HRW:"Chinese Government Poses Global Threat to Human Rights"

(New York) – The Chinese government is carrying out an intense attack on the global system for defending human rights, Kenneth Roth, executive director at Human Rights Watch, said today in releasing Human Rights Watch’s World Report 2020. Decades of progress that have allowed people around the world to speak freely, live without fear of arbitrary imprisonment and torture, and enjoy other human rights are at risk, Roth said.

At home, the Chinese government has created a vast surveillance state in its efforts to achieve total social control. It is now increasingly using its economic and diplomatic clout to fend off global efforts abroad to hold it to account for its repression. To preserve the international human rights system as a meaningful check on repression, governments should band together to counter Beijing’s attacks.

“Beijing has long suppressed domestic critics,” Roth said. “Now the Chinese government is trying to extend that censorship to the rest of the world. To protect everyone’s future, governments need to act together to resist Beijing’s assault on the international human rights system.”

In the 652-page World Report 2020, its 30th edition, Human Rights Watch reviews human rights practices in nearly 100 countries. Roth noted many other threats to human rights around the world, including in Syria and Yemen, where government forces from Syria, Russia, and the Saudi-led coalition blatantly disregard the international rules designed to spare civilians, including the prohibitions against attacking civilians and bombing hospitals.

An inhospitable terrain for human rights is aiding the Chinese government’s attack. A growing number of governments that previously could be relied on at least some of the time to promote human rights in their foreign policy now have leaders, such as United States President Donald Trump, who are unwilling to do so. And the autocratic populists who gain office by demonizing minorities and keep power by eliminating independent journalists, judges, and activists bridle at the same body of international human rights law that the Chinese government undermines.

Full Commentary by Human Rights Watch and announcement of new report @ https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/01/14/chinese-government-poses-global-threat-human-rights

Silent Surge: Over 18,000 American Troops Deployed In Middle East

The U.S. escalation occurred days before the airstrike that killed Iran’s Quds Force General Qasem Soleimani.

Soldiers of Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment conduct a breaching training operation, at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, March 20, 2018. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Charles Highland) (Photo Credit: SFC Charles Highland)

JANUARY 3, 2020|

2:16 PMBARBARA BOLAND

Approximately 4,750 American troops are slated to deploy this week to Kuwait, a traditional U.S. staging ground for conflict in the Middle East. They will join the 14,000 American troops already deployed to U.S. Central Command on a mission to confront Iran’s malign behavior in the region, Pentagon officials confirmed.

The U.S. escalation of troop forces came Tuesday evening, two days before the U.S. airstrike in Iraq that killed General Qasem Soleimani, leader of the Quds Force division of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.

“At the direction of the Commander in Chief, I have authorized the deployment of an infantry battalion from the Immediate Response Force (IRF) of the 82nd Airborne Division to the U.S. Central Command area of operations in response to recent events in Iraq,” said Secretary of Defense Mark Esper in a written statement Tuesday evening. “Approximately 750 soldiers will deploy to the region immediately, and additional forces from the IRF are prepared to deploy over the next several days.”

The deployment of thousands of U.S. troops to the volatile region and Trump’s decision to order the killing of Iranian General Qassim Suleimani has increased fears that a hot war will break out. Global stock market futures fell, and oil prices spiked on the news.

Analysts disagree on the effect the airstrikes and U.S. deployments will have, however.

“Let’s be clear, while the United States and Iran have been locked in a cycle of confrontation for four decades, neither side has been prepared to engage in full-scale and direct conflict with the other. And yet that is a step that may very well follow from these actions — if cooler heads don’t quickly prevail,” said Chris Preble, vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute.

Jim Antle, editor in chief of The American Conservative, writes that “such a war isn’t inevitable.”

Killing Soleimani may have the desired effect of crippling future Iranian attacks. But, “our continued, if reduced, occupation of Iraq is the main thing exposing Americans to risk of harm at Iranian hands. It remains to be seen how much that calculus now changes.”

The quiet buildup of thousands of American troops and military assets in the region significantly increases the number of targets for Iran to choose from, should it choose to counter-strike.

Source:Barbara Boland @ The American Conservative https://www.theamericanconservative.com/state-of-the-union/silent-surge-over-18000-american-troops-deployed-in-middle-east/

Suderman:"Joe Biden Wants Tax Hikes Twice as Big as Hillary Clinton Proposed in 2016"

One of the recurring questions of the 2020 Democratic presidential primaries is whether the party has lurched too far to the left. 

This topic has manifested itself most prominently in the divide between the more progressive candidates, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D–Mass) and Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.), and the relative moderates, former Vice President Joe Biden and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg. It has largely taken the form of a debate over the merits of Medicare for All, a single-payer health care system that Warren and Sanders support and that Biden and Buttigieg do not. 

Warren’s rise over the summer, and the persistent strong support for Sanders, have given ammunition to Democrats favoring a sharper turn to the left. But Warren’s campaign has faltered following the release of her Medicare for All financing and transition plans. That and the contemporaneous rise of Buttigieg to the primary’s top tier have provided grist for the moderates. 

Yet the best way to answer the question may require another comparison—not simply between the candidates in today’s race, but between the current field and the 2016 nominee, Hillary Clinton, particularly on the issue of taxes. 

Earlier this week, Biden released a proposal to raise a slew of new taxes, mostly on corporations and high earners. He would increase tax rates on capital gains, increase the tax rate for households earning more than $510,000 annually, double the minimum tax rate for multinational corporations, impose a minimum tax on large companies whose tax filings don’t show them paying a certain percentage of their earnings, and undo many of the tax cuts included in the 2017 tax law. 

Biden’s tax hikes would raise about $3.4 trillion over a decade, slightly less than half of the $7 trillion in total tax hikes proposed by Buttigieg. Warren, meanwhile, would raise taxes by at least $26 trillion. Some reports put the figure as high as $30 trillion. Sanders estimates his health care plan alone could cost as much as $40 trillion

Full Commentary by Peter Suderman @ Reason https://reason.com/2019/12/05/moderate-joe-biden-wants-tax-hikes-twice-as-big-as-hillary-clinton-proposed-in-2016/

Williamson:"We Are Not Winning the Trade War"

The problem with winning a race to the bottom is that you end up at the bottom.

President Donald Trump’s idiotically conceived and incompetently executed trade war with China shows no signs of abating — the president himself said this week that he’d be happy to see negotiations drag on throughout the coming year — and now Trump has decided to expand the theater to Brazil and Argentina.

Trump says he is imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum from Brazil and Argentina because those two countries have engaged in a policy of competitive currency devaluation, i.e., they have artificially driven down the value of the real and the peso, respectively, in order to gain an unfair advantage for their exports. Trump charges that this has hurt U.S. farmers and says he is imposing these sanctions on their behalf. The Commerce Department, Treasury, the U.S. Trade Representative, and the governments of Brazil and Argentina learned about this on Twitter in the wee hours, because that is how the Trump administration makes policy.

Like a great deal of what comes out of this White House, the new tariffs and the rationale undergirding them exhibit a very fine blend of dishonesty and stupidity.

It is true that the real and the peso have declined in value of late. But this is not programmatic devaluation; rather, both Brazil and Argentina are in the midst of severe self-imposed crises in their national economies (when are these South American giants not in the midst or on the verge of economic crises?) caused by excessive public debt and misgovernment, afflictions with which the United States is increasingly familiar but as yet resistant to, owing to the sheer size and dynamism of our economy. When a nation’s finances tank, its currency tends to fall in value as investors scurry off rodentially from the keeling schooner that is the ailing nation’s economy. 

Full Commentary by Kevin Williamson @ National Review https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/12/trump-trade-war-hurting-americans/?utm_campaign=FEE%20Daily&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=80315687&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-9MJJvtm47ORFHa4pfUhsooaF8D0Zf24LnCw3BTHatYxLD7dLxg5JkC-I0B0klu5Xr_NpqDao2-4-JrSoadOcfPW880pA&_hsmi=80315687

Reason Report:”Trump Commits 1,800 More Troops to the Middle East”

It was just four days ago that President Donald Trump explained his decision to move American troops out of one part of Syria by saying that it was “time for us to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars…and bring our soldiers home.”

On Friday, the Trump administration announced it would be sending about 1,800 additional troops to the Middle East.

In a statement, Pentagon spokesman Jonathon Hoffman said the new deployments were part of an overall strategy “to assure and enhance the defense of Saudi Arabia.”At a press conference, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the new deployments were made in consultation with the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Defense.

NBC News@NBCNews

BREAKING: Amid Pres. Trump’s decision to remove US troops from northern Syria and his vocal criticisms of US military presence in Middle East, the Pentagon announces the deployment of more US troops and weapons to Saudi Arabia “to assure and enhance the defense of Saudi Arabia.”

Including the newly announced deployment, the U.S. will have increased the number of troops deployed to the Middle East by 14,000 since May, CNN reports.

Getting out? Bringing them home? Hardly. As Reason contributor Bonnie Kristian pointed out earlier this week, Trump’s “haphazard half-measure” in Syria was not a meaningful step toward ending the endless wars. “If Trump is serious about liquidating unnecessary, failed, costly overseas missions,” she wrote,” he must actually end them.”

Full Story by Eric Boehm @ Reason https://reason.com/2019/10/11/bringing-them-home-trump-commits-1800-more-troops-to-the-middle-east/

CTA’s Shapiro: Trump Tariffs Worst Economic Mistake In Almost 100 Years

reposted from Multichannel News

John Eggerton· Sep 2, 2019 The President’s latest volley in the trade war with China–the 15% tariff that kicked in Sept. 1–drew a harsh rebuke from the Consumer Technology Association, which likened it to the disastrous economic policy that led to the Great Depression.

CTA says the new tariff affect major tech consumer categories including TV’s, digital cameras and smart watches.

“The president absolutely should address China’s forced technology transfers and IP theft,” said CTA President Gary Shapiro Monday (Sept. 2). “But this unpredictable tariff policy is forcing us down the wrong economic path. Continuous threats of more tariffs and occasional promises that trade talks are progressing mean whiplash for global stock markets. That uncertainty hurts every American with a pension, retirement fund or college savings plan.” The President says the tariffs are hurting Chinese companies while incentivizing U.S. companies to repatriate. Shapiro calls the tariffs “the worst economic mistake since the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930, a policy that launched America into the Great Depression. This is not how you reach a meaningful trade agreement.”

Shapiro called for Congress to pass the Reclaiming Congressional Trade Authority Act of 2019 so it can protect the economy from “unending trade wars and retaliatory tariffs.”

reposted from Multichannel News https://www.multichannel.com/news/ctas-shapiro-trump-tariffs-worst-economic-mistake-in-almost-100-years

Reason:”In a State of Emergency, the President Can Control Your Phone, Your TV, and Even Your Light Switches”

December 11, 1941, is not nearly as memorable a date as the one that lives in infamy. But that Thursday after Pearl Harbor is still an important moment in American history, because it’s the day that Germany declared war on the United States and the U.S. immediately reciprocated. And it was on that date that President Franklin Roosevelt told his press secretary, Stephen T. Early, that the government should take over one of the national broadcast networks.

Early informed James L. Fly, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and director of the newly created Defense Communications Board (DCB), that Roosevelt had personally directed Fly to acquire a national broadcast network for the government. The DCB had been created for just such a national emergency: Its mandate was to coordinate all communications (both military and civilian) in case of war or another national emergency. Both the FCC and the DCB were empowered by Section 606 of the 1934 Communications Act, which expressly gave the president full control over electronic transmissions in such circumstances.

Section 606(c), in particular, gave the president full control to suspend and commandeer the country’s entire electronic regulatory system. “Upon proclamation by the President that there exists war or a threat of war, or a state of public peril or disaster or other national emergency, or in order to preserve the neutrality of the United States,” the law said, the president “may suspend or amend, for such time as he may see fit, the rules and regulations applicable to any or all stations or devices capable of emitting electromagnetic radiations within the jurisdiction of the United States as prescribed by the Commission.” He had the power to shut down any radio station—”or any device capable of emitting electromagnetic radiations between 10 kilocycles and 100,000 megacycles, which is suitable for use as a navigational aid beyond five miles”—and could commandeer its equipment, “upon just compensation to the owners.”

Full commentary by Michael J Sokolow @ Reason http://reason.com/archives/2019/02/15/in-a-state-of-emergency-the-president-ca