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Pennsylvania lawmaker charged with possession of child pornography

GOP state Sen. Mike Folmer of Pennsylvania was arrested Tuesday after images of child porn were found on his phone, the state’s attorney general said.      
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2 Inmates Killed in Mississippi Prison That Continues to Struggle With Deadly Violence
Three additional inmates also recently died at Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman
5 m
time.com
Taylor Swift's mom diagnosed with brain tumor
Swift's mom, Andrea, was already undergoing chemotherapy for cancer when she found out about the tumor.
7 m
cbsnews.com
Huawei CFO's lawyers argue U.S. extradition case does not pass Canadian law
Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou returned to a Vancouver court on Tuesday, where her lawyers argued for a second straight day that the U.S. extradition request against Meng is founded in sanctions violation.
7 m
reuters.com
Power publicist Peggy Siegal compares coverage of her Epstein ties to the Holocaust
Prominent publicist Peggy Siegal — who got some bad press of her own over her dealings with convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein — compared the negative coverage about the pair’s relationship to the Holocaust in an interview this week. Over the summer, The New York Times published a piece calling Siegal a “social guarantor” for the...
8 m
nypost.com
South Florida braces for ‘hazardous’ cold and falling iguanas as temperatures dip into the 30s
The temperature in Miami is forecast to drop as low as 44 degrees, which could stun iguanas out of trees.
washingtonpost.com
Australian Open 2020 Draw: How to Watch Serena Williams, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic Second-Round Matches, Start Times, Live Stream
Williams faces Slovenia's Tamara Zidansek, while Federer takes on Serbia's Filip Krajinovic and Djokovic plays Japan's wild card Tatsuma Ito.
newsweek.com
'The Expanse' Confirms the Return of Clarissa Mao in Season 5
Mao-Kwikowski Mercantile, or at least its prodigal daughter, will return in 'The Expanse' Season 5, representing new dangers to the system and the new U.N. government run by Nancy Gao.
newsweek.com
Apple planning to make original podcasts promoting its TV shows
The audio shows would help market Apple's growing slate of original programs, which have already picked up some accolades.
latimes.com
National Weather Service warns of falling iguanas
Tuesday afternoon, the National Weather Service in Miami issued a rare forecast regarding cold temperatures but it was for iguanas. Yes, you read that correctly. Iguanas
edition.cnn.com
Column: Trump's legacy will be brutal but simple: He made it OK to be racist again
Our racist president paid lip service to Martin Luther King Jr. while continuing to obliterate Barack Obama's accomplishments.
latimes.com
El costoso camino de los fabricantes hacia los vehículos eléctricos, llevará a muchas decepciones
El camino hacia las flotas de automóviles totalmente eléctricos, ha costado miles de millones de dólares a los principales fabricantes y costará miles de millones más.
latimes.com
Wyatt Russell spotted filming ‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’ series
Russell was photographed in both a Captain America and military uniforms while filming on Monday.
nypost.com
Fact-checking 3 pillars of the White House impeachment defense
The day before opening statements in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, his lawyers submitted a lengthy trial memorandum responding to the charges against him. Here are the facts around three of their main arguments in the President's defense.
edition.cnn.com
Help! I Watch Horror Movies With My 7-Month-Old. Is That Bad?
“At what age can she comprehend what she is seeing?”
slate.com
Tom Ayres: Here's why Space Force is key to maintaining America's edge in the 21st Century
Impairing space capabilities can, in very immediate terms, threaten lives. Fortunately, America is at the forefront of new development.
foxnews.com
Virginia Senate votes to eliminate Lee-Jackson Day, create new Election Day holiday
Every Democrat and one Republican voted to do away with tribute to Confederate generals.
washingtonpost.com
Derek Jeter’s 10 best plays of Hall of Fame Yankees career
Derek Jeter will certainly be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame class of 2020, with the official announcement coming Tuesday evening at 6 p.m. The only question being whether he’ll become the second unanimous inductee in history, possibly joining former Yankees teammate Mariano Rivera. Here’s a look back at the 10 best plays of...
nypost.com
Letters to the Editor: 15 federal judges have been impeached. Trump is much worse than any of them
Federal judges have been convicted of abusing their power, directly rebutting one of they key arguments of Trump's defense.
latimes.com
Swiss police thwart suspected spy operation by Russian ‘plumbers’ in Davos, report says
Swiss police foiled a suspected spy operation by two Russians posing as plumbers in Davos, where world leaders are meeting this week for the annual World Economic Forum, according to Tuesday report.
foxnews.com
Erin Andrews has some fun with the Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston reunion
In case you need a refresher, another years-in-the-making reunion took place over the weekend. While exes Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston reunited at the 2020 SAG Awards, Erin Andrews and 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman shared a sweet moment during Sunday’s NFC Championship Game, six years after the duo participated in a bizarre postgame interview. Days...
nypost.com
Mexico is cracking down on another US-bound migrant caravan
Salvadoran migrant Carlos Gutierrez, part of a caravan of mostly Hondurans heading to the US, puts his shoes on at the international border bridge which links Tecun Uman, Guatemala and Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, on January 21, 2020. | JOHAN ORDONEZ/AFP via Getty Images National Guard troops threw rocks and tear gas at Hondurans trying to cross the Guatemalan border on Monday. Violence broke out on Mexico’s border with Guatemala on Monday after Mexican immigration authorities denied entry to a caravan of thousands of migrants, mostly from Honduras. About 4,000 migrants had requested passage by presenting a petition addressed to Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on the bridge across the Suchiate River, which connects the port of entry at Ciudad Hidalgo to Guatemala. But after authorities refused to open the gates to the port, about 500 migrants attempted to cross the border by wading through the river. In an unusual show of force, Mexican National Guard troops carrying riot shields fired tear gas and threw rocks at the migrants on the riverbank to stop them from crossing. The migrants threw rocks of their own at the guardsmen, according to NPR’s James Fredrick. Amid the chaos, Reuters reported that some families were separated. It was yet another instance in which Mexico has sought to clamp down on Central American migrant caravans arriving at its border with Guatemala. The government wants to avoid antagonizing US President Donald Trump, who in 2019 threatened to impose tariffs on all Mexican goods if the country did not step up its immigration enforcement efforts. Mexico also simply lacks the capacity to manage such large numbers of migrants. Just witnessed a full on military operation by Mexico’s National Guard against caravan migrants who walked across the river into Mexico. Families running and screaming. Rocks flying. Babies crying. Total chaos. No word of injuries yet pic.twitter.com/Hvbyqpy3IS— James Fredrick (@jameslfredrick) January 20, 2020 In a statement Monday, the Mexican government accused the caravan’s leaders of directing migrants to cross the river without considering how it would endanger children and other vulnerable members of the group. Five National Guard members sustained injuries as a result of Monday’s scuffle, the government said. It’s not clear how many migrants were injured, but reports have indicated that at least some were. The Mexican government said it has provided medical care, including hospitalization, to migrants who have requested it, including some who appeared dehydrated. Although some Hondurans intend to remain in Mexico and find jobs, most of those in the caravan are seeking transit through Mexico in the hopes of reaching the US border. It’s a signal that as long as violence and economic instability continues to drive Central American migrants out of their home countries, they will continue to seek refuge in the US — no matter how much the Trump administration pressures other nations to stop them. What will happen to Hondurans in the caravan As reports surfaced that a caravan was en route to the Mexican border last week, López Obrador had vowed that migrants could either request a work permit to remain in southern Mexico legally or claim asylum, but would not be permitted to travel to the US. Now, however, it appears that at least some of the migrants will be deported. With the aid of the National Guard, Mexican immigration authorities sent over 400 of the migrants who attempted to cross the border to immigration detention facilities, where they will be screened to determine whether they have the right to remain in Mexico or will be sent back to Honduras. Women and children will be deported via plane, whereas others will travel via bus, according to the Mexican government. As is standard practice in Mexico, those who claim asylum will be released from detention and processed by the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance (COMAR). The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR), which has recently expanded its presence in Mexico to eight offices, has agreed to help COMAR identify migrants with asylum claims, a spokesperson for the agency said. Honduras produces high numbers of people seeking asylum: In 2017, the most recent year for which data is available, the US granted asylum to 2,048 migrants from Honduras, compared with 1,048 from Mexico, 3,471 from El Salvador, and 2,954 from Guatemala. Honduras remains a hotbed of gang violence, largely perpetrated by the international criminal gang MS-13, which formed in Los Angeles and was transplanted to Central America following mass deportations of unauthorized immigrants with criminal histories in the 1990s. The gangs facilitate drug trafficking, extort local residents, and force teenage boys to join. The country also has the fifth-highest homicide rate worldwide, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, as well as rampant government corruption and high rates of violence against women and LGBTQ individuals. Hondurans likely won’t be able to seek asylum in the US Migrants’ chances of evading Mexican authorities and being granted asylum in the US remain slim. They may be returned to Mexicounder the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, officially known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP). More than 56,000 migrants have been sent back to await decisions on their US asylum applications. The Trump administration has also brokered a series of agreements with Central America’s “Northern Triangle” countries — Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras — that allow the US to send migrants back to those countries, though the agreement with Guatemala is the only one that has gone into effect so far. The agreements resemble “safe third-country agreements,” a rarely used diplomatic tool that requires migrants to seek asylum in the countries they pass through by deeming those countries capable of offering them protection (though the Trump administration has been reluctant to use that term). Until recently, the US had this kind of agreement with just one country: Canada. The administration has sought such agreements in Central America as a means of achieving Trump’s goal of driving down the number of migrants seeking refuge at the US-Mexico border by sending them back to the countries from which they came and passed through. Immigrant advocates argue that doing so could have deadly consequences.
vox.com
Virginia Senate advances bill to scrap Lee-Jackson holiday
The Virginia Senate has advanced legislation to scrap the state’s Lee-Jackson holiday celebrating two Confederate generals
washingtonpost.com
Boeing makes it official: 737 Max won't be back until summer, as fallout from crashes continues
Airlines have already moved the 737 Max back in their schedules. Boeing makes it official: The planes will miss at least part of summer travel season.        
usatoday.com
Factbox: 'They're here to steal two elections:' Trump's attorneys push back on impeachment
Lawyers for President Donald Trump pushed back on Tuesday against the House of Representatives' impeachment case as proceedings got under way in the U.S. Senate. Here are excerpts from their opening remarks.
reuters.com
Boeing 737 Max grounded until summer at the earliest
Aircraft manufacturer could borrow as much as $10 billion to cover cost of getting jet back in service.
cbsnews.com
American journalist Glenn Greenwald charged with cybercrimes in Brazil
American journalist Glenn Greenwald has been charged by Brazilian authorities with cybercrimes in what he calls government retribution for a series of scathing exposés. In a criminal complaint unveiled on Tuesday, Greenwald, 52, is accused of assisting a group of hackers who tapped into the cellphones of prosecutors and other government figures in furtherance of...
nypost.com
Taylor Swift reveals mother's brain tumor diagnosis
Taylor Swift reveals that doctors discovered a brain tumor in her mother Andrea. Swift also talks about her 2020 touring plans and, "Miss Americana."       
usatoday.com
Mitt Romney Reiterates That He's 'Interested' In John Bolton, Others Testifying As Trump Impeachment Trial Gets Underway
"But I'm not going to be making that vote today. I'm going to make that vote after the opening [arguments]," the GOP senator told CNN.
newsweek.com
Denuncian duras medidas de encarcelamiento para ex jefe de seguridad mexicano
Está acusado de tres cargos de asociación delictiva para el tráfico de cocaína y de falso testimonio
latimes.com
Where should you go in New Orleans? Let this city native from band Tank and the Bangas guide you
Tank Ball, the leader of Tank and the Bangas, tells us where she goes in her hometown of New Orleans.       
usatoday.com
It is absolutely fine to rip your books in half
Copies of The New English Dictionary on Historical Principles edited by Sir James Murray line shelves in the Lee Library of the British Academy, September 2017 in London, England. | Richard Baker / In Pictures via Getty Images Images We treat books like sacred objects. They’re not. They’re value-neutral delivery systems. On Monday morning, an apparently innocuous tweet summoned a storm of controversy on Twitter. “Yesterday my colleague called me a ‘book murderer’ because I cut long books in half to make them more portable,” said the novelist and editor Alex Christofi. “Does anyone else do this? Is it just me?” Yesterday my colleague called me a 'book murderer' because I cut long books in half to make them more portable. Does anyone else do this? Is it just me? pic.twitter.com/VQUUdJMpwT— Alex Christofi (@alex_christofi) January 21, 2020 Responses were mixed. As Natalie Morris reported on Metro, some respondents were decidedly outraged, calling Christofi’s actions “demonic” and Christofi himself a “book psychopath.” But others were torn. Logically, they said, they could understand that it was absolutely fine for Christofi to do whatever he wanted to do with his own books. But emotionally, it was hard to look at books that had been cut in half. My head says you can do what you like with your stuff. My emotional response to this: pic.twitter.com/OblkUFXbLR— DVdR (@DVDReeck) January 21, 2020 This outsized reaction and emotional conflict isn’t new to the internet. It tends to rear its head whenever we start talking about books as physical objects and how best to treat them. When Marie Kondo suggested getting rid of books that didn’t spark joy, book lovers were outraged: Didn’t Kondo know that the best books would spur emotions that were much richer and more unsettling than joy? And when it became trendy to shelve one’s books by color, some readers sneered that such a practice was only for literary poseurs, that true readers who cared about their books as more than just decorative objects would never organize them so counterintuitively. That reaction only intensified during the more short-lived trend of shelving one’s books spine-in, and after Town and Country reported that some celebrities hire book curators to give their libraries exactly the right look: This curator “will make not only your bookshelf pop, but also the veins in the eyes of every librarian in a five-mile radius,” said Cracked, adding that the curator’s “rich and dubiously literate clients” would never “run the risk of cracking those very fetch spines.” On an anecdotal level, it became personally clear to me that many people feel strongly about the moral value of books as physical objects after I, a book critic and reporter who covers the publishing industry, aggregated an essay by professor Hannah McGregor arguing that it’s a little weird how we all fetishize books, and some readers kindly advised me to “please fucking die” because “this is anti-intellectualism, you stupid fucking bitch.” We seem to project enormously intense feelings onto books, feelings that make us protective of them and furious toward those we perceive as threatening them. We think of our books as symbols of our taste, our intellect, our moral vigor. And when we hold books in such high esteem, those who treat them as objects rather than as symbols become infidels. We started getting precious about books in the 18th century because marketers wanted us to There is something deeply romantic about the idea of holding a physical book in your hands: feeling the weight of it, the smoothness of the pages, and above all else the smell. The smell of books is a particular obsession in popular culture; you can buy candles or perfumes that try to approximate it, and on TV, characters who love books are always demonstrating their bookishness by waxing poetic about the smell. “Books smell musty and rich,” says Giles, the librarian on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. “If it’s to last, then the getting of knowledge should be tangible. It should be, um … smelly.” “Nothing, nothing smells like that,” sighs Rory on Gilmore Girls, cradling an enormous leather-bound book in her arms and huffing the pages. The smell of a book doesn’t have anything to do with its contents. It has no moral function, it’s just the smell of paper. But if we’re reading physical books, then the scent of the book is intrinsic to the embodied experience of reading. And if we’re treating reading — any kind of reading at all, of any kind of book at all — as an inherent and objective good, then the book as object becomes its own kind of goodness by association. So the smell of the book, the aspect that is most insistently tactile, becomes good too. In the essay that inspired people to send me death threats after I recommended it, McGregor argues that this fetish around the book as physical object can be traced back to the industrialization of paper production in the late 18th century, and the corresponding rise of an accessible book market for the home. That market, McGregor writes, “was actively invested in anthropomorphizing books, making them part of ‘the living world’ so that people could love them (by buying them).” Gradually, over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries, middle-class Americans were taught to aspire to bookishness, with the general understanding that bookishness would always be a moral good: “To be a reader is better than to not be a reader,” McGregor summarizes, “but one kind of reading or book is not better than another.” And because reading is good, all of the paraphernalia associated with reading — the pens, the bookmarks, the tea, the candles, the tote bags with kitschy quotes on them — all of that becomes good as well. And so, especially and of course, does the book itself: the book as object, worthy of special consideration and respect purely for existing as a book. But the idea that reading is a purely moral good does not withstand close examination. President Donald Trump is an author, and his books are available for purchase and reading and smelling just as much as the works of Toni Morrison are. But it is not equally good for us, either morally or intellectually, to devote our attention to the books of both of those people. Trump’s ideas do not magically become more coherent or more valuable when they are encased within the slipcover of a book than they are when they are poured directly into his Twitter feed. Books are neutral vehicles for content, and that content can be either good or bad. I want to be clear: I am saying all of this as someone who has devoted my professional life to books, who enjoys a kitschy book tote, and has huffed many a page in my time. I understand the romance of the book. But I also recognize that liking books does not make me a good or smart or special person. My preference for them is not a unique quality that proves my moral superiority, or in fact anything that it’s worth constructing my personal identity around. Neither is my preference for shelving my books spine-out, organized by genre and publication date. All of those preferences are value-neutral statements. Books are an incredibly flexible technology. That means you can do whatever you want with them. Here’s where I’ll stand up for the book as a physical object. The codex — the printed paper book that we hold in our hands, which took over for the scroll as our dominant reading format in the West in the 4th century AD — is an old, old technology. We’re still working out the kinks with ebooks, but at this point, the codex is out of beta testing. Most of its bugs have been fixed over the past 17 centuries. It’s been streamlined and optimized into an incredibly simple, intuitive system. And part of what makes the codex so valuable is that it is a malleabletechnology. It is easy for individual users to reshape it in whatever way best suits their own individual needs. With a codex, you can get interactive with the text. You can dog-ear the pages if you choose. You can scribble in the margins and underline and highlight. You can rip a codex in half so it’s easier to carry around and dip into during your commute. Or you can treat your books as decorative objects. You can organize them by color. You can build collages with their spines. You can rip out the pages and use them to paper your walls. If you want to make people really mad, you can rip a book into pieces and then organize the shreds by color. None of these choices are moral failings — and all of them mean that you’re taking full advantage of the enormous flexibility and power of the printed book. And maybe that’s a power worth romanticizing.
vox.com
Harvey Weinstein defense to cite 'loving emails' accusers sent after alleged attacks
Harvey Weinstein's defense is planning to cite "dozens of loving emails" accusers sent after alleged attack as his trial starts in New York.
abcnews.go.com
EEUU registra primer caso de neumonía viral detectada en China
SEATTLE — Un ciudadano estadounidense que recientemente regresó de China ha sido diagnosticado con el nuevo virus desatado en el país asiático y que ha obligado a imponer medidas sanitarias en diversos países.
latimes.com
Schumer unveils amendment listing documents he wants for Senate impeachment trial
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., released the text of his amendment to the Senate's impeachment rules that would subpoena a wide variety of documents from the White House before House impeachment managers begin their opening statement. 
foxnews.com
'Please do not touch me': U.S. Senate on security alert for Trump impeachment trial
With the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump under way, U.S. senators have polished their talking points about upholding the Constitution. They also have another phrase at the ready: "Please do not touch me."
reuters.com
WRAPUP 8-China virus spreads to U.S., curbing travel plans and spooking markets
The toll from the Wuhan coronavirus in China rose to six deaths on Tuesday and the first case was reported in the United States, sending markets tumbling on fears of economic damage as tourists canceled travel plans and airports stepped up screening.
reuters.com
Schiff: Trump 'Guilty' if Senate Rejects Democrats' Demand for New Witnesses, Evidence
WASHINGTON, DC — House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) argued on Tuesday that a refusal by the Senate to agree to Democrats' demand to allow new witnesses and evidence in the impeachment trial without a vote would deem President Donald Trump guilty regardless of the verdict.
breitbart.com
Rep. Jim Jordan: There are four key impeachment facts that Democrats cannot change
House Oversight Committee ranking member Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, a member of President Trump’s legal team for the Senate impeachment trial, told Fox News Tuesday that “four key facts” will remain in the president's favor throughout the process.
foxnews.com
KFC roasted for ad depicting boys gawking at woman’s breasts
Peloton isn’t the only company to ignite outrage over a “sexist” commercial recently. KFC Australia found itself in the social-justice skillet after critics read its latest ad as objectifying women. The 15-second commercial depicts a woman checking out her breasts and butt in the reflection of a car window as she adjusts her romper. But...
nypost.com
Tom Steyer’s foreign policy plan: Just do whatever Obama did
Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer speaks to the crowd during a Martin Luther King Day rally on January 20, 2020, in Columbia, South Carolina. | Sean Rayford/Getty Images He wants a new climate deal, a relationship of trust with China, and to make a new Iran deal. Businessman and billionaire Tom Steyer has a foreign policy plan to deal with climate change, China, and Iran: basically, do what President Barack Obama did. In seeking a climate change agreement with China, a broader policy of mutual trust between Beijing and Washington, and something like the Iran nuclear deal, Steyer seems to be offering continuity — not change — from Obama-era foreign policy. That’s the main takeaway from my short interview with Steyer on Sunday night. The long-shot presidential candidate lacks formal foreign policy chops, but he has consistently argued his years in business provided him with plenty of global knowledge. What’s more, he says it’s not experience, but rather judgment, that voters should most consider when deciding which Democrat would make the best commander in chief. I wanted to explore that idea further with Steyer. How would he weigh a concession China might want in exchange for its support for a climate deal? Would he go to Congress before ever ordering the military to kill a terrorist? And how would he deal with Iran, which may be closer than ever to getting a nuclear weapon on the day he enters the Oval Office? His response? Follow the Obama framework, and make the world admire America again. “The thing that makes us safest is a sense of people around the world of who the United States is, which is we’re the good guys,” he told me. “We’re the people who believe in democracy. We’re the people who believe in freedom. We’re the people that believe in equality.” Our interview, edited for length and clarity, is below. Alex Ward You’ve been clear that tackling climate change would be your No. 1 priority as president, and you’ve also identified China as “frenemy.” To combat climate change, of course, you’ll need China to sign on to whatever pledges you might want. How will you get Beijing to agree to your climate demands? Tom Steyer We have a very important and complicated relationship with China, and there’s no chance for us to disengage from China. If there’s any country in the world that is going to suffer because of climate change, China’s going to suffer dramatically. So it’s absolutely in their interests to solve this. The idea that we’re going to compel them to do something against their interest — is it true? In fact, it is dramatically in their interest to solve this crisis together with the other leading countries in the world. Alex Ward So China will just sign on to a climate deal with the US simply because it’s in its interest to tackle climate change? Tom Steyer What President Obama did was the right thing, which was to go to them and work out a plan together. That’s the starting place in terms of coming up with a climate plan that can work for the whole world. That’s what we have to do. It’s not going to be a question of threats. It’s going to be in the context of all of the other things that we do together. They’re the second biggest economy in the world, and we have incredibly intertwined economies. It’s practically impossible to separate the two countries. What we’re going to have to do is make sure we work together so that a climate deal works in their economic interest as well as their environmental interests. But I don’t know how ultimately they are going to separate the two because if we don’t solve this, the suffering in China is going to be incredible. How Hwee Young/AFP via Getty Images Former President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands during their meeting in Hangzhou on September 3, 2016. Both countries formally agreed that day to ratify the Paris climate deal. Alex Ward But the world looks different now than it did when Obama was president. I don’t think anyone would disagree China would suffer from the effects of climate change. But one could imagine under President Xi Jinping that Beijing might try to extract concessions from the US in exchange for the climate agreement you so badly want. For example, China could say “don’t criticize our treatment of the Uighurs” or “stay silent on our crackdown on Hong Kong.” So what’s a trade-off you’d be willing to make? Tom Steyer I think that that’s an inaccurate framing, because in fact a climate deal is something that dramatically helps China — and I mean dramatically. We have an absolute shared interest in solving this together and we have to make sure that we do it in a way that is good for growth and employment. But the idea that somehow they’re doing it for us, once you’re in that framework, I think you’re making a mistake. Alex Ward Since I’ve mentioned the Uighurs, you told CBS News earlier this month that you don’t consider China’s treatment of them to be a “genocide.” As you know, some experts have labeled it a genocide. What do you consider China’s treatment of the Uighurs to be, then? Tom Steyer My opinion is this is something where they are committing human rights violations. The appropriate answer, it seems to me, in those cases is not for the United States to step in, but for the international community with leadership from the United States to step in. I think your question seems to imply once again, as you did with climate, is that this is really a United States problem and don’t we have to deal with it? I think that’s not true. This is the kind of problem that the international community should deal with together. And in fact that’s when we’ve had the most success as a country, is working with other people on behalf of the values that we share with other countries. Alex Ward When you say the “international community,” who are you talking about? Are you talking about the UN? Are you talking about forming a multilateral coalition? What does that international community action towards China actually look like on this issue? Tom Steyer Realistically, it probably would be some combination of countries. If you thought the UN could work on this, that would be one thing. But I’m not sure that it can. The question is, how will you build a coalition of people to make it clear that internationally this is outside the range of acceptability? I don’t think it leads to isolating China. We’re going to have substantial important differences with the People’s Republic of China going forward. We have them in terms of the theft of intellectual property, we have them in terms of the closing of markets. Those are ongoing things that are very significant for American working people and American business. Then we have issues, as you’re putting it, about human rights and democracy. Then together we have to share trade relations and the need to combat climate change. It’s a complicated relationship, and we haven’t even gotten to anything military. David Cliff/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images A Uighur rights activist holds a placard during the protest in London on January 19, 2020. Alex Ward So what’s your China strategy? Tom Steyer For each one of those aspects I just mentioned, the question really was “how do you put that in the context of a very broad relationship?” I thought that President Obama and his team worked to have an actual relationship of trust, so that you actually could negotiate successfully. What Mr. Trump has done is gone to a bilateral relationship of confrontation and competition that clearly I don’t think has worked, I don’t think can work. The framework you’re talking about is: What can we threaten them with to get them to give up something? How do we get them to solve our problem? I don’t think that’s the framework that successful negotiations take place in. Alex Ward To be clear, I wasn’t saying the US has to threaten China to get something. But my concern is China may still demand something big from the US in order to get their cooperation even in areas of mutual interest and even if we’re working in a coalition. That’s why I wanted to know what you were willing to consider putting on the table. Tom Steyer They are always in the position of needing to sell things in the United States of America. Don’t take that out. As much as we are intertwined with them economically and from a trade standpoint, they absolutely need us. Never forget that. Alex Ward So you think that, for lack of a better term, America’s trump card is that it’s a big market China needs to sell to, and therefore China has to work with Washington? Tom Steyer Is there any doubt? This is an export-driven country and you’re talking about the biggest consumer market in the world. Do I think that it’s important? Yeah, I do. The question is, do you then go to a place of confrontation and escalation or do you go to a place where you work together to try and get things done? That’s partially a question of attitude and relationship. You can see from the Paris agreement on climate change that it’s possible to do that. And it’s possible to undo because you can see what Mr. Trump has been doing. Alex Ward Let’s move on to Iran and the killing of Iranian military leader Qassem Soleimani. In your initial tweets on Trump’s decision, you called Soleimani a “terrorist” but blasted the administration for not seeking congressional approval. In a Steyer administration, then, would you seek a congressional green light before killing a terrorist? It is essential that we protect American service members and citizens throughout the region while working with our allies to prevent further escalation that could lead to a devastating war that Americans do not want. (2/2)— Tom Steyer (@TomSteyer) January 3, 2020 Tom Steyer Let’s be clear, Soleimani was also a government official in a sovereign country. I believe that according to international law, in order for us to do that, there has to be an imminent threat, which the administration first said there was and then backed off that claim. It wasn’t just killing a terrorist, it was something much beyond that, from the standpoint of international law. The whole idea was that it was such an imminent threat that [the president] couldn’t consult Congress, and he basically bypassed every ordinary channel procedure and accepted rule in doing it. If you ask me, this is a consistent behavior. He acted impulsively. He didn’t have a process internally. He’s gutted the State Department. He didn’t go through the normal American or international channels. And he basically decided that he was going to do what he was going to do without really even having a strategy other than to escalate. Alex Ward It seems like you’re more concerned about Trump’s broader strategy toward Iran. Tom Steyer Definitely. He has withdrawn us from the Iran nuclear deal, and then escalated continuously kind of along the lines of exactly what I’m saying, which is bilateral confrontation without a strategy and upping the ante at every stage. That’s what I think this was. I think at some level you have to ask, “Does this make us safer?” Isn’t that the point? And I don’t believe that there’s an argument that this made us safer. Alex Ward To be clear: You think the US killing Soleimani made the world less safe than it would’ve been had he not killed Soleimani? Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images Iranian mourners gather during the final stage of funeral processions for slain top general Qassem Soleimani in his hometown Kerman on January 7, 2020. Tom Steyer I believe so. The thing that makes us safest is a sense of people around the world of who the United States is, which is we’re the good guys. We’re the people who believe in democracy. We’re the people who believe in freedom. We’re the people that believe in equality. If you went around the world when Obama was president, everyone loved us and felt as if we were going to try and do the right thing. We were of course still imperfect then, but there was a sense that we were trying to stand up for what was right. Giving up on that and just being the country that has the biggest guns — and showing we’re willing to use them if you don’t do what we want — is not the way to make America safer. It’s not the way to make America’s service members safer. It’s not the way to make Americans safer from terrorists around the world. Alex Ward You would enter the White House with Iran likely closer — but not close, to be clear — to obtaining a nuclear weapon — Tom Steyer — because of Donald Trump. I don’t want to let that go by. Because of Donald Trump, he will have made us substantially less safe. Alex Ward Alright, so what is your plan to stop Iran from getting the bomb? What are you willing to do? Tom Steyer What President Obama was doing with Iran was basically in a coalition with some of our close allies. He was offering Iran economic relief in return for them giving up their nuclear ambitions for 10 years. From what I can tell, and I haven’t been to Iran in the last few years, but from what I can tell that trade still exists. They’re having huge economic issues now due to Trump’s policies. Obviously, this is a regime that is not friendly to the United States or allied with the United States. This is a regime which stands for things that we absolutely, violently disagree with. We’ve had numerous conflicts with them. The question is, when you look at this region of the world where we’ve had multiple wars, you have to ask, what are you trying to accomplish there in terms of the safety of Americans? What are our interests in the Middle East? Is our interest in protecting Americans from terrorism? Is our interest in preserving the flow of oil around the world — let’s face it — is that one of your critical interests? Is your interest trying to preserve safety and peace in the Middle East? When you think about what to do about Iran, you have to ask yourself these questions and then you have to be answering those questions honestly. In looking at this regime, giving them economic relief is something that is very, very valuable to them and leaves them in a better position. They’d be getting something they very much want. We’re getting something we very much want. Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images President Donald Trump speaks on Iran at the White House on January 8, 2020. Alex Ward To clarify, you think that framework will keep Iran from getting a nuclear weapon? Just give it economic relief? Tom Steyer Our predominant interest with Iran at this point is the safety of Americans. The job of commander in chief, particularly with regard to this regime, is the safety of American citizens. When I look at the Middle East, I’m not interested in another 19-year war. I’m not interested in service people in the United States of America going there except to protect us. If you look at the last 20 years of American foreign policy in the Middle East, I don’t think people have been clear with what they’re doing. They have felt as if this is all playing with free money, but it’s not free money. Every dollar we spend there is a dollar we don’t spend on an American kid. That’s got to be taken into account. Every time we send a service person into harm’s way, that’s an American life we’re taking and we’re putting at risk. There has to be an absolutely fantastic reason to do that. What I can see in Iran is our interest here is getting this region and the terror that they support to be tamped down and controlled for the sake of American safety. Alex Ward To get there, then, you would lift the sanctions Trump reimposed and basically go back to the Obama-era Iran deal? Tom Steyer We have sanctions on, so that would have to be the give from us. We’re in the same position now. And the question is where are they and what can be redone? In a negotiation, of course, God is in the details. But people have to think, first, that you’re a partner who can be trusted. Why negotiate with someone who goes back on their word? You can’t do it. And secondly, are you in the range of reason? You can’t negotiate with someone if they’re not in the range of reason. That’s just normal stuff.
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