By Robert A. Vella
With a nasty taste still lingering in my mouth from consuming Wednesday night’s Democratic debate, I bring you today’s news with no more pleasure. We humans have a penchant for garrulous celebrity and omnipotent figures such as egotistical pop culture personalities, cocky business and political leaders, mighty supernatural beings and the like. This peculiar adoration will be our undoing, I suspect, because it keeps empowering abusive and destructive authoritarians. The faint hope that someday a benevolent dictator will emerge to finally fix the world is a very dangerous delusion to hold. Such as “savior” does not exist.
President Trump is again threatening China with more trade tariffs, and he has officially ended a Cold War missile treaty in a move which appears to be partly a geopolitical ploy intended to drive a wedge between Russia and China who have become closer allies since Trump took office. The Department of Defense is testing a mass surveillance program over the U.S. New public disclosures indicate that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has been blocking numerous election security bills, may have personal interests in pushing a pro-Russia agenda. Texas Republicans, who have dominated that state for decades, are in the midst of a divisive scandal which could impact upcoming elections. A new report details the massive purging of voters mostly in conservative states since the U.S. Supreme Court eviscerated the 1965 Voting Right Act six years ago.
Trump hits China
WASHINGTON, Aug 2 (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump vowed to impose a 10% tariff on $300 billion of Chinese imports from Sept. 1, sharply escalating a bruising trade war between the world’s largest economies and jolting financial markets.
The announcement on Thursday extends Trump’s trade tariffs to nearly all of the Chinese goods the United States imports and marks an abrupt end to a temporary truce in a trade row that has hurt world growth and disrupted global supply chains.
Trump ends missile treaty
WASHINGTON — The United States on Friday terminated a major treaty of the Cold War, the Intermediate Nuclear Forces agreement, and it is already planning to start testing a new class of missiles later this summer.
But the new missiles are unlikely to be deployed to counter the treaty’s other nuclear power, Russia, which the United States has said for years was in violation of the accord. Instead, the first deployments are likely to be intended to counter China, which has amassed an imposing missile arsenal and is now seen as a much more formidable long-term strategic rival than Russia.
The US military is conducting wide area surveillance tests across six midwest states using experimental high-altitude balloons, documents filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reveal.
Up to 25 unmanned solar-powered balloons are being launched from rural South Dakota and drifting 250 miles through an area spanning portions of Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Missouri, before concluding in central Illinois.
The balloons are carrying high tech radars designed to simultaneously track many individual vehicles day or night, through any kind of weather. The tests, which have not previously been reported, received an FCC license to operate from mid-July until September, following similar flights licensed last year.
Two former top staffers to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have lobbied Congress and the Treasury Department on the development of a new Kentucky aluminum mill backed by the Russian aluminum giant Rusal, according to a new lobbying disclosure.
The disclosure comes as Democrats are pushing the Trump administration to review Rusal’s $200 million investment in the Kentucky project — concerned that the mill will supply the Defense Department — and as McConnell weathers criticism for helping block a congressional effort to stop the investment.
The Russian firm was only able to make the investment after it won sanctions relief from penalties the Treasury Department initially imposed in April 2018 on Rusal and other companies owned by Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch and Kremlin ally accused of facilitating Moscow’s nefarious activities, such as seizing land in Ukraine, supplying arms for the Syrian regime and meddling in other countries’ elections.
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — An alleged hit list of political opponents, a promise of access, heated denials, an audiotape and suspicions of a setup.
Texas Republicans are reeling from an internal scandal that could threaten their long dominance of the state Legislature in the nation’s most populous conservative state.
Republicans have long dominated Texas politics, holding every statewide office since 1998. They gained control of the House for the first time since Reconstruction in 2003 and have held it ever since.
But since reaching a peak of a 101-49 super-majority in 2011, Democrats have tapped into a growing Hispanic population and liberal shifts in suburban areas to shrink that gap to just 16 seats in their quest to turn the state blue. Democrats can grab a majority if they flip nine seats in 2020, just ahead of the critical 2021 legislative session when lawmakers will redraw political voting maps.
US election jurisdictions with histories of egregious voter discrimination have been purging voter rolls at a rate 40% beyond the national average, according to a watchdog report released Thursday.
At least 17 million voters were purged nationwide between 2016 and 2018, according to a study by the Brennan Center for Justice. The number was basically unchanged from the previous two-year period.
While the rate of voter purges elsewhere has declined slowly, jurisdictions released from federal oversight by a watershed 2013 supreme court ruling had purge rates “significantly higher” than jurisdictions not previously subjected to oversight, the Brennan Center found in a previous report.
Voter purges accelerated in the United States with the 2013 Shelby County v Holder ruling, which released counties with histories of voter discrimination from federal oversight imposed by the 1965 Voting Rights Act.