Monthly Archives: December 2019

Trump, Granting Lobbyist Demands, Quietly Handed Billions More in Tax Breaks to Huge Corporations: Report

“Trump is the most corrupt president in history, and here’s the latest example of how that corruption helps giant corporations.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-30-2019

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and President Donald Trump at a Tax reform press briefing October 31, 2017. Screenshot: YouTube

A “disturbing” New York Times story published Monday detailed how President Donald Trump’s Treasury Department, led by former Goldman Sachs banker Steve Mnuchin, has quietly weakened elements of the 2017 tax law in recent months to make it even friendlier to wealthy

individuals and massive corporations.

Lobbyists representing some of the largest corporations in the world, the Times reported, targeted two provisions in the original 2017 law designed to bring in hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue from companies that had been dodging U.S. taxes by stashing profits overseas. Continue reading

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Pro-Coup Venezuelan Soldiers Who Fled to the US Now Locked Up in ICE Detention Center

In an ironic twist worthy of an Alanis Morissette song, participants in U.S.-backed coup are now in an ICE detention camp.

By Alan Macleod. Published 12-27-2019 by MintPress News

Screenshot: NBC News

 

The Venezuelan soldiers who participated in the U.S.-backed coup attempt in April of this year and subsequently fled to the U.S. have been incarcerated in ICE detention camps ever since. Telemundoa subsidiary of NBCUniversal, secured an interview with Major Hugo Parra, the highest-ranking of the handful of soldiers who answered self-declared President Juan Guaidó’s call to overthrow the government of Nicolas Maduro. After the coup ended in spectacular failure, Parra revealed that he fled the country, ending up in the United States on April 11, where he expected to be given a hero’s welcome for his part in the Trump-approved insurrection.

Instead, he was immediately detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), first kept in a facility in Texas, then later transferred to the Winn Correctional Center in Louisiana. He has been refused all requests for bail or appointments to see a judge, one of nearly 42,000 people, most of them from Latin America, currently locked up in ICE prisons. Continue reading

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Amazon and Ring Hit With Lawsuit After Camera Hacks Confirm Worst Fears of Privacy Advocates

“These devices are not safe,” said Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future.

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-27-2019

Photo: Wikipedia

Home security company Ring and its parent corporation Amazon were hit with a lawsuit in federal court Thursday alleging that their cameras have been hacked on numerous occasions due to inadequate protections, confirming privacy advocates’ fears about the devices.

John Baker Orange of Alabama, the plaintiff in the case, said in the lawsuit (pdf) that his Ring security camera was recently hacked while his children were playing basketball outside of his home. Continue reading

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‘Victory for Our Oceans’: US Court Upholds Ruling on Vast Marine Monument Established by Obama

“This decision upholds protections for one of the most fragile and scientifically important areas in the North Atlantic from destructive activities like oil drilling and industrial fishing.”

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-27-2019

“Like one of America’s very first national monuments, the Grand Canyon, the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts is a natural treasure,” said NRDC’s KateDesormaeu. “It provides habitat for a wide range of species, from endangered whales to Atlantic puffins to centuries-old deep-sea corals.” Photo: Wikipedia (Public domain)

Defenders of ocean habitats celebrated Friday after a federal court upheld a lower court ruling defending the right of the U.S. executive branch to set aside marine areas as national monuments.

Citing the authority found under the Antiquities Act of 1906 to establish marine national monuments, the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia sided against a lawsuit brought by large fishing industry interests that challenged President Barack Obama’s designation of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, which encompases 4,913 square miles of the Atlantic Ocean off the nation’s northeast coast, as a protected area. Continue reading

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Top Syrian Official Says US Has ‘Absolutely No Right’ to Occupy or Plunder Nation’s Oil Fields

“He’s talking about stealing it,” Bouthaina Shaaban said of U.S. President Donald Trump, who has kept troops in Syria to guard that country’s oil fields.

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-26-2019

An oil refinery in Homs, Syria. Photo: High Contrast Wikimedia/CC

Citing U.S. President Donald Trump’s openly stated plan to maintain a troop presence in Syria with the sole purpose of plundering the country’s oil reserves, a top Syrian government official said America has “absolutely no right” to the nation’s natural resources and warned of “popular opposition and operations” against foreign occupiers.

“It is our oil,” Bouthaina Shaaban, a political and media adviser to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, told NBC News in an interview Tuesday. Continue reading

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What does ‘A Christmas Carol’ tell us about the meaning of charity?

“Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business. Charity, mercy, forbearance and benevolence were all my business.”

By John Picton. Published 12-17-2019 by openDemocracy

Ebenezer Scrooge as illustrated by Ronald Searle in Life Magazine, 1960. | Flickr/Elizabeth. CC BY-NC 2.0.

 

New adaptations of Charles Dickens’ 1843 novella appear on our screens each time the holidays come around. From this year’s brand-new mini-series that’s due to be aired in the UK and the USA to the ever-popular Muppet Christmas Carol, this story is a staple of the season. In it, and after a series of visits from ghostly apparitions, Ebenezer Scrooge changes from a cold miser to a kind and gentle person, but some aspects of the role of charity in this change of heart are lost from modern adaptations.

In the 176-year-old text the call to charity is more demanding than just donating cash. Dickens focuses on personal charity as the assumption of social obligations. After his transformation, Scrooge faces up to his moral responsibilities. Famously, he buys an enormous Christmas turkey for the family of his clerk, Bob Cratchit. But his new-found concern for the Cratchit family goes much further than a single festive meal. He also gives Cratchit a pay-rise. And having been frightened by a premonition of the death of Tiny Tim – Cratchit’s son – Scrooge is said to become like “a second father” to the sickly child. Continue reading

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How undoing ‘Obamacare’ would harm more than the health of Americans

Open enrollment for health care in the ACA marketplaces ended at 3 a.m., Dec. 18, 2019, the same day a panel ruled that the individual mandate is unconstitutional. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services/AP Photo

Simon F. Haeder, Pennsylvania State University

The Affordable Care Act remains on life support after a panel of federal judges ruled on Dec. 18, 2019 that the law’s individual mandate requiring people to buy health insurance is unconstitutional.

The decision hobbles the law in ways that are hard to predict politically, particularly in the upcoming election year. It also raises questions for the 20 million people who gained coverage in the marketplaces and all Americans who gained protections through the ACA. Continue reading

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‘They Did it on Purpose’: Protester Crushed Between Police Jeeps Latest Victim of Months-Long Chilean Crackdown on Dissent

The young man was seriously injured but is expected to survive.

By Eoin Higgins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-21-2019

Twenty-year-old Oscar Ignacio Pérez Cortéz was pinned between two police jeeps on Friday. He is expected to survive but sustained serious injuries. (Photo: Archivando Chile/Telegram)

The ongoing protest movement in Chile has had success—the country’s constitution is expected to be rewritten as a concession from President Sebastien Pinera to demonstrators—but still faces a harsh crackdown from government security forces, who in a series of assaults Friday fired projectiles at crowds and crush one young man between two armored jeeps, causing him serious injury.

Twenty-year-old Oscar Ignacio Pérez Cortéz was pinned between two police jeeps—called by protesters zorrillos, or “skunks”—on Friday when one of the vehicles slammed the young man into the side of the other. Continue reading

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After Admitting “It’s Always Been Republicans Suppressing Votes,” Trump Advisor Says Party Will Get Even More Aggressive in 2020

“It’s clear there’s no law Donald Trump and his right-wing machine won’t bend, break, or ignore to try to win the presidency.”

By Eoin Higgins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-21-2019

Justin Clark. Photo: Political Dig

Reporting on Friday shows a top advisor for President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign caught on tape in November bragging  of the Republican Party’s history of voter suppression—and promising to go on the offensive in 2020.

The revelation came from the Associated Press in a report Friday on comments by Trump re-election advisor Justin Clark at an event in Madison, Wisconsin. Continue reading

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This Story on Cellphone Tracking ‘Is the Most Important Article You Should Read Today. Period.’

The New York Times published the first piece in its “One Nation, Tracked” investigation based on a data set with over 50 billion location pings.

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 12-20-2019

The New York Times on Thursday published its first article in a new series about smartphone tracking. (Image: The New York Times/screenshot)

The New York Times‘ on Thursday sparked calls for congressional action by publishing the first article in its “One Nation, Tracked” series, an investigation into smartphone tracking based on a data set with over 50 billion location pings from the devices of more than 12 million people in the United States.

The data, from 2016 and 2017, “was provided to Times Opinion by sources who asked to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to share it and could face severe penalties for doing so,” explained reporters Stuart A. Thompson and Charlie Warzel. “The sources of the information said they had grown alarmed about how it might be abused and urgently wanted to inform the public and lawmakers.” Continue reading

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