Author Archive

The Republican sanity caucus awakens

December 14, 2016
posted by

The American Prospect The American Prospect
by Robert Kuttner  

"It’s now clear that Donald Trump is far more severely impaired than even his worst critics imagined. And the cracks in his presumed governing coalition are starting to show, before he even takes office. For starters, leading Republicans are pushing back on his insistence that he knows intelligence better than the CIA and challenging the idea that the U.S. should be a puppet of Vladimir Putin. The best outcome, of course, would be for some constitutional Hail Mary pass to prevent Trump from becoming president: a group of electors who decide that he is just too much of a risk, or some kind of emergency appeal to the Supreme Court, to stay the election because its integrity and validity was hijacked by the Russians. But, face it, this is magical thinking. Barring divine intervention, Donald Trump will take office on January 20." (12/13/16)

http://prospect.org/article/republican-sanity-caucus-awakens  

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EPA: “Data gaps” block verdict on fracking, drinking water

December 14, 2016
posted by

San Francisco Chronicle San Francisco Chronicle    

"Hydraulic fracturing to drill for oil and natural gas poses a risk to drinking water in some circumstances, but a lack of information precludes a definitive statement on how severe the risk is, the Environmental Protection Agency says in a new report that raises more questions than answers. The report removes a finding from a draft issued last year indicating that fracking has not caused 'widespread, systemic' harm to drinking water in the United States. Industry groups hailed the draft EPA study as proof that fracking is safe, while environmentalists seized on the report's identification of cases where fracking-related activities polluted drinking water. The final report, completed at a cost of $29 million over six years, takes pains to avoid conclusions." (12/13/16)

http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/EPA-Data-gaps-block-verdict-on-fracking-10792940.php  

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Trump’s trade talk makes US firms fear China retribution

December 14, 2016
posted by

Reuters    

"U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's challenges to China on trade and Taiwan are rattling American companies who have long benefited from stable relations between the two countries but now fear retaliation by Beijing if Trump were to act. Trump jarred Chinese officials on Sunday by saying the United States did not necessarily have to stick to its long-standing position that Taiwan is part of 'one China.' Beijing expressed 'serious concern' about Trump’s remarks. Four U.S. industry sources who follow China policy closely said they were unsettled by any suggestion of abandoning the 'one China' policy, which they said had served the business community well for several decades." (12/13/16)

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-china-companies-idUSKBN1412Q7  

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Trump’s Secretary of State pick is best of a bad lot

December 14, 2016
posted by

The New Republic The New Republic
by Jeet Heer  

"President-elect Donald Trump is taking a huge gamble by nominating Rex Tillerson to be secretary of state. The Exxon Mobil CEO is notorious for making lucrative business deals with Russia, and in 2012 he was awarded the Order of Friendship by President Vladimir Putin. Since American lawmakers of both parties are alarmed by reports from the intelligence community that Putin interfered with the U.S. election with the goal of helping Trump, picking Tillerson for the highest cabinet position is likely to stoke fears, and make for heated confirmation hearings in the Senate. Indeed, the bipartisan backlash began the moment Tillerson’s name was first floated." [editor's note: Odd how as Trump went away from fomenting WW III and closer to diplomacy, his opposition on this pick has increased - SAT] (12/13/16)

https://newrepublic.com/article/139312/trumps-secretary-state-pick-best-bad-lot  

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NY: College student arrested with fireworks and weapons at Trump Tower

December 14, 2016
posted by

Raw Story Raw Story    

"A 19-year-old Baruch College student was reportedly arrested Monday night after he attempted to enter Trump Tower in New York with fireworks, the New York Post reported Tuesday. He was charged with two counts of criminal possession in the fourth degree and unlawful possession of fireworks, police told The Post. Alexander Wang allegedly walked into President-elect Donald Trump’s titular tower at 6:35 p.m. ET and Secret Service agents found a large knife, firecrackers, a water gun and handcuffs after searching his backpack. The Post reported that one of the fireworks was a M100, which the ATF says can cause 'severe damage to face, arms, and body,' as well as a garrote, a length of wire or cord that can be used to strangle a person." (12/13/16)

http://www.rawstory.com/2016/12/college-student-arrested-with-fireworks-and-weapons-at-trump-tower  

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Scientists discover an exoplanet with clouds of jewels

December 14, 2016
posted by

Christian Science Monitor Christian Science Monitor    

"For the first time ever, scientists have observed weather patterns on a gas giant outside of our solar system, a team of British researchers announced Monday. Researchers at the University of Warwick observed cloud formation and weather patterns on the massive exoplanet HAT-P-7b from 1,040 light-years away, thanks to data from NASA's planet-hunting Kepler space telescope. And what they found startled them. Scientists knew from previous studies that HAT-P-7b, which is 40 percent larger than Jupiter and 500 times more massive than the Earth, moves in a tight orbit around its star, completing a full revolution in just 2.2 days. Because of that proximity, the exoplanet is tidally locked, with one side of the permanently facing the star, much like Earth's moon is tidally locked to Earth." (12/13/16)

http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2016/1213/Scientists-discover-an-exoplanet-with-clouds-of-jewels  

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UK: Overdue library book returned after 120 years

December 13, 2016
posted by

Aol News    

"When it comes to returning library books, the phrase better late than never comes to mind for this story out England. A woman in the United Kingdom recently returned a book to the library at a school in southwestern England. The only problem: the book was more than a century overdue. Alice Gillett found the book, 'The Microscope and its Revelations' while she was going through her late husband's book collection. She saw that the book was borrowed from Hereford Cathedral School. Gillett's grandfather, Arthur Boycott, attended the school between 1886 and 1894, according to the school's website. Boycott went on to be a successful pathologist and naturalist and even has his photo on display in the National Portrait Gallery in London." (12/12/16)

http://www.aol.com/article/news/2016/12/12/overdue-library-book-is-returned-after-120-years/21626297  

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Let’s work with Trump to reduce drug prices

December 13, 2016
posted by

USA Today USA Today
by US Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)  

"A few months ago, from the campaign trail, President-elect Donald Trump said, 'We are not allowed to negotiate drug prices. Can you believe it?' Unfortunately, I can. It’s one of the reasons that prescription drug prices are skyrocketing. It’s one of the reasons that the cost of EpiPen went up nearly 500% since 2009. There are more reasons to be sure, but not being able to negotiate is an important one. So, outrage and disbelief are called for, yes. But not without clear, concrete action to back it up. As the new administration and new Congress get to work, we need to take on prescription drug price gouging. And the path forward is clear. Competition is the best way to ensure prescription drugs are affordable." (12/13/16)

http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2016/12/13/drug-prices-klobuchar-competition-column/95307768  

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Democrats could do business with Trump on these five issues

December 13, 2016
posted by

Reuters
by Josh Cohen  

"After Donald Trump’s stunning election victory, Democratic legislators now face a fork in the road: cooperate with Trump or oppose him at every turn. Given the tenor of the Trump campaign (including its attacks on Latinos, Muslims and other minorities), it’s understandable that many Democrats feel the urge to dig in their heels. But many of Trump’s campaign promises actually represent long-time Democratic priorities. Given these overlaps, it’s in Democrats’ best interest to at least explore working with Trump on these issues: Infrastructure ... Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) ... Ending the 'Carried Interest' Tax Loophole .. Non-Interventionist Foreign Policy." [editor's note: A good list for the most part - SAT] (12/13/16)

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-trump-democrats-commentary-idUSKBN1421N1  

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Iran says it will develop nuclear-powered ships after US extends sanctions

December 13, 2016
posted by

BBC News BBC News [UK state media]    

"Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has ordered his officials to develop nuclear-powered ships, accusing the United States of violating last year's international nuclear deal. World powers had agreed to lift sanctions in exchange for curbs to Iran's nuclear programme. But Congress recently voted to extend its laws regarding sanctions on Iran. President Barack Obama is expected to sign the laws, but says they will not affect the international agreement. He insists the White House will continue to suspend all the sanctions linked to Iran's nuclear programme." (12/13/16)

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-38299179  

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While Democrats chase Russians, Republicans keep rigging elections

December 13, 2016
posted by

Richard Eskow Our Future
by Richard Eskow  

"What does it tell us when leading Democrats are more upset about alleged Russian election-rigging than they are about proven Republican election-rigging? After all, American oligarchs like the Koch Brothers have no more right to undermine our democracy than Russian oligarchs do. GOP voting laws systematically discriminate against minority voters and working people. Yes, leading Democrats have lodged pro forma protests against them, but they should be shouting about it from the rooftops. They seem more comfortable challenging Russians than they do challenging a party that’s undermining the electoral process much closer to home. Maybe voters in places like North Carolina and Texas were 'hacked' by the wrong people." [editor's note: This guy used to have some objectivity; now he gives away his bias in every sentence - SAT] (12/13/16)

https://ourfuture.org/20161213/while-democrats-chase-russians-republicans-keep-stealing-elections  

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Green Party US election recount bid comes to a close

December 13, 2016
posted by

Raw Story Raw Story    

"The recount effort by Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein in three crucial U.S. states came to an end on Monday, after weeks of legal wrangling yielded only one electoral review in Wisconsin. A U.S. judge in Pennsylvania rejected Stein’s request for a recount and an examination of that state’s voting machines for evidence of hacking in the Nov. 8 election won by Republican Donald Trump. Meanwhile, Wisconsin election officials said on Monday they had completed their 10-day recount with only small changes to the vote total. Stein, who finished fourth in the election, challenged the results in those two states as well as Michigan, where the state’s top court on Friday denied Stein’s last-ditch appeal to keep a recount going. All of those traditionally Democratic strongholds supported Trump over Democrat Hillary Clinton. Even if all three recounts had taken place, they were always unlikely to change the outcome." (12/12/16)

http://www.rawstory.com/2016/12/green-party-us-election-recount-bid-comes-to-a-close  

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Winning the war of ideas

December 13, 2016
posted by

Christian Science Monitor Christian Science Monitor
by John Yemma  

"An honest idea quietly delivered can seem wimpy. No cinematic superhero, to my knowledge, vanquishes villains with a well-reasoned argument. Few tough guys (fictional or otherwise) are known to listen to a thoughtful presentation of the facts, mull the pros and cons, and then go, 'Oh dear. I was wrong.' But despite the spectacle of terrorism, war, politics, and militancy, every human conflict is ultimately a battle of ideas. An army can conquer a city, a car bomb can devastate a community, a gun can force a conversion, but in time (sometimes, admittedly, an excruciatingly long amount of time) right prevails because right ideas persuade." (12/12/16)

http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/upfront-blog/2016/1211/Winning-the-war-of-ideas  

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The lessons of Aleppo’s long, pointless siege

December 13, 2016
posted by

Reuters
by Peter Apps  

"In its 7,000 years of existence, Aleppo has been fought over by Babylonians, Greeks and Romans. The modern battle for the ancient Syrian city, however, may yet be as significant for the future of the Middle East as those fought by the kingdoms and empires of the past. The four-year battle for Aleppo now seems to be reaching its final stages. More than any other place, the city (one of the oldest continually inhabited places in the world) has been the epicenter of the Syria conflict. In time, Syria may be seen to define the early 21st century the way the Spanish Civil War did the 1930s -- a perfect storm of all the worst trends in global politics and conflict. If it is, then Aleppo will be its Guernica, the Spanish town carpet bombed by Nazi aircraft in 1937 in a savage precursor to the horrors of the coming World War Two." (12/12/16)

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-apps-aleppo-commentary-idUSKBN1412HQ  

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When campus microaggressions are real

December 13, 2016
posted by

USA Today USA Today
by Glenn Harlan Reynolds  

"Shortly after the election, I noted that colleges and universities seemed to be taking sides, treating Hillary Clinton’s defeat by Donald Trump for the presidency as some sort of national calamity. In fact, with safe spaces, offers of counseling and therapy dogs, and so on, they seemed to be treating Trump’s victory as something more akin to a terrorist attack than an election result. In particular, I noted a campus email from University of Michigan President Mark Schlissel that, though it spoke of diversity, inclusion and respect for all points of view, made pretty clear that Trump’s victory was a bad thing, and suggested by implication that Trump supporters must be bad people. I thought that this wasn’t very nice, and certainly not within the spirit of diversity and inclusion, given that a large percentage of University of Michigan students had undoubtedly supported Trump, even if they were afraid to say so on campus." (12/12/16)

http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2016/12/12/college-campus-conservatives-trump-glenn-reynolds-column/95331660  

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Ethics “experts”: Trump invites trouble if he keeps businesses

December 13, 2016
posted by

San Francisco Chronicle San Francisco Chronicle    

"Donald Trump says he will step away from managing his business empire while he's in office -- but he's not going to sell it off. If he follows through, he will shatter a presidential precedent on conflicts, and ethics experts say he will open the door to investigations and lawsuits that could hobble his administration. 'My executives will run it with my children,' he said in a Fox News interview that aired Sunday. He added that he will not have 'anything to do with management' and won't "do deals" for his business while he's president. That's 'a step in the right direction, but he can't have people doing deals on his behalf,' said Richard Painter, the chief White House ethics lawyer under President George W. Bush. 'He can't have ownership.' Indeed, for decades, presidents have sold their stocks and other personal holdings and put the cash into a blind trust overseen by an investment manager. For example, to stay on the right side of ethics, President Jimmy Carter sold his Georgia peanut farm." (12/12/16)

http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Trump-invites-trouble-if-he-keeps-businesses-10791013.php  

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SWIFT confirms new cyber thefts, hacking tactics

December 13, 2016
posted by

Reuters    

"Cyber attacks on the global banking system have continued (and succeeded) since February’s heist of $81 million from the Bangladesh central bank, underscoring the continuing vulnerability of the SWIFT messaging network, a SWIFT official told Reuters. The network, which handles trillions of dollars in transfers daily, has warned banks of the escalating threat to their systems, according to a SWIFT letter obtained by Reuters. 'The threat is very persistent, adaptive and sophisticated -- and it is here to stay,' SWIFT said last month in a letter to client banks, which has not been previously reported." (12/12/16)

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-cyber-swift-exclusive-idUSKBN1412NT  

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Beware compounded drugs, especially under Trump’s FDA

December 12, 2016
posted by

The American Prospect The American Prospect
by Rena Steinzor  

"President-elect Donald Trump has pledged to eliminate 70 to 80 percent of all federal regulations, and the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) rulebook is near the top of his list. Close Trump adviser Newt Gingrich has denounced the FDA as the nation’s leading 'job killer,' and has called the agency 'a major prison guard stopping the breakout in health.' If the Trump administration makes good on these threats, an already weakened FDA could approach paralysis, exposing millions of patients to unsafe medications. Particularly at risk will be those who receive ostensibly 'sterile' injections for back and neck pain, among other ailments, from compounding pharmacies. Essentially small businesses with overweening national ambitions, compounders were implicated in a deadly meningitis outbreak in 2012, and continue to manufacture potentially dangerous drugs administered to millions of Americans. Federal prosecutors have accused them of defrauding government health-care programs of hundreds of millions of dollars. The Obama administration failed to get a solid grip on regulating the industry, even when serious quality control problems emerged, and the Trump administration is likely to turn its back on the problem entirely, setting the stage for another fatal outbreak." (12/11/16)

http://prospect.org/article/beware-compounded-drugs-especially-under-trump%E2%80%99s-fda  

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Trump set for deposition just weeks before inauguration

December 12, 2016
posted by

USA Today USA Today    

"President-elect Donald Trump is scheduled to testify under oath at Trump Tower in January, just weeks before the inauguration, in a lawsuits tied to his Washington D.C. hotel. His lawyers are battling over special conditions Trump is seeking because of his new position. The deposition is tied to Trump's $10 million lawsuit in the District of Columbia against Topo Atrio, the restaurant that was to be run by celebrity chef Jose Andres in the hotel Trump has developed in the Old Post Office building just down the street from the White House. Andres and the company cancelled the deal after Trump’s presidential campaign announcement in June 2015, saying the candidate's rhetoric was 'widely perceived as anti-Hispanic.' Trump sued Andres and another famed chef who made a similar decision, citing breach of their contracts." (12/12/16)

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2016/12/12/trump-set-deposition-just-weeks-before-inauguration/95343740  

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Trump Labor Secretary nominee sees people as commodities

December 12, 2016
posted by

Dave Johnson Our Future
by Dave Johnson  

"Before we accept the threatened destruction of our government as 'normal' or 'just politics,' here is something to think about. Our government is supposed to work for us, We the People, for our benefit, to make our lives better. Take the Department of Labor. The mission of the Department is 'To foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.' Think about that. We once had a government with a mission to work for We the People, helping us get better jobs, better wages and better working conditions. Toward this end, a cabinet-level department was created 'in the interest of the wage earners.' So the Department of Labor is supposed to work to help people have better jobs with better wages and better benefits." (12/12/16)

https://ourfuture.org/20161212/trump-labor-secretary-nominee-sees-people-as-throw-away-commodities  

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OH: Kasich under pressure from both sides over major abortion bills

December 12, 2016
posted by

Fox News    

"Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who built a reputation during the raucous GOP presidential primaries as an affable and moderate alternative, is suddenly finding himself at the center of the national abortion debate -- and under pressure to cast a decision bound to make him more unpopular with one side or the other. Two bills passed by the legislature await his signature or veto. If signed into law, they would become two of the most restrictive time-based abortion measures in the country. The more controversial is known as the 'heartbeat bill.' It would ban abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat can be detected -- roughly around the six-week mark. The second prohibits abortions after the 20-week mark in almost all circumstances." (12/12/16)

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/12/12/kasich-under-pressure-from-both-sides-as-major-abortion-bills-hit-desk.html  

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Pennsylvania vote recount blocked by judge

December 12, 2016
posted by

BBC News BBC News [UK state media]    

"A US federal judge has blocked an attempt by a Green candidate to force a recount in Pennsylvania of votes cast in last month's presidential election. Jill Stein has sought a recount there, as well as in Michigan and Wisconsin. Donald Trump narrowly beat Hillary Clinton in all three states. His victory in Wisconsin was reaffirmed on Monday after a recount. In Michigan, a judge halted a recount last week. At issue are fears that voting machines are vulnerable to hacking. In Pennsylvania, Mr Trump beat Mrs Clinton by about 44,000 votes out of six million cast -- less than 1%. Announcing his ruling on Monday, US District Judge Paul Diamond said: 'There is no credible evidence that any 'hack' occurred, and compelling evidence that Pennsylvania's voting system was not in any way compromised.'" (12/12/16)

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-38293774  

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The danger of politicizing intelligence

December 12, 2016
posted by

The New Republic The New Republic
by Jeet Heer  

"Donald Trump isn’t even president yet, and already he’s fighting with the intelligence community. After The Washington Post reported Friday that the CIA believes Russia interfered in the U.S. election specifically to help Trump win, his transition team released a statement on Friday saying, 'These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.' Trump, who earlier had told Time that the email hacks of the Democratic National Committee and top Hillary Clinton aide, John Podesta could have been done by China or 'some guy in his home in New Jersey,' on Monday assumed the role of cybersecurity expert." (12/12/16)

https://newrepublic.com/article/139275/danger-politicizing-intelligence  

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Trump’s anti-immigration fans are furious at him

December 12, 2016
posted by

The New Republic The New Republic
by Jeet Heer  

"Donald Trump choice of Andrew Puzder, CEO of a fast-food conglomerate that includes the Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., as labor secretary has alarmed many on the left, who note Puzder’s opposition to increasing the minimum wage and to expanding overtime pay. But Trump’s pick has also raised hackles on the right, especially among those who most passionately agree with the president-elect on his signature campaign issue: immigration restriction. 'Trump Expected to Tap Labor Secretary Who Prefers Foreign Labor to American Workers,' blared the headline at Breitbart, the chief organ of Trump-style right-wing populism. 'Puzder has suggested that available U.S. jobs should instead be filled by imported foreign labor,' Julia Hahn wrote in her lengthy attack, citing several op-eds the CKE Restaurants executive has written over the years." (12/09/16)

https://newrepublic.com/article/139251/trumps-anti-immigration-fans-furious  

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How Europe’s left lost the working class

December 11, 2016
posted by

Reuters
by John Lloyd  

"If parties of the left cannot appeal to the working class, what's their use? The 21st century may be the one in which the umbilical link between the main left parties and organized labor is broken in favor of a politics of identity, and a grasping after some form of direct democracy that translates desires and frustrations into instant policies. Lurking over this movement is the fear of such an unsustainable politics producing authoritarian leaders, especially if the economies of the Western states worsen. This past week saw two leaders of the European left (Prime Minister Matteo Renzi of Italy and President Francois Hollande of France) forced to admit defeat and to leave the political scene, their reputations and policies shredded, their parties embarrassed by their very presence." (12/09/16)

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-lloyd-left-commentary-idUSKBN13Y07B  

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