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TBR News June 26, 2018

Jun 26 2018

The Voice of the White House

Washington, D.C. June 26, 2018:”The unbelievable vicious buffoonery of President Trump on a daily basis has done more damage to America’s image than did the unlamented George W. Bush. At least, Bush the Younger had staff members to prevent erratic and damaging statements or, in many cases, actions. Any staff member who would dare to give advice to the current President that was contrary to his odd beliefs is fired at once. Trump is an unbalanced megalomaniac person who is fully capable of launching a nuclear attack on a country that has dared to thwart him or, even worse, was incapable of recognizing his shining genius. In these faults, Trump echoes the behavior of the Roman emperor Caligula who made his horse a Roman senator. Caligula had no counterbalance but fortunately, Trump has the court system and, hopefully, the legislative bodies, to counter his mindless rants. And the coming mid-term elections ought to be most instructive insofar as the opinions of the bulk of most Americans is concerned.”

The Table of Contents

  • The Wiretap Rooms
  • NSA ‘Systematically Moving’ All Its Data to The Cloud
  • 902nd Military Intelligence Group. (‘The Duce”)
  • Donald Trump is the most un-American president in living memory 
  • Trump, congresswoman clash as tempers flare over immigration
  • Separated immigrant children are all over the U.S. now, far from parents who don’t know where they are
  • Trump officials don’t get to eat dinner in peace – not while kids are in cages
  • Trump lashes out at restaurant that asked Sarah Sanders to leave
  • We need small acts of resistance against Trump and his lackeys
  • Trump and the Numbers Game
  • Some of Trump’s Devoted Supporters
  • Harley-Davidson to shift production overseas as EU tariffs bite
  • Trump blasts Harley plan to shift U.S. production to avoid EU tariffs
  • Pyrrhic victories? 6 trade wars that impacted the global economy
  • Sea Level Rise Is Accelerating in Florida, Scientists Warn

 The Wiretap Rooms

The NSA’s Hidden Spy Hubs In Eight U.S. Cities

June 25 2018

by Ryan Gallagher and  Henrik Moltke

The Intercept

The secrets are hidden behind fortified walls in cities across the United States, inside towering windowless skyscrapers and fortress-like concrete structures that were built to withstand earthquakes and even nuclear attack. Thousands of people pass by the buildings each day and rarely give them a second glance, because their function is not publicly known. They are an integral part of one of the world’s largest telecommunications networks – and they are also linked to a controversial National Security Agency surveillance program.

Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. In each of these cities, The Intercept has identified an AT&T facility containing networking equipment that transports large quantities of internet traffic across the United States and the world. A body of evidence – including classified NSA documents, public records, and interviews with several former AT&T employees – indicates that the buildings are central to an NSA spying initiative that has for years monitored billions of emails, phone calls, and online chats passing across U.S. territory.

The NSA considers AT&T to be one of its most trusted partners and has lauded the company’s “extreme willingness to help.” It is a collaboration that dates back decades. Little known, however, is that its scope is not restricted to AT&T’s customers. According to the NSA’s documents, it values AT&T not only because it “has access to information that transits the nation,” but also because it maintains unique relationships with other phone and internet providers. The NSA exploits these relationships for surveillance purposes, commandeering AT&T’s massive infrastructure and using it as a platform to covertly tap into communications processed by other companies.

Washington

Seattle

1122 Third Ave.

San Francisco

611 Folsom St.

Los Angeles

410 South Grand Ave.

Chicago

10 South Canal Street

Dallas

4211 Bryan Street

New York City

811 10th Ave.

Washington, D.C.

30 E Street Southwest

Atlanta

51 Peachtree Center

Much has previously been reported about the NSA’s surveillance programs. But few details have been disclosed about the physical infrastructure that enables the spying. Last year, The Intercept highlighted a likely NSA facility in New York City’s Lower Manhattan. Now, we are revealing for the first time a series of other buildings across the U.S. that appear to serve a similar function, as critical parts of one of the world’s most powerful electronic eavesdropping systems, hidden in plain sight.

“It’s eye-opening and ominous the extent to which this is happening right here on American soil,” said Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. “It puts a face on surveillance that we could never think of before in terms of actual buildings and actual facilities in our own cities, in our own backyards.”

There are hundreds of AT&T-owned properties scattered across the U.S. The eight identified by The Intercept serve a specific function, processing AT&T customers’ data and also carrying large quantities of data from other internet providers. They are known as “backbone” and “peering” facilities.

While network operators would usually prefer to send data through their own networks, often a more direct and cost-efficient path is provided by other providers’ infrastructure. If one network in a specific area of the country is overloaded with data traffic, another operator with capacity to spare can sell or exchange bandwidth, reducing the strain on the congested region. This exchange of traffic is called “peering” and is an essential feature of the internet.

Because of AT&T’s position as one of the U.S.’s leading telecommunications companies, it has a large network that is frequently used by other providers to transport their customers’ data. Companies that “peer” with AT&T include the American telecommunications giants Sprint, Cogent Communications, and Level 3, as well as foreign companies such as Sweden’s Telia, India’s Tata Communications, Italy’s Telecom Italia, and Germany’s Deutsche Telekom.

AT&T currently boasts 19,500 “points of presence” in 149 countries where internet traffic is exchanged. But only eight of the company’s facilities in the U.S. offer direct access to its “common backbone” – key data routes that carry vast amounts of emails, internet chats, social media updates, and internet browsing sessions. These eight locations are among the most important in AT&T’s global network. They are also highly valued by the NSA, documents indicate.

The data exchange between AT&T and other networks initially takes place outside AT&T’s control, sources said, at third-party data centers that are owned and operated by companies such as California’s Equinix. But the data is then routed – in whole or in part – through the eight AT&T buildings, where the NSA taps into it. By monitoring what it calls the “peering circuits” at the eight sites, the spy agency can collect “not only AT&T’s data, they get all the data that’s interchanged between AT&T’s network and other companies,” according to Mark Klein, a former AT&T technician who worked with the company for 22 years. It is an efficient point to conduct internet surveillance, Klein said, “because the peering links, by the nature of the connections, are liable to carry everybody’s traffic at one point or another during the day, or the week, or the year.”

Christopher Augustine, a spokesperson for the NSA, said in a statement that the agency could “neither confirm nor deny its role in alleged classified intelligence activities.” Augustine declined to answer questions about the AT&T facilities, but said that the NSA “conducts its foreign signals intelligence mission under the legal authorities established by Congress and is bound by both policy and law to protect U.S. persons’ privacy and civil liberties.”

Jim Greer, an AT&T spokesperson, said that AT&T was “required by law to provide information to government and law enforcement entities by complying with court orders, subpoenas, lawful discovery requests, and other legal requirements.” He added that the company provides “voluntary assistance to law enforcement when a person’s life is in danger and in other immediate, emergency situations. In all cases, we ensure that requests for assistance are valid and that we act in compliance with the law.”

Dave Schaeffer, CEO of Cogent Communications, told The Intercept that he had no knowledge of the surveillance at the eight AT&T buildings, but said he believed “the core premise that the NSA or some other agency would like to look at traffic … at an AT&T facility.” He said he suspected that the surveillance is likely carried out on “a limited basis,” due to technical and cost constraints. If the NSA were trying to “ubiquitously monitor” data passing across AT&T’s networks, Schaeffer added, he would be “extremely concerned.”

Sprint, Telia, Tata Communications, Telecom Italia, and Deutsche Telekom did not respond to requests for comment. CenturyLink, which owns Level 3, said it would not discuss “matters of national security.”

 

NSA ‘Systematically Moving’ All Its Data to The Cloud

June 22, 2018

by Frank Konkel

Defense One

The National Security Agency has moved most of the mission data it collects, analyzes and stores into a classified cloud computing environment known as the Intelligence Community GovCloud.

The IC GovCloud is a single integrated “big data fusion environment” that allows analysts to rapidly “connect the dots” across all NSA’s data sources, according to Chief Information Officer Greg Smithberger.

The impetus for the multi-year move is getting the NSA’s data, including signals intelligence and other foreign surveillance and intelligence information it ingests from multiple repositories around the globe into a single data lake analysts from the NSA and other IC agencies can run queries against.

“The NSA has been systematically moving almost all its mission into this big data fusion environment,” Smithberger told Nextgov in an interview. “Right now, almost all NSA’s mission is being done in [IC GovCloud], and the productivity gains and the speed at which our analysts are able to put together insights and work higher-level problems has been really amazing.”

Smithberger said the IC GovCloud environment accelerates the analytic work humans can do by employing machine learning and algorithms. Data ingested by NSA has been meta-tagged with bits of information, including where it came from and who is authorized to see it, which ensures analysts only immerse themselves in intelligence they’re cleared to see.

“This environment allows us to run analytic tools and do machine-assisted data fusion and big data analytics, and apply a lot of automation to facilitate and accelerate what humans would like to do, and get the machines to do it for them,” Smithberger said. Analysts, he said, can “interactively ask questions” of the data in the cloud environment, and it spits out data in “humanly readable form.”

The backbone of the system is the same commercial hardware you might see in data centers owned by Facebook, Amazon or other industry titans. But that hardware is blended with NSA-developed custom software, exotic processing, high performance computing and other unique NSA intellectual property.

“It’s really a hybrid of the latest and greatest commercial technology, but a lot of custom NSA technology and a lot of unique development we’ve done to actually create these outcomes,” Smithberger said.

While the IC GovCloud is NSA’s creation–and centrally funded by the NSA–its basic services are available to the 16 other agencies that comprise the IC, including the Central Intelligence Agency and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

IC GovCloud is one of two major cloud initiatives across the IC. Four years ago, the CIA awarded a $600 million contract to Amazon Web Services to develop a commercial cloud environment for the IC agencies. Today, the Amazon-developed C2S provides utility computing services the IC.

 

902nd Military Intelligence Group. (‘The Duce”)

Nathan Hale Hall, 4554 Llewellyn Ave. Fort George G. Meade

CO COL Jon Clausen

No of employees, 1097

902nd Military Intelligence Group

308th Military Intelligence Battalion

Alpha Company

Fort Monroe Resident Office

Bldg 217, 146 Bernard Road

Ft Monroe, Virginia

902d Military Intelligence Group

Building 4554 Llewellyn Avenue

Fort George G. Meade, MD  20755-5910

http://www.inscom.army.mil/902nd/pao/overview/index.htm

Infiltrates any domestic American group deemed to be “potentially hostile” to U.S. “geo-political aims and goals.”

Report the following activity which could be an indicator of terrorist or espionage activity:

Surveillance — Someone recording or monitoring military activities, including the use of cameras, note taking, drawing diagrams, writing maps, or using binoculars or other vision enhancing devices.

Elicitation — Anyone or any organization attempting to gain information by mail, fax, telephone, or in person, about military operations, facilities, technology or personnel.

Tests of Security — Any attempts to measure reaction times to security breaches or to penetrate physical security barriers or procedures.

Acquiring Supplies — Purchasing or stealing explosives, weapons, ammunition, uniforms, base decals, military manuals, passes or badges (or the equipment to manufacture them), or other military controlled items.

Suspicious Persons Out of Place — People who don’t seem to belong in the workplace, neighborhood, business establishment, or anywhere else. This also includes suspicious border crossings, stowaways aboard vessels or people jumping ship in port.

Dry Runs — Putting people into position and moving them around without actually committing a terrorist act such as a kidnapping or bombing. An element of this activity could also include mapping out routes and determining the timing of traffic lights and flow.

Deploying Assets — People and supplies getting into position to commit an act of terrorism. This is the last opportunity to alert authorities before an act of terrorism occurs.

Pentagon “force protection,” CIFA and 902nd analysts (and their contractor proxies) are mostly engaged in culling through intelligence and law enforcement reports and databases looking for “dots”. As part of this work, they surf the web looking for upcoming protests, they follow threads of conversations on newsgroups, join listservs to receive announcements, even join organizations under false pretenses to attend meetings and receive materials.

The objective is to look for patterns or tip-offs that might be the next big one. And if not the next big one, maybe just an anti-war protest at the gate of the local National Guard armory.

The Pentagon’s own force protection documents associated with the suspicious activity database reveal that CIFA and 902nd MI Group analysts are looking at whether the same license plates show up at different protests or meetings or whether the same individuals appear at different venues.

US ARMY INTELLIGENCE and SECURITY COMMAND – INSCOM – Huachuca (Arizona ) Distance Learning Office, Military (Army) Intelligence –

A unit of The Continuous Learning Directorate, U.S. Army Intelligence Center & Fort Huachuca, AZ

Mission: The 902nd Military Intelligence Group conducts counterintelligence activities to protect the U.S. Army, selected Department of Defense forces and agencies, classified information and technologies by detecting, identifying, neutralizing and exploiting foreign intelligence services and transnational terrorist threats.

The 02nd MI Group headquarters and subordinate battalion activity headquarters are located at Fort George G. Meade, Md. The 02nd MI Group has company headquarters detachments and resident or field offices in more than 50 locations inside and outside the continental U.S.

The 02nd MI Group consists of the Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 0 th MI Battalion, 0th MI Battalion and the U.S. Army Foreign Counterintelligence Activity.

The HHD provides personnel administration, training, and logistical support to the 02nd MI Group’s headquarters, as well as to subordinate units located at Fort George G. Meade.

In addition, the HHD Special Security Office serves not only the 02nd MI Group, but the entire installation. Without deviating from its core mission, the detachment prepares its Soldiers and civilians to execute their duties in an ever-changing military intelligence environment.

The 0 th MI Battalion conducts counterintelligence operations throughout the

continental United States to detect, identify, neutralize and defeat the foreign intelligence services and international terrorism threats to U.S. Army and selected Defense Department forces, technologies, information and infrastructure.

The 0th MI Battalion conducts worldwide counterespionage and counter-intelligence investigations, counterintelligence operations and multidiscipline counterintelligence technical operations in support of the Army and defense agencies in peace and war.

FCA is a multi-function, strategic counterintelligence activity that supports U. S.

Army and national counterintelligence and counterterrorist objectives by detecting, identifying and providing a unique operational “window” into foreign intelligence organizations worldwide.

 

Donald Trump is the most un-American president in living memory 

Where his predecessors reaffirmed US values, Trump has surrendered them with his words, thoughts and actions on immigration

June 26, 2018

by Richard Wolffe

The Guardian

Since its earliest days, America has prided itself on having a government of laws, not of men.

The driving idea of John Adams was written into the Massachusetts constitution – the model for the United States, Japan, Germany, India and South Africa – as the best way to build a country free from tyranny.

If you can protect freedom, you can create more freedom for everyone. Or as Bono memorably put it more recently: “America is not just a country but an idea, a great idea of opportunity for all and responsibility to your fellow man.”

So where does that great American idea stand today, 17 months into its 45th presidency?

There have been many hyperbolic words said and written about Donald Trump. No, the rule of law has not come to an end in the gruesome Gilead of The Handmaid’s Tale.

But in his own words, thoughts and actions, Trump is surely the most un-American president in living memory. It is no small irony that he wraps his un-American activities in the flag.

Where his predecessors saw it as part of their job to reaffirm the American idea, Trump has entirely surrendered this position. Even in the darkest days of the war on terror – with an administration that justified waterboarding and indefinite detention at Guantánamo Bay – former president George W Bush cast his worldview as fundamentally American: “Stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty,” he said in 2003.

For Trump, it’s safe to say that he believes in the polar opposite. When it comes to immigration, in a nation of immigrants, he clearly thinks that stability can only be purchased at the expense of liberty.

This isn’t just a question of a few presidential tweets, although it’s also a question of a few presidential tweets.

“We cannot allow all of these people to invade our Country,” he wrote on Sunday, continuing his long and ugly habit of demonizing and dehumanizing immigrants. Never mind that the country is not in fact enduring some kind of invasion, or that the number of undocumented immigrants peaked in 2007.

“When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases, bring them back from where they came. Our system is a mockery to good immigration policy and Law and Order. Most children come without parents …”

It’s hard to unpack this tweet without having the power to prescribe medication, but duty calls, nonetheless. Trump confusingly longs for the days of no judges and courts as the best way to restore law and order.

His thinking is only slightly more ludicrous than his capitalization. It’s like declaring that immigrants should Speak Spanish to Defend English. (Memo to the White House: this could be a great play for midterms.)

The final line is the giveaway here. Having burnt himself by separating more than 2,300 children from their parents, Trump now insists that the children really traveled alone. Perhaps they could self-deport themselves from their own detention.

It’s surely only a matter of time before Trump describes the disappearance of separated children in those terms. At least one teenager has walked out of a Brownsville “childcare center” which refuses to behave like a detention center. According to the center’s spokesman, several more have done the same.

Unkind souls might think these non-detention centers are a new form of “catch and release” – a policy that Trump insists he is trying to fix, apparently by creating a policy called “catch and walk out the door”.

If you think you’re protecting your citizens from a tidal wave of MS-13 gang recruits, this seems a curious approach. But if you’re just interested in punishing kids because you hate brown-skinned immigrants from the south, it all makes perfect sense.

Fortunately, historians have the president’s own thumbs to thank for explaining his contradictory excuses for a policy. Why does Trump want to end the rule of law at the border? Why does he ignore court rulings, legislation and international agreements stating that even the undocumented have constitutional rights to due process and the legal right to claim asylum?

Because he sees it all as a deterrent. The rule of law is just one big complicated obstruction to the cheap efficiency of ending the idea of America for those who want to become part of it.

“Hiring many thousands of judges, and going through a long and complicated legal process, is not the way to go – will always be disfunctional,” he misspelled on Twitter. “People must simply be stopped at the Border and told they cannot come into the US illegally. Children brought back to their country….

“If this is done, illegal immigration will be stopped in it’s [sic] tracks – and at very little, by comparison, cost. This is the only real answer – and we must continue to BUILD THE WALL,” he explained.

It’s true. Hiring more immigration judges, as Republicans like Ted Cruz have proposed, would cost more. It is so much cheaper to end the rule of law. All this in an immigration system where an individual US officer already has the power to dismiss asylum claims on the spot, based on their view of whether the immigrant faces a credible fear of persecution.

These verbal eruptions on Twitter are too easily dismissed when you consider Trump’s track record of ignoring the law on immigration. His efforts to instate a Muslim travel ban were knocked down by several of those pesky judges, who may well rule against his recent hastily written order to end child separation by detaining families together indefinitely.

The lovers and haters of Trump are no doubt enjoying this whole spectacle. Trump lovers seem to enjoy the sight of their idol protecting them against the immigrant invaders, restoring order to a chaotically changing culture. America’s haters seem to take some strange kind of pleasure in seeing American hypocrisy in the open air without any effort to stand up for human rights and freedom. Trump has made the world so simple.

But the great idea of America has more staying power than a tweet, an executive order and a single, xenophobic president. It endures in the courts, in the justice department, in the state attorneys general and the special counsel investigations. It’s far more real than a wall that will never get built.

 

Trump, congresswoman clash as tempers flare over immigration

June 25, 2018

by Yeganeh Torbati

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump lashed out on Monday at a Democratic congresswoman who urged Americans to confront members of Trump’s inner circle in public as tensions rose over the Republican president’s hardline immigration policy.

Trump faced a global outcry, including criticism from some in his own Republican Party, this month over migrant children who were separated from their parents because of the administration’s policy of seeking to detain and prosecute everyone caught entering the country illegally.

The president caved on Wednesday, issuing an executive order that ended the separations at the U.S.-Mexico border. But political tensions are still running high as the two-month-old “zero tolerance” policy remains in place, raising questions about where to house families detained at the border and how to process them speedily. The government has yet to reunite more than 2,000 children with their parents.

Waters told a crowd in her home state of California on Sunday that a decision on Friday by a restaurant in Lexington, Virginia, to refuse service to White House press secretary Sarah Sanders should be a model for resisting Trump.

“If you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. And you push back on them. And you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere. We’ve got to get the children connected to their parents,” Waters said.

Trump, who often targets Waters, reacted on Twitter, lumping her in with House of Representatives Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.

The president has stepped up his attacks on Democrats in recent weeks as the races for congressional elections in November start coming into focus.

“Congresswoman Maxine Waters, an extraordinarily low IQ person, has become, together with Nancy Pelosi, the Face of the Democrat Party. She has just called for harm to supporters, of which there are many, of the Make America Great Again movement. Be careful what you wish for Max!” he said.

Last week, as Trump was defending his immigration policy, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was confronted at a Mexican restaurant in Washington by protesters yelling “Shame! Shame!”

Pelosi called for cooler heads on both sides.

“In the crucial months ahead, we must strive to make America beautiful again. Trump’s daily lack of civility has provoked responses that are predictable but unacceptable. As we go forward, we must conduct elections in a way that achieves unity from sea to shining sea,” she said.

David Axelrod, a former adviser to former Democratic President Barack Obama, also said in a tweet he disagreed with Waters’ stance and people angry with Trump administration policies should “Organize, donate, volunteer, VOTE!”

ACLU SEEKS BLOCK ON SEPARATIONS

The American Civil Liberties Union urged a federal judge in San Diego on Monday to block the administration from routinely separating unauthorized immigrant parents from their children, saying an injunction was needed because Trump’s order to end separations contained “loopholes,” even when children’s welfare might be endangered.

A brief filed by the ACLU contained numerous reports of parents unable to locate or communicate with their children after they were separated by border officials.

In one declaration filed with the brief, a mother identified only by her initials E.J.O.E. said that “the government told her that she would be reunited with her son if she renounced her statement of fear,” a first step in asking for asylum. The mother did so, but was then deported without her 8-year-old son.

Although Republicans control both chambers in Congress, disagreements between moderates and conservatives in the party over immigration matters are dampening prospects for a speedy legislative fix to the border crisis.

Republican Representative Mark Meadows, leader of a conservative faction among House Republicans, said he expected an immigration bill that will likely be offered for a potential vote in the House some time this week would fail. This would be the second attempt in two weeks.

On Thursday the House rejected a measure favored by conservatives that would have halted the practice of splitting up families and addressed a range of other immigration issues.

Trump has expressed frustration at laws granting due process to illegal immigrants and reiterated on Monday that people should be turned away at the border. Democrats have accused him of wanting to circumvent the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of due process for those accused of crimes.

Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati and Doina Chiacu; Additional reporting by Richard Cowan; Writing by Steve Holland; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Frances Kerry

 

Separated immigrant children are all over the U.S. now, far from parents who don’t know where they are

June 24, 2018

by Maria Sacchetti, Kevin Sieff and Marc Fisher

The Washington Post

-Their mothers are missing, their fathers far away. They get pizza, maybe cold cuts. They are exhausted; they cannot sleep. There are other children around, but they had never seen those kids before, and those kids are crying or screaming or rocking or spreading the feeling that everything is not okay.

The children who were forcibly separated from their parents at the border by the United States government are all over the country now, in Michigan and Maryland, in foster homes in California and shelters in Virginia, in cold, institutional settings with adults who are not permitted to touch them or with foster parents who do not speak Spanish but who hug them when they cry.

The separations have stopped and the Trump administration has said that it is executing a plan to reunify the children with their parents before deporting them. Still, more than 2,000 children remain spread around the United States, far from their parents — many of whom have no idea where their sons and daughters have been taken.

The children have been through hell. They are babies who were carried across rivers and toddlers who rode for hours in trucks and buses and older kids who were told that a better place was just beyond the horizon.

And now they live and wait in unfamiliar places: big American suburban houses where no one speaks their language; a locked shelter on a dusty road where they spend little time outside; a converted Walmart where each morning they are required to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance, in English, to the country that holds them apart from their parents.

Why must they say those words, some of the children ask at the shelter in Brownsville, on the Mexican border in Texas?

“We tell them, ‘It’s out of respect,’ ” said one employee of the facility, known as Casa Padre, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of losing their job.

U.S. authorities are compiling mug shots of the children in detention. Immigration lawyers who have seen the pictures say some of them show children in tears.

At a facility in Crofton, Md., run by Bethany Christian Services, 10 children separated from their parents arrived in recent days. Half were younger than 5, according to Tawnya Brown, a regional director of the organization. Most appeared to be from Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

Each child got a drawstring “arrival bag” containing a change of clothes and other necessities. The little ones got a teddy bear, too. They got to leave the shelter promptly, going to a new home with foster parents who speak to the children in “love language,” Brown said.

In Bristow, Va., about 15 boys and girls between the ages of 10 and 17 arrived in recent weeks after being separated from their parents. Now they stay in some of the 10 modern, $600,000 single-family houses on the sprawling green campus of Youth for Tomorrow, a residential facility for at-risk children.

At some facilities, there are so many children that the staff conduct prison-style head counts. In Brownsville, where the wings of the sprawling building are named for U.S. presidents, that can take hours. A few days ago, a frantic search ensued when one child appeared to be missing from the Reagan wing. He was later found in the ­Truman wing.

‘I’m not crying anymore’

These are the places where the children wait. All around them, and all around the country, people are doing things for them. Caseworkers, lawyers and volunteers work the phones, searching for parents and other relatives.

At first, the kids believe they will soon be back with their families.

“One of them said: ‘I’m not crying anymore. Tomorrow, I’ll be with my dad,’ recalled an employee at the Brownsville shelter. But as it became clear that their release was not imminent, the children continued their routines — karaoke on Monday, cake for those celebrating a birthday, occasional group discussions about their future.

“Some say, ‘I’m going to be the most famous singer’ and others say, ‘I’m going to be a soccer star,’ ” the employee said. Others share a different expectation: “Remember that we don’t have papers,” an older child said. “We’ll probably work in construction.”

The people who devote their work lives to helping immigrant children at shelters are mostly low-level employees, working 12-hour shifts at $12 an hour. They are accustomed to young people arriving unaccompanied, mostly teens who knew that they would be on their own and came at least somewhat prepared. They might have had crucial bits of information pinned to their clothing or in their pockets or backpacks — birth certificates, names and phone numbers of relatives in the United States.

The forcibly separated children, in contrast, usually arrive with nothing. And the younger ones often know nothing.

“It was never anticipated that they were going to be totally on their own,” said Nithya Nathan-Pineau, director of the children’s program at the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition.

But mostly, from the children’s perspective, people do things to them. At Bethany Christian Services in Maryland, for example, the children get vaccinations and treatment for their physical ailments — “Stomach issues, skin issues, things of that nature,” Brown said. Vigilant for lice, Bethany dispenses shampoo and combs. It also has teachers who instruct the kids in English, colors, letters, numbers. There’s “playtime, nap time, snack, recess,” Brown said.

Antar Davidson, who worked at Southwest Key’s Estrella del Norte shelter in Tucson from February until he quit in early June, described a tense environment that grew worse as the number of separated kids soared.

“People were yelling at the kids all the time” in Spanish, said Davidson, 32. He said supplies were rationed so tightly that kids were given hair gel one spoonful at a time.

“It really wears on these kids, the level of institutionalization,” he said.

Youth-care workers were told to discourage children from speaking their indigenous Central American languages, he said, before the policy was reversed. And when the number of separated kids rose from a handful to more than 50 in the 300-person shelter, employees were given a “refresher” course in how to use physical holds on kids, Davidson said.

Lawyers show up at the centers, sometimes bringing toys or stress balls for the children to play with. Some lawyers try to teach the kids about their predicament, offering “Know Your Rights” presentations, explaining the U.S. legal system to older kids, drawing stick-figure sketches of courtrooms for younger ones.

“You draw someone and say, ‘Okay, this is going to be the government attorney,” said one lawyer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of some of her cases.

Some kids engage. Some remain silent. Some have not spoken for weeks.

Going to ‘summer camp’

The children clung to their parents through the terrifying journey north. They rode flimsy rafts across the rain-swollen Rio Grande. They hiked sun-bleached paths under the broiling sun. They were transported in “trucks, on top of railroad trains, in buses,” and on foot, said Gary Jones, chief executive of Youth for Tomorrow.

They crossed the border and were picked up by federal agents and placed in cavernous holding centers. In many cases, that’s where the separation happened. Parents were put in one cell, children in another.

At Customs and Border Protection stations, such as the massive Central Processing Center on Ursula Avenue in McAllen, Tex., some families were divided immediately, especially fathers and daughters, because girls can’t be detained with men. Children were often sorted by country, gender and age, to keep older and younger ones apart.

For some, the separation did not come until the morning they were brought to court on big silver buses. Border officials told parents they’d see their children when they got back from court.

But when they returned, their children were gone, taken to federal shelters. Some parents were told that their children were being taken for a bath, but then the kids did not come back.

At a shelter in McAllen, as word spread that children were being pulled from their parents, some mothers and ­fathers took to sleeping with their legs wrapped around their children so they couldn’t be snatched.

Sometimes, it fell to lawyers from the Texas Civil Rights Project to break the news, said Efrén Olivares, a lawyer with the organization, which has interviewed 381 immigrant parents who were separated from more than 400 children.

The parents who did know the separations were coming had to tell their kids something. A ­father from El Salvador said goodbye to his daughter before she was taken to a shelter by telling her that she was going to summer camp.

The scenes of trauma take a toll on everyone — parents and children, but also guards and advocates. Olivares came to the United States legally from Mexico at age 13. He knew no English. His mother stayed at home and his father drove a school bus. Olivares became valedictorian of his high school class and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and Yale Law School. Now, he’s 36, running on coffee and adrenaline to meet parents and try to reunite families.

“I’m going to crash sooner or later,” he said.

Last week, he had his own taste of the trauma of separation. His wife took their toddler to summer camp. There were tears. After an hour, she had to return because the child couldn’t be without her.

“An hour they lasted without one another,” Olivares said. He had tears in his eyes.

The road to reunification

At a shelter for the tender-aged near Los Angeles, one little child, overwhelmed, panicked. The hysteria set off the rest of the group, unleashing a contagion of crying that left the staff at a loss.

“The trauma for these children is significant,” said Brown, of Bethany Christian Services in Maryland. “You don’t always see the trauma. You don’t always see it in their faces. But you can see it in their physical reactions.”

At some facilities, there are mental health counselors who try to talk to the kids. But some immigration lawyers caution the children against disclosing too much to the therapists, worried that information might get passed on to the government, possibly affecting the child’s asylum claim.

At the cavernous Central Processing Center in McAllen, known as the “dog kennel” for its rooms made of chain-link fencing, children slept on mats on the concrete ground. With no parents around, some children suddenly found themselves changing the diapers of strangers.

The children sometimes don’t know their parents’ names or don’t know their own birth dates or how to spell their names.

“There’s just a lot of disconnect,” said Nathan-Pineau of the Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition, which has two centers in Maryland and four in Virginia serving as shelters for migrant children. Some kids can’t communicate the “basic information that the staff would need to even start looking for their parents.”

Meanwhile, outside the shelter network, along the country’s southern border, lawyers working on behalf of bereft parents struggle to locate their clients’ children.

Rochelle Garza, an immigration lawyer in Brownsville, tried a toll-free phone number for the Office of Refugee Resettlement on Friday afternoon.

“We are experiencing high call volume,” said a recorded message. “Please stay on the line for the next available case manager.”

The man who finally answered told Garza that he could offer nothing more than an email address, the same generic one listed on the flier distributed to some parents.

“Right now,” the man said, “with the high volume of minors entering the United States, it’s a little complicated for them.”

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Saturday that it is doing what it can, “bringing to bear all the relevant resources of the department in order to assist in the reunification or placement of unaccompanied alien children and teenagers with a parent or appropriate sponsor.”

Michelle Ortiz, a lawyer with Americans for Immigrant Justice in Miami, represents a 3-year-old girl who was separated from her father at the New Mexico border. The father was deported, but the details of the case are not clear, Ortiz said, because “she’s 3. She can’t tell us exactly what happened. She can hold up her fingers to tell us how old she is, but not much more.” The girl is living with extended family in South Florida, her future uncertain.

The kids have come mainly from Central America. In the past year, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, based in Baltimore, has found temporary places for 148 children who had been separated from their parents. Half of the children were younger than 5, the youngest 18 months, according to spokeswoman Danielle Bernard. About two-thirds were from Guatemala, a quarter were from Honduras, and the rest came from El Salvador or Mexico.

In a residential section of Harlingen, Tex., a man in a gold pickup truck guarded the front gate of a shelter for young children run under a federal contract by Southwest Key. The shelter is a white frame house with a spacious yard covered with a thick layer of grass.

A worker leaving the shelter in her truck is asked how the kids inside are faring.

“They’re eating better than you,” she said Friday. “For lunch, they had fish, carrots, broccoli, a dinner roll. They’re being treated very well.”

A colorful jungle gym and a volleyball net sit in the front yard, which is shaded by tall trees. Neighbors said the facility has an indoor pool. One neighbor recently saw several little girls dressed in pink tops and shorts playing on the swings in the front yard. There are small basketball courts and two red tricycles for little kids.

Several neighbors expressed concern that the children are rarely outside. Neighbors said the children at Southwest Key can watch television and are taught arts and crafts, such as creating paper flowers.

“As a mother, I don’t like it,” said neighbor Liliana Barajas, 36. “They don’t bring them out enough. They’re kids. The last thing you want is for them to feel what they are in. It’s like a home prison to them. It’s heartbreaking.”

Sacchetti and Sieff reported from Texas; Fisher from Washington. Michael Miller in Arizona; Nick Anderson, Theresa Vargas, Abigail Hauslohner and Nick Miroff in Washington; Trevor Bach in Detroit; Marissa Lang in Bristow, Va.; Jahi Chikwendiu in Harlingen, Tex.; Rob Kuznia in Temecula, Calif.; and Lori Rozsa in Homestead, Fla., contributed to this report.

 

Trump officials don’t get to eat dinner in peace – not while kids are in cages

Sarah Sanders is the latest official to learn that there is a price to pay for enabling Trump’s cruel policies

June 25, 2018

by Jessica Valenti

The Guardian

Republicans are very worried about “civility” these days. They’re mad that the Department of Homeland Security secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, was forced to leave a Washington DC restaurant after being confronted by protesters, upset that Stephen Miller was called a fascist when the White House adviser was eating Mexican food, and horrified that the press secretary, Sarah Sanders, was asked to leave a Virginia restaurant by the establishment’s owner. Some young Trump supporters in DC are even down in the dumps that they can’t seem to get a date.

We’re told that the left is being intolerant at best, and at worst – as one Fox News contributor put it – a “mob” that is “approaching near anarchy”.

They haven’t seemed to consider the simplest answer: that when you do and defend terrible things, people don’t really want to be around you.

There’s a reason that actor Seth Rogen, for example, declined to take a picture with Paul Ryan recently; or why Florida’s attorney general, Pam Bondi was met by protesters when she left a showing of the Mr Rodgers documentary. Americans are horrified by what Republicans are doing to this country, and most urgently, what they’re doing to children.

As I wrote soon after the election when the right was inflamed about soon-to-be Vice-President Mike Pence getting booed at a Hamilton performance, there’s nothing wrong with being made to feel ashamed for doing something shameful.

Still, it’s not just conservatives who claim that ostracizing Trump-supporters or enablers is “uncivil”. On Sunday, for example, David Axelrod tweeted that he was “amazed and appalled by the number of folks on [the] Left who applauded the expulsion of [Sanders] and her family from a restaurant”. And the editorial board at the Washington Post, says Americans should “let the Trump team eat in peace”.

The recent protests, they wrote, “have blurred the line between work hours and private time”.

But when you’re talking about the kind of human rights violations the Trump administration has unabashedly enacted and defended, there is no public/private line worth honoring. When it comes to kids in cages, you’re not just accountable for your actions from 9 to 5.

If you’re responsible for the jailing of Latino toddlers, you do not have the right to enjoy Mexican food free from protest. If you are defending internment camps where children are leaving with bedbug bites, lice and irreparable emotional trauma, you don’t get to have a fun dinner out without servers and restaurant owners taking umbrage. You are not entitled to pose with celebrities, or take in a movie about the power of kindness and neighborly love when you are stripping millions of their healthcare. And when you support all of the above, no one is going to feel bad for you when you can’t get a date.

One of the foundational parts of building a community is drawing boundaries about what is considered acceptable and unacceptable behavior; it’s normal for people to decide that certain actions have no place in a civil society. What is happening to Republicans right now is just that – community members sending a clear message about what they’re willing to tolerate, and what none of us should have to. There’s nothing more “civil” than that.

 

 

Trump lashes out at restaurant that asked Sarah Sanders to leave

Trump, whose Mar-a-Lago resort was cited for many health violations, says Red Hen ‘should focus on cleaning its filthy windows’

June 25, 2018

The Guardian

Donald Trump belatedly weighed in on the rumbling row over White House press secretary Sarah Sanders’ ejection from a restaurant in Virginia, because, she said, she works for the president.

Sanders had tweeted that she had been asked to leave the Red Hen restaurant in Virginia on Friday night. Her reporting of the incident was criticized by ethics experts, who said she should not have used an official government account to personally condemn a private business.

Early on Monday, Trump declared on Twitter: “The Red Hen Restaurant should focus more on cleaning its filthy canopies, doors and windows (badly needs a paint job) rather than refusing to serve a fine person like Sarah Huckabee Sanders.”

His post continued: “I always had a rule, if a restaurant is dirty on the outside, it is dirty on the inside!”

Trump presented no evidence to support his claims.

In 2017 it was revealed that Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort had been cited by Florida officials for 78 health violations in three years, including rust, mould and parasites.

Sanders has not acknowledged the incident on social media again since first tweeting about it on Saturday.

Sophie Wilkinson, the restaurant’s owner, told the Washington Post that she asked Sanders to leave, saying the restaurant “has certain standards that I feel it has to uphold, such as honesty, and compassion, and cooperation”.

Walter Shaub, the federal ethics chief under Barack Obama and briefly Donald Trump and now a fierce critic of the administration, responded: “Sanders used her official govt account to condemn a private business for personal reasons … she can lob attacks on her own time but not using her official position.”

The Hartford Courant newspaper on Sunday reported that a restaurant called the Red Hen in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, entirely unconnected to the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia, where Sanders and her party had been confronted, was being flooded messages from members of the public who support Trump, threatening to organize a boycott and saying things such as: “You’re done, and we’re coming to get you.”

 

We need small acts of resistance against Trump and his lackeys

Standing up for what you believe is hard – and seemingly beyond the Democrats and the US press. But the restaurant owner who threw out Trump’s press secretary offered a shard of hope

June 25, 2018

by Suzanne Moore

The Guardian

We must “resist the temptation to become numb”, the former FBI director James Comey said in an interview in this paper. He was talking about Trump’s “norm-destroying behaviours”. So how is that resistance going? Trump thrives on destroying civilised “norms”, which is why so many watch aghast and feel powerless. He violates every rule and, well, nothing much happens; it all continues. Hearing the cries of children torn away from their parents, seeing them in cages at the border – was this a turning point? On the campaign trail, he made his feelings about minority ethnic immigrants clear, to huge cheers. They were snakes and rapists. We know the language. We have heard it used about migrants here, too. Pussy-grabbing was another accepted but “norm-destroying” behaviour. Persistent lying is tolerated.

Small acts of resistance, therefore, become shards of hope. When the White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, and her crew walked into the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, the chef called the owner, Stephanie Wilkinson. She immediately came over, gathered the staff, asked what they thought and then asked Sanders to leave. Sanders’ job, after all, is defending the indefensible. Wilkinson is “not a huge fan of confrontation”. She wants her business to do well, but said: “This feels like a moment in our democracy when people have to make uncomfortable actions and decisions to uphold their morals.”

Exactly. Many cheered her on. Others have left terrible reviews for her restaurant. Some Beltway types have said Sanders should not be treated like this when she is off duty, banging on about civility and neutrality. That ship has sailed. This myth of neutrality has crippled the US press, which has normalised overt calls to white supremacism.

I am not surprised by what Trump does. I am horrified by the “little people” who obey his orders. History repeats itself not in grandiose narcissistic babble but through everyday collaboration in the name of “duty”. Trump did not put those kids in cages himself. Border guards did; they were recorded laughing at the children. All in a day’s work, this deliberate cruelty.

The upholding of personal morality is difficult. And this instance may be a fetishisation of heroic individualism, but Wilkinson’s actions are meaningful when the Democrats seem absent, when “due process” moves so slowly, when Trump and his lackeys seem never to face any consequences.

When he comes here for his three-day visit in July, there will be huge protests, yet he will hang out with Theresa May and the Queen and get the photo op he asked for. Our taxes will be spent on the £5m it will cost to police it. Something is very wrong here.

I imagine that, as with the trouble-free 2003 anti-Iraq war march, most of the police will be on the same side as the demonstrators. Huge amounts will be spent on counter-terrorism and special protection officers. This visit again normalises him. What would this man have to do for May to disinvite him? She is a vicar’s daughter, the Queen is the head of the Church of England. The UN has said these latest acts may amount to torture. Are they really going to welcome him? Can no one exhibit the morality of a restaurant owner?

We as individuals who continue to feel powerless will gather, knowing that not all protests “work”, but that the other options – “civility” and calls for “order” – have meant the emboldening of fascism. Trump has flourished in this fake environment of neutrality. “Washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral,” as the philosopher Paulo Freire said. The norms have already been destroyed. If our leaders will not take a stand, the rest of us are surely obliged to.

 

Trump and the Numbers Game

June 21, 2018

by Christian Jürs

There were 56.5 million Hispanics in the United States in 2015, accounting for 17.6% of the total U.S. population.

The Hispanic Mexican population of the United States is projected to grow to 107 million by 2065.

The share of the U.S. population that is Hispanic has been steadily rising over the past half century. In 2015, Hispanics made up 17.6% of the total U.S. population, up from 3.5% in 1960, the origins of the nation’s Hispanic population have diversified as growing numbers of immigrants from other Latin American nations and Puerto Rico settled in the U.S.

For example, between 1930 and 1980, Hispanics from places other than Mexico nearly doubled their representation among U.S. Hispanics, from 22.4% to 40.6%. But with the arrival of large numbers of Mexican immigrants in the 1980s and 1990s, the Mexican share among Hispanics grew, rising to a recent peak of 65.7%.

California has the largest legal poplation of Mexicans, 14,013,719. And  California is also home to almost 25% of the country’s undocumented population. California is followed by Texas where 31.14%,(8,500,000) are Mexican, Florida has 4,223,806 Mexicans, Illinois 2,153,000, Arizona,1,895,149, Colorado, 1,136,000 Georgia, 923,000, North Carolina, 890,000, and Washington, 858,000 Mexicans.

Given the fact that President Trump has strong personal dislikes for both Blacks and Latinos, manifest in his recent vicious treatment of Mexican immigrants in their legal attempts to immigrate to the United States, the sheer number of Mexicans now resident in the United States ought to give him, and his far-right Republican Congressional supporters serious pause in their denial of entrance for legal immigrant attempts and the subsequent brutal maltreatment of small children of these immigrants.

If the Mexican voting population of the United States were to organize, like the recent organizing of the black voting population of Alabma in opposition to the fanatical Judge Moore, the results in the November elections could well prove to be a stunning disaster for both Trump and the Republicans.

Numbers certainly count but Trump is obviously unaware of their potential danger, both to him and his right-wing radical supporters.

 

American public opinion pollings on approval ratings for President Trump

Date            Poll                                       Approve     Disapprove

June 17/20   Ipsos                                     40%            56%

June 14/20   American Research Group        40%            54%

June 14/20   Survey/Monkey                       44%           54%

 

Trump y el juego de los números

Hubo 56.5 millones de hispanos en los Estados Unidos en 2015, lo que representa el 17.6% de la población total de los EE. UU.

Se proyecta que la población hispano-mexicana de los Estados Unidos crecerá a 107 millones para el año 2065.

La proporción de la población hispana de los EE. UU. Ha aumentado constantemente durante el último medio siglo. En 2015, los hispanos constituyeron el 17.6% del total de la población de EE. UU., Desde el 3.5% en 1960, los orígenes de la población hispana del país se han diversificado a medida que un número creciente de inmigrantes de otras naciones latinoamericanas y Puerto Rico se establecieron en los EE. UU.

Por ejemplo, entre 1930 y 1980, los hispanos de lugares distintos a México casi duplicaron su representación entre los hispanos de EE. UU., Del 22.4% al 40.6%. Pero con la llegada de un gran número de inmigrantes mexicanos en los años ochenta y noventa, la participación mexicana entre los hispanos creció, alcanzando un pico reciente de 65.7%.

California tiene la mayor población legal de mexicanos, 14.013.719. Y California también alberga a casi el 25% de la población indocumentada del país. A California le sigue Texas, donde el 31.14%, (8,500,000) son mexicanos, Florida tiene 4,223,806 mexicanos, Illinois 2,153,000, Arizona, 1,895,149, Colorado, 1,136,000 Georgia, 923,000, Carolina del Norte, 890,000 y Washington, 858,000 mexicanos.

Dado el hecho de que el presidente Trump tiene fuertes aversiones personales tanto para los negros como para los latinos, que se manifiestan en su tratamiento vicioso reciente de los inmigrantes mexicanos en sus intentos legales de inmigrar a los Estados Unidos, la gran cantidad de mexicanos que ahora residen en los Estados Unidos debería dar él, y sus partidarios republicanos de extrema derecha en el Congreso una pausa seria en su negativa de entrada para los intentos de inmigrantes legales y el posterior brutal maltrato a los niños pequeños de estos inmigrantes.

Si la población de votantes mexicanos de los Estados Unidos se organizara, como la reciente organización de la población de votantes negros de Alabma en oposición al fanático juez Moore, los resultados en las elecciones de noviembre bien podrían ser un desastre impresionante para Trump y los republicanos.

Ciertamente los números cuentan, pero Trump obviamente no es consciente de su peligro potencial, tanto para él como para sus partidarios radicales de derecha

 

Encuestas de opinión pública estadounidense sobre las calificaciones de aprobación del presidente Trump

Fecha en que la encuesta aprueba desaprueba

17 y 20 de junio   Ipsos                               40% 56%

14/20 de junio     American Research Group  40% 54%

14/20 de junio     encuesta / mono               44% 54%

 

Some of Trump’s Devoted Supporters

(From official records of Republican political supporters)

June 26, 2018

by Christian Jürs

Who are these groups? Here is a listing of only some of them:

  • ACT for America
  • Alliance Defending Freedom
  • America’s Promise Ministries
  • American Border Patrol/American Patrol
  • American Family Association
  • American Freedom Party
  • American Renaissance
  • Aryan Brotherhood
  • Aryan Brotherhood of Texas
  • Aryan Nations
  • Blood & Honor
  • Brotherhood of Klans
  • Center for Security Policy
  • Church of the National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan
  • The Creativity Movement
  • The Sovereign Citizen Movement of the US and Canada
  • The Dominonist Movement of America
  • National Alliance
  • National Coalition for Immigration Reform
  • National Socialist Movement
  • National Vanguard
  • Oath Keepers
  • Stormfront
  • The Aryan Terror Brigade.
  • The neo-Confederate League of the South.
  • Traditionalist Worker Party
  • White Revolution

 

Harley-Davidson to shift production overseas as EU tariffs bite

The iconic American motorbike manufacturer will shift some of its production out of the US. It expects rising costs from higher European tariffs imposed on Friday in retaliation against Donald Trump’s metals tariffs.

June 25, 2018

DW

In a regulatory filing on Monday, Harley-Davidson said each of its motorcycles shipped to the European Union would cost about $2,200 (€1,880) more after the bloc raised its levies on imported US bikes to 31 percent from 6 percent on June 22.

This would cost the company about $90 million to $100 million annually, the manufacturer said, adding that it was striving to absorb extra costs rather than pass them on to customers in the medium-term.

“Harley-Davidson believes the tremendous cost increase, if passed onto its dealers and retail customers, would have an immediate and lasting detrimental impact to its business in the region,” it said in the filing.

In order to avoid the impact of higher EU tariffs on its sales, the company also announced that it would be “implementing a plan to shift production of motorcycles for EU destinations from the US to its international facilities.”

On Friday, the EU began rolling out tariffs worth $3.4 billion on American imports like bourbon, peanut butter, orange juice and Harley-Davidson motorbikes. The measure came in response to new US duties of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum imposed by the Trump administration.

Critical European market

The Milwaukee-based company sold almost 40,000 motorcycles in the EU last year, generating revenue second only to the United States.

US President Donald Trump has repeatedly used the company as an example of how European import tariffs hurt US producers. Yet Harley-Davidson had previously warned that the escalating tariffs spat would lead to an even higher burden for the company.

On Monday, the company tried to smooth troubled waters, saying its shift of production abroad would not dent its “strong commitment to US-based manufacturing” which riders around the world valued.

“Increasing international production to alleviate the EU tariff burden is not the company’s preference, but represents the only sustainable option to make its motorcycles accessible to customers in the EU and maintain a viable business in Europe. Europe is a critical market for Harley-Davidson.”

The company said ramping up production at non-US plants, which are located in India, Brazil and Thailand, would require additional investment and take at least nine to 18 months to complete. It also said it hoped to limit the cost from higher EU tariffs to between $30 million to $45 million in the meantime.

Harley-Davidson is the first American manufacturer to detail the financial impact of the escalating trade tensions between Washington and its allies. Its announcement comes hard on the heels of an earnings warning by German carmaker Daimler last week.

Daimler, which also produces its premium Mercedes cars in the US, said its 2018 profits were expected to be hit by higher Chinese tariffs on imports of American-made cars.

 

Trump blasts Harley plan to shift U.S. production to avoid EU tariffs

June 25, 2018

by Rajesh Kumar Singh and  Sanjana Shivdas

Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday slammed Harley-Davidson Inc (HOG.N) after the motorcycle maker said it would move production for European customers overseas to avoid retaliatory tariffs that could cost it up to $100 million per year.

Trump said he has fought hard for the company and was surprised by its plans, which he described as waving the “White Flag.”

Harley-Davidson, the dominant player in the heavyweight U.S. motorcycle market said earlier on Monday it would not pass on any retail or wholesale price increases in the EU and instead focus on shifting some U.S. production.

Harley shares closed down nearly 6 percent and analysts cut their profit forecasts on concerns about how quickly the company would be able to adapt to the 25 percent import duties the European Union began charging on June 22.

“I fought hard for them and ultimately they will not pay tariffs selling into the E.U., which has hurt us badly on trade, down $151 Billion. Taxes just a Harley excuse – be patient!” Trump said in a post on Twitter

The United States earlier this month imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from the European Union, provoking a “tit-for-tat” response from the trading bloc against U.S. goods.

In a regulatory filing, the 115-year-old Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based company said the retaliatory duties would result in an incremental cost of about $2,200 per average motorcycle exported from the United States to the European Union, but did not provide more details on current motorcycle costs.

Harley’s entry-level bike in France currently costs 7,490 euros ($8,766).

The company said it expects the tariffs to result in incremental costs of $30 million to $45 million for the rest of 2018 and $80 million to $100 million on a full-year basis.

“We think Harley’s decision to protect EU demand is wise for the long-term health of the market,” Baird Equity Research said in a note. “But we expect the near-term impact to weigh on estimates and sentiment until a clearer path to mitigation is outlined.”

Trump vowed to make the iconic motorcycle maker great again when he took office last year. But since then the company has been counting the costs of his trade policies.

In late April, Harley said Trump’s metal tariffs would inflate its costs by $15 million to $20 million this year on top of already rising raw material prices that it expected at the start of the year.

White House trade and manufacturing adviser Peter Navarro said on Monday the administration wants Harley to make more motorcycles in the United States.

“Remember, they came to us, for example, pointing out that India had a 100 percent tariff on Harley Davidsons. That’s certainly not fair,” Navarro told CNBC.

“We want Harleys made here, more made here, and that’s going to happen under the president’s trade policies.”

In response to Navarro’s comments, a Harley spokesman said the company has made its position clear in Monday’s filing.

EUROPEAN BUSINESS

Harley has been aiming to boost overseas sales of its motorcycles to 50 percent of annual volume from about 43 percent.

In January, the company announced the closure of a plant in Kansas City, Missouri, after its motorcycle shipments fell to their lowest level in six years.

In 2017, Harley sold nearly 40,000 new motorcycles in Europe which accounted for more than 16 percent of the company’s sales. The revenues from EU countries were second only to the United States.

Harley said ramping up production overseas could take at least nine to 18 months. It has three assembly plants outside the United States – one each in Brazil, India and Thailand.

The company decided to build the Thailand plant after Trump pulled out from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would have lowered import tariffs on its bikes in some of the fastest-growing motorcycle markets in Asia.

The company said it will provide more details on tariff-related plans when it reports second-quarter earnings on July 24.

Analysts at Baird Equity Research cut its 2018 profit estimates for Harley-Davidson to $3.70 per share from $3.90 and now expect 2019 profit of $3.85, down from $4.20.

CFRA Research lowered its 12-month price target for the stock to $47 from $49.

Harley-Davidson shares have lost about 9 percent since early March when the trade skirmish between the United States and the EU started, and are down over 18 percent since end-December 2017.

Mercedes-Benz maker Daimler (DAIGn.DE) last week cut its 2018 profit forecast citing growing trade tensions. Its German rival BMW (BMWG.DE) said it was considering “possible strategic options” in view of the rising trade tensions between China and the United States.

Trump has also threatened to crackdown on auto imports. Analysts at Moody’s reckon a 25 percent tariff on imported vehicles and parts would be negative for most of companies including Ford Motor Co (F.N) and General Motors Co (GM.N).

Reporting by Sanjana Shivdas in Bengaluru; Editing by Bill Rigby and Meredith Mazzilli

 

Pyrrhic victories? 6 trade wars that impacted the global economy

June 25, 2018

RT

The escalating trade war between the US and China has dominated headlines, dragged markets down and aroused fears of a full-scale global trade war as several countries respond to new US tariffs with tit-for-tat measures.

While US President Donald Trump claimed recently on Twitter that trade wars are “good” and “easy to win” — history paints a very different picture. Here’s a look at six past trade wars and the havoc they caused to the global economy.

The Opium Wars

When China attempted to suppress the opium trade in the mid 19th century — an illegal activity enjoyed mostly by British traders and the cause of widespread addiction and social problems — it led to armed conflict.

Or, as one analyst bluntly put it: “England went to war with China because it was upset that Chinese officials had shut down its drug trafficking racket and confiscated its dope.”

China burned more than 20,000 chests of opium, leading to a conflict which resulted in the ceding of Hong Kong to the British and an increase in the number of treaty ports where British ships could trade and reside.

A second conflict erupted when the British forces — this time joined by the French — fought again to extend their trading rights in the region. The end result was the establishment of more than 80 new treaty ports in China, the legalization of the importation of opium and rights for all foreign traders to travel within the country.

Franco-Italian trade war

Aiming to foster its own fledgling industries, Italy turned to protectionism in 1886, ending its trade agreement with France and placing tariffs as high as 60 percent on French imports. France retaliated and trade fell dramatically between the two countries.

The result was the passing of the protectionist Méline Tariff in 1892 which essentially ended France’s dalliance with free trade. The trade dispute also had the unintended consequence of pushing Italy closer to Germany and the Austro-Hungarian empire in the lead up to World War I.

US-Canadian trade wars

The Canadian-American Reciprocity Treaty, signed in 1854, was a trade agreement between the United States and the United Kingdom which applied to British colonial possessions, including Canada.

After the US Civil War, the Reciprocity Treaty with Canada was abolished; an act which kicked off decades of tit-for-tat trade measures and tariff retaliations. Unfortunately for the US, its protectionism policies led to the fleeing of American companies out of the US — perhaps with sweet irony, to Canada.

By the late 1880s, about 65 US manufacturing plants had relocated to Canada — and it took nearly a century for free trade to develop between the US and Canada again.

Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act 1930

Some economists blame the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930 for exacerbating the Great Depression. Implemented with the aim of saving US factories, the act raised tariffs on more than 20,000 kinds of imported goods — despite a petition signed by more than 1,000 economics and threats of retaliation from other countries.

The act did not revive the American economy, as its architects envisioned, however. Instead, it is blamed for spreading protectionist policies around the globe, helping global trade plummet by about 26 percent in the years after its signing.

Smoot-Hawley “was such a disaster that it’s held sway over American trade policy for over 80 years,” said Joshua Meltzer, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who teaches international trade law at Johns Hopkins University. “No one wants to repeat it.”

Following World War 2, the World Trade Organization was formed to regulate international trade and prevent a repeat of destructive trade policies.

The Chicken War

Cheap chickens sparked a trade war between the US and Europe at the height of the Cold War. The ‘Chicken War’ of 1963 erupted when France and Germany complained about the importation of inexpensive chickens from the US.

France and Germany slapped tariffs on American imported chicken and in response, the US placed a 25 percent tax on imports of Volkswagen microbuses, potato starch, dextrin and brandy imported from Europe.

The tariff significantly hurt German automaker Volkswagen and it still stands for imported light trucks today.

Cuban embargo

The first US trade embargo on Cuba began in October 1960 and covered all US exports to Cuba apart from medicine and select foods. The embargo was later expanded to cover US imports from Cuba in 1962. The blockade was ordered by President John F. Kennedy in protest at Fidel Castro’s leadership and his alignment with the Soviet Union.

Taking hypocrisy to dizzying levels, hours before signing the embargo, Kennedy ordered a personal shipment of 1,200 Cuban cigars for his own enjoyment. Later, Kennedy’s press secretary Pierre Salinger visited the Soviet Union and was gifted with 250 Cuban cigars from Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, which he smuggled back into the US.

The US’s blockade of Cuba still stands today and it would require an act of Congress to remove it — something which would be highly unlikely, particularly under a Republican administration.

If history is any indicator, it seems trade wars are not “good” or “easy to win” as Trump has claimed.

In fact, they rarely result in big wins for anyone; they can sometimes have the opposite to the intended effect — and they are ultimately pyrrhic victories whose negative impacts can reverberate for decades.

 

Sea Level Rise Is Accelerating in Florida, Scientists Warn

In dozens of locations along Florida’s 1,350-mile coastline, sea level rise is no longer an esoteric discussion or a puzzle for future generations to solve.

July 22, 2017

by Dinah Voyles Pulver

Daytona Beach News-Journal

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Clay Henderson has lived on the same block along the Indian River in New Smyrna Beach for 34 years. Living in a storm-prone state like Florida, you expect to see a river top its bank on occasion, but only in the past two years has Henderson seen it happen on sunny days.

He hears similar stories almost everywhere he travels in Florida. In dozens of locations along the state’s 1,350-mile coastline, sea level rise is no longer an esoteric discussion or a puzzle for future generations to solve. It’s happening now and is forecast to worsen over the next 20 to 30 years.

Canal systems in Fort Lauderdale and Coral Gables have become a liability. For officials in Port Orange and Longboat Key, fortifying storm drains against encroaching seawater is a concern. Along the Withlacoochee River on Florida’s Gulf Coast and the Matanzas River at Marineland, residents report finding saltwater species they’ve never seen before in those waterways.

Federal gauges stationed around the state’s coast document the slowly rising water. After decades of almost imperceptible increases, the sea began rising faster about 30 years ago, said William Sweet, an oceanographer with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It jumped again beginning in 2006. Now NOAA reports sea levels are rising along parts of the Florida coast by more than a third of an inch every year.

The average person visiting a favorite beach or fishing hole surely won’t notice the difference. But soon, if the trend of the past 30 years continues, the impact will be hard to miss.

Henderson and others who have spent a lifetime on the water already notice a difference.

“Until the last couple of years, the only time the water would have come over the seawall would have been for a named tropical event or one of the extraordinary nor’easters,” said Henderson, executive director of Stetson University’s Institute of Water and Environmental Resilience. In the fall of 2015 and 2016, he said, “the water came out of the banks on cloudless, breezeless days.”

A coast in peril

Mid-range projections by NOAA scientists — not the worst-case scenario — put the seas around Florida up to 17 inches higher by 2030, with the highest rise at Mayport, Fernandina Beach and Daytona Beach

With just a 9-inch rise in sea level, NOAA advisories for coastal flooding capable of causing “significant risks to life and property” could occur 25 times more often, said Sweet, lead author of NOAA’s January report describing the updated sea level scenarios. Higher seas would push seawater inland in waterfront areas along bayfronts in Sarasota and Apalachicola and in low-lying areas along the St. Johns, Suwanee and other rivers, flooding neighborhoods with increasing frequency and longer duration.

By 2070, the mid-range scenarios call for seas to be anywhere from 8 inches to 5.5 feet higher than today. By the turn of the century, NOAA projects the ocean could be as much as 10.5 feet higher, a height that could turn some of the state’s most crowded communities into new scuba diving destinations.

Just three feet of sea level rise could force at least 1.2 million Floridians to abandon low-lying communities and migrate to higher ground, according to a study co-authored by Jason Evans, an assistant professor of environmental science at Stetson University. A six-foot rise could displace 6 million.

Scientists say the ocean began rising more than a century ago, averaging an almost imperceptible 1.5 millimeters a year from 1900 to 1990, based on data from a network of federal tide gauges around the country.

In the 1990s, the rising sea doubled its previous rate, reaching about an inch a decade, said Sweet. And then, over the past 10 years, tide gauges in Fernandina Beach, Mayport and Key West recorded an increase of about 0.9 centimeters per year, a little more than a third of an inch per year.

Whether that higher rate continues remains to be seen, said Sweet, lead author of a January report by NOAA, the South Florida Water Management District, the U.S. Geological Survey and others. The report, “Global and Regional Sea Level Rise Scenarios for the United States,” uses information from tidal gauges around North America to show how sea level rise might occur regionally, based on local elevations and ocean depths.

The goal was to inform people, said Sweet, “so they can make smart decisions as they plan for the future.”

Their research indicates that the sea will rise at least another 12 inches by 2100. NOAA’s higher scenario projections indicate seas could rise as much as 11 feet in Bradenton and Daytona Beach and 10.75 feet in Panama City and Cedar Key.

Hard to soft butter

Seas have risen and fallen hundreds of feet in the ancient past. This time scientists at NASA, NOAA and other academic and governmental organizations say warming temperatures around the world — a result of increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere — are to blame.

They report that warming, especially in the world’s polar regions, is driving the melt occurring on land-based glaciers and ice sheets and the thermal expansion of warming ocean water. Federal studies show average sea surface temperatures have increased since 1980, in part because the ocean stores excess heat from the Earth’s atmosphere, and as the water warms it expands, leading to additional sea level rise.

The two enormous ice sheets on Greenland and Antarctica are holdouts from the last ice age, said oceanographer John Englander, a Boca Raton resident and author of “High Tide on Main Street: Rising Sea Level and the Coming Coastal Crisis.”

Greenland’s ice sheet is 660,000 square miles and about two miles thick. Antarctica is 5.4 million square miles, covered by an ice sheet that averages a mile thick. Scientists with NASA, NOAA and other organizations say both ice sheets are losing gigatons of ice a year to melting.

At a lecture in Sarasota in April, University of Miami professor Harold Wanless described his visit to Greenland. It was a “sobering experience,” Wanless said, to see ice sheets with rivers and lakes, fracturing “like going from hard butter to soft butter.”

The melting of that land-based ice is akin to pouring water into a glass, said Englander. A land-based glacier moving into the ocean has a similar effect, like adding an ice cube to the glass of water.

While melting sea ice often attracts the splashiest headlines, it does not contribute directly to rising sea levels. But it is a crucial issue because federal scientists say thawing sea ice leads to additional warming. For example, with smaller areas of ice reflecting sunlight in the Arctic, open dark areas of water absorb the sun’s energy instead and grow warmer. Scientists with NOAA and NASA say warmer temperatures as a result of declining Arctic sea ice are helping to thaw areas of permafrost and allowing additional greenhouse gases stored in the permafrost to escape into the atmosphere. That in turn leads to the warming that fuels sea level rise.

Scientists are working to understand just how much water the melting ice sheets could contribute to sea level, said Sweet. But the rate of ice sheet loss prompted Sweet and his colleagues to bump up their upper level estimates of sea level rise for 2100 and beyond.

Andrea Dutton, assistant professor of geology at the University of Florida, doesn’t find the sudden increase in sea level rise surprising. Her study of the oxygen isotopes found in ancient coral reefs across the world shows the rate of sea level rise has always varied from decade to decade, she said. Her research will be used to help refine projections for how melting ice in Greenland and Antarctica could affect sea levels.

‘Happening to us right now’

Regardless of what’s happening in the world’s polar regions, Bruce Mowry, city engineer for Miami Beach, is among those already dealing with the rising ocean. Sea level rise “is happening to us right now,” Mowry said. “I’m out meeting residents every day talking to them about the impacts.”

While the phrase rising seas prompts mental pictures of a rising ocean sweeping into beachfront hotels and homes — as it did in Daytona Beach during Hurricane Matthew last fall — the more pressing issues are the ones being encountered in Miami Beach and other neighborhoods that have drained their stormwater to the sea for generations.

The sea has begun pushing back, swelling with lunar high tides and storms, reversing the flow in drainage canals and flooding neighborhoods. Rising water infiltrates stormwater systems, coastal highways, septic tanks and fresh water wells.

Over the past couple of years in Miami Beach, “on a bright sunny day, the streets would fill with water,” twice a day with the tide, Mowry said. The city’s existing drainage system had created “avenues for water to come right into our city,” he said. Now the city is spending $500 million to hold back the tide and prevent flooding. The city has installed check valves on storm drains, and is building up streets and sidewalks, as well as changing some of its building codes.

Stormwater is the No. 1 sea level-related issue already occurring, said Stetson’s Evans, with most coastal communities in the Southeast United States already experiencing periodic stormwater drainage issues and failures.

The water level is 5 to 6 inches higher than when drainage pipes were installed 50 or more years ago, said Evans, who works with cities in Florida and Georgia on sea level rise issues. “When it rains heavily we have an issue because the water just can’t get out of the canal or stormwater basin.”

Most communities begin to plan because they are seeing saltwater in roads, said Evans, “and it’s coming into their yards and killing their grass.”

One of those communities is Longboat Key in Sarasota and Manatee counties, where residents have experienced “sunny day” street flooding in Longbeach Village, an older bayside neighborhood with the lowest elevation on the island.

Like other low-lying areas on bays and rivers, the island’s shoreline on Sarasota Bay is more vulnerable than the dune-protected Gulf coast, Town Manager David Bullock said. During unusually high tides, seawater rises through the storm drains and enters the streets

Lee Hayes Byron, Sarasota County’s sustainability manager, watched that near the Mar Vista restaurant in Longbeach during one recent flooding event on a sunny day.

“When a boat went by,” said Byron, “the puddle in the street moved.”

Not every coastal local government has documented problems.

Walton County spokesman Louis Svehla said his northwest Florida community hasn’t experienced any issues with sunny day flooding in their area.

A force multiplier

In South Florida, sea level rise is “a force multiplier,” said Jim Murley, chief resiliency officer for Miami-Dade County. “It’s slowly making natural events a little worse.”

“Sea level rise is taking place so gradually you’re not going to see it, but it’s amplifying those events,” Murley said. “People tend to overlook these events we need to be paying attention to.”

Bob Whitener, a retired Marine, couldn’t overlook the rising water at his family’s cottage on Cedar Key. His family has vacationed in a cottage there for about 75 years.

In 2006, he spent $11,000 to raise the cottage four feet, to keep it safe from floodwater. Now other neighbors are doing the same thing.

“It seems like in the last decade, things have started heating up,” Whitener said. In late May, he snapped photos in his backyard as seawater came up over the seawalls.

“High winds and a high tide from the southwest were blowing the water onto the island,” Whitener said. “That’s unusual.”

Such issues are only going to get worse, said Thomas Ruppert, an attorney and coastal planning specialist with the Florida Sea Grant College Program. “If it seems like a big deal during a high tide now, you can bet your bottom dollar you’d better start thinking about it really quick.”

Business is booming in backflow preventers as local governments and utilities try to keep the ocean from infiltrating stormwater systems. One of those cities is Fort Lauderdale, which has billed itself as “America’s Venice” since the 1920s.

“Turns out that was pretty darned appropriate,” said Ruppert. “It has a little ironic ring to it now.”

Venice, Italy is working to complete a set of $6 billion floodgates to hold back rising seas. Meanwhile, to keep Fort Lauderdale’s canal-laced neighborhoods from flooding, Ruppert said the city is installing backflow preventers and upgrading drainage systems.

In St. Augustine, the nation’s oldest city, nuisance flooding is now happening more than a dozen times a year, said Mayor Nancy Shaver.

Kathryn Frank, an assistant professor in the department of urban and regional planning at the University of Florida, has worked to document sea level rise on both coasts, in Flagler, St. Johns and Levy counties. In Levy County, Frank said, old-timers have described islands that are disappearing and places they can reach in their boats that they couldn’t before.

But defining the potential impacts of rising seas along Florida’s coast is not easy because so many changing dynamics are at work all at once. For example, Evans and Frank said it’s difficult to tease apart the factors driving erosion and other changes along the beach.

Erosion can’t be blamed on a single factor, said Evans. “But as the ocean rises, it will make that issue worse.” Florida already spends millions of dollars to battle beach erosion every year, and studies differ on whether beach renourishment helps or worsens erosion.

But the powerful storm surges from Hurricane Matthew and Hurricane Hermine in 2016 seemed to offer a glimpse of the damage that could occur in the future. Saltwater poured into seaside communities from Sarasota north to Apalachicola on the Gulf Coast and from New Smyrna Beach to the Carolinas on the Atlantic Coast. In many cases, the water remained for days.

Scientists haven’t determined whether higher seas worsened the widespread flooding, but they say the flooding illustrates the state’s vulnerability to the sea. If sea levels continue to rise, for example, higher seas would lead to more devastating impacts from storm surge.

In Flagler County, Hurricane Matthew’s erosion damage could cost more than $50 million to repair.

In Cedar Key, Hurricane Hermine’s storm surge measured 7.5 feet. Topped by powerful waves, it pushed water levels to a record 6.1 feet above the mean higher-tide mark. Records on the island date back to 1914. Kathryn Frank, the UF researcher, said one road in the town remained flooded for a week. So did a spot on the main highway to the island archipelago. Other low-lying areas in Cedar Key remained flooded for a month.

“Those are the places that are just going to get worse,” she said. “They’re vulnerable because they’re low-lying and sea level rise will make that much more difficult.”

The sea’s insidious reach

Hermine created another issue that’s forecast to occur with increasing frequency.

The water table, the shallow layer of groundwater under most of Florida, will get higher, said Sweet, the NOAA oceanographer. Ocean water interacts with underground aquifers and the higher density saltwater displaces the fresh water.

It also will take fewer inches of rain for the soil to become saturated, said Frank. “It will flood more easily and the floods will stay longer because the water table is higher.”

Florida’s geographic location adds two additional factors that could contribute to higher-than-average sea level rise: its proximity to the Gulf Stream and the influence of the earth’s gravitational forces.

The Gulf Stream, a seawater current that parallels the Florida Coast in the Atlantic Ocean, is seasonal and typically slows down in the fall, Sweet said. It’s also sensitive to changes in atmospheric pressure, winds and disturbances along a region influenced by the Bermuda High, a ridge of high pressure that expands and shrinks across Florida and the western Atlantic Ocean.

“When the Gulf Stream slows down, coastal sea levels rise,” said Sweet. Since the mid-2000s, “there’s a noticeable, more prolonged slowdown.”

Gravity could come into play as the melt continues on Antarctica and Greenland, said Sweet. For now, the “tremendous ice” pulls water closer, he said. As it melts and the seas rise, the gravitational pull will be less and the water will be released to go elsewhere. Some forecasts, he said, call for it to pool higher around Florida, which will be “particularly sensitive to the reduction of ice in Antarctica.”

Long before flooding permanently swamps low-lying parts of Florida, Sweet said people who live along tidally influenced bodies of water, such as coastal rivers and tidal creeks, will begin experiencing rapid increases in the frequency and duration of tidal flooding. Using the mid-range scenarios, NOAA projects that could be happening by 2030-2040

The change won’t be gradual, said Sweet. “It’s going to be happening by leaps and bounds.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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