Robert Reich: A Guide to Why the Trump-Republican Tax Plan Is a Disgrace (for When you Confront Your Republican Uncle Bob During the Holidays)

Shame on Trump and the Republicans who have lied to the pubic about its consequences.

Here are the 3 main Republican arguments in favor of the Republican tax plan, followed by the truth.

1. It will make American corporations competitive with foreign corporations, which are taxed at a lower rate.

Rubbish.

(1) American corporations now pay an effective rate (after taking deductions and tax credits) that’s just about the same as most foreign based corporations pay.

(2) Most of these other countries also impose a “Value Added Tax” on top of the corporate tax.

(3) When we cut our corporate rate from 35% to 20%, other nations will cut their corporate rates in order to be competitive with us – so we gain nothing anyway.

(4) Most big American corporations who benefit most from the Republican tax plan aren’t even “American.” Over 35 percent of their shareholders are foreign (which means that by cutting corporate taxes we’re giving a big tax cut to those foreign shareholders). 20 percent of their employees are foreign, while many Americans work for foreign-based corporations.

(5) The “competitiveness” of America depends on American workers, not on “American” corporations. But this tax plan will make it harder to finance public investments in education, health, and infrastructure, on which the future competitiveness of American workers depends.

(6) American corporations already have more money than they know what to do with. Their profits are at record levels. They’re using them to buy back their shares of stock, and raise executive pay. That’s what they’ll do with the additional $1 trillion they’ll receive in this tax cut.

***

2. With the tax cut, big corporations and the rich will invest and create more jobs.

Baloney.

(1) Job creation doesn’t trickle down. After Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush cut taxes on the top, few jobs and little growth resulted. America cut taxes on corporations in 2004 in an attempt to get them to bring their profits home from abroad, and what happened? They didn’t invest. They just bought up more shares of their own stock, and increased executive pay.

(2) Companies expand and create jobs when there’s more demand for their goods and services. That demand comes from customers who have the money to buy what companies sell. Those customers are primarily the middle class and poor, who spend far more of their incomes than the rich. But this tax bill mostly benefits the rich.

(3) At a time when the richest 1 percent already have 40 percent of all the wealth in the country, it’s immoral to give them even more – especially when financed partly by 13 million low-income Americans who will lose their health coverage as a result of this tax plan (according to the Congressional Budget Office), and by subsequent cuts in safety-net programs necessitated by increasing the deficit by $1.5 trillion.

***

3. It will give small businesses an incentive to invest and create more jobs.

Untrue.

(1) At least 85 percent of small businesses earn so little they already pay the lowest corporate tax rate, which this plan doesn’t change.

(2) In fact, because the tax plan bestows much larger rewards on big businesses, they’ll have more ability to use predatory tactics to squeeze small firms and force them out of business.

***

Don’t let your Uncle Bob be fooled: Republicans are voting for this because their wealthy patrons demand it. Their tax plan will weaken our economy for years – reducing demand, widening inequality, and increasing the national debt by at least $1.5 trillion over the next decade.

Shame on the greedy Republican backers who have engineered this. Shame on Trump and the Republicans who have lied to the pubic about its consequences.

 

 

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Here is how tech companies are responding to the repeal of net neutrality

Save the Internet

Unless you’ve been in living under a rock the past several months, you knew that a vote on net neutrality was coming. It played out just as everyone suspected and the FCC voted to reclassify internet service providers like Comcast, Spectrum, and Verizon. The vote removed restrictions on the companies that many felt were vital to an open and fair internet.

Here are how some large tech companies are reacting the vote.

Google

Google is a proponent of net neutrality and has repeatedly voiced its support of it in the past. In a statement released to news organizations after the vote, Google pledges to continue to follow the policies of net neutrality. Here is its statement in full:

We remain committed to the net neutrality policies that enjoy overwhelming public support, have been approved by the courts, and are working well for every part of the internet economy. We will work with other net neutrality supporters large and small to promote strong, enforceable protections.

Facebook

Facebook is another company that voice support for strong net neutrality regulations. Many fear that with the repeal of net neutrality, world-changing companies like Facebook may never be able to sprout up. Facebook’s COO released the following statement after the vote:



Netflix

As the largest video streaming service on the internet, Netflix has a vested interest making sure people are able to stream their content. Even though the company has seemingly waffled on its net neutrality, it came out with a firm statement stating, “We’re disappointed in the decision to gut #NetNeutrality.” Here is the company’s full statement:

Amazon

Amazon is another of the tech giants that stood behind net neutrality. With its repeal, Amazon’s Chief Technology Officer took to Twitter to share his statement:

Microsoft

Microsoft is a staunch supporter of net neutrality, saying earlier this year, “Without an open internet, broadband internet access service providers gain the power to outright prevent edge content and services from reaching their customers, levy tolls on edge providers and customers for access to edge content and services, and pick winners and losers in the internet economy, thus subjecting edge provider success to the control of broadband internet access services providers rather than the forces of customer demand.” After the vote, its Chief Legal Officer made the following statement:

Reddit

Reddit bills itself as the “Front Page of the Internet”. It’s another company like Facebook that was started by a couple of kids and turned into a phenomenon. If you’ve used the site any time in the last few weeks, you’ll know that the site and (most of) its users are strong supporters of net neutrality. In a statement today, Reddit CEO Steve Hufmann (Spez) said in part:

It is disappointing that the FCC Chairman plowed ahead with his planned repeal despite all of this public concern, not to mention the objections expressed by his fellow commissioners, the FCC’s own CTO, more than a hundred members of Congress, dozens of senators, and the very builders of the modern internet.

Nevertheless, today’s vote is the beginning, not the end. While the fight to preserve net neutrality is going to be longer than we had hoped, this is far from over.

You can read the statement in its entirety here.

Comcast

Comcast is one of the companies that could seemingly benefit from the net neutrality changes. Many fear that companies like Comcast could wield its power to prevent users from reaching sites or streaming video content to benefit its own platforms.

But, According to a blog post by Senior Vice President David L. Cohen, Comcast believes that Congress should move to enact net neutrality laws. Its stance is that the rules enacted by the FCC were just governmental overreach, but it really supports net neutrality. Whether you believe that or not is up to you, but you can read the full blog post here.

Charter/Spectrum

Charter is the second largest ISP in the country and obviously had its eye on the FCC’s meeting. After the vote, the company released a statement on its website that read in part, ” Charter has been consistent and clear: we support a vibrant and open internet that enables our customers to access the lawful content of their choice when and where they want it. We commend the FCC Chairman and Commissioners for their action today that re-establishes the light touch regulatory framework that had been in place for decades when the Internet took root and grew into an important tool for daily life and a major engine of economic growth.”

You can read the rest of its comment here.

AT&T

AT&T repeated many of the same sentiments as Comcast and Charter. AT&T’s Senior Executive Vice President of External & Legislative Affairs, Bob Quinn, took to the web to express that the repeal of net neutrality laws isn’t that big of a deal.

In the post, Quinn states, “AT&T intends to operate its network the same way AT&T operates its network today: in an open and transparent manner. We will not block websites, we will not throttle or degrade internet traffic based on content, and we will not unfairly discriminate in our treatment of internet traffic (all consistent with the rules that were adopted – and that we supported – in 2010, and the rules in place today).”

You can read the full post here.

Verizon

Verizon hosts a Broadband Commitment website that states, “Verizon supports the Open Internet, and is committed to offering services that allow our customers to take full advantage of all of the lawful content and services that the Internet has to offer.” Speaking to Inverse yesterday, Verizon spokesperson Rich Young backed up that sentiment with this statement, “Verizon fully supports the open Internet, and we will continue to do so. Our customers demand it and our business depends on it.”

T-Mobile

T-Mobile released a very short statement after the vote. It reads, “We always have and will support an open internet that enables us to provide new and innovative services to our customers and keep them first! We will continue to provide amazing service and support to our customers each day!”

Sprint

Sprint’s statement on the repeal of net neutrality is longer than T-Mobile’s, but says just as little. It reads, “Sprint applauds the FCC’s efforts to simplify a complex and challenging issue, while balancing multiple stakeholder interests in this important proceeding. Our position has been and continues to be that competition is the best way to promote an open internet. Complex and vague regulations previously created uncertainties around net neutrality compliance. The Commission’s decision today eliminates those uncertainties and appears to allow Sprint to manage our network and offer competitive products.”


Which company had the best response?

Switcheroo

I had a typical first-world problem in an affluent society: My wife asked me what I wanted for Christmas and I didn’t have a good answer. We were in the middle of a large electronics store and had just bought an expensive digital camera as my present for her, so she felt she needed to reciprocate. After some thinking and looking around, we settled on a Nintendo Switch for me, in a bundle with Super Mario Odyssey. And of course also bought Zelda, and a few other games. Normally I wouldn’t have bought a console for a few good games, but we are spending Christmas with family, and so the console wouldn’t just be for me, but also to keep the kids busy.

Being game language literate I immediately spotted a potential problem: The bundle doesn’t actually contain the game Super Mario Odyssey. It contains a code to download it. Whatever purists might think of it, you don’t want to unpack game stuff on Christmas and find it isn’t ready to play immediately with kids around. So I unpacked my Christmas present already, to set it up (not to play), charge the batteries, and then pack it again to be ready for the event. That turned out to be a good plan, as even on my ultra-fast VDSL the game needed 37 minutes to download, and over Christmas I will have much lower internet speed.

As this was a spontaneous buy, I hadn’t read up on the Switch. I’ve heard that it was usable both as a console connected to a TV and handheld, but hadn’t pondered that feature any further. It was on unpacking that the truth dawned on me: The Switch isn’t actually a game console, it is a tablet computer. A tablet computer with weird controllers, yes, but at its core a tablet computer. It turned out that for example setting it up and entering text like WiFi passwords, using the touch screen keyboard is far better than trying to type with the controllers.

On the other hand for a tablet computer the Switch has a lousy battery life (not tried myself, just read about it), and rather small screen. I imagine I will end up using it in the stand that turns it more or less into a console far more than handheld. It is a bit annoying that I’ll have to attach the controllers to the tablet after every playing session to recharge them, even if the controllers are reported to have a longer battery life than the handheld tablet.

I’ll report sometimes after Christmas on how playing games on the Switch turns out. I’ll start with a library of 4 games: Super Mario Odyssey (which I got more for the kids than for me, but the reviews are excellent), Mario + Rabbids, Zelda, and Disgaea 5. If you have any advice on good role-playing and strategy games for the Switch, I’m listening.

Elemental Evil: Sessions 5 and 6

It appears I forgot to chronicle the previous session of my D&D home campaign. The last report was from early July, after which we had a summer break, and then resumed mid-August, and then continued yesterday. Both of these sessions were action-centric, with the group clearing out first the abandoned village of Thundertree and then the goblin stronghold of Cragmaw Castle from monsters. A “door-monster-treasure” type of gameplay can be a lot of fun, but the details aren’t always all that interesting in a journal of events. So I will summarize and concentrate on the highlights in this post.

Thundertree is an abandoned village a day’s travel from Neverwinter. The eruption of Mount Hotenow, which caused quite a catastrophe for Neverwinter half a century ago, destroyed the village of Thundertree. Erdan, the druid of the group who is prone to visions and nightmares, dreamed that the eruption of Hotenow was caused by a group of chanting fire cultists, but probably didn’t go as planned, as the cultists were killed in the event. What remained in Thundertree was mostly abandoned houses, with a population of ash zombies and twig blights. The group had gone to Thundertree to meet the druid Reidoth, who was supposed to know the location of Cragmaw Castle. Their “pet goblin” Droop also claimed to be able to find the way from Thundertree to Cragmaw Castle. They met Reidoth, who was able to provide a safe haven in the village, as well as the directions needed.

After clearing out most of the village from monsters, the group came across another group which likewise was engaged in fighting twig blights. That group was wearing blue armor and white robes, beset with feathers. They explained that they were from a club of aerial enthusiasts, and were in Thundertree to try to tame a griffon nesting here, or get eggs from his nest to raise as aerial mounts. The heroes agreed to accompany them to the griffon’s lair in the highest tower of Thundertree. But once there the air cultists tried to becalm the griffon by offering the adventurers up as sacrifice, so the group ended up killing both the cultists and the griffon. They were able to make the link between a symbol the cultists carried and the same symbol they had seen on a letter to Glasstaff in Phandalin.

On the way to Cragmaw Castle the group tried to question Droop for information about the castle. That was somewhat complicated by the fact that Droop could only count to 3, and used “3” as an answer to any question about numbers in which the answer exceeded 2. Not trusting the goblin’s offer to negotiate safe entry into the castle, they knocked him out and attached him to a tree, guarded by the paladin (the player was absent that session). Instead they built a camouflage out of branches and approached the less guarded south side of the castle at night. From there they could see into the banquet hall, but the goblins there didn’t look out the arrow slits. So they managed after a few attempts to unlock the side door. But they didn’t like the idea of advancing with the goblins in the hall behind them, so they decided to attack there.

From there they moved clockwise room by room. That enabled them to eliminate most guards in small groups. However it did move them more towards the entrance of the castle, instead towards the throne room. The toughest fight was against a group of hobgoblins. Popée the sorceress used a web spell on them, but between succeeded saving throws initially and later the web wasn’t all that effective. Then they tried to burn the web, but in 5E that deals only 2d4 damage, and the player rolled double 1s, so the spell wasn’t really a big success. The hobgoblins however had an ability with which they dealt an extra 2d6 damage if next to an ally. And two of them rolled critical hits, which doubles the number of dice on all damage, knocking the druid out of his bear form. After another fight in the central chapel of the castle the group had enough and decided to go back into the woods to take a long rest.

Returning to the castle they found that the bugbear King Grol had obviously noticed that the group had raided his castle and killed most of the goblinoids in there. So King Grol has gathered all the remaining defenders in the chapel, including a priest from the air cult. That ended up being a tough fight, with Theren being knocked down to zero health, but then rescued. The air cultist priest was a real menace, with a dust devil spell that prevented the archers and casters from sniping from the back. But Popée used a scroll of lightning bolt on King Grol and his pet wolf, killing the wolf and seriously damaging the bugbear. Soon after all the bugbears were dead. The priest tried to transform into gaseous form and flee, but didn’t make it out of the arrow slit in one round and concentrated fire killed him before his next round. At this point it had gotten rather late, and we ended the session.

‘All Eyes on U.S.’ as Honduran Election Panel Declares Incumbent President Hernández Election Winner

The commission made the announcement while opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla was traveling to the United States to present evidence of election fraud.

In Honduras, the government-controlled electoral commission on Sunday declared U.S.-backed incumbent President Juan Orlando Hernández as the official winner of the contested November 26 presidential election. The commission made the announcement while opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla was on a plane traveling to the United States to present evidence of election fraud. The opposition party has called for nationwide protests on Monday, while the Organization of American States has called for a new election. We speak with award-winning independent journalist Allan Nairn, and Rodolfo Pastor, the spokesperson for the Alliance Against the Dictatorship. We also speak with Dana Frank, professor of history at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We begin today’s show with the escalating political crisis in Honduras. On Sunday night, the government-controlled electoral commission declared the U.S.-backed incumbent President Juan Orlando Hernández as the official winner of the contested November 26 presidential election. The commission made the announcement while opposition candidate Salvador Nasralla was on a plane traveling to the United States to present evidence of election fraud to the OASand State Department. The opposition party is now calling for nationwide protests, and the Organization of American States has called for a new election. This is Jorge “Tuto” Quiroga, head of the electoral observer mission of the OAS.

JORGE ”TUTO” QUIROGA: [translated] The electoral observer mission considered that it has observed a process of low electoral quality, and therefore cannot settle the doubts over what has been announced today. The mission regrets, once again, the incidents of violence that have occurred in the elections, in different phases of the electoral process, and calls once again for all actors to stay calm and act responsibly.

AMY GOODMAN: Protests erupted after the November 26 election, when the government-controlled electoral commission stopped tallying votes once the count showed opposition candidate Nasralla ahead. After a few days, the electoral commission then claimed Hernández was ahead. Human rights groups say as many as 22 people have been killed and more than 1,200 detained in the nationwide protests since.

Well, for more, we’re joined in Tegucigalpa by award-winning independent journalist Allan Nairn, as well as by Rodolfo Pastor, the spokesperson for the Alliance Against the Dictatorship, the opposition party represented by Salvador Nasralla. And in Washington, D.C., Dana Frank is with us, professor of history at University of California, Santa Cruz.

Let’s begin with Rodolfo Pastor in Tegucigalpa. Rodolfo Pastor, you’re spokesperson for the opposition party that is led by Salvador Nasralla, who was in a plane, headed to Washington, when the government-controlled electoral commission announced that the incumbent President Hernández has won. What is your response? And what’s happening in the streets right now?

RODOLFO PASTOR: Well, what’s happened since last night—it’s early morning here in Honduras—is, obviously, the announcement by the tribunal, a very unilateral announcement. Only the president of the tribunal was on camera, which is very, very atypical, since it’s a collegiate body and there is three magistrates for the tribunal, and yet it was the president of the tribunal, who is more directly linked to Juan Orlando Hernández, who was to make an announcement, which was also atypical since it was not an official announcement. It was basically him communicating the final results of the count, and yet it was not the tribunal coming out and saying Juan Orlando Hernández had been elected president of Honduras.

What happened since then is, of course, the alliance has rejected this declaration. We do not consider the tribunal, by now, to be a legitimate institution here in Honduras. It has been that way for a while. We have questioned the credibility of the tribunal, the capacity of the tribunal to provide credible results, since before the elections. And, of course, by now, more than three weeks since the elections, we are very concerned that the tribunal has played a very, very important role in manipulating the results. And this is something that the OAS has also come out and spoken about in its report. The alliance has rejected the results and has called for the population to stay on the streets, to keep mobilizing, since this is our way of putting pressure on the regime so that they can actually rectify.

Since the announcement by the tribunal and then the statements made by the OAScalling for a new election, what we’ve heard here in Honduras is, basically, Juan Orlando Hernández moving forward, saying, “Well, I am now the winner.” All the front pages this morning on all the major newspapers call him the new president of Honduras for the next four years. They barely mention the fact that the OAS came out with a very, very strong statement questioning the tribunal, questioning the process and calling for new elections.

AMY GOODMAN: Allan Nairn, you’ve been covering the events in Tegucigalpa through this election. Can you talk about Nasralla , where he was when this announcement was made? You saw him getting on the plane in Tegucigalpa?

ALLAN NAIRN: Yeah, I spoke to him as he was boarding. And he didn’t—he clearly didn’t expect this. He was on the way to Washington to plead his case. One thing that shocked many people here was that President Hernández made this announcement not only while Nasralla was on the plane, but one day after Hernández’s own sister was killed in a helicopter crash. But he seized the moment to spring his proclamation of victory.

The declaration by the secretary-general of the OAS, Luis Almagro, was remarkable, because the OAS is historically a policy tool of the United States, and he is clearly bucking the will of the United States, which has been backing Hernández throughout this process. Hernández is close to General Kelly in the White House. I think this took some courage on the secretary-general’s part, because during the recent weeks I’ve been talking to some former Latin American heads of state who have been—who have made it clear that the OAS has been hesitant about going against the U.S. on this.

But now the secretary-general has issued a very strong statement, making it clear that the computers—the computer system of the electoral commission was penetrated. It was an invitation to fraud. And the OAS report didn’t even address what seems to be the dominant emerging evidence, which is that much of the fraud was done by simple ballot box stuffing on the local level by the ruling party. And as I previously mentioned on an earlier show, on the 30th of November one of the technicians inside the electoral system sent out a private message, in which he stated, ”El fraude ya se hizo,” “The fraud has now been done.”

This OAS stance by the secretary-general put some pressure on the Honduran government, which has bitterly attacked him now, saying he’s inciting violence. But, more importantly, it may make it difficult for the White House, which will have a hard time explaining, in any rational way, why it would now back Hernández as the OAS is calling for new elections.

AMY GOODMAN: And can you talk about the role of Heidi Fulton, the chargé d’affaires, who, as in many countries around the world, President Trump has not appointed ambassadors, and so she plays that role? The significance of Nasralla being on a plane to the U.S., what he was planning to do at the State Department and the OAS? And her role in Honduras right now, as she is deeply involved with speaking with both sides?

ALLAN NAIRN: Well, just a few days earlier, she had appeared alongside the head of the electoral tribunal, a de facto endorsement to the partial, not clean recount they were doing. And she was widely denounced for that. It’s clear that behind the scenes she’s been working on behalf of Hernández.

And the U.S. has not denounced the killings by the security forces. Last night, I went out on the streets as people were taking to the streets, burning tires. And the dominant force I ran into were the military police, which is the most repressive and notorious element of the armed forces. They’re the ones most closely and personally linked to President Hernández. They were carrying live ammunition. They told me they had orders to open fire on demonstrators if they gave them any trouble. And although the Pentagon has been claiming in recent years that the U.S. has not been training the military police, a number of those I ran into said they had gotten their training from Fort Benning.

It’s partially necessary for them to use this extremely repressive force now, because two weeks ago the police rebelled and said they would no longer carry out repression. And other elements of the army I’ve been talking to have been saying—you know, rank-and-file troops have been saying that they are reluctant also. I’ve never actually seen, in any other country, a security force that was less ideologically strong and less committed to their own leadership. When you ask them who their families voted for back in the countryside where they come from, very few of them say Hernández. Most of them say their families voted for Nasralla, at least among those I’ve talked to. And they seem—many of them seem to identify more as poor working people, where they come from, as opposed to being members of the institution. And I think the Hernández government and also [inaudible] have to see this. And if the popular resistance is large and persistent enough, this government may have some difficulty holding on, even with U.S. backing.

AMY GOODMAN: And, Dana Frank, a professor at University California, Santa Cruz, you’ve been closely following everything here. You say this election is being stolen.

DANA FRANK: Oh, well, I think we have to say there’s certainly evidence of fraud and a great concern about who controlled those tally sheets, who controlled the computers. I certainly would support what the OAS is saying, which is, we don’t have evidence of a clear election here that could be certified. And there’s a long history of electoral fraud in Honduras going into this. Let’s remember that. And Juan Orlando himself has a long history of subverting the rule of law, overthrowing the Supreme Court. Let’s remember, his election itself is illegal. It’s a criminal act in violation of the constitution, which says you should be—it’s an immediate criminal act to even advocate re-election. So, going into that, let’s remember that.

So, I think that we have to listen to what the opposition is saying, listen to what the OAS is saying, and say we need—they need a new election. There’s way too much water under the bridge in terms of that electoral commission. And it’s the foxes are guarding the chicken coop here and the chicken—the votes from the chickens. And so, I think we really have to listen to what the opposition was saying. And remember that the Honduran people have very few ways of expressing themselves at this point. People say, “Well, why are they going into the streets?” It’s not like they can petition Congress. Juan Orlando Hernández controls all the reins of power—the Supreme Court, the attorney general, the military, most of the police. We don’t really know, as Mr. Nairn was saying, what the position of the military and the police are going to be. This one unit, 400 of the COBRAS, did rebel.

So, you know, I think, just supporting what he was saying, we have to pay attention to what the United States is going to do here. They have such a long history of giving a green light to Juan Orlando’s criminal re-election, of being silent about the repression since the elections, and, outrageously, certifying, two days after the election, as it was already clear that there were major problems with the election—certifying the human rights conditions on aid to Honduras had been met. I mean, that was astonishing. And also on December 10th, which is International Human Rights Day, Heidi Fulton, the acting ambassador, chose to use that to praise the Juan Orlando Hernández’s government for its advances on human rights. So, they’re sending clear signals about who they care about and support, and who they don’t care about and support, and this lack of respect for basic human rights in Honduras. So, all eyes are on the United States right now. Will it respect the OAS? And, you know, there were some suggestions that it was—that the OAS was going to certify this election. And when it hasn’t, I think, what is the United States going to do? The EU has actually come out, last night, supporting the electoral commission, very embarrassingly, and pretty much repeating exactly what the Honduran government said. And the EU has a long history, like the United States, of supporting Juan Orlando’s government.

You know, the other place to look here is the U.S. Congress, which there have been very, very strong voices about the appearance of major fraud. There have been very strong voices condemning the repression, and especially Congresswoman Schakowsky, Congressmember Keith Ellison. There are already 68 members of Congress that have said cut police and military aid. Going into the elections, you know, Senator Leahy, Senator Reed, Senator Merkley and many others in the Senate have expressed concern about potential fraud. They’ve expressed concern about the state security forces. So, we also really want to pay attention to this congressional voice pushing back against the State Department. Remember that Congress controls the purse strings, and U.S. money is funding these state security forces. U.S. money is, you know, of the State Department—it’s the U.S. State Department that has been continuingly celebrating Juan Orlando’s dictatorship as if he was, as John Kelly put it, a great guy and a good friend. I mean, Kelly said that as recently as May, and that’s Trump’s chief of staff.

AMY GOODMAN: Rodolfo Pastor, in Tegucigalpa, you are the opposition spokesperson, the Alliance Against the Dictatorship. Can you explain what Nasralla is doing in Washington and what you’re calling for to happen now in the streets? And explain how broad your coalition is.

RODOLFO PASTOR: Well, the coalition is very broad. What evidently happened here is we realized—different political parties and social movements, we realized that we were dealing with a dictatorship, that this was no longer a normal political process where we were just competing for political power through elections. This man who has come to power during the last eight years, as a result of the 2009 coup, when he became president of Congress first and started packing the courts and different state institutions, has garnered, has concentrated so much power under his executive office that we are no longer dealing with a normal president here in Honduras. And so, we started coming together, throughout the last four years, when he, as president, has been increasingly abusive, authoritarian and repressive.

And we realized that the only way to confront this guy on an election, that he pretty much controls, was by coming together and building this broad coalition, which brings very odd partners to the party. It’s—well, of course, I am a member of LIBRE, and this is a party that was born from the resistance to the coup back in 2009, and it’s a left-of-center party, basically. And the coalition also brings together PINU, which is a small social democrat party, that has been in Congress for a long time but has not played a major role in Honduran politics, and, of course, PAC, led by Mr. Nasralla, which was also a party that is born from the coup, but as a right-of-center party based on an anti-corruption narrative. It’s a party that, by the way, months before the coalition officially came together as the alliance, was dismantled by the tribunal, led by Mr. Matamoros and under Juan Orlando’s direct instruction.

So, we come together, and we start getting social movements from around Honduras coming to us and also saying, “Hey, listen, we want to be part of this, and we need to organize against this, because we know. We know we are going into an electoral process that we have stated, both nationally and internationally, did not meet any basic conditions for it to be free or fair.” And we went into this game knowing that they control the field, that we were clearly against—going against the odds here. But we also knew that the rejection of the Honduran population, as a whole, against—of Juan Orlando, against Juan Orlando, is huge, is huge. And there was absolutely no way that if these elections were in any way clean or transparent, that Juan Orlando was going to be the winner. And that’s currently the position.

And it’s also—it might seem contradictory, but we are not exactly celebrating the fact that the OAS has come out and asked for a new process to be organized, because we won these past elections. We clearly did so, even against a massive fraud and the control that Juan Orlando has of the institutions that organize the elections. The Honduran people came out massively and voted against Juan Orlando and for the alliance. And this is something that we want to make very clear. We need to respect this. We need to respect the fact that the popular will was very clearly expressed, and that since the elections, and since it became so evident that there had been fraud going on before, during and after the elections, there has been significant repression by state police and army forces. And as a result, we have victims of this repression. We have 22 people who have been killed, many others who have been injured.

And as both Dana and the journalist pointed out, you know, this is a critical moment for us, and we are not willing to just accept that Juan Orlando should, by some miracle, agree that we are to hold new elections—in which, of course, he would lose, if they were organized by an objective, impartial tribunal. So, we are very concerned with, number one, the reaction that Juan Orlando might have against what happened last night—of course, he seems to be plowing forward and, you know, basically ignoring what the OAS has said—and, number two, yes, what will the U.S. say about this. Now, Mr. Nasralla is visiting Washington in order to meet with Secretary-General Almagro. He is also to meet with officials at the State Department and—

AMY GOODMAN: Secretary-general of the OAS.

RODOLFO PASTOR: That’s right. That’s right. And what we are—this happened before the announcement was made. We did expect the announcement to be made. We expected it to be made today, Monday, and not Sunday night. And yet it did not come as a surprise to us. And we have been getting ready for this announcement to be made by the tribunal. And we do consider that the OAS report does give—it gives us a certain boost. And I speak on behalf of the Honduran population that has been out in the streets for three weeks now, because we understand that there is a voice of hope out there and that the international community is still paying attention to us.

We were obviously very upset with the position that the European Union representative here came out and stated last night, like Professor Frank stated. And yet, this is not—we must make it clear, this is not the official position of the electoral observation mission that they have here. And I understand that, right now, as we speak, we have Marisa Matias, the president of the commission, speaking from Brussels about this. And I think that they will come out strongly stating that the electoral process was plagued by fraud.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, we’re going to continue to cover this again tomorrow on Democracy Now! as events unfold, with the opposition leader, who many believe won the election, the Electoral College—the electoral commission shutting down the vote for a period, when it was announced Salvador Nasralla was 5 percentage points ahead. He is in Washington now. Rodolfo Pastor, spokesperson for the opposition party, Alliance Against the Dictatorship; Allan Nairn, in the streets of Tegucigalpa, independent journalist; and Dana Frank, professor at University of California, Santa Cruz, thanks so much for being with us.

When we come back, did Republican lawmakers include a last-minute provision in the tax plan to personally enrich Tennessee Senator Corker in order to secure his support for the tax bill? Stay with us.

 

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One more 7th Continent post before I shut up :)

The 2nd Kickstarter for 7th Continent ended with 43,733 backers having pledged over $7 million. But if you missed it, there is a possibility to Late Pledge with options limited to getting either just the new expansion, or the whole game plus expansion. I don’t know how long this will be possible, I presume it is until the pledge manager goes live in November.

*Spoiler Alert*
My wife and me are making great progress on the first curse, The Voracious Goddess. We lost on the first attempt and restarted. Knowing the starting island better made things easier, so on the second attempt we managed to get off the island the comfortable way. That gives you a choice of three places to continue, and by pure chance we seem to have chosen the absolutely best one. We found a place to rest and spend our xp on advanced skills. We found a place to hunt and recover all of the adventuring deck. And we found the next two landmarks on the clue map.

It was getting nearly too easy, and so we decided to do something more risky. Instead of following the clue map further, we entered what I can only describe as a dungeon. We didn’t completely clear it out, because there was a rather suspicious lever we didn’t dare to pull. But we did everything else in it and exited with some treasure and more advanced skills. Next we will try to hunt again and then follow the path on the clue map.

13 years old coding n0w !!

13 years old coding n0w !!

As the demand for fresh, new programmers is increasing in this techno competitive world, I being a 14 year old enthusiastic  kid thought of touching the field of programming for the first time. And I even got the thought at the right time (In my summer vacations!!).

Now, the first question was , from where to start?
  1. I had a laptop.✔
  2. I had net connection.✔
  3. I had a tool to code.✖

So, first thing I had to do was to download a tool to code which after doing from some research on the net was NOTEPAD++.

I knew that as the word ‘NOTEPAD’ appeared I had to type something on the screen. But what to write?
So, sadly I had to join a computer course in the busy city of Mumbai where everything is charged on the amount of time and not on quality.(But I was proved wrong!!)
FIRST DAY OF MY COURSE : I was introduced to languages like H.T.M.L , C.S.S ,Java script. The names were so complex even though I had selected the institute’s easiest course. I was sitting with college students(feeling very proud of myself!!).
H.T.M.L: The written matter in every website is coded with the help of this language.
C.S.S: The colors and some standard effects are given by this language.
Java script: Dynamic and moving effects are given to the matter with Java script.
I got these definations clear on the first day. The explanation was quite good but unexpected for me.
DAYS PASSED ON……
and I started coding these languages . It became clear to me that languages can not only be spoken but also coded.I learnt H.T.M.L and C.S.S quite easily but got some problems in learning Java script. Probably, it was more difficult than the other two.
But finally, I got it clear that kids can code but only some basic languages.Kids can even code the harder languages but then you would have to skip PHYSICS,MATHS,BIOLOGY etc. I couldn’t do that but surely my learning experience with SCTPL was very good.
WHAT IS THIS SCTPL: SCTPL is a software training  company in Mumbai. They teach QUALITY programming without making your pocket light.This institute changed my thinking towards the institutes in Mumbai. 
EVEN YOU MUST TRY IT!!  SCTPL

Do see what  Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and …. many more .. have say

Uses and abuses of challenge

Once upon a time, in a past so long a go that few people remember it, computer games came with an options menu in which you could choose the difficulty and challenge of the game yourself. The idea was that all of us would like games to be both winnable and not a pushover, but because preferences on how easily winnable a game should be, as well as experience and skill in a game, vary from user to user, it would be best to have several options in order to please everybody. Now that was way back when games still came in a box. With games increasingly switching to a “game as a service” online experience, difficulty settings fell out of favor. Somehow it appeared to make more sense if the same orc in World of Warcraft held the same challenge for each player, with the only variable being the power level of the player himself. With less and less single-player games around, and PvE games being more and more replaced by PvP, difficulty setting have become increasingly rare.

I’ve been playing a bunch of pseudo-PvP games on my iPad lately. Pseudo because I don’t necessarily fight another player online at the same time, but my army fights his computer-controlled army. That usually was nice enough at the start of the game. But then with each win I gained some sort of trophies or ranking, so that later I was matched against more and more powerful players. Ultimately it was obvious that this was a no-win proposition: The better I did, the more likely it became that I would lose the next game. The only strategy that worked was to deliberately lose games, to drop down in rankings, to then win the now easier PvP games in order to achieve the quests and goals the game set me. But that sort of cheesy strategy isn’t exactly fun.

The other type of game I played recently is the one in which your performance doesn’t actually matter at all any more. I played Total War: Arena, but many team vs. team multiplayer games fall into the same category: The contribution of any single player to the outcome of a 10 vs. 10 battle is only 5%. That gets quite annoying if you come up with a brilliant move and outmaneuver another player and crush him, only to find that the 9 other players on the enemy team obliterated your 9 team mates, and you lost the battle. Especially since in Total War: Arena you end up with more rewards having done nothing much in a won battle than for a great performance in a lost battle.

Finally my wife was complaining about a problem with challenge levels in her iPad puzzle games: The games are free to play, they get harder and harder with each level until you can’t beat it any more, and then the game offers you a way out: Use some sort of booster, which of course you need to pay real money for, to make the too hard levels easy enough to win again.

Somehow I get the feeling we lost something important when difficulty sliders went out of fashion. However the discussion of difficulty and challenge is complicated by the fact that this is one of the issues where gamers are the most dishonest about. Gamers tend to say they want more challenge, but when you observe what they are doing, e.g. attacking the enemy castle in a PvP MMORPG at 3 am in the morning, it is clearly that they are mostly occupied with avoiding or circumventing any actual challenge. Pay2Win and loot boxes wouldn’t be such an issue if gamers weren’t actually spending their money on improving their chances to win. If most gamers were so interested in challenge, then why is there so much cheating and botting going on? People want to win, by any means, and by talking up the challenge they want to make their win look more impressive. Which is kind of sad, if you think about it, that their positive self-image depends on being a winner in a video game. Many a fragile gamer-ego can’t admit that they’d quite like a relaxing game that doesn’t constantly challenge them to the max. I do.

Update: Android 8.0 Oreo beta rolling out to Nokia 6

  • HMD Global has extended its Android Oreo beta program to the Nokia 5 and Nokia 6
  • Juho Sarvikas announced the news on Twitter
  • The rollout comes a month after the Nokia 8 enjoyed a public Android 8.0 Oreo release

Update, December 19: As promised, HMD kicked off the beta Oreo rollout for the Nokia 6. “Just one week after the Nokia 5 Android Oreo beta labs programme, we are delighted to offer the same opportunity to Nokia 6 owners. With the Android Oreo beta on the Nokia 6, you can take a first look at amazing new features that improve usability and multi-tasking, while boosting battery life,” HMD Global said in a statement picked up by Gadgets 360.

To test Oreo on your Nokia 6, head to the official beta sign up page.

Original post, December 12: HMD Global kicked off its revitalization of the Nokia brand with some hefty guarantees, including a commitment to bringing major OS upgrades to its phones as quickly as possible. Now, after the official release of Android 8.0 Oreo for its flagship, the Nokia 8, the Finnish company is making good on that promise with the expansion of its Oreo beta program.

Juho Sarvikas, Chief Product Officer at HMD Global, announced today (via Twitter) that the firm is bringing an Oreo beta build to the mid-range Nokia 5 with immediate effect. Sarvikas also noted that the Nokia 6 beta will follow “very soon”.

To get started with the beta labs, you’ll need to sign up here and validate your device by typing in your phone’s IMEI number. After submitting the request, you should then receive the OTA update within 12 hours. HMD Global is also looking for feedback via the aptly-named Feedback app so it can fine-tune the final release.

Even if you’re not looking to take part, the beta is good news for all Nokia 5 owners as it indicates a final Oreo release should be just around the corner. The Nokia 8 beta lasted just under a month before the official rollout so it’s likely the same timeframe will apply to its smaller, less powerful sibling.

Outside of Google’s Pixel or Nexus phones, HMD Global’s crop of Nokia-branded devices are the closest consumers can get to a pure Android Oreo experience thanks to the lack of a bespoke skin or pre-installed apps. You can read our thoughts on the good and bad of Nokia’s first year back in the limelight here.

Magic the Gathering Arena

I’ve been in the Magic the Gathering Arena beta for quite a while, but only this week the NDA dropped. So now I can finally express how incredibly disappointed I am with this game. In Magic Duels they had a great game which was mobile and playable for all different sorts of players, including casual and new players. And they stopped supporting that to make Magic Arena, which is solely tailored for the needs of a very small hardcore crowd.

Magic the Gathering is 25 years old this year. So over the years there have been quite a lot of digital editions of the game. And every time, after a few years Wizards of the Coast stopped support of the current platform and launched a new platform. Which means that every time any cards you had bought became useless, and you needed to start your collection all over again. One needs to be very hardcore under those conditions to invest heavily into Magic Arena. But with Magic being the original pay to win game, the people who do invest heavily have a huge advantage over those who don’t.

Because Magic Arena only features a single player vs. player mode, constructed, this mode is dominated by those hardcore players. You simply can’t start up Magic Arena and play a fun, casual game. There are neither casual PvP modes like two-headed giant, nor are there any modes to play against an AI of various difficulty levels for practice or just plain fun. There aren’t even less cutthroat competitive events, like limited mode leagues. There is only hardcore constructed, where anybody who isn’t hardcore and who hasn’t spent much on cards is just simply crushed. There doesn’t even appear to be some sort of matchmaking algorithm to even try to get people a more equal opponent.

That means that the flow of play of Magic Arena for a new player looks like this: He starts his first game, gets crushed, then gets crushed again and again, until he either uninstalls the game, or pulls out his wallet to be able to play with the big boys. My guess is that very few people will opt for the latter. It is as if the developers had carefully studied exactly what made Hearthstone such a big success and then decided to do exactly the opposite. Magic the Gathering simply isn’t such a mass market game any more that you can run a digital platform only for the hardcore.

I really don’t understand why Wizards of the Coast had to stop supporting Magic Duels, they could have kept that one going for the casual and mobile players. There is no overlap in the target audience of Magic Duels and Magic Arena. And now I am really sad that there isn’t any digital Magic game for me any more.