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Name: Don
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Hometown: Massachusetts
Home country: United States
Member since: Sat Sep 1, 2012, 03:28 PM
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Opinion: 5 Ways The U.S. Retreated From The World Stage Under Trump This Year

December 26, 201810:23 AM ET

Ted Piccone (@piccone_ted) is a senior fellow in foreign policy at the Brookings Institution.

In 2018, the Trump administration made good on its promises to unwind long-standing U.S. commitments to guarantee global security and prosperity. These moves will further weaken U.S. standing and influence in the world and favor China's rise as a rival contender for international supremacy.

Since taking office, President Trump consistently has argued for a brand of U.S. leadership in the world that seeks to maximize national sovereignty at the expense of international cooperation. Underscoring each country's unique history, Trump told the United Nations General Assembly in September that "the United States will not tell you how to live or work or worship. We only ask that you honor our sovereignty in return."

His current top lieutenants — John Bolton as national security adviser and Mike Pompeo as secretary of state — have promulgated this worldview with gusto. As Bolton declared in denouncing the International Criminal Court, "no committee of foreign nations will tell us how to govern ourselves and defend our freedom."

Two years into office, the Trump administration has followed through on these proclamations by abandoning international institutions and agreements it believes infringe on national sovereignty. From arms control to migration to postal services, this White House has chosen threats and unilateral withdrawal over principled engagement and negotiation. The effects, intended or otherwise, are coming into focus: growing disappointment and skepticism, even among our friends and allies, regarding U.S. leadership, and an opening for U.S. rivals like China and Russia to fill the vacuum.

Here are five ways the United States retreated from the world stage in 2018.

Iran nuclear deal


U.N. Human Rights Council


Israel-Palestine relations


Climate change


U.S. troop withdrawal from Syria


Full article:

Post-holiday, partial government shutdown to gain impact


WASHINGTON (AP) — Christmas has come and gone but the partial government shutdown is just getting started.

Wednesday brings the first full business day after several government departments and agencies closed up over the weekend due to a budgetary stalemate between President Donald Trump and Congress. And there is no end in sight.

So far, the public and federal workers have largely been spared inconvenience and hardship because government is closed on weekends and federal employees were excused from work on Christmas Eve and Christmas, a federal holiday. The shutdown began at midnight last Friday.

Trump said Tuesday that the closed parts of the government will remain that way until Democrats agree to wall off the U.S.-Mexico border to deter criminal elements. He said he’s open to calling the wall something else as long as he ends up with an actual wall.

Asked when the government would reopen fully, Trump said he couldn’t say.


Over 4 Million Students Experienced School Lockdowns Last Year: Report

Source: The Daily Beast

More than 4 million children endured school lockdowns last year, according to a Washington Post report based on a review of news stories and data from school districts in 31 of the country’s largest cities. Experiencing a lockdown can be extremely traumatizing for children, with some soiling themselves and writing what they believe to be their last messages to their parents. At least 61 percent of lockdowns in the 2017-2018 school year were related to firearms, according to the Post’s findings. School shootings are still rare, but lockdowns are now a hallmark of American education. While lockdowns can save lives, they can also inflict psychological damage on children convinced that they’re in danger. “We have very good data that children in proximity to frightening circumstances, such as those that trigger school lockdowns, are at risk for lasting symptoms,” said Steven Schlozman, a child psychiatrist and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School. “Given the potential scope of the problem, we are in dire need of more information. How do we protect children from these issues?”



Read more: https://www.thedailybeast.com/over-4-million-students-experienced-school-lockdowns-last-year-report?ref=home

Migrant boy dies in U.S. custody; Trump vows shutdown will last until border wall is funded

By Lenny Bernstein ,
Philip Rucker and
Robert Moore December 26 at 7:52 AM

An 8-year-old Guatemalan child detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection died at a hospital in New Mexico, the agency reported Tuesday, the second migrant child to die in government custody this month.

CBP initially said the child died shortly after midnight on Christmas Day. But early Wednesday, it issued a lengthy, revised version of events that put the boy’s time of death at 11:48 p.m. on Monday, Christmas Eve.

CBP Commissioner Kevin K. McAleenan said the Border Patrol would conduct health checks of all children in its “care and custody,” whether they arrived in the United States as part of a family or were unaccompanied. The health reviews will focus on children under 10.

The new statement did not say how many children would be assessed, but they could number in the thousands.

CBP also said it was looking into a variety of options to relieve overcrowding in its facilities in the El Paso sector, which includes El Paso County in far western Texas and all of New Mexico.


Shutdowns Always Backfire--Especially on Republicans

A look back at three recent major shutdowns shows they always fail—and they’ve hurt Republicans more often than Democrats.

Brian Riedl
12.25.18 9:41 PM ET

President Trump and House Republicans have shut down part of the government in hopes of forcing Senate Democrats to accept $5 billion in border wall funding. This mistake will almost surely backfire on the GOP.

I say this not as a gleeful liberal, but rather as a conservative federal budget economist who has spent the past 17 years in the Washington DC trenches fighting for spending restraint.

This is the fourth significant government shutdown in 25 years. During the three previous shutdowns, the party that held government funding legislation hostage to additional demands experienced a nasty public backlash that inevitably led to a humiliating surrender.

Despite those past failures, Republican voters support the current shutdown by a 2-to-1 margin. As in past shutdowns, many conservatives—egged on by talk radio and aggressive television personalities—hope that shutting down much of the government can force Democratic lawmakers to capitulate to their ends.

Instead, shutdowns backfire for four reasons:


Insured, But Indebted: Couple Works 5 Jobs To Pay Off Medical Bills

December 26, 2018 6:00 AM ET


Robert and Tiffany Cano of San Tan Valley, Ariz., have a new marriage, a new house and a 10-month-old son, Brody, who is delighted by his ability to blow raspberries. They also have a stack of medical bills that threatens to undermine it all.

In the months since their sturdy, brown-eyed boy was born, the Canos have acquired nearly $12,000 in medical debt — so much that they need a spreadsheet to track what they owe to hospitals and doctors.

"I'm on these payment arrangements that are killing us," said Tiffany Cano, 37, who has spent her lunch hours from her job at a regional bank on the phone negotiating payoff plans that now total $700 a month. "My husband is working four jobs. I work full time. We're a hardworking family doing our best and not getting anywhere."

The pair, who earn nearly $100,000 a year, are insured and have had no major illnesses or injuries. Still, the Canos are among the 1 in 4 Americans who report in multiple polls that the high cost of health care is the biggest concern facing their families. And they're at risk of joining the 62 percent of people who file for bankruptcy tied to medical bills.


Trump Is Fixated On MS-13. But He's Making It Harder For Its Victims To Get Asylum.

She came to the United States to escape MS-13. Now she has to get approval to stay.

By Elise Foley
12/26/2018 05:45 am ET

When Angelica was 17 years old, MS-13 gang members killed her father. Nine years later, they tried to kill her, too.

The now-29-year-old Salvadoran woman, who is using a pseudonym for safety reasons, fled to the United States to seek asylum after a botched attempt on her life in 2014, bringing her then-6-year-old son and 16-year-old sister with her. “I couldn’t wait there to see how they killed me or my son,” Angelica said in an interview in Spanish about her decision to leave her home country. But four years later, she’s facing a new challenge: a U.S. administration that’s both intensely focused on the gang that terrorized her and on keeping asylum-seekers like her out.

In his efforts to drum up support for his strict immigration enforcement, President Donald Trump has fixated on the violence perpetrated by members of MS-13. Vastly overstating the scope of MS-13 within the U.S, he has called gang members “animals” and described violence perpetrated by them in gruesome detail in rallies and interviews.

But at the same time, his administration has made it significantly more difficult for the majority of the gang’s victims ― Central Americans like Angelica ― to find safety in the U.S. Trump’s administration changed court precedent to discourage the approval of asylum requests based on gang violence. It has separated 2,000 kids from their parents who’ve crossed the border without authorization, limited the number of people who could approach ports of entry to ask for help each day and attempted to ban people who crossed the border illegally from getting those protections at all.

Last week, the administration took the extreme step of announcing it would force many asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico while their claims are considered ― a lengthy process that could leave them there for months or years.


USA TODAY/Suffolk Poll: What do Democrats want in 2020? Someone new - and Biden. But definitely...

Source: USA Today

USA TODAY/Suffolk Poll: What do Democrats want in 2020? Someone new – and Biden. But definitely not Hillary

Susan Page and Bill Theobald, USA TODAY Published 6:00 a.m. ET Dec. 26, 2018

WASHINGTON – Democratic and independent voters are crystal clear about the candidate they'd be most excited to see in the 2020 presidential field: Someone entirely new. Oh, and also the most seasoned prospect.

Asking voters their pick for president more than a year before the primaries begin typically doesn't tell you much beyond name recognition. Instead of asking about support, a USA TODAY/Suffolk University Poll tested which candidates now seem intriguing to voters, and who turns them off, in an effort to get clues about the dynamic ahead.

Landing at the top of the list of 11 options was "someone entirely new" – perhaps a prospect not on the political radar screen yet. Nearly six in 10 of those surveyed – 59 percent – said they would be "excited" about a candidate like that; only 11 percent said they'd prefer that a new face not run.

That said, close behind was Joe Biden, the opposite of someone entirely new. Biden, now 76, was a veteran senator from Delaware before he served two terms as President Barack Obama's vice president. He's weighing whether to make his third bid for the Democratic nomination; 53 percent said they would be excited about that, while 24 percent urged him not to run.


:00 a.m. ET Dec. 26, 2018

Read more: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2018/12/26/2020-democrats-usa-today-suffolk-university-poll/2399076002/?utm_source=feedblitz&utm_medium=FeedBlitzRss&utm_campaign=usatodaycomwashington-topstories

UPDATED: ICE drops off almost 200 more migrants in El Paso

Source: CBS News


One-hundred-eighty-six more migrants were released in downtown El Paso, Texas by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Christmas Day, reports the CBS affiliate there, KDBC-TV. That came after approximately 400 were released in the southwest Texas city in the two days before Christmas.

Democratic Congressman Beto O'Rourke, who represents El Paso, said he'd been told some 500 more would be released there Wednesday.

Local nonprofit groups told the station the key difference Tuesday was that they were notified in advance by ICE of the mass release, something the groups and O'Rourke said didn't happen previously.

As a result, the nonprofits were a bit more prepared for the large influx.

Read more: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/ice-drops-off-almost-200-more-migrants-in-el-paso/


O'Rourke seeks aid for migrants dropped in El Paso

U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke of Texas is calling for donations and help after U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement dropped off at least 200 migrants at the El Paso, Texas, bus station. (Dec. 26)

4:46 a.m. EST Dec. 26, 2018


FEMA's staffing lags well behind its post-Puerto Rico goals

The disaster agency promised to hire more people and improve training after 2017. It failed to meet its targets for both.

By DANNY VINIK 12/26/2018 05:04 AM EST

When the Federal Emergency Management Agency assessed its response to the 2017 hurricane season, which featured a trio of major storms in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, it immediately noticed a glaring failure: It lacked both the numbers of personnel and the level of training to handle three destructive storms.

The assessment painted picture a far different from the optimistic tweets of President Donald Trump and others: As a result of “staffing shortages” during the 2017 hurricane season, the agency declared in its after-action report, released last July, field promotions “placed staff in positions beyond their experiences and, in some instance, beyond their capabilities.” FEMA “nearly exhausted staff for two units of specialized response teams.”

But 15 months after Hurricane Maria crashed into Puerto Rico, killing 2,975 people, and almost six months after FEMA released its after-action assessment, the agency is lagging significantly behind its targets in training and recruiting, according to a POLITICO review.

The agency’s force strength — the number of personnel it employs to respond to events — has risen to 12,592, up from 10,683 in August 2017. But that is below 13,004, its target for the 2018 fiscal year, which ended on Sept. 30. It’s even further from the staffing levels that FEMA thinks it ultimately needs: 16,305.

The portion of the agency’s staff deemed “qualified” for their jobs — based on FEMA’s review of their employment experience, training and performance — is just 62 percent, up from 56 percent before the 2017 hurricane season but far below its fiscal 2018 target of 88 percent.

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