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'The Russians Are Going to Help Me': This GOP Candidate Actually Joked that He's Getting Foreign Assistance in an Election

August 20, 2018 in Blogs

By Matthew Chapman, AlterNet

Pennsylvania Republican Scott Wagner was caught on tape joking that Russia will help him defeat Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf.


On Monday, the Huffington Post reported that Scott Wagner, the Republican nominee for Pennsylvania governor, was caught on tape joking about enlisting the help of the Russians to win the election against incumbent Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf.

“By the way, the Russians are going to help me with Tom Wolf,” said Wagner, to great applause, on the tape, which was first obtained by the Pennsylvania Democratic Party. “If I have to use Paul Manafort, I will,” he added, referencing the former Trump campaign chair who is currently on trial for financial crimes relating to his work for pro-Russian strongman Viktor Yanukovych in Ukraine.

Wagner, a former state senator and waste management executive who likes to style himself as a mini-Trump, has spent much of his gubernatorial campaign in controversy.

When asked about his position on birth control in April, he replied that he would have to ask his wife first. He also called a young woman who questioned his denial of climate change “young and naive,” a statement he later had to distance himself from. And he recently came under fire after he was caught on camera telling members of a local gun-obsessed cult that he agrees “98 percent” with their beliefs.

Most recent polls have shown Wagner trailing Wolf by double digits, although a recent internal poll from the pro-GOP Commonwealth Leaders Fund finds the race within 3 points.

The Pennsylvania gubernatorial election is one of the most critical in the country. The winner will hold the veto pen during the next round of congressional redistricting, in a state that Republicans have aggressively gerrymandered. A state Supreme Court decision recently voided the rigged maps put in place in 2010.

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Trump Was Rattled to Find Out How Much a Top Aide Has Been Talking to Robert Mueller: Report

August 20, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

The New York Times reported over the weekend about Don McGahn's extensive interview with Mueller's team.


Despite his public claims to the contrary, President Donald Trump was unsettled by the New York Times report Monday that White House Counsel Don McGahn has given at least 30 hours of interviews to special counsel Robert Mueller, according to a new CNN report.

“The failing @nytimes wrote a Fake piece today implying that because White House Councel Don McGahn was giving hours of testimony to the Special Councel, he must be a John Dean type 'RAT,'” Trump said on Twitter Sunday. “But I allowed him and all others to testify – I didn’t have to.”

He later added:

Disgraced and discredited Bob Mueller and his whole group of Angry Democrat Thugs spent over 30 hours with the White House Councel, only with my approval, for purposes of transparency. Anybody needing that much time when they know there is no Russian Collusion is just someone…. ….looking for trouble. They are enjoying ruining people’s lives and REFUSE to look at the real corruption on the Democrat side – the lies, the firings, the deleted Emails and soooo much more! Mueller’s Angry Dems are looking to impact the election. They are a National Disgrace!

And yet, according to CNN:

The President was unsettled by the notion that he didn't know everything McGahn said to the special counsel during their interviews, the sources said. And while he had approved the cooperation, Trump did not know the conversations stretched for 30 hours or that his legal team didn't conduct a full debriefing with McGahn after the fact.

The report adds that Trump remained “agitated” throughout the weekend and that he thought the story “made him look weak.”

It also notes that despite McGahn's success in pushing a conservative judicial agenda, his relationship with the president is strained. Assuming he pushes Judge Brett Kavanaugh over the finish line in his nomination to the Supreme Court, McGahn may soon leave the White House, according to CNN.

Jack Quinn, a former White House Counsel himself, observed that the story about Times McGahn will likely have …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Fox News Host Accuses Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of Barring Press from Town Halls Because She’s Harboring Undocumented Immigrants

August 20, 2018 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson, AlterNet

The “Outnumbered” panel was uniformly critical of Ocasio-Cortez.


Democratic congressional nominee Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is running against Republican Anthony Pappas for the seat that Rep. Joe Crowley presently holds in the U.S. House of Representatives, recently barred the press from two town hall events in New York City—explaining, on Twitter, that she did so because she wanted victims of domestic violence to “feel safe discussing sensitive issues in a threatening political time.” But when Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich discussed the town halls on the program “Outnumbered,” she claimed that Ocasio-Cortez had another motivation: protecting illegal immigrants.

Appearing on a panel alongside “Outnumbered” host Melissa Francis, Charles Payne and libertarian Lisa Kennedy Montgomery, Pavlich asserted, “(Ocasio-Cortez) says 50 percent of the community are immigrants. But at the same time, she doesn’t want to let anyone in to meet who these people are—which signals to me they are illegal immigrants and they are harboring them, and they don’t want the press to expose they are here illegally.”

Francis interjected, “No, that’s what she wants you to say. That’s the trap you’re falling into.”

The panel was uniformly critical of Ocasio-Cortez, with Francis and Payne both insisting that she was afraid of the press. Payne asserted, “It’s so cheap (and) tawdry to say, ‘I’m trying to protect victims of abuse’ because she can’t stand up to the press.” And Montgomery asserted, “You can’t say that (an event) is open to the public and not allow the press inside. That’s not open to the public.”

On June 26, the 28-year-old Ocasio-Cortez (a member of the Democratic Socialists of America) sent shock waves through the political world when she defeated ten-term Rep. Crowley in a Democratic congressional primary in Queens and the Bronx. It was a landslide victory: Ocasio-Cortez won 57% of the vote, and she goes into the general election with an advantage given how overwhelmingly Democratic her district is. 

Pappas is surprisingly moderate by modern GOP standards. The Queens-based Republican (a professor of economics at St. John’s University in Jamaica, Queens) has spoken out against mass incarceration and the Prison/Industrial Complex, …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Ex-White House Counsel Jack Quinn Says Trump’s Advisers Could Flock to Mueller After Bombshell McGahn Report

August 20, 2018 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson, AlterNet

“Nobody wants to be the last one standing.”


CNN is reporting that White House Counsel Don McGahn, who has agreed to cooperate in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing Russian investigation, spent more than 30 hours speaking to Mueller’s team. And during an interview with CNN’s Brooke Baldwin today, CNN senior legal analyst Jack Quinn and former deputy assistant secretary of policy at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Paul Rosenzweig both weighed in on McGahn’s cooperation with Mueller.

Baldwin asked Rosenzweig if it was a “no brainer” for McGahn to cooperate rather than taking the fall in the investigation. Rosenzweig responded, “I think it’s a no-brainer, and it’s a no-brainer for a more fundamental reason—which is that in the end, he doesn’t have that much of choice.”

Rosenzweig added that there is a “very limited scope to the confidentiality of (McGahn’s) discussions with the president, especially when they involve conduct that might be legitimately the subject of criminal investigation.”

When Baldwin drew a distinction between being a White House counsel and being President Donald Trump’s private lawyer, Quinn elaborated, “Don McGahn is not working for the president as his personal attorney….Don McGahn works for the people of the United States, like all government lawyers do. And in that regard, he has an obligation to cooperate in criminal inquiries, grand jury proceedings and the like.”

Quinn went on to say, “I think one of the really serious implications of this whole thing is that others are standing by—they see that Don McGahn went in and talked to the special counsel.”

With McGahn speaking to Mueller’s team, Quinn stressed, others are likely to do the same.

Quinn asserted, “(McGahn) had every interest in the world in telling all….Nobody wants to be the last one standing. Nobody wants to watch one’s colleagues go in (and) spill the beans and be the one who is last in line to cooperate. I think there’s a good chance you’ll see a lot of people making phone calls to the special counsel’s office, asking when their interview can take place.”

<Img align="left" border="0" …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Former Nixon Lawyer John Dean Say Michael Cohen's Attorney Is Probing Him About How Watergate Unfolded

August 20, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

Dean was at the center of much of the Watergate scandal.


In an interview on CNN, former White House Counsel John Dean, who famously testified against President Richard Nixon, said Monday that he has been consulting with Michael Cohen's attorney Lanny Davis about how the Watergate scandal unfolded.

Cohen, who previously served as President Donald Trump's personal lawyer and fixer, is now under federal investigation.

“You confirmed that you have been talking to Michael Cohen's attorney Lanny Davis,” said host Jake Tapper during the interview. “CNN learned Cohen could face bank fraud charges soon. Do you get the sense that Cohen could be close to telling his truth to prosecutors and making a deal, causing some trouble for President Trump?”

“Well, I have never talked to Cohen himself, only Lanny Davis, who I have known for years,” said Dean. “And he has just been probing me on how Watergate unfolded — looking for factual information, not for legal advice or anything of that nature. Rather, just to understand that history and the parallels that exist with my situation and potentially exist with his client.”

“He should pick up a copy of your book Blind Ambition,” Tapper quipped. 

Watch the exchange below:

Related Stories

…read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Roundup, the Usual Suspects

August 20, 2018 in Economics

By Walter Olson

Walter Olson

The American tort system has generated many litigation campaigns
and completed verdicts we now recognize as scientific
embarrassments. Among them are lawsuits claiming that silicone
breast implants caused auto-immune disease, common childhood
vaccines caused autism, the morning sickness drug Bendectin caused
birth defects, one or another make of car suddenly accelerated
without any input from the driver or gas pedal, and so forth.

A San Francisco jury’s August 10 verdict ordering Bayer/Monsanto to pay $289
million to a school groundskeeper who contracted
non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma may add to this list.

The American tort system
has generated many litigation campaigns and completed verdicts we
now recognize as scientific embarrassments.

Most bodies of expert opinion both private and public around the
world, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and
National Institutes of Health, do not consider glyphosate, the
active ingredient in Roundup, a probable cause of cancer in humans.
Here’s one discussion of how a large study
(>50,000) looking directly at the health of agricultural workers
went far to dispel earlier concerns based on weaker and more
indirect studies. Similarly: Steven Novella at Science-Based Medicine after
the verdict, and Health Canada, Guy-André Pelouze at Slate and Angela Logomasini at Science20 before.

The outlier exception was a pronouncement by a French-based
advisory panel to the World Health Organization, the International
Agency for Research on Cancer, classifying glyphosate as a
“probable” carcinogen based on animal studies. This was
subsequently (and quite controversially) picked up and endorsed by
the state of California as an addition to a list of suspected
carcinogens. The California courts have upheld that listing,
although in June a federal judge told the state that it could not
require a warning label on Roundup because the evidence against the
compound was too flimsy.

Following the San Francisco verdict, some of the more credulous
press accounts cited IARC’s pronouncement without mentioning
the many assessments to the contrary. But the problems with that
pronouncement go well beyond “unconvincing” or
“tenuous” and on into territory some, like Geoffrey Kabat at Forbes, have termed
“scandal.”

“A scientist who advised a United Nations agency to
classify the world’s most widely used weed-killer as
carcinogenic received $160,000 (£121,500) from law firms bringing
claims by cancer victims against the manufacturer,” reported
London’s Times last fall. “He did not declare his links
to the law firms in a letter to the European Commission urging it
to accept the IARC classification.” One of the law firms that
engaged his services now advertises for
claimants to sue over Roundup in U.S. courts.

Meanwhile, …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Elizabeth Warren, European Corporatist

August 20, 2018 in Economics

By Ryan Bourne

Ryan Bourne

It’s easy to be grateful for small mercies. Senator Bernie
Sanders is pushing radical, expensive government intrusions into
health care and labor markets, in the form of Medicare for all and a federal jobs guarantee. So when Democrat
Elizabeth Warren recently bucked socialist trends—declared
“I love what markets do” and said
“I am a capitalist to my bones”—it seemed a
refreshing tonic to those of us who want an open, dynamic, free
economy.

Alas, the senator from Massachusetts has unsurprisingly
confirmed that she is no free marketeer. While she might want
businesses to notionally be private entities, the “Accountable Capitalism Act” she
unveiled last week represents pure, unadulterated European
corporatism: a supposed partnership between business, labor, and
government interests.

The Act would force all businesses with more than $1 billion in
revenue to adopt a federal charter of corporate citizenship.
Companies would have to consider “the interests of all major
corporate stakeholders—not only shareholders—in company
decisions,” Warren wrote in the Wall Street
Journal
—as if they do not broadly do this already. A
successful business must weigh up satisfying its employees to keep
them happy and productive, respond to its competitors and consumer
demands, pre-empt or react to ever-changing government policies,
and consider long-term perceptions of their brand.

Warren’s proposal would establish in the Commerce Department an
Office of United States Corporations to review and grant charters
for large entities, as well as refer entities the office finds in
violation of the law to appropriate federal agencies for
punishment. This office is an almighty and arbitrary Damocles
sword, with the politicians that control it able to hold companies
in breach of charter for anything and everything they are thought
not to have considered.

As my colleague Jeff Miron has noted, honest
companies will find themselves tied up in extensive regulation and
never-ending stakeholder engagement, while those genuinely looking
to make a fast buck will take their chances. To say the Act would
muddy the waters and create perverse incentives is an
understatement.

As if this were not bad enough, the legislation requires workers
to make up 40 percent of the membership of boards of directors, in
an arrangement known as co-determination. Supporters of the bill
suggest this will lead to better outcomes for workers and higher
productivity. Yet the limited evidence available suggests quite the
opposite.

Research from the year 2000 undertaken by then-University of
Pennsylvania economist Gary Gorton and Federal Reserve Bank of St.
Louis economist Frank Schmid found that German firms were 27 percent less
valuable
to their shareholders because of these laws. This does
not represent some pure redistribution from shareholders to
workers. At …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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How Government Saps Our Energy

August 20, 2018 in Economics

By David Boaz

David Boaz

Visiting the Solyndra solar-panel factory in Fremont,
California, in May 2010, President Barack Obama declared,
“The true engine of economic growth will always be companies
like Solyndra.”

With paternalistic
attempts at planning our lives, the government takes away a choice
that lets millions of people choose how to spend their own money to
achieve their own purposes.

Well, that didn’t work out so well. Despite $535 million
in federal loan guarantees, Solyndra declared bankruptcy 16 months
later.

The idea of “green energy” — energy from
natural, renewable sources such as sunlight, wind, and rain —
has been a bright, shining dream of environmentalists for decades.
Its viability always seems just over the horizon.

Oh, you can find plenty of headlines like “Further
Dramatic Fall in Price of Solar Energy Forecast for 2018” and
“Renewable Energy Will Be Consistently Cheaper Than Fossil
Fuels By 2020, Report Claims.” But here’s the thing:
Those headlines and reports are usually produced by interested
parties: environmentalist groups or industry associations or
government agencies. They don’t hold up to scrutiny.

Government as Energy Investor

We have decades of experience with the federal
government trying to subsidize and encourage new sources of energy.
A Department of Energy report in 2008, before the massive
expenditures of the Obama “stimulus” package, estimated
that the federal government had spent $172 billion since 1961 on
basic research and development of advanced energy technologies.
Consider some of the big-ticket items:

  • The Clinch River Breeder Reactor was an experimental nuclear
    fission power project in Tennessee that cost taxpayers $1.7 billion
    — more than $4 billion in today’s dollars —
    before being abandoned in 1983.
  • The Synthetic Fuels Corporation was created in 1980 to develop
    oil shale, tar sands, and coal gasification technologies to wean us
    off imported oil. Congress authorized $20 billion, but eventually
    it was closed in 1986 after spending “only” $2
    billion.
  • George W. Bush spent $1.2 billion on a fruitless effort to
    develop a hydrogen-powered car.
  • Presidents since Jimmy Carter have tried to develop
    “clean coal,” a method to burn domestic coal in an
    environmentally friendly way. From the Healy project in Alaska to
    the Kemper plant in Mississippi, these efforts have overspent and
    underperformed. As Steven Mufson of the Washington Post
    wrote in 2014, “The only thing the Kemper
    power plant is burning now is money.”

Indeed, Mufson wrote in an earlier article, “Not a
single one of these much-ballyhooed initiatives is producing or
saving a drop or a watt or a whiff of energy.”

The Solyndra Debacle

When President Obama took office, with the stock market crashing
and unemployment rising, his first order of business was the
American Recovery …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Drug Prohibition and Third-Party Payers Created the “Pill Mills”

August 20, 2018 in Economics

By Jeffrey A. Singer

Jeffrey A. Singer

A cornerstone of governments’ approach to the opioid
overdose crisis has been monitoring and restricting prescriptions
of opioids to patients in pain. Restrictionists point to the
so-called “pill mills” rampant in the earlier years of
this century, particularly in South Florida, and the Appalachian region, that
churned out hundreds of millions of prescription painkillers. The
pill mills weren’t indicative of how the overwhelming
majority of doctors practice pain management.

While they are largely gone now, pill mills are an example of
what happens when drug prohibition intersects with the third-party
payment system.

The opioid crisis was
never a result of doctors treating patients. It was always about
non-medical users seeking drugs in the black market, and the
financial incentives that market offers to dealers.

Drug prohibition creates lucrative black market opportunities
for people willing to sell drugs illegally. In 2011 federal law
enforcement reported the street price of OxyContin was $50
to $100, compared to the legal price of roughly $6 at the pharmacy.
In fact, when Florida clamped down on its pill mills the street
price of a single OxyContin pill rose from $8 to $15. This lure of easy money tempts corrupt
doctors and pharmacists to leverage their degrees to nefarious
ends, especially because they can use the third party payment
system to “double-dip:” they get paid by drug dealer
middlemen for churning out and filling prescriptions which then get
sold on the black market, and at the same time get reimbursed for
their “services” by Medicare, Medicaid, and insurance
companies.

Some doctors operated alone, like Dr. Alvin Yee, the Orange
County doctor who met “patients” at Starbucks and
essentially sold prescriptions of OxyContin, Vicodin, and Xanax,
for as much as $600 per meeting. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison in 2013. But
oftentimes it was more elaborate and involved a team of players. An
example is the Florida scheme where drug dealers paid professional
“patients” $600 to visit a set of South Florida pain
clinics where they would receive narcotics prescriptions from the
doctors even though they didn’t need them, and then fill the
prescriptions at one of four Robert’s Pharmacies. They then
gave the filled prescriptions to the dealers who sold them on the
black market while the pain clinics, doctors, and pharmacies billed
Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurers for the services
provided.

This team approach became so well-organized in Florida that
addicts from around the country were recruited to visit these pain
clinics, often with added perks like gift cards, plane tickets, and
trips to strip clubs and casinos. So many flocked …read more

Source: OP-EDS