ANS Nuclear Policy Wire: Making Nuclear Great Again   
ANS Nuclear Policy Wire
June 30, 2017

News
Making Nuclear Great Again
 
President Trump capped off Energy Week yesterday with a shout-out to nuclear power, announcing a study of U.S. nuclear energy policy that "will help us find new ways to revitalize this crucial energy resource." The study is the first of six policy initiatives meant to create a "new era of American energy dominance."
 
Speaking of energy dominance, Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources yesterday also introduced S. 1460, the Energy and Natural Resources Act of 2017. Building on the Energy Policy Modernization Act from the 114th Congress, this wide-ranging bill includes previous bipartisan legislative provisions encouraging the development of advanced reactors.
 

          You can now buy the new Nokia 3310 in the Philippines   

The long wait is finally over, the new Nokia 3310 is now available in the Philippines. Officially launched at Mobile World Congress earlier this year, the new Nokia 3310, despite its unremarkable features, gained quite a lot of buzz in both the tech and mainstream industry. This is due to, of course, the nostalgia it […]

This article, You can now buy the new Nokia 3310 in the Philippines, was originally published at NoypiGeeks | Philippines Technology News, Reviews and How to's.


          Congressional Liaison SME - Prevailance, Inc. - Force, PA   
And Congressional and public affairs. We are actively collecting qualified resumes for upcoming work....
From Prevailance, Inc. - Sun, 02 Apr 2017 08:30:40 GMT - View all Force, PA jobs
          Congressional shooter's wife tormented by husband's attack   

          Are Democrats Thinking Their Way Out of Victory?   

Would you mind if Democrats learned to be mindless?

Nevada Democrats do seem to have their acts together. They kept their heads in 2016 when everyone around them was losing theirs, and accomplished a good deal of what they wanted at the 2017 legislature. And 2018 seems to be coming into focus.…

Representative Jacky Rosen will run for the Senate after only a few months in Congress, and the Democrat could face a serious primary challenge. Whoever wins faces a vulnerable Republican, Dean Heller, the only GOP Senator up for reelection in a state Hillary Clinton carried. Heller has managed to defend the Republican lack of transparency on health care legislation after falsely claiming Democrats did much the same thing on Obamacare. He also said both yes and no on how he’s going to vote on the un-Christian and anti-life bill his white male colleagues generated without a woman or person of color being involved before finally saying he wouldn’t vote for the bill in its current form with Governor Brian Sandoval standing next to him—because Heller is not only bipartisan, but brave.

County Commissioner Steve Sisolak has declared his candidacy for governor. He may face a Democratic primary—his commission colleague Chris Giunchigliani is making noises (this could make the commission meetings must-see-TV). The winner of that contest will face Adam Laxalt, grandson of a major Nevada political figure. He’s also the hirer of outside lawyers who charge the state hundreds of thousands of dollars to do legal work that Laxalt’s people would be able to do if they were members of the Nevada bar, and he is a defender of Sheldon Adelson’s interests to the point that a Gaming Control Board chairman who’s never had the whiff of a taint of a sniff of a scandal attached to him decided he’d better record a conversation with Laxalt.


Democrats think when they should act, and Republicans act when they should think.


These campaigns will unfold with Trump registering the lowest approval ratings of any president at this point in an administration since polling was done with an abacus. But Republicans have won each special election so far, so why not think it can continue?

Well, let’s be fair. In each election, the Democratic candidate did far better than she or he normally would. In Georgia and South Carolina, in blood-red districts, the Democratic House candidate came within three points of the Republican.

But Republicans still won, and the reason is simple. To quote Charlie Pierce, America’s best political blogger (well, my favorite, anyway): “Through decades of constant and unrelenting pressure, and through finagling with the franchise in a hundred ways in a thousand places, the Republicans have compressed the votes they need into an unmovable, diamond-hard core that will vote in robotic lockstep for whoever it is that wins a Republican primary. In American politics today, mindlessness is one of the strongest weapons you can have. Republicans vote for Republicans in Republican districts.”

That Democrats lack mindlessness can be proved even without referring to certain lefties in 2016. Consider the response to recent Democratic defeats from D. Taylor, the Unite Here leader who was the driving force behind the Culinary in Las Vegas for so many years. Besides properly attacking the president, the speaker, the Senate majority leader and the GOP congressional caucus, he declared, “Hope is not a strategy and ‘resisting’ is not a plan. The Democratic Party is out of excuses on its electoral performances.… In red states or blue states, Democrats should be able to compete—and win.”

As Pierce shows, some of that point is debatable, but then we recall his union didn’t do all it could in 2014, out of displeasure with some provisions of Obamacare and the lack of movement on immigration reform. The Culinary Union was being mindful when it needed to be mindless.

Heller is in the Senate because in 2012, Shelley Berkley ran 85,000 votes behind Barack Obama while Heller ran 26,000 ahead of Mitt Romney. She won Clark County by 60,000 while Obama took it by 100,000. Obama carried Washoe County by 7,000, Heller by 20,000. Both large counties bear some credit or blame, depending on your political views.

Berkley faced attacks over ethics, but also Washoe choosing the northerner over the southerner, regardless of party. Did Democrats ask themselves who would most strongly support Obama, or was more “acceptable”? A minimal number of Republicans ask those questions. If more did, we might have a more mindful president.

Laxalt’s grandfather ran smart campaigns. But he won his first statewide race, for lieutenant governor, when Democrats refused to unite behind his opponent because of previous political battles. They were mindful when they should have been mindless, and have paid for it ever since.

And thereby hangs the tale. Democrats think when they should act, and Republicans act when they should think. If Democrats don’t want Senator Heller and Governor Laxalt, they need to grasp that distinction.

Michael Green is an associate professor of history at UNLV

The post Are Democrats Thinking Their Way Out of Victory? appeared first on Vegas Seven.


          Reading the Office of Legal Counsel on Emoluments: Do Super-Rich Presidents Get a Pass?    

 

I wrote last November that the Foreign Emoluments Clause “is on its face a national security provision designed to the protect the country from officers too enmeshed with foreign interests.” If the Justice Department’s recent court filing is to be believed, that protection is exceedingly limited. This new position marks a decisive break from the more conscientious approach long espoused by both the Comptroller General and the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC).

At the heart of the emoluments controversy is President Trump’s refusal to liquidate his business holdings. He has instead maintained ownership of the Trump Organization, a multibillion-dollar umbrella company with thousands of domestic and international investments, and placed the assets in a revocable trust managed by his sons Donald Trump, Jr. and Eric Trump. Trump now faces three lawsuits alleging that he is profiting from his business empire in violation of the Constitution. Three days after his inauguration, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a government accountability watchdog group, filed the first suit in the Southern District of New York. This month, two more complaints were filed by the attorneys general of Washington D.C. and Maryland and 196 congressional Democrats, in federal district courts in Maryland and the District of Columbia, respectively.

All three suits center on the meaning and scope of the Foreign Emoluments Clause, which provides that “no person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept any present, Emolument, Office or Title of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince or foreign state” (U.S. Const. art. I, § 9, cl. 8). Citing Trump's business dealings with state governments and federal agencies, such as its lease on the Old Post Office Building that now houses the Trump International Hotel, two of the suits also allege violations of the Domestic Emoluments Clause. This provision applies specifically to the president and provides that he shall receive “for his Services” a fixed compensation during his tenure and not “any other Emolument from the United States, or any of [the states]” (U.S. Const. art. II, § 1, cl. 7).

Serious procedural challenges like standing notwithstanding, given the House and Senate’s failure to address head-on the risks posed by Trump’s financial conflicts pose, the lawsuits could prove important in forcing a much-needed conversation: Is Trump taking in profits in violation of the Constitution? And just as critically, are future presidents entitled to pull a Trump—or does the Constitution dictate that they, like Jimmy Carter, must sell their family peanut farms as a condition of taking office?

No Article III court has ever rendered an opinion on how either Emoluments Clause should be interpreted, though the Supreme Court has offered interpretations of the term “emoluments” as it appears in Foreign Emoluments Clause-related statutes periodically enacted by Congress since 1881. Because of the limited judicial precedent, the internal memoranda from the Comptroller General and the Office of Legal Counsel that have been made public over the years are among the most important sources of guidance we have on emoluments issues. And though these memoranda do not directly address the question posed by the Trump business empire, making some amount of inference and legwork necessary, in critical respects they quite clearly contradict the sweeping defense that the Justice Department put forward this month in its 70-page motion to dismiss the CREW case against Trump.

The key issue in these suits—once you get behind a set of justiciability questions that may prove dispositive—is what constitutes an emolument (though with respect to the Foreign Emoluments Clause there’s also some disagreement about what kind of entity constitutes a “foreign state”). In plain English, we are looking at an exotic presidential twist on the biggest and oldest challenge to enforcing any anticorruption law: What counts? Do the forbidden “emoluments” cover only goodie boxes, blatant quid pro quo arrangements, and employment-related compensation? Or are the profits that Trump enjoys by way of his business transactions also prohibited when they come from foreign states and domestic government entities? And if the latter, more expansive definition is the appropriate one, are the profits prohibited only when the take is in excess of  “fair-market-value”—and if so, does that definition serve as a meaningful limitation when at issue are luxury goods whose value or sales may be inflated by the fact that Trump is president and the products are prominently branded with his name?

Predictably, the dispute has taken the form of a battle for the original meaning of “emoluments.” An array of historical materials support both a limited and broad definition. The two possible interpretations are well summed up by the Oxford English Dictionary, which provides two definitions dating back to the Founding: “1. Profit or gain arising from station, office, or employment . . . . 2. Advantage, benefit, comfort.”

The Justice Department, like Trump’s lawyers at Morgan Lewis, latches onto the first definition  to argue that “the Emoluments Clauses apply only to the receipt of compensation for personal services and to the receipt of honors and gifts based on official position.” That is, President Trump is precluded only from receiving benefits in exchange for services provided to a foreign state in his official capacity as president, or—and this is crucial, given the subject matter of the OLC opinions—services provided “in a capacity akin to an employee of a foreign state.”

The plaintiffs in the three suits, on the other hand, argue for the much more expansive definition. Marshaling its own set of historical evidence, CREW asserts that emoluments are "anything of value, including money, permits, approvals, tax benefits, any other benefits, and anything else monetary or nonmonetary, regardless of whether it is given in exchange for goods or services, and regardless of whether it is part of a transaction at, above, or below market rates."

A close examination of the relevant Comptroller and OLC opinions reveals that the current Justice Department is reading the Emoluments Clauses too narrowly, while CREW and the other plaintiffs are reading them too broadly. None of the opinions approves the receipt of benefits that can even arguably be attributed to the prestige or influence conferred by an office, and together they do not support the Justice Department’s claim that presidents may, as a categorical matter, collect profits from business transactions with foreign entities and domestic government entities as long as fair value is extracted on both sides. But notwithstanding the plaintiffs’ hard pull in the other direction, the opinions also suggest that presidents may in limited cases accept certain fixed benefits—as I will explain, these might be pensions from the U.S. state that used to employ them or money damages from a foreign country against which, in a past life, they successfully won a judgment. The key is that those benefits cannot be subject to foreign or domestic government manipulation or adjustment in connection with the presidential office.

This happens to be a sensible position that accords with what the opinions repeatedly underscore as the purpose of the Emoluments Clauses and the ultimate touchstone for interpreting their meaning: “to prevent corruption and foreign influence” and to bar “payments which have a potential of influencing or corrupting the integrity of the recipient.”

 

Why Language About Emoluments Is Easily Misused

A threshold issue before turning to the OLC literature is the confusion created by cherry-picking historical materials without consideration of their factual context. For example, in its motion to dismiss, the Justice Department followed the lead of some scholars in pulling some Supreme Court language that suggests the term “emoluments” applies only to salary and other duty-related benefits. Most notably, in Hoyt v. United States, 51 U.S. 109 (1850), the Court defines emoluments as “every species of compensation or pecuniary profit derived for a discharge of the duties of office” (emphasis added).

But in Hoyt, the Supreme Court was specifically asked to decide what constitutes an “emolument of office” per a statute governing Treasury Department collectors in their official capacity; the case did not require the Court to consider or rule on the existence of emoluments of other kinds. This is a key point for purposes of properly construing any Comptroller or OLC opinion that cites Hoyt and regurgitates its definition of “emoluments.” These opinions, like Hoyt, have to be read with an eye to their facts: they do not assert that “emoluments” must derive directly from discharge of duty; rather, the kind of emoluments at issue in those opinions was the kind derived for discharge of duty. As a consequence, the reliance on Hoyt in these opinions does not serve as evidence of a limiting principle for emoluments in general.

In short, as pointed out by the plaintiffs and by assorted scholars, the proper question for purposes of discerning the historical scope of “emoluments” is not whether the term could be interpreted in a restricted way, to refer only to benefits derived from discharging the duties of an office, but whether it was necessarily so interpreted at the time the Emoluments Clauses were drafted. As John Mikhail has painstakingly documented, the answer is no—and we don’t have to look at secondary sources, however authoritative (e.g., Black’s Dictionary) to draw that conclusion. Consider, for example, some of the constitutions ratified during the first of two major waves of state constitution-making in the Founding decade. Several included “common benefits clauses” that used the word “emoluments” in a way that simply defies narrow interpretation. The Pennsylvania Constitution (1776) provides: “That government is, or ought to be, instituted for the common benefit, protection and security of the people, nation or community; and not for the particular emolument of advantage of any single man, family or sett [sic] of men, who are a part only of that community[.]” Very similar language appears in the Virginia (1776), Vermont (1777), and New Hampshire (1784) constitutions. Far more elaborate historical arguments demonstrating the broad uses of the term have been presented elsewhere: see here, here and here. The bottom line is that there is an abundance of primary Founding-era material making use of the broad definition of emoluments, so it is wrong to use language from fact-bound case law to assert that the term is an inherently limited one.

 

The Plaintiffs Define “Emoluments” Too Broadly

Does that mean, as plaintiffs assert, that all types of benefits conferred on the president by foreign countries and U.S. states are prohibited emoluments? According to the Comptroller and OLC opinions, clearly not.

A number of opinions explain that officers do not need to forego fixed benefits to which they are entitled for reasons manifestly unrelated to and uninfluenced by their office. This is a common-sense interpretation of the Clauses that avoids rigidity for rigidity’s sake, where denial of benefits would do nothing to serve the Clauses’ anti-corruption, anti-influence purpose.

For instance, the Comptroller and the OLC each independently concluded that President Ronald Reagan could collect ordinary retirement benefits from California, where he had served as the state governor, without violating the Domestic Emoluments Clause’s prohibition against the receipt of “emoluments” from a State. In its 1983 opinion, the Comptroller determined that President Reagan’s pension from California “cannot be construed as being in any manner received in consequence of his possession of the Presidency.” Coming to the same conclusion in its earlier 1981 opinion, the OLC also noted that “those [retirement] benefits are not emoluments in the constitutional sense” and their receipt does not “violate the spirit of the Constitution.” To support its reasoning, the OLC in turn relied on a 1964 opinion (not published) where it similarly decided the estate of President Kennedy was entitled to the naval retirement pay that had accrued during his presidency. Interpreting the Foreign Emoluments Clause “in the light of its basic purposes and principles,” it concluded he could receive payments to which he was entitled as a matter of law “prior to his taking office.”

The same principles support allowing officers to collect on certain kinds of money judgments, even from foreign powers. In a 1955 opinion, the Comptroller decided that an attorney in the Justice Department could receive a lump sum payment and lifetime annuity from the German government for his wrongful removal from the judgeship he held before he emigrated to the United States, as provided by German indemnification legislation. The Comptroller reasoned that those payments did not constitute emoluments from his former office, but rather “represent damages payable as a direct result of a moral and legal wrong.” Turning to its “spirit of the Constitution” analysis, the Comptroller had no trouble determining the payments were not problematic: they were “obviously . . . not intended to influence him as an officer of the United States,” were made under laws not specific to him, and were not payments voluntarily made by the German government but rather mandatory indemnification required by the Allied powers. In a 1954 opinion on the same matter, the OLC came to a slightly different place—the payments were not permitted to the extent they amounted to German retiree benefits—but like the Comptroller, it found that damages intended to redress injury were not prohibited emoluments.

Note what these opinions have in common: they generally allow the officer in question to collect payments or benefits that, patently, have nothing to do with and cannot possibly have been affected by his U.S. office. That 1983 Comptroller opinion put it best, and contains a line worth repeating: President Reagan was entitled to his pension because it “c[ouldn’t] be construed as being in any manner received in consequence of his possession of the Presidency.”

Applying this general rule, it makes sense that presidents are permitted to invest in U.S. Treasury bonds; and the rule also explains why wealth management solutions like blind trusts have long been accepted as workable resolutions to problems of conflict of interest. But it certainly doesn’t provide clearance for all profits derived from discretionary, “fair-market-value” transactions where the president is obviously and individually on one end of the sale.

 

The Justice Department Defines “Emoluments” Too Narrowly

A key move in the Justice Department’s brief is to rely heavily on a point of dubious significance: it asserts that “in every published OLC or Comptroller General opinion in which proposed conduct was determined to involve prohibited emoluments, the determination involved an employment relationship (or a relationship akin to an employment relationship) with the foreign government.”

If you think about it, there’s at least one common-sense explanation for the limited precedent: In general, the government employees on whose behalf these opinions were sought probably didn’t own hotel chains, lucrative licensing agreements, or hundreds of trademarks from which they derived significant foreign-based or domestic government-based income. Their thing of value, as civil servants, was their skill set, and thus the relevant question was whether they were constitutionally permitted to lend out that skill set to foreign governments or organizations with foreign state ties for payment.

A 1986 OLC opinion written by then-Deputy Assistant Attorney General Samuel Alito cuts against the assertion that whether the profit in question is derived from employment or personal services should be, by itself, dispositive. There, Alito determined that a NASA employee could indeed accept a fee for reviewing a PhD candidate's thesis for an Australian university. To get to this conclusion, Alito made two significant moves. First, uncertain as to whether a public university should be regarded a "foreign state," Alito instead decided to turn to the features of the proposed consultancy and consider whether they "raise[d] the kind of concern . . . that motivated" the prohibition’s enactment. This marks a functional, purpose-driven approach to the question of permissible benefits. Second, he suggested the following facts weigh against finding the fee a prohibited emolument: (1) the NASA scientist was not selected because of his position with the U.S. government, (2) the fee was an ordinary amount given the service to be rendered, (3) there was no reason for the officer to have "direct contact" with the university officials, and (4) the consultancy was "limited both in time and in substantive scope," and no "continuing relationship" was anticipated.

Note that the fact the scientist would be acting in an employment or personal services capacity did not automatically render the payment an emolument. This is the key takeaway from this opinion, and it is at odds with the Justice Department’s claim that employment is the make-or-break issue when it comes to determining whether a benefit or payment is an emolument. Second, consider the implications of the first and fourth points Alito highlighted. The scientist’s selection for the job and associated payment had nothing to do with his U.S. office, which is not a conclusion that can be readily drawn about the services purchased by foreign and state government employees newly flocking to Trump International Hotel. It may suggest the permissibility of accepting profits from truly routine transactions by truly routine hotel customers, including some government diplomats—but this possibility is undercut by Alito’s reference to the extremely limited nature of the permitted relationship and transaction in question.

The Justice Department is understandably leaning hard on the idea that an emolument must be received specifically as a function of office or employment. After all, without this very specific qualification, its argument for the permissibility of accepting profits from ordinary transactions falls apart. Two OLC opinions make this clear.

A 1982 OLC opinion determined that the Foreign Emoluments Clause barred an employee of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission from working on his leave time for an American firm contracted by a Mexican government agency to review the design of a government-owned nuclear power plant. And a 1993 OLC opinion concluded that law firm partners serving as non-government advisors on the Administrative Conference of the United States could not accept partnership earnings “where some portion of that share is derived from the partnership’s representation of a foreign government” without triggering the constitutional prohibition. In the 1993 opinion, the OLC actually dismissed the argument that the conference member was not subject to the foreign government's “control” as “not decisive.” Instead, the OLC concluded that the portion of partnership profits the conference member would receive "would be a function of the amount paid to the firm by the foreign government," such that "the partnership would in effect be a conduit for that government." Acceptance of that portion of income was therefore a prohibited emolument (OLC reconsidered this opinion in 2010, but only with respect to whether the members held an “Office of . . . Trust” for purposes of the Foreign Emoluments Clause).

In these opinions, the OLC simply did not care that there was nothing out of the ordinary about the payments in these cases from a transactional or fair-market perspective. This runs contrary to the crux of the Justice Department’s argument for the innocuousness of Trump’s business-related foreign and domestic government income.

The textual kicker in all this is that even accepting the Justice Department’s insistence that “emolument” is best read to mean “profit arising from an office or employ” (Barclay’s A Complete and Universal English Dictionary on a New Plan (1774)), it doesn’t follow that all ordinary business transactions are okay: What if those transactions are, in number or value, enhanced by the prestige of the president’s office? Couldn’t the profit thereby derived then constitute “profit arising from an office or employ”? [Update, 5:17 pm: This is a line of argument that Marty Lederman compellingly and more thoroughly details here.]

It is to prevent this reading that the Justice Department argues that prohibited benefits must arise not just from the office but from the provision of services pursuant to that office. But this argument relies on a stunted conception of the power that an "Office of Profit or Trust" confers. To lift an example wholesale from Ben Wittes: If Trump owned a nondescript hotdog truck outside the White House that charged the same price for hotdogs as any other foodtruck and sold them to some incidental foreign customers, that would not be problematic under this definition of emoluments. If the truck were Trump-branded and either charged inflated prices or enjoyed inflated sales because Trump is president, and Saudi potentates lined up to put cash in his register, that would seem to constitute impermissible “profit arising from an office,” as a textual matter and in view of the historic Comptroller and OLC perspective.

At base, this is what plaintiffs are claiming—that the profits Trump is enjoying “aris[es] from” his office—so “aris[e] from” may be a definitional phrase the Justice Department is interpreting too narrowly. Trump’s status as the most powerful man in the world affects his business transactions, which are self-branded to boot. Not only is he enjoying booming business at his exclusive properties, in part thanks to foreign guests reportedly seeking to get in the president’s good graces, but he has also won Chinese trademark protection that, according to plaintiffs, he would not have received had he not become president.

Finally, on a practical note, notice the perverse upshot of the Justice Department’s fixation on employment and personal services as the place where the river divides. This assertion that payment for goods and business-related services is permissible but payment for employment and “personal services” is not means that a president can’t profit off his brain or body when it comes to cash from foreign sources or U.S. government entities, but can, without limitation, profit off the brains and bodies of those he can afford to employ in his private capacity. It’s what you might call a constitutional free pass for super-rich presidents.

The Comptroller and OLC opinions do not support such a result. They repudiate it.

***

Ultimately, the Justice Department’s view of emoluments marks a departure from the public Comptroller and OLC opinions in at least two critical respects. First, the new position is a clear abrogation of the practical “spirit of the Constitution” analysis on which the Comptroller and OLC have consistently relied to ensure a stringent rather than forgiving interpretation of what constitutes an impermissible benefit or undue influence (see, e.g., 1955 Comptroller Opinion, 1981 OLC Opinion, 1983 Comptroller Opinion; see also OLC 1962, noting “the sweeping nature of the constitutional prohibition”; OLC 1980, citing 1902 Attorney General Opinion stating the Foreign Emoluments Clause is “directed against every kind of influence by foreign governments upon officers of the United States” and the “prohibition should be given the broadest possible scope and application”). Second, the Justice Department’s quite specific argument that the president can profit from employing people to do business with foreign countries and government entities in the United States amounts to a strange carve-out, one that allows extremely wealthy officers with people in their employ to cash out as they wish on the advantages that the prestige of their office confers, without any consideration whatsoever of the sources of that cash. This interpretation is flatly at odds with executive branch tradition: I have yet to see a single opinion that has permitted an officer to collect profits even arguably enhanced by the power of his office, much less categorically benefit from discretionary, price-indeterminant transactions that foreign governments and U.S. government entities may enter into at will.

Note the issues I did not address here. What is not (yet) a point of debate in these particular lawsuits is whether these constitutional provisions apply to the president at all. The Domestic Emoluments Clause applies to the president by its express terms, and in its recent motion, the Justice Department doesn’t dispute CREW's claim, or the OLC’s preexisting determination, that the more obliquely phrased Foreign Emoluments Clause applies to the president as well (and notwithstanding the occasional argument to the contrary).

In addition, as the suits proceed in federal court, we can expect much of the legal discussion to focus on jurisdictional hurdles. There’s a strong argument that the courts don’t have a role to play, and that presidential corruption rising to the level of an emoluments violation is a political question whose resolution properly lies with Congress. Though the congressional suit spearheaded by Senator Richard Blumenthal and Representative John Conyers, Jr. alleges that Trump has failed to come to Congress for requisite permission in accepting foreign emoluments, Congress’s best recourse be impeachment proceedings. (Or if it so chose, Congress could avail itself of a lot of options short of impeachment, but in the words of Charles Black, Jr., circa 1974, “what an enormous if.” Recall that the House of Representatives has the power to demand Trump’s tax returns but has not exercised it.)

But as for the substantive question of whether the Comptroller and OLC of yore would have signed off on the Justice Department’s blessing of all monies flowing in by way of business transactions, the answer is “no.”


          Zumba Before And After Picutures   
Democratic Transition in Tunisia

"Tunisia is between radical and authoritarian democracy"
EROS BY SANA (January 31, 2011)

Source: http://www.bastamag .net/article1401.html

How to build the democratic transition in Tunisia? Vincent Geisser, a researcher at the Institute for Research and Studies on the Arab and Muslim world, analyzes the role played by different actors in Tunisia - political opponents, former regime of Ben Ali, "Islamist" party, army, police - and foreign powers. It describes possible scenarios of democratic consolidation in the coming weeks. Maintenance.

Basta! : Where is the revolution in Tunisia? What are the strategies of the opposing forces to build the "transition Democratic?

Vincent Geisser [1]: The "democrats" Tunisians who supported and accompanied the revolution are deeply divided over the future of the protest movement. There are those who feel the need to strengthen the nascent democracy by putting a definitive end to the protest process. They are supporters of a certain security standards, based on a historic compromise between the "doves" of the former regime, opponents and independent representatives UGTT single union (the General Union of Tunisian Workers). They want to consolidate the democratic transition, including by dealing with the army and the party more "healthy" of the security apparatus, as well as some former bosses of the regime known for their "openness." This is the position advocated by Najib Chebbi (Democratic Progressive Party), former opponent in Ben Ali, currently Minister of the transitional government.

Others want to eradicate all traces of the old regime and the party-state, and reject any compromise. This is where supporters of Marzouki (Congress for the Republic) and members of the Communist Party of Tunisian Workers (POCT). And of course leaders movement of "unemployed graduates" of the interior. They wish to push through the "democratic revolution" to give birth to a new political, economic and social development. Both camps have no real difference in political culture, they are animated by democratic ideals. What separates them fundamentally, the strategy of rupture and especially the "democracy agenda".

What remains of the old regime?


There is some disappointment today protesting actors, quite understandable - I think particularly young people "unemployed graduates". But there is no objective risk of returning to the old regime or system restore mafia. A break has occurred. The dictator is gone. This is a crucial element when it is known that while Tunisia was around him, with extreme personalization of power. mafia clans and profiteers - families Ben Ali, Trabelsi and others - have fled. Darkest segments of the security apparatus were largely dismantled.

If we can legitimately understand the disappointment of " radical democrats, "as Marzouki, Hammami, Nasraoui, and unemployed graduates who feel that their revolution was stolen, the former regime is ousted. We are in a transition phase. But this transition can lead to a regime that bastard would an independent candidate access to presidential power, with new elements but also with elements of the old regime. This will lead to reinforce a kind of "authoritarian democracy" or "democratic authoritarianism".

What role did the Tunisian army played in the revolution and what role can it play in the future?

The army has been in recent weeks a fundamental role, not supporting the plan of repression of Ben Ali. She clearly rejected the extreme policies of the supreme leader, and instead played a protective role players protesters. The reason? The army is not connected with the mafia and clan interests of power. Unlike Egypt, Syria or even Algeria, Tunisia army has no direct interest in industry or in the management of oil revenues. It is an army of about 35,000 men, composed of employees, officials, technicians and engineers.

should not be provided to paint a romantic portrait. The Tunisian army played a repressive role in 1978 to channel the social movements, and in 1981 and 1984 to quell the "bread riots". This time, she refused the role because the sources of legitimacy of the regime were exhausted. Ben Ali was discredited, corruption was widespread. Faced with this stalemate, the military has understood that the only solution was to replace the dictator.

This reaction - some would say "Republican" - is primarily dictated by pragmatic: generals and senior officers are convinced that a crackdown could lead to chaos and their own demise. As the "political fluidity" present, the Tunisian army can play a more important role in the constitutional process and the "pacification" social, oscillating between registry and registry security mediation with the forces of the country.

"security apparatus" Tunisia is it still present and operational?

France has 60 million inhabitants, Tunisia 9 million. Yet both countries have almost the same number of police officers: 135.000. is huge! Tunisia is one of the countries with the most police per capita. The security apparatus, through the Ministry of Interior is fully engaged in repression. Part of the police fired into the crowd with live ammunition. It is the security apparatus of Ben Ali who is responsible for nearly 70 deaths officially deplored and thousands injured. But the whole apparatus police is not corrupt: the "rotten" mafia of the security apparatus was largely dismantled.

There is more to fear from areas of the Department of the Interior directly to the clans and Ben Ali Trabelsi. They are currently in hiding. I do not believe in a return of "old demons" even if the future Tunisian democracy can deal with safety trends similar to those we see now in France with Nicolas Sarkozy. In this sense there is a danger of creating in Tunisia in the coming months an "authoritarian democracy".

What role can the "Islamists" in the democratic process?


The "Islamists" Tunisians have long been integrated into "democratic forums." They are "fundamentalists embedded" in the democratic debate in exile. They participated in Paris, London, Marseille numerous opposition rallies, alongside the left, communist, socialist, even anti-Islamic. Many leaders of the left Tunisian 'secular' leaders have frequently met with "Islamists". In many ways the 'fundamentalists' are already integrated into the political game of Tunisia.

For the party Ennahdha (Renaissance) Rached Ghannouchi, the model is not radical Islam or Islamism Salafi Saudi-style, but the AKP, which currently leads Turkey. This means accepting the parliamentary game and advocating economic liberalism tinged social, and especially a certain pragmatism with other Democrats. There is a huge myth about "Islamists" of Tunisia. The party Ennahdha is more of a liberal conservative party, which is not at all in a process of creating an Islamic state or Islamic theocracy. The Islamists classic "Tunisians are now looking to Ankara, they did nothing" green fascists. " How

react today Western countries and Arab neighbors?


The United States has played a leading role in the departure of Ben Ali.
support President Barack Obama to the social movement, even if he was shy, was much sharper than that of France. Beyond this symbolic support, it would seem that the Obama administration has given its support to the Tunisian army and "doves" of the regime (Mohamed Ghannouchi, Prime Minister and Kamel Morjane, the Minister of Foreign Affairs) to sacrifice Ben Ali. It is clear that the United States supported the transition scenario.

Regarding the Arab countries, we can really worry that some plans make every effort to derail the democratic process in Tunisia. Saudi Arabia, Libya, Algeria has no interest in a democracy can arise in the Arab world. A "loose coalition" of Arab dictators could be to sabotage or disrupt the democratic process in Tunisia.

Support from U.S., EU and France to Tunisian Democrats is essential. Either you play the card of democracy in the Arab world or, rather, play an ambiguous role and promotes the perverse game of Saudi Wahhabis, the megalomaniac dictatorship of the regime of Gaddafi and Algerian generals. In this case, we should not complain about the progress of the Salafist jihadist ideology!

How Does France have made such errors of analysis on the situation of Tunisia?

The official position of France was not based on an error analysis, but on a political logic of total and blind support for Ben Ali regime. Interpret the statements of Michele Alliot-Marie as a political mistake is wrong. This is not a political mistake, this is a failing policy. France has always supported authoritarian regimes . She believes that one does diplomacy in relations between States and civil societies are not important.

The United States have both supported Ben Ali and developed concrete relations with unions and all the dissidents of the regime. In contrast, France has always prohibited its diplomacy to have any contact with everything that could affect the quality of its relations with Ben Ali. This blindness is the logic of French policy towards the Arab world: "We support dictators against the risks of destabilization! It seems that France has included a number of mistakes. Hopefully it reorients its policy towards Tunisia openly supporting the democratic process.

What are the possible scenarios in the weeks and months ahead?

Tunisia has a choice between two options. Either authoritarian democratic consolidation that would lead the country until elections, with a broad coalition around an opponent as independent Nejib Chebbi (PDP), with some elements of former regime elements and the trade union left. In this case, the elections will certainly be "democratic" (at least in appearance), but the scenario is first "programmed" the government candidate will have particular ways superior to those of its opponents. This scenario of "managed democracy" is intended to protect Western interests and pursue the integration of Tunisia in the "world economy" in the footsteps of the Bank World Bank and the IMF. A scenario where the candidate would be a sort of "Tunisian Ouattara.

Another assumption: the pressure of the street continues or increases and pushes the government to resign or to go much further, with the dissolution of the party of Ben Ali (RCD), the establishment of a genuine process with the constitutional election of a constituent assembly. Total semi-democracy or democracy? Radical break with the old regime or consolidation autoritaro-democratic? This is how I would put the political future of Tunisia. A future which, in all cases, will be without Ben Ali.

Interview by Eros Sana



Notes [1] Vincent Geisser is a sociologist and researcher at the CNRS and the Institute for Research and Studies on the Arab and Muslim world (IREMAM). He is author, with Marzouki, dictators on borrowed time. A democratic path in the Arab world, editions of L'Atelier, 2009.

          Fight Over Political Map Centers on Race   
The Bush administration Justice Department is using its authority under the Voting Rights Act to block a redistricting plan for Congressional seats in Mississippi that was drawn by a black state judge and is supported by blacks and Democrats here....
          On Conference Call, Conservative Leaders Demand Full Repeal of Obamacare   
(CNSNews.com) – During a conference call on Friday, conservative leaders from organizations including the Tea Party Patriots, Club for Growth, and ForAmerica, as well as former U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), demanded that Republicans in Congress completely repeal the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare. “It is important to remember that our current situationContinue reading
          By-Elections: Safe seats and a political party to watch   
The African National Congress (ANC) had to defend three safe seats on Wednesday, 28 June and will be more than satisfied with the results in two of the wards, and take some notice of the result in one ward. By WAYNE SUSSMAN.
          How your lawmaker voted   

Here’s how area members of Congress voted on major issues in the week ending June 30.
          Congressional shooter’s wife tormented by husband’s attack   

BELLEVILLE, Ill. (AP) — The widow of a man who wounded a congressman and four others in a shooting at a Republican congressional baseball practice said she is tormented by thoughts that she could have done more to help her increasingly angry husband. Suzanne Hodgkinson said her husband James was once a fun-loving man who […]
          Timor-Leste precisa de um Plano Nacional de Formação de Quadros | M. Azancot de Meneses   


Próximo governo de Timor-Leste terá que conceber um Plano Nacional de Formação de Quadros

No dia 22 de Julho realizar-se-ão as próximas eleições legislativas em Timor-Leste e será formado o VII Governo Constitucional. Independentemente do governo que vier a ser formado, o país tem um Plano Estratégico de Desenvolvimento projectado para 2030 que não poderá deixado de ser tomado em consideração pelo novo executivo.

O Jornal Tornado, sobre esta problemática, decidiu entrevistar o Dr. Azancot de Menezes, especialista em educação e formação, considerado um dos quadros superiores mais conceituados de Timor-Leste.
Entrevista

Jornal Tornado: Dr. Azancot de Menezes, bom dia, começamos por agradecer a sua disponibilidade em conceder esta entrevista que nos parece fundamental para quem deseja compreender melhor a situação em Timor-Leste. Num momento em que se aproxima a formação de um novo governo, gostaríamos de saber a sua opinião relativamente à implementação e cumprimento do Plano Estratégico de Desenvolvimento de Timor-Leste.

Azancot de Menezes: O Plano Estratégico de Desenvolvimento de Timor-Leste (2011 – 2030) apresenta um sumário de estratégias, acções e metas para 2020, destacando que o sistema de educação e de formação profissional deverá formar os recursos humanos qualificados que Timor-Leste necessita para continuar a construção da Nação.

O documento estratégico refere, também, que em 2030 o povo de Timor-Leste será instruído e bem formado, com longa esperança de vida e produtiva, e terá acesso a uma educação de qualidade que lhe permitirá participar no desenvolvimento económico, social e político da nossa Nação.

Segundo o plano governamental, haverá um serviço de saúde abrangente e de grande qualidade, acessível a todos os timorenses, e terá sido reduzida a pobreza porque haverá elevados níveis de rendimento e melhorado a produtividade nacional, com recursos naturais e o meio ambiente geridos de forma sustentável para benefício de todos, havendo sectores de indústria criativas que contribuirão para a nossa economia e o nosso sentido de identidade nacional.

O documento, tal como o apresenta, é ambicioso e todos sabemos que da teoria à prática há um longo caminho a percorrer, principalmente devido ao facto de Timor-Leste estar com carência de quadros. Concorda comigo? 

Totalmente! O nosso país enfrenta esse problema, de forma conjuntural e estrutural. Não temos quadros médios e superiores em número suficiente e qualificados! Portanto, a educação e a aposta na qualificação dos recursos humanos são imperativos para se dar cumprimento ao Plano Estratégico de Desenvolvimento de Timor-Leste.

Quadros médios e superiores

Em Maio de 2017 realizou-se, em Díli, o 3º Congresso Nacional de Educação. Sabemos que estiveram presentes especialistas e houve o envolvimento do governo…

Este encontro, sem dúvida, foi uma excelente iniciativa do Ministério da Educação, contudo, ao falarmos em educação e formação, na prática, continuamos sem encontrar respostas relativamente ao perfil dos professores que desejamos para Timor-Leste, informações que são imprescindíveis para a mudança qualitativa da educação e do futuro do nosso país.

Quais são os principais constrangimentos em relação à formação de professores e de quadros técnicos em geral?

Há um conjunto de questões fundamentais que devem merecer análise cuidada e necessitam de ser discutidas pelos especialistas e pelos decisores que definem as políticas do país.

No domínio da educação, por exemplo, não se sabe em rigor qual é o ponto de situação actual em relação à formação inicial e contínua de professores. Até ao momento não foi ainda realizada uma avaliação credível sobre a formação de professores em Timor-Leste.

Quais são os custos, os recursos humanos, os materiais e o equipamento necessários para darmos cumprimento a uma política educativa de qualidade defendida no Plano Estratégico de Desenvolvimento? Colocar este tipo de perguntas e encontrar respostas é um desafio crucial para a resolução de muitos constrangimentos inerentes à formação e educação.

Prioridade após as eleições?

Após a realização das próximas eleições legislativas será formado o VII Governo Constitucional. Na sua opinião, o que é que o governo deveria realizar como prioritário no domínio da formação de quadros no âmbito do plano Estratégico de Desenvolvimento de Timor-Leste?

O novo executivo nacional, seja ele qual for, não poderá deixar de assumir como relevante e altamente estratégico introduzir na agenda política nacional a importância da obrigatoriedade que se impõe em torno da concepção de um Plano Nacional de Formação de Quadros (2018-2028).

O país tem doze instituições de Ensino Superior, públicas e privadas. Estima-se que existam 1222 docentes com o grau de licenciado, 750 com o grau de mestre e 50 com o grau de doutor.

Mas, pergunto, quais são de facto as necessidades de formação graduada e pós-graduada? Há algum estudo realizado sobre essa matéria e que oriente as universidades e escolas superiores?

Quais são as prioridades e programas de acção para a formação de quadros médios e superiores, para a administração pública e outros sectores? Quais são os resultados esperados e a estimativa de custos para os programas de formação de quadros?

Há algum documento orientador sobre a política de formação profissional na administração pública? Existe um balanço de necessidades de formação da oferta educativa interna nos domínios estratégicos de formação média e superior?

Plano Estratégico de Desenvolvimento de Timor-Leste (2011 – 2030)

Timor-Leste precisa de um documento orientador para a formação de quadros que tenha em consideração as necessidades de formação? É isso que defende?

Com certeza! Para respondermos de forma eficaz a questões desta natureza é imprescindível que Timor-Leste conceba um documento orientador da capacidade em termos técnicos e científicos, em harmonia com o Plano Estratégico de Desenvolvimento de Timor-Leste (2011 – 2030), e que de forma sustentável consubstancie um plano de implementação especificando aspectos de operacionalização, acções, cronogramas e investimentos.

O próximo Governo de Timor-Leste, caso esteja mesmo interessado no desenvolvimento social e económico do país, como espelha o Plano Estratégico de Desenvolvimento de Timor-Leste (2011 – 2030), terá que assumir o compromisso
de garantir a estratégia nacional de formação de quadros mediante um Plano Nacional de Formação de Quadros e que este seja um documento estratégico, com rigor científico, pelo seu horizonte de acção, e com projecções sobre as necessidades de formação até, digamos, 2028.

Dr. Azancot de Menezes agradecemos muito o seu contributo em ajudar-nos a compreender melhor a situação de Timor-Leste. Desejamos os melhores sucessos para o próximo governo e para os timorenses.

Eu é que agradeço! A discussão e a análise com pensamento crítico é um dos défices do nosso país, portanto, será sempre um prazer e obrigação minha discutir e problematizar em torno de questões tão importantes e estratégicas para o nosso desenvolvimento.


Publicado por TIMOR AGORA

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          Protests in India Against 'Cow-Protecting' Vigilantes Succeed in Breaking Prime Minister's Silence   
Do some Indian lives matter more than others? The Modi government seems to think so.

On June 29, Indian prime minister Narendra Modi gave a long-awaited (though mild) admonishment of violent “cow protection” vigilantes who have been let loose in the streets of India, on its trains, buses and village and city public spaces, lynching Indians (almost always Muslims or Dalits, members of the lowest caste). Modi, who is normally outspoken, has previously been mum on the spate of killings, conveying an overall climate of immunity to murderous mobs. What appears to have broken this studied silence are the spontaneous protests that finally erupted all over India and coalesced on July 28 when citizens, including celebrities, in 12 cities took over public squares and promenades after a spontaneous call by Delhi-based filmmaker Saba Dewan in a Facebook post.

Though they took some time in coming, the protests appear to have had their desired effect, temporarily at least. Not only has Modi spoken, but the normally distanced Indian commercial television channels have given space to this democratic expression of outrage.

The immediate provocation was the lynching of a Muslim teenager named Junaid Khan on a train, shortly after it departed from Delhi. The men who stabbed Junaid also left his brothers seriously injured. The incident occurred on June 23, the last Friday of the holy month of Ramzan (Ramadan), when the auspicious Alvida Namaaz(prayers) are read and which has a special significance for the devout.

At SabrangIndia, we reported the train incident following an unusually prompt press release from the Communist Party of India, whose politbureau members had visited the site of the incident. We commented in our report that India would soon need its very own “Lynch Calendar.” What we could not report until three days later was that on the same Friday, some 1,088 kilometers away in Chatra Jharkhand, 24-year-old Mohammad Salman was shot and killed in cold blood by men in uniform who simply entered his home, shoved him outside and ordered their subordinates to commit the crime.

In the same eastern Indian state of Jharkhand, there have been a spate of horrific killings, including lynchings, that still haunt public memory—particularly the March 2016 hangings of dairy farmers Mazloom Ansari and 12-year-old Imteyaz Khan in a deserted public village. What has faded away from the current outrage and even the media commentary is the fact that the National Commission for Minorities (a statutory body set up specifically to protect the rights of minorities) had been compelled to send a team to investigate.

The report of the Commission severely indicted the Jharkhand police and the political class for failing to “rein in the cow protection groups who are taking law into their own hands.” The NCM also recorded in its report that “Deep and widespread communalisation of sections of the Jharkhand police force, and slogans like ‘go to Pakistan’ were frequently used by the local police against the Muslims, pointing toward a larger communalisation of the state police.” That report was from May 2016. Today the NCM stands discredited with political appointments by the Modi government who have put into position representatives who have no background in terms of autonomy and rights and are simply toeing a majoritarian government’s line.

Noted activist Shabnam Hashmi returned her 2008 NCM Award on Tuesday, making a strong public statement. She said in her open letter:

“I am returning it [the award] in the memory of the innumerable innocent victims lynched by marauding mobs. Mob Lynching of Muslims and Islamophobia have taken over India. Even before the community can mourn its dead, the next incident takes place. There is an atmosphere of fear and terror. Under the present Government, the marginalization of minority groups has become the norm.

“The design of turning India into a Hindu Rashtra [nation], which began decades ago with calling Muslims dirty, having too many children and being illiterate moved on to excluding them from residential spaces, targeting them as terrorists, has now reached its pinnacle where all public spaces and all means of livelihood are becoming unsafe for the Muslim community.

“Similar to Hitler’s Germany, Muslims are being projected as the biggest enemy of the state and the people of the country. There is legitimization of the communal ideology by the State and the media, [which] has led to acceptance of prejudices and stereotyping without questioning them in popular consciousness, deep infiltration of hate in the minds and hearts of ordinary people and apathy on the part of a large section of the society especially ‘educated’ middle classes.”

The list of assaults is gruesome: The Muslim Maulvi (cleric) who was beaten in April 2017, on a day supposedly important for devout Hindus (Ram Navmi, the birthdate of Lord Ram), in Jharkhand; the beating death of cattle farmer Pehlu Khan from Mewat while he was on agrarian business in Alwar Rajasthan in April 2017; or the lynch mob murder of political activist Zafar Hussain of the Communist Party of India, also in Rajasthan. Each of these murders is happening in the name of faith by the mob proponents of the Hindu nation, who believe the cow to be more precious than human life. The militarized march to a Hindu nation is laden with such dutiful tasks as cleansing the nation of the “dirty,” be it Dalits, Christians, Muslims or Communists.

Countries around the world need to better understand this: If the protests on June 28 drew Indians out of a numb fear that appeared to have gripped even opponents to this ideal, they need to continue and intensify. At the first instance of such an episode in September 2015, a similar dam of protest had broken. Writers led by the eminent Nayantara Sahgal returned their national awards in a powerful protest that embarassed the Modi government and put it on the defensive. Dozens of writers in over a dozen Indian languages, all winners of awards and powerful cultural commentators in their own right, followed by filmmakers, joined in this powerful symbolic protest. But life went on, and the killings continued. It would be tedious to list all the dead, and the circumstances in which they were lynched—most for rumors or frenzied hysteria about transporting cows or bullocks or eating beef, some for marrying a Hindu.

What is crucial to emphasize is the chain of command of culpability in this climate of impunity and lynchings. They began after the Modi government came to power and were aided and abetted by those in power within the government who spewed venom against Indian Muslims and Christians even while holding senior constitutional posts. They were further emboldened when governments run by the same party Modi represents, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), passed unconstitutional “beef laws” to curtail the slaughter, consumption and transportation of beef. They got greater pats on the back when their parent organization, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), spoke of the Holy Cow and its protection. The nail in the coffin was the recently introduced ban on the sale of cattle passed by the Modi government.

Indian newspapers have extensively reported recently, as they also did a year ago, that despite Modi’s apparent regrets about the lynchings, in his previous position as Gujarat chief minister, he was a firm proponent not just of cow protection, but against beef exports. The Indian Express recalls Modi statements of 2013, 2012 and 2014, when he attacked the previous Congress-led government for allowing the export of beef. That politicians indulge in the proverbial doublespeak, before and after a campaign, is only part of the problem. The other is more substantive.

As I have argued:

“For years now, since distributions of trishulsthrough trishul dikshaprogrammes, since violent arms trainings by the RSS and Bajrang Dal, since the terror unleashed by the Mobs on the Street—ever available at the blow of the metamorphical whistle—be it the Mob that lynched Christians (there were over 75 attacks between 1999 and 2002 documented by the All India Christian Union and published by Communalism Combat)or the Mob that attacked Naroda Patiya or Gulberg Society or Odh or Sardarpura villages (Gujarat 2002) or the Mob terror unleashed in Muzaffarnagar, Shamli, Baghpat and Meerut (September 2013)—we have been arguing, with and to the political class and law enforcement agencies: treat Mob terror and Bomb Terror on Par. Do not look at these equally debilitating and vicious kinds of violence that impact innocent lives, differently.”

When there is the terror of the mob attacking a neighborhood, or lynching people, there is a section of the populace, including law enforcement, that participates through its silence, simply looking on. It is this majority participation, through the silence of complicity, that ensures selective outrage and token utterances from the powerful. No wonder then that the Modis, and the Venkaiah Naidus and even law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad only speak selectively and occasionally. Do some Indian lives matter more than others?

Unfortunately it seems that they do. The killers of Mohammad Ayub in Gujarat, lynched on the eve of Modi’s visit to his home state, were given bail by the higher courts; the killers of Mazloom Ansari and Imiteyaz in Latehar also got out on bail six months ago. On the other hand, those accused, even falsely, of acts of bomb terror do not get bail, often until the final acquittal. They remain incarcerated. This imbalance, even prejudice or bias—privileging mob terror over bomb terror—must stop. The Indian establishment must look at them as two sides of the same coin, or else we are perpetrating an injustice of our own.

That the numbness has finally broken is a good beginning, even if it comes somewhat late. It needs to go further, however, to assert, again and again, in public discourse, that mob terror is as vicious as bomb terror, and to ensure that every police station, every district collector, every railway policeman functions as the Indian Constitution requires him to, with equality before the law and non-discrimination as his credo.

To end with hope, it’s worth reproducing this Facebook post from a mother, which went viral on Thursday. With the picture of an Indian woman holding the holy book of India, its Constitution, she writes:

NOT IN MY NAME

Junaid was lynched by a mob of cruel human beings. I don’t care what religion those lynchers belonged to. Nor do I care what religion Junaid belonged to. I only care about one thing. A group of mean, cruel human beings killed a teenager and assaulted three other young men brutally!
Junaid was 16.
My elder son will turn 16 next year.
My heart breaks for Junaid’s mother.
Not only did a group of cruel human beings kill Junaid, another group of cruel human beings egged them on. Junaid was also killed by those cruel people who witnessed the insanity & chose to remain silent.
There are some cruel people who justify this lynching.
Yes! Hate allows for all sorts of justification.
There has been a long list of these lynchings. It has become so common that no one talks about it. Nobody asks questions about what happened to the perpetrators. Whether they were caught & given the strictest punishment or whether they were released to unleash more violence!
I cannot fathom how anyone can kill unarmed, innocent human beings!
I cannot fathom how people can justify this horrific violence!
Instead of taking law into their own hands why are police complaints not made?
Is it because the lynch mob knows that there is no reason behind what they have done?
All they want to do is to kill in the name of hate.
Whichever religion, ideology, language, ethnicity you belong to, lynching done in any name cannot be condoned!
We’ve suffered so many riots, terrorist attacks, pogroms, lynchings but we haven’t learnt anything.
The bottom line is that innocent human beings become the target of that hate. They are usually poor. They are usually those who are incapable of fighting back. It is really too, too disheartening.
Innocence dies when hate rules!
I cannot be a part of those who encourage hate.
I was with the Ekta Manch marching from Parel to Azad Maidan singing “Hum hongey kaamyaab….” to promote brotherhood between fellow citizens of all faiths in 1993 after the horrendous riots followed by the heinous bomb blasts in Mumbai.
I marched to the Gateway of India to protest the utter failure & crass mishandling of 26/11 by the then Congress Govt in the State and the Centre in 2008.
I supported the Anna Hazare anti corruption movement when he waged the civil battle against the UPA 2 Govt at the Centre.
I was vocal about women’s safety after the horrendous rape & murder of Jyoti Singh as well as Pallavi Purkayastha as well as the sickening hacking of Swathi.
Today I stand firmly against the lynch mentality that has an active political patronage in our country.
I do not belong to any political party. I am a citizen of one of the finest democracies in the World. That is why it is so important for all of us to respect & protect the tenets of our Constitution.
I, as a proud citizen of India, do not conform to the views of anyone who actively or passively supports this lynching.
My allegiance lies with the Constitution of India.
If the Govt or any other body does anything to undermine the basic tenets of democracy in our country, I will vocally oppose it.
I so wanted to be a part of the peaceful civil protest at Carter Road today but I can’t. But I will not be a part of this hate!
I do not want my children to inherit this hate.
I will not have the blood of innocents on my hands.

NOT IN MY NAME!

 

 

 

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1937 - U.S. aviator Amelia Earhart and navigator Frederick Noonan were reported lost over the Pacific Ocean while attempting to make the first equatorial round-the-world flight. They were never heard from again.

1961 - Author Ernest Hemingway, 61, shot himself at his home in Ketchum, Idaho.

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1993 - South African President F.W de Klerk and African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela announced that South Africa's first election open to all races would be April 27, 1994.

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1997 – James Stewart died.

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For all those people who think that Trump's tweets are brilliant at reaching the public and throwing his opponents off balance or whatever other bit of analysis used to show that somehow he's playing three-dimensional chess while the rest of the world can't even set up the checker board, is this really a set of tweets that makes you proud that he's your president?




These morning tweets follow other tweets touting ones supporting policy actions by his administration and the GOP. Does he think anyone will pay attention to any of that when he's tweeting comments on a morning show's appearance and the show's ratings? It's as if he's taken a master a class on self-sabotage.

Isn't he supposed to be in the middle of trying to help a GOP repeal of Obamacare?

Remember when conservatives ridiculed Obama interview talking to GloZell, the woman who is mainly known for eating cereal while sitting in a bathub of milk or going on Between Two Ferns? Well, was any of that less respectful of the office of the presidency than such tweets? I have come to regard Trump's tweets as a verbal expression of his id. That is the level he operates at and we get a glimpse at what impulses control him through Twitter. All his advisers urging him to focus on policy and presenting an image of gravitas are the ego trying to mediate between those impulses and reality. They might win out for hours, even days sometimes, but the id is there ready to take over.

There used to be a time when Republicans claimed that character mattered in the presidency. Today...not so much.

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In a 7-2 decision, the court agreed a British Columbia judge had the power to issue an injunction forcing Google to scrub search results about pirated products not just in Canada, but everywhere else in the world too.

Those siding with Google, including civil liberties groups, had warned that allowing the injunction would harm free speech, setting a precedent to let any judge anywhere order a global ban on what appears on search engines. The Canadian Supreme Court, however, downplayed this objection and called Google's fears "theoretical."
Charles C. W. Cooke comments,
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Now, this is not to say that censorship is impossible. It’s not. If a government wishes to block access to a particular site within the physical borders over which it has jurisdiction, it can do so. Likewise, websites and services that contradict local law can be legally removed, and, if it so wishes, a government can demand that any organization operating on a network within its borders must conform to its rules. What it can’t do, however, is export those judgments abroad.

Suppose that I, a permanent resident of the United States, were to host a website that contained speech that was banned in, say, Germany. Certainly, the German authorities could prevent Germans from seeing my site. And, if anyone chose to mirror my site on server inside Germany, they could shut that person down quite quickly. But they couldn’t have me shut down in America, and they couldn’t prevent people in other countries from accessing my site over the web. My server would be in America, connected to a network in America, subject to the law in America, and guaranteed the protections to which Americans are entitled. The German government, annoyed as it might be, would have to accept that....

And that, ultimately, is why the Canadian Court’s decision is so hilarious. I understand why people are worried about the idea — if taken seriously, it would give any less-free-than-America country an effective veto over the First Amendment. But they shouldn’t fret too much: The judges can say what they like, but their edict is simply unenforceable. If it wishes to do so, the government of Canada can prevail upon Google to abide by its rules within Canada. In addition, it can regulate the web in Canada to prevent access to sites it dislike. But it can’t force Google in America or France or Australia or Singapore to do a single goddamned thing. And thank goodness for that, eh?
I hope that he is correct, but we've seen the EU slapping a $2.7 billion fine on Google because the EU thinks it violates antitrust for Google to promote Google Shopping sites over other shopping sites. I'm not sure what there is about a FREE service like Google that the Europeans don't understand. Are European citizens actually hurt by Google giving them a free shopping search engine and then putting their items at the top? Would they prefer to pay for their search engines? Please, just keep your hands off Google. As more countries try and figure out ways to make money off of fining Google, they should consider the unintended consequences.
“The EU has effectively decided that some companies have become too big to innovate,” Robert Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a Washington-based think tank, said in a statement following the Google Shopping decision. “The EU’s actions have created a cloud of uncertainty that will make large tech companies overly cautious about making changes to the user experience and service offerings that would benefit consumers.”

Jonathan Tobin applies Occam's Razor
to explain why Obama didn't do more about Russia's attempts to interfere in our election last year.
But the real problem here is not so much Barack Obama’s failure to act as the most plausible reason for his inaction: Vladimir Putin’s capers didn’t impact the election results.
Despite the efforts by Democrats to blame Russia for Hillary Clinton's loss and their frustration that Obama didn't do more about it, there really is no evidence that the WikiLeaks revelations from John Podesta's emails had any effect on the course of the election.
But there’s a simpler, even more plausible explanation for Obama’s inaction: The president saw that the hacking was having almost no impact on the course of the campaign and thus wasn’t going to mess with the results. Far from the crime of the century, it was, at worst, a minor annoyance to Clinton that Obama obviously felt didn’t warrant a major dustup with Putin.

It’s true that Russia’s actions were outrageous and deserved a strong US response, both then and now. It can also be argued that the public had a right to know about it. But it was only after Clinton lost and she and her supporters began searching for excuses that Russia’s actions were considered an important factor in the outcome.

While Putin was way out of line, the impact of the WikiLeaks document dumps on Clinton’s candidacy was marginal at best.

The contents of the Democratic National Committee e-mails were embarrassing to Podesta and then-DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who wound up losing her job after proof of DNC collusion with Clinton against Bernie Sanders was produced. But there was almost nothing in those documents that related directly to Clinton, let alone being enough to influence voters.

Every WikiLeaks story was also almost immediately overshadowed by other, more damaging gaffes or revelations about Trump, such as his attack on a Gold Star family or the release of the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape. Nothing the Russians did matched the damage done by either of those Trump disasters.
Instead of looking for some external events or action, just admit that Hillary was a lousy candidate. That should actually be comforting to the Democrats. With such a compromised candidate whom so many Americans just never liked, they still won the popular vote and came really close to winning the states that put Trump over the top. If they can pick a better candidate in 2020, and can make an appeal for the voters they lost in the Rust Belt, chances are pretty strong that they'll win that year. They should be more concerned about forging a message that doesn't repel independents and those voters they lost in 2016. That's their real challenge and focusing all the time on Russia, Russia, Russia won't help them achieve that goal.


Good to know.
Tell your friendly environmentalist activist. But they're not really interested.
The benefits of fracking far outweigh its costs not only economically, but environmentally, a Stanford University geophysicist said Friday.

After teaching geophysics at Stanford for 30 years Mark Zoback took the helm of Stanford's new Natural Gas Initiative three years ago, he said, because of gas's environmental benefits.

"We did it because there were so many important and obvious environmental benefits to the utilization of natural gas," Zoback said. "So it’s somewhat ironic to be asked to argue for the notion that these benefits outweigh the environmental costs, when it’s the environmental benefits that got me into this business in the first place."

Zoback's remarks opened the annual debate at Stanford's Silicon Valley Energy Summit, and were swiftly challenged by representatives of the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Counci
Zoback argued that natural gas can replace coal and "dirty diesel" at significant scale throughout the world, supporting economic growth while slashing carbon emissions. (When burned, natural gas emits about half the CO2 that coal does).

The Senate has some really dumb rules. And the minority party can use them to slow everything down to a standstill. Chuck Schumer is taking advantage of every tool that the rules provide.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer used an upper chamber procedure Wednesday to block a national security briefing hosted by the Senate Judiciary Committee, irritating Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley.

The rule that Schumer had invoked, which he has been exercising the use of over the past two weeks, blocks Senate committee business from happening two hours after the Senate convenes session for the day. Schumer has consistently used the procedure as a way to delay business in Senate to make demands on Republicans on the health care bill.

The rarely-used tactic has cut short a committee hearing on free speech, stopped a hearing on Russian meddling in the U.S. elections and blocked a mark-up to advance bipartisan anti-human trafficking legislation....

Grassley had sent a joint letter with subcommittee judiciary chairman Lindsey Graham to the FBI Tuesday requesting all documents related to the FBI FISA surveillance requests on the Russia investigation.

“Today, the Judiciary Committee was set to hear from senior intelligence officials about highly sensitive intelligence gathering authorities that will soon require action from Congress. It’s disturbing and reckless for the Minority Leader to block the briefing. We’ve seen too many recent reminders of how unsafe the world is today. This is no time to play politics with our national security,” he said.
If they could use the nuclear option to get rid of a much more prominent rule concerning filibusters of Supreme Court nominees, why not use it to get rid of this stupid rule. If it's a "rarely-used tactic," no one except the angry members of the minority party will miss it.


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I had so much fun last night. I'm visiting my daughters in D.C. and we went to the Nats-Cubs game. I haven't seen a live baseball game in about 50 years since I was a kid and we'd go to the Cubs games. So I scheduled my trip to catch the game. After falling behind in the seventh inning, I thought it was pretty hopeless for the Cubs based on the way they've been playing this year. But they rallied in the ninth inning to go ahead on a triple by Jon Jay. It was so exciting and I could celebrate with all the other Cubs fans in the stadium including a cute little girl, about 10 years old, sitting with her family of Cubs fans in front of me who told her parents that John Jay had written five of the Federalist Papers. Exactly right and the Cubs' Jon Jay was a hero tonight. Go Federalists!


What a blast! And then as walked out of the stadium and came back on the Metro and hear all the Nationals fans complaining about the Nationals' bullpen. Eh, they're still doing well. I'm just hoping that the Cubs are recovering their mojo. At least their closer, Wade Davis, another historically relevant name on the Cubs roster


          Reply #788   
honest congressman or senator was in office......Is there SUCH a thing
          Reply #787   
This makes 13 ,6's and 9's in just 8 days....This is random? In what world? Just count the 6's and 9's in last months, it's amazing.....

What's amazing is how they keep getting away with it...Sure wish I was a congressman or senator for just 1 day, I would fix this mess....

They also need to have normal people, like us, in there when they draw....They should not be able to keep right on testing these machines (pre-draws) ever day and night either....

No, it wouldn't be good for them if
          Congress re-launches National Herald commemorative edition   
New Delhi, July 01 (ANI): The Congress Party on Saturday re-launched the National Herald commemorative edition, which was founded by former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru. It was launched in the presence of President Pranab Mukherjee, former prime minister Manmohan Singh, Congress President ...
          Vote on GOP's Health Care Bill to be Delayed   
On Tuesday it was announced that US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will delay the vote on the GOP's health care bill until after the July 4 recess. According to sources, McConnell told Republican senators that he wants to make changes to the bill, and get a new Congressional Budget ...
          National Herald launches commemorative edition to mark 70th year of Independence   
Bengaluru (Karnataka), June 12 (ANI): The Congress party launched a commemorative edition of the National Herald to mark the 70th year of Independence, at the Ambedkar Bhavan in Bengaluru on Monday. Vice-President Hamid Ansari and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi marked their presence at the ...
          Gandhis Pays Rich Tributes To Rajiv Gandhi   
Congress President Sonia Gandhi with Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra paid tributes to former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on his 26th death anniversary.
           Composite railway sleeper: a cost effective and eco-friendly alternative    
Ferdous, Wahid and Manalo, Allan and Aravinthan, Thiru and Van Erp, Gerard (2014) Composite railway sleeper: a cost effective and eco-friendly alternative. In: IEEE Australia and New Zealand Student and Young Professional Congress (ANZSCON 2014), 3-5 Jul 2014, Brisbane, Australia.
          Emerging Markets: What has Changed   
(from my colleague Dr. Win Thin)

  • Chinese President Xi visited Hong Kong for the first time.
  • The US has proposed $1.3 bln of arms sales to Taiwan.
  • The Egyptian government raised fuel and cooking gas prices. significantly as part of the IMF program.
  • South Africa’s parliament has scheduled the no confidence vote on President Zuma.
  • Brazil’s central bank lowered its inflation target.
  • Brazil after President Temer was charged with corruption.

In the EM equity space as measured by MSCI, Brazil (+2.9%), Russia (+1.5%), and Turkey (+0.9%) have outperformed this week, while Czech Republic (-3.0%), Hungary (-1.2%), and Chile (-0.9%) have underperformed.  To put this in better context, MSCI EM fell -0.1% this week while MSCI DM fell -0.3%.

In the EM local currency bond space, Brazil (10-year yield -13 bp), Colombia (-6 bp), and China (-5 bp) have outperformed this week, while South Africa (10-year yield +27 bp), Philippines (+17 bp), and Hungary (+17 bp) have underperformed.  To put this in better context, the 10-year UST yield rose 14 bp to 2.28%. 

In the EM FX space, ILS (+1.3% vs. USD), BRL (+1.0% vs. USD), and SGD (up 0.8% vs. USD) have outperformed this week, while ARS (-2.5% vs. USD), ZAR (-1.4% vs. USD), and COP (-1.0% vs. USD) have underperformed. 

Chinese President Xi visited Hong Kong for the first time.  The visit commemorates the 20th anniversary of the Hong Kong handover. Xi stressed that the “one country, two systems” framework remains successful.  USD/HKD traded at its highest level since January 2016.

The US has proposed $1.3 bln of arms sales to Taiwan.  The package would reportedly contain early warning radar, anti-radar missiles, and naval torpedoes.  It was approved by the Defense Department and will move forward unless Congress blocks it within 30 days.  Of course, Chinese officials objected.

The Egyptian government raised fuel and cooking gas prices significantly as part of the IMF program.  Prime Minister Ismail said inflation (29.7% y/y in May) was likely to accelerate 4-5 percentage points as a result of the price hikes.  After a 300 bp hike in conjunction with the EGP float, the central bank remained on hold until it hiked 200 bp more to 16.75% in May.  

South Africa’s parliament has scheduled the no confidence vote on President Zuma.  After several delays, the vote will be held on August 3.  Parliament added that it has not yet decided on whether the vote will be done via secret ballot.

Brazil’s central bank lowered its inflation target.  The central bank will now target inflation at 4.25% in 2019 and 4.0% percent in 2020, down from the 4.5% target that has been in place since 2005.  The tolerance band was kept at +/- 1.5 percentage points, which came into effect this year.  
 
Politics is taking center stage again in Brazil after President Temer was charged with corruption.  This is connected to the recent secret recordings of an alleged conversation between Temer and Joesley Batista.  The charges now need to be approved by two thirds of the lower house in order to proceed.  Even if he survives the vote, the reform agenda will be delayed, if not derailed.   








Disclaimer




           A reflection in the innovation and technology transfer experience in a regional micro-manufacturer: a case study    
Goh, Steven and Thorpe, David (2008) A reflection in the innovation and technology transfer experience in a regional micro-manufacturer: a case study. In: 9th Global Congress on Manufacturing and Management (GCMM2008): Towards Excellence in Smart Manufacturing and Engineering Knowledge Management, 12-14 Nov 2008, Gold Coast, Australia.
          Senate Will Resume Its Health Care Battle After July 4 Holiday    
Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit SCOTT SIMON, HOST: Senators head off to the Fourth of July parades and fireworks this weekend after trying and failing to do something they spent the past seven years promising - to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. We're going to begin this hour with NPR congressional correspondent Susan Davis. Sue, thanks for being with us. SUSAN DAVIS, BYLINE: Good morning, Scott. SIMON: So where does this stand now? DAVIS: Where it stands is the Senate and the House adjourned for the July Fourth recess no closer to finding a compromise on how to pass a health care bill. That bill now rests in the Senate, where Mitch McConnell had hoped to bring it up for a vote before this break and hoped to get it to the president's desk even before this break. But his own party revolted on him, that there is no consensus in the Senate yet on how you can get a bill that can pass that chamber. SIMON: What about the president's suggestion in a tweet that they might
          Is Seattle's Minimum Wage Hike Doing More Harm Than Good?    
Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit SCOTT SIMON, HOST: Can the push to increase the minimum wage come at the expense of those it's meant to help? A continuing study from University of Washington that the city of Seattle commissioned after voting to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour three years ago has found that increasing hourly pay did not affect the number of low-wage jobs. But it has reduced the hours those workers are employed, costing them about $125 a month in earnings. We're joined now by Congressman Adam Smith of Washington state. He represents part of Seattle. Mr. Smith, thanks so much for being with us. ADAM SMITH: Well, thanks for the chance for having me on. SIMON: Has this legislation cost the workers it's meant to help? SMITH: Well, the most interesting thing I found from the University of Washington study is they said they left out large employers. And I don't see how the study on the impact of the minimum wage can be comprehensive if you leave out large
          News Briefing for May 30   
TEA PARTY PATRIOTS: Choosing between Big Brother and the Bill of Rights (Op-ed) “Around 1:30 a.m. Saturday, there was a seismic shift in the U.S. Congress. As the Senate deadlocked over what to do about several expiring provisions of the Patriot Act, it became clear that political momentum had moved away from surveillance and secrecy […]
          News Briefing for Wednesday, May 13   
TEA PARTY PATRIOTS: GOP SENATORS’ PRO-CONGRESSIONAL EXEMPTION FROM OBAMACARE CRUSADE DRAWS SCORN – FROM AMERICA (Jenny Beth Op-Ed) “Pity poor Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ)40% And Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)45% And Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)14% , Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS)32%, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH)42% , Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE)58%, Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC)51%, Sen. Lindsey Graham […]
          The Hill   
The Hill is a non-partisan American political newspaper published in Washington, D.C. since 1994. It is owned by News Communications, Inc., which is owned by Capitol Hill Publishing, Chairman James A. Finkelstein. Focusing on the intersection of politics, policy, business and international relations, The Hill coverage includes Congress, the White House and federal campaigns. It has policy verticals on Cybersecurity, Defense, Energy & Environment, Finance, Healthcare, National Security, Technology, and Transportation.
           Vetos deixam ISSQN desproporcional e podem prejudicar municípios    
No último dia 30 de maio, o Congresso Nacional derrubou os vetos presidenciais aos incisos XXIII, XXIV e XXV do artigo 3º da Lei Complementar n° 157/2016, a qual trouxe alterações à Lei Complementar nº 116/2003, que regula o Imposto Sobre Serviços de Qualquer Natureza (ISSQN). Os referidos inc...
          Broad Swath of S. Africans Meets on Nation's Future    

THE broadest spectrum of parties ever to come together for political talks in South Africa gathers here today to plan a resumption of negotiations on the country's transition to democracy.

Ten months after multiparty talks broke down, the groups are returning to the table with a new sense of urgency. Three months of bilateral talks between the ruling National Party and the African National Congress (ANC) have cleared the way for a resumption of full negotiations.

"They're back at the table at last and this time there are more of them and the chemistry is looking good," says a Western diplomat monitoring the negotiation process.

Today's meeting, which will set a date for the resumption of full-blown multiparty talks, for the first time will include white right-wing parties and radical black rivals to the left of the ANC.

Participants are expected to include 23 delegations from 21 political groups - four more than the 19 delegations that attended the Convention for a Democratic South Africa, which deadlocked last May after five months of deliberations. Wide spectrum of parties

Among the attendees will be the militant Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC), which failed to reach agreement with the government in talks this week about the suspension of the armed struggle being waged by its radical military wing, the Azanian Peoples Liberation Army.

The right-wing Afrikaner Volks Unie, which broke away from the more hard-line Conservative Party last year, will take part in a six-party committee chairing the meeting. This marks the first direct involvement of a right-wing party in steering multiparty talks.

There is also cautious optimism that Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi, leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), is preparing to put his full weight behind multiparty talks.

Today's meeting will be attended by chief negotiators rather than political leaders. A delegation from the semi-autonomous KwaZulu homeland could provide the mechanism for the Zulu king, Goodwill Zwelithini, to attend the next round of talks.

There is still disagreement over the boundaries, powers, and functions of South Africa's regions and whether they should be bound in a federation or a looser arrangement. But consensus is growing among the parties that the new constitution will need to provide for a high degree of autonomy for regional governments to prevent secessions that could fragment the country.

In the past three months, the ANC has made major concessions in the direction of a federal-type system and ANC leader Nelson Mandela has gone out of his way to recognize the principle of self-determination in talks with white right-wing leaders.

Multiparty talks, which could be held this month, must reach agreement on the powers and functions of a Transitional Executive Committee (TEC), an independent Electoral Commission, and an independent Media Commission that will have the task of leveling the political playing field.

The TEC, a multiracial super-advisory body, will function with sub-councils that will establish multiparty management of the security forces during the run-up to the elections. The three commissions should be established by June, by which time the multiparty forum is expected to have agreed on an election date.

"I think by the time we get to July it will be all systems go for the election," says ANC Electoral Commission head Popo Molefe.

The talks take place in the wake of the March 2 massacre of six school pupils in the violence-racked hills around Pietermaritzburg, which has served as a grim reminder of the bitter war still raging between supporters of the ANC and the IFP in that province.

The killing of the pupils has evoked national outrage across the political spectrum and Law and Order Minister Hernus Kriel has offered an $80,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of those responsible.

Nobel peace laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu visited the bereaved community with other church leaders yesterday in a bid to calm political passions and prevent revenge killings.

Figures published Wednesday by the Human Rights Commission, a civil rights group that monitors political violence, indicate that deaths this year from political violence have dropped to levels well below the 300-a-month average for 1992. Coalition government

Today's talks will take place against the backdrop of an understanding reached last month between the government and the ANC that the drafting of a democratic constitution after the first democratic ballot will be followed by a period of coalition rule lasting up to five years.

The coalition government will include all parties that win at least 5 percent of the vote. According to recent polls this is sure to include the ANC and the National Party and is likely to include the PAC, the IFP, and possibly the right-wing Conservative Party.

"One could say that the real challenge of the ballot will be about whether South Africa can hold a peaceful election rather than who will win the election," says Larry Garber, an official of the National Democratic Institute in Washington, which helps run a South African voter education program.

The major challenge prior to the election will be to educate an estimated electorate of 21 million - about 16 million of whom are blacks who have never voted before - in the basics of democracy and electoral procedures.

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          Comment on Shabash Shabanaji! by Anita Sinha   
Absolutely true, Mr Balakrishnan. These pseudo secularists, under Congress rule, flourished and carried on their anti-national activities with impunity. The Gandhi's have no loyalty towards the nation, nor do the Leftists, Muslims and Christians. Abroad, Christians have joined the anti-India, Anti-Hindu club comprising Jihadi sympathizers, the Leftists and the Muslims. Their job is to malign Hindus , Modi govt, and India, all over the world. Its an all out propaganda machine funded by the Church, Leftists and Islamists/Jihadis.
          Rodrigo Duterte, tough-talking Philippine presidential favourite   

Rodrigo Duterte, a lawyer by training, has served the most years of any mayor in the Philippines, as head of Davao City for a total of seven three-year terms. In between, he was either vice mayor or a congressional representative of the city.


          Vigilante violence backed by supposed enforcers of law: Sonia   

New Delhi, July 2 (IANS) Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Saturday hit out at the government, saying it was seeking to create an India completely at odds with the one that saw the light of Independence and added that "a culture of vigilante violence is actively being supported by those who are supposed to enforce the law".

She also said the idea of India had been thrown fundamentally into question by rising intolerance and malevolent forces who tell people "what they cannot eat, who they cannot love, what they cannot say".

Gandhi also said that "domestic misrule was as great a challenge for our country".

Launching the commemorative publication of National Herald, she further attacked the government, saying: "Though their language is modern, they seek to take India backward, to further their narrow sectarian vision."

"It is one of the ironies of our present times that the soaring reach of their (freedom fighters) work is now sought to be either obliterated or in some cases appropriated by individuals and groups who are in direct opposition to their beliefs and principles," she said.

"Those who stood aside when history was painfully made by sacrifice and struggle, those who had little faith in the Constitution adopted by our country, are now seeking to create an India completely at odds with the one that saw the light of Independence. Let us not forget that they made no sacrifices to shape India's destiny," she added.

Gandhi also said: "Their modern jargon conceals pre-modern beliefs, concepts that are at odds with progressive and inclusive thought, with contemporary knowledge and with a vision for the future. It is our duty to pull away the hypocrisy and reveal the reality lurking beneath."

"This is being encouraged by a culture of vigilante violence actively supported by those who are supposed to enforce the law. Such examples assault our consciousness almost daily," she added.

Gandhi also said: "India has reached a crossroads marked by increasing threats of authoritarianism and bigotry. Where we choose to stand today is where our country will head tomorrow.

"We are in a war of ideas. We wage this war to preserve our ideals, which have built India up as a model of democracy, diversity and co-existence. When these ideals are threatened, India itself is in danger. And if we do not raise our voices, if we do not speak up, our silence will be taken as consent," she said.

Gandhi said: "We have daunting enough battles to fight - against injustice, against poverty, against prejudice, against patriarchy, against malnutrition, against illiteracy, against communalism - but we must also prevail in this greater war for the soul of our nation."

"Ours is a mission to preserve the credibility and sanctity of our institutions in their democratic design. The domestic misrule is as great a challenge for our country.

"At a time when the inclusive conception of our nation is under attack, and the press is pressured or in some willing cases to obey and applaud rather than to question, speaking truth to power is the imperative of our age," Gandhi said.

"Let us work together to safeguard an India in which each person's voice can be raised and heard, most of all the voices of those who question and disagree," she added.

--IANS

sid/nir


          Rahul returns from Italy   

New Delhi, July 1 (IANS) Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, who had taken a break to visit his 93-year-old maternal grandmother in Italy, has returned after almost three weeks.

Gandhi on Saturday attended the launch of the commemorative publication of the Congress party's organ "National Herald", which was attended by President Pranab Mukherjee, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and party president Sonia Gandhi, among others.

Before taking a break, Gandhi had posted on Twitter: "Will be travelling to meet my grandmother and family for a few days. Looking forward to spending some time with them."

Rahul was conspicuous by his absence when Congress President Sonia Gandhi announced former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar's name as the presidential nominee of the informal grouping of 17 opposition parties.

He was also not present on the day (June 28) Kumar filed her nomination for the election to the highest constitutional post of the country.

--IANS

sid/nir


          Kovind, Meira in presidential contest after last day of nomination withdrawal   

New Delhi, July 1 (IANS) NDA's presidential nominee Ram Nath Kovind and the opposition-backed Meira Kumar will face each other in the July 17 election, with the two being left in the fray after the last day of withdrawal of candidature on Saturday.

Only Kovind and Kumar's papers were found valid after scrutiny on June 29 of all the nominations filed by over 90 candidates.

Both Kovind and Kumar have started touring states to seek support from members of the electoral college.

The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) is seen to have a clear edge in the election. Kumar is backed by the Congress and other 16 opposition parties.

Elected members of Parliament and state assemblies, including those of Delhi and Puducherry, are members of the electoral college.

The counting of votes will take place on July 20.

--IANS

ps/nir


          Presidential election: Meira Kumar campaigns in Bengaluru   

Bengaluru, July 1 (IANS) Opposition candidate in presidential election Meira Kumar on Saturday appealed to Karnataka legislators to vote for her in the July 17 President's poll.

"As I am contesting for ideology and not power or prestige, it is important that you vote by your conscience for values and principles that are sacred to our people," Kumar told the legislators of the ruling Congress here.

She visited Karnataka as part of the presidential poll campaign.

As the opposition candidate backed by 17 parties, the former Lok Sabha Speaker is contesting against the formidable ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA)'s nominee Ram Nath Kovind.

The members of Parliament and legislatures of states across the country will vote to elect the country's 15th President.

Denying that she was made scapegoat to enter the poll fray after the NDA fielded Kovind, Kumar told reporters later that the contest should not be seen through caste or creed but on principles and ideology.

"I carry forward those values and principles which are sacred to our people across the country. I am contesting to uphold them," said Kumar, who launched her campaign at Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad on Friday.

Daughter of Dalit leader and veteran Congressman Babu Jagjivan Ram, Kumar also called on former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda and sought the support of his regional party -- Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) -- in the election to the country's highest office.

She regretted that the presidential election was seen by some people through the prism of caste as the main contenders were coincidentally Dalits.

"It is shameful that election to the President's post is being seen in that manner. We should come out of such mentality. When candidates from higher castes contested in the previous presidential polls, it (caste) was never an issue. Why now?" Kumar retorted.

--IANS

fb/pgh/nir


          Manesar land deal: CBI lens on three IAS officers' assets   

New Delhi, July 1 (IANS) The CBI has sought the property records of three IAS officers in its ongoing probe in the 400-acre land deal in Gurugram's Manesar.

Former Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda is also facing the CBI heat in the Manesar land scam case, which allegedly took place when he was at the state's helm.

The investigating agency broadened its probe against the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers, whose names are withheld, to dig out information if real estate players were favoured in the Manesar land deal release case, an official said on Saturday.

The CBI is taking the step following the inputs of Enforcement Directorate (ED), whose officials had conducted multiple raids at premises of several serving and retired officers in June after registering a case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) in the same matter.

Informed sources said that the agency has also written a letter to Haryana Chief Secretary Depinder Singh Dhesi seeking property details of these IAS officers.

The agency has also sought a set of documents from the industries department pertaining to the release of the land.

"The CBI is seeking to find out whether there was a quid pro quo. Two officials, who held key positions during the Congress rule had entered real estate deals with a realtor, Aditya Buildwell Pvt Ltd, who was granted colonisation licences after the land was released from acquisition," a CBI officer said.

The CBI had in 2015 registered a case against the builders and Haryana officials for their alleged role in the fraudulent purchase of 400 acres land worth Rs 1,600 crore (as per then market rates) from gullible farmers of Manesar in Gurugram district for a mere Rs 100 crore.

The land was allegedly purchased showing the threat of acquisition by the state government during August 27, 2004 to August 24, 2007.

The Haryana government had initially issued a notification under the Land Acquisition Act for acquisition of land measuring about 912 acres for setting up an industrial model township in Manesar, Naurangpur and Lakhnoula villages.

The land was later grabbed from the owners by private builders at meagre rates, the CBI had said after registration of the case.

In May, the CBI had also questioned Hooda for over nine hours in connection with the case.

--IANS

rak/pgh/rn


          New Federal Regulations for Small Drones Receive Positive Feedback from North Dakota Industry Members   
By Grand Forks Herald
The Federal Aviation Administration debuted a set of long-awaited regulations governing the use of unmanned aircraft Tuesday that were met with fanfare from local and national members of the industry.

The rules are targeted at small unmanned aircraft, also known as drones, used for commercial and public applications and contain requirements for their operation and qualifications for their pilots.

David Dvorak, CEO of Field of View in Grand Forks, has been waiting years for the FAA to finalize regulations for unmanned aircraft.

"The level of restriction up until this point has been pretty horrendous so this seems like a walk in the park compared to what we have been working under," he said of the new requirements.

The rules, formally known as Part 107 of the Federal Aviation Regulations, will take effect in late August, and will apply to drones weighing less than 55 pounds.

These regulations pave the way for commercial operations utilizing unmanned aircraft, which currently are prohibited unless an exemption is obtained from the FAA. The agency had granted more than 5,000 exemptions prior to the unveiling of Part 107 — about 20 of which have gone to North Dakota-based companies.

Industry experts say the rules' release spells good news for the economy, with estimates predicting more than 100,000 jobs could be created and $82 billion generated over the next 10 years as a result.

Drone operations by public agencies such as sheriff and police departments also are included in the new regulations. Previously, these groups needed to acquire a certificate of authorization that spelled out conditions for flight.

"We are part of a new era in aviation, and the potential for unmanned aircraft will make it safer and easier to do certain jobs, gather information and deploy disaster relief," U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement Tuesday.

Requirements

The first draft of the rules for small unmanned aircraft was published last year, but regulations in general have been a long-awaited by those in the industry.

In 2012, the FAA received a congressional mandate to integrate UAS technology into national airspace by September 2015. The deadline came and went with no rules finalized, leaving the industry to await this week's release.

Dvorak and others predict the news will inspire more confidence in the technology and produce an uptick in economic activity as businesses prepare for the rule to become active.

"As a company that provides software and hardware for drone operators, I'd imagine this release will give a lot more people confidence to start investing in equipment, training and software in the next 60 days," Dvorak said.

Come August, drone pilots can fly at an altitude of 400 feet or less, cannot fly directly over people not involved in a flight operation and must maintain a safe distance from airports unless permission is received from the facilities in Class B,C, D and E airspace.

Part 107 prohibits flying unmanned aircraft in Class A airspace, which spans from 18,000 to 60,000 above sea level. Flights are allowed in Class G airspace, which is considered uncontrolled airspace, without permission from air traffic control.

Drone pilots must be certified and at least 16 years old unless supervised by someone holding a remote pilot certificate.

The certificate would be obtained by passing an initial aeronautical knowledge test at a FAA-approved knowledge testing center or through other means if a person has an existing non-student Part 61 pilot certificate. Background checks on all remote pilot applications would be conducted by the Transportation Security Administration prior to issuance of a certificate.

Other requirements include always operating a drone within line of sight, flying during the day, not exceeding a groundspeed of 100 mph and avoiding reckless operations.

Missing pieces

Though Part 107 lays groundwork for the continued growth of unmanned industry, some found there still are important provisions missing from it.

"While the approved regulations are a step in the right direction for the drone industry, we still have a long way to go, specifically when it comes to long-distance or beyond-visual-line-of-sight drones," Tero Heinonen, CEO of Sharper Shape, said in a statement.

Heinonen, whose company operates out of Palo Alto, Calif., and Grand Forks, and others see beyond-line-of-sight as crucial to the continued development of drone technology.

Those wishing to conduct operations beyond line of sight or at night need to receive a waiver from the FAA, but it's likely that will be a temporary fix much like the commercial exemption process.

"With this new rule, we are taking a careful and deliberate approach that balances the need to deploy this new technology with the FAA's mission to protect public safety," FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said in a statement. "We're already working on additional rules that will expand the range of operations."

Overall, reaction to the rule's release has been favorable with advocacy groups such as the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International and the Academy for Model Aeronautics commending the FAA in allowing the industry to continue advancing.

Easier access to the industry does spell more competition for those already established within it.

"The challenge isn't over, it's really just beginning," Dvorak said. "Now everyone is kind of on an equal playing field. There have been companies that have come and gone over the years here, but now everyone has the opportunity to generate income from day one.

"It'll be interesting to see how the market handles that."

New Federal Regulations for Small Drones Receive Positive Feedback from North Dakota Industry Members - Grand Forks Herald

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          Bob Becklund Pilots State's UAS Technology   
By The Bismarck Tribune
When the North Dakota Air National Guard’s F-16 fighter jets were growing old and in need of replacement, the organization made a choice — one that is taking North Dakota into the lead of the unmanned aerial systems industry.

Bob Becklund found himself at the head of that change.

As the United States had stopped buying fighter jets and the older jets handed down to guard units were becoming difficult to find, the air guard made strategic plans to look for new missions, according to Becklund.

“We were the best fighter unit in the U.S. … but still there weren’t aircraft,” he said.

That is when the MQ-1 Predator and RQ-4 Global Hawk came down from the clouds.

“We thought here’s a new technology that will be relevant and required forever,” Becklund said, and the air guard started seeking them out as replacements for the aging F-16s.

In 2004, Becklund was wing commander, overseeing a base realignment and closure in 2005. He then helped pick crews for UAS training and the unit earned a good reputation for UAS operations.

This would lead Becklund to an invitation to serve on a UAS task force to the Pentagon. One year on the task force turned into three before he returned to North Dakota.

Around that same time, Federal Aviation Administration-mandated UAS test sites were being picked around the country. Becklund answered North Dakota’s ad for an executive director of a test site. When hired, his job was to do his best to make sure North Dakota was selected for a site.

When he succeeded, he became executive director of the Northern Plains UAS Test Site in Grand Forks, at the helm of UAS industry in the state. This time, he is leading research that will help make a technology mostly dominated by the military become commercially viable.

The next step

To help advance research and development, Becklund said he would like to create an environment for the larger unmanned aircraft flown at Northern Plains to fly without a chase plane as is required under FAA rules.

The test site is working closely with the FAA on this, and if successful, it would be the only place in the country to allow it, according to Becklund, adding that Northern Plains already has FAA approval to fly UAS anywhere in the state and at night.

Becklund said the chase plane plan is aggressive but necessary for technological advancement and he thinks North Dakota has the right tools to make it work. Because of the Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota has access to high-end radar that can spot any aircraft flying in the area. That technology would keep UAS flights without a chase plane safe. In addition, Grand Forks is the only place in the U.S. where the Predator, Global Hawk and MQ-9 Reaper are flying together.Advertisement (1 of 1): 0:13Flying with a chase plane is cost prohibitive and the only way to make UAS commercially viable is to move beyond line-of-sight flights, according to Becklund, who said allowing in-field research to determine how this would be done safely would be beneficial to the industry and FAA.

Eventually, that research could transfer to the rest of the country, even where radar isn’t available. Becklund said this could be done through cooperative air space, where all aircraft flying would emit a signal rather than allowing some, such as gliders and aerial sprayers, to fly using visual flight rules.

While that may sound bold because it will cost money to institute, at the same time, it will greatly increase safety, Becklund said.

“There would never be mid-air collisions,” said Becklund, pointing out that secure and reliable communications links are the key and the research conducted at Northern Plains could help make that possible.

Becklund said the challenge now is there are no standards so companies don’t know to what specifications to build.

“Here in North Dakota, we can do research on those things,” he said.

2017 and beyond

The test site is set to expire in 2017, but Becklund said the North Dakota congressional delegation is working to extend it. With or without the federal extension, he is confident testing will continue as North Dakota has long invested in UAS technology and research — about $30 million to date.

“I think North Dakota needs to continue its investment; we’re out in front of it all. We need to stay in front of it and look to the future,” said Becklund, who describes the UAS expertise that has been developed in the state as “incredible” and will give North Dakota a seat at the table in deciding how to regulate the industry.

“It’s really exciting to be part of the new age of aviation,” said the former fighter pilot who has followed the industry from the cockpit to the remote control.

Becklund said, when he was flying, the planes were loud and highly visible. With UAS, many air guard missions are flown in secret on the other side of the world.

“But the cool factor is just off the charts,” said Becklund, adding that the air guard provides lots of opportunity and training, pays for college and can land airmen a full-time job upon graduation.

“Think where this could go,” said Becklund, pointing out that one day there may be a cheaper replacement for satellites. “That’s kind of fun stuff. I can’t think of where all it might go. I just know it’s a good thing.”

“I think North Dakota needs to continue its investment; we’re out in front of it all. We need to stay in front of it and look to the future.” — Bob Becklund

Bob Becklund Pilots State's UAS Technology - The Bismarck Tribune
 

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          Testing the Skies: Breakthroughs, Collaboration set Flight Plan for Future of UAS   
By Grand Forks Herald
Bob Becklund doesn't have to go far to see the future of unmanned aircraft.

As executive director of the Northern Plains Unmanned Aircraft Systems Test Site, he only has to walk down the hall and talk to one of his staff members.

"They're all experts at what they do," he said. "When they have an idea, you're going to listen to them."

The test site, which is operated by the state but exists because of a congressional mandate on the Federal Aviation Administration, is charged with researching how to safely integrate unmanned aircraft into the national airspace.

This year, its crews have assisted businesses that want to explore potential uses of unmanned aircraft. These clients include companies in the insurance, railroad, energy and real estate industries and even NASA.

The progress at the test site is just part of advancement seen on several fronts for the unmanned aircraft industry in North Dakota. Major players such as UND and North Dakota State University made strides this year in terms of research, but now have set their focus for 2016.

On the horizon for NDSU is a large-scale agricultural research project aimed at comparing imagery taken by unmanned aircraft from various altitudes while UND intends to create an unmanned aircraft flight training program.

Building up

The unmanned flight training program isn't off the ground quite yet. It has a few more hurdles to clear at the federal level before it becomes official, according to UAS Program Director Al Palmer.

In order to conduct flight training for these aircraft, the school must apply for and receive an exemption.

The exemption is granted by the FAA and is most often sought by businesses looking to operate unmanned aircraft for commercial purposes, which is otherwise illegal.

UND's unmanned flight training program would mirror the school's manned flight training, with students starting on simulators before moving on to flying actual aircraft.

Those simulators and other portions of the UAS program are spread miles apart — a problem Palmers said should be fixed next year.

"We're scattered out at Grand Forks Air Force Base, at the international airport and down here on campus," he said. "It's a challenge for us, but once we get Robin Hall, we'll be centrally located, and everything will be in one building."

Construction on Robin Hall continued throughout 2015 and is expected to be completed in July 2016.

Also hoping to secure space in the new building, which the university has been authorized by the state to spend up to $25 million on, is the test site.

Like its current location on the UND campus in Clifford Hall, space in Robin Hall would be state property and therefore rent free for the test site, which is trying to become self sufficient, Becklund said.

The state has invested nearly $7 million in the establishment and operation of the test site. So far, the site has about $1 million in revenues from contracts that have been completed or are set to be, Becklund said. Some of the contracts are part of larger agreements UND and North Dakota State University have with other firms that total about $3 million.

"Right now we're using state funding for this, but of course companies are paying us to do stuff too, so we're already starting to see a return on that investment," Becklund added. "Our end goal is to be self sufficient. ... But it's impossible to predict when that's going to be."

In the meantime, demand for the test site's flight operations services has its director looking to hire additional staff.

The test site has seven active contracts and about 10 more serious inquires from companies. Becklund expects the test site's work to continue past 2017, the year under current law that the test sites in North Dakota and five other states are required to operate until.

"We're building all this infrastructure here and these people and this expertise for the long run," he said. "Regardless of whether they continue the test site program, we will definitely be a long term asset here for the industry and the FAA to use."

Flying forward

Several distinctions bestowed on the test site this year are helping build up its operations and reputation.

The FAA granted its flight crew authorization to fly anywhere in the United States at the altitude of 400 feet and below and the ability to fly up to 1,200 feet anywhere in North Dakota.

Those and future permissions are expected to pave the way for more projects and contracts lined up for 2016.

One big fish Becklund hopes to land is the ability to fly civilian unmanned aircraft without a chase airplane from Grand Forks Air Force Base, which is home to Grand Sky — touted as the nation's first business park for unmanned aircraft systems.

Chase planes are used to monitor unmanned aircraft operating at altitudes where manned aircraft could be encountered.

Grand Sky, which broke ground this year, would be home to tenants looking to access the base's airspace without employing a costly chase plane.

"If we're successful with that, and so far it's looking pretty good, we'll be the only place in the country where you can do that," Becklund said.

While some of the test site's contracts have taken its staff out of state, Becklund said they focus on conducting a majority of the research in North Dakota.

One of its largest research efforts involves collaborating with NDSU. Together, the organizations are pursuing a 2016 research project centered in the area of Hillsboro, N.D.

NDSU researchers partnering with Elbit, an Israeli manufacturer of unmanned aircraft systems, will test image capture capabilities for comparison between large and small aircraft near, Ag Machine Systems Specialist John Nowatzki said.

During an eight-week period, pictures of farmland will be captured by a small device at 400 feet and a large unmanned aircraft at altitudes of 1,000, 3,000 and 5,000 feet. Those images will be compared with each other and pictures taken by a satellite.

In addition to comparing imagery, researchers also hope the pictures can be used to estimate crop emergence and yields, detect nutrient deficiencies and count livestock.

Over the past year, similar research has taken place at other NDSU research centers and extension centers.

An economic report from the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International predicts agriculture will be the largest use for unmanned aircraft by 2025.

"We're coming close, but we're not there yet," Nowatzki said.

Testing the Skies: Breakthroughs, Collaboration set Flight Plan for Future of UAS - Grand Forks Herald

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          Dalrymple, General Atomics Officials Break Ground on Grand Sky UAS Training Academy    
By ND Governor's Office
Gov. Jack Dalrymple today joined General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. CEO Linden Blue to break ground on the aviation company’s unmanned aerial systems (UAS) training academy at Grand Sky, the nation’s first operations-ready UAS business and aviation park. 
 
“General Atomics’ business presence at Grand Sky is a testament to the great work underway to build on North Dakota’s position as the premier destination for UAS research, development and commercialization,” Dalrymple said. “Linden and his leadership team recognize the many opportunities and advantages that North Dakota offers the growing UAS industry and we very much appreciate their investments in North Dakota.”
 
General Atomics is a global leader in the development of unmanned aircraft, including the Predator and Reaper series which are widely used by the U.S. Air Force.  The company is building a 19,400-square-foot hangar with adjacent offices to expand its capacity to provide state-of-the-art flight instruction for aircrews that operate its unmanned aircraft, including Air Force personnel, General Atomics pilots and international customers. Construction on the UAS training academy is expected to be completed next summer.
 
“North Dakota was selected as the site for our new training academy not only because it offers uncongested skies and an optimal test range, but also strong support for the continued development of unmanned aircraft capabilities from local, state, and federal government representatives,” General Atomics Aeronautical CEO Linden Blue said. “This investment in the State of North Dakota will establish North Dakota as the center of excellence for remotely piloted aircraft (RPA) training operations, and airspace integration testing and grow the number of high-tech jobs associated with these activities.” 
 
General Atomics’ UAS training academy will require a full-time staff of flight instructors, pilots, sensor operators, maintenance personnel, and administrators. About 25 General Atomics’ employees will staff the academy during its first year of operations.
 
Dalrymple last met with General Atomics officials in Washington, D.C. in September to discuss the company’s plans for Grand Sky and to offer the state’s continued assistance in developing its Grand Sky UAS training academy.
 
General Atomics is the second global aviation company to become a Grand Sky tenant.  Last month, Northrop Grumman broke ground on a Grand Sky facility that will support its UAS operations.
 
Dalrymple has led the state’s efforts to develop Grand Sky, to establish the Northern Plains UAS Test Site and to position North Dakota as the premier destination for UAS manufacturing, research and development.
 
In all, the state has invested more than $34 million to secure and develop one of only six national UAS test sites, to develop Grand Sky, and to support UAS research and innovation in North Dakota. The state has committed about $13 million for infrastructure projects essential to Grand Sky’s development.
 
Those joining Dalrymple and Blue for General Atomics’ groundbreaking included U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, Congressman Kevin Cramer, Col. Rodney Lewis, commander of the 319 Air Base Wing, Grand Forks Air Force Base and North Dakota Commerce Commissioner Al Anderson.

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          Dalrymple Calls for Comprehensive National Energy Policy   
By ND Governor's Office
Speaking today at the Great Plains & Empower ND Energy Conference, Gov. Jack Dalrymple said the nation should follow North Dakota’s lead in developing a truly “all-of-the-above” energy policy that empowers industry to produce diverse and affordable energy supplies, advance energy independence and create jobs.
 
“At a time of growing demand for affordable and reliable energy, we need a national energy policy that truly supports the development of all of our energy resources,” Dalrymple said. “North Dakota is a great example of what can be accomplished when we support the responsible development of our oil and gas resources; when we recognize the important role of coal-fired power generation while reducing emissions; and when we continue to increase production of renewable resources.”
 
North Dakota can also become a national leader in value-added energy, Dalrymple said. The Governor encouraged energy representatives attending the conference to continue developing projects that reduce flaring, add value to the state’s abundant supplies of natural gas and create jobs.
 
North Dakota has developed a comprehensive energy policy that acknowledges the need for a diverse power supply, and empowers all energy sectors to work together in the interests of meeting the growing demand for affordable energy.  Dalrymple said North Dakota’s energy policy, developed through EmPower ND, has helped the state achieve major advancements in energy production, including:
  • North Dakota has become the nation’s second-largest oil producer and remains among the nation’s most cost-efficient shale oil plays.
  • North Dakota continues to increase its electric generation from non-carbon sources. Today, about 25 percent of North Dakota's total electric generation comes from wind and hydroelectric power.
  • North Dakota is one of just a handful of states meeting all ambient air quality standards established by the Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Total carbon emissions in North Dakota have dropped 11 percent below 2005 levels, despite the Bakken oil boom.
The Governor said that the Obama Administration refuses to honor states’ rights and continues on a path that threatens the nation’s ability to produce affordable energy and enhance its energy security.  Dalrymple cited the EPA’s “Clean Power Plan” and proposed “Waters of the United States” rule as examples of government overreach that will impede responsible energy development and drive up consumers’ energy costs.           
 
Dalrymple, Sen. John Hoeven, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp and Rep. Kevin Cramer hosted the annual Great Plains & Empower ND Energy Conference which was held at Bismarck State College’s National Center of Excellence. The daylong conference included a panel discussion with Dalrymple and the state’s congressional delegation as well as presentations by leading energy researchers and developers. Speakers included Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner Tony Clark, and Marianne Kah, chief economist at ConocoPhillips.

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           2015 Governor’s Travel and Tourism Awards Announced   
By ND Commerce Tourism Division
Six Governor’s Travel and Tourism Awards recognizing outstanding leaders in North Dakota’s tourism industry were presented today as part of the 2015 North Dakota Travel and Tourism Conference in Minot. The awards were presented by North Dakota Department of Commerce Commissioner Al Anderson.

“North Dakota’s tourism industry is making significant contributions to our communities and state, and plays an integral role in the growth and strength of our economy,” said Gov. Jack Dalrymple. “These tourism professionals are being honored for their dedication, innovation and leadership, and exemplify the outstanding work occurring across the state to advance our tourism opportunities and successes. They are on the front lines as ambassadors for North Dakota and we are proud to honor and thank them, as well as all of our tourism partners, for their service to the industry and to our state.”

Tiffany Irving, Front-line Tourism Employee. Front Office Manager for Staybridge Suites Fargo and the Intercontinental Hotels Group 2014 “Best of the Best” Guest Service Representative, Tiffany Irving has worked to personify customer service. With glowing reviews from hotel guests after helping with reservations, billing, and other general issues, Tiffany has also earned respect from her industry peers.  Her training methods and enthusiastic attitude have helped fellow employees improve their job performance, ultimately improving Staybridge Suites Fargo’s guest survey scores. In part due to the superior service standards Tiffany oversees, the hotel earned the company’s 2014 Quality Excellence Award.

Fred Flood, Behind the Scenes Tourism Employee. As a staff member at Staybridge Suites in Fargo since 2012, Fred Flood has worked his way up from housekeeper to assisting the hotel’s chief engineer. Although fellow staff members describe him as a “jack of all trades,” handling everything from driving the shuttle, taking care of maintenance, guest luggage, housekeeping, and gardening, Fred’s top priority is ensuring he makes a difference in the experience of each guest. He believes in continually creating value for others and building relationships with Staybridge guests and co-workers.

Terry Harzinski, Travel and Tourism Industry Leader. Terry Harzinski was instrumental in establishing the Bismarck-Mandan Convention and Visitors Bureau and has worked to serve the community since 1986. He retired from his position as CEO of the CVB in 2015. His passion and dedication helped attract several national and international events to Bismarck-Mandan and in the process promoted the entire state of North Dakota. Some of the events Terry helped attract include the 1989 Women’s International Bowling Congress drawing roughly 50,000 people; the 1991 National High School Athletic Coaches Association national convention, the WBCCI Airstream Rally in 1993 and in 2000; the World Horseshoe Tournament in 2000, the World Curling Championship in 2002, and the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference in 2012 and 2014. Terry truly helped the Bismarck-Mandan area become a destination for both business and leisure travel, conferences and conventions.

Unglued Craft Fest, Event of the Year. This two-day event at the Plains Art Museum in Fargo attracted 5,000 attendees to view a curated selection of the region’s top makers, crafters and artists. More than 80 vendors sold their wares against a backdrop of live local music, artisan food and local coffee roasters. Unglued inspired the community to get creative through free workshops and project offerings, the make-and-take craft lounge and an indoor chalk fest by the Art Partnership. The event was started in 2011 by a small group of friends who did sewing and other creative projects in the evenings and has proven profitable to participating artists and vendors.

Williston Area Recreation Center, Tourism Attraction of the Year. Since this state-of-the-art facility opened one year ago in March 2014, it has hosted more than 330,000 guests. While Williston resident members have been active users of the ARC, more than 78,000 non-members have also used the facility through day passes and special events. The ARC has enhanced the Williston community’s ability to provide year-round recreational activities including swim meets, basketball tournaments, community fundraising events, training sessions, and even wedding receptions. The ARC will continue to grow its offerings by hosting volleyball tournaments and track meets in 2015.  While the facility has received a lot of local attention, it has also earned broader attention being featured in print, radio, video and social media stories including in the National Recreation Parks Association magazine and website. The ARC has also earned North Dakota Recreation and Parks Association Golden Egg Award, the Williston Economic Development Award as Project of the Year, and the North Dakota Ready-Mix and Concrete Products Association Gold Award for Government Projects. 
North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department, Tourism Organization of the Year. Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2015, the North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department has grown to include 13 state parks and 10 recreation areas, hosting millions of visitors each year. From marinas, beaches, campsites and corrals, to hiking trails, scenic overlooks and interpretive centers, North Dakota’s parks and recreation sites are available for all and encourage an appreciation for the great outdoors. They also play an important role in the economy and recreation opportunities of nearby communities. While its responsibilities have expanded since 1965, the department continues to remain focused on conserving nature, preserving history and providing outdoor recreational activities to residents and visitors alike. Visitors often cite the cleanliness and appearance of the parks as first rate and praise the staff for their efforts, friendliness and helpfulness.
“We are proud to have such great individuals and partners across the state representing the travel industry,” said Sara Otte Coleman, director of North Dakota Tourism. “The personalized service and unique opportunities they provide are truly what sets our state apart. They are what makes North Dakota Legendary.”

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          Dalrymple Announces Significant Funding for Grand Sky   
Gov. Jack Dalrymple today said $2.5 million in state funds is now available to further develop the Grand Sky unmanned aerial systems (UAS) business and aviation park on the Grand Forks Air Force Base. Appropriated for the 2013-2015 biennium, the funding was made available contingent on securing a lease agreement with a Grand Sky tenant.
 
“With Northop Grumman’s agreement today to become an anchor tenant at Grand Sky, we are pleased to announce that another $2.5 million in state funds will be made available to continue developing Grand Sky and further solidify North Dakota’s position as a national leader in the growing UAS industry,” Gov. Jack Dalrymple said.  “Northrop Grumman is a global leader in aerospace technology and their commitment to Grand Sky represents another important milestone in our continuing work to develop Grand Sky and to become a national hub for UAS manufacturing, research and development.”
 
Dalrymple spoke today with Northrop Grumman Vice President Tom Vice regarding the aerospace company’s plans to build office space and a UAS operations hangar on the Grand Sky technology park. In February, Grand Forks County officials and the U.S. Air Force signed an enhanced use agreement to develop Grand Sky on the military base.
 
Talks between North Dakota officials and Northrup Grumman began after then-Lt. Gov. Dalrymple invited the company’s Sector Vice President of Operations, Gerald ‘Duke’ Dufresne, to visit North Dakota and learn more about the state’s aviation and aerospace offerings. Since then, the state has invested more than $20 million to support the development of Grand Sky; to establish a national UAS test site; and to advance UAS research and development.
 
Dalrymple, other state officials and the state’s congressional delegation have continued talks with Northrop to secure the aerospace giant’s presence at Grand Sky.  Dalrymple also led the state’s successful efforts to establish a national UAS test site in North Dakota and to establish North Dakota as a national hub for UAS research and development.
           
In April 2014, North Dakota’s Northern Plains UAS Test Site was the nation’s first to be FAA certified as ready to begin the work of integrating unmanned aerial systems into the national airspace. 
 
“The signing of Northrop to become another partner at Grand Sky is another indication that our goal of diversification of North Dakota is moving in high gear,” said Sen. Ray Holmberg of Grand Forks.
 
Holmberg, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said lawmakers are supportive of the governor’s request to provide additional funding for Grand Sky’s development and are advancing legislation for additional funding contingent on securing additional Grand Sky tenants.
 
In February, Dalrymple and officials from ComDel Innovation, Inc. and Altavian announced that the companies have agreed to manufacture unmanned aerial systems and UAS components at ComDel’s high-tech manufacturing plant in Wahpeton.
 

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          Dalrymple Celebrates Grand Sky Lease Agreement    
By ND Governor's Office
Gov. Jack Dalrymple was joined by other supporters of the Grand Sky UAS Business and Aviation Park to celebrate the completion of an enhanced use lease agreement that will allow for the business park’s development to move forward.
 
The lease agreement between the U.S. Air Force and Grand Forks County paves the way for the development of the Grand Sky UAS Business and Aviation Park on the grounds of the Grand Forks Air Force Base.  Other Grand Sky supporters who joined Dalrymple at the military base today included Sen. John Hoeven, Congressman Kevin Cramer, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force Kathleen Ferguson, other U.S. Air Force officers as well as state and local leaders.
 
 "This lease agreement is another important step in our ongoing work to grow North Dakota’s UAS industry and to become a national hub for UAS education, training, research and commercialization,” Dalrymple said. “With Grand Sky development underway and North Dakota’s designation as one of only six national UAS test sites, we are well positioned to attract UAS-related investment and jobs.”
 
Under terms of the lease agreement, the U.S. Air Force will provide Grand Forks County with about 220 acres of property on the Grand Forks Air Force Base to attract UAS business tenants and develop the Grand Sky UAS Business and Aviation Park.
 
Gov. Dalrymple led the state’s efforts to establish a national UAS test site in North Dakota and to establish North Dakota as a national hub for UAS research and development. The state has invested more than $20 million to support the development of the Grand Sky UAS park, to establish a national UAS test site and to advance UAS research and development.
 
In May 2013, Dalrymple formed the six-member Northern Plains Unmanned Aerial Systems Authority (NPUASA) which was successful in landing one of only six national UAS test site designations approved by the Federal Aviation Administration.  The NPUASA is chaired by Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley. North Dakota’s Northern Plains UAS Test Site became the nation’s first FAA certified as ready to begin the work of integrating unmanned aerial systems into the national airspace. 
 

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          BNSF Plans to Spend $326 Million on North Dakota Projects   
By The Daily News
BNSF Railway plans to spend about $326 million this year on improving rail capacity and maintenance in North Dakota, where agricultural shippers say a backlog of railcars is hurting them financially.

The 2015 projects include building 37 miles of double track between Minot and Williston; installing of traffic control signaling near Devils Lake, Dickinson, Hillsboro and Jamestown to improve traffic flow; extending siding between Mandan and Glendive, Montana, enabling trains on the same line to pass one another; and upgrading the capacity of the rail yard in Dickinson.

The work will help connect North Dakota products to key markets and improve Amtrak's Empire Builder passenger line, which operates on the BNSF network, company spokesman Tom Albanese said.

"We know our customers are competing in a fast-paced, global economy where a smooth, efficient supply chain can be the difference between winning and losing in the marketplace," he said.

Members of North Dakota's congressional delegation issued statements saying the BNSF upgrades should help further reduce the backlog of railcars, which Rep. Kevin Cramer, D-N.D., said already has been easing in recent weeks.

"This, along with (the railroad's) record-setting commitment to improve the entire U.S. rail network, will help North Dakota's resources get to market safely and quickly," he said.

BNSF announced in November it would spend $6 billion in 2015 for capital improvements throughout its system. The railway operates in 28 states and three Canadian provinces.

BNSF Plans to Spend $326 Million on North Dakota Projects - The Daily News

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          Dalrymple to Announce Plans for a New, Value-Added Natural Gas Project   
By ND Governor's Office
Gov. Jack Dalrymple on Monday will be joined by energy industry leaders, the state’s congressional delegation and fellow North Dakota Industrial Commission members to announce plans for a record-setting, private industry investment in North Dakota’s energy sector.  Dalrymple will host a news conference Monday at the State Capitol to share details regarding the development of a processing facility that will add value to North Dakota natural gas and serve to further reduce flaring.
 
The news conference will be held Monday, Oct. 13, at 11:00 a.m. in the State Capitol’s Memorial Hall. The news conference will also be available via conference call by dialing 1-888-346-3659, and entering conference code 70132. Please mute phones while conference participants are speaking.
 
WHAT:           Announcement for record-setting, private industry investment in North Dakota’s energy sector.
 
WHEN:          Monday, Oct. 13, 2014
                      11:00 a.m.
                                   
WHERE:        North Dakota State Capitol
                       Memorial Hall
                       600 E. Boulevard Ave., Bismarck
                       Also available via conference call

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          UND Center for Innovation Announces New UAS Tenant   
by ND Commerce
The UND Center for Innovation Foundation’s technology incubator announced today that Virginia-based software company, VirtualAgility, has signed on as one of the first Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) tenants.
 
“We are extremely impressed by the UND Center for Innovation’s commitment to emerging technology, and the breadth and depth of the talent pool available in North Dakota,” Stuart Rudolph, President and CEO of VirtualAgility, said. “As we expand our UAS offerings, North Dakota provides the necessary infrastructure to support our plan to become the premier provider of UAS information management.”  
 
“Stuart Rudolph is a seasoned entrepreneur who quickly assessed the significant opportunity in North Dakota with his technology in one of the nation’s first UAS Test Sites, “ Bruce Gjovig,  CEO & Entrepreneur Coach of the UND Center for Innovation Foundation said. “ While at the UAS  Industry Summit he met with other UAS companies in our tech incubator, and  they immediately identified synergy that was possible in the incubator.”
 
North Dakota is home to a growing cluster of UAS research, business and military interests. Partnerships among private businesses, universities and state government strengthen North Dakota's position as a leader in UAS. 
 
“It is exciting to see VirtualAgility recognizing new business opportunities with UAS in North Dakota and taking steps to establish a presence here,” Brian Opp, Manager of Aerospace Business Development at the North Dakota Department of Commerce said.    
 
The signing occurred following the Northern Plains UAS industry day held earlier this month in Grand Forks. This event, coordinated by the North Dakota Department of Commerce, focused on attracting companies interested in partnering with the test site.
 
Last week, Gov. Jack Dalrymple joined FAA Administrator Michael Huerta and the state’s congressional delegation in announcing that North Dakota’s test site for UAS is the nation’s first to be certified ready for operations.
 
VirtualAgility provides a user-configurable platform that allows persons who are not specialists in information technology to create sophisticated, integrated applications. U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Defense utilize VirtualAgility technology in mission-critical applications requiring high degrees of security, accessibility, usability and breadth of functionality. Virtual AirBoss™ is designed to simplify the process of capturing, sharing and reporting on UAS activities.
 
The UND Center for Innovation Foundation is one of the premier venture development organizations in the United States, and has been ranked as one of the top entrepreneur centers in the nation by such entities as NBIA, SSTI, EDA and SBA. The foundation’s mission is to foster innovation, entrepreneurship and access to entrepreneur capital as well as provide vital entrepreneur infrastructure such as the Ina May Rude Entrepreneur Center, a tech incubator. 
 

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          FAA Certifies North Dakota's UAS Test Site as Nationals First to Be Ready for Operations   
By ND Governor
Dalrymple/Huerta announce ND UAS first to be certified operations ready

Gov. Jack Dalrymple today was joined by FAA Administrator Michael Huerta and the state’s congressional delegation in announcing that North Dakota’s test site for unmanned aerial systems (UAS) is the nation’s first to be certified ready for operations.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple today joined FAA Administrator Michael Huerta and the state’s congressional delegation in announcing that North Dakota’s test site for unmanned aerial systems (UAS) is the nation’s first to be certified ready for operations.

With the FAA’s nod of approval, North Dakota’s Northern Plains UAS Test Site will be the first of six national UAS testing grounds to begin the work of integrating unmanned aerial systems into the national airspace, Dalrymple said.

“We have worked long and hard to earn one of only six national test site designations and to become a national leader in UAS test site operations,” Dalrymple said. “With test site designation in hand and the first UAS program certification, we have a great opportunity to become a national hub for UAS research and development, to expand North Dakota’s role in aerospace sciences and to further diversify our economy.”
           
Huerta said North Dakota has developed the only UAS test site operations plan that currently meets the FAA’s rigid compliance standards. Dalrymple said with FAA certification complete, the Northern Plains Unmanned Aerial Systems Authority will begin the nation’s first UAS flight tests in May.
           
In December, the FAA selected North Dakota to operate one of six national UAS test sites, citing the state’s strong proposal, its national standing in aviation and aerospace sciences, university research and development capabilities as well as the state’s diverse climate and open airspace.
           
Dalrymple led the state’s efforts to establish a national UAS test site in North Dakota. At today’s news conference, he thanked the state’s congressional delegation, members of the Northern Plains Unmanned Aerial Systems Authority, officials at the North Dakota Department of Commerce and the state’s institutions of higher learning for their help in landing a UAS test site and the state’s UAS leadership position.
           
Dalrymple issued an executive order, establishing the Northern Plains Unmanned Aerial Systems Authority in May, 2013.  The six-member authority, chaired by Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley, has worked ever since to develop a national UAS test proposal, to earn a test site designation and to develop a test site operation that meets FAA certification.  The authority is charged with overseeing the operations of North Dakota’s UAS test site, including the development of public safety protocols,  privacy safeguards and UAS research and development opportunities. Former 119th North Dakota Air National Guard Commander Col. Robert Becklund serves as director of the Northern Plains UAS Test Site.
           
The state has invested more than $14 million to establish a national UAS test site and to advance UAS research and development. Following Dalrymple’s recommendation, the 63rd Legislative Assembly supported the state’s pursuit of a national test site by appropriating $5 million, with $4 million in operation funding contingent on FAA selection.
 

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          Dalrymple Kicks Off First Meeting of Pipeline Technology Working Group   
By ND Governor
Gov. Jack Dalrymple today kicked off the first meeting of the Pipeline Technology Working Group by welcoming its members and directing them to focus their work on identifying the latest available technologies for enhanced monitoring and control of oil and gas pipelines.
 
“Advancements in technology offer more opportunities to enhance the safe management of pipeline operations than ever before,” Dalrymple said. “We expect pipeline operators in North Dakota to use best practices and that may mean going above and beyond existing requirements to monitor and control pipeline flows.”
 
Dalrymple formed the 15-member advisory panel in December.  The technical working group includes private-sector engineers as well as representatives from the North Dakota Public Service Commission, the North Dakota State University Center for Surface Protection, the North Dakota Pipeline Authority, the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) and representatives from pipeline companies operating in the state.
 
Members of the working group today discussed current pipeline operation standards, including the monitoring of pipeline pressures and flows. The group also discussed current standards for the operation of pipelines in populated areas and environmentally sensitive areas.  The group’s final recommendations will be made available to landowners, legislators, regulators, local officials and the general public. 
 
To enhance pipeline and rail safety, Dalrymple continues to work with the state’s congressional delegation, state officials, industry leaders and with federal agencies including PHMSA, which regulates the operation of oil pipelines and rail transportation. The federal agency also partners with states, including North Dakota’s Public Service Commission, to regulate natural gas pipelines.
 
In meetings with PHMSA officials, Dalrymple has urged them to review their oversight protocols and determine whether federal pipeline regulations offer ample protection. 
“Pipelines are essential to the safe and efficient shipment of North Dakota’s oil and gas resources, but their operation requires a total commitment to safety,” Dalrymple said.
 
Members of the working group on pipeline technology are:
  • Niles Hushka - Chief Executive Officer, KLJ engineering
  • Mike Seminary - Business Development Manager, Houston Engineering 
  • Allan Beshore - Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration
  • Lynn Helms - Director, North Dakota Dept. of Mineral Resources
  • Sandi Tabor - former North Dakota Transmission Authority Director, Director of Government Relations, KLJ engineering
  • Gordon Bierwagen - North Dakota State University Center for Surface Protection, Department of  Coatings and Polymeric Materials
  • Wayne Armenta - Workforce, Safety and Field Operations, ONEOK Partners
  • Kari  Cutting - Vice President, North Dakota Petroleum Council
  • Arti Bhatia - Director of Pipeline and Corridor Risk Management, Alliance Pipeline
  • Patrick Fahn - Director of Compliance and Competitive Markets, North Dakota Public Service Commission
  • Scott Fradenburgh - Vice President of Operations, WBI Energy
  • Brent Horton - Director of Engineering for North Dakota, Enbridge Pipeline 
  • Mike McGrath - Pipeline Safety, Performance and Compliance, Alliance Pipeline 
  • Tad True - Vice President, Bridger and Belle Fourche Pipeline
  • Justin Kringstad - Director, North Dakota Pipeline Authority
 
Pipelines from the Williston Basin have the capacity to ship 583,000 barrels of oil per day. Three major pipeline projects, scheduled to be completed by late 2014, are expected to increase shipping capacity by 200,000 barrels of oil per day. Other pipeline projects, including the proposed Enbridge Sandpiper pipeline which would transfer as much as 225,000 barrel of oil per day to eastern U.S. markets, are in various stages of development. 
 
“Shipping Bakken crude by rail requires the same uncompromised commitment to safety and we will continue working with our congressional delegation, the federal government and the railroad industry for improved rail safety as well,” Dalrymple said.
 
PHMSA should finalize as soon as possible new standards for rail tank cars to incorporate improved safety features, Dalrymple said.  The governor is also urging the railway industry to provide more information about its emergency communication systems and operational protocols involving trains passing through populated areas while carrying hazardous materials.
 

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           Prediction of low frequency blood pressure oscillations via a combined heart/resistance model    
Ringwood, John and Kinnane, Oliver and Malpas, Simon (2005) Prediction of low frequency blood pressure oscillations via a combined heart/resistance model. Proceedings of the 16th IFAC World Congress, Prague.
           Control problem classification for a plasma process    
Iordanov, Petar and Ringwood, John and Doherty, Sean (2005) Control problem classification for a plasma process. Proceedings of the 16th IFAC World Congress, Prague.
          Walk for research funds   
University and college teachers, research scholars and students walked from Bose Institute at Rajabazar to the office of the Indian Science Congress Association in Park Circus this afternoon to protest the central government's policies that have cut down on funds for scientific research.
          Accommodation For ANZAC Day & State Congress 2016   
The Seasons Apartment Hotel Group have offered great rates during the ANZAC and the State Congress periods. ANZAC DAY SPECIAL RATES 24-25 April 2016 : $140 per room STATE CONGRESS DAY SPECIAL RATES 17-18 June 2016 : $140 per room When booking accommodation please phone or email ONLY Dilshad Khan at Seasons. Dishad Khan Business […]
          100th State Congress   
Time To Think About… State Congress Agenda Items (Motions) Agenda Items (Motions) are to be received by State Headquarters no later than 4pm Friday 6th May 2016. Please note: late Agenda Items cannot be accepted. Motions shall be State or National in character, of an affirmative nature and accompanied by adequate preamble and support material. […]
          R-Star and the Yellen rules   

R-Star and the Yellen rules

Henrike Michaelis, Volker Wieland 03 February 2017

With the new Republican majority in both Houses of the US Congress, the Fed Oversight Reform and Modernization (FORM) Act that was passed by the House of Representatives in November 2015 is receiving renewed attention. Section 2 requires that the Fed:

  1. “describe the strategy or rule of the Federal Open Market Committee for the systematic quantitative adjustment” of its policy instruments; and
  2. compare its strategy or rule with a reference rule.1

Janet Yellen, Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, is to be complimented for using such comparisons with reference rules in her communication about Fed policy. Just recently, in a speech at Stanford on 19 January, she discussed how current Fed policy compares to several simple policy rules.2

For example, Yellen uses the well-known Taylor rule as a reference point. Additionally, she considers two other rules, which she calls the ‘balanced-approach rule’ and the ‘change rule’. Looking forward, she contrasts the implications of the rules with the FOMC members’ projections for the federal funds rate. She states that such benchmark rules “can be helpful in providing broad guidance about how the federal funds rate should be adjusted over time in response to movements in real activity and inflation.” Yet, as Yellen notes, “the Taylor rule prescribes a much higher path for the federal funds rate than the median of (FOMC) participants’ assessments of appropriate policy”.

Yellen goes on to make the important argument that “if the neutral rate were to remain quite low over the medium term, .., then the appropriate setting for R-Star in the Taylor rule would arguably be zero, yielding a yet lower path for the federal funds rate.” To support her argument, she refers to estimates of this R-Star by Holston et al. (2017).

However, as we show below, if one uses an estimate of potential real activity that is consistent with this R-Star estimate, the argument is turned on its head. Since the consistent estimate of potential real activity is lower than the one considered by Yellen, it implies federal funds rate prescriptions that have been above Fed policy for quite some time. Thus, a consistent use of these estimates indicates that Fed policy has been rather loose relative to such a reference rule.

This is shown in Figure 1. The blue line is the actual federal funds rate. The orange line indicates the prescriptions from the (standard) Taylor rule. The dark green line (labelled the “Yellen Taylor Rule”) uses the lower neutral rate/R-Star estimate suggested by Yellen (2016). Its prescriptions for the funds rate are quite a bit lower. However, once the consistent estimate of potential real activity is used along with the R-Star estimate, the interest rate prescriptions move back up as shown by the light-green line in Figure 1 (labelled the “consistent Yellen Taylor rule”).

Figure 1 Federal funds rate and Taylor rules

R-Star and other ingredients in the reference rules

Let’s take a closer look why this is so. The Taylor rule prescribes a value for the federal funds rate that deviates from its long-run equilibrium whenever inflation deviates from a target of 2% and output deviates from potential (Taylor 1993). Here’s the formula:

Fed Funds Rate = R-Star + Target + 1.5 (Inflation – Target) + 0.5 (Output Gap)

The equilibrium funds rate is simply the sum of the long-term equilibrium real rate, the ‘infamous’ R-Star, and the target rate for inflation. Taylor (1993) puts both at 2%. For inflation, the 2% value actually coincides with the Fed’s longer-run goal made public in 2012 and measured with the PCE (Personal Consumption Expenditures) Index. For R-Star, Taylor (1993) used trend GDP growth, which stood at 2.2% between 1984 and 1992. Incidentally, the same estimate of R-Star stands even a bit higher between 1984 and 2016.

The standard Taylor rule shown in Figure 1 uses a 2% R-Star, core PCE inflation (green line in Figure 2), and the output gap proposed by Yellen (2016). This output gap (blue line in Figure 2) is based on the unemployment rate using Okun’s law with an estimate of the long-run NAIRU. This output gap measure declines following the outbreak of the financial crisis reaching a trough of -8% in 2010, and it has just been closed in 2016.

Figure 2 Output gap estimates and PCE-inflation (core)

Medium-run equilibrium rates

The Yellen Taylor rule instead uses estimates of the equilibrium real rate based on a methodology as appears in Laubach and Williams (2003) and Holston et al. (2017). (For the calculation, see Beyer and Wieland 2014 and GCEE 2015, 2016.) This is best characterised as a medium-run equilibrium rate. It is estimated within a three-equation model consisting of an aggregate demand curve, an inflation Phillips curve, and a definition linking potential growth and the equilibrium interest rate/R-Star. This setup contains a number of temporary and permament shocks. The estimate of the medium-run equilibrium rate can change substantially within short periods of time. As shown by the orange line in Figure 3, it declined sharply with the recession in 2008/2009 and has hovered near zero since then.

Figure 3 Medium run equilibrium interest rates

Using the estimate of the medium-run equilibrium rate in place of the long-run equilibrium R-Star, the Yellen Taylor rule (green line in Figure 1) results in much lower federal funds rate prescriptions than the standard Taylor rule.

However, the estimates of potential real activity and the output gap obtained with the methodology as in Laubach and Williams (2003) are quite different from those in the Yellen Taylor rule, which are derived from a long-run NAIRU. The medium-run output gap (orange line in Figure 2) declines much less in the 2008/09 recession. The trough occurs at about -2%. The output gap estimate is back in positive territory by 2011. A deeper trough and longer-lasting negative output gap would have implied substantial deflation according to the estimated Phillips curve. Absent deflation, potential is revised down and the output gap is revised upwards. Along with the lower potential and trend growth, the equilibrium rate estimate declines. Consequently, using the consistent medium run estimates of R-Star and the output gap, the federal funds rate prescriptions from the consistent Yellen Taylor rule turns out to be quite a bit higher than when the long-run NAIRU-based output gap is used.

The balanced-approach rule, also considered by Yellen, doubles the coefficient on the output gap to unity. Thus, the interest rate prescriptions from the balanced-approach rule would be even higher. Finally, the change rule uses first-differences, thereby removing R-Star considerations from the formula.

R-Star, reference rules, and Fed independence

In conclusion, with the use of simple reference rules one can illustrate quite clearly the impact of changes in R-Star and potential real activity on the path for monetary policy. In this sense, the comparative approach that would be required under Section 2 of the FORM Act proves quite useful. It also helps pointing out that insisting on consistency in the gap and equilibrium measures has important implications for how to interpret current policy. Specifically, the decline in R-Star estimates does not justify the current policy stance. Rather, consistent application suggests that policy should be tightened. Whether these medium-run estimates, following Laubach and Williams (2003), should really be given so much attention is another question. For one thing, they are extremely imprecise as indicated by the wide confidence bands in Figure 3. They are very sensitive to technical assumptions (Beyer and Wieland 2015, GCEE 2015), as Laubach and Williams (2003) have stressed. Others have pointed to a number of reasons why these estimates may suffer from omitted variable bias (Taylor and Wieland 2016, Cukierman 2016). Thus, it would be better not to use them as key determinant of the policy stance.

Importantly, however, these comparisons of Fed policy to simple reference rules show how such legislation would serve to bolster the Federal Reserve’s independence. Just imagine, if ever a president would try to exert pressure on the Fed to keep interest rates too low for too long in order to boost activity during his or her term and improve chances of reelection. This has a name – it’s a political business cycle. Clearly, by referring to such legislation and appropriate reference rules, the Fed would be able to better stand up to such pressure and more effectively communicate its reasons to the public.

References

Beyer, R C M and V Wieland (2015) “Schätzung des mittelfristigen Gleichgewichtszinses in den Vereinigten Staaten, Deutschland und dem Euro-Raum mit der Laubach-Williams-Methode”, GCEE Working Paper 03/2015, Wiesbaden, November.

Cukierman, A (2016) “Reflections on the natural rate of interest, its measurement, monetary policy and the zero bound”, CEPR Discussion paper 11467.

GCEE (2016) “Time for reforms”. Annual economic report, German Council of Economic Experts, 2 November.

GCEE (2015), “Focus on future viability”, Annual economic report, German Council of Economic Experts, 11 November.

Laubach, T and J C Williams (2003) “Measuring the natural rate of interest”, Review of Economics and Statistics, 85(4): 1063-1070.

Holston, K, T Laubach and J C Williams (2017) “Measuring the natural rate of interest: International trends and determinants”, Journal of International Economics, in press.

Taylor, J B and V Wieland (2016) “Finding the equilibrium real interest rate in a fog of policy deviations”, Business Economics, 51(3): 147-154.

Yellen, J (2016) “The economic outlook and the conduct of monetary policy”, Remarks at Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, Stanford University, 19 January.

Yellen, J (2015) “Normalizing monetary policy: Prospects and perspectives”, Remarks at the conference on New Normal Monetary Policy, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

Endnotes

[1] For more information on the legislation and why the Requirements for Policy Rules of the Federal Open Market Committee are supported by leading scholars of monetary economics see here.

[2] This can be found in the third section of the speech under the heading “Evaluating the appropriate stance of monetary policy” (Yellen 2016).

Topics:  Macroeconomic policy Monetary policy

Tags:  Fed, US Federal Reserve System, Janet Yellen, R-Star, Federal Open Market Committee, Taylor rule


          How bank networks amplify financial crises: Evidence from the Great Depression   

How bank networks amplify financial crises: Evidence from the Great Depression

Kris Mitchener, Gary Richardson 28 May 2016

How financial networks propagate shocks and magnify recessions is of interest to both scholars and policymakers. The financial crisis of 2007-8 convinced many observers that financial networks were fragile, and while reforms are underway, much remains to be learned about how and why connections between financial firms matter for the macroeconomy. Indeed, the complexity and sheer number of linkages has made it particularly challenging to formulate empirical estimates of their role in amplifying downturns.

Economic theory suggests many channels through which networks may transmit shocks (Allen and Gale 2000, Cabellero and Simesek 2013) and empirical research has provided some evidence of contagious failures flowing through interbank markets, particularly for the recent financial crisis in the US and Europe (Puhr et al. 2012, Fricke and Lux 2012). History should have a lot to say about the role of networks in contributing to the severity of financial crises, but it is a surprisingly lightly studied aspect of earlier periods of financial turmoil – even for well-researched episodes such as the Great Depression. This lacuna exists despite the fact that financial networks of the past may be simpler in structure, thus making it somewhat easier to identify empirically how aggregate variables, such as lending, were affected when linkages were disrupted.

In a recent paper, we document how the interbank network transmitted liquidity shocks through the US banking system and how the transmission of these shocks amplified the contraction in real economic activity during the Great Depression (Mitchener and Richardson 2016). The paper contributes to the growing literature on financial networks and the real economy, illuminating both a mechanism for transmission (interbank deposits) as well as a source of amplification (balance-sheet effects). It also introduces an additional channel through which banking distress deepened the Great Depression and complements existing research on how bank distress during the Great Depression influenced the real economy.

We describe how a pyramid-like structure of interbank deposits developed in the 19th century, how the founding of the Fed altered the holdings of these deposits, and how this structure then influenced real economic activity during periods of severe distress, such as banking panics (Mitchener and Richardson 2016). The interbank network that existed on the eve of the Great Depression linked large money centre banks in New York and Chicago to tens of thousands of smaller rural banks throughout the US. The money centre banks served as correspondents holding deposits from institutions in the countryside. Interbank balances exposed correspondent banks to shocks afflicting banks in the hinterland. Interbank deposits were a liquid source of funds that could be deployed to meet sudden demands by depositors to convert claims to cash, and the removal of these deposits from correspondent banks peaked during periods that contemporary commentators described as – and that our detailed statistical analysis of bank suspensions confirms were – banking panics. Although the pyramided system of interbank deposits could handle idiosyncratic bank runs, when runs clustered in time and space (i.e. when panics occurred) the system became overwhelmed in the sense that banks higher up the pyramid were forced to adjust to these changes in liabilities by changing their assets (i.e. lending).

We use the timing and location of these panics to statistically identify the causal relationship between panics, deposit withdrawals, and the decline in lending that occurred in banks in reserve and central reserve cities throughout the US. During periods identified as panics, withdrawals of interbank deposits forced correspondent banks to reduce lending to businesses. These interbank outflows led to a substantial decline in aggregate lending, equal to approximately 15% of the total decline in commercial bank lending in the US, from the peak in 1929 to the trough in 1933.

Ironically, the Federal Reserve System had been created with the purpose of preventing crises such as those that had regularly plagued the banking system in the 19th century. We help to explain why the Fed failed to fulfil this basic responsibility. Because the Fed failed to convince roughly half of all commercial banks to join the system, a pyramided-structure of reserves persisted into the third decade of the 20th century and created a channel through which the interbank deposit could influence real economic activity. In theory, pyramided reserves could have been deployed to help troubled banks, but during the banking panics of the 1930s, just as in the panics of the late 19th century, the total size of these withdrawals overwhelmed correspondent banks, leaving those banks with the choice of either saving themselves, contracting on the asset side of their balance sheets, or borrowing from the Fed. With the Fed unable or unwilling to provide sufficient liquidity to support distressed correspondent banks, they were forced to react to interbank outflows by reducing lending, thus amplifying the decline in investment spending. Although the mechanism is new, our results corroborate other studies on the Depression, which emphasise how banking distress reduced loan supply (Bernanke 1983, Calomiris and Mason 2003b).

What might have alleviated this problem? One solution would have been for the Federal Reserve to extend sufficient liquidity to the entire financial system. The Fed could have done this by lending funds to banks in reserve centres. In turn, those banks could have loaned funds to their interbank clients. To do this, banks in reserve centres would have had to accept as collateral loans originated by non-member banks. Banks in reserve centres would, in turn, need to use those assets as collateral at the Federal Reserve’s discount window. However, leaders of the Federal Reserve disagreed about the efficacy and legality of such action.

Another potential solution would have been to compel all commercial banks to join the Federal Reserve System and require all commercial banks to hold their reserves at a Federal Reserve Bank. Due to powerful political lobbies representing state and local bankers, however, Congress was unwilling to contemplate legislation that would have effected such changes. Had they done so, the pyramid structure of required reserves would have ceased to exist, and the interbank amplifier, as defined here, would have been dramatically diminished. That said, given the inaction of some Federal Reserve Banks during the 1930s, had such changes taken place, they may have magnified banking distress as more banks would have depended on obtaining funds through Federal Reserve Banks that adhered to the real bills doctrine. As we show, the costs of the pyramid in terms of a contraction in lending were substantial, but banks still met some of their short-term needs through this structure during the turbulent periods of banking distress.

References

Allen, F and D Gale (2000) “Financial contagion,” Journal of Political Economy 108:1-33.

Bernanke, B S (1983) “Nonmonetary effects of the financial crisis in the propagation of the Great Depression”, American Economic Review, 73(3): 257-276.

Caballero, R J and A Simsek (2013) "Fire sales in a model of complexity", The Journal of Finance, 68(6): 2549-2587.

Calomiris, C W and J R Mason (2003b) “Consequences of bank distress during the Great Depression”, American Economic Review, 93: 937-47.

Fricke, D and T Lux (2012) “Core-periphery structure in the overnight money market: Evidence from the e-MID trading platform”, Kiel Institute for the World Economy, Working Paper No 1759.

Mitchener, K and G Richardson (2016) “Networked contagion and interbank amplification during the Great Depression”, CEPR Discussion Paper 11164.

Puhr, C, R Seliger and M Sigmund (2012) “Contagiousness and vulnerability in the Austrian interbank market”, OeNB Financial Stability Report, No 24, Oesterreichische Nationalbank.

Topics:  Economic history Financial regulation and banking Global crisis

Tags:  US, Great Depression, networks, financial network, banks, banking system, Fed, banking network, liquidity shocks, reserves


          Evidence that low real rates will persist   

Will interest rates be permanently lower?

John Williams 26 November 2015

Following the Global Crisis, central banks around the world brought their policy rates close to zero, as shown in Figures 1 and 2. And now a few – including the ECB, the Swedish Riksbank, and the Swiss National Bank – have crossed the zero-rate threshold and instituted negative interest rates. A period of nearly seven years of extremely low interest rates has spurred a debate over whether interest rates will return to more normal levels. Will they rebound once the effects of the global financial crisis are finally behind us? Or are low rates a permanent feature of the economic landscape? The resolution to this debate has important implications for the economy and monetary policy (Summers 2014).

Figure 1. Near-zero interest rates following the Global Financial Crisis

Source: OECD, Federal Reserve Board.

Figure 2. Negative short-term interest rates become more common

Source: OECD.

Economists have a laundry list of developments that, in theory, could cause the trend in real (inflation-adjusted) interest rates to change over time. These include persistent shifts in the rate of productivity growth, demographics, risk aversion, fiscal policy, and international factors (Congressional Budget Office 2015, IMF 2014, Council of Economic Advisers 2015, Hamilton et al 2015). However, it has proven more challenging to gauge their quantitative impact on trend interest rates.

Unfortunately, standard statistical techniques are poorly suited to distinguish whether a permanent shift in interest rates will emerge from the current situation – an extended period of low rates instituted in response to an unusually deep recession and sluggish recovery. As discussed in Laubach and Williams (2015), the fact that rates have been very low for close to seven years implies that standard statistical methods indicate that the fall in real rates is entirely due to a downward shift in trend. In particular, these methods indicate that the current trend short-term rate in the US is about –1.5. A similar conclusion is drawn for global interest rates (Hamilton et al 2015).

One way around this problem is to use a macroeconomic model that explicitly takes into account the combined behaviours of inflation, output, and interest rates in estimating the trend in real interest rates. In the Laubach-Williams (LW) model, the trend, or ‘natural,’ real interest rate is implicitly defined as that which occurs when the economy is operating at its full potential and there are no inflationary pressures in either direction. This model assumes that the trend real interest rate depends on the estimated trend growth rate of real GDP and other unspecified influences.

The model is estimated using the Kalman filter. The Kalman filter operates on the principle that one should partially adjust one’s estimate of the unobserved variables –the trend natural rate of interest, the level of potential output, and its trend growth rate – based on the discrepancies between the model’s predictions for real GDP and inflation, and the actual data.  In particular, if real GDP is lower than the model predicts, the estimate of the natural rate of interest is reduced by a small fraction of the forecast error. The output gap estimate, in turn, is based on a Phillips curve relationship between inflation, the output gap, and other variables. If, for example, inflation turns out lower than predicted, the level of potential output is revised up (that is, for a given level of real GDP, the output gap is revised down) by a small fraction, as is the estimate of the trend growth rate of potential output.

The LW estimates of the natural rate of interest display a moderate secular decline over the two decades preceding the Great Recession and a second, more substantial decline during the Great Recession (Williams 2015). Figure 3 shows the estimates of the natural rate of interest from 1980 to 2015.  The estimate of the natural rate was about 3.5% for 1990, gradually declining to about 2% in 2007, on the cusp of the Great Recession. In the recession years of 2008 and 2009, the estimated natural rate plummets to about zero, where it has remained ever since. This is an unprecedented decline and historical low for the natural rate.

Figure 3. Laubach-Williams estimates of trend short-term real interest

Note: Grey bands denote NBER recessions.

What accounts for the decline in natural rates? According to the LW model, a falling trend rate of potential output growth accounts for about half of the decline.  The final two rows of Table 1 show the contributions from changes in trend growth and the catch-all ‘other factors’ to the decline in the estimated natural rate for the periods 1990–2007 and 2007–2015.  Figure 4 shows the LW model estimates of the trend growth rate of potential output over 1980–2015. Estimated trend potential output growth was about 3.5% in 1990, declining to 3% in 2007, then falling sharply to about 2%. Note that the model does not attribute these movements in trend potential output growth to specific sources; rather they are treated as exogenous shifts.

Table 1. Alternative measures of trend real short-term interest rates

Figure 4. Laubach-Williams estimates of the trend growth rate of GDP

Note: Grey bands denote NBER recessions.

There is robust evidence of a persistent decline in the trend real interest rates using alternative approaches to estimate trend real interest rates. Laubach and Williams (2015) explore alternative versions of the LW model and in each case the current estimate of trend real rates is very low. In addition, a number of other studies have examined whether trend real interest rates are permanently lower. Although individual estimates differ, it is striking that a wide variety of approaches point to historically low levels of future real interest rates (Hamilton et al 2015, Johannsen and Mertens 2015, Kiley 2015, Lubik and Matthes 2015).

Economic forecasters and financial market participants appear to have embraced this perspective, as seen in economists’ surveys and yields on Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS). The first row of Table 1 reports natural rate estimates implied by the long-run forecasts from the Blue Chip survey of forecasters. The second row reports real interest rates five to ten years in the future based on TIPS yields (note that TIPS did not exist in 1990). The third row reports the LW estimates. The pattern of declining trend interest rates is consistent across the three measures, although the movements in the LW estimates are noticeably larger than the other two.

What are the implications of the sizeable decline in the trend real rate of interest? First, if sustained, it implies that longer-term interest rates will also be correspondingly lower on average. Second, a lower average real interest rate implies that episodes of monetary policy being constrained at the zero lower bound are likely to be more frequent and longer (Reifschneider and Williams 2000). Third, it is a powerful reminder that one should not treat the natural rate of interest as fixed, as is often done in discussions of monetary policy rules such as the Taylor rule. Finally, estimates of trend or natural rates are subject to a great deal of uncertainty (Orphanides and Williams 2002, Laubach and Williams 2003). The various measures of trend interest rates differ by as much as 1.5 percentage points, an unusually large deviation in estimates compared to the period before the Great Recession.

So, will interest rates be permanently lower? While an unequivocal answer is not possible with the information at hand, the evidence suggests a significant decline in the trend in real interest rates. And there is little, if any, sign of a return to a more normal trend.  Taken together, this evidence suggests that it is likely that the trend in real short-term interest rates is lower than it was in previous decades, with the possibility that it may even have fallen below 1%.

Author’s note: The views presented in this article are the author’s alone, and do not necessarily reflect those of other members of the Federal Reserve System.

References

Congressional Budget Office (2015) The 2015 Long-Term Budget Outlook, June 16.

Council of Economic Advisers (2015) “Long-term interest rates: A survey”, July.

Hamilton, J D, E S Harris, J Hatzius and K D West (2015) “The equilibrium real funds rate: Past, present, and future”, Hutchins Center on Fiscal & Monetary Policy at Brookings, Working Paper 16, October 30.

International Monetary Fund (2014) World Economic Outlook: April 2014.

Johannsen, B K and E Mertens (2015) “The shadow rate of interest, macroeconomic trends, and time-varying uncertainty”, Unpublished manuscript.

Kiley, M T (2015) “What can the data tell us about the equilibrium real interest rate?” Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2015-077, Washington: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, August.

Laubach, T and J C Williams (2003) “Measuring the natural rate of interest”, Review of Economics and Statistics, 85(4): 1,063–1,070. Updated estimates here.

Laubach, T and J C Williams (2015) “Measuring the natural rate of interest redux”, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Working Paper 2015-16, October.

Lubik, T A and C Matthes (2015) “Calculating the natural rate of interest: A comparison of two alternative approaches”, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Economic Brief 15-10, October.

Orphanides, A and J C Williams (2002) “Robust monetary policy rules with unknown natural rates”, Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, 2002(2): 63–145.

Reifschneider, D and J C Williams (2000) “Three lessons for monetary policy in a low-inflation era”, Journal of Money, Credit, and Banking, 32(4/ 2): 936–966.

Summers, L H (2014) “US economic prospects: Secular stagnation, hysteresis, and the zero lower bound”, Business Economics, 49(2): 65–73.

Williams, J C (2003) “The natural rate of interest”, FRBSF Economic Letter, 2003-32, October 31.

Williams, J C (2015) “The decline in the natural rate of interest”, Business Economics, 50(2): 57–60.

Topics:  Global crisis Macroeconomic policy

Tags:  Fed, interest rates, zero lower bound, central bank, Central Banks, global crisis


          The TCPA, Robocalls and a Meaningful Definition of Consent   
Under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), in order for marketers to call or text a telephone subscriber via autodialer or prerecorded messages (robocalls), the subscriber must have given the robocaller “prior express consent” to do so. What constitutes “express consent” under the TCPA? The TCPA does not define “express consent.” Congress delegated to the […]
          @AltheimLaw’s Privacy and Data Protection Week in Review   
Big Data One code to rule them all: How big data could help the 1 percent and hurt the little guy ‪http://www.salon.com/2014/01/03/one_code_to_rule_them_all_how_big_data_could_help_the_1_percent_and_hurt_the_little_guy/ …       Children Online Privacy Maryland AG Gansler Submits Children’s Online Privacy Workgroup Report ‪http://ow.ly/2Cyc8W    Conferences ·      Watch All ‪#30c3 talks, without data retention or Google spyware ‪https://media.ccc.de/browse/congress/2013/ …     Data Breaches ·      WA: Sumner […]
          @AltheimLaw’s Privacy and Data Protection Week in Review   
California Privacy   Should We Cheer The California Attorney General’s Revenge Porn Arrest Or Find It Alarming? (Forbes Cross-Post) http://ow.ly/2CgHsk  California’s New Do-Not-Track Law Goes Into Effect January 1, 2014, Remember To Check Your Privacy Policy For … ow.ly/2CimTG     Conferences   IAPP Daily Dashboard ‏@DailyDashboard17 Dec Coverage of last week’s #DPCongress #NSA panel w/ @ioerror @stewartbaker @bendrath & Vodafone (recording included) bit.ly/1kSpreu “Yes, Consent Is Dead. […]
          Ediscovery, Data Privacy and Social Media Weekly Updates   
DataGuidance ‏@DataGuidance11 Dec #dpcongress Watson,author:schools should be teaching about privacy and data #EUdataP FutureofPrivacy ‏@futureofprivacy11 Dec Despite few complaints from EU DPAs, FTC on its own initiative has brought 10 actions for violations of the Safe Harbor. #EUdataP #privacy DataGuidance ‏@DataGuidance11 Dec #dpcongress Julie Brill, FTC:safe harbor needs to be improved.dispute resolution, accountability & transparency areas to improve.#EUdataP Christian W Svanberg ‏@WieseSvanberg4h http://WSJ.com  […]
          Comment on We Still Celebrate Independence Day at Church (by Dean Stewart) by Jim Perry   
Hey Dave Miller Todd Benkert Brent Hobbs, this started as a comment on the post about patriotic services, but grew so long in the telling that it seemed less appropriate as such. Would it pass muster as a regular piece on the blog as the other side of the argument? ####### I was a worship leader on staff at a church the last two years. I have seen two 4th's of July come and go, and I never did even one patriotic song. Pastor mentioned it and maybe preached on how to live as Christians in this country, but we didn't do patriotic stuff, and in fact, I never heard a complaint for not doing it. And we're in the middle of Indiana, which is hardly any less patriotic than anyone else. I have said in the past, perhaps glibly, "I'm here to worship God, not America." That's how I see it, personally. But there is so much to deal with on this issue, and it really is a matter of the conscience, certainly not a salvation issue, or perhaps not even a right or wrong issue, though I suppose we only come to positions we believe are right and correct. I don't hate anyone who thinks differently, and I don't get angry over it. But here, perhaps, is a suitable explanation of my perspective. The first principle is that it is incumbent upon those of us in leadership to aim for the higher ideal, closer to the heart of God, and lead our people there. With regard to the "meat sacrificed to idols" topic, much is made of the "brother with the weaker conscience," but wherein is the strengthening of that conscience? If it is permissible to eat that meat, but we abstain from doing it in front of the weaker brother, are we not to educate said brother and strengthen him so that he agrees with the Lord, "Why call unclean what I have made unclean?" I don't believe the Apostle was advocating for leaving said brother in his "weaker" state. We absolutely have to analyze why we think the way we think, in all areas. To find the roots of our sentiments and judge them valid or invalid. First is an appreciation for the undertaking that won us our liberty from Great Britain. I love the Revolutionary War period of history. I will gobble that stuff up. Every 4th of July I make my kids sit down and watch The Patriot, with John Williams' beautiful score (my son's named after the guy), and that overwhelming sense of national pride. This and the founding documents are essential to understanding how and why we became who we are as Americans, and Who through His divine Providence made us free. Second is our contemporary sentiments regarding this country, which are largely generational. We are nearing the time when the veterans of World War II will no longer be among us. It was the last war that I believe we fought on entirely just grounds (save for the first Gulf War, which really was no war, but a brief armed incursion to remove Saddam Hussein from Kuwait). Many thousands of people died to liberate the European continent and the Pacific theater from near global tyranny. The industry of war finally brought us out of the Depression (which FDR had unnecessarily perpetuated with his disastrous economic policies). It brought us together as a nation for a common purpose. It made us proud to be Americans. We were the good guys for real. We did something really GOOD, and that was something to celebrate. The World War II generation may be nearly lost to us, but their children remain. They were raised in a country steeped in this good patriotism. My Grandfather was of the World War II generation, and several of you are Boomers, so we are not so far removed from that time we did something truly good. We know and believe what we are taught, and we naturally gravitate toward the familiar. So it is with no great burden that we dutifully recite the Pledge of Allegiance, we stand for the National Anthem with our hands on our hearts, we vote because we believe we should, and we say our troops our "defending our freedom." However, I am reminded of a couple things from Eisenhower's farewell address. Who better to draw from than a man who embraced, and served with distinction in, all spheres of his life? The first is this: "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together." We have been so very fortunate that those at the head of the "military-industrial complex" have not sought misplaced power. Our military brass have respected the chain of command, and I agree that all who have served deserve our honor and respect. The problem is that there has been a "disastrous rise of misplaced power" in our politicians, and all our Presidents since Eisenhower have been looking, in one form or another, for that next great military victory that all Americans can again be unified in celebrating. Trust me when I say that I am not being glib in asking this question, and it is not a reflection on our troops or their commanders, but rather the bureaucrats who command them. Are they really sent to defend our freedom? Were they defending *our* freedom when they were sent to Vietnam, Grenada, Kosovo, Iraq or Somalia? Our military has been sent into action after questionable action, without Constitutionally appropriate declarations of war from Congress, and then when they are sent in, the execution of the action so often becomes subject to political calculation and partisan whim. We all know too well the sins of Vietnam. I now fear my children desiring to serve in the military, and would counsel them against it. I didn't always feel this way. The second Eisenhower quote is this: "As we peer into society's future, we -- you and I, and our government -- must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow." Sadly, the World War II generation gave us a great tragedy along with a great victory. That tragedy was the vast behemoth of FDR's government, which threw out the window every great thing that President Coolidge achieved (or left alone) when he vastly reduced the size, scope and budget of the Federal Government. That World War II generation, and now the Boomers, are beginning to rely on a government program that has itself become insolvent, and may in fact become a "phantom" tomorrow. With the national debt now having increased 800% (!!!!!) since 1980, vastly out-gaining inflation of just over 212%, our government has truly mortgaged the material assets of our grandchildren. By allowing Marxist Socialism into our government and allowing the Federal Government to exceed its Constitutional bounds, we have lost our political heritage. And who would be culpable in a nation that has lost its spiritual heritage? Perhaps the American Church which has largely worshiped our "Christian" Nation? Examine your own hearts in this regard. How many times to we misappropriate 2 Chronicles 7:14 for America? This is not a promise from the Lord to heal our land, but Israel. And under the New Covenant we are spiritually grafted into Israel, which is a *spiritual* Israel. Psalm 81:13 says, "If only my people would listen to me and Israel would follow my ways." God is not going to heal America, no matter how much we ask him. He is interested in the hearts of men and women, and he judged harshly the nations whose god was themselves. So when you raise up America in the focal place where God is worshiped, how can he be pleased? This is what bothers me about Awana or RA’s/GA’s (if anyone does that still). We teach kids not only to do the Pledge of Allegiance–which, secularly speaking, is good insofar as we do not seek to undermine the country whose benefits we enjoy–but then a made-up pledge to the Bible, which the Lord doesn’t command we do, and a made-up pledge for a made-up “Christian” flag, which to me, raising a flag for Jesus that Jesus didn’t institute is an abomination. It's an offensive trivialization of the Faith. We lift up the Savior, not a flag. Yes, we ought to be grateful that God gave us this country to live in, where our ancestors settled to be free to worship as they saw fit. Yes we have been blessed by God, but we have taken that blessing and grown fat and lazy. We have "done evil in the sight of the Lord," and not just "those sinners" who practice abortion and homosexuality, but also "us Christians" who gossip, covet, hate and worship idols. None of this should be taken as hatred for America, but rather we all ought to cultivate a healthy sense of ambivalence to it. And I mean 'healthy.' We have liberties and we should *use* them, even as many of them are slowly eroded away. We must participate in the electoral process, but always demanding the best of our politicians. We should lobby our government for "redress of grievances" as is appropriate. We should not speak evil of her but speak truthfully about the evils within her, and most especially in our own house. We should recognize the erosion of civility with the increase in partisanship and become less partisan ourselves because Jesus is our King, and His is our Kingdom. With the celebration of our founding comes lament in that we have allowed this country to fall so far from it. In conclusion, I do not feel patriotic observances are wrong. It is not sinful to honor the people who have served in our military. Have the picnics. Have the fireworks. Sing the songs, honor those who died in service to another, and celebrate the founding of "the last best hope of man on earth." But consider carefully whether it ought to take the place of our singing to the Lord, and singing of him only, and preaching of his Word rather than overlaying it with a flag. To present this as a function of our worship service is wrong, in my view. It is not hope on earth we are trying to secure, but hope in the life to come.
          July 23rd: The Great Swine Flu Panic Of 2009   


It seems to me that swine flu has gotten off very lightly when it comes to conspiracy theories. Surely shome mishtake there. Let's help get the ball rolling...

THE FACTS:

1. GlaxoSmithKline announced yesterday that they are raking in £3bilion profits from swine flu drugs this year alone. ("Drugs giant GlaxoSmithKline predicts swine flu gold rush" Guardian, 22nd July 2009)

2. The chief executive of GlaxoSmithKline, Andrew Witty, said the company had been preparing for a pandemic for the last three-and-a-half years and had spent more than £1bn to ensure its factories could crank up production at short notice. (Ditto above)

3. In November 2005, U.S. President George W. Bush requested that Congress fund $7.1 billion in emergency spending for flu pandemic preparedness (the Senate had already passed an $8.1 billion bill). Bush's plan included $1.4 billion for government purchases of antiviral drugs. (From here).

4. The leading anti-flu drug being stockpiled is Tamiflu - produced by Roche pharmateuticual company and developed by Gilead Sciences. Former US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was a former chairman of Roche and is a substantial shareholder in Gilead Sciences. ("Donald Rumsfeld's Controversial links to drug company" Daily Mail, 2nd May 2009)


5. From a purely British perspective, the media isnt talking about MPs expenses, Fred the Shred, executive bonuses, and bank bail outs anymore. The bastards have all got away with lining their pockets at the tax payers expense. The media have swum like a shoal of docile complicit goldfish to the next pond.

THE REALITY?

"Swine flu in Scotland may have peaked" Guardian, 23rd July 2009

A LONE VOICE AMONG THE BEWILDERED STAMPEDING HERD?


"Just two months of swine flu sniffles, and madness reigns" Simon Jenkins, Guardian, 22nd July 2009

THE GREAT BIRD FLU PANIC OF 2005

Anyone remember "bird flu"? A World Health Organisation official predicted 150 million deaths from a bird flu pandemic. ("WHO tries to play down expert warning of 150 million deaths from flu pandemic" Independent, 1st Oct 2005)

Bird flu was going to kill 750,000 of us according to the UK government's chief medical office/panic merchant Sir Liam Donaldson. On his advice the UK government ordered 14.6 million doses of Tamiflu in 2005.

Full credit to Sir Liam though, he cautiously rounded the panic down to just 65,000 deaths for swine flu. ("Swine flu could kill 65,000 in UK, warns chief medical officer" Guardian, 16th July 2009)

PANIC STATIONS! THE ARBROATH CONNECTION

"It emerged yesterday that the Arbroath FC midfielder Robert Urquhart had been diagnosed with swine flu after returning from a holiday in Ibiza."
SCOTSMAN, 4th JULY 2009

"Bird Flu panic hit close to home at the weekend when a flock of 20 hens was abandoned in woods near Arbroath and had to be destroyed."
THE ARBROATH HERALD AND GAZETTE, 14th APRIL 2006

Makes ye wonder.
          Ron Paul not ready to accept second place in Maine, expects to win straw poll once all the votes are counted   
Ron Paul’s campaign issued a press release stating they are confident he can win Maine, despite the fact that Mitt Romney was already declared the winner of the straw poll. Romney edged out Congressman Paul by about 3 percent last Saturday, however, the Texas Republican disputes these results, as several counties have yet to hold their caucuses and others' votes weren't factored into the total.
          【香港】USCC不滿香港警方拘捕黃之鋒等示威者   
繼美國國務院與國會及行政當局中國委員會(Congressional-Executive Commission on China, CECC)後﹐負責審核美中兩國之間有關國防與經濟金融安全問題的美中經濟安全審查委員會(US China Economic and Security Review Commission, USCC)在美國東岸時間星期五就香港主權移交中國20週年發表聲明﹐對於香港近期的發展趨勢表達深切關注。 聲明說﹐從該委員會最近到訪香港時聽到當地對於香港的未來感到巨大擔憂。因為北京的行為已經大大削弱了“一國兩制”的精神,《基本法》保障香港可以獲得的“高度自治”的功能也被降低。由於北京加強對香港的政治過信息流動的控制﹐導致香港的言論自由和法治正在日益面臨風險, 該委員會說﹐美國政府對香港的政策是基於北京承諾給予香港“高度自治”的假設。香港保持強而有力的法律保障體系和經濟自由社會使香港成為美國在國際上的重要夥伴,這一點對維護香港的長期穩定與繁榮至關重要。 委員會認為﹐中國共產黨的行為導致“高度自治”在香港出現倒退。為了美國對華 政策在未來應該往哪一個方向發展﹐委員會敦促香港和中國當局需要維護他們在法律與國際間的承諾,尊重香港《基本法》賦予香港人的公民權利。 USCC 特別提出香港警方在這個星期較早前當黃之鋒等要求實現真普選的人士進行和平示威期間實施拘捕的事件感到沮喪不滿。 美中經濟安全審查委員會將於今年11月公佈內容包括香港狀況的年度報告﹐報告並將向美國國會提出多項對華與香港問題的建議。 圖片:黃之鋒在6月28日進行和平示威期間被香港警方拘捕
          I don't have a successor: Mugabe warns Mnangagwa ally   

President Mugabe on Tuesday warned Welfare Services for War Veterans Minister and Emmerson Mnangagwa top ally Retired Colonel Tshinga Dube that he had not named his successor as that will be dealt with in the future at Zanu PF Congress. Addressing journalists in Harare yesterday, Minister Dube dismissed solidarity demonstrations organised by a faction of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Associations led by Cde Mandi Chimene at the Zanu-PF headquarters yesterday calling for Minister Dube's resignation.


          Maryland argues Republicans not harmed in redistricting case   

Attorney General Brian E. Frosh asked a federal court Friday to dismiss a lawsuit that claims state lawmakers violated Republicans' constitutional rights when they redrew Maryland's congressional boundaries six years ago.

The state's response in the redistricting case — the first since the litigation...


          Maryland to become first state with law to protect Planned Parenthood   

Maryland on Saturday will become the first state in the nation with a law to protect funding for Planned Parenthood from a possible federal cutoff.

Legislation ensuring that the state will cover the cost of the group's health care services in Maryland if Congress blocks it from receiving federal...


          Oferta De Emprego : Analista De Suporte Técnico - (curitiba)   
Oferta de emprego : Analista de suporte técnico:ConfidencialDescrição do emprego:Analista de suporte técnico Analista de suporte técnicoConfidencial Curitiba/PR : 1 vagaPublicado em 19/06/2017Remuneração:De R 1.501,00 a R 2.000,00Enviar currículoDados da VagaDescrição:Irá atender clientes via telefone e skype, orientar os clientes quanto ao uso do sistema e com relação à qualidade na elaboração do trabalho, elaborar os desenhos em 3d de implantes, realizar teste de fresagem.Executar casos clínicos de prótese enviados pelos clientes (adaptação, refinamento, cor, resistência, entre outros).Dar acabamento nos trabalhos, refinamento, polimento e pigmentação de cor nos elementos em zircônia e executar modelos e peças para exposição em congressos.Disponibilidade para viagens.Qualificação:Desejável experiência como analista de suporte técnico.Idiomas:Inglês : AvançadoFormação:Nível técnico cursando em Prótese Dentária, Tecnologia da Informação ou cursos afins.Localização da oferta:Curitiba / PR :1 vagaDados da EmpresaNome:ConfidencialRamo:Comércio : OutrosDescrição:Indústria e comércio de produtos para prótese dentária.Informações AdicionaisRemuneração: De R 1.501,00 a R 2.000,00 Veja média salarialForma de Contratação:Efetivo (CLT)vantagens e Benefícios:Vale TransporteVale RefeiçãoAssistência MédicaSeguro de vidaBolsa Escola/FaculdadeAssistência OdontológicaEstacionamentoHorário pretendido:Horário comercial.Enviar currículoCompetências:Categoria de emprego:Não esp. ( Ver todos os empregos de Não esp. )Requisitos linguísticos:Tipo de emprego:Remuneração:Não especificadoGrau académico:não especificadoAnos de experiência:Não especificadoLocalização do emprego:Curitiba, Paraná Endereço:Curitiba Tipo de empresaEmpregadorData de publicação:2017:06:19 / Viewed 1 timesInformação de contactoEmpresa:Confidencial Candidatura onlineCiudad: curitiba Source: https://www.tiptopjob.com/jobs/68631057_job.asp?source=backpage
          Dozens of Dems Support Bill to Create Panel That Could Remove Trump From Office   
BY: Conor Beck June 30, 2017 3:09 pm Source: Dozens of Dems Support Bill to Create Panel That Could Remove Trump From Office Fascism/communism  in the purest form ,the USA gulag in the making ? Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin (Md.) has introduced a bill that would create a congressional oversight commission that could declare the […]
          WHEN GOVERNMENT WORKS (WE GOT OUR URBAN FOREST)   
Franklin Roosevelt the 32nd President of the USA once said this, “Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.”
 I think the voters in Malaysia over decades have felt emasculated in many ways thinking that the people who represent us care little for our welfare. They rule over us as like an alien power. We feel distanced from government and unable to have a say in what truly affects us on a daily basis. This can be very frustrating even depressing.

Sometimes however government works and when it does it affects us all and brings immense benefit to the people. I like to cite an example to show how our neighbourhood became a little better off because we had the channel to voice our proposals and to have it heard and considered. I know this is a rare story nevertheless we are thankful for the small improvements in Selangor. 

About 10 years ago when we moved in to Pinggiran USJ, there was a sizable piece of land next to our taman. Approximateky 3ha. When we purchased our house, we were told that the empty land was an MPSJ reserved land. As years went by we heard of the possibility of an eatery or hawker center, a motel with sports facilities, a driving range, even a shopping complex etc.  Many a times I drove by and saw people in their long sleeve shirts parking their Mercedes surveying the empty land with rolled out maps and drawings of the area.  I, as with all our neighbours were obviously very concerned. As it is we have so little public spaces and the last thing we wanted was another concrete mall next to our taman.

In 2010, I served as the Chairman of USJ3ABCD Residents Association and because of that was onboard the MPSJ Residents Committee for Zone 3 (JKP Zone 3).  The Committee was under the leadership of then Councillor Rajiv Rishyakaran who is now the ADUN of Bukit Gasing.  Afraid that another shopping mall or concrete building was to come up instead of a recreational space, I drafted a proposal in March 2011 through the JKP, the idea of an Ecological Urban Forest. We called it the Z3 Eco Forest. The JKP accepted the idea and we presented the proposal to the Council.  MPSJ approved the idea and on Nov 11th 2011, the Subang Jaya community together with a private school nearby planted 1,111 trees in the area, officiated and supported by our ADUN, YB Hannah Yeoh.    

Today, 6 years later, the Park is fully supported by MPSJ and earthworks is being carried out.  This is a win for the Residents of Pinggiran Subang Jaya and Subang Jaya at large as we will have an Urban Forest right in our township. I was told that because of the Urban Forest the value of the properties in the area would also escalate.


 In the midst of all the skepticism and frustration of government working for the people here is a success story.  When government works, and the people’s interest are heard; residents are happy and the state prospers. It works only when ordinary voters, residents, neighbors care enough to get  involved in resident groups or committees.  I can only imagine this on a larger scale, perhaps one day not just in Subang Jaya or Selangor, but the whole Malaysia when we can then fully comprehend Roosevelt’s quote; “The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.” 

The ambitious proposal included these facilities:


Facilities
The proposed facilities available on Z3 Eco Forest are as follows:
1)      A 2Km walking and jogging path around the park.
2)      A bicycle path along the walking and jogging track
3)      Ponds and streams along the path
4)      Picnic and Playground area with water features and landscape
5)      An arts and cultural center approx 2000 square feet
6)      A small amphitheatre
7)      A Eco Farm
8)      Parking

The Empty land before 2011


View towards the kindergarten in 2011



          The Hill   
The Hill is a non-partisan American political newspaper published in Washington, D.C. since 1994. It is owned by News Communications, Inc., which is owned by Capitol Hill Publishing, Chairman James A. Finkelstein. Focusing on the intersection of politics, policy, business and international relations, The Hill coverage includes Congress, the White House and federal campaigns. It has policy verticals on Cybersecurity, Defense, Energy & Environment, Finance, Healthcare, National Security, Technology, and Transportation.
          The Twitter Coup?   
As the Russian investigation fails to produce a real scandal, some Democrats are getting desperate:
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) earlier this year introduced a bill that proposes to create a congressional “oversight” panel to investigate whether or not Trump is “incapacitated.” If the panel declares Trump mentally unable to carry out the duties of his office, then they can remove him from office.

Except there’s only one caveat: they would need Vice President Mike Pence’s approval.

The 25th Amendment was ratified in 1967 in response to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and several other medical crises with prior presidents. The amendment establishes the presidential line-of-succession, procedures for filling a vice presidential vacancy and what to do when the president becomes “incapacitated.”

Section 4 of the 25th Amendment allows a majority of the president’s Cabinet, along with the vice president, to determine the president is “unable to discharge the powers and duties,” then provide that determination in writing to Congress resulting in the president being dismissed from office. This is the only section of the 25th Amendment that has never been used.

But Raskin’s bill highlights some largely overlooked language in Section 4 of the 25th Amendment. In addition to a majority of the president’s Cabinet, the amendment also allows a majority of Congress to reach the same conclusion to remove the president — along with the vice president’s approval, still.

In either of these cases, once the president is determined to be “incapacitated,” the vice president immediately becomes acting president.
Be careful what you wish for...
          The Wages Of Internship   
Some workers are more equal than others:
According to the study, congressional interns must pay roughly $6,000 in costs related to living in the expensive Washington, D.C., area to serve members of Congress, making it extremely difficult for lower-income Americans, no matter how talented, to pursue a congressional internship.

“The cost of interning on the Hill in unpaid positions diminishes the chances for students of color and low-income students to access the intern-to-staffer pipeline, but paid positions help offset the lack of diversity,” the authors wrote.

The authors note many full-time congressional staff positions, especially entry-level jobs, require having previously served as a congressional intern.
Not that working for congress is worth that much to begin with...
          Congressman Paul Ryan visits JX Peterbilt   

JX Peterbilt President & CEO Eric Jorgensen met with Congressman Paul Ryan to discuss potential impact of key legislative issues on the transportation industry.

(PRWeb April 30, 2015)

Read the full story at http://www.prweb.com/releases/2015/05/prweb12691725.htm


          Карнавал в верховной власти: кому выгоден политический кризис в Бразилии   

Парламент Бразилии рассматривает обвинения против президента страны Мишела Темера, которого подозревают в пассивной коррупции. Если две трети депутатов сочтут обвинения обоснованными, в отношении главы государства будет назначено судебное разбирательство. В этом случае Темер рискует повторить судьбу своей предшественницы Дилмы Русеф, которая была отстранена от власти меньше года назад после крупного коррупционного скандала. Опрошенные RT эксперты полагают, что схожесть политических ситуаций, в которых оказались Русеф и Темер, свидетельствует о наличии некоего единого сценария, причём сторонники импичмента в обоих случаях могли действовать исключительно в интересах внешних сил. Кто и с какой целью расшатывает ситуацию в латиноамериканской стране — разбирался RT. В ближайшее время парламент Бразилии определит, стоит ли предоставить право Верховному суду страны начать расследование против нынешнего президента Мишела Темера. Глава государства пребывает в должности менее года, но уже успел стать фигурантом крупного коррупционного скандала. Всё началось с того, что весной 2017 года издание Globo опубликовало аудиозапись, на которой, как утверждается, Темер беседует с владельцем компании JBS (производитель мясной продукции. — RT) Жоэсли Батистой. Президент якобы просит бизнесмена подкупить бывшего спикера нижней палаты парламента Эдуарду Кунью, заплатив ему за молчание по делу о коррупции, в котором была замешана государственная нефтяная компания Petrobrasо. Встреча Батисты и Темера, как утверждает издание, прошла 7 марта 2017 года, а размер взятки составил более $630 тыс.  В настоящее время Кунья находится в тюрьме — в конце марта 2017 года он был осуждён на 15 лет и четыре месяца лишения свободы за взяточничество, отмывание денег и незаконное хранение средств за рубежом. Примечательно, что именно Кунья стал инициатором импичмента президента Дилмы Русеф, которая ранее возглавляла совет директоров Petrobras. Здание штаб-квартиры Petroleo Brasileiro S.A. в Рио-де-Жанейро, Бразилия Reuters Как сообщают бразильские СМИ, высокопоставленные чиновники и должностные лица, включая Темера (с 2011 по 2016 год был вице-президентом страны), занимались вымогательством денег у руководства Petrobras. По данным портала Congresso em Foko, уголовные дела могут грозить трети депутатского корпуса. 31 августа 2016 года в результате длительного разбирательства верхняя палата парламента отстранила от власти Русеф. Правда, формально основанием для импичмента послужили нарушения при распределении бюджетных средств и попытки скрыть дефицит госказны.  Пассивная коррупция Выборы президента Бразилии запланированы на 2018 год, до этого времени обязанности главы государства должен выполнять Темер. 21 мая он призвал граждан не верить в обвинения, выдвинутые против него. Но людей Темеру переубедить не удалось — сотни тысяч жителей крупных городов вышли на улицы с требованиями его отставки и проведения досрочных выборов. 20 июня федеральная полиция Бразилии заявила: есть доказательства того, что глава государства получал взятки. Деньги якобы передавались Темеру через бывшего члена парламента Родриго Рочу Лоуреса. 26 июня генеральный прокурор Бразилии Родригу Жанот обвинил президента в «пассивной коррупции» и передал материалы дела в Верховный суд. После этого Темер назначил нового генпрокурора. С сентября прокурорское кресло впервые должна занять представительница слабого пола — Ракел Додж. Ещё через пару дней стало известно, что бразильский президент отменил июльскую поездку в Германию на саммит G20. В администрации главы государства причины такого решения не уточняют. Непопулярные реформы На фоне коррупционного скандала рейтинг Темера упал до 5%. Но основными причинами его крайне низкой популярности являются санкционированные им реформы по сокращению расходов на социальное обеспечение, здравоохранение и другие меры экономии. Также по теме Зажгли в Рио: протесты против пенсионной реформы в Бразилии закончились погромами Намерение правительства Бразилии провести пенсионную реформу жители страны восприняли в штыки. Практически во всех крупных города… В частности, сильнейшее негодование вызвали планы по увеличению пенсионного возраста с 54 до 65 лет. Новое трудовое законодательство, которое продвигает Темер, предоставляет больший объём прав работодателям. Левые силы считают, что граждан будут заставлять заключать кабальные договора, оговаривающие увеличение рабочих дней и часов. С декабря прошлого года по Бразилии прокатились несколько волн протестов, сопровождавшихся столкновениями с полицией. Поддержку митингующим выразили бывшие президенты Дилма Русеф и Лула Силва (2003—2011). Оба политика являются лидерами Партии трудящихся. Основной же причиной обрушившихся на Бразилию социально-экономических бед является кризис, вызванный падением цен на энергоресурсы, от экспорта которых сильно зависит доходная часть бюджета. Рецессия углубила и без того гигантскую пропасть между богатыми и бедными.  Протест жителей Сан-Паулу против предложенных президентом Мишелом Темером экономических реформ Reuters Коэффициент Джини (показатель для обозначения степени расслоения общества от нуля до единицы. — RT) в Бразилии близок к 1 (чем ближе значение к нулю, тем меньше разница между богатыми и бедными). Швейцарский инвестиционный банк Credit Suisse оценил этот показатель в 0,83. Уровень безработицы в Бразилии достиг 11,5%. В 2015 году, параллельно с уменьшением инвестиций, ВВП Бразилии упал на 3,8%. В 2016 году объём производимых товаров и услуг снизился ещё на 3,8%. Рецессия в экономике страны произошла впервые с 1947 года. Однако Темер утверждает, что к концу 2017 года ВВП вырастет на 0,5%. В интересах внешних сил Руководитель сектора Латинской Америки РИСИ Дмитрий Бурых считает, что политическая система и партийный аппарат современной Бразилии оказались полностью дискредитированы. Практически на каждую политическую фигуру можно найти компромат, а нового лидера среди бразильских политиков нет. «В таких условиях очень легко манипулировать общественным мнением. И здесь я усматриваю внешнее влияние. Главная задача заключается в недопущении к власти представителей Партии трудящихся, которые будут противодействовать американским корпорациям», — заявил RT Бурых. Джо Байден и президент Бразилии Дилма Русеф Reuters Эксперт уверен, что реформы Темера по урезанию прав рабочих и повышению пенсионного возраста направлены на удовлетворение запросов иностранных компаний. Именно это решение президента вызвало бурный протест общества. Как полагает Бурых, за политической турбулентностью в Бразилии стоят крупнейшая в мире нефтедобывающая корпорация ExxonMobil, энергетическая компания Chevron, международная корпорация Koch Industries (торговля, инвестиции, переработка нефти и пр.) и структуры миллиардера Джорджа Сороса, которые финансируют интернет-активистов и СМИ. «Американцы при Бараке Обаме настаивали на изменении нефтяного закона Бразилии. Они хотели убрать пункт о том, что Petrobras должна участвовать в любой концессии на территории страны. Вероятно, США стремились подобрать под себя добывающий рынок», — сказал Бурых. «Примерно в это же время были открыты новые шельфовые месторождения, но концессия была отдана китайской госкомпании. Тут же началось ухудшение американо-бразильских отношений и разразился коррупционный скандал с Petrobras, который до сих пор влияет на ситуацию в стране», — отметил эксперт. Бурых напомнил, что, по сведениям СМИ, перед президентским скандалом АНБ США получило доступ к закрытой коммерческой информации: «Я допускаю, что в переписке топ-менеджеры Petrobras позволили себе некие вольности. На этой основе и началась раскрутка скандала». «На фоне шумихи о коррупции в начале 2015 года акции Petrobras рухнули на четверть. Покупателями подешевевших бумаг стали подконтрольные Соросу компании. Как говорится, ничего личного — только бизнес. Поэтому рецессия в экономике Бразилии выгодна США для скупки её активов», — заключил Бурых. Источник новости

Запись Карнавал в верховной власти: кому выгоден политический кризис в Бразилии впервые появилась События дня - InfoRU.news.


          EFCC files charges against judge who allegedly received N3.5 million ‘bribe’   


The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has filed, before a Lagos Division of the Lagos State High Court, charges of unlawful enrichment to the tune of N3.5 million against James Agbadu-Fishim, a judge of the National Industrial Court.


According to the charge sheet, the EFCC alleged that Mr. Agbadu-Fishim received the funds from seven Senior Advocates of Nigeria, a Lagos-based lawyer, and a law firm between 2013 and 2015.

The money, the EFCC claimed in the charge sheet, was paid into the judge’s First Bank account with number 3008199491.

The judge, according to the EFCC, allegedly received a total of N1.15 million from Felix Fagbohungbe between December 5, 2013, and February 26, 2015.

He also allegedly received a total of N700,000 in multiple tranches from Paul Usoro (SAN) between August 5, 2014, and March 26, 2015.
Other senior advocates who allegedly paid money into the judge’s bank account include Adetola-Kazeem, who gave him N100,000 on February 10, 2015; and Uche Obi, who gave him N250,000 between October 17 and 20, 2013.

The rest include Muiz Banire, who according to the EFCC, gave the judge N500,000 on June 20, 2013; and Adeniyi Akintola, who gave him N300,000 in two tranches of N200,000 and N100,000 on June 3, 2013, and February 26, 2015, respectively.

The EFCC further claimed that the judge received a total of N250,000 from Joseph Nwobike (SAN), in tranches of N150,000 and N100,000 on December 12, 2014, and September 10, 2015, respectively; while a Lagos-based lawyer, Enobong Etteh, was said to have transferred N200,000 to the judge on October 27, 2014.


A law firm, Alliance Law Firm, according to the EFCC, also paid N250,000 into the judge’s account on August 21, 2015.
The anti-graft agency alleged that Justice Fishim received the money “so as to have a significant increase in your assets that you cannot reasonably explain the increase in relation to your lawful income.”

It alleged that the judge acted contrary to Section 82 (a) of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, No.11, 2011.
A date is yet to be fixed for the hearing of the case.

When they were invited by the Commission for questioning, last year, some of the lawyers accused of giving money to the judges maintained it was not a bribe.

For instance, Mr. Banire, announced at the time he would be stepping down as the national legal adviser of the All Progressives Congress pending conclusion of investigation, said the N500,000 he gave the judge was meant for his mother’s funeral.

Also, Mr. Akinola had told newsmen last year that Mr. Agbadum-Fishim had been his friend for more than 25 years.
“I gave him N100,000 twice when he lost his parents as financial assistance,” the lawyer had said.
“I did not even attend the events. He has also given me money twice: N50,000 (when I lost my mother in 2014) and another N25,000 when my daughter wedded. He attended the two events. It was a kind of exchange of gifts. I knew him when he was in the University of Abuja.”
          Comment on A Focus on Solar Fuels and Artificial Photosynthesis by Friendship Day Quotes 2017   
The tradition of celebrating Friendship Day began in 1935 when the US Congress decided to dedicate a day in the honor of friends. Though it is not known exactly what were the reasons that went into the making of this day, the retrospection of the world scenario of those times can lead us to an understanding.
          Congresso da Mocidade Holiness 2009   
Olá, A CMECH tem o prazer de anunciar o Congresso das Mocidades Holiness 2009 com o tema “Procurando ser o Jovem que Deus quer.” Pretendemos durante o carnaval próximo reunir nossos jovens para refletirem sobre como seus dons e talentos podem ser usados para a obra de Deus.  Além de reunir todas as nossas igrejas […]
          Só prova satânica selaria em definitivo ligação entre Temer e Loures, diz Janot   
Seria preciso uma "prova satânica, quase impossível" para selar definitivamente a ligação entre Michel Temer e a mala com R$ 500 mil carregada por seu ex-assessor Rodrigo Rocha Loures.
Assim o procurador-geral da República, Rodrigo Janot, rebateu críticas de que a inédita denúncia de corrupção passiva contra um presidente em exercício, que apresentou na segunda (26), é frágil -faltaria a "prova cabal" para associar o peemedebista ao dinheiro.
Janot fez um trocadilho com "prova diabólica", termo jurídico que significa prova excessivamente difícil de ser produzida.
O problema é que ninguém "passa recibo" para esse tipo de atividade ilícita, então o fundamental é "olhar a narrativa" e "apresentar indícios fortes" que liguem o denunciado ao crime, disse Janot neste sábado (1), em debate no 12 Congresso da Abraji (Associação Brasileira de Jornalismo Investigativo).
Já há 20, 25 anos, em começo de carreira na Procuradoria, ele e colegas se questionavam sobre o tema, contou. "Não é possível que, para pegar um picareta, tenho que tirar fotografia do sujeito tirando carteira do bolso do outro. Esse tipo de prova é satânica, quase impossível."
E veio a pergunta da plateia: a evidência seria satânica pela dificuldade de obtê-la ou pelo sujeito a que se refere? Era uma chacota com o falso boato de que Temer seria adepto do satanismo.
Janot estava ali na condição de "entrevistado mais procurado da República", brincou a mediadora do debate, a jornalista Renata Lo Prete (Globo News). "Mas sem tornozeleira [eletrônica]", rebateu um bem-humorado Janot.
Em uma hora e meia de conversa, ele falou sobre a polêmica delação premiada dos irmãos Joesley e Wesley Batista e contemporizou as alardeadas divergências com sua sucessora na PGR, Raquel Dodge, e com o presidente do Tribunal Superior Eleitoral, Gilmar Mendes.
Com ambos conserva apenas rachas "teóricos", afirmou o procurador que chegou a dizer, sem mencionar o nome, que Mendes teve uma "disenteria verbal" após o ministro acusar, em março, a Procuradoria de repassar informações sigilosas da Lava Jato para jornalistas.
Lo Prete provocou, lembrando que o próprio Gilmar lhe sugeriu formular assim uma questão sobre a relação dos dois: "O Brasil inteiro já entendeu que os senhores não se gostam".
"Não tenho nenhum conflito com ele, zero", respondeu Janot. "Todas as vezes em que tive que me dirigir a ele de uma maneira um pouco mais dura", afirmou, "foi legítima defesa".
Lembrou que ele e Gilmar são da mesma geração e tomaram posse na Procuradoria juntos, em 1984. Naquela década, Janot foi estudar na Itália, e o colega, na Alemanha. O hoje procurador-geral contou que volta e meia visitava Gilmar no país vizinho, e eles tomavam "sorvete" (logo depois consertou: sorvete, não, "cerveja!").
"Éramos do mesmo grupo. A vida foi encaminhando cada um para o seu lado."
Definiu como "legítima" a escolha de Raquel Dodge, que tomará seu lugar quando ele deixar a chefia da PGR, em setembro. Temer a pinçou da lista tríplice para o cargo promovida pela ANPR (Associação Nacional dos Procuradores da República). Ela era a segunda colocada, em detrimento do postulante mais votado, Nicolao Dino, próximo a Janot.
"O importante é o nome ser escolhido dentro da lista, e isso ele [Temer] fez."
O procurador disse "fazer parte do processo" recentes decisões do Supremo Tribunal Federal que reverteram dois entendimentos da PGR: a soltura do "deputado da mala", Rocha Loures (PMDB-PR), e o retorno de Aécio Neves (PMDB-MG) ao Senado.
Outro tópico em debate: a imunidade aos irmãos Joesley e Wesley Batista teria sido excessivamente benevolente? Janot foi enfático: faria tudo de novo. "Se você me perguntar se eu faria de novo, hoje afirmo tranquilamente que faria."
Pediu, então, que mudassem "o foco da questão". "Vocês estariam me perguntando assim: 'Você é um louco... Como alguém chega, lhe apresenta altas autoridades da República praticando crime em curso [do mandato], e você não faz nada, não aceitou fazer acordo com essa pessoa? Você deixou que o crime continuasse a ser praticado."
O procurador remontou a negociação com Joesley: o futuro delator diz que não abre mão da "não denúncia" e revela uma "provinha" do que tem. "Aí mostra um pedaço da gravação [com Temer]."
Que escolha ele tinha? A de Sofia, disse Janot: "Vou não fazer o acordo e fingir que não vi isso?".
"É fácil ser herói retroativo" e questionar o acordo agora, diz Janot, que logo argumenta: caso se recusasse a negociar com os irmãos Batista, o caso judicial contra eles iria à primeira instância, e lá se iriam anos de processo arrastado na Justiça.
"O cara não deixou de ser bandido", afirmou. Mas não se contentaria com menos: para entregar os peixes grandes, não poderia ser denunciado. Era sua condição. "Não adianta chegar para o colaborador e dizer: 'Meu amigo Joesley, venha aqui. Vou te propor acordo, beleza? Vou te dar uma caixa de bombom Garoto. Gosta de pão de mel? Vou te dar pão de mel."
Indagado pelo público, o mineiro falou ainda sobre sua segurança, uma vez que suas denúncias atingem altas autoridades do país. "Na minha terra dizem assim: para morrer, basta estar vivo. Sim, eu ando com segurança, já recebi ameaça, não vamos ser ingênuos. Mas na minha cabeça e na dos meus colegas, é o seguinte: se acontecer alguma coisa comigo, a confusão é muito maior. Eles têm é que estar rezando para eu não escorregar no sabão e bater a cabeça na banheira."
O procurador terminou sua participação no congresso dizendo que pretende aproveitar ao máximo o tempo que lhe resta no cargo. "Enquanto houver bambu, lá vai flecha. Até o 17 de setembro, a caneta está na minha mão. Vou continuar nesse ritmo."

Folhapress

           Members from WA and CA Introduce Bill to Support Jobs and Help U.S. Ports Compete   

Washington, D.C. – Reps. Dave Reichert (WA-08) and Nanette Barragán (D-CA) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to reform the outdated Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF). The Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund Reform Act of 2017 would make sure all of the money collected through the Harbor Maintenance Tax (HMT) each year is returned directly to ports in order to improve infrastructure and keep ports competitive. Currently, the HMT is not collected or spent in a way that ensures ports can continue to compete on a level playing field. Some ports, including the Ports of Seattle, Tacoma, Los Angeles, and Long Beach, receive just pennies for each dollar contributed to the HMTF from cargo unloaded at their ports. As so-called “donor ports,” they don’t receive the necessary investments they need to remain competitive. In recent years, U.S. ports have seen ports outside of the country target and capture U.S.-bound cargo in part because of the cost advantage of not charging the HMT. The legislation introduced today would address these inequities, enhance economic competiveness, and support jobs in Washington state and around the U.S. by ensuring donor ports can access funding for port infrastructure and rebates to shippers transporting cargo through their ports rather than routing cargo through Canada or Mexico to the U.S.

“As one of the most trade-dependent states, strong ports are critical to Washington’s local economy,” said Rep. Reichert. “For too long, our ports have been put at a disadvantage - contributing much more than their fair share to the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund and facing the loss of cargo to foreign ports because of the Harbor Maintenance Tax. By increasing funding to  these ports including for rebates to shippers, the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund Reform Act will help level the playing field supporting jobs and communities in Washington.”

“For far too long, federal funding for seaports has been inadequate and unfair to donor ports like the Port of Los Angeles which contributes far too much into the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund than it receives,” said Rep. Barragán.  “I am proud to partner with Congressman Reichert in this bipartisan effort to provide equity and more funding for operations and maintenance at our nation’s seaports, enhancing economic competitiveness and creating good-paying jobs.”  “For more than a decade, a number of U.S. ports have been operating at a competitive disadvantage, which is a drag on our economy and on thousands of good-paying jobs,” said Sen. Murray. “The bipartisan bill we are introducing would be a critical step toward restoring investments in our ports, jobs, and economic development in Washington state and around the country.”

The Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund Reform Act of 2017 would:

Establish full use of the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund each year with interest by creating a direct spending mechanism for the HMTF;

Ensure HMTF funds collected are allocated fully and more equitably by establishing a set-aside for donor ports;

Address the issue of cargo diversion by increasing investments to donor ports to provide rebates to shippers transporting cargo through their ports or for port infrastructure needs;

Support operation and maintenance at our small ports and harbors by updating the baseline for the set-aside for small ports; and

Better meet our nationwide harbor and waterway needs.

Other House cosponsors of the bill include: Reps. Adam Smith (WA-09), Rick Larsen (WA-02), Suzan DelBene (WA-01), Denny Heck (WA-10), Derek Kilmer (WA-06), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Nanette Barragán (CA-44), Grace Napolitano (CA-32), and Alan Lowenthal (CA-47).


          CMS Releases 2016 ACA Marketplace Reinsurance And Risk Adjustment Data   

On June 30, 2017, CMS released the results for the third year (2016) of the reinsurance and risk adjustment programs, two of the Affordable Care Act’s “three R” premium stabilization programs. The 2016 results from the risk corridor program, the “third R” will be announced later this year.

ACA’s “Three R” Progams Are Modeled After Medicare Part D, But Are Weaker And More Controversial Than Their Part D Counterparts

The ACA’s three R programs were modeled after similar premium stabilization programs that have operated for about a decade for Medicare Part D prescription drug plans. The Part D program also has a risk adjustment program (which adjusts premiums prospectively rather than insurer income retrospectively), a reinsurance program (which is much more generous than the ACA program and permanent rather than temporary), and a risk corridor program (also permanent, and initially more generous than the ACA program.). The part D premium stabilization programs played an important role in attracting insurers to the prescription drug program initially and have helped to keep premiums stable and premium increases low since the program was launched in 2006. They have undoubtedly been an important factor in maintaining the popularity and bipartisan support for Part D.

The ACA premium stabilization programs have proven far more controversial than the Medicare Part D programs. The risk corridor program has been criticized as an Insurer “bail-out” and was seriously undermined by appropriations riders enacted by Congress limiting program payouts to the amount collected from insurers. For 2014, the Department of Health and Human Services was only able to pay out 12.6 percent of the amounts owed insurers under the statutory formula because of this constraint, while it has been unable to make any payments for 2015 as it had to set off 2015 collections against 2014 obligations.  This no doubt contributed to the insolvency of a number of insurers and has resulted in a number of lawsuits in the Federal Court of Claims, as insurers attempt to collect the full amount they claim they are due under the statute.

The reinsurance program was supposed to collect $25 billion over its three- year life and pay $5 billion of that amount to the Treasury, apparently to reimburse it for funds spent on the Early Retiree Reinsurance program from 2010 to 2013.  Collections fell short in the first two years, and the Obama administration took the position that this reimbursement to the Treasury would only be paid after all reinsurance obligations were first met.  It paid nothing to the Treasury in 2015 and less than a half a billion dollars for 2016.  This position has been condemned by ACA critics and legislation was introduced in 2016 to force HHS to make the repayment.  The Trump administration has apparently not bowed to this pressure and is paying the full $4 billion due to insurers under the program for 2016.

The formula used by the risk adjustment program has also come in for criticism. CMS made a number of changes in its risk adjustment methodology for 2017, including factoring in preventive services and better accounting for drug cost increases.  It will incorporate even greater changes for 2018, including adjustment for partial-year enrollees and prescription drug use and setting up a separate risk adjustment pool for very high costs cases.

A Widespread Recognition Of The Importance Of Reinsurance

Despite criticism, the reinsurance program has in fact made a substantial contribution to constraining marketplace premiums. During 2014, the reinsurance program reduced net claim costs an estimated 10 to 14 percent, during 2015, 6 to 11 percent, and during 2016, 4 to 6 percent.  The end of the reinsurance program after 2016 has been a major driver of premium increases for 2017 and 2018.  Recognizing this, there is a consensus in Congress that further reinsurance funding is needed.  The House’s American Health Care Act, the Senate’s Better Care Reconciliation Act, and health reform legislation introduced by Democrats all include reinsurance funds for the individual market.

The federal risk adjustment program for 2016 covered non-grandfathered insurers in the individual and small group markets in every state except Massachusetts, which operated its own risk adjustment program. Transfers happened within each state.  The reinsurance program covered non-grandfathered insurers in the individual market in every state.

Participating insurers were required to set up EDGE servers through which they could transfer to CMS the data necessary to calculate reinsurance programs and risk adjustment information while retaining control of sensitive enrollee information. Nationally, 496 insurers were eligible for reinsurance payments.  Of these 445 will receive reinsurance payments.  CMS estimates that 52.9 percent of claims between $90 and $250,000 will be payable for the year, with 83 percent of that money currently available through the $3.3 billion already collected for the reinsurance program.

A total of 751 insurers participated in the risk adjustment program, which covered the individual and small group markets. Default risk adjustment charges were assessed against 42 insurers, 41 that did not submit EDGE server data and one that did but did not provide HHS with access to the required data. Of the 709 insurers that participated in transfers, 469 issued individual market non-catastrophic plans, 247 issued individual market catastrophic plans, 552 issued small group market plans, and two issued merged market plans.

The CMS report states that reinsurance and risk adjustment transfers correlate strongly with paid claims, showing that the programs are working as intended.  Insurers in the lowest quartile of claims costs were assessed on average a risk adjustment charge of 18 percent of total collected premiums, while insurers in the highest quartile of claims received risk adjust payments of 27 percent of total premiums.  Risk adjustment transfers averaged 11 percent of premiums in the individual market, up from 10 percent in 2015, while small group transfers remained steady at 6 percent of premiums.  CMS reports that there was a significant improvement in the quantity and quality of data provided by insurers for 2016, and thus a higher correlation between interim risk scores released in the spring and the final scores released on June 30.

Surprisingly, CMS reports that risk scores remained stable in the individual market and decreased in the small group market.  It was expected that as individuals had been enrolled longer in the program and insurers became more experienced in reporting the diagnoses on which the risk scores were based, the risk scores would go up, but they did not.  The data also would seem to refute the commonly held belief that the marketplace population is becoming sicker.  Risk adjustment transfers (calculated using the absolute value of net transfers for each issuer in the risk pool) amounted to 11 percent of enrollment-weighted monthly premiums in the individual market, 6 percent in the small group market, and 18 percent in the catastrophic market, for a national average of 8 percent.

Big Winners And Losers

The size of some of the transfers is remarkable.  Blue Cross of California will receive an estimated $210 million in reinsurance payments, $49 million in risk adjustment in the individual market, and $217 million in risk adjustment in the small group market.  Blue Shield of California is slated to receive $201 million in reinsurance, $265 million in risk adjustment in the individual market, and $106 million in risk adjustment in the small group market. The California Kaiser Foundation Health Plan will receive $99 million in reinsurance, but must pay in $183 million in risk adjustment in the individual market and $255 million in risk adjustment in the small group market.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida is slated to receive $127 million in reinsurance and  $464 million in risk adjustment payments in the individual market, while Molina Healthcare of Florida must pay in $253 million, Celtic Insurance Company of Florida $161 million, and Coventry Health Care of Florida $112 million.  Molina Healthcare of Texas must pay in $126 million in individual market risk adjustment.  Other insurers receiving nine-figure risk adjustment or reinsurance payments include Humana Employers Health Plan of Georgia, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas.


          Op-Ed: Why Puerto Rico Oversight Board Said No to an Electric Company Debt Restructuring That Went Easy on Creditors   
Wall Street Journal:   In July 2016, Puerto Rico defaulted on its more than $70 billion of debt, putting at risk those liabilities as well as more than $50 billion in public pension obligations. Just before the default, Congress had enacted the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act, or Promesa, which established the […]
          Congresso deve proibir governo de bloquear recursos de passaportes   
Em 2016, os gastos com emissão de passaportes, controle do tráfego internacional e registros de estrangeiros somaram R$ 207 milhões
          Costly Representation: The Georgia Congressional Election   
Tom Price’s vacating of a Georgia congressional seat set the scene for exactly what is darkly wrong with US politics. In the sprawling kleptomanic entity known as USA Inc., with its distancing between the concept of representation and the money that backs it, a campaign for one congressional seat can cost tens of millions. The […]
          Congressional Liaison SME - Prevailance, Inc. - Force, PA   
 Provide support in uploading fiscal data from legislative language. We are actively collecting qualified resumes for upcoming work....
From Prevailance, Inc. - Sun, 02 Apr 2017 08:30:40 GMT - View all Force, PA jobs
          Il Congresso Nazionale Rotaract 2017: un’incantevole fucina di idee   

Il 14 maggio si è concluso il XXXVI Congresso Nazionale Rotaract, quest’anno ospitato dal Distretto 2050 (comprensivo del sud della Lombardia e della provincia di Piacenza). I nostri vicini lombardi hanno accolto i colleghi rotaractiani in una suggestiva location: il Lago di Garda. Tra gite ed escursioni, sessioni di lavoro e confronto, le quattro giornate...

L'articolo Il Congresso Nazionale Rotaract 2017: un’incantevole fucina di idee sembra essere il primo su Distretto Rotaract 2060.


          Comment on Trump Blows, Spews ‘Bleeding Badly’ Mika Brzezinski Tweets *Updated* by ChinaGrrl   
It is congress that passes the laws. Whatever work it does, it goes mostly unnoticed by the press. The press is otherwise occupied by President Trump's tweet of the day. For example, Trump's tweets got 28 times the coverage as the passage of Kate's law. The numbers may be off but that seems to be the case in regard to most congressional or executive actions. President Trump focuses the outrage on BS while the things that should cause true outrage are ignored. Sadly, too many willingly take the bait that Trump tweets out while taking a sh*t in the morning.
          This airport is already using facial recognition on U.S. citizens   
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Customs and Border Protection (CBP) evidently doesn't need Congress to begin using facial recognition of United States citizens. 

Officials at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston and Logan International Airport in Boston earlier this week began to scan faces of U.S. citizens and other passengers on specific flights. Congress has nine times passed legislation authorizing the use of biometric technology on non-U.S. citizens as a way of verifying when foreign nationals enter and exit the country, but they've never authorized such legislation for citizens, according to surveillance law experts. Read more...

More about Tech, World, and Politics

          Rahul Gandhi calls GST launch as Tamasha   
Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi has dubbed the implementation of GST as a "tamasha", saying the reform
          Comment on Scottish Reminiscence in Dunedin, New Zealand by cheap pandora earrings   
elected representatives in Congress,cheap pandora jewelry, not the president, decide what that number should be. It also empowers state and local governments to decide whether or not refugee resettlement is best for their communities. Co-sponsors of the bill are Immigration and Border Security Subcommittee Chairman Trey Gowdy,cheap pandora rings for sale, R-S.C.,cheap pandora earrings, and Reps. Lamar Smith,cheap pandora charms for sale, R-Texas, and Doug Collins, R-Ga. Refugee watchdog Ann Corc
          Doxxing: Congress proposed bill to make it a federal crime   
Doxxing is a cyber attack that involves discovering the real identity of an Internet user, or uncovering other valuable personal data, by analyzing pieces of information he/she leaves online, and finally broadcasting the data to the public.
          Popcorn, Pinballs, and Piranhas   

The Capitol Hill unit of the country’s fake news operation—50 or so crisply attired journalists with their faces deep in their phones—is loitering outside the ballroom where Republican senators are eating lunch. The spacious anteroom is packed; my colleague who reports frequently from the Senate and House says he’s never seen it so crowded. Behind the enormous doors, GOP leaders debate what is to be done about the Better Care Reconciliation Act, a potentially disastrous piece of legislation that could tear health insurance away from more than 20 million Americans. In the hallway, those of us who’ve been sent to the U.S. Capitol to find the news keep looking at our phones, hoping the news will come to us.

Hark—the news! Our screens reveal that the health care bill with the 17 percent approval rating has been kicked down the road until after Independence Day. We mill beneath a tremendous mural that’s tightly draped in plastic, like a Dexter victim, and make eyes at the century-old sculpture of Benjamin Franklin. Security types scurry about, herding us away from the staircase. “Make a path, guys,” says a broad-shouldered suit. Several of us drift reluctantly to the right, but only a few inches. “Guys. Guys. I know this is tough,” the man insists. We guys shift one or two more inches, then return to where we were. We watch the crack under the big doors as if a magic light might spill out at any moment and write our pieces for us.

Like the answer to a prompt on a flashcard, a familiar face materializes a few feet away. It is Elizabeth Warren, who strolls past our press amoeba with an intense expression that calls to mind such phrases as “due process” and “friends, Romans, countrymen.” When nobody detaches to follow her, my colleague explains with a sigh: “She never talks to us.”

A little after 2 p.m., the GOP brass finally finishes eating. (They’ve been at it since 12:30.) The senators now face a logistical challenge: All paths of egress swarm with piranhas who, convention dictates, can attack their prey far more ruthlessly than the more genial schools of notebook-wavers swimming around the White House and the Supreme Court. The anteroom branches into two exit routes: a stairway and a narrow corridor leading to an elevator lobby. We line the walls like villi coating the sides of a digestive tract. Sean Spicer walks by. Nobody moves. “Sean doesn’t know anything,” a colleague snarks.

The whispers start around 2:15. Murkowski, it’s Murkowski. Sen. Lisa Murkowski shoots out of the ballroom like a pinball. “Senator, senator!” the correspondents entreat in low voices. “Is the delay good or bad for the bill?” “Did the CBO score—?”

Murkowski doesn’t break stride. She proceeds to the elevator enclosed in a glom of pump-heeled, jacketed humanity, the whole inquisitive organism gliding with her and swishing its extravagant tail of stragglers. Then: Perdue. Perdue! Some of the clump breaks off and doubles back. The journalists on the sidelines pepper their returning colleagues with questions: What’d she say? Did you hear? There’s no time to debrief; Tim Scott, John McCain, and Bob Corker are streaking toward the staircase. It’s like the moment when, after a few trial pops, the microwaved popcorn starts cooking in earnest. The lunchers are dispersing everywhere; Democratic senators are arriving with prepared statements. The piranhas fan out, desperate for some morsel of flesh.

Power crisscrosses the anteroom in an invisible grid, or like the wire you pull on a bus to get it to stop. There is jocular power, exchanged in handshakes and good-to-see-yas, and the soaring power embedded in the architecture, and the breathless, sidelong power of being in the know. Two aides confer in the corner, their voices hushed and heavy with import. “That depends,” one murmurs, “on the defectors.” He kneads the word like a sore muscle.

In configuring itself around loci of legislative authority, the fourth estate follows certain rules. Taller, more aggressive journalists seem to gravitate toward higher-profile senators, such as Florida’s Marco Rubio. Smaller and shyer correspondents flit about the room’s edges, picking off lower-wattage congresspeople as they try to escape. There’s my colleague, latched onto John Thune like a sea lamprey.

The carnage of fact-finding roars around us, but this is ritualized, stylized mayhem. The politicians have their lines, their lockstep. The reporters know they won’t get anything other than a sound bite, if they even get that. Mitch McConnell may be trying to persuade his party to replace Obamacare with the legislative equivalent of a high school chemistry accident, but when he returns the gaze of 50 iPhone cameras, his eyes are not the window to his turbulent soul.

The evasive, boilerplate answers. The dispiriting contrast between the sense of things happening and the garbage you discover written down in your notebook afterward. In the Trump era, our best, most useful work seems to emerge from shadowy sessions with teed-off anonymice, not elaborate Kabuki performances in which John Cornyn’s indigestion might be mistaken for a brewing GOP revolt.

Standing in the hallway, waiting for someone important to say nothing as he or she breezes past, one can’t help but wonder if this entire ceremony deserves to go the way of Obamacare (RIP). Yet what if Murkowski forgets herself and reveals a top-secret plan to sabotage the BCRA? What if another civilian gets body-slammed by a public servant? The Capitol corps will be there, ready and waiting to let the American people know. That’s a comforting thought. Let’s hope their phones stay charged.


          About That Tax Cut for the Rich   

On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell came to terms with reality and announced that he would delay the health care vote he had been planning to hold this week. Since then, Republican members of Congress have been negotiating terms, trying to strike a health care agreement before flying back to their home states on Friday to screw around for 10 days. Though they were making progress by Thursday morning in narrowing the options, senators still had to get through that little part where they make impossible decisions on the issues that have bitterly divided them.

Some of the more obvious tweaks have been made. Senate holdouts representing states hollowed out by the opioid crisis—West Virginia Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, and others—are likely to get the full $45 billion in grant funding that they’ve been seeking all along, Politico reported Wednesday night. The bill will also likely be adjusted to allow people to use their health savings accounts to pay for premiums, something conservatives fought for in this bill.

But these changes still fall within the realm of tinkering. Capito, for instance, has said that the opioid money would not be enough—she wants the stingy long-term growth rate for the bill’s Medicaid caps raised, too. That’s something conservatives would be loath to do.

A lot of senators, including many in the rank-and-file, still want to see the bill’s refundable tax credits for individuals boosted. And the most conservative wing of the party, including Utah Sen. Mike Lee and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, want more market deregulation. The “grand bargain,” then, still amounts to conservatives giving way on Medicaid cuts and other spending, while moderates give way on market regulation.

Here’s what that might look like, per the current discussions.

The Congressional Budget Office analysis, you’ll recall, left McConnell about $188 billion in additional funds to spread around to buy votes. The opioid crisis funds and HSA changes could exhaust about half of that. If senators wanted to substantially increase the tax credits to those with lower and middle incomes—or even dependents on employer plans—that could exhaust the savings, and a new stream of revenue would be needed.

That’s why some senators are now talking more seriously about keeping the Affordable Care Act’s 3.8 percent net investment tax, as Bloomberg first wrote Wednesday afternoon. This is not a new conversation: Since December, there’s been a debate over whether to keep any of the ACA’s taxes to help fund elements of replacement legislation. Opinions have varied. But the House-passed American Health Care Act chose to repeal nearly all of the taxes and finance the bill through Medicaid cuts. And the Senate kept that framework. The very correct depiction of Trumpcare as “cutting Medicaid to finance tax cuts for the wealthy” has caused a lot of political headaches for the party, and now some senators are having second thoughts.

South Dakota Sen. Mike Rounds said Wednesday that he wanted the party to reconsider ditching the investment tax, which only affects individuals making more than $200,000 and families making more than $250,000, and using that money to bump up the individual tax credits.

“If we did that, that would be another $172 billion that could then be utilized to perhaps offset some of the areas in which people have expressed concern,” Rounds said, “or as a way to allow for individuals who have never been helped by Obamacare, in the group market.”

Rounds has always been receptive to keeping the investment tax. He now has more support—and more importantly, it appears that this wouldn’t be a deal-breaker for conservatives. Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, a conservative holdout, said on Thursday that he could live with keeping the Obamacare tax. Cruz said that he doesn’t want to keep it but didn’t answer when asked whether it would be a deal-breaker. Rep. Mark Meadows, the chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, told reporters on Thursday that keeping the tax wouldn’t be a deal-breaker in his chamber either.

The conservative holdouts would demand a price, though: Give us deregulation, and we’ll stomach the losses.

Cruz has been selling one particular deregulatory proposal hard over the last week, which leaders are now taking seriously as something they’ll have to engage with to get conservative votes. As my colleague Jordan Weissmann wrote Thursday, the amendment would allow insurers within a state to sell cheaper plans that don’t comply with the ACA’s regulations so long as they also sell one plan that does.

One might call this “the MacArthur amendment by other means.” The MacArthur amendment, which sealed conservatives’ support for the House bill, allowed states to waive the ACA regulation, called community rating, that barred insurers from charging sicker people more. Eliminating that regulation would bring down premiums for healthier people while sequestering those with pre-existing conditions in high-risk pools. The Cruz amendment, essentially, would embed the high-risk pool within the traditional market: All the healthy, younger people would sign up for the cheaper, noncompliant plan, causing an increase in prices for the regulated plans as only sicker people enroll in them. In other words, it could undermine protections for people with pre-existing conditions, much as experts fear would happen under the MacArthur amendment. Cruz believes that the federal subsidies and stabilization money would be enough to ensure that premiums remain within reach for those most in need of care. But his more moderate colleagues, after witnessing the shellacking the House bill got with the MacArthur amendment, are leery of such a move. And yet South Dakota Sen. John Thune, a member of the Senate leadership, said leaders could consider it if there was a way to ensure it didn’t unravel markets. (There’s also, as with all regulatory changes considered under the reconciliation process, concerns about whether the Senate parliamentarian would allow it.)

Again, senators have about 24 hours to reach an agreement under McConnell’s latest artificially imposed deadline. That means that senators who have been fighting for the last two months will have 24 hours to miraculously come together around an agreement where conservatives abandon some of their deeply held priors on tax cuts and spending while moderates assent to market reforms that could undermine protections for those with pre-existing conditions.

Maybe they’ll need the weekend.


          The Republican AHCA Bill is going to screw over the majority of Americans   
This Healthcare act currently in the process of replacing Obamacare is economically devastating. It will to greatly decrease tax breaks for the lower and middle classes but for the upper class, amounts in the range $30,000 in tax breaks as the minimum with $197,000 being the max. This bill is essentially taking from the poor and giving to the rich and is not well examined. It was rushed by the premature repeal of Obamacare and undoubtedly has an infinite number of flaws. What I want is for them to fear the Constitutional rights of their Constituents who can and will take them out of power. Congress you will not pass this bill and you will bring back Obamacare and it will remain for however much time is necessary for you to come together and form a decent healthcare bill and thoroughly examine it before you are ready to truly replace it.
          Nothing to Hide   

This article supplements Slate’s Conspiracy Thrillers Movie Club. To learn more and to join, visit Slate.com/thrillers.

Most generally but most straightforwardly, surveillance narratives relying heavily on satellite and GPS imagery indicate the place surveillance technologies have come to hold in the formations of geopolitics, particularly through the integration of system and subject. This integration can be traced directly to the manner in which surveillance is incorporated into a film’s storyline, but, perhaps more importantly, also to its increasingly privileged place as an aspect of cinematic continuity systems. What one finds in films that incorporate locative technology and satellite imaging is that both systems serve dual and interrelated purposes: to visually establish an individual subject from a great distance, and to find a technological means within the narrative for motivating crosscutting between shots that construct elaborate plot connections between spaces, people, events, and actions. Whether they include a liberal surface critique of surveillance in their narrative, or unabashedly celebrate the spectacle of global surveillance, such films work to legitimize that caricatured element of the “world image.”

There are myriad examples: In the seminal example of such films, Enemy of the State, the numerous shots coded as satellite images, targeting the protagonist from high above, visually situate him in a variety of complex urban spaces. These shots are then “put into play” as they are crosscut with shots of the satellites themselves in orbit, the satellite operation center, and other figures in the political drama that unfolds.

GPS imaging, a digitally animated rendering of a figure in a given space enabled by satellite locative technologies, serves a similar purpose in these narratives, and is used both alongside and interchangeably with satellite photography. The image, though this time arguably more mediated by digital animation than photographic images, is designed to show a point on a map from above. These data visualizations appear in the same cinematic genre and with an almost identical narrative function as the satellite photography—to visually pinpoint a singular figure within a broad narrative and visual context—and thus GPS also provides a tie between the general and the particular, an individual body and a system. Satellite and GPS images often serve the function of establishing shots, providing the context for the individual storylines that will develop either within the entire film, or within the scene that shot is establishing. Here, however, the establishing shot is a continuous presence, insistently tying the individual’s image and action to its context—a context that includes not just the space the satellite provides an image of, but the space that includes the satellite—a world system in which satellite technologies have an integral part, both symbolic and literal. The cinematic satellite image is, like many surveillance moments within these narratives, a type of point-of-view shot—an image that, insofar as it is highlighted as a technologized vision set apart from the other cinematic images, insistently refers back to itself as much as it refers to the objects it provides images of.

The satellite and GPS images within these films also clearly function as a narrative device, a technique that motivates crosscutting or establishes other cinematic forms of narrative connectivity. The satellite or GPS image almost never exists as a signifying image in and of itself; instead it is used as a mode of producing narrative relationality across very broad fields, and almost inevitably, in a manner that highlights the individual as a geopolitical subject. Most frequently and simply, this will take the form of a chase scene, in which we see not only what is happening on the ground but also the third and broader term in the chase—the larger agency monitoring and directing the chase through satellite and GPS, an agency that represents the broader political context of the smaller, individual actions below. Within these scenes, the surveillant image and the surveilling agency are frequently the narrative touchstone, the fulcrum of the scene, as much if not more than the protagonist (who is rarely aligned with the surveillant gaze) and in this way, we see the further invitation to the film’s spectators to identify themselves with both the system of surveillance and a globalizing visual logic, even as they are also identified with a character subjected to that system.

The fact that the great majority of scenes utilizing satellite and GPS are chase scenes that culminate in destruction and often death (though rarely of the protagonist) is crucial to understanding exactly what kind of global system this is: All the films use surveillance technology that visualizes “location” in such a way that it serves as a narrative and stylistic pivot that constructs relationships among individual bodies, inter- and transnational spaces, and broad global systems through economies of violence. The agency and world citizenship of the protagonists of current political action-thrillers is offered only in relation to a violent targeting, even as they gain increased value within a larger symbolic economy of “global” politics. The frequent result is that these films follow both a narrative and spatial trajectory that frequently establishes Americans as geopolitical subjects through monitored immersion in globalized urban locations.

Enemy of the State, as suggested above, has come to serve as the model for more recent films that incorporate satellite imaging as an integral part of the narrative, and Tony Scott (before his suicide in 2012) was becoming somewhat of a surveillance auteur, continuing these themes and aesthetics in the 2006 action-sci-fi-terrorism-thriller Déjà vu. Enemy of the State tells the fictionalized story of the political intrigue surrounding a bill that allows the U.S. government broad powers of surveillance, pitting corrupt National Security Agency leadership against resistant members of Congress and unwitting citizens. The political tale is told through the filter of one of these citizens, a labor attorney played by Will Smith. With the casting of Smith, Enemy of the State establishes itself as an action-based political film with a personality-based narrative, even before the narrative unfolds. While it is “set” entirely within the U.S., both the political stakes around national security and the use of GPS and satellite within the narrative make this a film that presents domestic concerns (in a number of senses) as on the cusp of global political significance.

Smith’s character, Robert Dean, finds himself by pure happenstance at the center of this intrigue when an old college buddy surreptitiously drops a computer disk into Dean’s shopping bag as he runs for his life. The disk contains surveillance footage of a congressman’s murder, which Dean’s friend, a wildlife researcher, captured unintentionally with a hidden camera intended to record birds. This series of purely accidental encounters results in a large-scale manhunt (already begun with the chase of the friend who slips the disk to Dean), with the massive technological and political power of the NSA unleashed upon Dean by those responsible for the videotaped murder. The narrative is organized around Dean’s discovery that he is being tracked and then targeted, followed by his attempts to extricate himself from the multiple “framings” used against him as weapons: The constant visual frames of the surveillance he is now under, and the information technology-enabled frame-up in which his professional, financial, and personal life are destroyed such that he will have no credibility should he go public with the video.

By using the NSA’s access to massive amounts of personal data as the method of targeting Dean alongside its elaborate geo-surveillance operation, the film already effectively elides any distinction between its surveillance system and the myriad economic and social systems through which daily life functions in the contemporary United States. Here, Enemy of the State suggests the dependence of a subject’s position on the “correct” functioning of multiple systems (computer systems, legal systems, financial systems, etc.), which a surveillant narrative structure produces as integrated and thus unstable—a threat to one’s very identity. Ultimately, the film goes to great lengths to demonstrate how an individual’s life, in this case bourgeois domestic life in particular, is inextricably linked to geopolitical concerns; in no uncertain terms, it also makes clear that the tie that binds these realms is a network of surveillance systems.

Similarly to the visual system described above, in which the pinpointing of an individual is tied to a representation of global totality through satellite imaging, Enemy of the State insists that the political debates about national security versus individual rights come down to a question of how much one’s domestic space can and should be put into relationship with national security practices and geopolitical systems. The increasing intrusion of the NSA into Dean’s life also involves the revelation of his marital problems resulting from a prior affair, and the film moves frequently back and forth between his domestic space and his implication in the political conspiracy. The suggestions of marital difficulty are themselves heavily interspersed with clear visual and narrative representations of an upper-middle-class couple very much in love and happy in the domestic space that they share with their young son. As the surveillance is ratcheted up, the fallout from his infidelity is reactivated and his marriage and domestic life are destabilized; the plot thread in which he evades surveillance, clears his name, and manages to expose the government figures targeting him is joined with the plot thread in which he reconnects with his wife and re-establishes domestic propriety and happiness.

In and of itself, this is unremarkable—surveillance films are certainly not the only Hollywood narratives in which the establishment or re-establishment of a heterosexual union is provided as the corollary resolution to a parallel or primary narrative thread. As has been argued in numerous contexts, this is the very lifeblood of classical Hollywood narrative. The particular insistence on this formula in this context is notable more for the significance that “intimate,” domestic space comes to hold in a film that is on every other level concerned with presenting as broad an aesthetic and narrative as possible. Unlike the films of the 1970s and 1980s, which feature usually unmarried and often antisocial protagonists attempting to uncover a vast political system, the otherwise paranoid political vision of Enemy of the State returns to a more classical Hollywood formula. The film’s structure and its reliance on heterosexual monogamy to define both discord and resolution imply that geopolitical stakes are in some ways reducible to the domestic stakes of the bourgeois household.

To drive this point home (as it were), the film closes not with Dean’s successful escape from surveillance but instead with multiple formations of surveillant mediation “managed” within and by domesticity. The final scene presents Dean and his wife sitting on their couch watching television: They have exposed the “bad apples” in the U.S. government with the help of an ex-NSA operative now working as a surveillance expert, Edward Lyle (played by Gene Hackman in what is one of this film’s several references to the earlier canonical surveillance narrative, The Conversation). As they watch the political story from which they have now extricated themselves play out on their television, “resolution” here suggests a return to their proper roles as spectators. As Dean’s wife (also an attorney) shouts her critiques of governmental surveillance at the screen, he playfully turns her comments into a sexual innuendo, and the connection between their position as media consumers, the liberal critique of government overreach, and the stability of their upper-middle-class existence becomes synonymous with narrative resolution.

The scene continues with Dean flipping through the channels until he sees a live video image of himself, sitting and watching TV. Realizing that this surveillance shot is a perversely playful greeting from his mysterious ally, he responds conversationally to the television as Lyle communicates a message through a series of televised images. Rather than respond with outrage that Lyle has invaded his home, Dean merely teases him—“You are one sick man”—and accepts this “friendly” invasion of his privacy as humorous. The film closes with Dean’s television returning to its usual broadcast in the form of Larry King, who in 1998 was an iconic political talk show host, conducting a discussion about surveillance and national security, followed by a cut to the film’s final imagery: satellite photography of the globe—the “Earth-shot” Lisa Parks cites as the emblematic image of idealized globalization. King’s characteristic political narcissism provides the film’s concluding dialogue in voiceover: “You’ve got no right to come into my home.”

The contiguity offered between domestic space and global imaging is announced here with little subtlety: A final political comment provided by a televised media figure on the sanctity of domestic space, accompanied by an image of the globe, sets the terms fairly clearly. Even while the media provides critiques of surveillance culture, it is that same mediating presence that provides the link between the “world system” and individual subjects within it. By establishing both a visual and narrative continuity between the personal and the political, the singular and the total, the house and the globe, all through devices of surveillance and mediation, the film indicates that it is in some ways proper domestic work—and the task of the media consumer—to establish one’s place in the global system. The connection to legal and political debates about security versus privacy is clear, but what the film seems to suggest is that ultimately the privacy at stake is that of the liberal bourgeois subject who, even if his or her domestic life isn’t perfect, ultimately has “nothing to hide” and must, like Dean, merely accept with begrudging good humor the pervasiveness of surveillance as part of the economy of mediation in upper-middle-class America.

A reading of this film through its positioning of the ideal liberal bourgeois subject in a security state is bolstered by the casting of a black actor and celebrity, Will Smith, in the lead role. Beyond its function as a star vehicle for Smith, it is not inconsequential that a film about the unfair targeting of a black man by American surveillance and security operatives takes such pains to emphasize this targeting as an absolute, unequivocal coincidence. Both in the casting of Smith and the implicit reliance on his bankability as an action star, the film narrates the overreach of state surveillance in the 1990s in a framework that completely ignores and even puts under erasure the racial projects of American surveillance (and cinema): the racializing and profiling central to the policing of black populations, the Islamophobic securitization characteristic of the 1990s on through today, and countless others that have rendered the histories of surveillance inseparable from the histories of race in the United States. Instead, Smith is cast in a role that in today’s parlance would be referred to as “postracial” (in terms of both his upward career trajectory and his narrative function within the film), suggesting a significant disavowal at the heart of this critique of surveillance and an investment in the idea that this could happen to anyone (an idea that also has come to define contemporary forms of celebrity, especially as constructed by reality programming).

If we consider the film’s narrative formulation in relation to the stylistic constructions discussed earlier, what emerges is that Enemy of the State’s narrative efforts to establish the individual subject in relation to a global system do not ultimately serve to highlight the political implications and context of an otherwise individualized subject. Rather, they serve to eclipse historically embodied political experience, particularly as defined by racial identity, in favor of a liberal subject defined in relation to an aesthetic of geopolitics, an aesthetic produced through the incorporation of global imaging and information systems into cinematic continuity devices and broader media culture. This aesthetic in turn serves to centralize and privilege the place of the bourgeois media consumer even as that consumer is shown to be endangered by the very technologies that enable his or her position.

Excerpted from Surveillance Cinema by Catherine Zimmer. Reprinted with permission from NYU Press.


          Afghanistan Girls Robotics Team Denied US Visa   
An all-girls robotics team from Afghanistan has been denied US visas to participate in an international robotics competition happening in Washington DC in mid-July. The team will now watch via Skype as their robot competes against creations from over 100 other nations. "I wanted this to happen badly, I really did," said First Global President Joe Sestak, a former Navy admiral and former member of Congress.
          Republicans grow increasingly anxious about heading home without a health plan - Washington Post   

Washington Post

Republicans grow increasingly anxious about heading home without a health plan
Washington Post
The dispute within the Republican Party over health care widened further Friday as President Trump joined with two conservative senators in calling for an outright repeal of the Affordable Care Act if the party fails to agree on an alternative plan by ...
Trump Warms to Old Idea: Kill Health Law Now, and Replace It LaterNew York Times
Cruz and Lee play inside game in health fightPolitico
Obamacare Has Problems. The Senate Health Care Bill Doesn't Solve Them, Experts SayNPR
CNN -Fox News -NBCNews.com -ABC News
all 6,139 news articles »

          Splendor in the Grass / The Manchurian Candidate (01/07/2017)   
Soundtrack Factory presents 2-CD release compiles the music David Amram composed for the films 'Splendor in the Grass' (1961) and 'The Manchurian Candidate' (1962). The former starred Warren Beatty and Natalie Wood, and was directed by Elia Kazan (it won an Oscar for its screenplay), while the latter starred Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, and Janet Leigh, and was directed by John Frankenheimer.

Soundtrack Factory presents 2-CD release compiles the music he composed for the films 'Splendor in the Grass' (1961) and 'The Manchurian Candidate' (1962). The former starred Warren Beatty and Natalie Wood, and was directed by Elia Kazan (it won an Oscar for its screenplay), while the latter starred Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, and Janet Leigh, and was directed by John Frankenheimer.

In 2002, the American Film Institute ranked 'Splendor in the Grass' number 47 on its list of the top 100 Greatest Love Stories of All Time. 'The Manchurian Candidate' was selected in 1994 for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

Amram’s jazz soundtrack for these films includes such outstanding players as Harold Land, Buster Bailey, George Barrow, Paul Horn, Carmell Jones, Joe Gordon, and Amram himself on French horn or piano, among others. The themes from two further films with music by David Amram, as well as 14 studio tracks showcasing the composer with a myriad of jazz stars, have been added here as a bonus.

Music composed & arranged by DAVID AMRAM

CD 1 [1-7]: SPLENDOR IN THE GRASS
Featuring David Amram (fhrn & p), Buster Bailey (cl), George Barrow (ts), among others.
Hollywood, 1961.

CD 2 [1-14]: THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE
Featuring David Amram (fhrn, p), Paul Horn (as, fl), Harold Land (ts), Carmell Jones & Joe Gordon (tp), among others.Hollywood, 1962.

BONUS TRACKS:
CD 1 [8]: Percy Faith & His Orchestra, 1962.
CD 1 [9-21]: Amram's 1955-61 studio recordings.
CD 2 [15-16]: Additional Amram's soundtracks.

Référence: STF-150882
Label: Soundtrack Factory
EAN: 8436563181412
Label code: 606382

          Supreme Court of Britain Insists That Brexit Vote Goes Through Parliament   
Americans tired of presidential end runs around Congress will sympathize with the Supreme Court ruling out of London that Her Majesty's Government cannot act alone but must pass legislation in Parliament before triggering Brexit negotiations to leave the European Union.Following this summer's referendum vote, Prime Minister May promised to initiate Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and begin procedural talks for EU withdrawal. Opponents challenged the government before the High Court in early...
             
Public Leadership Education Network (PLEN)

The Public Leadership Education Network (PLEN) is the only national organization with the sole focus of preparing college women for leadership in the public policy arena. PLEN is a nonpartisan 501(c)(3) organization based in Washington, D.C.

PLEN’s mission is to increase the number of women in top leadership positions influencing all aspects of the public policy process.


Aside from its membership opportunities, they offer seminars for women in:  law, nonprofit leadership, public policy, STEM policy, congress and global policy.

To read more about PLEN, lean more about their seminars or view scholarship opportunities, click HERE
          Party rides on dynamism to realize Chinese Dream   

With the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China approaching, all eyes are focused on the country and the Party, because the international community has been wondering how China under the leadership of the Party has maintained sustainable growth despite the weak world economic recovery. The answer lies in the dynamism and evolution […]

The post Party rides on dynamism to realize Chinese Dream appeared first on Times of News .


          Angela Rye To Host New Weekly Podcast ‘On 1 With A. Rye’   
One of the first guests on her new show, which debuts on July 12, will be Congresswoman Maxine Waters.
          Gregory Polan elected 10th Abbot Primate of the Benedictines   

abbot-gregory-polanFather Gregory Polan, 66, until now, Abbot of Conception Abbey, has been elected the 10th Abbot Primate, succeeding Abbot Notker Wolf who has served in the position of Abbot Primate since being elected by the Congress of Abbots on 7 September 2000.

Abbot Gregory has been the 9th Abbot of Conception since November 6, 1996. He was professed in 1971 and ordained in 1977. He is a native of Berwyn, Illinois.

Abbot Gregory

[...]
          Francis to the Abbots   

pope-francis-with-abbots-8-sept-2016[Zenit] Pope Francis today received in audience some 250 participants in the congress of Benedictine abbots and abbesses gathered in Rome to reflect on the monastic charism received from St. Benedict and their faithfulness to it in a changing world.

This theme acquires special meaning in the context of the Jubilee of Mercy since, as Francis affirmed, “if it is only in the contemplation of Jesus Christ that we perceive

[...]
          The Hill   
The Hill is a non-partisan American political newspaper published in Washington, D.C. since 1994. It is owned by News Communications, Inc., which is owned by Capitol Hill Publishing, Chairman James A. Finkelstein. Focusing on the intersection of politics, policy, business and international relations, The Hill coverage includes Congress, the White House and federal campaigns. It has policy verticals on Cybersecurity, Defense, Energy & Environment, Finance, Healthcare, National Security, Technology, and Transportation.
          Hey Betsy DeVos! That Money Is for Student Needs, Not Private Schools   
Michelle Brown, Maud Schaafsma

The Trump Education Budget for FY 2018 adds more than $250,000,000 to the Education Innovation and Research (EIR) Program established under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESSA) to support educational research.  This research must benefit students with high needs.  Presumably economic, social, psychological, learning and developmental needs all make children fit within the embrace of this legislation.  It is intended by Congress to make lives and learning better for children.


          City of Miami Approved Dumping on Wetlands   
Letter to Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection March 31, 2011 Florida Department of Environmental Protection Mr. Donald Keirn Environmental Specialist III Submerged Lands & Environmental Resources Program Department of Environmental Protection 400 N. Congress Ave., Suite 200 West Palm Beach, FL 33401 Via email: Don.Keirn@dep.state.fl.us Subject: North Point, Virginia Key, Florida Conceptual Environmental Resource Permit No. […]
          As Jason Chaffetz Retires From Congress, Here Are Some Reasons Not To Miss Him   
Thanks for the memories.
          Valadao Statement Regarding Passage of Public Safety Enhancement Laws    
WASHINGTON - Today, United States Congressman David G. Valadao (CA-21) released the following statement regarding passage of H.R. 3004; Kate’s Law and H.R. 3003, the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act in the United States House of Representatives.

"Since coming to Congress, I have been a vocal advocate of reforming every aspect of our broken immigration system – including implementing reforms to ensure undocumented immigrants who have committed violent crimes are not allowed to return to the United States. These dangerous individuals put our family members, friends, neighbors, and communities at risk. By enhancing penalties for deported felons, we can prevent these needless crimes from ever taking place."

"California’s ongoing efforts to prevent local law enforcement agencies from complying with federal law is reckless. Ensuring our communities are safe, and that dangerous criminals are not given a safe haven from punishment, should not be a controversial issue. While some oppose these bills under the guise that such policies disregard the civil rights of immigrants, the reality of the situation is that our immigrant communities, such as those in the Central Valley, are jeopardized most by these dangerous criminals.”

On Thursday, June 29, 2017, Congressman Valadao voted in support of H.R. 3004, Kate’s Law and H.R. 3003, the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act. H.R. 3004 passed the United States House of Representatives by a vote of 257 to 167 while H.R. 3003 passed by a vote of 228 to 195.

Congressman David G. Valadao represents the 21st Congressional District of California, which includes Kings County and portions of Fresno, Tulare, and Kern Counties.

###

          Trump to Senate Republicans: kill Obamacare now, replace later   
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump urged Republican senators in a tweet on Friday to repeal Obamacare immediately if they cannot agree on a new plan to replace it, muddying the waters as congressional leaders struggle for consensus on healthcare legislation.

          Sen. Cory Booker On Health Care And The Democrats' Future   
Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: With Republican senators delaying a vote on their bill to replace the Affordable Care Act, many lawmakers on the left now see an opportunity, among them New Jersey's Cory Booker. Just outside the Capitol the other evening, Senator Booker and Congressman John Lewis were chatting about health care. And before long, a crowd gathered around with concerns of their own. CORY BOOKER: And it was just a beautiful night. There was something magical about it in the sense that it was spontaneous, but so authentic in the sense that I think you could stand on any street corner in America and you're going to have people walking by who have been touched by Medicaid and aspects of this bill that would threaten the gains that they've made or one of their family members have made. INSKEEP: Rachel Martin talked with Senator Booker about whether the Senate Democrats and Republicans can work together. RACHEL MARTIN, HOST: Where do you see common
          With The Senate's Health Care Vote Delayed, What's Next For Democrats?   
Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit RACHEL MARTIN, HOST: To health care now - both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate are complaining that they aren't working together. Here's Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaking on the Senate floor yesterday. (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) MITCH MCCONNELL: It's unfortunate that our Democratic colleagues refuse to work with us in a serious way to comprehensively address Obamacare's failures in the seven years since they passed it. MARTIN: Minority Leader Chuck Schumer had this response. (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) CHUCK SCHUMER: We Democrats are genuinely interested in finding a place where our two parties can come together on health care. MARTIN: So what is the next move for the Democrats? Tom Perez is the chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He's with us in the studio. Thanks for coming in this morning. TOM PEREZ: Always a pleasure. MARTIN: Do congressional Democrats really want to work with Republicans to try to
          State Dept. Restores Job Offers to Students After Diplomat Outcry   
After intense pressure by members of Congress and retired diplomats, Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson reversed his decision to delay hiring fellowship recipients. Read more
          The Reality TV/WWF President   
The Reality TV/WWF President Robert Tracinski, at The Federalist, asks that the media stop magnifying every presidential drama -- the utterly tween meangirlish tweets Donald Trump sent out about "Morning Joe" hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. I think people can't help but report this stuff because it's so shocking, and because if they don't, others will. From Tracinski's post about Trump's continuing tackiness on Twitter:
It's the stuff of squabbling between rival high school cliques. From the other side, I hear the argument that this is some brilliant move by Trump to keep the media focused on trivialities while he gets things done. Meanwhile, the current Republican Congress has been spectacularly unproductive and has delivered very little of Trump's promised agenda. They can't even pass an Obamacare replacement, much less repeal it. The president is not entirely responsible for the inaction of Congress, even a Congress where his own party has a majority. But the whole pitch for Trump as president was that he was going to be a superior leader and negotiator who would knock together the heads of all those wimpy beta males in Washington, DC, and get things done. And if he's supposed to be such a master manipulator of the press, shouldn't there be some results to show for it? No, I'm afraid Trump isn't doing this out of some kind of calculation. He's doing it because this is who he is and because the fake drama of tabloid gossip columns and "reality TV" is what made him a household name. The media is going along because this is what they love, too. After all, it was media shows like "Morning Joe"--he was a guest dozens of times--that provided Trump with total media dominance during the last election cycle. They have continued that relationship with the latest Twitter spat, just with Trump in a more antagonistic role. Maybe they think this makes for good TV, and I suppose people who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like. The rest of us are going to get bored and starting tuning out politics. It's too bad that the important issues won't just go away while no one is paying attention to them.
I don't really think that's the case, but -- and I wish I could remember whom I heard this from -- the words coming out of The White House have all the class and decorum of the World Wrestling Federation. [see bottom of post.] Yes, this is The President of The United States: And the NBC spokesman: And finally, actually, that pro-wrestling tweet, which I found: via @MZHemingway
          Republicans’ Trumpcare health bill is unconscionable   

How devastating would the Republican healthcare legislation be if enacted? Leighton Ku, a leading healthcare expert and director of director of the Center for Health Policy Research at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University, told NBC that, based on the Republican House bill, cuts in funding for Medicaid and health […]
          Iron worker Democrat Randy Bryce is Trump and Ryan’s worst nightmare   

Union ironworker Randy Bryce is Paul Ryan’s and Donald Trump’s worst nightmare. Democrat Bryce, of Caledonia, is running for Congress in Wisconsin’s 1st Congressional District, currently represented by House Speaker Ryan. He will face at least one primary opponent. Bryce lit up the Internet when he launched his campaign June 19 with a poignant video […]
           Nagaland: Congress leadership ate own vomit: NPF    
Nagaland: Congress leadership ate own vomit: NPF
          South Africa's ANC Policy Conference Begins   
With almost two-thirds of the seats in parliament, the African National Congress (ANC) is South A
          Is Healthcare on Life Support?   
Congress has an abysmal approval rating of about 20%.  There are dozens of reasons for this rating.  Right now, my disapproval with Congress stems from the chaos in Washington over healthcare. Obamacare is imploding.  It’s up to the Republicans to repeal and replace it.  I know the Democrats will say... CONTINUE
          Comment on Which Tomato Varieties Are Right for You?  by Larsnum   
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          Former Football Superstar-Turned Politician, George Weah Wins Liberian Senate Seat In Landslide Victory   
Against the backdrop of a nine-month long Ebola epidemic and twice-delayed senate elections, popular former football star and opposition politician, George Weah won a landslide victory in the mosthigh-profile race for the Montserrado County senate seat inLiberia. Running as a candidate for the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), one of [...]
          Comment on Moveable Feast Cafe 2017/04/30 … Open Thread by Anonymous   
We have seen that the Mainstream Media Admitted that they have No evidence that Candidate Donald Trump colluded with a foreign Country during the Election, and while the Lie that Candidate Trump colluded with Russia with was Needed to justify the Improper Surveillance on a Republican Presidential Candidate, to try to gain Electoral Advantage, and to have what is a ‘plausible’ Excuse if ever this matter was investigated or Leaked to the Media, it was Not anticipated by the Clintonites that some Democrats Would Leak to WikiLeaks, and so other Lies to Wrongly blame another Country would Need to be Invented by the Clintonites to try to manage that, as is explained in this updated comment. It was Obvious to Many People that there No collusion between Candidate Donald Trump and Russia, for the Obvious reasons, because there are Only a few ways that such a thing could happen, and None of them occurred during the Election. Those reasons would be that a foreign Country would rig the Votes, or that they would give Money to a Political Campaign, or that they would be the Political campaign strategist and speechwriter for a Candidate. There has been too much time elapsed, and too many statements have been made on this, for the American Shadow Regime to make up new Lies to suggest any type of collusion to those who have been paying attention to this matter. All Countries Know that the American Shadow Regime Selects their Puppet for President a long in Advance, and that it is futile to try to influence that, regardless of what the Majority of Americans may think otherwise, and Many Presidential Elections in America have been Staged events. It was Obvious to All foreign Countries that Hillary Clinton was Selected by the Shadow Regime to be President, but Candidate Donald Trump was Elected. The Reason for that was that the Less Establishment Candidate Always had the Advantage in that Election, and Hillary Clinton Usurped the Democratic Party nomination from Senator Sanders, and Hillary Clinton was the Most Establishment Candidate ever in American History, and also the Most Corrupt Candidate for President ever in American History, but this was Not known by any Country or even by Most Americans until after the Election and we now Know that it was Entirely because the Establishment Selected the Corrupt and Untrustworthy Hillary Clinton to be their Puppet. We Know that foreigners did Not rig the Voting, and this was mentioned several times. It appears that the Only Alleged complaint is that a foreign Country was Allegedly responsible for gaining information. That information was the Clinton and DNC Emails, but the DNC Servers have Never been examined by anyone Unbiased, and furthermore there is No way to prove who hacks a Computer these days, and those who wanted to help Senator Sanders become the Democratic Party nominee might think to Leak to WikiLeaks so that it would help Senator Sanders become President, and WikiLeaks said that Russia did Not give them those Emails, and Kim Dotcom wants to testify under Oath that Seth Rich was involved in the DNC Leaks, and Robert Mueller has had Plenty of time to Reply to the Lawyer of Kim Dotcom in Writing Only so that it does Not cause confusion, ambiguity, or a lack of accountability regarding arrangements for him to Testify under Oath regarding his Knowledge of Email Leaks to WikiLeaks, and a former British Ambassador Craig Murray said that it was an Intermediary for Democratic Party whistle blowers who gave him the Emails in Washington DC where it appears that this occurred in September of 2016, where he was a Master of Ceremonies for a Conference, and so unless it is better researched, then it does Not appear that this Person was Seth Rich or Shawn Lucas, and then that material was then given to WikiLeaks, and this is why the DNC Servers were Not examined by the FBI or by any other Intelligence or Law Enforcement Agencies, because it was a Leak, and the Clintonites and their Puppet Obama Administration did Not want Americans to Know that, and so they Invented this Lie of Russia Allegedly hacked the DNC, and meddled in the Election. We heard that President Barack Obama was Allegedly informed in August of 2016, that Russia was Allegedly meddling in the Election and Allegedly trying to rig the Votes, and that was after WikiLeaks Published in July of 2016, more of the Clinton and DNC Emails. This would mean that the NSA and the FBI and the Others Would have Investigated these things concerning these Allegations of meddling by a foreign Country in America’s Election, and they Would have told these things to President Barack Obama, and someone would have Leaked to the Media Why the think that a foreign Country meddled in the Election, but there were after Election Lies Specifically Invented to try to justify Spying on an opposition Political Party. It is interesting what Candidate Barack Obama said in the 2008 Presidential Election Campaign, that both major Political Parties Rig Elections, and the Video is Titled: Obama Admits To Rigged Elections Back In 2008 at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PsVNKmb6jEc , and Obama said that he was a Lawyer working on Voting Rights Law, and Obama is an Example of a Presidential Candidate who discredited the Elections and the Election process before Voting had taken place, and so it was Not unprecedented for Candidate Donald Trump to mention possible Election Rigging in 2016, and Obama did Nothing to Reform the Electoral System, and Many Americans want Electoral Reform, and if there is No Substantial Electoral Reform proposed by (S)Elected Representatives, then we Know that the Corrupt System likes its Lies and Corruption. Months later, Obama continued to Deny any Election rigging or meddling on October 18 of 2016, where he said that the Election would be Free and Fair, and that was 3 weeks before the Election and the Video is Titled: Obama To Trump: Stop Whining About A Rigged Election at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPpt7-QOGKc , and President Obama said that it would be a Free and Fair Election, because he Knew that Russia did Not meddle in the Election, and Obviously Obama Lied regarding the matter that the Clintons and the Democrats would not try to commit Election Fraud, because the Democrats are the Specialists for Election Fraud with their Electronic Voting Machines, but Russia did Not meddle in the Election, and Further tailor made Lies had to be Manufactured to try to justify the Spying on an Opposition Political Party by the Clinton Campaign, by means of their Partisan Puppet Obama Administration, and President Barack Obama said that Candidate Donald Trump and his Vice Presidential running mate along with Candidate Hillary Clinton and her Vice Presidential running mate Received Daily Top Secret Information during the Election Campaign, and we Know that Hillary Clinton Could Lie if she was asked if President Barack Obama told her that Russia was trying to rig the Election for Candidate Donald Trump. I think that if President Barack Obama had Proven to Candidate Donald Trump that the Russians were rigging the Election for him, then I think that Candidate Donald Trump would have tried to lose that Election, by promising Tax Increases, and some other Democratic Party Policies. This is because President Donald Trump is a Patriot, and I do Not think that Hillary Clinton is a Patriot, and she would have Accepted help from anyone to become the President, even if it was in a Treasonous and Undemocratic way, and we saw that with how she Usurped the Democratic Party nomination and with the Actions of the Democratic National Committee, and the Bias in much of the Mainstream Media. The Republican National Committee spent 600 million Dollars on their Presidential Campaign, and Hillary Clinton spent over one Billion Dollars on her Campaign, and if a Country wanted Candidate Donald Trump to win the Election, then they would have Secretly suggested to him, that he Should spent one Billion Dollars or more of his own Money on top of what the Republican National Committee provides, and that he would be Reimbursed after the Election, regardless of the result, and if a President Hillary Clinton had to be Bribed to look the other way for the Reimbursement, then there is also Money for that, and we Know that this did Not happen, and the other way to collude is to be a Political campaign strategist and speechwriter, and the Republican Party have Many of their own, who Understand Political matters in America Much Better than a foreigner, and it was Alleged that Russia was the speechwriter for Marine Le Pen of France, and she received approximately a third of the Votes, and we Know that the Experienced British Politician Nigel Farage wanted Candidate Donald Trump to become President, and People can hear his speech in Mississippi at a Trump Rally, and he gave his Advice on how Candidate Donald Trump could win the Election. I do Not think that Obama had any evidence that Russia was rigging the Election, because Russia was Not doing that, and any such Lying ‘evidence’ was Manufactured by Clintonites after the DNC Leaks and after the Election, and this is Why I think that President Barack Obama did Not mention that to the Public, or to Candidate Donald Trump or to the Congress or the Senate before the Election, because it was thought that the Election would be Rigged for Hillary Clinton, and so there was No demand for such Lies at the time, until after the Leaks and after the Election, and if some Government Documents say this or that, then we Need to remember how it was with the Iraq Lies, and it is because it was Known that they were Spying on Candidate Donald Trump, and so they had to write down some Lies to give themselves Excuses if someone ever Investigated the matter, and Documents can be backdated to Deceive some People. It has been suggested that President Barack Obama did Nothing to prevent a foreign Country from meddling in America’s Election, and I am Skeptical on that, because I do Not think that there was any foreign meddling in that Election, but if that is true, then there has to be a reason for that, and it Could be that Secretly and Subtlety that President Barack Obama did Not want Hillary Clinton to become President. It has been suggested that President Barack Obama did not mention that, because it Allegedly or Supposedly would be evidence to Candidate Donald Trump that the Election was being rigged, but that it would Really be Lies and Slander that could have been debunked during the Election Campaign, and it would have help Candidate Donald Trump, and it was President Barack Obama’s Responsibility to Ensure that Government Departments and Agencies made the Elections Free and Fair, Especially because Obama Knew that Elections are Rigged at times, and he Knew that before he became President, and the Shadow Regime likes to be able to Rig Elections for their Puppets, and unless there are Paper Ballots and Voter Identification, then the Democrats and Lying Bribed and Corrupt Puppet Mainstream Media will always claim Election Fraud if their Candidate does not win, and it Could be that another reason for these Lies was for the Shadow Regime by means of their Puppet Barack Obama to remain as President and call for Fresh Elections, where both Presidential Candidates will be Establishment Puppets, because we Know that there were Demonstrations in America because there had been an Election, and it looks like the Shadow Regime wants a Soft Coup by means of special counsel Robert Mueller to make up something for an Impeachment, and if it is managed properly, then the Money that Mueller spends could be Free Electioneering Finance for either major Political Party, and if Senator Sanders had became President, then the Shadow Regime would have tried to Impeach him on False charges, and that is Why Most of the Senator Sanders Supporters Know that President Donald Trump has to Unrig the Rigged System for them, and while they may not Vote for the Republicans until that Task has been Accomplished, they may Vote for other Political Parties other than the Democrats, and there are Americans who think that if they want a Political Revolution, then they will Need their own Political Party, because we see what the Democrats are Responsible for with the Biased and Corrupt and Illegal Mueller appointment, to try to install a Puppet of the Establishment, with trying to undermine a Non Establishment President who wants to keep the Promises he made during the Election Campaign, and we can see that if Senator Sanders had become President, then he would have been Impeached on False charges in the current Corrupt American Political System. There are People who think that the Proper thing for Robert Mueller to do is to recuse himself from this Conflict of Interest, or for him to Voluntarily ask for a restricted scope of Relevant investigation as a Proper course of action, given that Mueller is a Good and Close Friend of James Comey, and as such it is Illegal, because it Violates the Law, which Specifically and Unambiguously states that a special counsel is Disqualified because of Personal or Political Relationship, and also on the Clause of Conduct and Accountability, and this Sham and Illegal investigation is there to try to impeach President Donald Trump, and it has been suggested that a Special Prosecutor Should Investigate Mueller and his team while they are conducting their Illegal Sham investigation, and to Recommend Criminal Charges if Appropriate. We Know what was found on the laptop Computer that Anthony Weiner was using, and that was connected to Hillary Clinton’s Unauthorized Clandestine Secret Email Server that contain Classified Information, and this Adversely Affected the Clinton Campaign, and was Available for hacking, because People Knew that it was Anthony Weiner, and he has been Convicted of Criminal Activity, and we Know that James Comey had to Investigate these Classified Emails only days before the Election, and there are People who think that Mueller should investigate this. We Know that President Barack Obama said that Libya was his greatest mistake, but Hillary Clinton thought it was very good, and this is Why I think that President Barack Obama was Hillary Clinton’s Puppet for Libya, and Perhaps Barack Obama Secretly and Subtly did Not want Hillary Clinton to become President, because he was the Clintons’ Puppet. A News Article dated 13 December 2016, and which was over a month after the Election, and where James Clapper said that Russia did Not influence the Election, and there is a News Article dated 14 December 2016, where James Comey said that Russia did Not influence the Election, and Comey Assured the President Elect that there was No credible evidence that Russia influenced the outcome of the recent Presidential Election by (Allegedly) hacking the Democratic National Committee and (Allegedly) hacking the emails of John Podesta, and Comey told President Elect Donald Trump that James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, Agreed with that FBI Assessment at http://townhall.com/columnists/edklein/2016/12/14/comey-to-trump-the-russians-didnt-influence-the-election-n2259827 . The same James Clapper would have been associated with one of those Alleged 17 Intelligence Agencies, and only 4 of those 17 Intelligence Agencies think that there was collusion with a foreign Country in the Election Campaign, and that means that any such ‘evidence’ is Not evident, and it was these who then Allegedly informed President Barack Obama, and James Clapper said weeks after the Election on December 13 of 2016, and he said that Russia did Not influence the Election, and then a few weeks after that, James Clapper said the Lies on January 5 of 2017, which are: “The Russians have a long history of interfering in elections, but I do not think we have ever encountered a more aggressive and direct campaign to interfere with our election process than we have seen in this case”, and in May of 2017, the same James Clapper said that he has not seen any evidence of any kind of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian foreign nationals, and Unbiased Investigators said that there is No evidence that Russia hacked those Servers, and Umbrage Vault 7 hacking tools which other Countries now have, prevents detection of who hacked a Computer, and Furthermore, there was No hacking of those DNC Computers, but it was a Leak by one or more Democrats to WikiLeaks, and a former CIA Intelligence Officer has provided Irrefutable Proof that Russia did Not interfere with or influence or meddle in the Election at http://phibetaiota.net/2016/12/robert-steele-the-dhs-fbi-report-against-the-russians-is-absolute-crap/ . If Russia Allegedly had this Alleged long history of Allegedly interfering in American Elections, then Why was no commentary of this occurring during the Election Campaign, similar to Weather announcers saying that there is a long history of it snowing in Winter, and then daily commenting on the amount of snowfall during Winter on their Weather News, but we Know that the Allegations of Russian meddling are Lies to try to distract from the Fact that it was Democrats Leaked to WikiLeaks, and to try to justify Spying on an Opposition Political Party by the Corrupt Clinton Campaign, which Did Corrupt collude during the Democratic Primaries, to Usurp the Democratic Party nomination, and Many Americans want Electoral Reforms that Restore Integrity back to the Voting, and Electoral, and Democratic System in America.
          Software Livre Erúdio é premiado do Projeto Inovador 2017 para Itajaí   

O ERUDIO, desenvolvido por técnicos do DITEC, está preparado para atender toda a gestão educacional de uma unidade escolar, desde a criação dos cursos até o controle de presenças e avaliações. Também a criação dos cursos, etapas, turmas, sistemas de avaliações, calendário escolar, matrículas de alunos, além do diário escolar, segundo a Secretária de Educação Elisete Furtado Cardoso.

O Centro Tecnológico de Informação e Modernização Administrativa (CTIMA) recebe prêmio nos dias 22 e 23 em Bombinhas - SC

Itajaí foi o primeiro município a disponibilizar um software livre no Portal do Software Público do Governo Federal. Através do iEducar , sistema de gestão escolar, ganhou diversos prêmios nacionais e internacionais. Com o passar dos anos precisou se readequar, retomando as atividades direcionadas a educação com o sistema Erúdio. Para celebrar o avanço desta tecnologia, a equipe do Centro Tecnológico de Informação e Modernização Administrativa (CTIMA) recebe nesta quinta-feira (22) o prêmio de Projeto Inovador 2017 no 2° Congresso Catarinense de Cidades Digitais. O evento acontece nos dias 22 e 23 de junho, na cidade de Bombinhas.

Na oportunidade também será assinado o Termo de Acordo de Cooperação Técnica entre os Municípios de Itajaí e Bombinhas para a disponibilização gratuita do Sistema de Gestão Escolar Erúdio no município de Bombinhas. Este será o primeiro Termo de Cooperação Técnica assinado a fim de dispor o Erúdio a um município, no Brasil.

O Erúdio é um sistema já licenciado GPL que permite que outros municípios também colaborem com o desenvolvimento e agreguem novos recursos e funcionalidades. Além disso, o sistema permite que o município atenda as necessidades tecnológicas da educação e do MEC possibilitando o acesso à freqüência dos alunos, notas, supervisão escolar, alocação de professor e relatórios do censo.

Para um melhor aproveitamento do sistema estão previstas melhorias e previsão de novas funcionalidades no aplicativo mobile que logo será lançado pelo município, disponibilizando notas, frequência e outras informações online aos alunos e responsáveis, podendo haver o acompanhamento em tempo real. Gradativamente, a estrutura das escolas municipais de Itajaí estarão sendo adequadas para atender às necessidades dos professores e profissionais, no intuito de utilizar o Erúdio em plataformas mobile, como tablets e celulares.

Enviado por Murilo Sodré (muriloΘitajai·sc·gov·br)

O artigo "Software Livre Erúdio é premiado do Projeto Inovador 2017 para Itajaí" foi originalmente publicado no site BR-Linux.org, de Augusto Campos.


          Kongres Diaspora, Pidato Obama Dinilai Bukan Sekadar Basa-basi   

BINTANGNEWS.com –Pidato Mantan Presiden ke-44 Amerika Serikat, Barack Obama di Congress of Indonesian Diaspora dianggap tak cuma basa-basi.

Lewat pidatonya, Obama tak cuma menyampaikan tanggapan, tapi juga
memberikan masukan kepada diaspora di Indonesia.

"Saya senang sekali pidatonya bukan basa basi, tapi benar-benar memberikan pandangan Beliau yang sejujurnya mengenai kondisi dunia, mengenai masalah yang dihadapi," kata Ketua Board of Trustees Indonesian Diaspora Network Global, Dino Patti Djalal di The Hall Kasablanka, Sabtu (1/7/2017).

Menurut Dino, Obama menyampaikan banyak hal, mulai dari masalah kepemudaan, pengangguran, isu perubahan iklim hingga toleransi dalam keragaman. Obama juga menyinggung mengenai era globalisasi.

Menurut Dino, dalam pidatonya Obama mengatakan bahwa pemuda di Indonesia harus mampu beradaptasi dengan berbagai perubahan dan mengambil keuntungan dari globalisasi.

"Saya kira pesan Presiden Obama itu bisa menginspirasi bangsa kita, terutama diaspora," ujar Dino Patti Djalal.

Kongres diaspora Indonesia merupakan suatu festival yang menampilkan prestasi, peluang, kontribusi dan pemikiran cemerlang tokoh-tokoh diaspora Indonesia dari berbagai penjuru dunia. 

Dalam Kongres ini juga  diselenggarakan Diaspora Fair, yang terdiri dari Education Fair, Diaspora Business Forum dan pameran diaspora lain,” demikian Kompas.com.(jon)
Ikuti Terus Sumber Infomasi Dunia Di Twitter @Bintangnews.Com




          News24.com | Blade set for next SACP term   
SA Communist Party leader Blade Nzimande looks set to extend his 19-year tenure by another five years when the party elects new leadership at its congress starting in just over a week in Johannesburg. Reported by News24 1 hour ago.
          Congress, Muslim League leaders to attend RSS event in Kerala ... - The Indian Express   

The Indian Express

Congress, Muslim League leaders to attend RSS event in Kerala ...
The Indian Express
The conference will be held in Calicut on July 1. It is being organised at a time when numerous incidents of violence between workers of RSS and CPI(M) have ...

and more »

          Loan waiver not a permanent solution, says RSS chief - Economic Times   

Economic Times

Loan waiver not a permanent solution, says RSS chief
Economic Times
When asked to comment on Bhagwat's statement, Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) president Ashok Chavan yesterday said, "Once again, the BJP and the RSS have shown that they are anti-farmer and will continue to be so. They (the state ...

and more »

          The Hill   
The Hill is a non-partisan American political newspaper published in Washington, D.C. since 1994. It is owned by News Communications, Inc., which is owned by Capitol Hill Publishing, Chairman James A. Finkelstein. Focusing on the intersection of politics, policy, business and international relations, The Hill coverage includes Congress, the White House and federal campaigns. It has policy verticals on Cybersecurity, Defense, Energy & Environment, Finance, Healthcare, National Security, Technology, and Transportation.
          The In Between   

Sometimes life moves from one phase to another so seamlessly that you don’t even notice the change. You go from the being the house with babies and toddlers to the house with school age kids before you even know it. Then suddenly you look around and realize that Little Tykes, Lego, and Playskool have been replaced by Apple, textbooks, and stinky sneakers. 


So often you only notice the passage of stages once they’re gone. The firsts are always noted; first tooth, first day of school, first sleepover, first time driving a car, first date… You don’t, however, notice the lasts. Eventually you start to think, when was the last time you cut up someone’s meat? Picked up one of your children? Gave them a bath? Washed their laundry? These lasts were not marked. They were not properly mourned. One day you picked up that last child, that last baby of the family, for the last time. Seems like that should have been noteworthy. But it was not. It slipped by unnoticed.

Then there are times the delineation from one phase to another is so stark that it’s jarring. How is it that that child who just yesterday was lining up his matchbox cars all in a row is now a husband? How can it be that that child who used to stick his pencils in the flame of the candle every time you left the room is now a firefighter? The kid you were afraid to let drive your car is now paid a lot of money by a city municipality to drive their million dollar firetrucks? How is it that the baby who would give you pouty lip and watery eyes every time you left her in the church nursery is now off to college without a backward glance, taking care of her own business and handling her own life? How is it that the baby of the family, the one you watched like a hawk to keep safe, that child you spent hours in the ER with over the span of her life praying as she fought off yet another anaphylactic reaction, is now applying to nursing school because she wants to be the nurse in the ER instead of the patient? These things are startling.


In 26 years my children have gone from helpless little cherubs to competent adults. I, however, remain the same; a little wiser hopefully, and a littler rounder to be sure, but overall the same. The passage of these 26 years did not have such a stark a change on me. I am still the same mom who worries when they’re not home. I’m still the mom who becomes enraged when someone slights one of her babies. I don’t even care if they’re all technically adults now. I will fight you.  I’m the same mom who wants to make sure they’re taking their vitamins, eating a healthy diet, drinking enough water, getting enough sleep, not working too hard, and going to church. The difference now is that those things are no longer my job.


So what is my job now? I’m not really sure. My kids used to jokingly call me Motherboard after the character in the show CyberChase who is described as ‘the relaxed and benevolent ruler of Cyberspace who lives in Cyberspace Control Central’ That was me. I was the (mostly, I hope) benevolent ruler of my control central. The center of the house. The knower of what’s for dinner, all the phone numbers, dates on the calendar, whose turn it is to feed the dogs, and when they last had a tetanus shot.


I know the next phase of life will be fun. Different, but fun. Empty nesters. Dave and I will have the ability to flit about from here to there without an act of congress to set it all up. I won’t have to hold everyone’s schedules in my brain, just mine and Dave’s. I assume at some point there will be grandchildren. I can’t wait for this. I’m going to ROCK the grandma thing. I had to teach and train and discipline my own kids. It’ll be my kid’s and their spouse’s job to do the hard bits of parenting. Grandma just gets to play and read the books and make the cookies. I’m going to love that.


But we’re not there yet. Now we’re in the In Between. Not quite at the foot loose and fancy free daysof the empty nesters. Not at the eat ice cream and read books with the grandbabies phase. I’m not sure I like the In Between phase. It’s incongruent. Happy but sad. Exciting but scary. You don’t really have any say anymore. You have zero control. The stakes are much higher when they make mistakes, but you can’t do it for them. You want them to go and make their way in the world, but also not leave the nest. You want them to go serve the Lord, but not too far away please and thank you. The job in this In Between phase seems to be that of a cheerleader. You cheer and encourage when your team is winning, and you cheer and encourage and silently beseech God on behalf of your team, when they’re losing. Either way, your job is only to cheer. 




          Comment on Reading Questions by Robert LaMoy   
On 20 September 2001, President George W. Bush gave an address to Congress that sought to explain why Islamic fundamentalists hate America. Bush said, "They hate what they see right here in this chamber, a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms, our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other…these terrorists kill not merely to end lives but to disrupt and end a way of life." Rhetorically, this reasoning was very effective—it pitted America in the middle of an epic battle of competing ideologies. However powerful the rhetoric, it was oversimplified. Our readings this week suggest that terrorism can serve either minimalist or maximalist goals. According to David Lake, Osama bin Laden (assuming he is still alive) wants to "stop the West from polluting Islamic culture, force the United States to withdraw from the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia, and destroy Israel." (Lake, "Rational Extremism," 19). Conspicuously absent from these goals are “destroy the Western way of life” or “overthrow Western democracies.” These sort of misperceptions, put forth largely by the Bush Administration, were a leading cause of our foreign policy blunders over the last decade. As we discussed in lecture, the term "War on Terrorism" is a misnomer if we consider terrorism to be a tactic that advances political goals. It is possible to wage war on a specific terrorist cell, but hard to wage war on terrorism as a whole. Terrorists have varying political motivations; as a result, their goals will not necessarily be maximalist in nature. To be sure, terrorism is a desperate tactic, and the demands of terrorists should rarely be granted. However, the moderate success of terrorism in the Palestine-Israel conflict suggests that terrorism is not a hopeless tactic. Whenever retaliation plays into the hands of terrorists, compromise with non-state actors might actually be a better path for states to pursue.
          Karl Marx   

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Traços biográficos:

    Economista, filósofo e socialista alemão, Karl Marx nasceu em Trier em 5 de Maio de 1818 e morreu em Londres a 14 de Março de 1883. Estudou na universidade de Berlim, principalmente a filosofia hegeliana, e formou-se em Iena, em 1841, com a tese Sobre as diferenças da filosofia da natureza de Demócrito e de Epicuro. Em 1842 assumiu a chefia da redação do Jornal Renano em Colônia, onde seus artigos radical-democratas irritaram as autoridades. Em 1843, mudou-se para Paris, editando em 1844 o primeiro volume dos Anais Germânico-Franceses, órgão principal dos hegelianos da esquerda. Entretanto, rompeu logo com os líderes deste movimento, Bruno Bauer e Ruge.

    Em 1844, conheceu em Paris Friedrich Engels, começo de uma amizade íntima durante a vida toda. Foi, no ano seguinte, expulso da França, radicando-se em Bruxelas e participando de organizações clandestinas de operários e exilados. Ao mesmo tempo em que na França estourou a revolução, em 24 de fevereiro de 1848, Marx e Engels publicaram o folheto O Manifesto Comunista,primeiro esboço da teoria revolucionária que, mais tarde, seria chamada marxista. Voltou para Paris, mas assumiu logo a chefia do Novo Jornal Renano em colônia, primeiro jornal diário francamente socialista.

    Depois da derrota de todos os movimentos revolucionários na Europa e o fechamento do jornal, cujos redatores foram denunciados e processados, Marx foi para Paris e daí expulso, para Londres, onde fixou residência. Em Londres, dedicou-se a vastos estudos econômicos e históricos, sendo freqüentador assíduo da sala de leituras do British Museum. Escrevia artigos para jornais norte-americanos, sobre política exterior, mas sua situação material esteve sempre muito precária. Foi generosamente ajudado por Engels, que vivia em Manchester em boas condições financeiras.

    Em 1864, Marx foi co-fundador da Associação Internacional dos Operários, depois chamada I Internacional, desempenhando dominante papel de direção. Em 1867 publicou o primeiro volume da sua obra principal, O Capital. Dentro da I Internacional encontrou Marx a oposição tenaz dos anarquistas, liderados por Bakunin, e em 1872, no Congresso de Haia, a associação foi praticamente dissolvida. Em compensação, Marx podia patrocinar a fundação, em 1875, do Partido Social-Democrático alemão, que foi, porém, logo depois, proibido. Não viveu bastante para assistir às vitórias eleitorais deste partido e de outros agrupamentos socialistas da Europa.

 

Primeiros trabalhos:

    Entre os primeiros trabalhos de Marx, foi antigamente considerado como o mais importante o artigo Sobre a crítica da Filosofia do direito de Hegel, em 1844, primeiro esboço da interpretação materialista da dialética hegeliana. Só em 1932 foram descobertos e editados em Moscou osManuscritos Econômico-Filosóficos, redigidos em 1844 e deixa-os inacabados. É o esboço de um socialismo humanista, que se preocupa principalmente com a alienação do homem; sobre a compatibilidade ou não deste humanismo com o marxismo posterior, a discussão não está encerrada. Em 1888 publicou Engels as Teses sobre Feuerbach, redigidas por Marx em 1845, rejeitando o materialismo teórico e reivindicando uma filosofia que, em vez de só interpretar o mundo, também o modificaria.

 

    Marx e Engels escreveram juntos em 1845 A Sagrada Família, contra o hegeliano Bruno Bauer e seus irmãos. Também foi obra comum A Ideologia alemã (1845-46), que por motivo de censura não pôde ser publicada (edição completa só em 1932); é a exposição da filosofia marxista. Marx sozinho escreveu A Miséria da Filosofia (1847), a polêmica veemente contra o anarquista francês Proudhon. A última obra comum de Marx e Engels foi em 1847 O Manifesto Comunista, breve resumo do materialismo histórico e apelo à revolução.

    O 18 Brumário de Luís Bonaparte foi publicado em 1852 em jornais e em 1869 como livro. É a primeira interpretação de um acontecimento histórico no caso o golpe de Estado de Napoleão III, pela teoria do materialismo histórico. Entre os escritos seguintes de Marx Sobre a crítica da economia política em 1859 é, embora breve, também uma crítica da civilização moderna, escrito de transição entre o manuscrito de 1844 e as obras posteriores. A significação dessa posição só foi esclarecida pela publicação (em Moscou, 1939-41, e em Berlim, 1953) de mais uma obra inédita:Esboço de crítica da economia política, escritos em Londres entre 1851 e 1858 e depois deixados sem acabamento final.

    Em 1867 publicou Marx o primeiro volume de sua obra mais importante: O Capital. É um livro principalmente econômico, resultado dos estudos no British Museum, tratando da teoria do valor, damais-valia, da acumulação do capital etc. Marx reuniu documentação imensa para continuar esse volume, mas não chegou a publicá-lo. Os volumes II e III de O Capital foram editados por Engels, em 1885 e em 1894. Outros textos foram publicados por Karl Kautsky como volume IV (1904-10).

 

A FILOSOFIA DE MARX

 

MATERIALISMO DIALÉTICO

 

    Baseado em Demócrito e Epicuro sobre o materialismo e em Heráclito sobre a dialética (do grego, dois logos, duas opiniões divergentes), Marx defende o materialismo dialético, tentando superar o pensamento de Hegel e Feuerbach.

    A dialética hegeliana era a dialética do idealismo (doutrina filosófica que nega a realidade individual das coisas distintas do "eu" e só lhes admite a idéia), e a dialética do materialismo é posição filosófica que considera a matéria como a única realidade e que nega a existência da alma, de outra vida e de Deus. Ambas sustentam que realidade e pensamento são a mesma coisa: as leis do pensamento são as leis da realidade. A realidade é contraditória, mas a contradição supera-se na síntese que é a "verdade" dos momentos superados. Hegel considerava ontologicamente (do grego onto + logos; parte da metafísica, que estuda o ser em geral e suas propriedades transcendentais ) a contradição (antítese) e a superação (síntese); Marx considerava historicamente como contradição de classes vinculada a certo tipo de organização social. Hegel apresentava uma filosofia que procurava demonstrar a perfeição do que existia (divinização da estrutura vigente); Marx apresentava uma filosofia revolucionária que procurava demonstrar as contradições internas da sociedade de classes e as exigências de superação.

    Ludwig Feuerbach procurou introduzir a dialética materialista, combatendo a doutrina hegeliana, que, a par de seu método revolucionário concluía por uma doutrina eminentemente conservadora. Da crítica à dialética idealista, partiu Feuerbach à crítica da Religião e da essência do cristianismo.

    Feuerbach pretendia trazer a religião do céu para a Terra. Ao invés de haver Deus criado o homem à sua imagem e semelhança, foi o homem quem criou Deus à sua imagem. Seu objetivo era conservar intactos os valores morais em uma religião da humanidade, na qual o homem seria Deus para o homem.

      Adotando a dialética hegeliana, Marx, rejeita, como Feuerbach, o idealismo, mas, ao contrário, não procura preservar os valores do cristianismo. Se Hegel tinha identificado, no dizer de Radbruch, o ser e o dever-ser (o Sen e o Solene) encarando a realidade como um desenvolvimento da razão e vendo no dever-ser o aspecto determinante e no ser o aspecto determinado dessa unidade.

    A dialética marxista postula que as leis do pensamento correspondem às leis da realidade. A dialética não é só pensamento: é pensamento e realidade a um só tempo. Mas, a matéria e seu conteúdo histórico ditam a dialética do marxismo: a realidade é contraditória com o pensamento dialético. A contradição dialética não é apenas contradição externa, mas unidade das contradições,identidade: "a dialética é ciência que mostra como as contradições podem ser concretamente (isto é, vir-a-ser) idênticas, como passam uma na outra, mostrando também porque a razão não deve tomar essas contradições como coisas mortas, petrificadas, mas como coisas vivas, móveis, lutando uma contra a outra em e através de sua luta." (Henri Lefebvre, Lógica formal/ Lógica dialética, trad. Carlos N. Coutinho, 1979, p. 192). Os momentos contraditórios são situados na história com sua parcela de verdade, mas também de erro; não se misturam, mas o conteúdo, considerado como unilateral é recaptado e elevado a nível superior.

    Marx acusou Feuerbach, afirmando que seu humanismo e sua dialética eram estáticas: o homem de Feuerbach não tem dimensões, está fora da sociedade e da história, é pura abstração. É indispensável segundo Marx, compreender a realidade histórica em suas contradições, para tentar superá-las dialeticamente. A dialética apregoa os seguintes princípios: tudo relaciona-se (Lei da ação recíproca e da conexão universal); tudo se transforma (lei da transformação universal e do desenvolvimento incessante); as mudanças qualitativas são conseqüências de revoluções quantitativas; a contradição é interna, mas os contrários se unem num momento posterior: a luta dos contrários é o motor do pensamento e da realidade; a materialidade do mundo; a anterioridade da matéria em relação à consciência; a vida espiritual da sociedade como reflexo da vida material.

    O materialismo dialético é uma constante no pensamento do marxismo-leninismo (surgido como superação do capitalismo, socialismo, ultrapassando os ensinamentos pioneiros de Feuerbach).

 

 

MATERIALISMO HISTÓRICO

 

    Na teoria marxista, o materialismo histórico pretende a explicação da história das sociedades humanas, em todas as épocas, através dos fatos materiais, essencialmente econômicos e técnicos. A sociedade é comparada a um edifício no qual as fundações, a infra-estrutura, seriam representadas pelas forças econômicas, enquanto o edifício em si, a superestrutura, representaria as idéias, costumes, instituições (políticas, religiosas, jurídicas, etc). A propósito, Marx escreveu, na obra A Miséria da filosofia (1847) na qual estabelece polêmica com Proudhon:

    As relações sociais são inteiramente interligadas às forças produtivas. Adquirindo novas forças produtivas, os homens modificam o seu modo de produção, a maneira de ganhar a vida, modificam todas as relações sociais. O moinho a braço vos dará a sociedade com o suserano; o moinho a vapor, a sociedade com o capitalismo industrial.

    Tal afirmação, defendendo rigoroso determinismo econômico em todas as sociedades humanas, foi estabelecida por Marx e Engels dentro do permanente clima de polêmica que mantiveram com seus opositores, e atenuada com a afirmativa de que existe constante interação e interdependência entre os dois níveis que compõe a estrutura social: da mesma maneira pela qual a infra-estrutura atua sobre a superestrutura, sobre os reflexos desta, embora, em última instância, sejam os fatores econômicos as condições finalmente determinantes.

 

 

EXISTENCIALISMO

 

"O que Marx mais critica é a questão de como compreender o que é o homem. Não é o ter consciência (ser racional), nem tampouco ser um animal político, que confere ao homem sua singularidade, mas ser capaz de produzir suas condições de existência, tanto material quanto ideal, que diferencia o homem."

    Numa leitura existencialista do marxismo, segundo Jean-Paul Sartre, a essência do homem é não ter essência, a essência do homem é algo que ele próprio constrói, ou seja, a História. "A existência precede a essência"; nenhum ser humano nasce pronto, mas o homem é, em sua essência, produto do meio em que vive, que é construído a partir de suas relações sociais em que cada pessoa se encontra. Assim como o homem produz o seu próprio ambiente, por outro lado, esta produção da condição de existência não é livremente escolhida, mas sim, previamente determinada. O homem pode fazer a sua História mas não pode fazer nas condições por ele escolhidas. O homem é historicamente determinado pelas condições, logo é responsável por todos os seus atos, pois ele é livre para escolher. Logo todas as teorias de Marx estão fundamentadas naquilo que é o homem, ou seja, o que é a sua existência. O Homem é condenado a ser livre.

    As relações sociais do homem são tidas pelas relações que o homem mantém com a natureza, onde desenvolve suas práticas, ou seja, o homem se constitui a partir de seu próprio trabalho, e sua sociedade se constitui a partir de suas condições materiais de produção, que dependem de fatores naturais (clima, biologia, geografia...) ou seja, relação homem-Natureza, assim como da divisão social do trabalho, sua cultura. Logo, também há a relação homem-Natureza-Cultura.

 

POLÍTICA E ECONOMIA

 

    Se analisarmos o contexto histórico do homem, nos primórdios, perceberemos que havia um espírito de coletivismo: todos compartilhavam da mesma terra, não havia propriedade privada; até a caça era compartilhada por todos. As pessoas que estavam inseridas nesta comunidade sempre se preocupavam umas com as outras, em prover as necessidades uns dos outros. Mas com o passar do tempo, o homem, com suas descobertas territoriais, acabou tornando inevitável as colonizações e, portanto, o escravismo, por causa de sua ambição. O escravo servia exclusivamente ao seu senhor, produzia para ele e o seu viver era em função dele.

    O coletivismo dos índios acabou; e o escravismo se transformou numa nova relação: agora o escravo trabalhava menos para seu senhor, e por seu trabalho conquistava um pedaço de terra para sua subsistência, ou seja, o servo trabalhava alguns dias da semana para seu senhor e outros para si. O feudalismo, então, começava a ser implantado e difundido em todo o território europeu. Esta relação servo-senhor feudal funcionou durante um certo período na história da humanidade, mas, por causa de uma série de fatores e acontecimentos, entre eles o aumento populacional, as condições de comércio (surgia a chance do servo obter capital através de sua produção excessiva), o capitalismo mercantilista, o feudalismo decaiu; e assim, deu espaço a um novo sistema econômico: o capitalismo industrial (que teve seu desenvolvimento por culminar durante a revolução industrial, com o surgimento da classe proletária). Assim, deve-se citar a economia inglesa como ponto de partida para as teorias marxistas.

    Como todo sistema tem seu período de crise, ocasionando uma necessidade de mudança, Adam Smith (o primeiro a incorporar ao trabalho a idéia de riqueza) desenvolve o liberalismo econômico.

    Do latim liberalis, que significa benfeitor, generoso, tem seu sentido político em oposição ao absolutismo monárquico. Os seus principais ideais eram: o Estado devia obedecer ao princípio da separação de poderes (executivo, legislativo e judiciário); o regime seria representativo e parlamentar; o Estado se submeteria ao direito, que garantiria ao indivíduo direitos e liberdades inalienáveis, especialmente o direito de propriedades. E foi isto que fez com que cada sistema fosse modificado.

    Sobretudo também deve-se mencionar David Ricardo, que, mais interessado no estudo da distribuição do que produção das riquezas, estabeleceu, com base em Malthus, a lei da renda fundiária(agrária), segundo a qual os produtos das terras férteis são produzidos a custo menor mas vendidos ao mesmo preço dos demais, propiciando a seus proprietários uma renda fundiária igual à diferença dos custos de produção. A partir da teoria da renda fundiária, Ricardo elaborou a lei do preço natural dos salários, sempre regulada pelo preço da alimentação, vestuário e outros itens indispensáveis à manutenção do operário e seus dependentes.

    Pois, como foi dito anteriormente, com a Revolução Industrial surgiu a classe do proletariado.

 

 

A LUTA DE CLASSES

 

    Pretendendo caracterizar não apenas uma visão econômica da história, mas também uma visão histórica da economia, a teoria marxista também procura explicar a evolução das relações econômicas nas sociedades humanas ao longo do processo histórico. Haveria, segundo a concepção marxista, uma permanente dialética das forças entre poderosos e fracos, opressores e oprimidos, a história da humanidade seria constituída por uma permanente luta de classes, como deixa bem claro a primeira frase do primeiro capítulo d’O Manifesto Comunista:

    A história de toda sociedade passado é a história da luta de classes.

    Classes essas que, para Engels são "os produtos das relações econômicas de sua época". Assim apesar das diversidades aparentes, escravidão, servidão e capitalismo seriam essencialmente etapas sucessivas de um processo único. A base da sociedade é a produção econômica. Sobre esta base econômica se ergue uma superestrutura, um estado e as idéias econômicas, sociais, políticas, morais, filosóficas e artísticas. Marx queria a inversão da pirâmide social, ou seja, pondo no poder a maioria, os proletários, que seria a única força capaz de destruir a sociedade capitalista e construir uma nova sociedade, socialista.

    Para Marx os trabalhadores estariam dominados pela ideologia da classe dominante, ou seja, as idéias que eles têm do mundo e da sociedade seriam as mesmas idéias que a burguesia espalha. O capitalismo seria atingido por crises econômicas porque ele se tornou o impedimento para o desenvolvimento das forças produtivas. Seria um absurdo que a humanidade inteira se dedica-se a trabalhar e a produzir subordinada a um punhado de grandes empresários. A economia do futuro que associaria todos os homens e povos do planeta, só poderia ser uma produção controlada por todos os homens e povos. Para Marx, quanto mais o mundo se unifica economicamente mais ele necessita de socialismo.

    Não basta existir uma crise econômica para que haja uma revolução. O que é decisivo são as ações das classes sociais que, para Marx e Engels, em todas as sociedades em que a propriedade é privada existem lutas de classes (senhores x escravos, nobres feudais x servos, burgueses x proletariados). A luta do proletariado do capitalismo não deveria se limitar à luta dos sindicatos por melhores salários e condições de vida. Ela deveria também ser a luta ideológica para que o socialismo fosse conhecido pelos trabalhadores e assumido como luta política pela tomada do poder. Neste campo, o proletariado deveria contar com uma arma fundamental, o partido político, o partido político revolucionário que tivesse uma estrutura democrática e que buscasse educar os trabalhadores e levá-los a se organizar para tomar o poder por meio de uma revolução socialista.

    Marx tentou demonstrar que no capitalismo sempre haveria injustiça social, e que o único jeito de uma pessoa ficar rica e ampliar sua fortuna seria explorando os trabalhadores, ou seja, o capitalismo, de acordo com Marx é selvagem, pois o operário produz mais para o seu patrão do que o seu próprio custo para a sociedade, e o capitalismo se apresenta necessariamente como um regime econômico de exploração, sendo a mais-valia a lei fundamental do sistema.

    A força vendida pelo operário ao patrão vai ser utilizada não durante 6 horas, mas durante 8, 10, 12 ou mais horas. A mais-valia é constituída pela diferença entre o preço pelo qual o empresário compra a força de trabalho (6 horas) e o preço pelo qual ele vende o resultado (10 horas por exemplo). Desse modo, quanto menor o preço pago ao operário e quanto maior a duração da jornada de trabalho, tanto maior o lucro empresarial. No capitalismo moderno, com a redução progressiva da jornada de trabalho, o lucro empresarial seria sustentado através do que se denomina mais-valia relativa (em oposição à primeira forma, chamada mais-valia absoluta), que consiste em aumentar a produtividade do trabalho, através da racionalização e aperfeiçoamento tecnológico, mas ainda assim não deixa de ser o sistema semi-escravista, pois "o operário cada vez se empobrece mais quando produz mais riquezas", o que faz com que ele "se torne uma mercadoria mais vil do que as mercadorias por ele criadas". Assim, quanto mais o mundo das coisas aumenta de valor, mais o mundo dos homens se desvaloriza. Ocorre então a alienação, já que todo trabalho é alienado, na medida em que se manifesta como produção de um objeto que é alheio ao sujeito criador. O raciocínio de Marx é muito simples: ao criar algo fora de si, o operário se nega no objeto criado. É o processo de objetificação. Por isso, o trabalho que é alienado (porque cria algo alheio ao sujeito criador) permanece alienado até que o valor nele incorporado pela força de trabalho seja apropriado integralmente pelo trabalhador. Em outras palavras, a produção representa umanegação, já que o objeto se opõe ao sujeito e o nega na medida em que o pressupõe e até o define. A apropriação do valor incorporado ao objeto graças à força de trabalho do sujeito-produtor, promove a negação da negação. Ora, se a negação é alienação, a negação da negação é a desalienação. Ou seja, a partir do momento que o sujeito-produtor dá valor ao que produziu, ele já não está mais alienado.

 

Pausa para um desabafo pessoal

       A esta altura da leitura você, esmagado muito mais pela propaganda do que pela verdade científica ou histórica, deve estar se perguntando: "Mas peraí, o comunismo não acabou? O comunismo não deu certo?" Caso seja o caso, remeto ao magnífico trabalho do comunista peruano (que teve a vida tristemente ceifada cedo demais) O Homem e o Mito, particularmente no trecho em que ele explica porque motivos a Fé num Futuro Humanista para a Sociedade do Homo Sapiens jamais se abala: “A cada experiência frustrada, recomeçam. Não encontraram a solução: a encontrarão. Jamais os assalta a idéia de que a solução não exista. Eis aí sua força”. Por outro lado e na mesma linha - talvez mal comparando, poder-se-ia dizer que o Cristianismo  fracassou rotundamente. Imagine que o personagem histórico Jesus de Nazaré - se é que ele existiu mesmo, há quem duvide, como Brian Fleming... - tivesse oportunidade de verificar de perto as inúmeras e bárbaras atrocidades perpetradas em seu nome pelos anos afora e fosse hoje procurar uma Igreja em que sentisse seu pensamento e seus ensinamentos sendo respeitados e praticados. As atrocidades perpetradas diuturnamente pelos cristãos constitui prova cabal de que as idéias de Jesus   estavam erradas? Pois é...

      A mim causa enorme espanto que os seguidores de um homem capaz de vergastar de azorrague, sem compaixão, os banqueiros de sua época (ainda hoje os críticos do Capital e com muito mais motivo chamamos os mercadores do Capital - parasitas que lucram enormes quantidades de dinheiro com o fruto do trabalho alheio, como banqueiros e jogadores das bolsas de valores de "vendilhões do templo", por sinal). Mas, com o passar dos séculos os que se dizem seguidores de Jesus modificaram tanto as teses e ensinamentos iniciais que há até teorias mirabolantes sobre o quanto o sujeito deve ser rico e estar de bem com o Capital para se sentir e ser tratado como um "vaso de bênção". É evidente que estes criminosos que lucram fábulas vendendo suas religiões em templos luxuosos são ainda mais ateus do que aqueles que ousamos assim nos pronunciar. Se acreditassem, minimamente, am alguma forma de "Juízo Final" se aliariam tão entusiasticamente aos vendilhões do templo humilhando todos os "profetas"? Pronto, fim da pausa para o desabafo, voltemos à seriedade do texto.

 

 

 

CONCEITOS:

CAPITALISMO, SOCIALISMO, COMUNISMO E ANARQUISMO

 

    O CAPITALISMO tem seu início na Europa. Suas características aparecem desde a baixa idade média (do século XI ao XV) com a transferência do centro da vida econômica social e política dos feudos para a cidade. O feudalismo passava por uma grave crise decorrente da catástrofe demográfica causada pela Peste Negra que dizimou 40% da população européia e pela fome que assolava o povo. Já com o comércio reativado pelas Cruzadas(do século XI ao XII), a Europa passou por um intenso desenvolvimento urbano e comercial e, conseqüentemente, as relações de produção capitalistas se multiplicaram, minando as bases do feudalismo. Na Idade Moderna, os reis expandem seu poderio econômico e político através do mercantilismo e do absolutismo. Dentre os defensores deste temos os filósofos Jean Bodin("os reis tinham o direito de impor leis aos súditos sem o consentimento deles"), Jacques Bossuet ("o rei está no trono por vontade de Deus") e Niccòlo Machiavelli("a unidade política é fundamental para a grandeza de uma nação").

    Com o absolutismo e com o mercantilismo o Estado passava a controlar a economia e a buscar colônias para adquirir metais(metalismo) através da exploração. Isso para garantir o enriquecimento da metrópole. Esse enriquecimento favorece a burguesia - classe que detém os meios de produção - que passa a contestar o poder do rei, resultando na crise do sistema absolutista. E com as revoluções burguesas, como a Revolução Francesa e a Revolução Inglesa, estava garantido o triunfo do capitalismo.

    A partir da segunda metade do século XVIII, com a Revolução Industrial, inicia-se um processo ininterrupto de produção coletiva em massa, geração de lucro e acúmulo de capital. Na Europa Ocidental, a burguesia assume o controle econômico e político. As sociedades vão superando os tradicionais critérios da aristocracia (principalmente a do privilégio de nascimento) e a força do capital se impõe. Surgem as primeiras teorias econômicas: a fisiocracia e o liberalismo. Na Inglaterra, o escocês Adam Smith (1723-1790), percursor do liberalismo econômico, publica Uma Investigação sobre Naturezas e Causas da Riqueza das Nações, em que defende a livre-iniciativa e a não-interferência do Estado na economia.

    Deste ponto, para a atual realidade econômica, pequenas mudanças estruturais ocorreram em nosso fúnebre sistema capitalista.

 

 

SOCIALISMO - A História das Idéias Socialistas possui alguns cortes de importância. O primeiro deles é entre os socialistas Utópicos e os socialistas Científicos, marcado pela introdução das idéias de Marx e Engels no universo das propostas de construção da nova sociedade. O avanço das idéias marxistas consegue dar maior homogeneidade ao movimento socialista internacional.

    Pela primeira vez, trabalhadores de países diferentes, quando pensavam em socialismo, estavam pensando numa mesma sociedade - aquela preconizada por Marx - e numa mesma maneira de chegar ao poder.

 

 

COMUNISMO - As idéias básicas de Karl Marx estão expressas principalmente no livro O Capital en'O Manifesto Comunista, obra que escreveu com Friedrich Engels, economista alemão. Marx acreditava que a única forma de alcançar uma sociedade feliz e harmoniosa seria com os trabalhadores no poder. Em parte, suas idéias eram uma reação às duras condições de vida dos trabalhadores no século XIX, na França, na Inglaterra e na Alemanha. Os trabalhadores das fábricas e das minas eram mal pagos e tinham de trabalhar muitas horas sob condições desumanas.

    Marx estava convencido que a vitória do comunismo era inevitável. Afirmava que a história segue certas leis imutáveis, à medida que avança de um estágio a outro. Cada estágio caracteriza-se por lutas que conduzem a um estágio superior de desenvolvimento. O comunismo, segundo Marx, é o último e mais alto estágio de desenvolvimento.

    Para Marx, a chave para a compreensão dos estágios do desenvolvimento é a relação entre as diferentes classes de indivíduos na produção de bens. Afirmava que o dono da riqueza é a classe dirigente porque usa o poder econômico e político para impor sua vontade ao povo. Para ele, a luta de classes é o meio pelo qual a história progride. Marx achava que a classe dirigente jamais iria abrir mão do poder por livre e espontânea vontade e que, assim, a luta e a violência eram inevitáveis.

 

O ANARQUISMO foi a proposta revolucionária internacional mais importante do mundo durante a segunda metade do século XIX e início do século XX, quando foi substituído pelo marxismo (comunismo). Em suma, o anarquismo prega o fim do Estado e de toda e qualquer forma de governo, que seriam as causas da existência dos males sociais, que devem ser substituídos por uma sociedade em que os homens são livres, sem leis, polícia, tribunais ou forças armadas. A sociedade anarquista seria organizada de acordo com a necessidade das comunidades, cujas relações seriam voltadas ao auto-abastecimento sem fins lucrativos e à base de trocas. A doutrina, que teve em Bakunin seu grande expoente teórico, organizou-se primeiramente na Rússia, expandindo-se depois para o resto da Europa e também para os Estados Unidos. O auge de sua propagação deu-se no final do século XIX, quando agregou-se ao movimento sindical, dando origem ao anarco-sindicalismo, que pregava que os sindicatos eram os verdadeiros agentes das transformações sociais. Com o surgimento do marxismo, entretanto, uma proposta revolucionária mais adequada ao quadro social vigente no século XX, o anarquismo entrou em decadência. Sem, contudo, deixar de ter tido sua importância histórica, como no episódio em que os anarquistas italianos Nicola Sacco e Bartolomeo Vanzetti foram executados por assassinato em 1921, nos EUA, mesmo com as inúmeras evidências e testemunhos que provavam sua inocência.

 

REVISIONISMO

 

    Depois da morte de Marx e Engels, a rápida industrialização da Alemanha e o fortalecimento do partido social-democrata e dos sindicatos melhoraram muito as condições de vida dos trabalhadores alemães, ao mesmo tempo em que ser tornou cada vez mais improvável a esperada crise fatal do regime capitalista. Eduard Bernstein em seu livro Os pressupostos do socialismo e as tarefas da social-democracia, recomendou abandonar utópicas esperanças revolucionárias e contentar-se, realisticamente com o fortalecimento do poder político e econômico das organizações do proletariado, considerando-se que as previsões marxistas de depauperamento progressivo(esgotar as forças de forma a tornar-se muito pobre) das massas não se tinham verificado.

    Esse "revisionismo" de Bernstein foi combatido pela ortodoxia marxista, representada por Karl Kautsky. Mas praticamente o revisionismo venceu de tal maneira, que a social-democracia alemã abandonou, enfim, o marxismo.

    Ficou isolada a marxista Rosa Luxemburg, que em uma de suas obras adaptou a teoria de Marx às novas condições do imperialismo econômico e político do séc. XX.

 

 

 

NEOMARXISTAS: Fora da Rússia, houve e há várias tentativas de dar ao marxismo outra base filosófica que o materialismo científico do séc. XIX, que já não se afigura bastante sólido a muitos marxistas modernos. Georges Sorel apoiando-se na filosofia do élan vital de Henri Bergson, postulou um movimento antiparlamentar, de violência revolucionária, inspirado pelo "mito" de uma irresistível greve geral.

 

O MANIFESTO COMUNISTA

 

    O Manifesto Comunista fez a humanidade caminhar. Não em direção ao paraíso, mas na busca (raramente bem sucedida, até agora) da solução de problemas como a miséria e a exploração do trabalho. Rumo à concretização do princípio, teoricamente aceito há 200 anos, diz que "todos os homens são iguais". E sublinhando a novidade que afirmava que os pobres, os pequenos, os explorados também podem ser sujeitos de suas vidas.

    Por isso é um documento histórico, testemunho da rebeldia do seres humanos. Seu texto, racional, aqui e ali bombástico e, em diversas passagens irônico, mal esconde essa origem comum com homens e mulheres de outros tempos: o fogo que acendeu a paixão da Liga dos Comunistas, reunida em Londres no ano de 1847, não foi diferente do que incendiou corações e mentes na luta contra a escravidão clássica, contra a servidão medieval, contra o obscurantismo religioso e contra todas as formas de opressão.

    A Liga dos Comunistas encomendou a Marx e a Engels a elaboração de um texto que tornasse claros os objetivos dela e sua maneira de ver o mundo. E isto foi feito pelos dois jovens, um de 30 e o outro de 28 anos. Portanto, o Manifesto Comunista é um conjunto afirmativo de idéias, de "verdades" em que os revolucionários da época acreditavam, por conterem, segundo eles, elementos científicos – um tanto economicistas – para a compreensão das transformações sociais. Nesse sentido, o Manifesto é mais um monumento do que um documento... Pétreo, determinante, forte: letras, palavras, e frases que queriam Ter o poder de uma arma para mudar o mundo, colocando no lugar "da velha sociedade burguesa uma associação na qual o livre desenvolvimento de cada membro é a condição para o desenvolvimento de todos."

    O Manifesto tem uma estrutura simples: uma breve introdução, três capítulos e uma rápida conclusão.

    A introdução fala com um certo orgulho, do medo que o comunismo causa nos conservadores. O "fantasma" do comunismo assusta os poderosos e une, em uma "santa aliança", todas as potências da época. É a velha "satanização" do adversário, que está "fora da ordem", do "desobediente". Mas o texto mostra o lado positivo disso: o reconhecimento da força do comunismo. Se assusta tanto, é porque tem alguma presença. Daí a necessidade de expor o modo comunista de ver o mundo e explicar suas finalidades, tão deturpadas por aqueles que o "demonizam".

    A parte I, denominada "Burgueses e Proletários", faz um resumo da história da humanidade até os dias de então, quando duas classes sociais antagônicas (as que titulam o capítulo) dominam o cenário.

    A grande contribuição deste capítulo talvez seja a descrição das enormes transformações que a burguesia industrial provocava no mundo, representando "na história um papel essencialmente revolucionário".

    Com a argúcia de quem manejava com destreza instrumentos de análise socioeconômica muito originais na época, Marx e Engels relatam (com sincera admiração !) o fenômeno da globalização que a burguesia implementava, mundializando o comércio, a navegação, os meios de comunicação.

    O Manifesto fala de ontem mas parece dizer de hoje. O desenvolvimento capitalista libera forças produtivas nunca vistas, "mais colossais e variadas que todas as gerações passadas em seu conjunto". O poderio do capital que submete o trabalho é anunciado e nos faz pensar no agora do revigoramento neoliberal: nos últimos 40 anos deste século XX, foram produzidos mais objetos do que em toda a produção econômica anterior, desde os primórdios da humanidade.

    A revolução tecnológica e científica a que assistimos, cujos ícones são os computadores e satélites e cujo poder hegemônico é a burguesia, não passa de continuação daquela descrita noManifesto , que "criou maravilhas maiores que as pirâmides do Egito, que os aquedutos romanos e as catedrais góticas; conduziu expedições maiores que as antigas migrações de povos e cruzadas". Um elogio ao dinamismo da burguesia ?

    Impiedoso com os setores médios da sociedade – já minoritários nas formações sociais mais conhecidas da Europa - , o Manifesto chega a ser cruel com os desempregados, os mendigos, os marginalizados, "essa escória das camadas mais baixas da sociedade", que pode ser arrastada por uma revolução proletária mas, por suas condições de vida, está predisposta a "vender-se à reação". Dá a entender que só os operários fabris serão capazes de fazer a revolução.

    A relativização do papel dos comunistas junto ao proletariado é o aspecto mais interessante da parte II, intitulada "Proletários e Comunistas".

    Depois de quase um século de dogmatismos, partidos únicos e "de vanguarda" portadores de verdade inteira, é saudável ler que "os comunistas não formam um partido à parte, oposto a outros partidos operários, e não têm interesses que os separem do proletariado em geral".

    Embora, sem qualquer humildade, o Manifesto atribua aos comunistas mais decisão, avanço, lucidez e liderança do que às outras frações que buscam representar o proletariado, seus objetivos são tidos como comuns: a organização dos proletários para a conquista do poder político e a destruição de supremacia burguesa.

    O "fantasma" do comunismo assombrava a Europa e o livro procura contestar, nessa parte, todos os estigmas que as classes poderosas e influentes jogavam sobre ele. Vejamos alguns desses estigmas, bastante atuais, e a resposta do Manifesto:

    Os comunistas querem acabar com toda a propriedade, inclusive a pessoal !

    Você já deve ter ouvido isso... Em 1989, no Brasil, quando Lula quase chegou lá, seus adversários espalharam o boato de que as famílias de classe média teriam que dividir suas casas com os sem-teto... A bobagem é velha, de 150 anos. Marx e Engels responderam que queriam abolir a propriedade burguesa, capitalista. Para os socialistas, a apropriação pessoal dos frutos do trabalho e aqueles bens indispensáveis à vida humana eram intocáveis. Ao que se sabe, roupas, calçados, moradia não são geradores de lucros para quem os possui... O Manifesto a esse respeito, foi definitivo, apesar de a propaganda anticomunista e burra não ter lhe dado ouvidos: "O comunismo não retira a ninguém o poder de apropriar-se de sua parte dos produtos sociais, tira apenas o poder de escravizar o trabalho de outrem por meio dessa apropriação."

 

    Os comunistas querem acabar com a família e com a educação !

    Sempre há alguém pronto para falar do comunista "comedor de criancinha". Ao ouvir isso, não deixe de indagar se uma família pode viver com o salário mínimo, o pai e mão desempregados e uma moradia sem fornecimento de água e sem luz. E se uma criança pode ser educada para a vida numa escola pública abandonada pelo governo, que finge que paga aos professores e funcionários. Na sociedade capitalista a educação é, ela própria, um comércio, uma atividade lucrativa...

    Os comunistas querem socializar as mulheres !

    Essa fazia parte do catecismo de "satanização" das idéias socialistas. "Para o burguês, sua mulher nada mais é que um instrumento de produção. Ouvindo dizer que os instrumento de produção serão postos em comum, ele conclui naturalmente que haverá comunidade de mulheres. O burguês não desconfia que se trata precisamente de dar à mulher outro papel que o de simples instrumento de produção." É bom lembrar que alguns socialistas, até hoje, não conseguiram aceitar essa nova compreensão da mulher. O machismo nega o marxismo...

    A parte III, denominada "Literatura Socialista e Comunista" faz fortes críticas às diferentes correntes socialistas da época.

    O Manifesto corta com a afiada faca da ironia três tipos de socialismo da época: o "socialismo reacionário" (subdividido em socialismo feudal, socialismo pequeno-burguês e socialismo alemão, o "socialismo conservador e burguês" e o "socialismo e comunismo crítico-utópico".

    Nesse capítulo a obra mostra seu caráter temporal, quase local. Revela sua profunda imersão na efervescência das idéias e combates daquela época, quando a aristocracia, para salvar os dedos já sem seus ricos anéis, condena a burguesia e, numa súbita generosidade, tece loas a um vago socialismo.

    A conclusão, "Posição dos Comunistas Diante dos Diferentes Partidos de Oposição" é um relato das táticas adotadas naquele momento pelos comunistas, na França, na Suíça, na Polônia e na Alemanha. Estados Unidos e Rússia, que viviam momentos de alta tensão social e política, não são mencionados, como reconheceu Engels em maio de 1890, ao destacar com sinceridade "o quanto era estreito o terreno de ação do movimento proletário no momento da primeira publicação do Manifesto em fevereiro de 1848".

    O Manifesto Comunista como não poderia deixar de ser, termina triunfalista e animando. Não quer espiritualizar e sim emocionar para a luta. Curiosamente, retoma a idéia do "fantasma", ao desejar que "as classes dominantes tremam diante da idéia de uma revolução comunista". Os proletários, que têm um mundo a ganhar com a revolução, também são, afinal, conclamados, na célebre frase, que tantos sonhos, projetos de vida e revoluções sociais já inspirou:

"PROLETÁRIOS DE TODOS OS PAÍSES, UNI-VOS !"


          Karl Heinrich Marx   

Karl Heinrich Marx


(1818 - 1883)

  Filósofo, economista e militante revolucionário alemão de origem judaica nascido em Trier, na Renânia, então província da Prússia,cujo pensamento de coletivizar as riquezas e distribuir justiça social, mudou radicalmente a história política da humanidade, gerando as revoluções socialistas. De uma família de vida nos padrões de classe média, sua juventude foi dedicada aos estudos e a uma vida tranqüila dentro da cultura burguesa européia. Filho de um advogado judeu, Hirschel Marx, depois de estudar em sua cidade natal, ingressou na Universidade de Bonn (1835), onde estudou direito, história, filosofia, arte e literatura e participou da luta política estudantil. Transferindo-se para a Universidade de Berlim (1836), começou a estudar a filosofia de Hegel, juntou-se ao grupo dos jovens hegelianos e tornou-se membro de uma sociedade formada em torno do professor de teologia Bruno Bauer, que considerava os Evangelhos narrativas fantásticas suscitadas por necessidades psicológicas. Apresentou sua tese de doutorado, em que analisava, na perspectiva hegeliana, as diferenças entre os sistemas filosóficos de Demócrito e de Epicuro (1841). Mesmo critico das teses de Hegel, o admirava muito e, por isso, sentiu-se prejudicado pelo governo alemão, poisFrederico IV começava a perseguir todos os simpatizantes de Hegel. Como professor foi proibido de pôr os pés na universidade (1842) e, desempregado, para sobreviver tornou-se jornalista em Colônia, colaborando com o jornal Rheinische Zeitung (1842), no qual, devido à sua competência, chegou a assumir sua direção ainda naquele ano. Como diretor do jornal patrocinou um estudo sobre a vida de camponeses que roubavam madeira pertencente ao Estado. Esse estudo provou que os camponeses recebiam um salário tão baixo, que passavam fome, e por conseqüência roubavam a madeira para vendê-la. Para resolver esse problema de criminalidade, propôs que se aumentassem os salários dos camponeses em vez de prendê-los. O governo alemão não gostou da sugestão e, por isso, fechou o jornal e ele foi levado a se exilar em Paris (1843). Em Paris, organizou uma revista que denuncia a repressão do governo alemão contra a cultura e contra os trabalhadores. Em virtude disto o governo alemão pressionou o francês, que resolveu expulsá-lo da França. E assim, novamente por motivos políticos, mudou-se para Bruxelas (1845). A essa altura da vida já se encontrava extremamente interessado pelo movimento dos trabalhadores e, diante de tanta exploração e miséria, percebeu que a única saída era a união dos mesmos para lutar pelos seus direitos. Passa,então, a se dedicar integralmente a escrever artigos e livros contra a sociedade capitalista e a sua substituição por uma sociedade socialista. Ali conheceu Friedrich Engels, com quem manteria estreita colaboração até o fim da vida. Escreveram a a quatro mãos Die heilige Familie (1845) e Die deutsche Ideologie (1845-1846, publicada em 1926) e juntos reorganizaram a Liga Comunista (1847). O movimento operário internacional preparou um congresso em Londres (1848) e o convidou para expor suas idéias sobre como deve ser uma sociedade sem exploração. Foi nessa oportunidade que ele apresentou ao público seu artigo Manifesto Comunista a famosa publicação Manifest der Kommunistischen Partei, em que com Engels afirmava, num estudo em dois volumes, que a solidariedade internacional dos trabalhadores em busca de sua emancipação superaria o poder dos Estados nacionais. Junto com Engels pregou uma revolução internacional que derrubasse a burguesia e implantasse o comunismo, nova sociedade sem classes. Era o início de revoluções na França e na Alemanha e, em por causa desta publicação, foi expulso pelo governo da Bélgica, tendo de permanecer em Londres. Depois de participar do movimento revolucionário (1848) na Alemanha, regressou definitivamente a Londres, onde durante o resto da vida contou com a generosa ajuda econômica de Engels para manter a família. Morreu no dia 14 de março (1883) e foi enterrado no Highgate Cemetery, norte de Londres. Nesse exílio escreveu e publicou Der 18 Brumaire des Louis Bonaparte (1852), Zur Kritik der politischen Ökonomie (1859) e o primeiro volume de o primeiro volume de sua obra mais importante, Das Kapital (1867). Os volumes seguintes dessa obra, para a qual reuniu vasta documentação, seriam publicados somente depois de sua morte (1884 /1894). Voltou à atividade política quando participou da fundação da Associação Internacional de Trabalhadores (1864). Como líder e principal inspirador dessa Primeira Internacional, sua presença se reafirmou por ocasião da segunda Comuna de Paris (1871), movimento revolucionário de que a associação participou ativamente e em que pereceram mais de vinte mil revoltosos. Suas divergências iniciadas (1872) com o anarquista Mikhail Bakunin, provocaram a derrocada da Internacional. Ainda participou da fundação do Partido Social Democrata Alemão (1875) e em seguida retirou-se da atividade política para concluir Das Kapital. Para ele, o capitalismo era a última forma de organização social baseada na exploração do homem pelo homem. Incansável escritor de suas idéias, muitos de seus escritos só foram publicados postumamente em virtude de seu estado de pobreza, a repressão policial ao movimento dos trabalhadores e até por ser pouco conhecido em sua época, a não ser pelos trabalhadores. Durante a vida, não pôde ver as conseqüências do que tinha escrito, no entanto, com o passar dos anos, seus livros tornaram-se mundialmente famosos, inspirando os mais diversos movimentos de libertação de povos oprimidos. Além das obras já citadas, em inglês ainda são consideradas obras importantes The Difference Between the Democritean and Epicurean Philosophy of Nature (1841, publicada em 1902), Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right (1843), Introduction to a Contribution to the Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right(1844), Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts (1844), Comments on James Mill's Elements of Political Economy (1844, publcada em 1932), The Holy Family or a Critique of Critical Critique (1844), Theses on Feuerbach (1845, publcada em 1886),The Poverty of Philosophy (1847), Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Germany (1851,  publcada em  1896), Pre-Capitalist Economic Formations (1857, publcada em 1939), Outlines for a Critique of Political Economy (1859), Theories of Surplus Value, em três volumes (1861-1863), The Process of Production of Capital , em três volumes (1867/1885/1894), The Civil War in France (1871) e Critique of the Gotha Program (1875), entre outros. Com F. Engels também destacaram-se A Critique of the German Ideology (1846), Heroes of the Exile (1852, publcada em 1930) e Fictitious Splits in the (First) International (1872). Com Jules Guesde escreveu The Programme of the Parti Ouvrier (1880).

Figura copiada do THE HISTORY OF ECONOMIC THOUGHT WEBSITE:
http://cepa.newschool.edu/het/home.htm


A  N  E  X  O

A difícil vida "militante" de Marx

(Trecho transcrito do site ECONOMIABR.NET
http://www.economiabr.net/)

( . . .). Na cidade natal, quando ainda era  jovem, Marx ficou amigo de um barão, o qual lhe falara sobre o Socialismo Utópico. É a primeira vez que Marx ouve falar na possibilidade de uma futura sociedade sem classes e sem exploração. Conhece a filha desse barão, Jenny; namoram por mais de sete anos. Casando-se com Jenny, Marx terá vários filhos. Começou seus estudos universitários em Bonn. ( . . . ) Uma carta que Marx escreveu a seu amigo Engels, em 8 de setembro de 1852, dá uma idéia da pobreza em que se encontrava: "(...) minha mulher está doente. Minha filha, Jenny, está doente. Heleninha está com uma espécie de febre nervosa. Não pude e nem posso chamar o médico por falta de dinheiro para os remédios. Há oito dias que alimento minha família unicamente com pão e batatas. E não sei se ainda vou poder comprar pão e batatas para hoje" (in Leonardo Konder, Marx — vida e obra, p. 96). Karl Marx veio a falecer no dia 14 de março de 1883, devido a uma infecção na garganta e muito abalado com a morte de sua mulher e de sua filha mais velha. (. . .)

 

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Former US President Barack Obama speaks to the audience during the 4th Congress of Indonesian Diaspora in Jakarta on July 1, 2017. Former US President Barack Obama called for the Indonesian people to respect each other despite their differences, in his first Asian speech after presidency on July 1, amid tensions in Indonesia over ethnicity ...

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          SIUE Workshop Encourages Educators to Integrate STEM into History Lessons   

Matt Johnson, instructional design and curriculum specialist with the SIUE STEM Center, instructs workshop attendees on how to integrate STEM into history lessons.The Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Center for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Research, Education and Outreach is partnering with the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources program at SIUE to offer a teacher workshop focused on the integration of STEM thinking in historical lessons.

The workshop was offered June 20-21 in Springfield and June 27-28 in SIUE’s Lovejoy Library. Approximately 20 area teachers attended the workshop to gain inspiration for their lesson planning.

“STEM guides so much of what happens in the world,” said Matt Johnson, instructional design and curriculum specialist with the SIUE STEM Center. “That is important to keep in mind when we’re looking at history, just as history affects what happened in STEM advancement. We want to weaken the artificial barriers that exist between subjects such as history and STEM, so we can more fully understand them.”

During the workshop, attending educators are practicing primary source analysis through mapping activities.

“A world map of 1562 is heavily influenced by the technology and science of the time, so it’s important to consider that in order to fully understand the map, its purpose and where it came from,” Johnson explained. “Looking at it with a STEM lens would include thinking about what its creators knew about the world and universe around them and how they must have made the map.”

“STEM thinking is an evolving concept in education,” added Amy Wilkinson, program manager of the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Resources program at SIUE. “We want to encourage teachers to have students analyze maps for the historical context, while also contemplating it through a STEM lens. We want them to consider how we might view a map to better understand how STEM thinking involves the decisions and changes that happened at a particular time.”

This professional development offering aligns with the University’s values of citizenship and wisdom.

“We’re happy to help teachers add to their toolbox of skills and resources any way we can,” Johnson said. “By partnering with other groups on campus, we’ve been able to provide meaningful experiences to a wider audience than we might otherwise be able to reach.”

The Teaching with Primary Sources Program at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (TPS SIUE) is funded by a grant from the Library of Congress and is a member of the TPS Educational Consortium. Members of the TPS Educational Consortium assist in the design of the TPS program and offer TPS professional development on an ongoing basis, year-round. The mission of the Teaching with Primary Sources program is to build awareness of the Library's educational initiatives, provide content that promotes the effective educational use of the Library's resources, and offer access to and promote sustained use of the Library's educational resources. The Library achieves this mission through collaborations between the Library and the K-12 educational community across the United States. The program contributes to the quality of education by assisting teachers in their use of the Library's digitized primary sources to engage students, develop their critical thinking skills and construct knowledge. Learn more about the Library's TPS program and other resources available to teachers at www.loc.gov/teachers

The Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Center for STEM Research, Education and Outreach comprises an independent group of researchers and educators, innovating ways to engage students and the public in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Within the SIUE Graduate School, the Center brings together research faculty, graduate students and practitioners to conduct education research. The Center contributes educational expertise to SIUE undergraduate classes and provides professional development for K-12 teachers. The Center boasts a significant library of equipment and resources, which are available for loan at no cost to campus and regional instructors. For more information, visit https://www.siue.edu/stem/about.shtml or contact STEM Center Director Sharon Locke at (618) 650-3065 or stemcenter@siue.edu.

Photo: Matt Johnson, instructional design and curriculum specialist with the SIUE STEM Center, instructs workshop attendees on how to integrate STEM into history lessons.


          DISBAND VIGILANTE GROUPS —Spio Urges Nana Addo   

Former minister of Trade and Industries under the erstwhile John Dramani Mahama administration, Dr Ekow Spio-Garbrah has urged president Nana Addo to put in measures to disband vigilante groups and their activities. In a statement copied to Ghanapoliticsonline.com, the one time flagbearer aspirant of the National Democratic Congress recounted the numerous acts of violence and […]

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          Obama in Indonesia Takes Swipe at Trump on Paris Climate Accord (Karlis Salna/Bloomberg)   

Karlis Salna / Bloomberg:
Obama in Indonesia Takes Swipe at Trump on Paris Climate Accord  —  Former president delivers speech at congress in Jakarta  —  Obama, holidaying in his childhood home, praises Jokowi  —  Former U.S. President Barack Obama has pointed to the importance of the Paris climate accord …


          Trump proves to be an unreliable ally to Republicans in the health-care fight (Dan Balz/Washington Post)   

Dan Balz / Washington Post:
Trump proves to be an unreliable ally to Republicans in the health-care fight  —  President Trump is more than his own worst enemy.  The damage he has inflicted during his first five months in office has undermined Republican congressional leaders, frustrated members of his Cabinet …


          IUNS 21st ICN International Congress of Nutrition   
Abstract submission is open for IUNS 21st International Congress of Nutrition hosted by The Sociedad Argentina de Nutrición in Buenos Aires, Argentina in October 15-20, 2017. Deadline: March 31, 2017 Website: http://www.icn2017.com/ 
          Party of the Poor?   
In the past, I have not been pleased with either party, but have voted Republican only for their pro-life stance, which has not always been as strong as it might have been. Sadly, we have watched the Democratic party go from being the party of the working class to the party of abortion and sodomy. From Crisis:
For decades liberals have claimed that Democrats care for the poor and Republicans don’t. And they really believe it. A meme that circulated widely over left-leaning blogs a few years back had a depiction of Jesus with a child on his lap, reading,

It’s ironic because the biggest enemy of the Republicans isn’t Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi or Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama, it’s THIS MAN… He said heal the sick, feed the hungry care for the weakest among us, and always pray in private.

The real irony for the Party of Pro-choice and its apologists is the child in Jesus’ arms. More recently, religious progressive Jack Jenkins wrote a piece, bluntly titled, “The Strange Origins of the GOP Ideology that Rejects Caring for the Poor” in reaction to comments made by GOP Congressman Roger Marshall on health care. In an attempt to explain why government-run programs don’t work, the Kansas Representative remarked, “Just like Jesus said, ‘The poor will always be with us. There is a group of people that just don’t want health care and aren’t going to take care of themselves.” Although Marshall clarified that he was speaking “in the context of supporting the obligation we have to always take care of people (emphasis added),” progressives, imagining themselves tapped into the divine mind-set, took to the media with their own hermeneutics.

There was MSNBC host Joe Scarborough who disparaged the lawmaker’s comments as a “complete twisting of everything that the Gospel is about. Everything! Read the Gospel. Read the Sermon on the Mount. … I mean, Jesus was pretty clear.” Yes, he was, and Scarborough would do well to read those texts himself—or, perhaps, a little more closely.

There was also Matthew Loftus in America: The Jesuit Review who traced Marshall’s biblical quote to Deuteronomy 15:11 where the Israelites were commended “[to] always be generous and open-handed with their neighbors.” Jack Jenkins included a link to the same verse in his critique. Such biblical expositors should note that unless we are living under a theocratic government, as was ancient Israel, the state has no biblical duty to the poor. As James Madison put it, “Charity is no part of the legislative duty of government.” Our nation’s Founders understood that, biblically, the role of the state is limited to protecting the citizenry, preserving civil order, and executing justice, and that care of the needy is the responsibility of those closest to their need—neighbors and de-centralized civic and faith-based organizations.

Contrary to the “clobber” verses marshaled to argue otherwise (e.g., Matthew 5 and Matthew 25), when Jesus taught about duty to the poor, he was not speaking to government officials or their political bodies, he was speaking to his disciples—sometimes privately—indicating that the care of the needy is their responsibility as Christians.

For nineteen hundred years, their followers did just that, individually, and through the collective of the Church, caring for each other and their neighbors by establishing hospitals, orphanages, food distribution systems, and houses for the poor and aged. Although exceptions can be found on both sides of the political aisle, Republicans do not care any less about the poor than Democrats. They just differ on how and by whom it should be given. In short, they believe that care is best handled at the local level by individuals and “mediating” institutions like churches, faith-based charities, civic groups, and other volunteer associations. They reject programs that encourage a culture of idleness and dependence, in favor of those that help the able-bodied poor become employable and self-reliant so that they can have the dignity of earning a living and providing for their families. (Read more.)

          Congressman Adam Kinzinger supports more leg room on commercial airplanes.   
The Channahon Republican said in a press statement he supports an amendment requiring the Federal Aviation Authority to establish a minimum seat size on commercial airlines as well as a minimum distance between rows of seats.
          Congress stepping up?   
Shylock: I doubt this will get anywhere in the end, but it's better than a kick in the head:

http://thehill.com/policy/defense/340066-lawmakers-applaud-after-panel-approves-language-revoking-war-authority
          NASA Statement on National Space Council   
NASA Statement on National Space Council President Donald Trump signs an Executive Order to reestablish the National Space Council, alongside members of Congress, NASA and commercial space companies in the Roosevelt Room of the White House Friday, June 30, 2017. … Continue reading
          Trump's Twitter Tirades   

President Donald Trump’s latest vicious personal attacks on Twitter are abusive, demeaning and shameful.  Yet the president and many of his supporters approve of his tactics, saying that he is just fighting back against the daily barrage of “fake media” attacks.  The president hopes to discredit his media critics with schoolyard taunts and mudslinging because he believes it will appeal to his most ardent supporters.



The president has focused his latest assault of insults on MSNBC anchors Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, the hosts of the weekday program “Morning Joe.”  Saturday he tweeted, “Crazy Joe Scarborough and dumb as a rock Mika are not bad people, but their low rated show is dominated by their bosses.  Too bad!”   Scarborough is a former Republican Congressman and Brzezinski is an experienced news anchor who is the daughter of the late Zbigniew Brzezinski, a highly respected foreign policy expert and American diplomat.  “Morning Joe” is the second highest rated cable news program in the morning, drawing nearly one million daily viewers. 



More...
          Qualcomm: Funkcionalni senzori otisaka prstiju smešteni ispod ekrana   

Na ovogodišnjoj konferenciji Mobile World Congress Shanghai američki Qualcomm konačno je predstavio funkcionalnu tehnologiju senzora otisaka prstiju smeštenih ispod samog ekrana. Tačnije, reč je o platformi nazvanoj Qualcomm Finger Print Sensors koja pokriva širok spektar uređaja od onih entry-level klase pa sve do budućih flagshipova.

Za high-end uređaje smeštaj senzora otisaka prstiju ispod ekrana moguć je zahvaljujući upotrebi ultrasoničnog senzora, uz određena ograničenja, kao što je tip ekrana (tehnologija radi isključivo na OLED ekranima) i debljina ekrana (maksimalno 1200 mikrometara).

U odnosu na tradicionalne senzore otisaka prstiju, novi senzor osim smeštaja ispod ekrana nudi i mogućnost praćenja otkucaja srca te merenja protoka krvi u žilama. Još jedna od prednosti ovakvih senzora smeštenih ispod ekrana je i lakša proizvodnja vodootpornih mobilnih uređaja. Prvi uređaji temeljeni na ovoj tehnologiji očekuju se na tržištu na leto sledeće godine.

Osim spomenute tehnologije senzora ispod ekrana, predstavljana su i još dva bazična senzora otisaka prstiju takođe bazirana na ultrasoničnoj tehnologiji. Oni se mogu smestiti direktno ispod metalnog kućišta ili pak ispod stakla (ne i ispod ekrana). Prvi uređaji temeljeni na ovim senzorima očekuju se na tržištu početkom sledeće godine.

Na kraju treba naglasiti da je Qualcomm Finger Print Sensors platforma u potpunosti samostalna te za rad ne zahtjeva prisustvo Qualcomm-ovih čipova, što američku tvrtku u budućnosti čini potencijalnim velikim igračem na tržištu senzora otisaka prstiju.
          Vigil for the Affordable Care Act in Harrisonburg   
The efforts of congressional Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, are concerning many people. Some of them attended a so-called “Health Care Vigil” Wednesday night on Harrisonburg’s Court Square, as WMRA’s Christopher Clymer Kurtz reports.
          Congressional shooter's wife tormented by husband's attack   
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          With The Senate's Health Care Vote Delayed, What's Next For Democrats?   
Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit RACHEL MARTIN, HOST: To health care now - both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate are complaining that they aren't working together. Here's Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell speaking on the Senate floor yesterday. (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) MITCH MCCONNELL: It's unfortunate that our Democratic colleagues refuse to work with us in a serious way to comprehensively address Obamacare's failures in the seven years since they passed it. MARTIN: Minority Leader Chuck Schumer had this response. (SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING) CHUCK SCHUMER: We Democrats are genuinely interested in finding a place where our two parties can come together on health care. MARTIN: So what is the next move for the Democrats? Tom Perez is the chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He's with us in the studio. Thanks for coming in this morning. TOM PEREZ: Always a pleasure. MARTIN: Do congressional Democrats really want to work with Republicans to try to
          How Congress is taking back power from Trump on national security   
In ways big and small, Congress is taking back power from President Donald Trump on national security matters.

          GOP's Plan B for Obamacare -- repeal first, replace later -- began with quiet push from Koch network   

President Trump’s surprise suggestion Friday that deadlocked Senate Republicans shift their focus to simply repealing Obamacare — and worry about replacing it later — has its roots in a Koch network proposal that has been shopped around Congress for months.

The influential Koch network, backed...


          Two Democrats call for scrutiny of possible conflicts of interest in Trump team's OneWest Bank inquiries   

Two House Democrats want Congress to look into possible conflicts of interest in the Trump administration’s handling of investigations into Pasadena’s OneWest Bank — a bank formerly headed by now-Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.

Reps. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) and Al Green (D-Texas) said...


          Will Obamacare outlast Trump? The odds improved this week.   

In the heady days just after their surprise victory in November, Republicans talked optimistically of repealing Obamacare in January.

After all, they said, a previous Republican-controlled Congress already had passed a repeal bill, which President Obama vetoed. Now, they could simply pass it again...


          Less coverage, more uninsured: Here's what the latest Republican healthcare plan could mean for women   
Women's advocates have assailed the plans put forward by Congressional Republicans to replace the Affordable Care Act, saying they would cause disproportionate harm to half the adult population.
          Healthcare debate highlights the split that threatens to paralyze Republicans   

Six months after taking control of the White House and both houses of Congress, Republicans who campaigned for years on repealing Obamacare still can’t agree on how to do it.

A chief reason that the struggle has been so hard is the growing importance in the party of populist blue-collar voters,...


          Evan F. Moore: Baseball shooting victim Scalise owes life to those he wants to strip of liberties    
It has to be a weird feeling for a white man who has used racist and anti-gay rhetoric to have his life saved by a black man and a gay black woman.House Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana was one of five people shot when a gunman opened fire at congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia, June 14.Scalice spent several days in critical condition and was recently released from the intensive care unit. The Republican congressman owes his life to people whom he previously [...]
           Natural terrestrial gamma radiation dose rate and its radiation risk to the public in the high background area surrounding Kampung Sungai Durian, Perak,Malaysia    
Ramli, Ahmad Termizi and Wagiran, Husin (2007) Natural terrestrial gamma radiation dose rate and its radiation risk to the public in the high background area surrounding Kampung Sungai Durian, Perak,Malaysia. In: International Conference of Radiology and the 11th Indonesian Society of Radiographers Congress, 2007, Jakarta, Indonesia.
           Fatal cancer risk from 238U and 232Th concentration in high terrestrial gamma radiation dose area at Kampung Sungai Durian, Perak, Malaysia    
Apriantoro, Nursama Heru and Ramli, Ahmad Termizi and Wagiran, Husin and Sutisna, Sutisna and Wood, A. Khalid (2007) Fatal cancer risk from 238U and 232Th concentration in high terrestrial gamma radiation dose area at Kampung Sungai Durian, Perak, Malaysia. In: International Conference of Radiology and the 11th Indonesian Society of Radiographers Congress, 2007, Jakarta, Indonesia.
          Nikki Haley Grilled in US Congress on America’s Role in the UN and the World   

Five months into her stint as United States ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley faced two days of often-sharp questioning on June 27 and 28 by influential panels of the United States Congress. They demanded justification for the Trump administration’s decision to slash funding to the United Nations, particularly cuts to the UN Population […]

The post Nikki Haley Grilled in US Congress on America’s Role in the UN and the World appeared first on Inter Press Service.


          How Congress is taking back power from Trump on national security   

In ways big and small, Congress is taking back power from President Donald Trump on national security matters.

From Russia to the Pentagon budget, Republicans in Congress are proposing new checks to curb the White House's power and, in some cases, simply ignoring the Trump administration's desires on national security and foreign policy.

Wary of favorable comments Trump has previously made about Russia, the Senate has passed a significant Russia sanctions package that gives Congress the ability to review any administration effort to roll back sanctions against the Kremlin. Congressional committees approved three defense bills this week boosting Pentagon spending by about $30 billion more than the Trump administration proposed after Republicans complained that Trump's budget failed to rebuild the military as he promised.

And in a surprise vote this week, a House panel approved an amendment to repeal the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, which provides legal authority for the U.S. wars in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I think it's sinking in, especially with Republican members of Congress, that they are not getting the kind of adult leadership out of the White House that would allow you to give deference to the White House," said Mieke Eoyang, a national security analyst at Third Way and former congressional aide. "So you see Congress stepping up to take a much more aggressive role on national security for the first time in a very long time."

Legislative vs. Executive

For years, a small chorus in Congress has bemoaned the legislative branch giving back its national security powers to the executive, from war-making to the budget caps imposed by the sequestration law.

Congress certainly hasn't taken back those authorities in full, and some experts argue most of the steps taken thus far are mostly symbolic. There are still major hurdles to passing a new ISIS war authorization, the new Russia sanctions have stalled with the House, and sequestration spending caps are still looming over the spending process.

"I'm cautiously optimistic that Congress is looking to assert some structure on a chaotic national security process ... but at the moment these don't yet strike me as significant checks -- yet," said Loren DeJonge Schulman, a defense analyst at the Center for a New American Security. "I'll be willing to say Congress is offering a real check to this administration when it refuses to fund one of its initiatives, or halts war funding until a clear strategy is provided."

There were also similar efforts to curb President Barack Obama's national security powers, including blocking the closure of the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay and rolling back surveillance authorities.

At the start of the Trump administration, Republican congressional leaders on national security were hopeful that the national security team -- Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, national security adviser H.R. McMaster and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats -- would steer Trump in what they consider the right direction.

Trump was praised for his decision to strike Syria in response to a chemical weapons attack. But in many cases, Trump has ignored or overruled his national security team, and the President's actions and statements -- or lack of action -- has sparked a more robust response on Capitol Hill than during the Obama years.

"I think we are seeing a growing dose of skepticism by members of Congress -- notably in the President's own party -- about Trump's ability and willingness to grasp the complexities of key national security problems and his unique responsibilities as commander in chief," said John Kirby, a CNN diplomatic and military analyst and former Pentagon and State Department spokesman under Obama.

Rebukes of Trump

The Senate's Russia sanctions bill may be the most significant fight thus far over the balance of national security power. The bill, which passed 98-2, would give Congress the ability to block Trump from rolling back sanctions on Moscow and comes amid concerns from lawmakers following a Washington Post report in May that said Trump was considering returning two Russian compounds that the U.S. seized in December sanctions on Russia.

Senators are now pressing the House to pass the bill without weakening it.

While the House Appropriations Committee's vote to repeal the 2001 war authorization is unlikely to be signed into law, it is another implicit rebuke to Trump and a sign of growing congressional discontent with an unchecked war on terror.

The proposed amendment received support from both Democrats and Republicans during debate, but the vote caught House leaders in both parties off guard.

In other cases, Congress has taken symbolic gestures to rebuke the President.

The Senate, for instance, passed an amendment reaffirming support for NATO's Article 5 principle that an attack on one member is an attack on all -- a vote that came after Trump did not reaffirm the principle during his speech at NATO headquarters. The House passed a similar resolution on the floor this week to reaffirm the U.S. commitment to NATO.

Key Republican senators are also injecting themselves directly into foreign policy decisions.

After Trump took Saudi Arabia's side in the blockade of Qatar by four Gulf countries -- putting him at odds with statements from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson -- Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker got involved.

The Tennessee Republican said he would use his authority as chairman to block any new foreign arms sales to all of the countries involved until a path to a resolution was found.

Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain has slammed the administration for failing to articulate a strategy for Afghanistan, and he threatened to provide one himself at a June confirmation hearing for Patrick Shanahan, Trump's nominee for deputy defense secretary.

"The President has two choices: Either give us a strategy or we will put a strategy that we develop into the defense authorization bill," McCain said.

Ignoring Trump's budget

McCain did not include his own Afghanistan strategy in his defense bill that passed this week, given that Mattis has promised one in July. But the Arizona Republican did blow by the Trump administration's Pentagon budget request, authorizing $640 billion in base spending compared to the Trump budget's $603 billion request.

"He called it a 10 percent (budget increase)," McCain told CNN. "It wasn't. It was 3 percent, and it was a joke. I think it's very clear that the majority of Congress, because of events in the world, view more seriously the cuts that have been made in defense spending."

While Republicans will still have to fight with Democrats over final spending levels, McCain and other defense hawks have placed the blame for Trump's defense spending levels at the feet of his budget chief, Mick Mulvaney, a fiscal hawk who often targeted defense spending while in Congress.

"Congress is in the lead here, but we're not making this up, we're going to the experts," said Ohio Republican Rep. Mike Turner. "We're listening to DOD, and we're merely giving them what they've already said that they needed. The problem is that OMB didn't listen and we are."

The Trump administration's proposed 32 percent cut to the State Department budget has gotten even less consideration in Congress, as lawmakers in both parties say they're going to ignore the proposal.

"After about five minutes, I said, 'This is a total waste of time,'" Corker told Tillerson at a June budget hearing. "The budget that's being presented is not going to be the budget we deal with. It's just not."


          Bernstein: We are in the midst of a 'malignant presidency'   

Journalism legend Carl Bernstein called on the US press Friday to rise to the challenge of the Donald Trump presidency, which he characterized as "malignant."

"We're in foreign territory," Bernstein said, speaking on CNN's "New Day." "We have never been in a malignant presidency like this before. It calls on our leaders, it calls on our journalists to do a different kind of reporting, a different kind of dealing with this presidency and the President."

Bernstein went on to argue that the Trump presidency's deepest problems are becoming an open secret in Washington.

"I think something much greater is happening, and that is that we are in the midst of a malignant presidency," he said. "That malignancy is known to the military leaders of the country. It's known to the Republican leadership in Congress who recognize it, and it's known to the intelligence community."

"That has got our leaders worried," he continued. "They are worried about his character. They are worried about his capabilities. They are worried about his temperament and state of his temperament, to use kind words here."

Bernstein, a CNN contributor whose reporting on the Watergate scandal for The Washington Post led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon in 1974, added: "[R]eporters need to go out and talk to [those leaders] either off the record, on background, about the question of their confidence in this President and whether or not he is capable of being the President of the United States in a way that defends us, our country, and the Constitution of the United States. Many members of Congress, many of our military leaders, many in our intelligence community who I've spoken to, and I know other reporters have spoken to, understand and are beginning to comprehend that the underlying story here is a lack of confidence in the abilities and character of the President of the United States of America."

"This President is not in control of the presidency in a way that it is functioning, and that has got our leaders worried," Bernstein said.

"We have to ... be kind of medical reporters right now," he added. "I don't mean about the President's psyche, but rather about every aspect of his presidency, and how and whether it is functioning, because many aspects are not functioning."

His remarks come at the end of a week in which Trump has battered the media with insults, including an early morning tweet storm Thursday in which he attacked the intellect and appearance of MSNBC's "Morning Joe" co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. Those tweets drew wide condemnation from across the political spectrum in Washington and beyond.

Bernstein's comments put the blame for what he said was dysfunction within the Trump administration on the President himself.

The Trump presidency, he said, "is not functioning partly because of his character. It's not functioning partly because of his attacks on the press, which is totally moving the needle that the American people ... are watching. ... But it's really not functioning because the character and capabilities of this President are called into grave question in a way that those who know him best are raising serious concerns about."


          Rider on US Defense Bill Seeks to Improve the Government Contracts Awarded to Female Entrepreneurs   
Each year, certain “must pass” bills are pushed through Congress with the goal of providing funding for essential government functions. One such bill, the National Defense Authorization Act, is an annual bill aimed at funding the military. Over the past few years, according to the Washington Post, the bill has also harbored ride along bills aimed at boosting small business, especially where it comes to awarding them their fair share of government contracts. Given the importance of passing key budget acts, they are often used as a way to get things done where smaller bills might otherwise get swept up in partisan politics and have a much diminished chance of making it into law. Among small business bills riding the NDAA, the Women’s Small Business Procurement Policy Act was announced for 2015. In a report from seacoastonline.com, detail was given on Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s (D-N.H) announcement that this year’s defense bill would include a rider aimed at providing female owned contractors with better chances for procuring
          My Vote Goes to..   
My Vote Goes To..

Tamil Nadu is under severe election fever besides the usual heat wave during this time of the year.   This election is also seeing a unique electoral alliances by various parties.  While Amma has decided to go it alone, Kalaignar has aligned with his old ally Congress.  After much dilly dallying, Captain has gone with 5 other parties, who have divergent views on everything.  PMK & BJP, finding no partners, have decided to go it 'almost' alone.  I hear BJP has aligned with some 'letter pad' parties who are inconsequential.

This election season, campaigning has come our living rooms.  Every party worth its salt has a TV channel and have been beaming their biased views 24x7.  We get to see political leaders zooming in their custom fitted luxury vans and their party workers toiling (and in some cases dying) in mid-summer heat.

But, I must admit besides the media noise, no party has made any noise in my neighborhood.  I am yet to witness the much talked about 'money' distribution.

With balloting to start in less than 24 hours, who am I going to vote?  Let me start with who I will not..
My vote will NOT be for AIADMK for a) promoting Sycophancy to the hilt b) making generations addicted to liquor c) institutionalizing corruption.


My vote will NOT be for DMK for a) being synonymous with corruption b) promoting family politics  c) poisoning Tamil minds with brahmin hatred for over half a century.

My vote will NOT be for DMDK alliance for a) hodgepodge alliance with diverse political ideologies b) lack of credible leadership (Vijayakanth is tolerated for his comic relief and not much else) c) not having clear 'common minimum' program.

Now that I have eliminated three major combos, here comes the two parties I would consider voting..
My vote could be for BJP alliance for a) Steering India's economy back to 'decent' growth b) reinvigorating India's foreign policy c) implementing 'direct transfer' of many subsidies and cutting middlemen. 

 My vote could be for PMK for a) consistent & early stance on prohibition b) clear growth manifesto sans freebies c) trying to prove its mettle by standing alone in all 234 constituencies.

ps: It's a different story that I can't vote, though would very much like to.  But, even if I could influence one prospective voter then this blog is worth it.

          Now’s the Time for Medicare for All   
Now’s the Time for Medicare for Allby Robert Reich As Republicans in Congress move to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Democrats are moving in the opposite direction, toward Medicare for All – a single-payer plan that builds on Medicare and would... Read More
          Les écrans de smartphone reconnaîtront bientôt les empreintes digitales   
Des premiers smartphones capables de reconnaître leur utilisateur sans action sur un bouton physique ont été présentés au Mobile World Congress de Shanghai.
          Andrew J. Bacevich on How to Dismantle the American Empire   
The question demands to be asked: Who is more deserving of contempt? The commander-in-chief who sends young Americans to die for a cause, however misguided, in which he sincerely believes? Or the commander-in-chief who sends young Americans to die for a cause in which he manifestly does not believe and yet refuses to forsake?

The Afghanistan decision was his [Obama's] opportunity to begin to chart a new course on national security policy, to begin to break away from this pattern of behavior that we’ve adhered to for the past sixty or so years. And he blew it. I can’t pretend to look into his heart and understand what factors caused him to make the decision he did. I suspect that a political calculation may have weighed more heavily than a strategic calculation or a moral calculation. And I find that deeply upsetting, because I, and I think many of us, felt that here, finally, was a public figure who—whose decisions would not be influenced primarily by political calculations... My guess is the President probably right now has a case of buyer’s remorse and is wishing that he hadn’t actually made the decision that he did, but it has become Obama’s war. I mean, he finds himself in a circumstance now where, having bought the war, it’s going worse now than it was last year. And he’s basically facing a reelection campaign right around the corner. Unless David Petraeus, our new commander, truly pulls a rabbit out of the hat, then President Obama will run for reelection in 2012 with this war still very much ongoing and, in all likelihood, with no end in sight.

But you asked the question, where does the pressure come from? And the pressure comes from what President Eisenhower called the military-industrial complex. The pressure comes from the national security apparatus. There are people in institutions who are deeply invested in maintaining the status quo. There are budgets, there are prerogatives, there are ambitions, that ostensibly get satisfied by maintaining this drive for American globalism, again, backed by an emphasis on military power. So I don’t discount for a second that the President would have had to, you know, shove aside some fairly stubborn resistance to make that course change on Afghanistan, and he chose not to do it. - Andrew J. Bacevich from a DemocracyNow! interview.

There exists an alternative tradition to which Americans today could repair, should they choose to do so. This tradition harks back to the nearly forgotten anti-imperial origins of the Republic. Succinctly captured in the motto “Don’t Tread on Me,” this tradition is one that does not seek trouble but insists that others will accord the United States respect. Updated for our own time, it might translate into the following substitute for the existing sacred trinity.

First, the purpose of the U.S. military is not to combat evil or remake the world, but to defend the United States and its most vital interests. However necessary, military power itself is neither good nor inherently desirable. Any nation defining itself in terms of military might is well down the road to perdition, as earlier generations of Americans instinctively understood. As for military supremacy, the lessons of the past are quite clear. It is an illusion and its pursuit an invitation to mischief, if not disaster. Therefore, the United States should maintain only those forces required to accomplish the defense establishment’s core mission.

Second, the primary duty station of the American soldier is in America. Just as the U.S. military should not be a global police force, so too it should not be a global occupation force. Specific circumstances may from time to time require the United States on a temporary basis to establish a military presence abroad. Yet rather than defining the norm, Americans should view this prospect as a sharp departure, entailing public debate and prior congressional authorization. Dismantling the Pentagon’s sprawling network of existing bases promises to be a lengthy process. Priority should be given to those regions where the American presence costs the most while accomplishing the least. According to those criteria, U.S. troops should withdraw from the Persian Gulf and Central Asia forthwith.

Third, consistent with the Just War tradition, the United States should employ force only as a last resort and only in self-defense. The Bush Doctrine of preventive war -- the United States bestowing on itself the exclusive prerogative of employing force against ostensible threats even before they materialize—is a moral and strategic abomination, the very inverse of prudent and enlightened statecraft. Concocted by George W. Bush to justify his needless and misguided 2003 invasion of Iraq, this doctrine still awaits explicit abrogation by authorities in Washington. Never again should the United States undertake “a war of choice” informed by fantasies that violence provides a shortcut to resolving history’s complexities.

Were this alternative triad to become the basis for policy, dramatic changes in the U.S. national security posture would ensue. Military spending would decrease appreciably. The Pentagon’s global footprint would shrink. Weapons manufacturers would see their profits plummet. Beltway Bandits would close up shop. The ranks of defense- oriented think tanks would thin. These changes, in turn, would narrow the range of options available for employing force, obliging policy makers to exhibit greater restraint in intervening abroad. With resources currently devoted to rehabilitating Baghdad or Kabul freed up, the cause of rehabilitating Cleveland and Detroit might finally attract a following.

Choosing

President Lyndon Johnson had hoped that an ambitious domestic reform program known as the Great Society might define his legacy. Instead, he bequeathed to his successor a nation that was bitterly divided, deeply troubled, and increasingly cynical.

To follow a different course would have required Johnson to depart from the Washington rules. This he -- although not he alone -- lacked the courage to do.

Here lies the real significance -- and perhaps the tragedy -- of Barack Obama’s decision, during the first year of his presidency, to escalate the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan. By retaining Robert Gates as defense secretary and by appointing retired four-star officers as his national security adviser and intelligence director, Obama had already offered Washington assurances that he was not contemplating a radical departure from the existing pattern of national security policy. Whether wittingly or not, the president now proffered his full-fledged allegiance to the Washington consensus, removing any lingering doubts about its durability.

In his speech of December 1, 2009, while explaining to the cadets at West Point why he felt it necessary to widen a war already in its ninth year, Obama justified his decision by appending it to a much larger narrative. “More than any other nation,” he declared, “the United States of America has underwritten global security for over six decades -- a time that, for all its problems, has seen walls come down, and markets open, and billions lifted from poverty, unparalleled scientific progress and advancing frontiers of human liberty.” Obama wanted it known that by sending tens of thousands of additional U.S. troops to fight in Afghanistan his own administration was carrying on the work his predecessors had begun. Their policies were his policies.

The six decades to which the president referred in his artfully sanitized rendering of contemporary history were the years during which the American credo and the sacred trinity had ascended to a position of uncontested supremacy. Thus did the president who came into office vowing to change the way Washington works make known his intention to leave this crucially important element of his inheritance all but untouched. Like Johnson, the president whose bold agenda for domestic reform presaged his own, Obama too was choosing to conform - an excerpt from WASHINGTON RULES: America's Path To Permanent War by Andrew J. Bacevich.
          How the hell did it happen? - Daniel Okrent on how Prohibition democratized drinking and made the income tax possible   
In 1920 could anyone have believed that the Eighteenth Amendment, ostensibly addressing the single subject of intoxicating beverages, would set off an avalanche of change in areas as diverse as international trade, speedboat design, tourism practices, soft-drink marketing, and the English language itself? Or that it would provoke the establishment of the first nationwide criminal syndicate, the idea of home dinner parties, the deep engagement of women in political issues other than suffrage, and the creation of Las Vegas? As interpreted by the Supreme Court and as understood by Congress, Prohibition would also lead indirectly to the eventual guarantee of the American woman's right to abortion and simultaneously dash that same woman's hope for an Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution. Prohibition changed the way we live, and it fundamentally redefined the role of the federal government. How the hell did it happen?

- from Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition by Daniel Okrent

On how Prohibition democratized drinking

The saloon was a male-only place. That was always the case...Prohibition changes everything. The saloons become speakeasies, and because it is an outlaw operation, it begins to behave in outlaw ways. Women start to come because it's an exciting thing to do. They're accommodated. That means they have to put in tables, because you can't just have the women standing at the bar, so table service begins. Music shows up for the first time. If you have men and women drinking together, you have to have music. Jazz, the outlaw music, is rising at that very same time. There were no bars in the pre-Prohibition era that had live music. It just didn't happen.

On how Prohibition made the income tax posible:

Going back as far as the Whiskey Rebellion of the 1790s and then the beer tax that was brought in during the Civil War to finance the Civil War, the federal government had been dependent upon the excise tax on alcohol to operate. In some years, domestic revenue, as much as 50 percent of it came from excise taxes. So the Prohibitionists realized that they couldn't get rid of liquor so long as the federal government was dependent upon liquor to get its revenue and to operate. So they supported the income tax movement, and in exchange, many of the populists who were behind the income tax movement supported Prohibition. In 1913, the 16th Amendment is passed. The income tax comes in. The federal government has another means of supporting itself. And at that point, the Prohibitionists who had been operating state by state by state decided we can now have an amendment to the federal Constitution because the government is no longer dependent. There's another source of revenue.

- two excerpts from Prohibition Life: Politics, Loopholes And Bathtub Gin, a Terry Gross, Fresh Air interview with Daniel Okrent.
          Business Groups Want Congress to Step Up Pace on Tax Overhaul   
Four of Washington’s largest business groups have a renewed message for Congress: Get moving on a tax plan already.
          Illinois Congressman Ain't Gettin Paid   

          Illinois Congressman Ain't Gettin Paid   
To the Smartest. Most Active and most loving Audience in the world - welcome.

Where you get more news in 15 minutes here that you do form all the Fake News Outlets in 24 hours.

This video is brought to you by Trade Genius.

In hard times like these we all need to look for earning extra income.

Jane and I are now beginning to take their courses on how to make extra money for our non-profit through this company.
==========

ILLINOIS CONGRESSMAN WILL NOT BE PAID

That is Correct.



In our lead story a Court Ruling left the State of Illinois Congressman speechless.

As the State fails to pay over $15 Billion I Bills the courts have ruled that the Illinois Congressman will share in the burden.

No pay for other state employees means no pay for their Congress.

State Congressman have no immunity to budget cuts.

So who do you think will have budget cuts: Those on welfare or the Democratically Controlled State Legislative Branch????

It appears that ALL Blue States are about to face this - Democratically controlled Washington, Oregon, California, Connecticut, etc.

Further - when the Federal Congress cuts all Federal Funds to Sanctuary States, Counties and Cities - the Mayors, County Executives, and state Congressman will not get paid and what company will bribe their states Congresses to do anything if their state budget is in turmoil????

Justice Has Been Served

In a world with $217,000,000,000,000 in debt - it is time those in congress pay for what they have done.

==========

In other news:

1) President Trump will now be asking Congress to add Tariffs to those products coming into the United States that are sent here using Foreign Government Funds to destroy the American Industrial Base.

So - for example - if a Toaster is made in China using 80% funds from the Government - Trump will authorize Congress to charge an 80% Tariff for that toaster.

The President will now level the Playing Field.

2) Both Mexico and Venezuela are now running out of oil

President Trump will now run an Oil Pipeline to Mexico to help support their failing companies and has worked out a deal where the Oil Companies will charge a Discounted Rate to help their economy.

Just as Russia provides a discounted rate to the Ukraine for Natural Gas to help their brothers in need, the US will provide Cheap Fuel to Mexico.

3) The EU and Russia and now sanctioning each other.

What this means, for example, is that if a toaster is made in Russia it is Wholesaled through a country like Iceland and then shipped to Europe.

Sanctions never work, not in the day and age of computers

4) The New York Times has finally admitted the Russian Story about stealing an election was totally fake a complete lie, Fake, Felonious and False - thank you X-22 Report

5) CNN Managing Editor called American Voters: "Dumber Than Shit."

Jimmmy Carr, a Hate Filled Associate Producer at CNN, absolutely hates President Trump and openly said: He's Just F..Ing Crazy."

So you are Dumb Shi....s and the President is Crazy.

Guess tat tells us what CNN thinks about We The People.

CNN has Fallen down, Fallen Down, Fallen down
CNN has Fallen down
The Fake News Network

6) Wheat Prices are soaring around the world as South Dakota Wheat Harvests are severely reduced due to bad weather - the Food Prices are now about to jump very high.

7) Finally - Moscow has been under attack by the Elites in terms of weather.

Please pray that all that the Elites do to others is now heaped upon their heads.

President Putin, PM Medvedev - time to attack back. Pinpoint the Elite Head Quarters and deal with these folks ever so harshly of Russia will fall within one year, so sayus the I Am That I Am, who was, and is and is to come.

Again - this video is brought to you by Trade Genius - where Jane and I are now studying so we can bring on more money for our Non-Profit

Finally - your prayers are working as President Trump moves forward to help stabilize the World’s Economy. Expect 3 months of limited food and limited power - lots of black outs.
==========
The News You Need

The Wall of Truth

Dr William B. Mount

"From Horrific To Catastrophic": Court Ruling Sends Illinois Into Financial Abyss | Zero Hedge
The World Is Now $217,000,000,000,000 In Debt And The Global Elite Like It That Way | Zero Hedge

Donald Trump promises new petroleum pipeline to Mexico: 'It'll go right under the wall' - Washington Times

EU and Russia extend sanctions against each other

CNN Producer: American Voters "Are Stupid As Shit" | Zero Hedge

Dakota Drought Sparks Biggest Spring Wheat Price Spike In 7 Years | Zero Hedge

New York Times Forced To Retract Longstanding '17 Intel Agencies' Lie About Russian Hacking










          Congressional Liaison SME - Prevailance, Inc. - Force, PA   
 Provide support in uploading fiscal data from legislative language. We are actively collecting qualified resumes for upcoming work....
From Prevailance, Inc. - Sun, 02 Apr 2017 08:30:40 GMT - View all Force, PA jobs
          Website Woes Indicate Waste as Obamacare Spending to Skyrocket   

This morning, I walked through the rain to work. After arriving at the office, I proceeded to make myself a cup of coffee and log on to my computer.  The first thing I did was visit the Drudge Report to find out the big headline news today. What I found nearly made me throw my coffee at the computer screen. 

The Daily Caller reported earlier today that CGI Federal, the company contracted to create the Obamacare exchange website, was paid $634,320,919 to build the site.  A drop in the bucket compared to the total federal debt and deficit, sure, but is this the best our federal government can do for a law they’ve so heavily promoted? $634 million and the federal government can’t even get a website to function properly? Outrageous. 

Clearly we need to re-evaluate the total cost of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, since the grand opening of Obamacare is inspiring so much confidence in how the federal government manages our tax dollars. 

Charles Blahous, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, has started the conversation in a commentary he wrote yesterday. He made some disturbing observations, revealing how many of the revenue mechanisms in the Affordable Care Act have “started to unravel, while pressure mounted to expand its spending programs.” Remember now, the Obama administration repeatedly promised that the ACA would cut the deficit.  

Blahous points out that “One of the first provisions to bite the dust was the CLASS long-term care program, suspended in 2011 due to its financial unsoundness.” It was supposed to be a source of $70 billion of revenue in the first ten years to finance Obamacare. Also, the employer mandate, which the Obama Administration delayed with questionable legality, was allegedly scheduled to deliver $140 billion in revenues over the next decade. The delay will no doubt shift that projection downward. Furthermore, Blahous indicates that “The ACA's finances further depend on a new tax on medical device manufacturers, estimated to raise $29 billion from 2013-'22.” Members of both political parties have indicated that they view a repeal of the tax as a compromise that can end the government shutdown, removing that $29 billion revenue source. 

Those are just three examples Blahous has highlighted and they show that Obamacare is already scheduled to lose $196 billion in revenue. In a previous research paper, Blahous noted that “between now and 2021, the ACA is expected to add as much as $530 billion to federal deficits while increasing spending by more than $1.15 trillion.” I fail to see how gutting revenue mechanisms from a law that already increases deficit spending will cut deficit spending. 

So, let’s put Obamacare, which constitutes a massive increase in federal spending, in the context of the government shutdown and debt ceiling debate. The shutdown occurred after Democrats refused to accept a Republican compromise to delay the implementation of Obamacare for one year. The CBO estimates that such a delay would save $36 billion over the next ten years. Delaying the law would also give Congress more time to repeal or revise the law to make it fiscally sustainable, but the Democrats have unconditionally refused to stall the implementation of Obamacare, even in spite of the demonstrated problems with Obamacare’s launch.

Now the raging debate in Congress has shifted over the last few days to raising the debt ceiling and whether or not the federal government will default on its debt obligations to creditors. The debt ceiling is currently $16.699 trillion. As I write this sentence, the U.S. A.’s total debt is $16.970 trillion. The United States is predicted to hit the debt limit on Thursday, next week, the 17th of October.  Dean Clancy, vice-president of public policy at FreedomWorks, has already explained why the government will not default. He’s even made a good case for eliminating the debt ceiling entirely. 

But, given that we’re having this debate, and that the consequences of defaulting on our creditors are reported to be so drastic, is it really a good idea to add another $1.15 trillion (at bare minimum) to federal spending? And can we trust the federal government to manage all that money when they can’t even run a website?

UPDATE: Only 51,000 were able to sign up for the Obamacare exchanges after an entire week. Clearly our tax dollars were well spent on that website. 


          Top 10 Ways ObamaCare Sticks It to Young Adults   

Top 10 Ways ObamaCare Sticks It to Young Adults

Top Ten Ways ObamaCare Sticks It to Young Adults

    By Dean Clancy

[Note: a .pdf version of this post can be found at the bottom of this page]

ObamaCare should really be called the Unaffordable Care Act, especially when it comes to adults in their twenties and thirties. ObamaCare’s “individual mandate,” which takes full effect on January 1, 2014, requires all Americans to purchase expensive government-controlled health insurance, even if they don’t want or need it. (1)  The defenders of this mandate, and especially the health insurance lobby, claim a mandate on all of us is necessary to “help the uninsured.”

In fact, the mandate’s real purpose is to prevent the system’s new government-run “health exchanges” from collapsing. Young adults are being singled out as the group who will have to bear the brunt of preventing this collapse. They’re being asked to sacrifice their dollars and their freedom.

Eighty percent of 20-somethings who earn more than about $18,500 a year will see their health insurance costs go up as a result of ObamaCare. In California, the cost of a basic plan for a 25-year-old male will jump as much as 92 percent, in Ohio as much as 700 percent! Meanwhile, the Administration is enforcing ObamaCare selectively, having granted more than 1,200 waivers to politically connected labor unions and corporations over the past three years, and more recently exempting all large businesses.

In short, ObamaCare is unfair, unnecessary, and harmful to our health. No wonder it’s so unpopular, even before it has been fully implemented. We call on all Americans, and especially millennials, to “burn their ObamaCare card,” join the “health care draft resistance” movement, and help us hasten the replacement of government-centered care with patient-centered care.

Here are the top ten ways ObamaCare sticks it to young adults:

1.    Raises insurance costs for adults under 40 (on purpose)
2.    Reduces access to workplace health insurance
3.    Shrinks workplace health benefits
4.    Reduces work-hours
5.    Kills jobs
6.    Increases debt
7.    Raises taxes
8.    Is unfair
9.    Is unnecessary
10.  Is insulting

1.    Raises insurance costs for adults under 40 (on purpose)

ObamaCare sticks it to young adults by driving up their health insurance costs. On purpose. That’s right, the law is designed to drive up costs for people in their twenties and thirties, in order to keep the new ObamaCare exchanges from collapsing.

Unless a lot of young, healthy people sign up to pay for insurance through the government exchange,  premiums will spiral upward as too many old and sick people sign up, which will cause the system to collapse. Thanks to ObamaCare’s numerous mandates, the health insurance in most cases will cost more than it’s actually worth, especially for young adults. Hence the need for a mandate requiring people to pay into the system. The young are, in effect, being drafted into compulsory national service.

How does ObamaCare drive up rates? Primarily by forcing insurance companies to accept all applicants, regardless of age or health status (“guaranteed issue”) and by forcing them to charge all applicants roughly the same price (“community rating”). These mandates make insurance more expensive, especially for healthier folks, some of whom naturally respond to the higher expense by becoming uninsured -- the opposite of the law’s alleged goal. Younger people tend to be healthier. That’s why they also tend to be uninsured -- the high cost isn’t worth it for them, relative to the benefit. The largest negative effects of guaranteed issue and community thus fall on younger people.

ObamaCare imposes a host of other mandates. One is to make insurers cover adults up to age 26 on their parents’ policy. That sounds nice, until we realize that it costs each of us an additional $100 to $400 a year on our health insurance premiums. (And by the way, since when it a 26-year-old a child?) Another mandate requires insurance companies to cover all services deemed by the government to be “preventative,” including “reproductive health services,” “free of charge.” That too sounds great, until we remember that there’s no free lunch. Mandates raise prices. Period.

How much will premiums rise for folks under 40? (2)

  • Almost 80 percent of those aged 21 to 29 with incomes greater than 138 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $18,560 a year, can expect to pay more out of pocket for coverage than they pay today. Younger, healthier individuals can expect premiums to increase by more than 40 percent. (3)  
  • In Ohio the cost of a basic plan for a healthy 25-year-old male will jump by nearly 700 percent, from $355.44 a year ($29.62 a month) in 2013 to $2,383.68 a year ($198.64 a month) in 2014. (4)
  • In California the cost of a basic plan for a healthy 25-year-old male will jump by 92 percent, from $1,212 a year ($101 a month) in 2013 to $2,196 a year ($183 a month) in 2014. (5)

The uninsured (two out of three of whom are under 40) have average annual health care expenditures of around $800 to $1,200. Since health insurance will cost a good deal more than that, they have an incentive to be uninsured. They need low-cost, economical coverage. ObamaCare gives them the opposite. (6)

By the way, premiums will only go down for older folks if young adults voluntarily swallow ObamaCare’s big rate hikes. If young adults opt instead to take a pass on the insurance and just pay the law’s $95 tax penalty “user fee,” rates will go up for older folks. (7)

You can’t defy the laws of economics. If we want to get more Americans insured, we have to enable insurance to cost less. ObamaCare makes it cost more, for the majority of Americans, and especially for young adults

2.   Reduces access to workplace health insurance

ObamaCare sticks it to young adults by incentivizing many employers to stop offering health benefits. When an employer stops offering health benefits, workers must either: a) rely on a relative’s health insurance; b) go into the ObamaCare “health exchange,” b) enroll in Medicaid or other government program for which they may be eligible, or c) join the ranks of the uninsured. Younger workers will often find themselves in the last category: uninsured.

About 156 million Americans (roughly half the U.S. population) get their health insurance through the workplace. Credible experts predict ObamaCare will cause anywhere from 7 million to 35 million Americans to lose their workplace health benefits over the next few years.

  • The official Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimate projects that between 2014 and 2019 anywhere from 7 million to 20 million Americans will be “dumped” by their employers from their workplace health plan. (8)
  • A former head of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is more pessimistic, estimating that Obamacare “provides strong incentives for employers—with the agreement of their employees—to drop employer-sponsored health insurance for as many as 35 million Americans.” (9)

Wait. Would employers really do that? Would they really drop coverage? Yes, it seems, they would:

  • Thirty percent of employers tell surveyors they’ll “definitely” or “probably” stop offering employer-sponsored insurance in the years after 2014. (10)
  • One recent survey found 9 percent of employers “expect” to stop offering health benefits in the next few years (which would affect about 3 percent of the workforce, or about 5 million workers). (11)


Most of this “employer dumping” will occur among small businesses. That will disproportionately affect adults under 40. (12)

3.    Shrinks workplace health benefits
ObamaCare sticks it to young adults by incentivizing employers to offer stingier workplace benefits. Those employers who choose to offer health benefits will be under pressure to try to save money by making the benefits “thinner.” We already have reports of some employers switching to “skinny” plans, which are plans that don’t cover certain items, such as hospital stays. (13)  Yes, “skinny” plans are allowed under the statute. (14)

4.    Reduces work-hours
ObamaCare sticks it to young adults by causing employers to cut back on workers’ hours. (15)  The law’s “employer mandate” requires all employers with 50 or more full-time employees, beginning January 1, 2014, to offer expensive, government-regulated health insurance. (16) “Full time” is defined under the law as 30 or more hours a week. (The average American works about 32 hours a week.) So unsurprisingly, many firms are reducing workers’ hours to 29 hours or below, in order to avoid the expense. According to the Los Angeles Times:

[B]ig restaurant chains, retailers and movie theaters are starting to trim employee hours. Even colleges are reducing courses for part-time professors to keep     their hours down and avoid paying for their health premiums. Overall, an estimated 2.3 million workers nationwide, including 240,000 in California, are at risk of losing hours as employers adjust to the new math of workplace benefits. (17)

5.    Kills jobs
ObamaCare sticks it to young adults by causing employers to eliminate jobs, especially low-end, minimum wage positions. ObamaCare is causing a hiring slowdown. Part of the problem is uncertainty: employers are afraid to hire because they still don’t know how exactly the extremely complicated law will be enforced. But the bulk of the problem is the employer mandate itself: firms are avoiding new hires to avoid hiring that incredibly costly 50th employee. A health insurance plan can cost anywhere from $8,000 to $20,000 a year. The law says that if you offer coverage, it must be “affordable,” as defined by the government. That means you, the employer, must pay for roughly 92 percent of the plan’s cost. Many small firms simply can’t afford that. Right now, unemployment among Americans under 24 is a staggering 16.2 percent, and thanks to our economy’s anemic 2 percent a year growth rate, these Americans’ employment prospects are dismal. The ObamaCare-induced hiring slowdown only makes this problem worse, disproportionately affecting entry- and lower-level positions and thus younger adults trying to get their start in life.

6.    Increases debt
ObamaCare sticks it to young adults by driving up the national debt. The national debt has recently soared above $16,000,000,000,000 (sixteen trillion dollars), an historic high. Uncle Sam has additionally racked up nearly $100,000,000,000,000 (one hundred trillion dollars) in future, unfunded promises. That mountain of debt must be paid back by current and future generations. The cost of the law’s coverage provisions alone, over the first ten years of full implementation (2014 to 2023), is around $2,400,000,000,000 (two trillion four hundred billion dollars). The law will likely drive the deficit up by more than $700,000,000,000 (seven hundred billion dollars). (18) The problem boils down to basic math. As one analyst has summed up the problem:

Health spending now averages about 21 percent of households' personal income ... [but the] health care legislation presumes that those in an exchange shouldn't have to pay more than 10 percent of their income for a health insurance policy. (19)

That means someone is going to have to subsidize people who get their coverage through an exchange. Who is going to be on the hook for that subsidy? Current and future taxpayers, of course. How will it be paid for? Mostly through borrowing. (Uncle Sam currently borrows more than one-third of every dollar he spends.) So now young adults, who already carry historically high levels of student-loan debt, will have to help pay for the massive ObamaCare debt as well. (20)  How thoughtful.

7.    Raises taxes
ObamaCare sticks it to young adults by increasing taxes. ObamaCare imposes eighteen new taxes, including an expensive tax on medical devices and the first-ever tax on workplace health benefits -- even a new tax on the sale of your home. Those new taxes are projected to bring in a total of $514,000,000,000 (five hundred fourteen billion dollars) in additional federal revenues over ten years.
    ObamaCare’s 18 New Taxes

  1. Individual mandate tax on individuals who do not purchase health insurance.
  2. Employer mandate tax on employers who do not offer “acceptable” health coverage to their employees.
  3. Annual fee on health insurance providers based on each company’s share of the total market.
  4. Medical expense deduction is limited to those with expenses above 10% of adjusted gross income, up from previous 7.5%.
  5. 2.3% excise tax on manufacturers and importers of certain medical devices.
  6. 10% excise tax on indoor tanning services.
  7. Fee on manufacturers and importers of branded drugs, based on each individual company’s share of the total market.
  8. Increased Medicare portion of FICA payroll tax, rising to 3.8% from previous 2.9%, on couples earning more than $250,000 a year ($200,000 for     single filers); increased tax is also applied to investment income for the first time.
  9. Increased penalty for purchasing over-the-counter products with HSAs to 20%.
  10. Reduction in the number of medical products taxpayers can purchase using funds they put aside in HSAs and FSAs.
  11. Limit on the amount taxpayers can deposit in flexible spending accounts (FSAs) to $2,500 a year.
  12. Fee on insured and self-insured health plans to fund PCORI agency.
  13. Elimination of the corporate deduction for prescription expenses for retirees.
  14. Increase in taxes on health insurance companies, by limiting the amount of compensation paid to certain employees they can deduct from their taxes.
  15. End of special deduction for Blue Cross / Blue Shield organizations.
  16. 40% excise tax on “Cadillac” health insurance plans costing more than $10,200 for individuals and $27,500 for families (begins in 2018).
  17. Exclusion of unprocessed fuels from the existing cellulosic biofuel producer credit.
  18. Increase in corporate taxes by making it more difficult for businesses to engage in activities that reduce their tax liability.

8.    Is unfair
ObamaCare institutes basic intergenerational unfairness. Sixty-four-year-olds typically spend six times as much on health care as 18-year-olds. Logically, their health insurance rate should be six times higher. But ObamaCare says insurers can charge older folks no more than three times what it charges a young person. This 3:1 community rating forces millennials to pay about 75 percent too much for insurance, so folks in their early 60s can underpay by about 13 percent. Nice! (21)

9.    Is unnecessary
The tragedy of ObamaCare is that it isn’t even necessary. There are less coercive, less expensive ways to help the uninsured. Here are some simple ways to reduce health care costs and thus increase the number of insured people, without costly government mandates or price controls:

  1. Promote competition by passing a federal “health care freedom act” that makes participation in all federal health care programs completely voluntary for individuals.
  2. Permit individuals to deduct 100 percent of their medical expenses from their taxes.
  3. Allow people to buy health insurance across state lines.
  4. Allow everyone, including folks on Medicare and Medicaid, to have a Health Savings Account (HSA) (a pre-tax savings account for medical expenses coupled with a high-deductible health insurance plan).
  5. Provide targeted assistance, via the states, for the one percent of Americans who can’t afford good private health insurance because of a preexisting medical condition.
  6. Encourage states to reform their medical malpractice tort laws to reduce costs. (22) 

This robust agenda would benefit young adults and indeed all Americans by promoting patient power in the health care marketplace. It would help lower the excessive cost of health care, which is the real problem, by reducing meddlesome government mandates, which are the real culprit.

10.     Is insulting
ObamaCare insults young people’s intelligence by trying to make them believe they are benefiting from a policy that actually targets them for the biggest pain.

P.S. There’s an eleventh reason ObamaCare sticks it to young adults: its inevitable negative effects on the quality and availability of medical care. With the new system’s top-down, centralized approach, there will be higher costs, longer wait times, and incentives for doctors and hospitals to scrimp on care.

Conclusion: Burn Your ObamaCare Card!

ObamaCare was rammed through Congress in the name of “helping the uninsured.” What it really does is hurt the young. Two-thirds of the uninsured today are in their twenties and thirties. Most of the uninsured make a rational choice to go without insurance because government policies have made it too expensive, relative to its value for them.

The individual mandate, ObamaCare’s linchpin, will hit young adults the hardest. Eighty percent of 20-somethings who earn more than about $18,500 a year will see their health insurance costs go up as a result of ObamaCare. In California, the cost of a basic plan for a 25-year-old male will jump as much as 92 percent, in Ohio as much as 700 percent! The individual mandate, ObamaCare’s linchpin, is unjust, unnecessary and harmful to our health.

Millennials would be better off “burning their ObamaCare card” and resisting the “health care draft.” We call on Americans who can do so to “opt out” of the ObamaCare mandate and instead pay the small penalty tax “user fee” for being uninsured (or for not having ObamaCare-compliant coverage). (23)  If enough Americans join the resistance movement, we can hasten the collapse of the exchanges, reverse the Washington takeover, and pave the way for a health care system that works for, rather than against, patients. (24)

End Notes
1. Tens of millions of Americans are statutorily exempted from the individual mandate, including prisoners, illegal immigrants, certain religious sects, Native Americans, Americans living overseas, Americans who don't have to file a tax return, Americans whose employer offers them coverage that would cost them more than 8 percent of their income, and any American granted "hardship" status at the discretion of the Health and Human Services secretary. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, section 1501.
https://www.bcbsri.com/BCBSRIWeb/pdf/Individual_Mandate_Fact_Sheet.pdf

2. The following estimates are for insurance in the individual or nongroup market. That is, not for coverage received through the workplace or the government.

3. http://www.contingenciesonline.com/contingenciesonline/20130102#pg33

4.Louise Radnofsky, “Ohio Complains of Higher Health-Insurance Premiums,” Wall Street Journal, June 6, 2013, http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/2013/06/06/ohio-complains-of-higher-health...

5. Avik Roy, “The War On Bros: Exchange Subsidies Won't Protect Young People From Obamacare's Higher Insurance Premiums,” Forbes, June 7, 2013,  http://www.forbes.com/sites/theapothecary/2013/06/07/the-war-on-bros-exc...

6.   ObamaCare supporters try to downplay “rate shock” figures like these, by noting that costs will go down for some older folks. True. But how much comfort is it for a millennial faced with a 92 percent premium increase to know that his 64-year-old neighbor will enjoy a 10 percent decrease? Supporters of the law also say that folks earning up to about $45,000 a year will get a relatively generous subsidy, on a sliding scale, to help them afford the premiums (courtesy of the taxpayer), if they buy coverage in the government exchange. Also true. But that taxpayer subsidy is only available to people whose employer doesn’t offer “affordable” coverage, as defined by the government (and whose state doesn’t offer Medicaid to people earning more than 100 percent of poverty). It’s hard for anyone to know for sure whether he qualifies for the subsidy and will remain qualified for it, since third parties (employers, state policy makers) are the ones making the critical decisions affecting his eligibility.

7. Here is now the individual mandate penalty works. The IRS will levy penalties on individuals who don’t buy government-approved insurance. The annual fines will equal the greater of $95 per adult or 1 percent of income (in 2014); $325 or 2 percent (in 2015), $695 or 2.5 percent (in 2016); and then will rise with inflation. The fine for uninsured children equals one-half the adult fine. Additionally, many people are exempted from the mandate, such as those for whom premiums exceed 8 percent of household income. Hence, as premiums increase, more and more people will be exempted from the mandate.

8.  Seven million figure comes from: CBO, Effects of the Affordable Care Act on Health Insurance Coverage—February 2013 Baseline,” February 5, 2013, http://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/43900_ACAIns.... Twenty million figure from: CBO, “The Effects of the Affordable Care Act on Employment-Based Health Insurance,” March 15, 2012, http://www.cbo.gov/publication/43090. See also: CBO, “How Has CBO’s Estimate of the Net Budgetary Impact of the Affordable Care Act’s Health Insurance Coverage Provisions Changed Over Time?” March 20, 2013, http://www.cbo.gov/publication/44008. CBO does think it possible that the number of people in employer-based coverage could go up, by 3 million; but the agency designates as its “best estimate” a 7 million person drop in workplace coverage

9. Douglas Holtz-Eakin and Cameron Smith (American Action Forum), “Labor Markets and Health Care Reform: New Results,” May 2010,  http://americanactionforum.org/files/AAF_Labor%20Markets%20and%20Health%....

10. McKinsey & Company, “How US health care reform will affect employee benefits,” June 2011, http://www.mckinsey.com/insights/health_systems/how_us_health_care_refor...

11. Deloitte, “2012 Deloitte Survey of U.S. Employers: Opinions about the U.S. Health Care System and Plans for Employee Health Benefits,” July 2012,  http://www.deloitte.com/view/en_US/us/Insights/centers/center-for-health....

12. Some workers will lose what the law deems to be “affordable” benefits, as their employers offer “unaffordable” plans intentionally, knowing that doing so will drive their lower-income workers to look outside the firm for health coverage, which will save the employer money (because paying a $3,000 federal penalty fine is cheaper than paying for a $8,000 to $20,000 insurance policy). Some economists predict that we may see a lot of firms restructure themselves into two “sister firms”: one for higher-wage workers who will continue to enjoy company health benefits, and one for lower-wage workers who will be “dumped” into the government exchange. In other words, lower-income workers will get the short end. And guess which age group will be hardest hit by that? Yep, young adults.

13.  Brett Norman, “ACA Penalties Spawn ‘Skinny’ Plans,” PoliticoPro, July 16, 2013, http://www.politico.com/story/2013/07/some-workplace-health-plans-will-b....

14. http://www.forbes.com/sites/theapothecary/2013/05/21/employers-can-minim...

15.  The employer mandate will take effect on January 1, 2014. In July 2013, the Obama Administration surprised everyone by announcing it was unilaterally cancelling the mandate for a year, pushing the effective date back to January 1, 2015. While this cancellation is illegal, so long as the mandate is only delayed temporarily the incentives for employers to cut back on hours and hiring will remain essentially unchanged. The one-year delay will probably cause more employers to “dump” their workers into government health exchanges in 2014 than would otherwise have been the case. This, we suspect, is exactly what the Administration intends.

16. Here is now the employer mandate penalty works. The IRS will level a tax penalty on businesses with more than 50 full-time employees who fail to offer health coverage. The fine is $2,000 per employee after the first 30 employees. Employers will also be fined for failing to offer “affordable” coverage, as defined by the law. The fine is $3,000 per employee if coverage costs more than 8.5 percent of that worker’s income.

17. Chad Terhune, “Part-timers to lose pay amid health act's new math,” Los Angeles Times, May 2, 2013, http://articles.latimes.com/2013/may/02/business/la-fi-part-time-healthc....

18. Estimate by Senate Budget Committee Republicans, based on CBO projections, for the years 2014-2023.

19. C. Eugene Steuerle (Urban Institute), "Fixing the Nation's Four-Tranche Universal Health System: Next Steps for Both Republicans and Democrats," October 28, 2010, http://www.urban.org/publications/901386.html

20. ObamaCare supporters protest that the law “doesn’t add a dime to the deficit,” citing the official CBO cost estimates for the legislation. But that claim doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. The law only appears “deficit neutral” on paper, because of massive budget gimmicks like these. In reality, ObamaCare will cost taxpayers dearly, with younger taxpayers getting hit the hardest. The law includes $700 billion in ten-year Medicare reductions (to help pay for the new entitlement) that the Chief Actuary of the Medicare program assumes are unlikely to take effect, because they would cause 15 percent of hospitals to go out of business by 2019. (Source: CMS Chief Actuary Richard S. Foster, Memorandum on Estimated Financial Effects of the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” as Amended,  April 22, 2010, http://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Research/Actuari....) Members of Congress will never voluntarily allow large numbers of hospitals in their districts to go out of business. They will move to provide federal relief. And the relief will most likely come in the form of reversing the Medicare payment reductions. The Chief Actuary also points out that the law assumes a series of deep, automatic, annual reductions in Medicare payments to doctors that Congress has historically never allowed to take place.

21. Avik Roy, “Putting the ‘Insurance’ Back in Health Insurance, Forbes, May 21, 2012, http://www.forbes.com/sites/theapothecary/2012/05/21/putting-the-insuran...

22. Dean Clancy, What Should Replace ObamaCare, July 17, 2012,
http://www.freedomworks.org/blog/dean-clancy/what-should-replace-obamacare.
See also: Avik Roy, “The Tea Party’s Plan for Replacing ObamaCare,” Forbes, April 7, 2012,
http://www.freedomworks.org/blog/dean-clancy/forbes-the-tea-party-plan-f...

23. For many people, especially younger citizens, it will be more financially sensible to just pay the fine than to buy overpriced health coverage. The fine is small (only $95, or 1 percent of one’s income, whichever is higher, in 2014). If you refuse or neglect to pay the fine on your yearly tax return, the statute prevents the IRS from punishing you, other than by withholding any tax refund you are owed. So you could theoretically sidestep any penalty whatsoever by adjusting your income tax withholdings to avoid being owed a refund.

24. Jacqueline Bodnar, “FreedomWorks Announces “Burn Your ObamaCare Card” Campaign to Resist the Compulsory Health Care Law” (press release), July 11, 2013,  http://www.freedomworks.org/press-releases/freedomworks-announces-%E2%80.... See also: Dean Clancy, “Burn Your ObamaCare Card,” Washington Times, July 10, 2013, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/jul/10/burn-your-obamacare-card/


          All Things (ObamaCare) Fall Apart   

The hits just keep coming for President Obama’s beleaguered health care reform law. If you’ve had trouble keeping up with all of the bad news surrounding ObamaCare, I don’t blame you. For the sake of convenience, let’s take a look at some of this news and then consider the “big picture” for the floundering Affordable Care Act.

Health Insurance “Exchanges”

We’ll begin with the health insurance “exchanges,” which are the primary mechanism by which ObamaCare distributes massive government subsidies to private health insurance companies. These “exchanges” feature only government regulated and approved insurance plans, from which consumers are allowed to choose. When writing the law, Congressional Democrats and the White House left the dirty work of setting up these expensive, complicated “exchanges” to the states.

After a majority of states flatly refused to comply with this unfunded mandate, the Obama administration started scrambling to set up dozens of “exchanges” by itself. At the same time, the federal government is also burdened with the cost of conducting a massive public relations outreach campaign for ObamaCare, which remains unpopular with more than half of Americans. Compliant states are also struggling to implement their “exchanges,” with Idaho official Stephen Weeg acknowledging that the state bureaucracy will need to “beg, borrow, and steal” in order to get its “exchange” operational by the October 1st start date for enrollment.

The federal Department of Health and Human Services even broke ObamaCare’s own rules by approving Utah’s unique “dual exchange” system. It is clear that the Obama administration is becoming desperate to salvage its crumbling law by any means necessary. By the way, even if these “exchanges” are actually set up according to design, some of the nation’s largest insurance companies are still expressing reluctance to provide coverage plans for them in the first place. Perhaps private insurers do not find the idea of entering such government dominated “exchanges” an attractive prospect, after all?

Lawsuits

Lawsuits continue to plague ObamaCare, as well. Earlier this month, a group of small business owners sued the federal government on the grounds that the text of the ObamaCare law does not authorize the government to issue subsidies to private insurance companies in those states with federally-run health insurance “exchanges.”

The Pacific Legal Foundation filed a separate lawsuit that uses Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts’ flimsy defense of ObamaCare’s individual mandate as a “tax” against the law. Revenue-raising bills, such as taxes, must originate in the House of Representatives in order to be constitutional, but the final version of ObamaCare began in the Senate. This is just a small sampling of the growing number of lawsuits brought against ObamaCare so far.

Medicaid Expansion

ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion isn’t exactly going to plan, either. The law offers full funding for the first few years for those states that expand their Medicaid programs, and then promises 90% of the funding for future years. However, there is no guarantee behind that money, and truthfully, the federal government cannot afford to hold up its end of that bargain for very long.

Once that happens, state legislatures across the country will get stuck with the tab for Medicaid expansion, which will crowd out other state budgetary priorities such as education and infrastructure. As a result, many governors are refusing to take such a risky deal. Even Missouri, which has Democratic Governor Jay Nixon, is turning down Medicaid expansion due to resistance from the state legislature.

A recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine casts doubt on the belief that Medicaid expansion is even a good idea. After Oregon expanded its Medicaid program in 2008, researchers found that, “…Medicaid coverage generated no significant improvements in measured physical health outcomes” in the first two years following the expansion. To be fair, the study did discern some positive secondary effects from the expansion, but the primary purpose of Medicaid is to improve health care outcomes for low-income Americans. If the program is not accomplishing that end, then something is seriously wrong with the program, and further expansion through ObamaCare isn’t the solution.

Implementation

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is charged with leading the ObamaCare implementation effort, but it is clear that she is not up to the (potentially impossible) task. As POLITICO’s David Nather put it, “Obamacare fires are flaring up all over.” Unpopular policy and muddled messaging are hampering outreach efforts by the Obama administration, which leads Reuters’ David Morgan to question how many people will even sign up for insurance coverage under the law. After all, the law assumes that many uninsured but healthy Americans will enroll for coverage, and that these citizens will provide the necessary revenue to allow private insurance companies to comply with ObamaCare’s many costly mandates. If that assumption proves false, then the law is in serious danger of systemic failure. 

The need to boost awareness for enrollment efforts is leading President Obama and Secretary Sebelius to take extreme measures. Speaking to Planned Parenthood, President Obama pleaded with the controversial organization to spread the word about enrollment on his behalf. Secretary Sebelius is personally begging health care industry leaders to donate funds for the implementation efforts. Of course, HHS denies that there is anything improper with such solicitation attempts. Fearing the impact that a complete ObamaCare meltdown would have on their industry, some private insurers are reluctantly stepping into the breach to help with the outreach efforts.

The "Big Picture"

So, what’s the “big picture?” Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), one of the law’s chief architects, recently admitted that ObamaCare is starting to resemble a “huge train wreck.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) fully agreed and asked for additional funding to implement the unpopular law. Remember, this is the same law that the Government Accountability Office recently stated would add $6.2 trillion to the long-term deficit, assuming that some unpopular cost-containing measures are phased out after 2019. According to Senator Reid, this law apparently needs even more money in order to function even somewhat adequately.

Why would Senators Baucus and Reid feel so pessimistic for ObamaCare? If you ask progressive Washington Post columnist Ezra Klein, he’ll tell you that the problem is (of course) Republicans. In summary, he argues that if only Republicans would keep shoveling money into the admittedly “unwieldy” law, then it wouldn’t have all of these problems! Mr. Klein, why would conservatives who oppose deficit spending and ObamaCare agree to increase the size of both? Was this really the Democratic plan all along? Why would you ever think that that would work?

By the way, Senators Baucus and Reid aren’t the only Democrats worried now that they’re seeing ObamaCare in action. Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA) recently acknowledged during a House subcommittee hearing that the Affordable Care Act “does not address [cost containment].” Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) criticized the Obama administration for “raiding the Public Health and Prevention Fund” in order to advertise for ObamaCare. For his part, Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) is worried that the law is causing insurance companies to hike premiums, and Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) fears that businesses still do not know how to comply with the complex law and that some will cut employees’ hours to reduce compliance costs. Failed South Carolina Democratic candidate, Elizabeth Colbert Busch, summed up all of these complains when she labeled the law “extremely problematic.”

In 2010, then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) demanded that Congress pass ObamaCare despite intense opposition. She infamously argued that, “…We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.” More than three years later, we now know all too well what is in ObamaCare: disaster. Unfortunately, that is the “big picture” for ObamaCare.


          Kasich Pitches Obamacare Surrender as Pragmatism   

Ohio Governor John Kasich announced his surrender to Washington spending gimmicks on February 4, calling for the expansion of Medicaid eligibility as part of his biennial budget proposal. Kasich, a Republican elected in 2010 and known as a fiscal hawk from his time in Congress, seeks to sell a key component of Obamacare as the pragmatic choice for Ohio.

In a February 6 RedState post defending his embrace of a law he has long spoken against, Kasich wrote, "Now I’ve proposed extending Medicaid health coverage to low-income and working poor Ohioans, in part, to limit further damage from Obamacare."

Obamacare was designed to push millions of Americans into one of the nation's most expensive and least effective entitlement programs, coercing states into compliance by making all federal Medicaid funding contingent on expanded eligibility. The Supreme Court's June 2012 ruling on the bill forbade Washington from cutting off existing funding to states that refuse to expand Medicaid, but Governor Kasich now aims to grow the program anyway.

"Without this move Obamacare is likely to increase health insurance premiums even higher in Ohio," Kasich continued. "Worse, it takes $13 billion of Ohioans’ federal tax dollars out of our state and gives it to other states—where it will go to work helping to rev up some other state’s economy instead of Ohio’s."

In short, Governor Kasich is promoting Medicaid expansion using the language and logic of socialized medicine advocates, treating bureaucratic cost-shifting as actual savings. Kasich even suggested Ohio must claim its "fair share" of Obamacare spending, demonstrating no regard for the fact that DC has run annual deficits exceeding $1 trillion each year since President Obama took office.

Prior to Kasich's February 4th announcement, conservative think tanks Opportunity Ohio and The Buckeye Institute both published critiques of a joint Health Policy Institute of Ohio / Urban Institute study which framed federal spending as free money. Kasich and his staff have cited the study as proof Ohio would come out ahead by expanding Medicaid eligibility.

Not only has the governor failed to address any of conservatives' substantive concerns - instead waving off disagreement as unreasonable ideology - he actually worked with the far-left Universal Health Care Action Network to develop talking points for Medicaid expansion.

In no way does Kasich's current rhetoric square with his past protestations against deficit spending.

"Instead of letting states develop innovative solutions to their respective challenges, new federal mandates will require more Medicaid spending and stick states with large and unsustainable costs," Governor Kasich wrote on March 22, 2010.

"Government shouldn’t be making promises it can’t keep – especially when it’s more than $14.5 trillion in the hole," Kasich said in his August 20, 2011 Weekly Republican Address.

Nearly $2 trillion in national debt later, Ohio's governor has allied himself with lobbyists for socialized medicine, the ultimate promise the government cannot keep. Kasich's abdication of his former fiscal hawk role will make it more difficult for conservative leaders to make a consistent case against entitlement spending and for market-based reforms.

Should the Republican-controlled Ohio General Assembly choose to support Kasich's Medicaid proposal, the state would "save" money by taking billions in federal funds to cover 100 percent of the expansion for several years. Though federal funding would quickly drop to 90 percent of Ohio's new costs even assuming Congress can borrow forever, care providers are pushing for the change because of numerous perverse incentives built into Obamacare.

Governor Kasich is widely expected to run for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, but first faces reelection in 2014 in a state that went for President Obama last fall. However politically expedient it may be in the near term to help expand the entitlement state, history tells us how difficult it is to unring that bell.

Follow Jason on Twitter: @jasonahart


          Setor sucroenergético renova pedido de tarifa sobre etanol importado   
usina-cana-açucar (Foto: Editora Globo)

 

Entidades ligadas ao setor de açúcar e etanol do Brasil apresentaram um manifesto reforçando sua defesa de uma tarifa sobre o etanol importado. No documento, argumentam que o volume de etanol vindo de fora tem acentuado a crise já vivida pela cadeia produtiva nacional.

“O setor, representado por 21 entidades de toda a cadeia produtiva e signatárias deste manifesto, reitera a relevância e celeridade na imposição de uma tarifa de importação do biocombustível”, diz o comunicado, divulgado pela União da Indústria de Cana-de-açúcar (Unica) nesta quinta-feira (29/6).

O manifesto é assinado por entidades ligadas a produtores e usinas, além do Fórum Nacional Sucroenergético. Segundo a Unica, foi entregue a autoridades durante um encontro na Câmara dos Deputados, em Brasília (DF), na quarta-feira (28/6).

No documento, as entidades reivindicam a exclusão do etanol da lista de exceções à Tarifa Externa Comum (TEC), cobrada sobre produtos de fora do Mercosul. A medida permitiria a imposição de uma tarifa que, na visão do setor, seria de 17%. Além de perda de competitividade em relação ao importado, a cadeia produtiva argumenta que seria um reconhecimento do melhor desempenho ambiental do combustível de cana.

"A tarifa deverá valorizar a produção e o comércio do biocombustível no Brasil", defende o documento.

 

De acordo com a Agência Nacional do Petróleo, Gás Natural e Biocombustíveis (ANP), só nos primeiros três meses deste ano, a importação do combustível saltou 403% em relação ao mesmo período no ano passado. A quase totalidade vem dos Estados Unidos, que produz a partir do milho.

No início da semana, durante o Ethanol Summit, promovido pela União da Indústria de Cana-de-açúcar (Unica), em São Paulo (SP), já tinha sido feita uma defesa da tarifa. Durante o próprio evento, o ministro de Minas e Energia, Fernando Coelho Filho, disse que existem formas mais eficientes de competir com o etanol importado.

“Os 17% dão a impressão de uma competitividade que não estamos tendo, mas não sei se conseguimos jogar esse jogo por muito tempo”, alertou.

Representantes do setor nos Estados Unidos, além de um economista do próprio Departamento e Agricultura norte-americano, criticaram a intenção da indústria brasileira.

“Os dois países têm um longo histórico de benefícios comerciais mútuos e cooperação na bioeconomia. Nos biocombustíveis e no etanol, em particular, queremos que essa cooperação continue. Devemos lutar contra o protecionismo", disse o vice-economista chefe do USDA, Warren Preston, em uma das plenárias.

“Isso não ajuda ninguém. Temos que construir mercados para os combustíveis de baixo carbono. Eu suplico que continuem a apoiar o livre comércio”, disse o presidente da Associação dos Combustíveis Renováveis dos Estados Unidos (RFA), em uma mensagem enviada por vídeo em que se diz surpreso com a iniciativa.

RenovaBio

A reunião realizada na quarta-feira entre autoridades e o setor sucroenergético serviu para discutir o RenovaBio, Em relação ao programa que estabelece diretrizes para a bioenergia no Brasil. De acordo com a Unica, há uma situação de consenso em relação às diretrizes do programa, que tem que ser aprovadas pelo Congresso Nacional.

Ainda conforme a entidade que representa as usinas do Centro-sul do Brasil, o setor prefere que o projeto seja enviado aos parlamentares na forma de Medida Provisória, em que a tramitação seria mais rápida.

“O Brasil precisa urgentemente de uma política de descarbonização dos transportes, que deverá destravar investimentos do setor sucroenergético, gerando economia, empregos e renda e beneficiando o meio ambiente”, disse a presidente da Unica, Elisabeth Farina, segundo a nota.


          Obama Puji Keberagaman dan Tolerasi di Indonesia   
Kehadiran Mantan Presiden Amerika Serikat, Barack Obama, mendapat sambutan meriah oleh ribuan orang peserta acara "4th Congress Of Indonesian Diaspora 2017" atau Kongres Diaspora Indonesia ke-4 yang berlangsung di Mal Kota Kasablanka, Jakarta, Sabtu (1/7). Dalam pidatonya saat pembukaan Kongres Diaspora Indonesia ke-4, Obama berkata Indonesia menjadi contoh negara-negara lain mengenai toleransi.  Menurutnya, Indonesia terdiri dari banyak etnis, bahasa, agama, namun...
          Kongres Diaspora Indonesia ke-4 Resmi Dibuka   
Lebih kurang 9.000 peserta 4th Congress of Indonesian Diaspora 2017 memberikan tepuk tangan berdiri (standing applause) selama satu menit. Standing applause ini dipandu oleh Ketua Diaspora Network, Dino Pati Djalal. "Ayo satu menit standing applause untuk Indonesia, untuk NKRI, dan untuk diaspora," katanya diikuti dengan standing applause meriah dari 9.000 peserta yang berada di di Main Hall The Kasablanka, Kota Kasablanka, Jakarta Selatan.  Dalam sambutannya, mantan...
          Trump To Tap Former Georgia Governor Perdue As Agriculture Secretary   
President-elect Donald Trump plans to pick former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue to lead the Agriculture Department, a transition official and a source close to the process confirmed to NPR. Trump is expected to make a formal announcement on Thursday, ending a months-long process that left Agriculture Secretary as the final Cabinet post to be filled. The reported front-runner for weeks, Perdue was a member of Trump’s Agricultural Advisory Committee during the general election campaign. If nominated and confirmed, he will take charge of the USDA, an agency with nearly 100,000 employees and a $150 billion budget. The next Agriculture Secretary will help shepherd a new Farm Bill through Congress, which is due to update the regulations that govern everything from farm supports to food stamps in 2018 after a contentious bill-making process in 2014. Should he be confirmed, Perdue will also be forced to walk a tricky line on trade policy. Trump has promised to take a harsher line on trade deals.
          Agriculture Secretary Lone Trump Cabinet Post Without A Nominee   
And then there was Agriculture. Agriculture Secretary is the only post in President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet without a nominee, mystifying many in rural America and spurring worries that agriculture and rural issues will land near the end of the line among the new president’s priorities. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, who served for all 8 years of Barack Obama’s presidency, announced Friday was his last day in office . The Agriculture Department employs nearly 100,000 people spread out over 29 agencies. It deals with everything from food stamps, to farm loans, to food safety, and administers programs in rural areas, which largely supported president-elect Trump. “I find it, frankly, astounding that we’ve waited so long to get an Agriculture pick,” says Dan Glickman, a former Agriculture Secretary under President Bill Clinton and a former congressman from Kansas. The next Agriculture Secretary will be charged with shepherding a new Farm Bill through Congress. Work on the law, which
          EPA Heads To Kansas City For Ethanol Discussion   
It was clear Thursday at a public hearing on ethanol policy, that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency tries to thread a very tricky needle when it establishes renewable fuel plans. The EPA in May proposed modest increases in the amount of renewable fuels it will require oil refiners to blend into the U.S. gasoline and diesel supply next year – a total of 18.8 billion gallons, up from 18.11 billion gallons this year. The small increase could move the amount of ethanol in the fuel supply beyond the current standard of 10 percent, causing oil companies to worry that they won’t be able to sell it. Still, the levels remain far below goals set by Congress in its original 2007 Renewable Fuel Standard legislation, meaning ethanol advocates aren’t fully satisfied. More than a hundred interested parties – from farmers, to oil executives, to lobbyists, to environmental groups – signed-up to speak at the EPA’s national public hearing in Kansas City, Missouri, on Thursday. Many, like Nebraska
           APA , ABA , IJEBU, 15 Others Listed In New States Endorsed By 2014 Confab Report [ SEE LIST]   

As the call for restructuring of Nigeria begin to gain momentum, the 2014 Conference report which was compiled by the administration of Goodluck Jonathan has been released and it shows 18 new states recommended to be created across the country.


This is coming contrary to the expectation of many Nigerians that the 2014 National Conference proposed a return to the regional governments.

Nigeria Senate had also called on the Presidency to submit the 2014 confab report to it, for deliberations, as the calls for restructuring continue to mount.

Notable Nigerians including former Military President Ibrahim Babangida, former President Goodluck Jonathan and former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, some Afenifere group had called for the restructuring of the polity.

Even ruling All Progressives Congress, APC had listed a process of restructuring in its 2015 election campaign although the Chairman of the party, Cheif John Oyegun said all nationality will be engaged before the process starts.

According to the report, the additional 18 new states recommended for creation are:

1. Apa State from the present Benue State; 

2. Edu State from Niger State; 

3. Kainji State from the present Kebbi State; 

4. Katagun State from the present Bauchi State; 

5. Savannah State from the present Borno State; 

6. Amana State from the present Adamawa State. 

Others are 

7. Gurara State from the present Kaduna State; 

8. Ghari State from the present Kano State; 

9. Etiti State from the present South East Zone; 

10. Aba State from the present Abia State; 


11. Adada State from the present Enugu State; 

12.Njaba-Anim State from the present Anambra and Imo States.

13. Anioma State from the present Delta State; 

14. Ogoja State from the present Cross River State; 

15. Ijebu State from the present Ogun State; 

16. New Oyo State from the present Oyo State.

The report further stated that the third state to be created in the South South would be named later, along with its capital; just as the third state to be created in the South West would be named later, along with its capital while the 1999 Constitution shall be amended to make the process of state creation less cumbersome.

          UK Doctors Declares President Buhari Can No Longer Function -Fani Kayode Says   

Nigeria's Former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, Saturday alleged that doctors have ruled out President Muhammadu Buhari’s return because he can no longer function.


He made the disclosure while berating the All Progressives Congress, APC, National Chairman, John Oyegun for saying Buhari is fast recovering from his illness in London. 

The Peoples Democratic Party Chieftain described Oyegun as a “liar” for giving such update on Buhari’s illness.


Fani- Kayode, who took to his twitter handle wrote: “Attempt to bring @NGRPresident Buhari to Nigeria from London has flopped again as his doctors rule out his ability to function. O ma se o!


“We are glad to inform you that Buhari is recovering in a very robust manner”- John Odigie-Oyegun. Liar, liar pants on fire! STOP LYING!”

This is coming at a time when the Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose claimed that Buhari has been on life support for 20-days.

Source: Daily Post

          With passage of bill, Colorado livestock could soon be eating hemp   
Colorado livestock could be eating hemp as early as next year, thanks to a bill directing the Colorado Department of Agriculture to study the use of industrial hemp in animal feed. As The Greeley Tribune reports, the study would be headed by the commissioner of agriculture and would result in a recommendation by the end of the year. The bill initially intended to allow hemp in livestock feed without a study, but State Senator Kerry Donovan said a study could help avoid further complications with the Food and Drug Administration, which currently prohibits the use of hemp in animal feed because it is considered an adulterating substance. The federal government started allowing farmers to grow hemp under limited circumstances in 2014. Duane Sinning, the Department of Agriculture's assistant director of plant industries, said the Congressional Research Service identified 25,000 uses for industrial hemp in a report released this year. He said when any of those uses become well-known, it
          Paid political journalism internships in D.C.   
Congressional Quarterly, which publishes a variety of newspapers, magazines, books and websites related to political news, is seeking editorial interns year-round.

Congressional Quarterly’s internship program offers an exciting opportunity to work in a fast-paced news organization in Washington, D.C. CQ treats its interns like entry-level staff members -- they don’t make copies, fetch coffee or answer phones. Interns work closely with CQ’s editors and reporters and have the opportunity to write stories and obtain clips that will help advance their careers. Several past interns have come back to CQ as staff members.

CQ’s internship program is competitive. Interns generally come to CQ with a profound interest, and at least some experience, in journalism and/or government. Preference is given to juniors and seniors in college, as well as to graduate students.

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          Congress comes up short on major action so far this year   
Congress comes up short on major action so far this year
          Comment on Say What – Democrat Congressman Charlie Rangel wants to Reinstitute the Draft by Google   
<strong>Google</strong> Always a major fan of linking to bloggers that I appreciate but don’t get a good deal of link love from.
          "Cada um tem seu entendimento jurídico", diz Janot sobre soltura de Rocha Loures   

iG São Paulo

Procurador participou de um painel sobre a Lava Jato em evento voltado à imprensa e aos estudantes de jornalismo neste sábado, comentando não só sobre a operação, mas também as perspectivas de combate à corrupção

Para Rodrigo Janot, a escolha de Raquel Dodge para ser sua sucessora na PGR, foi legítima

Para Rodrigo Janot, a escolha de Raquel Dodge para ser sua sucessora na PGR, foi legítima

Foto: Jefferson Rudy/Agência Senado - 26.8.2015

A dois meses de deixar o cargo, o procurador-geral da República (PGR), Rodrigo Janot, participou neste sábado (1º) do Congresso Internacional de Jornalismo Investigativo, da Associação Brasileira de Jornalismo Investigativo (Abraji), em São Paulo. No evento, ele falou sobre o desenrolar da Operação Lava Jato, além das perspectivas de combate à corrupção no Brasil.

Leia também: Após colocar tornozeleira eletrônica, Rocha Loures volta para casa, em Brasília

Um dos tópicos abordados pela plateia de jornalistas e estudantes no painel "Desafios no Combate à Corrupção: a Operação Lava Jato" foi a liberdade concedida ao ex-deputado Rodrigo Rocha Loures (PMDB-PR) pelo ministro do Supremo Tribunal Federal (STF), Edson Fachin, na última semana. Para Rodrigo Janot, a saída do ex-assessor do presidente Michel Temer faz parte do processo.

"Cada um de nós tem seu entendimento jurídico sobre as questões. O que eu posso dizer é que o Ministério Público tem a mão mais pesada que os outros atores de Justiça". 

O ex-deputado Rodrigo Rocha Loures (PMDB-PR) foi liberado da prisão em que estava, na Superintendência da Polícia Federal, em Brasília. Ele esteve em Goiânia para colocar uma tornozeleira eletrônica e, em seguida, voltou a Brasília e foi para casa na tarde deste sábado. Na sexta-feira (30), Fachin, que é relator das ações da Lava Jato na Corte, determinou que Rocha Loures deveria ser solto da cadeia em que estava há pouco mais de um mês.

Delação da JBS

Em relação à imunidade concedida a Joesley e Wesley Batista, sócios da J&F, dona da JBS,  Janot afirmou que os irmãos garantiram entregar autoridades e não abriram mão do benefício da delação. 

Leia também: Entenda o que precisa acontecer para que Temer seja investigado

"Se eu não tivesse dado imunidade, não tinha acordo. Se não tivesse acordo, não tinha investigação. E se não tivesse investigação, não cessava o crime”. Para ele, a delação não significa que os irmãos não sejam criminosos. "Continua sendo bandido. É réu colaborador".

Ainda sobre os irmãos Batista, o procurador-geral voltou a elogiar a decisão do Supremo Tribunal Federal (STF), tomada na última quinta (29), de validar a delação dos executivos da JBS. "A decisão é fantástica. Ela salvou o instituto da delação premiada".

Michel Temer

Sobre a denúncia contra o presidente Michel Temer, ele disse que denunciar o presidente do país não é uma tarefa fácil. "Queria passar ao largo disso, mas tenho que cumprir minha missão".

Leia também: Em vídeo, Temer cita avanço da reforma trabalhista e diz que país não vai parar

Para Rodrigo Janot, a escolha de Raquel Dodge, para sua sucessora na PGR, foi legítima. “O importante é que o nome escolhido seja da lista. A lista é tríplice, não é eleição direta. E dentro da lista você escolhe um dos três. A escolha foi legítima”.

 *Com informações da Agência Brasil 


          House bill to impeach Trump gains momentum after Trump's feud with 'Morning Joe'   

Trump

Twenty-five Democratic lawmakers now back a bill that would give them a path to impeach President Donald Trump, Axios reported.  

The bill would create an Oversight Commission on Presidential Capacity, and it appears to be based on a loophole in the 25th Amendment which allows for the president to be removed from office if the Vice President and either a majority of Trump's cabinet or a majority of Congress sign off on it.

The specific language of the relevant section of the amendment reads: 

"Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting President." 

John D. Feerick, former dean of Fordham Law School, is one of the chief architects of the 25th Amendment who shepherded it through Congress in the early 1960s.

He told Business Insider in an earlier interview that the senators who signed the provision into law specified that declaring the president unfit must rely on "reliable facts regarding the president's physical or mental faculties," not personal prejudice.

"If you read the debates, it's also clear that policy and political differences are not included, unpopularity is not included, poor judgment, incompetence, laziness, or impeachable conduct — none of that, you'll find in the debates in the congressional record, is intended to be covered by Section IV," Feerick said.

The House bill had 21 supporters last week, and four more Democrats signed on after the president fired off a series of inflammatory tweets Thursday aimed at "Morning Joe" hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. 

"I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don't watch anymore)," Trump began in a pair of tweets. "Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year's Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!"

The tweets earned Trump sharp criticism from both sides of the political aisle, with many of his staunchest allies saying the comments were unnecessary. 

The bill is sponsored by Maryland Rep. Jamie Raskin and has support from high-profile House Democrats like Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and former Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.

While the measure has gained steam among House Democrats, it's unlikely it will garner enough support to pass. Though Democratic lawmakers say that some Republican congressmen have privately expressed interest in the measure, it still needs more support from the GOP. Moreover, even if it were to pass both chambers, the president would have to sign off on it. And if he vetoed the bill, which he almost certainly would, Congress would need a 2/3 majority to override his veto. 

Rebecca Harrington contributed to this report.

SEE ALSO: A loophole in the 25th Amendment lets 14 people remove a sitting president from office

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Watch Jared Kushner speak publicly for the first time since joining Trump's administration


          'I get up every morning feeling guilty because I didn't stop it': The congressional baseball shooter's wife speaks out   

James T. Hodgkinson

James Hodgkinson's wife, Suzanne Hodgkinson, spoke out in her first sit-down interview since her husband opened fire during congressional baseball practice last month and wounded several people before police killed him.

"I get up every morning feeling guilty because I didn't stop it," Hodgkinson told The New York Times in an interview. "I wake up with hot sweats, thinking: 'You should have known. You should have known.'"

James Hodgkinson, a Democrat and fervent critic of President Donald Trump, had gradually become angrier with Washington politics, his wife told The Times. That anger reached fever pitch during the 2016 election, and Hodgkinson "went bananas" after Trump won, Sue Hodgkinson told The Times. 

Her husband had not always been that angry, but he took a turn for the worse after a "long illness," she said. 

And multiple reports following the shooting indicated that Hodgkinson had a fraught home life and was an abusive alcoholic. 

Hodgkinson's grand-niece Cathy Rainbolt, who was also his foster daughter, told a judge in 2006 that Hodgkinson frequently hit her and drank everyday, according to court documents obtained by the Belleville News-Democrat.

"I didn’t mark a time when [Hodgkinson] started hitting me," Rainbolt told the judge. "It’s been hard to live with [an alcoholic] and how [he] treated me." Rainbolt died of a heroin overdose in 2015. 

Sue Hodgkinson has denied the reports. And now, she told The Times, "I'm done with this. I want this to get over. I want my granddaughters to be able to go to school in September without this being dredged up." 

Since James Hodgkinson's attack, his has been on the receiving end of peoples' anger, The Times said: 

Neighbors have urged her not to mow the lawn, for fear she’ll be attacked in her yard. A friend takes out her trash, dispersing it around town to evade snoops. When she ventured to the Shop ‘N Save alone recently, a white-haired woman — a stranger — approached her in the parking lot and slapped her across the face.

“That was O.K.,” Ms. Hodgkinson said. “Get it out, lady. Just don’t pick up a gun and shoot somebody.”

She cried all the way home.

Hodgkinson will not be holding a funeral ceremony for her husband, she told The Times, though she has asked a funeral home run by her friend to cremate his body and she may scatter his ashes at home or bury them close by. 

Read the full New York Times report here >>

SEE ALSO: The congressional baseball shooter was reportedly an abusive alcoholic in a volatile home

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: 'I'll ask it one more time': Kellyanne Conway won't say whether Trump thinks climate change is a hoax


          'I was recruited to collude with the Russians': An unexpected player has added a new layer to the Trump campaign's Russia ties   

Michael Flynn

Hackers believed to be Russian discussed how to steal Hillary Clinton's emails from her private server and transfer them to Michael Flynn via an intermediary, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, citing reports compiled by US intelligence agencies investigating Russia's interference in the 2016 election.

One of those intermediaries, according to The Journal, may have been a GOP operative named Peter Smith — an 80-year-old opposition researcher who assembled a team of technology experts, lawyers and a Russian-speaking investigator in September to track down hacking groups with access to the 33,000 emails Clinton deleted from her private server that she said were personal in nature.

While Smith cited a working relationship with Flynn's consulting firm, Flynn Intel Group, when trying to recruit new team members, the Journal could not verify whether Flynn knew what Smith was doing, or if he knew him at all.

But one of the people Smith appears to have tried to recruit, Matt Tait, relayed his interactions with Smith in a first-person blog post for Lawfare published on Friday night — and noted that  "it was immediately apparent that Smith was both well connected within the top echelons of the [Trump] campaign and he seemed to know both Lt. Gen. [Michael] Flynn and his son well." 

Tait, a cybersecurity researcher and former information security specialist at Britain's Government Communications Headquarters, was an unnamed source for the Journal's first article about Smith and a named source for the second.

The second, published on Friday, described how Smith listed top Trump advisers Kellyanne Conway, Steve Bannon, and Sam Clovis as part of a group he had formed to conduct opposition research on Clinton — research that involved asking hackers, Russian or not, whether they had her missing emails. 

"A few weeks into my interactions with Smith, he sent me a document, ostensibly a cover page for a dossier of opposition research to be compiled by Smith’s group, and which purported to clear up who was involved," Tait recalled for Lawfare.

He continued:

"The document was entitled 'A Demonstrative Pedagogical Summary to be Developed and Released Prior to November 8, 2016,' and dated September 7. It detailed a company Smith and his colleagues had set up as a vehicle to conduct the research: “KLS Research”, set up as a Delaware LLC “to avoid campaign reporting,” and listing four groups who were involved in one way or another. The first group, entitled “Trump Campaign (in coordination to the extent permitted as an independent expenditure)” listed a number of senior campaign officials: Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway, Sam Clovis, Lt. Gen. Flynn and Lisa Nelson."

Tait said that he didn't view this as "merely a name-dropping exercise."

"This document was about establishing a company to conduct opposition research on behalf of the campaign, but operating at a distance so as to avoid campaign reporting," Tait said. "Indeed, the document says as much in black and white...the combination of Smith’s deep knowledge of the inner workings of the campaign, this document naming him in the 'Trump campaign' group, and the multiple references to needing to avoid campaign reporting suggested to me that the group was formed with the blessing of the Trump campaign."

FILE PHOTO: - U.S. President Donald Trump (L-R), joined by Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Vice President Mike Pence, senior advisor Steve Bannon, Communications Director Sean Spicer and then National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, speaks by phone with Russia's President Vladimir Putin in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S. on January 28, 2017.     REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo

Smith apparently contacted Tait after seeing his Twitter account, where Tait had spent a "great deal of time" analyzing the Clinton emails released by the State Department in response to Freedom of Information Act requests throughout 2015.

"Smith implied that he was a well-connected Republican political operative," Tait recalled on Lawfare, and had contacted him because he believed "that Clinton’s private email server had been hacked—in his view almost certainly both by the Russian government and likely by multiple other hackers too."

Smith mentioned that someone on the Dark Web had contacted him claiming to have Clinton's emails, Tait wrote, and wanted Tait to help him verify if they were real.

Tait went along with it, he said, because he wanted to find out more about this "dark web" figure — was it a hoax, or was it a Russian intelligence front trying to use Smith as the "intermediary" the US intelligence community later described?

kellyanne conway donald trump

Tait never found out, and, to this day, there is no evidence the hackers infiltrated Clinton's server. But Tait soon realized that, to Smith, it didn't matter if the hackers were Russian. 

"In my conversations with Smith and his colleague, I tried to stress this point: if this dark web contact is a front for the Russian government, you really don’t want to play this game," Tait wrote. "But they were not discouraged."

Conway and Bannon told the Journal that they had never met Smith. Conway said she had heard of him in Republican circles but never interacted with him directly; Bannon said he'd "never heard of KLS Research or Peter Smith."

Still, Tait's story and the Journal's reporting will likely be of interest to special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the FBI's investigation into whether any of Trump's associates colluded with Russia to undermine Clinton during the election.

Conway and Bannon are not under FBI investigation. But Flynn's potential ties to Russia have been of particular interest to the bureau and the congressional intelligence committees because of his conversations with Russia's ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak, that eventually led to his ouster.

Russian officials bragged about their close relationship to Flynn last year, according to intercepted communications described to CNN, and boasted that they could use him to influence Trump. The way the Russians were talking about Flynn "was a five-alarm fire from early on," a former Obama administration official said.

SEE ALSO: 'A waste of taxpayer money': Trump's voter fraud commission is facing pushback from a dozen states

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: A former KGB spy explains how Americans have been historically naive about the Russians


          Will Steve Scalise Show James Brady’s Courage?   
It couldn’t possibly happen, could it? It has been just over two weeks since a would-be assassin tried to take the life of Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) in Virginia, the first time in six years that a sitting member of Congress has fallen victim to gun violence. Scalise will likely never return to Congress; the... Read more »
          Daniel Day-Lewis 'Simply Becomes Lincoln'   
Transcript RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST: This year, we've had not one, but two movies about the sixteenth president of the United States. This spring, "Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter" slashed its way into theaters. This week, a more historically accurate Lincoln shows up onscreen.Kenneth Turan has this review.KENNETH TURAN, BYLINE: Daniel Day-Lewis is a two-time Oscar-winning actor, but he surpasses himself and makes us see a celebrated figure in unanticipated ways in Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln.""Lincoln" unfolds during the final four months of the president's life as he focuses on a dramatic, if little-known struggle: his determination to get Congress to pass the 13th Amendment outlawing slavery, despite fierce opposition.(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "LINCOLN")UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (as Lincoln) Congress must never declare equal those whom God created unequal. Leave the Constitution alone.TURAN: This film explores the drama inherent in the battle of ideas over the amendment, which Lincoln pushed forward
          Comment on Decency demands an admission by Subhash Bhagwat   
Article 1 of Indian constitution calls India as Bharat. If that India was Bharat when dozens of riots killed thousands of Hindus in Bengal and Kashmir, thousands of sikhs in Delhi and many other riots under the Congress governments then there is intellectual dishonesty involved when Datta Ray now wakes up to question it.
          Senate Republicans Ask for Two CBO Scores   
Caitlin Owens: “Senate Republicans have asked the Congressional Budget Office to analyze Sen. Ted Cruz’s proposal for further health insurance deregulation, and they’ve asked for one estimate of a health care bill that includes his changes and one that doesn’t.” [...]
          Why don't you write your congress people and who supports (JB)   
none
          American Dignity on Fourth of July   
SUBHEAD: Frederick Douglass’s 1852 Independence Day address may provide some perspective on today.

By David Remnick on 1 July 2017 for the New Yorker -
(http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/07/10/american-dignity-on-the-fourth-of-july)


Image above: Derived from a painting of Frederick Douglass in 1852 when he was a young man. From (https://www.pinterest.com/explore/frederick-douglass-autobiography/).

Frederick Douglass’s Independence Day address from 1852 may provide some perspective on today.

More than three-quarters of a century after the delegates of the Second Continental Congress voted to quit the Kingdom of Great Britain and declared that “all men are created equal,” Frederick Douglass stepped up to the lectern at Corinthian Hall, in Rochester, New York, and, in an Independence Day address to the Ladies of the Rochester Anti-Slavery Sewing Society, made manifest the darkest ironies embedded in American history and in the national self-regard. “What, to the American slave, is your 4th of July?” Douglass asked:
I answer; a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him, your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty, an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciations of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade, and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy—a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation on the earth guilty of practices, more shocking and bloody, than are the people of these United States, at this very hour.
The dissection of American reality, in all its complexity, is essential to political progress, and yet it rarely goes unpunished. One reason that the Republican right and its attendant media loathed Barack Obama is that his public rhetoric, while far more buoyant with post-civil-rights-era uplift than Douglass’s, was also an affront to reactionary pieties.

Even as Obama tried to win votes, he did not paper over the duality of the American condition: its idealism and its injustices; its heroism in the fight against Fascism and its bloody misadventures before and after.

His idea of a patriotic song was “America the Beautiful”—not in its sentimental ballpark versions but the way that Ray Charles sang it, as a blues, capturing the “fullness of the American experience, the view from the bottom as well as the top.”

Donald Trump, who, in fairness, has noted that “Frederick Douglass is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job,” represents an entirely different tradition. He has no interest in the wholeness of reality.

He descends from the lineage of the Know-Nothings, the doomsayers and the fabulists, the nativists and the hucksters. The thematic shift from Obama to Trump has been from “lifting as we climb” to “raising the drawbridge and bolting the door.”

Trump may operate a twenty-first-century Twitter machine, but he is still a frontier-era drummer peddling snake oil, juniper tar, and Dr. Tabler’s Buckeye Pile Cure for profit from the back of a dusty wagon.

As a candidate, Trump told his followers that he would fulfill “every dream you ever dreamed for your country.” But he is a plutocrat. His loyalty is to the interests of the plutocracy.

Trump’s vows of solidarity with the struggling working class, with the victims of globalization and deindustrialization, are a fraud. He made coal miners a symbol of his campaign, but he has always held them in contempt.

To him, they are luckless schmoes who fail to possess his ineffable talents. “The coal miner gets black-lung disease, his son gets it, then his son,” Trump once told Playboy. “If I had been the son of a coal miner, I would have left the damn mines. But most people don’t have the imagination—or whatever—to leave their mine. They don’t have ‘it.’ ”

Trump is hardly the first bad President in American history—he has not had adequate time to eclipse, in deed, the very worst—but when has any politician done so much, so quickly, to demean his office, his country, and even the language in which he attempts to speak?

Every day, Trump wakes up and erodes the dignity of the Presidency a little more. He tells a lie. He tells another. He trolls Arnold Schwarzenegger.

He trolls the press, bellowing “enemy of the people” and “fake news!” He shoves aside a Balkan head of state. He summons his Cabinet members to have them swear fealty to his awesomeness. He leers at an Irish journalist.

Last Thursday, he tweeted at Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, of MSNBC:
“I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don’t watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came . . . to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year’s Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!”
The President’s misogyny and his indecency are well established. When is it time to question his mental stability?

The atmosphere of debasement and indignity in the White House, it appears, is contagious. Trump’s family and the aides who hastened to serve him have learned to imitate his grossest reflexes, and to hell with the contradictions.

Melania Trump, whose “cause” is cyber-bullying, defends the poisoned tweet at Brzezinski. His righteously feminist daughter Ivanka stays mum. After the recent special election in Georgia, Kellyanne Conway, the counsellor to the President, tweeted, “Laughing my #Ossoff.” The wit! The valor! Verily, the return of Camelot!

Trump began his national ascendancy by hoisting the racist banner of birtherism. Since then, as candidate and as President, he has found countless ways to pollute the national atmosphere. If someone suggests a lie that is useful to him, he will happily pass it along or endorse it. This habit is not without purpose or cumulative effect.

Even if Trump fails in his most ambitious policy initiatives, whether it is liberating the wealthy from their tax obligations or liberating the poor from their health care, he has already begun to foster a public sphere in which, as Hannah Arendt put it in her treatise on totalitarian states, millions come to believe that “everything was possible and that nothing was true.”

Frederick Douglass ended his Independence Day jeremiad in Rochester with steadfast optimism (“I do not despair of this country”). Read his closing lines, and what despair you might feel when listening to a President who abets ignorance, isolation, and cynicism is eased, at least somewhat.

The “mental darkness” of earlier times is done, Douglass reminded his audience. “Intelligence is penetrating the darkest corners of the globe.”

There is yet hope for the “great principles” of the Declaration of Independence and “the genius of American Institutions.” There was reason for optimism then, as there is now. Donald Trump is not forever. Sometimes it just seems that way.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: The American Unraveling 7/29/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Birthday Card 7/4/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Happy Independence Day! 7/4/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Halfway There 7/1/11
Ea O Ka Aina: Rocket's Red Glare? 7/1/09
Island Breath: American patriotism's failure 7/4/08
Island Breath: July 4th Plantation Days 7/4/08
Island Breath: Thinking about July Fourth 7/4/07

.

          As Americans Set to Spend $1 Billion on Beer for July 4th Holiday, Brewers Call on Americans to Tell Congress #DefendOurBeer!   
...responsibly - and defend our water to #DefendOurBeer ! See and read more at http://defendourfuture.org/saving-beer-epa/ For more information or for interviews with national experts and local brewers, please contact: steve.hirsh@wardcirclestrategies.com . About Defend Our Future Defend Our ...

          Measure would require new war authorization from Congress   

WASHINGTON (AP) - A stunning move this week by a House panel to force a debate on new presidential war powers revealed mounting frustration that Congress has for too long dodged one of its most important responsibilities: to decide whether to send American fighting forces into harm's way.

The measure ...

          Attempt To Bring Buhari Back Home Flops As UK Doctors Declares The President Can No Longer Function - Fani-Kayode Alleges   
Muhammadu Buhari
Former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, Saturday alleged that doctors have ruled out President Muhammadu Buhari’s return because he can no longer function.

He made the disclosure while berating the All Progressives Congress, APC, National Chairman, John Oyegun for saying Buhari is fast recovering from his illness in London. 

The Peoples Democratic Party Chieftain described Oyegun as a “liar” for giving such update on Buhari’s illness.

Buhari’s doctors say he can no longer function – Fani-Kayode alleges

Fani- Kayode, who took to his twitter handle wrote: “Attempt to bring @NGRPresident Buhari to Nigeria from London has flopped again as his doctors rule out his ability to function. O ma se o!


“We are glad to inform you that Buhari is recovering in a very robust manner”- John Odigie-Oyegun. Liar, liar pants on fire! STOP LYING!”

This is coming at a time when the Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose claimed that Buhari has been on life support for 20-days.

Source: Daily Post

          Neil Cavuto Faces Off With Democratic Rep. Calling on Trump to Resign    
On Fox Business Network today, Neil Cavuto faced off with Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee over her call for President Trump to resign after his tweets attacking Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough.
          Newspaper: DOJ lawyer tried to stifle reporter   
Two Louisiana congressmen are calling on the Justice Department to respond to a complaint that one of its attorneys tried to bar a newspaper reporter from quoting or recording her comments at a public hearing in New Iberia. The Daily Iberian contends Justice Department attorney Rachel Hranitzky became belligerent and threatening after the reporter, Matthew Beaton, questioned why he couldnt quote her comments during a June 12 public hearing about the New Iberia Fire Departments hiring and promotion practices. Sen. David Vitter and Rep. Jeff Landry, both Republicans, have asked the Justice Department to respond to a letter from Managing Editor Jeff Zeringue complaining about the reporters treatment. Zeringue is still waiting for a response, but a department spokeswoman says Hranitzky never attempted to alter or stop a news story.
          Comment on Congressional Hispanic Caucus Members Slam Latest GOP Immigration Bills (VIDEO) by Latino Rebels | Rep. Luis Gutiérrez’s Two Speeches Railing Against New GOP Immigration Bills   
[…] on two GOP-sponsored immigration bills many immigration rights groups and Latino Democratic leaders are calling flat out racist, Rep. Luis Guitiérrez has already spoken twice this week in Congress about the bills. Here is the […]
          Comment on Congressional Hispanic Caucus Members Slam Latest GOP Immigration Bills (VIDEO) by Latino Rebels | Rep. Luis Gutiérrez’s Two Speeches Railing GOP’s Newest Immigration Bills   
[…] on two GOP-sponsored immigration bills many immigration rights groups and Latino Democratic leaders are calling flat out racist, Rep. Luis Guitiérrez has already spoken twice this week in Congress about the bills. Here is the […]
          Comment on Puerto Rico Statehood Leaders Say Congress and White House Must Honor Future Plebiscite Results by Latino Rebels | Victoria estadista = Invisibilidad puertorriqueña (OPINIÓN)   
[…] afirmando que el DOJ autorizaría los fondos para la elección. Luego en mayo, no obstante, el DOJ emitió otras declaraciones, indicando que no habían revisado ni aprobado el lenguaje en la papeleta. A un día de la […]
          Comment on Puerto Rico: It’s Complicated by Pro-Statehood Governor of Puerto Rico Calls for 'Action' From Congress After Plebiscite Vote - Latino USA   
[…] also suggested that if Puerto Rico were to become a state, the current PROMESA law and fiscal control board would no longer be […]
          Comment on Will US Honor Results of Puerto Rico’s June 11 Plebiscite Vote? DOJ Official Declines to Comment by Pro-Statehood Governor of Puerto Rico Calls for 'Action' From Congress After Plebiscite Vote - Latino USA   
[…] The 38-year-old governor, a registered Democrat, was accompanied at the conference by Puerto Rico’s secretary of state Luis Rivera Marín, Jason Emert (who led a delegation of observers at the June 11 plebiscite), Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) and Rep. Darren Soto (D-Florida). Both Young and Soto are members of the House Committee on Natural Resources, which is expected to once again take on the issue of Puerto Rico, now that statehood won 97% of Sunday’s vote—despite a historic low turnout due to a boycott from non-statehood supporters and claims that the vote never won the blessing of the federal government. […]
          Congressional shooter's wife: 'I get up every morning feeling guilty because I didn't stop it'   

The widow of a man who wounded a congressman and four others in a shooting at a Republican congressional baseball practice said she is tormented by thoughts that she could have done more to help her increasingly angry husband.

Suzanne Hodgkinson said her husband James was once a fun-loving man...


          Republicans grow increasingly anxious about heading home without a health plan - Washington Post   

Washington Post

Republicans grow increasingly anxious about heading home without a health plan
Washington Post
The dispute within the Republican Party over health care widened further Friday as President Trump joined with two conservative senators in calling for an outright repeal of the Affordable Care Act if the party fails to agree on an alternative plan by ...
Trump Warms to Old Idea: Kill Health Law Now, and Replace It LaterNew York Times
Democrats go in for the kill on ObamaCare repealThe Hill
Cruz and Lee play inside game in health fightPolitico
NBCNews.com -ABC News -NPR -Fox News
all 5,984 news articles »

          NYT Finally Retracts Russia-gate Canard   

NYT Finally Retracts Russia-gate Canard

 

Exclusive: A founding Russia-gate myth is that all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies agreed that Russia hacked into and distributed Democratic emails, a falsehood that The New York Times has belatedly retracted, reports Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry (Updated on July 1 with new NYT deception)

The New York Times has finally admitted that one of the favorite Russia-gate canards – that all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies concurred on the assessment of Russian hacking of Democratic emails – is false.
New York Times building in New York City. (Photo from Wikipedia)
On Thursday, the Times appended a correction to a June 25 article that had repeated the false claim, which has been used by Democrats and the mainstream media for months to brush aside any doubts about the foundation of the Russia-gate scandal and portray President Trump as delusional for doubting what all 17 intelligence agencies supposedly knew to be true.
In the Times’ White House Memo of June 25, correspondent Maggie Haberman mocked Trump for “still refus[ing] to acknowledge a basic fact agreed upon by 17 American intelligence agencies that he now oversees: Russia orchestrated the attacks, and did it to help get him elected.”
However, on Thursday, the Times – while leaving most of Haberman’s ridicule of Trump in place – noted in a correction that the relevant intelligence “assessment was made by four intelligence agencies — the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency. The assessment was not approved by all 17 organizations in the American intelligence community.”
The Times’ grudging correction was vindication for some Russia-gate skeptics who had questioned the claim of a full-scale intelligence assessment, which would usually take the form of a National Intelligence Estimate (or NIE), a product that seeks out the views of the entire Intelligence Community and includes dissents.
The reality of a more narrowly based Russia-gate assessment was admitted in May by President Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Obama’s CIA Director John Brennan in sworn congressional testimony.
Clapper testified before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee on May 8 that the Russia-hacking claim came from a “special intelligence community assessment” (or ICA) produced by selected analysts from the CIA, NSA and FBI, “a coordinated product from three agencies – CIA, NSA, and the FBI – not all 17 components of the intelligence community,” the former DNI said.
Clapper further acknowledged that the analysts who produced the Jan. 6 assessment on alleged Russian hacking were “hand-picked” from the CIA, FBI and NSA.
Yet, as any intelligence expert will tell you, if you “hand-pick” the analysts, you are really hand-picking the conclusion. For instance, if the analysts were known to be hard-liners on Russia or supporters of Hillary Clinton, they could be expected to deliver the one-sided reportthat they did.

Politicized Intelligence

In the history of U.S. intelligence, we have seen how this selective approach has worked, such as the phony determination of the Reagan administration pinning the attempted assassination of Pope John Paul II and other acts of terror on the Soviet Union.
Hillary Clinton at the Code 2017 conference on May 31, 2017.
CIA Director William Casey and Deputy Director Robert Gates shepherded the desired findings through the process by putting the assessment under the control of pliable analysts and sidelining those who objected to this politicization of intelligence.
The point of enlisting the broader intelligence community – and incorporating dissents into a final report – is to guard against such “stove-piping” of intelligence that delivers the politically desired result but ultimately distorts reality.
Another painful example of politicized intelligence was President George W. Bush’s 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq’s WMD that removed State Department and other dissents from the declassified version that was given to the public.
Since Clapper’s and Brennan’s testimony in May, the Times and other mainstream news outlets have avoided a direct contradiction of their earlier acceptance of the 17-intelligence-agencies canard by simply referring to a judgment by “the intelligence community.”
That finessing of their earlier errors has allowed Hillary Clinton and other senior Democrats to continue referencing this fictional consensus without challenge, at least in the mainstream media.
For instance, on May 31 at a technology conference in California, Clinton referred to the Jan. 6 report, asserting that “Seventeen agencies, all in agreement, which I know from my experience as a Senator and Secretary of State, is hard to get. They concluded with high confidence that the Russians ran an extensive information war campaign against my campaign, to influence voters in the election.”
The failure of the major news organizations to clarify this point about the 17 agencies may have contributed to Haberman’s mistake on June 25 as she simply repeated the groupthink that nearly all the Important People in Washington just knew to be true.
Even after the correction, the Times quickly returned to its pattern of deceiving its readers regarding the U.S. intelligence assessment. On June 30, a Times article reported: “Mr. Trump has repeatedly cast doubt on the unanimous conclusion of United States intelligence agencies that Russia sought to interfere in the 2016 race.”
The phrasing “unanimous conclusion” again suggests that all 17 intelligence agencies are in accord, albeit without specifically saying so, a journalistic sleight of hand that raises further doubts about the objectivity and honesty of the Times on this issue.
The Times’ belated correction — and its new deceptive formulation — underscore the growing sense that the U.S. mainstream media has joined in a political vendetta against Trump and has cast aside professional standards to the point of repeating false claims designed to denigrate him.
That, in turn, plays into Trump’s Twitter complaints that he and his administration are the targets of a “witch hunt” led by the “fake news” media, a grievance that appears to be energizing his supporters and could discredit whatever ongoing investigations eventually conclude.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).



          Republicans grow increasingly anxious about heading home without a health plan - Washington Post   

Washington Post

Republicans grow increasingly anxious about heading home without a health plan
Washington Post
The dispute within the Republican Party over health care widened further Friday as President Trump joined with two conservative senators in calling for an outright repeal of the Affordable Care Act if the party fails to agree on an alternative plan by ...
Trump Warms to Old Idea: Kill Health Law Now, and Replace It LaterNew York Times
Democrats go in for the kill on ObamaCare repealThe Hill
Cruz and Lee play inside game in health fightPolitico
NBCNews.com -ABC News -NPR -Fox News
all 5,984 news articles »

          Live: IRS Chief Kosinen Misconduct Hearing   
The House Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing this morning to examine the allegations of misconduct against IRS Commissioner John Koskinen and decide whether he deserves to be impeached. Lawmakers on the committee summoned Koskinen to answer accusations from the House Oversight panel that he failed to preserve documents Congress requested, and didn’t tell the … Continue reading
          Congressman: Iran’s Treatment of U.S. Sailors Much Worse Than Reported   
The nation would be shocked by the details surrounding Iran’s treatment of U.S. sailors when they were captured by Iran back in January, a member of the House Armed Services Committee said Monday after receiving a full classified briefing about the abduction. Rep. Randy Forbes (R., Va.) told the Washington Free Beacon that the classified details … Continue reading
          Measure would require new war authorization from Congress   
WASHINGTON (AP) — A stunning move this week by a House panel to force a debate on new presidential war powers revealed mounting frustration that Congress has for too long dodged one of its most important responsibilities: to decide whether to send American fighting forces into harm’s way.
          Comment on Trump’s Infrastructure Plan Claims to Relieve Taxpayers—but It’s a Sleight of Hand by Jim Dickinson   
If Americans wanted a federal government that would actually help them and not just view them as potential sources of private profit, they elected the wrong President and the wrong Congress. It is too late to do much (if anything) about that now.
          Comment on 16 Years Ago, Barbara Lee’s Warning Against the AUMF Was Ignored. Nevertheless, She Persisted. by Walter Pewen   
Barbara Lee should be an example to people of all ages, walks of life, and backgrounds to stand up, even if you are the only one. Personally, I could not believe the actions of Democratic congress persons back in 03, and was thinking what could possibly be wrong with them? I am a Californian, and right when Ms. Lee said "wait a minute!" I felt myself saying the same thing. What the hell happened to this country during those years. I will never forget it, nor will I forgive all those Democrats who said "their hands were tied" Bullshit. The only things they were tied to were their stocks and bonds.
          Network TV Spends 28X More Time Covering Trump Tweet than Congress Passing Milestone Immigration Bill   
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          WHO ARE THE AWAN BROTHERS? Are they blackmailing Congress ? New video by Cernovich Media!   
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          Comment on Lynchings and Witch-Trials, Technology-Enhanced by Ginny   
David, thanks for the John Prine. It is probably another sign of the times that I went to Amazon to order them my husband and kids (the whole family likes him a lot - and a lot more than I do) when I realized they all use a variety of systems - and my husband seldom listens except in the car (when he and his friend had a radio show on the local pbs and did old time music, every session included one John Prine and one in Czech - it's been a long time). But then Prine (and <a href="https://video.search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?fr=yhs-befrugal-002&hsimp=yhs-002&hspart=befrugal&p=iris+dement+northern+exposure#id=1&vid=0fde93069f30cf5aec058bfa546b674c&action=click" rel="nofollow">Iris Dement </a> for a different take) can be wise. Because we are all a mixture of responses, it is hard not to want the approval of others. In fact, I don't think that instinct is a bad thing - generally, in a virtuous society people are respected because they are worthy of respect. We threw off in the 60's a lot of quite reasonable traditions and worked at being neither virtuous nor respectable. I don't think that was wise - I don't think it is useful to spend too much regretting my youth but at least its a cautionary tale. Of course, sometimes we rebelled because we wanted the approval of a stoned petty Marxist. Oh, well. But it takes a lot of toughness to not care what the entire press corps thinks of you - and that is the kind of president we need. The press has proven to us that they are not virtuous in their perspectives and values. Their attitude toward the Tea Party, toward both the Clintons, toward Sarah Palin, toward Bush and Romney, toward Obama and Holder showed they had no idea what the virtuous life was. To be able to distinguish between compromising important values for popularity and acting in a way that is praised rightfully takes a strong character and a very clear inner compass. I like the idea that Trump is the guy with the red laser that keeps all the kittens distracted and running around - is that Steyn's analogy? The big question is, would the health care bill be getting through if the press were less distracted? Or would they be tearing it apart, declaring 93 billion or whatever would die, and this way Congress can more quietly work? Does this mean that the changes in Interior, Education, Energy, etc. aren't going to be appreciated, or does it mean that they can be enacted without crowds of protesters because, somehow, no one told them what was going on? I'd like to know - but I guess it will only be the results a decade from now that can make us sure.
          The Future of Video? Beggar Thy Competitor   

In an investigation into the "Future of Video" this week, the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee heard testimony from a number of representatives from the cable companies, satellite companies, wireless companies, and providers of "over-the-top" programming on demand via the Internet Protocol (IPTV), including Netflix. The question at hand is whether recent plans by cable companies to shift their Internet pricing from the flat-rate "all-you-can-download" model to tiered rates based on amount of use is anti-competitive. Netflix and Hulu, which deliver programming directly to viewers over a broadband Internet connection say pricing tiers discriminate against them because usage-based data consumption applies their programming, while for conventional cable TV pay-per-view, the usage meter, so to speak, is not running. 

My hope is that Congress and any other agencies watching are cautious. Complaints by IPTV providers appear to be just the sort of "regulate my rival" demands that FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell warned about yesterday in a speech in Rome. 

Indeed, IPTV and cable companies compete for on-demand business. And consumers may not be interested in the distinction between their respective business models; all they want is greater choice in video options. Thus far, all groups--cable players, satellite companies and IPTV providers seem to be meeting that goal. Moreover, far from being victimized, IPTV providers are making significant inroads into the on-demand sphere. Cable providers, which in 1992 had a 92 percent share of paid television viewers, now hold only about 57 percent of the market, according to data cited by the Washington Post.

But before making any decrees about how on-demand downloads should count in any data metering scenario, regulators must consider that cable companies and IPTV providers have selected different platforms for programming delivery. Each platform has its own set of costs and trade-offs which are not functionally interchangeable.

Cable TV companies have traditionally separated TV delivery from their Internet service. Cable pay-per-view is accessed and delivered via the set-top box through an interface that can exploit inherent set-top box capabilities. Cable companies can use the set-top box interface to provide advertising, promotions, trailers and other information aimed at encouraging a sale.

IPTV is set up as a broadband application delivered via cable modem. The user interface is generally loaded onto TVs and game consoles per agreement with device manufacturers. But compared to cable box counterparts, these interfaces are simpler and scaled down.  

The nature of the delivery platform changes the cost equation for a company like Netflix. I'll admit some more research can be done here, but the Netflix cost-model is closer to client-server than the transmission-distribution model the cable companies use. Netflix doesn't need to maintain head-ends for satellite signal reception, and fleets of trucks to maintain physical plant.  

From the supply side, programmers see cable companies and over-the-top providers as two different distribution channels. The fee structure Comcast pays Disney, Viacom and Fox for programming is vastly different than what Netflix's. Licensing rules are different. It's one reason cable companies get pay-per-view rights to film releases within a few months of their theatrical release, or TV episodes the night after they air, while companies like Netflix might have to wait a year. For consumers, the trade-off comes in cost. Generally a recent film release costs $5 to $10 for pay-per-view. Netflix offers unlimited viewing for $8 a month. The difference reflects the cost of the respective platforms.  

Finally, IPTV companies also derive benefits from their decision to ride the Internet independent of a relationship with a cable company. As mentioned above, the cable company is responsible for maintaining its facilities, on which IPTV depends for delivery. The ongoing development of cable modems (e.g., the DOCSIS 3.0 specification), funded by the cable industry, makes quality streaming of high-definition IPTV possible.

So that's why these demands for "fairness" from Netflix and other over-the-top provider ring hollow. Congress should see through this "beggar thy competitor" call for a mandate that forces cable companies to price their own pay-per-view in ways that artificially make IPTV more attractive. There's no evidence that cable companies are blocking service or otherwise interfering with consumer access to service. It's difficult to see how bowing to IPTV provider complaints, and essentially forcing the cable companies (and by extension cable company customers) to shoulder the cost of Netflix's business model trade-offs, would be fair to anyone.  


          The Battle Over Spectrum Intensifies   

The bureaucrats at the Federal Communications Commission are set to make their play at picking wireless winners and losers, aiming to get Congressional approval to set conditions for winning bidders of the next round of spectrum auctions.

Unlike previous auctions, which involved largely unused frequency bands, this time the FCC must re-allocate portions of the 700 MHz spectrum currently in the hands of broadcasters. The FCC needs Congressional approval to move forward with a plan to transfer those licenses.

While the Senate and House both have no problem with the transfer itself, the FCC has won key allies in the Senate, including Sen. John Kerry, in an effort to win more expansive power in setting auction rules, mostly to favor bidders who pledge to honor pet ideas of the progressive Left, like network neutrality. The House, on the other hand, simply wants the FCC to do its circumscribed job of spectrum allocation and brooks no such central planning adventures.

Here's how The Hill sums it up:

The proposed law would authorize the FCC to auction airwaves, or spectrum, that currently belong to television broadcasters, splitting some of the revenue with the stations that choose to participate. The spectrum is potentially worth billions of dollars to wireless carriers, which are struggling to meet the growing data demands of smartphones and tablet computers.

The House GOP version of the legislation would restrict the FCC's ability to impose conditions on the companies that buy the spectrum and would prohibit the FCC from designating the spectrum it reclaims from broadcasters for unlicensed use. Unlicensed spectrum, which can be used by any company for free, powers technologies such as WiFi, garage-door openers and remote controls.

All the concern for the unlicensed aspect in this auction (such as today's forum) is a feint in the direction of public interest arguments. There's no spectrum crunch for home WiFi and garage doors. The FCC, rather, is looking for a back door way to impose network neutrality on wireless service. Net Neutrality, while a great theory, is unworkable in practice, especially in 4G wireless, which this round of spectrum will support. It is even arguable that 4G wireless technology itself is a network neutrality violation, because of the sophisticated way it can adjust bandwidth and throughput based on second-to-second capacity demands.

What's disingenuous about making special rules for bidders who "promise" to follow politically favored technology models is that, in the end, engineering and physics trump bureaucratic vanity. If the FCC gets the power to set technology conditions, within a year or two the "winners" will be back asking for "exemptions." The consumer harm is that companies that know how wireless networks should be properly engineered will be hobbled at the expense of companies who only know how to tell the current regulators what they want to hear. Can you say Solyndra?


          Save the Net   

Because there exists no area of human activity that couldn't benefit from more paternalistic attention ... Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the Federal Communications Commission to your Web browser.

Congressional Democrats cannot find the votes to pass "network neutrality." No problem. Three unelected officials will impose rules on hundreds of millions of satisfied online consumers. A federal appeals court stops the FCC from employing authority over the Internet. Again, not a problem. Three out of five FCC commissioners can carve out some temporary wiggle room, because, as any crusading technocrat knows, the most important thing is getting in the door.

It's not that we don't need the FCC's meddling (or worse); it's that we don't need the FCC at all. Rather than expanding the powers—which always seem to grow—of this outdated bureaucracy, Congress should be finding ways to eliminate it.

Why would we want a prehistoric bureaucracy overseeing one of the past century's great improvements? As a bottom-up, unregulated, and "under-taxed" market in which technological innovation, free speech, and competition thrive—at affordable prices, no less—the Internet poses a crisis of ideology, not commerce, for the FCC.

It's about control and relevance. What else can explain the proactive rescue of the Web from capitalistic abuses that reside exclusively in the imaginations of a handful of progressive ideologues?

What is the FCC doing? It's complicated, and in some ways, it's irrelevant. It claims that regulatory power will ensure that consumers enjoy an "open Internet." (With more broadband providers than ever, is there anything more open than the Internet?) But the FCC can censor speech. And once the FCC can regulate Internet service providers, those providers will be more compliant and more interested in making censors happy.

The FCC also can hand out favors that hurt competition. And as Lawrence Lessig, a professor at Harvard Law School, wrote in 2008, "economic growth requires innovation. Trouble is, Washington is practically designed to resist it. Built into the DNA of the most important agencies created to protect innovation, is an almost irresistible urge to protect the most powerful instead."

Even as Chairman Julius Genachowski claims that he will employ a "light touch," the FCC leaves open the possibility that it will use the Title II docket to classify broadband as a public utility—and, as you know, nothing says progress and modernization like "utility."

The same organization that forced all consumers to buy Ma Bell-made telephones for decades, the same FCC that enforced speech codes via radio "fairness doctrines," the same FCC that took two decades after its invention to OK cellular technology for the marketplace and acted similarly sluggishly with cable and satellite innovation has no business online. It has a history of hurting consumers, not protecting them. (Unless you need protection from fleeting expletives and the once-a-decade nipple controversy.)

It is likely that a new Congress—or perhaps the courts—will undo this regulatory power play. And though "net neutrality," or "open Internet" (no one needs to worry; doublespeak is still flourishing), may not survive, it reminds us that the FCC's institutional positions conflict with the vibrancy and freedom of the Internet.

Positions that are as archaic as they are detrimental.

David Harsanyi is a columnist at The Denver Post and the author of Nanny State. Visit his website at www.DavidHarsanyi.com. This column first appeared at Reason.com.

COPYRIGHT 2010 THE DENVER POST
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

Bonus Reason.tv Video: "3 Reasons the FCC Shouldn't 'Touch' the Internets"


          The Reluctant Regulator   

Congress has already begun to engage the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over its network neutrality policy. The House Energy and Commerce Commission is scheduled to vote Wednesday on a resolution opposing the new rules. “The last thing we need, in my view, is the FCC serving as Internet traffic controller,” said House Speaker John Boehner in a speech on Sunday.

With this week’s vote, which could be followed later by a move to defund any network neutrality initiative, Congress continues to press FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, the primary author of the new rules, for more justification as to why they are necessary and whether the FCC actually has the authority to implement them. The most controversial of the new rules would prohibit phone and cable companies from charging companies such as Google, Netflix and Facebook for higher quality broadband connections. The most likely result of this rule would be that service providers would instead have to spread these costs across all broadband consumers.

As Congress continues to debate Genachowski over the merits of network neutrality, Americans have already made up their minds. A Rasmussen Report survey of likely voters conducted in late December—just as the FCC was adopting the new network neutrality rules—just 21 percent of those surveyed favored Internet regulation, while 54 percent said the FCC should keep its hands off the net. The balance was undecided.

America consumers may not be experts on how Internet technology works, but they do understand the economics of it. Whether it’s a high-tech service or something more tangible like organic produce, consumers know an upgrade in quality usually requires an additional investment.

Consumers know that the cost of an Internet quality upgrade must be paid for somehow, and they’ve correctly deduced that the FCC, through its network neutrality policy, thinks the source of those funds should be their own wallets, not the coffers of the companies responsible for adding the stress on the network.

This was all but confirmed when Netflix and its service provider, Level 3 Communications, asked the FCC to stop Comcast and other broadband service providers from charging them higher rates in order to guarantee the quality of bandwidth-crunching Netflix video. By then it was apparent that network neutrality was not about creating a level playing field, as proponents would have you believe, it was about creating a set of regulations that benefited some big players over others.

Then there are the rules themselves, which fall far short of what neutrality activists originally wanted. The biggest surprise is that they exempt wireless broadband service. FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, an ardent network neutrality supporter, could only muster a lukewarm better-than-nothing endorsement in a statement accompanying their adoption. 

One cannot help but wonder why wireless was exempted. Now that consumers have seen the potential of devices like the iPhone and iPad, analysts see wireless as a mainstream broadband alternative. Mobile data traffic is expected to increase by a cumulative annual growth rate of more than 100 percent over the next five years, according to BuddeComm, an independent telecommunications market research company. And President Obama considers wireless to be an important part of the national broadband plan.

For the last five years, we’ve been told that network neutrality is necessary to preserve a free and open Internet. Yet, the FCC endorsed a policy that does not address wireless broadband, which stands to be the single most critical Internet delivery mechanism going forward.

That’s why Congress is right to question the whole policy outright. If Genachowski appears to be a reluctant regulator, perhaps it is because he simply using network neutrality as a vehicle to expand the FCC’s regulatory authority into broadband territory without considering the consequences that will result from poorly crafted policy.  He may feel he can control his activist impulses, but can we count on the same from his successors?

It’s not so much that the rules seem less intrusive than originally planned. Genachowski still hasn’t made it clear why we need them at all and worse, he went ahead with them without solid legislative authority to do so. So, forget about what the net neutrality rules do or do not say; there’s no justification for the FCC to be making them at all. 

Steven Titch is a policy analyst at Reason Foundation. 

 


          The Rise of Cybercollectivism   

The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires, by Tim Wu, Knopf, 366 pages, $27.95

Most cyberlaw tracts or Internet policy books today lament a world full of corporate conspiracies, closed systems, “kill switches,” and squashed consumer rights. The world loves a good tale of villainy and misery, and that’s exactly what Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School, delivers in The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires.

Lawrence Lessig, the well-known legal scholar, kicked off this genre of hand wringing with his seminal 1999 book Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace, which warned that an unfettered digital marketplace would be anathema to our freedoms. “Left to itself,” Lessig predicted, “cyberspace will become a perfect tool of control.” Control, that is, by corporate forces hellbent on dictating the course of commerce and culture. Lessig argued that collective action was needed to counter these forces.

Lessig’s many disciples in academia and activism continue to preach this gloomy gospel of impending, corporate-led digital doom and “perfect control.” Jonathan Zittrain’s much-discussed 2008 book The Future of the Internet & How to Stop It brought Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace up to date by giving us a fresh set of villains. Gone was Lessig’s old foil AOL and its worrisome walled gardens. Instead, the new faces of evil were Apple, Facebook, and TiVo. Zittrain fretted about “sterile and tethered” digital “appliances” (like the iPhone and TiVo) that foreclose digital innovation, as well as the rise of “a handful of gated cloud communities” (such as Facebook) “whose proprietors control the availability of new code.”

Tim Wu extends this pessimistic narrative in The Master Switch. He ominously warns that there are “forces threatening the Internet as we know it,” then crafts an enemies list that reads like a Who’s Who of high-tech America. Wu sees “information monopolists” everywhere: Amazon, Apple, eBay, Google, Facebook, Skype, even Twitter. In Wu’s telling, periods of openness and competition in information industries are inevitably followed by concentrations of private power; the companies that come out on top, he believes, then have a lock on their respective sectors. Wu refers to this as “the cycle” and suggests that “radical” steps must be taken to counter it and “preserve freedom.” “If the stories in this book tell us anything,” he writes, “it is that the free market can also lead to situations of reduced freedom. Markets are born free, yet no sooner are they born than some would-be emperor is forging chains. Paradoxically, it sometimes happens that the only way to preserve freedom is through judicious controls on the exercise of private power. If we believe in liberty, it must be freedom from both private and public coercion.”

Wu and other progressives don’t always come right out and say it, but they often suggest that private power, however defined, is so persistently insidious that the only way to counteract it is by greatly amplifying state power. We see that yearning for a stronger state in Wu’s suggestion that “the disposition of firms and industries is, if anything, more critical than the actions of the state in controlling who gets heard” and in his audacious regulatory solutions, which would greatly enhance the government’s power over the information economy.

Wu’s central claim in The Master Switch is that information industries evolve toward “closed,” corporate-controlled, anti-consumer systems. The resulting “monopolists” then block innovation, competition, and free speech. Thus, he concludes, “the purely economic laissez-faire approach…is no longer feasible.”

To his credit, Wu admits that government forces have facilitated this process. In particular, he notes the significant roles of regulatory capture and bureaucratic mismanagement: “Again and again in the histories I have recounted, the state has shown itself an inferior arbiter of what is good for the information industries. The federal government’s role in radio and television from the 1920s through the 1960s, for instance, was nothing short of a disgrace.…Government’s tendency to protect large market players amounts to an illegitimate complicity…[particularly its] sense of obligation to protect big industries irrespective of their having become uncompetitive.”

Wu is certainly correct about this. Yet as quickly as he raises these issues, he walks away from them. He never draws any serious lesson from that disturbing corporatist history. Often within a few lines of raising such concerns, he seems to dismiss them entirely and proposes giving the state far more power to play games with the information sector. Wu’s assessment that the “purely economic laissez-faire approach” is a failure is hard to reconcile with the history he recounts, since a “purely economic laissez-faire approach” never existed. Moreover, you won’t ever get less regulatory capture and bureaucratic mismanagement by increasing the scope of government control. 

Wu argues that the information sector is more important than all others, so much so that traditional forms of regulation, such as antitrust, “are clearly inadequate” for regulating them. The remedy, he writes, “is not a regulatory approach but rather a constitutional approach to the information economy. By that I mean a regime whose goal is to constrain and divide all power that derives from the control of information. Specifically, what we need is something I would call a Separations Principle for the information economy. A Separations Principle would mean the creation of a salutary distance between each of the major functions or layers in the information economy. It would mean that those who develop information, those who control the network infrastructure on which it travels, and those who control the tools or venues of access must be kept apart from one another.” (Emphasis in the original.) Wu calls this a “constitutional approach” because he models it on the separations of power found in the U.S. Constitution.

In concrete regulatory terms—and despite what Wu tells us, his approach most assuredly would require regulation—the Separations Principle would segregate information providers into three buckets: creators, distributors, and hardware makers. Presumably these would become three of the new “titles” (or regulatory sections) of a forthcoming Information Economy Separations Act.

While conceptually neat, these classifications don’t conform to our highly dynamic digital economy, whose parameters can change wildly within the scope of just a few years. For example, Google cut its teeth in the search and online advertising markets, but it now markets phones and computers. Verizon, once just a crusty wireline telephone company, now sells pay TV services and a variety of wireless devices. AOL reinvented itself as a media company after its brief reign as the king of dial-up Internet access. Would firms that already possess integrated operations and investments (Microsoft or Apple, for instance) be forced to divest control of them to comply with the Separations Principle? If so, wouldn’t that hinder technological development?

Wu shrugs off such concerns. “The Separations Principle accepts in advance that some of the benefits of concentration and unified action will be sacrificed,” he writes, “even in ways that may seem painful or costly.” Such a flippant attitude ignores not only the potential benefits of certain forms of integration but also the fact that his proposed information apartheid would upend the American economy as we know it (by, say, forcing the breakup of dozens of technology companies and countless media providers). He also ignores the litigation nightmare that would ensue once the government started forcing divestitures. 

Nor does Wu explain how the bureaucratic machinations and regulatory capture he decries earlier in the book would be held in check under his proposed regime. He breezily writes that “the government [should] also keep its distance and not intervene in the market to favor any technology, network monopoly, or integration of the major functions of an information industry,” but he does not explain how this will be accomplished. Does he believe we can build a better breed of bureaucrat if we just try harder? 

Equally astonishing is Wu’s assertion that “a Separations regime would take much of the guesswork and impressionism…out of the oversight of information industries.” To the extent that his Separations Principle eliminates “guesswork” and creates more regulatory certainty, it would do so only by creating rigid artificial barriers to market entry and innovation across the information economy. That’s the kind of “certainty” we can live without.

Who or what would enforce this new system? Wu doesn’t offer a detailed roadmap, but he indicates that many familiar faces would continue to have a role. Despite his admission that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) “has on occasion let itself become the enemy of the good, effectively a tool of repression,” Wu suggests the agency will continue to have “day-to-day authority over the information industries.” The FCC’s current regulatory authority is limited mostly to older sectors of the information economy (broadcasting and telecommunications in particular), but Wu believes its role should be expanded, particularly through “net neutrality” mandates on information distributors. (Among his other claims to fame, Wu coined the phrase net neutrality. For more on neutrality-based regulation of the Internet, see “Internet Cop,” page 20.)

Yet stepped-up FCC oversight won’t be enough. Wu says we need “not only an FCC institutionally committed to a Separations Principle but also a structural arrangement to guard against such deviations, including congressional oversight as well as attention and corrections from other branches of government.” Here the “breadth and ambition” that Wu says will be necessary to enforce his Separations Principle becomes more apparent. We are talking about layer upon layer of prophylactic regulation.

Creating firewalls between the classifications that Wu proposes would be a nightmare, entailing incessant interventions to make sure the walls aren’t breached. Regulatory line drawing would be mind-bogglingly complex and costly as each new information-sector innovation would be subjected to a laborious classification proceeding. Yet despite what history has taught us about the inefficiencies associated with such heavy-handed regulation, Wu asks us to believe this new regime will lead to more innovation and consumer choice than what the Internet has managed during the last two decades.

What’s perhaps most troubling about The Master Switch is something it shares with Lessig’s book: a concerted effort to redefine “Internet freedom.” In the Lessig-Zittrain-Wu construction of Internet freedom, technocrats liberate us from the supposed tyranny of the marketplace and what Lessig calls “code failure.” High-tech entrepreneurs are cast as villains; their innovations are viewed as threats to our liberties.

When challenged, Wu, Lessig, and Zittrain all vehemently reject the notion that their outlook is pessimistic. They occasionally insist that they are actually libertarians at heart. But a plain reading of Lessig, Zittrain, and Wu provides little cause for optimism. Unless someone or something—usually the state—intervenes, they warn, the Net and all things digital are doomed. “Not only can the government take these steps to reassert its power to regulate, but…it should,” argues Lessig. “Government should push the architecture of the Net to facilitate its regulation, or else it will suffer what can only be described as a loss of sovereignty.” 

These scholars seem trapped in what Virginia Postrel labeled the “stasis mentality” in her 1998 bookThe Future and Its Enemies. They want an engineered world that promises certain outcomes. They are prone to taking snapshots of market activity and suggesting that those temporary patterns are permanent disasters requiring immediate correction. (Recall Lessig’s fear of AOL, which once had 25 million subscribers who were willing to pay $20 a month to get a guided tour of the Internet, but which ignored the rise of search and social networks at its own peril. It didn’t help that the company’s disastrous merger with Time Warner ended with over $100 billion in shareholders losses and an eventual divorce.) The better approach is what Postrel termed dynamism: “a world of constant creation, discovery, and competition.” Dynamism places heavy stress on the heuristic and believes there is inherent value in an experimental, evolutionary process, no matter how messy it can be in practice.

That doesn’t mean everything will be sunshine and roses in a free information marketplace. There will be short-term spells of what many would regard as excessive market power, as with IBM with mainframes in the 1970s or Microsoft with operating systems and Web browsers in the 1990s. The question is how much faith we should place in central planners, as opposed to evolutionary market forces, to solve that problem. The dynamist has more patience with competition and technological change and is willing to see how things play out. “Market failures” and “code failures” are ultimately better addressed by voluntary, spontaneous, bottom-up responses than by coercive, top-down approaches. And as the case studies of AOL and IBM prove, those market responses can be ruthless, rapidly eroding the power of “information empires.” 

Indeed, the decisive advantage of the market-driven approach is nimbleness. It is during what some might regard as a market’s darkest hour when some of the most exciting disruptive technologies and innovations develop. People don’t sit still; they respond to incentives, including short spells of apparently excessive private power.

The future of the Internet will be determined by the ongoing interplay of these two conflicting visions. Sadly, with scholars like Lessig, Zittrain, and Wu dominating the academic discussion and producing books like The Master Switch, stasis and cybercollectivism may end up reigning supreme. 

Adam Thierer is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. This column first appeared at Reason.com.

 


          Internet Cop   

Robert McDowell becomes effusive when talking about the World Wide Web. “The beauty of the Internet is that it has been somewhat lawless,” says the Republican, one of five appointees who run the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The lack of government mandates, McDowell says, has made the Net “the greatest deregulatory success story of all time,” a “sort of libertarian heaven.”

Is that heaven about to crash down to earth? Julius Genachowski, the man hand-picked by President Barack Obama to chair the FCC, insists not. “I’ve been clear repeatedly that we’re not going to regulate the Internet,” he told The Wall Street Journal in February 2010. But his actions suggest otherwise. Since taking office in June 2009, Genachowski, a tech entrepreneur and former FCC counsel, has led the commission on an unprecedented quest for power over the Web’s network infrastructure, sparking a thunderous, confusing lobbying battle over who gets to control the Net. 

“If the government starts to get involved with regulation of Internet network management,” McDowell warns, “you’ll start to see the politicization of decisions in that realm.” At this point, there’s no if about it: From his first major speech to a hurried and secretive rulemaking procedure in the final weeks of 2010, Genachowski has made it his mission to plant the seeds of government control within the core of the Internet—all under the guise of “preserving Internet freedom.”

They Call It Net Neutrality

Like so many political slogans, Internet freedom sounds great. But what does it mean in practice? For Genachowski and the rest of the Obama administration, “Internet freedom” is a feel-good euphemism for the techie idea known as “net neutrality.”

At its most basic, net neutrality is the belief that all bits and bytes that travel over the Internet should be treated equally: no discrimination, no paid prioritization, just first-come-first-served access for everyone all the time. As an egalitarian approach to the Web, it is more a pre-technical philosophy than a clear guide to managing network infrastructure. The applied theory of net neutrality is that routers—the traffic management devices that send packets of information from one computer or server to the next—should treat each piece of information like every other piece, be it an email message, a video, a game, or 3D porn. This is not a bad idea; indeed, it is largely how the Internet works already. But net neutrality advocates warn that without federal intervention, corporate giants won’t leave it this way for long; they will begin setting up pricey, priority-traffic toll roads across the Web.

The neutrality concept is a direct descendant of “common carrier” regulation of phone companies. When wire-based phone networks ruled the earth, they were treated as public utilities. The feds forced them to share their infrastructure with their competitors at regulated rates, a restriction on their property rights that was enforced under the pleasant-sounding banner of “equal access.”

It didn’t take long for politicians to start fretting about equal access on the Web. In a 1994 speech, Vice President Al Gore pondered this loaded question: “How can government ensure that the [emerging Internet] will permit everyone to be able to compete with everyone else for the opportunity to provide any service to all willing customers? Next, how can we ensure that this new marketplace reaches the entire nation?” Access, opportunity, competition—how would these goals ever be achieved without the government’s involvement?

Answer: easily. Internet access exploded throughout the late 1990s and the following decade—no federal broadband regulation required. By 1999 more than 30 million people could dial in from their homes. The Net’s success in the absence of regulation was so apparent that even Democratic bureaucrats preached the gospel of nonintervention: In 1999 FCC Chairman William Kennard declared in a speech that “if we’ve learned anything about the Internet in government over the last 15 years, it’s that it thrived quite nicely without the intervention of government.” In the same speech, Kennard made the case for what he called a “high-tech Hippocratic Oath” for regulators: First, do no harm.

It worked. During the following decade, online activity exploded. Between 2001 and 2008, online commercial activity—which for all practical purposes did not exist the decade before—became big business, rising from about $8 billion a year to about $42 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Simultaneously, broadband Internet access rapidly blazed a path from high-tech luxury service to mass-market must-have. In 2000 just 3 percent of homes had broadband access. By 2010 the figure had climbed to 66 percent, according to a report from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.

But the net’s success only made activists more vehement that it must be “preserved” through regulation. That’s where net neutrality came in. In 2005, under the leadership of Republican Chairman Kevin Martin, the FCC adopted four “policy statements” outlining the principles that should govern Internet use and operation. Users, the commission asserted, are entitled to access their choice of lawful content, to use applications and services as they wish, to connect legal devices to the network provided they do no harm, and to enjoy the effects of competition among providers and networks. But these statements of principle were not regulations, and thus of dubious enforceability.  

At first, the push for net neutrality was targeted at wire-line carriers—cable companies, DSL providers, and others who delivered Internet connections to fixed locations using expensive-to-install conduits. But by 2007, calls for net neutrality expanded to the growing wireless Internet, bringing mobile data networks like those operated by AT&T and Verizon into the crosshairs. Net neutrality gave online Democratic activists—the “netroots”—an issue in which “equality” was on one side and discriminatory corporations on the other. The sin of these corporate villains? Denying network access to those unwilling to pay for it.

“Network giants believe they should be able to charge Web site operators, application providers and device manufacturers for the right to use the network,” the progressive media activists at Free Press warned in their online guide to the issue. “Those who don’t make a deal and pay up will experience discrimination: Their sites won’t load as quickly, and their applications and devices won’t work as well.”

The issue never really caught on with the broader public, but it did become a partisan rallying cry. In 2008 presidential candidate Barack Obama made net neutrality a campaign promise, vowing to achieve it through the FCC. The promise was politically smart. Although regulating Internet traffic was barely raising eyebrows among average voters—most of whom were busy enjoying easy access to the Internet—the idea was much loved by two groups important to Obama: the digitally savvy army of online activists whose fund raising and organizing helped put the president in office, and a collection of high-flying, Democrat-supporting Silicon Valley companies. Netroots powerhouses such as Moveon.org got an issue to motivate and deliver their progressive base, while content-delivery behemoths such as Google (whose CEO, Eric Schmidt, took a week off to campaign for Obama) got a policy wedge against the Net’s infrastructure gatekeepers. Both camps expected a payoff in exchange for their support.

Obama’s Basketball Buddy

After Obama was elected, it fell to Julius Genachowski to make good on the campaign promise. The president didn’t just assure supporters that his administration would pursue net neutrality through the FCC; he named a close personal friend and a net neutrality true believer as the commission’s chairman to get the job done right. (Genachowski’s office declined a request for an interview.)

Genachowski has been friends with Obama for decades. The two were classmates at Harvard Law School, where they worked together on the Harvard Law Review and, according to The New York Times, were “basketball buddies.” Genachowski, who has spent much of his professional career zig-zagging through Silicon Valley, served Obama’s campaign as chairman of the Technology, Media, and Telecommunications Policy Working Group.

The two men have remained tight since Obama took office: Between January 31 and August 31, 2009, official records show that Genachowski visited the White House 47 times, more than any other agency head. (Sixteen of those visits came before Genachowski had even assumed office.) The next most frequent visitor among agency chiefs was Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who dropped by just five times during the same period.

The FCC chairman’s private-sector background includes stints at the sort of content companies that tend to favor neutrality rules. Genachowski helped launch Rock Creek Ventures, which funds and consults for “digital media and commerce companies,” and he has served as a director for a number of large Web portals, including Web.com and Beliefnet. According to his fellow FCC commissioner, Meredith Baker, “The chairman’s starting point is at the edge, application side of the [Internet] ecosystem. I don’t think that’s to the exclusion of the networks and their important role, but he starts in Silicon Valley.”

The outline of Genachowski’s ideas for neutrality regulation was unveiled at his first major address as the nation’s top communication regulator, a September 2009 speech at the center-left Brookings Institution. Genachowski reiterated at nine separate points the Obama administration’s promise to ensure that the Web would remain “free and open.” The phrase even appeared in the title of his talk: “Preserving a Free and Open Internet: A Platform for Innovation, Opportunity, Prosperity.”

The chairman’s speech didn’t answer the obvious question that has long nagged net neutrality skeptics: preserving it from what? But his remarks did address the question of how: The FCC, Genachowski said, must be “a smart cop on the [Internet] beat.” To fulfill that role, the commission would both beef up its authority and grant itself wide discretion in how to use it. “I will propose that the FCC evaluate alleged violations of the non-discrimination principle as they arise, on a case-by-case basis,” the chairman promised. Clear and straightforward rules were out. Regulators’ whims were in.

Genachowski proposed taking his predecessor Kevin Martin’s four principles—access to legal content, unrestricted use of services, device interoperability, and provider competition—and codifying them into law. He also wanted to add two more.

The first, and more controversial, of his additions would prohibit broadband providers from discriminating against “particular Internet content or applications.” In theory, the nondiscrimination provision would mean that the FCC could prohibit service providers from, say, blocking access to certain websites, or prioritizing the traffic to a particular company’s service (for instance, giving priority to videos from corporate partners over those from competing services). But the case-by-case standard would provide the agency with considerable leeway to decide when to step in.

The second new principle would require ISPs to be “transparent about their network management practices.” Basically, if service providers selectively slowed traffic for a particular application—say, the peer-to-peer service BitTorrent, which is frequently used to share movies, TV shows, and other large files—or capped a user’s total bandwidth for a given pay period, they’d have to notify consumers in plain English. Genachowski also hoped to extend the rules to wireless data networks such as those used by iPhones and Blackberries.

Genachowski’s speech was couched in the rhetoric of choice, innovation, and openness. But in framing his proposal as an attempt to preserve the Internet’s existing virtues, he masked the fact that it would represent an unprecedented expansion of federal control over the nation’s information infrastructure. And although no one knew it at the time, his plan presaged a sweeping attempt to subject broadband providers to an entirely different, and far more restrictive, regulatory classification.

A Solution in Search of a Problem

Genachowski’s speech targeted discriminatory practices by ISPs. But it did not cite any specific examples of such behavior, perhaps because neither Genachowski nor any other net neutrality supporter has ever identified more than a handful of instances in which the Internet’s openness has actually been violated. Indeed, it is hard to get a handle on what, exactly, strict neutrality rules are intended to prevent.

In October 2010, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) released a list of 10 alleged net neutrality violations. But as horror shows go, it wasn’t very scary. For starters, the list included two actions taken by ISPs in Canada, which suggests how far advocates have had to stretch to find real-world examples. It also included AT&T’s 2007 decision to excise Pearl Jam singer Eddie Vedder’s attacks on President George W. Bush during a live stream of a concert. But that decision wasn’t made by AT&T in its role as a network provider; it was made at the broadcast level by the team in charge of running the show, in the same way that an MTV video crew might bleep a curse word from a live awards ceremony. Also on the list: an allegation that BellSouth censored MySpace by denying access to some users—despite the fact BellSouth says the event was merely a glitch, an explanation no evidence has yet contradicted.

The ACLU also listed Verizon’s 2007 refusal to send a mass text message from the abortion rights group NARAL Pro-Choice America. Verizon maintained that it had the right to block “controversial” content of any kind—essentially, that it needed to be sensitive to bulk messages that it agreed to send over its network. Julian Sanchez, a research fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute (and former reason staffer), describes it as “a case where the company is partnering with the provider in a way that goes beyond carriage, because they’re also effectively acting as a payment processor. That means they’ll have an interest in vetting partners in a way you wouldn’t expect a mere carrier to vet every content provider on the network.” Regardless, after a loud public outcry, Verizon reversed the decision within one day.

Consumer agitation also played a role in resolving the most notorious net neutrality violation. In 2007, the press began to report that Comcast was secretly slowing some users’ access to BitTorrent. The company said it was merely attempting to prevent network congestion—and thus keep overall access and user speeds up—by slowing applications that were suspected of hogging bandwidth. By spring 2008, Comcast, under intense customer pressure, adjusted its network management practices so that specific applications such as BitTorrent would not be targeted. Consumer agitation had solved the problem, but the Bush FCC later censured the company anyway.

The punishment was largely symbolic, but was intended to send the message that the FCC would take official action to ensure net neutrality. “We are saying that network operators can’t block people from getting access to any content and any applications,” then-chairman Kevin Martin told The New York Times in August 2008. Comcast challenged the decision in court.

This lack of clearly defined violations has never stopped net neutrality advocates from using Comcast and other big broadband providers as convenient corporate villains. On the campaign trail, Barack Obama warned that without net neutrality, “mom and pop sites” could suffer at the hands of greedy network behemoths.

But the net neutrality debate doesn’t really pit the Goliaths against the Davids. It’s a battle between the edge of the Internet and the center, with application and content providers (the edge) fighting for control against infrastructure owners (the center). Large business interests dominate both sides of the debate. Google, for example, has long favored some form of net neutrality, as have Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, and a smattering of other big content providers, who prefer a Web in which the network acts essentially as a “dumb pipe” to carry their content. Mom-and-pop sites aren’t the issue.

Google makes its support sound as simple and earnest as its corporate motto of “don’t be evil.” Much like Genachowski, it defines net neutrality as “the concept that the Internet should remain free and open to all comers.” But the freedom and openness that Google claims to prize bear a distinct resemblance to regulatory protection. An Internet in which ISPs can freely discriminate between services, prioritizing some data in order to offer enhanced services to more customers, is an Internet in which content providers may have to pay more to reach their customers. Under Google and Genachowski’s net neutrality regime, ISPs may own the network, but the FCC will have a say in how those networks are run, with a bias toward restrictions that favor content providers.

Battle Lines

Yet for many of net neutrality’s most vocal supporters, Genachowski’s proposal didn’t go far enough. In November 2009, Columbia law professor Timothy Wu, who popularized the term net neutrality in a 2002 paper, co-signed a letter with other left-leaning academics warning that an early draft of the FCC plan was too vague and might not sufficiently restrict ISP behavior. Building on that letter, the “media reform” group Free Press warned that the ambiguity “would undermine the future of Internet freedom.”

Free Press serves as the nexus for the netroots’ net neutrality efforts. Founded by Josh Silver, who’d previously helped run a state-based campaign for publicly funded elections, and the leftist media theorist Robert McChesney, the group touts a radical, anti-corporate vision of government control over the media. In 2002, the year Free Press was founded, McChesney co-wrote a book, Our Media, Not Theirs: The Democratic Struggle Against Corporate Media, which declared “the need to promote an understanding of the urgency to assert public control over the media.” 

Despite its relative newness and its radical ideas, Free Press has had an outsized influence on the net neutrality debate. It has a former staffer in the FCC chairman’s office: In June 2009, Jen Howard left her job as press director for Free Press to become Genachowski’s press secretary. The group also benefited from its longstanding alliance with MoveOn.org, a netroots giant with massive influence on progressive politics.

Free Press has used its influence to push the FCC toward the strictest regulations possible. By opposing Genachowski’s initial rule proposal as too lax, the coalition made it clear that only the heaviest regulatory burden would do. And Free Press hasn’t been afraid to turn its fire on the chairman. In July the group created a mocked-up “Wanted” poster using a photo of Genachowski’s face and encouraged activists to post it “all over Chicago” during an FCC meeting there. FCC insiders say the group’s influence is strongly felt. According to Commissioner Baker, the chairman “is under tremendous pressure from the netroots base not to compromise on net neutrality.”

While Free Press was busy trying to save the Internet from vaguely defined ISP threats, opposition to Internet interference began to coalesce. In September 2009, the free market telecommunication scholars Adam Thierer and Berin Szoka, then employed by the Progress & Freedom Foundation, wrote in Forbes that “the presumption of online liberty is giving way to a presumption of regulation.” They warned that despite efforts to make the net neutrality proposal seem harmless, it would inevitably lead to a massive increase in federal regulation of the nation’s information infrastructure. “Real Internet Freedom,” they wrote, “is about to start dying a death by a thousand regulatory cuts.”

Broadband providers, naturally, worried too. “In the ’90s,” says Hank Hultquist, a vice president in AT&T’s federal regulatory division, “the FCC decided that it was not going to regulate the Internet in the way that we regulate phone service.” But despite an initial bipartisan consensus against regulating the Net, there was always dissent. As the Web matured, that dissent grew, and when the Obama administration took power, it gave dissenters the keys to the regulatory command post.

Following Genachowski’s Brookings Institution speech, Commissioners Baker and McDowell went public with their skepticism about the regulatory push. Nevertheless, in the months immediately afterward, Genachowski began the lengthy process of writing and reviewing his rule proposal. The plan that emerged closely resembled the structure that Genachowski had proposed in his speech. At the end of October, when the commission voted on the proposal and published it, both Baker and McDowell dissented from the “factual and legal predicates” underlying the report. But they were in the minority.

‘An Unbridled, Roving Commission’

Yet the FCC still did not have clearly enforceable rules governing net neutrality. Martin’s principles were the only clear statements on the books. And even as the bureaucratic process rolled forward, the agency’s authority to oversee broadband traffic—and thus to regulate net neutrality—was being challenged in federal court as a result of the 2008 BitTorrent decision.

Comcast owned up to slowing some users’ connections when they were using BitTorrent. But it maintained that the agency’s philosophical statements about Internet openness, which the FCC had relied on for its censure, were merely guidelines and therefore legally unenforceable. The FCC responded that it could enforce them under the doctrine of “ancillary jurisdiction,” a legal concept under which an agency claims the authority to issue regulations necessary to meet its statutory responsibilities. To uphold its net neutrality policy statements, the FCC argued, it needed to oversee broadband traffic management practices such as Comcast’s treatment of BitTorrent.

Because the policy statements weren’t codified, the FCC had a tough time convincing D.C. Circuit Judge A. Raymond Randolph that it had a statutory responsibility to uphold them. In January 2010, Randolph signaled during oral arguments that he might take Comcast’s side. “You have yet to identify a specific statute” that gives the FCC clear authority to regulate, he told the agency’s lawyers. He seemed exasperated, saying vague statements of principle are no replacement for concrete rules. “You can’t get an unbridled, roving commission to go about doing good,” he said.

In April, Randolph laid down the law: “Policy statements are just that—statements of policy,” he wrote. “They are not delegations of regulatory authority.” The decision wreaked havoc with the net neutrality rulemaking process. Codifying the policy statements into new rules would do little to ensure the FCC’s authority to regulate because those rules would still lack a statutory basis. Congress had never given the agency a clear directive to enforce neutrality. Without statutory authority to regulate broadband data management, what could the FCC do?

A few options quickly became apparent. First, the agency could drop its pursuit of net neutrality. But given the fact that the policy was an explicit campaign promise, and given the political pressure from groups like Free Press, that seemed unlikely. Second, the FCC could wait for Congress to give it explicit statutory authority. But with the health care battle recently ended, and with Democrats headed for what promised to be a sizable loss in the November elections, there was little appetite for a controversial new regulatory initiative—especially one that would make congressional supporters vulnerable to accusations that they wanted to control the Internet. 

The Trouble With Title II

And then there was the most extreme option. Instead of pursuing net neutrality through ancillary jurisdiction, as it had already attempted, the commission could move broadband service into the same regulatory category as telephone lines. Rather than regulating broadband providers under Title I of the Communications Act, as information services, it could regulate them under Title II, as telecommunication services. After Randolph’s decision, Democratic Commissioner Michael Copps immediately signaled that he favored this route.

It sounds like a small change, but in fact it would be enormous. Title II was designed for legacy phone networks and was written before broadband existed. If the FCC could pull off this shift, it would have far greater power than before. The Net’s core would effectively be transformed into a public utility subject to the whims of regulators.

But this approach was sure to provoke a drawn-out legal battle. As an executive branch agency, the FCC does not have the power to define its own governing statutes. That’s Congress’ job. And nowhere in the commission’s governing statutes did Congress bestow upon it the power to reclassify broadband providers as telecommunication services. If the FCC pursued the Title II strategy, several ISPs warned in a joint statement in February 2010, the industry would be wracked by “years of litigation and regulatory chaos.” That wasn’t just a prediction; it was a threat. 

The legal complexities of reclassifying broadband service were only part of the problem. Broadband providers warned repeatedly that strict net neutrality rules would derail capital investment, an argument seconded by telecommunication labor unions. In July the Communications Workers of America released a statement declaring that “the ‘reclassification path’ will lead to years of litigation and regulatory uncertainty that will reduce broadband investment and jobs.” That promised to put the policy in conflict with one of the agency’s other top priorities. 

At the same time the FCC has been pursuing net neutrality, it has been putting together a National Broadband Plan meant to spark broadband investment and deployment in underserved regions, a plan the Obama administration has persisted with despite surveys showing that most Americans don’t want the government involved in promoting broadband. The FCC’s own estimates put the cost of this plan at $350 billion, the bulk of which is presumed to come from investment within the industry. Rules that make such investment less lucrative make the broadband plan tougher to implement.

It was enough to make even the most determined regulator anxious. Which may be why, in May 2010, Genachowski announced that the FCC would take a step toward reclassifying broadband—but only a tentative one. Rather than release rules, the agency would issue a notice of inquiry asking for input about the possibility of switching broadband to Title II—the bureaucratic equivalent of winking at your friend and asking, “Hypothetically, what if we were to do this?” In a further sign of Genachowski’s anxiety, the FCC’s notice did not propose applying the full regulatory power of Title II to broadband providers. Instead, it suggested what Genachowski called the “Third Way,” under which the agency would give up some of its potential Title II authority in the hope of erecting “meaningful boundaries to guard against regulatory overreach.”

But the few boundaries to regulation the FCC proposed were not very meaningful. Larry Downes, a fellow at the Stanford Law School Center for Internet & Society, argues that regulating broadband providers like old-style telephone services could have a host of unintended effects, such as adding new consumer fees, giving local governments greater authority to impose a patchwork of confusing and contradictory regulations, and even giving the federal government greater leeway to wiretap electronic communications. 

The difference, Downes says, is plain to see when you compare the evolution of Title I broadband service to the evolution of Title II phone carriers. “Under Title I, we’ve had the Internet revolution,” he wrote on his eponymous website in March. By contrast, under Title II, “we’ve had the decline and fall of basic wireline phone service…and the continued corruption of local licensing authorities.”

Even advocates of the switch seemed to admit that the move would open up the regulatory floodgates: According to a January 2010 FCC filing by Public Knowledge, one of the most active pro-neutrality groups, “Reclassification would…expand the range of opportunities for more aggressive regulatory steps.”

The idea also faced opposition from Congress, particularly in the House, where a majority of members—including 72 Democrats—expressed disapproval of the plan in letters sent last May. And behind the scenes, sources say, the White House economic team expressed concern that the FCC’s pursuit of strict, investment-killing net neutrality rules was a distraction that would be bad for growth in the telecommunications sector.

Fear of Compromise

Free Press was having none of it. The group mounted a months-long campaign pushing Genachowski to formally declare his intention to proceed with a Title II reclassification. In November Free Press urged its members to sign and email the chairman a prewritten letter urging him to reclassify broadband so that the FCC “can keep the Internet open and free of corporate gatekeepers.” By the end of November, Genachowski looked stuck.

Free Press has declared that only the strictest approach to Internet regulation is acceptable. Yet the voting public appears unmoved by the neutrality agenda. Every single one of the 95 congressional candidates who signed a petition pledging to support neutrality lost in the 2010 elections. Meanwhile, Congress wasn’t being supportive, and industry players on both sides of the issue were increasingly seeking compromise. In August, for example, Google and Verizon proposed a joint policy framework—essentially a loosely defined model regulatory structure—that would impose some restrictions on wire-line providers but would leave wireless data networks, widely believed to be the future of the Net, largely untouched.

A similar proposal made its way into legislative form at the end of September, when Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, released a short proposal subjecting wire-line providers to basic nondiscrimination rules but strictly forbidding the FCC from pursuing any form of Title II reclassification. The legislation appeared right before Congress was scheduled to end its session, and Republicans, citing the short time frame, declined to support it. But AT&T, which has long opposed any sort of neutrality regulations, was enthusiastic, and conservative activist groups quietly urged their members and contacts to push Republicans to vote for the proposal. Republicans clearly wanted to wait until after the November elections to act, but the interest from both industry and conservative activists suggests that something like the Waxman bill could eventually garner bipartisan support.

As 2010 progressed, Genachowski faced the unpleasant choice of either risking the wrath of MoveOn.org or giving in to Free Press’ demands, despite their mounting unpopularity and the years-long legal battle that would result from trying to satisfy them. Initially, he opted to wait. 

In September, Genachowski decided the FCC would delay any Title II decision until after the elections, implicitly acknowledging the messy politics of the situation. The day after the elections, he announced that neutrality would not be on the agenda for the commission’s November 30 meeting, buying him time to take the temperature of the new Congress and see what might be done during the upcoming lame-duck session.

At the beginning of December, Genachowski finally made his move, announcing that the FCC would vote on a net neutrality proposal within a few weeks. The proposal would be based roughly on the Waxman bill and anchored firmly under Title I, broadband’s current regulatory category. Never mind that a court had already declared the FCC’s previous justifications for Internet regulation insufficient, making a legal challenge inevitable. When the lawsuit arrived, the FCC would come up with a new justification, ancillary to some currently untapped statutory provision. Conveniently, says Larry Downes, “the D.C. Circuit opinion left some wiggle room, suggesting that even though the commission had failed to find a provision in the law that its adjudication was ‘ancillary’ to, there might be some that weren’t advanced.”

Meanwhile, the time for comments on the neutrality proposal was limited to less than three weeks—far shorter than the comment period granted for the initial rule and the Notice of Inquiry. Normally the short comment period would have been the biggest cause of commotion surrounding the proceedings. But in this case, there was very little of substance for anyone to get excited about. In a highly unusual move, Genachowski decided to keep the text of the proposal secret until after it passed. The gist, though, was made plain enough by Genachowski’s remarks at vote: The FCC would finally have a rule prohibiting “unreasonable discrimination” on the major wired networks.  And who would be in charge of determining what sort of network management practices were “unreasonable?” Why, none other than the FCC. 

 The remnants of a once firmly held bipartisan consensus that the Internet operates best when the government leaves it alone were strong enough to block the most radical elements of the Left’s net neutrality wish list, at least temporarily. And the rules will be challenged in court as well as Congress, where congressional Republicans were already threatening to use their new found oversight powers to make Genachowski’s life difficult.

But Genachowski has finally managed to plant regulatory roots within the Net. On December 21, 2010, the agency voted 3-2 to pass a major regulatory order that no one outside the FCC had been allowed to see. Genachowski’s power grab had been accomplished in haste and secrecy as a lame-duck Congress prepared for Christmas, but he had successfully fulfilled the president’s promise and asserted federal control over the sprawling core of the Net. Commissioner McDowell’s “greatest deregulatory success story of all time” has given way to empowered regulators. The Internet, after luxuriating in lawless freedom, finally has its own cop. 

Peter Suderman is an associate editor at reason. This column first appeared at Reason.com.


          Obama Isn't Fooling Anyone   

President Barack Obama penned a witty Wall Street Journal op-ed this week, titled "Toward a 21st-Century Regulatory System."

In it, he extolled the virtues of a free market system. And to prove that his admiration of capitalism has nothing to do with naked political expediency, Obama signed an executive order that will "root out regulations that conflict, that are not worth the cost, or that are just plain dumb."

Sounds rather subjective, though, don't you think? How do we gauge excessive regulation in the Age of Obama? I can't recall a single federal program, piece of legislation, or proposal in the past two years that was initiated to ease the burden on consumers or businesses. (If you know of any, please send specifics to sorry@dowelooklikesuckers.com.)

Obama doesn't have to look far, if he's serious. Nor does he need an executive order. Right now, the Environmental Protection Agency is drafting carbon rules to force on states, even though a similarly torturous 2,000 pages on a cap-and-trade scheme intending to make power more expensive was rejected. Maybe there's something in that pile of paper to mine.

Also, the Federal Communications Commission is shoving network neutrality in the pipeline—again, bypassing Congress—so government can regulate the Internet for the first time in history, though the commissioners themselves admit that as of now, any need for rules are based on the what-ifs of their imaginations.

There exists no legislation more burdensome and expensive than the job-crushing (not "job-killing," because, naturally, we can't stand for that kind of imagery) Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, formerly known as ObamaCare and presently being symbolically repealed by House Republicans.

That's for starters.

But, of course, there will be no tangible regulatory relief. The Federal Register is a codex of moral well-being, after all. Regulatory schemes are how we make life fairer, the sick healthy, the economy recession-proof, and green energy a reality. It's how we stop the rich from acting selfishly and the weak from stuffing fat kids with Sno Balls.

Last May, a New York Times story, "With Obama, Regulations Are Back in Fashion," laid out how the administration had "pressed forward on hundreds of new mandates." In it, we have what seems like half the White House championing the pettiest of regulations as an ethical imperative.

Our bureaucratic agencies have nearly infinite power to do good via rule-making—once they are in, that is. Keep in mind that the rule allowing "end-of-life" counseling paid for by Medicare was inserted into ObamaCare after passage and only nixed after an ensuing outcry.

It, like thousands of other additions, will return.

A Small Business Administration study says total regulatory costs that businesses (and thus consumers) pay amount to about $1.75 trillion—more than all collected personal income taxes. The Competitive Enterprise Institute found in this past year that the appearance of new rules—including "major" rules that cost more than $100 million annually—had dramatically accelerated.

Which isn't surprising.

When Obama was in a place of political comfort, the free market was a place of unhinged self-interest, unfairness, and misery. Nearly all of our troubles were portrayed as a case of regulatory neglect—and nearly every dilemma was met accordingly.

Nothing's changed but the political conditions.

David Harsanyi is a columnist at The Denver Post and the author of Nanny State. Visit his website at www.DavidHarsanyi.com. This column first appeared at Reason.com.

COPYRIGHT 2011 THE DENVER POST
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM


          Network Neutrality Backlash   

Don’t look for the network neutrality controversy to go away anytime soon.

The Federal Communications Commission’s “Christmas Surprise”—its December 21 vote to adopt new network neutrality—touched off criticism from mainstream pundits despite the distraction of the holiday season. Political cartoons like this, plus a column by George Will, which succinctly linked net neutrality to the Obama adminstration’s overall regulatory bent, belie the notion that the issue was only front-and-center among tech policy geeks.

What’s most frustrating about the new rules is that they all but concede there’s no real problem.

Larry Downes, in the first of a series of posts about the net neutrality order at Technology Liberation Front, points out that the new rules likely would not prevent three of the four so-called violations that neutrality advocates repeatedly cited as egregious abuse (Comcast-BitTorrent, an on-line payment service blocking use of competitive payment services, and AT&T’s restriction of certain iPhone apps). The fourth—the Madison River-Vonage case already had been dealt with under the existing rules.

In his ensuing posts (catalogued here), Downes cites the real problem: the creation of a framework that can be arbitrarily applied by either Genachowski or future chairpersons, and can spark a series of petitions and complaints aimed at rent-seeking or delaying competition.

Under the new network neutrality rules, the FCC is a referee stepping onto the field and declaring he will make the rules up as the game progresses. Teams won’t be told what plays are legal or illegal and won’t know if they’ve committed a foul until the ref tells them have. And a fair play in the first quarter may be ruled a foul in the fourth and vice-versa.

It also doesn’t help that in the run-up to the neutrality decision, a neutrality complaint came not from some tiny website that activists like Free Press claim the rules are designed to protect, but from Level 3 Communications and Netflix, two large companies, who asked the FCC to prevent Comcast from charging them more to cover the cost of the massive bandwidth Netflix’s video-on-demand service was going to consume.

Now comes the first neutrality complaint since the new rules were adopted. Note it concerns neither AT&T, Verizon, Comcast or any of the large service providers accused of monopolizing access. Instead, neutrality proponents Free Press, Media Access Project and the New America Foundation have accused Metro PCS, a second-tier wireless service provider with little brand recognition beyond Dallas, Texas, with a violation because it offered a low-priced "all-you-can use" data plan that blocked access to YouTube and other high-bandwidth sites. Never mind MetroPCS’s competitors offer wireless YouTube access, and never mind that Metro PCS made the package available on the assumption that a subset of customers may not be interested in using their phone for YouTube and would happily pay less if the choice were offered. So there you have it—network neutrality used to force consumers to pay higher prices for services they don’t want, rather than allow a small company to peel off a bit of market share by addressing a subset of the market with particular needs.

So much for the Free Press argument that network neutrality would safeguard competition. Here, regulation would close off an incentive that might lead some consumers to switch from a larger, dominant carrier and thereby strengthen a small one. This is exactly the sort of unintended consequence that opponents of neutrality regulation warned of—and it is showing up mere weeks after the new rules were adopted.

Now that net neutrality's problems are emerging for all to see, there’s been some pushback from antiregulatory circles. Rep. Marcia Blackburn (R-Tenn.), now part of the House majority, already has reintroduced a bill to prohibit the FCC from further regulating the Internet. Blackburn had sponsored this bill during the last Congress, too, where it went absolutely nowhere. This time around, is has gained 59 cosponsors. As Ars Technica reports, “it contain[s] only a few lines, chief of which was this one: ‘In General—The Federal Communications Commission shall not propose, promulgate, or issue any regulations regarding the Internet or IP-enabled services.’ National security issues and wiretapping rules would be exempt from this restriction.”

Meanwhile, according to Downes’s reporting from last week’s CES, Neil Fried, senior counsel to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, told a packed session on net neutrality that the Committee would take up the FCC’s “overreaching” as its first tech agenda item. In the same session, Verizon Executive Vice President Tom Tauke refused to dispel rumors that the company is preparing to challenge them in court.

Good news all round.


          Tech Neanderthals as Regulators?   

As FCC aggressively takes and end run around Congress and asserts the power to regulate the highly competitive world of Internet access--in order to "ensure fairness" of course--realize there is no problem they seek to solve, just a theory that a problem might come up at some point.

I can't help but think about how hopelessly behind the regulators always are in high tech areas.  Their fumbling efforts, always a few steps behind the latest technology and the latest thing the kids are using to take advantage of the Internet will be nothing but a hindrance to progress.

Nate Beeler's cartoon captures it well:

 

FCC political cartoon


          Curtains for Net Neurality legislation?   

It looks like Tuesday's election ended the likelihood of any network neutrality legislation getting through Congress.

CNN Money reports:

Before Tuesday's midterm elections, there were 95 House and Senate candidates who pledged support for Net neutrality, a bill that would force Internet providers to not charge users more for certain kinds of Web content.

All of them lost -- and that could mean the contentious proposal may now be all but dead.

Network neutrality bills were introduced in Congress in 2006 and 2008, but went nowhere. Although the issue picked up some steam in the spring after the D.C. Court of Appeals ruled that the Federal Communications Commission would need further congressional authorization to regulate broadband, Still, alongside calls to pass net neutrality came pushback from free-market oriented legislators, who sponsored bills that would specifically keep the FCC's eager hands off of broadband.

The FCC still has the reclassification card to play, and such a move could end up part of a broader White House strategy to use of executive powers to enact regulations that a more Jeffersonian Congress would oppose.

It's also worth noting that the proposals for limiting FCC reach were reactive to calls for greater broadband regulation. With the loss of the Democratic majorty in the House may come the loss of momentum for specific regulatory countermeasures, It may come down to how activist the FCC decides to be.


          Net Neutralityâ??s Declare-Victory-And-Go-Home-Moment?   

Will the House pass a Net Neutrality Bill before the session ends? Rep. Henry Waxman’s (D-CA) draft bill surfaced yesterday amid reports that Waxman, the Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, was hoping to get the bill introduced this week with an eye toward passage during the post-election lame duck session.

Top line, the bill would prevent the Federal Communications Commission from reclassifying broadband Internet services as “telecommunications services” in order to invoke a more intrusive regulatory hand. The bill then addresses the network neutrality issue, which sparked the FCC’s reclassification proposal inthe first place.

As Larry Downes notes in separate pieces at CNET and the Technology Liberation Front, the bill attempts to address the objections of all stakeholders. While endorsing the controversial non-discrimination clause, which would require ISPs to treat all data traffic the same way as it crosses their networks, Waxman’s bill concedes a need for “reasonable network management,” words the FCC uses in its network neutrality proceeding. Unlike the FCC proposal, however, Waxman’s bill includes specific language defining what the “reasonable network management” means.

The term “reasonable network management” means a network management practice that is appropriate and tailored to achieving a legitimate network management function, taking into account the particular network architecture or technology of the provider. It includes appropriate and tailored practices to reduce or mitigate the effects of congestion on a broadband Internet access provider’s network; to ensure network security or integrity; to address traffic that is harmful to or unwanted by users, including premise operators, or to the provider’s network, or the Internet; to meet the needs of public safety; and to provide services or capabilities to effectuate a consumer’s choices, including parental controls or security capabilities. In determining whether a network management practice is reasonable, the Commission shall consider technical requirements, standards, or best practices adopted by one or more independent, widely-recognized Internet community governance initiative or standard-setting organization. In determining whether a network management practice for wireless broadband Internet access service is reasonable, the Commission shall also consider the technical, operational, and other differences between wireless and other broadband Internet access platforms, including the need to ensure the efficient use of spectrum.

Just as important, the draft bill, which can be found here, also considers the unique requirements of wireless, and subjects it fewer restrictions.

All in all, the bill comes close to the solution Google and Verizon proposed in August. For this reason, Downes predicts it might have a "rocky road" to passage, particularly because the most vocal network neutrality enthusiasts, such as Fress Press will push back against the network management language excerpted above aw well as any wireless exemptions.

I'm a little more optimistic. While it is only in draft form, the bill also may be the closest we’ve come to resolving the network neutrality policy debate, which while occupying a segment of the tech set, is barely registering with the public. Meanwhile, you have many large high-tech companies inthe Internet ecosystem who once were favorably disposed toward net neutrality, voicing second thoughts about using reclassification to achieve it. With the support Waxman, a member of the Democratic leadership, the bill may provide cover for the net neutrality proponents in Congress and deliver a nominal policy win for the President Obama, who voiced support for net neutrality on the campaign trail. Yet the bill would also put the brakes on an expansionist FCC and its investment chilling plan for "Mother, May I?" oversight of Internet innovation.


          Some Early Takeways from the Verizon-Google Net Neutrality Proposal   

Scott Cleland at Precursor.org has weighed in with his first impressions of the joint policy proposal on network neutrality from Verizon and Google yesterday, He cites two important takeaways, condensed here. See his blog entry for more insights.

First, it is even more clear that the FCC should give the legislative process time to play out on net neutrality.

While this is a legislative proposal of only two of the many major stakeholders in the net neutrality debate, it still sends a strong signal to Congress and the FCC that the stakeholder negotiating process -- that has been occurring over the last several weeks -- holds real potential for substantive progress and resolution, if the FCC is patient and gives the process the appropriate time and breathing room to play out....

Second, Google's many major concessions are an important reality check for the FCC and net neutrality absolutists. While FreePress and the net neutrality fringe demand the pure absolute net neutrality of a monopoly regulated utility under Title II, Google now apparently believes that extreme position is no longer credible....

In short, Verizon and Google appear to have changed the overall dynamic with their announcement, showing that stakeholder negotiations and the legislative option may be viable and should be given time and support to further develop.

Those who don't want a negotiated compromise, but seek a heavy-handed edict from the FCC, like FreePress, will surely push the FCC to go it alone, ignore Congress, and abandon the potential for a much more broadly negotiated settlement of this mess -- that will only get messier 'if the FCC rushes to usurp both Congress' and the Court's authority.

With the FCC's broadband regulatory authority up in the air after Comcast v. FCC, Verizon and Google are looking to demonstrate that the market can deliver a solution without a strignant regulatory regime. The ball is in FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski's court now.

 



          Amazom.com Switches Sides on Net Neutrality   

In a startling guest column on CNET yesterday, Paul Misener, vice president for global public policy at Amazon.com, for all practical purposes reversed his company’s stand on network neutrality, particularly the controversial non-discrimination rule, which would prohibit ISPs from creating and charging providers of large-scale content, applications and commerce for faster broadband connections and tiered quality of service.

In his column, Misener concedes what many free market bloggers and friends have argued for years: that the net neutrality rules are a solution in search of a problem, and that large providers like Amazon already invest in techniques that ensure quality delivery of content and apps, albeit at the edge, not within the network cloud. Misener writes:

First, there have been almost no Net neutrality violations. Opponents of Net neutrality rules say this record demonstrates that regulation is unnecessary--that Net neutrality is "a solution in search of a problem." But actually, the threats of legislation (since 2007) and FCC regulation (since 2009) have kept the network operators on their best behavior.

Moreover, Net neutrality has become a populist consumer issue in a way that few FCC issues ever have (try Web-searching the terms "Net neutrality" or, more humorously, "series of tubes"). So, it's hard to imagine policymakers adopting laws or rules that would condone popular notions of Net neutrality violations.

Second, the legal/regulatory uncertainties have, understandably, dissuaded network operators from making investments in new technologies and services that might subsequently be found to violate Net neutrality. Unfortunately, some observers seem to think that this uncertainty hurts only the network operators and their suppliers, but consumers and content providers also are suffering, albeit unwittingly, from the lack of new services that might otherwise be available.

Misener goes on to suggest that if freed from the uncertainty regulation, ISPs might develop competitive alternatives to leased lines and web caching that will serve consumer, carrier and content provider interests—the “win-win-win” of the article’s headline.

If paid performance enhancement for some content is equally available and does not degrade the performance of other content, then it should be permissible. And, following this principle, in addition to moving, leasing private lines, and edge caching, Internet content providers (and consumers) should be able to purchase "quality of service" or "managed services" from network operators on the same basis--equal availability and no harm to other content.

Along with Amazon, Microsoft, Expedia, Yahoo and Sony also have backed off from onetime hardline support. Just last October, it’s CEO Jeff Bezos, co-signed an Open Internet Coalition letter supporting regulation. Back in 2006, Misener himself was warning about the potential of ISP abuse of their network to throttle Internet discourse.

Even Google, which has been funding the Open Internet Coalition, has been sending mixed messages on the regulation for more than a year.

What changed? Well, the FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s plan to reclassify broadband Internet service as a regulated “telecommunications service,” all for the sake of pushing a network neutrality agenda, is shaking the entire U.S. Internet industry to its senses. For companies like Amazon, when the FCC’s power was circumscribed around carriers, network neutrality was “regulation for thee, but not for me.” It’s significant that Misener raises the issue of investor uncertainty, an ISP talking point that network neutrality proponents have in the past pooh-poohed. Reclassification would give the FCC broad discretionary powers over the entire supply chain for broadband services. And if the FCC can regulate ISP business models, which is essentially what net neutrality is all about—who says it won't, under its new self-styled mandate to regulate all things broadband, it won’t start regulating other Internet business models as well? Given the Obama administration’s immense appetite for regulatory adventurism and its willingness to use (and arguably abuse) discretionary executive branch powers to get around Congress, it could be that many companies that once thought themselves outside Washington's regulatory purview are now rethinking their desire to ride the president’s industrial policy tiger.

Using the same reasoning applied to ISPs and their network technology, regulatory zealots have started talking about “search neutrality” in the context of the Google and its search algorithms. Apple’s exclusive iPhone arrangement with AT&T draws regular fire. Amazon’s Kindle is proprietary to Amazon—you can’t use the e-book reader for books purchased from other on-line retailers (although I understand Kindle will read PDF documents). Who’s to say the FCC won’t demand e-book neutrality?

I don’t like to make predictions, but I think that Genachowski’s push for reclassification is going to blow up in his face. Congress, which sees it as an executive branch overstep, is already unhappy about it. In business circles, regulatory jockeying and rent-seeking might be part of the Washington culture, but it’s notable that companies like Amazon are signaling that, given the choice between paying ISPs for tiered quality of service or the threat of wholesale imposition of a “Mother, may I” regime on their present and future business relationships, they will stand up for their the freedom to conduct business without government intrusiveness.


          The FCCâ??s Foolâ??s Crusade   

Choose your analogy: He pushed the button. He turned the key. He cried havoc and let slip the dogs of war.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski Thursday launched what could end up being a decade-long court battle over the government’s power to regulate the Internet. Genachowski’s initiative takes the form of a Notice of Inquiry into reclassifying broadband Internet service under Title II of the 1996 Communications Act, that is, as a regulated telecommunications service akin to single-line dial-up phone service. The Telecom Act currently classifies broadband access under Title I—as an unregulated information service. The decision to move forward with the NoI passed 3-2 by partisan vote.

This is a battle Genachowski can’t win. The only question is how many opportunities, enterprises and jobs his fool’s crusade takes down in the process.

The primary issue isn't even technical; it’s legal. Whatever opinion Genachowski has about how broadband services should be classified, the U.S. Constitution is quite specific on the process of legislative change. The Title I and II classifications in the Telecom Act were established as law by Congress. They can only be changed or amended by Congress. The FCC, as part of the executive branch, cannot take scissors and paste to legislation.

If Congress fails to put the brakes on the FCC’s attempt at law-by-fiat, and the commission follows through with reclassification, expect a legal challenge on constitutional principles. Unfortunately, the process could last years, and the ensuing regulatory uncertainty will stanch investment. This is all the more unfortunate because, after nearly a decade of incredulity, a nervous Wall Street is coming around to the idea that broadband is going to be the economic engine optimists have long believed. Now that the consumer benefits of innovations such as the iPhone and Droid are palpable and measureable, and larger portions of the populations are opting for platforms such as fiber to the home, the FCC is going to stop all that momentum over what appears to be the Chairman’s personal frustration over his inability to enact network neutrality rules.

Yes, that what this is all about. Ironically, in the face of a court decision, Comcast v. FCC, that specifically said the FCC needs Congressional authorization to enact network neutrality rules, Genachowski has doubled down by attempting to gin up that authorization by rewriting the law himself. Maybe it’s the nature of federal agencies to reach for as much power as they can, but year after year, every time the FCC has tried to stretch the interpretation of its Congressional mandate—be it in terms of broadcast indecency, forced line-sharing or, as with the recent Comcast decision, “ancillary” authority to regulate the Internet, the courts have pushed back, enforcing a much more limited reading. Jurisprudence does not bide well for Genachowski’s tactics here, which go way beyond interpretation of the law to outright amendment of it. The problem is that the fight will be as costly to the economy as it will be unnecessary for the public.

For more, see Reason TV's video "Three Reasons the FCC Shouldn't Touch the Internets."


          Leave Them Tubes Alone   

As there is no real problem with the Internet, it's not surprising that some of our top minds have been working diligently on a solution.

In a 2001 interview (one that only recently has gone viral and caused a brouhaha), Cass Sunstein, now the nation's regulatory czar, is overheard advocating for government to insist all websites offer opposing viewpoints—or, in other words, a "Fairness" Doctrine for the Web. This was necessary because, as hundreds of millions of Internet users can attest, ferreting out competing perspectives online is all but impossible. (A search for "Cass Sunstein" on Google, for instance, barely generated 303,000 results in 0.19 seconds.)

And what if websites refused to acquiesce to this intrusion on free speech? "If we could get voluntary arrangements in that direction, it would be great," Sunstein said at the time, "and if we can't get voluntary arrangements, maybe Congress should hold hearings about mandates." After all, Sunstein went on to say, "the word 'voluntary' is a little complicated. And sometimes people don't do what's best for our society." Mandates, he said, were the "ultimate weapon designed to encourage people to do better."

Actually, the word "voluntary" isn't complicated at all. And mandates do not "encourage" people to do better; mandates "force" people to do what those writing regulations happen to think is better. We're intimately familiar with the distinction.

In truth, I've enjoyed many of Sunstein's counterintuitive arguments and read his idealistic notions about "nudging" (and sometimes a bit more, apparently; I guess it's complicated) irrational people into "rational" choices. Sunstein is an intellectual who thinks aloud. Obviously, that can come back to cause you some problems.

Then again, would an impulsive intellectual who wondered aloud about coercing universities to offer more right-wing professors—or who casually entertained the idea of dispensing with the First Amendment—be tasked with the job of overseeing the health of the nation's entire regulatory system, which holds so many real-world consequences? Doubtful.

Sunstein, it must be noted, later backed off his dictatorial approach to dealing with the non-crisis of our narrow online reading habits by claiming that the Internet is "too difficult to regulate in a way that would respond to these concerns." In other words, he concluded that the Internet is too complex to allow for the types of regulatory intrusions we insist on in other areas of everyday life.

Others have not backed off, though. The Federal Communications Commission has been working diligently to find a way to act on the same control impulses that Sunstein had in mind, with something called "net neutrality."

I know it sounds wonderfully fair. But the reality of net neutrality makes as much sense as mandating that tricycle riders have the same rights and privileges as cars and trucks on our roads—highway neutrality.

The FCC promises it doesn't have any intention of controlling Internet content, only of making access fair. But empowered with the ability to regulate the flow of online traffic, it offers a semantic, not substantive, excuse for a power grab.

Like Sunstein, the FCC should acknowledge that the complexities of the Internet are beyond the ability of control. Not to mention unnecessary.

David Harsanyi is a columnist at The Denver Post and the author of Nanny State. Visit his website at www.DavidHarsanyi.com. This column first appeared at Reason.com.

COPYRIGHT 2010 THE DENVER POST
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM


          NewYorker Cover is Illuminati Taunt   

nycover.jpg

On Independence Day, 
the Illuminati bankers
are saying 
the American Dream is dead. 


by Henry Makow Ph.D.

The latest cover of The NewYorker magazine (July, 3, 2017) grabbed my attention the moment I saw it. (I subscribe to the magazine.)

It refers to Tuesday July 4, American Independence Day. I put the cover on my Twitter Feed and commented, "this is how Cabalists say, up yours."

Why is that? The NewYorker is owned by the Newhouse Media Group which is part of the Masonic Jewish near-monopoly on information and discourse. It peddles the Illuminati (i.e. Communist) agenda.

Superficially, the cover is about diversity. "It's a beautiful image of a patriotically-attired young lady all set to enjoy the holiday weekend," one reader responded to my post.

Indeed, what's wrong with a black girl in an American freedom pose? 

But diversity isn't really about diversity. "Cabalists empower minorities to dispossess European Christian majority," I also tweeted. "They care nothing about minorities." The Communist faction of the Masonic Jewish establishment are anxious to  get rid of Trump because he appears to represent national interests. The painting is entitled "Bright Star" a possible reference to Lucifer which is "morning star" in Latin. 

WHITE DISPOSSESSION

This cover isn't about American independence. It's about European dispossession. 

DDnEMouUIAAU7G1.jpg
The girl isn't attractive. She looks like an alien or an insect. 

If this were really a celebration of US independence, diversity and "inclusiveness," she would have been attractive.

The real meaning is found in the stars on her bathing suit and the stripes on the ball. The message is that America no longer belongs to Americans of European origin. 

America belongs to her. Her arrogant expression and the way she holds the ball say "possession." 

But WAIT, she is only the face of European Christian dispossession. She is only a pretext, a ruse.

That insect alien is not her. That is the face of the satanist banker. 

The Illuminati are taunting us.  They are saying, "We own the media, corporations, politicians and education. We own you. We own the future. The American Dream is dead."

They don't own our hearts and minds. The Dream is not dead.  

--

First Comment by Kathy:

 I agree with your assessment re the cover of the New Yorker.  What clinches it for me is the reflection in her sunglasses.  The former, quintessential all-american girl (white and long blonde hair) is taking the picture.   Looks like the what was once considered the all-american girl is being replaced.

MM writes:

Looks like a tranny to me. Muscular shoulders wider than hips, no figure and waist indentation at the hips, large hands, flat chested. Note the extended pinky of left hand, giving a subtle devil's horn.

Anon writes:

First, let's get one thing straight (Pun Intended.)  The number one reason "she" looks so alien is because it is not a she at all.  Composite image or not -that is a boy.  Can't believe it?  They've been getting away with this kind of degradation for decades for that very reason.  The viewers eye is drawn first to the ball and bathing suit, then to the sunglasses; probably without noticing within them, the girl divided against herself.  This is a great way to keep our attention off those high, broad shoulders and freakishly long man-arms.  Seriously, there's not a real woman on Earth with arms like that.  We won't notice the long torso with low-set male hips either.  There's an angle to the jaw and a male brow ridge can even be seen above the glasses... If this were a simple photograph, I'd say that maybe the shadow over the neck is so we won't notice the remains of his shaved down Adam's apple.  That's a trick from Old Hollywood.  That is a trannified boy.

There seems to be an interplay of 2's and 3's on this cover.  Charles' (in comments) mention of the "fanciful" hairstyle is spot on.  Rather insectile, it expands the otherwise singular head into a triad.  I hope I'm wrong, but those afros look more like one big plume of smoke...  And, I hope I'm wrong, but "grill-man" looks like he's holding a golf club rather than an (upside down) spatula; and the grill cover looks more like a tombstone if you ask me.  Also he's got two  wrinkles on the back of his shirt that make the number 11.   Just above, "the girl" is holding her left hand in the symbol of baphomet horns, otherwise known as a triad claw.  This is also the letter "M", the 13th letter of the alphabet, indicative of murder.  The hand holding the ball has three fingers visible and there are three trees in the bottom left corner above cannonball-guy and snorkel-boy.  The date is July 3rd.

As for what's going on below the umbrella, I'm not entirely certain.  There are three heads and the first one to the left of "grill-man" seems to be fading into the woodwork.  As for the other two, one is wearing  shades and the other has no discernible face.   Above them on the underside of the umbrella there are three lines intersecting two more which make another 11, mirroring what's on the back of "grill-man's" polo shirt.
The vent on the "tombstone-grill-cover" is also an 11.  That's Three 11's side by side in the bottom right corner.
That's 33.  And that's a triad claw looming above it, on the hand of Tranny-McManny with the smoky hair.  And once again, the date is July 3rd.




          GOP's Plan B for Obamacare -- repeal first, replace later -- began with quiet push from Koch network - Los Angeles Times   

Los Angeles Times

GOP's Plan B for Obamacare -- repeal first, replace later -- began with quiet push from Koch network
Los Angeles Times
President Trump's surprise suggestion Friday that deadlocked Senate Republicans shift their focus to simply repealing Obamacare — and worry about replacing it later — has its roots in a Koch network proposal that has been shopped around Congress for ...
H.R. 1628, Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 | Congressional Budget OfficeCongressional Budget Office
HR 1628 - Congressional Budget OfficeCongressional Budget Office

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          TMC slams Morcha for driver death   
The Trinamul Congress today picked up the death of a truck driver from the hills after he was set on fire along with his vehicle in a bid to corner the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha that was accused of carrying out the attack.
          NEWS TO PONDER, SHARE AND WONDER   
Top World News Now                 
February 21, 2013

COURTESY SOCHA FAAL

 Heads up from AntiMullah. Separate vacations and Obambi brings Reggie Love back with  him. If you do  not know what this is, you need to visit/view AntiMullah.com more often to keep up with latest developments.

Tone and content reflects information not normally provided by Lame Stream Media's love fest with Obambi. And worldwide events that discredit his claims and motives for anti-American, pro-Moslem Brotherhood policies and actions.
 
Read and become knowledgeable and stop believing the incredible lies Obama feeds us at every opportunity. Lies his own Democrats increasingly have a problem swallowing and are intentionally leading our nation into certain fiscal and political destruction.


United States
GOP Resists Obama's Push for Tax Rise to Head Off Cuts
Obama Fleshes Out Plans for Infrastructure Projects
Obama considers urging the Supreme Court to overturn California’s ban on gay marriage
White House announces online espionage response policy
US issues final word on essential benefits under "Obamacare"
Anonymous thrown into China-US cyberwar scandal
Pentagon informs Congress of plans to furlough 800K civilian workers
In wake of Benghazi, rapid response Marine unit heading to Europe
US issues worldwide caution to its citizens of terror threats
Body found in restaurant rubble after Kansas City explosion
Why Americans Might Be Better Off If Their Burgers Were Made Of Horsemeat
Sex-Change Surgery Available Through Many US Colleges
Majority of US citizens say illegal immigrants should be deported
Hundreds of thousands march in Puerto Rico against gay rights
 
 

Russia
Putin Invites G20 Leaders to St. Petersburg Summit
Migrant workers call on Putin for amnesty
Lavrov: Time to end the war in Syria
Moscow: N. Korea sanctions can only impact nuclear program
IMF warns of higher inflation, slower GDP growth in Russia
Russia's missing billions revealed
Russia Tries To Remove Images of New Drone From the Internet
Russian Military to Develop Anti-Meteorite Defenses
Russia investigates 25 cases of Defense Ministry fraud - Prosecutor General
MP resigns after bloggers disclose his Florida property
Russia escalating attacks on free expression a year on from Pussy Riot protest
‘Ample Evidence’ Linking Ukraine Ex-President to Journalist Murder
French Specialists Resume Work at Chernobyl Disaster Site
Ukraine: Embezzlement At State Orphanages
Belarus Phases Out Russian Warplanes, Radars
 
 

China
Xi Jinping's campaign to purge Communist Party 'won't be easy'
Incumbent cabinet holds final meeting
China's central banker skips retirement bar to stay on
Manila to tackle sea row 'with or without China' at UN
Attacks originating from US rank 1st among overseas hackings in China
Photos show new activity at N Korea nuclear site
Spy agencies scrounge for details on North Korean nuclear test
North Korea: A nuclear 7-Eleven?
N Korean propaganda video shows Obama in flames
US Envoy Opposes S Korean Nuclear Armament
Rise in online fan clubs extolling China's party leaders
After China's multibillion-dollar cleanup, water still unfit to drink
Smog in Pearl River Delta 'worse than in Beijing'
Maoists Block Deal to Break Nepal's Long Political Deadlock
 
 

Cameron to pay respects to victims of Amritsar massacre
Cameron's India trip hits wobble with concern over helicopter deal
Sars-like virus death reported in UK
New coronavirus can infect human lungs as easily as cold virus
Magdalene laundries: Ireland to apologise to survivors
Iranian torture guard refused UK citizenship
Britain expands "bigger than burgers" horsemeat tests
Regulator warns Britain 'on the brink' of energy crisis
Scotland 'faces EU funding cut'
Tanker drivers in Scotland vote to strike
Belfast Orange Order warns members over flag protests
One in four Africans attacked in Ireland
 
 

Berlusconi accused of trying to buy votes days before election
After Bulgarian Protests, Prime Minister Resigns
Greek police fire tear gas on anti-austerity protesters
Greece welcomes Hollande with ‘news blackout’
Dutch experiment in legalised prostitution a disaster
Thieves in Belgium pull off most spectacular and dramatic diamond heist in years
Iceland considers dropping its currency
Lawmakers Threaten to Veto Tightened Budget
EU reinforces sanctions against DPRK
To Revive Honey Bees, Europe Proposes a Pesticide Ban
Anti-austerity strike to bring Greece to a standstill