16 states sue Trump over emergency wall declaration
Tuesday, February 19
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California and 15 other states filed a lawsuit Monday against President Donald Trump’s emergency declaration to fund a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra released a statement Monday saying the suit alleges the Trump administration’s action violates the Constitution.
“President Trump treats the rule of law with utter contempt,” Becerra said. “He knows there is no border crisis, he knows his emergency declaration is unwarranted, and he admits that he will likely lose this case in court.”
Joining California in filing the lawsuit are the attorneys general of Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, and Virginia. All the states involved in the lawsuit have Democratic attorneys general.
Trump declared a national emergency to fulfill his promise of completing the wall.
The move allows the president to bypass Congress to use money from the Pentagon and other budgets.
The states say diversion of military funding to wall-building will hurt their economies and deprive their military bases of needed upgrades. They say taking away funds from counter-drug efforts for the wall will also cause damage. California and New Mexico, the two Mexican border states in the lawsuit, say the wall will harm wildlife.
California has repeatedly challenged Trump in court.
“President Trump is manufacturing a crisis and declaring a made-up ‘national emergency’ in order to seize power and undermine the Constitution,” said California Gov. Gavin Newsom in a statement. “This ‘emergency’ is a national disgrace.”
Yost tells AP forum Ohio not asked to join border wall suit
By ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio’s four statewide elected officials, leaders of the House and Senate and Gov. Mike DeWine were among officials who gathered Tuesday at an annual legislative forum sponsored by The Associated Press.
In a morning session, GOP Attorney General David Yost said Ohio was not approached to join a new lawsuit challenging President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration to build a Mexico border wall. Yost was joined by Secretary of State Frank LaRose, Treasurer Robert Sprague and Auditor Keith Faber. All are Republicans.
The statewide elected officials all say they support Trump, but don’t agree with him on every issue. LaRose called Trump’s characterization of the media as the enemy of the people a “dangerous” precedent.
House Speaker Larry Householder and Senate President Larry Obhof, both Republicans, and House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes and Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko, both Democrats, discussed legislative priorities for the year.
The lawmakers agreed that additional spending is needed to deal with problems with the condition of Ohio roads, including potholes on thoroughfares across the state. They disagreed about whether a gas tax was the best approach. Householder said he wants to study infrastructure needs first and wait on considering a tax. Yuko said Ohioans are already spending thousands of dollars repairing cars instead of roads.
The legislative leaders also:
— Backed the general idea of changes to the criminal justice system as Ohio struggles with overcrowded prisons. Obhof said he wants to see the prison population reduced. Sykes, who is black, said she’s concerned about the overrepresentation of minorities in the incarcerated population.
— Signaled little support for any proposals to reduce the use labor-scale wages on some public construction projects. Householder called it the “wrong direction at this time.” Sykes said the idea would set the state back.
— Predicted sports wagering will come to Ohio following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that opened the option for states. Householder predicted wagering will come to Ohio but doesn’t know what it will look like. Yuko agreed, but warned it won’t be the “cash cow” some people expect for state revenue. Obhof said he remains skeptical of allowing sports wagering.
Protests slam Trump’s declaration as states ready lawsuit
NEW YORK (AP) — Protesters around the U.S. spent Presidents Day rallying against President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration as at least a dozen states planned a lawsuit to block Trump’s latest ploy to fund his long-promised border wall.
“Trump is the national emergency!” chanted a group of hundreds lined up Monday at the White House fence while Trump was out of town in Florida. Some held up large letters spelling out “stop power grab.” In downtown Fort Worth, Texas, a small group carried signs with messages including “no wall! #FakeTrumpEmergency.”
California and 15 other states, including Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico, filed a lawsuit Monday against President Donald Trump’s emergency declaration to fund a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra released a statement Monday saying the suit alleges the Trump administration’s action violates the Constitution.
Gov. Jared Polis and Attorney General Phil Weiser, both Democrats, said in a statement that the wall project could divert tens of millions of dollars from military construction projects in Colorado.
Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles, decried the president’s actions at a peaceful rally attended by a few hundred people outside Los Angeles City Hall. Police kept the crowd separate from a handful of pro-Trump counter-protesters who waved flags and wore red “Make America Great Again” hats.
A large crowd also gathered outside the Federal Building in San Francisco. One demonstrator carried a sign that read: “Step 1: Declare a national emergency. Step 2: Play golf. Step 3: Watch SNL.”
A crowd of more than 100 protesters gathered in frigid weather at the state Capitol in Denver roared with approval when Weiser told them his office was joining the multistate lawsuit, Denverite reported .
“There is zero real-world basis for the emergency declaration, and there will be no wall,” New Mexico Gov. Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, said in a statement.
Organized by the liberal group MoveOn and others, Monday’s demonstrations took the occasion of the Presidents Day holiday to assail Trump’s proclamation as undemocratic and anti-immigrant.
Kelly Quirk, of the progressive group Soma Action, told a gathering of dozens in Newark, New Jersey, that “democracy demands” saying “no more” to Trump.
“There are plenty of real emergencies to invest our tax dollars in,” said Quirk.
In New York City, hundreds of people at a Manhattan park chanted “No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here” as several of them held up letters spelling out, “IMPEACH.”
There were some counter-protesters, including in Washington, where there was a brief scuffle in the crowd.
Trump’s declaration Friday shifts billions of dollars from military construction to the border. The move came after Congress didn’t approve as much as Trump wanted for the wall, which the Republican considers a national security necessity.
His emergency proclamation calls the border “a major entry point for criminals, gang members, and illicit narcotics.”
Illegal border crossings have declined from a high of 1.6 million in 2000. But 50,000 families are now entering illegally each month, straining the U.S. asylum system and border facilities.
Trump’s critics have argued he undercut his own rationale for the emergency declaration by saying he “didn’t need to do this” but wanted to get the wall built faster than he otherwise could. In announcing the move, he said he anticipated the legal challenges.
“President Trump declared a national emergency in order to spend billions of taxpayer dollars on his border wall obsession,” Manar Waheed of the American Civil Liberties Union told protesters rallying in a Washington park before heading to the nearby White House fence. The ACLU has announced its intention to sue Trump over the issue.
Ana Maria Archila, co-executive director of the left-leaning Center for Popular Democracy, said the president had undertaken to “steal money that we desperately need to build a country of our dreams so that he can build a monument to racism along the border.”
At one point during the rally, a counter-protester walked through the crowd toting a sign saying “finish the wall” on one side and “protect the poor” on the other. Another man snatched his sign from him, sparking a short scuffle.
Associated Press writers Christopher Weber in Los Angeles and Colleen Slevin in Denver contributed to this report.
How smallpox devastated the Aztecs – and helped Spain conquer an American civilization 500 years ago
February 19, 2019
Author: Richard Gunderman, Chancellor’s Professor of Medicine, Liberal Arts, and Philanthropy, Indiana University
Disclosure statement: Richard Gunderman does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.
Partners: Indiana University provides funding as a member of The Conversation US.
Recent outbreaks in the U.S. have drawn attention to the dangers of measles. The Democratic Republic of Congo is fighting a deadly outbreak of Ebola that has killed hundreds.
Epidemics are nothing new, of course. And some widespread infectious dieseases have profoundly changed the course of human history.
Five hundred years ago, in February of 1519, the Spaniard Hernán Cortés set sail from Cuba to explore and colonize Aztec civilization in the Mexican interior. Within just two years, Aztec ruler Montezuma was dead, the capital city of Tenochtitlan was captured and Cortés had claimed the Aztec empire for Spain. Spanish weaponry and tactics played a role, but most of the destruction was wrought by epidemics of European diseases.
Conquest of the Aztec empire
After helping conquer Cuba for the Spanish, Cortés was commissioned to lead an expedition to the mainland. When his small fleet landed, he ordered his ships scuttled, eliminating any possibility of retreat and conveying the depth of his resolve.
Cortés with his 500 men then headed into the Mexican interior. This region was home to the Aztec civilization, an empire of an estimated 16 million people at this time. Through a system of conquest and tribute, the Aztecs had established the great island city of Tenochtitlan in Lake Texcoco that ruled over an area of about 80,000 square miles.
Discovering widespread resentment toward the capital city and its ruler, Cortés formed alliances with many locals. Though vastly outnumbered, he and a small force marched on Tenochtitlan, where Montezuma received them with honor. In turn, Cortés took Montezuma prisoner.
It took Cortés two years, but he finally conquered the Aztec capital in August 1521. His ally in this fight was the European germs he and his men unwittingly brought with them.
Cortés’s microscopic secret weapon
Although Cortés was a skilled leader, he and his force of perhaps a thousand Spaniards and indigenous allies would not have been able to overcome a city of 200,000 without help. He got it in the form of a smallpox epidemic that gradually spread inward from the coast of Mexico and decimated the densely populated city of Tenochtitlan in 1520, reducing its population by 40 percent in a single year.
Smallpox is caused by an inhaled virus, which causes fever, vomiting and a rash, soon covering the body with fluid-filled blisters. These turn into scabs which leave scars. Fatal in approximately one-third of cases, another third of those afflicted with the disease typically develop blindness.
Smallpox existed in ancient times in Egyptian, Indian and Chinese cultures. It remained endemic in human populations for millennia, coming to Europe during the 11th century’s Crusades. When Europeans began to explore and colonize other parts of the world, smallpox traveled with them.
The native people of the Americas, including the Aztecs, were especially vulnerable to smallpox because they’d never been exposed to the virus and thus possessed no natural immunity. No effective anti-viral therapies were available.
Recalling the epidemic, one victim reported:
“The plague lasted for 70 days, striking everywhere in the city and killing a vast number of our people. Sores erupted on our faces, our breasts, our bellies; we were covered with agonizing sores from head to foot.”
A Franciscan monk who accompanied Cortés provided this description:
“As the Indians did not know the remedy of the disease, they died in heaps, like bedbugs. In many places it happened that everyone in a house died, and as it was impossible to bury the great number of dead, they pulled down the houses over them, so that their homes became their tombs.”
Smallpox took its toll on the Aztecs in several ways. First, it killed many of its victims outright, particularly infants and young children. Many other adults were incapacitated by the disease – because they were either sick themselves, caring for sick relatives and neighbors, or simply lost the will to resist the Spaniards as they saw disease ravage those around them. Finally, people could no longer tend to their crops, leading to widespread famine, further weakening the immune systems of survivors of the epidemic.
Disease can drive human history
Of course, the Aztecs were not the only indigenous people to suffer from the introduction of European diseases. In addition to North America’s Native American populations, the Mayan and Incan civilizations were also nearly wiped out by smallpox. And other European diseases, such as measles and mumps, also took substantial tolls – altogether reducing some indigenous populations in the new world by 90 percent or more. Recent investigations have suggested that other infectious agents, such as Salmonella – known for causing contemporary outbreaks among pet owners – may have caused additional epidemics.
The ability of smallpox to incapacitate and decimate populations made it an attractive agent for biological warfare. In the 18th century, the British tried to infect Native American populations. One commander wrote, “We gave them two blankets and a handkerchief out of the smallpox hospital. I hope it will have the desired effect.” During World War II, British, American, Japanese and Soviet teams all investigated the possibility of producing a smallpox biological weapon.
Happily, worldwide vaccination efforts have been successful, and the last naturally occurring case of the disease was diagnosed in 1977. The final case occurred in 1978, when a photographer died of the disease, prompting the scientist whose research she was covering to take his own life.
Many great encounters in world history, including Cortés’s clash with the Aztec empire, had less to do with weaponry, tactics and strategy than with the ravages of disease. Nations that suppose they can secure themselves strictly through investments in military spending should study history – time and time again the course of events has been definitively altered by disease outbreaks. Microbes too small to be seen by the naked eye can render ineffectual even the mightiest machinery of war.
Sheila Davis, logged in via Facebook: Excellent Article, I have learned not only did smallpox kill many of the Native American Indians it also played a main factor of conquering the Aztecs of Central America. Also I now have seen what smallpox looks like. Maybe the British got the idea of using blankets contaminated with smallpox against the Native American Indians came from Cortez. As with most of the articles written on The Conversation, this is educational.
Opinion: Why Some Local Economies Are Thriving While Others Are Struggling
By Dean Stansel
Americans continue to be on the move. According to North American Moving Services, California and New York were losing residents and had some of the highest rates of outbound moves (based on moving truck rental data) in 2018, while Texas and Florida were among the states with highest rates of inbound moves.
Broadly speaking, Texas and Florida tend to have public policies that support a free market economy, whereas states like New York and California tend to do the opposite. The case can be made that Americans are voting with their feet in favor of economic freedom.
While economic freedom varies across states within the United States, it also varies within states, as my new study from the Reason Foundation shows. For example, among the 52 metropolitan statistical areas with more than 1 million residents, the San Jose, California, MSA, home to many of the tech companies in Silicon Valley, ranked in the middle of the pack (at 27th), but the Los Angeles MSA ranked in the bottom 10 and Riverside, California, ranked last (52nd) in the nation. Similarly, in Tennessee, Nashville scored very well, ranking as the 6th most free metro area, but Memphis was only 20th.
This variation helps explain why some areas within a state can thrive while others struggle. From 2012 to 2016, San Jose’s MSA population grew by 4.4 percent, while Los Angeles’ MSA population grew less than half as fast (2.1 percent). Nashville’s population grew by 8 percent while Memphis’ barely budged (0.2 percent). Overall, the population grew four times faster in the freest areas. The most-free areas were also more prosperous, with per capita personal income 5.7 percent above the MSA average, while the least-free quartile was 4.9 percent below average. That means per capita income was nearly 11 percent higher in the freest areas.
The positive relationship between economic freedom and economic prosperity at the local level is similar to findings at the state and country levels. More than 200 articles by independent researchers have examined this relationship at the state level using the Fraser Institute’s annual Economic Freedom of North America report. Now, the “U.S. Metropolitan Area Economic Freedom Index” uses nine different measures of state and local government policies to produce an overall score for each of the nation’s 382 metropolitan statistical areas. For purposes of rankings, the 52 largest metro areas were examined separately. The five most economically free large areas were Houston; Jacksonville, Florida; Tampa-St. Petersburg, Florida; Richmond, Virginia; and Dallas-Fort Worth. The least-free economies were Riverside, California; Rochester, New York; Buffalo; New York City; Cleveland; and Columbus, Ohio.
In one recent study, economists at West Virginia University and Louisiana State University found that a 10 percent increase in economic freedom was associated with a 5 percent increase in real per capita gross state product (a measure of the total output of the economy per person). At the local level, researchers have found that metro areas with higher economic freedom tend to have greater net in-migration of population, more entrepreneurial activity, higher levels and faster growth of per capita income, faster population growth, higher female labor force participation rates, and better local government bond ratings.
For cities and lawmakers, this means policy and regulatory decisions may have much more impact than they think. Interventions in the economy, such as large increases in government spending, high income tax rates, and minimum wage increase tend to be associated with poorer economies. The opposite policies — slower spending growth, low (or no) income taxes, and fewer labor market interventions — tend to be associated with more prosperous economies.
For struggling local economies, the lesson is clear: policy changes that support a free market economy can help prevent people and businesses from seeking freer pastures elsewhere. But burdensome interventions in the economy may lead to even more people packing their stuff into moving vans and leaving the area.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Dean Stansel is an economist at the O’Neil Center for Global Markets and Freedom in Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business and the author of Reason Foundation’s new “U.S. Metropolitan Area Economic Freedom Index.” He wrote this for InsideSources.com.