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Topics - Solon

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1
Politics / The Republican Threat To Children
« on: Today at 12:26:33 PM »
Unlike Trump, most Senate Republicans have made it clear that the child molester Roy Moore is not welcome in Washington. That political courage deserves appreciation. Unfortunately, there is a group of children they and House Republicans are putting in jeopardy. I posted about this in the September Crisis thread. Nothing has changed. The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is critical to the medical care of millions of children, many of whom have significant health costs. When the legislation expired, it appeared that most states could make it to the first of the year before they ran out of money. Given the Congressional calendar, that time is at hand. Clearly, Republicans are far more concerned about the tax cut for their donors than the health of children, but reauthorizing CHIP is a no-brainer that would quickly and easily pass if only the leadership would introduce the legislation.

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Since its inception in 1997, CHIP has had strong bipartisan support and been a measurable success, covering nearly 9 million children nationwide. It helped lower the nation’s percentage of uninsured children from almost 14 percent when it started to about 4.5 percent in 2015. But this year, amid efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Congress allowed the deadline to reauthorize the program to come and go. Almost two whole months have passed since and there is growing concern that no action will come until the end of the year.

Families and state agencies have been forced to scramble amidst the uncertainty. Arizona, the District of Columbia, Minnesota, and North Carolina are expected to run out of CHIP funding next month according to the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission (MACPAC). Another 27 states are anticipated to have their funds exhausted by March 2018

Congress Created a Health-Care Crisis for Kids Right in Time for the Holidays
https://www.thedailybeast.com/families-are-facing-a-child-health-care-crisis-as-holiday-season-nears?via=newsletter&source=DDMorning

2
There was a time when Dems defended Bill Clinton and Republicans condemned him because of his sexual misconduct. Such is no longer the case according to a new Quinnipiac poll. It indicates that Democrats, along with most of America have evolved; Republicans now accept it.

Quote

The big new finding from a Quinnipiac University poll is this: About half of Republicans say GOP senators should let Roy Moore serve in the Senate. By a margin of 49 percent to 33 percent, Republicans say the Alabamian, who is accused of sexual misconduct with multiple teenagers, should not be expelled if he wins next month's special election, as some Senate Republicans have threatened to do.

American voters say 60 - 28 percent that if Roy Moore is elected to the U.S. Senate from Alabama, the U.S. Senate should vote to expel him. Republicans say 49 - 33 percent that Moore should not be expelled. Every other listed party, gender, education, age and racial group says expel him.

But that's hardly the only finding in the poll that suggests the GOP has taken a softer view toward sexual harassment.

If multiple women have accused a political candidate of sexual harassment, 62 percent of American voters say they definitely would not vote for that candidate, while 27 percent say they would consider voting for the candidate. Republicans are divided as 43 percent say they would consider voting for the candidate and 41 percent say they definitely would not vote for the candidate.

The poll also shows sexual harassment isn't a dealbreaker for Republicans when it comes to President Trump. And it's not even that they just doubt the accusations against Trump (which has been the case ever since nearly a dozen women came forward at the end of the last election). The poll shows Republicans also oppose trying to remove Trump from office even if it was proved that he sexually harassed the women who have accused him. By a margin of 63 percent to 28 percent, Republicans say Trump should not be impeached even if we know for a fact that he sexually harassed women.

...Mostly, then, the poll is useful as a barometer of where the two party's stand on the interplay between sexual harassment allegations and politics. And on that question, Republicans clearly don't seem to have as much of a litmus test.




A new poll makes it crystal clear: Sexual harassment is not a dealbreaker in today’s Republican Party
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/11/21/a-new-poll-makes-it-crystal-clear-sexual-harassment-is-not-a-dealbreaker-in-todays-republican-party/?hpid=hp_hp-cards_hp-card-politics%3Ahomepage%2Fcard&utm_term=.f2010dbd8091

https://poll.qu.edu/national/release-detail?ReleaseID=2502

3
Politics / Trump and His Thieves Gut Net Neutrality
« on: November 21, 2017, 06:46:21 PM »
Equal access to the internet has been an important part of its growth. Now that it is well-established the providers want higher profits by controlling access and speed. The Obama administration rejected those efforts. Naturally, Trump caved to the fat cats.

When Comcast and other providers have the new rules in place, expect to pay for faster speeds or face a long wait times per site. Maybe there will be a surcharge for Netlix or Amazon. Will they monitor your video time and charge for that? The sky is the limit now that these sharks have bought the Republicans.

Net neutrality is dead? Not if consumers punish the thieves. Bring back net neutrality should be our mantra for 2018.

Quote
The Federal Communications Commission announced on Tuesday that it planned to dismantle landmark regulations that ensure equal access to the internet, clearing the way for companies to charge more and block access to some websites.

The proposal, put forward by the F.C.C. chairman, Ajit Pai, is a sweeping repeal of rules put in place by the Obama administration. The rules prohibited high-speed internet service providers from blocking or slowing down the delivery of websites, or charging extra fees for the best quality of streaming and other internet services for their subscribers. Those limits are central to the concept called net neutrality.

...The clear winners from the move would be the giant companies that provide internet access to phones and computers, which have fought for years against broadband regulations. A repeal of the rules would allow the companies to exert more control over the online experiences of American consumers.

Big online companies like Amazon say that the telecom companies would be able to show favoritism to certain web services, by charging for accessing some sites but not others, or by slowing the connection speed to some sites. Small online companies say the proposal would hurt innovation. Only the largest companies, they say, would be able to afford the expense of making sure their sites received preferred treatment.

And consumers, the online companies say, may see their costs go up to get quality access to popular websites like Netflix.

F.C.C. Plans Net Neutrality Repeal in Victory for Telecoms
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/21/technology/fcc-net-neutrality.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

4
Politics / Defamation Suit Continues from Trump's Assault on Women
« on: November 21, 2017, 01:56:23 PM »
When Trump called his accusers liars for outing his sexual molestation, he was sued by Summer Zervos for defamation. The suit continues.

http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/watch/gloria-allred-on-continuing-trump-accuser-defamation-suit-1087927875919

5
Politics / Al Franken: The Nexus of Comedy and the Sexual Abuse of Women
« on: November 21, 2017, 10:19:22 AM »
In the suddenly open-eyed look at the sexual abuse of women, comedy, as it used to be, was a big part of it in the early days of Saturday Night Live. Soooo...were these guys laughing alone...or was/is there an audience for this stuff?

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Franken is, after all, not only a politician, but a creator of “Saturday Night Live.” He was one of the show’s first writers in 1975, and was a producer from 1985 until 1995. While there, he reportedly once pitched a skit about “60 Minutes” correspondent Andy Rooney drugging and raping Lesley Stahl. Perhaps it’s not surprising that someone who thought that rape could be appropriate material for a network TV joke also thought it would be funny to sexually assault a colleague on a USO tour, eyebrows raised, smile wide. More to the point, though, that sort of base humor is in the very DNA of SNL, where frat-boy bluster and aggressive male sexuality have been enshrined for more than four decades.

On the sixth floor of 30 Rock, women have long been portrayed as sexual conquests, victims or aggressors, live on Saturday nights. During the 1990s in particular, SNL excelled at celebrating male libido and a get-away-with-anything approach to sex, while reducing women to their sexual function. The show consistently cheered male sexuality and reinforced its boundlessness (consent be damned), while shaming women who reached for power or were unlucky enough to be publicly associated with sex. The SNL writers’ room is famously collaborative, so it’s hard to know how many such bits Franken specifically wrote. But as a writer on 285 episodes from 1976 to 2008, he undoubtedly influenced the zeitgeist of the show during that era.

In the 1991 sketch “Clarence Thomas’s Pickup Technique,” a spoof of the Supreme Court confirmation hearings that centered on allegations of sexual harassment, the Senate Judiciary Committee reduces the whole issue to gags about sex. Joe Biden thanks Anita Hill for talking about “penis size” and “big-breasted women having sex with animals” — to raucous laughs. The joke targets Biden and the committee, too, but what’s supposed to be funny is what they’re laughing at, as well: body parts and raunch.

In a “Weekend Update” segment that same year, Chris Rock savages Hill for rejecting Thomas’s advances. Thomas “could have picked a much better-looking woman to blow his career on,” Rock explains. “He never touched her, and he’s going to lose the Supreme Court and didn’t even get to sleep with her, and that’s the real tragedy.” Again, the laughs: Thomas’s sexual inadequacy is what’s supposed to be funny. SNL imagines that sexual harassment is hilarious and that unattractive women deserve it.

Powerful women were also reduced to their sexual function for laughs. One 1996 skit about O.J. Simpson prosecutor Marcia Clark portrays her as an erotomaniac or “fatal attraction type” — a derogation hurled at women during the 1990s, including at Anita Hill and Monica Lewinsky, to discredit them and weaponize their sexuality. Clark, played by Nancy Walls, is less interested in the case’s outcome than forcing fellow prosecutor Christopher Darden to sleep with her, or “take the black bronco down the 405,” as the show put it. “The only thing I’m guilty of is being extremely horny,” Walls says. “Please remove your pants.”
Al Franken’s ‘Saturday Night Live’ era was full of jokes disparaging women
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/posteverything/wp/2017/11/20/al-frankens-saturday-night-live-era-was-full-of-jokes-disparaging-women/?hpid=hp_hp-cards_hp-posteverything%3Ahomepage%2Fcard&utm_term=.312f1935506a

6
Politics / Judge Permanently Blocks Trump Sanctuary Cities Order
« on: November 21, 2017, 09:58:07 AM »
Trump had issued and executive order to strip federal funds from cities that claimed to be "sanctuary" cities, that is, they limited cooperation with federal immigration authorities in housing people accused of illegal residence.

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U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick rejected the administration's argument that the executive order applies only to a relatively small pot of money and said Trump cannot set new conditions on spending approved by Congress.

https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2017/11/20/us/ap-us-sanctuary-cities.html?rref=us&module=Ribbon&version=context&region=Header&action=click&contentCollection=U.S.&pgtype=Multimedia

7
Politics / Trump’s First Trip to Moscow
« on: November 19, 2017, 03:59:21 PM »
Why would the Soviet Union offer an all-expenses-paid trip to Donald Trump in 1987? This Politico article explores the reasons. Luke Harding, a reporter for the Guardian and acquaintance of the former MI-6 agent who did research for the Trump Dossier, offers lots of background on why such an event would take place. Obviously the Russians have always been nice to Trump and flattery means everything to him. In addition to books on Snowden, Wikileaks, and Russia under Putin (Mafia State is the title), he is also author of this book:


On a personal note, Trump stayed in the National Hotel on Tverskaya Street, just (a long way) down the street from where I stayed in the Marriott Tverskaya during my visit.   

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Trump's first visit to Soviet Moscow in 1987 looks, with hindsight, to be part of a pattern. The dossier by the former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele asserts that the Kremlin had been cultivating Trump for “at least five years” before his stunning victory in the 2016 US presidential election. This would take us back to around 2011 or 2012.

In fact, the Soviet Union was interested in him too, three decades earlier. The top level of the Soviet diplomatic service arranged his 1987 Moscow visit. With assistance from the KGB. It took place while Kryuchkov was seeking to improve the KGB's operational techniques in one particular and sensitive area. The spy chief wanted KGB staff abroad to recruit more Americans.

...Nothing came of the trip—at least nothing in terms of business opportunities inside Russia. This pattern of failure would be repeated in Trump’s subsequent trips to Moscow. But Trump flew back to New York with a new sense of strategic direction. For the first time he gave serious indications that he was considering a career in politics. Not as mayor or governor or senator.

Trump was thinking about running for president.
The Hidden History of Trump’s First Trip to Moscow
https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/11/19/trump-first-moscow-trip-215842

8
Politics / The 1% in U.S Will Own 70% of Wealth by 2021
« on: November 17, 2017, 12:51:27 PM »
This study by the Boston Consulting Group, a global management consulting firm, came BEFORE the tax give away to the rich passed by the House yesterday. If the Senate follows suit, we can expect the complete purchase of Congress by wealthy donors for the foreseeable future. In a democratic government, you expect the wishes of the people to command the elected members of government. That is hardly the case. The tax legislation passed by the House had the support of a whopping 24% of the population. That is true of much else Congress does. What, then, motivates them? I pointed that out in a previous post about the tax cut for the rich. A Congressman stated baldly that the tax plan had to be passed to please their wealthy donors. As long as political campaigns are funded by the rich, they will call the shots. That, more than any other factor, explains the rising and historically high inequality in the US.

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Currently, an estimated 18 million households hold at least $1 million in assets –revealing the staggering rate at which the disparity between the rich and poor is widening.

The study also stated that an estimated 70 million people were found to control 45 percent of the world’s US$166.5 trillion in wealth, linking the skyrocketing gap to economic and political instability.

It noted that even though the rising inequality is a global phenomenon, it is especially pronounced in the United States.

...Over the past 30 years, the world's wealthiest people have occupied a growing share of the global economic pie. The combined share of the national income of the top 1 percent in the U.S. and the U.K. has doubled. The world's 1,200 billionaires hold economic firepower that is equivalent to a third of the size of the U.S. economy, the Guardian reported.

The U.S. is significantly more unequal than most other countries, with the nation’s elite currently holding 63 percent of the private wealth, while their share of national wealth is also growing much faster than the global average.

The wealth gap has soared but without wider economic progress. Excessive levels of inequality and economic crisis have been linked to the relationship between wages and productivity. The "wage-productivity gap" offsets the natural mechanisms that are required to achieve economic balance, the Guardian reported.

https://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/The-1-in-U.S-Will-Own-70-of-Wealth-by-2021-Study-20170620-0034.html

9
Politics / World, horrified at Trump, sends US Ranking Plummeting
« on: November 17, 2017, 12:32:55 PM »

Only Fox News junkies are surprised.

Quote
The US is usually number 1 in the German research firm Gfk’s rankings, headed up by political consultant Simon Anholt. They ask some 22,000 people around the world to rank countries on six scales.

This year it fell five full places to number 6. No such fall has taken place since 2004, when Americans elected George W. Bush to a second term. And in the past, falls only lasted for a year.

Angela Merkel is the leader of the free world, not Trump.

The Gfk’s poll doesn’t just measure favorability, but looks at 6 dimensions of a country, so that the US fall from grace is all the more surprising. The dimensions are governance, people, culture, exports, immigration-investment and tourism.

In governance, the US had been in 19th place. It is now in 23rd. Out of 50 countries. People think the US is worse governed than nearly half of the developed countries in the world. This dramatic fall in the governance score is pretty obviously caused by Trump.

...The finding about the US decline is alarming and could be a sign that Trump is dragging the country down. In turn, that is important because many US goals require international cooperation.

https://www.juancole.com/2017/11/horrified-ranking-plummeting.html

10
Politics / Franken Rescues Republicans from Sex Scandal Morass
« on: November 16, 2017, 01:14:00 PM »
A reporter described Franken's unwanted kiss and revealed a picture of a compromising pose today. Not that anyone ever doubted that Dems are just as much pigs as Republicans. The atmosphere has been heavy with revelations lately for pigs from all walks of life, but the Moore scandal has major political implications for now and 2018. Republicans have been taking a huge image hit since Moore has not only been unrepentant, but rejected the national party's effort to force him out of the Alabama Senatorial race. Any distraction now is a political lifeline for Republicans and Franken, as a particular darling of the Left, is the perfect foil for Moore. Whether his apology will have any significance remains to be seen. The issue hangs on whether there will be more such victims or not. The Moore case has been a constant trickle of new revelations. There were four more claimants in the last two days.

These reports come on the heels of a claim by Democrat Jackie Speier that there are currently two members of Congress who are known to be sexual harassers: One Democrat and one Republican. She also revealed that there is a Congressional fund paid by taxpayers to pay off claims for mistreatment of staffers, including sexual harassment.

‘Al Franken kissed and groped me without my consent,’ broadcaster Leeann Tweeden says
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2017/11/16/al-franken-kissed-and-groped-me-without-my-consent-broadcaster-leeann-tweeden-says/?hpid=hp_hp-top-table-main_franken-1115am%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.ae903eadb83c



Dem Rep. Jackie Speier: Two Current Members Of Congress Have Engaged In Sexual Harassment
https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2017/11/14/dem_rep_jackie_speier_two_current_members_of_congress_have_engaged_in_sexual_harassment.html

11
Politics / Why Shepard Smith Debunked Clinton-Uranium One "Scandal"
« on: November 15, 2017, 12:00:38 PM »
Fox News is unabashedly a propaganda machine for Trump. Or, is it? You can certainly lean right without being a shill for Trump. Unfortunately, MOST Fox News hosts are hopelessly compromised Trumpsters. Hannity is probably the worst, but Jeanine Piro apparently got the ball rolling on Uranium One. That brings us to Shepard Smith. This case is not the first time he has tried to prevent Fox from going off the deep end. This time he may do the Republican Party a favor as well. Despite being attacked by the koolaid drinking viewers, he could prevent a monumental embarrassment to the party and Fox News, plus another charge of presidential abuse of power, and the complete exoneration of Clinton.

Let me explain:

First, it should be evident that Trump does not read important documents necessary for the performance of his duties, so it is certain that he has never read anything about the complicated processes related to this issue. He is as dumb as dirt about Uranium One, so nothing he says is worth spit. His effort to force the Attorney General to appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate the issue, however, would be a clear abuse of power. If he succeeded in doing so, he would clearly be open to charges.

Second, this politicization of the Justice Department would have a powerful effect in discrediting the Republican party and Fox News when the investigation exonerated Clinton.

Lastly, what are the facts about Uranium One and why would Clinton be exonerated in any investigation. (The FBI has probably already looked into it and found nothing there.)

If you want the long version you can read the Fact Checkers.

The facts behind Trump’s repeated claim about Hillary Clinton’s role in the Russian uranium deal
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2016/10/26/the-facts-behind-trumps-repeated-claim-about-hillary-clintons-role-in-the-russian-uranium-deal/?tid=a_inl&utm_term=.ff07a2e0d611

The Facts on Uranium One
http://www.factcheck.org/2017/10/facts-uranium-one/

Smith gives the short version.

Quote
Smith, in his broadcast, made many of the same points as the fact-checkers. “Now, here’s the accusation,” he said.

Nine people involved in the deal made donations to the Clinton Foundation totaling more than $140 million. In exchange, Secretary of State Clinton approved the sale to the Russians, a quid pro quo. The accusation [was] first made by Peter Schweizer, the senior editor-at-large of the website Breitbart in his 2015 book “Clinton Cash.” The next year, candidate Donald Trump cited the accusation as an example of Clinton corruption.

He then played a video of Trump’s version of the “scandal” in which he claimed:

 Hillary Clinton’s State Department approved the transfer of 20 percent of America’s uranium holdings to Russia. Well, nine investors in the deal funneled $145 million to the Clinton Foundation.

Smith called the statement “inaccurate in a number of ways,” noting that “the Clinton State Department had no power to veto or approve that transaction.” Rather, it must be approved by an interagency committee of the government consisting of nine department heads, including the secretary of state.

Most of the Clinton Foundation donations in question, he pointed out, came from Frank Giustra, the founder of the uranium company in Canada. But Giustra, Smith noted, “says he sold his stake in the company back in 2007,” three years before the uranium/Russia deal and “a year and a half before Hillary Clinton became secretary of state.” He added:

. . . The accusation is predicated on the charge that Secretary Clinton approved the sale. She did not. A committee of nine evaluated the sale [a Clinton subordinate sat on the committee, not Clinton herself], the president approved the sale, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and others had to offer permits, and none of the uranium was exported for use by the U.S. to Russia.

Those are the summary facts of the case. So here are some of the more extravagant claims by Trump and Fox News contributors:

Quote
Trump called it “Watergate, modern-age.” Former White House adviser Sebastian Gorka, speaking on Fox News last month, said it was “equivalent to” the Julius and Ethel Rosenberg spying case of the 1950s, in which the couple was charged with providing U.S. atomic secrets to the Soviet Union, noting that “those people got the chair.”
Fox News’s Shepard Smith debunks his network’s favorite Hillary Clinton ‘scandal,’ infuriates viewers
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/11/15/fox-news-shepherd-smith-debunks-his-networks-hillary-clinton-scandal-story-infuriates-viewers/?hpid=hp_hp-top-table-main_mm-shepsmith-803am%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.595c97eb6359

There is no "there" there just as in the Benghazi investigations that actually humiliated the Republican Congressmen who interrogated Clinton for eight hours. Since that didn't hurt them at the polls, and Trump won the election, apparently they think this will send them into 2018 with a counter-investigation to rival the Trump-Russia embarrassment. They calculate that they can keep this probe open long enough to fool the public into equating the two investigations and avoid the electoral debacle last Tuesday's elections portend.

In this case, unlike Benghazi, Clinton is so uninvolved and remote from the transaction that the full presentation of the facts to the public will quickly result in her complete exoneration. Not only will that take away a talking point, it will add to the humiliation of Congressional Republicans who have failed to pass any significant legislation but would appear foolish for wasting time on a pointless investigation. Shepard Smith would salve them from such a debacle.

On the other hand, maybe Smith is just being a good newsman.

12
General Discussion / Podcasts
« on: November 14, 2017, 10:28:58 AM »
No one has posted about podcasts, but I expect there are many of you who listen to them. I would like to identify some that I enjoy which cover a range of topics from politics, foreign affairs, history, economics and books and I hope you will identify some that you like.

Unless otherwise stated, all of these shows are published once a week.

One of the earliest I discovered around a decade ago and to which I continue to listen is EconTalk. Russ Roberts is a libertarian who invites someone, usually an economist, to discuss a topic of interest. His libertarian views are always front and center which make for a robust exchange of ideas. This is the kind of conversation you would expect from serious people who are trying to explain and understand what is usually a complicated issue that the guest has researched and written about. No one shouts or talks over anyone else as you get with most political talk. The conversation is always respectful and illuminating.

I have also found it easier to listen to the Sunday news shows via podcast than watch them on TV. Meet The Press, Face The Nation, Fox News Sunday, This Week With George Stephanopoulos, and Fareed Zakaria GPS are on my list. They usually are available for download Sunday afternoon or evening. I always listen to Meet The Press and Fox News Sunday to get the widest coverage of the week's events. Fareed Zakaria has the best international coverage and the most prestigious guests. There are other Sunday talk shows, particularly from CNN that are available.

On foreign affairs there is a long list of good to great shows. One of the best and determinedly nonpartisan is the Council on Foreign Relations' The Week Ahead. Two CFR hosts discuss what events in foreign affairs are coming in the next week and their significance. I have been listening to this one for as long as I can remember and I have never heard them take a partisan position against Bush, Obama, or Trump. That contrasts with Deep State Radio with David Rothkopf (the former CEO and Editor of Foreign Policy which is about as harsh in its criticism of Trump's foreign policy as it gets. It posts two shows a week on Monday and Thusday. The E.R. (Foreign Policy's Editor's Roundtable) is generally nonpartisan too, but it often focuses on a particular issue in depth rather than covering the major issues of the week. Mark Leonard's World in 30 Minutes is a production of the European Council on Foreign Relations with an obvious focus on Europe. Talking Politics is produced by a Cambridge University don and his colleagues. Their focus is often on UK domestic issues with forays into the European Union and Trump's impact in Europe. Brexit is a frequent topic of discussion.

Editor's Picks from The Economist is another podcast I have followed for a very long time. It gives a summary of the major stories from the weekly Economist magazine. You get in depth discussion of four to five articles. You always get the main political and foreign affairs articles plus something on either technology, health, science, or a major social issue.

I will post about more later, but I would like to learn about others from you. 

13
Politics / Trump Just Can't Quit Putin While the World Takes Advantage
« on: November 11, 2017, 11:20:15 AM »
Trump just can't quit Vladimir Putin. Any doubt about Russia's involvement in our election has long since been laid to rest, but Trump and facts are inversely related. At the Asia-Pacific Summit, Trump appears to have swallowed Putin's disclaimer hook line and sinker. Trump correctly fears that Russian interference raises questions about the legitimacy of his election. What he seems oblivious to is that his denials about Russian interference make him seem complicit in it. His vulnerability on this score and his compulsive need to be flattered have made him a laughing stock behind his back in China and Russia. Others, like Saudi Arabia, have simply used it as leverage to pursue policies that are antithetical to our interests as in its threats to Lebanon and Qatar. More immediately at the Summit, Trump said the U.S. won’t be ‘taken advantage of anymore’  in trade, but hours later, Pacific Rim nations reached a deal on trade without America.

Trump is a failure at every level, in both domestic and foreign policy, but first and foremost we must protect our democratic process.

Given Trump's denials, it is of great concern to know whether the US government is taking steps to prevent this kind of interference in our election from occurring again. Congress  has called social media to account for their role in the fiasco and each platform seems to be taking action of its own to identify political speech and bots that spread fake news. Congress may well pass legislation to regulate them if they fail to act on their own. Several states have taken steps to maintain a paper election tally and use voting machines that cannot be hacked. These are first steps, but hardly enough to forestall the kind of interference we can expect in 2018 and 2020. Action at the federal level is a must. So far we have no evidence to indicate the necessary steps are being taken. This may well be Trump's most egregious failure.

Quote
“He said he didn't meddle,” Trump said, answering questions in the press cabin on the Air Force One. “I asked him again. You can only ask so many times. … He said he absolutely did not meddle in our election. He did not do what they are saying he did.”

U.S. intelligence agencies have said Russian hackers stole thousands of emails from the Democratic National Committee and made them public, while also spreading misinformation in an attempt to help Trump beat Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Trump, however, has said he does not believe that Russia actively sought to help him.

On Saturday Trump described former FBI director James Comey, who testified to Congress that Trump asked him to drop an investigation into his campaign's ties to Russian officials, as a proven “liar” and “leaker.” Trump called the former U.S. intelligence officials who concluded the Russians tampered — including former director of national intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. and former CIA director John Brennan — “political hacks.”

Of the investigations into his campaign, Trump said: “This is really an artificial barrier that’s put in front of us for solving problems with Russia.” Of Putin, he added: “He says that very strongly, he really seems to be insulted by it, and he says he didn’t do it. He is very, very strong in the fact that he didn’t do it. You have President Putin very strongly, vehemently, says he has nothing to do with that.
‘He said he didn’t meddle’: Trump talks with Putin about U.S. elections and Syria in brief interactions
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2017/11/11/he-said-he-didnt-meddle-trump-talks-with-putin-about-u-s-elections-syria-in-brief-interactions/?hpid=hp_hp-top-table-main_trump-putin-635am%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.d6faf971d9c2


14
Politics / Roy Moore Accused of Child Molestation
« on: November 09, 2017, 07:44:20 PM »
Controversial Senate candidate Roy Moore has been accused of molesting several teenage girls. Four women have come forward with stories about their experiences with him. Moore  is already on the ballot and can't be replaced at this date under Alabama election laws. The current Senator, Luther Strange, is not eligible to run as an independent, but he could be a write-in candidate if Moore drops out of the race. That, of course, is a big IF. Moore has denied the charges and probably thinks such behavior is just fine for an upstanding Christian like himself. A number of Republican Senators have called for him to step down "if the allegations are true." Proving they are true is highly unlikely.

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“If these allegations are found to be true, Roy Moore must drop out of the Alabama special Senate election,” National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Cory Gardner (R-CO) said in a statement.

“I just recently put out a statement saying if these allegations are true, Roy Moore should step aside for all the obvious reasons. Very disturbing allegations,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told reporters outside the Senate chamber.

“I think if those allegations are true, he should step aside,” said Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) about the allegations against Moore, who is running to fill Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ former Senate seat.

Even Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Steve Daines (R-MT), two of the few sitting senators to endorse Moore, said he should step aside—but, like their colleagues, both added the caveat, “if these allegations are true.”


Definitively showing the veracity of the claims against Moore may be a tall order. The stories were relayed to the Post on the record—and supported, the Post says, by accounts from more than two dozen other sources. But Moore has flatly denied the allegations, raising the question of what standard would have to be met for Republican officials to call unequivocally for Moore’s withdrawal, short of a confession from Moore himself.

GOP Senators Run Away From Accused Child Molester Roy Moore
https://www.thedailybeast.com/gop-senators-run-away-from-accused-child-molester-roy-moore

The four women tell their stories in the Washington Post article.

Woman says Roy Moore initiated sexual encounter when she was 14, he was 32
https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/woman-says-roy-moore-initiated-sexual-encounter-when-she-was-14-he-was-32/2017/11/09/1f495878-c293-11e7-afe9-4f60b5a6c4a0_story.html?hpid=hp_hp-top-table-main_moore-art-1pm%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.db299fed7204

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The courts continue to be a thorn in the side of the Trump administration. Two late October rulings have stayed actions involving the Muslim travel ban and the ability of transgender individuals to join the military services.


Quote
ON TUESDAY NIGHT [Oct. 17], two U.S. judges on opposite sides of the country issued last-minute injunctions against President Donald Trump’s latest travel ban, which was set to take effect the following morning. The rulings came in response to lawsuits filed by the International Refugee Assistance Project and the state of Hawaii, both of which challenged the legality of Trump’s executive order banning entrants from eight countries — including six predominantly Muslim nations. In Hawaii, District Judge Derrick Watson ruled that the latest executive order “plainly discriminates based on nationality” in an unlawful way. In Maryland, District Judge Theodore Chuang echoed Watson, citing Trump’s tweets and his (now-deleted) campaign pledge, which was titled “Statement on Preventing Muslim Immigration.” Chuang called the current order an “inextricable re-animation of the twice-enjoined Muslim ban.”

HOW LONG CAN THE COURTS KEEP DONALD TRUMP’S MUSLIM BAN AT BAY?
https://theintercept.com/2017/10/21/donald-trump-muslim-ban-supreme-court/

Quote
A federal judge on Monday [Oct. 30] temporarily blocked a White House policy barring military service by transgender troops, ruling that it was based on “disapproval of transgender people generally.”

Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly of the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia found the administration’s justification for the ban, which was set to take effect in March 2018, to be suspect and likely unconstitutional. She ruled that the military’s current policy should remain in place.
Judge Blocks Trump’s Ban on Transgender Troops in Military
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/30/us/military-transgender-ban.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

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