The Deep State Plan to Sabotage Korean Peace

Recently the Asia punditsphere was abuzz with excited comments on an ABC news report “North Korea has increased nuclear production at secret sites, say U.S. officials

As to the assertion that North Korea is cranking out fissile material at one or two secret processing facilities, so what?  Kim Jong un said he’s stop missile and nuclear tests but never said he’d stop processing.

In practical terms, this appears to be an effort to make a Korea deal—and the lifting of sanctions against North Korea—impossible, by establishing the “these guys are liars and can’t be trusted ever!” frame.

This would not be the first time interested parties reached out to sabotage Korean peace negotiations. And it would not even be the second. It’s at least the third.

In a special edition, China Watch explores the sixty year record of U.S. bad faith and sabotage of Korean peace negotiations and presents a special video report on one of the biggest and therefore least admitted blunders in US mismanagement of Asian affairs: the botched campaign against a Macau bank that birthed North Korea’s atomic bomb.

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Show notes

North Korea has increased nuclear production at secret sites, say U.S. officials

Suspicions persist about Iranian ‘laptop of death’

The CIA’s Mop-Up Man: L.A. Times Reporter Cleared Stories With Agency Before Publication

Mark Dubowitz tweet re Anthony Ruggiero

Failure to sanction China helped North Korea, former officials say

General MacArthur’s Conspiracy to Start a War with China! New Documentary Release & Interview!

For purchase at Newsbud Store or for Purchase or View via Amazon or Vimeo

The Korean War was a desperate and dubious battle in which the US was ready to try anything and everything to overcome its strategic and tactical disadvantages.  Biological weapons, nuclear weapons…and Douglas MacArthur’s plans for a strategic breakout via escalation of the Korean conflict to a regional war.  Everything was on the table.

Douglas MacArthur made the first US attempt to parlay a Korean crisis into an existential confrontation with the People’s Republic of China.  With the US milsec establishment, his ideas are more popular—and dangerous—than ever.  My documentary uses first hand testimony and declassified archives to finally reveal the truth behind this long-suppressed event. 

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Newsbud

Russian navy unveils plan for specialized military police

Russian Defense ministry has revealed plans to set up dedicated navy police that would replace marines in maintaining order on ships and coast facilities and preventing provocations in foreign ports.

Unnamed sources in the Main Command of the Russian Navy told popular Russian daily Izvestia that the first navy police unit will start its service as of next year, but many future officers are currently undergoing training on the North Fleet ships, in particular on the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier.

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© Mikhail Alaeddin

Sources also said that unlike ordinary marines, who currently enforce order and security on the navy ships, navy police officers will be trained in investigation and operative work that would allow them to solve crimes and prevent criminal plans coming to fruition.

Sources also said that the ministry used the experience of similar agencies from over 40 developed countries when preparing the documents ordering the foundation and functioning of the Navy Police. In particular, the command has paid special attention to joint exercises of future navy cops with other Russian military units, like recent war games held in North Russia’s Murmansk Region jointly by the Russian Navy, Air Force, anti-aircraft defense units, armored formations and units of chemical and radiation defense.

Also, Izvestia’s interlocutors emphasized that navy policemen would be much better prepared for preventing various provocations in foreign ports.

Russia set up a special military police in March 2015 and the strength of the agency is estimated at about 6500 active personnel. In 2017 Russian military policemen took part in peacekeeping operations in several the de-escalation zones in Syria, near the cities of Ghouta and Khoms. The military police will also oversaw the deliveries of humanitarian aid to the war-hit regions of Syria and the evacuation of those needing medical treatment.

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RT Russian Politics News

The Plan to Destabilize Russia with Islamic State Terror

A Russian think tank linked to Vladimir Putin has made the claim Islamic State operatives in northern Afghanistan are organizing a large-scale hybrid offensive against Russia through Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The Russians are taking the threat seriously. The director of the Center for Geopolitical Expertise Valery Korovin says Moscow should prepare for a large-scale offensive operations in Ukraine, Armenia, and a number of post-Soviet republics with large Muslim populations. Korovan believes the United States didn’t seize Afghanistan by rigging its military dictatorship in order to build democracy and civil society. This is a springboard for the creation of terrorist networks to be used for aggression against Iran and Russia and threaten financial projects initiated by China. The plan is not new or unique. Similar operations were organized by the CIA, British MI6, and Pakistani intelligence in the mid-1980s. They launched military operations from Afghanistan against civilians and military installations in Soviet-controlled Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. According to a Washington Post article in 1992, an ISIS general said there were dozens of cross border raids into Soviet territory. It’s well-known that then CIA director William Casey supported the raids. Reagan and the CIA put in extra effort to engineer terror. During a visit to secret training camps near the Afghan border in 1984, CIA director Casey told his Pakistani hosts they should take the Afghan war into the Soviet Union. Russia and Iran are at the top of the list of countries New York and London want to redesign from the bottom up in the service of their ultimate objective—a one world government ruled by unelected bureaucrats like those in the European Union and the United Nations. The EU was blueprinted during the reign of Hitler’s Third Reich. Russia, Iran, China, and others are now building alternative financial and trade systems, a move that will eventually kill off the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency.

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Show Notes

Special Service’s Agent: Attack on Russia is Being Prepared

US Helps Afghan Allies Launch Attacks into Soviet Union

Reagan Sharply Increases Covert Support to Afghan Rebels

CIA Director Secretly Visits Afghan Training Camps; Urges Spread of Violence into Soviet Union

Meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club

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Newsbud

Moscow authorities plan dedicated law for homeless to protect tourists from crime

The council of political parties with the Moscow City Government is developing a law on the status and rights of homeless people. One of the main goals of the bill is to protect tourists from potential crime by the homeless.

The head of the council, Yelena Morozova, told the Moskva agency that the work on the bill had been restarted because it would help to protect tourists from possible criminal actions of the homeless.

She also explained that the development of the draft was hindered by the fact that it required cooperation between various state agencies from different regions, because homeless citizens are usually registered somewhere. Morozova noted, however, that despite all difficulties the bill was necessary and important as it had, among other things, “humanitarian importance.”

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Doughnut house for homeless and people in hardship organized by the Mercy Russian Orthodox Service © Anton Denisov

We cannot just evict them all to regions a 100km away from city limits, like they did at the time of the 1980 Moscow Olympics. But at the same time we must create conditions for the guests of our capital, both the sanitary conditions and protection from possible criminal actions,” she said.  “Of course we must look into this issue, but we must also create mechanisms that would also help those homeless who want to return to traditional life,” she said. 

Earlier, the council of political parties with the Moscow City Government reported that it was developing a bill on homeless people that would order a register of such people and describe the mechanism under which they would receive social aid in return for some communal work. The draft also allowed for the homeless who persisted in their way of life to be evicted to remote regions, drafted in the military or kept in special “closed centers.” This bill has not yet been finished and considered by Moscow legislature.

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Vitaly Milonov, deputy of St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly (RIA Novosti/ Vadim Zhernov)

In February this year State Duma Deputy Vitaly Milonov of the parliamentary majority party United Russia told reporters that he was preparing a bill to create an agency that would deal with homeless people and help them reintegrate into society.

The lawmaker added that the need for the agency arose from the fact that the problem of homeless people and beggars lied outside the powers of every Russian ministry that ought to deal with it, such as the interior, healthcare, and labor ministries.

Milonov said that as well as setting up a dedicated state agency, he wanted to restore the state infrastructure aimed at reintegrating homeless people and beggars into society, and provide aid to various NGOs and volunteer groups engaged in this work. The initiative was met with limited enthusiasm by federal lawmaking bodies but has still not been implemented in reality.

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RT Russian Politics News

Why the UK’s plan to tackle air pollution is mostly hot air

Smoke rises out of a chimney

Air pollution is a growing issue

Ashley Cooper/Global Warming images/Alamy

The UK government has today announced plans to tackle sources of air pollution, including trendy wood-burning stoves, but its Clean Air Strategy fails to address the real problem.

While pollution from wood-burning stoves is a relatively new problem for the UK – they became fashionable a few years ago – it has long been a major source of air pollution in countries such as Canada and New Zealand. And the take-home message from their efforts to control the release of harmful particulates in the air is …

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New Scientist – Earth

A Connecticut Prison Has a Radical New Plan to Keep Young Inmates From Coming Back

This story was published in partnership with The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization covering the U.S. criminal justice system.

Leona Godfrey was sitting down to dinner at a TGI Fridays in Orange, Connecticut, in December 2013 when she glanced at a television and saw her little brother’s name on the local news. Davon Eldemire had tried to rob a small grocery store, shooting and injuring the owner. “I was devastated,” Godfrey recalled. “What was he thinking? I couldn’t eat.”

He was 20. She was ten years older and had helped raise him, looking on in shame as he piled up an arrest record for drugs, larceny, and shooting an illegal gun in public. Lately, he had been talking about buying his daughter, Saniyah, a bed for Christmas. She figured the robbery was how he had planned to get the money. What he got instead was Christmas in jail, and then 14 years in prison for assault and attempted robbery.

At first Godfrey didn’t visit, less out of anger than inertia. But early last year, their mother, Linda Godfrey, started begging Leona to come see something neither would have expected: the prison seemed sincere about helping Davon turn his life around. Linda had attended a presentation by John Pittman, an older prisoner who was going to be Davon’s mentor, pushing him away from gangs and towards planning for his life after release. Linda was deeply moved. “He touched my heart,” she said of Pittman.

Davon had been selected for a pilot program called TRUE at Cheshire Correctional Institution. The effort represents the edge of experimentation for prison officials trying to help a population—young adults, roughly 18-25—long known as the most likely to end up in prison and to commit more crimes after their release. Public officials have recently started to listen to neuroscientists who say the developing brains of young adults are still prone to impulse. They’re not juveniles under the law, but like younger teens, their minds are plastic and receptive to change. Vermont is raising the age of who is considered a “youthful offender” to 21, Washington is allowing certain crimes committed by those up to 25 to stay in juvenile courts, legislators in Texas are studying how “gaps in services” contribute to crime among 17- to 25-year-olds, and Chicago and San Francisco have set up special courts for young adults. 

Uniquely, Connecticut is focusing attention on young men who are already in prison. Inspired by a youth prison in Germany, the state has placed about 50 of them in a single unit, along with a small group of older prisoners who serve as mentors. Many American prisons have classes, jobs, and rehabilitative programs, at least on paper. But in the TRUE program, the older prisoners have been granted the trust and latitude to develop a radically different environment, somewhere between family and reformatory, with strict rules, incentives and long days of work and study. The young men go through a series of stages, learning to confront their pasts, to be vulnerable around their peers, to resolve conflicts through communication instead of violence, and to master basic life skills they may have missed, such as managing a personal budget.

It’s too soon to tell what this experiment will yield. The program is tiny, encompassing only two percent of their age group in the Connecticut prison system, and much of its early success relies on the particular men involved. Though it has curbed violence inside the prison—and though none of the nine men released from the program have been incarcerated for new crimes—the real test will come over the next few years as the department tries to expand the program and participants return home in larger numbers. Though researchers see promise in the idea of using mentors, it can be tough to isolate their effect in programs such as TRUE, where prisoners are getting lots of different support services all at once. “The literature on mentoring is limited,” said Angela Hawken, a New York University professor who studies programs that try to keep people from returning to prison.”

There’s still a lot to be learned about whether this approach works.”

Davon Eldemire

Karsten Moran / The Marshall Project

But despite the lack of a track record, the Connecticut program is proving influential. The Vera Institute of Justice in New York, which helped Connecticut develop TRUE, is setting up similar young adult programs at the jail in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, near Boston, and in the South Carolina Department of Corrections. Even as the rhetoric out of the White House tends toward the punitive, many state prison leaders are openly championing rehabilitation.

That’s at the macro level. But zoom in and rehabilitation becomes personal: In the TRUE unit, the mentors try to get each of these young men to explain what brought them to prison and to articulate why they want to change. For Davon Eldemire, it came down to his daughter. Soon after he was incarcerated, he was chatting with his sister Leona by phone when he heard Saniyah pipe up in the background. 

He started to choke up. “What have I done?” he said.

Three years ago, Connecticut corrections commissioner Scott Semple spent a week touring prisons in Germany, where incarcerated men and women cook their own food and wear their own clothes in an environment which, except for the razor wire, looks like a liberal arts college. A dozen other states have sent similar delegations to European prisons, and officials are starting to copy bits and pieces of what they have seen there. Semple, himself a former corrections officer, was particularly struck by Neustrelitz Prison, in Germany’s northeastern countryside, where nearly 200 young men and women live together on a farm, exposed to intensive therapy while raising animals and working in a welding shop. The environment was foreign, but local German officials discussed their challenges in a way that felt familiar. “This is the place for violence because they are young, they are aggressive, they have no control,” said Jörg Jesse, the head of prisons for the region.

Less than 24 hours after he returned home, Semple found himself Googling his way through the brain science literature on young adults and crime. Since the 1990s, studies of MRI scans have shown that the prefrontal cortex, which is associated with planning and solving problems, keeps developing pathways to other parts of the brain, including those related to emotions and impulses, well into the second decade of life. This is usually the given explanation for why a disproportionate number of crimes are committed by young people, but Semple noticed that was also true in prison, where people under 26 were responsible for a quarter of all “reportable incidents,” despite being less than a fifth of the population.

Semple asked the Vera Institute of Justice, which organized the Germany trip, to help him develop a youth prison like Neustrelitz. He envisioned dedicating an entire facility, but budget issues forced him to scale it back to a pilot project. He picked the Cheshire Correctional Institution. As the staff discussed possibilities, Scott Erfe, the facility’s warden, noted that older prisoners tended to “adopt” younger ones and give them advice. At community events, he’d seen a lifer named John Pittman get kids to toss away their street scowls and open up about their vulnerabilities. He wanted Pittman to pick others like him to live with and mentor the young prisoners.

Pittman, a tall, soft-spoken man who has earned the nickname “Father Time,” is serving 60 years for the 1985 murder of his wife in Hartford. He won’t speak about the crime, saying only, “Some of us have taken lives, so it’s only fair that we try to save lives.” Semple was skeptical of the mentorship idea, since there is also a history of older prisoners preying on young ones, financially and sexually, and in Germany the rehabilitation programs were run by staff. But Erfe convinced him. (Such exploitation, so far as officials can tell, has not taken place in the TRUE unit.) As Erfe explained it, “Part of this is guards and counselors realizing they can’t speak to these young men with knowledge of what they’re really thinking; only older prisoners from the same neighborhoods can.”

And so the German model took on an American influence. “Sometimes you see what you need is in your backyard,” Pittman said.

Left-leaning supporters of prisoner rehabilitation tend to talk about the social and economic forces that lead to crime, while conservatives focus on personal responsibility and poor choices. These two approaches are not in conflict in the ethos of the TRUE program: a bad environment causes bad decisions, but it’s up to you to rise above it. “The violence and intermittent chaos of street life translates to prison life with ease,” the mentors wrote in an introductory note to the young men. “Perhaps there has been no consideration of how the movement from point to point has stripped you of your voice and made you feel powerless…This does not have to continue to be your reality.” The mentors turned the wing—an open floor, dotted with tables and surrounded by tiers of cells—into a temple of self-improvement. A day of work and study can last from 7:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. Chalkboards feature quotes attributed to Booker T. Washington and the Buddha.

They devised ways to keep everyone accountable. If officers see someone breaking a small rule—an untucked shirt, a radio left on, tardiness to a class—they can write it down, without the offending prisoner’s name, on a chalkboard, and then it’s up to his peers to figure out who broke the rule and ask him to fix the problem. When two young men have a dispute, they sit with others in a circle and discuss what transpired and how to resolve the problem; it doesn’t escalate towards violence and harsh disciplinary tactics such as solitary confinement. Punishments can include doing push-ups and learning dictionary words. There is an emphasis on practical life skills; they get mock currency, and they pay mock rent and taxes. They can get bonus pay for doing extra work, such as cleaning a common area, and fined for disruptive behavior.

Lili Holzer Glier / Vera Institute of Justice

But the main thrust of the programming is emotional growth, to get the men to analyze how their own anger and sadness alchemized into decisions that harmed others, and then to chart another path. There is a lot of talking. They talk about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. In “Hip Hop Hermeneutics” class, they discuss lyrics as a way to explore the pressures they felt growing up. In the “Current Events” class, they view the news of the day through a personal lens. One popular subject was Aaron Hernandez, the New England Patriots football player convicted of murder who later committed suicide in a Massachusetts prison. Even as he achieved fame and fortune, they noted, Hernandez remained connected to friends in gangs. They spoke of trying to escape their pasts while feeling pressure from old friends to prove they are not “getting soft.”

“You go back out, seeing guys run, and you don’t run?” Davon Eldemire told the class one day last November. “The change is scary.”

When Eldemire first arrived in prison, he spent time mostly with men he knew from outside. When one was attacked, they banded together and fought back. “I was a tough guy, you couldn’t tell me nothing,” he said. In 2014, he received a disciplinary report for getting into a fist fight. But while working in a prison kitchen, he met an older prisoner who gave him memoirs by Martin Luther King Jr. and the boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter. This man noticed that Eldemire talked a lot about Saniyah. “You say you love your daughter,” Eldemire recalls him saying. “But are you doing the right things?”

Back in his cell, Eldemire would find this challenge nagging at him: “On the streets nobody ever said, ‘Are you really living for your kids?’” He found himself growing bored as the friends who called always wanted to talk about the same petty schemes to make money, dealing drugs, chasing women, getting into fights.

Once in the program, he drew Pittman as his mentor, and they talked about his plans for when he gets out, his family relationships, his emotional responses to stress. “I think he’s really helped Davon see the value in being a father figure, how the way you live really affects those who look up to you,” said correctional officer James Vassar, who works in the unit. “And then he models that. He’s like the grandfather.” In essays, Eldemire reflected on his past. “Becoming a product of my environment had me chasing a dream that cannot manifest,” he wrote. “That dream was to sell drugs, promote violence without ending up in here.” He steeled himself to deal with teasing from prisoners who weren’t in the program. How’s that kindergarten going? they’d say.

It is unclear just how widespread such skepticism is among other prisoners, or whether it would imperil efforts to expand the program. Not all officers are sold on the idea, either. “Some told me there is a lack of structure” in the TRUE program, said Rudy Demiraj, president of AFSCME Local 387, a union representing officers. Giving the young men push-ups and dictionary words can seem like an insufficient deterrent for officers used to sending them to solitary confinement and revoking phone and commissary access. “We need to get back to holding people accountable for their own actions. It seems to us…that this program is not geared towards that,” he said. Demiraj would rather see such resources focused on prisoners with imminent release dates, and many in TRUE will be in prison for long stretches.

Lili Holzer Glier / Vera Institute of Justice

Demiraj said he’s opening to being convinced by hard data that shows the program’s participants commit fewer crimes once they’re out, but such data could be years off. (Three years is a common timeframe for tracking new crimes.) In the meantime, Semple is hoping to expand—a comparable women’s unit is slated to open later this year. As the program grows, it will inevitably include young men who are not as committed as the first class. And myriad factors out of the department’s control affect whether someone commits a crime after leaving prison. “We know we won’t bat a thousand,” Semple said. “But there are also plenty of people with no history of incarceration, or even police interaction, who we read about on the front page. There is no magic wand.” He added that he instructed staff to pick prisoners who seemed like they needed help, not ones already committed to change. “If I wanted to impact recidivism, I would have picked cupcakes,” he said.

If the Connecticut story is a lesson in how criminal justice experiments happen these days, it is also a lesson in their limits. Of the nine men released from the TRUE program, one is back in prison after a technical parole violation. That is not officially a new criminal charge, but there is no telling how the public would respond if someone released from the program committed a serious crime. Even now, one state senator is pushing to restrict a different program that allows prisoners to earn early release through good behavior, citing one man released early who shot a police officer.

The TRUE program was cultivated with the express support of Democratic Gov. Dannel Malloy, who joined Semple for a day on the Germany trip and has also pushed a legislative initiative called the “Second Chance Society,” which includes reduced penalties for drug possession and an easier route to parole. But he is not seeking another term this November, and in a 2016 Quinnipiac University poll, 44 percent of Connecticut voters said they disapproved of how the governor was handling crime; only 40 percent approved. His predecessor, Republican Jodi Rell, vetoed efforts to shorten prison sentences while supporting “three strikes” laws. The TRUE program has not come up in the current race, which still features a wide-open field, but the next governor could easily replace Semple. Of the four department heads on his tour of Germany in 2015, he is the only one still in his position. It is impossible to tell whether the TRUE program would survive a change at the top.

And even if the next governor likes the idea of TRUE on paper, budgetary constraints may keep it small. The current program cost $ 500,000 to set up, much of it coming from federal grants. A lot of that cost was for the initial training and overtime, but the necessity of having more staff than usual around may inhibit the project’s growth. Semple said a typical housing unit would have two officers during a day shift, but in TRUE there are four, which is more in line with how the department would staff a mental health or solitary confinement wing.

But if TRUE doesn’t grow or prove itself through data, Semple sees the program as worthwhile for how it has already cultivated a prison environment more like the one he saw in Germany. “We’ve taken a more dignified approach,” he said. That’s also the perspective of Alex Frank of the Vera Institute of Justice in New York, who has been commuting regularly to Cheshire to develop the program. She sees it as part of a larger movement in prisons that will survive, no matter what happens to this particular experiment. “The starting point is not, ‘Everyone is messed up.’ The starting point is, ‘Everyone has potential,’” she said. “We make this accessible to everyone, and if it doesn’t work, it’s on the system—hold the mirror up.”

On a January evening, Eldemire rushed out of the TRUE unit wing to the visitation room at the front of the prison, where his sister Leona and mother Linda were waiting with Saniyah, who is now six. Her hair was laced with red and white beads, which clacked together as her father scooped her up. She picked at his beard as he asked her to spell new words and inquired about her classes at school. Over the next hour, any time he’d put her down for a few moments, she’d look up at him and say, “Upsies! Upsies!” John Pittman snapped a family picture.

Davon’s sister Leona had never felt the need to see her brother since she could talk to him on the phone, but once she learned he was making an effort, she realized she needed to make one, too. One night, their mother Linda’s usual ride to the prison fell through. Leona said she was too tired to drive her. She laid down to rest. “Something is weighing heavy on my heart,” she recalled. “He’s going to see all those families, hugging and kissing their loved ones, and he’ll be alone…He’s going to think, ‘What am I doing this for?’” She drove 90 mph to get her mother and made it to the prison 15 minutes after the visiting time had begun.

“He knew all these big words all of a sudden,” she said. He was interested in learning real estate and flipping houses when he got out. He talked about investing money. When she brought up new clothes and shoes she liked, which used to be a frequent topic of discussion between them, he said, “You don’t need all that! Tear up that credit card!”

During regular visitation hours, visitors and prisoners sit across a table from another and are allowed only limited physical contact, but in the “family engagement” sessions of the TRUE program, the rules are relaxed, and the interactions look a lot like they do in Europe. They are allowed to sit next to their visitors and hold their kids. Counselors from the program call family members regularly to update them on their loved one’s progress. If they can’t find family who seems interested, they look for other people who can visit and keep the young man accountable, whether an old coach or a just a close friend. A 2011 Minnesota Department of Corrections study found that prisoners who regularly received visits were 13 percent less likely to be convicted of a new felony in their first five years of release. Often, Pittman has found that when he pushes young prisoners to explain bad behavior, they will say they are having trouble getting in touch with their families.

John Pittman, left, and Davon Eldemire at Cheshire Correctional Institution.

Karsten Moran / The Marshall Project

 

The TRUE mentors and department staff are working with two nonprofits, Workforce Alliance and COMPASS Youth Collaborative, to set up the mentees with jobs and support services such as counseling and education once they’re out. Those who have been released call the staff with updates on their progress, and there is talk of creating a “TRUE Alumni network.” But all this is in its infancy since so few men have been released.

Davon will be up for parole in three years, and it remains to be seen whether involvement in the TRUE program will help prisoners like him when they go before the parole board. His sentence officially ends in 2027. Until then, Leona dreads the moment when Saniyah comes to understand that her father is in prison; for now, she just thinks he’s in a “special school.” “She’ll say, ‘Why did you guys lie to me?,’” said Leona. “I’ll say, ‘It was to protect your heart.’”

When it was time to leave, Saniyah gripped her father tight. “I love you so much,” she said.

“Be a good girl, okay?” he said.

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Crime and Justice – Mother Jones

Lori Wallach and Michael Hudson Debate Trump’s Plan to Impose Steel and Aluminum Tariffs

“Trade wars are good, and easy to win.” That’s the message President Trump tweeted on Friday, sending shockwaves across the globe and sparking fear of impending economic volatility. On Thursday, world stock markets tumbled after Trump announced he plans to impose new tariffs on imports of foreign steel and aluminum. The new tariffs — 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum — will benefit US producers of the metals, while raising prices for companies that manufacture everything from cars to airplanes to high-rise apartments. Prominent Republicans and business leaders have denounced Trump’s plan, saying the tariffs will hurt the manufacturing industry and US competitiveness. Trump’s announcement has also prompted concerns that other countries will impose retaliatory tariffs while challenging US protectionism at the World Trade Organization. For more, we host a debate. Lori Wallach is the director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch and author of The Rise and Fall of Fast Track Trade Authority. Economist Michael Hudson is the author of America’s Protectionist Takeoff 1815-1914.

TRANSCRIPT

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: “Trade wars are good, and easy to win.” That’s the message President Trump tweeted on Friday, sending shockwaves across the globe and sparking fears of impending economic volatility. On Thursday, world stock markets tumbled after Trump announced he’s imposing new tariffs on imports of foreign steel and aluminum. The new tariffs — 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum — will benefit US producers of the metals, while raising prices for companies that manufacture everything from cars to airplanes to high-rise buildings.

AMY GOODMAN: Prominent Republicans and business leaders have denounced Trump’s plan, saying the tariffs will hurt the manufacturing industry and US competitiveness. House Speaker Paul Ryan said in a statement Monday, quote, “We are extremely worried about the consequences of a trade war and are urging the White House to not advance with this plan.” Trump’s announcement has also prompted concerns that other countries will impose retaliatory tariffs while challenging US protectionism at the World Trade Organization. On Monday, President Trump told reporters he was not going to back down on his plan to impose new tariffs.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Thank you all very much. I appreciate it. Thank you. Thank you very much.

REPORTER: Paul Ryan wants you to back down on trade. Paul Ryan says he’s worried about a trade war. Are you going to back down on the tariffs?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: No, we’re not backing down. Mexico is — we’ve had a very bad deal with Mexico, a very bad deal with Canada. It’s called NAFTA. Our factories have left our country. Our jobs have left our country. For many years, NAFTA has been a disaster. We are renegotiating NAFTA, as I said I would. And if we don’t make a deal, I’ll terminate NAFTA. But if I do make a deal which is fair to the workers and to the American people, that would be, I would imagine, one of the points that we’ll negotiate. It will be tariffs on steel for Canada and for Mexico.

So, we’ll see what happens. But right now, 100 percent, but it could be a part of NAFTA. And I understand — I just got a call from the people who are right now in Mexico City negotiating NAFTA. Mexico, and really Canada, want to talk about it. But if they aren’t going to make a fair NAFTA deal, we’re just going to leave it this way. People have to understand, our country, on trade, has been ripped off by virtually every country in the world, whether it’s friend or enemy — everybody — China, Russia, and take people that we think are wonderful, the European Union.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Trump’s announcement on tariffs, however, has garnered enthusiastic support from some top Democratic lawmakers and labor unions, who say the tariffs will help long-struggling steel and aluminum workers compete in an increasingly difficult global economy. This is Democratic Ohio Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur speaking to Fox News.

REP. MARCY KAPTUR: We understand the delicate nature of tariffs, but we know America hasn’t had a trade balance in over a quarter-century. Right now, over 700 workers in Lorain, Ohio, have been pink-slipped, unless something happens very soon. We know we have to resurrect this steel industry in our country to give it a fair trade, level playing field. I think the president is inching toward that. He’s at the scrimmage line. We look forward to the details. But I can tell you what we don’t want is an America without a steel industry, an America that is subject to predatory practices by countries like China, like Russia, even like Vietnam, that backdoor goods into this country and cause great job loss here and corporate collapse. We need to have a level playing field.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Democratic Ohio Congressmember Marcy Kaptur supporting Trump’s tariff plan.

Well, for more, we host a debate today on the debates — on the impacts of Trump’s tariffs — who they’ll help and who they’ll hurt. In Washington, D.C., we’re joined by Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch and author of The Rise and Fall of Fast Track Trade Authority. Here in New York City, we’re joined by Michael Hudson, the author of America’s Protectionist Takeoff 1815-1914. He’s professor of economics at Peking University in Beijing and at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. Hudson’s most recent book is titled J Is for Junk Economics: A Guide to Reality in an Age of Deception. We’re going to speak with Lori Wallach and Michael Hudson after break, and then we’re going to turn to Democratic Senator Chris Murphy. He is the senator from Connecticut. He was a congressmember when the Sandy Hook massacre took place. And now he’ll talk about what he feels the prospects are for gun control in the US Congress. This is Democracy Now! We’ll begin our debate with the tariffs in a moment.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: “Steel and Glass” by John Lennon. This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Juan González, as we turn to a debate on the impacts of President Trump’s proposal for tariffs — who they’ll help, who they’ll hurt. In Washington, Lori Wallach is with us, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, author of The Rise and Fall of Fast Track Trade Authority. Here in New York, we’re joined by Michael Hudson, author of America’s Protectionist Takeoff. He is professor of economics at Peking University in Beijing and at the University of Missouri, Kansas City.

Lori Wallach, let’s begin with you. Were you surprised by President Trump’s announcement? And where do you stand?

LORI WALLACH: I wasn’t particularly surprised, though the question is whether he’ll follow through. It wasn’t managed in the most artful way.

And where I stand on it is, this is an enforcement action similar to what’s been done fairly systematically, not only in steel. There are hundreds of these kinds of orders outstanding. Because President Trump is generally despicable, he’s getting piled on, and a huge attack by a lot of folks who want to and have been trying to declare a “trade war” is going to be started by him, when, in fact, in 2002, President Bush did the same thing, only with 30 percent steel tariffs.

And here’s the background of it. There is a systematic overproduction of steel in the world because other countries subsidize. We’re one of the most free trade, open countries, so we end up as the “buyer of last resort.” So we get flooded with the subsidized, overcapacity steel. Just in the last number of years, over ten — sorry, 100,000 workers, mainly union, in these industries have lost their jobs.

So what we’re doing now is nothing that’s particularly high-tech. You know, it’s not coming from Wakanda, it’s coming from our trade laws. We’re putting a shield up to basically bounce off all this incoming, to basically say, “Basta! We are not buying this stuff, you guys, really.” For 10 years we’ve been talking to all these countries, saying, “Stop subsidizing. Stop dumping all this stuff on us,” and they’ve totally ignored us. So, now we’re doing this sort of trade two-by-four. It’s temporary. This is not the new tariff, but it’s sort of a “Yo! Slow down. We were talking to you. You didn’t listen.” And so now there will be a temporary block, where we bounce this stuff off. And the rest of the market, all the other countries, have to basically stop oversupplying, stop subsidizing.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Michael Hudson, you’ve got a distinctly different perspective. Your view on the Trump announcement?

MICHAEL HUDSON: Well, in many ways, what she said is correct. But America has always been the most protectionist country in the world for itself. It wants free trade for other countries. And Lori is quite right when she sees there’s a disconnect between what economists say and what politicians actually do. International trade theory is probably the silliest branch of modern economic theory. It’s just a mass of assumptions. And if what the textbooks say were true, America never could have become the major manufacturing power. Britain couldn’t have. Germany couldn’t have. Every country that is an industrial power has got rich by subsidizing its industry and pursuing a protectionist policy.

However, what Trump is doing is the opposite of all the protectionist logic that every country has followed. The whole idea of protectionism is to increase your expensive, high-technology manufactures by getting low raw materials. Trump is doing the opposite. But he’s raised aluminum prices by 40 percent in the last month, 60 percent since the summer. Steel prices are up 33 percent. So, this is going to squeeze the prices that manufacturers have to pay that make things out of aluminum and steel. There’s no increase in tariffs on buying foreign tin cans or foreign steel products, so the American manufacturers will be squeezed.

But foreign countries now have a great benefit. Germany, China, other countries are thinking, “Now, under the rules of international trade, when there is an illegal tariff put on, we get to retaliate.” And they’re going to look around and say, “What do we want to respond to? What is the major American competition that we want to knock off the table?” And they’re going to put tariffs on whatever they think the competition is, whether it’s Boeing airplanes or bourbon or blue jeans or other things.

So, what Trump’s policy does is a travesty of protectionism. It merely squeezes. And the pretense of all of this is that if he gives more money to the steel and aluminum companies, they’ll invest more and hire more labor. But they’re not going to do that at all. Not a single new steel factory is going to be built. Not a single new aluminum factory, because aluminum is made out of electricity, and America is a high-cost electricity country, compared to Iceland, where Alcan produces much of its aluminum, in Canada. So, what you’re doing is enabling the steel and the aluminum companies to use their increased profits for share buybacks and to pay dividends, but they’re not going to build new factories. There is not going to be any trickle down. So, Trump has made a travesty out of protectionist doctrine, as well.

AMY GOODMAN: Lori Wallach, your response?

LORI WALLACH: Well, first of all, there’s actually empirical research on this, because when Bush did what he did in 2002 with the 30 percent tariffs, the same exact alarms went off: Prices will go up, global catastrophe, trade war. And, in fact, the US International Trade Commission, the official economists and trade experts of the US government, did a very detailed study, which folks can see on the ITC’s website. It was published at the end of 2003. And what they found was that, actually, prices didn’t jump up for the users of, in that case, steel — because aluminum wasn’t covered. But rather, there was an increase in general welfare, which is to say, as president — sorry, as Professor Hudson has laid out, the way he’s talking about it is as if these tariffs were a permanent policy. This is a temporary sort of trade policy two-by-four to readjust the market. And so, in fact, what will happen, what did happen in 2002, is, right away, the US steel mills and the aluminum foundries will start to rehire the people who they have laid off. A bunch of steel mills have closed, but a lot of other ones have just laid people off. And so, those guys are going to start rehiring.

As far as the prices, in fact, the study by the ITC showed there isn’t a big jump. But folks need to sort of think through how this will work in the next year, 18 months, that these tariffs would be in place — again, if Trump follows through. And that is something that my little young nephews, Jake, Sam and Noah, knew before they got into high school, which is, if, for instance, their can of soup, which is the can of steel — if that whole can of soup, let’s just say, was a dollar, the amount of actual steel in there is less than a penny. The can can be bought, produced for about five cents. So let’s just assume 25 percent increase in the price of steel, which is not what happened any time this has been done before. It’s a fraction, tiny, pennies, of increase for a can of soup. We’re not going to see a huge jump. And you see companies like GM, one of the biggest user industries, basically saying, “We need a domestic steel and aluminum industry in our country. We are for trade policies that actually will make our country have a manufacturing sector.” So, I think a lot of the way this was announced was very sloppy, and there has not been a very good management of sort of the information around it. But using these kind of short-term measures is what every country does, which then gets to what Professor Hudson said about what happens.

This ain’t gonna be a trade war. There’s a lot of huffing and puffing. But the reality is, the way you respond to this — because, by the way, lots of other countries do the same thing. We’re one of the countries that never does. That’s why we have all the excess steel coming to us. Other countries have already done the “ixnay, you can’t send it here” measures. And what you do when you think it’s unfair is you go to the WTO, and there’s a process. So, for instance, when Bush did what he did in 2002, that process played out over about two years. At the end of the period, the WTOsaid, “You can’t do that,” at which point then the other countries are allowed to put up sanctions. But this is not a [snaps] boom, right away. We’re protesting the same kind of, let’s call it, enforcement actions — it’s a technical matter — that other countries have taken at the WTO, and then the WTO looks at the rules and says, “All right, this is kosher, this is not.” In this case, because it’s based on almost a year of research, because this is about national security, and the WTO has a national security exception, this action might actually stand for the US, whereas the steel action was based in a different part of the trade law and was ruled to be a WTO violation.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: So, in essence, what I’m hearing from Lori, she’s seeing this more as a political action, not a long-term economic policy, to basically get some of the other countries to pay attention and to negotiate better relations in terms of trade. But, Michael Hudson, this whole issue of the kind — where we’re putting the tariffs on — clearly, the United States has monopolies in some areas, that other countries could retaliate against. I’m thinking, for instance, the pharmaceutical industry, the patents and copyrights that are so essential to the pharmaceutical and biotech industry. Even doctors, medical doctors, are protected in the United States from foreign competition. Could you talk about the choice of steel and aluminum versus these other industries?

MICHAEL HUDSON: Well, you’re right. It is political more than economic. There’s not much of an economic justification, despite what Lori says. She’s right when she says the price of steel cans is not going to go up. But the cost of steel will go up for the steel can manufacturers. So, they’re going to have costs go up a little bit, and their profits will be squeezed somewhat. The profits will be up for steel and aluminum. I don’t think there’s going to be much of a hiring.

And I think there’s another factor here, the fact that Trump is breaking the trade agreements, just as he was — America was trying to push forth the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other trade agreements, that Lori has been very good at criticizing. And, in fact, she should be overjoyed — I’m sure she is — at Trump’s action, because he wrote this wonderful book, The Art of Breaking the Deal. I think the publisher called it The Art of the Deal. But he made all of his money by breaking deals, which is why nobody will deal with him. The suppliers won’t deal with him in New York, because he’ll make a deal: “I’m going to pay you this much for what you supply for the hotel.” Then it comes time to pay: “Oh, I didn’t like it. I’m going to pay you 50 cents on the dollar.” He screwed his suppliers, his manufacturers. The banks won’t deal with him.

This kind of businessman’s behavior — that is how businessmen make money, by breaking deals — it doesn’t work that way internationally. The international economy is so strained right now. And even though Hillary backed the steel tariffs, just as much as George Bush backed them — she supported them at the time — the situation has changed, and the Europeans are much more reactive and protectionist these days, and the Asians are also, because they’re going to be hurt, but most of all Canada. Canada is the major supplier of steel and aluminum to the United States. That’s the politics that’s involved.

Now, imagine what this is going to do right at the time that NAFTA is being renegotiated, ostensibly, by Trump. For one thing, Trump has said to Canada and Mexico, “Any deal we make, we can break any time by saying ‘national security.'” National security means anything, because everything is plugged into everything else. It’s all a system. And you could say that protecting doctors, you could say the pharmaceuticals — anything — is national security. So what that means is, we have an out. Free trade for you. We can always protect what we’re doing for national security. And you’re only Canada and Mexico. What are you going to do about it?

AMY GOODMAN: And, Professor Hudson, the response in China right now? You’re a professor at Peking University. You also taught in Wuhan, China. We are sitting here with your books, your textbooks, in English and in Chinese.

MICHAEL HUDSON: Yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: The response there?

MICHAEL HUDSON: Well, there is a war over who is going to control the highest-technology products. And the response to America’s steel and aluminum tariffs will be asymmetrical. China is only the 11th-largest supplier of steel to America, not a major supplier at all. The steels that are important to America are specialty steels, German steel and Japanese steel especially. American companies don’t make that kind of steel. There’s no way that they can hire more workers and make more plants to provide the kind of specialty steels that we’re getting from Germany and Japan. So, not all steel is the same. It’s going to be a — the politics are going to be very interesting.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Lori, I wanted to ask you — we only have about a minute for this segment. You were mentioning the claims of a trade war are inflated, but Trump himself has tweeted that trade wars are good, so he’s actually stoked the ideas of a trade war.

LORI WALLACH: I think we can all agree that President Trump is despicable and has not — I just don’t know how else to say this — is not the most intelligent when it comes to his policy or political statements. However, that being said, the reality of how this is likely to play out is not categorically different than how it plays out every time every other country puts up this kind of a measure.

And, Professor Hudson, I want to have a bet with you — I think we should have lunch, whoever loses pays — because I will bet that, in fact, in short order, if the president follows through and puts these tariffs in place, then there will be a rehiring of a lot of the shifts that have been stopped in aluminum and in steel in the last 18 months, because it is true that, right, on a daily basis, we’re not importing, say, from China, but it’s a global market. So, when China is oversupplying, when Russia is way oversupplying, when Korea is, who picks up the particular steel from the other country cascades. So the fact that at the moment it’s not coming from China does not mean that the reduction of the total supply that this kind of two-by-four policy tool will result in won’t have the outcome of creating more jobs. That said, the key thing is —

AMY GOODMAN: Five seconds, Lori.

LORI WALLACH:  — this does not a trade policy fix make. This is an enforcement action on one specific problem. The —

AMY GOODMAN: Lori, we’re going to have to leave it there, but I hope that we can film the lunch. Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, and economist Michael Hudson, professor of economics at Peking University in Beijing and the University of Missouri in Kansas City.

This is Democracy Now! In 30 seconds, we’ll be back with Senator Murphy of Connecticut on gun control. Stay with us.

[break]

AMY GOODMAN: That’s “9 to 5” by Dolly Parton. The Imagination Library youth literacy program, started by Parton over two decades ago, just celebrated its 100 millionth book.

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