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'A Cancer on Our Democracy': Elizabeth Warren Says Trump's Ties to Michael Cohen's Crimes Reveal the Corruption of Our System

August 29, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

The Democratic senator said Cohen's claims directly implicate the president.


Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) blasted President Donald Trump Wednesday in an appearance on MSNBC's “The Beat with Ari Melber,” saying that his being implicated in the crimes of his former lawyer Michael Cohen show a deeper problem in American democracy.

Cohen pleaded guilty last week to eight counts of crimes in federal court. Two of the counts included campaign finance crimes, which he said he was directed to carry out by Trump.

“He has certainly implicated Donald Trump, he's making clear the connections here,” Warren said. “And I'm sure that everybody is listening who is involved in the investigation of the deeper relationship between Russia, the Trump campaign, Donald Trump himself. And now, whatever is happening in connection with the Justice Department in trying to shut down the investigation.”

She continued: “But I want to make a bigger point about this. Because when you listen to words like this from Cohen, it's a reminder: Corruption is like a cancer on our democracy. Think about how the American people, think about how all of us hear that, that — wait a minute, what's going on in Washington every day up and down the line is that the well-connected, the wealthy, they get heard, they are in the know.”

And yet, she said, regular families are completely shut out of these corrupt systems.

“They don't have that kind of representation,” she said.

Watch the clip below:

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Source: ALTERNET

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Here's How Betsy DeVos Reportedly Wants to Redefine Sexual Misconduct on College Campuses

August 29, 2018 in Blogs

By Matthew Chapman, AlterNet

The new proposal, as described by the New York Times, is the latest from the Trump administration in a pattern of hostility to survivors.


On Wednesday, The New York Times reported that President Donald Trump's Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, is considering a significant rollback of federal guidelines for sexual misconduct on college campuses, which would protect the accused and the institutions and while limiting recourse for many victims.

The changes would reportedly include redefining sexual misconduct from “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature,” to “unwelcome conduct on the basis of sex that is so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive that it denies a person access to the school’s education program or activity,” a considerably more narrow definition.

The changes would also mean colleges and universities would only legally be required to respond to reports if officials have “actual knowledge” and only if the alleged incidents took place directly on campus — incidents involving faculty or students in off-campus housing would be excluded.

Education Department spokeswoman Liz Hill stressed that these leaked details are “premature and speculative” and that none of the changes have been finalized. However, they appear to represent the latest in a pattern of hostility that DeVos' department has shown to the legal rights of victims of sexual incidents.

Early in her tenure, DeVos, a billionaire GOP donor who has no training in either education or civil rights, met to discuss the issue with the National Coalition of Men — an extreme anti-feminist group that routinely attacks rape and domestic violence survivors. And she staffed her department's civil rights division with sexual assault denialists like Candice Jackson, who has claimed that “90 percent” of campus sexual assault cases “fall into the category of 'we were both drunk'.”

Last September, DeVos rescinded requirements that colleges and universities use a preponderance standard when investigating sexual assault, and that investigations of complaints be completed within 60 days. She also urged schools to allow accused rapists to interrogate survivors directly, ban survivors from appealing the decisions of …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Trump Administration Borrows a Cruel Page from His Past: Questioning Citizens' Birth Certificates

August 29, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

This is a dark turn, even for the Trump administration.


President Donald Trump's harmful and clearly racist obsession with enforcing draconian immigration restrictions has taken another pernicious turn and appears to be targeting hundreds of Hispanic Americans who live near the U.S.-Mexico border, according to a new report from the Washington Post.

The new report found that hundreds, if not thousands, of people living on the border have been denied passports by the State Department over skepticism about their birth certificates. It's true, the report says, that some midwives in the area have created falsified birth records in the past, but many of these same people created legitimate birth records as well.

When it can't confirm that the document is legitimate, it seems, the department errs on the side of denying the passport. In one case the Postdocumented, a man provided additional evidence of his birthplace after being initially denied, only to be denied once again. He had to hire a lawyer to continue to appeal the decision — a move that can very costly for people with low incomes.

The practice also raises disturbing parallels with the issue that brought Trump into the modern political scene: Falsely attacking the legitimacy of President Barack Obama's birth certificate.

The State Department told the Post that it has not changed its policies with regard to passport applications. The report adds: “But cases identified by The Washington Post and interviews with immigration attorneys suggest a dramatic shift in both passport issuance and immigration enforcement.”

Some of the people who have been denied passports have later even been jailed and placed into deportation proceedings, according to the Post.

The stunning report reveals the depths to which the administration will sink in its campaign against immigrants — or even just people it thinks might be immigrants. There's absolutely no reason that people who have lived in the United States their whole lives, who have official paperwork demonstrating their citizenship, should bear the burden of proof to show that their documentation is not a forgery.

 

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Here Are 4 Key Differences Between Paul Manafort Judges Amy Berman Jackson and T.S. Ellis

August 29, 2018 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson, AlterNet

The president's former campaign manager will be facing a very different judge this time.


During his recent trial in Alexandria, Virginia, Paul Manafort had a very  sympathetic judge in T.S. Ellis III—who often came across as antagonistic to federal prosecutors and made it clear that they were the ones who shouldered the burden of proof, not Manafort’s defense team. But President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager will be facing a very different judge when Amy Berman Jackson, a Barack Obama appointee, oversees his second criminal trial in Washington, DC. Already convicted of eight federal charges (including bank fraud and tax evasion) in Alexandria, Manafort will be facing a different set of charges in Judge Jackson’s courtroom—including obstruction of justice and money laundering—and while Ellis often clashed with prosecutors during Manafort’s first trial, Jackson has been clashing with his defense team. Manafort’s second trial has been moved back to Monday, September 24, with jury selection to begin a week earlier on September 17.

Here are four indications that in terms of judges, things will be very different for Manafort during his second trial than they were in Alexandria.

1. Ellis Warned Prosecutors to Mind Their Behavior Around Jurors; Jackson Warned the Defense

In Alexandria, Ellis warned prosecutors to be mindful of their facial expressions, noting that he didn’t appreciate eye-rolling in the presence of jurors. But Jackson, in contrast, has warned attorney Kevin Downing (who is part of Manafort’s defense team) that when the trial begins, he is not to act out around jurors. Jackson, during a hearing, cautioned, “Mr. Downing, I just want to let you know that you are an expressive human being, and how you feel about what is being said in the courtroom is a big part of your demeanor and your physical demeanor. That doesn’t upset me particularly, but it will upset me enormously if there’s a jury in the box. So just keep that in mind.”

2. Jackson Revoked Manafort’s Home Detention

In May, Ellis (who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan in 1987) openly expressed his skepticism …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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We Have a New Reason Not to Trust ICE

August 29, 2018 in Economics

By David Bier

David Bier

The Trump administration is preparing for another fight in court next month as it attempts
to force “sanctuary cities” to detain people targeted
for deportation. These cities argue that the administration’s
requests would damage the relationships they have built with
immigrant communities. But they have another reason to oppose the
demands: The federal government may be asking them to detain U.S. citizens.

It’s difficult to tell how often such wrongful detention
occurs, since Immigration and Customs Enforcement fails to
adequately record these incidents. But it does happen, as
Ada Morales
in Rhode Island and
Gerardo Gonzalez
in California — both U.S. citizens
— can attest. In both cases, ICE even submitted detainers for
them, then canceled the detainer, and yet still listed in
the cancellation notice that their nationality was not the United
States.

To get a better sense of the problem, the Cato Institute

requested data
at the local level from Travis County, Tex.
— one of the few jurisdictions that record the relevant
details. The county includes Austin and was at the center of the
fight to ban sanctuary cities in the state after Sheriff Sally
Hernandez partially stopped honoring detainers for about eight
months in 2017. The state legislature responded by making it a crime to refuse to honor a
detainer.

States and localities
have every reason to be skeptical about following ICE’s
dictates.

Here’s what the county-level data show: From September
2005 to Aug. 25, 2017, ICE issued 24,269 detainers for people in
Travis County custody. In 228 of those cases — almost 1
percent of the detainers — the person claimed U.S.
citizenship and presented a Social Security number. ICE then
subsequently declined to execute the detainer either by formally
canceling it (as the agency did in 156 cases) or by declining to
execute it when the person came up for release (which happened in
the remaining 72).

The best explanation for this behavior is that ICE verified
their citizenship and decided not to make the arrest, wrongfully
targeting 228 Americans. ICE supervisory detention and deportation
officer John Drane told a court in 2015 that he could think of
only two reasons for canceling a detainer: It was discovered the
person was a legal permanent resident who had never committed a
crime that would make them deportable or they were a U.S.
citizen.

While a 1 percent rate may not seem like much, if it holds
across the state of Texas, it would mean that ICE sought detainers
for at least 3,500 U.S. citizens since 2006. If applied nationally,
it would mean that …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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The Clash of Generations and American Foreign Policy

August 29, 2018 in Economics

By A. Trevor Thrall, William Ruger, Erik Goepner

A. Trevor Thrall, William Ruger, and Erik Goepner

Does the rise of the Millennial Generation spell doom for
America’s global leadership? To listen to thosewho support America’s continued deep engagement in the world the possibility is
all too real. Recent polling from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs shows 47
percent of Millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996) think the
United States should “stay out” of world affairs and
only 51 percent think the country should “take an active
part” in them. This is compared to well over 70 percent of
the Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) and the Silent
Generation (those born between 1928 and 1945), who favor an active
role for the United States.

Today, with the midterms looming as a referendum on President
Donald Trump, the nation’s most powerful Baby Boomer, several
commentators have noted that Millennial turnout could very well
dictate the composition of the next Congress — and their
electoral weight will only keep growing. In 2016, Baby Boomers
made up 31 percent of voters compared to the
Millennials’ 27 percent. But with Boomer numbers declining
and Millennials more likely to vote as they age, these young adults
could overtake their elders at the ballot box in 2020.

For all the concerns about Millennials, however, the story
behind America’s attitude shifts on foreign policy is more
mixed than many realize.

In short, since World War
II successive generations of Americans have become less hawkish and
want a more cooperative U.S. foreign policy.

Though there are real signs of global leadership fatigue,
younger Americans are not opposed to engagement with the world when
it is mutually beneficial. In fact, younger Americans remain quite
committed to international life in their own way. However, as our
recent study published with the Chicago Council
on Global Affairs reveals, the United States is experiencing an
intergenerational shift in attitudes about the proper goals and
tools of foreign policy. Relative to their elders, younger
Americans are much less supportive of the use of military force
abroad, but they are equally or more supportive of international
trade, cooperation, and diplomacy.

For example, in our study, just 44 percent of Millennials and 54
percent of Generation Xers (those born between 1965 and 1980)
believed that maintaining superior military power should be a very
important foreign policy goal of the United States, compared to 64
percent of Baby Boomers and 70 percent of the Silent Generation. In
that same survey Millennials were also the least supportive of
conducting airstrikes against Syria …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Corporate Welfare Lives on and On

August 29, 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. The
legislation suffered a surprise defeat in the House, being viewed
as too stingy. But it is certain to return.

Fiscal responsibility is out of fashion. The latest federal
budget, drafted by a Republican president and Republican-controlled
Congress, blew through the loose limits established under
Democratic President Barack Obama. The result is trillion-dollar
deficits as far as the eye can see.

Spending matters. So does the kind of spending. Any amount of
corporate welfare is too much.

From farm subsidies to
the Export-Import Bank, special interest feeding frenzies are still
the norm throughout government.

Business plays a vital role in a free market. People should be
able to invest and innovate, taking risks while accepting losses.
In real capitalism there are no guaranteed profits. But corporate
welfare gives the well-connected protection from many of the normal
risks of business.

Business subsidies undermine both capitalism and democracy.
Allowing politicians to channel economic resources toward their
preferred ends distorts 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.

Explained Mercatus scholar Tad DeHaven, then a budget analyst at
the Cato Institute: “Corporate welfare often subsidizes
failing and mismanaged businesses and induces firms to spend more
time on lobbying rather than on making better products. Instead of
correcting market failures, federal subsidies misallocate resources
and introduce government failures into the marketplace.”

While corporate welfare suggests money for big business, firm
size is irrelevant. There is no substantive difference between,
say, the Small Business Administration and the Export-Import Bank.
Both turn capitalism into a rigged game of Monopoly.

Aid comes in many forms. There is spending, typically in grants,
loans, and loan guarantees; limits on competitors, such as tariffs
and quotas; tax preferences, attached to broader tax bills to
benefit individual companies and industries. All help ensure
business profits.

Agriculture in particular has spawned a gaggle of sometimes
bizarre subsidies. Payments, loans, crop insurance, import quotas,
and more underwrite farmers. When these distort the marketplace,
further efforts are concocted to address those dislocations. A
dairy program created milk surpluses, which in turn encouraged
state price fixing that generated massive cheese stockpiles, in
turn triggering giveaways to the poor. The federal government
killed off cows even as it continued to subsidize milk.

Money also goes to agricultural enterprises through the Rural
Business-Cooperative Service, which supports “business
development.” Through it, observed the Cato Institute’s
Chris Edwards, Washington subsidizes “utilities, …read more

Source: OP-EDS