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'They Are Serving a Hostile Foreign Power': Officials React in Horror as the White House Considers Letting Russia Question Ex-Ambassador

July 18, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

The more we learn about Trump's meeting with Putin, the worse it looks.


Whenever we think we've hit rock bottom with President Donald Trump, there's always further we can fall.

Trump's meeting this week with Russian President Vladimir Putin was criticized across the board by members of both parties. Lawmakers and members of the media said Trump was excessively submissive toward the autocratic leader and failed to stand up for American interests.

But it was even worse than it appeared. On Wednesday, the White House confirmed that Trump and Putin discussed having former Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul questioned by Russian officials as a part of a wild and nonsensical conspiracy theory pushed by the authoritarian regime.

Press secretary Sarah Sanders said the president is still considering the idea.

Former United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice, however, noted that it would be an astounding concession for the president to even consider such a violation of diplomatic immunity.

“Beyond outrageous,” she said in a tweet. “Amb. McFaul served our country honorably and with full diplomatic immunity. If the White House cannot defend and protect our diplomats, like our service members, they are serving a hostile foreign power not the American people.”

McFaul himself responded to the idea: “I hope the White House corrects the record and denounces in categorical terms this ridiculous request from Putin. Not doing so creates moral equivalency between a legitimacy US indictment of Russian intelligence officers and a crazy, completely fabricated story invented by Putin.”

Even the State Department, run by Trump appointee Mike Pompeo, called the request “absolutely absurd.”

Behind the scenes, the reaction was even worse, according to the Daily Beast.

One current diplomat told the outlet that the White House’s comments left him “at a fucking loss.”

The diplomat also said: “The president has first and foremost his interests at the top of his mind, as opposed to the government’s. That’s very clear over the past week and a half, between sh*tting on our NATO allies and kissing Putin’s ass.”

 

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Source: ALTERNET

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Trump’s Trade War with China Will Cause an Economic Catastrophe — Here’s a Better Solution

July 18, 2018 in Blogs

By Marshall Auerback, Independent Media Institute

There’s a better solution than tariffs and trade wars.


With the announcement by President Trump that the U.S. would start the process of imposing 10 percent tariffs on an additional $200 billion of Chinese imports in the next few months, it is safe to say that the U.S.-China trade war has definitively moved past the phony war phase. This action goes well beyond placating some important rust belt/swing-state constituencies and reflects the president’s deeply held belief that trade is a zero-sum game in which the U.S. has been persistently played for patsies over the last several decades, especially by Beijing (although, as last month’s G7 summit demonstrated, neither the EU, nor Canada, is exempt from this animus either). The cumulative actions undertaken by the president now account for almost 7 percent of total global trade, according to the economist George Magnus, reflecting the magnitude of Trump’s efforts.

If Trump is actually hoping that tariffs will enhance the possibility of boosting America’s export markets, he’s in for disappointment and a good deal of anger from the very economic sectors he might have expected to champion him. Modern global supply networks have been established on the assumption that globalized free trade and capital mobility were permanent realities. The so-called “Washington Consensus” has assumed globalization as an irreversible process to such a degree that U.S. companies are utterly reliant on global supply chains.

So what is the solution? Perhaps that might come via the imposition of local content requirements as opposed to a haphazard reliance on tariffs, which is to say that when a foreign company manufactures a product in a country, a certain proportion of those materials and parts should be made in that country domestically rather than imported. This is not unusual. In fact, China makes use of this practice very liberally, and insists that a minimum level of local content is required, when giving foreign companies the right to manufacture in a particular place. And if this requirement is mandated going forward, it may well arrest the ongoing “de-skilling” of the American labor force (because …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Trump Regret Syndrome Is Spreading Among Republicans — But Will They Come Crawling Back?

July 18, 2018 in Blogs

By Jared Yates Sexton, Salon

“There is some sh*t I will not eat. I’m done apologizing for Donald J. Trump. Done.”


“I just kept watching,” a Republican acquaintance told me in disbelief. “And I just kept waiting, and waiting, and waiting for him to do something. Anything. I yelled, ‘Stand up for your country, for the love of God!’ And nothing. Not even a peep.”

As a serving member in a state Republican Party organization, my acquaintance has taken a great amount of grief over the past three years. When Donald Trump first arrived on the political scene in 2015, he urged his colleagues to hear the billionaire mogul out. He appreciated the tough talk on immigration, the no-nonsense attitude that both differed from regular politicians and dared put them in their place. He thought Trump might not be the worst response to the Barack Obama presidency, which he considered weak and conciliatory.

After Trump wrested away control of the party from the GOP establishment, my acquaintance bought a Make America Great Again hat and slapped a Trump/Pence sticker on his car’s bumper. He met the nominee as a delegate to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland and rolls his eyes when his liberal colleagues and relatives post their Robert Mueller fantasies on social media. He’s stood by Trump when he criticized Gold Star families, waffled on condemning the neo-Nazis who rioted in Charlottesville and, until this week, has never so much as considered the possibility Trump had colluded with Russia.

“I’ve had it,” he said. “There is some shit I will not eat. I’m done apologizing for Donald J. Trump. Done.”

This repudiation was earned after Monday’s disastrous press conference in Helsinki, where President Trump stood side-by-side with Russian President Vladimir Putin, a despot who has cracked down on his citizens’ individual freedoms and has quite likely ordered the murders of dissidents, journalists and political opponents. It was bad enough, my acquaintance fumed, that Trump didn’t challenge Putin’s record, but the coup de grâce came when the president criticized U.S. intelligence agencies’ assertion that Russia interfered with our elections and instead supported Putin’s denial of meddling.

“It’s …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Microsoft's Acquisition of GitHub Is Not 'Anticompetitive'

July 18, 2018 in Economics

By Alan Reynolds

Alan Reynolds

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, attorney
Adam Candeub claims, “Microsoft’s $7.5 billion proposed acquisition of GitHub raises
anticompetitive concerns.” He wants federal
antitrust
authorities to block it. But his arguments are
unconvincing.

GitHub is one of several online services for managing
repositories of code created with Git, a free open-source
command-line tool invented by Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux.
“According to a 2016 GitLab survey,” reports
Technology Advice
, “98% of developers use open-source
tools, and 92% of developers prefer Git as their version-control
(software)” rather than other control languages such as Mercurial
(which Facebook uses) and Subversion.

This makes GitHub essential for collaborative software projects.
More than 1.8 million businesses and organizations use GitHub and
most pay $7 to $21 per user per month. But there are many
alternatives. Competing products include GitLab, Bitbucket (owned
by Atlassian which markets tools for teams of coders), SourceForge,
Launchpad, and Beanstalk.

Google Cloud Source Repositories also host Git projects, as does
Amazon Web Services’ Code Committ and Microsoft’s own Visual Studio
Team Services. GitHub is the current favorite, but there is no shortage of competition. As

Peter Bright
wrote at ARS Technica, GitHub had to be
bought by somebody because it is rapidly burning through its
venture funding and losing too much money to be a viable IPO.

GitHub is not a monopoly,
and Microsoft’s acquisition of GitHub does nothing to change that.
If anything, it might boost competing services.

Candeub argues that, “With GitHub, Microsoft could restrict a
crucial platform for its rivals, mine data about competitors’
activities, target ads toward users, or restrict free services. Its
control could lead to a sort of surveillance of innovative
activity, giving it a unique, macro-scaled insight into software
development.” Seriously?

Some of those alleged threats are fanciful if not impossible.
Others make no business sense. Take a closer look at each of these
things Candeub imagines Microsoft might do with GitHub:

  1. “Restrict a crucial platform for its rivals.” Limiting access
    would greatly diminish GitHub’s value to its current user base and
    its marketability to new enterprises, thus reducing GitHub’s future
    income. Microsoft is buying GitHub to sell it, not wreck it.
  2. “Mine data about competitors’ activities” through some “sort of
    surveillance.” According to its privacy
    statement
    , “GitHub employees do not access private repositories
    unless required to for security reasons, to assist the repository
    owner with a support matter, or to maintain the integrity of the
    service.” If GitHub employees nonetheless snooped into code being
    developed by Microsoft competitors, GitHub would quickly lose its
    security reputation and therefore its best-paying enterprise
    users.
  3. “Target ads toward …read more

    Source: OP-EDS

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GOP Lawmaker Complained That It's 'Politically Incorrect' to Call Women Sluts: Report

July 18, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

A new report from CNN uncovered a trove of Minnesota Rep. Jason Lewis' misogynistic comments.


One of the Republican members of Congress most imperiled in the upcoming 2018 midterm election is facing a new challenger: his own words.

A new CNN KFile report found Wednesday that Minnesota’s Rep. Jason Lewis had a habit of making grossly misogynistic comments on his conservative talk radio show that ran between 2009 and 2014.

While the campaign dismissed the report as old news, the contents the CNN reporters dug up is deeply troubling. According to transcriptions, Lewis seems obsessed with the idea of using the misogynistic word “slut” to describe women. He bemoans the fact that the word has become “politically incorrect.”

Lewis even acknowledged that the word has an inherent “double standard” — castigating women for behavior praised in men — but said, “it used to be that women were held to a little bit of a higher standard.”

At other points, he said women were prone to be driven by emotion and only voted based on the issue of birth control, CNN reports.

Lewis is likely to face off against Democrat Angie Craig in the 2018 midterms, and poll watchers expect the race to be close.

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Source: ALTERNET

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'I Really Regret' Voting for Him: Swing State Trump Supporters Turned Off After His 'Total BS' Russia Walk Back

July 18, 2018 in Blogs

By Chris Sosa, AlterNet

The president's overtures to our adversary are becoming too much for these voters.


Swing state Republican voters are showing some breaks in the ranks as President Donald Trump defiantly refuses to denounce Russian President Vladimir Putin and tries to recontextualize his rejection of U.S. intelligence community findings.

The New York Times profiled Trump voters who have soured on the president.

“You’re essentially putting Russia first,” Dallas Republican Chris Ford told the Times. “It’s hard to see how that’s putting America first.”

“We should stand our ground,” Jimmy Treece, a retired construction worker and Trump supporter in Pennsylvania, said. “There is clearly something wrong here.”

“The man is an embarrassment. I voted for him and will not again,” a voter calling into Wisconsin radio-show NewsTalk said.

Wisconsin Trump voter Pam Anderson told CNN his response to the Russia scandal is costing the president her vote in the reelection.

“I think he’s really mocking the whole system,” she said. “I had voted for Obama. This time around I went ahead and voted for Donald Trump. And I really regret that decision.”

In a parting shot, Anderson called Trump's attempt to explain his alleged misspeaking at the conference with Putin “total BS.”

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Source: ALTERNET

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Public Schooling Must Discriminate Against Religion; American Education Must Not

July 18, 2018 in Economics

By Neal McCluskey

Neal McCluskey

We fight about many things in public schools, from
what time the day starts
to the
saltiness of lu
nches.
But few battles are more painful than ones involving closely-held
values, or intensely personal attributes such as race or culture.
And among such searing conflicts, none are further beyond
resolution within public schooling than religious battles, because
the only thing public schools are outright legally prohibited from
advancing is religious belief.

This prohibition hasn’t always existed. For much of
American history many public schools were de facto Protestant, but
since the 1960s public schools advancing religious beliefs has
been barred
. With good reason: If you weren’t religious,
or of the “right” religious persuasion, you had to pay
taxes for public schools that treated you unequally. But ending
public schooling’s Protestant tenor just changed who was
unequal under the law, moving from some religious people and all
atheists and agnostics, to all who believe religion is integral to
education.

That private schooling is dominated by religious institutions is
powerful evidence of religion being sharply and uniquely cut off
from public schooling. According to the most recent federal
statistics,
almost 76%
of all private elementary and secondary students, or
about 4.4 million children, are in religious institutions. In
addition, roughly 3.4% of students—about 1.8 million
kids—are
homeschooled
, often for
religious reasons
. Of course, all still pay for secular public
schools.

We force all people to
pay for public schools, but the schools cannot treat all, diverse
people equally.

These numbers are almost certainly just a fraction of the
religiously marginalized. Having to pay twice likely keeps many
families in public schools who would otherwise choose religious
schooling. This is hinted at by the share of values- and
identity-based public school conflicts that either expressly or
likely involve religious convictions.

Of the 1,980 battles on the Cato Institute’s Public
Schooling Battle Map
, 313, or about 16%, are first-and-foremost
about religion, such as conflicts over posting
“In God We Trust” on school walls
, or singing

religious carols at holiday concerts
. 62 are over “human
origins”—basically, evolution versus
creationism—and even ones about “intelligent
design” instead of explicitly God creating all things have

powerful religious connections
. Many of the 256 “reading
material” battles are over books that contain passages or
themes some parents find inappropriate, sometimes for religious
reasons, and oft-challenged novels such as
Bless Me, Ultima
and
The Golden Compass
have explicit religious connections.
Throw in
sex education
and religious objections to such policies as

transgender students choosing
…read more

Source: OP-EDS