Archive | September, 2017

The Breitbart Universe Unites for Roy Moore

By Rosie Gray

FAIRHOPE, Ala.—There was the Avengers. There was the X-Men. There was the Suicide Squad.

And then there was Steve Bannon, Nigel Farage, Phil Robertson, Chris McDaniel, Paul Nehlen, and Roy Moore.

Monday night in the Mobile Bay town of Fairhope, the stars of the Breitbart universe assembled for Moore’s closing rally ahead of Tuesday’s Senate special primary to fill Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s old seat. On the other side from the aforementioned A-team: Luther Strange and millions of dollars connected to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell—and, though it was barely mentioned, President Trump.

The crew in town for Moore’s rally, despite a mixed record of electoral success and relevance, constitute some of the biggest avatars of the insurgent populist movement Bannon has championed. There was Bannon himself, the former chief strategist who has returned to Breitbart and used it to heavily promote Moore in this special election, which Bannon views as a bellwether for insurgent candidates in 2018. McDaniel and Nehlen are two of Bannon’s favored candidates; McDaniel ran unsuccessfully against Senator Thad Cochran in Mississippi in 2014, and Nehlen, a hardline anti-globalist and occasional user of the alt-right epithet “cuck,” lost by 68 points against Paul Ryan in 2016 and is challenging him again this cycle. Farage, the Brexit thought leader, represents the global aspect of Bannon’s vision of a worldwide nationalist insurgency.

Their presence here also underscored the fevered interest in this low-turnout runoff election, which has turned into a larger proxy war for opposing forces on the right and which has attracted national press due to Bannon’s efforts against Trump’s preferred candidate. Taking the stage as the last speaker, Moore even thanked Bannon directly, calling him an “outstanding man” and saying that he had had one phone call with him and met him once in person, and that …read more

Via:: <a href= class="colorbox" title="The Breitbart Universe Unites for Roy Moore” rel=nofollow>The Atlantic



How Puerto Ricans on the Mainland Are Getting News From Relatives

By Vann R. Newkirk II

Perhaps the grimmest aspect of the ongoing emergency in Puerto Rico is that the knowledge of the aftermath of Hurricane Maria—including 10 deaths, the devastation of entire swathes of the island, and dire shortages of food, water, and fuel—come from the teaspoonfuls of information that have dribbled out of the island. Most places don’t have power, and won’t for weeks, if not months. Less than 300 of the islands 1,600 cellphone towers are functional, 85 percent of all above-ground cable and phone infrastructure was knocked out, and the more remote areas that make up the majority of Puerto Rico’s landmass have mostly gone dark, with mostly brief calls from satellite phones providing sporadic updates. There’s no way to know for certain how bad the crisis is, and that dearth of information in turn has become part of the crisis itself.

For the millions of people in the Puerto Rican diaspora, both on the island and on the mainland, the lack of information is one of the most disruptive parts of the disaster. For people living on the island, it’s often impossible to get word out as conditions deteriorate, to know when aid might be coming, or to coordinate the delivery and access to life-saving services. Their relatives scattered across the United States and elsewhere have been left entirely in the dark as to the status of family members. While there’s no shortage of stories on the long-term implications of Hurricanes Irma and Maria on Puerto Rico and its existing humanitarian problems, at the moment many Puerto Ricans haven’t yet settled a more basic question: Who made it through the storm and its aftermath?

On the mainland, Puerto Ricans are still waiting for any news about loved ones on the island. For Alexandra Gates, a graduate student at the University of …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



A Primetime Clash Over Health Care

By Russell Berman

Ordinarily, you debate to stave off defeat. But for Senators Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy on Monday night, the defeat came first.

By the time the two GOP senators stepped on CNN’s stage Monday night for a prime-time debate over their health-care proposal, they knew they had already lost.

A few hours earlier, Senator Susan Collins became the third Republican to formally reject the pair’s legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, effectively killing its chances for passage through the Senate this week. Graham and Cassidy had hoped to use the forum to make a closing argument for their plan, and to line it up against Senator Bernie Sanders and his call for a single-payer, Medicare-for-All health-care system. Instead, the two senators found themselves defending a proposal that was no less hypothetical—and probably much less popular—than Sanders’ supposed liberal fantasy.

“We’re going to press on,” Graham said about his and Cassidy’s proposal, offering none of the optimism they had in recent days about its prospects. The South Carolinian said it was “okay to vote” on the plan even if it fell short, a signal that he hoped Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would not abandon plans to bring it up for debate.

Graham and Cassidy dutifully defended their bill against attacks from Sanders and Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, arguing that its cuts to Medicaid put the program on a sustainable trajectory and that governors could be trusted to offer consumer protections that would no longer be federally guaranteed. “I trust governors,” Cassidy told a questioner during the town-hall format who asked about the bill’s provision allowing states the opt out of requiring insurers to charge the same rates to people with preexisting conditions. “I actually think that governors respond to the people that elected them. If they don’t, they …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



The Brazenness of Jared and Ivanka’s Personal Email Server

By David A. Graham

Late Sunday night, Josh Dawsey of Politico dropped a story that, in any other administration, would have been cause for concern but hardly surprise.

“Presidential son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner has corresponded with other administration officials about White House matters through a private email account set up during the transition last December,” Dawsey wrote. “ Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, set up their private family domain late last year before moving to Washington from New York, according to people with knowledge of events as well as publicly available internet registration records.”

On Monday, Newsweek reported that Ivanka Trump had also used the server to communicate with at least one government official, Small Business Administration chief Linda McMahon.

Administration officials conducting official business raises concerns because it suggests some intention to skirt public-records laws and conceal things from the public. While troubling, this is hardly unusual. Sarah Palin was busted for using one. So were officials in the George W. Bush administration. Lisa Jackson, who ran the Environmental Protection Agency under Barack Obama, used an alias for her email.

Of course, the most famous example of someone using personal email is Hillary Clinton. The case of the Javanka server is brazen for its mimickry of Clinton’s actions at the State Department, right down to the use of a server specifically for the family. The only way it could be more slaptstick would be if Kushner and Trump also used BleachBit.

There are significant ways the Kushner-Ivanka server differs from Clinton’s. Neither of them is a Cabinet secretary. (Trump, despite her title as special assistant to the president, <a class="colorbox" rel="nofollow" …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



Obamacare Repeal Push Running Out of Time—and Votes

By Russell Berman

It is still possible that in the next few days, Senate Republicans will pass the health-care proposal known as Graham-Cassidy, the legislation that party leaders have described as their “last, best chance” to substantially repeal the Affordable Care Act.

But for that to happen, the bill’s champions would have to win back the vote of at least one of the three Republicans who have signaled their opposition. They’d have to persuade multiple others to abandon their previously stated positions on the sanctity of protections for people with preexisting conditions. And they’d have to lock down still more Republicans who balked on Monday at changes to the legislation that were made expressly to secure their support.

In short, the repeal bill’s chances on Monday were dicey at best, and few Republicans were willing to predict its passage before a September 30 procedural deadline for enactment on a party-line basis. Not President Trump, who seemed resigned to its failure during an interview on an Alabama radio show. Not Senator Orrin Hatch, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, who told reporters it would be “nearly impossible” to pass Graham-Cassidy moments before he convened the lone hearing that Congress plans to hold on the bill. And not Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who was silent on the question of whether the proposal would even receive a vote on the Senate floor.

Written by Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, the bill would cap Medicaid spending and convert about $1.2 trillion in funding for Obamacare over the next decade into block grants for states, which would have broad latitude to opt out of the law’s core insurance regulations. Graham and Cassidy have pitched it as a federalist approach to health care, allowing states to …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



America’s Uneven Crime Spike

By Matt Ford

The FBI’s latest crime report isn’t heartening. Murders in the United States rose by almost 9 percent last year, the FBI reported Monday, mirroring similar increases in other forms of violent crime. The homicide spike is one of the sharpest one-year upticks since the Great American Crime Decline in the 1990s, and, when combined with 2015’s numbers, marks only the second two-year increase since the 1980s.

But a deeper dive into Monday’s stats doesn’t suggest that the United States is backsliding to the high-crime years of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Instead, the FBI’s data points to sharp geographic disparities in violent crimes in American society, with a few major cities accounting for large portions of 2016’s growth in murders and other serious offenses.

The new figures come from the latest edition of the Uniform Crime Report, an annual collection of crime data published by the FBI. The UCR includes self-reported stats on an assortment of major offenses from almost every law-enforcement agency in the United States. Because people don’t always report incidents to the police for a variety of reasons, criminologists typically use it alongside other datasets like the National Crime Victimization Survey to measure crime rates.

According to the UCR, murders in the United States rose by 8.6 percent in 2016, a notable increase even before it’s placed alongside the 10.8 percent jump in 2015. Homicide data is considered the most reliable of the indicators measured by the UCR, because it tends to be more easily measurable by local law-enforcement agencies. Other offenses like rape and aggravated assault saw a slightly smaller increase, while property crimes remained roughly the same. (Auto theft, which rose 7.4 percent, was a notable outlier.)

Rural, urban, and suburban communities all saw increases in violent crimes in 2016. But they were of varying degrees. …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Randstanding

By Elaine Godfrey

Today in 5 Lines

Protesters disrupted the Senate Finance Committee hearing on the Graham-Cassidy health-care bill. Despite new revisions to the legislation, Republican Senator Rand Paul said he remains opposed to the measure. Former New York Representative Anthony Weiner, who pleaded guilty in May to transferring obscene material to a minor, was sentenced to 21 months in prison. The Supreme Court canceled oral arguments for two cases related to President Trump’s travel ban, after the administration issued a new update to the ban. Republican Senators Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy will debate Senators Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar on health care at 9 p.m. ET on CNN.

Today on The Atlantic

  • Who Has Moore Sway?: Alabama’s GOP Senate primary between Senator Luther Strange, a candidate backed by President Trump, and Roy Moore, backed by conservative firebrands like Steve Bannon, is testing Trump’s bond with his base. (Rosie Gray)

  • ‘Don’t Take the Knee’: Athletes shouldn’t kneel during the national anthem, argues David Frum, because it concedes America’s flag to Donald Trump and his supporters.

  • Does It Matter?: Facebook recently announced that Russian-linked accounts purchased $100,000 worth of advertising. Here’s how significant that ad buy might be. (Alexis C. Madrigal)

Follow stories throughout the day with our )

…read more

Via:: <a href= class="colorbox" title="The Atlantic Politics & Policy Daily: Randstanding” rel=nofollow>The Atlantic



Kaepernick’s Triumph

By David A. Graham

Friday morning, things didn’t look great for Colin Kaepernick.

The former San Francisco 49er had made headlines around the world last season for kneeling during the National Anthem. The offseason had seen a raging debate about the fact that he hadn’t been signed from free agency, which boiled down to whether teams were justified in deciding that his controversial protest outweighed his talent. Despite some comically atrocious performances by quarterbacks on NFL rosters in the first two weeks of the season, Kaepernick remained unsigned. A few fellow players said publicly that he deserved a roster spot somewhere, and some had taken up his protest, but it remained a niche question, and the cause to which Kaepernick wished to draw attention—police brutality against people of color—had faded a bit from the headlines, overwhelmed by the onslaught of Trump-related news.

Then came President Trump’s riff during a rally in Alabama Friday night.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out,’” Trump said. “‘He’s fired. He’s fired!’”

By the close of the weekend, the president wasn’t contending just with Kaepernick. He was facing off with hundreds of NFL players, who had either taken a knee, like Kaepernick, or stayed in the locker room during the playing of the National Anthem. He’d been scolded by multiple team owners, including his personal friend Robert Kraft of the New England Patriots, and the NFL commissioner. The dispute had spilled over the bounds of NFL and included LeBron James and Steph Curry. Even Michael Jordan, who (supposedly) …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



How Trump Turns Unpopular Outbursts Into Political Winners

By David A. Graham

After spending the weekend picking fights with the two best basketball players in the world, President Trump woke up Monday morning in a more contemplative, jingoistic mood—shifting both his emphasis and his tone.




These missives fit with the way Trump often handles his many feuds and crises, starting from an extreme position and then slowly groping toward one where he can find popular support. While the fights that the president picks are often comically unpredictable—if you had “Twitter fight with Steph Curry and LeBron James” on your presidential bingo card for the weekend, step up to the table to take your winnings—but the way that he conducts himself, having chosen a fight, seems to display a pattern.

As in so many things, Trump the president is little different from Trump the businessman. His impulse is to start from a big, splashy, gaudy place—say, calling players who kneel for the National Anthem “sons of bitches,” or claiming he was revoking an invitation to the White House from Curry, who’d already rejected it. (You can’t quit, you’re fired!) These decisions seem to stem from the gut, no Clintonian polling about it. Trump sees something and he says whatever comes to mind about it.

The problem is that often those views are unwise or politically hazardous. For example, Trump’s …read more

Via:: The Atlantic



How Top Food Companies Fail to Protect Environmental Activists in Supply Chains

Destruction of rainforest in West Kalimantan, Borneo paves way for palm oil plantation. (Photo: David Gilbert / RAN)

Destruction of rainforest in West Kalimantan, Borneo paves way for palm oil plantation. (Photo: David Gilbert / RAN)

A recent investigation by the anti-poverty advocacy organization Oxfam reveals how the world’s top ten food and beverage companies are failing to protect environmental and human rights defenders caught in the companies’ supply chains.

The Oxfam report, Pathways to Deforestation-Free Food, demonstrates how Associated British Foods, Danone, Coca-Cola, General Mills, Kellogg, Mars, Mondelēz, PepsiCo, Nestlé and Unilever have committed to tackling deforestation caused by their companies, but crucially lack policies to protect local activists and environmentalists within their supply networks from violence, threats, and attacks.

“A glaring policy gap across all the companies analyzed,” the Oxfam report found, “is that none have policies to protect human rights defenders, nor require their suppliers to put in place policies of zero threats, intimidation or attacks against human rights defenders and local communities.”

Industrial farming of food ingredients such as soy and palm oil, for example, have led to massive deforestation and displacement of rural communities in Indonesia, Brazil, Colombia, and elsewhere throughout the globe. Activists standing up against such industries in defense of forests, rivers, land, and the livelihoods of local communities have been threatened and murdered at an increased rate in recent years.

Four environmental activists were murdered each week in 2016 for defending their communities and environment from the impacts of agribusiness, mining, and logging industries, according to a report from the human rights organization Global Witness.

In Colombia, activists standing up against the impacts of El Cerrejón, Latin America’s largest open-pit mine, have faced regular threats and violence.

Jakeline Romero has organized against the water shortages and displacement caused by this mine, which is owned by Glencore, BHP Billiton, and Anglo-American.

“They threaten you so you will …read more

Via:: Truthout