suggests

Trump’s Tough Talk on Nafta Suggests Pact’s Demise Is Imminent

WASHINGTON — The North American Free Trade Agreement, long disparaged by President Trump as bad for the United States, was edging closer toward collapse as negotiators gathered for a fourth round of contentious talks here this week.

In recent weeks, the Trump administration has sparred with American businesses that support Nafta and has pushed for significant changes that negotiators from Mexico and Canada say are nonstarters. All the while, the president has continued threatening to withdraw the United States from the trade agreement, which he has maligned as the worst in history.

As the trade talks began on Wednesday, Mr. Trump, seated in the Oval Office beside Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, said it was “possible” that the United States would drop out of Nafta.

“It’s possible we won’t be able to make a deal, and it’s possible that we will,” the president said. “We’ll see if we can do the kind of changes that we need. We have to protect our workers. And in all fairness, the prime minister wants to protect Canada and his people also. So we’ll see what happens with Nafta, but I’ve been opposed to Nafta for a long time, in terms of the fairness of Nafta.”

Mr. Trudeau, in comments later at the Canadian Embassy, said he remains optimistic about the potential for a Nafta deal but noted that Canadians must be “ready for anything.”

The collapse of the 1994 trade deal would reverberate throughout the global economy, inflicting damage far beyond Mexico, Canada and the United States and affecting industries as varied as manufacturing, agriculture and energy. It would also sow at least short-term chaos for businesses like the auto industry that have arranged their North American supply chains around the deal’s terms.

The ripple effects could also impede other aspects of the president’s agenda, for example, by solidifying political opposition among farm state Republicans who support the pact and jeopardizing legislative priorities like tax reform. And it could have far-reaching political effects, including the Mexican general election in July 2018 and Mr. Trump’s own re-election campaign.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada met Wednesday with members of the House Ways and Means Committee about the Nafta negotiations on Capitol Hill in Washington.CreditSaul Loeb/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Business leaders have become spooked by the increasing odds of the trade deal’s demise, and on Monday, more than 310 state and local chambers of commerce sent a letter to the administration urging the United States to remain in Nafta. Speaking in Mexico on Tuesday, the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Thomas J. Donohue, said the negotiations had “reached a critical moment. And the chamber has had no choice but ring the alarm bells.”

“Let me be forceful and direct,” he said. “There are several poison pill proposals still on the table that could doom the entire deal.”

The potential demise of the trade deal prompted supportive messages from labor unions, including the A.F.L.-C.I.O. and the United Steelworkers, as well as some Democrats.

“Any trade proposal that makes multinational corporations nervous is a good sign that it’s moving in the right direction for workers,” said Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of Ohio.

If the deal does fall apart, the United States, Canada and Mexico would revert to average tariffs that are relatively low — just a few percent in most cases. But several agricultural products would face much higher duties. American farmers would see a 25 percent tariff on shipments of beef, 45 percent on turkey and some dairy products, and 75 percent on chicken, potatoes and high fructose corn syrup sent to Mexico.

For months, some of the most powerful business leaders in the country, and the lobbies and political figures that represent them, had hoped that the president’s strong wording was more a negotiating tactic than a real threat and that he would ultimately go along with their agenda of modernization. Nafta is nearly a quarter-century old, and people across the political spectrum say it should be updated for the 21st century while preserving the open trading system that has linked the North American economy.

The pact has allowed industries to reorganize their supply chains around the continent to take advantage of the three countries’ differing resources and strengths, lifting the continent’s economies and more than tripling America’s trade with Canada and Mexico since its inception. Economists contend that many workers have benefited from these changes in the form of higher wages and employment, but many workers have lost their jobs as manufacturing plants relocated to Mexico or Canada, making Nafta a target of labor unions, many Democrats and a few industries.

But most business leaders had hoped that the president, whose Nafta criticism has been unrelenting, would be content to oversee tweaks to modernize the agreement, and then call it a political transformation.

It sometimes looked as if that might be the case. The appointment of Robert Lighthizer as United States trade representative, who pledged in his confirmation hearing to “do no harm” to Nafta, reassured many on Capitol Hill, where Mr. Lighthizer had long served in aide roles. And when the administration released its negotiating goals in July for the deal, they echoed many priorities of previous administrations.

But now, eight weeks into trade talks that were originally supposed to conclude by year’s end, the administration continues to push for concessions that the business community warns would essentially undermine the pact, and which few observers believe Canada and Mexico could agree to politically.

“Everyone knows that much of what is being proposed in key areas are, in effect, non-starters, which begs the question as to what, exactly, the administration is trying to achieve,” Michael Camuñez, a former assistant secretary of commerce under President Barack Obama, wrote in an email. It’s not unreasonable to think that by accommodating the president’s most extreme positions, American negotiators are “simply giving Trump cover to do what he really wants: withdraw from the agreement,” he said.

Phil Levy, a trade adviser for the George W. Bush administration, said the president was most likely looking for a pretext to kill Nafta.

“Find me the last trade agreement that U.S. passed with the chamber in opposition,” Mr. Levy said. “You don’t have a chance. It’s hard enough with the U.S. Chamber in favor.”

The most controversial of the administration’s proposals, floated by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, would incorporate a sunset clause in the deal, causing Nafta to automatically expire unless all three countries voted periodically to continue it. That provision has drawn swift condemnation from the chamber and other industry groups like the National Association of Manufacturers, which say that it would instill so much uncertainty in the future of Nafta that it would basically nullify the trade agreement.

Another contentious push by the United States centers on changing Nafta’s rules governing how much of a product needs to be made in North America in order to enjoy tariff-free trade between the countries. The United States is pushing for higher levels, including a requirement to make 85 percent of the value of automobiles and auto parts in North America, up from 62.5 percent currently, and an additional requirement for 50 percent of the value to come from the United States.

That has pitted some of the world’s biggest auto companies against the Trump administration. Industry representatives say such high and complex barriers could deter companies from manufacturing in the United States altogether.

Employees at work in a new Honda plant in Mexico. CreditEduardo Verdugo/Associated Press

The administration has also proposed limits on the number of federal government contracts that Mexican and Canadian companies can win, as well as significant changes to how disputes are resolved under Nafta.

Business groups say they are firmly opposed to an American push to curtail a provision called investor-state dispute settlement, which allows companies to sue Canada, Mexico and the United States for unfair treatment under Nafta. Meanwhile, Canada has said that it will not consider dispensing with another provision, Nafta’s Chapter 19, which allows countries to challenge each other’s anti-dumping and countervailing duty decisions before an independent panel.

In his remarks Tuesday, Mr. Donohue called the administration’s proposed changes to these provisions “unnecessary and unacceptable.”

Mr. Donohue’s remarks followed a sharp exchange of words between the Chamber of Commerce, the country’s most powerful business lobby, and the Trump administration on Friday.

John Murphy, senior vice president of international policy for the chamber, said the administration’s proposals had “no identifiable constituency backing them” and had sparked “a remarkable degree of unity in their rejection.” He added that business leaders had perhaps never been at odds with an administration over a trade negotiation on so many fronts.

Hours later, the administration fired back.

“The president has been clear that Nafta has been a disaster for many Americans, and achieving his objectives requires substantial change,” said Emily Davis, a spokeswoman for the trade representative. “These changes of course will be opposed by entrenched Washington lobbyists and trade associations. We have always understood that draining the swamp would be controversial in Washington.”

Mr. Trump is known for taking a tough negotiating stance, and analysts said the administration might view its ambitious opening requests as a way to gain more leverage in the Nafta negotiations.

But Mr. Murphy and others in the business community cautioned that such an approach would probably be ill-fated. In both Canada and Mexico, Mr. Trump is unpopular, and caving to his demands could have devastating consequences for local politicians. Mexican government officials have repeatedly said they would not negotiate with a gun to the head.

“There’s an old adage in negotiations, never take a hostage you wouldn’t shoot,” Mr. Murphy said.

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Ann Coulter (White Slut, White Feminist, White Idiot) suggests ‘death squads for the people who ruined America’ with immigration

Ann Coulter suggested vigilante violence in response to President Donald Trump’s apparent flip-flop on immigration.

The right-wing provocateur appeared last week on the Fox Radio program hosted by Todd Starnes, where she called for the president’s removal from office one way or another, reported Right Wing Watch.

“We have made as clear as you can possibly make it, we want less immigration,” Coulter said. “Stop dumping the third world on the country.”

She said the president had been elected because of his harsh anti-immigration policies, which she helped shape, and she called for action by “Second Amendment people,” as Trump termed gun advocates during the campaign.

“If he continues down this path, well I guess there are three options,” Coulter said. “There’s the organizing the death squads for the people who ruined America, because there will be no more hope.”
She paused a moment before offering two other possible options.

“I guess the other possibility is to, well, I don’t think anyone would mind him being impeached,” Coulter added. “What’s the faction opposing that? And then at least we’ll get Mike Pence. But in terms of saving America, maybe a third party.”

Coulter made strikingly similar remarks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2014, where she warned Republicans not to support immigration reform.

“If you pass amnesty that’s it, it’s over, and then we organize the death squads for the people that wrecked America,” Coulter said three years ago.

Trump suggests UK police should have stopped attack by ‘loser terrorist’

US President Donald Trump called a bombing at a London Underground station another attack “by a loser terrorist” on Friday, and suggested police there may have missed an opportunity to prevent it.

British government officials denounced the terror attack that injured 22 commuters. Israel also condemned it.

The Metropolitan Police said the attack on a train at Parsons Green station was caused by the detonation of an improvised explosive device, as photos from the scene showed a bucket with wires emerging from its torched lid. The National Health Service said 22 people were taken to hospitals with injuries, though none were thought to be life-threatening. Police said most of those injured were suffering flash burns.

Trump tweeted Friday: “Another attack in London by a loser terrorist. These are sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard. Must be proactive!”

Another attack in London by a loser terrorist.These are sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard. Must be proactive!

He later added: “Loser terrorists must be dealt with in a much tougher manner. The internet is their main recruitment tool which we must cut off & use better!”

Loser terrorists must be dealt with in a much tougher manner.The internet is their main recruitment tool which we must cut off & use better!

Israeli officials on Friday also denounced the blast, which London police had declared a terror attack.Witnesses reported seeing passengers covered in blood and with facial burns and hair coming off at Parsons Green station in west London after the explosion on the train.

“Israel condemns the #terror attack in London,” Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely tweeted. “We stand with you and our prayers for a quick recovery go out to the injured.”

Israel’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan echoed her remarks.

“Last week we brought love & culture to London,” he wrote on Twitter, referring to a four-day Israel celebration in the English capital last week. “Today terrorists sent message of hate. Israel & UK stand together against #terror”

Also Friday, the mayor of London said the city “will never be intimidated or defeated by terrorism.” Sadiq Khan said the city “utterly condemns the hideous individuals who attempt to use terror to harm us and destroy our way of life.”

He added that Londoners should remain “calm and vigilant.”

British Prime Minister Theresa May will chair a meeting of the government’s emergency committee in response to the incident.

May tweeted Friday: “My thoughts are with those injured at Parsons Green and emergency services who are responding bravely to this terrorist incident.”

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said people should “keep calm and go about their normal lives” as emergency services respond to the Parsons Green attack.

He added that it would be “wrong to speculate,” and that police and transit authorities “are on it.”

There will be an increased police presence on London as the incident is investigated.

Police did not provide details on any suspects.

China internet finance body suggests framework for virtual currencies

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – A senior executive at China’s internet finance body has urged Chinese regulators to create a tougher framework of regulations to support the development of digital currencies amid Beijing’s crackdown on trading on virtual tender such as bitcoin.

Chinese regulators are cracking down on the cryptocurrency sector, in a bid to stamp out potential financial risks as consumers pile into a highly risky and speculative market that has seen unprecedented growth this year.

Major Chinese bitcoin exchange BTCChina said on Thursday it would stop all trading from Sept. 30, setting off a slide in the value of the cryptocurrency that left it more than 30 percent away from the record highs it hit earlier in the month.

Li Lihui, a senior official at the National Internet Finance Association of China and a former president of the Bank of China, said on Friday at a conference in Shanghai that global regulators should work together on digital currencies.

He added there should be a distinction between digital currencies, which were being studied and developed by authorities such as the Chinese central bank, and digital “tokens” such as bitcoin, which Li said were stateless and did not have sovereign support.

Digital currencies developed by authorities could be used for good with the right regulation, Li said.

“I understand (China’s crackdown) is all about protecting market stability and protecting the interest of investors, so halting these kinds of initial coin offerings is a very necessary action from the regulators,” Li said.

China has been cracking down on fundraising through launches of token-based digital currencies, targeting initial coin offerings in a market that has ballooned this year.

The internet finance body on Wednesday urged its members to abide by Chinese laws not deal in cryptocurrencies.

The state-backed association was set up by the central bank and has members such as banks, brokerages, funds and consumer finance companies.

British Muslims twice as likely to espouse anti-Semitic views, survey suggests

(JTA) — In a survey of 5,466 British adults, the prevalence of anti-Semitic views among Muslim respondents was two to four times higher than in any other segment of the population.

The results are part of a report titled “Anti-Semitism in contemporary Great Britain” that the London-based Institute for Jewish Policy Research published Monday based on face-to-face interviews and online questioners conducted earlier this year and in 2016 with help from the Community Security Trust, or CST.

“The prevalence of negativity towards Jews and Israel is, on average, twice as high among Muslims than the general population,” states the 85-page report, which includes data from interviews with 995 self-identified Muslims of varying degrees of observance, as well as 529 respondents from the far left and 355 from the far right.

Whereas nearly 80 percent of Christian respondents agreed with the statement that “a British Jew is just as British as any other British person,” only 61 percent of Muslims and 59 percent of the Muslims who described themselves as religious concurred.

Among Muslims, 28 percent agreed with the assertion that “Jews think they are better than other people,” compared to 13 percent in the general population. Among Muslims, 14 percent said the Holocaust was exaggerated compared to 4 percent in the general population and 8 percent said the Holocaust is a myth compared to only 1 percent in the larger group.

Overall, however, about 70 percent of the respondents indicated that they have a favorable opinion of Jews and do not entertain any anti-Semitic ideas or views at all, according to the survey, the authors of a report about its conclusions wrote.

The survey also revealed a strong correlation between the prevalence of anti-Semitic opinions and opinions hostile to Israel: Of those who do not hold any attitudes hostile to the Jewish state, 86 percent do not hold any anti-Semitic attitudes either. But among those holding a large number of anti-Israel attitudes, only 26 percent do not hold any anti-Semitic attitudes.

Asked about Israel, half of respondents said they were either neutral or had nothing to say, and 17 percent reported having favorable views about the country. A third of respondents said they had unfavorable attitudes toward Israel.

Israel emerged in the poll as more popular than Russia (52 percent unfavorable), Iran and Syria, but less than the United States (21 percent unfavorable views) and Germany (10 percent.)

The report’s author, Daniel Staetsky of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, said the report’s “strength of analysis owes a great deal to the size of the data set and the detail that it provides, but also, importantly, to our determination to let realistic and very specific concerns about anti-Semitism, held by Jews and non-Jews, inform the line of inquiry.”

North Korea Tremor Suggests Nation Has Conducted 6th Nuclear Test

SEOUL, South Korea — A seismic tremor was detected near an underground nuclear test site in North Korea on Sunday, prompting a scramble to determine if the North had conducted a sixth nuclear test in a direct challenge to President Trump.

If the North has tested another nuclear device, it would be an extraordinary show of defiance by North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, against Mr. Trump, who has warned he would unleash “fire and fury” against North Korea if Pyongyang continued to threaten the United States with nuclear missiles.

South Korea’s Defense Ministry and Meteorological Administration said an “artificial” tremor with a magnitude of 5.6, detected at 12:36 p.m. local time, had emanated from the Punggye-ri underground nuclear test in northwestern North Korea. President Moon Jae-in of South Korea called an emergency meeting of his National Security Council in response to the report.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan said it appeared likely that the North had carried out its sixth nuclear test. “If North Korea has conducted a nuclear test, we can never accept that,” he told reporters, saying he would call a meeting of his own National Security Council.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Abe and Mr. Trump had spoken by telephone and resolved to put more pressure on North Korea.

Analysts and officials have been warning that North Korea would conduct more nuclear and long-range missile tests, to master the technologies needed to build a nuclear warhead small and sophisticated enough to be fitted onto an intercontinental ballistic missile. Last week, South Korea’s National Intelligence Service told lawmakers in Seoul that North Korea was technically ready to conduct another nuclear test any time at Punggye-ri, where all its previous tests had taken place.

Hours before the tremor was detected on Sunday, North Korea’s state news agency said the country had developed a hydrogen bomb that could be mounted on an intercontinental ballistic missile. The report offered no evidence for the claim, other than photos of Kim Jong-un, the country’s leader, inspecting what it said was the weapon.

Trump threatens shutdown, suggests controversial pardon at Arizona rally

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-holds-campaign-style-rally-amid-large-protests-in-arizona/2017/08/22/dd7c83c0-8796-11e7-961d-2f373b3977ee_story.html?utm_term=.a98d875ebb57

 

 President Trump on Tuesday threatened to shut down the government over border wall funding, said the North American Free Trade Agreement is likely to be terminated and signaled that he was prepared to pardon former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is anathema to the Latino community.

Trump’s freewheeling comments came during a boisterous campaign rally here during which he also went on an extended diatribe about the media, blaming reporters for the negative fallout he has received over his responses to the hate-fueled violence in Charlottesville.

Arpaio was convicted last month of criminal contempt for ignoring a federal judge’s order to stop detaining people because he merely suspected them of being undocumented immigrants. A major Trump supporter during last year’s campaign, he awaits sentencing.

“So was Sheriff Joe convicted for doing his job?” Trump asked the crowd. “You know what, I’ll make a prediction: I think he’s going to be just fine, okay? But I won’t do it tonight because I don’t want to cause any controversy. But Sheriff Joe should feel good.”

Trump last week told Fox News that he was “seriously considering’’ a pardon for Arpaio and said he might do it soon, sparking speculation he would use Tuesday’s campaign rally here to make the move.

In a speech that stretched well over an hour, Trump also expressed frustration with efforts to negotiate with Canada and Mexico to improve NAFTA, saying he was more likely to terminate the deal. He also blamed “obstructionist Democrats” for standing in the way of funding for a U.S.-Mexico border wall and suggested a government shutdown might be needed to force their hand. And Trump called for ending the filibuster rule requiring 60 votes for many issues in the U.S. Senate, a move that Republican leaders have refused to embrace.

At the outset of the rally, Trump selectively recounted the series of statements he made in the days following the melee in Charlottesville, arguing that he “spoke out forcefully against hatred and bigotry and violence” but that the media — whom he called “sick people” — refused to report it properly.

“You know where my heart is,” Trump said, before pulling a copy of his first of three statements on the violence out of his suit coat and reading it to his audience. He later accused the media of giving a platform to the hate groups that were central to the violence in Charlottesville that led to three deaths.

Following his comments last week, Trump was criticized by Democrats and Republicans alike for blaming “both sides” for the violence and saying that “fine people” had marched along with white supremacists to protest the removal of a Confederate statue. He did not mention either of those remarks Tuesday.

The rally, organized by Trump’s reelection campaign, came as the president continues to face criticism for his response to Charlottesville and feuds with fellow Republicans in Congress whose cooperation he will need to kick-start his sputtering legislative agenda next month.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton (D) had urged Trump to not come to his city this week, saying that it was too tense of a time in the wake of the deadly Charlottesville clash between white nationalists and counterprotesters and that Trump could be setting the stage for more violent strife here. He also said that a pardon of Arpaio could make the situation even more dire.

Inside a partially filled Phoenix Convention Center, Trump was given a hero’s welcome from supporters who chanted “USA! USA! USA!” and waved signs reading “Drain the Swamp,” “Make America Strong Again” and “Make America Proud Again.”

“You were there from the start, you’ve been there every day since, and believe me, Arizona, I will never forget it,” Trump said at the start of his remarks, referencing a large crowd he drew at the site early in his campaign. His crowd Tuesday night numbered in the thousands but did not completely fill the hall at the convention center.

Before his arrival, Trump traveled to Yuma, where he received a closed briefing on border protection — something he touts as being among his administration’s successes — and greeted Marines and their families, signing a couple of autographs on camouflage hats.

Trump was greeted at the airport by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R), who was not expected to attend the rally. Nor were the state’s two Republican senators, with whom Trump has been openly sparring.

There was a heavy police presence in downtown Phoenix, with law enforcement seeking to maintain civility between Trump supporters and detractors. Authorities used tear gas to disperse protesters after the rally ended.

About an hour before Trump was scheduled to arrive, hundreds of protesters gathered across the street, shouting, “This is what democracy looks like!” Metal barricades divided them from the red-capped people streaming into the rally, some grinning and waving.

A police officer wearing a helmet and bulletproof vest could not say how many people had come to demonstrate against the president’s visit. “A lot,” he offered.

Uzma Jafri, a 40-year-old doctor from Phoenix, walked through the crowds of Trump supporters and protesters with a backpack of medical supplies. She said she came here to quickly treat anyone if violence broke out.

“My ethical background, and my moral background, is to assist anyone who needs it — regardless of if they hate me,” said Jafri, who poured a bottle of water over her black hijab in the 107-degree heat.

Brian Ratchford came to the event armed with a .357-caliber gun to defend Trump supporters if things got out of hand

“He’s an American for Americans,” said Ratchford, 47, of Tucson. What Trump said after Charlottesville “was perfect — people on both sides were causing the problems,” said Ratchford, who had been outside the convention center since 10 a.m.

Tuesday night’s event was part of a familiar pattern for Trump.

When he finds himself under attack or slipping in popularity, he often holds a rally in a place like this: a diverse blue city that’s home to liberal protesters but surrounded by red suburbs and rural towns filled with Trump supporters who will turn out in droves.

It happened in the first weeks of his presidential campaign, when he was dismissed as a sideshow and criticized for his comments on undocumented immigrants — only to be greeted by thousands of fans, along with protesters, at a rally at the convention center.

Then in March 2016, when Trump grew frustrated that he still had not become the presumptive Republican nominee, he planned a massive rally in inner-city Chicago that attracted thousands of supporters but was canceled at the last minute because of the high number of protesters. This March, when his presidency seemed constantly under attack, Trump held a rally in Nashville that attracted at least 2,500 protesters.

Unlike rallies in states that are solidly Republican, these events allow Trump to highlight the deep division in the country — and force voters to pick a side.

In Phoenix, campaign organizers expected more than 10,000 supporters to show up at the convention center on Tuesday night, and numerous counterprotests were planned for outside the rally. Local activists said they hoped to outnumber the rally­goers, sending a clear message to the president after the Charlottesville rally this month that attracted neo-Nazis and white supremacists.

“By coming here in a time of national crisis and a national question of where people stand, he is doubling down on his bigotry, continuing to race-bait and speak to his base,” said Carlos García, executive director of Puente Arizona, which advocates for migrants.

Phoenix is home to some of the most organized progressive activists in the country, and they have provided a much-studied example of how to fight at a grass-roots level to challenge lawmakers and change policies that target undocumented immigrants. The Phoenix area gave liberals one of their few victories last November: The ouster of Arpaio, the longtime Maricopa County sheriff, who was accused of encouraging his deputies to employ racial profiling and enforce federal immigration laws in the Phoenix suburbs.

In July, Arpaio was convicted of criminal contempt in Arizona for ignoring a judge’s order to stop detaining people because he merely suspected them of being undocumented immigrants. His sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 5, and he faces up to six months in prison.

Last week, Trump told Fox News the former sheriff is a “great American patriot” who has “done a lot in the fight against illegal immigration.” Arpaio told CNN that he had not been invited to attend the Tuesday night rally.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters traveling with the president Tuesday that Trump was not planning to announce a pardon for Arpaio at the rally.

“There will be no discussion of that today at any point, and no action will be taken on that front at any point today,” she said.

A pardon — whenever it might come — would be likely to ignite the anger of hundreds of activists who spent more than a decade peacefully pushing for change through traditional channels, as well as the voters who chose not to reelect him.

“A pardon for Joe Arpaio is a pardon for white supremacy,” Jess O’Connell, chief executive of the Democratic National Committee, said at a news conference here Monday.

Early Tuesday morning, local authorities closed streets near the convention center and installed barricades along the sidewalks aimed at keeping protesters separated from rallygoers.Many businesses and government buildings downtown closed early.

In the hours before the rally, as Trump supporters lined up outside the convention site, a police officer on his motorcycle drove by, repeatedly offering this instruction: “Folks, please drink water. If you wait until you’re thirsty, it’s too late.”

Protest organizers said one challenge would be managing the hundreds of people not affiliated with their groups who showed up wanting to make a statement. Organizers and local lawmakers were urging a peaceful demonstration.

However, there were clashes after the rally, and police eventually used smoke canisters to disperse the crowds. No injuries were immediately reported.

While Democrats and immigration rights activists have been holding news conferences and speaking out against the president this week, Republicans have been quiet. No one answered the phone at the Arizona GOP offices on Monday or Tuesday.

Arizona’s two Republican senators, John McCain and Jeff Flake, have at times been critical of the president. Trump has tweeted praise of Kelli Ward, a former state lawmaker with far-right views and a long-shot Senate candidate who is challenging Flake.

In the hours leading up to the rally, a few dozen Ward supporters were out on the streets wearing yellow T-shirts reading “TRUMP 2016/WARD 2018” on the front and “MAKE ARIZONA GREAT AGAIN” on the back.

This was Trump’s ninth rally in the state — and his fourth at the Phoenix Convention Center.

His first event at the convention center was on July 11, 2015, a few weeks after he announced he was running for president and gave a rambling speech that cast undocumented immigrants as criminals and “rapists.”

Although those remarks prompted criticism and led several corporations to cut their business ties with him, the support for his campaign was evident in Phoenix, where he had to upgrade to a larger venue and then still had to turn away many supporters — a showing that shocked many Arizonans.

Lourdes Medrano in Phoenix and Philip Rucker in Washington contributed to this report.

Galaxy Note 8 teaser suggests it’s just a larger S8 with a stylus

https://www.theverge.com/circuitbreaker/2017/8/15/16148178/samsung-galaxy-note-8-video-teaser

 

With just over a week to go before the Galaxy Note 8 is officially unveiled, Samsung has issued an upbeat teaser video for its next Android smartphone. As most predictions and leaks of the Note 8 have suggested, this teaser points to a device that’s just a scaled-up variant of the successful Galaxy S8 from earlier this year. Given how much we liked the S8 and S8 Plus, which are our current top picks for best smartphone to buy, that’s no bad thing. Samsung will also, understandably, be feeling rather more cautious with the Note 8 than it was with the ill-fated Galaxy Note 7 of last year.

Accompanied by the tagline of “a powerful device to do bigger things,” the Note 8 will likely serve as the Galaxy S8 Plus Plus (or should that be Pro Plus? Plus Pro?) and differentiate itself a little bit with the included S Pen stylus.

Samsung’s Galaxy Unpacked event for the Galaxy Note 8 is scheduled for August 23rd.

This video suggests that Mike Pence is in deep, deep trouble

http://www.rawstory.com/2017/07/this-video-confirms-that-mike-pence-is-in-deep-deep-trouble/

 

Over the weekend, the New York Times reported that Donald Trump Jr. met with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Kremlin-connected lawyer promising compromising information about Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. But back in January, Mike Pence vehemently denied that Trump campaign members had any contact with Russian officials.

“Did any adviser or anybody in the Trump campaign have any contact with the Russians who were trying to meddle in the election?” John Dickerson of “Face the Nation” asked the vice president-elect on January 15.

“Oh, of course not,” Pence responded. “And I think to suggest that is to give—to give credence—to some of these… bizarre rumors that have swirled around the candidacy and the fact that a few news organizations—not this one—actually trafficked in a memo that was produced as opposition research and associated that with intelligence efforts, I think could only be attributed to media bias.”

In the same interview, Pence also defended incoming national security adviser Michael Flynn, who he said “did not discuss [with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak] anything having to do with the United States’ decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia.”

Flynn resigned less than a month later.

EGYPTIAN MUMMY DNA STUDY SUGGESTS CLOSE TIES WITH MIDDLE EAST, EUROPE

Many treasures have been found in the mummy-laden crypts of ancient Egyptians, such as items made of gold, silver and other precious metals. But the mummies themselves contain a very valuable material—DNA—holding important information about the ancient Egyptians and whence they came. Now, for the first time, researchers have analyzed DNA from a large number of mummies, using a method they say avoids the potential for contamination, shedding light on the mysteries of old Egypt.

In a study published May 30 in the journal Nature Communications, scientists looked at DNA from 151 mummified Egyptians, which were entombed from about 1400 B.C. to just after 400 A.D., in the Roman period. They found that the genetic material within the mummies was more similar to ancient peoples of the Near East and the Levant (an area of the eastern Mediterranean including Israel and Palestine) than it is to modern Egyptians. Their analysis suggests that conquests by Alexander the Great and other foreigners didn’t have as large a genetic influence on ancient Egyptians as some have thought, says study first author Verena Schuenemann, with the Institute for Archaeological Sciences at Germany’s University of Tübingen. The study also shows genetic linkage between ancient Egyptians and Neolithic peoples from modern-day Turkey and Europe, Schuenemann says.

Three mummies had enough DNA preserved to allow the scientists to look at genes from throughout their genome. One of these had a gene “which contributes to lighter skin pigmentation and was shown to be at high frequency in Neolithic Anatolia,” or modern-day Turkey, the researchers wrote.

egypt-mummyThe sarcophagus of Tadja, from the ancient Egyptian site of Abusir el-Meleq, contained one of the mummies whose DNA was analyzed. BPK/AEGYPTISCHES MUSEUM UND PAPYRUSSAMMLUNG, SMB/SANDRA STEISS

The researchers obtained mitochondrial DNA—genetic material found outside a cell’s nucleus, which is passed down from mothers to their offsprings—in 90 individuals. “We were surprised to observe [such] good mitochondrial DNA preservation,” Schuenemann says. “We did not expect this due to environmental conditions and chemicals used in mummification process.” The authors suggest using these techniques could help others study DNA from a wide sample of mummies.

The research “succeeds where previous studies on Egyptian mummies have failed or fallen short,” Hannes Schroeder, a paleo­geneticist at the University of Copenhagen who wasn’t involved in the study, told Nature.

Scholars have debated whether Egyptian DNA might be too degraded to analyze, and the degree to which this material might be contaminated with modern genetic material. To avoid contamination, the researchers did their work in a clean room and treated mummified parts with UV light to remove recently deposited DNA, and scraped off exteriors of bones to get to the genetic material within.

The mummies come from the archaeological site of Abusir el-Meleq, situated on the Nile River in what was ancient Middle Egypt. Since all the mummies were from this area, the scientists note that their results cannot be generalized to the south or north of Egypt (Upper or Lower Egypt), which may have been more or less affected by foreign conquest.

The study also suggests that gene flow from Sub-Saharan Africa to Egypt has significantly picked up in the last 1,500 years, likely facilitated by the slave trade, which began early in this time period.