he word “fascism” is derived from the Latin fasces, bundles of rods bound around an ax and carried in Roman processions as an authority symbol; the bound rods represented the community unified around the central authority figure. Fascism is conceived as an expression of the organic unity of the society. Absolute power is vested in a supreme ruler. The state represents the collective will of the people.
Fascism has some ancient ideological foundations. Throughout most of human history the absolute power of the monarch was simply taken for granted. In the Middle Ages it was “the divine right of kings” who, at least by implication, embodied and interpreted the will of God to their subjects.
Fascism typically vests absolute authority in a single leader, who controls state bureaucracy with a hierarchy of delegated powers. Ths supreme leader is the source of all law, and is himself above the law. All government authority devolves from him; all rights of citizens are granted by him. The primary duty of other officials and the citizenry is strict obedience to their superiors in the state hierarchy, and ultimately to the supreme leader. The successful fascist leader maximizes his personal authority and, by extension, the power of the state.
The conception of the state as an organic being, equivalent to a human body with the brain in control, derives from classical political theorists including Machiavelli (1469-1527) and Hobbes. From this analogy some fascist theorists have proposed that the state has a kind of super-reality, a life of its own. These ideas are fully articulated by G.W.F. Hegel (1770-1831). By this reasoning, the state actually defines the “will of the people” for its citizens. Individualism is subsumed in the state. The citizens can’t disagree with the state any more than the big toe can disagree with the brain. This philosophy justifies a totalitarian state that may pursue whatever objectives it desires, and is free to use any means to eliminate opposition that might impede its progress to those objectives.
Fascism is typically associated with strong racial, ethnic or religious myths, which unify the dominant social group against perceived threats from minority groups. Viewed objectively, these social myths are irrational. Within the fascist society, however, the super-rational state manufactures whatever reality it wants. The moral and intellectual validity of this reality is irrelevant; only its emotional appeal matters. Mussolini’s famous retort to critics of his movement was “We think with our blood.” Hitler, Mussolini, Milosevic all promoted a strident nationalism based upon social myths, and fomented irrational racial or ethnic hatreds that led to state-sponsored programs of genocide. The tactic is simple: the shared hatred of some minority becomes a patriotic rallying point for supporters, and the violence it engenders intimidates any opposition.
Mussolini’s Doctrine of Fascism (1932) provides a clear statement of fascist ideology:
“…Fascism is a historical conception, in which man is what he is only in so far as he works within the spiritual process where he finds himself, in the family or social group, in the nation and in the history in which all nations collaborate. From this follows the great value of tradition, in memories, in language, in customs, in the standards of social life. Outside history man is nothing. Consequently Fascism is opposed to all the individualistic abstractions of a materialistic nature like those of the 18th century; and it is opposed to all Jacobin utopias and innovations. It does not consider that “happiness” is possible upon earth…. Against individualism, Fascism is for the state…. Liberalism denied the state in the interests of the particular individual; Fascism reaffirms the state as the true reality of the individual…. Not a race, not a geographically determined region, but as a community historically perpetuating itself, a multitude unified by a single idea, which is the will to existence and to power: consciousness of itself, personality.
…For Fascism the tendency to empire, to the expansion of nations, is a manifestation of vitality; its opposite, staying at home, is a sign of decadence.
Fascism implies a high degree of central economic planning, although there is little explicit economic dogma. A fascist state has ultimate authority over the labor, property and economic activities of its citizens, and the state’s objective is (presumably) to maximize total economic output from its economy. There is no collective bargaining for labor. The state may establish monopoly control over any or all industries, nationalize any or all resources, or leave markets to function on their own.Communism
Literally, “communism” means collective ownership. In a communist society, all resources are owned by the people. Communist ideology is based upon the writings of Karl Marx (1818-1883) and Friedich Engels (1820-1895), particularly their Communist Manifesto (1847) and Marx’s almost unreadable Capital (1887). Marxist theory holds that communism is an inevitable outgrowth of decadent capitalism. He predicts that the means of production will be increasingly concentrated in the hands of the capitalists, the workers (proletariat) are reduced to subsistence living, the capitalist economy falls into “secular stagnation” because the workers cannot afford the things they produce. The workers finally overthrow the capitalists and expropriate their capital.
In theory, the communist bureaucracy established to administer the expropriated means of production should be transitory: the state will wither away as the people achieve a utopian state of equality and cooperation. But twentieth-century communism didn’t quite work out that way, of course.
Although the political fortunes of communism faded at the end of the 20th century, the theory and practice of communism are important to understand. Communism was an extremely expensive social experiment. The major genocides of the 20th century were mostly committed in pursuit of communist ideals: 30+ million dead in Mao Zedong’s Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution in China; 25+ million dead in Stalin’s forced collectivization of Soviet agriculture and political purges of the 1930’s. Most of these people died in engineered famines. Even Hitler didn’t kill this many people.
Marxism had a powerful appeal to the European and American working classes in the early 20th century. The language of the Communist Manifesto is stirring: “Workers of the world, unite!” The utopian goals are appealing: “From each according to his abilities; to each according to his needs.” In fact, despite the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Marxism is still a powerful political ideology, a valid method for interpreting history, and an influential intellectual framework.
Marxism is at heart a utopian philosophy based on “dialectical materialism.” Marx and Engels followed a long utopian tradition seeking the perfectibility of human nature and the realization of a perfectly free, equal society. They were humanists who would have been horrified to see their ideas used to justify so much political brutality in the 20th Century.
Dialectics, as fully articulated by Hegel in describing human thought (and grossly simplified here), is the analysis of conflicting principles or forces in history that are eventually resolved in a “synthesis”–some new idea, or new political, cultural or technological outcome. Each synthesis then generates an opposing principle, a new dialectical conflict, and a new synthesis. History is understood as a cycle of such conflicts and transformative resolutions.
Marx and Engels were materialists, dismissing religion as “the opium of the masses” in favor of material experience as the basis of knowledge and human interactions (materialism is a direct outgrowth of Locke’s empiricism). They therefore extended the application of dialectics to the material world: commodities become capital, market competition becomes monopoly, etc.
Soviet-style communism involved the collectivization of land and capital under the control of worker cooperatives, which were supervised by a central planning bureaucracy dominated by members of the communist party. State planners specified production quotas for each cooperative, and oversaw the supply of intermediate goods between industries. Goods and resources were allocated according to a central plan reflecting the government’s perception of the country’s needs, not by the “invisible hand” of competitive market forces. Obviously this was an enormous organizational challenge, and it is not surprising that the Soviet planned economy suffered from production bottlenecks, shortages of retail goods, quality control problems, etc. The government tolerated a degree of underground and quasi-underground private economic activity, the Soviet economy became increasingly dependent on this private sector, and the government eventually lost political control of it and finally succumbed to overwhelming economic reform pressures.
WATCH OUT! There are several “economy” self-park lot operators, and associated listing websites that are less than scrupulous. They tease you, get your attention with $4.95, $5.95 per day, save money!
So, as the well-worn saying goes – if it’s too good to be true…
All seems normal when you start the booking process online. After you plug in the anticipated parking duration time-frame, 3 days for example, the booking site will display the total correctly. BUT WAIT…when you actually go to “checkout” (btw, I despise this damn term; so condescending and childlike) the REAL TOTAL flashes at the bottom at a rate 200%+ higher! What a bunch of flea-bit camel traders! What was implied at first as $18 more or less becomes $40 more-than-less.
WASHINGTON, DC – NOVEMBER 16: Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan delivers a speech and talks about U.S. President Donald Trump, at the Watergate Hotel, on November 16, 2017 in Washington, DC. This is the first time that Minister Farrakhan will speak directly to the 45th President of the United States and will address “issues of importance regarding Americas domestic challenges, her place on the world stage and her future.”
“Keith Ellison’s long pattern of lies about his ongoing relationship with Louis Farrakhan, who the Anti-Defamation League calls ‘America’s leading anti-Semite,’ has put a stain on the Democrat Party,” McDaniel said in a press release. “Anti-Semitism has no place in American politics, Tom Perez must address this issue.”
As head of the Nation of Islam, Farrakhan has a long history of making deeply anti-Semitic comments.
His ties to current elected Democrats rapidly came to light after a previously unreleased photo of Farrakhan visiting with then-Senator Barack Obama at a 2005 Congressional Black Caucus meeting surfaced in January 2018. (
Seven House Democrats Have Deep Ties To Louis Farrakhan)
While several of the officials linked to Farrakhan have disavowed their past relationships with him, Ellison in particular has maintained that Democrats should not be “bothered” being associated with him.
Ellison has repeatedly declined to comment on the several meetings he has reportedly had with Farrakhan since disavowing him in 2006
Dems’ rebuttal to GOP FISA memo is released; Trump deems it a ‘bust’
President Trump on Saturday dismissed a Democratic rebuttal to the GOP memo outlining government surveillance abuses in the 2016 campaign as a “total political and legal bust,” claiming that it only confirms the ”terrible things” that were done by the nation’s intelligence agencies.
The rebuttal, written by Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee, concluded that officials at the FBI and Justice Department “did not abuse the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) process, omit material information, or subvert this vital tool to spy on the Trump campaign.”
Democrats sought to counter claims made in a Republican memo released this month that the FBI and DOJ relied on a Democrat-funded anti-Trump dossier to ask the FISA court for a warrant to monitor Trump adviser Carter Page.
Democrats have vehemently claimed that the Republican memo left out important information.
But Trump was unimpressed by the 10-page memo that resulted.
Ranking Democrat Adam Schiff, D-Calif., countered by saying it confirmed that intelligence officials acted appropriately.
Republicans had found that the DOJ and FBI left out Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign funding of the dossier, as well as the anti-Trump motivations of author and former British spy Christopher Steele, in its request for a warrant. Indeed, Republicans have pointed to this as proof that intelligence agencies abused surveillance powers.
The Democratic rebuttal, though it did not directly challenge some of the key findings of the earlier one from Republicans, backed the FBI and DOJ in their pursuit of that FISA warrant to surveil Page.
“In fact, DOJ and the FBI would have been remiss in their duty to protect the country had they not sought a FISA warrant and repeated renewals to conduct temporary surveillance of Carter Page, someone the FBI assessed to be an agent of the Russian government,” the rebuttal said, adding that the DOJ met the “rigor, transparency, and evidentiary basis” needed to meet FISA’s probable-cause requirement.
The memo said the Page surveillance warrant produced intelligence deemed reliable, and sufficient to justify renewals every 90 days.
The rebuttal said the FBI had an “independent basis” for investigating Page’s motivations, and that he had been targeted for recruitment by the Russians. It also claimed that the DOJ “repeatedly informed the Court about Steele’s background, credibility, and potential bias.” And it maintained that the Justice Department infomed the FISA court that Steele had been hired by “politically motivated U.S. persons and entities and that his research appeared intended for use “to discredit” Trump’s campaign.
The rebuttal added that the DOJ only made “narrow use” of information from Steele’s sources and that in later FISA renewals the DOJ provided “additional information obtained through multiple independent sources” that backed up Steele’s reporting. It challenged the Republican assertion that the FBI authorized payment to Steele, saying that it neglected that the payment was canceled.
The memo, however, did not directly challenge the Republican assertion that former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe testified to the House Committee that they would not have sought the Page surveillance warrant had it not been for that infamous dossier.
The new memo also asserted that the dossier had been corroborated by multiple sources. However, in June 2017 testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee, former FBI Director James Comey said the opposite — that three months after the warrant on Page had been granted he still considered the dossier “unverified” and “salacious” when he briefed incoming President Trump in January 2017 at Trump Tower.
The rebuttal was voted out of committee earlier this month but a redraft was ordered after the White House demanded that sensitive information be stripped out before the document be made public. The Justice Department and FBI claimed the initial draft would reveal information about sources and methods, ongoing investigations and other sensitive information.
Schiff said the minority’s memo should “put to rest” any concerns about conduct by the intelligence agencies.
His confidence notwithstanding, it seemed unlikely to mark an end to the ongoing fight over the FISA application and the role of that infamous dossier. Indeed, while the two parties clash over whether that dossier was a primary or secondary driver of the surveillance application, the newly declassified criminal referral for Christopher Steele from Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said the FBI and DOJ relied “heavily” on the controversial and salacious document for the FISA application.
And upon the new memo’s release, Republicans on the intel committee responded with rebuttals to the rebuttal, providing more evidence that this battle has legs. For instance, while the Democrats say that the court was given information about the political motivations of Steele, Republicans say that such a statement is “buried in a footnote” that obscures rather than clarifies his motives.
“The American people now clearly understand that the FBI used political dirt paid for by the Democratic Party to spy on an American citizen from the Republican Party,” Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif. said in a statement.
“Furthermore, the FISA court was misled about Mr. Page’s past interactions with the FBI in which he helped build a case against Russian operatives in America who were brought to justice. It defies belief that the Department of Justice and FBI failed to provide information to a secret court that they had provided to an open federal court regarding their past interactions with Mr. Page,” he said.
The White House called the rebuttal a “politically driven document” that fails to answer the concerns raised by the Republican memo.
“As the Majority’s memorandum stated, the FISA judge was never informed that Hillary Clinton and the DNC funded the dossier that was a basis for the Department of Justice’s FISA application,” Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.
“In addition, the Minority’s memo fails to even address the fact that the Deputy FBI Director told the Committee that had it not been for the dossier, no surveillance order would have been sought,” she added.
Democrats have claimed that the original Republican memo was an effort to attack FBI Director Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian interference in 2016. Trump had previously said that the memo “totally vindicates” him in the investigation.
Jerusalem or Eastern Jerusalem (Arabic: القدس الشرقية; Hebrew: מזרח ירושלים) is the sector of Jerusalem that was occupied by Jordan in 1948 and had remained out of the Israeli-held West Jerusalem at the end of the 1948–49 Arab–Israeli War. It includes Jerusalem’s Old City and some of the holiest sites of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, such as the Temple Mount, Western Wall, Al-Aqsa Mosque, Dome of the Rock and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, as well as a number of adjacent neighbourhoods. Israeli and Palestinian definitions of it differ; the Palestinian official position is based on the 1949 Armistice Agreements, while the Israeli position is mainly based on the current municipality boundaries of Jerusalem, which resulted from a series of administrative enlargements decided by Israeli municipal authorities since the June 1967 Six-Day War. Despite its name, East Jerusalem includes neighborhoods to the north, east and south of the Old City, and in the wider definition of the term even on all these sides of West Jerusalem.
During the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, Jerusalem was contested between Jordan and Israel, and on the cessation of hostilities, the two countries secretly negotiated a division of the city, with the eastern sector coming under Jordanian rule. This arrangement was formalized in the Rhodes Agreement in March 1949. A week after David Ben-Gurion presented his party’s assertion that “Jewish Jerusalem is an organic, inseparable part of the State of Israel” in December 1949, Jordan annexed East Jerusalem. These decisions were confirmed respectively in the Knesset in January 1950 and the Jordanian Parliament in April 1950.
On being occupied by Israel after the 1967 Six-Day War, East Jerusalem, with expanded borders, came under direct Israeli rule. East Jerusalem had been occupied by Israel in June 1967. On 27–28 June 1967, East Jerusalem was integrated into Jerusalem by extension of its municipal borders and was placed under the law, jurisdiction and administration of the State of Israel. In a unanimous General Assembly resolution, the UN declared the measures trying to change the status of the city invalid. Jerusalem was effectively annexed by Israel in 1980, an act internationally condemned.[by whom?]
In the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)’s Palestinian Declaration of Independence of 1988, Jerusalem is stated to be the capital of the State of Palestine. In 2000, the Palestinian Authority passed a law proclaiming Jerusalem as such, and in 2002, this law was ratified by then chairman Yasser Arafat, although Israel does not allow Palestinian government offices in East Jerusalem. The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) recognised East Jerusalem as capital of the State of Palestine on 13 December 2017.
See also: History of Jerusalem and Timeline of Jerusalem
1948 Arab–Israeli War aftermath
Following the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, Jerusalem was divided into two parts. The western portion, populated primarily by Jews, came under Israeli rule, while the eastern portion, populated mainly by Muslim and Christian Palestinians, came under Jordanian rule. Arabs living in such western Jerusalem neighbourhoods as Katamon or Malha either fled or were in some cases forced out; the same fate befell Jews in the eastern areas, including the Old City and Silwan. The only eastern area of the city that remained in Israeli hands throughout the 19 years of Jordanian rule was Mount Scopus, where the Hebrew University is located, which formed an enclave during that period.
Following the 1967 Six-Day War, the eastern part of Jerusalem came under Israeli rule, along with the entire West Bank. Shortly after the Israeli takeover, East Jerusalem was annexed to West Jerusalem, together with several neighboring West Bank villages. In November 1967, United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 was passed, calling for Israel to withdraw “from territories occupied in the recent conflict” in exchange for peace treaties. In 1980, the Knesset passed the Jerusalem Law, which declared that “Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel”, which is commonly called an act of annexation, though no such formal measure was even taken. This declaration was determined to be “null and void” by United Nations Security Council Resolution 478.
See also: Jordanian annexation of the West Bank
King Hussein flying over the Temple Mount while it was under Jordanian control, 1965
Jerusalem was to be an international city under the 1947 UN Partition Plan. It was not included as a part of either the proposed Jewish or Arab states. During the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, the western part of Jerusalem was captured by Israel, while East Jerusalem (including the Old City) was captured by Jordan. The war came to an end with the signing of the 1949 Armistice Agreements.
Upon its capture, the Jordanians immediately expelled all the Jewish residents of the Jewish Quarter. 58 synagogues were destroyed. The ancient Jewish cemetery on Mount of Olives was desecrated, and the tombstones there were used for construction and paving roads. Jordan also destroyed the Jewish villages of Atarot and Neve Yaakov just north of Jerusalem (their sites became Jerusalem neighborhoods after 1967).
East Jerusalem absorbed some of the refugees from West Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhoods that came under Israeli rule. Thousands of Arab refugees who were displaced from their homes in Israeli-held West Jerusalem were settled in the previously Jewish areas of East Jerusalem.
In 1950 East Jerusalem, along with the rest of the West Bank, was annexed by Jordan. Nevertheless, the annexation of the West Bank was recognized only by the United Kingdom, although the Israeli and Jordanian annexations of the two parts of Jerusalem were given only de facto recognition. During the period of Jordanian rule, East Jerusalem lost much of its importance, as it was no longer a capital, and losing its link to the coast diminished its role as a commercial hub. It even saw a population decrease, with merchants and administrators moving to Amman. On the other hand, it maintained its religious importance, as well as its role as a regional center. Reaffirming a 1953 statement, Jordan in 1960 declared Jerusalem its second capital. The USA (and other powers) protested this plan, and stated it could not “recognize or associate itself in any way with actions which confer upon Jerusalem the attributes of a seat of government…”
During the 1960s, Jerusalem saw economic improvement and its tourism industry developed significantly, and its holy sites attracted growing numbers of pilgrims, but Israelis of all religions were not allowed into East Jerusalem.[clarification needed]
After 1967 war
During the Six-Day War of 1967 Israel captured the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and eventually incorporated Eastern Jerusalem and its surroundings into the municipality of Jerusalem, including several neighboring villages. This move, amounting to 111 km2 (43 sq mi)[dubious ] of West Bank territory, excluded many of East Jerusalem’s suburbs and divided several villages. The old Moroccan Quarter in front of the Western Wall was bulldozed three days after its capture, leading to the deaths of several residents in the forced resettlement of its 135 families. It was replaced with a large open air plaza. The Jewish Quarter, destroyed in 1948, was depopulated, rebuilt and resettled by Jews.
After 1980 annexation
Israeli West Bank barrier in Jerusalem
Under Israeli rule, members of all religions are largely granted access to their holy sites, with the Muslim Waqf maintaining control of the Temple Mount and the Muslim holy sites there.
With the stated purpose of preventing infiltration during the Second Intifada, Israel decided to surround Jerusalem’s eastern perimeter with a security barrier. The structure has separated East Jerusalem neighborhoods from the West Bank suburbs, all of which are under the jurisdiction of Israel and the IDF. The planned route of the separation barrier has raised much criticism, with the Israeli Supreme Court ruling that certain sections of the barrier (including East Jerusalem sections) must be re-routed.
The Oslo Accords, prohibit the establishment of any activity of the Palestinian Authority in Jerusalem. Under the pretext that they are part of the PA, Israel closed many Palestinian NGOs since 2001.
In the 25 January 2006 Palestinian Legislative Elections, 6,300 East Jerusalem Arabs were registered and permitted to vote locally. All other residents had to travel to West Bank polling stations. Hamas won four seats and Fatah two, even though Hamas was barred by Israel from campaigning in the city. Fewer than 6,000 residents were permitted to vote locally in the prior 1996 elections.
In March 2009, a confidential “EU Heads of Mission Report on East Jerusalem” was published, in which the Israeli government was accused of “actively pursuing the illegal annexation” of East Jerusalem. The report stated: “Israeli ‘facts on the ground’ – including new settlements, construction of the barrier, discriminatory housing policies, house demolitions, restrictive permit regime and continued closure of Palestinian institutions – increase Jewish Israeli presence in East Jerusalem, weaken the Palestinian community in the city, impede Palestinian urban development and separate East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank.”
A poll conducted by Palestinian Center for Public Opinion and American Pechter Middle East Polls for the Council on Foreign Relations, among East Jerusalem Arab residents in 2011 revealed that 39% of East Jerusalem Arab residents would prefer Israeli citizenship contrary to 31% who opted for Palestinian citizenship. According to the poll, 40% of Palestinian residents would prefer to leave their neighborhoods if they would be placed under Palestinian rule.
The director of the FBI says the whole of Chinese society is a threat to the US — and Americans must step up as a society
to defend themselves
FBI Director Christopher Wray; Chinese President Xi Jinping. AP/Andrew Harnik/Fred Dufour/Pool
FBI director Christopher Wray issued a dire warning against China’s growing influence during a Senate intelligence hearing on Tuesday.
He cited the variety of ways that China is implementing its plan to replace the US as the foremost global power, including infiltrating American academia.
China’s Confucius Institutes are ostensibly language learning centers, but often serve as vehicles for Chinese propaganda at universities around the world, including the US.
Intelligence experts also cited Chinese cybersecurity threats as a major concern in 2018.
FBI director Christopher Wray reiterated a commonly held view on Tuesday that China is seeking to become a global superpower through unconventional means — but framed the threat China poses to the US as not just a governmental one, but as a societal one, too.
Speaking before the Senate Intelligence Committee alongside the heads of other US intelligence agencies, Wray told Senators that China is using a host of methods to undermine American military, economic, cultural, and informational power across the globe that rely on more than just China’s state institutions.
“One of the things we’re trying to do is view the China threat as not just a whole of government threat, but a whole of society threat on their end,” Wray said, “and I think it’s going to take a whole-of-society response by us.”
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats expressed a similar sentiment after Sen. Marco Rubio asked him about China’s plans to overtake the US as the world’s supreme world power.
“There is no question that what you have just articulated is what’s happening with China,” Coats said. “They’re doing it in a very smart way; they’re doing it in a very effective way; they are looking beyond their own region.”
Coats said multiple agencies are conducting “intensive studies” to understand the ways China is looking to carry out its global agenda.
The double-edged sword of open academics
Wray pointed to China’s use of unconventional intelligence sources at US universities as a salient example of China’s reach.
In intelligence jargon, “collectors” are individuals who collect intelligence on behalf of agencies or governments. And he said they’ve infiltrated American universities.
“I think in this setting, I would just say that the use of non-traditional collectors — especially in the academic setting, whether it’s professors, scientists, students — we see in almost every field office that the FBI has around the country,” Wray said.
“They’re exploiting the very open research and development environment that we have which we all revere, but they’re taking advantage of it,” Wray added, noting that there is a “naivete” amid academics about the risks posed by foreign nationals at universities.
Chinese President Hu Jintao (L) visits the The Confucius Institute at Walter Payton College Preparatory High School in Chicago on January 21, 2011. REUTERS/Chris Walker/Pool
As Wray mentioned, the openness of academia in general contributes to an open flow of ideas across the globe and the overall advancement of human knowledge and innovation.
To this end, US universities admit over a million international students, and Chinese students make up the largest share of these students. Nearly 329,000 Chinese nationals were enrolled in American colleges during the 2015-2016 school year, according to TIME.
While there is no evidence that a majority of Chinese students or academics pose any threat to US interests, there are a number of education efforts that the Chinese government uses as vehicles for soft power.
The first of these are the Confucius Institutes, which Rubio alluded to during his questioning of Wray and Coats at the Senate hearing.
These institutes mirror many other foreign-language education entities that countries fund around the world, but with a couple caveats. Rather than existing as stand-alone bodies, they are inserted into US universities, and in addition to teaching Mandarin Chinese, they also reportedly engage in disseminating Chinese propaganda and restricting what professors and students should say.
As a result of the dangers to open expression posed by these institutes, the University of Chicago and Pennsylvania State have already closed the Confucius Institutes on their campuses. Other global universities have followed suit.
Confucius Institutes also have a strong presence on the African continent, where China is also in the process of growing its economic and political power. Africans in countries like Zambia and Zimbabwe are encouraged to view China as a positive economic force and a source of progress and opportunity as part of the “Look East” policy many African countries have implemented.
As a result of this push, the number of African students in China has skyrocketed over the last 10 years.
Chinese cybersecurity threats – During Tuesday’s Senate hearing, the top US intel chiefs drew attention to Chinese cybersecurity strategies.
“Frankly, the United States is under attack,” Coats said, “by entities that are using cyber to penetrate virtually every major action that takes place” within the US.
U.S. security chiefs testify before Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on “worldwide threats” on Capitol Hill in Washington Thomson Reuters
The Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community, also released Tuesday, outlines China’s online capabilities in detail.
“China will continue to use cyber espionage and bolster cyber attack capabilities to support national security priorities,” the report concluded. Coats added that China’s cyber activity is at much lower levels than it was before September 2015, but is still threatening
Most Chinese cyber operations that the US has detected targeting private industry are against defense contractors, IT, and communications firms. The assessment said these companies are often ones that support the international operations of both the US government and the private sector.
As a result of these findings, several intelligence heads reaffirmed the necessity to beef up US counterintelligence efforts in cyberspace. Many indeed identified it as one of the top priorities for the intelligence community in the coming year.
With so many facets of American society under threat, Wray said it would take a lot more than just work from intelligence agencies to combat China.
“It’s not just the intelligence community,” he said, “but it’s raising awareness within our academic sector, within our private sector, as part of the defense.”
Jobless Claims in U.S. Plunge to Lowest Weekly Tally Since 1973
U.S. filings for unemployment benefits plummeted to the lowest level in almost 45 years in a sign the job market will tighten further in 2018, Labor Department figures showed Thursday.
Highlights of Jobless Claims (Week Ended Jan. 13)
Jobless claims decreased by 41k to 220k (est. 249k); lowest level since Feb. 1973, biggest drop since Dec. 2008
Continuing claims rose by 76k to 1.952m in week ended Jan. 6 (data reported with one-week lag)
Four-week average of initial claims, a less-volatile measure than the weekly figure, fell to 244,500 from the prior week’s 250,750
The drop in claims shows that companies are increasingly holding on to their employees amid a shortage of skilled labor. Businesses are struggling to find workers to fill positions, particularly in manufacturing and construction, as cited in some anecdotes for the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book released Wednesday.
The figures suggest the unemployment rate of 4.1 percent, already the lowest since 2000, could be poised to decline further. The latest week for claims includes the 12th of the month, which is the reference period for the Labor Department’s monthly employment surveys.
Caveats for the latest numbers include the fact that the week was sandwiched between two periods containing holidays, when data tend to be more volatile. In addition, more states than usual had estimated figures.
Prior week’s reading was unrevised at 261,000 Unemployment rate among people eligible for benefits rose to 1.4 percent from 1.3 percent in previous week.
Claims were estimated for Arkansas, California, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Puerto Rico, Virginia, Wyoming, New York’s unadjusted claims fell by 26,190 to 23,171
— With assistance by Chris Middleton
Seattle attempts to impose morality with ridiculously high taxes on sugary drinks
Seattle has decided to impose a 1.75 cent per ounce tax on all sugary beverages within the city with the hopes of raising a $15 million revenue stream that it will use for programs to help people “have better access to fresh fruits and vegetables,” as Seattle station KIRO 7 explains. The price of Gatorade Frost Variety Pack at Costco, usually $15.99, with the $10.34 tax, shot up to $26.33, leaving customers with sticker-shock.
There’s more than a few problems with the new tax scheme, which a sign right next to the Gatorade in Costco helpfully demonstrates.
As with all excise taxes, this one is easily avoided: customers can visit Costco stores in nearby Tukwila or Shoreline and skip paying the City of Seattle’s Sweetened Beverage Tax. Customers are less likely to make extra inconvenient trips if the price changes are barely noticeable–but with such a steep price change, many residents will likely take the extra trip.
Some are saying they will switch to diet soda instead, which city officials say is “the point,” according to KIRO7. “Not necessarily to switch to diet soda, but getting consumers to go for healthier options.”
The position the tax advocates take is oddly contradictory, as Scott Drenkard of the Tax Foundation summarized on Twitter:
“First they interview people at the Costco who are rightfully shocked at how high prices on soda and sports drinks are now (they are almost doubled). Then they interview a public health advocate who says ‘that’s right! We want these prices to change people’s behavior and slow sales!’ Then they talk to the consumer, ‘think you’ll change your behavior, maybe even shop somewhere else?’ And she’s like, ‘ya the Tukwila store is close enough.’ Then they ask a city council member if this will hurt local [business], who says ‘there is no data’ suggesting that. Then the SAME public health advocate says that people won’t respond to price increases, shopping elsewhere because it isn’t ‘worth their while.”
If advocates are truly concerned about public health and want people to change their behavior by consuming sugarless beverages then the tax will indeed slow sales and hurt local businesses. It has to because that’s the only way it will actually induce people to lower their calories; assuming you believe that this model works.
But the government doesn’t actually want everyone to switch away from sugary drinks or it won’t be able to collect that $15 million it’s hoping for. That’s why using the tax code to punish or reward behavior is tragically short-sighted.
Government attempts to disincentive certain behavior often have subversive effects (beyond forcing people to take longer trips or purchase sugar-free brands.) The point of these policies is to drastically reduce usage; but while the pricing cuts demand, it also fuels smuggling and black markets.
A steep soda tax opens up the way for an illegal underground trade in soda. Before you laugh, realize that’s exactly the problem that arose in Philadelphia when similar taxes were introduced. In New York, these types of sin taxes led to stratospheric taxes on cigarettes, which buoyed an underground black market in “loosie” cigarettes. Tragically, police enforcement of the tax also led to the death of Eric Garner on Staten Island, who died in police custody after allegedly resisting arrest.
His action, selling loose cigarettes, was only a crime because of these types of policies. Governments, including the City of Seattle, should avoid creating similar situations.
TAX REFORM BILL RECONCILED!
Both houses of Congress have passed and negotiated the outstanding differences.
GOP slashes rates, kills Obamacare penalty!
- Lawmakers released the full text of the Republican leadership-backed tax cut Friday evening.
- The Senate is expected to vote Monday and House is expected to vote Tuesday.
- Top income tax rate drops to 37 per cent from 39.6.
- Corporate tax rate slashed to 21 per cent from 35 per cent.
- Estates worth up to $11.2 million shielded from federal taxes.
- State and local tax deduction capped at $10,000 as in House bill.
- New York and California lawmakers railed against the elimination of SALT.
- Latest Senate version reduces taxes $1.5 trillion over 10 years.
- Doubling of child tax credit and increase in standard deduction.
- White House says bill simplifies ‘rigged and burdensome tax code’
Republicans released their long-awaited tax overhaul bill late Friday afternoon, drawing months of negotiations to a close and setting up a pair of final votes on Monday and Tuesday.
>President Donald Trump has promised to deliver tax relief as a Christmas present. He ran on a pledge of making it happen and the Republican Party is betting that voters flush with newfound money will reward them at the polls.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act creates seven new tax brackets, including a 37 per cent rate – down from 39.6 per cent – for top-end wage earners.
The new rates start at 10 percent, to 12, 22, 24, 32, 35 and 37 per cent.
The bill also lowers the top corporate tax rate from 35 per cent to 21 per cent, the largest such reduction in U.S. history.
President Donald Trump has promised Americans a tax cut as a Christmas present and he’s betting that his base will support him even though the tax plan itself doesn’t poll well
DEATH TO OBAMACARE – Democrats are upset at a feature of the bill that repeals the Obamacare ‘individual mandate’ penalty, a tax paid by Americans who don’t buy medical insurance. This liberation from the extremely unpopular Democrat fascist imposition forced upon healthy younger taxpayers was nothing but a pyramid scheme to subsidize deadbeats and leeches – it was simply another Democrat “vote-buying scheme. “
The new tax formula changes the income levels where the tax rates would kick in, raising the top tier by about $30,000 so only those earning $500,000 or more would be in the top bracket.
A change to the deductibility of mortgage interest will limit it to the first $750,000 of new home loans.
And Americans who inherit property won’t have to pay estate taxes on the first $11.2 million. That’s double the current exemption.
Some tax breaks that were written out of early versions of the bill are back in.
Those include a deduction for medical expenses and an exemption for graduate school tuition waivers. Americans paying off student loans will still be able to deduct the interest.
A promised $10,000 deduction for income and property taxes paid to states, counties and cities is also included – a compromise that attracted the support of lawmakers from high-tax states like New York and California.
The bill includes an expanded child tax credit, a move calculated to win the support of last-minute holdout Marco Rubio,. a Florida Republican senator.
It also eliminates the tax penalty placed on Americans who don’t buy medical insurance required by Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has cautioned that this may lead to more Americans not buying insurance policies, which could then contribute to premium-hikes for those who do.
Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio became a ‘yes’ vote when lawmakers sweetened the pot for working families who claim a child tax credit
Tennessee Republican Senator Bob Corker surprised Washington on Friday by abandoning his opposition to the GOP’s $1.5 trillion tax reform bill
California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein (center right, in blue) called the bill ‘awful’ and ‘one of the most irresponsible I’ve seen’
The White House said in a statement that ‘[b]y lowering tax rates, simplifying the rigged and burdensome tax code, and repealing the failed tax on lower- and middle-income households known as the Obamacare individual mandate, this legislation will grow our economy, raise wages, and promote economic competitiveness.’
Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, said that ‘China is already worried about this tax bill, because they know it will make America more competitive and spur greater investment here in America. This legislation will bring real relief to the middle class by taking money out of Washington’s pocket and putting it into theirs.’
Democrats were predictably sour on the legislation; it will surely result in major cuts to their out-of-control wasteful spending.
California Sen. Dianne Feinstein called the bill ‘awful’ and ‘one of the most irresponsible I’ve seen.’ She has never encountered a tax cut she would support because her husband Richard Bloom enriched their own bank accounts by exploitation of government waste. It is reported that their net worth exceeds 100 million now, since their early endeavors as slum-lords in San Francisco.
‘In addition to driving up the deficit, it will increase health care premiums in the individual market by 10 percent each year, leave 13 million more Americans without health insurance and threaten to destroy a pristine section of the Alaskan wilderness.
‘I’m surprised anyone can call this a tax reform bill with a straight face,’ she said. ‘This is nothing more than a huge tax cut for big corporations and the rich, paid for by the middle class.’
Under the plan, however, Americans claiming the standard deduction instead of itemizing will have the benefit of a deduction that’s nearly doubled.
Republicans say that will result in millions of Americans filing a single-page tax return.
The final per-child tax credit will give families making up to $400,000 a year a $2,000 benefit per child.
WHAT’S IN THE FINAL TAX BILL?
- Top income tax bracket has dropped to 37 per cent from 39.6 per cent
- Other brackets are zero, 12, 22, 24, 32 and 35 per cent
- ‘Standard’ deduction for non-itemizers nearly doubles
- Interest is deductible only on the first $750,000 of new home mortgages
- Only individuals making more than $500,000 and couples earning $600,000 are in the top bracket
- Corporate tax rates drop from 35 per cent to 21 per cent
- Deduction for medical expenses and student loan interest and an exemption for graduate school tuition waivers
- Ends Obamacare tax penalty for failing to buy health insurance
- Doubles child tax credit to $2,000 for families earning up to $400,000
- $1,400 of child credit is refundable even for families that don’t pay any income tax
- Doubles estate tax exemption to the first $11.2 million of inheritances
- Opens a portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling
‘Pass-through’ corporations can deduct 20 per cent of income
- Elimination of corporate Alternative Minimum Tax
- No repeal of Johnson Amendment barring churches and religious organizations from election activity
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has called the tax cut a years-long goal
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the legislation ‘will bring real relief to the middle class by taking money out of Washington’s pocket and putting it into theirs’
That doubles the child tax credit from the current maximum of $1,000 and makes it available to a greater number of middle- and upper-bracket families.
It would begin to phase out for families earning above $400,000. That’s down from a $500,000 cap in the original Senate measure, which passed earlier this month.
But it also benefits more working families by making it refundable, meaning even people who pay no tax would benefit.
Like all major legislation, there are pot-sweeteners inserted to win the support of hesitant legislators.
One, a carve-out for Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, will open a tiny fraction of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling.
The 19.6-million-acre refuge in northeastern Alaska is one of the most pristine areas in the United States and is home to polar bears, caribou, migratory birds and other wildlife.
Murkowski and other Republicans say drilling can be done safely with new technology, while ensuring a steady energy supply for West Coast refineries.
THE NEW RATES: A joint committee of House and Senate negotiators released this chart showing the personal income tax brackets for 2018, provided the bill becomes law
Small businesses organized as ‘pass-through’ corporations also get a break.
Most of these firms can write off 20 percent of their income tax-free, a change brought about by business groups and advocates including Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.
Democrats are expected to vote in lockstep against the bill in both the House and Senate. Republicans hold 52 Senate seats and need 50 to pass the bill – plus the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Mike Pence.
While Rubio and Corker have said publicly that they will vote yes, Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Jeff Flake of Arizona are still undeclared.
Republicans will need Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Thad Cochran of Mississippi to return in order to muster enough votes for passage.
Both men have been away fighting illnesses.
One provision of the tax law would open up a tiny portion of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration
One thing the final bill does not include is a measure that Trump had promised to evangelical voters – the repeal of a law forbidding churches from endorsing candidates and engaging in other explicit politicking.
The 1954 Johnson Amendment also keeps churches, synagogues, mosques and other houses of worship from raising money for politicians unless they want to give up their federal tax-exempt status.
Trump pledged at the National Prayer Breakfast in February to ‘totally destroy’ the law.
The tax plan originally passed by the House included a repeal, but the Senate’s version did not. As lawmakers met to hammer out the differences, Democrats prevailed in stripping it out of the final compromise.
An analysis by Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation showed that the bill would increase federal deficits by $1.46 trillion over 10 years.
But Republicans argue that economic growth resulting from changes in the tax code will more than make up for it.
Americans so far have been skeptical of a government promising tax cuts.
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Illegal immigration on border surges back to Obama levels
In this June 22, 2016, file photo, Border Patrol agent Eduardo Olmos walks near the secondary fence separating Tijuana, Mexico, background, and San Diego in San Diego. U.S. President Donald Trump will direct the Homeland Security Department to start building.
Illegal immigration across the Southwest border has surged back to Obama-era levels, according to the latest data released Friday that suggests the gains President Trump made early in his tenure have worn off.
Nearly 40,000 illegal immigrants were nabbed attempting to sneak in at the border in November, which was up about 12 percent compared to October, and more than twice the monthly numbers from March and April, when Mr. Trump touted his early accomplishments.
Perhaps just as worrisome for officials is the rise in families traveling together, which surged 45 percent last month, and unaccompanied minors traveling without parents, which rose 26 percent in November.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection called the rise an “uptick.”
The 39,006 people apprehended in November is still less than the previous two years, but is more than 2012, 2013 or 2014, signaling a return to Obama-era levels of illegal immigration on the border.