POTUS at UN Assembly


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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018 at U.N. headquarters. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018 at U.N. headquarters. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)


President Donald Trump addresses the United Nations General Assembly, Tuesday Sept. 25, 2018 at U.N. headquarters. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)


With bated breath, UN awaits another first for Trump

By MATTHEW PENNINGTON and EDITH M. LEDERER

Associated Press

Wednesday, September 26

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — More world leaders step up to the podium at the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday but the lion’s share of attention will be down the hall where U.S. President Donald Trump will be chairing the Security Council.

It’ll be Trump’s first experience in leading a session of the U.N.’s most powerful body, where the U.S. currently holds the rotating presidency — a perch it is using to double down on its criticism of Iran.

While Wednesday’s meeting of the council will be addressing the issue of nonproliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, Trump himself has left little doubt that it’ll be another chance to target Tehran.

On Tuesday, during an unabashedly “America First” speech, Trump said Iranian leaders “sow chaos, death and destruction” and “spread mayhem across the Middle East and far beyond.” His national security adviser, John Bolton, warned that there would be “hell to pay” if Tehran crossed the U.S., its allies or their partners.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani responded by accusing the Trump administration of violating the rules of international law and “state obligations” by withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal that Iran signed with the U.S. and five other major powers.

Rouhani is almost certain not to attend the Security Council meeting that will test Trump’s ability to maintain diplomatic decorum and interact with representatives of rival nations.

The council is populated by five permanent members — the U.S., China, Russia, Britain and France — and 10 other member states, who occupy a council seat for two-year terms. Iran is not among them.

Business resumed Wednesday at the General Assembly, where 193 U.N. members were taking turns to speak out on pressing world issues and their national priorities in world affairs.

Panama’s President Juan Carlos Varela Rodríguez kicked off proceedings. Among those scheduled to follow him were the leaders of Lebanon, Yemen, Colombia, Cuba, South Korea, Britain, Afghanistan and Italy.

This year, 133 world leaders have signed up to attend this year’s assembly session, which ends Oct. 1, a significant increase from the 114 leaders last year.

However, America’s go-it-alone attitude and growing divisions among key world powers risk eroding the U.N.’s ability to bring positive change in global affairs and end conflicts in Syria, Yemen, and elsewhere.

OtherWords: Trump Is Subsidizing Companies That Send Jobs Overseas

The top 100 federal contractors now send over 8,000 jobs overseas a year — triple the rate under Obama.

By George Faraday | September 26, 2018

On the campaign trail, Donald Trump promised to stop U.S. corporations from offshoring American jobs on “day one” of his presidency.

Just after his election, President Trump claimed to be following through on this promise when he supposedly brokered a deal to stop Carrier from sending jobs at its Indianapolis air conditioning and heating plant to a low-wage plant in Monterrey, Mexico.

This promise to save jobs proved to be nothing more than another of Trump’s false claims.

Within 18 months of Trump’s election, U.S. corporations had shipped 140,000 jobs overseas — including 700 of the jobs Trump supposedly saved at Carrier — according to a new report by Good Jobs Nation.

Even worse, more than 13,000 of these jobs were lost at major corporations that have been awarded billions of dollars in federal contracts by the Trump administration, such as General Electric, AT&T, and Carrier’s parent company, United Technologies (UTC). These corporations have been awarded at least $51 billion in taxpayer-funded contracts since Trump took office, including more than $900 million to AT&T and $2.6 billion to UTC.

In fact, the top 100 federal contractors have offshored jobs at an annual rate of 8,363 jobs per year since Trump was elected — almost triple the average annual rate under the Obama administration, according to our research. What’s more, the total number of jobs offshored by major federal contractors under the Trump administration is the highest on record for any year other than 2008, when the Great Recession hit.

If offshoring continues at this rate for two presidential terms, federal contractors will have sent more jobs overseas than the total number offshored by every previous administration combined.

The impact of this offshoring by major federal contractors has been particularly damaging in states that Trump won in 2016, including Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. These states account for almost 30 percent of the total jobs outsourced by federal contractors.

Since becoming president, Trump has largely remained silent as offshoring, and the flow of federal money to offshoring corporations, has continued. It wasn’t until Harley Davidson announced that it was shifting production overseas to avoid European retaliatory tariffs that Trump returned to the issue, tweeting that “we won’t forget” Harley’s decision and threatening to “tax [it] like never before!”

There’s no law that allows a president to tax a U.S. corporation for making and selling its products overseas. But there is a law that gives the president the power to stop awarding federal contracts to businesses that send American jobs abroad.

The Procurement Act of 1949 gives the president the authority to establish “policies and directives” for federal contracting. Virtually every modern president has used this power to push through key policy objectives by issuing executive orders impacting the major slice of the national economy supported by federal contract spending — currently running at more than $500 billion per year.

Many of the requirements that federal contractors are currently mandated to follow — including equal opportunity, minimum wage rates, and e-verify — were, in fact, imposed by executive order. Most recently Trump himself used his powers under the Procurement Act to exempt outfitters on federal lands from higher minimum wage rules, so it’s not like he hasn’t heard of it.

Instead of pushing down wages, President Trump could use this power to take immediate action against offshoring by blocking the award of federal contracts to corporations that send American jobs abroad. Otherwise, his promises to help American workers don’t look very serious.

George Faraday is the Legal and Policy Director for Good Jobs Nation. Distributed by OtherWords.org.

OtherWords: America 2018 is Even More Gilded Than America 1918

Wealth is more concentrated now than it was in John D. Rockefeller’s day.

By Bob Lord | September 26, 2018

It took 100 years, but America has returned to its unequal past. With a vengeance.

The year many consider the height of the Gilded Age, when John D. Rockefeller’s wealth was at its peak, was exactly a century ago, in 1918. By that time, Rockefeller had amassed about $1.2 billion — the equivalent of $340 billion today. America’s economy and aggregate wealth were much smaller in those days, which made Rockefeller a truly towering figure.

Just over a decade after Rockefeller’s fortune peaked, the Great Depression put an end to America’s first Gilded Age.

America eventually recovered from the ruins of the Great Depression and made huge strides toward economic equality.

Between 1945 and the early 1970s, circumstances for all Americans, rich and poor alike, improved. The pace of improvement for average Americans, though, was greater than for those at the top. The once yawning gap between the rich and the rest of us narrowed dramatically during that period.

Eventually, though, America’s economic and tax policies changed, triggering a long, painful process that’s increasingly concentrated wealth and income at the top.

Those egalitarian days of the mid-20th century now are a distant memory. Jeff Bezos’ net worth now fluctuates around $160 billion. Bill Gates’ net worth sits within a whisker of $100 billion, and would be well over that had he not contributed tens of billions to charity. Warren Buffett, whose wealth now equals $90 billion, is also closing in on a 12-figure net worth.

Can we compare the concentration of wealth today to the height of the Gilded Age, when robber barons sat on massive piles of wealth while the masses struggled?

In a word: Yes. And actually, it’s worse.

Consider the ultimate topmost slice of America: the top .000004 percent. That’s an incredibly elite group; only one of every 25 million households can claim membership. In 1918, when America had just 25 million households, that exclusive club had only one member: the John D. Rockefeller household.

Today, America has over 125 million households. So, America’s top .000004 percent today is comprised of its five wealthiest households: the Bezos, Gates, Buffett, Mark Zuckerberg, and Larry Page households.

Those five wealthiest American households are sitting on a total of $470 billion — nearly 40 percent more than Rockefeller’s 2018 wealth equivalent of $340 billion.

But even that comparison understates how much more gilded the America of 2018 is.

Rockefeller, you see, was far more of an outlier in terms of wealth than his 2018 counterparts. So, once you get past Rockefeller, the comparison of 1918 to 2018 is far more pronounced.

According to Forbes, the second .000004 percent of 1918 households — that of Henry Frick — were worth $225 million, the modern-day equivalent of $63.7 billion. That was less than 20 percent of Rockefeller’s holdings.

Today, according to the Bloomberg billionaires list, America’s second .000004 percent — the group consisting of Sergey Brin, Larry Ellison, Charles Koch, David Koch, and Jim Walton — have combined wealth of about $250 billion, four times the modern-day equivalent of Henry Frick’s wealth.

Indeed, no matter which of 1918’s titans of wealth you consider, the corresponding slice of America’s 2018 elite controls a greater portion of the country’s wealth.

The bottom line: America has not just returned to Gilded Age levels of wealth concentration: It has very clearly surpassed them. We now live in a country more gilded than it’s ever been.

Popular movements are rising to share the wealth. Hopefully it won’t take another crash for them to succeed.

Bob Lord is a Phoenix-based tax attorney and an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. Distributed by OtherWords.org.

OtherWords: Cowboys for Climate Action

A new group is naming and shaming the people bankrolling climate change denial.

By Jim Hightower | September 25, 2018

Shame is that queasy feeling you get when you realize you’ve done something improper, ridiculous, or just flat-out contemptible. But it’s socially invaluable, for feeling ashamed is a built-in jerk alarm, keeping most of us from doing the same embarrassing thing again.

But what if you’re not embarrassed by being a jerk?

Sure enough, some individuals who rise to high places are so consumed by self-importance, self-righteousness, self-aggrandizement, and all things selfish that they feel no shame — even when their narcissism does gross harm to others.

One example is the clique of prominent polluters, politicos, and propagandists who are climate-change deniers. They shamefully use their prominence to enhance their own fame and fortune — while glaciers melt, oceans rise, extreme weather expands, species perish, and Earth itself spins toward being unlivable.

Unable to acknowledge shame, they need help. Luckily, a feisty group called Cowboys for Liberty has stepped forward to acknowledge it for them by establishing a “Climate Deniers Hall of Shame.”

Among the first class of infamous deniers are Charles and David Koch, who’ve dumped more than $100 million into front groups opposing efforts to halt climate change; Sen. Jim Inhofe, the dotty old dean of deniers, who has called global warming a conspiracy spawned by the Weather Channel; and the former CEO of Exxon Mobil, who secretly funded hoked-up “academic” reports to discredit the science of climate change.

The Hall of Shame is fun, but it’s not a prank. It points out that climate change is not only caused by human action, but also by human inaction.

By putting names and faces to the small group of humans selfishly preventing progress, it can help the majority of us see that we can (and must) rise up to stop them.

Jim Hightower, an OtherWords columnist, is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown. Distributed by OtherWords.org.

US top diplomat to visit N.Korea next month to set up summit

By FOSTER KLUG

Associated Press

Wednesday, September 26

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will travel to North Korea next month to prepare for a second summit between leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump meant to jump-start stalled efforts to rid the North of its nuclear bombs, the State Department said Wednesday.

Pompeo was invited by Kim to Pyongyang, the North’s capital, “to make further progress on the implementation” of agreements made during a June summit in Singapore between Kim and Trump and to set up another leaders’ meeting, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said.

She released a statement after Pompeo met Wednesday with North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho at the U.N. General Assembly meetings in New York.

Pompeo said on Twitter that his meeting with Ri was “very positive. There were no other immediate details about what the diplomats discussed.

“Much work remains, but we will continue to move forward,” Pompeo said.

Also at the U.N. session, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said high-level diplomacy has “removed the shadow of war” that hung over the Korean Peninsula last year as Kim and Trump threatened each other with destruction during a series of increasingly powerful North Korean weapons tests. Experts believe those tests put the North close to being able to accurately target anywhere on the U.S. mainland.

“Over the past year, something miraculous has taken place on the Korean Peninsula,” Moon said in an address to world leaders. “We have crossed the barriers of division and are tearing down the walls in our heart.”

Moon met last week with Kim in Pyongyang and has been the leading force behind the summitry, He and others hope another Trump-Kim summit will ease widespread skepticism that Kim will actually relinquish an arsenal that many believe is the only major guarantee of the North’s continued authoritarian rule.

Diplomacy has stalled following vague Kim’s vague promise at the Singapore summit to work toward “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula in exchange for U.S. security guarantees.

At the heart of the impasse: a North Korean demand for a declaration to formally end the Korean War before it takes any major disarmament steps. That war ended in 1953 with a ceasefire, not a peace treaty.

Washington, however, wants the North to first provide a list of the contents of its nuclear arsenal before agreeing to that war declaration, which could remove a big piece of diplomatic leverage over the North.

Also Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned that dismantling an Iran nuclear accord would threaten global efforts to halt North Korea’s nuclear program.

Lavrov and others defended the 2015 Iran deal at a U.N. Security Council meeting chaired by Trump about non-proliferation. Trump pulled the U.S. out of the accord, arguing it wasn’t tough enough on Iran, and is threatening new sanctions.

Lavrov said dismantling the accord would “be counterproductive for the efforts under way now to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.

Follow Foster Klug on Twitter at APKlug. AP writer Angela Charlton contributed to this report from the United Nations.

Canada defends international court after Trump assails it

By MATTHEW PENNINGTON and EDITH M. LEDERER

Associated Press

Wednesday, September 26

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Wednesday defended the International Criminal Court after it came under attack by President Donald Trump in a stinging speech at the United Nations that challenged multilateral organizations.

Trudeau said Canada continues to believe that the Hague-based court is a “useful and important way of promoting an international rules-based order.”

Canada joined Argentina, Peru, Colombia, Chile and Paraguay in announcing they are referring Venezuela to the ICC — the first time that member countries have referred another country to the court.

The court has already opened a preliminary investigation into allegations that since April 2017 Venezuelan government forces “frequently used excessive force to disperse and put down demonstrations,” and abused some opposition members in detention.

Wednesday’s move could broaden the scope of the existing preliminary probe. The countries accuse Venezuela of several crimes including murder, torture and unjust imprisonment.

Trudeau told reporters that Canada is using all the ways it can to address the “catastrophic” situation in Venezuela, including through the ICC. Venezuela’s inflation and homicide rates are among the highest in the world and more than 2 million people have fled the violence and conflict in recent years.

In an address to the General Assembly on Tuesday that reinforced Trump’s unilateral approach to international affairs, the U.S. president criticized what he called the “ideology of globalism” and said that as far as America is concerned, “the ICC has no jurisdiction, no legitimacy, and no authority.”

The ICC was created in 2002 to prosecute war crimes and crimes against humanity and genocide in areas where perpetrators might not otherwise face justice. The court has 123 state parties that recognize its jurisdiction.

At a news conference, Trudeau steered clear of direct criticism of Trump, and said Canada and the U.S. share concern about the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. But he also made clear Canada’s support for international cooperation to help developing nations “to build a more peaceful, equal and stable world.”

“Because that’s what Canadians expect: That we stand up not just for ourselves but for everyone,” Trudeau said.

While more world leaders were stepping up to the podium at the General Assembly on Wednesday, most attention was still focused on Trump, whose brash speech provoked laughter and headshakes from other leaders. He was chairing the Security Council for a meeting on nonproliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

Trump, seated at the center of an arc-shaped table, immediately uttered tough words against Iran, saying that a government with Iran’s track record “must never be allowed to obtain” a nuclear weapon. He also made waves by accusing China with meddling in November elections in the United States. China denies any interference.

At the same time, he thanked Iran, Russia and Syria for slowing their attack on Idlib province in Syria. Last week, Russia and Turkey reached a deal to set up a buffer zone in the province, the last major rebel-held stronghold in Syria.

On Tuesday, during his unabashedly “America First” speech, Trump said Iranian leaders “sow chaos, death and destruction” and “spread mayhem across the Middle East and far beyond.” His national security adviser, John Bolton, warned that there would be “hell to pay” if Tehran crossed the U.S., its allies or their partners.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani responded by accusing the Trump administration of violating the rules of international law and “state obligations” by withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal that Iran signed with the U.S. and five other major powers.

Rouhani was not attending the Security Council meeting. The council is populated by five permanent members — the U.S., China, Russia, Britain and France — and 10 other member states, who occupy a council seat for two-year terms. Iran is not among them.

At the General Assembly, members were taking turns to speak out on pressing world issues and their national priorities in world affairs.

Panama’s President Juan Carlos Varela Rodríguez kicked off proceedings Wednesday. Among those following him were the leaders of Lebanon, Yemen, Colombia, Cuba, South Korea, Britain, Afghanistan and Italy.

This year, 133 world leaders have signed up to attend the assembly session, which ends Oct. 1, a significant increase from the 114 leaders last year. There are 193 U.N. members.

However, America’s go-it-alone attitude and growing divisions among key world powers risk eroding the U.N.’s ability to bring positive change in global affairs and end conflicts in Syria, Yemen, and elsewhere.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018 at U.N. headquarters. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/09/web1_121440813-e392a02edc9c4c9eb2a86f1f76fb4415.jpgIranian President Hassan Rouhani addresses the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018 at U.N. headquarters. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

President Donald Trump addresses the United Nations General Assembly, Tuesday Sept. 25, 2018 at U.N. headquarters. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
https://www.sunburynews.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/48/2018/09/web1_121440813-b1933d7722704270be8637b7613c73a8.jpgPresident Donald Trump addresses the United Nations General Assembly, Tuesday Sept. 25, 2018 at U.N. headquarters. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
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