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|Texas governor expresses concern about private gun sales
Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Thursday raised concern about private firearm sales but didn't commit to crack down on them or act on gun control issues following a meeting on ways to prevent mass shootings such as the El Paso attack that killed 22 people. While lawmakers are feeling pressure to respond quickly to the Aug. 3 shooting at a Walmart, Abbott signaled that Texas would take a long and careful look at gun laws and other safety measures before its Legislature next meets in 2021. Scrutinizing private guns sales was among a list of ideas Abbott rattled off after emerging from a four-hour, closed-door meeting about the El Paso shooting with lawmakers, police and representatives from Google, Facebook and Twitter.
POSTED AUGUST 22, 2019 7:32 PM
|Newt Gingrich says slavery needs to be put 'in context,' calls 1619 project a 'lie'
"There were several hundred thousand white Americans who died in the Civil War in order to free the slaves," Gingrich argued.
POSTED AUGUST 22, 2019 11:53 AM
|Joe Biden inspires no one – not even his own wife
Can we stop pretending that Joe Biden is the inevitable 2020 candidate?‘Joe Biden is Hillary Clinton 2.0.’ Photograph: Charlie Neibergall/APMuch like Hillary Clinton in 2016, Joe Biden’s Democratic primary campaign has thus far cloaked itself in an aura of inevitability. You might not like Joe Biden. He might say racist or sexist stuff from time to time. His gaffes might be occurring at an alarming rate. He might have uninspiring policy ideas. But he’s going to win the primary anyway, so you better get used to him.That was the subtext, at least, and an explanation for how banal Biden’s campaign has been so far. If victory is certain, why not hold the ball and milk the clock? Jill Biden, the former vice-president’s wife, made the case bizarrely explicit on MSNBC earlier this week. “Your candidate might be better on, I don’t know, health care, than Joe is,” Biden said, “but you’ve got to look at who’s going to win this election, and maybe you have to swallow a little bit and say, ‘Okay, I personally like so-and-so better,’ but your bottom line has to be that we have to beat Trump.”To be sure, Joe Biden is leading among Democrats thus far. The RealClearPolitics average has him ahead of Bernie Sanders by around 12 points, and he has the support of major party funders. But less than a third of Democratic voters are planning to vote for Biden, down from more than 40% the week after his 25 April announcement. An Economist/YouGov poll from this week shows the race narrowing to within the margin of error – Biden at 22%, Sanders at 19%, and Elizabeth Warren at 18%.Biden’s fundraising picture also looks less rosy than it did back in May. He’s still the preferred choice of big party donors, but grassroots enthusiasm is receding. After raising an impressive $4.6m online on this first day of his campaign in April, things have slowed to a trickle. As Politico reports, Biden’s median online daily fundraising by the end of June was just $67,000 a day, considerably below Pete Buttigieg and Bernie Sanders.> The case for Biden’s invincibility is baffling – he’s been running for the Democratic nomination (and losing) since the 80sSanders is an especially important benchmark for Biden. They seem to be competing over much the same base – working class, diverse, not college educated – and either would benefit from the other’s downfall. Despite a narrative earlier this summer of campaign dysfunction and imminent collapse, recent polls have showed that the Vermont senator in a steady position within striking distance of Biden. Sanders has a rabid base of volunteers, superior online fundraising infrastructure, and his existing support may even be undercounted by most polls.Yet the media narrative continues to paint Sanders as a fringe pariah and Biden as the inevitable 2020 candidate. It’s reminiscent of the 2016 Republican primaries, in which Donald Trump was considered an unserious candidate whose support was continually underestimated. The serious commentators kept waiting for an establishment wave of moderate Republicans to make first Jeb Bush, then Marco Rubio, and then even Ted Cruz happen.The case for Biden’s invincibility is especially baffling – he’s been running for the Democratic nomination (and losing) since the 1980s. It simply boils down to Obama coalition supporters (particularly black and brown voters) going with the most familiar face to rid of Trump era upheavals.But electability is just one element of what voters are looking for, and Biden is running on nothing else. He has failed to adequately address his past positions in favor of Medicare and Social Security cuts, his engineering of loathed free trade deals, or his opposition to important desegregation measures.While other candidates are galvanizing people around Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, and calls to redistribute wealth and power from the 1% to working Americans, Biden is offering nothing. Poke one hole in his electability bubble and his campaign looks ready to implode.This early in the race things are constantly changing – many people are still undecided and won’t start paying attention until much later on – so we would do ourselves a lot of good not to live and die with every poll. However, if there is one lesson from the 2016 general election worth remembering it’s this: most people might have not liked Donald Trump, but he gave those who did a real reason to turn out on Election Day. He was a candidate with very obvious convictions running against someone who seemed to focus group and triangulate her every position.Joe Biden is Hillary Clinton 2.0. Perhaps Trump’s time in office has been enough of a disaster that idea-avoidance will work this time. But if voters want to be inspired, they’ll turn elsewhere or just stay at home again. Who knows, Jill Biden might even join them. * Bhaskar Sunkara is the founding editor of Jacobin magazine and a Guardian US columnist. He is the author of The Socialist Manifesto: The Case for Radical Politics in an Era of Extreme Inequality
POSTED AUGUST 23, 2019 3:00 AM
|Russia launches floating nuclear reactor in Arctic despite warnings
Russia will launch the world's first floating nuclear reactor and send it on an epic journey across the Arctic on Friday, despite environmentalists warning of serious risks to the region. Loaded with nuclear fuel, the Akademik Lomonosov will leave the Arctic port of Murmansk to begin its 5,000 kilometre (3,000-mile) voyage to northeastern Siberia. Nuclear agency Rosatom says the reactor is a simpler alternative to building a conventional plant on ground that is frozen all year round, and it intends to sell such reactors abroad.
POSTED AUGUST 23, 2019 3:01 AM
|An innocent man spent months in jail after customs officials thought honey he brought back from Jamaica was liquid meth
Leon Haughton told The Washington Post he was jailed for 82 days after customs officials in Baltimore alleged that the three jars of honey were meth.
POSTED AUGUST 23, 2019 4:34 PM
|Brexit Held at the Border
In the last two days Prime Minister Boris Johnson has proposed that Ireland temporarily leave the European Union to align with the economic rules of a post-Brexit U.K. German chancellor Angela Merkel has suggested, somewhat flippantly, that the U.K. could figure out a special trading arrangement for itself and Ireland in the next 30 days. And French president Emmanuel Macron has said that there’s still room for negotiation between the U.K. and the EU, but he’s willing to be “the hard boy.” Maybe Macron is taking the EU marriage metaphor a little too personally . . .What on earth is going on?It’s been three years since a majority of the U.K.’s electorate voted to leave the European Union. And so far, all that Brexit has generated is a great deal of nearly incomprehensibly vocabulary. First we got Theresa May’s red lines, her attempt to define how it was exactly that Brexit means Brexit, and what the future relationship, if any, the United Kingdom would have with the EU. These red lines, an end to freedom of movement from EU member states into the U.K., and an exit from the EU’s customs union ruled out the Norway option but not Canada Plus Plus. Or Canada Plus Plus Plus. Yes, I’m serious.According to the withdrawal agreement negotiated between Theresa May and the rest of the EU, that future relationship has to be figured out in the transition period. That’s a two-year window after the U.K. leaves the EU in which it would continue to follow EU rules until they came to a trade agreement. That is, unless there is a no-deal Brexit and the U.K. simply exits the European Union on October 31 and conducts business with the world based on World Trade Organization rules. Got it? Well, sort of.The focus is now on the Irish-border backstop. Basically, the backstop is a promise that there will be no hard border — a customs border across the island of Ireland, between the Republic of Ireland and the six counties of Northern Ireland. Irish public officials have argued (with the support of the EU) that a frictionless border is necessary for economic and political reasons. The frictionless border is understood there as part of the the peace settlement in Northern Ireland, following the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. So too the “all-island economy” that it creates. The backstop is a promise by the U.K. to keep Northern Ireland following a number of regulations and customs rules that match it to the Republic of Ireland.This promise became the focus of Tory and Brexiteer anger at Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement. First, because it created what seemed like a negotiating trap for the U.K. during the transition period. Having already agreed to keep Northern Ireland (and the rest of the U.K. with it) aligned with the EU’s rules as part of a backstop, the EU would have less incentive to come to another, different trade relationship to supersede that agreement. The price to be paid for testing and pushing the EU might carve up the United Kingdom itself. If Great Britain diverged from the EU at the end of the transition period, Northern Ireland would be partially politically detached from the Union, and perhaps its citizens would have to go through customs to travel within their own country, from Belfast to Birmingham.Recently Johnson has begun calling the backstop “undemocratic” and hinting that it violates the Good Friday Agreement. He has a point. The backstop would keep Northern Ireland subject to EU rules and regs in which they have no say. It would deprive Northern Ireland’s elected ministers to Parliament of any voice on matters that would be routine for MPs in any other constituent nation of the United Kingdom. That seems quite a lot like a partial form of Irish unification. But the Good Friday Agreement ensures that Irish unity can be achieved only by a majority vote for it in the six counties and another one in the Republic of Ireland.Proponents of the backstop hold that this measure would merely be the decision of a sovereign Parliament over a part of its territory. It is an agreement between Parliament and the EU and doesn’t legally touch Ireland. That’s true. But, the reality is that it would create checks between constituent parts of the U.K. that normally exist between two different countries. It does so in order to prevent those checks on the island of Ireland. And it does so to meet the expectations of the Irish government based in Dublin. To whom would Northern Irish people turn when trade policy affects them? Nobody they directly elect would have a constitutional say.Effectively these economic rules would be imposed on Northern Ireland as if it were a kind of EU colony, and done in the interests of the Republic of Ireland. This may satisfy the historical imagination of Irish nationalists. (Believe me, there is a delicious irony to be savored here.) But it is hard to argue that such a result is consonant with the Good Friday Agreement. Or a wise way to endear Northern Irish unionists to the Irish government.All of this confusion is the result of a kind of gamesmanship. The EU and U.K. each want to use the Irish border as a reason to crack the other’s negotiating position. The EU would like to see the U.K. bounced into a permanent customs union in which it has no say, effectively maintaining the economic size and power of the EU while reducing the political influence of Eurosceptical Britannia. On the other side, the U.K. would like to see the Irish-border issue work in the opposite way, forcing the EU to strike an especially good and liberal trade deal with the U.K. that comes with fewer strings attached than those on Norway or other states that have non-standard arrangements.The lesson is rather obvious. You cannot predetermine what kind of infrastructure will be at a border and what laws will be enforced at it, in the absence of a durable agreement on trade in goods and materials. The EU and the U.K. have been trying to resolve questions in the wrong order. Both have done so out of a reasonable fear of loss.But the hour is late, and the real work must be done.
POSTED AUGUST 22, 2019 5:22 PM
|Chaotic scene as DNC votes down climate change debate at San Francisco meeting
The move sparked loud and angry backlash from climate change activists who believe the Democratic Party should change the rules to allow for a debate focused solely on climate issues.
POSTED AUGUST 22, 2019 9:03 PM
|2020 Toyota GR Supra vs. 2019 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350: Which Is the Better Driver's Machine?
Vastly different yet similarly capable, one of these rear-drive sports coupes begs to be driven harder than the other.
POSTED AUGUST 23, 2019 8:00 AM
|Immigration lawyers: We saw what's happening at the US-Mexico border. It's a tragic farce.
There is no due process in Mexico for asylum seekers, just endless obstacles to staying alive, finding an attorney and communicating with authorities.
POSTED AUGUST 21, 2019 8:29 PM
|Hong Kong protesters form human chains to call for democracy
Supporters of Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement lined city streets and part of the city's harbor front Friday, inspired by a human chain in a historic Baltic states protest against Soviet control 30 years ago. It was the latest protest in a nearly 11-week-old movement that began with calls to scrap a now-suspended extradition bill and has widened to include demands for full democracy and an independent inquiry into alleged police brutality at protests.
POSTED AUGUST 23, 2019 10:13 AM
Top News and Analysis (pro)
|Trump will raise tariff rates on Chinese goods in response to trade war retaliation
Trump said he will raise tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese goods to 30% and hike duties on another $300 billion in products to 15%.
POSTED AUGUST 23, 2019 9:01 PM
|Dow plummets more than 600 points after Trump orders US manufacturers to leave China
Stocks dropped after Donald Trump ordered that U.S. manufacturers find alternatives to their operations in China.
POSTED AUGUST 23, 2019 6:20 AM
|Fed Vice Chair Clarida says the global economic outlook has worsened since July meeting
Federal Reserve Vice Chair Richard Clarida said Friday that the global economy has deteriorated in the past month.
POSTED AUGUST 23, 2019 8:13 PM
|Trump's trade threats increased the chances for a recession, but also a Fed rate cut
The latest escalation in the trade war ups the odds the economy will fall into recession and that the Fed will aggressively cut rates.
POSTED AUGUST 23, 2019 6:24 PM
|Here's a list of American products targeted by China's new tariffs
Here are the products that stand to be the most affected by China's new tariffs on $75 billion worth of U.S. goods.
POSTED AUGUST 23, 2019 5:49 PM
|Trump 'hereby' orders US companies to find an alternative to China
"We don't need China and, frankly, would be far better off without them," Trump tweeted.
POSTED AUGUST 23, 2019 3:03 PM
|In a bad sign for trade talks, Trump deploys a new label for China's Xi – 'enemy'
"My only question is, who is our bigger enemy, Jay Powell or Chairman Xi?" Trump wrote amid a series of tweets that rattled markets Friday.
POSTED AUGUST 23, 2019 4:40 PM
|'There's more room to fall' in this market, Wharton's Jeremy Siegel warns
"I would love this to be clarified. We come to a deal on trade, boy, this market is up 10 to 15%, but without it's going to be worrisome," Jeremy Siegel says.
POSTED AUGUST 23, 2019 11:16 PM
|Week ahead: Stocks could be rocky on trade, economy fears, as August breaks low volatility streak
The final week of August could be highly volatile as markets fret over the economy and the latest developments in trade wars.
POSTED AUGUST 23, 2019 8:49 PM
|First death reported from vaping-related lung illness, officials say
The death comes as federal and state health officials investigate a slew of lung illnesses in connection to e-cigarette use.
POSTED AUGUST 23, 2019 7:48 PM