Nel's New Day

February 2, 2020

DDT: Week 158 – Beyond Impeachment

For 18 years, the U.S. has been bombing Afghanistan. The increase to 15,000 in the past two years came after former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis changed the rules of engagement so that coalition forces could open fire on the enemy without close contact. The bombings have also spiked the number of civilian deaths—more in the first half of 2019 than insurgents.

More civilians will be killed because of DDT’s decision this past week to allow landmines anywhere and rescind President Obama’s 2014 order to limit these weapons to the Korean Peninsula, a policy closer to the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. Over 160 nations ratified this treaty, also known as the Ottawa Convention. The U.S. is one of 32 UN member states not ratifying the treaty. The majority of 130,000 people killed by landmines between 1999 and 2018 were civilians. Once again, DDT ignored Congress in making this decision. The U.S. has not used landmines since the first Gulf War in 1991. Experts, including U.S. defense officials, say that anti-personnel landmines are not helpful in war.

DDT can also kill more people with his new “low-yield” nuclear warhead, the W76-2, on a submarine patrolling the Atlantic Ocean. With a yield of five kilotons, the warhead has one-third the power of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima (Japan) in 1945 that instantly killed 80,000 people and tens of thousands of people after that from radiation.

Six more countries have been added to the seven already on the travel ban with the reason that conditions, especially terrorism, should keep citizens from moving to the U.S. The U.S. government, however, sells weapons to five of the six countries, everything from handguns and automatic weapons to light attack aircraft. Nigeria is one country buying millions of dollars in weapons since DDT moved into the Oval Office—weapons frequently lost to Boko Haram. The Arms Sales Risk Index of 0-to-100 has gone from 41 during George W. Bush’s terms to 69 under DDT. In his travel bans, DDT focuses on countries with sizeable Muslim populations, not on those with terrorism. The bans for Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Myanmar and Nigeria are only for permanent residency, not for visitors. 

DDT’s win in the Supreme Court this week is a loss for the U.S. economy when conservative justices approved DDT’s proceeding with his public charge rule. His order to deny immigration if an official predicts a person might use specific benefits for 12 months with a future 36-month period reduces legal immigration to the U.S. by hundreds of thousands and drastically reduces the labor force. Economists predict that the U.S. would not have the majority of economic growth between 2011 and 2016 following the recession without the contributions of immigrants. Morgan Stanley’s chief global strategist Ruchir Sharma said, “In the past decade, population growth, including immigration, has accounted for roughly half of the potential economic growth rate in the United States.” The law already prevents immigrants from receiving major federal public benefits during their first five years in the country, but the rule satisfies Stephen Miller’s obsession to block ethnic minorities from the United States. The public charge rule stays in effect while lawsuits work through lower courts.

The State Department has issued new rules to stop “birth tourism” in which wealthy women, many from China and Russia, visit the U.S. to give birth to U.S. citizens who can then sponsor their family members for U.S. visas. As they grow up, these babies can have other advantages such as advantages in scholarships. The scale of births, 33,000 annually, is small and block pregnant women who have legitimate reasons to study or work in the U.S. or come with their spouses. Restrictions would also block pregnant women from visiting families and needed medical treatment. https://www.thedailybeast.com/russians-flock-to-trump-properties-to-give-birth-to-us-citizens  Ironically, DDT has made money off “birth tourism” because pregnant women have rented his Florida condos at huge costs to Russians and paid to go to his nearby International Beach Resort.

Agricultural Department secretary Sonny Perdue, DDT’s appointment, says that farm workers are overpaid because a law requires their wages match the prevailing rate in the farm areas to keep from undermining wages of nearby workers. Perdue’s goals are to increase temporary immigration with no path to citizenship and cut their wages. Although wages for farm workers have slightly increased, they are still less than 40 percent below those of other non-supervisory U.S. workers–$24,620 annual average wage in 2018. A federal survey reported that “farm workers’ mean and median personal incomes the previous year were in the range of $17,500 to $19,999.” Perdue is also championing the removal of 700,000 people from any food assistance by reducing food stamps and pushed the rollback of healthier public school lunches. Over 20 million children need the National School Lunch Program for almost half their daily calories and 40 percent of their vegetable intake.

DDT also has a plan to segregate public housing by using esoteric changes in low-income housing. The change is so clever that 1968 Fair Housing Act violations would be hard to prove. The complex explanation is here

When he signed a new trade deal with Mexico and Canada, DDT hoped that his trade deals would overcome the bad publicity from his impeachment trial. Despite signing “phase one” of his China deal, he failed. Since his 25 percent tariff on foreign steel and the 10 percent tariff on aluminum, the imports of these products have declined while products made from these metals “significantly increased.” His solution is to expand tariffs on products made of steel and aluminum on February 8 with the hopes that the flailing manufacturing in the U.S. will recover. Every time his tariffs fail, he raises them somewhere else.

Emails show that DDT’s appointees are making money for big business logging in forests through claims that climate pollution comes from California wildfires instead of fossil fuels. James Reilly, director of the U.S. Geological Survey, wrote scientists, asking them to “gin up” emissions figures and give him ones for a “decent sound bite” and make “a good story.” Scientists said that at the best, Reilly cherry picked data and at worst exploited a disaster by manipulating data. Numbers from the interior department significantly overestimate greenhouse gases from the fires, and logging wouldn’t prevent or lessen wildfires. Instead logging could stop the ability of forests to absorb carbon dioxide.  

DDT announced that he plans more and higher tariffs on European products after while people already complain about increases in wine from earlier tariffs. At the 2020 World Economic Forum in Davos (Switzerland) DDT insisted on talking to leaders about his trade “deals” although the conference was about climate change and cooperation. Gone is the 70-year connection between the United States and Europe to promote democracy and capitalism; DDT is now creating conflicts about climate change, trade, taxation, privacy, Iran, and defense funding as he threatens European leaders with tariffs. He’s using the same shakedown tactics with Europe that he does with China.

The UN determined that an internet account belonging to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman collected a huge amount of data from the cell phone of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos after he was sent an infected video. The 2018 hack occurred before MBS’ torture and dismemberment of Washington Post journalist Kamal Khashoggi but after Bezos’ newspaper ran an article critical about MBS’ regime and its “new ways of repression.” The video sent to Bezos, purported to be a promo on Saudi’s economic success, contained malicious code.

The release of information about the hacking came just before the showing of The Dissident, a Sundance documentary about Saudi Arabia and the killing of Khashoggi. The movie ends with a critique of U.S. companies still working with Saudi Arabia, empowering Khashoggi murderer. 

AG Bill Barr has sworn in the 18 members of DDT’s commission on policing to study how to “make American law enforcement the most trusted and effective guardians of our communities.” Like DDT’s “voter suppression” commission almost three years ago, the commission skews toward highly conservative goals, this time expanding police forces, modernizing training, and countering criticism and “reform.” Seventeen of the 18 members belong to law enforcement or are prosecutors and judges. The 18th one has a background in police enforcement. Almost all the members are white males. From largely small and southern departments, they represent philosophies of criminalizing small crimes, using tasers, attacking protesters, opposing marijuana legislation, using false forensic science, fighting voting rights of people convicted of nonviolent felonies, battling police oversight boards, and covering up killings by police officers—in short, Barr’s ideology of authoritarianism. These “social ills” will be the commission’s focus. Barr said:

“The group should specifically evaluate how under-enforcement of the criminal law in certain jurisdictions affects public safety; perception of law enforcement and the laws they enforce; police resources and morale; and rule of law.”

Facebook came closer to merging with the Fox network when it hired Jennifer Williams, former developer of DDT’s favorite program Fox & Friends, to build the FB “news video component.” Williams has pushed such conspiracy theories as President Obama being educated at a “madrassa,” Ebola concerns, and the familiar—and non-existent—war on Christmas. Before he hired Williams, Mark Zuckerberg announced that the news would be curated by humans instead of algorithms. He has enabled right-wing propaganda and filled key positions with GOP operatives. Perhaps a new name for FB such as “FakeBook.”

 

 

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