Monthly Archives: March 2018

As ‘March of Great Return’ Begins, Israeli Forces Gun Down Palestinian Protesters Along Gaza Border

Israeli snipers killed at least 16 Palestinians and injured hundreds more as an estimated 20,000 gathered along the Gaza-Israel border for the launch of the six-week “March of Great Return” on Friday. “Dozens of signs have been set up across the border in Arabic, Hebrew, and English, saying ‘We are not here to fight; we are here to return to our lands.'”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 3-30-2018

An estimated 20,000 Palestinians marched along the Gaza-Israel border on Friday. (Photo: Ma’an News Agency)

UPDATE: Today’s death toll has risen to 16 with many hundreds more wounded.

With worries that numbers will continue to rise, Israeli snipers killed at least nine Palestinians and injured hundreds more as an estimated 20,000 gathered along the Gaza-Israel border for the launch of the six-week “March of Great Return” on Friday.


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Further ‘Exposing Cruelty of Trump,’ ICE Ends Policy Limiting Detention of Pregnant Women

New policy aimed at furthering Trump’s goal of “increasing the number of people subjected to detention, without any regard to particular health needs or other vulnerabilities including pregnancy.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 3-29-2018

Immigration officials will abandon efforts to spare most pregnant women from detention, according to new guidance issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Acting Director Thomas Homan.

The announcement, made in a memo written by Homan last December but not revealed until Thursday, was condemned by immigrant rights advocates.


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Judge Drops Charges Against 13 Who Argued Pipeline Civil Disobedience Action Was “Necessary” to Save Planet

“We are part of the movement that’s standing up and saying, ‘We won’t let this go by on our watch.'”

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 3-28-2018

Defendants and legal team pose for a photo after their March 27, 2018 trail on the steps of the West Roxbury, Mass. courthouse. (Photo: Peter Bowden/flickr/cc)

Climate activists are cheering after a district judge in Boston on Tuesday ruled that 13 fossil fuel pipeline protesters were not responsible for any infraction because of the necessity of their actions.

Bill McKibben, who was slated to be an expert witness in their case, tweeted a celebratory “Good golly!’ in response to the ruling, adding, “This may be a first in America. ” Continue reading

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Cops Are Now Using Dead People’s Fingers to Unlock iPhones

By The Anti-Media. Published 3-27-2018

Screenshot: YouTube

According to Forbes, which spoke with sources close to local and federal investigations, it’s becoming standard operating procedure for cops to use dead people’s fingerprints to unlock their Apple iPhones.

FBI forensic specialist Bob Moledor detailed for Forbes the first known instance of law enforcement making such an attempt, during an investigation into the motives of an attacker killed by Ohio police back in 2016. Continue reading

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‘Tip of the Iceberg’: Watchdog Files Ethics Complaints Targeting 30 Lobbyists in Trump Administration

One expert estimates that “the real number of potential violations is fourfold.”

By  for CommonDreams. Published 3-26-2018

One ethics expert at Public Citizen said Monday, “These 30 apparent violations of Trump’s own ethics rules are only the tip of the iceberg.” (Photo: jackandfred/imgur)

Underscoring allegations that “ethics do not matter in the Trump administration,” a watchdog group on Monday filed complaints against 30 lobbyists whom President Donald Trump has appointed to his administration without ethics rule waivers—and experts warn this is only the “tip of the iceberg,” positing that the actual number of violations is likely much higher.

The advocacy group Public Citizen has identified at least 36 former lobbyists in the administration who are working on issues for which they recently lobbied, and only six of them have waivers from the ethics rule that Trump issued just days after taking office. Continue reading

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Trump’s $60 billion in China tariffs will create more problems than they solve

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Business such as California winemakers could be hurt by the new tariffs as a result of retaliation. AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein

William Hauk, University of South Carolina

After spending seven months investigating whether China is engaged in unfair trade practices, the Trump administration announced March 22 that it will impose tariffs on as much as US$60 billion in Chinese imports.

The tariffs are meant to address two problems: intellectual property theft by China and a steep and persistent trade deficit.

As an economist and expert in international trade, I don’t see how the proposed tariffs will resolve either one. In fact, it’s more likely that they will create two new problems by hurting both consumers and businesses.

IP theft and trade deficits

The administration formally justified its tariffs by invoking Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, which allows the president to impose tariffs on countries in violation of international trade deals.

In particular, the Trump administration accused China of engaging in intellectual property theft forbidden by World Trade Organization agreements.

Intellectual property theft has been a major complaint of American companies doing business in China for decades. Sometimes this theft occurs through illicit means, such as industrial espionage. It also occurs through legal channels, such as when U.S. companies are forced to form a joint venture with a Chinese business. In other cases, technology transfers are a precondition of doing business in China.

Altogether, the U.S. trade representative estimates that these policies cost U.S. businesses around $50 billion a year.

The other problem that has long irked the president is the significant trade deficit. Since the U.S. normalized trade relations with China in 2000, the deficit ballooned from less than $84 billion to over $375 billion in 2017.

This “China shock” of cheap goods has caused considerable disruption in the U.S. economy. The labor market has been surprisingly slow to adjust, leading affected workers to earn far less money over a lifetime.

President Trump signs a presidential memorandum imposing tariffs and investment restrictions on China. AP Photo/Evan Vucci

The wrong solutions

It remains to be seen, however, whether the tariffs will alleviate either problem.

The administration’s calculation seems to be that China will back down on intellectual property theft if faced with less access to U.S. markets.

But China is less dependent on U.S. trade now than it was a decade ago, making its economy resilient to these sorts of punitive measures. The U.S. accounted for 18.4 percent of Chinese exports in 2016, down from 21 percent in 2006.

The U.S. likely would have better luck resolving this problem at the WTO, which China joined in 2001 and must abide by its rulings. The best part about a WTO ruling is that it would affect all of China’s exports, not just those to the U.S.

Similarly, the trade deficit is unlikely to be resolved through higher tariffs. The primary cause of the persistent trade deficit – $566 billion in 2017 – is an imbalance between savings and investment in the U.S. economy.

The U.S. personal savings rate has fallen steadily since the late 1970s. At the same time, the government has run persistently large budget deficits, both of which have increased the level of borrowing in the U.S. economy.

As a result, foreign investment, particularly from China, has become increasingly critical to financing U.S. economic growth. This is great news in terms of helping Americans buy cheap Chinese goods and the government finance its budget deficit. But all that foreign cash going into the financial market isn’t being used to buy the stuff Americans are producing, like Harley Davidson motorcycles and Iowa corn.

This results in lower exports and a higher trade deficit. Tariffs will not change this reality.

Two new problems

While the full details of the tariffs have yet to be released, it’s clear they’ll cause at least two immediate problems.

One is that U.S. consumers will be hurt. The typical consumer has about $260 in extra purchasing power as a result of trade with China. Those benefits, which disproportionately go toward working-class Americans, will fall due to the U.S. tariffs, as American importers will pass some of their increased costs along to consumers.

Secondly, American companies that export to China will be exposed to retaliation in the form of tariffs on U.S.-made goods. Shortly after Trump’s announcement, China released its own policy statement targeting $3 billion worth of U.S. exports.

Particularly vulnerable to Chinese retaliation are the pork and soybean industries, which are concentrated in the Trump-friendly Midwest. This list could grow if a trade war with China escalates.

A broader concern is that, by acting unilaterally, the Trump administration is undermining the broader system that has facilitated the growth of international trade and adjudicated grievances between countries since World War II.

The ConversationWhile far from perfect, organizations such as the WTO have limited the scope of trade wars since the chaos of the 1930s. Failing to uphold these institutions could have major consequences in the future.

William Hauk, Associate Professor of Economics, University of South Carolina

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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The March for Our Lives in Pictures: Demonstrators Mourn Those Lost to Gun Violence and Condemn Complicit Politicians

“Who here is going to vote in the 2018 election? If you listen real close, you can hear the people in power shaking.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 3-24-2018

Photo: Twitter

Taking the stage on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, high school student David Hogg offered hundreds of thousands of audience members a visual representation of his reasons for helping to organize the March for Our Lives, a worldwide gun control advocacy demonstration.

“I’m going to start off by putting this price tag right here as a reminder for you guys to know how much Marco Rubio took for every student’s life in Florida,” Hogg said, placing a price tag reading “$1.05” on the podium. Continue reading

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Ahead of ‘March for Our Lives,’ Student Manifesto Outlines Steps to Eradicate ‘Plague of Gun Violence’

“We will be marching this Saturday for those that we loved and lost, and we write this in the hope that no other community or publication will ever have to do the same.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 3-23-2018 

“We are firsthand witnesses to the kind of devastation that gross incompetence and political inaction can produce,” Parkland student journalists wrote in The Guardian. (Photo: March for Our Lives)

Ahead of the historic “March for Our Lives” demonstrations taking place nationwide on Saturday, student journalists from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida—the site of a shooting last month that left 17 dead—published a manifesto in The Guardian on Friday declaring that they can no longer “stand idly by as the country continues to be infected by a plague of gun violence.”

“We have a unique platform not only as student journalists, but also as survivors of a mass shooting. We are firsthand witnesses to the kind of devastation that gross incompetence and political inaction can produce,” wrote the students, who work for the Stoneman Douglas school newspaper The Eagle Eye. “We will be marching this Saturday for those that we loved and lost, and we write this in the hope that no other community or publication will ever have to do the same.”

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Uproar After Congress Sneaks Attack on Digital Privacy Rights Into Omnibus Spending Bill

Attaching it to massive spending deal, lawmakers rush through controversial bill that allows law enforcement to hand over personal data without a warrant

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 3-22-2018

Critics of the CLOUD Act ” are rightfully pointing out that it jettisons current human rights protections in favor of vague standards that could gut individual rights.” (Photo: Electoric Frontier Foundation)

Buried in the 2,232-page omnibus spending bill that the U.S. House passed Thursday is a piece of legislation that digital privacy advocates warn “expands American and foreign law enforcement’s ability to target and access people’s data across international borders.”

The Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data or CLOUD Act (S. 2383 and H.R. 4943) would add an official provision for U.S. law enforcement to access “the contents of a wire or electronic communication and any record or other information” for people all across the globe, regardless of where they live and what that nation’s privacy laws dictate. It would also create a “backdoor” into Americans’ data, enabling the U.S. government to bypass its citizens’ Fourth Amendment rights to access and even use their data. Continue reading

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#ToxicTwitter: Human Rights Group Says Platform Creates Abusive Environment for Women

“Ensuring an internet free from gender-based violence enhances freedom of expression as it allows women to fully participate in all areas of life.”

By Julia Conley, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 3-21-2018

Human rights advocates projected abusive tweets and a message to Twitter founder Jack Dorsey on the company’s headquarters Tuesday night to call attention to Twitter’s inadequate protections for women on the platform. (Photo: Amnesty International)

The human rights group Amnesty International accused Twitter of creating a toxic atmosphere for women on its platform in a report on Wednesday—saying the company fails to enforce clear restrictions banning abuse, and leaves users without a clear sense of its rules and their rights.

The study detailed death threats and rape threats, as well as misogynist, racist, transphobic, and homophobic abuse targeting women. The women who detailed their experiences of abuse included prominent politicians in the UK, journalists, and women’s rights activists. Continue reading

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