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Trump Is Putting Dozens of Unexpected House Races in Play for Democratic Candidates

August 13, 2018 in Blogs

By Laura Clawson, Daily Kos

House Democrats are looking to expand the map well beyond the Republican-held districts Hillary Clinton won in 2016.


House Democrats are looking to expand the map well beyond the Republican-held districts Hillary Clinton won in 2016. There are more than twice as many names on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s Red to Blue list as on that Clinton-won-Republican-held list, in fact, and:

Those dynamics mean legitimate House races in districts as varied as Salt Lake City, where Mayor Ben McAdams is aiming to unseat Rep. Mia Love in a district Trump carried by 7 points (Love won in 2016 by 12 points.) to West Virginia coal country, where Democratic state Sen. Richard Ojeda voted for Trump and now is aiming for an open seat in a district the president carried by 50 points. (Outgoing Republican Rep. Evan Jenkins last won by 44.)

It’s a stunning turn two years removed from just 16 House races coming within 5 points, with an average victory margin of 37 points across all 435 districts.

Conor Lamb’s special election win in Pennsylvania in March and last week’s still-uncalled Ohio special election, where Republican Troy Balderson has a razor-thin lead, show that seats previously thought out of reach could be in play come November. Thanks, Trump?

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Source: ALTERNET

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Fox News Busted Using Footage from a Year Ago to Claim 'Antifa' Violence in DC

August 13, 2018 in Blogs

By Matthew Chapman, AlterNet

Fox News put out a news report about violent clashes between police and left-wing protestors at the “Unite the Right 2 Rally”. There was just one problem.


On Monday, Fox News posted a story titled “Antifa's violent confrontations with police, journalists mar otherwise peaceful rally counterprotestors,” enumerating violent clashes on at the “Unite the Right 2 Rally.”

But the story was not very well fact-checked, because they made a humiliating mistake. One of the videos, purporting to show Antifa protestors beating up a passerby, turned out to in fact be footage from a protest in Berkeley last year.

Fox News eventually deleted this video from the article and posted a correction, but not before it caught the notice of Mother Jones National Affairs Editor Mark Follman.

The rally in D.C., a “White Civil Rights” demonstration organized by the same far-right white supremacists who marched in Charlottesville last year, and which was held just across the street from the White House, was punctuated by a few scattered reports of clashes between protestors and journalists. Nonetheless, as even Fox News admits, the overwhelming majority of protestors were peaceful.

The end result of the rally was that protestors and police far outnumbered the white nationalists who had actually come to march.

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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This Groundbreaking Art Show Is Challenging the Prison-Industrial Complex

August 13, 2018 in Blogs

By Anthony Papa, Independent Media Center

Art can be a powerful tool for social change.


A groundbreaking exhibit challenging the criminal justice system will be opening on August 24 at the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston, Texas. Walls Turned Sideways is a group show with more than 40 artists. The exhibit is curated by Risa Puleo, who splits her time between New York, Texas and Europe. She attended Bard’s Center for Curatorial Studies Program and has a master’s in art history from Hunter College.

Walls Turned Sideways features work by artists from across the nation that addresses the criminal justice system, mass incarceration, and the prison-industrial complex. According to its catalogue, which includes powerful essays from participating artists, the show represents the full range of contemporary art production made in the studio and the social realm. The exhibition includes artworks that take social justice issues as a subject matter, and positions the prison and court systems as structures for dismantling through institutional critique.

I was invited to show my work by its curator. For many years I have tried to create a link between the art world and the drug war, trying to show the reason for the escalation of mass incarceration through my art. In 2006 I started a group called Artists against the Drug War styled after artist Leon Golub’s protest against the Vietnam War and his involvement with the group Artists and Writers Protest. It was the first such group to take a public stand against the war in the late ’60s.

Art as a social weapon has been around for quite a while. Artist Diego Rivera and other Mexican muralists used their work in the early 1920s as a tool for the oppressed against their oppressors. They expressed their opinions and got their message across to the literate and the illiterate alike and earned worldwide recognition. In April 1937, the world learned the shocking truth about the Nazi Luftwaffe’s bombing of Guernica, Spain—a civilian target. Pablo Picasso responded with his great anti-war painting, “Guernica.”

I was influenced by Picasso and the Mexican muralists, and it is the reason my …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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The Kremlin Loved Trump's Press Conference with Putin — But It Wants More Pro-Russia Policy from the White House: Report

August 13, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

At the summit, Trump cast doubt on U.S. intelligence findings about Russia' interference in the 2016 election.


U.S. intelligence officials believe that the Kremlin was delighted by President Donald Trump's performance with Russian President Vladimir Putin at their summit and joint press conference in Helsinki in July, according to a new report from CNN.

At the summit, Trump cast doubt on the intelligence community's findings that Putin had directed his government to interfere in the 2016 presidential election on his behalf. Trump said he believed Putin's denials of any such efforts, and he repeatedly praised the authoritarian leader, calling him “powerful” and “strong.”

Trump behavior at the summit led to a bipartisan outcry, which prompted Trump to try to walk back some of his defense of Putin.

CNN reports that American officials have concluded that the Kremlin was pleased by the events “based on a broad range of intelligence.”

However, it notes that the Russian government is “puzzled” that the amicable meeting of leaders has not led to more pro-Russian policies from the U.S. Just last week, the U.S. imposed new sanctions on Russia in response to the poisoning of a former Russian spy on British soil.

But the administration was essentially compelled by law to impose the sanctions. This fact reflects the extent to which, however friendly Trump may wish to be with Russia, his hands are tied in certain crucial ways by Congress.

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Source: ALTERNET

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'Disgraceful': Trump Snubs John McCain at Event Celebrating Law Named in His Honor

August 13, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

The president frequently mocks the ailing senator at his campaign rallies.


In yet another display of President Donald Trump's utter pettiness, he snubbed Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) Monday at an event to celebrate the signing of the 2019 defense authorization bill — an act named in the ailing senator's honor.

Instead of calling the bill by its full name — the John S. McCain Defense Authorization Act — Trump simply called it the “defense authorization act.” He omitted any mention of McCain at all.

The Arizona Republican is and has been absent from Washington, D.C., in recent months as he undergoes treatment for brain cancer. McCain has become an outspoken critic of Trump, especially with regard to the president's relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump has long been critical of McCain and has disputed the Vietnam veteran's status as a “war hero.” He also frequently mocks McCain at campaign rallies over his decisive vote blocking GOP efforts to overhaul Obamacare.

“How could @realDonaldTrump sign the John S. McCain Defense Authorization Act and speak for 25 minutes without mentioning @SenJohnMcCain?” asked NBC News' Andrea Mitchell. “He even left “McCain” out of the name of the bill he signed into law. Memory loss? Unhinged? Bad staff work?”

“Disgraceful,” said former Secretary of State John Kerry in a tweet, ”but nothing will erase for an instant the legacy John McCain has written and is still writing every day.”

 

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Source: ALTERNET

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Remembrance of War as Warning

August 13, 2018 in Economics

By Christopher A. Preble

Christopher A. Preble

Two articles in different weekend magazines have me thinking
about America’s many wars. David Montgomery in last weekend’s
Washington Post pondered the proliferation of war
memorials in our nation’s capital. The second, an excerpt
from C.J. Chivers’s new book in the latest
New York Timesmagazine, details the experiences of an Army
unit in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley.

Some of those killed in that desolate distant place will be
remembered, indirectly at least, in a new Global War on Terrorism
Memorial. Montgomery reports that President Donald Trump
“signed legislation waiving the statutory 10-year post-war
waiting period so planning could begin.” He continues:

That memorial would accomplish a feat rarely if ever matched in
the annals of memorial building: commemorating a war before it is
over. It also epitomizes the new state of affairs, where endless
war means endless war-memorial building.

In a similar context, Chivers notes that the Afghan war will
enter its 18th year in October. As he explains, this means that
soldiers born after the U.S. military toppled the Taliban in 2001,
who were not even crying babes when the planes hit the towers, will
likely be serving there soon. And this is only one of several
initiated after 9/11. Chivers recites the grim statistics that, for
many Americans, have become akin to the music played in retail
stores: We’re vaguely aware that a song might be playing, but
unable to hum the tune, let alone recite the lyrics:

More than three million Americans have served in uniform in
these wars. Nearly 7,000 of them have died. Tens of thousands more
have been wounded. More are killed or wounded each year, in smaller
numbers but often in dreary circumstances…

Beyond the statistics, beyond the numbers killed and wounded,
Americans are similarly disinclined to weigh their deeper meanings.
Chivers spells those out, too.

On one matter there can be no argument: The policies that sent
these men and women abroad, with their emphasis on military action
and their visions of reordering nations and cultures, have not
succeeded. It is beyond honest dispute that the wars did not
achieve what their organizers promised… [They] have continued in
varied forms and under different rationales… They continue today
without an end in sight, reauthorized in Pentagon budgets almost as
if distant war is a presumed government action.

I wonder: Might our war memorials do more than memorialize war?
Might they also help us to avoid future ones?

***

It’s not the first time that I contemplated this
question.

Back in May 2004, I ventured down to the National Mall and
wondered “What kind of memorial will they build for the Iraq
war?
…read more

Source: OP-EDS

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A Modest US Concession Can Reduce Tensions in the South China Sea

August 13, 2018 in Economics

By Ted Galen Carpenter

Ted Galen Carpenter

Tensions between China and the United States are rising on
multiple fronts. The onset of dueling tariffs is threatening to
trigger a full-fledged bilateral trade war. Beijing’s anger
is rising about Washington’s growing attempts to upgrade
diplomatic and military ties with Taiwan. Finally, the two
countries are sparring dangerously over their respective policies
and goals in the South China Sea.

All of those disputes are dangerous, but the Taiwan and South
China Sea issues hold the most potential for poisoning the
bilateral relationship and escalating into war. Compromise
regarding Taiwan is inherently elusive, but a modest change in U.S.
policy could significantly dampen tensions in the South China Sea.
Specifically, Washington needs to dramatically reduce its
confrontational “freedom of navigation” patrols and
stop treating Beijing as a disruptive element, if not an outright
threat, in that region.

One longstanding reason for a large-scale U.S. naval presence in
the western Pacific is the importance of unimpeded shipping to the
health of the global economy. U.S. political and economic leaders
fret about potential disruptions to the flow of commerce and have
done so for decades. That is an understandable concern. The United
Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) estimates that 80% of world trade measured by volume
and 70% measured by value travels by sea.

The sea lanes transiting the South China Sea are especially
crucial arteries. UNCTAD’s analysis shows that one-third of
global shipping passes through that body of water. A conservative
estimate of the annual dollar value by the Center for Strategic and
International Studies’ China Power Project put the figure at $3.37
trillion, but concedes that other estimates are as high as $5.3
trillion. The CSIS study emphasizes that the waters “are
particularly critical for China, Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea,
all of which rely on the Strait of Malacca, which connects the
South China Sea and, by extension, the Pacific Ocean with the
Indian Ocean.”

U.S. leaders increasingly view China as a potential menace to
that commerce. The root of Washington’s suspicion is the
extent and intensity of Beijing’s territorial claims in the
South China Sea. It is not a new issue. In December 1947, the
government of the Republic of China (Chiang Kai-shek’s
regime) issued a map delineating an 11-dash line (later reduced to
a 9-dash line) that laid claim to more than 80% of the South China
Sea. The communist regime that overthrew Chiang two years later and
established the People’s Republic of China (PRC) subsequently
embraced that claim.

Until the past decade or so, though, Beijing’s audacious
territorial ambition remained little more than theoretical. The PRC
lacked the military power to make even a …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Venezuela Is on the Verge of a Massive Humanitarian and Economic Collapse. the Culprit? Socialism.

August 13, 2018 in Economics

By Juan Carlos Hidalgo

Juan Carlos Hidalgo

The recent and bizarre alleged assassination attempt on
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, complete with exploding armed
drones, remains mostly a mystery. Regardless of who perpetrated it
or why, however, the controversy is already allegedly being used by the regime
to persecute political enemies and distract from the serious
economic crisis besieging that country.

Despite constant condemnation from outside observers, the
situation in Venezuela continues to worsen. A top U.N. official
recently warned that the country is on the
verge of turning into “an absolute disaster in unprecedented
proportions for the Western Hemisphere.”

What was once Latin America’s richest nation, is now
sending hordes of refugees into neighboring countries. Since 2016,
nearly two million people have fled the country. Those unfortunate
enough to stay are facing life-threatening shortages of food and
medicine, one of the highest murder rates in the world
and an annual inflation rate that now sits above 40,000 percent.

The seeds of this crisis
were planted in 1999, but the chaos has flourished under President
Nicolas Maduro and his incompetent, corrupt ideologues.

A national survey in 2017 found that 87 percent of families live
below the poverty line. Nearly two-thirds of Venezuelans reported
losing an average of 25 pounds in the previous year —
some have called it the “Maduro
diet.”
The Pharmaceutical Federation estimates that
80 percent of drugs are not available in
drugstores. There are outbreaks of diseases that had been
eradicated or were under control, such as diphtheria, measles and
malaria.

Maduro has reacted to the collapse of the economy by
consolidating the dictatorship, intensifying human rights abuses (including
torture)
and further cracking down on the private sector. He
claims that his regime is the victim of an “economic war”
waged by the opposition and the United States. The reality is that
this man-made tragedy has a well-known culprit: socialism.

The seeds of this crisis were planted in 1999, when the late
President Hugo Chavez came to power. He soon went about rebranding
his nationalist Bolivarian revolution, proclaiming it 21st-century socialism. Chavez
dramatically increased the size of the government payroll and the
reach of social programs. In fairness, patronage had been a common
practice in Venezuela for decades. However, buoyed by more than
$1 trillion in oil revenues during his time in
office
, Chavez took that practice to unprecedented levels.
These social policies earned him popularity at home and plaudits
from abroad — including
from Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz
— even though they
were financially unsustainable. Today, an estimated 60 percent …read more

Source: OP-EDS