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"https://www.orfonline.org/research/contesting-mutual-security-india-nepal-relations/"
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"Contesting Mutual Security: India- Nepal Relations"
"The present paper analyses the existing security relations and strategic perceptions of India and Nepal and attempts to identify the common and divergent perceptions existing, if any. It tries to understand the reasons for the erosion of mutuality and its impact on Indo- Nepal relationship. The present paper analyses the existing security relations and strategic perceptions of India and Nepal and attempts to identify the common and divergent perceptions existing, if any. It tries to understand the reasons for the erosion of mutuality and its impact on Indo- Nepal relationship. India’s Security Concerns The geo-strategic significance of Nepal’s location between India and China has been emphasized as a prominent variable in defining India’s security perceptions towards it. If British India regarded Nepal as a buffer between the Indian and Russian empires, independent India considered it as a `principal barrier to India’ defending the northern frontiers. The security concerns of India became alive after the northern border became alive for security concerns with China going Communist in 1949 and annexing Tibet in 1950. Though India had sent protest notes to China deploring its military operations in Tibet, it accepted Chinese suzerainty over Tibet in 1954 after realistically assessing its own limitations on being able to make any difference to the situation. Consequently, to make its exposed frontiers more secure, India tried to consolidate its security interests in the north. It signed treaties of Peace and Friendship with Bhutan in 1949 and with Nepal and Sikkim in 1950 with distinct clauses that continue to bind the security of these states with that of India. In 1949, India and Nepal had also signed an agreement on the recruitment of the Nepali Gorkhas in the Indian Army which bound the two countries with a military link. Some of the measures that were taken to strengthen India’s security interests were: setting up check posts on the border, joint monitoring and patrolling of the border by the Indian and Nepalese army personnel and intelligence sharing. India also sent military missions to help Nepal reorganise its Armed Forces. The need to reorganise the army first appeared in 1952 when a small armed force revolted against King Tribhuvan. In fact India’s security concern was not only to keep China away from Nepal but also to assist in achieving political and economic stability that could act as a guard against any foreign intervention. These sentiments find expression in Nehru’s statement in the Parliament saying “our interests in the internal conditions of Nepal became still more acute and personal, if I may say so, because of the developments across our border, because of the developments in China and Tibet, to be frank”. Consequently India’s involvement increased in developing the infrastructure and economy of Nepal which could take care of the latter’s security interests also. Indian Army Engineers constructed roads and airfields linking places of strategic importance. Significant emphasis was laid on development sectors such as education, health, agriculture, power, irrigation etc. However, fissures in the commonality of the security interests were visible in the late fifties and early sixties. Nepal had signed agreements with China such as the Treaty of Peace and Friendship in 1960, road construction project from Kathmandu to Kodari (1961) and resolving the boundary issue between the two countries (1961) coinciding with strained Sino- India relations. The road had immense strategic and political importance because it was a major breach of Nepal Himalayas from the North from where there was connectivity to India. This is not to negate a country’s sovereignty to establish diplomatic relations with another country but Nepal did not show reciprocity in understanding India’s security concerns that emanated from Chinese activism in South Asia. Moreover, China’s attempts at road construction were not confined to Nepal. It had constructed the Sin kiang- Tibet Highway that cuts across the Ladakh region to India by 1958 and had built link roads from it reaching the borders of Nepal, Bhutan and Sikkim. Even Nepal’s relations with India were strained after King Mahendra took over power in his hands after dismissing the democratically elected Koirala government. If Nehru considered the royal take over as a `set back to democracy’ Mahendra considered that statements, propaganda and activities by irresponsible elements against the Kingdom could affect the friendship between the two countries and act as a hurdle in cementing the friendly ties on a permanent basis. Similarly in a press conference Mahendra said that the Kathmandu- Kodari road had economic significance for Nepal which was an internal matter of the country and, hence, outside the purview of consultations with India. Nepal, however, took a neutral stand during the Sino India war in 1962. Its Gorkha soldiers in the Indian Army fought the war. The convergence and divergence of security interests were once again visible on the issue of the Arms Assistance Agreement, signed in 1965, to assist in reorganization and modernization of the Royal Nepal Army with the objective of strengthening the security and independence of Nepal. The agreement was a recognition of the military links between the two countries and it established India as the primary supplier of arms to Nepal. The Government of India undertook to `supply arms, ammunition and equipment for the entire Nepalese Army on the basis of a total strength of about 17,000 men, comprising of four recognized brigades’ (clause 3(a) and also agreed to `replace the existing stock of Nepalese weapons’ (clause 3(b) The military assistance provided by India was for Nepal’s use only and `not to be diverted to any third party’ (clause 3(f). In case of India’s inability to provide arms the Government of US and UK would furnish some defence assistance to Nepal (clause 4). India also took the responsibility to train the Nepalese armed forces personnel in the defence establishments in India. (clause 3(c)). Though India was the primary supplier of arms and ammunitions to Nepal, it was not exclusive. Nepal could buy arms or ammunitions essential for its security from or through the territory of India (clause 5). In fact Nepal has been buying arms from sources other than India including China. However its major arms purchase from China in 1989 strained relations with India. Nepal had bought anti-aircraft guns, medium range SSM, and AK- 47 rifles. Nepal insisted on it’s sovereign and independent right to buy arms for defence against anti- terrorist activities threatening the country’s internal security. Nepal’s arms purchase from China technically was not against the arms assistance agreement or the treaty of peace and friendship. However it was against the spirit of the 1950 Treaty and 1965 Agreement, implying that the underlying motive behind signing the treaties was to have a common threat perception on China. Arms purchase from China was a step diverging from reciprocity in security concerns. Nepal did not consider China as a threat to its security, nor was it ready to accept mutuality of security concerns. As a sovereign country Nepal has a right to buy arms for its security. Nonetheless it is treaty bound to buy arms from India and in case of inability of India in providing arms it can approach the US and UK. In recent years to counter the Maoists insurgency Nepal has procured arms from the US, UK, Belgium and India. India has given arms worth one billion Indian rupees and has pledged to give a billion worth more. India’s security concerns became pronounced when smugglers, militants, , terrorists and criminals misused its open border with Nepal. Stricter vigilance on the Indo- Pak border, and concerted anti- terrorist activities in various parts of the country made Nepal a favourite refuge for extremists, thanks mainly to it’s thick jungles and porous borders which provide easy access to cross border terrorism. Pakistan has increased its presence in Nepal through Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) and other means directed against India. Pakistan sees Nepal as a launching pad in India because of the easy accessibility to cross border due to lack of security checks in Nepal. Pakistan embassy in Nepal is alleged to be rendering regular financial assistance and providing transit facilities and fake passports to the Kashmiri and Sikh militants. It is involved in large-scale counterfeit Indian currency. ISI is said to have purchased benami land in the Terai from where anti- India activities are carried out. Pakistan is also alleged to be the lead player of the Islamic nexus that has started focusing on Nepal by funding madrasas. The increase in the number of madrasas astride India Nepal border and the possibility of Pakistan utilizing them for anti India activities cannot be ruled out. Madrasas per se do not posse’ a problem but their misuse in misguiding people through religious extremism is a cause of concern. More so because ISI activities are reported to be concentrated in the Terai region. Besides this, ISI is also involved in fake Indian currency operations from Nepal. India’s allegation of ISI activities from its soil disturbs Nepal. Even if Nepal is not directly involved in the increase of these activities, it has little resistance capacity to stop them. The hijacking of Indian Airlines plane IC 814 after it left Tribhuvan International airport at Kathmandu in December 2000 once again brought fore Indian vulnerabilities from its northern border. In a statement issued in Parliament, the then Foreign Minister, Jaswant Singh said, “the hijacking incident has once again highlighted the complicity of Pakistan and of organisations patronised and supported by it in terrorist acts against India… The hijacking was masterminded by Pakistan’s ISI with the assistance of the Harkat ul Mujahideen”. The incident not only illustrates the strategic significance of Nepal in India’s security parameters but also exposes how serious were the security lacunae in the northern border. Flights between the two countries were stopped and were resumed after Nepal agreed to allow Indian officials to carry out security checks at the airport. Pakistan’s Nepal policy is active in trying to create wedge between India and Nepal and use it to its advantage. For example, on more than one occasion Pakistan has raised the Kashmir issue in its bilateral discussions with Nepal. However, Nepal has constantly maintained the Kashmir issue to be a bilateral matter between India and Pakistan that has to be resolved amicably by the two countries. Though Nepal tries to decrease its dependence on India, it has not taken policies against India. Such as its stand on Kashmir is closer to that of India’s position. Similarly on terrorists and extremists the Government of Nepal has assured India its full cooperation. In fact, way back in 1992 Prime Minister G.P. Koirala had assured his government’s cooperation to resist terrorism and to deter terrorists from using Nepal as a transit camp. Subsequent governments in Nepal have reiterated their cooperation with India. India and Nepal have agreed to resist the misuse of open border and unrestricted movement of population to each other’s territory by strengthening mechanisms for monitoring at airports, terminals and border crossings. In 1997, a Joint Working Group was established to determine modalities to monitor the border. In April 1997, Uttar Pradesh – Nepal Border Police force was raised to check illegal activities along the border. Nepal’s Threat Perception As said earlier, Nepal’s geo-strategic location has an overarching impact in defining its security perception. The description of Nepal as the `Yam between the two boulder’ by Prithvi Narayan Shah, the founder of the Shah dynasty, still holds true in the Nepalese perception. He had realized the vulnerability of Nepal’s landlocked location between India and China and advocated a policy of friendship with both. In the early fifties, military threat from China became prominent after it had made claims on Tibet. Nepal’s apprehensions found support in India, which was also disturbed by the political changes in the north. The common security perception found expression in the Treaty of Peace and Friendship. Nepal’s threat perception was defined by the elite in power that equated regime security with state security. Nationalism was narrowly defined as loyalty to the regime. Consequently, anti-monarchy pro-democracy forces were viewed as a threat to the regime and their ideological links with political parties and ideologues in India was seen as a threat to state security. This is not to discount the personality of the leaders. King Tribhuvan, brought in to power with the help of India, was content to be working with the political parties. However subsequent rulers wanted to marginalise democratic forces and consolidate power in their hands. Instead of following the policy of special relationship with India, King Mahendra followed the policy of equidistance between its neighbours. There by, Nepal accepted the Chinese gestures to begin diplomatic initiatives and maintain cordial relations with it. In July 1955 both Nepal and China signed an agreement for the establishment of diplomatic relations based on Panchasheel. From here on the threat perceptions of both India and Nepal diverged not because of the diplomatic relations but due to the subsequent measures that were taken to erode India’s security interests. Such as Kathmandu Kodari road construction projects to China at the time of worsening of Sino -India relations, which finally culminated in the war in 1962, was not an expression of Nepal’s reciprocity to India’s security concerns. Projects related to development work or infrastructure developments were granted to China astride India’s border. This is not to negate the sovereign rights of a country to develop diplomatic relations with another country but they ought not to be directed at the security interests of a third country. Nepal’s policy to pursue equidistance between its two neighbours found expression in its `Zone of Peace Concept’ in 1975. The proposal became the major foreign policy objective when on 15 December 1980 through the third amendment it was incorporated in Nepal’s constitution. Article 19 (6) of the amended Constitution declared that `The Foreign Policy of the Panchayat system shall be striven for making for making Nepal a Zone of Peace in pursuance of the basic purpose of the UNO and the Principles of non- alignment”. Thus Nepal’s policy was solemnized as equal to both its neighbours. Where as in reality Nepal had an open border and unrestricted movement of population with India and not with China. Nepal’s proposal equated the geographical reality of India with China and ignored the security concerns of India. Ignoring the reciprocity in relations Nepalese Prime Minister Tulsi Giri said that `since Nepal’s territory lies both to the North as well as to the South of the Himalayas, there is no reason to suppose that Nepal’s geopolitical importance in India is greater than it is to China’. India considered the proposal lacking in clarity and asked clarification in terms of motives and objectives achieved through the proposal. There was little difference in the attitude of the Janata Government of Prime Minister Morarji Desai and the Congress Government of Narsimha Rao in their stand on the peace zone proposal. Both wanted the entire region to be declared as a Zone of Peace. Acceptance of the proposal would have been at the cost of the neglecting geopolitical reality. There did not seem to be any mutual agreement between India and Nepal. Nepal’s insistence that its relations with China were independent of India did not find a favourable response by the latter. Despite Government of India’s assurances on various occasions, Nepal apprehended India’s support to the forces opposed to the regime. One reason could be that certain political ideologues in India like the socialists supported the cause of the Nepali Congress. Even during the agitation against the monarchy in 1989, a few political leaders from India were present in Kathmandu to extend their support to the democrats. A shift in the perception of Nepal was visible after the multi party democracy was established in 1990. Firstly, at the regional level Sino – India relations were improving. Democratic Nepal has not been overtly concerned with regime insecurity. Though India is still an important factor in the internal and external politics of Nepal, the fear of Indian interference does not seem to be prominent. The mutuality in security perception was once again emphasised in the Joint Communiqué that was signed during the visit of Prime Minister K.P. Bhattarai to India in 1991. It stressed to have “prior consultations with a view to reaching agreement on such defence related matters which in view of either country could pose a threat to its security”. These assurances not just reiterated the understanding reached in the 1950 Treaty or the 1965 Agreement but also gave an implicit assurance that Nepal would not use its policy of equidistance violating Indian security sensitivities. By accepting `prior consultations’ both the signatories accepted mutuality and sensitivity to each other’s security interests. On subsequent occasions Nepal’s policy pronouncements have been closer to India such as during the Kargil incident, Foreign Minister Dr Ram Sharan Mahat said that “the sanctity of the LOC should be maintained, the party which had violated the LOC, should restore it immediately and all intruders withdraw across the LOC”. The statement was much closer to India’s official position on LOC in the context of the Pakistani infiltration in Kargil. However most of Nepal’s security concerns emanate from inside the country such as the political instability, poor governance, dismal economic performance, Maoist insurgency etc. India’s response has been issue based. For example India considers the Maoists insurgency as an internal matter of Nepal and is ready to provide assistance when asked for. India has extended financial aid and arms to Nepal and has handed over a few Maoists from its territory taking care of Nepal’s sensitivity on Maoists links with the extreme Marxist groups in India. India considers multi-party democracy and constitutional monarchy as the two pillars essential for the peaceful accommodation and resolution of differences. However on the issue of Bhutanese refugees Nepal wanted India to be a party in its negotiations with Bhutan. Where as, the Indian stand has been to treat it as a bilateral issue between the two countries. To understand the element of mutuality in the security concerns of both the countries the Treaty of Peace and Friendship has been analysed. The Treaty was particularly selected because it contains most of the variables in the relationship whether related to security concerns or socio- economic interests. Violation of the treaty suggests breach in the mutuality of interests. Treaty Of Peace And Friendship A holistic approach of security was encapsuled in the Treaty, which takes into consideration the external and internal dimensions of threats. The treaty binds the two countries through socio- cultural and economic ties. Through the treaty India tried to be accommodative to Nepal’s socio- economic progress and stability and Nepal accepted to be sensitive to India’s security interests. Signed at the time of Chinese expansion towards Tibet, the treaty highlights the security considerations of both India and Nepal from its northern border. Both the governments agreed `to inform each other of any serious friction or misunderstanding with neighbouring state likely to cause any breach in the friendly relations subsisting between the two governments’. (clause 2) Here, the name of neighbouring state was not mentioned. No treaty categorically mentions names of an unfriendly country or those countries from which the threat emanates. Highlighting the reciprocity in security interests both India and Nepal agreed to share information on any eventuality or crisis and agreed to solve the problem through mutual consultation. Both also agreed to act in consultation on Nepal’s `imports of arms, ammunitions or war like material from or through the territory of India’.(clause 5) In fact, in the letter exchanged along with the treaty the complimentarity in the security interests gets reinforced with both the signatories agreeing `that neither government shall tolerate any threat to the security of the other by a foreign aggressor’. Both also agreed to `devise effective counter measures’ to deal with such threats. It meant that the threat to one country would be looked upon by the other as a threat to its own security. This common threat perception was the hallmark of the treaty. The other provisions of the treaty addressed the socio- economic variables in the relationship. Such as the citizens of one country could participate in industrial and economic development in another country without any discrimination. (Clause 6) Similarly, citizens could enjoy right of `residence, ownership or property, participation in trade and commerce and movement’ in each other’s country. (Clause 7) The provisions were favourable to Nepal as people could enter India unhindered in search of better opportunities. The letters exchanged along with the treaty explicitly states that `it may be necessary for some time to come to offer the Nepalese nationals in India protection from unrestricted competition” (clause 3). This was done to protect the interests of the Nepalese. At the same time, Nepal also agreed to give first preference to the Government of India or Indian nationals in development projects related to natural resources. India showed interest and primacy in developing the economy of Nepal. Though voices against India -Nepal mutual security were heard in Nepal from earlier days, officially, the Prime Minister of Nepal, K.N. Bista spoke against it following the then Indian Foreign Minister Dinesh Singh’s statement that `situated as India and Nepal are with an open and common border both had similar problems of security, which however, did not mean there was any defence pact between the two’. Reacting to the phrase `similar problems of security’ Bista said that the Treaty of Peace and Friendship was outdated and non- operative and it was not essential to inform each other while developing relations with any third country. Holding India responsible for violating certain provisions of the Treaty, Bista said that `developments have taken place in India’s relations with the Soviet Union and the United States on the one hand and with Pakistan and China on the other. Nepal was not informed about of these developments and India therefore herself assumed and has led Nepal to assume that exchange of information in such cases is unnecessary’. He also said that the arms assistance agreement does not exist’. Officially, the Government of Nepal took the issue of the review of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship during Prime Minister Man Mohan Adhikari’s visit to India in 1994. The provisions related to the security provisions (refer article 2 and 5) and the letter exchanged along with was considered out of date. Adhikari said that his government was `prepared to commit totally for strengthening India’s security and from Nepal there can be no harm on India but the concept of security umbrella is outdated”. On the provision related to the open border and the unrestricted movement of population Adhikari said, “India could absorb many Nepalese but so many Indians coming on its soils would swamp Nepal”. Several academicians and foreign policy experts from Nepal have raised voice against the treaty. Many feel that the review and updating of the Treaty is essential in the changing political conditions. It is said that the Treaty was signed between the Indian Government and the Rana rulers who were overthrown form power in 1951 revolution. However, treaties do not change with the changing governments. The security clauses (articles 2 and 5) are considered to be contradictory to Nepal’s policy of maintaining equidistance with its neighbours. As mentioned earlier this provision has been breached on a number of occasions by Nepal. Often mentioned is clause 6 of the Treaty which allows the citizens to participate in industrial and national development in each other’s country and clause 7 which grants the citizens the right to reside, own property, participate in trade and commerce and enjoy other privileges in one another’s country. Nepal is concerned about the inflow of Indians in its territory. It is often mentioned that the number of Indians moving towards Nepal is increasing and it is not in a position to allow unrestricted immigration into the country because of its size, population and economy. The reciprocity inherent in this provision was infringed when Government of Nepal passed an order in 1957 that made mandatory possession of a citizen ship certificate for all the Indian teachers working in Nepal. Restrictions were levied on all the foreigners including Indians from buying immovable property in Nepal in 1958. The underlying motives of these provisions were to provide a special treatment to the citizens of both countries that were not extended to people from neighbouring countries except Bhutan. For example people from neighbouring countries moving in India without visa or passport are treated as illegal but the Nepalese can move in, reside and avail job opportunities legally. But Nepal equated Indians with people from other nations. The political parties in Nepal are not in unison in their demands on the treaty. The Nepali Congress manifesto speaks of resolving all the problems through diplomatic dialogues by keeping intact the Nepal’s national interest, sovereignty, integrity and dignity. It doesn’t want to abrogate treaty. The Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist Leninist) manifesto states that `the unequal and derogatory treaties and agreements including the 1950 treaty, and others signed by the Nepali Congress Panchayat and earlier Governments will all be reviewed and will be modified in compliance with the principle of equality, mutual respect and benefit’. The Communist Party of Nepal (Maoists) manifesto refers to the treaty as a black mark upon the name of peace and friendship. For Nepal it is humiliating and unequal. It is harmful to Nepal’s sovereignty, independence, security, national integrity and well being. None of the political parties has spelt out how the treaty has been an affront to Nepali respect and dignity. None of them have given alternatives to the existing treaty except a non- paper that was presented by Kamal Thapa, the Foreign Minister of Nepal in 1997. During Prime Minister G.P. Koirala’s visit to Indian in July- August 2000, the two sides agreed that the foreign secretaries of India and Nepal would review issues pertaining to the 1950 treaty. The first meeting of the two foreign secretaries was held on January 30 and 31, 2001 in Delhi. Government of India has agreed to the Nepalese demand to review the treaty but has not shown any attempt to take initiatives in providing alternatives to the existing treaty. Unlike Nepal the manifestos of the political parties in India do include comments and opinions on India- Nepal relations. The need to review the treaty has been mentioned mechanically by Nepal in every state level bilateral meeting with India with out clearly stating what the review means. The treaty shows lack of mutual understanding in the security concerns of both the countries. Nepal’s possible gains from review of the Treaty could be: lessened dependence on India on strategic perception, pursuing a policy of equidistance between India and China, reduced India’s economic stakes in Nepal by abolishing reciprocity meanwhile enjoying a favourable treatment from India on socio- economic issues. The emerging relation envisaged is based on non- reciprocity. This non- reciprocal relation for India would imply vulnerable border in the north and additional measures to consolidate its security. However, even with the Treaty in place India’s strategic vulnerability emerges from time to time. No treaty can bring forth mutual trust and reciprocity in security interests unless both the signatories want it. A strained treaty brings forth more suspicion and distrust on each other impacting on cooperation in other variables involved in a relationship such economy, trade, transit, harnessing of water resources, power trade. Hence the moot question is does it help to continue with a Treaty which creates more strains in relations? Conclusion Security relations between India and Nepal have been characterized by two factors: desire of India for mutual security understanding that emanates from geo-strategic significance of the northern border and Nepal’s desire to reduce salience of this by pursuing policy of equidistance between India and China. The 1950 treaty incorporated the concept of mutuality between both the countries and its operationality shows the contradictions inherent in it. The Indian effort has been to use a strong economic and social leverage which results from the open border, Nepalese working in India, and reliance of Nepal on India for transit facilities to ensure that Nepal’s behaviour corresponds to the Indian strategic requirement. The Nepalese, on the other hand, have tried to maintain closer relations with China and to thin out their defence cooperation with India to suit their purpose at various levels in an attempt to achieve their aim. If for India a secure northern border is essential for its security, for Nepal it is sovereignty and independence. Though, many a times, regime security was equated with state security. The fear emanating from mistrust and suspicion of each other has brought in tensions in the relations. In India- Nepal relations their own set of priorities and interests come in the way of mutual understanding on security interests. Sangeeta Thapliyal, Research Fellow, ORF"
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"https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanepe/article/PIIS2666-7762(21)00209-X/fulltext"
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"Child maltreatment and incident mental disorders in middle and older ages: a retrospective UK Biobank cohort study"
"Following the baseline interviews, a series of measurements, including height, weight, and blood pressure, were collected along with urine and blood samples. Body mass index (BMI) was derived from weight/heightmeasured using standardized equipment and used to classify individuals as underweight (<18.5 kg/m), normal weight (18.5 to 24.9 kg/m), overweight (25 to 29.9 kg/m), or obese (>30.0 kg/m). Biomarkers were measured at a dedicated central laboratory between 2014 and 2017. In this study, we have selected triglyceride (TG), a lipid found to be associated with mood disorders [], and C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of systemic inflammation and indicator of a stress response []. Details of these measures and assay performances can be found online in the UK Biobank showcase and protocol []. Recruitment was conducted by sending letters to home addresses obtained from national health records, and follow-up data were obtained via linkage to routine health records, web-based questionnaires and repeat assessment clinics attended by a sub-group ( https://www.ukbiobank.ac.uk/ ). At the baseline assessment clinic, participants completed a self-administered questionnaire on general health and a more in-depth face to face interview on medical history. Self-reported variables included ethnicity, education level, sleep duration, television viewing time, smoking status, and alcohol intake. Deprivation level was measured via the Townsend area deprivation index which sums a score derived from assets, income, and household factors applied to postcode of residence []. The International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) was used to assess physical activity levels []. This was a retrospective cohort study using data from UK Biobank. Child maltreatment was recalled by participants after they were recruited into the UK Biobank. Incident mental disorders were ascertained through record linkage after the baseline assessment. In this study, participants with prevalent/prior mental disorders at baseline assessment were excluded. This is to reduce recall bias and to focus on incident events in middle and older ages. The timeline of measurements is shown in Supplementary Figure 1 Child maltreatment was assessed through a web-based questionnaire conducted in August 2017 []. Overall 339,229 participants who provided an email address were invited and approximately half (n = 157,348) of participants completed the online questionnaire. Respondents were generally younger, more likely to be female and white, and had healthier lifestyles compared with non-respondents []. The web-based questionnaire included the Childhood Trauma Screener (CTS) [], a shortened version of the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ) []. It consists of a 5-point Likert scale for each of five types of child maltreatment, physical abuse, physical neglect, emotional abuse, emotional neglect, and sexual abuse, and has been validated against the CTQ with good overall correlation (r = 0.88) and satisfactory type-specific correlations (r = 0.55–0.87) []. The CTQ is a widely used instrument for measuring child maltreatment and has been validated against actual records of abuse and neglect []. The threshold values on the Likert scale derived from a validation study [] were used to define the presence or absence of each type of child maltreatment. In this study, the primary exposure variable was the number of types of child maltreatment, and was categorised as 0, 1, 2, and ≥3 as there were not sufficient number of events to analyse participants with 4 or 5 types of maltreatment separately. Mental disorders were ascertained through individual-level record linkage to primary care records available for 45% of the UK Biobank cohort until May 2017 for Scotland, September 2017 for Wales, and August 2017 for England. The detailed linkage procedures relating to primary care records are available online ( http://biobank.ndph.ox.ac.uk/showcase/showcase/docs/primary_care_data.pdf ). READ codes in the primary care record were mapped to ICD-10 codes. The outcomes in this study included: all mental disorders (ICD-10 F01-F99), dementia (F01-F03), substances abuse (F10-F19), including alcohol-related, disorders, schizophrenia (F20-F29), affective disorder (F30-F39), depression disorder (F32-F33), anxiety disorder (F40-F48), PTSD (F43.1), and behavioural syndrome (F50-F59) encompassing eating and sleep disorders, as well as syndromes associated with physiological disturbances and physical factors. 2.4 Statistical analyses [7] Maughan B Rutter M Retrospective reporting of childhood adversity: Issues in assessing long-term recall. Cox proportional hazard models were used to analyse the associations between child maltreatment and incident mental disorders. The results are reported as hazard ratios (HRs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs). In the primary analysis we only included participants who did not have any mental disorder diagnosis at or before baseline assessment. This can reduce reverse causation because prevalent mental disorders could affect child maltreatment recall []. The models were adjusted for age at baseline assessment, sex, and ethnicity as potential confounders. Deprivation and education could be the consequence of child maltreatment (mediator) or affecting child maltreatment recall (confounder), but were primarily hypothesised to be mediators in the analysis. The hypothetical causal assumption is shown in Supplementary Figure 2 . Since excluding participants who had mental disorder diagnosis prior to baseline assessment may induce selection bias, we conducted sensitivity analyses including all participants with complete data. In these sensitivity analyses, follow-up was assumed to start when they were at the age of 30 years and all mental disorder diagnoses after that were included. Moderation analyses were conducted by: sex, age group (38–50, 51–60, and 61–72 years; approximate tertiles), education level (with vs. without university degree), and area-based deprivation index (≥ vs. < median), physical activity (<600 vs ≥600 MET-min/week), obesity (BMI ≥30kg/m2 vs <30kg/m2), alcohol drinking (≤14 vs >14 units/week), binge drinking (binge drinker [average drinking unit per occasion >6 for female and >8 for male] vs non-binger drinker), ability to confide (never/almost never vs sometimes or more), and frequency of social visits (never/almost never vs sometimes or more), and household factors (household size, living with partner, living with children, living with relatives, living with unrelated person/people). We selected these factors because age could affect the reporting of maltreatment, sex could affect the type of maltreatment, and socioeconomic and lifestyle factors might influence the long-term effects of maltreatment experiences. Both stratified (sub-group) and interaction analyses were conducted for mental disorders, depression disorder, anxiety disorder, and behavioural syndrome as these outcomes had sufficient events for subgroup analyses. We also conducted sensitivity analyses including all mental disorder diagnoses for the moderation analysis of sex, age group, and education level as these factors should be the same or very similar between age of 30 and the baseline assessment. We studied five groups of potential mediators: PA and TV (physical activity >600 MET-min/week [binary variable], time spent watching television [continuous variable]), smoking and drinking (any smoking and alcohol drinking >14 units a week [binary variable]), social factors (able to confide and social visit frequency [binary variables]), CVD risk factors (obesity and blood pressure [continuous variable]), and CRP and TG (continuous variable). All potential mediators were selected because of their potential associations with both child maltreatment and mental health. These groups of mediators were adjusted for in the Cox models to examine whether, and to what extent, the HRs between child maltreatment and mental disorders were attenuated. [23] Tingley D Yamamoto T Hirose K Keele L Imai K Mediation: R package for causal mediation analysis. [24] Richiardi L Bellocco R Zugna D Mediation analysis in epidemiology: methods, interpretation and bias. [25] Gelfand LA MacKinnon DP DeRubeis RJ Baraldi AN Mediation analysis with survival outcomes: accelerated failure time vs. proportional hazards models. Formal mediation analysis based on counterfactual framework was then conducted []. Counterfactual framework defines direct (non-mediated) and indirect (mediated) effects and are more robust against various limitations of traditional adjustment-based mediation analysis, such as mediator-outcome confounding affected by exposure []. To reduce multicollinearity and overadjustment, the potential mediators were selected using a stepwise approach. Firstly, mental disorder was regressed by child maltreatment and all potential mediators and confounders in a Weibull regression model with robust standard errors. Weibull regression was chosen because of its superior statistical properties in mediation analysis []. Potential mediators were then selected based on their associations with mental disorder after mutual adjustments. The selected potential mediators were then regressed by child maltreatment count and other covariates (mediator model) in either logistic (for binary mediators) or linear (for other mediators) models adjusting for other mediators and confounders. The outcome and mediator models were then combined to compute the mediation proportions based on natural indirect effect (NIE) divided by total effect (TE) for each participant which was then averaged. Quasi-Bayesian estimation with 1,000 iterations were used for estimating the 95% CI and p-values of the NIE and TE. Analyses were conducted in R version 4.0.2 using packages survival and mediation."
1,401
"https://www.voanews.com/a/us-military-admits-afghan-war-a-strategic-failure-/6249806.html"
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"US Military Admits Afghan War Was 'Strategic Failure'"
"Twenty years of American blood and treasure spent in Afghanistan was reduced Tuesday to about six hours of testimony in the United States Senate, with the nation's top military officer admitting that the war amounted to a "strategic failure" that in the end, perhaps, could never have been won. The hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee with U.S. President Joe Biden's top military officials saw a staunch defense of the efforts and sacrifices of the U.S. troops in Afghanistan, with lawmakers both praising the decision to end the country's longest war and condemning its final days as a debacle. In between, it featured sobering assessments of what, if anything, could have been done differently. "It was a logistical success but a strategic failure," General Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the nation's top-ranking military officer, told lawmakers of America's final days in Kabul, which saw the evacuation of 124,000 people, including about 6,000 Americans. "Outcomes in a war like this, an outcome that is a strategic failure — the enemy is in charge in Kabul; there's no way else to describe that — that outcome is a cumulative effect of 20 years, not 20 days," Milley added. Pressed on whether Washington could have done anything differently to prevent the U.S.-backed government in Afghanistan from crumbling and stop the Taliban takeover, Milley was blunt. "If you kept advisers there, kept money following, etc., then we could probably have sustained them for a lengthy or indefinite period of time," he said of the Afghan government and the Afghan security forces. "If you would have had a different result at the end of the day, that's a different question," Milley added. "I think the end state probably would have been the same no matter when you did it." Testifying alongside Milley, General Kenneth "Frank" McKenzie, the commander of U.S. Central Command, said that in hindsight, the 2020 Doha agreement, which paved the way for the U.S. exit, "had a profound psychological effect" on the Afghan forces and may have hastened their collapse. "The Taliban were heartened by what they saw happen at Doha and what followed and our eventual decision to get out by a certain date," McKenzie said. "I think the Afghans were very weakened by that morally and spiritually." Republican anger Such somber assessments did little to mollify some lawmakers, with at least two demanding the resignations of Milley and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin for the way the U.S. ultimately left. "Our exit from Afghanistan was a disaster," said Nebraska Republican Senator Deb Fischer. Another Republican, Senator Joni Ernst, called the U.S. evacuation from Afghanistan "haphazard." She pointed to the deaths of 13 U.S. troops and close to 170 Afghans from a suicide bombing at Hamid Karzai International Airport days before the last military plane took off. "The loss of our service members and abandonment of Americans and Afghan allies last month was an unforced, disgraceful humiliation that didn't have to happen," Ernst said. Some Democrats, however, praised Biden and his administration for finally ending the U.S. effort in Afghanistan. "It took guts, and it was the right thing to do, and it should have been done earlier," Virginia Senator Tim Kaine said. Others scolded their Republican colleagues. "Anyone who says the last few months were a failure but everything before that was great clearly hasn't been paying attention," said Massachusetts Democrat Elizabeth Warren. But most of the outrage was saved for the White House, with Republican lawmakers questioning the president's decision-making, and some accusing him of misleading the American public when he told ABC news last month that his top advisers did not recommend keeping about 2,500 troops in Afghanistan. "No, they didn't," Biden said at the time. "It was split." On Tuesday, both Milley and CENTCOM's McKenzie told lawmakers that in the early days of Biden's presidency, they advised keeping 2,500 to 3,500 troops in Afghanistan because the Taliban had not met their commitments under the 2020 Doha agreement. "My view is that 2,500 was an appropriate number to remain and that if we went below that number, in fact, we would probably witness a collapse of the Afghan government and the Afghan military," McKenzie said. WATCH: US reflects on Afghan war Cost of staying At the White House on Tuesday, press secretary Jen Psaki defended Biden and the decision to end the war in Afghanistan. "There was a range of viewpoints, as evidenced by their testimony today, that were presented to the president, that were presented to his national security team, as would be expected, as he asked for," she said. "It was also clear to him that that would not be a long-standing recommendation, that there would need to be an escalation, an increase in troop numbers," she said. "It would also mean war with the Taliban, and it would also mean the potential loss of casualties. The president was just not willing to make that decision." Milley also cautioned that staying in Afghanistan once the U.S.-backed government had collapsed could have been done, but at a cost. "On the first of September, we were going to go to war again with the Taliban. Of that there was no doubt," he told lawmakers, saying it would have required the U.S. to send in as many as another 25,000 troops. "We would have had to reseize Bagram (Airfield). We would have had to clear Kabul of 6,000 Taliban," Milley said. "That would have resulted in significant casualties on the U.S. side, and it would have placed American citizens that are still there at greater risk." Additionally, Milley and the other U.S. defense officials told lawmakers that even with troops and all but about 100 U.S. citizens out of Afghanistan and out of harm's way, dangers would remain from terror groups such as al-Qaida and the Islamic State Khorasan Province, also known as IS Khorasan or ISIS-K. "A reconstituted al-Qaida or ISIS with aspirations to attack the United States is a very real possibility," Milley warned lawmakers, adding that the exact nature of the threat might not be evident for months or years. "They're gathering their strength," CENTCOM's General McKenzie said of the threat from IS Khorasan, thought to have about 2,000 fighters now roaming Afghanistan. "We have yet to see how it's going to manifest itself," McKenzie said. "We know with certainty that they do aspire to attack us in our homeland." The U.S. first sent troops into Afghanistan to pursue al-Qaida, after the militant group used the country to plan the September 11, 2001, terror attacks on New York and the Pentagon. Milley and McKenzie said that despite the Taliban's commitments under the terms of the Doha agreement, the group had yet to sever its long-standing ties with al-Qaida. "I think al-Qaida is at war with the United States, still," Milley said. No going back For his part, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told lawmakers that the Pentagon remains focused on the threat but will use its over-the-horizon strike capabilities to target al-Qaida and IS Khorasan as needed. "We've not been tasked to construct any plans to go back," Austin said. Austin also defended the evacuation, telling lawmakers that it went as smoothly as possible, and that no other military in the world could have done any better. "It was the largest airlift conducted in U.S. history, and it was executed in just 17 days," he told committee members. "We planned to evacuate between 70,000 and 80,000 people. They evacuated more than 124,000." "Was it perfect? Of course not," Austin added, describing as "difficult" the first two days of the airlift, when huge crowds had rushed to the airport following the Taliban's unexpectedly swift takeover. "We moved so many people so quickly out of Kabul that we ran into capacity and screening problems at intermediate staging bases outside of Afghanistan," he said. But some lawmakers, such as the committee's top Republican, Senator Jim Inhofe, were unconvinced. "We all witnessed a horror of the president's own making," Inhofe said, accusing the Biden administration of failing to create a plan to counter the terror threats likely to emerge in Afghanistan with the Taliban in control. "The terrorist threat to American families is rising significantly," the senator said. "While our ability to deal with these threats has declined decidedly." Austin, Milley and McKenzie are all due to appear again Wednesday before the House Armed Services Committee."
1,401
"https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/574492-manchin-pushes-back-at-pelosi-legislative-language-plan"
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"Manchin pushes back at Pelosi 'legislative language' plan"
"Sen. Joe Manchin Joe ManchinTrump haunts Biden vaccine mandate in courts IRS data proves Trump tax cuts benefited middle, working-class Americans most Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Dems press drillers over methane leaks MORE (D-W.Va.) on Wednesday shot down a push by Speaker Nancy Pelosi Nancy PelosiUS expected to announce diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics soon: report Pressure grows to remove Boebert from committees Lawmakers remember Bob Dole: 'Bona fide American hero' MORE (D-Calif.) to get a deal on legislative text of a sweeping spending bill before a House vote on a bipartisan infrastructure bill. Pelosi told reporters earlier Wednesday that Democrats need to "have agreement in legislative language" before a vote on a bipartisan Senate-passed infrastructure bill, which is still expected to get a vote on the House floor on Thursday. Manchin, asked about the timeline, told reporters: "That won't happen." ADVERTISEMENT "We haven't been negotiating yet in a good faith. No one has been negotiating along those lines," Manchin added. New: Manchin told me “that won’t happen” when asked about Pelosi saying there needs to be deal on “legislative language” with WH on reconciliaton to get progressives to support infrastructure tomorrow “No one has been negotiating along those lines with the other parties here” pic.twitter.com/Aabgu0kbut — Manu Raju (@mkraju) September 29, 2021 Manchin's comments come after he warned reporters earlier this week that it was unlikely Democrats would even be able to reach a "framework" for the social spending bill, including a top-line price tag, which Democratic leadership had hoped to be able to offer to progressives to get them to vote for the Senate-passed bipartisan bill. Progressives have been pushing for months for Manchin and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema Kyrsten SinemaIRS data proves Trump tax cuts benefited middle, working-class Americans most Photos of the Week: Schumer, ASU protest and sea turtles Green groups spend big to promote climate policy MORE (D-Ariz.) to give them a reassurance that they'll support a massive spending bill of up to $3.5 trillion. Democrats need every senator in their party to back the plan with Republicans unanimously opposed to it. ADVERTISEMENT But neither have committed to supporting a larger bill. They've both warned they can't support a $3.5 trillion price tag, forcing Democrats to recalibrate on the size of the bill. Biden urged moderates to give him a top-line figure they could live with during a closed-door meeting last week, but Manchin reiterated on Wednesday that "we haven't talked about figures at all." Pelosi upped the stakes of the standoff between moderates and progressives, and the House and Senate, on Wednesday, telling reporters that a promise from the Senate centrists to support the larger "family" package won't be enough to spur the House to act. Instead, she wants legislative text to be drafted on that broader piece of Biden's agenda. "We come to a place where we have agreement in legislative language — not just principle, in legislative language — that the president supports," she said. "It has to be his standard." Pelosi cut a deal with moderates earlier this year to have a vote on the Senate-passed roughly $1 trillion infrastructure bill by Sept. 27, though she delayed that vote until Thursday to try to defuse a progressive threat to vote against the bill. Though progressives aren't backing down in their threat to sink the infrastructure bill, delaying it would also risk alienating moderate Democrats who are trying to get the Senate legislation passed quickly. Manchin, speaking to reporters, pushed for the House to pass the bipartisan bill and then for Democrats to keep negotiating on the reconciliation bill. "All we need to do is pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill, sit down and start negotiating in faith," Manchin said. Updated at 1:03 p.m."
625
"https://www.dailywire.com/news/biden-defense-secretary-blames-state-department-for-chaotic-afghan-civilian-evacuation"
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"Biden Defense Secretary Blames State Department For ‘Chaotic’ Civilian Evacuation From Afghanistan"
"Biden administration Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin laid the blame for the “chaotic” evacuation of American civilians, green card holders, and Afghan citizens with special immigrant visas (SIVs) at the feet of the Biden administration State Department in his testimony to Congress on Wednesday. Pentagon officials also labeled the scene “chaotic” themselves, telling members of the Senate Armed Services Committee that while they were able to offer their “input” to the State Department, they were ultimately in Afghanistan to serve a separate mission and that the military evacuation and the civilian evacuation were handled by two different teams of people. The civilian evacuation, of course, made headlines across the globe, as thousands of Afghan residents, Americans, and SIVs, swarmed Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA) in a mad dash to leave the country before coalition forces withdrew, leaving the Taliban in charge. The U.S. government has struggled to explain why hundreds of Americans were reportedly left behind when U.S. forces left Afghanistan, and the State Department, especially, has been reticent to give hard numbers on how many Americans remain in or near Kabul, and how many Afghans still require evacuation. Austin told Congress Wednesday that the blame for the confusion lies squarely with the State Department, particularly the decision to delay beginning evacuations and move slowly in the days before the president’s self-imposed August 31st deadline. That was a “State Department call,” Austin said. “We provide an input, as I said in my opening statement, to the State Department,” he added, noting that the State Department was being “cautioned” by then-president Mohammad Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, that “if they withdrew American citizens and SIV applicants at a pace that was too fast, it would cause a collapse of the government that we were trying to prevent.” Ghani, of course, left in a private aircraft just as the Taliban entered Kabul, leaving a power vacuum. “We certainly would have liked to see it go faster or sooner,” Austin said in response to questions. “But, again, they had a number of things to think through as well.” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, also seemed to slough off responsibility for the civilian evacuation. “I just want to be clear – we’re talking about two different missions,” Milley told members of Congress. “The retrograde of troops…that is complete by mid-July, and that was done, actually, without any significant incident. And that’s the handover of 11 bases, the bringing out of a lot of equipment — that was done under the command of Gen. Miller.” “Noncombatant evacuation operation is different,” Milley said. “Noncombat operation – that was done under conditions of great volatility, great violence, great threat.” “That’s a different operation,” he added. “And I think, that, in the first two days as we saw, were not only chaotic, but violent and high-risk.” A suicide bomber, who made it past Taliban checkpoints to an HKIA gate where the U.S. military was processing evacuees, managed to kill more than a hundred people, including 13 U.S. soldiers. The Daily Wire is one of America’s fastest-growing conservative media companies and counter-cultural outlets for news, opinion, and entertainment. Get inside access to The Daily Wire by becoming a member."
533
"https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2021/09/28/democrats-must-unify-infrastructure/5889676001/"
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"Democrats must to prevent Republican obstruction"
"Brazile: Democrats need to unify on infrastructure to fight GOP obstruction Most Republicans in Congress are determined to put former President Trump first and America last. Democrats should put America first: Compromise Show Caption Hide Caption White House: What we are trying to do in Congress 'is hard' The White House says President Joe Biden knows getting his agenda through Congress "is hard" but he is determined to work with Democratic leadership to win the votes. (Sept. 27) AP Democrats paralyzed by internal feuding should unite this week to pass both the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill and a scaled-down version of President Biden’s $3.5 trillion plan to benefit parents, children, seniors and our environment. Congressional Republicans, who are now a cult of personality worshiping former President Donald Trump, have made it clear that they will do everything possible to kill both these extraordinarily beneficial bills. By sabotaging our nation and harming the American people, GOP lawmakers believe they will make it easier for Trump to declare President Joe Biden a failure and run against him in 2024. Most are determined to put Trump first and America last because they are terrified of angering the grievance-filled defeated president, lest he oppose them in primaries. Infrastructure bill stalled in the Senate The infrastructure bill, which was passed by the Senate in August, would provide badly needed investments in roads, bridges, mass transit, railroads, ports, airports, electric vehicle charging stations, electric school buses, water treatment and storage, pipeline safety, replacement of lead pipes, pollution cleanup, the electric power grid and more – and, according to Moody's Analytics, create more than 600,000 jobs. Unfortunately, progressive Democrats in the House are holding the Senate bill hostage, demanding unanimous agreement first by all Democrats in the Senate and nearly all in the House to approve spending $3.5 trillion over 10 years on a long list of outstanding programs. The larger bill includes: guaranteed paid family, parental and personal sick leave; the extension of expanded earned income tax credits, and child and dependent care tax credits; free preschool; federally subsidized child care up to age 5; an expanded child nutrition program; free community college; larger Pell Grants to aid low-income college students; an expansion of Medicare to cover dental, vision and hearing care; actions to lower prescription drug prices; and programs to combat climate change. Democrats want to pay for their new spending by raising taxes on corporations and the rich. They also want to close loopholes that enable some of the super rich and giant companies to pay little or no taxes. As someone who supports both these bills, I urge House Democrats to give final legislative passage to the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill when it comes up for a vote this week and send it to Biden to sign into law. Then they should pass a smaller compromise version of the $3.5 trillion bill that can gain the support of moderate Democrats in the House and Senate who don’t want to spend as much. Larry Hogan: Maryland governor to Congress: The infrastructure bill drama is arcane. 'Just get it done.' Democrats can pass the bill in Senate under the reconciliation process, which means they just need a simple majority of 51 votes, rather than the 60-vote supermajority needed to stop a Republican filibuster. If all 50 Democrats support a bill, Vice President Kamala Harris will provide the 51st and tie-breaking vote. My fellow Democrats, compromise and get something done for the American people. Take the advice of The Rolling Stones, who sang in 1969: “You can’t always get what you want/But if you try sometimes/Well you just might find/You get what you need.” A time for compromise, growth If Democrats pick up congressional seats in the 2022 elections, we can increase our investment in the valuable programs that must be cut now to reach a compromise. But if Democrats deadlock, it makes it more likely we will lose our majorities in the House, the Senate or both next year. We can then expect Republicans to cut spending on programs that help average Americans and those in the greatest need, and slash taxes for the rich and corporations. They rewarded their rich donors with tax cuts that sharply increased the deficit in 2017, and they will do it again if they have the chance. Republicans are also showing their true colors – playing politics to help Trump no matter how much harm they inflict on the American people – with their opposition to raising the federal debt ceiling and to funding government past the end of the fiscal year Thursday. They raised the debt ceiling many times in the past when Republicans were in the White House, but now they are determined to throw a hand grenade into our economy just to make Biden and Democrats look bad. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., made it clear in May that he had no interest in compromising with Democrats in Congress or with Biden when he said: “100% of our focus is on stopping this new administration.” McConnell made a similar comment in 2010, saying: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” Infrastructure: Mold in the cafeteria: Schools' crumbling infrastructure needs Congress to invest in kids There’s an old saying that “politics is the art of compromise.” Today, too many elected officials in both parties reject compromise and boast incessantly about how hard they will fight their political opponents, as if they were prizefighters rather than lawmakers. Fighting without compromise may make lawmakers feel good and please their bases. But the job of lawmakers is to make laws to improve the lives of the American people, not to fight endlessly without getting anything done. Democrats must unite and not snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Donna Brazile (@donnabrazile) is a member of USA TODAY's Board of Contributors, an ABC News contributor, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and the King Endowed Chair in Public Policy at Howard University. She previously served as interim chair of the Democratic National Committee and of the DNC’s Voting Rights Institute, and managed the Gore campaign in 2000."
1,029
"https://nypost.com/2021/09/28/biden-democrats-have-declared-war-on-american-small-biz/"
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"Biden Democrats have declared war on American small biz"
"Thousands of America’s small businesses are teetering on the edge of permanent closure, and Democrats in Washington are about to give them one final shove. The result will be the further fraying of our social fabric and the permanent loss of working-class jobs. Over the last several months, small businesses persevered the best they could, holding on until “temporary” welfare programs driving people away from work expired. But if there were any doubt left that Dems’ ultimate goal wasn’t a temporary boost to Americans most impacted by lockdowns, but rather a calculated step toward government control and socialism, their proposed $4.3 trillion tax-and-spend bill removes it all ($4.3 trillion is the true cost, as we learned in the Budget Committee). Walk down any main street or city avenue in America today, and you will see sign after sign with help-wanted pleas, hiring incentives or apologies in advance for shortened hours and delayed service due to staff shortages. There are nearly 11 million job openings nationwide, and our small businesses are trying to get back on their feet after the crushing lockdowns. But where are the workers? The short answer is that the Biden administration is more interested in handouts that pay more, or just as much, to stay home than going back to work. Since taking office, President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats have prioritized big government over earned pay stubs. The Democratic tax-and-spend plan won’t solve this problem. The proposal would eliminate the child tax credit as we know it, replacing it with welfare without any work requirement. Republicans believe the family is the foundation of a strong society, which is why we have supported expanding the child tax credit in the past. But we also know work establishes purpose, and there is no government substitute for a job and an earned income. By removing a work requirement, the government is putting itself in competition with small businesses. And as the last year has proved, small businesses operating on tight margins are no match for the government printing press or mandate machine. Another damaging effect of $4.3 trillion of government spending is continued inflation. It’s good for Americans to have more money in their pockets, but that is best achieved through lower taxes, not ill-conceived labor policies and subsidies that render the dollar worthless. After already passing nearly $2 trillion in spending this year, our economy is running at the highest rate of inflation in 13 years. That means higher prices for everyday goods for families and businesses. This isn’t just an indicator reserved for economists: “Sysco, one of the nation’s biggest food distributors, showed food inflation of 10.2 percent on its most recent quarterly report, increases that are passed along to restaurants and to the restaurants’ customers in turn,” The Washington Post reported. Moreover, even wage gains for lower-wage workers are negated by these higher consumer costs. A Democratic agenda that artificially boosts demand through government stimulus while curtailing supply through a self-inflicted labor crisis and higher energy costs will only make this situation worse. Finally, the Democrats are planning the largest tax increase in history. The headliner is the increased corporate tax rate, which will affect all businesses and ultimately their employees. In 2017, Republicans in Congress and then-President Donald Trump slashed the corporate rate to 21 percent, from 35 percent, resulting in the greatest economy we’ve seen in a generation. Jobs and wages increased at historic levels for Americans across the socio-economic spectrum. Biden and the Democrats’ plan raises the corporate tax rate to 26.5 percent, even further away from a proposed “global minimum tax” of 19 percent that will drive more businesses overseas, further discouraging production and innovation in America. The Democrats argue that big business can afford to pay more. But aside from their hypocrisy that creates new carve-outs for rich university endowments like Harvard, their plan hurts the little guy. By removing deductions and increasing taxes by nearly 4 percent for business owners that operate as “pass throughs,” the plan puts at risk small businesses that have been struggling since March 2020 — and the new ones created since the pandemic under assumed tax burdens. As a former small-business owner, I know these conditions aren’t sustainable. Americans don’t deserve to bear the brunt of policies pushed by people in Washington who will never feel the effects of them, and who will receive a healthy paycheck each month no matter what. The Democrats’ idea of an economic plan is to punish citizens who are producing for our country and working to support their families, while rewarding themselves and others for staying home. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is the House minority leader."
777
"https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/the-most-dangerous-man-in-america/"
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"The Most Dangerous Man in America"
"Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley arrives before a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the conclusion of military operations in Afghanistan and plans for future counterterrorism operations on Capitol Hill on September 28, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Patrick Semansky-Pool/Getty Images) Four-star General Mark A. Milley, 20th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and highest-ranking officer in the United States Armed Forces, is a walking answer to the unasked question, “What if Jim Mattis were fat and dumb?” With his fellow four-star and President Trump’s first secretary of defense, Milley shares a powerful but muted arrogance, a strong but less than rabid hawkishness, a clear political ambition that nonetheless defies immediate identification, and the obvious desire to be seen as a 21st-century warrior-scholar. He does not share with Mattis the requisite intelligence to uphold these delusions of soldier-sagehood, nor the basic capacities required to competently lead men and fight wars. Milley’s warfighting incompetence—shared by almost all the top military brass—was on full display in the chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal executed last month, and the chairman, along with CENTCOM commander General Kenneth McKenzie and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin (himself a retired four-star), was called yesterday before the United States Senate Armed Services Committee to answer for the failure. While granting an equivocal admission that “it is clear, it is obvious, the war in Afghanistan did not end on the terms we wanted, with the Taliban now in power in Kabul,” Milley left it unclear whether he would have let the war end on any terms at all, if it were up to him. After suggesting that he had played a part in killing President Trump’s initial order to end the war by January 2021, Milley recounted: On 17 November [2020], we received a new order to reduce levels to 2,500, plus enabling forces, no later than 15 January [2021]. When President Biden was inaugurated [on 20 January] there were approximately 3,500 U.S. troops, 5,400 NATO troops, and 6,300 contractors in Afghanistan with the specified task of train, advise, and assist, along with a small contingent of counterterrorism forces. The strategic situation at inauguration was stalemate. In other words: Either deliberately or through a fundamental inability to carry out their basic responsibilities, the chairman and other military leaders had failed to meet the president’s ordered drawdown target by a full thousand troops. (It seems no senator noticed this discrepancy, as none pressed the general further on the matter.) Further, Milley, McKenzie, and Austin all testified repeatedly that they had continued to advise in favor of that residual force of 2,500—the reduction to which they had spectacularly failed to execute the first time it was ordered by their commander-in-chief—up to the bitter end, and apparently in perpetuity. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) pressed Secretary Austin on what exactly this meant. To Warren’s questioning on what another year in Afghanistan would have looked like, Austin answered simply: “If you stayed there at a posture of 2,500 certainly you’d be in a fight with the Taliban and you’d have to reinforce yourself.” That is, the safe, modest presence for security and support has always been a lie; any presence past the withdrawal deadline would have meant renewed war with the Taliban, revamped deployment of American service members, and further combat casualties in America’s longest and most fruitless war. Senator Warren also drove home that fruitlessness, pointing out the fact that the Taliban takeover was well underway long before the withdrawal of American troops, and that neither the Afghan nor the American people had anything to show for two decades of nation building. What’s more, she effectively forced Austin to admit that the failure to execute the withdrawal safely was entirely the fault of military leaders, and not the civilian authorities. And yet, speaking to that botched withdrawal, Milley managed to simultaneously pat himself and his buddies on the back and pander to patriotic impulse with the dead American troops as props: Although the NEO [noncombatant evacuation operation] was unprecedented as the largest air evacuation in history, evacuating 124,000 people, it came at an incredible cost of 11 marines, one soldier, and a Navy corpsman. Those 13 gave their lives so that people they never met will have an opportunity to live in freedom. Maybe Milley really is that much of a naive idealist. But it seems much more likely that the general knows those 13 Americans gave their lives because he and his peers could not, or would not, do their jobs properly. Abstractions about some universal “opportunity to live in freedom” in a homogenized global liberal order are what got us into this mess in the first place. But Milley is predictably hesitant to take much of the blame: Over the course of four presidents, 12 secretaries of defense, seven chairmen, ten CENTCOM commanders, 20 commanders in Afghanistan, hundreds of congressional delegation visits, and 20 years of congressional oversight, there are many lessons to be learned. Two specific to the military that we need to take a look at, and we will, is [sic] “Did we mirror-image the development of the Afghan National Army?” and the second is the rapid collapse, unprecedented rapid collapse of the Afghan military in only 11 days in August. Many lessons to be learned from two decades of war, two trillion dollars spent, and thousands upon thousands of lives snuffed out; of those lessons, exactly two must be learned by Milley himself and dealt with in his job. Two. Don’t hold your breath for any meaningful reform. Milley then pivoted to pander once again: “However, one lesson must never be forgotten: Every soldier, sailor, airman, and marine who served there in Afghanistan for 20 consecutive years protected our country from attack by terrorists, and for that they should be forever proud and we should be forever grateful.” Of course, this sentence does more to legitimize the misadventure directed by Milley and his ilk (on the grounds that it hypothetically might have “protected our country from attack by terrorists,” thus justifying the human and financial costs) than to actually thank the men and woman whose lives and wellbeing they sacrificed. (Nor was this the only pseudo-sentimental piffle the general trotted out on Tuesday; asked why American intelligence and military leaders failed to predict the rapid collapse of the Afghan government and military, Milley answered, “You can’t measure the human heart with a machine.”) Perhaps the most significant part of Milley’s testimony, though, was his answer to allegations in the media—taken from the Bobs Woodward and Costa’s forthcoming book Peril—that he had promised to warn China if the president ever ordered an attack against them, and that he had made senior military officials swear an oath not to take orders from the commander-in-chief unless Milley himself was involved. Regarding China, the Princeton-educated Milley assured the committee that he was merely taking necessary steps to prevent conflict between “great powers that are armed with the world’s most deadliest weapons.” He insisted that the two calls in question were well within his routine responsibilities as chairman, but simply neglected to comment on the allegations that he had promised to warn his Chinese counterpart of any U.S. action—which, of course, had been the most concerning part of the report by far. As far as the extra-constitutional oath supposedly extracted from other officers, Milley said that the meeting in question was routine and that he had gone over communication protocols, but did not comment on whether any such oath had taken place. Concerning his January 8 call with Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Milley suggested that he had disagreed with the speaker where he could, or perhaps tried to stay above the fray, without addressing one of the key lines from the transcript: “I agree with you on everything.” All in all, the general’s congressional testimony reinforced what many have speculated ever since reports emerged that SecDef Esper had in fact known about the “secret” calls to China: That in talking to Woodward, Costa, and others, Milley exaggerated his own role as a Resistance hero, perhaps underestimating the blowback from the right and others interested in civilian control of the military. It’s worth considering why he might have done that. The American Enterprise Institutes’s Kori Schake was quoted in the New York Times on Monday pointing out: “I have yet to read a book about policymaking in the Trump administration that doesn’t quote General Milley directly, or quote friends of Milley casting his actions in the best possible light.” By all appearances, the chairman of the joint chiefs has been actively courting the media, and carefully (so to speak) curating his public political image. The Times‘ explanation for this is that the soldier simply wants to make up for crossing Lafayette Square with President Trump on June 1, 2020. Even as late as Monday, the paper was republishing the long-discredited lie that “troops had used chemical spray to clear the area of protesters so that the president could walk, untroubled, through the park to St. John’s Church.” Thus, Milley “is still trying to make amends” for appearing to dabble in politics, and in a less than opportune moment optically. (The park had actually been cleared in accordance with a preexisting plan to push the security barrier back further from the White House, but images of protestors being pushed out soon before the president, the general, and others crossed the square—and the false narrative crafted around them—stuck.) But why was the general participating in a fundamentally political photo op to begin with? (Worth noting briefly: alongside Milley in the infamous pictures from that day, President Trump looks thin, Bill Barr looks bulimic, and Jared Kushner simply disappears—another key testament to the general’s inadequacy as a soldier.) It cannot have had anything to do with his job as the chief military advisor to the president. But it can be easily understood as a bungled installment in a balancing act between perceived neutrality and perceived Trump loyalism. His presence on June 1 only makes sense if we assume he wanted to curry political favor with the right. Characteristically, he failed. But now, in light of these latest revelations, Milley has become a darling of the neocon and NeverTrumper media. Those who despise the previous president have come to consider Milley something of a hero, the sole “adult in the room” who managed to counteract the commander-in-chief who had appointed him. To those interested in extending the United States’ overseas commitments, Milley can be counted on to ensure that endless war stays that way. These are two very powerful constituencies, and the long-converging combination of neoconservative money with popular anti-Trump sentiment on the center-left and center-right could prove formidable in the future. This could be worth keeping in mind, given that the general’s activity—courting powerful factions of the race-obsessed left, appending himself to key politicians of both parties, chasing media attention left and right—suggests he does not intend to pursue the quiet life of military-industrial complex sinecures automatically reserved for retiring four-stars. At 63, Milley’s days in uniform are numbered—but 2024 is just around the corner."
1,856
"https://www.msnbc.com/opinion/unvaccinated-police-nurses-getting-fired-isn-t-tragedy-n1280288"
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0.69
"Unvaccinated police and nurses getting fired isn't a tragedy"
"Call me crazy, but I think public servants should first and foremost serve the public. That’s not to say they deserve fewer individual rights than others, but it is to say they should understand the trade-off between those rights and the rights of the public whose interests they were put in place to protect. That includes people who are employed by law enforcement, military and health care services, all of whom have, over the last year and a half, been heralded in some circles as vital first responders who have helped keep society running throughout the pandemic. This is why I’ve had very little patience with people in these fields who have refused to get Covid-19 vaccinations. The issue for them, unlike for some who are still hesitant, isn’t a lack of access. Neither is it about a lack of information. Instead, they’ve had early access to the vaccines, ample opportunity to be educated about their safety and more than enough time to figure out that it’s in their communities’ best interests that they be vaccinated. Which is why recent reports of police officers’ and health care staffers’ losing their jobs because they choose to remain unvaccinated sound entirely appropriate to me. It’s important to maintain perspective: The number of people who have actually been penalized by vaccination mandates is exceedingly small. Massachusetts is requiring all of its executive department employees to get their Covid shots before Oct. 17. The State Police union has been trying to get around this requirement given that up to a fifth of its 1,800 members are unvaccinated, per the union’s attorney. After a judge denied the union's request to put the governor’s order on hold, the president of the union put out a statement claiming that “dozens of troopers have already submitted their resignation paperwork, some of whom plan to return to other departments offering reasonable alternatives such as mask wearing and regular testing.” There are two things wrong with that: First, “dozens” is vague — but it’s also not how you would describe it if all 350 or so unvaccinated state troopers had decided to call it quits. Second, according to the spokesperson for the State Police, only one trooper has actually filed a resignation. The number of people who have actually been penalized by vaccine mandates is exceedingly small. It mirrors the bluster and panic we’ve seen people like Fox News host Tucker Carlson spread about the Pentagon’s decision last month to require all active-duty U.S. service members to be vaccinated by Dec. 15. “Hundreds of Navy SEALs” could resign because of the mandate, fretted a former GOP member of Congress. Instead, we’ve seen one entirely baseless story about 27 Air Force pilots’ resigning go viral and one case of an Army officer who resigned because of the “Marxist takeover” the mandate represented. Contrary to the fearmongering, the rate of service members with at least one shot had gone up from 76 percent to 83 percent earlier this month. We’ll see how high that is in two months, when those still refusing vaccinations “and have not been given an exemption will face suspension or even dismissal.” Meanwhile, the consequences of refusing inoculation can be severe for patients under the care of health care workers, especially those who deal with immunocompromised adults and unvaccinated children. And yet a higher-than-expected number of people in the health care field remain unvaccinated. We’re starting to see that part of the industry face consequences. The head of New York City’s public hospital system announced Monday that about 5,000 of its 43,000 workers — or about 12 percent — were still unvaccinated. That's after 3,000 workers got their first shots in the week before the city's mandate kicked in. Those remaining staffers “cannot come to work and will not get paid; they're not being put on leave yet,” The New York Times’ Emma Fitzsimmons reported. In North Carolina, a hospital system suspended 375 workers and gave them five days to comply with its mandatory vaccination policy. By Monday, almost 200 of them had already gotten their first doses, according to a spokesperson. Those who hadn’t were considered to have voluntarily resigned, the hospital system — which operates 15 hospitals and 800 clinics — confirmed on Tuesday. At most, 0.5 percent of the system’s 35,000 employees were negatively affected by the mandate. The same pattern repeats in most places you look. Houston Methodist Hospital had 153 staffers resign or be fired for defying its vaccination mandate, or about 0.6 percent of its 25,000 employees. The CBS affiliate in Baltimore found a grand total of one hospital staffer who had quit because of the city’s and the state’s mandates. All in all, there really doesn’t appear to be a mass movement of people choosing to leave their jobs over vaccinations. And we’re seeing, both anecdotally and through the data, that mandates move the needle on getting more people protected against Covid-19. And yet across the country, police departments and their unions have spent the last year refusing to accept vaccination mandates. The people who are in those careers have entered fields in which their employment is conditioned on their willingness to put the safety of their communities first. If they now find that they are unwilling to do so by helping contain a deadly pandemic? Then, frankly, they have been in the wrong line of work this whole time."
899
"https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/09/america-having-violence-wave-not-crime-wave/620234/"
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"America Is Having a Violence Wave, Not a Crime Wave"
"A historic rise in homicides in 2020—and continued bloodshed in 2021—has incited fears that after years of plummeting crime rates, the U.S. could be headed back to the bad old days, when a crime wave gripped the country from the 1970s to the 1990s. But the FBI’s “Uniform Crime Report” for 2020, released Monday, suggests something stranger: Perhaps America is in the midst of what is specifically a violence wave, not a broad crime wave. Even as violent crime rose, led by significant jumps in murders and aggravated assaults, property crime continued a years-long decline. “There was no crime wave—there was a tsunami of lethal violence, and that’s it,” Philip Cook, a crime expert at Duke University, wrote to me in an email. The murder rate rose by nearly 30 percent, the largest increase on record. There were about 21,500 murders, or 6.5 per 100,000 people. Aggravated assault, the most common form of violent crime, rose 12 percent. Among other components of the violent-crime rate, robbery actually decreased and rape reports were flat. But property crimes overall fell 8 percent, led by drops in burglary and larceny—though motor-vehicle theft increased. David A. Graham: Murders are spiking in America This kind of divergence is very unusual, especially given how much violent crime rose. On the most basic level, the culprits for the strange year in statistics are clear: guns, the coronavirus, and protests. Big changes in the crime rate correlate with the start of the pandemic and major protests after the murder of George Floyd, as I noted last week, but figuring out how these factors work and how they are entangled with one another is difficult and perhaps impossible. Some logical surmises exist for why the pandemic would have driven down property crime. More people were at home in 2020, and burglars generally avoid occupied houses, hence the drop in burglaries. That might also explain why robberies, a violent crime, sank—if fewer people are on the street and many businesses are closed, a would-be robber has fewer opportunities—but vehicle thefts, a property crime, rose, because cars were left on streets rather than being driven to work. Yet if the pandemic helped depress property crime, the result follows a years-long trend. Since a recent peak in 1991, overall property-crime rates rose only once. How the pandemic and last summer’s protests connect to the rise in violence is more complicated. The stress and strain of the pandemic on citizens—lost jobs, sick relatives, being forced into close quarters—could increase a propensity for violence. Many government and nongovernment programs that create diversions from conflict were closed, including formal education, after-school curricula, and violence-interruption programs. Law-enforcement officers were social distancing and policing less directly. An increase in murders in many cities also corresponds closely to protests over the summer of 2020, though experts aren’t sure why. One theory is that police who were busy patrolling some of the largest protests in American history were not patrolling other streets. Officers also may have pulled back from policing, either as a counterprotest or as an attempt to respond to political pressures. Attention to police violence against citizens can delegitimize police in the public’s eyes, which could lead to people being more inclined to take justice into their own hands, or simply not to report crimes they witnessed. Historically, violent crime and property crime have moved in concert, but they previously diverged in 2015 and 2016, following an earlier round of widespread protests after Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Missouri. One factor in the shocking increase in violence is very clear: “The rise in violence in 2020 appears to be almost entirely a rise in gun violence, rather than a more general increase in all forms of crime,” the Princeton sociologist Patrick Sharkey wrote to me in an email. In an average year, guns account for roughly two-thirds of American homicides, but in 2020, 77 percent of murders were shootings. More Americans are carrying guns, both legally and illegally, than they have in the past. Firearms sales shot up last year, and so did police retrievals of illegal guns. “You can ask law-abiding people or you can ask people who do not abide by the law, ‘Why are you armed with a firearm?’ ‘I need to protect myself,’” says Richard Rosenfeld, a criminologist at the University of Missouri at St. Louis. That creates a vicious cycle: More people carrying guns tends to result in more shootings, which in turn heightens the desire to carry a weapon for protection. When crime is decreasing, this dynamic helps it continue to fall, but once it begins to rise, the feedback loop turns ugly. Several analyses have found that murders have continued to rise this year, though not as sharply as last year. Zaid Jilani: Progressive denial won’t stop violent crime The FBI numbers could be wrong. Homicide statistics are very reliable because the crime produces a body or a missing person, but other categories are hazier because they rely on reports. People might fail to report crimes for various reasons: Maybe they are distrustful of the police because of cases like Floyd’s murder; maybe they see enough crime going unsolved in their neighborhood that they conclude it’s pointless to call the cops. In 2020, reports of drug crimes dropped sharply, even as overdoses reached a record of more than 93,000—suggesting that drug arrests, not use, had changed. This challenge is compounded by an overhaul of how the FBI gathers its numbers. One state crime-data official told The Washington Post that the country would have dependable data “in five or six years,” not an especially encouraging prediction. Because the rates of many crimes fell in 2020 and because murder rates remain well below their early-’90s peak, some observers have downplayed last year’s statistics. Often, warnings not to overinterpret the numbers come from advocates for worthy and necessary causes such as police reform and decarceration. “It’s disingenuous in the face of a historic 30 percent rise in homicide to say that overall crime is down, simply because the majority of crime is low-level misdemeanors,” Thomas Abt, a senior fellow at the Council on Criminal Justice and a former Justice Department official, told me. “That does not capture the lived experience of the people who are impacted.” Thinking about the problem facing the country as a violence wave rather than a crime wave might help sidestep that dilemma, though. It doesn’t overhype the statistical evidence to suggest a widespread crime wave, in a way that might panic the public and encourage heavy-handed and unjust backlash, nor does it downplay the seriousness of violence in some communities."
1,102
"https://pjmedia.com/columns/stephen-kruiser/2021/09/28/democrats-would-prefer-that-you-ignore-all-of-the-violent-crime-around-you-n1520273"
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0.36
"Democrats Would Prefer That You Ignore the Violent Crime"
"As if it weren’t already obvious from looking outside our own windows or reading the news, the FBI recently confirmed that Americans weren’t exactly on our best behavior last year during all of the plague and riot stuff. My colleague A.J. Kaufman had the story: The FBI’s annual report Monday made official what most unfortunately presumed: The United States in 2020 experienced the biggest rise in murders since the start of national record-keeping 60 years ago. The Uniform Crime Report detailed a murder increase of nearly 30 percent. The previous largest one-year change was a 12.7 percent increase back in 1968. The national rate of murders per 100,000, however, still remains about one-third below the rate in the early 1990s. The FBI data show around 21,500 total murders last year, which is 5,000 more murders than in 2019. More than three-fourths of reported murders in 2020 were committed with a firearm, the highest rate ever reported. Now before you start jumping to conclusions about a correlation between the leftist fever to defund the police and a huge jump in the nation’s murder rate, you should probably be aware of the fact that the Democrats want you to know that there’s no problem at all. That’s right, the same people who want us all to live in mortal fear of being breathed on by a stranger at Kroeger are trying to poof away a pile of bodies. City Journal: A robust debate has broken out over the underlying causes of the surge in violence across the country that began last summer. Was the pandemic to blame, or the riots after George Floyd’s death? That debate has been healthy, but an indefensible position occasionally crops up: partisans who insist, against all evidence, that rising crime is nothing to worry about. That was the view taken by congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who labeled such concerns “hysteria” this past June. And it’s the view propounded in a new report from the think tank Third Way, whose policy chief, Jim Kessler, similarly suggests that “hysteria” about crime has gripped the nation. Third Way’s brief has attracted the attention of commentators eager to downplay rising violence. NBC’s writeup on the report has been widely shared. But the report’s claims that the crime wave is made up don’t withstand scrutiny. Even Third Way’s own statistics confirm the surge in violent crime that serious analysts have been warning about. It’s not surprising that AOC had the wrong take–she is America’s Dumbest Bartender, after all. NBC’s eternal leftist hackery never surprises either. In the write-up mentioned above, the headline assures us that “overall crime” was down. The statement was technically true, but NBC was practically employing a team to bury the lede there. It is no secret that statistics can be spun, tortured, and rearranged in ways that can make a little part of what’s being examined seem like the whole thing. That is precisely what happened with the conclusion from Third Way. More from City Journal: These results are exactly what anyone following crime statistics since last year would expect: a decline in most property crime (as well as rape, which is infamously difficult to track), and an increase in homicide, assault (a proxy for shootings), and grand theft auto. Explaining that trend is simple. Most property crimes fell as lockdowns and Covid restrictions sent people home and shuttered businesses, reducing the opportunity for offending. Simultaneously, grand theft auto rose as cars and streets became less attended. Violence, meantime, spiked last summer, a trend likely driven by anti-police protests and ensuing de-policing. Property crime might have risen, too, except that concurrent policy pressures kept opportunities for offending low while funneling trillions of dollars in relief to individuals who might otherwise have turned to theft amid the recession. Inexplicably, Third Way’s analysts do not consider this explanation. Instead, they reduce any increase in crime to the murder spike, waving away the aggravated-assault increase (and the ample evidence of surging gun violence). Murder may be up 30 percent, they argue, but property crime is down; nothing to see here. I suppose we can take comfort in the fact that all of those extra dead people probably didn’t have their houses broken into. And Nicole Brown no longer had a headache after O.J. left that night. The reason that the people who are left-of-center in American politics want to downplay the carnage is that they all spent the summer of 2020 cheering it on. “Cops Bad, Violence Good” was their summer lockdown vacation theme. We all remember the image of the CNN reporter standing in front of a burning building and telling his audience that the protests were “mostly peaceful.” These leftist cretins were spinning the violence while it was happening, so of course they are going to continue to do so now. There is also the fact that any discussion of an increase in violent crimes last year brings to the fore the above-mentioned correlation with their defund the police insanity, which began proving itself to be a horrible idea almost immediately. Democrats still want you to be afraid, but only of people who won’t get vaccinated or wear masks while taking a shower. The real scary stuff — murder, assault, spiraling inflation, a resurgent al Qaeda — is just a product of your anti-science Rethuglican imagination. They won’t be happy until we are permanently living in a post-reality reality."
899
"https://www.cnn.com/2021/09/28/opinions/debt-ceiling-platinum-coin-biden-baker/index.html"
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0.69
"Joe Biden could be tempted to reach for the platinum coin"
"(CNN) On Monday night -- and with a Thursday deadline to fund the government bearing down -- Senate Republicans blocked a bill that would have suspended the United States' debt limit. The move puts the country at risk of default, thereby potentially tanking the economy and delaying payments to millions. This at the same time President Biden and Democrats are advancing a make-or-break effort to pass a multitrillion-dollar, 10-year economic and climate package. Debt limit negotiations continue -- but Biden does have an ace in the hole if Congress doesn't suspend the debt limit. Such a move would be ridiculous, of course, but the whole standoff on the debt is ridiculous. If Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Republicans insist on pushing it, Biden could well decide to get out the platinum coin. Why are we at this point? In the United States, we periodically -- like now -- get a charade where Republicans and Democrats fight over increasing the debt limit to allow for the borrowing that they have already approved. We will almost certainly get through it -- not getting through it would be catastrophic -- but there may be a lot of turmoil in financial markets before we do. It is important to understand what is at stake. Other than Denmark , our country is alone in the world in having a self-imposed limit on the amount of money it can borrow. In other countries, legislatures approve spending and taxes, and governments borrow to cover any gaps. In the United States, Congress authorizes spending and sets taxing levels, and then separately sets a limit on how much the country can borrow. The debt limit we are about to hit was due to actions of both parties. Much of the recent increase in the debt was incurred by pandemic spending that had overwhelming bipartisan support . But the new spending under President Biden is only a small part of this story. The tax cuts pushed through earlier b y former President Donald Trump and a Republican Congress also played a large role. Congress has regularly raised the debt limit to allow the Treasury to borrow the money needed to pay our bills, but once again the Treasury is hitting the limits of authorized borrowing. There is some uncertainty about when this will happen, mainly because of the irregularity of tax collections, but the department predicts that it will be some time in mid-October If the debt limit is not increased by then, the government will be unable to borrow to cover its normal expenses, including Social Security payments, salaries for government workers and interest payments on the debt. The debt limit is not a sacred principle in the Constitution. It is simply a quirk in the law that was put in place in 1917 to facilitate borrowing to pay for World War I. It is absurd that it now leads to these high-tension showdowns. The Democrats have added to the tension by linking the bill raising the debt ceiling to the bill to extend the government's funding. The bill to extend the government's funding is absolutely standard. Congress routinely passes "continuing resolutions" that essentially keep funding in place at the prior year's level until Congress makes any changes it wants. The fiscal year ends on Thursday, September 30. After midnight, large segments of the government will not have funding to continue to operate. Hence, if the debt ceiling/continuing resolution bill is not approved, much of the government will have to shut down on Friday. This will include national parks and museums, the Social Security Administration, which processes new benefit claims, and much of the rest of the government. Essential services will be maintained, but close to 60% of the federal workforce may not be working on Friday. A shutdown would be a major problem for the country. Even a short shutdown will cause major obstacles for an economy already struggling to overcome pandemic-related shortages. But as bad as a shutdown will be, failing to increase the debt ceiling will be even worse. It means the government will not be able to pay its bills, including pay for soldiers, Social Security checks and interest on government bonds. This is a game of chicken. Mitch McConnell wants the Biden administration to pay a big price to get him on board on increasing the debt ceiling. We have been in this situation before. In 2011, McConnell forced President Barack Obama to accept large cuts to the federal budget. These cuts both crippled several important government agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Park Service and the Justice Department, and slowed the pace of the recovery. The strong stimulus in the CARES Acts and the American Recovery Act under this administration has led to a rapid, but still not full, recovery from the pandemic recession. The unemployment rate is now down to 5.2% just a year and a half after the start of the recession that had rapidly hiked unemployment in just a few months. Get our free weekly newsletter Sign up for CNN Opinion's new newsletter. Join us on Twitter and Facebook By contrast, in part due to the spending cuts demanded by McConnell in an earlier standoff 10 years ago, growth in demand, GDP, and employment was very slow following the Great Recession . The unemployment rate did not fall to today's 5.2% level until July of 2015, almost eight years after the start of that recession."
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"https://www.nationalreview.com/2021/09/the-debt-limit-can-save-us/"
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0.58
"Debt Limit: Republicans Should Push for Reform"
"Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) arrives to speak to reporters following the weekly Senate Republican policy lunch at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., September 14, 2021. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters) How congressional Republicans can use the debt-limit vote to push meaningful reform In a gift to humanity, way back in 1917, the Second Liberty Bond Act established an aggregate debt limit. Since then, Congress, much to its chagrin, has had to lift the debt limit whenever it is about to be breached. There is perhaps no more painful vote for a politician of either party than the debt-limit vote. Spending increases can be celebrated as humane attempts to support social justice without raising a murmur from the electorate. But during these votes, everyone sweats profusely awaiting the final tally. That’s why it is common for the party out of power to slow-roll the debt-limit increase. It is a way to make the party in power own, perhaps unfairly, all the cumulative fiscal irresponsibility that has piled up since the last increase. It is the only time that those responsible for runaway spending are made to feel at least a little bit bad about it. Advertisement Advertisement So far, it has always worked out in the end. The government-debt limit is decried in the media as a horrible sideshow that risks the good credit rating of the U.S. government. We have been told that the world is about to end and that financial collapse is upon us if the ceiling is not lifted, until, like clockwork, victory is snatched from the jaws of defeat at the last minute. If it feels like the kabuki is getting old, perhaps that’s because it is. In 1949, the federal-debt limit was $49 billion. Since 1949 it has been increased 92 times, or more than once per year, allowing the debt to climb all the way to $28.5 trillion. The debt-limit show runs more often than the World Series! Advertisement To be sure, some of those debt-limit increases were almost as entertaining as the World Series, and sometimes they have actually led to sound policy. In 1979, for example, a Democratic Congress lifted the debt limit but required that future budgets be balanced. In 2011, the divided Congress lifted the debt limit but tied it to the Budget Control Act that was designed to reduce the deficit sharply. Advertisement Despite those minor victories, in the end, shame over lifting the debt limit has had little long-run impact. In 1947, government spending took up 13.81 percent of GDP. The July CBO estimate suggests that government spending as a portion of GDP will be just shy of 31 percent for 2021 — 10 percentage points higher than the levels reached in 1942, when the war machine was ramping up to engage in World War II. While votes over the government-debt limit are painful for politicians, the inexorable increase in debt indicates that it is largely toothless. Advertisement Today, Democrats are proposing to ram through a giant budget package that will continue to run deficits approaching World War II levels, but they are wary of lifting the debt limit all by themselves, for fear of scaring the tar out of voters. Sensing weakness, Republicans have vowed to make Democrats do it alone. If they do, the history just discussed will make it clear that Democrats will lift the debt limit (probably past the midterm), experience some pain, and then go on with their business as if nothing ever happened. A year from now, all will be forgotten, and government spending will have continued to trend upward. Against that backdrop, Republicans have a much smarter play than simple opposition. Over the past decade, an average of around 55 percent of Americans have said they are concerned “a great deal” about federal spending and the budget deficit, according to Gallup. A balanced budget would be appealing to those voters, and the current debt-limit vote can help Republicans achieve it and grab political credit for it. As a reminder, if the debt limit is hit, that just means that the government cannot borrow to fund current spending. It needs, in real time, to make sure that it has the revenues coming in to cover spending. It’s like a balanced-budget amendment on steroids. Of course, if we were to hit the debt limit in October, we would have few cash reserves, and little ability to pay interest and keep government running. That’s the problem. Republicans have tended not to think about the debt limit until the last minute. But if, on the other hand, Republicans plan ahead, and agree to lift the debt limit enough for say, the next three years of spending, but then require a supermajority of votes in the Senate to lift it thereafter, policymakers will have committed to a future balanced budget, while giving themselves a few years to get their ducks in a row to make it as painless as such a process can be. While a simple-majority vote could overrule the supermajority rule, the legislative history of such rules is that they tend to stick. It’s the easiest path imaginable to a balanced-budget amendment. Advertisement Democrats are terrified enough about the midterm elections that they might well take a deal that allows them to spread the blame around for the ten trillion or so dollars’ worth of debt that needs to be added to the limit now. If they do, Republicans should grab the opportunity to lock us into a path for a balanced budget. If they don’t, adopting this approach should be top of the agenda when they recapture Congress."
935
"https://www.realclearinvestigations.com/articles/2021/09/29/it_looks_like_americas_energy_future_is_still_going_to_be_a_gas_796510.html"
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90
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0.93
"It Looks Like America's Energy Future Is Still Going to Be a Gas"
"The battle over President Joe Biden’s sweeping clean energy plan isn’t over, but there already appears to be a winner – natural gas. The fossil fuel will likely remain a mainstay of America’s electrical grid for some time, according to energy experts and lawmakers. That’s a big disappointment to liberal Democrats and environmentalists. In protests in cities and campuses nationwide, one of them fronted by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, they made natural gas the new climate villain, replacing coal, the dirtier fossil fuel that’s fading in the states. Climate activists had pinned their hopes on the administration’s proposal to remake the energy industry at breakneck speed. It gives financial incentives to utilities to ramp up the deployment of clean energy sources such as wind and solar and would slow if not stop the expansion of gas-fired power plants. ... which has a large footprint in the home state of one of the Senate's linchpin Democratic votes, Joe Manchin. (West Virginia license plate, top image.) Progressives like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez criticize the concession to natural gas ... But Sen. Joe Manchin, who controls climate policy as chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said in early September that he would block Biden’s ambitious plan and seek a middle ground. The West Virginian’s insistence that any climate policy must leave plenty of room for natural gas was criticized by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, among other progressives, as a favor to the fossil fuel industry, which has a large footprint in his home state. As Manchin tells it, hitting the brakes on natural gas is a risk he’s not willing to take. Although such a move would reduce carbon emissions – a goal the senator shares – it makes the nation’s aging and feeble grid more vulnerable to dangerous blackouts as wind and solar energy play a larger role. They don’t supply power when the wind stops blowing and the sun is down. So natural gas plants, which have contributed to the closing of hundreds of coal burners, need to anchor the grid until viable clean substitutes come of age. “The United States leads the world in emissions reductions and that’s largely because of the increased utilization of natural gas,” says Anne Bradbury, CEO of the gas and oil trade group American Exploration & Production Council. “It seems extremely shortsighted to be demonizing the use of natural gas.” The prospect that the fossil fuel will have more staying power than opponents had hoped is an early signpost of America’s energy future as Democrats aim to transform it – and much else in society – in its roughly $4 trillion spending snarl. Here are others. A Setback for Carbon Capture Environmental groups are getting in the way of the rollout of a technology that could eventually clean up gas plants, according to carbon capture advocates, which emit about half the emissions of coal. ... which, this group argues, could keep gas plants from overheating the planet. The Natural Resources Defense Council and other greens have a cold view of carbon capture technology ... The Carbon Capture Coalition, a group of energy and advocacy groups, has been lobbying for an increase in the federal tax credit for a technology that can remove more than 90% of carbon emissions from gas plants. The bigger subsidy is needed to kick-start the commercial rollout of large carbon-capture installations, much like the tax credits that spurred the expansion of wind and solar power. But groups like Greenpeace and the National Resources Defense Council are campaigning against federal support for the technology, arguing that it would needlessly extend the life of fossil fuels and delay the deployment of renewables. They have the upper hand. The House Ways & Means Committee failed to boost the tax credit as part of the big reconciliation bill it released earlier this month that carries the administration’s climate package. That may change if the bill reaches the Senate. Manchin is a big supporter of carbon capture. A Lack of Transparency Americans have had only a limited view of the consequential battle over Biden’s clean energy plan in Congress – which affects almost everyone who depends on electricity, and their pocketbooks. So far consumers have paid an average of 2.6% more for green power. Secrecy: Congress's present wrangling over energy is a big departure from the sunshine that typically illuminates big proposals. Democrats are pushing their climate plan through the budget reconciliation process because it requires only 50 votes for passage in a divided Senate and avoids a Republican filibuster. It’s also an expediated process that limits debate on the floor of Congress and public transparency. Without congressional hearings, consumers haven’t had the benefit of testimony from experts who can point out the merits and flaws of Biden’s plan. That’s a big departure from the sunshine that typically illuminates such big proposals. The last time Congress considered a major climate measure, the Waxman-Markey bill, experts testified in high-profile public hearings in the House that were covered by the national media. The Affordable Care Act featured hundreds of hours of public hearings. “With something as important as energy policy that could have a big impact on the national economy, it should be fully debatable and fully amendable,” says Bill Hoagland, a former staff director of the Senate Budget Committee who worked on 17 of 21 previous reconciliation laws. “It’s not something that should be done in a partisan manner through reconciliation.” Hoagland says both parties have “abused” that procedure to create new laws after it was set up in the 1970s to bring fiscal accountability to existing laws. Biden’s climate plan marks the first attempt to transform a major industry through reconciliation. Hoagland, now a senior vice president at the Bipartisan Policy Center, says Senate staffers and advocates called him to get his advice. “I told them not to use the reconciliation process for energy policy,” he says. “They said, ‘Thank you very much. But this is the only tool we have to allow us to get it through and we are not going to waste any more time.’” A grid more prone to blackouts? Who knows? But both sides have computer models to back their case. The Truthiness of Computer Models Computer models – a bête noire of climate skeptics – live on in the debate over the clean energy transformation, providing ammunition for each side. The dispute boils down to the reliability of the electrical grid. If intermittent wind and solar power quickly dethrone natural gas as the dominant source of energy, as the Biden administration envisions, will the grid become even more prone to blackouts? No one really knows for sure. Enter computer models. University of California-Berkeley experts earlier this year asked their model the big question: Will the grid be reliable if 80% of its power comes from clean sources such as wind and solar farms and nuclear plants by 2030? The model, which analyzed seven years of weather and energy use data, answered with a resounding yes. In fact, gas use could be cut in half, supplying the remaining 20%, without a glitch. “The expansion of natural gas should come to a halt if the Biden policy is passed,” says Mike O’Boyle, who collaborated on the study as director of electricity policy at Energy Innovation. “I’m sure some utilities will make the case that they need it for reliability. So it will be up to the regulators to hold their feet to the fire and make sure that the gas plant is the most economic option.” But models by Energy and Environmental Economics, a consulting group, draw the opposite conclusion. A 2020 study, which covered 40 years of weather data, looked at ways to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 in New England. It found that natural gas capacity would need to grow by about one-third from today’s level. Even a large deployment of wind and solar farms won’t be able to meet peak demand – which is expected to grow in coming decades – when the wind and sun are down, says Arne Olson, a senior partner at the consulting firm and co-author of the study. That means additional gas power needs to be available, particularly in regions where coal plants are closing, until the day arrives that cleaner fuels like hydrogen can carry the load, he says. With the best computer models providing conflicting answers, Olson says having plenty of natural gas on hand to shore up the grid makes sense: “Once we get closer to the other side of the energy transition, we will learn how the systems are going to perform and we can shut down some gas plants if we don't need them anymore. But in the meantime, people want to make sure that they have reliable power.” Tina Smith Takes the Stage If the administration and Manchin come together on a clean energy plan, Tina Smith will be a big reason why. Tina Smith, a self-described Democratic pragmatist from Minnesota, now finds herself at center stage in negotiations with Manchin -- and under pressure to disappoint the left anew with a further break for natural gas. Since 2019, the Democratic senator from Minnesota, a self-described pragmatist, has focused on crafting a practical policy that utilities could support. Biden’s team took some ideas from Smith’s playbook but set far more ambitious goals: 80% carbon-free electricity by 2030. Even supporters consider the Biden plan “aspirational.” It’s meant to line up with the greenhouse gas reduction targets of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which recently concluded that the warming of the planet has already caused “irreversible” effects such as rising sea levels. Some Republicans and moderate Democrats are backing a much slower transition by 2050 that wouldn’t push gas power aside. The influential utility trade group Edison Electric Institute and labor unions, including the United Mine Workers – a backer of Manchin – have rallied behind the bipartisan bill. Smith, who was first elected in 2018, now finds herself at center stage in negotiations with Manchin. They are trying to find a middle ground, which may be somewhere between 2030 and 2050. There are more knobs to turn in the negotiations. The administration wants to compel utilities to adopt any form of clean power by giving them a federal grant if they hit an annual growth target of about 3% to 4%. They will also pay penalties for missing it. (The spending and revenue scheme was also devised to try to make the energy plan eligible for the budget reconciliation process.) But gas power isn’t included in the proposal, putting it at an economic disadvantage compared to renewables. Industry and utility groups object and are lobbying for gas to receive a partial grant since it's cleaner than coal. Adding to the uncertainty over a climate policy in Congress, Democratic leaders in the Senate recently put a politically controversial carbon tax back on the table. They see it as a way to reduce emissions and raise revenue to help pay for the social spending package. “I'm always interested in figuring out how we can make adjustments to solve problems that people see, and frankly, sometimes that makes a bill better,” Smith told RealClearInvestigations. “There are a lot of issues in this. But I think we are going to get there.”"
1,881
"https://www.msnbc.com/opinion/virginia-governor-race-what-glenn-youngkin-says-about-trump-s-n1280283"
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0.69
"Virginia governor race: What Glenn Youngkin says about Trump's power"
"The Republican candidate for governor of Virginia, Glenn Youngkin, knows that he has to try to run in a moderate lane if he wants a real shot at winning in his increasingly blue Southern state in November. But his insistence on raising doubts about the legitimacy of the 2020 election signals that even Republican candidates who want distance from former President Donald Trump feel obligated to peddle some version of the “big lie.” That disconcerting reality came into focus in an Axios report published Sunday, which reported that Youngkin took a rather odd position on 2020: Youngkin believes Biden beat Trump in the 2020 election legitimately. But while speaking with Axios, he wouldn’t say whether he would have voted to certify the election on Jan. 6 if he were a member of Congress. He did say there’s “no room for violence in America.” Youngkin was trying in this interview to send different signals to different camps — condemning the Jan. 6 violence and accepting Joe Biden’s victory, but at the same time implying that there are open questions in some states about whether the election results were reliable. The worrying subtext was that even being a more “moderate” Republican still entails casting doubt on the election process and deferring to Trump’s election disinformation. Youngkin’s Axios interview caused a stir and got pushback from some of the very Never Trump-style Republicans he’s concerned with winning over, particularly in the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington. His office released a statement the next day saying he would have, in fact, certified the election had he been in Congress — and acted like it was obvious the entire time. “Glenn Youngkin has repeatedly said that Joe Biden was legitimately elected and that there was no significant fraud in Virginia’s 2020 election, leading to the only logical conclusion that he would have certified the election,” the statement said. But the reality is that it’s not the only logical conclusion — because Youngkin has deliberately muddied the waters about his election views in the past. In the run-up to the Republican primary for this race, Youngkin’s most fleshed-out policy proposal was a five point “election integrity” plan. The proposal was presented as something that could have bipartisan appeal, but it was a clear bid to affirm the Trump-fueled myth that the electoral system is insecure and untrustworthy. He would also dodge questions about the legitimacy of Biden’s election, preferring to acknowledge only that Biden was the sitting president. After he won the primary, he changed his tune on that point, finally admitting that Biden’s election was legitimate. Youngkin is coding as independent and somewhat moderate to some Republicans — all while flirting with Trump’s authoritarian project of casting doubt on the U.S. election process. Youngkin has also played games on other disinformation-affected policy fronts, like Covid-19 vaccination efforts, both running ads featuring anti-vaxxers and boasting about being the only candidate encouraging Virginians to join him in getting vaccinated. When it comes to his relationship with Trump, Youngkin has also tried to play both sides. He supported Trump and won his endorsement, but he has also tried to claim independence from Trump and played up his ability to win the attention of moderates who despised the former president. “I brought together Forever-Trumpers and Never-Trumpers, sitting in the same audience, excited about what we’re doing," Youngkin told Axios. Youngkin’s Janus-faced politicking is a function of Virginia’s unique political currents. Trump lost Virginia in both his elections — the second time by a larger margin. And during the Trump years, Democrats won control of the governor’s mansion and the Legislature in defiance of state trends dating back to the ’90s. Virginia’s northern suburbs — packed with affluent, educated and politically engaged residents — typify the exact kind of voter who pivoted away from the GOP during the Trump era, and are seen as an important constituency for Republicans to win to get back in power in the state. So Youngkin's political positioning is a useful signpost for what Republicans think could help them win back moderates. Youngkin is a real competitor in this race — he narrowly trails his Democratic opponent, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, in the latest polls. Political strategists in the state see him as potentially the next Larry Hogan — the Republican governor of Maryland who has managed to thrive in a deeply blue state. Which is what makes Youngkin winking at Trump’s “big lie”-loving base all the scarier. Youngkin is coding as independent and somewhat moderate to some Republicans — all while flirting with Trump’s authoritarian project of casting doubt on the election system. In the process, he’s mainstreaming the idea that undermining trust in the election system and disregarding typical burdens for evidence aren't extreme positions."
792
"https://spectator.org/john-durham-dissects-a-smear-campaign/"
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"John Durham Dissects a Smear Campaign"
"This is the third in a series of articles analyzing the 27-page federal grand jury indictment charging lawyer Michael Sussmann with making a false statement to the FBI. The second article analyzed the indictment’s detailed factual averments that spelled out how Sussmann and others conspired to concoct a false but “plausible” narrative purportedly demonstrating the existence of a secret channel of internet communications between the Trump Organization, owned by Donald Trump, and the Russian Alfa Bank. The article ended at the point where Sussmann was about to meet with James Baker, the general counsel of the FBI. At the meeting, Sussmann allegedly delivered to Baker deceptive “white papers,” documents and computer data that were calculated to trigger an FBI investigation of the purported Trump-Alfa Bank connection. According to the indictment, once the FBI began its investigation, Sussmann, the top echelon of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign (“Clinton Campaign”) and others publicized the fact that the FBI was investigating possible ties between Trump and Russia. Moreover, the indictment also avers that, even before his September 19, 2016, meeting with Baker, Sussmann disseminated the fabricated Trump-Alfa Bank narrative to the media. Quoting billing records and emails from Sussmann’s law firm (“Perkins Coie” which represented the Clinton Campaign), the indictment gives the following examples of how the smear was spread: On “about August 30, 2016, Reporter-1, who worked for “a major U.S. newspaper (‘Newspaper-1’),” emailed Sussmann: “I’m back in town. I see Russians are hacking away. [A]ny big news?” To this Sussmann replied: “Mind reader!… Can you meet Thurs and Fri?” On Thursday, September 1, 2016, Sussmann met with Reporter-1. He “billed his time for the meeting to the Clinton Campaign under the broader billing description ‘confidential meetings regarding confidential project.’” On September 12, 2016, Sussmann spoke with “Campaign Lawyer-1” (identified elsewhere as Sussmann’s law partner, Marc Elias, who represented the Clinton Campaign) by telephone regarding the Trump-Alfa Bank narrative. Sussmann and Elias each billed the call to the Clinton Campaign with Elias using the billing description “teleconference with M. Sussmann re: [Newspaper-1]” and Sussmann using the description “work regarding confidential project.” On September 15, 2016, Elias “exchanged emails with the Clinton Campaign’s campaign manager, communications director, and foreign policy advisor concerning the [Trump-Alfa Bank allegations] that Sussmann had recently shared with Reporter-1.” Elias “billed his time for this correspondence to the Clinton Campaign with the billing entry, ‘email correspondence with [name of foreign policy advisor], [name of campaign manager], [name of communications director] re: the [Alfa Bank] Article.’” Now hit the pause button and consider this. These examples — as with so many other averments in the indictment — quote Perkins Coie’s billing records as well as emails between Sussmann, Elias, and others. They are direct, real-time, and devastating proof of overt acts and statements made in the course and in furtherance of the illegal but thus-far uncharged conspiracy outlined in the indictment. The fact that Durham has obtained this type of closely-guarded evidence speaks to his skill, tenacity, and seriousness of purpose, and spells serious legal trouble for all those who participated in concocting and spreading the Trump-Alfa Bank smear. So, what happened when Sussmann met with Baker? The indictment avers some very unusual circumstances. First, according to the indictment, when Baker and Sussmann met, “[n]o one else attended the meeting.” (Emphasis added) How did that happen? When interviewing even the lowliest witness, the FBI always works in pairs. One agent does the questioning while the other takes notes. But here, when a lawyer from a “major international law firm” representing the Clinton Campaign met with the FBI’s top lawyer during the Presidential campaign, no one else was present to document what transpired. Why? Did Baker know in advance why Sussmann wanted to meet? If so, why wouldn’t Baker require the presence of a witness to document what was to transpire? Second, why did Baker even agree to the meeting? Doesn’t the FBI have plenty of trained, perfectly competent special agents who gather facts and document their findings? Why wasn’t Sussmann’s contact handled by way of the FBI’s regular interview process? The indictment explains that Sussmann’s meeting with Baker wasn’t his first interaction with the FBI. It states that “[i]n or about April 2016, the Democratic National Committee (“DNC”) retained Sussmann to represent it in connection with the hacking of its email servers by the Russian government. In connection with his representation of the DNC as the victim of the hack, the defendant met and communicated regularly with the FBI, the DOJ, and other U.S. government agencies. In or around the same time period, Sussmann was also advising the Clinton Campaign in connection with cybersecurity issues.” A later article in this series will discuss Sussmann’s role in the FBI’s bizarre, pretend investigation of the DNC hack in which the FBI opted not to conduct its own forensic examination of the DNC’s server. Instead, it relied on Crowdstrike, a private company reportedly retained by Sussmann, to examine the server. More on that later. But, for now, suffice it to say that prior to meeting with Baker, Sussmann had interacted with the FBI. Also, as Baker later told congressional investigators, he and Sussmann had “a pre-existing relationship.” The particulars of that relationship remain unclear. But, before Congress, Baker testified in reference to Sussmann, “I had a personal relationship with Michael.” The indictment describes what happened at the meeting as follows: Sussmann stated falsely that he was not acting on behalf of any client, which led Baker to understand that Sussmann was conveying the Trump-Alfa Bank allegations as “a good citizen and not as an advocate for any client.” He stated that he had been “approached by multiple cyber security experts” concerning the Trump-Alfa Bank allegations. He provided the names of three cyber experts but did not mention “the Clinton Campaign, or any other person or company referenced” in the indictment. He “described the allegations of a secret Trump Organization server that was in communication with” the Alfa Bank. He “stated that media outlets were in possession of information about the Trump Organization’s secret server, and that a story would be published on Friday of that week.” Sussmann provided to Baker two thumb drives and hard copy “white papers” drafted by Sussmann and others as well as Fusion GPS. The white papers “contained no date or author’s name.” He also provided eight files containing Alfa Bank data and other “purported data and information relating to the mail1.trump-email.com domain.” Immediately after the meeting, Baker spoke with the assistant director of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division (identified elsewhere as William Priestap) concerning his meeting with Sussmann. Priestap took contemporaneous handwritten notes which reflect Sussmann’s statements to Baker, and state, in relevant part: Michael Sussman[n] – Atty: Perkins Coie – said not doing this for any client. Represents DNC, Clinton Foundation, etc. Been approached by Prominent Cyber People (Academic or Corp. POCs) People like: [three names redacted]. According to the indictment, in the days following Sussmann’s meeting with Baker, and as a result of that meeting, the FBI opened an investigation of the Trump-Alfa Bank allegations. During that time, Sussmann is alleged to have to have coordinated with Fusion GPS and his law partner, Marc Elias, who represented the Clinton Campaign, to disseminate the Trump-Alfa Bank allegations to the media. He continued to bill his time for such work to the Clinton Campaign. For example, “on or about October 10, 2016, Sussmann is alleged to have emailed Reporter-1 a link to an opinion article which asserted, in substance and in part, that Newspaper-1’s investigative reporters had not published as many stories regarding Trump as other media outlets.” The subject line of Sussmann’s email was “for your editors,” and the body stated, “You should send this link to them.” According to public sources, Reporter-1 was working on an article about the Trump-Alfa Bank narrative, but his editors at Newspaper-1 had not yet authorized publication of the article. According to the indictment, “on or about October 30, 2016,” an employee of Fusion GPS forwarded to another reporter (“Reporter-2”) a tweet which indicated that the FBI director had “explosive information about Trump’s ties to Russia.” The GPS employee’s email stated “time to hurry,” suggesting that Reporter-2 should hurry to publish an article regarding the Trump-Alfa Bank allegations. The indictment avers that Reporter-2 responded by emailing the Fusion GPS employee a draft article regarding the Trump-Alfa Bank allegations along with the cover message: “Here’s the first 2500 words.” The opening paragraphs of the indictment state that “[i]n or about late October 2016 — approximately one week before the 2016 U.S. Presidential election — multiple media outlets reported that U.S. government authorities had received and were investigating allegations concerning a purported secret channel of communications between the Trump Organization, owned by Donald J. Trump, and” the Russian Alfa Bank. The indictment cites the article by Newspaper-1 as stating that intelligence officials possessed information concerning “what cyber experts said appeared to be a mysterious computer back channel between the Trump Organization and” the Alfa Bank. The article further reported that the FBI had “spent weeks examining computer data showing an odd stream of activity to a Trump Organization server,” and that “[c]omputer logs obtained by [Newspaper-1]” showed “that two servers at” the Alfa Bank “sent more than 2,700 ‘look up’ messages … to a Trump-connected server beginning in the spring.” According to other articles, this information had been assembled by an anonymous computer researcher who used the moniker “Tea Leaves.” (Identified as “Originator-1” in my previous article.) As this news broke, Hillary Clinton announced on Twitter that “Computer scientists have apparently uncovered a covert server linking the Trump Organization to a Russian-based bank.” She added that “It’s time for Trump to answer serious questions about his ties to Russia.” Meanwhile, the Clinton Campaign posted a “Statement from Jake Sullivan on New Report Exposing Trump’s Secret Line of Communication to Russia.” In it, Sullivan is quoted as follows: This could be the most direct link yet between Donald Trump and Moscow. Computer scientists have apparently uncovered a covert server linking the Trump Organization to a Russian-based bank. This secret hotline may be the key to unlocking the mystery of Trump’s ties to Russia. It certainly seems the Trump Organization felt it had something to hide, given that it apparently took steps to conceal this link when it was discovered by journalists. This line of communication may help explain Trump’s bizarre adoration of Vladimir Putin and endorsement of so many pro-Kremlin positions throughout this campaign. It raises even more troubling questions in light of Russia’s masterminding of hacking efforts that are clearly intended to hurt Hillary Clinton’s campaign. We can only assume that federal authorities will now explore this direct connection between Trump and Russia as part of their existing probe of Russia’s meddling in our elections.” This was by no means the end of Sullivan’s involvement. As will be documented in a later article, Sullivan, who now serves as the Biden regime’s National Security Advisor, worked assiduously on behalf of the Clinton Campaign to spread the Trump-Alfa Bank story. But that’s enough for now. There’s much more to this tale of the most successful and destructive political smear in American history. So stay tuned for the next exciting episode of “John Durham Blows Up Washington.” George Parry is a former federal and state prosecutor who blogs at knowledgeisgood.net. He may be reached by email at kignet1@gmail.com."
1,900
"https://www.realcleareducation.com/articles/2021/09/29/every_student_deserves_every_opportunity_110640.html"
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"Every Student Deserves Every Opportunity"
"Federal lawsuit aims to unlock the potential of millions of students The past two years have shined a bright light on widespread inequalities in education. As state after state dealt with pandemic disruptions, we’ve seen painful reminders of what’s always existed: some kids have access to great schools, multiple options for learning, and abundant resources like computers and high-speed internet access, advanced courses, online classes, and modern buildings with science labs and excellent libraries. And other kids are left behind, decade after decade, assigned to government-run underperforming and failing schools, without a chance for anything better. That’s painfully true in Michigan, where a student’s ability to move to a better school is limited by antiquated state laws that don’t serve the needs of each and every individual student. Consider Michigan’s failure in teaching students to read according to the “Nation’s Report Card.” For a dozen years, Michigan’s 4th grade reading scores have been below the national average, and, in 2019, six out of 10 Michigan 4th graders were not proficient in reading. These scores touch all parts of Michigan, including the urban centers of Detroit, Flint, and Grand Rapids, and rural communities throughout the state. Math scores are below the national average, and there’s a growing achievement gap between white and Black students. But why? If we’ve learned one thing from the pandemic, it’s that our education system must be flexible and centered around students. A single, one-size-fits-all pathway for every kid will never deliver great results. A quality education that meets a child’s needs unlocks countless doors. It can break cycles of poverty, lift up communities, and help ensure all students can reach their God-given potential. But in Michigan, special interests—some fueled by religious bigotry—have funded education in a way that ignores what parents want and shuts down flexibility and options. It prizes one system alone over the needs of individual students, ignoring what Florida and other states have proven to be true: that it shouldn’t matter the type of school a student attends. What matters is what’s best for each child. Michigan can do better for her kids. But, so far, the state has failed to modernize its industrial-age education system. Now Michigan families, like the Hile family in Kalamazoo, the Bagos family in Royal Oak, and the Lupanoff family in Grand Rapids, are fighting a legal battle to break down the barriers that limit options for Michigan’s kids. They are part of a lawsuit challenging religious-based restrictions that limit their access to better schools. Winning this lawsuit could transform their children’s lives. It could transform Michigan. Jill Hile works for the public school system, but after COVID-19 forced her kids to learn remotely, she saw deficits of the one-size-fits-all model and decided to enroll her kids in a local private Christian school. The new school resulted in a remarkable benefit for their daughter, who was struggling with remote learning at her local public school. But like many families, opting for a new school wasn’t easy, and it came with a hefty price tag since Michigan doesn’t allow for education funds to follow the child to the school of their choice. Nor does Michigan’s outdated Constitution allow parents to use their 529 Education Savings Plans to pay for their child’s education. In fact, the Michigan Constitution specifically prohibits it, despite federal law making it an allowable expense. Right now, millions of families like the Hiles are denied their rights, denied their freedoms, denied access to an education of their choice. That's not acceptable. It’s time for a change in how we deliver education to our kids. Students need more choices, and there’s simply no downside to providing that. In recent decades, states around the nation have taken steps to open up more options to parents who want to choose the best school for their kids. Michigan is alone among its neighbors—Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Illinois—in not offering students more educational freedom. The current lawsuit, if successful, will tear down a wall that’s holding too many kids back. Today’s challenges in education are real, but I believe the future is bright. We must continue working toward a world where school options are available to all, where our education dollars can follow a student anywhere. That’s the golden key that will unlock doors otherwise closed, unlock potential otherwise ignored, and unlock a world where all students have a chance to excel in a learning environment that serves them best."
739
"https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/editorials/biden-got-caught-in-lie-about-afghanistan"
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0.58
"Joe Biden just got caught in a lie about Afghanistan"
"On Aug. 18, three days after the Taliban seized control of Kabul but eight days before 13 U.S. service members were killed by a suicide bomber, ABC’s George Stephanopolous asked President Joe Biden about what advice he received on leaving a residual force in Afghanistan. “Your top military advisers warned against withdrawing on this timeline," Stephanopoulos said. "They wanted you to keep about 2,500 troops.” Biden replied, “No, they didn't.” “So no one told — your military advisers did not tell you, ‘No, we should just keep 2,500 troops? It's been a stable situation for the last several years. We can do that. We can continue to do that’?” Stephanopoulos asked. Biden restated his answer, “No. No one said that to me that I can recall.” Fast forward to yesterday’s Senate Armed Services Committee oversight hearing. Based on the testimony, it appears very clear that Biden's statement was a lie. Under questioning from Republican Sen. James Inhofe, U.S. Central Command Commander Gen. Kenneth McKenzie testified, “I won’t share my personal recommendation to the president, but I will give you my honest opinion. And my honest opinion and view shaped my recommendation. I recommended that we maintain 2,500 troops in Afghanistan.” Republican Sen. Tom Cotton later followed up, asking Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, “It is your testimony that you recommended 2,500 troops, approximately, to stay in Afghanistan?” Like McKenzie, Milley declined to say exactly what he told the president. “Yes, my assessment was back in the fall of '20, and it remains consistent throughout, that we should keep a steady state of 2,500, and it could bounce up to 3,500, in order to move toward a negotiated solution," he said. Pressed by Cotton if he shared that specific assessment with Biden, Milley again declined to share what he told the president, saying, “But I will tell you what my personal opinion was, and I am always candid.” Cotton then turned to Defense Sec. Lloyd Austin and asked him if Biden’s statement to Stephanopolous that no military advisers advised him to leave a small troop presence was true. Austin waited five long seconds before answering, “I believe that … Well first of all, I believe the president to be an honest and forthright man.” Cotton stopped him and asked, “Did these officers' recommendations get to the president personally? Austin responded, “Their input was received by the president and considered by the president for sure.” So there you have it — Biden lied, and 13 U.S. service members died soon after. This issue is not in the rearview window. Al Qaeda is now empowered to use Afghanistan as a base to target the United States again. There are also still 2,500 troops in Iraq assisting its government in fighting against the Islamic State. Biden lied about the advice he got on Afghanistan. Will he be honest this time about the costs and benefits of keeping these troops in harm's way? There is no reason to trust him."
498
"https://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/ny-edit-the-buck-stops-there-20210929-dmu4hie7fvgj3myf5vray6lypi-story.html"
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"The buck stops there: Biden can’t deflect responsibility for the Afghanistan meltdown"
"It is impossible to square those statements with what military brass told the Senate Armed Services Committee under oath yesterday. Gen. Frank McKenzie, commander of U.S. Central Command overseeing that part of the world, relayed that earlier this year, he recommended maintaining a small force in Afghanistan. And while he would not testify that he said this directly to the president, that was the indisputable implication. Additionally, McKenzie told the committee that he spoke with Biden directly about the recommendation by Gen. Scott Miller, who until July was the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, that the military leave a few thousand troops on the ground there."
107
"https://www.realcleareducation.com/articles/2021/09/27/use_and_abuse_of_online_instruction_110638.html"
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"The Use and Abuse of Online Instruction"
"As a new college year begins, it’s clear that the online classroom is here to stay. In some instances, teachers have found unique, enhanced pedagogies online that have vast potential for widening access to quality education. What remains urgently important is building an ethical system for the online classroom that is as robust as its technology – a system of communication that respects privacy, maintains trust, and fosters the free exchange of ideas. There is already too much fear within the campus community that any idea out of step with campus norms will not simply become part of a creative battle of ideas, but instead will bring shame or loss of status to those espousing it. Nearly two years ago, former president Barack Obama decried the growing power of campus cancel culture: “One danger I see among young people, particularly on college campuses . . . there is this sense sometimes of ‘The way of me making change is to be as judgmental as possible about other people, and that’s enough.’” Those effects were evident even before the pandemic: a Knight Foundation/Gallup survey in 2019 reported that 61% of college students agreed with the statement that “the climate on their campus deters students from expressing themselves openly.” Other surveys show that everything from classroom participation to social relations have suffered. Among the more alarming findings of a College Pulse/American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) survey: nearly half of college students believe that pressure to conform to prevailing opinion has a negative effect on the development of close personal relationships. Now the problem has worsened. In 2021, College Pulse/ACTA found that by a two-to-one margin, students report greater difficulty discussing their views in an online environment as compared to an in-person class. They have reason to be uneasy. Unlike the experience of the physical classroom, everything that teachers and students share online, whether text, voice discussion, or video, is immediately available for posting and distribution, authorized or not. Heterodox classroom opinions readily become the spark igniting a Twitter mob. Worse yet, it is all too easy to decontextualize a dissenting opinion, turning a thoughtful colleague into a villain. As the remote learning environment adopts features of the social media marketplace, the fear of cancellation will spread to the classroom. A 2020 FIRE survey of almost 20,000 students found that fully 63% are uncomfortable expressing opinions on social media. Misuse of the online classroom crosses political lines: it’s an equal opportunity bully. Soon after the pandemic began, Charlie Kirk, founder of Turning Point USA, tweeted to his network of college students a request for videos of liberal indoctrination. One year later, the dean of the Georgetown University Law Center fired one adjunct professor and suspended another after their private conversation concerning disparate racial outcomes in grading was accidentally recorded. What should have been a confidential discussion between well-meaning colleagues concerned about minority achievement quickly made its way onto Twitter, and the law school violated its own procedures in disciplining the professors, as the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) observed. The power of social media ran roughshod over process, university policies, and academic freedom. The online classroom needs rules of engagement to protect free and open deliberation. Going back to 1915, when John Dewey and Arthur Lovejoy founded the AAUP, a core principle was that the classroom is a sanctuary for the free exchange of ideas where students and faculty can be intellectually fearless, safe in the knowledge that the classroom walls contain the discussion. Every college and university should create guidelines for the recording and sharing of online lectures and discussions. Some institutions will wisely incorporate online classroom privacy procedures into their honor code, requiring consent before recording and distribution. Consequences for violation of improper use should be clearly stated and vigorously enforced. There is every likelihood of mischief if colleges fail to instill necessary ethical boundaries for the powerful tools we now have at our fingertips. And yet, the online classroom has the potential to be a catalyst for a new reassertion of academic freedom. The split-screen format is an invitation to dialectic. By taking advantage of the platforms and pedagogies that include student debate, undergraduate education can embrace the methods of critical inquiry that have been the mainstay of legal education for generations. To be sure, what was forced upon higher education by the pandemic has the potential to worsen the call-out, cancel culture that has damaged campus values. But it could serve instead to renew the culture of unfettered exploration that is the lifeblood of learning."
759
"https://justthenews.com/government/congress/yellen-and-powell-see-inflation-higher-anticipated-dems-push-35-trillion"
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1
"Fed, Treasury bosses up inflation forecasts as Dems seek trillions for progressive agenda"
"Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen are now saying that inflation is rising higher than they originally anticipated, as President Biden and Democratic leaders push for passage of a $3.5 trillion social safety net spending bill. "Inflation is elevated and will likely remain so in coming months before moderating," Powell said during a Senate hearing on Tuesday. "As the economy continues to reopen and spending rebounds, we are seeing upward pressure on prices, particularly due to supply bottlenecks in some sectors. These effects have been larger and longer lasting than anticipated, but they will abate, and as they do, inflation is expected to drop back toward our longer-run 2 percent goal.: The Federal Reserve has adjusted its inflation prediction from 3.4% in June to 4.2%. Yellen previously predicted 2% inflation for 2021. She amended her prediction on Tuesday during questioning from Louisiana GOP Sen. John Kennedy. "Probably closer to 4% and that already almost must be the case based on what's happened this year," Yellen said during the same Senate Banking Committee hearing. Despite rising inflation, Yellen advocated for passage of Biden's "Build Back Better Act," which the Democrat-led Congress is planning to pass as a budget reconciliation bill with a party-line vote to avoid the filibuster. Senate Democratic leaders are aiming to pass the bill before the end of the year. The House has a test vote scheduled on Thursday for a separate $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that mainly consists of transportation-related spending. Under questioning from South Carolina Republican Sen. Tim Scott, Yellen told the committee that the "Build Back Better" legislation would be fully paid for over time due to the tax hikes proposed by Biden and the Democrats. The proposed bill includes new programs such as universal pre-K, tuition-free community college and support for child care. It also currently includes expansion of Medicare to include dental and vision coverage for the first time, as well as federal funding for home health care. "There is nothing compassionate about spending money we don't have on new benefits we can't afford all the while discouraging work, and increasing the likelihood of a future default, when the yet to be born American receives the bill for benefits she didn't experience and are no longer available," Scott said. "It's also important to note," he continued, "that our labor force participation rate is down, not up even with the new programs and the payouts that I heard this morning during this hearing that somehow is supposedly increasing our labor force participation, when in fact, it's apparent and clear to Americans that's not the case." According to the Committee for a Responsible Federal budget, the bill falls short of paying for itself in its current form. "Due to a combination of larger tax breaks and less revenue collection, the Ways and Means Committee's tax draft would net about $943 billion of revenue for other priorities, compared to $2.5 trillion from the White House proposals," read a CRFB analysis. "That net revenue will be necessary, but likely not sufficient, to cover the cost of other spending proposals in reconciliation." The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped more than 550 points on Tuesday as inflation concerns rise among investors."
537
"https://www.cbsnews.com/news/government-shutdown-2021-senate-bill-vote/"
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"Senate prepares to move on bill to prevent government shutdown"
"Washington — The Senate is preparing to take up a short-term government funding bill that keeps federal agencies operating through December 3, but does not address the looming deadline to raise the debt ceiling to avoid default. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Democrats are introducing a stopgap bill and could take action as early as Wednesday, two days after GOP senators blocked a funding measure that both averted a government shutdown and suspended the debt limit. Any proposal addressing the latter has been a non-starter for Republicans, who have warned that Democrats have to hike the debt limit without relying on their support. Known as a "clean" continuing resolution, the measure maintains current funding levels through December 3 and includes $6.3 billion for relocation efforts for Afghan refugees, as well as $28.6 billion for disaster assistance following a spate of devastating hurricanes and wildfires. "We can approve this measure quickly and send it to the House so it can reach the president's desk before funding expires midnight tomorrow," Schumer said in remarks on the Senate floor. "With so many critical issues to address, the last thing the American people need right now is a government shutdown. This proposal will prevent one from happening." Senate Democrats were gauging support on Tuesday evening for quickly passing the continuing resolution through unanimous consent, a source familiar with the matter told CBS News. Passing it via unanimous consent would not require a formal vote, but a single senator could object and derail the process. If passed by the Senate, the stopgap funding bill would head to the House, where its passage would stave off at least one fiscal crisis facing the Democratic-controlled Congress. Government funding is set to run out end-of-day Thursday, and a lapse in funding would trigger a partial government shutdown while federal agencies continue efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters on Tuesday that the House could vote Wednesday on a clean continuing resolution, as well as a separate measure suspending the debt ceiling. "We'll see what the Senate sends us," Hoyer said. "They're trying to send us something." Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has said Republicans would support a clean government funding bill to avoid a shutdown. White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Monday that a "great deal of public health" would be exempted from a shutdown, but said "that doesn't change the fact that having services shut down, staffing cut in different agencies is not in the interests of addressing any crisis we face, including the pandemic." Still, the White House last week issued guidance to federal agencies to begin planning for a lapse in funding. Keeping the government operating is not the only legislative must-do for Congress, as lawmakers are staring down a debt crisis absent action to raise the debt ceiling. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told congressional leaders in a letter Tuesday that the U.S. would exhaust extraordinary measures allowing the government to pay its bills on October 18, and a failure by lawmakers to hike the debt limit would send the nation into default for the first time in its history. Democrats earlier this week attempted to pass a stopgap measure that would have funded the government through December 3 and suspended the debt limit through December 2022. But the bill failed to garner the 60 votes needed to advance in the Senate, as Republican senators objected to the inclusion of the debt limit provision. Alongside efforts to forestall a government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling, Democratic leaders are looking to make progress this week on two key aspects of President Biden's domestic policy agenda: a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill and a $3.5 trillion package that would strengthen social programs and overhaul major portions of the economy. While the House is slated to vote on the infrastructure plan Thursday, it's unclear whether it will pass, as progressive lawmakers have threatened to tank the bill. They want the Senate to vote first on the $3.5 trillion proposal, though there are objections to the bill's price tag from a pair of Senate Democrats, whose support is needed in order for the sweeping package to pass. Alan He and Zak Hudak contributed reporting."
705
"https://www.propublica.org/article/why-we-are-publishing-the-tax-secrets-of-the-001"
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"Why We Are Publishing the Tax Secrets of the .001%"
"Why We Are Publishing the Tax Secrets of the .001% We are disclosing the tax details of the richest Americans because we believe the public interest in an informed debate outweighs privacy considerations. Series: The Secret IRS Files Inside the Tax Records of the .001% ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. The Secret IRS Files is an ongoing reporting project. Sign up to be notified when the next installment publishes. Today, ProPublica is launching the first in a series of stories based on the private tax data of some of our nation’s richest citizens. We obtained the information from an anonymous source who provided us with large amounts of information on the ultrawealthy, everything from the taxes they paid to the income they reported to the profits from their stock trades. In the coming months, we plan to use this material to explore how the nation’s wealthiest people — roughly the .001% — exploit the structure of our tax code to avoid the tax burdens borne by ordinary citizens. ProPublica The Secret IRS Files This is an ongoing investigation. Sign up to be notified when the next story publishes. Thanks for signing up. If you like our stories, mind sharing this with a friend? https://www.propublica.org/newsletters/the-secret-irs-files?source=www.propublica.org&placement=share®ion=national Copy link For more ways to keep up, be sure to check out the rest of our newsletters. See All Fact-based, independent journalism is needed now more than ever. Donate Many will ask about the ethics of publishing such private data. We are doing so — quite selectively and carefully — because we believe it serves the public interest in fundamental ways, allowing readers to see patterns that were until now hidden. Tax experts have long understood that the wealthiest Americans reap outsized benefits from the federal tax code’s emphasis on taxing income rather than assets like stock holdings and property. Yet, when The New York Times disclosed in 2020 that President Donald Trump had amassed so many deductions he paid no taxes in 11 of 18 years, it was assumed that his case was an anomaly, reflecting the unique breaks real estate developers receive under our tax system. It is now clear that there isn’t just one such taxpayer — there are many, in multiple industries. We believe that disclosing the identities of billionaires who paid little to no taxes in years their fortunes grew by billions of dollars will help readers understand the magnitude of the tax advantages the ultrarich enjoy. We also believe that disclosure of specific figures about the tax returns of people like Jeff Bezos, Michael Bloomberg, Warren Buffett and Elon Musk will deepen readers’ interest and understanding of this complex and arcane subject. Our publication of this tax data comes at a possibly pivotal moment in America’s long, often contentious debate about the fairness of our tax system. The Biden administration has proposed raising a number of taxes to pay for additional trillions of dollars in government spending. So far, the conversation in Washington has been dominated by an issue long seen as central on Capitol Hill: whether to increase the top tax rate from its current level of 37% by a few percentage points. Such a change, as our story shows, would touch the richest hardly at all. The secret tax files offer new, factual evidence for lawmakers considering such changes: Should the biggest winners in America’s epochal concentration of wealth over the last 40 years be permitted to pay levies of considerably less than 37%? A second question certain to arise is the motives and identity of the source who has provided this data to ProPublica. We live in an age in which people with access to information can copy it with the click of a mouse and transmit it in a variety of ways to news organizations. Many years ago, ProPublica and other news organizations set up secure systems that allow whistleblowers to transmit information to us without revealing their identity. We do not know the identity of our source. We did not solicit the information they sent us. The source says they were motivated by our previous coverage of issues surrounding the IRS and tax enforcement, but we do not know for certain that is true. We have considered the possibility that information we have received could have come from a state actor hostile to American interests. In particular, a number of government agencies were compromised last year by what the U.S. has said were Russian hackers who exploited vulnerabilities in software sold by SolarWinds, a Texas-based information technology company. We do note, however, that the Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration wrote in December that, “At this time, there is no evidence that any taxpayer information was exposed” in the SolarWinds hack. While the revelations in today’s story are extraordinary, the procedures we used in assessing the data’s value are standard in the craft of journalism. When a reporter makes contact with a source and is provided information, we begin with questions. Is the material authentic? Is it newsworthy? Is it complete? We understand that nearly everyone who provides material to a reporter is doing so in ways that reflect their worldview, agenda or biases. We have long held that those motives are irrelevant if the information is reliable. Seven years ago, a team of hackers believed to be directed by the North Korean government revealed a trove of emails to and from Sony. The motivation, American intelligence officials said at the time, was to punish the studio for having distributed a satirical movie about Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea. Some of the documents released through that breach led to a 2015 ProPublica story on questionable political contributions in Los Angeles. We published that story because it was important and something we believed the public needed to know. We publish today’s much more important story for similar reasons. Provenance is not essential; accuracy is. We have gone to considerable lengths to confirm that the information sent to us is accurate. We compared the tax data in our possession to other sources of the same information wherever we could find them, some of which were public (a tax return for a candidate for national office), others of which were private. In every instance we were able to check — involving tax filings by more than 50 separate people — the details provided to ProPublica matched the information from other sources. Having said that, because it remains possible that not everything in our database is accurate, every person whose tax information was described in today’s story was given an opportunity to point out inaccuracies or omissions before the story appeared. There is also a legal question here, and we want you to know we have taken it seriously. A federal law ostensibly makes it a criminal offense to disclose tax return information. But we do not believe that law would be constitutional if applied to bar or sanction publication of a story in the public interest when the news organization did not itself remove the information from the control of the IRS or solicit anyone else to do so — as we did not. And this is not our first experience with this law. In 2012, someone at the IRS (we don’t know who or why; they used a plain brown IRS envelope) sent ProPublica copies of tax filings seeking exemption for a number of political committees, including Republican political guru Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS. The filings were not yet supposed to be public, and the IRS indicated that it would consider our publication of them to be criminal. We explained our view of the constitutionality of that statute as applied in such circumstances and published our story, which raised concerns about whether Rove’s group had been forthcoming with the agency. We never heard about the matter from the IRS again. Finally, it’s worth noting that taxes have not always been a private matter. Many politicians, including every presidential nominee for decades, except Trump, has made his or her tax returns public. Today, in Wisconsin, anyone can file a public records request to find out how much state residents pay in state taxes. Outside of the U.S., Sweden, Norway and Finland make public every citizen’s tax returns. We hope you will read today’s story and the following stories in the series, and perhaps participate in the public debate about the future of our tax system. We welcome any help, confidential or otherwise, to further our reporting. If you think you have something to contribute, you can use this page."
1,431
"https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/koch-critical-race-theory-bans"
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"Koch network opposes banning critical race theory"
"A network built by the Koch family, famous for backing conservative political candidates, decided not to support a government ban on critical race theory being taught in schools, the latest in the splintering between establishment GOP figures and more populist Trump supporters. Although leaders in the Stand Together Foundation, a philanthropic community founded by Charles Koch, do not agree with the teachings of critical race theory , which holds that U.S. institutions are inherently racist, they said it was not the role of the government to control what is taught in school, arguing that silencing the topic would harm the debate needed for democracy. “Using government to ban ideas, even those we disagree with, is also counter to core American principles — the principles that help drive social progress,” Evan Feinberg, the executive director of the Stand Together Foundation, told the Associated Press . MACARTHUR 2021 ‘GENIUS’ GRANT RECIPIENTS PUT SPOTLIGHT ON RACIAL EQUALITY Other Koch-affiliated leaders have adopted similar views in the past, with Charlie Ruger, the Charles Koch Foundation’s vice president of philanthropy, publishing a letter encouraging debate in schools. “Both learning and research require openness to new ideas and the ability to argue productively,” Ruger said in the letter, which was published in the Chronicle of Higher Education's May issue. “That requires standing against censorship.” Despite the leaders’ public stance, many of the candidates Koch Industries supports favor bans on teaching critical race theory in schools, similar to bans implemented in a handful of states, including Texas. The conversation surrounding what should and should not be taught in schools remains controversial, particularly in regions where parents have expressed vocal opposition to critical race theory. In Virginia, candidates for governor have made it a focal point of their campaigns, with Republican Glenn Youngkin saying "parents should be in charge of their kids' education." Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe had stated, "I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach." Virginia's Loudoun County became ground zero in parents' fight against critical race theory when six members of the county's school board formed a private Facebook group targeting parents who opposed the teaching of the theory in the school system. Though Loudon County’s superintendent denied that critical race theory was ever taught in its schools, a public records request by Fox News and remarks by a school board member showed otherwise. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER While Gov. Ralph Northam called Republicans' concerns about critical race theory a "dog whistle," many parents argued the theory promoted racism. "[CRT] is racist, it is abusive, [and] it discriminates against one’s color," one Loudoun County mother said . The Washington Examiner has reached out to Koch Industries representatives for comment."
453
"https://geopoliticalfutures.com/germany-merkel-and-the-danger-of-self-confidence/"
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0.71
"Germany, Merkel and the Danger of Self-Confidence"
"Germany held an election to replace Angela Merkel, who led the German government for 16 years – through much of the implementation of the European Union, the economic crisis of 2008 and the immigration crisis of 2015. Compare her tenure with that of Konrad Adenauer. He presided over the redemption of the German soul, accepting German responsibility for the Holocaust but making certain that the Holocaust was not the final word on Germany. He changed the reality and perception of Germany from the incarnation of evil to another nation, part of the West and part of the force confronting the Soviet threat. In short, Adenauer returned Germany to the family of nations. Above all, Merkel maintained. She oversaw the transformation of Germany into the dominant power in the European Union, a region that had been the heartland of world economic and military power. Under her stewardship, Germany become the fourth-largest economic power in the world, the arbiter of Europe and the engine that drove its economy. Perhaps most important, she did so without conjuring more than the inevitable unease about the reemergence of Germany as a European boogeyman. She helped make Germany merely another, if singularly powerful, European country. She exercised power without generating the utter terror Germany had evoked a few years before she was born. She deserved much credit, but some of it is misplaced. We tend to think of leaders as if they personally shepherded nations to greatness, horror or mediocrity. Nations are vast enterprises, consisting of many people and many factions, dancing a complex dance. Had Adenauer not lived, Germany would have emerged from its crimes. Its people would not accept the burden for generations, because indeed, the crimes a nation commits cannot be blamed on those who were not alive or in power at the time. And that generation would have sought and found the solution of Adenauer and crafted Germany back into humanity, with different personalities remembered. So too with Merkel, under whose leadership Germany again became the most powerful nation on the Continent. But she was less a shepherd than a passenger on a journey that included nations we won’t forget and names already forgotten. History writes itself, and then someone takes credit for the words. Still, the end of the Merkel era is important. There was an election, although it is unclear what if any meaning it will have. Two parties, far less different than they pretend, came in as a virtual tie. Neither will be powerful enough to redefine German history, and German history, for the moment, will not tolerate revision. Germany fears military power and basks in economic power. And like any sort of power, it imposes itself on Europe’s economy because it is in its interest to do so. Merkel’s successors will continue to do this, acting as if this was an act of genius on their part. Perhaps history will shift and permit them to shift. If not, then their names will be forgotten along with those of most other leaders. Politics is cruel, and you can go from a household name to a figure of no consequence as history works its impersonal game. Germany’s historical game is war and calamity. There was always a Germanic people, but a German nation did not emerge until 1871, alongside a minor war that Prussia won. A united Germany was stunning to behold. What had been scattered principalities emerged by the turn of the century as the greatest economic power on the Continent, and one challenging Britain, a global economic giant. Why a united Germany could do something a divided Germany could not dream of is a long story, but it did. And it caused the rest of Europe to fear it. Britain and France had their own empires to import raw materials from and to export their products. Germany did not. But it had Eastern and Southern Europe, so unlike Britain and France, it had to exert its force in Europe. The details are beside the point here, but the surge of German power coupled with a surge of German insecurity led to the First World War, a conflict in which Germany was crushed and left in an economic depression, which lasted through the 1920s until Hitler emerged, reuniting Germany in rage against the rest of Europe with a sense of victimization. Once again, Europe was terrified by the extraordinary power of Germany. In a few years, it had gone from a cripple to an economic and military miracle. World War II was a German war of rectification, a war intended to recover the German dominance in Europe that it nearly achieved in 1913. But this time, Germany went from being a European power that could be understood in European terms to a sphere of madness. Europe could be understood in normal terms. The Germans selected an abnormal understanding of Europe, whereby Jews controlled both communism and capitalism and represented an enemy with whom there could be no peace. The Nazis believed Europe could be cleansed only by total war against the conspirators. Germany had set itself a goal that couldn’t be achieved, and if achieved, couldn’t solve its problems, plunging it into a war against all of Europe and, in a final act of madness, the United States. It fought a war it could not win without mystical powers, which it had only in its mind. Germany went from war to failure, to war, to another failure. And it may well have won World War II had it acted with reason and prudence. But its appetites were as extreme as its madness. When it emerged from its madness in 1945, it realized what it had done, above all to itself. Like a junky with an unlimited amount of their drug of choice, it hit rock bottom and was left with a choice between death and going straight. Adenauer presided over the latter, and Merkel presided over the results of an economic miracle so improbable that it required the Brothers Grimm to be the author. And once more Germany sought to gather Europe into a German world, this time with the eagerness of the Europeans and a lack of malice. But in the last years of Merkel’s rule, the idea that all of Europe was simply one entity with a common desire and common values, committed to peace and prosperity, began to slip. 2008 raised questions about perpetual prosperity. The immigration crisis raised questions about perpetual peace. The bitterness against the immigrants and the bitterness about the powers that compelled them to come raised questions about a common European identity. Yes, Europe had achieved peace, but only if the Balkans were regarded as something other than European. About 100,000 were said to have died in that war. The EU became the self-assurance of its righteousness in the face of reality. When the U.K. left the bloc, the EU sought to trivialize it. We understand what Germany is in the context of a united and aligned Europe. It resumes its economic supremacy, foregoes a significant military and abandons its vices for something more virtuous. But the EU is under enormous stress as its different members have different interests. Germany does not want to carry Italy, it does not want to allay Polish fears of Russian pipelines, and it does not really appreciate the importance of France or the significance of Britain. The safe place that Germany wanted to build is fraying. It is not fraying enough to excite deep German fears, but enough to create German irritation. The future of Germany depends on the future of the EU. If the EU breaks, Germany will not collapse. On the contrary, it will have no choice but to increase its fears and powers. But a Germany that is afraid and strong is the brew that in the distant – or not-so-distant – future can make Europe a different place. The EU was intended by Germany above all to end history in blissful comfort. What happens if the EU fragments with more countries leaving or refusing to submit? Merkel managed the EU well during an era in which it began to fragment. The EU does not want to fail, and Merkel did well in avoiding what was not wanted. Now that age is gone, and Merkel, the very sigil of that age, has left as well. The new period will be about satisfying the contradictory needs of nations in the EU. This will require the use of German power because Germany is the economic heart of the EU. Germany has feared exercising the power it so carefully resurrected. So in a way, the situation is almost a concern driven by the fact that there is a common belief that Germany will manage it. Merkel created a new dimension of German self-confidence. But historically, Germany has handled its power better than its self-confidence. Editor’s note: An earlier version of this analysis incorrectly stated the winner of the Franco-Prussian War. The error has been corrected on site."
1,501
"https://www.instituteforgovernment.org.uk/explainers/supply-chain-problems"
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0.93
"Supply chain problems"
"Since the summer of 2021, widespread disruption to supply chains has hit the headlines – both in the UK and globally. Supply problems have led to delayed deliveries, higher prices, gaps on supermarket shelves[1] and empty petrol stations.[2] Greggs,[3] Ikea[4] and BP[5] are just some of the companies that have reported issues. The evolution of the supply chain crisis has been complex, with some issues emerging over many years. Many media stories have focused on sporadic shortages of specific goods, such as carbon dioxide or petrol. Some disruption has been temporary or local – with fuel shortages the most obvious example. But other problems are more widespread, with a general reduction in choice and reliability of supply visible in some sectors, like food and drink. Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows just how wide-ranging and publicly visible these shortages have been. Between 20 and 31 October, an average of one in six (or 17%) of adults in Great Britain experienced shortages of essential food items; during the peak of the fuel crisis, 6–17 Oct, 37% struggled to get fuel.[6] Businesses have also reported problems. Another ONS survey, covering business conditions, found that, of firms trying to get goods and materials between 4 and 31 October, 17% were unable to get goods from the EU, while 11% were unable to get goods from within the UK.[7] However, the survey data suggests that some supply chain problems have been going on much longer than they have been in the news, with between 15 and 20% of businesses reporting issues getting supplies from the EU since February 2021, and around 10% consistently reporting issues within the UK since June 2020. In August 2021, a survey from the Confederation of British Industry found that stock levels among firms were at their lowest levels since 1983.[8] Watch our explainer on the supply chain problems"
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Dataset Card for news-12factor

Dataset Description

80+ news articles with url, title, body text, scored on 12 quality factors and assigned a single rank.

Languages

The text in the dataset is in English

Dataset Structure

[Needs More Information]

Source Data

URL data was scraped using news-please

Annotations

Articles were manually annotated by Alex on a 12-factor score card.

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