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Offline knarf

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Re: Sessions: ‘A Good Nation’ Doesn’t Admit ‘Illiterate’ Immigrants
« Reply #10575 on: January 17, 2018, 07:22:53 PM »
Attorney General Jeff Sessions preached the administration’s message on merit-based immigration on Fox News Tuesday night, claiming “a good nation” doesn’t admit “illiterate” immigrants.

“What good does it do to bring in somebody who is illiterate in their own country, has no skills and is going to struggle in our country and not be successful? That is not what a good nation should do, and we need to get away from it,” Sessions said, speaking on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”

Sessions criticized Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) for reportedly reciting during a meeting Emma Lazarus’ poem that’s historically affiliated with American immigration and the Statue of Liberty.

“Not really a case you would expect a Republican to be making,” Carlson said, referencing Graham’s use of the poem. “Why aren’t there more articulate Republican members of Congress making the case that you just made?”

“Well, I wish there were, actually,” Sessions said, before claiming the U.S. should be more like Canada in its immigration policies. “We should evaluate them and make sure they are going to be lawful. They are not threats to us. They have the education and skills level to prosper in America. That’s good for them and good for America.”

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/sessions-good-nation-doesnt-admit-illiterate-immigrants

I'm thinking Jeff Sessions' mother must have been a real goody two-shoes type.

"Now, Jeffrey, good boys don't get their clothes all dirty when they play outside!"

or

"Now, Jeffrey, Good boys don't play with those colored children."

or

"Now Jeffrey, Good boys don't do that. Besides, it'll make hair grow on your palms."

LMAO!!!! :)
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Offline David B.

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Re: Sessions: ‘A Good Nation’ Doesn’t Admit ‘Illiterate’ Immigrants
« Reply #10576 on: January 17, 2018, 08:32:52 PM »
Attorney General Jeff Sessions preached the administration’s message on merit-based immigration on Fox News Tuesday night, claiming “a good nation” doesn’t admit “illiterate” immigrants.

“What good does it do to bring in somebody who is illiterate in their own country, has no skills and is going to struggle in our country and not be successful? That is not what a good nation should do, and we need to get away from it,” Sessions said, speaking on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”

Sessions criticized Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) for reportedly reciting during a meeting Emma Lazarus’ poem that’s historically affiliated with American immigration and the Statue of Liberty.

“Not really a case you would expect a Republican to be making,” Carlson said, referencing Graham’s use of the poem. “Why aren’t there more articulate Republican members of Congress making the case that you just made?”

“Well, I wish there were, actually,” Sessions said, before claiming the U.S. should be more like Canada in its immigration policies. “We should evaluate them and make sure they are going to be lawful. They are not threats to us. They have the education and skills level to prosper in America. That’s good for them and good for America.”

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/sessions-good-nation-doesnt-admit-illiterate-immigrants

I'm thinking Jeff Sessions' mother must have been a real goody two-shoes type.

"Now, Jeffrey, good boys don't get their clothes all dirty when they play outside!"

or

"Now, Jeffrey, Good boys don't play with those colored children."

or

"Now Jeffrey, Good boys don't do that. Besides, it'll make hair grow on your palms."
what I find odd is the talking heads on your shows always say "immigrants" when what they really mean is refugees and illegals. They never split up the categories "Immigrants " in the 21st century are good; all western nations with low birth rates compete for them. They generally have higher education standards then the general population and statistically do better then average. I think you should have a merit based immigration system why wouldn't you? The illegal part well we have some but we seem to have much stricter workplace laws then most of the us. We control it by cracking down on illegal employers. There does not seem to be much stomach for that. But then again the strict work place rules create a huge underground econo my so maybe our time will come...
If its important then try something, fail, disect, learn from it, try again, and again and again until it kills you or you succeed.

Offline RE

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Re: Sessions: ‘A Good Nation’ Doesn’t Admit ‘Illiterate’ Immigrants
« Reply #10577 on: January 17, 2018, 09:02:12 PM »
Attorney General Jeff Sessions preached the administration’s message on merit-based immigration on Fox News Tuesday night, claiming “a good nation” doesn’t admit “illiterate” immigrants.

“What good does it do to bring in somebody who is illiterate in their own country, has no skills and is going to struggle in our country and not be successful? That is not what a good nation should do, and we need to get away from it,” Sessions said, speaking on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”

Sessions criticized Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) for reportedly reciting during a meeting Emma Lazarus’ poem that’s historically affiliated with American immigration and the Statue of Liberty.

“Not really a case you would expect a Republican to be making,” Carlson said, referencing Graham’s use of the poem. “Why aren’t there more articulate Republican members of Congress making the case that you just made?”

“Well, I wish there were, actually,” Sessions said, before claiming the U.S. should be more like Canada in its immigration policies. “We should evaluate them and make sure they are going to be lawful. They are not threats to us. They have the education and skills level to prosper in America. That’s good for them and good for America.”

https://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/sessions-good-nation-doesnt-admit-illiterate-immigrants

I'm thinking Jeff Sessions' mother must have been a real goody two-shoes type.

"Now, Jeffrey, good boys don't get their clothes all dirty when they play outside!"

or

"Now, Jeffrey, Good boys don't play with those colored children."

or

"Now Jeffrey, Good boys don't do that. Besides, it'll make hair grow on your palms."
what I find odd is the talking heads on your shows always say "immigrants" when what they really mean is refugees and illegals. They never split up the categories "Immigrants " in the 21st century are good; all western nations with low birth rates compete for them. They generally have higher education standards then the general population and statistically do better then average. I think you should have a merit based immigration system why wouldn't you? The illegal part well we have some but we seem to have much stricter workplace laws then most of the us. We control it by cracking down on illegal employers. There does not seem to be much stomach for that. But then again the strict work place rules create a huge underground econo my so maybe our time will come...

In order to migrate to the Great White North, the migrants have to make it all the way across the FSoA.  You don't have a direct border with anyone except the FSoA.  Generally, migrants coming from southern latitudes don't like the cold weather.  Same reasons Alaska doesn't have a huge migrant population.

RE
SAVE AS MANY AS YOU CAN

Offline knarf

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CIA rendition flights from rustic North Carolina called to account by citizens
« Reply #10578 on: January 18, 2018, 03:58:09 AM »

A Gulfstream jet from a quiet airport south-east of Raleigh flew captives to be tortured around the world. The government failed to act but local people have refused to let the issue die

A year after he was released from captivity in Guantánamo, Binyam Mohamed received a letter from Christina Cowger, an agricultural researcher from North Carolina. Enclosed was a petition of apology signed by nearly 800 visitors to the North Carolina State Fair.
Former Guantanamo Bay detainee Binyam Mohamed.
Binyam Mohamed. Photograph: Stefan Wermuth/Reuters

It was “a small gesture”, Cowger acknowledged, but her 2010 letter came with a commitment. North Carolina Stop Torture Now, an organization she co-founded, had been conducting protests, petition drives and legislative campaigns seeking an official investigation into an obscure firm operating flights out of her local airport.

The firm, Aero Contractors, was the CIA front company that operated the Gulfstream business jet that delivered Mohamed to a secret prison in Morocco to be tortured.

Though few government officials supported such an investigation, she wrote, the group pledged “to work toward true transparency and accountability in the United States for the crimes against you and other survivors”.

Seven years later, Cowger sat in the front row of a makeshift hearing room in the Raleigh Convention Center as 11 volunteer commissioners of the North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture “upped the ante”, as she put it, on that pledge.

Over the course of two days, this “citizen-led truth seeking commission” called 20 witnesses to testify on the damage done by Aero’s rendition operations.

One of those witnesses was Mohamedou Ould Slahi, whose Guantánamo Diary opens as he is stripped, made to wear a diaper, and shackled aboard Aero’s Gulfstream in Amman, Jordan, in July 2002.

Appearing by Skype from his home country of Mauritania, Slahi faced questions from a panel that included a former chief prosecutor of the international war crimes tribunal, a multi-tour veteran of the Iraq and Afghan wars, a Baptist minister, and a local social worker.

How, the commissioners asked, can we advance an accountability process our elected officials have shunned?

It is a question that North Carolinians have wrestled with before. In 1979, Ku Klux Klan and American Nazi party members opened fire at an anti-Klan rally in Greensboro, leaving five dead. State and federal trials ended in acquittals, and a civil lawsuit raised more questions than it answered about the actions of city officials and police during the event.

Twenty years after those killings, a community group called for an independent investigation, and in 2006 the citizen-driven Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission released a report on the episode that outlined what it called “the way forward” for the city.

Now the North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture aims to find a way forward from one of 21st-century America’s darkest episodes – the global operation to seize, interrogate and torture terrorism suspects that Aero Contractors facilitated from the Johnston County airport, a rustic, single runway airstrip 30 miles south-east of Raleigh.

Allyson Caison, a local realtor, first heard the CIA was running “a secret little operation” out of the airport around a Boy Scout campfire in 1996. The subject came up again in the early 2000s, when a relative who was a recreational pilot landed at the airport and marveled at its state-of-the-art runway.

She didn’t know that the “little operation” a former Air America pilot set up years ago in a nondescript blue hangar tucked into the pines employed more than 120 people, or that the Gulfstream jet she would hear taking off and landing was one of the most prolific spiders in what the Council of Europe has called a “web spun across the world” by the CIA’s rendition, detention and interrogation operations.



In April 2005, the New York Times ran a story titled “CIA Expanding Terror Battle Under Guise of Charter Flights” that lifted the lid on Aero’s rendition flights. Later that year, 40 peace activists from St Louis joined Christina Cowger and other local residents to protest against the company’s role in the CIA’s torture program.

One group unfurled “Torture Taxi” banners along the airport perimeter. Another was arrested for trespassing near the Aero hangar. Caison, drafted from local volunteers for her realtor’s knowledge of local geography and addresses, helped deliver “citizen’s indictments” to several of her neighbors.

“It turned out I knew two of the three Aero principals well,” Caison said during a tour around the airport the day before the commission’s hearings convened. “These were prominent, well-respected business people in our community. Their children and mine were schoolmates. I baked their gingerbread houses for Christmas.”

From 2001 to 2004 Aero’s Gulfstream, operated under the tail number N379P, and a second, larger Boeing 737 Aero stationed at Kinston regional jetport in nearby Lenoir County, carried out scores of rendition missions. Together, they accounted for roughly 80% of all the CIA renditions during those years, landing more than 800 times in countries throughout Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. The Gulfstream was in and out of Guantánamo so often it earned the nickname the Guantánamo Express.

To drive with Caison around the airport is to get a sense of how much nerve this kind of neighbor-to-neighbor activism takes. In the gleaming new Johnston County airport terminal, the young airport manager greeted her with a wary handshake and a gently drawled apology that he could not attend the commission’s hearings.

Down the road, at the recently fortified automatic gate that blocks the access road to Aero’s hangar, there was no pretense of hospitality. It was lunch hour, and a line of cars was filing out the gate. Each slowed at the sight of Caison’s car. One driver, glaring, almost clipped her side view mirror as he inched past.

Caison said: “I really think we’ve changed some hearts and minds around here. People are quiet about it because of Aero’s long tentacles. But we’ve been persistent. It’s the strength of our little group. We’ve accomplished a lot.”

North Carolina Stop Torture Now has had an impact over the last 10 years. Recently released minutes of a closed 2007 meeting of the airport authority in Kinston, where Aero housed its larger 737 rendition jet, confirmed that Aero sold its hangar at the facility that year. When a member of the airport’s board asked its executive director why the company was leaving, the director “explained that Aero Contractors had not had the aircraft in the hangar for several months due to the negative publicity they were getting from Stop Torture Now”.

The campaign scored successes at state level and in Washington too. In Raleigh, the group pressed the governor and state attorney general to open a criminal investigation into Aero’s rendition operations. Told that the state had no jurisdiction, the group drew on a growing network of support from churches to press for legislation to make participating in CIA kidnappings, enforced disappearances and torture state crimes.

The bill twice stalled in committee, but attracted 12 bipartisan co-sponsors and brought the question of rendition for torture before religious congregations throughout the state.

Pressure is also credited with helping persuade Senator Richard Burr, then the ranking Republican on the Senate intelligence committee, to join in voting to declassify the executive summary of the Senate’s scathing report on the CIA torture program in 2014.

Although that report only examined the treatment of prisoners inside the CIA’s black sites around the world, its release sparked hopes for greater accountability over the rendition to bring suspects to interrogation.

Burr, now chair of the Senate’s intelligence committee, has made clear there will be no further official reckoning for the agency’s post-9/11 human rights violations, and has sought to recall and destroy all copies of the still-classified Senate report.

For the volunteer commissioners of the North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture, this is where their responsibility begins.

“With no meaningful accountability from government leaders, it’s been left to citizens to keep this issue alive,” commission co-chair Jennifer Daskal, a law professor at American University, explained in a break in the hearings.

“We don’t have the power to prosecute, but we can offer an accounting of what happened, and of the costs, to prevent this from happening again.”

“I believe in accountability. I’ve done accountability,” said David Crane, who served as the founding chief prosecutor of the international tribunal that prosecuted Liberian president Charles Taylor for war crimes and who lives in North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains.

“Torture is a clearcut issue: you don’t torture. The American people just need to know the raw facts, and many of those facts are right here in North Carolina.”

The commission invited Aero Contractors to give testimony at the hearings, but received no response. Invitations to the governor, attorney general and several Johnston County officials to attend or send representative to the hearings also went unanswered. Calls to the county manager and county commissioners seeking comment on the hearings and Aero’s operations were not returned.

The North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torturewill collect evidence through the spring, pressing for the release of public records from county and state officials and compiling research and testimony on the lasting harms inflicted by Aero’s rendition flights. It plans to release its final report this summer.

For Allyson Caison and Christina Cowger, that report will add to an official record of CIA renditions that so far has been compiled and officially acknowledged only outside the United States.

But the commission’s hearings also sharpened their sense of personal responsibility to repair the harm they see caused by Aero’s operations.

“As a person of faith, I have to be involved in this,” Caison told the commission near the end of the hearing. “As a mom of two boys, I like to think that if my boys were kidnapped, renditioned and tortured, there would be another mom out there at the other end like me, trying to end an injustice that starts in her neighborhood.”

For Cowger, the priority now is to address the physical and psychological health of those who survived Aero’s rendition flights – a process that involves “acknowledgement, genuine apology, and some form of redress”.

“The commission demonstrates by its very being that we are not helpless,” she said.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jan/17/cia-rendition-flights-north-carolina-citizens-commission
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Offline knarf

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'Heartbreaking': Vets evaluate nearly 900 animals rescued from eastern Iowa home
« Reply #10579 on: January 18, 2018, 04:07:45 AM »
The Vinton Police Department with assistance from the Cedar Valley Humane removed hundreds of animals from a home in Vinton making it one of the largest rescues in the state's history.

VINTON, Ia. — More than 24 hours after hundreds of animals were taken from an eastern Iowa home, veterinarians and others were still counting and evaluating them Wednesday to get a handle on the rescue. Also on Wednesday, the homeowner denied the animals were malnourished or otherwise neglected.











The Basement of neglect







https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/2018/01/17/iowa-vets-evaluate-nearly-900-animals-rescued-eastern-iowa-home/1041773001/



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Offline knarf

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Sunken tanker Sanchi: Four oil slicks seen, says China
« Reply #10580 on: January 18, 2018, 04:11:25 AM »

The toil tanker sank on Sunday

An oil spill from an Iranian tanker that sank off China has spread into four separate slicks covering an area of 100 sq km (39 sq miles), say Chinese authorities.

The Sanchi was carrying 136,000 tons of ultra-light crude oil when it collided with another vessel 260km off Shanghai on 6 January.

It burned for a week before exploding and sinking on Sunday.

The crew of 32 are all confirmed or presumed dead.

Earlier satellite imagery had shown just two oil slicks.

But the latest figures from China's State Oceanic Administration, which monitored the area on Wednesday, said there were now four, ranging in size from 48 sq km to 5.5 sq km.

Both the crude oil that was carried on the Sanchi and the fuel that was used to power the vessel could cause devastating damage to marine life.


Most condensate oils are colourless

Condensate oil, the ultra-light crude oil carried on the ship, differs from the thick black oil slicks usually associated with a spill.

It is toxic, low in density and considerably more explosive than regular crude.

Most condensates are also colourless and generate a toxic underwater slick that is almost invisible from the surface.

China's Ministry of Transport had on Wednesday announced that a salvage team had located the vessel at a depth of 115m (377ft). It said it was preparing to send underwater robots to explore the area.

The ministry added that a marine patrol ship had arrived at the site, and crew had begun assessing ways to detect leaks and stop the flow of oil.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-42728251
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Offline knarf

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Immigrants make up nearly three-quarters of Silicon Valley tech workforce
« Reply #10581 on: January 18, 2018, 04:16:57 AM »

Visa applications.

With the debate over immigration to the U.S. as fiery as ever, a new analysis suggests that Silicon Valley would be lost without foreign-born technology workers.

About 71 percent of tech employees in the Valley are foreign born, compared to around 50 percent in the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward region, according to a new report based on 2016 census data.

Immigrant techies tend to go to “the center of the action,” Seattle venture capitalist S. “Soma” Somasegar told the Seattle Times.

And Silicon Valley remains the “center of the tech universe,” according to the newspaper.

Beyond personal preferences, and the sheer number of companies in areas such as Silicon Valley and fast-growing Seattle, the financial resources of major technology firms also play a role in bringing in immigrants, the Seattle Times reported Wednesday.

Many immigrant tech workers are employed under the controversial H-1B visa — intended for specialty occupations — which has become a flashpoint in the U.S. cage fight over immigration, with opponents claiming it lets foreigners steal American jobs. Several companies and UC San Francisco have been accused of abusing the visa program by using it as a tool to outsource Americans’ jobs to workers from far-away lands.

Although 2016 data released by the federal government last year showed that outsourcing companies — mostly from India — raked in the bulk of H-1B visas, Google took more than 2,500 and Apple took nearly 2,000 to hire foreign workers, about 60 percent of them holding master’s degrees.

Large companies, the Seattle Times pointed out, are better equipped to bring in workers under the H-1B.

“The H1-B process is not just complicated — it’s also quite expensive to sponsor an H1-B visa worker, a cost larger companies may be more willing to absorb,” the paper reported.

Legal blog UpCounsel puts the cost of the H-1B process at $10,000 to $11,000 per employee.

The Seattle Times did not include in its report a breakdown for Silicon Valley of how many immigrants are U.S. citizens, versus visa holders. But the paper’s research indicated that 63 percent of Seattle’s foreign-born tech workers were not American citizens.

Backlash against the H-1B visa has been one part of the furor over U.S. immigration policies that has grown since President Donald Trump began campaigning for the presidency on an anti-immigrant platform. Fissures have widened in public opinion over Trump’s so-called “Muslim ban” on immigrants from Muslim-majority countries, over the admission of refugees, and over the unresolved fate of DACA, the program that has let millions of foreign citizens — brought to the U.S. illegally as children — remain in the country.

https://www.mercurynews.com/2018/01/17/h-1b-immigrants-make-up-nearly-three-quarters-of-silicon-valley-tech-workforce-report-says/
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Offline knarf

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Muhammad Ali inspirational quotes on success and racism
« Reply #10582 on: January 18, 2018, 04:22:20 AM »
In his life, Muhammad Ali taunted opponents with razor-sharp rhymes and comical one-liners.

Wednesday, January 17 would have been his 76th birthday.

Here are his most famous quotes on achievement, social justice, religion and war.
On Boxing

    Ali, before a fight with Sonny Liston in 1964.

    "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. Rumble, young man, rumble." 

    Ali after beating Liston.

    "I'm king of the world! I'm pretty! I'm a bad man! I shook up the world! I shook up the world! I shook up the world!"   

    After his match against George Foreman, known as the Rumble in the Jungle in 1974.

    "I've wrestled with alligators, I've tussled with a whale. I done handcuffed lightning. And throw thunder in jail. You know I'm bad. Just last week, I murdered a rock, injured a stone, hospitalised a brick. I'm so mean, I make medicine sick."

     Ali at a news conference to announce a comic book in which he beats Superman.

    "All I can do is fight for truth and justice. I can't save anybody. He's a science fiction character, and I'm a real character."

    Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. Rumble, young man, rumble

 On Success

    Ali at a news conference on October 28, 1984.

    "What I suffered physically was worth what I've accomplished in life. A man who is not courageous enough to take risks will never accomplish anything in life."

    "It's hard to be humble when you're as great as I am".

    Ali to heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson during the 1960 Olympic Games.

    "Hey Floyd - I seen you! Someday I'm gonna whup you! Don't you forget, I am the greatest!"

    A man who is not courageous enough to take risks will never accomplish anything in life

    Muhammad Ali

On war

Muhammad Ali spoke boldly against the war in Vietnam and refused conscription into the army. This is Ali's famous explanation of why he refused to serve in the United States Army.

    "Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?" Ali, February, 17, 1966.

    Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam"

    Muhammad Ali

On racism and Islam

Muhammad Ali was an outspoken Muslim convert,  and he became the unofficial spokesman for millions of blacks and oppressed people around the world. In Seattle for a benefit for Sugar Ray Seales, he famously said:

    "People say I talk so slow today. That's no surprise. I calculated I've taken 29,000 punches. But I earned $57m and I saved half of it. So I took a few hard knocks. Do you know how many black men are killed every year by guns and knives without a penny to their names? I may talk slow, but my mind is OK."

      Ali at a church in 1983.

    "Why are all the angels white? Why ain't there no black angels?"

    "My name is known in Serbia, Pakistan, Morocco. These are countries that don't follow the Kentucky Derby." - Ali in a New York Times interview, April 1977.
    Since the Paris attacks, Muhammad Ali spoke out against the incrimination of Islam with ISIL attacks.

    "I am a Muslim and there is nothing Islamic about killing innocent people in Paris, San Bernardino, or anywhere else in the world. True Muslims know that the ruthless violence of so-called Islamic Jihadists goes against the very tenets of our religion." - Ali, 2015.

    Why are all the angels white? Why ain't there no black angels?

    Muhammad Ali

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/06/muhammad-ali-life-quotes-160604094217123.html
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Offline knarf

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Trump: Dangerous because he is effective
« Reply #10583 on: January 18, 2018, 04:25:21 AM »
The political establishment in the US has classified him as an aberration, a coincidence of unfortunate circumstances, and a political phenomenon, certainly a nuisance and maybe even a scary, unpredictable man.

They do so because Donald Trump is not and does not want to be "one of them".

In fact, he campaigned on the elite's failure to understand the depth of frustration among ordinary people hit by globalisation. He plays by his own rule book, is in his own way consistent, knows what he is doing, what he wants, and how to get there.

To succeed, he needs friends outside the establishment. And he got them. American politics have been taken over by the big oil companies and corporations. The big ambition is to engineer a swing from the US, being the third-largest global net importer of fossil fuels, to a net exporter, mainly through export of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). The larger goal is to create protections for big business, both domestically and internationally.

To pursue these ends, Trump has mobilised the whole state apparatus.

Roadblocks put up by previous administrations are phased out and the green light is given for drilling, including off-shore.

The main activity of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today is not to "protect the environment"; instead, it is busy revoking a long list of regulations and rules introduced to improve environmental quality and protect citizens against toxic substances.

    He has even been able to exploit the animosity of the establishment media to serve his agenda.

     

Deregulation normally linked to the 1980s almost dwarfs, compared with the sweeping dismantling of regulatory frameworks that has been happening over the past year. Restrictions on financial institutions introduced after the global financial crisis are disappearing, and the door is opening for financial institutions to repeat the reckless behaviour that provoked the 2008-2009 crisis.

Congress approved a tax reform at the end of 2017. It introduced lower corporate taxes, benefitting large oil and financial institutions, and lower taxes for higher income brackets. Basically, it is Republican policy sold to the electorate as a measure to stimulate the economy, without mentioning the medium-term negative effects for the middle class and public debt.

Foreign policy, too, has been submitted to the pursuit of these goals. The Chinese market for LNG, expected to be the biggest one in the future, must be conquered. That explains foreign policy vis-a-vis China, North Korea, and oil and gas exporting countries in the Middle East.

According to the rumours going around in diplomatic circles, a more aggressive trade policy is in the pipeline. This may involve not only castrating the World Trade Organization (WTO) and leaving the North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA), but specific cases of temporary import restrictions.

Meanwhile, on the domestic front, to ensure the support of his base, Trump has been keeping true to his campaign promises.

A string of measures introduced to make it more difficult for foreigners to enter the US is presented as a step to protect Americans from terrorism. A superb use of declaratory policy, it sounds good and appeals to the xenophobia among Trump's supporters.

The wall at the Mexican border is moving from being talked about to reality. In early January, Congress was asked for $18bn to build more than 700 miles of barriers.

Obamacare was not abrogated, but turning off financial flows through executive orders turns it into a shadow of what it was intended to be.

To push through all these policies, Trump has had to control or sideline, in one way or another, all three pillars of the state - executive, legislative, and judicial. He cares neither for the constitution, nor for political traditions and etiquette.

The executive branch is facing drastic cuts in financing and staff, and is focused on dismantling the regulatory system.

Trump likes to operate through executive orders, circumventing the legislative branch. Congress has been pushed aside and almost no time has been set aside for building coalitions. Trump's partnership with the Republican congressmen has mainly been focused on removing Obama-era regulations.

Trump's administration has also challenged the judiciary, which has tried to block some of his executive orders. Almost surreptitiously, he has taken advantage of a high number of judicial vacancies to appoint more federal judges, in his first year as president, than any of his predecessors.

He has even been able to exploit the animosity of the establishment media to serve his agenda. Accusing cable networks and newspapers of deceiving the public and publishing "fake news", he has encouraged his supporters to reject mainstream media outlets. But, more importantly, he has used the media obsession with his persona to drive attention away from major policies he is pushing for.

Much of what he does flies under the radar because the media and general public pay attention to the controversial tweets he posts on a regular basis.

In short, Trump has proven to be quite effective at achieving what he wants. And that makes him quite dangerous.

Over the past year, he has demonstrated that the checks and balances supposedly set in place in the US political system, to prevent a president from pursuing rash and ill-considered decisions, do not really function properly. By the time he is done with his presidential term, he might have done irreparable damage to the US political system and US foreign relations.

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/trump-dangerous-effective-180118095302716.html
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Why some African Americans are moving to Africa
« Reply #10584 on: January 18, 2018, 04:29:32 AM »

Muhammida el-Muhajir says as an African American in the US, she felt she could 'never win'

Accra, Ghana - They have come from the big cities of San Francisco, Chicago, and New York. Thousands of them. And many refuse to return.

A new wave of African Americans is escaping the incessant racism and prejudice in the United States. From Senegal and Ghana to The Gambia, communities are emerging in defiance of conventional wisdom that Africa is a continent everyone is trying to leave.

It is estimated that between 3,000 and 5,000 African Americans live in Accra, the Ghanaian capital. They are teachers in small towns in the west or entrepreneurs in the capital and say they that even though living in Ghana is not always easy, they feel free and safe.

Take Muhammida el-Muhajir, a digital marketer from New York City, who left her job to move to Accra.

She says she moved, because despite her education and experience, she was always made to feel like a second-class citizen. Moving was an opportunity to fulfil her potential and avoid being targeted by racial violence.

She told Al Jazeera her story:
On life as a second-class citizen in the US...

"I grew up in Philadelphia and then New York. I went to Howard, which is a historically black university. I tell people that Ghana is like Howard in real life. It felt like a microcosm of the world. At university, they tell us the world isn't black, but there are places where this is the real world. Howard prepares you for a world where black people are in charge, which is a completely different experience compared to people who  have gone to predominantly white universities."

    I can't say what's happening in America today is any worse than what's been happening at any other time.

    Muhammida el-Muhajir

On her first trip to Africa...

"The first country I went to was Kenya. I was 15 and travelled with a group of kids. I was one of two black kids. I saw early that I could fit in and wasn't an outsider. Suddenly it switched, I came from America where I was an outsider, but in Africa, I no longer felt like that. I did graduate school in Ghana in 2003 and went back to New York and then moved to Ghana in 2014.

"I have no connection to Ghana. Some people in my family did tests, and we found ties to Senegal and The Gambia, but I don't think you can ever figure it out. No matter where you were sold or left the port, Senegal or Ghana, no one can be certain where you came from."

    No matter where you were sold or left the port, Senegal or Ghana, no one can be certain where you came from.

    Muhammida el-Muhajir

On leaving New York for Accra...

"Even when you live in a place like New York as a black person, you're always an outsider.

"You hear stories about the richest black people, like Oprah Winfrey, getting shut out of a store or Jay-Z not being allowed to buy [an apartment]. Those things happen. It doesn't matter if you're a celebrity, you're a second-class citizen. This was the biggest issue for me.

"In America, you're always trying to prove yourself; I don't need to prove myself to anyone else's standards here. I'm a champion, I ran track and went to university, and I like to win, so I refuse to be in a situation where I will never win."

    You might not have electricity, but you won't get killed by the police either.

    Muhammida el-Muhajir

On moving to Ghana...

"There are amenities that I am used to at home in New York - like parties, open bars and fashion, so when I realised I could do the same things in Africa as I could back in the US, I was sold. There is also a big street art festival here, and that was the difference from when I came [as a student]. I saw the things that I love at home here, so I decided that now is the time."
On Ghanaian reactions...

"When Ghanaians find out that I live here, they're usually confused about why I chose to live here as an American. There is definitely certain access and privilege being American here, but it's great to finally cash in on that because it doesn't mean anything in America.

"There are also plenty of privileged Ghanaians; if you take away race there's a class system."
On the 'Blaxit' documentary...

"In my documentary, I chose five people that I've met since I've been here and every one of them went to a black college in the US. It's something that prepares you mentally to realise you aren't a second-class citizen. Something like that can help you make a transition to live in Africa.

"I made Blaxit because of this wave of African-Americans moving to Africa. This trend started to happen around independence of African countries, but the new wave [comprises] people who come to places like this. This new group has certain access in America and comes here to have that lifestyle in Africa.

"Unbeknown to us, we're living out the vision that [Ghanaian politician and revolutionary] Kwame Nkrumah set out for us, of this country being the gateway to Africa for the black diaspora.

"I don't want people to think that Africa is this magic utopia where all your issues will go away. It's just that some of the things you might face in America as a black person - you won't have to suffer with those things here.

"You might not have electricity, but you won't get killed by the police either.

"I want people to understand that they have options and alternatives. Most black people in America don't know that these options exist; they think they have to suffer because there's nowhere else to go. But no, there are other places."
On the prospect of more African-Americans moving...

"I think more will come when they begin to see it as a viable alternative. But it's not easy and it not cheap. I can't say what's happening in America today is any worse than what's been happening at any other time. I think now is the time that people are starting to see they can live somewhere else."

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/african-americans-moving-africa-180116092736345.html
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Iraq, BP sign deal to boost crude output from Kirkuk oilfields - ministry
« Reply #10585 on: January 18, 2018, 04:32:05 AM »
Iraq signed a memorandum of understanding with BP on Thursday to boost the production capacity of its northern Kirkuk oilfields, according to the country’s oil ministry. The oilfields were taken back under Baghdad’s control last October after Iraqi government forces dislodged Kurdish fighters from the area, Reuters said. The agreement provides for BP to boost Kirkuk’s output capacity to 750,000 barrels per day – more than twice the existing volume. Oil exports are transported from the field by pipeline to Turkey. They came to a halt after the Iraqi military operation, which was conducted in retaliation against an independence referendum held on September 25. Iraq plans to start trucking crude from Kirkuk to Iran at the end of the month.

https://www.rt.com/newsline/416268-iraq-bp-kirkuk-oilfields/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=RSS
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China’s strong economic growth blows away expectations
« Reply #10586 on: January 18, 2018, 04:34:46 AM »

A huge dragon lantern at festival in China

China, the world’s second largest economy, has eclipsed its official growth target of about 6.5 percent, expanding 6.9 percent last year. It’s the first time since 2010 that the pace of growth has picked up.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang also said last week he expected growth to be at “around 6.9 percent.”

Official data showed economic growth in the October to December period was 6.8 percent, unchanged from the third quarter and above analyst expectations for 6.7 percent growth.

It was helped by a rebound in the industrial sector, a resilient property market and strong export growth.

“The risks that we worried about in 2017, for example overcapacity cuts having a negative impact on GDP, did not happen because new sectors are actually coming out to help production to grow,” Iris Pang, Greater China Economist, ING, told Reuters.

“China’s growth is very healthy,” she added.

According to the head of the National Statistics Bureau, Ning Jizhe, “The national economy has maintained the momentum of stable and sound development and exceeded the expectation with the economic vitality, impetus and potential released.”

He added, however, that the government should be “aware that there are still difficulties and challenges confronting the economy and the improvement of quality and efficiency remains a daunting task.”

Analysts say despite the better-than-expected economic data from China, which is a key driver of the global economy, there are still some worrying signs. They point to higher borrowing costs for firms and the government’s attempts to rein in credit.

Some economists believe the GDP numbers could be much weaker than the official figures suggest.

https://www.rt.com/business/416262-china-economy-beats-expectations/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=RSS
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End of world? British scientists challenge UN global warming predictions
« Reply #10587 on: January 18, 2018, 04:38:03 AM »


Climate change theories challenged by new study on Earth's surface temperature

Climate change predictions making alarming claims on Earth’s future have been challenged by a new study. Suggestions the planet’s surface will warm by 5° Celsius by 2100 are not realistic, according to a team of scientists.

Frightening climate change predictions by the UN would be void if the group from the University of Exeter is correct. Their probe into greenhouse gases pushing up the planet’s temperatures found possible end-of-century outcomes to be only half the range found by others.

“Our study all but rules out very low and very high climate sensitivities,” said lead author Peter Cox.

Despite the findings, the report, published in the journal ‘Nature’ made clear that humans’ actions on climate change will determine the planet’s future. The world must cut methane emissions, CO2 levels and drastically improve energy efficiency.

Researchers and scientists have laid out their predictions – some of which end in Earth’s tragic, fiery end. But the truth is, it is not truly known what will happen. The question is: if the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is doubled, how much will that heat up Earth’s surface?

For decades scientists have pored over this “known unknown” called equilibrium climate sensitivity. Over the last 20 years, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has predicted this to be in the temperature range of 1.5°C to 4.5°C (2.7 to 8.1° Fahrenheit).

But Cox et al disagree. They say it will be 2.2°C to 3.4°C, with a best estimate of 2.8°C. If correct, the end of the world may be further away than suggested.

“These scientists have produced a more accurate estimate of how the planet will respond to increasing CO2 levels,” said Piers Forster, director of the Priestley International Centre for Climate at the University of Leeds.

Forester however said this does not mean we can abandon targets, like those set out in the Paris Accord on climate change. “We will still see significant warming and impacts this century if we don’t increase our ambition to reduce CO2 emissions,” said Forster.

Although this latest study says doomsday is further away, even slight changes will have consequences. Already the world as we know it is changing with storm surges, melting polar ice caps and deadly droughts. A 3.5°C world, scientists say, could pull at the fabric of civilization.

Since industrialization in the early 19th century, CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere have increased by nearly half, from 280 parts per million to 407 parts per million.

By analyzing the responsiveness of short-term changes in temperature to “nudges and bumps” in the climate system, Cox and his team predicted against the devastating increases of 4°C or more by 2100, they warned changes can happen without warning, brought on my Mother Nature.

Rapidly-melting ice sheets or rapid shifts in climate can be brought on by the planet itself.

https://www.rt.com/uk/416255-global-warming-disproved-un/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=RSS
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Why does it cost $32,093 just to give birth in America?
« Reply #10588 on: January 18, 2018, 04:44:38 AM »
The US is the most expensive nation in the world in which to have a baby – and it may factor into thousands of bankruptcies each year



Stella Apo Osae-Twum and her husband did everything by the book. They went to a hospital covered by insurance, saw an obstetrician in their plan, but when her three sons – triplets – were born prematurely, bills started rolling in.

The hospital charged her family $877,000 in total.

“When the bills started coming, to be very honest, I was an emotional wreck,” said Apo Osae-Twum. “And this is in the midst of trying to take care of three babies who were premature.”

America is the most expensive nation in the world to give birth. When things go wrong – from pre-eclampsia to premature birth – costs can quickly spiral into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. While the data is limited, experts in medical debt say the costs of childbirth factor into thousands of family bankruptcies in America each year.

It’s nearly impossible to put a price tag on giving birth in America, since costs vary dramatically by state and hospital. But one 2013 study by the the advocacy group Childbirth Connection found that, on average, hospitals charged $32,093 for an uncomplicated vaginal birth and newborn care, and $51,125 for a standard caesarean section and newborn care. Insurance typically covers a large chunk of those costs, but families are still often on the hook for thousands of dollars.

Another estimate from the International Federation of Health Plans put the average amount insurers paid for a vaginal birth in the US at $10,808 in 2015. That is quintuple the IFHP estimate for another industrialized nation, Spain, where it costs $1,950 to deliver a child. The amount insurers pay for births in America is lower than the amount billed by hospitals because insurers negotiate lower prices.

Even the luxurious accommodations provided to the Duchess of Cambridge for the birth of the royal family’s daughter Princess Charlotte – believed to have cost up to $18,000 – were cheaper than many births in America.

Despite these high costs, the US consistently ranks poorly in health outcomes for mothers and infants. The US rate of infant mortality is 6.1 for every 1,000 live births, higher than Slovakia and Hungary, and nearly three times the rate of Japan and Finland. The US also has the worst rate of maternal mortality in the developed world. That means America is simultaneously the most expensive and one of the riskiest industrialized nations in which to have children.

American families rarely shoulder the full costs of childbirth on their own – but still pay far more than in other industrialized nations. Nearly half of American mothers are covered by Medicaid, a program available to low income households that covers nearly all birth costs. But people with private insurance still regularly pay thousands of dollars in co-pays, deductibles and partially reimbursed services when they give birth. Childbirth Connection put the average out of pocket childbirth costs for mothers with insurance at $3,400 in 2013.

In Apo Osae-Twum’s case, private insurance covered most of the $877,000 bill, but her family was responsible for $51,000.

Apo Osae-Twum was the victim of what is called “surprise billing”. In these cases, patients have no way of knowing whether an ambulance company, emergency room physician, anesthesiologist – or, in her case, a half-dozen neonatologists – are members of the patient’s insurance plan.

Even though Apo Osae-Twum went to a hospital covered by her insurance, none of the neonatologists who attended to her sons were “in-network”. Therefore the insurance reimbursed far less of their bills.
Q&A
Did you receive an unexpected or unmanageable bill after giving birth?

There are few studies that estimate the number of families who go bankrupt from this type of unexpected expense. One of the best estimates is now outdated – conducted 10 years ago. But one of the authors of that research, Dr Steffie Woolhandler, estimates as many as 56,000 families each year still go bankrupt from adding a new family member through birth or adoption.

“Why any society should let anyone be bankrupted by medical bills is beyond me, frankly,” said Woolhandler. “It just doesn’t happen in other western democracies.”

Since Woolhandler conducted that research in 2007, 20 million Americans gained health insurance through the Affordable Care Act health reform law, and consumer protections were added for pregnant women. But Republicans and the Trump administration have pledged to repeal these consumer protections.

“People face a double whammy when they’re faced with a medical condition,” said Woolhandler. Bankruptcy is often “the combined effect of medical bills and the need to take time off work”.

There is no nationwide law that provides paid family leave in the US, meaning most families forgo income to have a child.

And although childbirth is one of the most common hospital procedures in the nation, prices are completely opaque. That means Americans don’t know how much a birth will cost in advance.

Dr Renee Hsia, an emergency department physician at the University of California San Francisco and a health policy expert likened the experience to buying a car, but not knowing whether the dealership sells Fords or Lamborghinis. “You don’t know, are you going to have a complication that is a lot more expensive? And is it going to be financially ruinous?”

According to Hsia’s 2013 study, a “California woman could be charged as little as $3,296 or as much as $37,227 for a vaginal delivery, and $8,312 to $70,908 for a caesarean section, depending on which hospital she was admitted to.”

Apo Osae-Twum and her family only found relief after a professional medical billing advocate agreed to take their case. Medical Cost Advocate in New Jersey, where Derek Fitteron is CEO, negotiated with doctors to lower the charges to $1,300.

“This is why people are scared to go to the doctor, why they go bankrupt, and why they forgo other things to get care from their kids,” said Hsia. “I find it heartbreaking when patients say … ‘How much does this cost?’”

Did you receive an unexpected or unmanageable bill after giving birth? Share your story using our encrypted form.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/jan/16/why-does-it-cost-32093-just-to-give-birth-in-america
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Extraordinary Stress and Pessimism Take a Grim Toll
« Reply #10589 on: January 18, 2018, 04:48:35 AM »
Why poor Americans are dying younger.


Shrinking lifespan.

Life expectancy in the U.S. declined slightly in 2016, as it did in 2015, and — at least as important — the overall trends continue to mask increasing disparities across socioeconomic groups. Carol Graham of the Brookings Institution helps explain why. Her important new book is the empirical version of "Hillbilly Elegy."

I have long suspected that stress and lack of hope are to blame for widening the gap in life expectancy between lower and higher earners. Graham uses survey data to support this explanation, documenting striking differences in stress and optimism across segments of the population.

It's little surprise that low-income Americans report significantly higher levels of daily stress than high-income Americans do. But Graham also notes that the type of stress they typically experience is especially harmful to health, because it seems to be outside the individual’s locus of control. She argues that “stress that is associated with daily struggles and circumstances beyond individuals’ control — as is more common for the poor — has more negative effects than that associated with goal achievement.”

One example of what can cause this type of stress is an unpredictable work schedule. More than 40 percent of early-career hourly workers in the U.S. learn of their work schedules less than a week in advance, recent evidence shows. Among retail and food-service workers, almost 90 percent face variation in at least half of their usual work hours.

Graham also finds major differences across income groups in reported physical pain. Almost 80 percent of people with household income below $24,000 a year reported being in physical pain the day before they were asked, compared with only about 30 percent of those with incomes above $90,000 a year. Her basic findings have been confirmed by David Blanchflower of Dartmouth College and Andrew Oswald of the University of Warwick, using a different data set. These researchers conclude that an astonishing 34 percent of Americans experience bodily aches and pains either often or very often.

The U.S. stands out on many of these measures compared with other countries. The gap in stress levels between low- and high-income people is noticeably smaller in Latin American countries, for example. Low-income American workers are also less likely than Latin Americans to believe that “hard work gets you ahead.” And Blanchflower and Oswald show that reported pain is higher in the U.S. than in any other country they study. “As the U.S. is one of the richest countries in the world, and in principle might be expected to have one of the most comfortable lifestyles in the world,” they note, “it seems strange — to put it at its mildest — that the nation should report such a lot of pain.”

Graham notes one encouraging trend: While the differences among income groups are growing, the gaps between races are shrinking. Life expectancy differences between whites and African Americans are narrowing, even as the gaps by income within each race are widening. And low-income African Americans are quite hopeful about the future — more so even than non-poor white Americans.

After illuminating striking differences across income groups in pain, hope, optimism and stress, Graham is correct in pointing out there are no easy fixes at hand. She's also right to say that the best way to start to address the gaps is to work to better understand them.

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2018-01-17/extraordinary-stress-and-pessimism-take-a-grim-toll?utm_content=view&utm_campaign=socialflow-organic&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&cmpid%3D=socialflow-twitter-view
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