Forget Wall Street – Silicon Valley is the new political power in Washington – by Olivia Solon in San Francisco and Sabrina Siddiqui in Washington Sunday 3 September 2017 02.00 EDT


It used to be banks, but now it is tech giants that dominate the US lobbying industry. Can money buy them what they want: less competition, less tax … and more data?

The scholar Barry Lynn worked at the New America Foundation, a Washington thinktank, for 15 years studying the growing power of technology companies like Google and Facebook. For 14 of them, everything was, he says, “great”.

This week, he was fired. Why? He believes it’s because Google, one of the thinktank’s biggest funders, was unhappy with the direction of his research, which was increasingly calling for tech giants including Google, Facebook and Amazon to be regulated as monopolies.

Leaked emails suggest the foundation was concerned that Lynn’s criticism could jeopardise future funding. In one of them, the organisation’s president, Anne-Marie Slaughter, wrote: “We are in the process of trying to expand our relationship with Google on some absolutely key points … just think about how you are imperiling funding for others.”

Slaughter denies that Lynn was fired for his criticism of Google. It’s a difficult story to swallow, given that Google’s parent company, Alphabet, along with its executive chairman Eric Schmidt, have donated $21m to New America since 1999. Schmidt even chaired the thinktank for years and its main conference room is called the “Eric Schmidt Ideas Lab”.

Funding thinktanks is just one of the ways that America’s most powerful industries exert their influence over policymakers. Much of the work takes place a quarter of a mile from the White House, in a lesser-known political power base: Washington’s K Street corridor, the epicenter of the lobbying industry.

In addition to thinktanks, K Street is packed with slick corporate representatives, hired guns, and advocacy groups. The lobbyists spend their days swarming over members of Congress to ensure their private interests are reflected in legislation and regulation.

While the big banks and pharma giants have flexed their economic muscle in the country’s capital for decades, there’s one relative newcomer that has leapfrogged them all: Silicon Valley. Over the last 10 years, America’s five largest tech firms have flooded Washington with lobbying money to the point where they now outspend Wall Street two to one.

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North Korea: Washington and Seoul pledge ‘swift punitive measures’ – Spencer Ackerman in New York, Ben Jacobs in Washington and agencies Thursday 27 April 2017 04.01 EDT


Senators who attended White House briefing say no military option was presented as US prioritises sanctions and strongarm diplomacy

North Korea has accelerated its long-range missile development programme and is expected to further test its nuclear capabilities. Photograph: Wong Maye-E/AP

The US has signalled sanctions and diplomatic pressure are its priorities for dealing with North Korea as senators who attended a White House briefing said they had not been presented with “a specific military option”.

Tensions between the US and North Korea are already inflamed before an anticipated sixth nuclear test from Pyongyang, which has accelerated its long-range missile development programme.

A statement on Thursday from the South Korean president’s office said Seoul and Washington had agreed “to swiftly take punitive measures” against North Korea in the event of more provocation, following a telephone conversation between the US national security adviser, HR McMaster, and his South Korean counterpart, Kim Kwan-jin.

“The two sides pledged that in the event of additional strategic provocation by the North to swiftly take punitive measures, including a new UN security council resolution, that are unbearable for the North,” the statement said.

It followed Wedensday’s joint statement from the US secretary of state Rex Tillerson, secretary of defence James Mattis, and director of national intelligence Dan Coats, that said President Trump would pressure Pyongyang “by tightening economic sanctions and pursuing diplomatic measures with our allies and regional partners” – an approach adopted by the past three US administrations.

It also said past efforts had failed to stop the advance of Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programmes.

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Are Washington girls really going missing? – By Katie Shepard BBC News, Washington, DC


"Missing person: Angel Burl, 16"

DC Police DepartmentA recent missing person tweet from Metro Police Department’s twitter account

The Washington, DC Metro Police Department’s Twitter feed suggests an epidemic of missing children. But are young girls really disappearing from the streets of DC at a high rate?

Metro Police Department (MPD) has always shared some missing persons on social media, but early this year the new police commander decided to use Twitter for every critical case.

“If more people in the public are aware, then that’s more eyes on the road for us,” said Alaina Gertz, a spokesperson for the department.

Since then, the faces behind the nearly 200 people – many of them children, many of them female – who go missing each month have loomed large on social media.

Many see the missing person tweets but often miss the follow-up tweets once someone has been found, says Gertz.

The result is a sense that girls in DC are going missing at an alarming rate – and that no one is paying attention.

LLCOOLJ tweet -
Photos of girls who have already been found are still circulating

A recent social media post claimed, incorrectly, that 14 girls had gone missing this week alone.

Soon the hashtags #findmysisters and #MissingDCgirls were circulating.

“If 14 white suburban teenage girls from Long Island went missing you think @CNN or @FoxNews would report it?” tweeted the singer Richard Marx.

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The Mad Dash to Pass President Obama’s Last Law—and Keep Technology at Work in Washington – Issie Lapowsky 01.27.17. 6:00 am


Barack Obama gives his farewell address in Chicago on January 10, 2017. Jon Lowenstein/Redux

Barack Obama gives his farewell address in Chicago on January 10, 2017. Jon Lowenstein/Redux

Democracy in Decline – By Larry Diamond July/August 2016 Issue


How Washington Can Reverse the Tide

Screen Shot 2016-07-24 at Jul 24, 2016 5.06

In the decade following the Cold War, democracy flourished around the world as never before. In recent years, however, much of this progress has steadily eroded. Between 2000 and 2015, democracy broke down in 27 countries, among them KenyaRussiaThailand, and Turkey. Around the same time, several other global “swing states”—countries that, thanks to their large populations and economies, could have an outsize impact on the future of global democracy—also took a turn for the worse. In nearly half of them, political liberties, as measured by the U.S. nonprofit Freedom House, contracted.

Meanwhile, many existing authoritarian regimes have become even less open, transparent, and responsive to their citizens. They are silencing online dissent by censoring, regulating, and arresting those they perceive as threats. Many of them are attempting to control the Internet by passing laws, for example, that require foreign companies to store citizens’ data within the home country’s borders. Offline, states are also constraining civil society by restricting the ability of organizations to operate, communicate, and fundraise. Since 2012, governments across the globe have proposed or enacted more than 90 laws restricting freedom of association or assembly.

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Inside D.C. Republicans’ odd presidential caucus – By ELIZA COLLINS 03/12/16 05:10 PM EST


Nineteen GOP primary delegates were on the line, but the most hotly contested race was for a summer trip to Cleveland.

160312-dc-voting-ap-1160.jpg

Ray Mock is walking back and forth along the gold rope line of voters passing out red, white and blue business cards with his name on them and asking Washington Republicans to vote for him. Mock is indirectly working on behalf of Ted Cruz’s bid to be Republicans’ presidential nominee. But in the most immediate sense, he’s competing for a trip to Cleveland.

Welcome to Washington Republicans 2016 presidential caucus, a one-day event that’s a nomination challenge, a “This Town”-style gathering of top officials and D.C. residents and a conservative popularity contest.

[Update 10:20 p.m.: Marco Rubio won the caucus with 37.3 percent of the vote, gaining 10 delegates. John Kasich was second with 35.5 percent of the vote, earning 9 delegates. Trump and Cruz placed at 13.8 percent and 12.4 respectively, earning no delegates.]

Here at the Madison Loews hotel Saturday, Republicans are voting in two races. The first race, to determine how D.C. will split up its 19 delegates for the GOP nomination, involves a bit of tricky math: Three delegates come from the Republican National Committee, and their support goes to the candidate who wins the most votes. 16 delegates are doled out proportionally based on candidates percentage of the total vote, with only candidates who collect more than 15 percent getting a cut. And if someone tops 50 percent of the vote, they scoop up all 19 delegates, leaving the other candidates out of luck.

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Wall Street rattles Washington – By Peter Schroeder – 08/24/15 04:52 PM EDT


Getty Images

The stock market closed a wild Monday with the Dow Jones industrial average down over 500 points, setting off fresh fears about the health of the global economy.

The Wall Street drama quickly spread to the 2016 campaign trail and Washington, as flashbacks to the 2008 financial crisis drew responses from the political world.

Renewed concern about the strength of China’s economy kicked off a brutal opening, as the Dow opened down more than 1,000 points in the first minutes of trading. While the index largely erased those gains later in the day, it still ended Monday down 588 points, adding to large losses suffered the two days prior.

The turbulent day on Wall Street grabbed the attention of several presidential candidates, who cast blame far and wide. Meanwhile, the White House sought to draw a distinction between the headlines flying out of financial markets, and the underlying U.S. economy.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest emphasized Monday the “ongoing strength and resilience of the U.S. economy” amid the sell-off. The administration pointed to the steadily falling unemployment rate and solid economic data as signs that the U.S. economy was durable enough to survive “increased volatility overseas.”

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http://thehill.com/policy/finance/251834-market-turbulence-rattles-washington

 

Iowa has an anger issue – By KATIE GLUECK 8/13/15 7:01 PM EDT


Hawkeye State Republicans are fed up with Washington and ho-hum presidential candidates. Enter Donald Trump.

An attendee places a corn kernel into a jar to vote for 2016 Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in a television news station's

An attendee places a corn kernel into a jar to vote for Trump in a television news station’s | Getty

Iowans are mad as hell, and they know who to turn to — Donald Trump.

Outsider candidates have a history of gaining traction among Hawkeye State GOP caucus-goers fed up with Washington and establishment candidates more broadly. The Iowa agitation was loud and clear in the CNN/ORC poll released on Wednesday showing Donald Trump soaring with voters, despite a slew of highly controversial remarks made in the past few weeks, with retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, another political outsider, coming in second.

“It is ridiculously early, but there’s no question that Mr. Trump and Dr. Carson, they’ve struck a nerve with Iowans who are unhappy with what they have seen coming out of Washington in recent years,” said Matt Strawn, the former chairman of the Iowa Republican Party. “Whether they are momentarily voicing their frustrations through nontraditional candidates or will ultimately caucus for them are two very different things, and the answer to that will come down the road.”

The Trump boom is playing out across the country as the bombastic businessman and slayer of political correctness continues to lead national polls. For many conservatives in Iowa and elsewhere, there’s the sense that even after electing a Republican Senate last cycle, giving the GOP control of both chambers of Congress, little has changed — and some are venting by aligning with Trump, who has no compunctions about railing against Washington and the political establishment, and to a lesser extent with Carson, who has never worked in politics.

In Iowa, the anger Trump is channeling starts at the local level and goes all the way to the top, said Sam Clovis, a prominent conservative Iowa college professor who is chairing Rick Perry’s Iowa effort, but stressed he was speaking as an academic. He said that the state has taken a more populist turn amid national debates over the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank and trade bills — which “smack of crony capitalism” to the base, he said — and noted that some are still smarting from a vote some Republicans in the statehouse took earlier this year to back a gasoline tax.

 

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Obama leads VE Day events in US – BBC News ` May 8 2015 1:30PM ET


President Barack Obama has led VE Day events in Washington, marking the 70th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War Two.

A Boeing B-29 Superfortress flies over the Washington Monument

A Boeing B-29 Superfortress flies over the Washington Monument

The president hailed veterans and those who supported the war effort – especially women – calling them a generation that “saved the world”.

For nearly an hour, vintage war planes roared over Washington, symbolising key battles of the conflict that killed over 40m people in six years of war.

Thousands attended the event.

World War II re-enactors salute while the National Anthem plays during ceremony commemorating 70th Anniversary of VE Day at the National World War II Memorial
World War II re-enactors salute the National Anthem
National Mall

There were street parties across the UK and elsewhere in Europe when Germany surrendered on 8 May 1945, bringing to a close six years of war.

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http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-32662142

When will the race debate in America end? Toni Morrison says it’s far from over. – Updated by Rachel Huggins on April 26, 2015, 2:10 p.m. ET


That uncomfortable, cringeworthy conversation on race that everyone always talks about? Toni Morrison wants to have it — and isn’t pulling any punches.

Toni Morrison speaks during an event at Lisner Auditorium at George Washington University on September 21, 2011 in Washington, DC. — Kris Connor/Getty Images

In an interview with The Telegraph’s Gaby Wood on Morrison’s new novel, God Help The Child, the Nobel prize-winning author explained when we’ll know the conversation on race can come to an end.

“People keep saying, ‘We need to have a conversation about race,’” she said. “This is the conversation. I want to see a cop shoot a white unarmed teenager in the back. And I want to see a white man convicted for raping a black woman. Then when you ask me, ‘Is it over?’, I will say yes.”

Morrison’s remarks reflect the frustration and growing furor over the highly publicized string of unarmed black men who’ve died at the hands of white officers, from Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri; to Eric Garner in New York City; to Freddie Gray in Baltimore.

Toni Morrison was right: African Americans don’t trust cops to dole out equal justice

African Americans make up only 13 percent of the US population, but are killed by police at disproportionately higher rates than other races. Data suggests that police are 21 times more likely to kill black teens than white teens.

So Morrison’s dismal view isn’t at all surprising. In fact, it’s echoed throughout the black community. Take Ferguson, for instance. The protests that broke out after Michael Brown was killed by police officer Darren Wilson last August didn’t occur in a vacuum. A March Department of Justice report showed the deep roots of residents’ frustration: city officials balance their local budget by targeting low-income black residents with fines and court fees and police disproportionately arrest and use force on black residents.

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http://www.vox.com/2015/4/26/8497787/toni-morrison-race-criminal-justice