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(David Bythewood) #666

They did everything right — and still hit the glass ceiling. Now, these women are suing America’s top companies for equal pay.

A spate of lawsuits against giants from Google and Twitter to Nike and Goldman Sachs reveals the growing frustrations of professional women in pursuit of the C-suite.


A leading host on Fox News, a conservative network notorious for its loyalty to the White House, has lambasted Donald Trump for mounting the most direct attack on press freedom in American history.

Chris Wallace, widely admired for breaking ranks from Fox colleagues by putting tough questions to administration officials, delivered his most stinging critique yet of the US president at an event celebrating the first amendment.

Are Fox News and Donald Trump falling out of love?

“I believe that President Trump is engaged in the most direct sustained assault on freedom of the press in our history,” Wallace said to applause at the Newseum, a media museum in Washington, on Wednesday night.

“He has done everything he can to undercut the media, to try and delegitimise us, and I think his purpose is clear: to raise doubts when we report critically about him and his administration that we can be trusted. Back in 2017, he tweeted something that said far more about him than it did about us: ‘The fake news media is not my enemy. It is the enemy of the American people.’”

Wallace recalled that retired admiral Bill McRaven, a navy Seal for 37 years, had described Trump’s sentiment as maybe “the greatest threat to democracy in my lifetime” because, unlike even the Soviet Union or Islamic terrorism, it undermines the US constitution.

The veteran broadcaster added: “Let’s be honest, the president’s attacks have done some damage. A Freedom Forum Institute poll, associated here with the Newseum, this year found that 29% of Americans, almost a third of all of us, think the first amendment goes too far. And 77%, three quarters, say that fake news is a serious threat to our democracy.”

(David Bythewood) #668

This came up a while back. And it looked like it was going to happen, but then Barr went over there and Shepherd was gone. There’s a definite war on for Fox News, and Trump seems to be winning.

In other really terrible news, the world’s largest democracy is about to become a theocracy and create what could swiftly become the largest refugee crisis the world has ever seen.

And Trump loves the guy heading it all.

India just redefined its citizenship criteria to exclude Muslims

With a new law — and massive new detention camps — the country is undermining its status as a democracy.

India is home to 200 million Muslims. Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, they have faced mounting threats to their status in the majority-Hindu country. And on Wednesday, they were walloped by a new worrisome development: The upper house of India’s Parliament passed the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB).

The legislation turns religion into a means of deciding whom to treat as an illegal immigrant — and whom to fast-track for citizenship. The bill is being sent to President Ram Nath Kovind for his approval (he will almost certainly sign it), and then it will become law.

At first glance, the bill may seem like a laudable effort to protect persecuted minorities. It says Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians who came to India from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan won’t be treated as illegal. They’ll have a clear path to citizenship.

But one major group has been left out: Muslims.

That’s no coincidence.

The CAB is closely linked with another contentious document: India’s National Register of Citizens (NRC). That citizenship list is part of the government’s effort to identify and weed out people it claims are illegal immigrants in the northeastern state of Assam. India says many Muslims whose families originally came from neighboring Bangladesh are not rightful citizens, even though they’ve lived in Assam for decades.

When the NRC was published in August, around 2 million people — many of them Muslims, some of them Hindus — found that their names were not on it. They were told they had a limited time in which to prove that they are, in fact, citizens. Otherwise, they can be rounded up into massive new detention camps and, ultimately, deported.

So far, this measure affects potentially 2 million people, not all 200 million Muslims in India. However, Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has said it plans to extend the NRC process across the country.

Muslims have faced increasing discrimination and violence over the past few years under Modi’s BJP. But the one-two punch of the NRC followed by the CAB takes this to a new level. The country is beginning to look less like a secular democracy and more like a Hindu nationalist state.

If the Indian government proceeds with its plan, in a worst-case scenario we could be looking at the biggest refugee crisis on the planet. The United Nations, Human Rights Watch, and the US Commission on International Religious Freedom have all warned that this could soon turn into a humanitarian disaster of horrifying proportions.

The Citizenship Amendment Bill

The CAB is only the latest measure the Indian government has taken to marginalize its Muslim minority (more on this below). This measure is particularly blatant in its discrimination.

The CAB will grant citizenship to a host of religious minorities who fled three nearby countries where they may have faced persecution — Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan — before 2015. But Muslims will get no such protection.

The BJP is positioning the CAB as a means of offering expedited citizenship to persecuted minorities. “It seeks to address their current difficulties and meet their basic human rights,” said Raveesh Kumar, a spokesman for the country’s Ministry of External Affairs. “Such an initiative should be welcomed, not criticized by those who are genuinely committed to religious freedom.”

After the CAB passed on Wednesday, Modi tweeted: “A landmark day for India and our nation’s ethos of compassion and brotherhood! … This Bill will alleviate the suffering of many who faced persecution for years.”

In fact, this bill is likely to increase the suffering of many Muslims and is discriminatory on its face, as some of the BJP’s political opposition and several human rights advocates in India have noted.

Shashi Tharoor, whose Congress party opposes the CAB, dubbed it “fundamentally unconstitutional.”

Cedric Prakash, a Jesuit priest and human rights advocate, said in an emailed statement that by “assuring citizenship to all undocumented persons except those of the Muslim faith, the CAB risks … destroying the secular and democratic tenets of our revered Constitution.”

India’s Constitution guarantees everyone equality under the law. Religion is not a criterion for citizenship eligibility, a decision that goes all the way back to the 1940s, when India was founded as a secular state with special protections for minorities like Muslims.

Harsh Mander, a noted rights advocate of Sikh origins, wrote that the CAB represents “the gravest threat to India’s secular democratic Constitution since India became a republic.” He said that if the bill becomes law, he’ll declare himself a Muslim out of solidarity. Meanwhile, he’s also calling for Indians to fight the CAB with a nationwide civil disobedience movement.

Already, protests are underway. In Assam’s capital, authorities have shut down the internet and implemented a curfew. The New York Times reported:

The Indian Army was deployed in the northeastern states of Assam and Tripura as protests grew bigger and more violent. The police were already battling demonstrators over the past few days with water cannons and tear gas. More than 1,000 protesters gathered in the heart of Assam’s commercial capital, Guwahati, yelling: “Go Back Modi!” In other areas, angry men stomped on effigies of Mr. Modi. Crowds set fire to tires and blocked thoroughfares with trees.

As protests against the legislation erupted in different corners of the country, the debate centered on what kind of country India should be.

“The idea of India that emerged from the independence movement,” said a letter signed by more than 1,000 Indian intellectuals, “is that of a country that aspires to treat people of all faiths equally.” But this bill, the intellectuals said, is “a radical break with this history” and will “greatly strain the pluralistic fabric of the country.”

Meanwhile, international human rights organizations are up in arms. The US Commission on International Religious Freedom said India is taking a “dangerous turn in the wrong direction,” adding that the US should weigh sanctions against India if it enshrines the bill in law.

However, Modi enjoys strong support from the Hindu majority, members of which seem to applaud him even more loudly when he cracks down on Muslims. And the country has swung to the right since he first came to power in 2014. It’s noteworthy that the bill passed not only in the lower house of parliament, where the BJP enjoys a majority, but also in the upper house, where it does not.

Now, the CAB will almost certainly be signed into law. The only hope for those who oppose it is that it will be struck down in court on the grounds that it’s unconstitutional.

Muslims stripped of citizenship may end up in massive detention camps

Exacerbating Muslim Indians’ anxiety about the citizenship bill is the recent rhetoric around the NRC.

Those in Assam whose names do not appear on the NRC have been told the burden of proof is on them to prove that they are citizens. But many rural residents don’t have birth certificates or other papers, and even among those who do, many can’t read them; a quarter of the population in Assam state is illiterate.

Residents do get the chance to appeal to a Foreigners’ Tribunal and, if it rejects their claims to citizenship, to the High Court of Assam or even the Supreme Court. But if all that fails, they can be sent to one of 10 mass detention camps the government plans to build, complete with boundary walls and watchtowers.

The first camp, currently under construction, is the size of seven football fields. Even nursing mothers and children will be held there. “Children lodged in detention centers are to be provided educational facilities in nearby local schools,” an Indian official said.

If the detainees in the camps end up being expelled from India — and that is the government’s plan — this could constitute a wave of forced migration even greater than that triggered by Myanmar in 2017, when hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims were displaced.

And it’s not clear where the newly stateless people would go. Neighboring Bangladesh has already said it won’t take them. All this has induced such intense anxiety that some Muslims are committing suicide.

By undermining the status of Muslims, India is undermining its own democracy

India is known as the largest democracy in the world. But its current government is leading it away from democratic norms.

Modi champions a hardline brand of Hindu nationalism known as Hindutva, which aims to define Indian culture in terms of Hindu history and values and which promotes an exclusionary attitude toward Muslims. UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet recently expressed concerns over “increasing harassment and targeting of minorities — in particular, Muslims.”

Under Modi, vigilante Hindus have increasingly perpetrated hate crimes against Muslims, sometimes in an effort to scare their communities into moving away, other times to punish them for selling beef (cows are considered sacred in Hinduism). And this summer, Modi erased the statehood of Jammu and Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state, which had previously enjoyed considerable autonomy over its own affairs.

Muslims comprise approximately 14 percent of the national population. and more than twice that in Assam state. In the 2019 Indian election, one of Modi’s central campaign promises was that he’d get the NRC in shape and deal with the Muslim migrants in Assam once and for all. Other BJP members have used dehumanizing language to describe the Muslims there.

“These infiltrators are eating away at our country like termites,” BJP president and home minister Amit Shah said at an April rally. “The NRC is our means of removing them.” Shah has openly said the goal is to deport those who are deemed illegal immigrants.

Last month, Shah said the government will conduct another count of citizens — this time nationwide. This could be used to clamp down on Muslims throughout India, potentially triggering a huge humanitarian disaster.


I was wondering what the term meant as well.



Absolutely. Right off the top, Trump’s trade war has cost us $10B so far. But the biggest hit for farmers is the loss of markets they have taken decades to build. Those markets have been decimated as their customers have found new sources for agricultural products and are unlikely to be swayed back into the U.S. market. Why? First and foremost because of inertia. Anyone who’s been in business knows what a huge pain it is to change suppliers, even if a potential new supplier appears to be offering a better deal. It costs time and money to change suppliers and there’s a big risk involved.

Trump forced China to find new suppliers when he launched his trade war – so even though it was a pain for them to switch over to non-U.S. sources, they had no choice. Now that it’s done and they’ve settled in with these new suppliers there’s little incentive for them to switch back. They were forced to switch, but nothing can force them to go back.

In addition, even if U.S. farmers are able to offer an attractive price after the lowering of tariffs, Trump has shattered their credibility in the world market. Let’s say you’re a buyer in China who was forced to find a new non-U.S. supplier when Trump’s tariffs hit. That would have been a real blow, but now you’ve adjusted and found a supplier in Brazil and things are back to normal for you. The U.S. tariffs have been removed, but why would you switch back when temper-tantrum-throwing Trump might reinstate them at a moment’s notice? The risk is too great. The stability of the U.S. market has vanished. Better to continue with your supplier in Brazil.

Here’s Forbes’ take:

The Trade War Cost U.S. Farmers Their China Market. A Deal Might Not Bring It Back

U.S. farmers have paid a steep price during Washington’s months-long trade war with Beijing, losing almost two-thirds of their exports to China. Now, however, there is hope as trade talks—with U.S. agriculture squarely in the center—seem to be closing in on a deal.

But even if an agreement comes to fruition, changes in the world agriculture market may mean that those farmers will still lose out.

“It’s a huge loss,” Krauter said. “If it’s soybeans, [the impact of the trade war is] really obvious. If it’s wheat, it’s kind of obvious. If it’s other oil seed crops, like canola, they’re saying, ‘Wait a minute, what happened to our market? What happened to our prices?’”

U.S. farmers might have initially hoped that the trade war would lead to less trade restrictions with China, Friedrichs says, but now they worry that it could mean a complete loss of the market.

Farmers thought, "‘We’re going to get rid of these silly restrictions that China is putting on our products and we’re going to have this huge market [in China],’ but that hasn’t happened,” said Friedrichs. “We’re a year and a half into this, and it made China realize [it was] way too dependent on U.S. beans.”

Indeed, since the trade war began, the Chinese agriculture market has transformed.

Amid the U.S. conflict, China seems to have realized that food security means having diversification of sources, says Friedrichs of INTL FCSTONE. “China has been really aggressive in trying to diversify," he said. "So [after a trade deal], the market might be open for the U.S., but [American producers] are going to face a lot of competition from all these new players.

China has worked around the U.S. agriculture tariffs by expanding relationships with South American countries like Argentina and Brazil. At the same time, China’s pursued its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a trillion-dollar-plus policy aimed at developing infrastructure and investment projects around the world. Through BRI, China has established ties with dozens of countries in Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Europe, which has opened new markets for agricultural imports.

“We’ve lost those markets, they’ve gone someplace else, they’ve built up those relationships,” Krauter, the North Dakota farmer, said. “It’s going to take years, years for that to come back.”


Yes…very well said @Keaton_James

The way of the farmer has been obliterated…primarily due to the ineptitude of our scurrilous and impetuous leader who uses taunts as negotiation tools.


The more we find out about Trump’s trade “deal,” the worse it looks…

China ramping up agricultural purchases to the level that the U.S. is demanding would be a problem and Beijing would probably only do it if the market situation warranted it, analysts said.

Their comments pour skepticism on the farm purchases that are part of the phase one trade deal recently announced by both countries.

Calling it a “crazy amount” of agricultural buying with “market distorting powers” on a global scale, Deborah Elms, executive director of the Asian Trade Centre, said: “The ramping up of scale at that speed is going to be problematic.”

She told CNBC: “I would be willing to take a bet … that we will be back at this table in relatively short order even if we get a deal, because the ability of the Chinese to actually match those purchases is going to be limited.”

U.S. and Chinese officials announced on Friday that both countries finally reached an agreement after a contentious 18-month trade war. But as part of the deal, U.S. President Donald Trump insisted that China buy more U.S. crops, saying that Beijing will purchase $50 billion worth of agriculture goods “pretty soon.” For his part, he vowed not to pursue a new round of tariffs originally set for the previous Sunday.

But Elms warned that the Chinese has been “very cautious” in saying that they would buy according to market conditions and World Trade Organization restrictions.

“Some of this deal rhetoric is really more about politics than reality,” said Mark Jolley, global strategist at CCB International Securities.

“There’s been some people who’ve been saying the only way they would be able to meet that commitment is if they start stockpiling food — it’s going be in excess of probably what they need to buy,” he told CNBC. “It’s pretty difficult to see how they can increase the imports beyond the natural levels they have been taking.”

China has, for instance, largely turned to South America for soybeans since the trade war began. U.S. soybean exports to the country dropped off sharply in the second half of last year after Beijing retaliated to U.S. tariffs with its own duties.

While the Chinese may shift away from their current sources in order to buy from the U.S., the sheer amount of purchases required in a short time frame — from current levels to the $50 billion Trump is demanding — makes it “very challenging,” Elms said. Last year, Beijing bought only around $8.6 billion worth of farm goods.

Let’s do the math. Over the past 12 months the Chinese bought a total of only $8.6B in U.S. farm goods - an average of $0.7B/mo. Trump claims they will now buy $50B “pretty soon” – let’s call that within 4 months. So at their current purchasing levels, they would buy only $2.8B in that time frame. To boost that to Trump’s claimed $50B would require an 18-fold increase in purchases within just 4 months. No wonder the experts are skeptical.

(David Bythewood) #674

The Virgin Mary in handcuffs: How a viral image humanizes the immigration debate


A federal spending deal reached in Congress Monday is set to allocate $25 million towards gun violence research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the National Institutes of Health.

Why it matters: Scientific reports show that a lack of data on gun violence has delayed pivotal reforms despite persistent mass shootings. The Dickey Amendment, which states that funds provided to the CDC may not be used to “advocate or promote gun control,” has complicated efforts to conduct gun violence research since 1997.

  • A de facto moratorium on the provision was slipped into legislation by Democrats last year, Business Insider notes.

The big picture: Guns are a consistently divisive issue in Congress. But while the chambers often get caught up on proposals like stronger background checks or assault weapons bans, research has a more mellow appeal.

  • Democrats are framing the funds as a major victory for gun control reform, despite having originally asked for $50 million.
  • Congress is set to pass the legislation later this week and send it to President Trump’s desk.

(David Bythewood) #676

Apparently only some kids are off limits.

split this topic #677

A post was merged into an existing topic: Immigration: issues and policy


And the BOOM will be no longer…but we know we heard it. It was LOUD. It was CLEAR. It was a CLARION CALL for the preservation of DEMOCRACY.

In honor of this retired BOOM - :boom:


Baby cannon will be missed.

(David Bythewood) #680

I will never celebrate violence, but I do wonder if this isn’t a sign that Putin’s reign has stretched Russians to their limits.

And then there’s this horrible thing:

New Video May Signal Dangerous Change For Neo-Nazi Terror Cell

A new propaganda video showcases Atomwaffen’s "intention to enter a new violent phase,” says an expert.

(David Bythewood) #681

This is what Trump’s America enables and encourages:

Iowa Woman Ran Down Teen With Car Because She Was ‘Mexican’: Police


More for the corporate interests…and the DOJ supports this as well.

There is a battle going on for the future of American business. On one side are a handful of giant corporations that dominate their industries. On the other are the smaller companies they compete against, buy from, or sell to, and the workers they hire. And what you need to know is that under President Trump, the Justice Department is routinely weighing in on the side of the corporate giants.

We’ve already seen the big-is-better philosophy in the department’s approval of megamergers such as Aetna and CVS in health care, T-Mobile and Sprint in mobile phone service and movie giants Disney and Fox, which in some years account for half of all box office sales. The one time the department went to court to stop a megamerger (AT&T and Time-Warner), it managed to lose.

Now, antitrust chief Makan Delrahim is moving aggressively to help the giants enhance their market power in new ways.

Last month, the Justice Department asked a federal court in New York to terminate a set of 70-year-old decrees that prevented the major Hollywood studios from owning and operating movie theaters. The decrees also prevented the studios from setting minimum ticket prices or requiring independent theaters to take blocks of movies — the likely flops along with the hits — rather than choose which movies they wanted to exhibit.

The department argued that the arrival of new studios such as HBO, Netflix and Amazon Prime — along with the advent of other distribution channels such as CDs, cable TV and Internet streaming — had rendered the decrees obsolete. The brief also embraced now-discredited economic theories that mergers between producers and distributors, and business practices such as bundling and retail price maintenance, were good for competition and consumers.

Thanks to those decrees, Hollywood is enjoying a golden era, with more studios producing more movies and television programs in ways that offer consumers more choice and convenience than at any time in history.

But all this competition, it turns out, is also giving the studios financial heartburn, forcing them to pay ginormous sums to the most successful actors, directors and screenwriters and take huge financial risks every time they produce a movie. So it is with the aim of taming that risky and costly competition that the major studios have been scrambling to tie up talent with long-term contracts, buy up TV networks, cable channels and telephone companies, and create their own distribution platforms to connect directly with consumers through the Internet.

By moving to lift the old decrees, the Justice Department has given the studios a green light to push ahead with all this consolidation and re-create the old Hollywood cartel and studio system on which it was based. Independents of all kinds — from studios to creative talent to theater chains and content platforms — will be shut out or forced to hand over a hefty share of their profits to gain access to these vertically integrated giants. Price competition will disappear, entry by new players will be curtailed, and disruptive innovators will either be bought up before they pose a challenge or shut out of the marketplace.

(M A Croft) #683

When someone wants to boast just how well the US economy is doing under Trump, perhaps an opening question might be “What is the economy for anyway?”
BTW That is the title of one of my favourite books by John De Graaf and David K Batker. One of the suggested replies is that the the economy exists for the greatest good, for the greatest number, over the longest run. Anyway that is the understanding I prefer to hold.
So below is a graph of world inequality of OECD countries and (well you can see who is leading in inequality). Unfortunately my own country is not far behind in 4th. Fortunately we now have a Govt that is starting to do something about it, but for many it is still too slow.


Will check it out! Just saw a reader review with the title, “Left Leaning, Right Thinking.” I like the sound of that since I’m a cheerleader for capitalism, but at the same time, believe that the community (i.e., our government) needs to create a reasonable set of rules within which capitalism operates. I’m really, really tired of Trump’s base labeling Democrats as “socialists.” That’s such baloney. – I know many Democrats and none of them are socialists – many are, in fact, entrepreneurs and business owners – as I am myself.