Thursday, July 12, 2018

WaPo: North Korean officials a no-show for meeting about U.S. troop remains

Donald Trump’s presidency from the very beginning has been built on one lie atop another. Lies about what various bills will do, lies about various problems in our country. Lies about various foreign relations problems, and lies about what he is trying to achieve. And, now, lied about the return of American soldiers killed during the war.

Trump met with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un in Singapore on June 12 and said in a news conference afterward that Kim had agreed to return the remains of American soldiers killed during the war with North Korea.

On June 20, in Duluth, Minnesota, Trump boasted that the remains of 200 soldiers killed in the Korean War were coming home. He said, “We got back our great fallen heroes, the remains sent back today, already 200 got sent back.”

And, what should be to no one’s surprise, it was a lie.

Not only was that a lie, but the North Koreans didn’t even show up to today to meet about it.

No one should trust a liar. Donald Trump is a pathological liar.

Humanity may have an abiding respect for truth, but not Donald Trump. For Trump lying is a way of life. His disrespect for truth is dangerous for the United States, our relationships with other nations, and our democracy.

He disregards facts in such a way that he may not see much practical distinction between lies if he believes they serve him, and the truth.

By Adam Taylor

U.K. on Full Alert in Advance of Trump’s Visit

Police are planning the biggest mobilisation [sic] of officers since the 2011 riots as thousands of people in the UK prepare to protest against the arrival this week of Donald Trump.The Guardian

In advance of Trump’s visit to the United Kingdom, the United States Embassy issued an alert:

Event: Several demonstrations are being planned surrounding the visit of the President of the United States to Scotland on July 13 and July 14, 2018. Several of the events are expected to attract large crowds and there will be road closures in connection with those events.

Be aware of your surroundings.

Exercise caution if unexpectedly in the vicinity of large gatherings that may become violent.

Keep a low profile.

Monitor local media for updates.

And U.K. protesters are welcoming Trump with the slogan: “Make American Idiot Great Again.

The protesters are playing Green Day’s 2004 hit “American Idiot.It has become the number one song in the U.K.  Here’s a summary of the song’s lyrics:

Welcome to a new kind of tension
All across the alien nation
Where everything isn’t meant to be okay
Television dreams of tomorrow
We’re not the ones who’re meant to follow
For that’s enough to argue

The song was the No.1 single on Amazon's list of best-selling songs on 9 July, and it also crept into the iTunes Top 10 on the same day, according to the Huffington Post. Chart Data also reports that the song cracked the Top 20 on Britain's Official Singles chart midway through the charting week.

Donald Trump does not unite people in pursuit of achieving common goals based on trust, obligation, commitment, and a shared vision. Instead, in the United States and across the globe he has done just the opposite.

Only an idiot or a stupid, foolish person would do that. But for the President of the United States, it's stupid and incompetent. 

By Vikram Dodd

Monday, July 9, 2018

Fortune: U.S. Delegates Opposed an International Resolution That Supported Breastfeeding

Again, Donald Trump’s administration puts profits ahead of things that benefit people. The latest comes from his delegation to the World Health Organization’s assembly in Geneva who voted against a resolution in support of breast milk.

The reason: The market for baby formulas is a $70 billion industry. The baby formula industry, of course, opposed it.

True to form, to persuade Ecuador’s delegates to reject the breastfeeding resolution, the Trump administration got Ecuador to back down from its vote on the resolution by threatening trade retaliation and pulling military aid. The United States under Trump does not negotiate. Under Trump there is not an “Art of the Deal,” and the United States under Trump resorts to bullying and threats instead.

The breastfeeding issue has been sufficiently researched. After years of research, the conclusion has been that there are more benefits derived from breastfeeding than from baby formula.

“A 2016 study published by The Lancet says breastfeeding could save the lives of 823,000 children and 20,000 mothers each year. In addition, universal breastfeeding could save $300 billion in reduced health care costs and improved economic prospects for children.” Fortune Magazine   

Nevertheless, capitalist like Donald Trump don’t give a hoot what would benefit the American people or the rest of the world. Trump is willing to do anything at the expense of ordinary people in favor of the oligarchs. Making money is all he cares about.

And here’s the kicker, the United States eventually agreed to the resolution when Russia backed it. A Russian delegate said it was because “we feel that it is wrong when a big country tries to push around some very small countries, especially on an issue that is really important for the rest of the world.Moreover, the United States didn’t make the same threats to Russia as it did Ecuador, and the resolution was passed mostly in its original form. Vox 

By Renae Reints

Sunday, July 8, 2018

AP: Kids as young as 1 in US court, awaiting reunion with family

Trump’s “zero tolerance policy” imposes cruel and unusual punishment for migrant families whose only crime is seeking asylum and refuge from the cruelty inflicted on them in their home countries.

Children are separated from their families at border crossings. Some families may never see their children again. That’s because there is no clear process for tracking parents and children. Inadequate record keeping makes it difficult to locate the child of a parent searching for their child’s whereabouts.

There are reports of parents who have been deported without their children.

And some children still in diapers absurdly appear before a judge for deportation.

Donald Trump’s policy played out in an Arizona courtroom on Friday. The scene was chronicled by the Associated Press’s Astrid Galvanx:

The 1-year-old boy in a green button-up shirt drank milk from a bottle, played with a small purple ball that lit up when it hit the ground and occasionally asked for agua.’”

Then it was the child’s turn for his court appearance before a Phoenix immigration judge, who could hardly contain his unease with the situation during the portion of the hearing where he asks immigrant defendants whether they understand the proceedings.

“I’m embarrassed to ask it, because I don’t know who you would explain it to, unless you think that a 1-year-old could learn immigration law,” Judge John W. Richardson told the lawyer representing the 1-year-old boy.

The boy is one of hundreds of children who need to be reunited with their parents after being separated at the border, many of them split from mothers and fathers as a result of the Trump administration’s “zero-tolerance policy.” The separations have become an embarrassment to the administration as stories of crying children separated from mothers and kept apart for weeks on end dominated the news in recent weeks.

Critics have also seized on the nation’s immigration court system that requires children — some still in diapers — to have appearances before judges and go through deportation proceedings while separated from their parents. Such children don’t have a right to a court-appointed attorney, and 90 percent of kids without a lawyer are returned to their home countries, according to Kids in Need of Defense, a group that provides legal representation.

Here’s the rest of Galvanx’s story:

By Astrid Galvan

NY Times: President Trump, Deal Maker? Not So Fast

Donald J Trump is demonstrably not the great deal maker he claims to be. He is no more than a con artist: a man who cunningly schemes people by gaining their confidence and persuading them to believe what is not true.

In Michael Kruse’s ‘He Pretty Much Gave In to Whatever They Asked For’
“Trump says he’s a master negotiator. But those who’ve actually dealt with him beg to differ.” For example, Tony Schwartz, who wrote Trump’s “Art of the Deal”, acquired with very little effort the best ghostwriting deal out there.  Politico

Trump, the “Art of the Deal” guy, has . . .  

No deal on immigration.
No deal on health care.
No deal on gun control.
No deal on spending cuts.
No deal on NAFTA.
No deal on China trade.
No deal on steel and aluminum imports.
No deal on Middle East peace.
No deal on Syria, Russia, Iran, or the Qatar blockade.
No deal on climate change.
No deal on Pacific trade.

Fortunately, other than taxes and even that is arguable, Trump has not been able to make a grand bargain with Congress.

And, so far, no deal with North Korea.

But, where he has made a great deal is with gullible Americans. He has schemed them into believing him, artfully ticking them into believing that he and his family are not using his presidency for profit.

Here's the story by Peter Baker:


Saturday, July 7, 2018

Bracing Views: The U.S. Postal Service: Ripe for Privatizing?

On June 21, Donald Trump proposed privatization of the U.S. Postal Service.

It’s okay for commodities and things that are non-essential to life be provided by for-profit corporations. But privatizing the U.S. Postal Service is not in the public interest.  

The White House made the proposal in its wide-ranging plan to reorganize the federal government. Privatizing the postal service was among 32 distinct ideas it said would help agencies run more efficiently. It first called for reforms to the Postal Service that would create a more sustainable business model, but those changes would be made only for leverage to then sell the entire agency to the private sector. The proposal comes as a task force created by President Trump is working on a series of reforms to put USPS on firmer financial footing, which it will deliver in a report by Aug.

Trump and the Republican Party believe that privatization is the cure-all for all that they perceive as wrong with the services government provides. They argue that government-run services are inefficient and costly and that exposing it to market forces through privatization will result in much-improved efficiency at lower cost to the American taxpayer. They, therefore, strive to abolish Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public education, and every piece of federal legislation that protects the impoverished, families, the elderly, and children and put them in the hands of the private sector to manage for a profit.

The private sector lobby spends millions of dollars to support legislation that is directed at shutting down any government entity that impedes their profits by keeping them out of profitable markets. And, the U.S Postal Service is perceived as a market to exploit for profit.

“ . . . public service and efficiency are not identical. Nor should we think of ourselves merely as consumers of a product, whether that product is mail service or education.  We need to think of ourselves as citizens, and the post office as composed of citizens like us providing a public service for us, a service where “efficiency” is only one driver, and not the most important one.W.J. Astore

Here’s Astore’s full opinion:

W.J. Astore

Friday, July 6, 2018

CNN: DNA tests are in the works for separated migrant children and parents

In an effort to reunite the families separated as a result of Donald Trump’s cruel “zero tolerance policy,” the Trump administration is DNA testing migrant children separated from their parents.

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said they are reviewing nearly 3,000 children to meet a court-imposed deadline. “A federal judge in the Southern District of California ordered that the government must reunite parents separated from children younger than 5 by July 10 and children ages 5-17 by July 26.” NBC News

The fact is that some parents separated from their children at border crossings may never see their children again. That’s because there was no clear process in place for tracking separated parents and their children. Trump had no plan in place and therefore had no intention of reuniting children with their parents. He instead destroyed families seeking refuge and a new life in our country.

But Trump doesn’t care about the damage he has inflicted. He has shown no concern, and therefore an alarming lack of compassion, for the children he has separated as a result of his cruel, immoral, and inhumane policy.

Here’s the story:

By Sonia Moghe, Nick Valencia, and Holly Yan

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

The Equivocality of Patriotism

“I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.”

“In one of his first official acts upon taking office, President Trump designated the day of his inauguration a ‘National Day of Patriotic Devotion.’ While it’s not unusual for incoming presidents to issue symbolic proclamations, Trump’s choice of words reflected the extreme nationalism of a White House that “seriously considered” an inaugural parade with military tanks rolling down the streets of Washington, D.C. ‘A new national pride stirs the American soul and inspires the American heart,’ he proclaimed.

“As George Orwell once wrote, however, ‘Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism.’ And nearly six months into Trump’s presidency, it seems especially fitting on this Fourth of July to reflect on the meaning of patriotism and to consider how one can be patriotic during such deeply troubling times for the country” -- Katrina vanden Heuvel

Furthermore, is patriotism Trump hugging the American Flag, a person wearing a flag lapel pin, driving a gas-guzzling truck with the flag on the antenna, or whether an American salutes the flag or not make he or she a patriot? Does saying one is not proud to be an American make one unpatriotic? Does military service or if one is a war veteran make one more patriotic than others? Does refusing to honor “my country right or wrong” make one unpatriotic? Does a desire to end wars and bring troops home from illegal, immoral, and misguided wars unpatriotic?

“We must never relinquish our sense of justice for a false sense of national pride. ‘My country right or wrong’ is neither moral nor intelligent. Patriotism is support for the highest ideals of the nation, not for whoever happens to be in the White House. As citizens we must continue to fight for justice and equality so that we might make a better nation and a better world.”

A patriot is one whose love and devotion to their country and its people are expressed by an unselfish pursuit of life, liberty, and justice for all people in consideration that “we are citizens of the world first.”

We hear a lot about patriotism around the Fourth of July. But in the era of Trump, “we’re hearing about two very different types of patriotism. One is an inclusive patriotism that binds us together. The other is an exclusive patriotism that keeps others out.” -- Robert Reich

We should not be proud of things we should be ashamed of. President Donald Trump comes to mind.

Patriotism in the Trump Era

By Katrina vanden Heuvel 

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Robert Reich: Trump’s Fourth of July

Recently, we gathered at a local restaurant for our 1955 high school class reunion. We opened the reunion with a salute and pledge of allegiance to the American flag. And just like in 1955, we recited the Lord’s Prayer. In those years, that was the custom in every K-12 school across America.

Because of the United States Supreme Court, those customs no longer exist or are not required.

Moreover, the United States has evolved into a country of many religions -- not one country under one god -- and where no longer the ‘whiteness of our skin or the uniformity of our ethnicity” identifies us. A country that has been trying to live up to its core values.

But today it's Donald Trump’s America, and he is doing everything he can to destroy all the progress our country has made. Disappointingly, we have near a majority of Americans who support his presidency, and the kind of government he is creating. An America that is rejecting its core values and rejecting human values. An America headed backward and not forward.

The reputation of the United States is already in serious decline and the free world no longer looks toward America for leadership.  

The Atlantic’s Jack Goldsmith writes, “Donald Trump is testing the institution of the presidency unlike any of his predecessors. We have never had a president so ill-informed about the nature of his office, so openly mendacious, so self-destructive, or so brazen in his abusive attacks on the courts, the press, Congress (including members of his own party), and even senior officials within his own administration. Trump is a Frankenstein’s monster of past presidents’ worst attributes."

Here is Robert Reich:

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Alternet: We Now Have a Terrifying Militarized Law Enforcement System

Across the United States, law enforcement agencies have been gearing up as if they are fighting wars. Police departments are more and more becoming para-militarized. It’s a situation where the interest of government and law enforcement seems to be in protecting themselves and not its citizens. It’s sending the wrong message and it’s alienating Americans.

The "To Protect and to Serve" motto, first adopted by the LA Police Department,  has become ubiquitously the motto of law enforcement agencies across the United States. Some have modified the motto, as the Police Department in my hometown, which instead says, "To Protect With Honor and Serve With Pride."

But, in general, law enforcement has not lived up to that motto. An equally dangerous environment for police and citizens has evolved as a result of the preponderance of guns in our society. Unlike in times past, now when presented with combative encounters with civilians, a police officer’s first response is to aim for center mass -- shoot to kill and not disable -- just as the military trains its soldiers. In all, the result has created an already violent society living in an increasing climate of fear, and a deadly increase in extrajudicial killing, which has become racially motivated.

Moreover, in 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that in some cases police do not have a constitutional duty to protect someone.

And, of course, the election of Donald Trump has not helped the situation.

Last year, Trump overturned an Obama-era directive aimed at curtailing police agencies from obtaining surplus weapons and equipment from the military. The weapons transfer program, called the 1033 Program, was established by Congress in 1990, which has allowed local law enforcement agencies to acquire more than $5.4 billion in high-powered weapons, armored vehicles, and other military equipment previously used in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In some jurisdictions, the United States fails to comply with international standards for use of lethal force, and where.shooting to kill is accepted police practice.

There is a lot that needs to be reformed and changed in our country. At the top of the list are the issues of guns in our society, and the militarization and extrajudicial killings by law enforcement. These issues need to be addressed and resolved. But also the broader systemic racial and equal justice for all issues that are embedded in our systems of justice and law enforcement.

Police departments around the country should reject military weapons and other equipment. They should instead pursue partnerships with their communities. which is far more effective in reducing crime and de-escalating tensions than weapons of war.

By Ebony Slaughter-Johnson