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Christine Blasey Ford's Lawyer Slams Republicans and Says 'Multiple Witnesses' Should Testify on Kavanaugh Allegations

September 19, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

Republicans are giving Brett Kavanaugh's accuser an ultimatum.


A lawyer for Christine Blasey Ford, the California professor accusing Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of attempted rape, denounced the Senate Republicans' ultimatum on Wednesday after they demanded that Ford testify Monday or give up her opportunity to be heard as a part of the confirmation process.

Several Senate Republicans implied Wednesday that if she refuses to testify, they will move to bring Kavanaugh's nomination to a vote.

The statement from Lisa Banks said there were multiple witnesses who should be called to testify in the hearing:

Dr. Ford was reluctantly thrust into the public spotlight only two days ago. She is currently unable to go home, and is receiving ongoing threats to her and her family’s safety. Fairness and respect for her situation dictate that she should have time to deal with this. She continues to believe that a full nonpartisan investigation of this matter is needed and she is willing to cooperate with the Committee. However, the Committee’s stated plan to move forward with a hearing that has only two witnesses is not a fair or good faith investigation; there are multiple witnesses whose names have appeared publicly and should be included in any proceeding. The rush to a hearing is unnecessary, and contrary to the Committee discovering the truth.

Though Ford has requested an FBI investigation into her case instead of agreeing to the Monday hearing, it is not yet clear whether she will agree to testify if given no other options.

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Source: ALTERNET

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Right-Wing Activist Behind 3D Printed Gun Case Arrested After Alleged Sexual Assault of Child

September 19, 2018 in Blogs

By Matthew Chapman, AlterNet

Prosecutors say Cody Wilson, the owner of Defense Distributed, paid $500 to an underage girl for a sex act.


Cody Wilson, the man behind the high-profile legal battle over the online distribution of blueprints for 3D printed guns, has been arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting an underage girl.

TIME Magazine detailed the allegations and the tips that led to the arrest:

According to legal documents, Wilson’s accuser told Child Protection Services that she created an online profile on the website sugardaddymeet.com and exchanged messages with someone with the screen name “Sanjuro” and began texting. Over text, “Sunjuro” identified himself as Cody Wilson and said he was a “big deal.” The girl told authorities she didn’t know who Wilson was and read news articles about him to learn more, the affidavit said.

She also told detectives that she exchanged explicit images with Wilson over text message, according to the affidavit. Police were able to match Wilson’s Texas drivers license image to his profile photo on sugardaddymeet.com, authorities said.

The girl said she met Wilson in person on Aug. 15 at an Austin coffee shop. According to the affidavit, police reviewed security footage at the coffee shop that showed the two leaving together in Wilson’s black Ford Edge, which was registered to his nonprofit, Defense Distributed.

The girl told police the two travelled to a hotel, where they had sex, according to the arrest affidavit. She said Wilson then gave her five $100 bills. Police were able to confirm Wilson and the girl were at the hotel through surveillance footage of the hotel’s valet surveillance camera, the affidavit said.

Wilson, a financial backer of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), owns Defense Distributed, a nonprofit through which he has attempted to sell blueprints online that would enable people to build untraceable firearms with 3D printers. He has been in a three-year legal battle with the State Department, which in 2015 accused him of violating arms export laws.

Under President Donald Trump, the State Department reached a settlement that would have allowed Wilson to move forward. But in August, at the request of nineteen states and …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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These Two GOP Senators Wield Supreme Power as Brett Kavanaugh's Nomination Falls into Doubt

September 19, 2018 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson, AlterNet

Control over the Supreme Court hangs in the balance.


If any two Republican senators sink the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, it will be Maine’s Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski—who are under enormous pressure from President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on one hand and opponents of Kavanaugh’s nomination on the other. And with 51-year-old psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford alleging that Kavanaugh attempted to sexually assault her back in 1982, the pressure on Collins and Murkowski has become even more intense.

Although Collins and Murkowski are often described as “moderates,” both of them have very conservative voting records. Nonetheless, they aren’t as far to the right as other Republicans in the Senate; for one thing, both of them are pro-choice on the abortion issue. And they famously bucked their party when, in 2017, they voted against a Republican bill that would have repealed the Affordable Care Act of 2010, a.k.a. Obamacare.

Neither Collins nor Murkowski have stated whether or not they will vote for Kavanaugh’s confirmation, trying to give the impression that they are weighing the decision carefully. Both of them, however, voted to confirm Justice Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s first Supreme Court nominee—and Collins, even after Ford’s allegation, is still on the fence. In a letter to Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley (chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee), Collins recommended that if Ford and Kavanaugh testified in a Senate hearing on Monday, September 24, both of them should be questioned by attorneys—Ford’s attorneys as well as Kavanaugh’s.

In the letter, Collins told Grassley, “I respectfully recommend that you invite the attorneys retained by Dr. Ford and Judge Kavanaugh to pose questions during the hearing. Dr. Ford’s attorney would be permitted to question Judge Kavanaugh, and Judge Kavanaugh’s attorney would question Dr. Ford. Each would be permitted equal time to do so before senators began their round of questions.” 

But it looks like Ford will not be testifying on September 24. Attorneys for Ford (a professor at Palo Alto University in Northern California) have stated that she will not testify before the Senate Judiciary …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Here's Why New Jersey Could Be the Next State to Legalize Weed

September 19, 2018 in Blogs

By Phillip Smith, Independent Media Institute

The governor and the legislature are just about ready to roll.


Voters in Michigan and North Dakota will have a chance to legalize marijuana on Election Day, but lawmakers in New Jersey could beat them to the punch. After much back-and-forth all year long, legislators have finally crafted a bill to legalize marijuana.

The bill, building on an earlier proposal by state Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Linden), is now being reviewed by the office of Gov. Phil Murphy (D), who campaigned on a platform that included marijuana legalization. Only minor changes are expected to come from the governor's office, and then the legislature should be ready to move.

Murphy had talked about legalizing weed in his first hundred days in office. That didn't happen. Legislative leaders then talked about doing it before the end of this month. That's unlikely to happen, given the need for hearings and the fact that the bill hasn't officially been filed yet. But now legislators are talking about getting it done by the end of next month.

While the bill hasn't yet been filed, New Jersey Advance Media has obtained a draft. Here's what the measure will include:

·         The legalization of the possession and personal use of small amounts of marijuana for people 21 and over, but not home cultivation.

·         The creation of a system of taxed and regulated marijuana commerce.

·         The creation of a Cannabis Regulatory Commission to craft rules and regulations based on the foundations in the bill. The five-member body appointed by the governor would also provide oversight for the industry.

·         No ceiling on the number of potential licenses granted. That would be up to the commission.

·         A 10 percent tax on marijuana sales, which would be among the lowest in the country.  Earlier versions had taxes rising to 15 percent or 25 percent over time, but not this one—although there are reports that Gov. Murphy wants a higher tax, so this could change.

·         Marijuana lounges would be permitted. Businesses with a marijuana retail license could apply to have a consumption space, but …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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This Teenager Killed Nazis With Her Sister During WWII

September 19, 2018 in History

By Becky Little

Freddie and Truus Oversteegen sometimes ambushed Nazi officers from their bicycles—and never revealed how many they had assassinated.


Freddie Oversteegan pictured in her teens. She joined the Dutch resistance at age 14 and took up arms against Nazis by the time she was 16.

Freddie Oversteegen was only 14 when she joined the Dutch resistance during in 2016. But the experience of war still caused her insomnia. In another interview, Freddie recalled seeing a person she’d shot fall the ground and having the human impulse to want to help him.

“We did not feel it suited us,” Truss told Jonker of their assassinations. “It never suits anybody, unless they are real criminals.”

Both women died at age 92—Truus in 2016, and Freddie on September 5, 2018, one day before she turned 93. Throughout much of their long lives, the Netherlands failed to properly recognize the women’s achievements, and sidelined them as communists. In 2014, they finally received national recognition for their service to their country by receiving the Mobilisatie-Oorlogskruis, or “War Mobilization Cross.”

…read more

Source: HISTORY

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Trump Nonsensically Claims He Should Have 'Fired' James Comey Long Before He Was Even Elected

September 19, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

His claims bordered on the incoherent.


While some continue to question President Donald Trump's fitness for office, he's doing himself no favors by talking incoherently and seeming to claim he has wide-ranging powers even before he was ever elected. 

In comments to The Hill, Trump said in a recent interview that he should have fired former FBI Director James Comey — an action that launched special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into the president and his campaign — long before he was even president.

“If I did one mistake with Comey, I should have fired him before I got here. I should have fired him the day I won the primaries,” Trump told the outlet. “I should have fired him right after the convention, say I don't want that guy. Or at least fired him the first day on the job. … I would have been better off firing him or putting out a statement that I don't want him there when I get there.”

At one point in the quote, Trump seems to perhaps realize that what he's saying is nonsensical. He had no capacity, of course, to fire Comey before his inauguration. He tries to cover this up a bit by suggesting he could have put a statement out that he would fire Comey if elected, but even this makes little sense. 

By the time Trump had one the Republican primaries, Comey had yet to come out with his controversial statement that both exonerated Hillary Clinton of any criminal activity regarding her private email server while also harshly criticizing her actions. That breach of procedure, along with his decision to send Congress a letter saying he was reopening the investigation days before the election, was a part of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's justification for firing Comey.

But of course, we know why Trump fired Comey, and it has nothing to do with Rosenstein's justifications. He didn't like that Comey was overseeing the Russia investigation that was examining ties between his campaign and the Kremlin. Trump's post-hoc claims and justifications — even the assertions that are obviously absurd — are just more …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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No, the U.S. Is Not the Most Generous Country for Refugees and Asylees in the World — Not by a Long Shot

September 19, 2018 in Economics

By David Bier

David Bier

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Monday that the United States would
lower its refugee ceiling to just 30,000 refugees — the lowest ceiling since the creation of the
U.S. refugee program in 1980. In doing so, he proclaimed, “We
are, and continue to be, the most generous nation in the
world,” citing the 280,000 asylum claims that the government
will process — though not grant — this year.

Yet even before this latest cut, the United States was not the
most open country in the world when it came to accepting people
— refugees and asylees — fleeing violence around the
world. Controlling for population, other nations accept at much
higher rates.

According to data from the Organization for Economic
Cooperation and Development (OECD), 14 OECD countries received more
permanent residents on humanitarian grounds than the United States
in 2016, the most recent year available.

The United States is not
the most open country in the world toward refugees, but it could
be. All the government needs to do is get out of the way and let
Americans take care of the rest.

The average rate of acceptance for those 14 countries was 0.23%
of their populations, while the U.S. rate was just 0.05% —
nearly 80% lower. Sweden led the way with a rate of acceptance of
0.73% of its population —15 times higher than the U.S.
rate.

This was before the dramatic contraction in numbers overseen by
the Trump administration.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees records the
total populations of refugees inside a country. According to its
most recent data from 2017, 0.1% of U.S. residents were refugees.
This ranked 78th in the world. Lebanon led the way, with 17% of its
population made up of refugees. Most European countries also had
higher refugee shares of their populations than America — for
example, Sweden’s share was 27 times greater than that of the
United States.

Of course, it is true that Sweden is a much smaller country, and
it receives fewer refugees in absolute terms. But controlling for
population provides a much more accurate assessment of a
country’s openness. After all, no one would conclude that the
Chinese are 22 times wealthier than the Swedes simply because
China’s total economy is that much larger. We control for
population by looking at income per person.

The immigration situation is the same. The United States is a
much larger country with more people and resources to integrate
refugees, and so it is essential to control for population to
assess its openness relative to other countries.

In any case, Pompeo …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Why Were the Rosenbergs Executed?

September 19, 2018 in History

By John Seven

They were the only spies executed during the Cold War and some question whether their sentence was fair.


Julius and Ethel Rosenberg who were executed after having been found guilty of conspiracy to commit espionage. The charges were in relation to the passing of information about the American atomic bomb to the Soviet Union.

Few death-penalty executions can equal the controversy created by the electrocutions of spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in 1953. Accused of overseeing a spy network that stole American atomic secrets and handing those over to the Soviet Union, the couple were the only spies executed during the Cold War.

But were they guilty? For some, that has been in dispute for more than half a century.

Julius Rosenberg was almost certainly guilty.

By most accounts, Julius Rosenberg was an enthusiastic Communist. His job at the Army Signal Corps Engineering Laboratories made him an enticing recruit for Soviet spies, who approached him on Labor Day, 1942.

Late in 1944, Julius became a recruiter for the Russians and oversaw several spies himself, including the one who would cause Julius’ downfall: his brother-in-law David Greenglass. Greenglass worked on the Manhattan Project at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

After the ring was uncovered, Greenglass was arrested on June 15, 1950. He named his wife as a co-conspirator, along with Julius. Greenglass originally denied his sister Ethel was involved, but later changed his story.

Ethel Rosenberg was arrested on the courthouse steps.

Soon after, the FBI raided the Rosenberg home and arrested Julius. Ethel was later arrested while leaving a federal courthouse in New York City after testifying she had no knowledge of espionage efforts. The FBI hoped her arrest would force Julius to name names of other Communist sympathizers.

Greenglass later told New York Times journalist Sam Roberts that he had entered into a deal with the government, implicating his sister in exchange for his wife’s immunity.

The Rosenbergs and Greenglass were all found guilty.

Sentencing guidelines gave the judge two choices for Julius and Ethel: 30 years imprisonment or execution. FBI director J. Edgar Hoover suggested a 30-year sentence for Ethel, believing she would eventually name names in jail.

But Judge Irving Kaufman chose death for both Rosenbergs. David Greenglass got a 15-year sentence, serving just over nine years.

The Rosenbergs were executed by electric on June 19, 1953, at Sing Sing Prison in Ossining, New York.

<img src="https://www.history.com/.image/c_fit%2Ccs_srgb%2Cfl_progressive%2Cq_auto:good%2Cw_620/MTU4NTYzMzYwMDgwNjY3OTA2/rosenberg-children-124961866.jpg" height="349" …read more

Source: HISTORY

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Congress Finds a New Excuse to Avoid Balancing America's Books

September 19, 2018 in Economics

By Michael D. Tanner

Michael D. Tanner

In April of this year, the Congressional Budget Office warned
that we were on track to return to trillion-dollar budget deficits
by 2020. That warning turns out to have understated the problem:
The latest estimates suggest we will now reach the dubious
trillion-dollar milestone this coming fiscal year, and the deficit
for the current year is now expected to be close to $900 billion,
$222 billion more than last year. Our current $21 trillion national
debt will likely top $30 trillion by 2025.

Democrats were quick to blame last year’s Republican tax
cuts for exacerbating the deficit, but tax revenues, fed by
increased economic growth, are actually up one percent over this
time last year. The real culprit is spending, which increased by 7
percent from last year, the largest year-over-year increase since
2009.

Modern Monetary Theory,
which holds that the government’s capacity to finance its debt is
limitless, is all the rage in Washington.

In short, economic growth will only go so far if no one in
Congress is willing to tame spending, and the “minibus”
spending packages that congressional Republicans and Democrats are
currently negotiating to avoid a government shutdown won’t do
the trick.

But not to worry; both the Left and Right have discovered a
magic money tree in the form of a concept known as Modern Monetary
Theory (MMT), an idea prominently promulgated by Bernie
Sanders’s chief economic adviser, Stephanie Kelton, that is
now being used to argue that lawmakers shouldn’t worry about
the size of the national debt.

MMT essentially says that the government’s capacity to
finance its debt is limitless. Since the U.S. government is the
sole printer of dollars, it faces no binding revenue constraint
because more dollars can always be printed. Therefore, the theory
goes, the national debt is mostly a harmful fiction preventing us
from having nice things such as “free college” or
“free health care.” Yes, there might be a slight danger
of inflation, but MMT advocates contend this can easily be
contained through policies such as a $15 per hour job guarantee to
stabilize wages.

Count me as skeptical.

Modern Monetary Theory might ordinarily be thought of as having
a comfortable home on the loony left, but it is increasingly
slipping into the discourse on the populist right. Recently, for
example, John Carney, the chief economic writer at
Breitbart, not only embraced MMT but argued that
Republicans were better suited to implement it since deficits have
historically grown larger under Republican presidents than under
the “austerian Dems.” And while it is difficult to
picture President Trump spending his “executive time”
pouring over tracts on monetary policy, there is more than a …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Britain and the US Can Show the World What a Free Trade Deal Should Like

September 19, 2018 in Economics

By Victoria Hewson, Daniel J. Ikenson

Victoria Hewson and Daniel J. Ikenson

Now might seem an odd time to be considering new free trade
deals with the US, when President Donald Trump has just escalated
his trade war with China by imposing new tariffs on $200bn worth of
goods.

The UK, meanwhile, is still focused on resolving the uncertainty
surrounding its future trading relationship with the EU. Talking
seriously about a possible UK-US free trade agreement may feel a
bit premature.

Yet that is precisely what policy experts from 11 think tanks on
both sides of the Atlantic have been busy debating this year.

The culmination of that effort is a paper entitled “The
Ideal US-UK Free Trade Agreement: A Free Trader’s
Perspective”, published on Tuesday by the Initiative for Free
Trade in London and the Cato Institute in Washington.

This in-depth report includes the draft legal text, summaries,
and explanations of what the authors consider provisions worthy of
the model free trade agreement.

It is difficult to
imagine two countries that are better suited for a
state-of-the-art, comprehensive, truly liberalizing trade agreement
than Britain and the US.

Free trade is about the freedom of people to transact as they
wish, with whom they wish, and without politicians and bureaucrats
as gatekeepers. Therefore, genuine free traders tend to be
sceptical of agreements, which are usually more about managed trade
than free trade.

Rather than liberalise the rules and provide consumers with
greater choices, trade agreements too often contain provisions that
protect incumbents from challengers by locking in existing
advantages, requiring long tariff phase-out periods, and limiting
competition in industries through rules that masquerade as serving
prudential or socially desirable purposes.

Too often, the terms are pro-business, pro-labour, or
pro-special interest, when they should be pro-market.

The prospect of a bilateral UK-US agreement affords two of the
world’s largest economies — both traditionally
committed to the institutions of free-market capitalism and the
rule of law — the opportunity to break new ground and pioneer
the rules of a genuinely liberalising, modern trade agreement.

By removing tariffs and significantly reducing behind the border
barriers that inhibit market integration, such a model will have a
transformative effect, on both economies and beyond.

With some limited exceptions, the final model for an ideal
agreement calls for: zero tariffs on all goods; zero non-tariff
trade barriers; zero restrictions on competition for government
procurement and on foreign direct investment; rules to make mutual
recognition of potentially protectionist product standards and
regulations more feasible; prohibitions against the use of
anti-dumping measures; and prohibitions against restrictions based
on scientifically unsubstantiated public health and safety concerns
and national security concerns that do not meet certain minimum
standards.

Despite the current uncertainty in both the …read more

Source: OP-EDS