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TBR News June 21, 2018

Jun 21 2018

The Voice of the White House 

Washington, D.C. June 21, 2018:” The difference between the Obama immigration policies and those of Trump is that it has obviously been determined to get rid of Trump by the oligarchy and its adherents in the media.

And Trump was publicly forced to back off the penning of small children in consideration of public outrage.

Obama was acceptable to the oligarchs because he was accommodating enough whereas Trump is seen as an unwanted and potentially dangerous loose cannon.

And when the Chinese and EU tariffs kick in this Friday, many business entities across the country will start to howl to their Congressmen.

Also, Trump’s perceived dislike of Central Americans is resulting in an organization of these 25+ million American residents for voting purposes. In red-necked, Jesus Freak country of Alabama, the crazy Judge Roy Moore was considered a cinch to win election to Congress until the black women of that state organized and defeated him at the polls.

Whatever Trump’s goals may be, and they change from day to day, he has no concept of political diplomacy, is overbearing, quick to anger and very vindictive towards any person or organization that dares to criticize him.

His departure from the American political scene will not be graceful but will be greeted across the planet with happiness and relief.”

The Table of Contents

  • Trump backs down on separating immigrant children, legal problems remain
  • Trump’s migrant family separations reversal too little, too late
  • James Comey: ‘You stare at children crying – what kind of people are we?’
  • ‘Occupied’ East Jerusalem: Prince William infuriates Israel with statement on royal visit
  • EU to impose countertariffs on US products as of Friday
  • Washington’s ‘capricious’ trade actions will hurt U.S. workers, China warns
  • Tit-for-tat: World responds to Trump’s tariffs with levies on US goods
  • Secrecy News
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife charged with fraud
  • A giant wave of plastic garbage could flood the US, a study says

Trump backs down on separating immigrant children, legal problems remain

June 20, 2018

by Roberta Rampton by Steve Holland

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday backed down and abandoned his policy of separating immigrant children from their parents on the U.S.-Mexico border, after images of youngsters in cages sparked outrage at home and abroad.

Trump signed an executive order requiring immigrant families be detained together when they are caught entering the country illegally for as long as their criminal proceedings take.

While that may end a policy that drew a rebuke from Pope Francis and everyone else from human rights advocates to business leaders, it may also mean immigrant children remain in custody indefinitely.

The Trump administration still faces legal challenges because of a court order that put a 20-day cap on how long immigration authorities may detain minors, and trigger fresh criticism of Trump’s hardline immigration policies, which were central to his 2016 election campaign and now his presidency.

Administration officials were unable to clarify whether family separations would end immediately or when and how families now separated would be reunited.

“It is still very early and we are awaiting further guidance on the matter,” Brian Marriott, a spokesman for the Health and Human Services Department’s Administration for Children and Families. “Reunification is always the ultimate goal of those entrusted with the care of” unaccompanied children and “the administration is working towards that” for those in custody.

The Trump order, an unusual reversal by him, moves parents with children to the front of the line for immigration proceedings but it does not end a 10-week-old “zero tolerance” policy that calls for prosecution of immigrants crossing the border illegally under the country’s criminal entry statute.

“It’s about keeping families together while at the same time making sure that we have a very powerful, very strong border,” Trump said as he signed the order in a hastily arranged Oval Office gathering.

Video footage of children sitting in cages and an audiotape of wailing children had sparked anger as the images were broadcast worldwide.

Governments from Central America and Mexico welcomed Trump’s decision on Wednesday, but said they would remain vigilant to ensure the rights of their citizens were respected.

An avid viewer of cable television news, Trump recognized that the family separation issue was a growing political problem, White House sources said.

Trump’s wife, Melania Trump, in private conversations with the president, urged him to do something to end the humanitarian crisis, a White House official said.

In the Oval Office, Trump said he had also heard from his daughter and aide, Ivanka Trump, about the policy.

“Ivanka feels very strongly. My wife feels very strongly about it. I feel very strongly about it. I think anybody with a heart would feel very strongly about it,” Trump said.

Wednesday’s move was the most significant policy reversal by Trump since he took office in January 2017. Instinctively combative and fond of chaos, Trump usually digs in on controversial policies, rather than backing down.

He had tried to blame Democrats for the separations policy and force them into concessions, including funding for a wall he wants to build along the border with Mexico. Just in the past few days he had insisted his hands were tied by law on the issue of family separations even though his administration implemented a “zero tolerance” policy.

But the volume of condemnation on breaking up families, from inside and outside the White House, finally overwhelmed Trump.

NEXT STEPS, LIKELY HEADACHES

Gene Hamilton, counselor to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, told reporters the Justice Department will seek changes to a 1997 settlement known as the Flores agreement, which set nationwide policy for the detention of minors in the custody of immigration officials.

A federal appeals court has interpreted the Flores agreement to allow immigration officials to detain families for only 20 days.

Pratheepan Gulasekaram, an immigration law professor at Santa Clara University, said the Los Angeles federal court with jurisdiction over the Flores settlement is unlikely to grant the government’s request to modify it.

“There has to be some substantial change in circumstances that merits a change in the agreement,” said Gulasekaram. The judge previously rejected an Obama administration request to modify the consent decree in light of a surge of immigrants from Central America.

“If that wasn’t enough to change the agreement then it’s not clear why anything now would be enough either,” he said.

Trump’s reversal also creates a series of new headaches for the administration, as it wrestles with where to house families that are detained together, possibly for long periods, and how to reunite families that already have been separated.

“This executive order would replace one crisis for another. Children don’t belong in jail at all, even with their parents, under any set of circumstances. If the president thinks placing families in jail indefinitely is what people have been asking for, he is grossly mistaken,” Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement.

Parents referred by border agents for prosecution are held in federal jails, while their children have remained in U.S. Customs and Border Protection custody or have been moved into facilities managed by the Office of Refugee Resettlement, a Department of Health and Human Services agency.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection said on Tuesday that 2,342 children had been separated from their parents at the border between May 5 and June 9.

The Republican-controlled U.S. Congress is considering legislation to address the issue. The House of Representatives planned to vote on Thursday on two bills designed to halt family separations and address a range of other immigration issues.

Republicans said they were uncertain if either House measure would have enough votes to pass.

Both House bills, backed by Trump but opposed by Democrats and immigration advocacy groups, would fund Trump’s proposed wall and reduce legal migration, in part by denying visas for some relatives of U.S. residents and citizens living abroad.

The more conservative bill would deny the chance of future citizenship to “Dreamers,” who are immigrants brought illegally into the United States years ago as children.

Reporting by Roberta Rampton and Steve Holland; additional reporting by Alison Frankel in New York; Yasmeen Abutaleb, Eric Beech, Susan Cornwell, Amanda Becker and Mohammad Zargham in Washington; Gustavo Palencia in Tegucigalpa and Diego Ore in Mexico City; Writing by John Whitesides and Dan Burns; Editing by Frances Kerry, James Dalgleish and Grant McCool

 

Trump’s migrant family separations reversal too little, too late

Activists say Donald Trump’s reversal on separating families does little to help the thousands of children forcibly removed from their parents — the damage has already been done.

June 21, 2018

by Clare Richardson (San Diego)

DW

Hours after US President Donald Trump backtracked on his administration’s practice of intentionally separating migrant children from their parents, Hugo Castro joined other activists coloring in the lines of protest placards reading, “Families Belong Together.” He said that despite the reversal, he was still planning to attend a demonstration expected to draw thousands in San Diego this weekend.

“It’s not enough,” said the Tijuana coordinator for Border Angels, an organization that offers free legal consultations for immigrants and delivers water to hot stretches of desert where people make often deadly journeys to cross from Mexico into the US.

Although activists and immigration rights groups welcomed Trump’s policy reversal, they say the development does nothing to help the children who have been traumatized already or to address deeper issues at the root of the problem.

“We have to change the perception that Donald Trump is injecting into common Americans that migrants are less than human,” Castro told DW.

On Wednesday, Trump signed an executive order to end family separations but maintain his administration’s zero-tolerance policy that would detain and prosecute everyone apprehended, even if they try to request asylum. The practice had stoked public outrage and was widely seen as an ineffective, cruel policy that would do lasting damage to children’s well-being. Images of kids surrounded by chain-link fences and sleeping on the floor with emergency blankets coupled with audio released by ProPublica that captured the sobs of children at a detention facility howling for their parents sparked a wave of furious calls to lawmakers and international condemnation. A poll published on Monday by Quinnipiac University showed that two-thirds of Americans were against separating children from their parents, but a majority of Republican voters supported the idea.

A day before Trump’s announcement, a smattering of protesters stood outside a shelter for migrant children in El Cajon, a city in San Diego County, that was caring for some of the children who had been intentionally split from their families.

“I’m not a very political person but you just have to stand up against this,” said local resident Anthony, who held signs by the side of the road with two of his children. “These people came here seeking help and instead these children were ripped away from their families and I just think that’s wrong — especially as a parent myself.”

What next for children taken from their parents?

Trump bowing to pressure does nothing for the children already taken from their families. The likelihood that they’ll be reunited with their parents swiftly — if at all — looks grim. US administration officials said on Wednesday that they had no plan on how to bring them back together.

Many are already in shelters operated by government-contracted non-profit groups to care for what the US calls Unaccompanied Alien Children — migrant children who came to the US without a guardian. The Department of Health and Human Services says kids spend on average fewer than two months in these facilities. While some are eventually reunited with their families if the parents are able to clear the federal criminal system, others go into the already overburdened foster care system.

Wholesale criminal charges and sentences against immigrants is nothing new in the United States, but the zero-tolerance policy means authorities must detain everyone, including people who have committed minor infractions.

“Historically if those people were asylum seekers we didn’t prosecute them criminally. There was no need if you knew they were just trying to get into this country for safety,” Bardis Vakili, a senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), told DW. “Discretion was used to figure out who to prosecute.” His organization has launched a class action lawsuit representing families whose children were taken away at ports of entry.

Tip of the iceberg for immigration problems

Holding children in detention indefinitely with their parents might be marginally better than keeping them apart, but many in San Diego said the problem runs much deeper and reflects the Trump administration’s dangerous rhetoric about Latinos

“People are tired of victims of forced migration being treated as criminals,” Castro said, referring to the Central Americans fleeing violence to the US. “This is a country built by immigrants. Perceptions have to change.”

He sees one silver lining; the chaos has catapulted the suffering of immigrants at the United States’ southern border into the limelight and garnered the attention of Americans who otherwise would be disinterested, but whose support is key for reforming immigration policies.

Yet for the more than 2,300 children who have been split up from their parents since early May, the damage has already been done.

 

James Comey: ‘You stare at children crying – what kind of people are we?’

Would Hillary Clinton be in the White House – and the world a better place – if not for the former FBI director? He talks conscience, regret, and why the US public will vote Trump out

June 21, 2018

by Jonathan Freedland

The Guardian

Are there times, in the dead of night, just after Donald Trump has appalled the world with some newly horrific act, when James Comey is gripped by the dreaded thought: It was me who put that man in power?

The answer Comey gives is unexpectedly swift and direct. “Yes, actually. Mostly because people say that to me all the time. So I hear that quite a bit.” And what does he do with that thought? “It’s very painful. And I sometimes wonder, if I could go back in time, would I do something deeply unprincipled? I wouldn’t. All it does is make it painful, [because] I think Donald Trump is doing – and will do – great damage to my country. But that just adds to the pain.”

It has been 13 months since Trump fired Comey from the job he loved, as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. (Comey only learned he had been sacked as he was addressing FBI agents in Los Angeles, when the news flashed across TV screens at the back of the room.) Out of office he might be, but he is rarely out of the news. When he and I met this week – in Berlin, as Comey promotes European editions of his well-reviewed and bestselling memoir, A Higher Loyalty – the former FBI director was dealing with the fallout of last week’s report by the inspector general of the Justice Department into the two pivotal decisions Comey took in 2016, decisions that seemed first to save the candidacy of Hillary Clinton and then to bury it.

In July of that year, Comey stepped forward to announce that a year-long investigation into Clinton’s use of email was over and that the candidate would face no charges. Republicans denounced him as a Democrat stooge. But then, in late October and less than two weeks before election day, Comey revealed that the FBI had reopened the email investigation and that Clinton was once again under suspicion. Republicans now rushed to praise Comey as a man of great integrity, the polls promptly narrowed and, on 8 November, Trump won the presidency.

The report backed Comey on the decision not to prosecute Clinton, but it faults the way he broke from standard FBI procedures in making those July and October disclosures himself, rather than deferring to his bosses at the Department of Justice. The inspector general brands Comey’s failure to inform Justice that he was going to make a public statement in July 2016 “extraordinary and insubordinate”.

Surely for a fastidious servant of the law like Comey – such a boy scout that he once felt compelled to tell a colleague that a gift of a necktie was, in fact, a “re-gift” of an unwanted present from his brother-in-law – that kind of condemnation hit hard?

“Look, the term insubordination when I first saw it threw me. I’m like: ‘What?’ But in a way, he’s right. That if you define insubordination in that I intentionally deprived my superior of information that they would otherwise have wanted, yeah, that’s true. And I did it because I thought it was the thing that I had to do. Once I stepped back from it I realised, yeah, it’s actually a fair description.”

It’s a typical Comey answer: emotionally self-aware; self-critical; striving to be fair and to see his opponent’s point of view; insistent on logic and, after all that, still convinced of his own ultimate moral rectitude. His certainty on that score is conveyed as much through his demeanour as his words. In the hotel room set aside for interviews, surrounded by multiple editions of his book waiting to be signed, he looks relaxed in loose jacket and no tie – “He’s dressing as a writer,” his German publicist suggests – and if guilt and angst are gnawing away, there is no outward sign of it.

Instead he speaks as a man who wrestled hard with the decisions he had to make, and has wrestled with them in the months since, but has declared himself the winner. He is not tortured by regret. As he says of last week’s report: “I don’t feel chastened by it. Initial reaction was defensive, I think, a little bit. It’s painful to see yourself criticised like that but, in the end, I’m at peace with it.”

What of the revelation that he himself had used a private Gmail account to do some of his FBI work, a disclosure that brought a three-word tweet – and viral rebuke – from Hillary Clinton: “But my emails”? Didn’t that make him a hypocrite?

Not at all, he says. “I worried throughout the investigation that Hillary Clinton didn’t understand what her own investigation was about,” he says, risking condescension to explain that the issue was never what kind of email she was using – “I could [not] care less that she was using her own server or Gmail or AOL” or whatever – but rather “the mishandling of classified information”. For his own part, he says he used Gmail only when working at home on public texts, speeches and the like, which he would then send to his official FBI account. “There’s no accusation whatsoever that I used my Gmail account to discuss classified topics.”

How did he react to the inspector general’s discovery that two FBI agents were texting each other about the campaign, one reassuring the other not to worry about a Trump victory because “We’ll stop it”?

Comey says he was “stunned when I heard that stuff”. He had no idea the two agents involved were talking that way, or that they were in a relationship with each other. Had he known, he says he would have removed them immediately from their role in “any sensitive investigation”.

He is puzzled, he adds, because the agent who wrote “We’ll stop it” also helped Comey draft the October disclosure statement that damaged Clinton so badly. “If he was in Hillary Clinton’s camp, why was he doing that? This is the thing that the Trump people have trouble explaining. If the FBI was a Clinton tool, why didn’t we disclose the Russia investigation?”

It’s a good question.

Given that Comey was, as last week’s report makes clear, happy to break FBI protocols in the Clinton case, why didn’t he break them to reveal before election day that the Bureau was looking into possible links between Russia and the Trump campaign? Then at least he could rest easy, knowing he had hurt both Clinton and Trump equally.

“It never even came into a conversation,” he says. “People tend to talk about it like there was an investigation of Hillary and there was an investigation of Donald.” But that wasn’t true, not then. “The candidate was not the subject” of the investigation, he explains. Nor even was the Trump campaign. All it was, at that stage, says Comey, was a preliminary investigation of four individuals. To reveal that a probe was under way would have damaged the investigation. Besides, “I don’t know what you could responsibly have told the American people that wouldn’t have been tremendously unfair to a candidate who was not being investigated.”

I’m about to move on, but there’s something else that bothers me. In the book, Comey says he made his October statement in part because he feared that, if he didn’t, and Clinton won, there would be a cloud cast over the legitimacy of her presidency. Americans would feel they had not been in full possession of the facts when they voted for her.

But wasn’t that hugely naive? Wouldn’t the Republicans and their conservative media outriders have branded President Hillary as illegitimate from day one whatever Comey had done, just as they had with her husband and Barack Obama?

“Of course, the Republicans and Fox News – any Democrat as president they’re going to attack. But it’s an order of magnitude different if the basis of the attack on the FBI is that we concealed [the facts] from the American people and thereby engineered her election as president of the United States … Even without the Fox News voices, a reasonable American, I think, would be stunned” to learn that the FBI had reopened the email probe and not let on.

Some of Comey’s detractors believe his motives were much less high-minded, that he kept inserting himself into the 2016 campaign not solely to maintain the integrity of the FBI, but for his own self-preservation. The inspector general hints at that when he writes that Comey based his decisions on “what he believed was in the FBI’s institutional interests and would enable him to continue to effectively lead the FBI as its director”. So: did ego play a part?

“The honest answer is I don’t think so, in part because I knew how much this was going to suck for me. And I knew by choosing especially to speak that it was going to be bad for me personally. I think that’s a pretty good indication that it wasn’t about protecting myself. The knowledge that I was screwed, I think, is a pretty good indicator that wasn’t the case.”

It’s now his predecessor as FBI director who is in the frame, as the world awaits Robert Mueller’s report into collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Comey warns Trump’s opponents not to get their hopes up.

For one thing, he says, we don’t know what Mueller will find. The truth might not be the “particular set of facts” people want it to be. (I ask if, based on what he knows, it is plausible that Russia actively meddled in the Brexit referendum. Intriguingly, he answers: “I think it’s plausible and consistent with their recent behaviour in the United States and a longstanding pattern. But I don’t know enough and if I knew, I couldn’t say it anyway. So I can’t talk about that.”) For another, it is “entirely possible” that even if the facts against Trump are damning, he won’t be impeached or removed because Republicans control both houses of Congress.

He sets out instead his alternative hope, which he acknowledges some might find odd. “I almost hope that the American people are not relieved of their obligation to go to the polls in 2020 and decide what the values of the American president should be.” He worries that impeachment would short-circuit a necessary process, and would at the same time “risk driving a division into our country that would be long lasting … If it’s outsourced [to Congress], it’ll feed a narrative that there was a coup by the deep state and blah, blah, blah.” Better that Americans get rid of Trump themselves, at the ballot box.

But will they? “I’m optimistic that, as the conversation continues in our country, which I’m trying to be part of for the next two and a half years, the sleeping giant will be awakened. I think of America as a bell curve. There’s wingnuts at either end and then the great lump in the middle is everybody else. And they’re busy and distracted and that giant, that lump, only awakens every so often in America. And I think the giant is stirring. I think the giant is stirred by images of children.”

He has brought us to the infants and babies separated from their parents at the US border. For him, those images have recalled the internment of Japanese-Americans during the second world war, but also pictures of black children being bitten by police dogs in Birmingham, Alabama during the civil rights struggles in the 1960s. “The giant awakened in our country in 1963 and 1964 and that changed our country. Martin Luther King wrote to that giant in Letter from Birmingham Jail, basically saying: ‘You busy, moderate people need to get in the game.’ And that happens every so often in American history. Again, I could be convincing myself of this, but I think the giant is awakening.

“When you stare at children crying, being taken away from their mothers, it forces your eyes above statutes and numbers, to: ‘What kind of people are we, for God’s sakes?’ That’s a lifting of the national eyes that is powerful and potentially the kind of inflection point that I’m talking about. That’s the kind of thing that awakens the giant.”

I ask about Trump’s threat to pardon himself and everyone else linked to the Russia scandal. Is the rule of law in danger in America? I expect him to equivocate, or to tell me I’m getting carried away. But his answer is clear.

“Yes. Yes. Not in the long run, because we will recover. But if we’re not attuned to the damage that’s being done to it right now, the recovery will take longer.” He cites Trump’s demands that political opponents, including Comey, be locked up – uncharted territory for a US president.

Still, Comey clings to the view that, in the end, America will right itself. There have been low points before, he says. “In the 1920s, one third of our congress were members of the Ku Klux Klan. Joe McCarthy reigned in America from 1950 to 1954.” But America recovered.

Is Trump in that category, along with McCarthyism and the Klan? “I think he should be understood as channelling the forces of reaction to change in the United States.” Is he as great a menace? “We’ll only be able to judge in hindsight, I suppose, but certainly not if the giant awakens and we resist the temptation to become numb to the norm-destroying behaviours.”

Comey promises to be active between now and the 2020 election, writing and speaking, perhaps even backing political candidates. He is no longer a registered Republican; he is now an independent. Would he run himself? That “is not something I’m ever going to do,” he declares. He says that he’d be a “crappy candidate”. He would hate asking people for money; he would baulk at saying contradictory things to different audiences; if an opponent made a good point in a debate, he would say so.

You never know, I say: those very qualities might be appealing to voters. “The other thing is, I’m actually a bit of an introvert. I don’t get energy from public engagement. I don’t crave affirmation, crave attention. You’ve got to have a little bit of that in you.”

Our time is nearly up. In our last minute together, I say that, if I were in his shoes, I would spend every waking hour scouring polling data and the like, searching for evidence that it wasn’t my fault that Hillary Clinton lost. I would need that.

He wasn’t like that in the immediate aftermath of the election, he says. “I was just trying to block it out at the time. I think I felt a certain sense of numbness. Since then, I’ve actually delegated all that to my wife – she was a strong Hillary Clinton supporter – because she’s very keen to find evidence that it wasn’t me. She would very much like to find some definitive study that it wasn’t me.”

And has she found it?

“Not yet.”

 

‘Occupied’ East Jerusalem: Prince William infuriates Israel with statement on royal visit

June 21, 2018

RT

Prince William has angered Israel’s Jerusalem Affairs Minister Zeev Elkin by referring to East Jerusalem as part of the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), in a statement detailing his upcoming trip to the Middle East.

In a facebook post, Israel’s Elkin was enraged by the Prince’s OPT reference, claiming Jerusalem was “unified” and “has been the capital of Israel for over 3,000 years.”

Elkin wrote: “It’s regrettable that Britain chose to politicise the Royal visit. Unified Jerusalem has been the capital of Israel for over 3,000 years and no twisted wording of the official press release will change the reality. I’m expecting the prince’s staff to fix this distortion.”

The Duke of Cambridge is due to arrive in the region on June 25 to embark on a tour of Jordan, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. As part of that tour, the prince will visit the occupied Old City of Jerusalem.

Kensington Palace has released a statement detailing that the prince would be meeting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, as well as visiting refugee communities; enabling him to enjoy the company of young Palestinians and “celebrate Palestinian culture, music and food.”

It’s details of the prince’s second day that has infuriated Elkin. The statement goes on to say: “The next day’s programme in the Occupied Palestinian Territories will begin with a short briefing on the history and geography of Jerusalem’s Old City from a viewing point at the Mount of Olives.”

The Old City is located in East Jerusalem which has been considered occupied since 1967 under international law. Furthermore, the UN Security Council considers “all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, including expropriation of land and properties thereon, which tend to change the legal status of Jerusalem are invalid and cannot change that status.”

Official details have not yet been released on what religious sites will be included in the prince’s trip but, according to Israeli news website Ynet News, an informed source has said that William would visit Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Church of Saint John the Baptist and Al-Buraq (Western) Wall.

 

EU to impose countertariffs on US products as of Friday

A raft of retaliatory tariffs from the European Union on US products will come into effect on June 22.

June 20, 2018

DW

The EU’s list of targets reads like a summary of emblematic American exports, including motorbikes and jeans.

EU countertariffs on a list of US products would come into force on Friday, the European Commission said Wednesday.

The retaliatory measure comes in response to US tariff hikes on steel and aluminum that were imposed on EU member countries on June 1, with the White House citing grounds of national security.

“We did not want to be in this position,” EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said in a statement. “However, the unilateral and unjustified decision of the United States to impose steel and aluminum tariffs on the EU means that we are left with no other choice.”

‘Doing nothing no option’

The agreed EU countermeasures will initially target a list of US goods worth $3.2 billion (€2.8 billion), most of which will be hit with import duties of 25 percent.

The products affected by the move range from agricultural produce such as rice and orange juice to jeans, bourbon, motorbikes and various steel products. The higher tariffs had previously been registered with the World Trade Organization (WTO).

“The rules of international trade that we have developed over the years with our American partners cannot be violated without a reaction from our side,” Malmstrom said. She called the EU’s response “measured, proportionate and fully in line with WTO rules.”

Trade war looming

Canada and Mexico have also announced their own similar countermeasures just as an even greater trade spat pits the US against China.

Together, the current battles have raised the specter of a global trade war, spooking financial markets that fear major consequences for the world economy.

 

 Washington’s ‘capricious’ trade actions will hurt U.S. workers, China warns

June 20, 2018

by Yawen Chen and Se Young Lee

Reuters

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s commerce ministry on Thursday accused the United States of being “capricious” over bilateral trade issues, and warned that the interests of U.S. workers and farmers ultimately will be hurt by Washington’s penchant for brandishing “big sticks”.

Previous trade negotiations with the United States were constructive, but Beijing has had to respond in a strong manner due to the U.S. tariff threats, commerce ministry spokesman Gao Feng said.

President Donald Trump threatened on Monday to hit $200 billion of Chinese imports with 10 percent tariffs if Beijing retaliates against his previous announcement to target $50 billion in imports. The United States has accused China of stealing U.S. intellectual property, a charge Beijing denies.

Washington’s accusations of forced tech transfers are a distortion of reality, and China is fully prepared to respond with “quantitative” and “qualitative” tools if the U.S. releases a new list of tariffs, Gao told a regular briefing in Beijing.

China could hit back at U.S. firms listed on the Dow Jones Industrial Average if Trump keeps heightening tension with Beijing over trade, state-controlled Chinese tabloid the Global Times said on Thursday.

The 30-stock Dow, which counts Boeing Co, Apple Inc and Nike Inc among its constituents, fell 0.17 percent on Wednesday and has declined 0.25 percent this year. By contrast, China’s benchmark Shanghai Composite Index has slumped 13.1 percent year-to-date.

“It is deeply regrettable that the U.S. has been capricious, escalated the tensions, and provoked a trade war,” Gao said. “The U.S. is accustomed to holding ‘big sticks’ for negotiations, but this approach does not apply to China.”

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, who views China as a hostile economic and military power, said on Tuesday Trump’s actions were a necessary defense of the “crown jewels” in the U.S. economy.

None of the U.S. administration’s efforts to negotiate with Beijing had yielded progress on changing China’s “predatory” trade practices, Navarro said.

Fending off criticism from some Western countries, China has said it is willing to boost imports and widen market access.

In April, President Xi Jinping told a high-profile Chinese forum that import tariffs would be cut on goods such as cars, among other promises. In May, Beijing said it would lower import tariffs on 1,449 consumer goods, starting from July 1.

“I’ve been honoring my words with actions,” Xi told a group of foreign chief executives in Beijing on Thursday.

OPEN TRADE CONFLICT

Xi said countries should not fight among themselves, but instead cooperate and meet challenges together, adding that the last global financial crisis happened not too long ago.

“We still have vivid memories of what happened during the financial crisis and we are not yet fully recovered,” he said.

“We must also stay vigilant because, as economic growth still lacks momentum, we have seen a surge of trade protectionism, isolationism and populism.”

Global financial markets have shuddered this week amid worries about open trade conflict between the world’s two biggest economies.

Three rounds of high-level talks since early May failed to reach a compromise on U.S. complaints over Chinese practices and its record deficit with China.

Last year, the deficit was about $375 billion, as China imported $129.89 billion of U.S. goods, while the United States purchased $505.47 billion of Chinese products, according to U.S. data.

A Sino-U.S. trade war could disrupt global supply chains for the tech and auto industries, sectors heavily reliant on outsourced components, and derail world growth.

“U.S. unilateral protection measures will ultimately harm the interests of U.S. companies, workers and farmers,” Gao told reporters.

British forecaster Oxford Economics, in a recent note, said it “will not be easy for the U.S. to identify $200 billion worth of Chinese imports that it can levy tariffs on without hurting U.S. companies and/or consumers, given the strong involvement of U.S. companies in a large share of China’s exports to the U.S.”

Gao said China and the U.S. were due to negotiate on issues around the manufacturing and service industries in the near future.

Chinese shares fell on Thursday on investor worries about the trade dispute, with the Shanghai index languishing at a two-year low and stocks of about 100 firms down by the daily limit of 10 percent.

“I suspect that the U.S. indices will start to sniff out the specific losers from this trade war, and individual stocks will get hurt much more than the broad index as investors understand this isn’t going to kill global growth,” Andrew Polk, co-founder of research firm Trivium China, told the Reuters Global Markets Forum.

“But it will impact some companies disproportionately.”

EVEN MORE TARIFFS

China said it would impose additional tariffs on 659 U.S. goods, with duties on 545 to kick in on July 6, after Trump said Washington would levy tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese products.

Beijing’s planned tariffs would add to duties it had already slapped on 128 U.S. goods, such as pork, fruits and nuts, in reaction to Trump’s earlier move to impose taxes on Chinese steel and aluminum.

The U.S. goods affected on July 6 also include pork and fruit, as well as soybeans, autos and an array of marine products.

A trade war would hit U.S. farmers, a vast majority of whom supported Trump in the 2016 election.

“Jobs for the Chinese are just as precious as those for the Americans,” Zha Daojiong, a professor of international political economy at Peking University, told Reuters in an email.

“It will be wise for the two sides to come back to the negotiation table, abide by a temporary agreement and turn down the rhetoric.”

Beijing has yet to set a tariff activation date for the remaining 114 U.S. products, which include crude oil, coal and a host of refined fuel products.

“We cannot be soft with Trump. He is using his ‘irrationality’ as a tactic and he is trying to confuse us,” said Chen Fengying, an economics expert at state-backed China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

“But if we could accomplish some of the things that he wants us to do – such as IP, market reforms, he’d be helping us. Of course there are risks, those would depend on how we handle those reforms.”

Reporting by Se Young Lee and Yawen Chen; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in BEIJING and Divya Chowdhury in MUMBAI; Writing by Ryan Woo; Editing by Sam Holmes and Clarence Fernandez

 

Tit-for-tat: World responds to Trump’s tariffs with levies on US goods

June 21, 2018

RT

The trade war that captured the world over recent months has deepened with more countries responding to US tariffs, while others are pledging to toughen already introduced retaliatory measures.

The Chinese commerce ministry said the country is “fully prepared” to hit back against any protective steps Washington may potentially take. The response comes as US President Donald Trump threatened Beijing with another $200 billion in tariffs in addition to the $50 billion already imposed.

“It is deeply regrettable that the US has been capricious, escalated the tensions, and provoked a trade war,” said Chinese commerce ministry spokesman Gao Feng, Thursday. “The US is accustomed to holding ‘big sticks’ for negotiations, but this approach does not apply to China.”

In the meantime, India increased import tariffs on a number of goods worth $240 million in response to US levies on steel and aluminum exports shipped from the South Asian nation. The 70 percent tariffs targeting chickpeas will come into effect on August 4.

In March, Washington imposed an import tax of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum from China and several other nations, including Russia, India, Japan and Turkey. At end of the last month, the measure was extended to the EU, Canada and Mexico, which were initially exempted.

Echoing the tit-for-tat steps taken by India and China, Turkey’s Ministry of Economy announced tariffs worth $267 million on US imports, as talks with Washington failed to achieve any progress. The list includes such products as coal, paper, walnuts, tobacco, rice, whiskey and cars.

“Turkey is committed to active, robust and reciprocal trade relations with the US — but with the understanding that fairness cannot be one-sided,” the country’s Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci said. “We cannot and will not allow Turkey to be wrongly blamed for America’s economic challenges.”

On Wednesday, the European Commission said that it approved initial retaliatory tariffs on US goods worth $3.2 billion. The primary list includes motorcycles, motor boats, orange juice, bourbon, peanut butter, cigarettes and denim. The second batch of US exports worth around $4.3 billion will become the next target for tariffs, if the heated trade dispute continues.

“We did not want to be in this position,” EU trade official Cecilia Malmstrom said, commenting on the decision. “The unilateral and unjustified decision of the US to impose steel and aluminum tariffs on the EU means that we are left with no other choice.”

Earlier this week, Russian economy ministry pledged to retaliate against Washington’s unilaterally imposed steel and aluminum tariffs. Last month, Russia informed the World Trade Organization (WTO) about possible retaliatory measures in the amount of $538 million – exactly the same sum the country is going to lose due to US levies.

“The US continues to apply protective measures by imposing additional import duties on steel and aluminum, and refuses to provide compensation for Russia’s losses. That is why Russia is using its WTO rights and introducing balancing measures with respect to imports from the United States,” Economic Development Minister Maksim Oreshkin said on Tuesday.

Last month, Japan’s Foreign Ministry announced plans to impose tariffs on US goods worth $451 million — equivalent to the impact of US levies recently imposed on Japanese metal products.

India and the EU also opened a WTO dispute over the US measures that are seen as protectionist. In accordance with the trade body’s regulations, safeguard measures should trigger payments from the US to major exporters. China followed suit, having addressed the WTO with its objections, while Turkey pledged to take the similar step in the near future, according to the economy minister.

Topping it off, US neighbors Canada and Mexico also vowed to strike back at the metal tariffs, accusing the US of protectionism. Canada said it would tax US imports of steel, aluminum and such goods as whiskey, orange juice and other food products, while Mexico is planning to impose levies on US flat steel, pork, sausages and food preparations, apples, grapes, cranberries and various cheeses.

 

Secrecy News

From the FAS Project on Government Secrecy

Volume 2018, Issue No. 40

June 20, 2018

SUPERIORITY IN CYBERSPACE WILL REMAIN ELUSIVE

Military planners should not anticipate that the United States will ever dominate cyberspace, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a new doctrinal publication. The kind of supremacy that might be achievable in other domains is not a realistic option in cyber operations.

“Permanent global cyberspace superiority is not possible due to the complexity of cyberspace,” the DoD publication said.

In fact, “Even local superiority may be impractical due to the way IT [information technology] is implemented; the fact US and other national governments do not directly control large, privately owned portions of cyberspace; the broad array of state and non-state actors; the low cost of entry; and the rapid and unpredictable proliferation of technology.”

Nevertheless, the military has to make do under all circumstances. “Commanders should be prepared to conduct operations under degraded conditions in cyberspace.”

This sober assessment appeared in a new edition of Joint Publication 3-12, Cyberspace Operations, dated June 8, 2018. (The 100-page document updates and replaces a 70-page version from 2013.)

The updated DoD doctrine presents a cyber concept of operations, describes the organization of cyber forces, outlines areas of responsibility, and defines limits on military action in cyberspace, including legal limits.

“DOD conducts CO [cyberspace operations] consistent with US domestic law, applicable international law, and relevant USG and DOD policies.” So though it may be cumbersome, “It is essential commanders, planners, and operators consult with legal counsel during planning and execution of CO.”

The new cyber doctrine reiterates the importance and the difficulty of properly attributing cyber attacks against the US to their source.

“The ability to hide the sponsor and/or the threat behind a particular malicious effect in cyberspace makes it difficult to determine how, when, and where to respond,” the document said. “The design of the Internet lends itself to anonymity and, combined with applications intended to hide the identity of users, attribution will continue to be a challenge for the foreseeable future.”

The changing role of “information” in warfare was addressed in a predecisional draft Joint Concept for Operating in the Information Environment (Joint Chiefs of Staff, December 2017).

“Integrating physical and informational power across geographic boundaries and in multiple domains could lead to campaigns and operations with enormous complexity,” the document warns. “The fog and friction of war punishes unnecessary complexity.”

Another concern is that a “focus on informational power could be misread by Congress and other resource allocators to suggest there is little need for a well-equipped and technologically-advanced Joint Force capable of traditional power projection and decisive action.”

SECRECY ABOUT SECRECY: THE STATE SECRETS PRIVILEGE

The Justice Department has not reported to Congress on the government’s use of the state secrets privilege since 2011, the Department acknowledged this week, contrary to a policy promising regular reporting on the subject.

In a 2009 statement of policy and procedures concerning the state secrets privilege, then-Attorney General Eric Holder said that “The Department will provide periodic reports to appropriate oversight committees of Congress with respect to all cases in which the Department invokes the privilege on behalf of departments or agencies in litigation, explaining the basis for invoking the privilege.”

In April 2011, the first such report was produced. It was one of several steps that were “intended to ensure greater accountability and reliability in the invocation of the privilege. They were developed in the wake of public criticism concerning the propriety of the Government’s use of the state secrets privilege.”

But the first periodic report on the state secrets privilege has turned out to be the last.

In 2014, John Carlin of the Department’s National Security Division affirmed the policy during his confirmation. “I understand that the Department’s policy remains to provide periodic reports to appropriate oversight committees of Congress regarding invocations of the State Secrets Privilege in litigation, and the Department provided its initial report to Congress on April 29, 2011,” he told the Senate Intelligence Committee. “I believe that the Department plans to submit another report in the near future.”

But no such report was ever submitted.

“No records responsive to your request were located,” the Justice Department stated this week in response to a FOIA request for any subsequent reports.

While Congress could request and require such a report at any time, it has not done so. And because the 2009 Holder policy on state secrets was “voluntarily” adopted by the Justice Department in response to public controversy, there was nothing to stop the policy from being unilaterally abandoned.

LAWS ON ALIENS AT THE BORDER, AND MORE FROM CRS

“The situation at the border and U.S. immigration authorities’ response to it has prompted significant attention and, in some cases, confusion regarding the governing laws and policies,” the Congressional Research Service said with some understatement in a new brief.

The CRS document reviews the laws on admission and exclusion of aliens at the U.S. border, including detention, asylum, and treatment of unaccompanied children. See An Overview of U.S. Immigration Laws Regulating the Admission and Exclusion of Aliens at the Border, CRS Legal Sidebar, June 15, 2018.

Other new and updated publications from the Congressional Research Service include the following.

  • North Korea: Legislative Basis for U.S. Economic Sanctions, updated June 11, 2018
  • Ebola: Democratic Republic of Congo, CRS Insight, June 12, 2018
  • The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), updated June 19, 2018
  • Intelligence Community Spending: Trends and Issues, updated June 18, 2018

 

 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife charged with fraud

Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has been charged with fraud and breaches of trust. Netanyahu had been the focus of a long investigation into misuse of state funds.

June 21, 2018

DW

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife, Sara Netanyahu, was indicted for misusing state funds, Israel’s Justice Ministry said Thursday.

Netanyahu was the subject of a long police probe into allegations that she had falsified household expenses, including claims she had spent “over 350,000 shekels” ($96,500, €83,500) on catering for the premier’s office.

“The Jerusalem district prosecutor a short time ago filed charges against the prime minister’s wife,” the Justice Ministry said.

The charges against Netanyahu include fraud and breaches of trust.

Netanyahus blame the housekeeper

When Netanyahu was told she may face a possible corruption trial in September last year, the Office the Prime Minister’s official Facebook page published a post denying Sara’s involvement and said the allegations were “absurd and will be proven to be unfounded.”

The Netanyahus instead blamed Meni Naftali, the premier’s former housekeeper, for having ordered the food.

The prime minister himself is facing several graft cases at the moment. In March, police questioned Netanyahu and his wife for an investigation into whether his government improperly awarded benefits to Israel’s largest telecom company, Bezeq.

Netanyahu and his family members are also suspected of receiving 1 million shekels ($285,000, €240,000) worth of luxury cigars, champagne and jewelry from wealthy personalities in exchange for financial or personal favors.

Another investigation sees Netanyahu suspected of attempting to reach an agreement with the owner of Yediot Aharonot, a best-selling Israeli newspaper, for more favorable coverage.

 

A giant wave of plastic garbage could flood the US, a study says

June 20, 2018

by Darryl Fears and Kate Furby,

The Washington Post

A tidal wave of plastic trash will flood the world over the next decade, a new study says, and warnings are already blaring like sirens in the United States.

In the wake of China’s decision to stop importing nearly half of the world’s scrap starting Jan. 1, particularly from the wealthiest nations, waste management operations across the country are struggling to process heavy volumes of paper and plastic that they can no longer unload on the Chinese. States such as Massachusetts and Oregon are lifting restrictions against pouring recyclable material into landfills to grant the operations some relief.

If Europe and the rest of the world struggle like the United States, according to the study by researchers at the University of Georgia released Wednesday, an estimated 111 million metric tons of plastic waste will pile up by 2030. Based on the amount of domestic scrap exported to China, the researchers estimate that the United States will have to contend with 37 million metric tons of extra waste, an amount it’s not prepared to handle.

The more immediate and noticeable change for most Americans, both conservationists and waste management operators said, will be in their homes. As recycling programs change or even disappear, residents will face new questions about what material can be recycled and what cannot.

“It will impact recycling programs across the country,” said Ben Harvey, owner and president of E.L. Harvey & Sons Recycling Services in Westborough, Massachusetts. “If there’s no place for this stuff to go, what’s the sense of collecting it? We’re going to look at the programs and say why are we collecting it, it’s not a commodity anymore. It’s a big thing. It’s a scary thing.”

Conservationists who reviewed the study and found it credible said such heavy loads of garbage worldwide would not only continue leaking into oceans but would also likely spill into neighborhoods.

China has been the world’s largest importer of scrap such as plastic since 1992, as part of an effort to turn garbage to gold through recycling. But a quarter century later, it determined that a huge volume of the plastics are mainly single-use items, such as garbage bags, bubble wrap, bottles and small packages, that are low in quality and value when recycled.

Last year, China decided to ban those plastics, along with low-value paper products and other trash that no longer fit its needs. The importance of China’s recycling effort can hardly be overstated. Seventy-two percent of the world’s plastic waste went to China and Hong Kong since 1992, but about 63 percent of the plastic Hong Kong accepted was passed along to China, the study said.

The Western world has come to count on China, which has accepted 106 million metric tons, 45 percent of the world total, in the 26 years since its recycling effort began.

“There’s not really another huge main hub where this material has to go” other than China, said Jenna Jambeck, an associate professor at the University of Georgia and one of the researchers of the new study, which is published in the journal Science Advances. Asian nations around China, such as Vietnam, that also import trash for recycling lack the infrastructure to accommodate China’s heavy load. “There isn’t another individual country that has the capacity that China had to take the material,” she said.

The United States is the largest individual exporter of scrap to China. The European Union was the largest regional exporter.

Without another destination nation on the horizon, and the lack of infrastructure to process its own recyclable garbage, the United States, especially the producers of plastics, need to make changes or face being buried under it, Jambeck said. “We need to think about how we design our product and packaging, think about having them have a higher value for recycling,” she said, reflecting on the recommendations in the study.

Jambeck, who wrote the study with a UGA doctoral candidate, Amy Brooks, is a rare scientist who is drawn to trash and the issues it creates. In a strange but true story, she fell in love with her husband at a landfill. In an interview with Knowable Magazine last year, she described becoming fascinated with landfills in graduate school.

The authors acknowledge that plastics are a miracle creation that’s in nearly every commodity people touch – cars, chairs, drainage pipes and lunch containers that workers open next to the plastic keyboard that issues commands to desktop computers housed in plastic. But the downside is the material can last seemingly forever.

Studies say that between 8.3 billion and 9 billion metric tons have been produced since 1950. That’s more than four Mount Everest’s worth of trash. According to a separate study released last year, all but 2 billion metric tons of that plastic still sits on the Earth as garbage in landfills, recycled trash or pollution scattered in the environment, including deep oceans where a plastic island twice the size of Texas floats.

Plastic has been discovered in the bellies of dead whales and the decomposed stomachs of seabirds that mistook it for food. And yet, production of plastic continues almost without regulation. “The historic growth in production has outpaced almost all other manufactured materials,” the University of Georgia study said. “Plastic as a material for packaging has had significant advantages . . . however, plastic packaging for food, beverage, and tobacco items is often used only once, which has contributed to 61 percent of global beach litter.”

In 1960, plastic accounted for just 1 percent of junk in municipal landfills across the world. As single-package containers led to an explosion in convenience and use, that number grew to 10 percent in 2005. If the trend continues, researchers say 13 billion metric tons of plastic will sit in dumps.

During her studies of landfills, Jambeck developed a keen eye and understanding of what happens when plastic sits decade after decade. As plastics age and degrade, she said, their chemicals are released into the environment.

Glass containers that were in wider use before plastics can break on a beach and slowly turn to sea-glass. But plastics leach chemicals into the sand that can be picked up by marine animals and accumulated in tissues, even ending up in seafood. As plastic piles up in landfills and creeps closer to communities, the same could happen on land.

“This is coming, and we’re really going to have to contend with it,” said George Leonard, chief scientist at Ocean Conservancy. “It’s probably going to collapse our recycling market. The price of recycled plastic is going to drop further. It’s going to overwhelm the waste infrastructure. I think from an environmental standpoint we have to think about physical leakage from landfills of mismanaged plastic waste into the oceans.”

In Massachusetts, Harvey is watching it start to unfold in real time. Usually, “if I had 200 tons (of scrap) on the grounds that would be more than I would be comfortable with,” he said. But in recent months, Harvey said he had 6,000 tons of paper alone. Other operators probably have it worse. “I’m not one of the biggest processors of material, but I’m sizable,” he said.

Harvey said moving discarded paper is tougher than plastic because he’s still able to find a market for plastic within the United States, but he foresees a day when that will soon end. “Over saturation in the marketplace depresses prices. When you take China out, that material has to go somewhere. It competes with other markets. Too much supply, not enough demand because of an over abundance of scrap plastic,” Harvey said.

Clearly, waste managers in the United States aren’t ready for what will hit them, the study said. “They’re having to manage waste in a way they really weren’t prepared for,” Brooks said.

“Now they’re going to send this waste to countries that are near China,” Brooks said. “Reports are showing that there are increases of waste in countries that don’t have the infrastructure to support it. It’s having a domino effect on the region.”

“What I hope is that this is a wake-up call,” Jambeck said. “People should feel empowered that their choices do matter.”

Conservationists who reviewed the study and found it credible said such heavy loads of garbage worldwide would not only continue leaking into oceans but would also likely spill into neighborhoods.

China has been the world’s largest importer of scrap such as plastic since 1992, as part of an effort to turn garbage to gold through recycling. But a quarter century later, it determined that a huge volume of the plastics are mainly single-use items, such as garbage bags, bubble wrap, bottles and small packages, that are low in quality and value when recycled.

Last year, China decided to ban those plastics, along with low-value paper products and other trash that no longer fit its needs. The importance of China’s recycling effort can hardly be overstated. Seventy-two percent of the world’s plastic waste went to China and Hong Kong since 1992, but about 63 percent of the plastic Hong Kong accepted was passed along to China, the study said.

The Western world has come to count on China, which has accepted 106 million metric tons, 45 percent of the world total, in the 26 years since its recycling effort began.

“There’s not really another huge main hub where this material has to go” other than China, said Jenna Jambeck, an associate professor at the University of Georgia and one of the researchers of the new study, which is published in the journal Science Advances. Asian nations around China, such as Vietnam, that also import trash for recycling lack the infrastructure to accommodate China’s heavy load. “There isn’t another individual country that has the capacity that China had to take the material,” she said.

The United States is the largest individual exporter of scrap to China. The European Union was the largest regional exporter.

Without another destination nation on the horizon, and the lack of infrastructure to process its own recyclable garbage, the United States, especially the producers of plastics, need to make changes or face being buried under it, Jambeck said. “We need to think about how we design our product and packaging, think about having them have a higher value for recycling,” she said, reflecting on the recommendations in the study.

Jambeck, who wrote the study with a UGA doctoral candidate, Amy Brooks, is a rare scientist who is drawn to trash and the issues it creates. In a strange but true story, she fell in love with her husband at a landfill. In an interview with Knowable Magazine last year, she described becoming fascinated with landfills in graduate school.

The authors acknowledge that plastics are a miracle creation that’s in nearly every commodity people touch – cars, chairs, drainage pipes and lunch containers that workers open next to the plastic keyboard that issues commands to desktop computers housed in plastic. But the downside is the material can last seemingly forever.

Studies say that between 8.3 billion and 9 billion metric tons have been produced since 1950. That’s more than four Mount Everest’s worth of trash. According to a separate study released last year, all but 2 billion metric tons of that plastic still sits on the Earth as garbage in landfills, recycled trash or pollution scattered in the environment, including deep oceans where a plastic island twice the size of Texas floats.

Plastic has been discovered in the bellies of dead whales and the decomposed stomachs of seabirds that mistook it for food. And yet, production of plastic continues almost without regulation. “The historic growth in production has outpaced almost all other manufactured materials,” the University of Georgia study said. “Plastic as a material for packaging has had significant advantages . . . however, plastic packaging for food, beverage, and tobacco items is often used only once, which has contributed to 61 percent of global beach litter.”

In 1960, plastic accounted for just 1 percent of junk in municipal landfills across the world. As single-package containers led to an explosion in convenience and use, that number grew to 10 percent in 2005. If the trend continues, researchers say 13 billion metric tons of plastic will sit in dumps.

During her studies of landfills, Jambeck developed a keen eye and understanding of what happens when plastic sits decade after decade. As plastics age and degrade, she said, their chemicals are released into the environment.

Glass containers that were in wider use before plastics can break on a beach and slowly turn to sea-glass. But plastics leach chemicals into the sand that can be picked up by marine animals and accumulated in tissues, even ending up in seafood. As plastic piles up in landfills and creeps closer to communities, the same could happen on land.

“This is coming, and we’re really going to have to contend with it,” said George Leonard, chief scientist at Ocean Conservancy. “It’s probably going to collapse our recycling market. The price of recycled plastic is going to drop further. It’s going to overwhelm the waste infrastructure. I think from an environmental standpoint we have to think about physical leakage from landfills of mismanaged plastic waste into the oceans.”

In Massachusetts, Harvey is watching it start to unfold in real time. Usually, “if I had 200 tons (of scrap) on the grounds that would be more than I would be comfortable with,” he said. But in recent months, Harvey said he had 6,000 tons of paper alone. Other operators probably have it worse. “I’m not one of the biggest processors of material, but I’m sizable,” he said.

Harvey said moving discarded paper is tougher than plastic because he’s still able to find a market for plastic within the United States, but he foresees a day when that will soon end. “Over saturation in the marketplace depresses prices. When you take China out, that material has to go somewhere. It competes with other markets. Too much supply, not enough demand because of an over abundance of scrap plastic,” Harvey said.

Clearly, waste managers in the United States aren’t ready for what will hit them, the study said. “They’re having to manage waste in a way they really weren’t prepared for,” Brooks said.

“Now they’re going to send this waste to countries that are near China,” Brooks said. “Reports are showing that there are increases of waste in countries that don’t have the infrastructure to support it. It’s having a domino effect on the region.”

“What I hope is that this is a wake-up call,” Jambeck said. “People should feel empowered that their choices do matter.”

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