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Officials do not believe the leak in TransCanada Corp’s pipeline, which carries oil from Canada to refineries in Illinois and Oklahoma, affected drinking water
....Crews shut down the pipeline on Thursday morning and activated emergency response procedures after a drop in pressure was detected resulting from the leak south of a pump station in Marshall County, TransCanada said in a statement. The cause was being investigated.
Veteran climate scientist says litigation campaign against government and fossil fuels companies is essential alongside political mobilisation in fighting ‘growing, mortal threat’ of global warming
One of the fathers of climate science is calling for a wave of lawsuits against governments and fossil fuel companies that are delaying action on what he describes as the growing, mortal threat of global warming.
Former Nasa scientist James Hansen says the litigate-to-mitigate campaign is needed alongside political mobilisation because judges are less likely than politicians to be in the pocket of oil, coal and gas companies.
“The judiciary is the branch of government in the US and other countries that is relatively free of bribery. And bribery is exactly what is going on,” he told the Guardian on the sidelines of the UN climate talks in Bonn.
Without Hansen and his fellow Nasa researchers who raised the alarm about the effect of carbon emissions on global temperatures in the 1980s, it is possible that none of the thousands of delegates from almost 200 countries would be here.
But after three decades, he has been largely pushed to the fringes. Organisers have declined his request to speak directly to the delegates about what he sees as a threat that is still massively underestimated.
"A climate damages tax on the fossil fuel industry is one way to reverse the injustice of climate change, and ensure the fossil fuel industry pays for its damage—not poor people."
As the COP23 climate talks in Bonn, Germany come to a close, more than 50 groups and and high-profile climate advocates, including journalist Naomi Klein, are demanding a Climate Damages Tax to levy on companies that extract coal, oil, and natural gas "to pay for the damage and costs caused by climate change when these products are burnt, implemented nationally, regionally, or internationally."
Reporting from COP23 in Bonn, Germany, Democracy Now! travels to the nearby blockade of the Hambach coal mine, the largest open-pit coal mine in Europe. Activists say the mine extracts an extremely dirty form of coal called lignite, also known as brown coal, which causes the highest CO2 emissions of any type of coal when burned. For more than five years, they have been fighting to shut down the mine and to save the remaining forest from being cut down to make way for the expanding project. Only 10 percent of the ancient forest remains.
Tar sands have been dubbed the largest – and most destructive – industrial project in human history. And Canada is on the forefront of their exploitation
This week, the Canadian government will be in Bonn touting Canada’s climate plan. It will be joined by Canadian oil companies working to put a green hue on Canadian tar sands – but the world shouldn’t be fooled.
The truth is, Canada cannot yet meet its own arguably weak climate targets. The country plans to expand oil and gas production despite evidence that this is inconsistent with Paris goals. Then, there is the issue of the toxic sludge of waste products from Canada’s tar sands destruction, which form what are known as tailings ponds.
As of this year, these ponds hold 1 trillion litres of sludge that is unlike any other industrial byproduct in the world. They contain a unique cocktail of toxic chemicals and hydrocarbons that will remain in molasses-like suspension for centuries if left alone.
These open, unlined ponds currently cover 220 sq km, an area of land equivalent to 73 New York Central Parks. A single tailings pond – the Mildred Lake Settling Basin – has been identified by the US Department of the Interior as the world’s largest dam.
These tailings ponds made international headlines in 2008 when 1,600 ducks flew into one of them. The resulting imagery of animals coated in oil was a powerful reminder of the costs of our global oil addiction.
....The history of the government’s weak attempts to address tailings are shocking. A couple of years ago a directive was put into place to require companies to reduce tailings. Not a single company complied. Rather than fining the companies or refusing permits, the government simply removed the directive.
....The dire state of this situation is compounded by the very uncertain economic future for tar sands mining. The tar sands industry’s approach to tailings management since 1967 has been to procrastinate on cleaning up the mess until a silver bullet technology is found to deal with them.
Now, 50 years later, technologies to clean up tailings that have been discovered are not being implemented because they are expensive and government is not requiring them.
Report shows around £15bn of assets worldwide have been shifted away from coal companies in the past two years as concern over climate risk rises
The Trump White House actually did a pro-coal exhibit at the Bonn climate summit in Germany, COP23. It did not go over well.
Indeed, this sort of absurd stunt has the makings of a complete end to American leadership in the world. Mark Twain once observed that “Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.”
The Trump administration at COP23 is naked. Because it is unclothed, lacking any moral fiber, it can be disregarded. And everyone is disregarding it.
It is sort of like someone opened a butcher shop at a PETA conference.
Navajo and Hopi communities are torn over the impending closure of a coal plant that brings both jobs and pollution
A leaked draft of a five-year plan reveals how the DOI will prioritize “energy dominance” over conservation.
Al Gore’s new film is worth watching
Some organic growers say hydroponics shouldn’t be certified organic
A little too easy...
The revelations in the Paradise Papers followed quickly on the release of the Panama Papers (English majors please note the allusion to the Pentagon Papers).
Both of these Papers were revealed by an organization with the cumbersome name of The International Consortium of Independent Journals (ICIJ)—a group in need of a new name and a publicity agent. That name gives the impression of some mining cartel intent on keeping up the price of gold and diamonds.
To the contrary, it is a group of dedicated journalists who recognized that they could not honestly report on tax evasion when they were working for mainstream media. The media barons and major advertisers are prime users of the tax evasion system. So these journalists gave up successful and lucrative careers to dedicate themselves to exposing offshore tax fraud. The Panama and Paradise Papers are a tribute to their courage, sacrifice, and dedication.
However, the mainstream media uses the press tactic of ‘burying the lede’ by focusing on political leaders or corporate use of loopholes to the exclusion of a more serious underlying problem: the billions of dollars that the 1% do not pay in taxes so that we bear the burden of maintaining the upkeep of the country and its growing debt. Of course, everybody hates paying taxes. The super wealthy are no different in attitude, only in means. They can afford the ways to avoid paying taxes. In 2012, the Tax Justice Network estimated that between $21 trillion and $32 trillion—the size of the U.S. and Japanese economies combined—was hidden in secrecy jurisdictions. If the tax evaded by wealthy individuals was collected, it would likely cover most of the annual deficit in each of the G7 countries.
However, most reporting has obscured the tax fraud aspect, the most outrageous aspect of the disclosure. There are two types of these schemes: one is evasion, i.e. tax fraud, by which individuals do not pay taxes. At least 31,000 of the individual and corporate clients included in the Paradise Paper records are U.S. citizens or have U.S. addresses, more than from any other country.
The other scheme is tax avoidance, by which large corporations use government-provided loopholes and willful blindness to reduce their taxes paid by pretending to have made sales or expenses in low tax jurisdictions and reduce tax liability in the US. Apple and Amazon are examples that have been in the news for the avoidance type.
In this article, I’m going to focus just on how wealthy individuals elude the tax man, how easy it is to do, and how easy it would be to stop it if the politicians of either party had the will to do it. That would mean, of course going against the wishes of their wealthy campaign donors. The corporate avoidance schemes will come in a later article.
"Today will go down in history as the day when the FCC abdicated its responsibility to uphold the core values of localism, competition, and diversity in broadcasting."
In "an awful new low" that elicited warnings about "a new wave of media consolidation," the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Thursday rolled back media ownership regulations under the guise of trying "to modernize its broadcast ownership rules & to help promote ownership diversity."
"Any pretense that this vote will help journalism or increase ownership diversity is cynical and offensive," said Free Press president and CEO Craig Aaron, warning that the move will "lead to more mergers, more layoffs, and more communities that have no news outlets in place to cover important stories and hold officials accountable."
In response to Thursday's move by the FCC, Aaron's group vowed to fight the decision and initiated a campaign to file suit.
FCC chair Ajit Pai, warn critics, is aiming to "destroy the internet as we know it and give even more gatekeeper power to a few huge companies like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon"
"If the FCC passes Pai's plan in December, it will face enormous challenges in court—and in the streets as well."
—Craig Aaron, Free Press
Defenders of the open internet are issuing urgent calls to action as news reports indicate that Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chair Ajit Pai has set his sights on a December 14 vote to kill net neutrality and "destroy the internet as we know it."
"In less than a month, and in defiance of the tens of millions of Americans who have spoken out for the free and open internet, Ajit Pai will move to kill net neutrality." Craig Aaron, president of Free Press, said in a statement. "It's time to raise hell."
The private security firm TigerSwan worked to build a RICO suit accusing Greenpeace, Earth First, and BankTrack of inciting protests to increase donations.
Unprofessional journalists are 'roasted'
Photograph by Mark Wallheiser / Getty
WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Jubilant Trump voters on Thursday celebrated the prospect of a gigantic tax cut that will benefit everyone but them.
Across the country, Trump supporters were overjoyed that, after months of gridlock and wrangling, the man they voted for was about to make Americans other than them wildly richer.
“President Trump has taken a lot of hits from the fake-news media, but he stood his ground,” Carol Foyler, a Trump voter in Ohio, said. “Today he honored his pledge to the American people, except for me and anybody I know.”
Harland Dorrinson, a Trump supporter from Kentucky, agreed. “When I cast my vote last November, I said to myself, ‘I sure hope this means that people with a thousand times more money than I have get even more money,’ ” he said. “Promise kept.”
Tracy Klugian, a Trump voter from Minnesota, said that tax cuts for everyone but him are an important step toward making America great again. “Look at the stock market—it’s been going through the roof,” Klugian, who has no money in the stock market, said.
But some Trump supporters, like Calvin Denoit, of Texas, were more muted. “Tax cuts that completely exclude me and my family are a good start,” he said. “But, until President Trump eliminates all environmental and safety regulations for corporations that I have zero stake in, I won’t be satisfied.”
"Just amazing," said one economic analyst. "Really hard to get your head around. But it's true."
If the Senate Republicans' latest version of their tax overhaul bill passes, foreign investors will receive a financial benefit nearly three times larger than all U.S. taxpayers combined, according to a new analysis released Saturday.
In its updated analysis, the non-partisan Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) found that while U.S. households would receive $8 billion in net benefits from the plan, wealthy overseas investors would capture an astonishing $22 billion.
"By 2027," the anlysis states, "foreign investors would benefit more than American households overall under the bill as written. While some households would pay more and others would pay less, in 2027 the average net effect for U.S. households would be a tax cut of $8 billion, which is much smaller than the $22 billion benefit to foreign investors."
As Seth Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, explained, "The reason that foreign investors are the biggest winners is that they own about 1/3 of the shares of U.S. corporations." And because the plan drops the corporate tax rate from 35% down to just 20%, he added: "Corporations are getting a huge tax cut, paid for by tax increases on Americans, and by fewer Americans [with] health insurance."
Recognizing the design flaws in our default programming is the first step to envisioning the world we know is possible.
"What we need," writes Schwartz, "is the intention—and a design framework that supports human and ecological wellbeing." (Image: Segment/Pinterest)
Many of us—read: anyone paying attention—are worried about problems like climate disruption, biodiversity loss, toxins in our foods, income inequality and the hollowing out of towns. Such troubles seem impossible to solve, hopeless to untangle. But maybe our woes are not so complicated. Perhaps these interrelated challenges stem from a basic design flaw. And we can fix it.
I contend this messy moment reflects the fact that our “operating system” is outdated and not suited to our current circumstances. I’m talking about the economy: the system that runs our society’s conceptual software. For the way that we produce, trade, value and distribute goods and wealth interferes with our ability to address the major trials of our time. We have come to accept the present framework as inevitable, but that’s far from the case. The rules our economy plays by are not natural law, like gravity or the properties of the Periodic Table. Rather, they are the result of human decisions, the consequences of which were not apparent at the time.
There is stark irony in the fact that the stock market has soared while large chunks of the country have been covered by water from hurricanes or ash from wildfire. This suggests the gaping disconnect between finance and reality. There’s something screwy with the books when economic indicators rise in tandem with environmental calamity and loss of life and property. It’s reminiscent of the “big short”, when financiers bet and made money on failure in the housing market. If Wall Street’s got its numbers right, Earth futures are not looking so good right now.
One defect in our economic model is its dependence on growth. We know that resource and ecological limits dictate that we can’t grow indefinitely. And yet, because money is created by debt that must eventually be paid, the growth imperative is baked into the system. Economists have evaded the social and environmental costs associated with relentless growth by choosing not to count them. In a deft accounting trick, the negatives linked with profitable enterprise (like water and air pollution, landscape degradation, blighted downtowns) are deemed “externalities”. Again, this is a design flaw, which can be mended by internalizing such costs so that they are borne by the entity that creates the problem instead of by the public.
Understanding faulty design at the root of our economy can help clarify certain kinds of conflicts that frequently arise. Let’s take a scenario where an energy company wants to drill in a pristine area and that this will harm vulnerable species, increase greenhouse gases and disrupt local communities. The company claims the environmental damage is a small trade-off for boosting the economy and creating jobs. A functioning system wouldn’t require people to give up their assets and autonomy in order to be economically viable; indeed, those assets and agency are their basis of wealth. It has become standard to see such scenarios through a political lens—a matter about which “liberals” and “conservatives” hold different views. Instead, we can regard the fact that companies profit amidst human and environmental exploitation as a glitch in the system that could bring the whole thing down, like a kind of malware.
....Recognizing the design flaws in our default programming is the first step to envisioning what is possible. Let’s not forego the chance due to a failure of imagination. Or of courage.
In the era of digital politics, an odd alliance has sprung up: anti-state campaigners and Moscow-backed nationalists are combining to disrupt liberal institutions
Assange, Trump and Putin: disrupting government and liberal norms. Composite: Geoff Caddick/Jim Watson/Mikhail Metzel/AFP/Getty
....Why are the pioneering crusaders of total transparency and freedom of information lining up alongside the most powerful exponents of disinformation and disruption?
This has not just been a marriage of convenience. There are elements of ideological bonding too. In Twitter direct messages during the last throes of the US election campaign, released over the past week, WikiLeaks, which US intelligence has deemed a tool of Russian intelligence, attempted to woo Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr, with offers of secret collusion.
....WikiLeaks grew steadily bolder in its proposals, urging the Trump campaign not to concede on election night if he lost but to challenge the result as rigged. And in mid-December, when Trump was president-elect, it suggested Trump should push for Assange to be made Australian ambassador to Washington.
Assange also gave his backing to the Brexit vote in the June UK, an intervention which again does not appear to be merely incidental. It earned him an unannounced visit in March from Nigel Farage, the Brexit leader and Trump’s closest British ally. When doorstopped on his way out of the Ecuadorian embassy, Farage claimed he could not remember why he had gone there.
In recent weeks, it has become increasingly clear that Brexit was another arena in which Assange and Moscow were in step. Over the past week, researchers at the University of Edinburgh identified over 400 fake Twitter accounts apparently run from St Petersburg, which published Brexit-related posts in the run up to the UK referendum, some of them aimed at stirring anti-Islamic sentiment.
“The radical libertarians and the autocrats are allied by virtue of sharing an enemy which is the mainstream, soft, establishment, liberal politics,” said Jamie Bartlett, the director of the centre for the analysis of social media at the Demos thinktank.
“Most early, hardline cryptographers who were part of this movement in the 1990s considered that democracy and liberty were not really compatible. Like most radical libertarians – as Assange was – the principal enemy was the soft democrats who were imposing the will of the majority on the minority and who didn’t really believe in genuine, absolute freedom.”
That meant some odd bedfellows could become useful allies. “They have been able to forge a very convenient marriage with other enemies of liberal democracy,” said Bartlett, “who are in every other sense imaginable are completely at odds with each other, but they do they share that common hatred of establishment, western, soft, democratic politics as they see it.”
Humans have always travelled, but barriers are lifted for capital while, for the global poor, borders are made ever tougher to cross
West Germans demolish the Berlin Wall in 1989. Photograph: Sipa Press/Rex
....Clearly, built with the deliberate intention to trap people in a place they might not want to be, the Berlin Wall was heinous – not just a bad idea, but morally wrong. As such, it was the most obscene symbol of the broader case against the eastern bloc. The fact their governments would not allow residents to travel to the west was prima facie evidence of their lack of freedom: they were understood to be like open prisons.
Not long after the wall came down, this entire logic went into reverse. As country after country shed its Stalinist overlords and went into free-market freefall, the case for their peoples’ right to leave was eclipsed by the fear that they might actually come. In the west their “freedom” was welcomed; their presence was not. While they were demolishing the wall, we were building a fortress. Politics kept them in. For more than a decade, before they gained admission to the European Union, economics would keep them out.
“A map of the world that does not include utopia is not worth even glancing at,” wrote Oscar Wilde. “For it leaves out the one country at which humanity is always landing. And when humanity lands there, it looks out, and, seeing a better country, sets sail.”
The map of my utopian world has no borders. I believe in the free movement of people. As a principle, I think we should all be able to roam the planet and live, love and create where we wish. I could squander the rest of this column parrying caveats and concerns regarding everything from security to wages. But it is the last in a series on utopian thinking: that demands imagining beyond what is possible and practical to what is desirable. So why dream small? Martin Luther King could have climbed the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and called for a 10-point plan for better legislation. But then who would have remembered that?
....Nation states are a relatively new concept; migration is as old as humanity. Borders seek to regulate and restrict that basic human custom for the distinct purpose of excluding some and privileging others. They discriminate between all people with the express intention of then being able to discriminate against some people. They do not simply set boundaries for countries, but are metaphors for the boundaries of how we might think about other human beings. Immigrants are not the problem. Borders are.
Around 35,000 brave runners registered for the race after more than a week of hazardous pollution levels
Participants make their way along Rajpath during the Delhi half marathon Photograph: Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images
This will cause problems in pollination and food supplies for animals.
At the group’s request, the president’s son promoted Russia-hacked materials to the American public.
If it gives us nothing else positive, the Republican tax plan—and, in its Senate form, the health-care repeal—at least provides clarity. There is no debate. The middle class will, in the long run, pay more in taxes than under current law, and the rich will pay less. For a brief moment last week, there did seem to be space for discussion, in the form of a disagreement between the centrist and highly regarded Tax Policy Center and the Tax Foundation, a pro-business group that is generally seen as more biased. Even if poorly matched, having two groups with similar, boring names set the stage for the appearance of a two-handed tax debate. One side says it helps the rich, hurts everyone else, and will lead to a bigger deficit; the other side says the opposite. Our media and political system has long viewed economic policy—and, especially, taxation—as the equivalent of “American Idol.” There is a group of judges, loudly disagreeing, and the home audience can pick whichever side they like, based on whatever criteria they have. In past tax-news cycles (2001, 1993, 1990, 1986...), there were enough serious, respected economists on both sides to make it seem like there was a real, substantive fight over the impact of taxes on jobs and economic growth. (While each individual economist appears to know everything with certainty, as a group, they are surprisingly unsure of the impact of taxes on a nation’s well-being. However, most surveys of economists suggest that virtually none accept the simplistic notion that raising taxes on the rich will cripple an economy.)
Revealed: Secret cash fueling conservative and liberal advocacy organizations.
Billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch are well-known for pumping tens of millions of dollars into so-called “dark money” nonprofits — groups that actively promote or criticize candidates for office but are not required to reveal their donors.
Not so well known is the duo’s role in underwriting and sculpting the legal landscape that led to the court decisions that made possible these and other groups such as super PACs.
The Center for Public Integrity investigated an array of organizations that have participated in legal challenges dating back 40 years that have resulted in a system allowing unlimited sums to be pumped into modern elections. It’s a system that both Republicans and Democrats now fully rely upon ahead of 2018 midterm elections that could reaffirm — or torpedo — President Donald Trump’s congressional majority.
Throughout that history, Koch-backed groups have stood out as reliable, stalwart opponents of regulation of money in politics. While far from the only players in the legal battle, the Kochs are certainly among the most recognizable — and significant.
Our new video series launches this week as a reminder of the experience of women who sought abortions when the male-dominated state controlled their bodies and their fate.
- Videos about women who faced NO CHOICE: Although 59 percent of US adults say that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, it remains one of the most divisive issues in America: Not a week passes without headlines chronicling attempts at every level of government to deny or defend women’s reproductive rights.
The Trump administration’s decision to loosen restrictions around the import of elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia has turned attention back to the president’s family’s own connection to the controversial sport.
Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump are prolific big game hunters and during the 2016 campaign, images re-emerged of the pair on a 2011 hunting trip posing with animals they had killed on safari including an elephant, a buffalo and a leopard.
"The GOP tax bill is now straight-up 'take away your healthcare to pay for tax cuts for corporations,'" says MoveOn.org's Ben Wikler
....The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that repealing the mandate would, over the next decade, cause 13 million people to lose their coverage, but also reduce federal deficits by more than $300 billion. That reduction is key to the Republicans' tax bill, which cannot add more than $1.5 trillion to federal deficits.
Senior citizens' healthcare spending would be on the chopping block to make up for the $1.5 trillion deficit increase brought on by the House tax plan
"What if we tell House Republicans and Democrats that North Korea wanted to close schools, take our healthcare away and pump CO2 into our air—we could suddenly, magically find $700 billion dollars for all of it."
In a bipartisan show of support for endless war and out-of-control military spending, the House of Representatives on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved the nearly $700 billion National Defense Authorization Act of 2018 that aims to boost war outlays by $80 billion—an amount that critics noted would easily cover the costs of free public college tuition and other initiatives that are frequently dismissed as too expensive.
"Flint still doesn't have drinking water, we are told we cannot have affordable single-payer, free college education is too costly, we do not have money to help the homeless, we do not have money to fix our infrastructure."
The final vote tally was 357-70, with 127 Democrats throwing their support behind the bill. Sixty-seven Democrats—including Reps. Barbara Lee of California, Keith Ellison of Minnesota, and John Conyers of Michigan—voted against the legislation.
In addition to providing cash for 90 F-35 jets—20 more than President Donald Trump requested—the measure also approves more than $12 billion for the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency, a massive boost in funding that comes amid soaring tensions between the United States and North Korea.
Cases were among 10 where Moore, as Alabama’s top judge, dissented from court’s majority view and sided with alleged offenders, Guardian review finds
Innovators like Elon Musk – who have long worked to get self-driving trucks on the road – are poised to remove the last humans left in the modern supply chain
....The only humans left in a modern supply chain are truck drivers. Today’s cutting-edge warehouses buzz with automated forklifts and robots that load and unload trucks while drivers stand around sipping coffee – and getting paychecks and health insurance. That’s the kind of thing that drives corporate finance types crazy. The best option is to eliminate drivers.
I understand that global industry is constantly being reinvented to reduce inefficiencies. New technologies will not be stopped, because if we don’t do it here, they’ll do it everywhere from Singapore to Shanghai or Dusseldorf and we’ll be left behind.
I also understand that human error is responsible for almost all vehicle accidents. About 1.25 million people worldwide are killed on roadways every year, including 40,000 in the US. I’ve no doubt that when the technology is perfected and critical mass is achieved, those millions of deaths will be reduced to a trickle.
But what’s the endgame with all this technological innovation?
While support builds for an outright ban of autonomous weapons, powerful nations with large technology industries are resistant to imposing expansive limitations
As the United Nations' first formal meeting about killer robots came to a close on Friday, tech experts and critics continued to warn about autonomous weapons and called for more urgent action to curb the threat they pose.
"These will be weapons of mass destruction. I am actually quite confident that we will ban these weapons," he added. "My only concern is whether [nations] have the courage of conviction to do it now, or whether we will have to wait for people to die first."
—Toby Walsh, University of New South Wales
In Geneva this week, a Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) group of governmental experts on lethal autonomous weapons systems gathered to discuss growing demands that the global community establish limitations on the development of robotic weapons.
As artificial intelligence technology has advanced, human rights organizations, advocacy groups, military leaders, lawmakers, and tech experts, and engineers such Tesla CEO Elon Musk have all expressed concerns about these fast-evolving machines.
"Militaries around the world and defense companies are sinking a lot of money" into developing weapons that can autonomously select targets and kill humans, Mary Wareham of the arms division at Human Rights Watch (HRW) told AFP. "Countries do not have time... to waste just talking about this subject."
New York Times reporters uncovered "consistent failure by the coalition to investigate claims properly or to keep records that make it possible to investigate" in what "may be the least transparent war in recent American history"
The US is usually number 1 in the German research firm Gfk’s rankings, headed up by political consultant Simon Anholt. They ask some 22,000 people around the world to rank countries on six scales.
This year it fell five full places to number 6. No such fall has taken place since 2004, when Americans elected George W. Bush to a second term. And in the past, falls only lasted for a year.
Angela Merkel is the leader of the free world, not Trump.
The Gfk’s poll doesn’t just measure favorability, but looks at 6 dimensions of a country, so that the US fall from grace is all the more surprising. The dimensions are governance, people, culture, exports, immigration-investment and tourism.
In governance, the US had been in 19th place. It is now in 23rd. Out of 50 countries. People think the US is worse governed than nearly half of the developed countries in the world. This dramatic fall in the governance score is pretty obviously caused by Trump.
The inventor of the world wide web remains an optimist but sees a ‘nasty wind’ blowing amid concerns over advertising, net neutrality and fake news
Using diesel trucks now ‘economic suicide’, says Musk – but questions persist over company’s capacity to meet demand
Dozens of parasites and corn kernels found in man shot as he fled to South Korea, hinting at extent of malnutrition in North
Trump Ocean Club drew people accused of corruption and future president benefited from laundered funds, reports say
At the group’s request, the president’s son promoted Russia-hacked materials to the American public.
"The choice is between resolution, or complicity in the suffering; there is no third option."
Increasing taxes on those already drowning in student loan debt to give the rich a tax break denounced as "the height of Republican insanity"
"Soaking broke-ass grad students to pay for a private jet subsidy. All-out class war on the 99 percent."
"An educated population is dangerous to an oligarchy. The GOP claims to be for jobs and economic prosperity for all, but this action shows otherwise."
—Jess Phoenix, California congressional candidate
That was how one commentator described a pair of provisions buried in the GOP tax plan that passed the House on Thursday and is likely headed to the Senate floor for a vote as early as next week.
One provision—crammed in the middle of the latest version of the so-called "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act"—would provide a windfall to the wealthy few who own or lease private planes by exempting them from certain taxes related to "maintenance and support," "the hiring and training of pilots and crew," and "administrative services such as scheduling, flight planning, weather forecasting, obtaining insurance, and establishing and complying with safety standards."
Graduate students, however, would not fare so well if the GOP plan becomes law.
As CNBC reports, "[s]ome programs provide graduate students with a modest stipend for food and housing. For instance, Ryan Hill, a fourth-year Ph.D. student at MIT, receives a $30,000 living stipend and a tuition waiver allowing him to forego paying $50,000 in tuition. He currently pays taxes on his $30,000 stipend, but under the proposed House tax bill, his tuition waiver would also be taxed—meaning he would be taxed as if he was earning $80,000 a year."
In total, the House GOP tax plan would raise taxes by 400 percent on many graduate students, the Harvard Crimson estimated.
"If we are going to stop Republicans from taking healthcare from millions and slashing Medicare to give tax cuts to the wealthy and large corporations, now is the time to stand up and fight back."
With their passage of a deeply unpopular $1.5 trillion tax cut bill on Thursday, House Republicans did their part in "paving the way for the greatest transfer of wealth from regular people to the super-rich in modern American history,"—a move that sparked a flood of outrage from progressive activists and lawmakers who vowed to mobilize and do everything in their power to "kill the bill."
"The grassroots resistance they're about to experience will be just as intense as the tidal wave of opposition that repeatedly stopped the zombie Trumpcare bill."
—Murshed Zaheed, CREDO
"If we are going to stop Republicans from taking healthcare from millions and slashing Medicare to give tax cuts to the wealthy and large corporations, now is the time to stand up and fight back," said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in a call to action that was echoed by many of the progressive groups that played a significant role in the fight against Trumpcare.
Now that the House bill has passed, "the fight now turns to the Senate, where the Trump tax scam has always faced much tougher odds," noted CREDO political director Murshed Zaheed said in a statement.
As Common Dreams reported on Tuesday, Senate Republicans crammed a provision into their own tax bill that would strip healthcare from 13 million Americans—a fact opposition groups have used in recent days in an effort to galvanize grassroots forces.
"It is no surprise that Trump's lapdogs in the Senate want to use the Trump tax scam to try to gut healthcare for millions of Americans," Zaheed said, "but the grassroots resistance they're about to experience will be just as intense as the tidal wave of opposition that repeatedly stopped the zombie Trumpcare bill. If the Senate manages to pass the Trump tax scam despite massive public opposition, we suspect many senators will come to regret it next year."
The Senate GOP plan—expected to hit the floor for a vote before Thanksgiving next week—will raise taxes on low-income Americans beginning in 2021, JCT found. More broadly, the Senate plan would sharply hike taxes on millions of families that earn less than $75,000 a year beginning in 2027.
Citing these numbers, the Washington Post's Paul Waldman wrote, "If you're one of those white working-class voters who propelled Donald Trump into the presidency and gave Republicans total control of Washington, the GOP has a message for you: Sucker!"
By contrast, the wealthiest Americans—including President Donald Trump and his family—stand to gain massively from both the House and Senate plans. According to an NBC analysis published Thursday, Trump and his heirs would save more than a billion dollars if the House measure became law.
"The tax plan passed today by the House of Representatives is a flat giveaway to America's richest households and corporations," argued Josh Bivens of the Economic Policy Institute in a statement. "Most of the same people who cast this vote to deprive the government of tax revenue will now cynically pivot and start wringing their hands about the federal budget deficit, arguing that vital programs like Medicare and Medicaid must be slashed."
"Disgusting," concluded Fight for $15 on Twitter, "but the fight isn't over. This is one of the worst pieces of legislation in history. Call your Senators and tell them to vote NO!"
Energy industry jolted by advice to Norwegian government from its central bank, which runs $1tn fund
The Norwegian central bank, which runs the country’s sovereign wealth fund – the world’s biggest – has told its government it should dump its shares in oil and gas companies, in a move that could have significant consequences for the sector.
Norges Bank, which manages Norway’s $1tn fund, said ministers should take the step to avoid the fund’s value being hit by a permanent fall in the oil price.
The fund was built on the back of Norway’s hydrocarbon wealth, and around 300bn krone (£27.73bn), or 6%, is invested in oil and gas companies.
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