpiles, in
turn triggering giveaways to the poor. Payments, loans, crop
insurance, import quotas, and more underwrite farmers.

In real capitalism there
are no guaranteed profits. But corporate welfare eliminates this
handicap for the well-connected.

Money also goes to agricultural enterprises through the Rural
Business-Cooperative Service, which supports “business
development.” The recently defeated Farm Bill even included $65
million in special health care subsidies for agricultural
associations. Ironically, farm households enjoy higher median
income and wealth than non-farm households.

The Market Access Program is one of several initiatives to
subsidize agricultural exports. Other programs support general
trade and investment.

For instance, the Export-Import Bank is known as Boeing’s Bank.
It provides cheap credit for foreign buyers of American products.
Which, ironically, gives foreign firms an advantage over U.S.
producers who must pay full fare. Ex-Im’s biggest beneficiary in
recent years has been China, especially its state-owned firms.

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation underwrites U.S.
investment in potentially unstable nations. If the project pays
off, investors win. If not, the rest of us lose. Why should the
public guarantee investor profits?

At the other end of the commercial spectrum is the Small
Business Administration. Smaller firms are a vital part of the
American economy but they are not an underserved market. There is
no dearth of, say, liquor stores. SBA is a response to a political
opportunity, not an economic need.

Much corporate welfare is disguised in broader terms. The
Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration
subsidizes “development” in “distressed communities,” meaning the
agency underwrites business, with dubious results. There are some
180 federal pork barrel “economic development” programs.

The Rural Utilities Service (formerly the Rural Electrification
Administration), continues, never mind that rural America got
electricity decades ago. Today RUS has expanded into Broadband
internet and even television service.

The Bureau of Land Management (mis)manages federal lands,
subsidizing use of …read more

Source: OP-EDS

Avatar of admin

by admin

Why a Court with Kavanaugh Is Nothing to Fear

July 11, 2018 in Economics

By Trevor Burrus

Trevor Burrus

Brett Kavanaugh is Donald Trump’s nominee to fill Justice
Anthony Kennedy’s “swing” seat on the Supreme Court, known as such
for how often his vote was the deciding one on behalf of either the
liberal or conservative cohorts of the court on issues ranging from
same-sex marriage to the travel ban.

With the Kavanaugh pick, many on the left are now concerned that
a more conservative Supreme Court could result in harm to civil
liberties and the rolling back of federal programs. While those
concerns are not unreasonable, they shouldn’t be apocalyptic. The
reality is that gay marriage isn’t going anywhere, Roe v.
Wade
will probably not be overturned, and a court with a
Justice Kavanaugh could help rein in an executive branch that has
become too powerful.

I am a libertarian, and Kennedy’s votes aligned with my
philosophy more often than any other justice’s — albeit often
accompanied by somewhat inscrutable judicial opinions. In addition
to his stalwart defenses of free speech (Texas
v. Johnson
) and federalism (NFIB
v. Sebelius
) Kennedy was the swing vote in all the major
gay rights cases of the past 25 years. When Kennedy arrived on the
bench in 1987, same-sex intimacy was illegal in many parts of the
country. When he left, gay marriage was legal everywhere. That’s a
legacy for which he will be justly celebrated.

Yet Kennedy did not so much lead that parade rather than join
it. The growing social acceptance of gay rights is one of the great
civil rights stories of all time, and it didn’t happen because the
Supreme Court told us to do it. According to Pew, in 2001, 57% of Americans
opposed gay marriage; in 2017 only 32% did.

Those numbers matter to justices, even ones like Kavanaugh.
Disrupting expectations and going against widespread public opinion
is not something that any justice is likely to do. Overturning gay
marriage would require invalidating hundreds of thousands of
marriages, and it would wreak havoc with tax statuses,
inheritances, property ownership and dozens of other legal
relationships that extend from marriage.

The reality is that gay
marriage isn’t going anywhere, Roe v. Wade will probably
not be overturned, and a court with a Justice Kavanaugh could help
rein in an executive branch that has become too
powerful.

Moreover, overturning gay marriage would cause public opinion to
shift against the Supreme Court, imperiling the legitimacy of an
institution that depends upon the perception of legitimacy to
function effectively. According to Gallup, the court hasn’t had an approval
rating over 50% since 2010. While justices should theoretically do
their jobs without concern …read more

Source: OP-EDS