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Joe Biden inspires no one not even his own wife
News ImageCan we stop pretending that Joe Biden is the inevitable 2020 candidate?Joe Biden is Hillary Clinton 2.0. Photograph: Charlie Neibergall/APMuch like Hillary Clinton in 2016, Joe Bidens Democratic primary campaign has thus far cloaked itself in an aura of inevitability. You might not like Joe Biden. He might say racist or sexist stuff from time to time. His gaffes might be occurring at an alarming rate. He might have uninspiring policy ideas. But hes going to win the primary anyway, so you better get used to him.That was the subtext, at least, and an explanation for how banal Bidens campaign has been so far. If victory is certain, why not hold the ball and milk the clock? Jill Biden, the former vice-presidents wife, made the case bizarrely explicit on MSNBC earlier this week. Your candidate might be better on, I dont know, health care, than Joe is, Biden said, but youve got to look at whos going to win this election, and maybe you have to swallow a little bit and say, Okay, I personally like so-and-so better, but your bottom line has to be that we have to beat Trump.To be sure, Joe Biden is leading among Democrats thus far. The RealClearPolitics average has him ahead of Bernie Sanders by around 12 points, and he has the support of major party funders. But less than a third of Democratic voters are planning to vote for Biden, down from more than 40% the week after his 25 April announcement. An Economist/YouGov poll from this week shows the race narrowing to within the margin of error Biden at 22%, Sanders at 19%, and Elizabeth Warren at 18%.Bidens fundraising picture also looks less rosy than it did back in May. Hes still the preferred choice of big party donors, but grassroots enthusiasm is receding. After raising an impressive $4.6m online on this first day of his campaign in April, things have slowed to a trickle. As Politico reports, Bidens median online daily fundraising by the end of June was just $67,000 a day, considerably below Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders.&> The case for Bidens invincibility is baffling hes been running for the Democratic nomination (and losing) since the 80sSanders is an especially important benchmark for Biden. They seem to be competing over much the same base working class, diverse, not college educated and either would benefit from the others downfall. Despite a narrative earlier this summer of campaign dysfunction and imminent collapse, recent polls have showed that the Vermont senator in a steady position within striking distance of Biden. Sanders has a rabid base of volunteers, superior online fundraising infrastructure, and his existing support may even be undercounted by most polls.Yet the media narrative continues to paint Sanders as a fringe pariah and Biden as the inevitable 2020 candidate. Its reminiscent of the 2016 Republican primaries, in which Donald Trump was considered an unserious candidate whose support was continually underestimated. The serious commentators kept waiting for an establishment wave of moderate Republicans to make first Jeb Bush, then Marco Rubio, and then even Ted Cruz happen.The case for Bidens invincibility is especially baffling hes been running for the Democratic nomination (and losing) since the 1980s. It simply boils down to Obama coalition supporters (particularly black and brown voters) going with the most familiar face to rid of Trump era upheavals.But electability is just one element of what voters are looking for, and Biden is running on nothing else. He has failed to adequately address his past positions in favor of Medicare and Social Security cuts, his engineering of loathed free trade deals, or his opposition to important desegregation measures.While other candidates are galvanizing people around Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, and calls to redistribute wealth and power from the 1% to working Americans, Biden is offering nothing. Poke one hole in his electability bubble and his campaign looks ready to implode.This early in the race things are constantly changing many people are still undecided and wont start paying attention until much later on so we would do ourselves a lot of good not to live and die with every poll. However, if there is one lesson from the 2016 general election worth remembering its this: most people might have not liked Donald Trump, but he gave those who did a real reason to turn out on Election Day. He was a candidate with very obvious convictions running against someone who seemed to focus group and triangulate her every position.Joe Biden is Hillary Clinton 2.0. Perhaps Trumps time in office has been enough of a disaster that idea-avoidance will work this time. But if voters want to be inspired, theyll turn elsewhere or just stay at home again. Who knows, Jill Biden might even join them. * Bhaskar Sunkara is the founding editor of Jacobin magazine and a Guardian US columnist. He is the author of The Socialist Manifesto: The Case for Radical Politics in an Era of Extreme Inequality
Fri, 23 Aug 2019 03:00:06 -0400
Family of detained UK consulate worker rejects 'made-up' report
News ImageThe family of a staffer at the UK consulate in Hong Kong have rejected a "made-up" report by Chinese state media that he was detained in the mainland for visiting prostitutes. Simon Cheng disappeared after visiting the city of Shenzhen from the semi-autonomous city on August 8, and the Foreign Office in London said both British officials and relatives have been unable to speak to him since. The Global Times, a tabloid state-run newspaper, said he had been detained for "soliciting prostitutes", citing police in Shenzhen, which lies on the China-Hong Kong border.
Fri, 23 Aug 2019 05:27:48 -0400
Newt Gingrich says slavery needs to be put 'in context,' calls 1619 project a 'lie'
News Image"There were several hundred thousand white Americans who died in the Civil War in order to free the slaves," Gingrich argued.
Thu, 22 Aug 2019 11:53:09 -0400
Le Brexit breakthrough? Europe says "Nein", "non", "no"
News ImageLONDON/PARIS/BERLIN, Aug 23 (Reuters) - After sterling soared and some British newspapers roared at a supposed Brexit victory for Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Europe's power brokers had a more sobering message: the basic divorce deal is not changing. Enter PM Johnson, an avowed Brexiteer whose bet is that the threat of a disorderly 'no-deal' exit will convince German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron that the EU must grant him the divorce deal he wants.
Fri, 23 Aug 2019 07:28:31 -0400
Putin Needs to Bury This Relic of Stalin
News Image(Bloomberg Opinion) -- As Europe marks 80 years of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, which carved up eastern Europe between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, Russia is trying to defend the agreement again. There is no political benefit to doing this. President Vladimir Putin needs to abandon his Stalinist inheritance ofa foreign policy based solely on national interest.If Moscow needed any reminder that many in eastern Europe still hold the treaty against it and still consider it a threat, plenty came on the anniversary. The governments of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania the countries directly affected by the pacts secret protocol issued a joint statement saying the document sparked World War II and doomed half of Europe to decades of misery.More than a million people gathered to celebrate the Baltic Chain, the 419-mile (675 kilometer) long line of people who protested Soviet rule on Aug. 23, 1989. The demonstrators didnt pick that day at random they, too, were making the point that the subjugation of their countries by the Soviet Union began with the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact.Russia is fighting back. In Moscow, the original of the treaty is now exhibited alongside documents relating to both the 1938 Munich Agreement, where British and French leaders sanctioned the Nazi annexation of the Sudetenland, and Polands subsequent invasion of part of Czechoslovakia.At the opening of the exhibition earlier this week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke of Britain and Frances treachery: By cosying up to Hitler, they forced the Soviet Union to sign a deal with the Nazis to ensure its own security, he said. Had the Western Europeans listened to the Soviets and set up a collective security system, the bloodshed of World War II could have been averted. Lavrov was making a clear analogy with Russias efforts to build an alternative security architecture in todays Europe an idea the Kremlin hasnt abandoned despite the rest of Europes lack of interest.For its part, the Russian mission to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the group the Kremlin sees as the foundation for its alternative security architecture, tweeted on Aug. 20 that lots of other countries had signed pacts with the Nazis before the Soviet Union did.Kremlin officials can say all this until they go hoarse, but that cant erase the undeniable fact that the Soviet Unions security didnt require it to grab the Baltics and parts of Poland and Romania. Poland, which tried to benefit from the Nazis aggression, has admitted it was in the wrong when it invaded part of Czechoslovakia. President Lech Kaczynski apologized for it in 2009.In 1989, the Soviet Union, too, officially condemned the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact but subsequent Russian communications about it, including an entire article signed by Putin himself in the Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza, have come with the caveat that lots of others were at it, too.These excuses are a major reason other European countries dont trust Russia: To them, Putin and his subordinates are saying that Moscow would do something like this all over again if its interests dictated it, small countries be damned.Concern this might happen was what drove eastern Europeans into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The reality of the annexation of Crimea another opportunistic move dictated ostensibly by Russian security considerations is pushing Ukraine in the same direction.If Putins goal was to inspire trust and start a meaningful conversation about collective European security in an age of increasing global competition, an unconditionally apologetic stance would work much better. Refraining from invading neighboring countries would be an even more meaningful step.I suspect, however, that Putin doesnt really believe in such goals, because, like Stalin, he thinks a deal with the devil, based on common interest rather than trust, is the best.My epiphany about the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact came when I read the long-lost diary of Alfred Rosenberg, Nazi ideologue and Hitlers one-time minister for the Occupied Eastern Territories. Rosenberg was skeptical about the deal and recoiled in horror when fellow Nazi Richard Darre told him of Joachim von Ribbentrops comment that he had felt as though among old party comrades when meeting the Soviet leadership.Incredulously, Rosenberg recounted that during Ribbentrops visit, Stalin raised his glass not just to Hitler but also to Heinrich Himmler, the Nazi security chief, calling him the guarantor of order in Germany.Himmler has eradicated communism, i.e. those who believed in Stalin, and this one without any need for it raises a toast to the exterminator of his faithful, Rosenberg noted.For Stalin, any kind of ideology took a back seat to expediency. He was a man of interests, not values. In that sense, Putin, an avowed anti-communist who has condemned Stalin on many occasions, is following the dictators realpolitik. His adherence to his current Orthodox Christian brand of social conservatism is as flimsy as Stalins link to leftist idealism was. If Putin can do a deal that will promote what he sees as Russias interests, he will do it with anyone. He will wear any hat required of him while doing so, and raise any toast. He is oblivious to Molotov-Ribbentrops biggest lesson of all: That such agreements dont hold.Thats why eastern Europeans, and especially Ukrainians, are so worried about the possibility of a grand bargain between Putin and a U.S. president, most recently Donald Trump. The consequences for them could be comparable to those of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact.Whats needed from Russia isnt an apology for carving up Europe with Hitler,but a different foreign policy is one in which principles trump interests. Only such a change can bring closer the idealistic vision of a Europe that stretches from Lisbon to Vladivostok, a goal to which both Russian and European leaders still like to refer. And that shift shouldnt come at a moment of weakness, as it did in the waning years of the Soviet Union. Restoring trust should be a conscious process. It will take some time.To contact the author of this story: Leonid Bershidsky at lbershidsky@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Edward Evans at eevans3@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Leonid Bershidsky is Bloomberg Opinion's Europe columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Fri, 23 Aug 2019 07:52:10 -0400
The Latest: Houston police chief supports drug raid charges
News ImageHouston's police chief says the arrest of two officers for their roles in a deadly January drug raid that killed a couple shows his agency can hold its own accountable if they do something wrong. Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said Friday he doesn't believe the actions of ex-officers Gerald Goines and Steven Bryant are indicative of a systematic problem within his agency. Earlier Friday, prosecutors announced they had filed two felony murder counts against Goines and one count of tampering with a government record against Bryant.
Fri, 23 Aug 2019 19:45:04 -0400
2020 Toyota GR Supra vs. 2019 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350: Which Is the Better Driver's Machine?
News ImageVastly different yet similarly capable, one of these rear-drive sports coupes begs to be driven harder than the other.
Fri, 23 Aug 2019 08:00:00 -0400
China Buys American Soybeans after Vowing to Boycott U.S. Farm Products
News ImageChina purchased a comparatively small amount ofU.S. soybeans several days ago after promising to boycott U.S. farm products amid deteriorating trade negotiations with the Trump administration.Beijing reached agreements last week to buy 9,589 metric tons of American soybeans for the current marketing year and66,000 metric tons for the following year, which starts September 1, according to data from theU.S. Department of Agriculture released Thursday.An August 5 statement from China's Ministry of Commerce said Chinese companies would boycott American farm products in response to the Trump administration's heavy tariffs on Chinese products.In May, the White House upped tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports from 10 percent to 25 percent, claiming Beijing had reneged on the previously agreed terms of a trade deal.The U.S. also currently has a 25 percent tariff on $50 billion worth of Chinese high-tech products.In response, China has slapped 25 percent tariffs on tens of billions in U.S. goods, including cars, planes, propane, soybeans, beef, and whiskey. The duties caused a steep drop in American farm exports, and the Trump administration has since compensated farmers up to$28 billions for their losses.Despite apparently breaking its boycott, China, which is the world's largest soybean importer, is still not purchasing anywhere near as many American soybeans as it has in the past. Last year, American sales of soybeans to China dropped 74 percent as Beijing gave its business to South America.President Trump has long complained about China's trade practices, accusing the country of contributing heavily to the U.S. trade deficit as well as stealing intellectual property from American companies.Now we have a Trade Deficit of $500 Billion a year, with Intellectual Property Theft of another $300 Billion. We cannot let this continue! the president wrote in a tweet around the time of China's retaliatory tariffs.The administration had said it planned to impose tariffs on another $300 billion in Chinese goods by September 1, but later said it would delay imposing them until December."Despite the U.S. decision to delay tariffs on some Chinese goods . . . if the United States rides roughshod over Chinas opposition and imposes any new tariffs, China will be forced to adopt retaliatory actions,"Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesman Gao Feng said Thursday.
Thu, 22 Aug 2019 13:05:27 -0400
Trump fumes over emissions deal between automakers and California
News ImageThe president decried a deal between the most populous U.S. state and four major automakers.
Thu, 22 Aug 2019 13:22:13 -0400
Radical gun reform may finally have a voice in Washington
News ImageAn ambitious agenda by the March for Our Lives activists may be the first time the majority of Americans get real representationA young girl looks on as she attends a vigil for the victims of the recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. Photograph: Drew Angerer/Getty ImagesMarch for Our Lives, the national youth gun violence prevention movement founded by survivors of last years school shooting in Parkland, Florida, released a sweeping gun reform agenda this week.The agenda calls for significantly raising the standards for gun ownership in America, and reducing by about 100m the total number of guns in circulation.Its a dramatic, ambitious plan. And it may represent the first time in decades that the majority of Americans will get any real representation in the gun control debate in Washington.March for Our Lives young activists endorsed an Australia-style mandatory government buyback and destruction of assault weapons. They want to decrease the number of guns in circulation by 30% which would mean roughly 100m fewer firearms in American hands. They proposed regulations that would dramatically raise the bar for who is allowed to purchase a gun, putting US law much more in line with European countries. And they want to revisit the 2009 supreme court decision, District of Columbia v Heller, which enshrined a pro-gun interpretation of Americans second amendment right to bear arms.These proposals are substantially more aggressive, and more ambitious, than anything the Democrats in Washington have fought for in years. In fact, for decades, gun control groups and progressive politicians have done a poor job at representing the majority of Americans in Congress when it comes to gun control. A surprising voidDemocrats have fought for minor new restrictions on gun buying and been defeated by the Republican partys gun absolutists but, fundamentally, the Democratic party has remained supportive of gun ownership.Democratic lawmakers efforts to ban assault weapons, for example, have not meant an actual ban on these guns, but only a ban on future sales, meaning that Americans could keep the millions of military-style rifles they already own. President Obamas signature gun control legislation after the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School was a compromise bill that would have closed just a few of the gaping loopholes in the nations background check system a measure so weak its doubtful whether it would have had any effect on gun violence at all.The countrys largest gun control groups, too, have made great efforts to portray themselves as pro-gun safety, not anti-gun. They routinely advertise themselves as supporters of Americans second amendment right to bear arms. And they have focused on commonsense reforms, such as getting what activists see as particularly extreme weapons off the streets, or requiring a criminal background check before every gun sale.This lack of any explicit anti-gun side in the American gun debate is strange.Although many Americans may not realize it, gun owners are a minority in the United States. American civilians overall own an estimated 300m to 400m firearms, more than one gun per person. But this frequently cited statistic obscures how concentrated American gun ownership is.In recent surveys, roughly 70% to 80% of Americans said they do not personally own a gun, and a majority said that nobody in their household owns a gun. Just 3% of American adults own half the countrys guns, according to a definitive 2015 survey. This small group of gun super-owners have an average of 17 guns each.Gun absolutists the activists who oppose any gun control measures, who want Americans to be able to own any kind of gun, and carry them everywhere are a minority within that minority. According to the best available estimates, fewer than 10% of American gun owners overall are members of the National Rifle Association.There appear to be at least as many Americans who are vehemently anti-gun as there are NRA members.Recent Gallup polls have found that 28% of American adults say they would support a law banning handgun ownership, except by the police and other authorized persons. A 2017 Pew Research Center survey found that 9% of American adults believed that almost no one should be legally allowed to own guns about the same proportion as the number of adults who believed that almost everyone should be able to own them.A coalition of 9% of American adults would translate into more than 20 million people. Thats a group four times larger than the NRA, which claims between 5 million and 6 million members.Only a minority of Americans oppose most private gun ownership. But theres strong majority support for much tougher gun control laws than the ones currently on the books.A 2017 Pew survey found 68% supported banning assault-style weapons. Seventy-one percent supported having a federal database to track all gun sales. A 2018 Gallup survey found 68% of respondents supported raising the legal age to buy certain guns. A Quinnipiac poll in May found 77% of respondents were in favor of requiring people to obtain a license before being able to purchase a gun.Its not hard to find Americans who oppose the countrys current gun culture. They show up at gun control rallies, holding signs that say things like Repeal the Second Amendment. They live in neighborhoods burdened by decades of daily gun violence. Theyve lost family members or friends to shootings. They keep asking: why cant we just get rid of the guns?But for years, these Americans views have not been well represented by Americas gun safety groups, and they have had virtually no representation in Congress.This may finally be starting to change. Moving the gun debateIn 2016, a progressive activist launched Guns Down America, a small organization that advocates not simply for gun sense laws, but for a future with fewer guns. Following the Parkland shooting, the young March for Our Lives activists have advocated unapologetically for bold reform, though they, like other American gun control activists, say theyre not anti-gun and their proposals for stricter regulation represent the interests of responsible gun owners.Its not yet clear how much the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates will move towards embracing these majority opinions on gun control policy. But theres already been movement towards the actual middle of the debate.In 2016, Obama argued in a CNN Town Hall that issues like licensing, registration, thats an area where theres just not enough national consensus at this stage to even consider it. This year, the New Jersey senator Cory Booker made gun licensing the center of his 2020 gun control platform.After the mass shooting targeting Latino families in El Paso, the former Texas congressman Beto ORourke said he endorsed not just an assault weapon ban, but a mandatory federal buyback of assault weapons. On Wednesday, he became the first Democratic 2020 candidate to tweet that he supported March for Our Lives new policy agenda.ORourkes campaign did not back away from the most controversial elements of the youth activists plan, including their desire to revisit the supreme courts current interpretation of the second amendment, enshrined in the Heller decision.While Beto agrees with the courts holding that the second amendment allows for regulation, he does not agree with the entirety of the Heller decision, said Aleigha Cavalier, ORourkes national press secretary. One piece of the Heller case Beto believes should be revisited is the courts decision to strike down DCs safe storage requirements.Americas gun debate may soon actually have two sides.
Fri, 23 Aug 2019 01:00:08 -0400
An innocent man spent months in jail after customs officials thought honey he brought back from Jamaica was liquid meth
News ImageLeon Haughton told The Washington Post he was jailed for 82 days after customs officials in Baltimore alleged that the three jars of honey were meth.
Fri, 23 Aug 2019 16:42:21 -0400
Federal appeals court rules Colorado was 'wrong' to force electors to vote for Hillary Clinton in 2016
News ImageBradley Moss and John Yoo weigh in on a federal court ruling in Colorado on the Electoral College that could make its way to the Supreme Court.
Thu, 22 Aug 2019 23:32:18 -0400
Russia launches floating nuclear reactor in Arctic despite warnings
News ImageRussia will launch the world's first floating nuclear reactor and send it on an epic journey across the Arctic on Friday, despite environmentalists warning of serious risks to the region. Loaded with nuclear fuel, the Akademik Lomonosov will leave the Arctic port of Murmansk to begin its 5,000 kilometre (3,000-mile) voyage to northeastern Siberia. Nuclear agency Rosatom says the reactor is a simpler alternative to building a conventional plant on ground that is frozen all year round, and it intends to sell such reactors abroad.
Fri, 23 Aug 2019 03:01:09 -0400
Hong Kong families form peaceful human chains ahead of airport protest
News ImageThousands of chanting Hong Kong protesters joined hands to form human chains on Friday in a peaceful protest, with almost three months of anti-government demonstrations showing no sign of let-up across the Chinese-ruled territory. Demonstrators, families young and old, some people masked, some using hand wipes to stay clean, linked hands across different districts as others held up banners thanking overseas nations for supporting "freedom and democracy" in Hong Kong. "I joined the Hong Kong Way because its peaceful," said protester Peter Cheung, 27.
Thu, 22 Aug 2019 20:45:04 -0400
Sanders campaign boss concedes he may not win New Hampshire
News ImageThe campaign manager for Bernie Sanders emphasized Thursday that New Hampshire is a critical presidential primary state he expects Sanders to win, but he's leaving room for a scenario in which Sanders falls short. Faiz Shakir said he doesn't "like the language of must-win," though he does believe it is an important early voting state.
Thu, 22 Aug 2019 20:44:00 -0400
Catholic priest Joseph McLoone stole church money and spent it on himself, Grindr men, authorities say
News ImageA Catholic priest in Pennsylvania was charged with theft after he stole nearly $100,000 from his parish over several years.
Fri, 23 Aug 2019 06:23:34 -0400
Brexit Held at the Border
News ImageIn the last two days Prime Minister Boris Johnson has proposed that Ireland temporarily leave the European Union to align with the economic rules of a post-Brexit U.K. German chancellor Angela Merkel has suggested, somewhat flippantly, that the U.K. could figure out a special trading arrangement for itself and Ireland in the next 30 days. And French president Emmanuel Macron has said that theres still room for negotiation between the U.K. and the EU, but hes willing to be the hard boy. Maybe Macron is taking the EU marriage metaphor a little too personally ...What on earth is going on?Its been three years since a majority of the U.K.s electorate voted to leave the European Union. And so far, all that Brexit has generated is a great deal of nearly incomprehensibly vocabulary. First we got Theresa Mays red lines, her attempt to define how it was exactly that Brexit means Brexit, and what the future relationship, if any, the United Kingdom would have with the EU. These red lines, an end to freedom of movement from EU member states into the U.K., and an exit from the EUs customs union ruled out the Norway option but not Canada Plus Plus. Or Canada Plus Plus Plus. Yes, Im serious.According to the withdrawal agreement negotiated between Theresa May and the rest of the EU, that future relationship has to be figured out in the transition period. Thats a two-year window after the U.K. leaves the EU in which it would continue to follow EU rules until they came to a trade agreement. That is, unless there is a no-deal Brexit and the U.K. simply exits the European Union on October 31 and conducts business with the world based on World Trade Organization rules. Got it? Well, sort of.The focus is now on the Irish-border backstop. Basically, the backstop is a promise that there will be no hard border a customs border across the island of Ireland, between the Republic of Ireland and the six counties of Northern Ireland. Irish public officials have argued (with the support of the EU) that a frictionless border is necessary for economic and political reasons. The frictionless border is understood there as part of the the peace settlement in Northern Ireland, following the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. So too the all-island economy that it creates. The backstop is a promise by the U.K. to keep Northern Ireland following a number of regulations and customs rules that match it to the Republic of Ireland.This promise became the focus of Tory and Brexiteer anger at Theresa Mays withdrawal agreement. First, because it created what seemed like a negotiating trap for the U.K. during the transition period. Having already agreed to keep Northern Ireland (and the rest of the U.K. with it) aligned with the EUs rules as part of a backstop, the EU would have less incentive to come to another, different trade relationship to supersede that agreement. The price to be paid for testing and pushing the EU might carve up the United Kingdom itself. If Great Britain diverged from the EU at the end of the transition period, Northern Ireland would be partially politically detached from the Union, and perhaps its citizens would have to go through customs to travel within their own country, from Belfast to Birmingham.Recently Johnson has begun calling the backstop undemocratic and hinting that it violates the Good Friday Agreement. He has a point. The backstop would keep Northern Ireland subject to EU rules and regs in which they have no say. It would deprive Northern Irelands elected ministers to Parliament of any voice on matters that would be routine for MPs in any other constituent nation of the United Kingdom. That seems quite a lot like a partial form of Irish unification. But the Good Friday Agreement ensures that Irish unity can be achieved only by a majority vote for it in the six counties and another one in the Republic of Ireland.Proponents of the backstop hold that this measure would merely be the decision of a sovereign Parliament over a part of its territory. It is an agreement between Parliament and the EU and doesnt legally touch Ireland. Thats true. But, the reality is that it would create checks between constituent parts of the U.K. that normally exist between two different countries. It does so in order to prevent those checks on the island of Ireland. And it does so to meet the expectations of the Irish government based in Dublin. To whom would Northern Irish people turn when trade policy affects them? Nobody they directly elect would have a constitutional say.Effectively these economic rules would be imposed on Northern Ireland as if it were a kind of EU colony, and done in the interests of the Republic of Ireland. This may satisfy the historical imagination of Irish nationalists. (Believe me, there is a delicious irony to be savored here.) But it is hard to argue that such a result is consonant with the Good Friday Agreement. Or a wise way to endear Northern Irish unionists to the Irish government.All of this confusion is the result of a kind of gamesmanship. The EU and U.K. each want to use the Irish border as a reason to crack the others negotiating position. The EU would like to see the U.K. bounced into a permanent customs union in which it has no say, effectively maintaining the economic size and power of the EU while reducing the political influence of Eurosceptical Britannia. On the other side, the U.K. would like to see the Irish-border issue work in the opposite way, forcing the EU to strike an especially good and liberal trade deal with the U.K. that comes with fewer strings attached than those on Norway or other states that have non-standard arrangements.The lesson is rather obvious. You cannot predetermine what kind of infrastructure will be at a border and what laws will be enforced at it, in the absence of a durable agreement on trade in goods and materials. The EU and the U.K. have been trying to resolve questions in the wrong order. Both have done so out of a reasonable fear of loss.But the hour is late, and the real work must be done.
Thu, 22 Aug 2019 17:22:09 -0400
Trump hits China with new tariffs in trade war escalation
News ImageThe tweets captured the president's frustration as his escalating trade war with China heightens the risk of a recession in an election year.
Fri, 23 Aug 2019 10:25:46 -0400
Amazon fires: Bolsonaro actively trying to devastate rainforest, leaked documents show
News ImageJair Bolsonaro hopes to sabotage conservation efforts in the Amazon, leaked documents show.A series of powerpoint slides reveal that Brazilian government officials intend to build a bridge, motorway and hydroelectric plant through the rainforest.
Thu, 22 Aug 2019 11:26:45 -0400
20 of the Craziest Pickup Trucks Ever
20 of the Craziest Pickup Trucks Ever
Fri, 23 Aug 2019 11:55:00 -0400
A woman caught a fish with two mouths and the photo is just as shocking as you would expect
News ImageA woman in upstate New York surely found the "catch-of-the-day" when she reeled in a fish with two mouths.A photo of the fish has since gone viral.
Thu, 22 Aug 2019 14:04:42 -0400
Modi Ally Calls for Boycott of China Companies on Kashmir, Trade
News Image(Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here.Indians should stop buying from Chinese companies and the government should reconsider trade concessions to its biggest neighbor after China allied with Pakistan on Kashmir, according to an economic policy group linked with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.Companies like technology giant Huawei Technologies Co. should be barred from accessing the Indian market in the future and Chinese companies should be banned from state tenders, Ashwani Mahajan, co-convenor of the Swadeshi Jagran Manch, affiliated to the ruling partys ideological parent, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh said in an interview Thursday.Not just in Kashmir, we believe that Chinese companies are a security threat to India especially in telecom, Mahajan said by phone. Not just in consumer goods, theyre a threat in telecom because their companies have massive support from the state, are allowed to vastly underbid Indian companies and win tenders for critical infrastructure.The group met Indian telecom companies on Aug. 17 to discuss strategies to be used to curb Chinese industry. The organization had also written a letter to Prime Narendra Modi seeking action against China, Mahajan said. Calls made to the Prime Ministers Office seeking comment went unanswered.This isnt the first time that the Swadesh Jagran Manch has called for a ban on Chinese goods and companies. The group, along with the Confederation of All India Traders had called for a similar ban in March this year after China blocked the blacklisting of Pakistan-based Maulana Masood Azhar, founder of the militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed, at the U.N. Security Council.A ban called by both organizations during the festival of Diwali in 2016 wasnt successful, although traders anticipated the sale of Chinese products would fall by 30%, the Press Trust of India reported. India has a trade deficit of over $53 billion with China.To contact the reporter on this story: Archana Chaudhary in New Delhi at achaudhary2@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Ruth Pollard at rpollard2@bloomberg.net, Abhay SinghFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Thu, 22 Aug 2019 17:00:00 -0400
Russia rocket accident likely had two explosions, Norway monitor says
News ImageAn explosion that killed five Russian scientists during a rocket engine test this month was followed by a second blast two hours later, the likely source of a spike in radiation, Norway's nuclear test-ban monitor said on Friday. The second explosion was likely from an airborne rocket powered by radioactive fuel, the Norsar agency said - though the governor of Russia's Arkhangelsk region, where the blast took place, dismissed reports of another blast. "The aftermath of the incident does not carry any threat," the governor, Igor Orlov, told the Interfax news agency.
Fri, 23 Aug 2019 08:51:46 -0400
7 sent to hospital after smoke fills cabin of Hawaii flight
News ImageSeven people were taken to the hospital Thursday after smoke filled the cabin of a Hawaiian Airlines flight from California to Hawaii. Hawaiian Airlines says 184 passengers and seven crew members used evacuation slides to get off the plane after it declared an in-flight emergency and landed in Honolulu. Jon Snook, Hawaiian Airlines chief operating officer, said smoke was first detected on Hawaiian Airlines Flight 47 from Oakland, California, about 20 minutes prior to landing as the plane began to descend.
Thu, 22 Aug 2019 21:47:16 -0400
After Beating and Hernia, American Prisoner Paul Whelan Refused Hospitalization by FSB Doctors
News ImageKIRILL KUDRYAVTSEVMOSCOWPaul Whelan, a U.S. citizen held in Russia on suspicion of spying, looked pale and sick when his prison guards brought him to Lefortovo court on Friday.He said he had been beaten and is suffering from a hernia, but his condition is hardly a surprise after eight months in Moscows Lefortovo, a prison run but the Russian Federal Security Service, FSB, and it looks like Whelan has learned only too well how incarceration there operates.Whelan is facing 20 years in Russian prison for spying, after accepting a flashcard that allegedly contains some sensitive information. His family is far away, he does not speak the Russian language, and on top of everything the 49-year-old security manager for a Michigan-based auto parts company is suffering from a painful inguinal hernia, with part of his intestine having ruptured the abdominal wall.Paul Whelan, Accused U.S. Spy Held in Moscow, Says a Russian Investigator Threatened His LifeWhen the judge suggested calling an ambulance in the middle of the hearing on Friday morning, Whelan rejected the idea, as a useless waste of time: The nurses wont take me to a hospital, they will only check my blood pressure, temperature, and say, You are fine, he told the court.By now Whelan must have learned the rules and brutal methods in Russian prisons. No ordinary ambulance can take a prisoner who is under FSB investigation to the hospital, Alexander Cherkasov, chair of the Memorial Human Rights Center told The Daily Beast. There is a specialized hospital 20 where they normally take sick prisoners, after a certain bureaucratic procedure.Also, no Russian nurse working for an ambulance carries strong painkillers. (Russian doctors are not allowed to prescribe strong drugs even for people dying in agonizing pain, so Russians suffer from pain all over the country, many committing suicide.)Whelan looked and sounded doomed. He said that his health condition worsened after his prison guard beat him. The incident happened earlier this month, when Whelan was being moved from one cell to another.Whelans lawyer, Vladimir Zherebenkov, told The Daily Beast, I have checked: prison guards did not know that my client had a hernia, they made him carry all his stuff himself to a different cell. The treatment in Lefortovo is inhuman.On Friday, Whelan told the judge, If you call for a doctor who would hospitalize me, I dont mind calling for the ambulance. But just as he predicted, the nurses on call checked him right at Lefortovo Court and decided against his hospitalization.Whelan, who holds U.S., Canadian, British, and Irish passports, was arrested on December 28 in his hotel room a few steps away from the Kremlin. His lawyer Zherebenkov predicted early on the way the case was likely to develop: They will pickle Paul for a year or more, as he is clearly just a pawn; and then they will swap him for some important Russian kept in American prison, the lawyer told The Daily Beast in January.Almost eight months later Zherebenkov still has not seen any solid evidence establishing his clients guilt. The FSB investigation has not presented us with a single solid piece of material, so our truth in this case is even stronger than half a year agothats why FSB want more time, the lawyer said.Meet Putins American Prisoner, Paul WhelanAccording to Media Zona, a group of journalists reporting on news about Russian prisons and court cases, at least 99 detainees died in detention centers and prisons used by investigators in 2016. Many more died in prison camps. It is hard for us to find out what causes the deaths of prisonerswhen prison guards crack somebodys head open, they say that the detainee fell down and died in an accident, Dmitry Shvets, a Media Zona reporter told The Daily Beast. But the problem is not just physical violence. Lefortovo prison is famous for psychological torture by isolation. The inmates cannot communicate with each other, no prisoner has a chance to use a phone.Whelans family was aware that the FSB wanted to extend the time for investigation for two more months. This morning's hearing was more theatrical than his previous hearingsejecting the media, calling an ambulancebut we were not surprised by the result, Whelans twin brother, David, told The Daily Beast.Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
Fri, 23 Aug 2019 14:42:12 -0400
CNN Hires Fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe as Contributor
News ImageFormer FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe is joining CNN as an on-air contributor, the network's media reporter Oliver Darcy announced Friday.McCabe was fired from the FBI in March 2018 after the Department of Justice's inspector general revealed that he'd repeatedly lied under oath to investigators about his role in leaking information on the bureau's Clinton Foundation investigation to the Wall Street Journal.The Inspector General referred the matter to the U.S. attorney's office for investigation and McCabe may still face criminal charges.The 21-year FBI veteran maintains his innocence, arguing that he was misunderstood and tried to correct the record. He filed suit against the Trump administration in U.S. District Court in Washington earlier this month, alleging that his dismissal was politically motivated and retaliatory.President Trump routinely disparaged McCabe as a political partisan during his time in the administration, often invoking his wife, Jill McCabe, who ran unsuccessfully for state senate in Virginia as a Democrat in 2015.Senator Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) mocked CNN's commitment to honest journalism in response to McCabe's hiring.&> The guy who DOJ inspector general found committed federal crimes & is a serial liar? Good work, CNN. Love to see that commitment to serious journalism https://t.co/rHfBB9aLVW&> &> -- Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) August 23, 2019The news of McCabe's hiring comes just one day after CNN chief media correspondent Brian Stelter chastised Fox News for hiring former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.The Trump White House has a record of misleading the public. All administrations spin. This administration lies consistently, whether it's Sanders, or Spicer, or other White House aides. And its all led from the top by a president who lies even about the weather and the time of day. That, I think, is why this deserves outrage and backlash, Stelter said.
Fri, 23 Aug 2019 12:57:43 -0400
Beijing hits back after Trudeau vows to stand up to China
News ImageBeijing on Thursday accused Ottawa of worsening bilateral relations after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vowed to stand up to China amid deepening diplomatic and trade disputes. The two countries have been locked in a feud since last December, when Canada detained top Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou and -- in apparent retaliation -- China detained two Canadian nationals over espionage-linked accusations. On Wednesday, Trudeau pushed back against Beijing in a speech that promised to "always defend Canadians and Canadian interests" and to not "back down".
Thu, 22 Aug 2019 05:38:34 -0400
Antisemitic beliefs spreading among evangelical Christians in America
News ImageAs she cleans up the counter where the teenagers at her churchs Vacation Bible School ate their cookies and yoghurt, Luba Yanko complains about the state of the country. President Donald Trump is trying to act on Christian values, she believes. But from what she reads online, it seems that a certain group keeps getting in the way.Trump, she says, is surrounded by a Zionist environment with completely different values from Christians. Its kabbalist. Its Talmudic values. Not the word of God.
Fri, 23 Aug 2019 15:21:00 -0400
Fast-moving wildfire erupts in California, forcing thousands to evacuate
News ImageMountain fire races across hundreds of acres in just hours as wildfire season looms large over the stateThis photo provided by Cal Fire shows an aerial view of the Mountain Fire on 22 August. Photograph: APA fast-moving wildfire that broke out on Thursday in northern California has forced the evacuation of nearly 4,000 residents, racing across at least 600 acres within just a few hours, officials say. The Mountain fire, which erupted on the outskirts of a national forest in northern California, has threatened 1,110 homes and structures. As of Friday morning the fire was 40% contained , according to Cal Fire.The cause of the fire is under investigation.Photos of the blaze posted on Twitter by the Shasta county sheriffs office showed thick black and gray smoke billowing into the area over a highway near the Shasta-Trinity national forest.Jones Valley and Bella Vista area residents! This situation is very fluid and rapidly changing, if you do not see your road listed but feel you are in danger YOU MAY EVACUATE to Shasta College Gymnasium, the sheriffs department said in a separate tweet.The Mountain fire is threatening thousands of homes and forcing evacuations. Photograph: APThe Shasta College campus was closed along with Highway 299 and about a dozen smaller roads. Residents of small communities in the path of the flames were told to evacuate or be prepared to flee on short notice.California was hit by some of the deadliest and most destructive wildfires in a century last year and state officials have warned this years fire season could be similarly intense.The Camp fire, which broke out in Butte county in November and overran the town of Paradise, killed 86 people and left thousands of others homeless. State fire investigators determined that the Camp fire was sparked by Pacific Gas & Electric Co transmission lines.The Mountain fire broke out on the same day that Bernie Sanders, the senator and Democratic presidential candidate, unveiled his $16.3tn climate change plan and toured Paradise, which he called a wake-up call for our entire nation.Climate change is a major, major crisis for our country, and the entire world, and one of the manifestations of that crisis is what happened here, Sanders said as he walked through a burned-out mobile home park in Paradise alongside people who lost their homes in last Novembers deadly blaze.
Fri, 23 Aug 2019 12:23:16 -0400
More than 6,100 flights delayed across the US over thunderstorms in the Northeast
News ImageThe Northeast is being hit with heavy rain, causing aflurry of flight delays and cancellations
Fri, 23 Aug 2019 00:24:25 -0400
Cathay Pacific cabin crew union leader fired as Hong Kongers warn of spread of 'white terror'
News ImageCathay Pacific fired a cabin crew union leader on Friday, the latest casualty in a fast-spreading white terror as mass protests in Hong Kong continue into their third month. Rebecca Sy, head of the Cathay Dragon flight attendants association, said she lost her job of 17 years, without explanation, after managers saw and confirmed her Facebook account, which included messages in favour of the protests. All the employees are being frightened, not just cabin crews, but even the management, Ms Sy told reporters. My colleagues are all terrified because of its white terror. White terror is a term used to describe a slew of events that create a climate of fear particularly as companies and employees worry of serious repercussions for voicing their views. Her departure follows a surprise resignation last week by CEO Rupert Hogg, reported first by Chinese state media, underlining the political nature of the decision. Cathay has borne the brunt of Beijings anger as authorities look to punish companies with any link to the Hong Kong protests - a direct challenge to the power of the Communist Party. Rebecca Sy was dismissed from her position as flight attendant for Cathay Pacific's subsidiary Cathay Dragon Credit: ANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images In the crackdown, companies and employees could face serious repercussions for voicing their views. Hong Kong subway operator MTR has also come under fire for arranging additional trains to allow protesters to travel home, accused of colluding with rioters in Chinese state media. Beijing authorities have long put the squeeze on companies over political issues by encouraging its 1.4 billion citizens to snub various brands or by throwing up a number of regulatory roadblocks a move that can have devastating consequences for even the biggest firms. Simon Cheng, 28, a British consular official in Hong Kong and permanent resident of the city has been detained for two weeks in mainland China for allegedly visiting prostitutes. Under Chinese law, Mr Cheng should have been released today after a 15-day administrative period but at time of publication he was still in detention. Hong Kong police said on Friday that they did not know Mr Cheng's whereabouts. Protests in Hong Kong first kicked off over an extradition proposal that would have exposed people to Chinas murky legal and judicial system, where authorities have also in the past detained foreigners to express political displeasure. Two Canadians - Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat, and Michael Spavor, an entrepreneur - were detained in China last year during Beijings diplomatic dispute with Ottawa over its arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou. It is widely viewed that both men - who are still being held and have been charged with spying are being used as political pawns. Hong Kong protests | Read more A number of multinationals operating in Hong Kong have sought to stress their political neutrality to avoid their businesses being targeted and to protect staff from arbitrary detention. Earlier this week, the worlds big four accounting firms came under attack after an anonymous group claiming to be made up of their employees took out a full-page newspaper advertisement to express support for protests in Hong Kong and condemn the firms for remaining silent on the issue. Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG and Pricewaterhouse Coopers all sought to distance themselves from the advertisement, saying it didnt represent the companies views. But Chinese state media had already seized on the situation, calling for the firms to identify and sack the employees behind the ad. FinnAir has also issued a warning to staff to remember to keep work and politics separate, reported the South China Morning Post, over concerns that any link to the protests might lead to a customer backlash or flight cancellations in China, its second-largest market for long-haul travel. China is obviously putting pressure on companies to ensure that they all hold the same political views, said Keenan Chuk, 30, a finance manager who attended a lunchtime rally or accountants in Hong Kongs central business district Friday. I am concerned that I will be fired, he said, adding that we still have to fight for our rights. Even universities have warned students against discussing politics and participating in rallies. In a modern society, education should be free from politics so as to alleviate the escalation of anxiety and avoid the divisive society caused by chaos, according to a statement from the City University of Hong Kong issued earlier this month. A woman said she experienced at a police station during her detention in Hong Kong Credit: REUTERS/Thomas Peter Some banks are also now taking precautionary measures, purchasing full page ads in newspapers to affirm their support for the government. Edwin, 26, an accountant who declined to give his last name, said senior partners in his firm had invited junior employees to lunch that day in an attempt to dissuade people from attending Fridays protest. But he participated in the demonstration anyway, turning up again in the evening to join a human chain meant to evoke the Baltic Way, when two million lined up across three countries to protest Soviet rule in 1989. In the industry, we switch firms quite often, he shrugged. Hong Kong police came under renewed pressure on Friday when officers were accused of conducting an unnecessary strip search on a female protester. The alleged victim appeared at a press conference dressed in all black with a black face mask, cap and sunglasses. Facing the cameras in front of a "MeToo" sign, she claimed she was arrested weeks ago at a protest against the now-abandoned extradition bill and was admitted to hospital for injuries she suffered that night. By her account, one officer patted her thighs with a pen, instructing her to open her legs wider after ordering her to take off all her clothes in a police cell. The police said their body search procedures had not changed during the recent outbreak of citywide protests.
Fri, 23 Aug 2019 12:36:29 -0400
Man arrested after using Band-Aids and gauze to repair flat tires
News ImageDeputies arrested a man who was allegedly under the influence of drugs, using Band-Aids and gauze to repair flat tires.
Thu, 22 Aug 2019 21:43:18 -0400
Rep. Steve King wants to make abortion point in 'softer way'
News ImageBacked by supporters at a news conference in Des Moines, the Iowa Republican affirmed his belief that abortion should be outlawed with no exceptions for rape or incest. King faced criticism for his comment Aug. 14 that questioned whether there would be "any population of the world left" if not for births due to rape or incest. The remarks were condemned by numerous groups and individuals, including Republican and Democratic candidates seeking to oust King, Democratic presidential candidates as well as the Iowa Republican Party and Rep. Liz Cheney, the No. 3 Republican in House leadership.
Fri, 23 Aug 2019 18:31:07 -0400
Psychologist approved Jeffrey Epstein's removal from suicide watch
News ImageA psychologist at the federal detention center in New York City where financier Jeffrey Epstein was jailed on sex-trafficking charges had approved his removal from suicide watch before he killed himself, the U.S. Justice Department said on Friday. The disclosure came in a letter dated on Thursday from Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd and addressed to the leaders of the Judiciary Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, seeking details about the circumstances surrounding Epstein's death earlier this month. Epstein, who was 66, was found dead Aug. 10 in his cell inside a segregated housing unit of the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in Lower Manhattan.
Fri, 23 Aug 2019 20:19:26 -0400
The Senate Will Be Fine Without theFilibuster
News Image(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Democrats are talking seriously about ending the legislative filibuster once and for all, effectively changing the number of Senate votes required to pass a bill from 60 to 51. The result would be a transformation in the way the U.S. Senate has operated for well over a century and a half.This may seem like a terrible idea, robbing the Senate of its traditional role as a moderating influence on legislative enthusiasms. Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seems to think so, writing Thursday in the New York Times that Democrats would regret it a lot sooner than they think.But consider that it might be a good idea to make the Senate reflect the will of the public more than it has traditionally done. Entrenching minority veto power can certainly have moderating effects. It also blocks one of the most basic principles of democracy: the idea of majority rule.Recall that the Senate is designed to thwart majoritarian democracy. Going into the Constitutional Convention in the late spring of 1787, James Madison fully expected that both the House and the Senate would choose their members on a proportional basis. That made sense to a Virginian like Madison, given that Virginia was the most populous state. But to Madisons surprise and chagrin, the small states balked, demanding that they retain equal representation in the Senate, as was passed in Congress under the Articles of Confederation.Madison and other delegates from large states repeatedly told the small states that their demands violated the most basic rule of fair representation. But the small states engineered a walkout, refusing to adopt any constitution unless they got what they wanted. The result was a compromise in which citizens of small states received grossly disproportionate representation and power in the Senate which they retain to this day.The legislative filibuster makes the already undemocratic structure of the Senate even more undemocratic. When a filibuster system is operating, 41 senators can block legislation. They can be from states of any size, of course. That means that representatives of only a very small percentage of the population can potentially block national legislation.In recent years, by using the so-called nuclear option, both parties took part in a process that ended the filibuster for judicial appointments, including appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court. This troubles many liberals in that it enabled President Donald Trump to appoint extremely conservative judges and justices. Nevertheless, it also means that a Democratic Congress and presidency could appoint liberal judges and justices, if Democrats held a Senate majority. The result may be greater polarization on the Supreme Court over time. But that result would reflect the polarized preferences of actual voters.When it comes to legislation, the traditional justification for the filibuster has been that a minority veto encourages centrism. Yet the reality for a long time was otherwise. The legislative filibuster was the tool favored by Southern segregationist Democrats to block national civil-rights legislation. This should remind us that the filibuster will protect any organized minority including a minority of obstructionists or racists.Sure, without a filibuster, Democrats wont be able to block future Republican legislation if the Democrats should lose control of the House. Yet if the Democrats were to gain control of both Congress and the presidency, the filibuster would also block their progressive legislation. The practical question for Democrats therefore is whether the dangers of future conservative legislation outweigh the benefits of potential progressive laws as the Democrats might be able to pass without Republicans blocking them.In determining the answer, consider that when a slim majority of both houses of Congress passes controversial legislation, it sometimes gets rolled back or reversed regardless of a filibuster. That is what essentially happened to the Affordable Care Act, which managed to pass during Democratic control of Congress in President Barack Obamas administration but was repealed in part by a Republican Congress in the early part of the Trump administration.The lesson of this reversal is that the filibuster actually matters less than the inherent difficulty of sustaining controversial progressive legislation when conservatives take over. Presumably, the same lesson would apply in the opposite political direction as well.No doubt, if the legislative filibuster finally disappears there will be a time when Democrats regret it and mourn its passing. Butminority veto power doesnt need to be enshrined by Senate custom any more than it is already in the Senates own structure. All constitutional democracies need to protect minority rights. But they dont need to enshrine a minority legislative veto in order to work efficiently and fairly.To contact the author of this story: Noah Feldman at nfeldman7@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Stacey Shick at sshick@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Noah Feldman is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is a professor of law at Harvard University and was a clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter. His books include The Three Lives of James Madison: Genius, Partisan, President. For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Fri, 23 Aug 2019 08:30:05 -0400
Homemade bomb kills Israeli teen, wounds two others in West Bank
News ImageA rare homemade bomb attack in the occupied West Bank killed an Israeli teen and seriously wounded her father and brother Friday as they visited a spring near a Jewish settlement, officials said. Israeli security forces deployed throughout the area where the attack took place near the settlement of Dolev, northwest of Ramallah, to search for suspects. Israeli medics had earlier reported that a 17-year-old had been critically wounded in the attack and officials later announced her death, naming her as Rina Shnerb from the central Israeli city of Lod.
Fri, 23 Aug 2019 14:12:48 -0400
A Beverly Hills realtor has been charged with burglarizing the homes of celebrities including Adam Lambert and Usher while hosting open houses
News ImageRealtor Jason Yaselli and Benjamin Eitan Ackerman face 50 felony counts, and could spend more than 31 years in state prison if convicted.
Fri, 23 Aug 2019 10:58:44 -0400
Trump claim doctors treating mass shooting victims 'were coming out of operating rooms' to meet him dismissed by hospitals
News ImageTwo hospitals have denied Donald Trumps claim doctors were coming out of operating rooms to meet him when he travelled to Texas and Ohio to console victims of two mass shootings."At no time did, or would, physicians or staff leave active operating rooms during the presidential visit, University Medical Center (UMC) spokesperson Ryan Mielke told local TV station KVIA. Our priority is always patient care."
Fri, 23 Aug 2019 09:35:14 -0400
Man Throws Brick at Woman's Head in One of Several Random NYC Attacks
News ImageA man has attacked at least four people in random Manhattan attacks this August, police said.
Fri, 23 Aug 2019 13:38:39 -0400
Hotline for detained migrants featured on Orange is the New Black shut down
News ImageHotline shut down by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement connected detained migrants to an advocacy groupFounded in 2013, the hotline connected migrants with advocates at Freedom for Immigrants, which also consulted for the Netflix production and was named in the show. Photograph: Handout/Getty ImagesUS Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) has shut down a national hotline that connected detained migrants to an advocacy group, a month after the hotline was featured in a storyline in the hit TV series Orange is the New Black.Founded in 2013, the hotline connected migrants in the worlds largest immigration detention system with advocates at Freedom for Immigrants, which also consulted for the award-winning Netflix production and was named in the show.Freedom for Immigrants runs and supports visitation programs in detention centers. It sent a cease-and-desist letter to Ice, alleging the government agency was retaliating and violating its right to exercise free speech after its profile grew.Ice is attempting to silence its critics and block people in immigration detention from connecting with communities on the outside, said Christina Fialho, the groups co-executive director. Its disappointing, but not unexpected, that Trumps Ice would engage in such cruel and undemocratic behavior.Shawn Neudauer, an Ice spokesman, said all Ice facilities provide detainees with reasonable access to phones and that detainees are allowed to make free calls to an Ice-approved list of free legal service providers.Pro bono organizations found to be violating [Ice] rules may be removed from the platform, Neudauer said. However, removal from this platform in no way limits the ability of an Ice detainee to phone such an organization directly should the detainee wish to do so.The Ice phone system is operated by Talton Communications, which is mandated to provide free extensions to groups such as the UN refugee agency, consulates and Freedom for Immigrants.Freedom for Immigrants had three pro-bono extensions operating in detention centers when Donald Trump took office. Ice shut down two of the extensions before the final one was closed on 7 August.Fialho said the cease-and-desist letter was the first step in potential litigation, though the group was hoping to avoid court.We very much hope we can resolve this amicably, but our team is also ready to enforce our rights under the constitution, she said.Before Ice shut down the hotline it closed more than a dozen of Freedom for Immigrants detention center visitation programs. They were ultimately reinstated.The final season of Orange is the New Black focuses on the immigration detention system, which is run by Ice, and highlights how difficult it is for people in prison to contact family or friends because of the high cost of making phone calls in detention.In one scene, Gloria (Selenis Leyva) tells Maritza (Diane Guerrero) about the hotline and warns: You gotta be careful, though. Apparently as soon as Big Brother figures out youre using the hotline, they shut it down.Fialho said the hotline was important for helping migrants connect with the outside world.We would get calls from people who hadnt been able to communicate with family members to tell them theyve been taken by Ice, that they are in this particular immigration detention facility, she said.While the extension number was supposed to be written on a sheet available to migrants in every detention center, Fialho said Ice had never made it easily available and people learned about the hotline through word of mouth instead.Now that the extension is gone, detained migrants can still use the Freedom for Immigrants hotline, but the group will have to shoulder the cost. The extension was also supposed to be unmonitored. Ice can listen in on a normal call.Orange is the New Black actors including Guerrero, Emily Tarver and Laura Gmez signed a letter to Ice demanding the hotline be restored.
Fri, 23 Aug 2019 17:10:37 -0400
A Federal Court Strikes a Powerful Blow for Free Speech and Religious Freedom
News ImageEarlier today, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the constitutional order, limited the reach of expansive nondiscrimination laws, and protected a Christian couple from having to choose between their business and their conscience.The facts of the case are simple. The plaintiffs, Carl and Angel Larsen, are videographers who create commercials, short films, and live-event productions. While they work with anyone of any race, sex, sexual orientation, or religion, they will not produce videos that advance viewpoints that violate their Christian beliefs. That includes videos that contradict biblical truth; promote sexual immorality; support the destruction of unborn children; promote racism or racial division; incite violence; degrade women; or promote any conception of marriage other than as a lifelong institution between one man and one woman.The Larsens hoped to begin producing wedding videos, but Minnesota interpreted its human-rights act to require them to produce both opposite-sex- and same-sex-wedding videos, or none at all. Minnesota would also require them to produce videos that depicted same- and opposite-sex weddings in an equally positive light. This raised the possibility that a gay couple who didnt like the subjective quality of a video the Larsens produced for them could seek state sanctions based on alleged sexual-orientation discrimination.With the assistance of my friends and former colleagues at the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Larsens filed suit, claiming that Minnesotas rule would compel them to speak in support of messages they oppose. The trial court ruled in favor of the state, and the Larsens appealed.One of the key constitutional questions of our time is whether the First Amendment will retain its supremacy and potency even as nondiscrimination rules and regulations expand in scope and reach. In this case, the Eight Circuit answered answered with an emphatic Yes, and it did so through a majority opinion that provided a clear roadmap for future courts and future controversies.Judge David Strass majority opinion begins with a simple, obvious, but crucial conclusion. The Larsenss wedding videos are a form of speech that is entitled to First Amendment protection. Though they dont make feature films, their wedding videos would still clearly communicate a message in the same way that films do. As the court explained, their wedding videos would be designed to tell healthy stories of sacrificial love and commitment between a man and a woman and celebrate the divinely ordained marriage covenant.Moreover, the fact that the Larsens were producing videos for profit did not diminish their constitutional protection. Documentaries make money. Feature films make money. Are they not clearly protected speech? To put it plainly, Minnesota was attempting to engage in one of the most intrusive state actions on the First Amendment. It was attempting to compel the Larsens to deliver a message they opposed.Yet that finding did not end the inquiry. State agencies have long argued that the governmental interests supporting public-accommodation laws and other nondiscrimination statutes are so compelling that they can and should override the speech protections of the First Amendment. In constitutional legalese, they claim that nondiscrimination laws are so vital they should be able to survive strict scrutiny.If the court did find that nondiscrimination laws can even compel speech, it would invert the constitutional order. It would relegate the First Amendment to second-class status less potent than a mere state regulation. Indeed, this is the argument that much of the legal Left has been making for years. They view First Amendmentbased arguments against public-accommodation laws or other nondiscrimination statutes as a form of special pleading by religious Americans, a request to be exempt from the fair and just rules that govern the rest of us.But this is exactly backwards. The First Amendment is part of our nations governing document, and it recognizes the unalienable rights possessed by all Americans not just people of faith. State and local regulators are engaged in special pleading. Theyre seeking carve-outs from the supreme law of the land.Judge Stras understands this reality quite clearly. Even antidiscrimination laws, as critically important as they are, he writes must yield to the Constitution. And as compelling as the interest in preventing discriminatory conduct may be, speech is treated differently under the First Amendment.Yes. Exactly. He continues:&> Regulating speech because it is discriminatory or offensive is not a compelling state interest, however hurtful the speech may be. It is a bedrock principle ... that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.There are those who will claim that this decision will clear the way for wholesale discrimination in the name of free speech. It will do no such thing. Instead it will protect a small minority of creative professionals who do not discriminate against any member of any protected class from being conscripted into saying things they do not believe.We can expect that Minnesota will appeal to the Supreme Court, and if the Court accepts review it will be difficult to see SCOTUS reversing the court of appeals. The case that wedding videos represent protected speech is very strong, and once its deemed to be protected speech, the Court would have to contradict key prior precedents to overcome the Larsons' rights of conscience and compel their speech as a condition of doing business.One should always be cautious when projecting case outcomes, but the Eighth Circuit has laid the judicial foundation for a ruling that should, ultimately, reaffirm the primacy of the Constitution in American law.
Fri, 23 Aug 2019 18:32:29 -0400
Pennsylvania House wins appeal in atheist prayer-policy suit
Pennsylvania House wins appeal in atheist prayer-policy suitA federal appeals court reversed a lower court decision and ruled Friday that the Pennsylvania House of Representatives' policy of barring atheists from delivering invocations does not violate the U.S. Constitution. Friday's decision by the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upholds the Pennsylvania House's policy of limiting prayers at the start of legislative sessions to guest chaplains who believe in God or a divine or higher power. After the guest chaplain policy was blocked, House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, began assigning the invocation to House members.
Fri, 23 Aug 2019 18:36:40 -0400
Russia's Chechnya inaugurates what it says is Europe's largest mosque
News ImageAuthorities in the Russian region of Chechnya on Friday inaugurated what they said was the largest mosque in Europe in a pomp-filled ceremony attended by local and foreign officials. Named after the Prophet Mohammed, the marble-decorated mosque has capacity for more than 30,000 people and has been described by the Chechen authorities as the "largest and most beautiful" mosque in Europe. Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, an ally of President Vladimir Putin, said the mosque -- located in Shali, a town of 54,000 just outside the regional capital Grozny -- was "unique in its design, and majestic in its size and beauty".
Fri, 23 Aug 2019 09:33:45 -0400
Chinese buyers pull back from U.S. housing market, hurting home sales
News ImageChinese investors are buying fewer U.S. homes because of money controls in China. That's lowering prices and giving U.S. buyers a better chance to buy
Fri, 23 Aug 2019 15:13:52 -0400
Turkey vows not to quit army postsurrounded in Syria
News ImageForeign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said Friday that Turkish troops will not quit a military observation post in northwestern Syria where they are surrounded by government forces. "We are there, not because we can't leave but because we don't want to leave," he told a news conference in Lebanon, denying that Turkish troops had been "cut off" by a government advance into the jihadist-ruled Idlib region. Earlier, Syrian regime forces overran a string of towns and villages in the north of Hama province, including the town of Morek, where the Turkish observation post is located, Syria's state news agency SANA said.
Thu, 22 Aug 2019 20:42:58 -0400
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Thu, 22 Aug 2019 08:00:00 -0400
Gary Ray Bowles: Death row serial killer executed by lethal injection despite last-minute plea
News ImageA serial killer who admitted killing six gay men in just eight-months in the US east coast has been executed.Gary Ray Bowles was given a lethal injection in Florida late Thursday after more than 20 years on death row.
Fri, 23 Aug 2019 03:46:50 -0400
3 Russian teen sisters on trial for killing their father, citing years of horrific abuse, put a spotlight on domestic violence in the country
News ImageKrestina, Angelina, and Maria, Khachaturyan stabbed their father 36 times. Their lawyer says they suffered years of abuse, and acted in self-defense.
Thu, 22 Aug 2019 06:38:30 -0400
Governor criticized for 'disgusting' anti-immigrant email sent day before El Paso attack
News ImageLetter from Greg Abbott warns over illegal immigrants and says well need to take matters into our own handsThe letter from Greg Abbott echoed Donald Trumps xenophobic rhetoric. Photograph: Eric Gay/APThe day before a gunman in El Paso carried out the deadliest attack against Latinos in modern US history, the Texas governor sent out an anti-immigrant fundraising letter calling on Republicans to DEFEND TEXAS NOW and take matters into our own hands, according to news reports.The 2 August letter from the governor, Greg Abbott, lamented that in just three weeks in June, 45,000 illegal immigrants were apprehended crossing the Mexican border into Texas! It continued: That amounts to the entire population of Galveston every three weeks. In just six months, wed add the population of Arlington!If were going to DEFEND Texas, well need to take matters into our own hands, Abbott wrote in the mailer, which was reported by the Texas Signal website. The Guardian has seen a redacted copy but not the original document.The fundraising appeal echoed the xenophobic rhetoric of Donald Trump, who has spoken of an invasion of migrants into the US. It also echoed the language in the racist manifesto allegedly written by the 21-year-old suspect before he killed 22 people at a Walmart near the US-Mexico border. The suspect, who traveled from a Dallas suburb 600 miles away, said the mass shooting was a response to the Hispanic invasion of Texas in his hate-filled document.In the weeks since the massacre, law enforcement officials across the country say they have thwarted similar white supremacist attacks and mass shootings from potential gunmen who espoused far-right and racist viewpoints. In El Paso, which is 80% Latino, residents have said that Trumps escalating attacks on immigrants and racist campaign speeches have created a climate that encourages this kind of violence.Abbott and other GOP leaders in Texas have also faced increasing scrutiny over their anti-immigrant language in the wake of the 3 August attack.Doing nothing will only lead to disaster for Texas, the governors fundraiser letter said, adding of immigrants at the border: How many are we NOT catching because of Washington DCs inaction and members of BOTH parties refusal to work with President Trump to secure our border?Its disgusting, Manny Garcia, the executive director of the Texas Democratic party, said in an interview on Thursday. They know exactly what they are doing when they are using this kind of language and using this racist rhetoric to energize their base. Its really disturbing. Its alarmist, its threatening, its hostile.David Stout, an El Paso county commissioner who represents the district where the tragedy occurred, said it was impossible to ignore the connection between the language of the governor and the suspect in the shooting, which is being investigated as domestic terrorism: If the leader of the government in Texas is utilizing these types of words, and talking about defending our country and having to take matters into their own hands, that sounds to me like a call to folks to do exactly that.This is what this guy who came to El Paso from Dallas was trying to do. He was trying to defend what he thought he needed to defend, and to take things into his own hands, Stout continued. Its really, really upsetting.In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, Abbott and other state leaders focused on mental health and other factors, downplaying concerns about access to guns and xenophobic hate speech. Abbott has previously tweeted that Texans should pick up the pace in buying guns and was supportive of the widely criticized effort by the Trump administration to deploy the national guard to the border last year.Abbotts office did not respond to repeated requests for comment on Thursday.When Abbott was asked about the presidents rhetoric at a recent town hall, he responded by repeating a Trump talking point about low unemployment rates among black and Hispanic workers, according to the Texas Tribune. The governor also created a taskforce to study extremism and domestic terrorist threats in the wake of the shooting.Studies have repeatedly disproven key anti-immigrant claims by Trump, Abbott and others. Research has shown that immigrants do not take away jobs from US-born people, and El Paso has long been considered one of Americas safest cities. More than 23,000 people cross the border from its Mexican twin city, Ciudad Jurez, for work each day.Mexico is a part of the fabric of Texas. We should be proud of that, said Garcia. Were a state of immigrants.
Thu, 22 Aug 2019 19:45:50 -0400
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