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'They Hid It All. For Decades': Grand Jury Says Hundreds of Catholic 'Predator Priests' Abused More than 1,000 Kids in Massive Cover-Up

August 14, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

The stunning report was released Tuesday.


More than 1,000 children were victimized by hundreds of “predator priests” over seven decades in Pennsylvania — and the Catholic Church engaged in a massive cover-up to keep it all under wraps, according to a new report from a grand jury.

The grand jury was charged with investigating six dioceses covering 54 counties in the state. 

In the documents and testimony the grand jury reviewed, it found “credible allegations against over three hundred predator priests. Over one thousand child victims were identifiable, from the church's own records,” the report said. “We believe that the real number – of children whose records were lost, or who were afraid ever to come forward – is in the thousands.”

It continued:

Most of the victims were boys; but there were girls too. Some were teens; many were prepubescent. Some were manipulated with alcohol or pornography. Some were made to masturbate their assailants, or were groped by them. Some were raped orally, some vaginally, some anally. But all of them were brushed aside, in every part of the state, by church leaders who preferred to protect the abusers and their institution above all.

In another portion of the report, the grand jury notes that the “men of God” who were responsible for the wellbeing of the children didn't just turn away from the abuse, but “they hid it all. For decades. Monsignors, auxiliary bishops, bishops, archbishops, cardinals have mostly been protected; many, including some named in this report, have been promoted. Until that changes, we think it is too early to close the book on the Catholic Church sex scandal.”

Because the most of the cases the grand jury discovered are old, they have passed the statute of limitations. That means few of the priests it believes committed the abuse can be held to account. However, the grand jury did find two priests who sexually assaulted children in the last decade.

The New York Times notes that the report is “the broadest examination yet by a government agency in the United States of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. There have been …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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These 5 Race-Baiting and Hypocritical Right-Wingers Complain About the 'Race Card' — While Playing the Race Card Themselves

August 14, 2018 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson, AlterNet

It's a stunning level of self-contradiction.


A game that many Republicans and people on the far-right love to play is going out of their way to be racially inflammatory, then accusing people of “playing the race card” when they are called out—and Republican Corey Stewart, who is running against incumbent Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine in Virginia in the 2018 midterms, is a prime example. Stewart has praised Confederate soldiers, exalted Gen. Robert E. Lee and Gen. Stonewall Jackson as honorable men and asserted that Virginians should be proud to display Confederate flags. But when the Rev. Al Sharpton interviewed Stewart on his MSNBC program, “Politics Nation,” on August 12, Stewart insisted that Sharpton was a “race hustler” for calling him out.

Stewart repeatedly defends symbols of racism and slavery, yet in his mind, it is Sharpton and other liberals who play the race card. And Stewart is not alone: right-wingers who complain about others playing the race card are often playing it themselves in the worst way. 

Here are five far-right agitators who frequently play the race card while accusing others of playing the race card. 

1. Rush Limbaugh

Over the years, Rush Limbaugh has made one racist comment after another on his AM talk radio program — only to turn around and insist that Sharpton, the NAACP, the Urban League and Rep. Maxine Waters are the ones who are causing racial divisions in the United States. Limbaugh is a provocateur: he loves making racially incendiary comments, but he doesn’t like being called out. In 2010, Limbaugh said of President Barack Obama, “If Obama weren’t black, he’d be a tour guide in Honolulu.” And that same year, Limbaugh asserted, “Obama is uppity, but not as a black. He is an elitist.”

True to form, Limbaugh made racially provocative remarks while claiming that liberals and progressives are the ones hurting race relations.

2. Rep. Steve King

Iowa Rep. Steve King (who is seeking re-election in November) has made it clear that he has no patience with people who play the race card, although he plays it …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Reporters Fact-Check a Baffled Sarah Sanders After She Falsely Claims NDA’s Were ‘Common’ in Prior Administrations

August 14, 2018 in Blogs

By Matthew Chapman, AlterNet

Once again, Sarah Huckabee Sanders tried to defend the indefensible, and failed.


Tuesday was not a good day for White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

As she was bombarded with questions from reporters about Omarosa's tapes and allegations and refused to guarantee there was no tape of President Donald Trump saying the N-word, Sanders tried to defend Trump's use of nondisclosure agreements to block his former campaign and White House officials from criticizing him or blowing the whistle. And she failed miserably.

“Bearing in mind the Trump campaign's announcement that it's pursuing arbitration of Omarosa necessitates attention and a major national focus, can I ask you once more about the practice of signing people to nondisclosure agreements?” said one reporter. “Let me ask you what it says about expressions of loyalty or lack thereof? Why do people need to be contractually obligated to, forever after and in perpetuity, never say anything negative about the president, any member of his family, any product they should produce — why is that necessary?”

“Look, again, it's common in a lot of—” she began.

“Corporations, to protect their corporate interests,” he pressed her.

“Despite the contrary opinion, it's actually very normal, and every administration prior to the Trump administration has had NDAs, particularly specific for anyone who had a security clearance,” Sanders replied.

Immediately the crowd of reporters began murmuring and shouting her down, and for good reason: this is a lie. As The New York Times notes, it is “highly unusual” for government officials to be forced to sign nondisclosure agreements.

Given her reference to security clearances, Sanders may be trying to draw an equivalence between Trump's demand no staffer ever speak ill of him under the threat of legal action, and longstanding federal statutes governing the security of classified information, which is ridiculous. Trump's ego should not be a national security matter. Moreover, as the reporter touched on, these agreements were used to silence people in Trump's campaign as well as his administration.

“Right now, what the Trump campaign is doing is he's forcing her, essentially, to defend herself and potentially even pay damages,” he said. …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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'Mentally, Morally and Temperamentally Unfit': Conservative Writer Says We Don't Need New Recordings to See the Truth About Trump

August 14, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

“Whether he said the n-word on a tape hardly matters.”


As the question of whether President Donald Trump has been recorded using the n-word has arisen again in the discussion around Omarosa Manigault Newman's new book, conservative writer Jennifer Rubin argued in the Washington Post that the tape — if it does exist — wouldn't really tell us more than we already know.

“Whether he said the n-word on a tape hardly matters,” she wrote in a new post. “His constant, reflexive racist rhetoric is public knowledge at this point.”

For example, on Tuesday morning, Trump called Manigault Newman a “dog” on Twitter.

“He calls an African American woman a 'dog.' Take that in,” Rubin wrote.

She notes, however, that his defenders will insist that he's called other people, including white men, “dogs.” So they will inevitably exclaim that it can't be proof that he's racist. This, of course, ignores all the other racist thing Trump has said. 

But even still, this “defense” is a pretty damning indictment of the president, as Rubin argues:

If the best his defenders can do is to claim that these latest comments about Omarosa are merely insulting and unpresidential — but not more proof of his racism and sexism — then let them make their case. We’re now just debating what specific attributes make Trump unfit to hold office. As long as we all know he’s mentally, morally and temperamentally unfit and should be shown the door as soon as possible, we can ignore Omarosa, which would — come to think of it — be a good idea in any event. And by the way, if you think women buy these excuses, take a look at the gender gap. Women know exactly what Trump means.

While Rubin's argument is compelling, it's not entirely clear that the tapes Manigaualt Newman refers to wouldn't be a big deal. There's a reason Trump and the White House are denying that the tapes exist, and there's a reason Trump doesn't use words like the n-word at his campaign rallies. He realizes that even with his supporters, there are lines he can't cross.

Those lines just happen to …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Journalists Hammer Sarah Sanders After She Declines to Rule Out Trump's Use of the N-Word

August 14, 2018 in Blogs

By Chris Sosa, AlterNet

“Just to be clear, you can't guarantee it?”


White House press secretary Sarah Sanders gave a remarkable performance on Tuesday where she defended President Donald Trump against accusations of racism without issuing a clear denial that he used the n-word.

“Can you stand at the podium and guarantee that the American people will never hear Donald Trump utter the n-word on a recording in any context,” MSNBC's chief White House correspondent Kristin Welker asked.

Sanders offered a stunning response.

“I can't guarantee, uh, anything, but I can tell you that the president addressed the question directly,” she responded before promising she'd “never heard it.”

“This is a president who is fighting for all Americans,” she said, singling out African-American job growth.

“Just to be clear, you can't guarantee it?” Welker tried again.

Sanders didn't.

The White House press pool kept the barrage rolling by quoting Omarosa's comment about Trump being unfit for office and soliciting a response from Sanders.

Sanders said Omarosa “disappointed” her but did little to combat any of her claims with evidence. She was then asked about arbitration action from the White House against Omarosa, to which Sanders refused to comment.

Watch the briefing below:

Related Stories

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Beware the “Unfair Trade” Trap in Any Brexit Deal

August 14, 2018 in Economics

By Simon Lester

Simon Lester

Understandably, the Brexit talks are hung up on big questions
such as the UK’s trade relationship with the EU Single Market and
what to do about the Irish border. Tariffs, the traditional focus
of trade policy, have played only a small role in the debate. UK-EU
tariffs are already at zero, so the typical trade negotiating
exercise of phasing out tariffs on particular products has not been
followed. The apparent assumption that any Brexit deal will
maintain zero tariffs is reassuring.

But this assumption may only apply to ordinary tariffs. There is
also a special category of “trade remedy” tariffs that apply to
so-called “unfair trade”, and the approach of a Brexit deal to
these tariffs has been less clear. Brits received a crash course in
the use and abuse of “trade remedies” last year, when there was the
prospect of the United States imposing tariffs on Bombardier
aeroplanes in amounts close to 300% — although, ultimately,
the US agency responsible decided not to impose them.

Trade remedies include tariffs imposed in response to import
prices that are deemed too low (anti-dumping duties) and to foreign
government subsidies (countervailing duties).

With regard to dumping, when people hear this word, they may
assume that it means something like the predatory pricing that
competition policy usually deals with. In reality, though, dumping
calculations do not assess actual predation; they often rely on
dubious facts or methodologies; and they are mainly an excuse for
protectionism. Any actual unfair pricing practices related to
foreign goods can be taken into account by domestic competition
policy laws; special anti-dumping laws for foreign goods are not
needed.

As for subsidies, they can be a source of market distortions,
but a better response is to address them directly in complaints at
the WTO, under its Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing
Measures. National countervailing duty laws are subject to the same
political pressures that distort anti-dumping measures. If the goal
is to police global subsidies and get them removed, rather than
just impose a new tariff, the WTO may be the better forum.

Nevertheless, trade remedies are an established part of domestic
trade policy. Prior to Brexit, the UK relied on the EU to carry out
trade remedies. Now, the UK is setting up a Trade Remedies
Organisation of its own to oversee a domestic trade remedies
regime.

That takes us to Brexit, where negotiators need to decide what
to do with this issue in the context of UK-EU trade. Are tariffs on
this trade going to remain at zero for all products, or will an
exception be made for trade remedies? This exception would mean
that high tariffs could be imposed …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Why Xi Jinping Thought Is a Threat to China's Future

August 14, 2018 in Economics

By James A. Dorn

James A. Dorn

This year marks the 40th anniversary of China’s opening to the
outside world in 1978. Following the disastrous Cultural Revolution
and Mao Zedong’s death in 1976, economic development, not class
struggle, became the primary aim of the Chinese Communist Party
(CCP). Deng Xiaoping allowed experimentation with market-based
alternatives to central planning, and for a while it appeared that
economic liberalization would help create a free market in ideas
with greater debate on political as well as economic issues. That
hope is rapidly disappearing with the rising power of China’s
president for life, Xi Jinping.

A new “little red” book, Thirty Chapters about Xi Jinping
Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New
Era,
compiled by the Publicity Department of the CCP’s Central
Committee, presents the politically correct view on Chinese-style
socialism. The book is being widely distributed within China, but
there is little room for serious debate. As the China
Daily
notes, the book “explains that Xi Jinping Thought is the
guiding thought that the Party and the country must follow
in the long run.”

Xi Jinping Thought is a 14-point manifesto to ensure CCP
“leadership over all forms of work.” It promises “continuation of
‘comprehensive deepening of reforms’ ”; propagates the long-held
myth that under “socialism with Chinese characteristics,” the
“people” are “the masters of the country”; asserts that China
should be governed by “the rule of law”; reinforces the post-Maoist
idea that “the primary goal of development” is to improve “people’s
livelihood and well-being”; and advocates creating “a peaceful
international environment.”

In March 2018, the National People’s Congress, by a vote of
2,958 to 2 (with 3 abstentions), added “Xi Jinping Thought” to the
Preamble of the PRC’s Constitution, alongside “Marxism-Leninism,
Mao Zedong Thought, and Deng Xiaoping Theory.” At the same time,
the NPC amended Article 1 by adding: “The defining feature of
socialism with Chinese characteristics is the leadership of the
Communist Party of China.”

China’s institutional
infrastructure is weaker than it might appear at first
glance.

If President Xi actually allowed the common people to be
“masters of the country,” adopted a genuine rule of law to limit
the power of government and safeguard persons and property —
including freedom of thought — then he would truly transform
China. Yet his actions and growing power do not instill much
confidence that the Middle Kingdom will couple economic freedom
with limited government and protect basic human rights. Indeed,
since Xi took over as paramount leader, economic reform has stalled
or even regressed, and suppression of human rights has
worsened.

Liu Xiaobo’s dream for “a future free China” looks dim. As a
signatory to Charter 08, he was imprisoned …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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U.S. Security Aid Enables Torture in Cameroon

August 14, 2018 in Economics

By A. Trevor Thrall, Jordan Cohen

A. Trevor Thrall and Jordan Cohen

A recent video showing the Cameroonian military
executing two women and two children by gunshot to the head shocked
many Americans, most of whom are certainly unaware that since 2002
the United States has trained nearly 6,400 soldiers, sold Cameroon
$6 million worth of American weapons, and
provided its military with $234 million in security aid.

Making matters worse is the fact that this sort of behavior is
nothing new in Cameroon. In 2017, Amnesty International revealed that the
Cameroonian military tortured prisoners in over 20 sites, and
recorded 101 cases of incommunicado detention and torture between
2013 and 2017. Chillingly, the report also notes that many of these
actions took place at the same military base used by U.S. personnel
for drone surveillance and training missions. During the
U.S. fortification of this site — known as Salak —
Amnesty International found that suspects were subjected to water
torture, beaten with electric cables and suspended with ropes,
among other horrors.

American counterterrorism policy should never allow the ends to
justify such means. Though unintentional, American counterterrorism
policy in Cameroon has done just that. Even after learning of the
crimes documented in the Amnesty report, the United States
continued to provide training and funding for the Cameroonian
military, enabling the ongoing torture and the execution of
innocent people.

Washington needs to take
steps to ensure that it does not enable the torture and oppression
of Cameroonians in the name of American national
security.

The rationale for American aid and assistance to Cameroon since
2001 has never been in question. Nigerian-based Boko Haram —
a group briefly affiliated with the Islamic State — is indeed a violent
group. It is responsible not only for the famous kidnapping of over
276 schoolgirls in 2014 but also for tens of
thousands of deaths in Nigeria (and many in Cameroon, as people
fled across the border from Nigeria to escape) since 2009. Beyond
this, Cameroon is Central Africa’s second-biggest economy after
Nigeria and is a development hub with regard to paved roads
and sea ports, both of which play a large role in the region’s
future. Though Boko Haram does not pose a direct threat to American
national security (it has never attacked the United States), it
certainly remains a destabilizing force in Africa today. As such,
making efforts to help local partners confront and manage Boko
Haram is a reasonable policy.

Unfortunately, the very states like Nigeria and Cameroon that
suffer from violent insurgencies and terrorism are also extremely
unreliable partners. Cameroon …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Want to Make Child Care Cheaper and More Accessible? Deregulate It.

August 14, 2018 in Economics

By Ryan Bourne

Ryan Bourne

The push for federal subsidies for child care is gaining
momentum. Ivanka Trump has urged Congress to pass a tax deduction
for child-care expenses. During the 2016 presidential campaign,
both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders proposed new federal
preschool and child-care programs. And recently, one commentator
even advocated
opening federally subsidized care centers nationwide
.

The concern is understandable. According to 2016 data compiled
by Child Care Aware, the average annual cost of full-time
center-based infant care
varies dramatically nationwide
, from $5,178 in Mississippi to
$23,089 in the District of Columbia. That amounts to 27.2 percent
of median single-parent family income in Mississippi and fully 89.1
percent in D.C. Such high burdens not only have a crippling
financial impact on poorer families but can make it uneconomic to
work and pay for child care at the same time.

Yet none of the proposed solutions to costly care would make it
cheaper. They would simply transfer the high costs to taxpayers. A
better starting point would surely be to ask: Why is child care so
expensive? One important answer, it turns out, is state-level
regulation. Staff-child ratio rules and worker-qualification
requirements, in particular, increase prices and reduce
availability, particularly in poor areas. These are things state
legislators can do something about.

Suppose a staff-child ratio is made more stringent, meaning that
fewer children can be cared for per staff member, and qualification
requirements for directors of infant centers are increased. These
could theoretically improve care by heightening the quantity and
quality of interactions with children. The regulations may even
convince wary parents that their child would be well cared for,
increasing demand for formal, center-based care.

But both regulations raise the cost of serving a given number of
children. These increased costs reduce supply, increasing prices
and encouraging parents to use less-costly alternatives. Child-care
centers could try to compensate by paying staff lower wages, but
this may mean the industry attracts lower-quality workers. They
might also try to hire cheaper, lower-quality support staff. Both
could actually lower quality, rather than increase it.

Empirical research analyzing differences across states shows
that the net effects of these requirements are costly and that
relaxing them would have beneficial effects without significantly
compromising quality. Mercatus Center economists Diana Thomas and
Devon Gorry, for example,
estimate
that loosening ratios by just one child across all age
groups would result in prices falling by 9 percent or more. That’s
over $2,000 per year for a family using full-time infant-center
care in D.C. Requiring lead teachers to have high-school diplomas
likewise raises prices by between 25 percent and 46 percent.

The rules the …read more

Source: OP-EDS