Trump Is Trying To Take Away Americans’ Access to Popular Apps by Executive Order

“The Trump administration has been hyping its hate for TikTok (and, now, WeChat) as a national security matter. That premise is incredibly thin.

Yes, China’s government could compel U.S. user data from Bytedance, but it’s hard to imagine for what purpose it would do this or how this would somehow threaten the country’s safety. It’s not as if TikTok requires users to submit especially sensitive data. And if the kind of data users provide TikTok really is a huge threat in Beijing’s hands, then this threat extends to all digital tools made in China. For that matter: The U.S. government can pry user records from American tech companies—and while the Chinese Communist Party poses little threat to individual Americans outside China, the American authorities can use your data to punish you.”

Trump’s New Tariffs on Canadian Aluminum Are Indefensible

“When President Donald Trump imposed 10 percent tariffs on imported aluminum in March 2018, it was (predictably) American aluminum-consuming companies that suffered the most.

Companies like Whirlpool Corp., for example. The appliance manufacturer—which had previously been a cheerleader for Trump’s tariffs on imported washing machines—saw its sales and stock prices tumble in the months after Trump’s aluminum tariffs took effect, as the import taxes added to the company’s input costs. It takes a lot of aluminum to build a washing machine, after all.”

“Those tariffs had been lifted in 2019 as Trump sought to negotiate the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA), which officially took effect last month. But with the new trade deal in place, Trump has quickly returned to his old tricks. “Canada was taking advantage of us, as usual,” he said Thursday during a largely off-the-cuff speech at the plant. The new tariffs are slated to take effect on August 16.

Ostensibly, the justification for reimposing these tariffs is the claim that imports have increased dramatically in recent months. In reality, that’s a bunch of nonsense. The Aluminium Association says the claims of a surge in aluminum imports “are grossly exaggerated.” In fact, aluminum imports from Canada are below 2017 levels—the last year before Trump’s first round of tariffs took effect.

And even if aluminum imports were increasing, that’s not something to get upset about. The United States literally does not produce enough aluminum to meet its domestic needs, so imports are essential for supporting the 97 percent of American aluminum industry jobs that are in downstream production. And when more aluminum—or anything else—is traded back and forth between the United States and Canada, both countries benefit from the transaction. That’s how trade works.

It’s not exactly clear what Trump hopes the reinstated tariffs will accomplish, but the one thing that should be obvious is that American aluminum-consuming industries will once again be punished by the president’s trade policies.”

“It’s ideologue meets grifter”: How Bill Barr made Trumpism possible

“Under Barr, the Department of Justice has become a political instrument for President Trump. Whether it’s misleading the public about the Mueller report or using tear gas to disperse peaceful protesters so that Trump could stage a photo op, Barr has repeatedly sacrificed the dignity of his office in order to please his boss.

If you don’t know much about Barr’s history, it’s hard to make sense of his behavior. Having already served as AG under George H.W. Bush’s administration, Barr had a solid reputation as a serious guy. When he reemerged in 2018 as Trump’s pick for attorney general, he was widely seen as a creature of the Republican establishment, and his selection was “greeted with a measure of relief” within the DOJ, according to the New York Times.

But events since have shown him to be a more than willing accomplice in Trump’s slow-motion destruction of democratic norms. Which raises the question: Why has someone like Bill Barr given himself over to an aspiring authoritarian like Trump?”

“He believes the president should be more powerful than Congress and the courts. In his mind, that’s the only thing that can keep the country safe when it is threatened by war, natural disaster, or economic collapse. He believes that is what the founders intended.”

“it’s funny watching interviews with him. He’s very measured in how he speaks, but what he is saying is very far right and deeply conservative across the board. And his actions are extraordinary, at times unprecedented, for an attorney general, from dispatching National Guard troops from multiple states all over DC, to setting up a command bunker where he oversaw all of that, to removing prosecutors and pushing for lower sentences for the president’s allies. He speaks carefully but his actions are anything but measured.”

A federal judge blocked Trump’s rule creating a wealth test for immigrants

“The rule is only one of several policies the Trump administration has pursued to dramatically shift which immigrants are legally able to come to the United States. Under Trump, the legal immigration system increasingly rewards skills and wealth over family ties to the US, while shutting out a growing number of people from low-income backgrounds. (Though he has even imposed restrictions on skilled immigrants amid the pandemic.)

Heeding calls from 31 states to end refugee admissions from Syria, Trump has slashed the total number of refugees the US accepts annually to just 18,000 this year, the fewest in history and down from a cap of 110,000 just two years ago.

He’s placed restrictions on the citizens of many Muslim-majority and African countries. His travel ban prevents citizens of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Venezuela, and North Korea from obtaining any kind of visa allowing them to enter the US. He also added restrictions on immigrants from six additional countries: Myanmar, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria, Sudan, and Tanzania.”

“With the public charge regulation, Trump is painting immigrants as abusing public benefits. But they are actually “less likely to consume welfare benefits and, when they do, they generally consume a lower dollar value of benefits than native-born Americans,” according to the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank.
In 2016, the average per capita value of public benefits consumed by immigrants was $3,718, as compared to $6,081 among native-born Americans. Noncitizens were slightly more likely to get cash assistance, SNAP benefits, and Medicaid, but far less likely to use Medicare and Social Security.

“The rhetoric around the use of public benefits programs is largely smoke and mirrors,” Erin Quinn, a senior staff attorney at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, told Vox. “It’s feeding a rhetoric that immigrants are draining our public services when in fact these immigrants don’t even have access to those services and also galvanizing fear in immigrant communities.””

Why America’s public health system can’t withstand Trump

“The federal government must play a critical role in providing resources and coordinating amongst states during a public health crisis. The CDC collects and publishes data on outbreaks, the FDA approves vaccines and treatments, the NIH directs and funds scientific research. The feds can allocate supplies, issue guidance for states and cities to follow, and provide money for state and local health departments to perform their vital duties.

What we are seeing from the Trump White House is zero interest in performing any of those roles. As early as April, according to the Times report, the administration was trying to figure out how to shirk its responsibilities, on the false belief that they had already done enough and the pandemic was starting to subside. Now cases, hospitalizations and deaths are rising again and the US has not built up the capacity to contain the virus — by testing and contact tracing — that other countries successfully have.”

“The sidelining of the CDC is an indisputable fact at this point; the agency was barred for months from holding its own briefings and its guidelines have either been delayed or watered down over political concerns. The FDA has a mixed record in approving tests and treatments: Some are approved too quickly, others too slowly, experts say. And when the Trump administration is not outright blocking its government scientists from speaking to the press or issuing the guidance that state and local governments depend on, White House officials or the president himself have been blatantly undermining the public’s trust in their authority.”

“Earlier in the crisis, the administration was reluctant to deploy the strategic national stockpile for critical supplies like masks and ventilators. White House adviser Jared Kushner even said the stockpile was not meant for states, as it historically has been understood to be. Instead, the states found themselves competing against each other for scarce supplies during an emergency.”

“the funding for the CDC has been effectively flat for the last decade. State and local health agencies had to cut more than 50,000 jobs in the Great Recession, and most of those jobs have not been filled since. America’s chronic inability to invest in public health exacerbated the obesity and diabetes epidemics. That shortsightedness made the US more vulnerable to Covid-19, which is particularly hard on people with those chronic conditions.”

Trump’s deployment of federal agents in Portland is exactly how not to police protests

“Officials from US Border Patrol and other federal agencies, most of whom are not well-trained for handling mass demonstrations, have shot protesters in the head with “less lethal” munitions, launched tear gas, and arrested citizens far from federal property after stalking them in unmarked vehicles.

The problem for Trump, though, is that the seductive logic of quelling demonstrations using immense force has proven faulty. More of Portland’s residents are on the streets now than before federal agents arrived, and violent incidents have ticked upward, not downward. Despite those results, the Trump administration shows no signs of changing course in Portland, and may even export the strategy to other major American cities like Chicago.”

“That’s right. What we need to do in handling these protests, then, is really understand not only how crowds function but also how crowds react to what the police do. What we have right now is law enforcement agencies under the Department of Homeland Security in Portland just ignoring everything we know about how to do protest policing right.”

“Portland is a fascinating case study because the intensity of the protests and the numbers out on the streets had decreased pretty substantially before federal law enforcement showed up. Object throwing, fire setting, graffiti — all that increased dramatically after federal authorities arrived. So I don’t think anybody can make the argument that the federal authorities came to town and made things better.”

“these events are best handled by local authorities, not federal ones. The reason why is actually quite simple: If local police are playing the game correctly, they should already have a relationship with the leaders of the protest movement as well as other social justice groups.

The hope is that having those kinds of relationships prevents the situation from spiraling in the first place. But if it does start to go wrong, authorities can leverage those preexisting relationships to simmer things down pretty quickly.”

“No credible authority figure on policing protests is suggesting police shouldn’t arrest people who are engaged in violence or property damage. In fact, it’s the opposite: When people are engaged in that type of behavior, they need to be arrested and preferably now, not later.”

“The most potent form of communication the police can engage in, then, is to let protesters know they will facilitate a protester’s right to be there and behave peacefully and lawfully. However, the message should get across that those among the crowd who choose to engage in violence and property damage will be arrested.

That just needs to be a routine and repeated message. And if an arrest is made, authorities need to tell the crowd why they detained someone, because otherwise misinformation will spread.”

“Demonstrations usually have moderate protesters in them, people who are generally peaceful, law-abiding, and aren’t prone to engaging in violence or property damage. Of course, there are also typically some anarchists or people ready to cause trouble. The moderates and troublemakers may not agree on tactics, but they at least share a cause.

If law enforcement attacks the group as a whole for the actions of a few troublemakers, the moderates can start to embrace — or at least understand or appreciate — the strategies of those who are more radical. At that point, the crowd psychology shifts.

This is a key point, and where my recommended approach really comes into play: Law enforcement should want to avoid that shift. You want the moderates to stay moderate. You don’t want the fleeting social identities of the moderates to start to drift toward the social identities of the radicals.

The way I put this for police officers to understand is: “You need to win hearts and minds.” You’re not going to succeed with the radicals who are engaging in property damage, of course, but you just might win over the majority of the crowd.”

National Guardsman Contradicts Trump Administration’s Account of Use of Force Against Protesters

“A National Guard officer will testify Tuesday at a congressional hearing that the June 1 clearing of protesters outside the White House was “an unnecessary escalation of the use of force” and “deeply disturbing to me, and to fellow National Guardsmen.”

“From my observation, those demonstrators—our fellow American citizens—were engaged in the peaceful expression of their First Amendment rights,” Adam DeMarco, a major in the D.C. National Guard, will tell the House Natural Resources Committee, according to his prepared remarks. “Yet they were subjected to an unprovoked escalation and excessive use of force.”

DeMarco’s testimony directly contradicts several of the Trump administration’s shifting explanations for what happened on June 1, when law enforcement violently dispersed a crowd of protesters in Lafayette Square, across the street from the White House. After police cleared the crowds, President Donald Trump conducted a photo shoot of himself holding a Bible outside St. John’s Church.”

“DeMarco testifies that around 6 p.m., Attorney General William Barr and Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrived.

“As the senior National Guard officer on the scene at the time, I gave General Milley a quick briefing on our mission and the current situation,” DeMarco writes. “General Milley told me to ensure that National Guard personnel remained calm, adding that we were there to respect the demonstrators’ First Amendment rights.” (Milley has since apologized for appearing in Lafayette Square. “I should not have been there,” he said. “My presence in that moment, and in that environment, created the perception of the military involved in domestic politics.”)

At around 6:20 p.m., DeMarco continues, verbal warnings were given to the crowd to leave. But from where he was standing, about 20 yards away from the line of protesters, the warnings “were barely audible and I saw no indication that the demonstrators were cognizant of the warnings to disperse.”

Law enforcement rushed the crowd at around 6:30 p.m. Videos showed law enforcement assaulting an Australian TV crew. Media and other observers also reported being tear gassed.

The Trump administration says that protesters were throwing items at law enforcement, which DeMarco testifies he did not see. Park Police also emphatically denied they fired tear gas, claiming that officers instead fired smoke canisters and pepper balls, the latter of which are also a chemical irritant. But DeMarco says that tear gas was indeed used.”

They Came for the ‘Illegals’ First, Now They’re Going After Immigrants Who Played by the Rules

“Most immigration watchers thought President Trump’s new executive order extending his 60-day April immigration pause until the end of 2020 was meant to stop new immigrants from coming into the United States. As I pointed out, the order was halting new green cards for anyone other than the children and spouses of American citizens. It was also imposing a moratorium on new temporary work visas, including H-1Bs for foreign techies, H-2Bs for low-skilled non-agricultural work, J visas for summer jobs, and L visas for intra-company transfers. Bringing in more workers from the outside, the proclamation’s zero-sum logic declared, “present[s] a significant threat to the employment opportunities for Americans,” which the country can’t allegedly afford at a time of high pandemic-induced unemployment.

But now the National Foundation for American Policy’s Stuart Anderson has found that buried in the proclamation is a potential deportation plan for hundreds of thousands of high-skilled foreign workers who’ve been legally living inside America, in some cases for decades. They have high-paying jobs for skills that are in short supply in America, they pay far more taxes than they’ll ever consume in welfare, and they are generally upstanding folks.

Foreign techies have to go through an exceedingly arduous, expensive, and long process to obtain green cards. The wait time for green cards is running over seven decades for many of the 350,000 Indian professionals on H-1Bs—and their 357,000 dependents—in the country currently. That’s because Congress capped employment-based green cards at a meager 140,000 per year.* And then, just for good measure, it gave every country the same quota for green cards. This means that countries like India, China, and the Philippines, which send America many tech workers, doctors, nurses, and other high-skilled laborers, have access to the same number of green cards every year as, say, Kazakhstan, which barely sends any. The upshot is that a massive backlog has developed for the former countries. But of course, the Trump administration has shown zero interest in a simple fix like eliminating the per-country limit and rolling over the unused green cards from previous years.”

“Anderson maintains that Trump’s new proclamation includes ominous language that potentially opens the door to subjecting the I-140 holder to one or more additional labor certifications while they are waiting to be approved for their green cards. At the same time, the administration might make the labor certification process itself so onerous as to ensure that few could pass it.

Should the administration proceed with its scheme, hundreds of thousands of high-skilled professionals who’ve played by every rule and waited patiently for years for their green cards, raising families and building lives in America, could find themselves ejected from the country. “If a foreign government wanted to come up with a plan to harm America’s technological leadership in the world, this would be the plan,” Anderson says.”

“there are significant statutory hurdles that might prevent the administration from successfully requiring repeat certifications, says Anderson. However, simply attempting to do so will sow fear and panic among foreign professionals and prompt at least those who are in the relatively early stage of the process to self-deport rather than take any risks with their lives and careers.

Nor is this the first attack on foreign professionals by this administration. The denial of new H-1B petitions has increased considerably during Trump’s term and renewal of existing petitions has become much harder.”

“Undocumented immigrants were just the lowest hanging fruit. Over the years, restrictionists have found ways to smear every category of immigrants. Family-based immigration got pilloried as chain migration; refugees got branded as national security threats; Latin American asylum seekers got lambasted as “invaders.” And now foreign techies, a once-sacrosanct class of immigrants that even conservatives considered highly desirable, are being branded as economic threats.

They came for the illegals first—but of course they didn’t stop there.”

Trump Commutes Ally Roger Stone’s Prison Sentence

“As with the Justice Department’s unprecedented attempt to dismiss charges against former national security adviser Michael Flynn after he pleaded guilty in open court to making false statements to the FBI, Stone’s pardon is a case of the Trump administration citing legitimate problems with the criminal justice system for nakedly cynical and self-serving ends. The Justice Department did not care about excessive sentencing or unfair prosecutions before. It does not care about them now, and it will not care about them when they’re used again to railroad defendants who aren’t Trump’s allies.

This isn’t the first time the Trump administration has stepped in to protect Stone. A federal grand jury indicted Stone last January on seven counts of obstruction of justice, false statements, and witness tampering stemming from Special Prosecutor Roger Mueller’s probe of Russian interference into the 2016 presidential election. Stone was convicted on all counts in November.

Federal prosecutors originally recommended a seven- to nine-year prison sentence for Stone, prompting Trump to fume on Twitter that this was “horrible and very unfair.” A day later, the Justice Department overrode the line prosecutors’ recommendations—an almost unheard of event—saying Stone deserved a far lighter sentence.”