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Has U.S. Democracy Been Trumped? Bernie Sanders wants to know who owns America?

#18161 User is online   kenberg 

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Posted 2021-April-28, 11:14

Joe Biden is not the most god-awful almost beyond imagination horrible choice for president that this country has ever had. So that's a step forward.
What do I hope for now?
Clarity perhaps. And I hope for realistic optimism.

A few issues.


The border: I am fully aware of the limitations of analogy, but I will use the movie Casablanca to illustrate my thinking. The movie is set in 1941, before Pearl Harbor, and opens with a recital of many desperate Europeans going to Marseille, crossing to Africa, struggling to get to Casablanca, hoping to get to Portugal and then, perhaps, to the USA. It explains that the lucky ones succeed, the others wait. And wait. And wait. Sound familiar?

The 1940s solution, or at least what happened next, was not that we found a way to get them all out. The solution involved D-Day, the liberation of Paris, the Battle of the Bulge, and so on.

Granted, the magnitude of the current problem is smaller. But pretty large. People are seeking asylum because of gang violence. Gang violence is not going away. People seek asylum because of dictatorial rule. Dictatorial rule is not going away. People seek asylum or hope to immigrate, because of massive severe poverty. Massive severe poverty is not going away. By no means am I suggesting a 21st Century version of D-Day and its follow-up. But I am asking what we should see as a long-term solution. Yes we need humane practices and we need them now. But is there a long-term solution?

Afghanistan: Briefly put: The Taliban is not going away. And so?

Israel and the Palestinians: Lotsa luck with that one. Same for Iran. And Syria. And...

Mathematical problems have mathematical solutions. The solver presents the solution, the audience is impressed, the solution is seen as correct, everyone cheers.
This is different. I will be listening to my buddy Joe tonight. I hope for the best.
Ken
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#18162 User is offline   pilowsky 

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Posted 2021-April-28, 15:33

The problem was - like most things - human-made.
Passports did not exist in their current form until after WW1 - https://on.natgeo.com/3u3NJ0a.


Agatha Christie and Max used to bother people in the middle east and steal their artefacts with complete impunity at that time.


The idea of the conservative dog-whistle: "We will decide who comes to Australia and when" (to paraphrase John Howard (Tedious Australian PM) is only possible because of the post-war nationalism.


The USA did not enter WW2 to prevent the holocaust or stop a war.
Many US corporations were profiting from the conflagration, and some openly supported the NAZI's.
They were also pretty happy to give safe harbour to useful war criminals such as Werner ("I only joined the NAZI party because I had to") von Braun.


I don't know the role that the influenza pandemic played in the emergence of the passport (in the form that we know it now) in 1920.
non est deus ex machina; även maskiner behöver lite kärlek, J'ai toujours misé sur l'étrange gentillesse des robots.
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#18163 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2021-April-28, 15:45

Katy Stech Ferek at WSJ said:

https://www.wsj.com/...d=djemalertNEWS

The Senate voted to restore regulations on methane gas that leaks into the air from U.S. oil and gas production, reversing a Trump-era policy and giving a boost to the Biden administration’s goal of reducing emissions.

In a 52-42 vote Wednesday, the Senate invoked its power under the Congressional Review Act to overturn rules adopted by the Environmental Protection Agency last year on methane-gas emissions, including those easing some monitoring requirements and lowering standards for pollution-control systems to detect methane leaks by facilities that transmit and store natural gas.

Methane is a component of natural gas, which has grown in popularity as a fuel. It is transported via pipelines, which can leak the gas. Scientists have determined that methane, while emitted in smaller amounts into the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, is more potent in trapping the earth’s heat.

The oil-and-gas lobby initially fought methane regulations but has recently eased up on that effort. Top producers— Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Exxon Mobil Corp. , BP PLC—have said they support methane regulations as they face pressure from investors on climate issues.

The American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry’s top lobbying group and a powerful Washington voice, announced on the first full day of the Biden administration that it supported direct regulation of methane.

Even so, the regulations are likely to frustrate smaller energy companies who have said they have a harder time paying for the cost to comply with tougher monitoring and detection requirements, said Anne Austin, a former EPA official in the Trump administration who is now an energy attorney in private practice.

“Substantial methane regulation is going to be hard-hitting to [smaller energy companies] especially,” Ms. Austin said.

At a congressional committee hearing before the Senate vote, U.S. EPA administrator Michael Regan said his office has been focused on figuring out how to cut methane emissions to meet Mr. Biden’s goal of cutting emissions of planet-warming gases in half by 2030.

At a news conference held before the vote, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) called the move the first “of many important steps to achieve the ambitious goal that Joe Biden has set.”

Other lawmakers characterized the regulation as a quick and easy way to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions when big questions still loom over how exactly Mr. Biden’s targets will be met.

“This is not something where we need some fancy technology from 20 years from now,” said Sen. Martin Heinrich (D., N.M.) at a news conference held before the vote. “The solution is here now. We know how to plug these leaks.”

The Congressional Review Act invoked by the Senate on Wednesday was used by Republicans during the Trump administration to unwind more than a dozen Obama administration policies. The 1996 law allows Congress to eliminate regulations that have been enacted within 60 legislative days of their completion.

The law’s power lies in its speed, said Richard Revesz, director of New York University School of Law’s Institute for Policy Integrity, who said that restoring methane regulations through the usual rule-making process could take two years and remain suspended for another year if challenged in court.

“You can imagine the whole process of getting this done through the comment-and-rule process could take the majority of Biden’s first term,” Mr. Revesz. “To get it done through the [Congressional Review Act], it can be done this week.”

The Democratic-controlled House hasn’t yet voted to restore the earlier methane regulations, which were introduced by President Barack Obama in 2016. That vote would end the regulatory pause on methane emissions and reinstate controls on transmission of storage segments of the oil-and-gas industry after less than a year.

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#18164 User is offline   pilowsky 

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Posted 2021-April-30, 01:22

Just in case anyone thought Trumpism was a malignancy confined to the USA, here is the latest offering from our Education minister Alan Tudge.
As Johnny Cash might have said:
"I hear the dog whistle blowing, it's rollin' round the bend..."

"
that should not come at the expense of dishonouring our Western heritage" - with house guests like our friendly British colonists and their genocidal tendencies, it isn't surprising that there is a desire for some actual history in the history classes.


You can read all about Tudge's deep respect for Family and tradition here:
Wiki entry - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Tudge


Quote

https://www.smh.com....430-p57nsb.html
By Lisa Visentin April 30, 2021 — 1.04pm
Tudge 'concerned' about colonisation emphasis in proposed curriculum changes


TALKING POINTS
  • Students to be taught that First Nations Australians see settlement as invasion
  • 'Christian heritage' replaced by multi-faith in civics course
  • Focus on different perspectives, such as the contested nature of Anzac Day
  • Indigenous and Aboriginal replaced with First Nations Australians
Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge says he is concerned the proposed emphasis on First Nations culture in the national curriculum has come at the expense of Australia's Western heritage.

The draft national curriculum, unveiled on Thursday, has fired up a culture war over the nation's foundations, with children to be taught that First Nations' people experienced British colonisation "as invasion and dispossession of land, sea and sky"

Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge says he is concerned about some of the proposed changes to the national curriculum.

Mr Tudge, who along with the state and territory educations minister will be required to sign off on the final curriculum, said he welcomed history being taught from an Indigenous perspective but he was concerned the right balance had not been struck.

"I think it is a good development that the draft national curriculum includes more emphasis on Indigenous history. I think we should honour our Indigenous history and teach that well," Mr Tudge said on Sky News on Friday.

"Equally, that should not come at the expense of dishonouring our Western heritage, which has made us the liberal democracy that we are today. We have to get the balance right and I'm concerned that we haven't in the draft that's been put out."

Asked whether he was concerned the changes would result in Invasion Day – the recognition of Australia Day as the beginning of Indigenous colonisation – being promoted in schools, Mr Tudge said he didn't want "students to be turned into activists".

"I want them to be taught the facts and they should understand and be taught the facts as it relates to Indigenous history from an Indigenous perspective as much as from a non-Indigenous perspective," he said.

The review of the national curriculum, the first since 2014, found the themes in the current curriculum did not include enough "truth-telling" about the experience of First Nations Australians since European settlement and put too much emphasis on the period before contact with Europeans. It also proposed removing references to Australia's "Christian heritage" out of civics in favour of terms such as secular and multi-faith, while history students would be taught that cultural touchstones such as the Anzac legend and Australia Day were contested.

The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority will seek public feedback on the draft for 10 weeks before finalising the new curriculum by the end of the year.


New curriculum teaches cultural diversity, dumps 'Christian heritage'
Federal Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt said it was important for students to learn about Australia's Indigenous heritage but did not weigh in on the specific proposals.

"It is important that all Australian students are provided the opportunity to learn about the depth, wealth and diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 65,000-year-old history and cultures and we want to ensure teachers are appropriately supported to embed Indigenous Australian perspectives in their classroom practice," Mr Wyatt said.

Mr Tudge said he would be "looking for some changes" before he'd be prepared to approve the revised curriculum. On Thursday, he said he was "perplexed" by some of the proposed changes to maths, including teaching children to tell the time in year 2 instead of year 1.


non est deus ex machina; även maskiner behöver lite kärlek, J'ai toujours misé sur l'étrange gentillesse des robots.
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#18165 User is offline   johnu 

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Posted 2021-May-01, 15:35

I would say "UNBELIEVABLE", but when it comes to Repugnant politicians, anything is possible, and likely.

How Arizona’s Attorney General Is Weaponizing Climate Fears To Keep Out Immigrants

Quote

In a lawsuit filed April 12, Brnovich seeks to reinstate President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, on the argument that Biden has failed to carry out mandatory environmental reviews on how more immigration could increase climate-changing pollution.

“Migrants (like everyone else) need housing, infrastructure, hospitals, and schools. They drive cars, purchase goods, and use public parks and other facilities,” the suit reads. “Their actions also directly result in the release of pollutants, carbon dioxide, and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, which directly affects air quality.”


Quote

After green parties picked up votes in the 2019 European parliamentary elections, French far-right leader Marine Le Pen pledged to remake Europe as “the world’s first ecological civilization” and railed against “nomadic” people who “do not care about the environment” as “they have no homeland,” harkening to the Nazis’ “blood and soil” slogan that described a belief in a mystical connection between race and a particular territory. Le Pen is now a frontrunner in France’s 2022 presidential election.

In Germany, the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany party’s Berlin youth wing urged its leaders to abandon climate denialism. The green arm of Italy’s neo-fascist movement CasaPound, meanwhile sent trees to towns across the country, to pay homage to former dictator Benito Mussolini.

In the English-speaking world, far-right eco-fascist thinking animated the manifestos of two mass shooters posted in 2019. The white male gunman who killed nearly two dozen people in a Walmart store in El Paso in August 2019 said he sought to end the “Hispanic invasion of Texas.”

“The environment is getting worse by the year,” the manifesto, posted online, stated. “Most of y’all are just too stubborn to change your lifestyle. So the next logical step is to decrease the number of people in America using resources. If we can get rid of enough people, then our way of life can become more sustainable.”

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#18166 User is offline   johnu 

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Posted 2021-May-01, 15:43

Well,,, the Repugs were right. There was voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

Man Pleads Guilty to Illegal Vote for Trump, Blames 'Stupid Mistake' on 'Too Much Propaganda'

What's this??? The fraud was to benefit the twice impeached one term Manchurian President Grifter in Chief?????

Quote

70-year-old man from Pennsylvania pleaded guilty to casting an illegal ballot for former President Donald Trump during the 2020 election and was sentenced to five years of probation on Friday.


Quote

Bartman was one of three men in Pennsylvania accused of committing voter fraud by casting illegal ballots for Trump. Two others, Ralph Thurman of Chester County and Richard Lynn of Luzerne County, have criminal cases pending, according to the Inquirer.


3 people committed voter fraud for the twice impeached Manchurian President??? What is the world coming to?
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#18167 User is offline   pilowsky 

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Posted 2021-May-01, 15:52

View Postjohnu, on 2021-May-01, 15:43, said:

Well,,, the Repugs were right. There was voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

Man Pleads Guilty to Illegal Vote for Trump, Blames 'Stupid Mistake' on 'Too Much Propaganda'

What's this??? The fraud was to benefit the twice impeached one term Manchurian President Grifter in Chief?????

3 people committed voter fraud for the twice impeached Manchurian President??? What is the world coming to?


Don't be mean.
In his heart, she was very much alive.
non est deus ex machina; även maskiner behöver lite kärlek, J'ai toujours misé sur l'étrange gentillesse des robots.
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#18168 User is offline   pilowsky 

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Posted 2021-May-02, 19:45

Senator Slime is reported as saying that he might start doing the job he's paid for if Big Corporations don't stop being more human.

Quote

Former Ethics Chief Slams Cruz's Warning To 'Woke' CEOs As 'Most Openly Corrupt' Ever
Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-Texas) threat to "woke" CEOs was slammed Sunday as likely the "most openly corrupt" message ever from the Senate, declared Walter Shaub, former head of the Government Office of Ethics.

In a Wall Street Journal column last week, Cruz warned that CEOs opposing Republican threats to voting rights will be excluded from his party's pay-to-play legislative operation — because they're no longer conservative enough for the GOP.

For example, Republicans will stop accepting donations in exchange for "looking the other way" when corporate bigwigs dodge taxes, Cruz wrote in a stunningly honest admission of his party's current modus operandi.

"This time," he wrote, "we won't look the other way on Coca-Cola's $12 billion in back taxes owed. This time, when Major League Baseball lobbies to preserve its multibillion-dollar antitrust exception, we'll say no thank you. This time, when Boeing asks for billions in corporate welfare, we'll simply let the Export-Import Bank expire."

Shaub, who served under both Barack Obama and Donald Trump, called Cruz's threat a blatant admission that Republicans are selling corporate donors "access to the government." In a clear swipe at Cruz's clueless self-exposure, Shaub noted that most lawmakers have too much "sense" to say it quite so brazenly.

"It's the part everyone knows: these crooks sell access," Shaub tweeted. "Others have the sense not to admit it. This is why our republic is broken: Immoral politicians selling power we've entrusted to them like it's theirs to sell."

Many others agreed, with one Twitter critic informing the Texas senator: "Announcing you will no longer take bribes isn't the defense you think it is."

non est deus ex machina; även maskiner behöver lite kärlek, J'ai toujours misé sur l'étrange gentillesse des robots.
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#18169 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2021-May-03, 17:38

Andrew Cockburn at Harpers said:

https://harpers.org/...on-in-honduras/

This January, thousands of Hondurans gathered in the city of San Pedro Sula and began walking toward the Guatemalan border, the first barrier in their journey north to the United States. They were a long way off, but our frontier defenders were already on full alert. “Do not waste your time and money, and do not risk your safety and health,” the acting head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection had announced a week earlier. “Migrant caravan groups will not be allowed to make their way north in violation of the sovereignty, standing public-health orders, and immigration laws of the respective nations throughout the region.” The presumptive secretary of state, Antony Blinken, echoed the sentiment, saying simply: “Do not come.” Soon after the migrants crossed into Guatemala, that message was reinforced with the clubs and tear gas of the U.S.-financed Guatemalan police, forcing the crowds back into the country they had fled.

The men, women, and children in the caravan had hardly been risking their own “safety and health” by setting out on the hazardous journey, precisely because they had so little of either to begin with. Even before two back-to-back hurricanes tore a path of destruction across the country last November, the population was in desperate straits. Sixty percent lived in extreme poverty, almost 40 percent were unemployed, and predatory corruption by the ruling elite reigned supreme. The pandemic had added its own agonies—not only did COVID-19 sicken hundreds of thousands of people, but government insiders stole almost the entire budget intended for emergency medical treatment, and the police and military imposed a near-total countrywide lockdown, arresting thousands for curfew violations.

For the people making this exodus, braving the perils of the journey was evidently a safer bet than staying put. For example, a young man who would give only his first name, Francisco, told the journalist Sandra Cuffe that the hurricanes had put an end to his $8-a-day bricklaying job and that a mining company was ravaging the area where he lived, hiring thugs (often connected to the military) to terrorize him and other locals opposed to the environmental devastation. Elsewhere in the crowd, a twenty-eight-year-old mother named Olga Ramírez carried the youngest of her four children in her arms while two of the others rode in a decrepit stroller pushed by her husband. She tearfully explained to a reporter that they had lost their precarious living selling food in the municipal bus terminal in Danlí, a provincial town east of the capital, Tegucigalpa, after the local mayor privatized the terminal and summarily ejected Ramírez and her fellow vendors. “They threw us out like we were dogs, like garbage, as if we were worthless,” she said as she trudged along.

“I think the whole country would leave if they could,” Jean Stokan, a justice coordinator for the Catholic group Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, told me. Stokan has spent decades witnessing the plight of Central Americans. “Honduras today is like El Salvador in the Eighties, death squads and all,” she said, recalling the bloody U.S.-supported counterinsurgency. She talked of corrupt police officers enjoying impunity; community leaders, human rights activists, and labor organizers being threatened, abducted, and jailed; and a wave of femicides—“women’s bodies chopped up and discarded in plastic garbage bags.” It thus came as no surprise to Stokan that Hondurans were fleeing their country by the tens of thousands. “You know the phrase ‘a person doesn’t leave their home unless it is in the mouth of a shark?’ ” she asked. “That’s Honduras.”

In recent years, Washington has expressed its fair share of laments over the little country’s desperate condition, and has poured a lot of money into projects aimed at eliminating the so-called push factors driving people to flee. USAID spent $90 million in 2020 alone promoting “good governance,” fostering “competitive, resilient, and inclusive market systems,” and creating “economic opportunities that incorporate women.”

Our partner in these worthy efforts has been Juan Orlando Hernández, often referred to as JOH, the stocky, frequently charming president of Honduras. Since he took office in 2014, Washington has relied on Hernández to implement American-devised programs for alleviating his country’s ills: unemployment, violence, corruption, and most importantly, the cocaine trade. But despite insistent protests locally and abroad that Hernández oversees a repressive and corrupt regime, the United States has continued to treat him as an indispensable partner.

More

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#18170 User is online   kenberg 

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Posted 2021-May-04, 11:24

The harper's article is a good presentation of just what we are up aganst. First I repeat one of the copied paragraphs:

Quote

"I think the whole country would leave if they could," Jean Stokan, a justice coordinator for the Catholic group Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, told me. Stokan has spent decades witnessing the plight of Central Americans. "Honduras today is like El Salvador in the Eighties, death squads and all," she said, recalling the bloody U.S.-supported counterinsurgency. She talked of corrupt police officers enjoying impunity; community leaders, human rights activists, and labor organizers being threatened, abducted, and jailed; and a wave of femicides—"women's bodies chopped up and discarded in plastic garbage bags." It thus came as no surprise to Stokan that Hondurans were fleeing their country by the tens of thousands. "You know the phrase 'a person doesn't leave their home unless it is in the mouth of a shark?' " she asked. "That's Honduras."


Exactly. "The whole country would leave if it could". Where does this leave us when we look for options? Fly them all out to resettle in the US?

Toward the end of the full article we see:

Quote

Honduran human rights organizations may have little sway in Washington, but U.S. senators from the majority party are a different matter. The Honduras Human Rights and Anti-Corruption Act, introduced on February 24 by the Oregon senator Jeff Merkley, demands that the United States designate Hernández as a narcotics trafficker, cut off all aid and arms sales to the Honduran military and police, and cooperate with the United Nations in monitoring human rights.Merkley considers the security aid cutoff essential. "If we don't apply such pressure, then we're just facilitating and strengthening the force that is part of the problem," he told me the day after introducing the bill. "If we're going to be partners with them, to be part of the solution, they have to be a very different force." I asked whether Hernández, who had already responded to the bill by threatening to stop cooperating on antitrafficking efforts, was beyond redemption. "Just the fact that he would say 'I'll give the drug traffickers free rein if you try to have my security forces be part of the solution,' " Merkley replied, "tells you a lot about the type of person we're dealing with." I took that as a yes

It does indeed sound like yes.

It's all well and good to say we need to treat immigrants better. I agree. But there is more to it than that. We might even agree that many problems have only, at best, partial solutions. But that still leaves us with the question of what we should actually do. Quite possibly Merkely is right. Sounds right to me. But don't expect it to solve the immigration problem at our border.
Ken
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#18171 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2021-May-04, 15:23

The G.O.P. Won It All in Texas. Then It Turned on Itself. by Elaina Plott at NYT

You hate to see it.
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#18172 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2021-May-04, 19:03

Benjamin Wittes at Lawfare said:

What the Oversight Board Should Do With Trump

Tomorrow morning, May 5, the Oversight Board will issue its opinion in the case of Facebook’s indefinite suspension of Donald Trump in the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection.

The opinion will attract enormous attention, whatever the board ends up doing. If it overturns Facebook’s action, it will provoke grave concern among those who have been demanding more rigorous content moderation on the platform. If it upholds the suspension, it will provoke howls of rage from Trump supporters and those who believe that social media is biased against conservatives. Let Trump back on, and the comparatively peaceful social media ecosystem that has prevailed over the last several months could suddenly grow cacophonous again as he blitzes Facebook with election lies and attacks on his opponents. Keeping the former president in Facebook detention, by contrast, means the board’s acceptance that social media companies have the power to silence, at least on their platforms, elected world leaders.

...

There is no serious question, in other words, that Trump violated the rules or that the rules contemplate action like the ones Facebook took. For the board to hold otherwise would be to turn Facebook’s generic commitment to giving people a “voice” into some overriding protection that compels Facebook to allow a politician to stoke political violence.

That’s a greater speech protection than either the House of Representatives or the Senate were willing to give Trump. A bipartisan majority of both of those houses, after all, regarded his conduct on Jan. 6 as warranting impeachment and removal from office. Surely, the Oversight Board does not mean to argue that Facebook is somehow obliged to tolerate behavior the American political system regards as warranting a Senate trial. At a minimum, a decision to overrule Facebook’s judgment would require an explanation of why encouraging a mob in a fashion that might merit impeachment does not merit action by Facebook in the interests of public safety.

There may be technical reasons, discussed above, for the Oversight Board not to affirmatively uphold Facebook’s action here, in which case the matter may drag on. But if it overturns it, it will effectively be preventing Facebook from taking reasonable content action in emergency circumstances in which political violence is unfolding. Facebook, after all, did the bare minimum here—and it did it very late. It waited until a violent crisis erupted during the period of the presidential transition of power. It acted only when, quite literally, the functioning of the United States government had been disrupted by a violent incursion into the Capitol and the country’s president used the platform to justify the invasion. If Facebook’s action under these circumstances is overturned, the Oversight Board will be pushing Facebook in exactly the wrong direction.

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#18173 User is online   Winstonm 

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Posted 2021-May-05, 07:05

This exchange is a synopsis of what ails America, IMO:





Quote

After people on the street asked Dr. Fauci questions, Kimmel noted one more guy had one. He cut to a clip of Tucker Carlson asking why college students should get the vaccine because "young people are not at risk of dying from COVID" and many have been infected already.

"No one has explained that," Carlson said.

Kimmel let Fauci take it away.

"One, you want to protect yourself," the White House task force doc replied. "But also you don't want to be part of the propagation of the outbreak. Because if you get infected, even though you're young and healthy ... you could pass it on to someone else who could have a severe outcome. And when you get infected, you are propagating the outbreak. You're not being a dead stop. You're allowing the virus to continue from you to someone else."



Note, that in Carlson's worldview a person's concerns for welfare stop at the end of each person's nose. Who is John Galt? Oh, I think he's that guy who died of Covid.


"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Black Lives Matter.
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#18174 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2021-May-05, 08:39

Rachel Louise Ensign at WSJ said:

Affluent Americans are worried about President Biden’s proposed tax changes on capital gains from stocks, bonds and other assets. But those proposals would hit a sliver of taxpayers, according to a new analysis.

Financial advisers to the wealthy have been fielding calls from anxious clients since the plan was unveiled last week. Many are already deploying a range of tax-reducing strategies in anticipation of the increases, advisers told The Wall Street Journal. But key changes would likely affect only the very wealthy, according to Robert McClelland, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center. a joint venture between the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution.

The Biden plan would increase the top capital-gains tax rate to 43.4% from 23.8% for those earning over $1 million. Capital gains refer to profits on the sale of assets like stocks, homes or small businesses.

Of taxpayers who filed Schedule D, the form for reporting capital gains and losses, only 2.7% had adjusted gross income of $1 million or more in 2018, according to Mr. McClelland’s analysis of Internal Revenue Service data. However, that group of taxpayers accounted for 62% of capital gains, Mr. McClelland said.

“A small amount of people are going to end up paying it, but it could potentially affect a lot of the capital gains,” he said.

The Biden tax plan would also end a rule that has been a cornerstone of estate planning for generations of wealthy Americans.

Today, people who own assets that have risen in value— Apple Inc. stock, the family beach house, a three-generation manufacturing company—don’t pay capital-gains taxes unless they sell. Under the Biden proposal, those unrealized gains would trigger taxes upon the owner’s death. There would be a $1 million per-person exemption plus existing exclusions for residences.

More than two-thirds of U.S. families have some unrealized capital gains, but most would be covered by the $1 million exemption. Only about 3% of all families have unrealized gains above that threshold, said Mr. McClelland, who also analyzed 2019 Federal Reserve data.

Many of those people will realize gains by drawing on assets like taxable brokerage accounts during their retirement, meaning the share of people who will die with unrealized gains above $1 million is likely even smaller, Mr. McClelland said.

Is there a case for taxing capital gains differently than ordinary income? Nope.
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#18175 User is online   Winstonm 

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Posted 2021-May-05, 08:55

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A federal judge has ruled that former Attorney General William Barr was "disingenuous" about the process behind his decision to issue a memo clearing then-President Trump on obstruction of justice charges.


For Representative Matt Gaetz: this means the judge called Billy Barr a "fu#&ing liar."
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#18176 User is offline   shyams 

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Posted 2021-May-05, 10:10

View Posty66, on 2021-May-05, 08:39, said:

Is there a case for taxing capital gains differently than ordinary income? Nope.

Wrong answer! ;)

The rich deserve tax breaks. And the super rich deserve super tax breaks. How else will they "invest into the economy" (i.e. adopt the grand illusion of doing good for the economy)? :P :P
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#18177 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2021-May-05, 11:07

Shira Ovide at NYT said:

The limits of Facebook’s ‘Supreme Court’

What Facebook calls its “Supreme Court” ruled on Wednesday that it was the right decision for the company to kick former President Donald J. Trump off the platform after his posts about the riot at the U.S. Capitol in January.

Well, sort of. In a sign of how weird this whole decision was, the Oversight Board punted the call about Trump’s account back to Facebook. He might reappear on Facebook in a few months. Or he might not.

Let me explain the decision, its potential implications and the serious limits of Facebook’s Oversight Board.

Wait, what is happening to Trump’s account?

Facebook indefinitely suspended Trump after he used the site to condone the actions of the Capitol rioters and, as Mark Zuckerberg said, “to incite violent insurrection against a democratically elected government.”

Facebook’s Oversight Board, a quasi-independent body that the company created to review some of its high-profile decisions, essentially agreed on Wednesday that Facebook was right to suspend Trump. His posts broke Facebook’s guidelines and presented a clear and present danger of potential violence, the board said.

But the board also said that Facebook was wrong to make Trump’s suspension indefinite. When people break Facebook’s rules, the company has policies to delete the violating material, suspend the account holder for a defined period of time or permanently disable an account. The board said Facebook should re-examine the penalty against Trump and within six months choose a time-limited ban or a permanent one rather than let the squishy suspension remain.

Facebook has to make the hard calls:

A big “wow” line from the Oversight Board was its criticism of Facebook for passing the buck on what to do about Trump. “In applying a vague, standardless penalty and then referring this case to the board to resolve, Facebook seeks to avoid its responsibilities,” the board wrote.

The quietly scathing part on influential Facebook users:

The meat of the board’s statement is a brutal assessment of Facebook’s errors in considering the substance of people’s messages, and not the context.

Facebook currently treats your neighbor with five followers the same as Trump and others with huge followings.

(Actually, at least when he was president, Trump had even more leeway in his posts than your neighbor. Facebook and Twitter have said that the public should generally be able to see and hear for themselves what their leaders say, even if they’re spreading misinformation.)

The Oversight Board agreed that the same rules should continue to apply to everyone on Facebook — but with some big caveats.

“Context matters when assessing issues of causality and the probability and imminence of harm,” the board wrote. “What is important is the degree of influence that a user has over other users.”

With world leaders, the Oversight Board said that Facebook should suspend accounts if they repeatedly “posted messages that pose a risk of harm under international human rights norms.”

To this I say, heck yes. The Oversight Board showed that it understands the ways that Facebook is giving repeat superspreaders of bogus information a dangerous pathway to shape our beliefs.

The limits of the Oversight Board:

It is remarkable that in its first year of operation, this board seems to grasp some of Facebook’s fundamental flaws: The company’s policies are opaque, and its judgments are too often flawed or incomprehensible. The board repeatedly, including on Wednesday, has urged Facebook to be far more transparent. This is a useful measure of accountability.

But the last year has also proved the grave limitations of this check on Facebook’s power.

Facebook makes millions of judgment calls each day on people’s posts and accounts. Most of the people who think Facebook made a mistake will never get heard by the board.

This includes those who have had their Facebook accounts disabled and are desperate for help to get them back, people who wind up in Facebook “jail” and don’t know which of the company’s zillions of opaque rules they might have broken and others who are harassed after someone posted something malicious about them. It includes journalists in the Philippines whose work is undermined by government officials regularly trashing them anonymously on the site.

The oversight board is a useful backstop to some of Facebook's hard calls, but it is a complete mismatch to the fast pace of communications among billions of people that, by design, happen with little human intervention.

I’m also bothered by the Supreme Court comparison for this oversight body that Facebook invented and pays for. Facebook is not a representative democracy with branches of government that keep a check on one another. It is a castle ruled by an all-powerful king who has invited billions of people inside to mingle — but only if they abide by opaque, ever changing rules that are often applied by a fleet of mostly lower-wage workers making rapid-fire judgment calls.

The Oversight Board is good, but the scale of Facebook and its consequences are so vast that the body can only do so much.

In applying a vague, standardless penalty and then referring this case to the board to resolve, Facebook seeks to avoid its responsibilities? Yup.
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#18178 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2021-May-05, 12:29

From The Gatekeeper by Adam Tooze at LRB:

Quote

Paul​ Krugman’s latest collection of essays, Arguing with Zombies, first appeared in January 2020. Not only was it quickly buried by Covid, but he missed out on a thing all too rare for a pundit: the opportunity to declare victory. A year later, in Joe Biden’s Washington, Krugmanism rules. The gigantic scale of the $1.9 trillion Biden rescue plan, and now the proposed $2 trillion infrastructure investment programme, are testament to a rearrangement of the relationship between economic expertise and politics in the Democratic Party, a rearrangement which Krugman anticipated and for which Arguing with Zombies makes a powerful case.

In the 1990s the lines were clearly drawn. The Democrats were a party of fiscal rectitude and trade globalisation. They had the weight of academic economic opinion behind them. Krugman was one of the cheerleaders and enforcers of that dispensation: the job of brilliant economists with a quick pen was to guard the true knowledge against deviations to the left and the right. It isn’t by accident that Jed Bartlet – the fictional president in The West Wing, the TV fantasy that sustained liberal America during the dark Bush years – was a genial economics professor and Nobel laureate. It was a fantasy. The synthesis of brains, wisdom and power embodied in Bartlet didn’t stand up to 21st-century realities. Today, Krugman tells us, ‘everything is political.’ He has come to accept that ‘the technocratic dream – the idea of being a politically neutral analyst helping policymakers govern more effectively – is, for now at least, dead.’

Breaking with the technocratic assumptions of the Clinton era and the early Obama years has been an attritional process. In Krugman’s case it is the end of an arc that spans half a century. He is no longer at the height of his influence, but he still has huge reach through his New York Times column and on Twitter, where he has a staggering 4.6 million followers. For critics on the left it can be infuriating to watch high-powered centrists inching their way towards seemingly obvious political conclusions. But when they do, it is consequential. By tracing Krugman’s itinerary, we can shed some light on how we arrived in our current situation, with three centrists – Biden, Janet Yellen and Jerome Powell – undertaking an experiment in economic policy of historic proportions.

In the 1970s Krugman belonged to a generation of young lions at MIT, then the pre-eminent economics department in the US. The prevailing model at MIT was the so-called neoclassical synthesis, shaped since the 1940s by Paul Samuelson above all. Working from a broad acceptance of Keynesian prescriptions for macroeconomic policy, the younger economists at MIT specialised in clever models that demonstrated the often dramatic implications of market imperfections such as the limited availability of information, or the dynamics that ensue from increasing returns when increasing production actually reduces unit cost. Their increasingly complex modifications to the neoclassical synthesis resulted in what became known in the 1980s as New Keynesian economics.

The young Paul Krugman’s breakthrough came when he used a model of increasing returns and product differentiation to explain the emergence of clusters of industrial specialisation which could in turn drive international trade, not as a result of natural comparative advantage, in growing bananas for example, but in manufacturing high-end products such as German-badged motor cars. It was theoretically elegant and it explained why, in the golden age of economic growth after the Second World War, it wasn’t the old colonial and postcolonial exchange of raw materials for manufactured goods that dominated economic growth, but trade in manufactured goods between rich countries. The hour and a half Krugman spent laying out his new trade theory at the National Bureau of Economic Research in July 1979 was, he later wrote, ‘the best ninety minutes of my life. There’s a corny scene in the movie Coal Miner’s Daughter in which the young Loretta Lynn performs for the first time in a noisy bar, and little by little everyone gets quiet and starts to listen to her singing. Well, that’s what it felt like: I had, all at once, made it.’

Putting the romance of Krugman’s triumph to one side, many believed that his new theory had radical policy implications. By making trade dependent on history rather than nature, it supplied a justification for an interventionist industrial policy. But Krugman was wary of such easy conclusions. As he put it in 1993, it wasn’t that talk of strategic trade and industrial policy was wrong,

but that it was not necessarily right. Or to put it more accurately, the case for strategic trade policies was not like the traditional case for free trade, which (in the old trade theory) could be made a priori without consideration of the specific details of industries. Strategic trade policies could be recommended, if at all, only on the basis of detailed quantitative knowledge of the relevant industries.

This cagey statement illuminates one of the puzzles of Krugman’s early career. Apparently it was at a seminar in Little Rock, Arkansas in December 1992, as the Clinton transition team prepared for power, that Krugman first saw, to his horror, the gulf that separated highbrow economics from the prevalent protectionist mood, particularly on the progressive wing of the Democratic party. Over the following years he gained a reputation as a scourge of left-leaning critics of globalisation, attacking some of Clinton’s advisers for their exaggerated accounts of the threat posed by Japan and China and their naive obsession with ‘competitiveness’. In a column for Slate in 1997 with the Swiftian title ‘In Praise of Cheap Labour’, Krugman denounced the anti-globalisation movement for its failure to understand that ‘bad jobs at bad wages are better than no jobs at all.’ What masqueraded as progressive politics was in fact misplaced fastidiousness: American liberals didn’t like the idea of consuming goods produced by poor people. When such muddled thinking affected the chances of development for nations whose people desperately needed it, it was, for Krugman, both an intellectual and a moral failure.

Quote

The Krugmanification of the Democrats wasn’t won without a fight. There are fiscal hawks in Biden’s entourage. At one point he even counted Larry Summers as an adviser. That didn’t last: the empowered left wing of the Dems wouldn’t stand for it. But although he is no longer in the inner circle, Summers hasn’t surrendered. Opposing untargeted stimulus checks, calling for more focus on investment, he recently declared the Biden administration’s fiscal policy the most irresponsible in forty years – the result, he remarked bitterly, of the leverage handed to the left of the Democratic Party by the absolute refusal of the GOP to co-operate.

The first instinct of the wonks inside the Biden administration is to counter Summers’s arguments on his own terms. Their models show, they insist, that the risks of overheating and inflation are slight. What they don’t say is that being credibly committed to running the economy hot is precisely the point. This is what Krugman meant in 1998 when he called on the Bank of Japan to make a credible commitment to irresponsibility. To avoid the risk of a liquidity trap what you want to encourage is precisely a general belief that inflation is set to pick up. In the late 1990s Krugman, like a good New Keynesian, envisioned monetary and fiscal policy as substitutes for each other. In 2021 America is getting a massive dose of both. As the Fed announced in August last year, the plan is to get inflation above 2 per cent and to dry out the labour market. The bond markets may flinch, but if the sell-off gets too bad, the Fed can always buy more bonds.

While Summers, clinging to his generation’s assumptions about the proper balance between politics and technocratic judgment, wants to drag the conversation back to inflation and ‘output gaps’, what is actually at stake is the future of the republic. In 2020 America came through something close to an existential social and political crisis. That crisis is now understood by large parts of the Democratic Party not as an unforeseeable shock, but as enabled by the forty years of ‘responsibility’ that Summers invokes as the gold standard: successive Democratic administrations failing to address inequality and handing the game to the utterly unscrupulous Republicans. With the pandemic still running through American society, and the midterms looming in 2022, the most irresponsible thing to do would be to risk electoral disaster of the sort the Democrats experienced in 2010. No one has made this case more consistently than Krugman. ‘Debt isn’t and never was an existential threat to our nation’s future,’ Krugman wrote in February. ‘The real existential threat is an illiberal GOP that looks more like Europe’s far-right extremists than a normal political party. Weakening policy in ways that might help that party’s prospects is a terrible idea – and I think Democrats realise that.’

There is a further factor which becomes ever clearer as the Biden administration lays out its foreign policy and the way it connects to other domains. If what is at stake is the future of American democracy, this is a matter of both internal balance and external standing. The entire generation of US policymakers who came of age in the 1960s and 1970s were shaped by Vietnam and the era of malaise that followed. That is the reason the 1990s have for such a long time been the touchstone of American success. Biden and his secretary of state, Anthony Blinken, are unapologetic descendants of that era of unipolar leadership. As Biden himself has put it, China wants to be number one, and it isn’t going to happen on his watch. Why not? Because America is going to grow. The infrastructure programme Biden announced on 31 March is designed, like the ‘great projects of the past’, to ‘unify and mobilise the country to meet the great challenges of our time: the climate crisis and the ambitions of an autocratic China’. Perhaps Krugman’s Martians have arrived after all.

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#18179 User is offline   thepossum 

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Posted 2021-May-05, 17:40

View Posty66, on 2021-May-05, 11:07, said:

In applying a vague, standardless penalty and then referring this case to the board to resolve, Facebook seeks to avoid its responsibilities? Yup.


We are all starting to learn whose "laws" we have to respect these days - all over the world :)
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#18180 User is offline   y66 

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Posted 2021-May-06, 09:33

Arnold Schwarzenegger said:

On the pandemic: “Wearing a mask and washing your hands and all that stuff has become a political issue. Because I guess Republicans don’t wear masks and don’t wash their hands — and don’t get coronavirus, apparently. Apparently the virus will know exactly who is a Democrat. [Rolls eyes.] So I suggested that we should do a P.S.A. and have all the governors involved. If the rest of the country is stupid enough to think this is a political issue, so be it.”

On risk: “I was never afraid of things. What’s the worst that can happen? There’s the ground. That’s as far as I can fall. If I lose, I make another action movie. Life goes on.”

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