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Member since: Sun Jul 1, 2018, 07:25 PM
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By dismissing Corbyn's overtures, the Lib Dems are showing their true colours

It’s telling that Jo Swinson was happier propping up David Cameron for five years than the Labour leader for five weeks


If your signature policy – indeed, only visible political position – is to stop Brexit, and you claim that you will do absolutely everything within your power to prevent no deal, then it’s something of an error to suddenly introduce an exception. And yet this is the fatal mistake the Liberal Democrats have made.

When Jeremy Corbyn wrote a letter putting himself forward as a transitional prime minister purely to block no deal, extend article 50 and call an election, Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson could have welcomed the move as constructive, as the SNP, Greens, Plaid Cymru have done, with several Tory backbenchers prepared to talk, too. Instead, Swinson revealed that while the Lib Dems had been willing to prop David Cameron up for five years, implementing massive cuts and trebling tuition fees, she’s not prepared to countenance supporting Corbyn for five weeks solely to stop a disorderly exit from the EU. Her plan to do a backroom deal to put Harriet Harman or Ken Clarke in No 10 smacks not only of establishment stitch-up – it is also a constitutional nonsense, given it falls to the leader of the opposition, who has twice won a democratic mandate from his party membership and whose party won 40% of the vote just two years ago, to construct an alternative government. But constitutional nonsense, otherwise known as the Fixed-term Parliaments Act – which is itself another Lib Dem gift to the nation – is why we’re in this mess in the first place.

Labour’s plan has achieved a number of things. Corbyn’s supporters have long been compared to a cult, but the cult-like qualities of his opponents are rarely discussed. We can now see who is primarily motivated by stopping Brexit, and who is mostly driven by stopping Corbyn. In the coming weeks, pressure can be put on MPs as to whether their vendetta against the Labour leader is worth throwing Britain off a no-deal cliff for.

It has also put Labour on the front foot over Brexit, underlined by various positive newspaper front-page splashes. Brexit is an instrument of torture for Labour: its leading figures fret about maintaining and extending the coalition of remain and leave voters that deprived the Tories of their majority two years ago, and they differ on strategy going forward. Morale has been poor at the top, partly because of a weak response to Boris Johnson’s ascent to power. There has been some fatalism, too: a sense that Labour can only cut through during party conference or an election campaign. That’s been turned around: a route map for winning back disillusioned remainers from the Lib Dems has appeared – which is important, given Tory strategist Dominic Cummings is counting on a divided anti-Tory vote to secure a Johnson majority. During an election campaign, Labour will be offering a referendum with remain on the ballot paper, alongside transformative popular domestic policies such as taxing the rich to end austerity, scrapping tuition fees, and public ownership. The Lib Dems will be stuck as a single-issue party, any potential radicalism stymied by the fact that nearly all their target seats can only be won by winning over Tory voters.


If Jo Swinson is serious about stopping a no-deal Brexit, she must support Corbyn

The Labour leader’s solution may not be perfect, but for the Lib Dems it could be the most viable


Jeremy Corbyn has always been more of a politician than either his most fervent supporters or detractors have wanted to admit. Last night he again demonstrated why. In a move unprecedented in modern times, the leader of the opposition has offered to form a government with the express proviso of not implementing any of his party’s policies.

Corbyn’s offer, in a letter to other party leaders and moderate Tories, involves setting up a “strictly time-limited temporary government” with the sole intention of extending article 50 and holding a general election. In that election, Corbyn will commit to a new referendum with the option of remaining in the EU.

There might be debate about why he’s done this, but ultimately his motives don’t matter. Corbyn is the leader of the opposition and, in accordance with our unwritten constitution, the first alternative prime minister. He is also offering a concrete proposal to do exactly the thing remainers say they want – to stop no deal and then offer voters the chance to stop Brexit altogether.

Of course, if Corbyn was attempting to trap the Lib Dems, they have walked right into it. Jo Swinson, the party’s leader, has dismissed outright the prospect of Corbyn leading such a government, and has not even signalled a willingness to enter discussions with him. Instead, she has declared she could support a Ken Clarke or Harriet Harman government. All well and good, but neither of these MPs is leader of the opposition (or any political party), and Swinson does not have the parliamentary numbers or time to pick and choose who she is prepared to work with.

The new Lib Dem leader risks making a grave mistake. Even in purely party political terms, a Corbyn-led caretaker government does not necessarily strengthen Labour in the long term. But more importantly, Swinson has always emphasised, rightly, that her party’s priority is to stop no deal. This could prove the only way to do so. If the Lib Dems really believe that a few months of a limited Corbyn government is worse than medicine shortages, it is their duty to say why.


'Ecological grief': Greenland residents traumatised by climate emergency

Islanders are struggling to reconcile impact of global heating with traditional way of life, survey finds


The climate crisis is causing unprecedented levels of stress and anxiety to people in Greenland who are struggling to reconcile the traumatic impact of global heating with their traditional way of life.

The first ever national survey examining the human impact of the climate emergency, revealed in the Guardian on Monday, shows that more than 90% of islanders interviewed fully accept that the climate crisis is happening, with a further 76% claiming to have personally experienced global heating in their daily lives, from coping with dangerous sea ice journeys to having sled dogs euthanised for economic reasons tied to shorter winters.

The Greenlandic Perspectives Survey was carried out by the University of Copenhagen’s Center for Social Data Science, the Kraks Fond Institute for Urban Economic Research and the University of Greenland. The study samples almost 2% of the population, spanning an area almost three times the size of France. An equivalent study in the UK would involve a sample of almost 1 million citizens.

Scattered across 17 small towns and approximately 60 villages, all situated on a narrow coastal strip, Greenland’s residents have often been overlooked by data science. The island faces some of the most acute social issues in the world with high levels of alcoholism and historically disproportionate rates of suicide. According to its lead author, Kelton Minor, the survey finally gives Greenland’s most remote and inaccessible communities a voice on the climate crisis.


Mental health at the heart of the climate crisis

Greenland’s melting has been adopted by the world as its own problem. But for the islanders grieving their dissolving world, the crisis is personal, and dangerous


A thin blanket of fog curls over the block before it disappears back out to sea. Exhale. Inhale. The freezing breaths of a dormant leviathan – slumbering somewhere out in the depths.

It’s 1am and judging by the flickering glow of televisions in the windows of the bleak two-storey rows facing us, it’s clear that few of the local residents are asleep. Shielded only by flimsy blinds it’s impossible to escape the midnight sun in the northern Greenlandic town of Ilulissat. The light here, some 180 miles north of the Arctic Circle, seeks out every man-made chink and weakness; the cracks and folds of window frames, even the keyholes of doors.

Only an hour ago a gang of local children, called in by impatient mothers, finally stopped bouncing on a communal trampoline. At each jump, in the heart of the world’s most remarkably situated public housing complex, they would have glimpsed one of the most incredible views imaginable. Only a large industrial chimney distorts an otherwise unhindered view of Greenland’s Ilulissat ice fjord, the frozen womb that calves 35bn tonnes of icebergs every year and sends them floating silently past, the size of city blocks, towards the northern Atlantic and a meltwater demise.

Constructed for coal miners in the late 1970s, the social housing units known locally as “the white blocks” are, in fact, a broad pallette of colours from blue to green and red. Seal blood and outboard engine oil stains the concrete stairwells. Graffiti – some of it scrawled in anger – is political: protesting against Greenland’sstatus as both an autonomous country and a part of the Kingdom of Denmark.


GOP tax cuts are a national security threat


Republicans have labeled the rising national debt a dire threat to national security. Indeed, an ever-increasing federal debt constrains future defense budgets and severely limits the government’s ability to respond to future conflicts or economic crises. Moreover, China is the single largest foreign holder of U.S. debt.

Ironically, however, virtually every one of the GOP voices now citing the national debt as a major national security threat voted for the 2017 tax cut, which is forecast to balloon the debt. Nearly two years following the passage of the tax law, its dramatic effects are coming into focus. Normally, in a reasonably strong economy, the government collects more tax dollars year-over-year. In short, economic growth and a larger pool of taxpayers from the previous year generate higher tax receipts.

As a direct result of the GOP tax cut, however, 2018 was the first year that tax revenues actually declined in a relatively strong economy. When accounting for inflation, this unprecedented drop in revenues is even starker. But it gets worse. The actual decline in tax receipts was partially hidden by a surge in government revenues – amounting to the largest tax increase in decades – due to the Trump administration’s ongoing trade wars. To put all of this into perspective, the last time that the unemployment rate was as low as it is today, federal revenues increased by a whopping 22 percent over the previous year.

It should come as little surprise, then, that nonpartisan sources have forecast trillions of dollars in debt over the next decade due to the 2017 GOP tax cut. Despite the Republican mantra that “spending is the problem,” these forecasts account for modest spending scenarios. All told, the 2017 GOP tax law is a fiscal disaster with clear implications for national security. Moreover, the tax cuts did not “pay for themselves,” as the Trump administration repeatedly promised. Spending, meanwhile, spiraled out of control, despite Republican control of the White House and both chambers of Congress.


The Brexit Question - Jonathan Pie

Putin began by embracing the west. Now, he wants revenge

There’s little hope of an improvement in relations so long as the Russian president’s 20-year reign continues


When Boris Yeltsin appointed Vladimir Putin prime minister on 9 August 1999, few Russians knew much about him. In early television appearances he came across as mousy, shy and awkward, a man unaccustomed to the limelight from which his previous career in the KGB had shielded him.

But within weeks he revealed a character trait that would become the defining feature of his rule – ruthlessness. His first memorable phrase was his threat to wipe out terrorists “even if they’re in the shithouse”, and within weeks he had launched a terrifying war against separatists in Chechnya that would leave tens of thousands of civilians dead.

Twenty years on, as Russia and the west teeter towards confrontation, it is hard to remember that Putin started out as an avowedly pro-western leader. George W Bush and Tony Blair rushed to glad-hand him, and Putin himself stood in the Bundestag proclaiming at length and in fluent German that Russia’s destiny was in Europe. But western leaders were appalled by his brutality in Chechnya, and by the first signs of his antidemocratic tendencies, which included his muzzling of critical television stations.

Putin’s fatal flaw, it seemed to me, was his utter inability to see that there was a contradiction between being a ruthless autocrat at home, and the values of the western civilisation to which he (at least at that time) paid lip service. Some argue that he was never seriously pro-western, that the overtures masked ulterior motives and KGB-inspired schemes to dominate the world. But I think that is mistaken. When I worked as a consultant to the Kremlin in the earlier part of Putin’s rule, I had many meetings with senior officials and have no doubt that they regarded themselves as “western” and even as democrats.


further down in the article it references a statement by President Obama, but gives no link, so here it is

Obama describes Putin as 'like a bored kid'


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Friday denied he has poor relations with Vladimir Putin after canceling their Moscow talks, but said the Russian president can sometimes appear “like a bored kid in the back of the classroom.”

U.S.-Russian relations plunged to one of their lowest points since the Cold War this week after Russia granted temporary asylum to fugitive former U.S. spy contractor Edward Snowden. Obama retaliated by abruptly canceling a Moscow summit with Putin planned for early next month.

At a White House news conference on Friday, Obama insisted that he does not have bad personal relations with Putin. The two men had a testy meeting in June in Northern Ireland and from the photos of them at the time, it looked as if they would both rather have been somewhere else.

“I know the press likes to focus on body language, and he’s got that kind of slouch, looking like the bored kid in the back of the classroom. But the truth is that when we’re in conversations together, oftentimes it’s very productive,” Obama said.


Weed-Infused Arizona Iced Tea Drinks & Products Are on the Way


Cannabis-infused products have come a long way since your older brother was clandestinely using the family oven to bake pot brownies. In fact, they've gone so mainstream in the wake of the weed legalization wave in this country that major brands like Carl's Jr. and Ben & Jerry's are even getting in on the action with CBD-infused fare. You can add another one to the lineup, too, because the maker of Arizona Iced Tea just announced it's ready to go all-in on weed-infused products.

In a twist that would have shocked your tweenage iced tea-guzzling self, the brand behind the ubiquitous 99-cent cans of iced tea and other various juices are teaming up with a cannabis company in an effort to enter the marijuana-laced product market, according to a new report by The Wall Street Journal. Though the deal is in its early stages and it's unclear what products will ultimately be developed, officials told the WSJ that Arizona will likely start with vape pens and gummies, and eventually branch out into teas, lemonade, soda, coffee, and possibly seltzer.

In terms of specifics, this is technically a licensing deal between Arizona Beverage Company and Dixie Brands, a Denver-based cannabis company. And while many states have legalized weed, it remains prohibited on a federal level, which complicates the arrangement a bit since cannabis cannot be transported across state lines. Under this deal, Dixie will manufacture the products in each state where they'll be sold, then sell them through licensed dispensaries.

“You’ve got to be willing to try things,” said Don Vultaggio, Arizona’s chairman and CEO, in an interview with the WSJ. “The upside is we’re one of the first ones in an emerging space.” As the paper points out, Arizona is the first big beverage brand to jump on the trend, following Lagunitas Brewing's California-only release of a THC-infused sparkling "hop water" last year. Considering the ink on the deal is still wet, don't expect to see any Arizona-branded weed gummies or drinks sitting on dispensary shelves in the immediate future. When you do, though, something tells us they'll be quite a bit pricer than the 99 cents you're accustomed to paying for cans of the THC-less stuff.


So basically Bernie fans only like Bernie and only Bernie fans like Bernie


Few candidates have loyal small-dollar donor bases

Compare how candidates stack up in small-dollar donors — and how many of their donors overlap


Role of public services in integrating refugees and asylum seekers


Following the influx of over three million asylum seekers into the European Union in the three-year period 2015–2017, Member States faced a number of challenges related to integrating the newly arrived into their country. This report explores the role of public services – specifically housing, social services, health and education services – in the social and economic integration of refugees and asylum seekers. It aims to identify the factors that hinder this process and the elements that contribute to successful integration. The overall focus is on destination countries, particularly the three countries most affected by the inflow of refugees and asylum seekers: Austria, Germany and Sweden.

Authors: Fóti, Klára Bešić, Almina Vasileva, Veronika van Nierop, Petra Puts, Elbereth Rose, Norma Ulcica, Irina Vajai, Dóra Konle-Seidl, Regina

Number of pages: 60

Reference nº: EF19042

ISBN: 978-92-897-1856-1

DOI: 10.2806/595692

Published on: 19 June 2019

Topics: Social inclusion Quality of life and public services Public services Social policies Migration and mobility Labour market participation

Trump tweet just now blames the media for the shootings


Donald J. Trump

The Media has a big responsibility to life and safety in our Country. Fake News has contributed greatly to the anger and rage that has built up over many years. News coverage has got to start being fair, balanced and unbiased, or these terrible problems will only get worse!

1:32 PM - Aug 5, 2019

Viral photo shows Elizabeth Warren doing 'pinky promise' with young girl


A photo going viral online showed Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) and a young girl sharing a “pinky promise” at her recent campaign rally in Arizona earlier this week. In the photo shared on Twitter Friday, the Democratic presidential candidate is seen crouching down to talk to the young girl.

There are a number of reasons why I love, admire and will fight for @ewarren, but a picture is worth a thousand words. #TeamWarren #Warren2020 pic.twitter.com/mM8xFx4qq1

— Garrick McFadden (@electgarrick) August 2, 2019

The photo was tweeted by Garrick McFadden, an attorney from Phoenix and the father of the six-year-old, who also briefly ran for representative of Arizona's Sixth Congressional District last year.

Warren retweeted the photo shortly after on Friday night, writing: “Whenever I meet a little girl, I say: ‘I’m running for president, because that’s what girls do,’ and we pinky promise so they’ll remember.”

Whenever I meet a little girl, I say: “I’m running for president, because that’s what girls do,” and we pinky promise so they’ll remember. https://t.co/gsfpWKz7WT

— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) August 3, 2019

McFadden told The Hill on Saturday that the photo was taken at the senator’s recent rally in Tempe after a staffer with her campaign picked his family and others out for pictures with Warren at the end of the event.


Garrick McFadden is a progressive Democratic candidate for AZ's Sixth Congressional District.


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