Donald Trump: The Entertainer

by Neal Gabler – The media continue to view Trump through a political lens when an entertainment lens would be more appropriate. It is becoming increasingly clear that to speak of a “Trump presidency” is a misnomer. There is no presidency, at least not by traditional standards. There is a “Trump show,” and that makes all the difference in the world. I and many others have written about how heavily our president borrows from entertainment: the cooked-up suspense (this week’s “calm before the storm” remark), the high concepts he keeps purveying (“Build a wall!”), the strong-man movie persona attached to the common man appeal, and the psychological underpinnings that tap American’s contrarian anti-elitism, which is a staple of our popular culture. By means of all these things and others, Trump has not only turned the presidency into a B-movie, which would be a remarkable feat unto itself; he has turned it...

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EPA’s 4-Year Strategic Plan Doesn’t Mention ‘Climate.’ Not Once

by Jake Johnson – “This wasn’t an oversight, this is a deliberate strategy by this administration.” If President Donald Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hadn’t already made it abundantly clear that addressing climate change is near the very bottom of its list of priorities, the agency’s newly unveiled four-year “strategic plan” should remove all doubt, as it does not contain a single mention of “climate change”—or even just “climate.” The 38-page draft, quietly made available for public comment last week, also neglects to mention “carbon dioxide,” “greenhouse gases,” or “renewable energy.” By contrast, former President Barack Obama’s EPA made addressing climate change the first of the agency’s five stated goals in its 2014 strategic plan—which used the phrase “climate change” more than 40 times. Dr. Rachel Cleetus, climate policy manager with the Union of Concerned Scientists, calledthe EPA’s scrubbing of climate change from its report “stunning,” and argued that it was no accident. “Climate...

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World Leaders React to Donald Trump’s Speech on Iran (VIDEO)

World leaders were quick to react to US President Donald Trump‘s decision to “decertify” an international deal on Iran’s nuclear programme. The 2015 deal, reached between Iran and the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and the European Union, saw Tehran curtailing its nuclear programme in exchange for the easing of crippling economic sanctions. In a White House address on Friday, Trump struck a blow against the accord in defiance of other world powers, and despite the UN nuclear watchdog’s repeated confirmations that Iran was complying with its obligations under 2015’s Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Trump’s move does not amount to a withdrawal from the deal, but instead pushes action to US Congress, which could reimpose sanctions that were lifted under the pact. He threatened, however, that if a deal could not be reached with Congress or US allies, he would walk away from the accord. Trump’s speech put him at odds with US allies in Europe, as well as...

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Why the Republican Tax Plan is More Failed Trickle-down Economics (VIDEO)

by Robert Reich – Trump and conservatives in Congress are planning a big tax cut for millionaires and billionaires. To justify it they’re using the oldest song in their playbook, claiming tax cuts on the rich will trickle down to working families in the form of stronger economic growth. Baloney. Trickle-down economics is a cruel joke. Just look at the evidence: 1. Clinton’s tax increase on the rich hardly stalled the economy. In 1993, Bill Clinton raised taxes on top earners from 31 percent to 39.6 percent. Conservatives predicted economic disaster. Instead, the economy created 23 million jobs and the economy grew for 8 straight years in what was then the longest expansion in history. The federal budget went into surplus. 2. George W. Bush’s big tax cuts for the rich didn’t grow the economy. In 2001and 2003, George W. Bush lowered the top tax rate to 35 percent while also cutting top rates...

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Promoting Renewable Future, Solar Companies and Nonprofits Rush to Puerto Rico

by Jessica Corbett – Promoting Renewable Future, Solar Companies and Nonprofits Rush to Puerto Rico As Congress on Thursday approved a $5 billion loan that will further burden the already bankrupt U.S. territory, various solar companies and nonprofits continued working together to offer aid to the storm-ravaged island while also promoting a more sustainable future and resilient energy system. On Thursday, the nonprofit Empowered By Light and Sunrun—the nation’s largest residential solar company—partnered with local leaders to install a 4kW solar array with battery storage at the Barrio Obrero fire station in San Juan. A second system will be installed at another fire station on Friday. More than 90 percent of the island’s power grid has not been restored since Hurricane Maria struck last month. The commonwealth’s power system was already hobbled by financial difficulties long before the hurricane devastated the island, and the federal government has been widely condemned for its slow and inadequatedisaster relief efforts. “It appears the federal emergency response is focused on diesel to...

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Taxpayers are Picking up the Tab for White Nationalists’ ‘free speech’ Rallies

by Luke Barnes – Security for Richard Spencer’s latest speech will cost half-a-million dollars. Campus officials at the University of Florida are preparing for white nationalist Richard Spencer to visit their campus next month — and are being forced to spend upwards of $500,000 to provide him with security. It’s the latest in a series of right-wing rallies which taxpayers and beleaguered universities are picking up the bill for. Spencer, fresh off leading another torch rally at Charlottesville, will travel to Gainesville, Florida on October 19th, despite the University not inviting him or wanting him to host his event there. “People are concerned for their well-being and safety,” senior Dwayne Fletcher told the Washington Post. “Gainesville will definitely have a different atmosphere in the days to come, and afterward, because of his presence.” According to the Washington Post, the university is also being forced to close several key medical centers, including surgery centers and...

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On This Day, Oct 14, 1944 – The ‘Desert Fox’ Commits Suicide

On this day in 1944, German Gen. Erwin Rommel, nicknamed “the Desert Fox,” is given the option of facing a public trial for treason, as a co-conspirator in the plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, or taking cyanide. He chooses the latter. Rommel was born in 1891 in Wurttenberg, Germany, the son of a teacher. Although not descended from military men, the newly unified German empire made it fashionable to choose a military career, which young Rommel did, becoming an officer cadet. During World War I, he showed himself to be a natural leader with unnatural courage, fighting in France, Romania, and Italy. Following the war, he pursued a teaching career in German military academies, writing a textbook, Infantry Attacks, that was well regarded. At the outbreak of World War II, Rommel was given command of the troops that guarded Hitler’s headquarters, a disappointment for a man used to fighting...

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On This Day, Oct 13, 1943 – Italy Declares War on Germany

On this day in 1943, the government of Italy declares war on its former Axis partner Germany and joins the battle on the side of the Allies. With Mussolini deposed from power and the collapse of the fascist government in July, Gen. Pietro Badoglio, Mussolini’s former chief of staff and the man who had assumed power in the Duce’s stead by request of King Victor Emanuel, began negotiating with General Eisenhower regarding a conditional surrender of Italy to the Allies. It became a fact on September 8, with the new Italian government allowing the Allies to land in Salerno, in southern Italy, in its quest to beat the Germans back up the peninsula. The Germans too snapped into action. Ever since Mussolini began to falter, Hitler had been making plans to invade Italy to keep the Allies from gaining a foothold that would situate them within easy reach of...

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The Fury of Donald Trump: A Tragedy in Every Act

by Mark Sumner – Donald Trump’s personality consists of one part perceiving every question, disagreement, or joke as a deadly insult that must be avenged. At all costs. Especially cost to others. And one part … no, wait. There’s just one part. In a matter of days, Trump has torched bridges all around him, nearly imploded an informal deal with Democrats to protect young undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children, and plunged himself into the culture wars on issues ranging from birth control to the national anthem. Once upon a time, there was a perception that John Kelly was stepping in to take control of the Trump White House and make the ship run smoothly. But the departures of Sean Spicer, Steve Bannon, Anthony Scaramucci, Sebastian Gorka, and Reince Priebus haven’t made things run any smoother. All they’ve done is made it crystal clear that the problem with the Trump...

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Hamas: Deal Reached With Palestinian Rival Fatah (VIDEO)

Palestinian rival factions Hamas and Fatah have reached a deal over political reconciliation, Hamas leader and former prime minister Ismail Haniyeh said in a statement on Thursday, without providing further details. Further information will be announced at a noon news conference (10GMT) in Cairo, where unity talks between the rival factions began on Tuesday. “Fatah and Hamas reached an agreement at dawn today upon a generous Egyptian sponsorship,” Haniyeh said in a statement. The Western-backed mainstream Fatah party lost control of Gaza to Hamas in fighting in 2007. But last month Hamas agreed to cede powers in Gaza to President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah-backed government in a deal mediated by Egypt. The meetings in Cairo are centred around implementing the 2011 Cairo Agreement between the two political parties, in hopes of ending the 10-year political schism. A party to the negotiations, who asked not to be identified, told AFP news agency the agreement would see forces of...

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Citing Dictatorial Tendencies, Critics Slam Trump for ‘Madcap Threat’ Aimed at NBC

by Julia Conley – While the president can’t take away the network’s ability to operate, former FCC commissioner calls ongoing attempts to intimidate journalists “chilling”. Free speech advocates and journalists spoke out against President Donald Trump’s latest attack on the news media on Wednesday after he suggested a “challenge” of NBC’s license. Michael Copps, the former FCC commissioner who now serves as special advisor to the grassroots organization Common Cause, noted that while Trump isn’t legally able to carry out his threats, his attempts to intimidate the press are deeply disconcerting: This madcap threat, if pursued, would be blatant and unacceptable intervention in the decisions of an independent agency. The law does not countenance such interference. President Trump might be happier as emperor, but I think the American people would strip him of his clothes on this issue. Additionally, it’s not just NBC stations that will find this threat chilling, but also smaller...

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‘Great News for the Climate’ as Banking Giant Ditches Tar Sands, Arctic Drilling

by Andrea Germanos – Climate campaigners praise move by BNP Paribas, call on other banks to follow suit. In a move being hailed as a win for the climate, banking giant BNP Paribas announced Wednesday that it is severing ties with companies whose main business is connected to shale and/or oil from tar sands, will stop financing transportation projects for such fuels, and will not finance any oil or gas projects in the Arctic region. “In concrete terms,” writes Jean-Laurent Bonnafé, director and CEO of BNP Paribas, “these decisions mean that we will cease providing finance to a number of companies and organizations that are not making an effort to be part of the transition to a less greenhouse gas-emitting economy.” According to Lucie Pinson, Friends of the Earth France’s private finance campaigner, it’s “great news for the climate and a huge victory for the groups who have been mobilizing in support of Indigenous peoples...

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Trump Takes His Rage Out On Obamacare, Again, With New Executive Orders

by Joan McCarter – Thwarted by the Republican Congress’s inability to take health insurance away from millions of people, Donald Trump is continuing his efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act from the inside. He’s expected to sign executive orders on Thursday intended to siphon off healthy Obamacare enrollees into skimpy cheaper plans. The order will loosen rules for what these plans have to cover and who they have to cover, like people with pre-existing conditions. The cumulative effect of the new rules he’s ordering will be to damage Obamacare’s regulated markets, leaving just the sickest, most expensive patients there. A press release issued by the White House in advance of his signing the orders is short on details, heavy on rhetoric attacking Obamacare, but generally follows what previous leaks and news reports have suggested he will do. He’s got a three-bladed hatchet that he’s taking to the law, one that will make it easier for...

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ACLU Sues Kansas Over ‘Unconstitutional’ Law Barring Boycott of Israel

by Jessica Corbett – The law, part of a wider pattern of targeting the non-violent BDS movement, decried as “attempt by the government to silence one side of a public debate”. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on Wednesday filed a lawsuit to challenge a Kansas law that requires any company or individual who contracts with the state to sign a statement certifying that they are not actively engaged in boycotting Israel. “This law is an unconstitutional attempt by the government to silence one side of a public debate by coercing people not to express their beliefs, including through participation in a political boycott,” said ACLU attorney Brian Hauss. The law took effect July 1, 2017. The lawsuit could have sweeping consequences nationally. Kansas’ law is similar not only to laws adopted by other states but also to the Israel Anti-Boycott Act that has been introduced in the U.S. House and Senate. In July, the ACLU sent...

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Mobile Clinics Assume Greater Role in Preventive Care

by Scott Rodd – One afternoon last month, the Family Van stopped at the corner of Washington and Roxbury streets in Boston. The regulars had already formed a line, waiting in the lingering summer heat for the red and green RV to arrive. The Family Van, which is funded in part by Harvard Medical School, provides free blood pressure tests, HIV counseling and basic medical care to underserved neighborhoods across Boston. The van has been operating since 1992, and mobile health clinics like it have been around for decades, but they are assuming a more prominent role as the U.S. health care system places a greater emphasis on preventive care. Encouraged by incentives in the Affordable Care Act, health care providers and insurers are trying to treat health care problems before they turn into costly health crises. Mobile clinics are an effective way to reach patients who may forgo...

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What is Left of ISIL in Iraq? (VIDEO)

by John Beck – Far from the force that swept across Iraq in mid-2014 and seized control of nearly a third of the country, ISIL today has been weakened significantly, relegated to just a few dozen square kilometres of ground, with manpower in the low thousands. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group was removed last week from yet another stretch of the country, the latest in a series of blows to the once-powerful armed group. The town of Hawija, which ISIL had held since 2014, lies around 240km north of Baghdad and was its last urban stronghold in Iraq. The offensive began on September 21 and was expected to be tough going. Within just two weeks, jubilant Iraqi forces and members of the country’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMUs) had hoisted their flags in squares and roundabouts. ISIL crumbled rapidly, with hundreds of fighters fleeing north towards...

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On This Day, Oct. 12, 1960 – Krushchev Lets His Shoe Do the Talking

1960 – In one of the most surreal moments in the history of the Cold War, Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev removes his shoe and pounds a table with it in protest against a speech critical of Soviet policy in Eastern Europe during a dispute at a U.N. General Assembly. During a debate over a Russian resolution decrying colonialism, a representative of the government of the Philippines charged the Soviets with employing a double standard, pointing to their domination of Eastern Europe as an example of the colonialism they were criticizing in their resolution. In response, Khrushchev took off one of his shoes and began to furiously pound the table. The chaotic scene finally ended when General Assembly President Frederick Boland (Ireland) broke his gavel calling the meeting to order, but not before the image of Khrushchev as a hotheaded buffoon was indelibly etched into America’s collective memory. 1492 –...

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In Iran and North Korea, Trump Is Playing With Nuclear Fire

by Marjorie Cohn, Truthout | News Analysis – The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, which spearheaded a landmark nuclear disarmament treaty, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The significance of this award cannot be underestimated. Donald Trump’s bombastic and frightening threats against North Korea and Iran may portend a catastrophic attack that could impact the entire world. The US dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, killing 210,000 people. During the week following the bombings, thousands of survivors experienced a unique combination of symptoms, Susan Southard wrote in the Los Angeles Times: Their hair fell out in large clumps, their wounds secreted extreme amounts of pus, and their gums swelled and bled. Purple spots appeared on their bodies, signs of hemorrhaging beneath the skin. Infections ravaged their internal organs. Within a few days of the onset of symptoms, many people lost consciousness, mumbled deliriously and died in extreme pain; others...

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How Chicago Gets its Guns (VIDEO)

by Mick Dumke – John Thomas set up the deal the way he had arranged nearly two dozen others. A friend said he wanted to buy as many guns as he could, so Thomas got in touch with someone he knew who had guns to sell. The three of them met in the parking lot of an LA Fitness in south suburban Lansing at noon on Aug. 6, 2014. Larry McIntosh, whom Thomas had met in his South Shore neighborhood, took two semi-automatic rifles and a shotgun from his car and put them in the buyer’s car. He handed over a plastic shopping bag with four handguns. None of the weapons had been acquired legally — two, in fact, had been reported stolen — and none of the men was a licensed firearms dealer. Thomas’ friend, Yousef, paid McIntosh $7,200 for the seven guns. He always paid well. Thomas did little...

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VIDEO: The U.S. War in Afghanistan Is Now 16 Years Old. Trump Has No Plans to End It

by Phyllis Bennis – Trump’s plans to extend the war he once supported ending are even more worrisome for their lack of transparency. On October 7, 2001, the U.S. invaded Afghanistan. The war is now 16 years old — and that’s not even counting the decade of U.S. intervention in the country during the Cold War. Donald Trump once advocated the “speedy withdrawal” of U.S. troops from that country. As president, however, he’s gone in the opposite direction, demanding the U.S. must now “fight to win.” As Phyllis Bennis, director of the IPS New Internationalism project, explains in this short video, Trump’s plans to extend the war he once supported ending are even more worrisome for their lack of transparency. He’s not said how many new troops he’ll send or how long they’ll be deployed. Worse still, civilian casualties in multiple U.S. wars have been on the rise since he took office — by 67 percent...

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