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Senate Debates Trumpcare

July 27th, 2017

Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org (Home - Stephen Lendman)

On Tuesday, a vote to debate the measure passed by a 51 - 50 margin, Vice President Pence breaking the evenly divided Senate in favor.

All undemocratic Democrats opposed the measure, along with GOP Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkoswki.

Hours after clearing the procedural hurdle, amended Trumpcare without CBO scoring was defeated by a 57 - 43 margin - nine GOP senators joining all Dems, showing a clear majority wants significant changes in the legislation, gutting Medicaid the most contentious issue.

The measure is on life support short of defeat. Debate continues on other amendments, a final vote not planned unless Republicans have enough support for passage.

Full story »

Which do you trust: CNN, or Tass?

July 27th, 2017

Eric Zuesse

On Tuesday July 25th, Russia’s official Tass News Agency bannered "Diplomat blasts US media reports on Russia's alleged arms supplies to Taliban: The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman says a misinformation campaign is underway in the US media.” Tass reported:

CNN has become a propaganda instrument in a US misinformation campaign about Russia’s alleged weapons supplies to the Taliban in Afghanistan, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Tuesday.

Foreign Ministry slams accusations over Russia's alleged support for Taliban as absurd
"We have repeatedly said that a misinformation campaign is underway in the US media alleging that Russia is supplying weapons to the Taliban in Afghanistan and so forth. CNN is a reliable propaganda instrument used by relevant American structures in this game," she told the Govorit Moskva radio station commenting on CNN’s allegations that it has evidence proving arms supplies to the Taliban from Russia.

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Chuck Schumer’s Phony Call for Social Justice

July 26th, 2017

Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org (Home - Stephen Lendman)

Undemocratic Democrat Senate Minority Leader Schumer has been involved in state and federal politics since 1975.

He’s ideologically hard right, pretending otherwise, fooling no one familiar with his deplorable record.

Like most others in Congress, he’s anti-progressive, anti-labor, anti-welfare for the nation’s most vulnerable, pro-Wall Street, pro-business, pro-war, pro-US imperial dominance, and one-sidedly pro-Israel.

In deference to its regime, he opposed the Iran nuclear deal, turning truth on its head, claiming Tehran would be free to develop nuclear weapons years later - ones it doesn’t want, strongly advocating for a nuclear-free Middle East.

Schumer is just another self-serving dirty politician. The New York Times gave him feature op-ed space to lie, claiming he wants “a better deal for American workers” he’s done nothing for throughout his years in politics.

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Imperial Power Centers: Divisions, Indecisions and Civil War

July 26th, 2017

James Petras

Introduction

One of the most important outcomes of the Trump Presidency are the revelations describing the complex competing forces and relations engaged in retaining and expanding US global power (‘the empire’).

The commonplace reference to ‘the empire’ fails to specify the interface and conflict among institutions engaged in projecting different aspects of US political power.

In this essay, we will outline the current divisions of power, interests and direction of the competing configurations of influence.

The Making of Empire: Countervailing Forces

‘The empire’ is a highly misleading concept insofar as it presumes to discuss a homogeneous, coherent and cohesive set of institutions pursuing similar interests. ‘The empire’ is a simplistic general phrase, which covers a vast field contested by institutions, personalities and centers of power, some allied, others in growing opposition.

While ‘the empire’ may describe the general notion that all pursue a common general goal of dominating and exploiting targeted countries, regions, markets, resources and labor, the dynamics (the timing and focus of action) are determined by countervailing forces.

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Brussels Opposes New US Sanctions on Russia

July 26th, 2017

Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org (Home - Stephen Lendman)

House and Senate members are poised to impose tough new illegal sanctions on Russia for phony reasons.

They’re aimed at preventing improved bilateral relations, Trump held hostage to their deplorable agenda.

On Sunday, new White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said “(t)he original piece of legislation was poorly written, but we were able to work with the House and Senate, and the administration is happy with the ability to do that and make those changes that were necessary, and we support where the legislation is now.”New White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci said Trump will decide on the measure “shortly. He hasn’t made the decision yet to sign that bill one way or the other,” adding:

“Go with what Sarah is saying as I am new to the information…It’s my second or third day on the job.”

Trump has no practical choice. Both houses will pass sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea overwhelmingly - maybe by unanimous voice votes, making the measure veto-proof.

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Are AG Jeff Sessions’ Days Numbered?

July 26th, 2017

Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org (Home - Stephen Lendman)

Days earlier, Trump criticized Sessions for recusing himself from the Justice Department’s Russiagate investigation - saying had he known, he wouldn’t have appointed him AG, adding:

“Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself, which frankly I think is very unfair to the president.”

“How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, ‘Thanks, Jeff, but I’m not going to take you.’ It’s extremely unfair — and that’s a mild word — to the president.”

He acted on advice from DOJ ethics experts and the American Bar Association - to avoid a possible conflict of interest or appearance of one.

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What Trump Is Learning From His Presidency

July 24th, 2017

Eric Zuesse

It is now clear that Donald Trump had never cared about public policy except to the extent it affected his own bottom line as a businessman, and that he’s only now starting, as the U.S. President, to think about ideology, and about public policy, and about what the functions of government are and what they ought to be, and how they can most efficiently be carried out in policy. He’s in a learning-mode, now, more than a doing-mode. So: what is he actually learning? Back on 27 February 2017, after already more than a month as President, he said “Nobody knew that healthcare could be so complicated,” and that "I have to tell you, it's an unbelievably complex subject.” For him, as someone who never had really thought about it before, this fact (the need for authentic expertise in the interests of the public, not of himself) came as an unpleasant shock — after already several weeks in the White House.

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Criminalizing Support for BDS

July 24th, 2017

Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org (Home - Stephen Lendman)

BDS activism is vital to demand Israel be held accountable for its longstanding high crimes against millions of Palestinians.

The late Howard Zinn called dissent “the highest form of patriotism.” The Center for Constitutional Rights earlier said “(t)he growing threat to the right to dissent has been demonstrated in the US government’s efforts to silence speech, and criminalize and target peaceful movements.”

It calls effort to silence criticism of Israel “the Palestinian Exception” to fundamental First Amendment rights.In June 2016, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed Executive Order No. 157, “directing state entities to divest all public funds supporting the Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel.”

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Saving Illinois: Getting More Bang for the State’s Bucks

July 24th, 2017

Ellen Brown

Illinois is teetering on bankruptcy and other states are not far behind, largely due to unfunded pension liabilities; but there are solutions. The Federal Reserve could do a round of “QE for Munis.” Or the state could turn its sizable pension fund into a self-sustaining public bank.

Illinois is insolvent, unable to pay its bills. According to Moody’s, the state has $15 billion in unpaid bills and $251 billion in unfunded liabilities. Of these, $119 billion are tied to shortfalls in the state’s pension program. On July 6, 2017, for the first time in two years, the state finally passed a budget, after lawmakers overrode the governor’s veto on raising taxes. But they used massive tax hikes to do it – a 32% increase in state income taxes and 33% increase in state corporate taxes – and still Illinois’ new budget generates only $5 billion, not nearly enough to cover its $15 billion deficit.

Adding to its budget woes, the state is being considered by Moody’s for a credit downgrade, which means its borrowing costs could shoot up. Several other states are in nearly as bad shape, with Kentucky, New Jersey, Arizona and Connecticut topping the list. U.S. public pensions are underfunded by at least $1.8 trillion and probably more, according to expert estimates. They are paying out more than they are taking in, and they are falling short on their projected returns. Most funds aim for about a 7.5% return, but they barely made 1.5% last year.

Full story »

Fake News Alleging Second Putin/Trump Meeting at G20

July 20th, 2017

Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org (Home - Stephen Lendman)

Media scoundrels are all over this story, misreporting what happened.

A White House statement called an alleged second meeting “false, malicious and absurd.”

Trump tweeted: “The Fake News is becoming more and more dishonest! Even a dinner arranged for top 20 leaders in Germany is made to look sinister!”

“Fake News story of secret dinner with Putin is ‘sick.’ All G 20 leaders, and spouses, were invited by the Chancellor of Germany. Press knew!”

NYT fake news said the following:“(T)here was another (Putin/Trump) encounter (at the G20): a one-on-one discussion over dinner that lasted as long as an hour and relied solely on a Kremlin-provided interpreter.”

Full story »

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