Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’

Donald Trump’s Reputation Has Nothing to Lose

June 22, 2018

Jonathan Bernstein’s morning links.

Dark times.

Photographer: Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images

Presidents — normal presidents — care deeply about their professional reputations. Donald Trump showed again this week that he’s different, and it’s quite possible it was costly to him on policies he seems to care about.

I’m not really talking here about the communications fiasco surrounding the administration’s family separation policy. A lot of congressional Republicans would like to have talking points they can actually use rather than constantly changing and internally inconsistent explanations of that policy (or even if there was a policy). But it’s one thing to spin to the public, even badly. It’s another thing to lie to them. And to lie about them.

In a month in which a lot of very important things were going on, then, I still think that what Trump did to defeated House Republican Mark Sanford and his colleagues shouldn’t be overlooked. When he was meeting with House Republicans on Tuesday, Trump mocked Sanford, remarks that by all accounts did not go over well. And after Trump then claimed on Twitter that Republicans had “applauded and laughed loudly,” three of them publicly called Trump, essentially, a liar.

Does it matter? Yes, I think so. Assuming that Michigan’s Justin Amash, Pennsylvania’s Ryan Costello and Tennessee’s Scott DesJarlais (and other unnamed members of the House who had leaked the story to the media earlier) are telling the truth, it means that Trump was saying something that every single House Republican witnessed as untrue — and he had to know that they all witnessed it as untrue. Not only that, but Trump was lying about their own conduct, something very few politicians take lightly.

With Trump, this isn’t new. But I suspect this one hit close to home, not only for House Republicans, but for everyone who has to deal with the president, too. It was a stark reminder that he insists on being unbound to the facts in his dealings with those he bargains with, not just voters. And there’s not much anyone can do with a president whose word is worthless.

Of course, that’s not the only problem with Trump. His habit of backstabbing his allies — as he did to House Republicans on their health-care reform bill and the budget agreement — isn’t forgotten. Nor is his failure to bother to learn the basics of public policy, let alone the details. Or … well, I could go on for some time about all the ways that Trump’s professional reputation stinks.

The thing is that most presidents learn eventually that this stuff really can matter. Trump, now 17 months in, seems if anything worse than ever. That won’t stop congressional Republicans from trying to pass things that they want. But don’t expect them or anyone else to go out of their way for him. He remains about as weak as a president can be.

1. Stacie Goddard and Dan Nexon on the value of what North Korea got from Trump …

2. … while Seo-Hyun Park and Il Hyun Cho at the Monkey Cage talk about what’s next in Korea.

3. Good Matt Yglesias item on Trump’s fundamental lack of competence in presidenting.

4. Fred Kaplan on why Trump’s Space Force is a bad idea and a distraction from the actual challenges the U.S. military faces. I’ll say it one more time: You never know, but I very much doubt that any of the Trump administration’s government reorganization ideas will happen.

5. Amy Walter looks at where Republicans are in better shape than in 2006 in House elections.

6. And Kristen Soltis Anderson breaks down Washington Republicans.

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This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:
Jonathan Bernstein at

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Brooke Sample at


Social Media Contributing to Epidemic of Mental Illness

June 14, 2018

NHS is “picking up the pieces” of an epidemic of mental illness among children, fuelled by social media, the head of the service has warned.

Simon Stevens urged companies like Google and Facebook to take more responsibility for the pressures they place on children.

Young girl using an iPad at home

It follows calls for social media and online gaming firms to have a statutory “duty of care” to protect children from mental ill health, abuse and addictive behaviour.

The Telegraph
13 JUNE 2018 • 7:00PM
The icons of social media apps, including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and WhatsApp, on a smartphone

Speaking at the NHS Confederation conference in Manchester, Mr Stevens said Britain’s children were hit by a “double epidemic” of mental illness and obesity.

The average person in this country spends twice as long on the toilet as they do exercising
–Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England

But he said the health service could not tackle its ills alone – turning on social media giants to do more to protect children.

“We have to ask some pretty searching questions around the role of technology companies, social media and the impact that is having on childhood,” he said.

“This cannot be a conversation that is simply left to the NHS to pick up the pieces for an epidemic of mental health challenge for our young people, induced by many other actors across our economy.”

He also called for more action to tackle unhealthy lifestyles, and said he hoped to see “renewed pragmatism” from the Government in its updated childhood obesity strategy, due to be published soon.

“The average person in this country spends twice as long on the toilet as they do exercising,” the NHS chief executive said.

Protect yourself and your family. Find out more about our Duty of Care campaign to regulate social media

Vietnam Tightens Grip on Internet With Data-Storage Law

June 12, 2018

New cybersecurity law requires internet companies to store Vietnam-based users’ data on servers in the country

Image result for vietnam, facebook, photos

Vietnam’s plans to vigorously police the internet took a step forward Tuesday when it adopted a cybersecurity law that requires internet companies such as Facebook and Google to store their Vietnam-based users’ data on servers in the country.

Critics say the new law could make it easier for authorities in the one-party communist state to track down critics online. Legislation passed by the National Assembly also requires internet companies to open offices in the country, which they have been hesitant to do, in addition to removing content within 24 hours at the government’s request.

Last year, China enacted a law requiring that cloud data from China-based consumers be stored in the country, sparking worries about privacy. And Vietnam has steadily increased scrutiny of what is posted online as Facebook’s reach has grown.

Vietnam has seen a surge in protests over plans to allow foreign companies 99-year land leases at strategic sites.
Vietnam has seen a surge in protests over plans to allow foreign companies 99-year land leases at strategic sites. PHOTO:STR/EPA/SHUTTERSTOCK

Both Facebook Inc. and Google, owned by Alphabet Inc., have long flagged their opposition to the law through the Asia Internet Coalition, which also includes companies such as Apple Inc., Yahoo and Twitter Inc. The group has warned that the measures could deter investment and undermine local businesses that have profited from a boom in social media in recent years.

The U.S. Embassy in Hanoi, meanwhile, warned last week that the law “might not be consistent with Vietnam’s international trade commitments,” notably with the World Trade Organization.

Tuesday’s vote at the National Assembly, which is widely regarded as a rubber stamp for the government, was conducted amid strict security, with police placing barricades at the roads leading to the building. Vietnam has seen a surge in protests in recent days over plans to allow foreign companies 99-year land leases at strategic sites. Many of the thousands demonstrators who took to the streets of Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and other cities said they were worried that companies from Vietnam’s historic rival, China, would use the proposals to get a foothold in the country.

In some areas, cars were torched outside police stations. The government pledged to review the plans.

Some of the demonstrators had also railed against the cybersecurity law, but there was little prospect of Vietnam’s government relenting on that measure.

Late last year, Hanoi introduced a new 10,000-strong cyber unit called Force 47 to patrol the web to counter what it described as any “wrongful opinions” about the government.

The country has increased the penalties for anyone using Facebook as a platform to attack the government.

In November, a young blogger was given a seven-year prison sentence for “spreading propaganda against the state.” Another, Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh, has begun a hunger strike against her treatment in prison, according to her mother. Ms. Quynh was sentenced to a 10 years in June last year for protesting the government’s inaction on environmental issues.

Write to James Hookway at

Facebook Delivers 450-Page Homework Assignment to Congress

June 12, 2018

Social media giant, in responses, provided more detail about information collected on users

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Capitol Hill last month.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Capitol Hill last month. PHOTO: CHIP SOMODEVILLA/GETTY IMAGES

Facebook Inc. FB 1.29% turned in more than 450 pages of homework to U.S. lawmakers, defending itself against claims that it is a monopoly and sidestepping questions about the effectiveness of an app that can effectively spy on competitors.

In documents released Monday, Facebook responded to more than 2,000 questions posed to Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg by members of U.S. Senate and House committees when he testified in April. The material is granular in places and sometimes evasive, and delivered no apparent bombshells.

In the responses, which took Facebook two months to compile, the social networking giant emphasized that it is learning from its mistakes and giving users more control over their information. Facebook also provided more detail about the information it collects on users, including the battery level on their devices and computer mouse movements.

The company deflected questions that probed at Facebook’s increasing market power and influence in the world.

Facebook said it faces healthy competition, and listed other apps that people can use for certain features it offers. Facebook also said that the average American uses eight different apps to communicate with friends and stay in touch with people.

“In Silicon Valley and around the world, new social apps are emerging all the time,” Facebook said, in response to a question about claims that the company doesn’t have real competitors. “There is a lot of choice, innovation, and activity in this space, with new competitors arising all the time.”

Facebook didn’t mention that it owns four of the most downloaded free mobile apps: its main service, the photo- and video-sharing app Instagram and two chat apps, Messenger and WhatsApp.

Facebook is dealing with the fallout in March related to the use of personal data by Cambridge Analytica, a political analytics firm that aided President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and purchased data on 87 million users from another developer.

In social media, Facebook’s two main competitors Twitter Inc. and Snap Inc. count user bases that are just a fraction of the size of Facebook’s. Both companies have struggled to wrest larger shares of online advertising budgets from marketers. Venture capitalists say they are wary of backing new social networking upstarts, because they believe it would be difficult to compete with Facebook.

Facebook also has an added advantage over upstarts: In 2013, it bought an app called Onavo, which the company has transformed into a database that allows it to see what people do on their phones beyond Facebook’s own apps. Facebook has used the app to give it insight into its rivals’ services and informed the company’s decision to buy companies like WhatsApp in 2014, The Wall Street Journal reported last year.

In responses to lawmakers Monday, Facebook claimed that its privacy policy for the Onavo app makes it clear to users that their activity is being tracked.

“People must tap a button marked ‘Accept & Continue’ after seeing this information in a full-screen interstitial before they can use the app,” Facebook says.

A Facebook spokesman referred to the company’s cover letter accompanying the responses. “We did our best to review and answer them in the available time frame. We respectfully request an opportunity to supplement or amend our responses if needed,” he said.

Write to Georgia Wells at and Deepa Seetharaman at

Appeared in the June 12, 2018, print edition as ‘Facebook Delivers Homework To the Hill.’

When we use social media or smartphones — we give companies access to all of our personal information — A good idea?

June 8, 2018

Are you a Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or other social media user? Do you Google for information?  Does Alexa quietly listen to everything you say, answer your questions and follow your commands like an eerily intelligent robot in your house? Or is she really just a spy who only helps you to keep you talking? I guess you heard she recently sent one couple’s private conversation to an unintended third party. OOPS!

How often do you read the Terms and Conditions of Use of the web service providers you use? Have you ever read the Privacy Policies? They can be boring and hard to understand.  I guess we all have clicked “I agree” without pausing to wonder “to what exactly.”

Image result for facebook, zuckerberg photos

Terms and Conditions are contracts. We get to use the company’s software and content and in exchange we give the company access to all of the personal information we expose.  They keep track of everything; the posts we write and read, the pictures we post, the things we “like” and “share.”  Maybe you just read and look, never liking or sharing or posting anything; surely they know little about you. Wrong. They monitor what you look at and how long you spend looking and reading  content on their sites so they know what and who you are interested in and then they follow you and keep records as you journey around the internet.

The Unknown at Our Fingertips

pointing to question mark

Website Terms and Conditions can be difficult to understand.  Part of the reason is the way they are written.  Facebook states “we will never sell your information to anyone.” I think this is misleading. While they may not “sell” our information in the strict definition of the word, they do contract with others, advertisers especially, to provide access to our data in exchange for money. They call this “sharing.” They use vague terms in their Privacy Policies to tell us how they share our information.  The Privacy Policy is also part of the contract.

When we log on, search and select from the universe of websites and service providers we find, we have no simple way to keep track of what information we are giving to them. Generally we know it is information involving our use of their services but through the “cookies” they embed into our devices’ software, they also track the other websites we visit to learn more about us. By “sharing” the data they collect from us these companies make billions.

Recently companies have been sending out revised data and privacy policies  which they claim are more clearly written. This is due partly to the bad publicity of recent security breaches and partly due to a new privacy law in Europe known as the General Data Protection Regulation. As U.S. citizens that law does not protect us but some companies, like Facebook, changed their policy language universally. In Europe a person who wants to use social media or other websites’ services must “opt in” or agree that the user’s data can be shared. In the USA, the default choice offered by most companies if we want view their content, is agree to their terms or get off the website.  Lately, I have refused to agree and just left the website. It felt empowering.

Facebook’s new data policy is somewhat clearer but I am finding it challenging to find all of the information they have about me and how I can control it.  When I learned about the Facebook – Cambridge Analytica data breach which allowed a researcher for a political advisory firm to access Facebook’s user data well beyond what Facebook had authorized, I became quite alarmed and curious. Facebook violated its contract with us when it allowed this to happen. I naively thought a sophisticated company like Facebook would have the proper controls in place to “share” only the intended data and honor its contract with us. Sadly, we’ve learned time and time again that our information can be hacked, shared and used by seemingly unlimited, unknown others in ways that can be harmful to us.

Over the years I have liked and shared some political commentary posts. When I reviewed the profile information Facebook had compiled on me I found Facebook’s categorization of my political interests.  I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised but seeing myself categorized in a political box on Facebook was startling.  I promptly withdrew my permission for Facebook to use or share this portion of my profile. To Facebook’s credit they do allow us to restrict approval for it to share portions of our profiles. How long it will stay restricted is unclear. Facebook does not tell us that.

I wonder what would happen if all of us simply said we are going to stop giving you our information until we get a better deal; like more privacy or more features. Maybe there should be a universal day of removing all of our faces from Facebook. How about a day of silent birdies; just people actually talking to each other? What a message that would send.  Oh well, back to reality.

Often I have to bribe myself with a sweet reward after daunting hours of reading and analyzing these contracts. So, while I do that here is my challenge to my readers. If you have a social media profile, take an hour or so and explore to find out as much as you can about your profile. Then go eat a cookie as your reward. I prefer those to the ones that stalk me around the internet.




  (Includes links to our Facebook archive)

Trump vs. Macron and Trudeau in Twitter Spat before G-7 — Optics and Bromance be Damned, Trump Wants Better Trade Deals for The U.S.

June 8, 2018

Optics and Bromance be Damned, Trump Wants Better Trade Deals for The U.S. — Most Americans understand this….

Image may contain: 3 people, people smiling, suit

President Trump. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images. PM Trudeau and President Macron. Photo: John van Hasselt/Corbis via Getty Images

President Trump is facing off with two close allies — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron.

The big picture: Since Trump announced tariffs on the two countries, both leaders have spoken out against the president and announced retaliatory tariffs against the U.S. Trudeau and Macron met this week ahead of the G7 summit to strengthen their relationship, and took turns criticizing Trump’s trade moves at a joint press conference.

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Donald J. Trump


Please tell Prime Minister Trudeau and President Macron that they are charging the U.S. massive tariffs and create non-monetary barriers. The EU trade surplus with the U.S. is $151 Billion, and Canada keeps our farmers and others out. Look forward to seeing them tomorrow.

He then followed up with a series of tweets calling Canada’s prime minister “indignant” and claiming the country charges the U.S. “up to 300% on dairy — hurting our Farmers, killing our Agriculture!” Later, he called on both the E.U. and Canada to take down “tariffs & barriers” adding that if they fail to do so, the U.S. “will more than match you!”


Emmanuel Macron


The American President may not mind being isolated, but neither do we mind signing a 6 country agreement if need be. Because these 6 countries represent values, they represent an economic market which has the weight of history behind it and which is now a true international force 


“This is not about the American people. We have to believe that at some point their common sense will prevail. But we see no sign of that in this action today by the U.S. administration.”

  • Trudeau said in the joint press conference with Macron on Thursday: “This is ridiculous to think they could be a threat to national security. In fact, we are the closest friends the United States has had in quite some time.”

Go deeper: Trudeau and Macron team up on Trump



President Donald Trump is “seriously contemplating” making separate trade deals with Canada and Mexico in place of the two-decade-old North American Free Trade Agreement, and has broached the idea with Ottawa, a White House official said Tuesday.

“He prefers bilateral negotiations and he is looking at two much different countries,” Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Fox News.

A senior Canadian official told AFP that Ottawa is “not ruling out” negotiating a separate deal with Washington, but for now is focusing on NAFTA talks.

But Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said in a statement that his country wanted to preserve a tri-nation deal.



Trade may look like an issue where Donald Trump and his recent French guest, Emmanuel Macron, can never see eye to eye. The French president pointedly took swipes at his host during his address to a joint session of Congress Wednesday, denouncing trade wars and saying that trade imbalances can only be solved through multilateral means — exactly the opposite of what Trump habitually says about trade.

Image result for Emmanuel Macron, pictured with Donald Trump in April, photosAnne

But the picture of Macron as a ga-ga globalist, and of Trump as a protectionist ideologue, is too simplistic. Indeed, for all their very real differences, they also share priorities, which offers a way for them to work together.

The leaders of the two countries have more common ground than it appears.


Donald Trump’s trade moves set tense tone for G7 summit

June 8, 2018

Two former advisors from within the Canadian and US administrations have warned of the economic threat posed by US President Donald Trump ahead of the G7 summit in Canada, which kicks off today.

G7 Gipfel in Kanada (Reuters/B. Nelms)

Roland Paris, a former top foreign policy advisor to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is chairing the G7 meeting that begins Friday, and Daniel Price, a former personal representative of George W. Bush at G8 and G20 summits, think there is a chance that US President Donald Trump might cancel his participation in the summit of world leaders at the last minute.

Their assessment underlines both the unpredictability of the US president and the state of affairs between the US and its major allies.

“It’s unlikely, but anything is possible,” said Paris, responding to whether he thought Trump could skip what is shaping up to be a moment of reckoning for the president who could face stiff blowback for his recent tariff decisions. Paris drafted the foreign policy strategy for the Trudeau administration prior to its 2015 election win.

Price, who served as President Bush’s top international trade advisor and as his so-called “sherpa” in preparation for various international summits, added that a Trump cancellation would be “very unfortunate if it were to happen.”

Deep divisions

The G7 summit, which will bring together the leaders of Canada, the US, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Japan, comes at a time that many view as a moment of historic division between Washington and its major allies in North America, Europe and Asia.

Just days ago the Trump administration slapped stiff tariffs on steel and aluminum imports on five of its six G7 partners. It also recently kicked off a trade investigation that could trigger additional tariffs on imported cars.

The tariffs are based on what is widely seen as a spurious justification, namely that the imports present a threat to US national security, even though all countries present at the G7 meeting are NATO members alongside the US or have a long-standing security partnership with Washington like Japan.

Read more: Donald Trump’s EU tariffs ‘foolish’ and ‘damaging’  

While the tariffs, which Europe and Canada fought hard to prevent, are the most recent, they are just the last in an increasingly long list of deep disagreements between the US and its allies.

Not long before the tariff move, the Trump administration — again against the joint opposition of its allies — pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal. And in a previous signature decision that rocked relations with its allies, Trump withdrew the US from the Paris climate accords after making his inaugural appearance at a G7 summit last year in Italy.

G7 finance ministers in Whistler, CanadaSix of the seven G7 finance ministers publicly rebuked the US tariffs

Public rebuke

While Trump was already characterized in the US media as “the odd man out” at the last G7 meeting, divisions between the US president and the other leaders have only grown wider since.

French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau recently all failed to convince Trump not to impose tariffs on the allies. In a sign of how deep the rift is, six of the seven G7 finance ministers last weekend took the unusual step of issuing a joint a message rebuking Washington for imposing the tariffs.

“It is true that the administration’s unilateral actions on trade against US allies are eroding the longstanding bonds of mutual trust,” said Price.

“And when you take that together with the withdrawal from the JCPOA [the official acronym for the Iran deal — the eds.] and the threatened imposition of sanctions on our allies who want to preserve the deal, the US is looking increasingly isolated in the G7.”

Read more: Iran deal: Compromise with US is ‘far away,’ says Germany

For Paris, the former Trudeau adviser, now a professor of international affairs at the University of Ottawa, the current division between the US and Canada is more fundamental than any previous disagreements between the neighboring countries.

Unprecedented low in US-Canadian ties

“I think the situation now is unprecedented in Canada-US relations,” he said. “There have been moments of tensions before, but no US administration has ever characterized Canadian imports as threats to US national security.”

Despite the friction between the US and its allies, which neither Price nor Paris said they believe will be resolved, they think the G7 meeting can still be valuable — if only to air the differences between the two sides.

Still, the former top advisers are under no illusion that major tangible results, for example on trade, can be achieved at the meeting.

Justin Trudeau, Angela Merkel and Donald Trump Already at the previous G7 meeting in Italy Trump was characterized as ‘odd man out’

Avoiding conflict, ‘open rupture’ a success

“I would consider it a success if there is an honest and forthright exchange of views, and if it is brought home to the United States president how divisive and destructive his trade policy actions have been,” said Price.

“Under the circumstances, I would consider this summit a success if it does not produce an open rupture between the United States and its allies,” said Paris. “Everything else is gravy.”


Trump lashes out at Canada and France ahead of G7

June 8, 2018

Accusation of ‘massive’ tariffs on US comes after criticism from Trudeau and Macron

Image may contain: 1 person, suit

President Donald Trump used Twitter to accuse leaders of Canada and France of pursuing unfair policies © AFP

Sam Fleming in Quebec City and Shawn Donnan in Washington 

Donald Trump lashed out at the French and Canadian leaders over the two countries’ trade practices as western leaders prepare for what promises to be a fractious G7 summit dominated by deep disagreements over trade.

Mr Trump on Thursday accused Emmanuel Macron and Justin Trudeau of imposing “massive” tariffs on the US and imposing non-monetary obstacles to sales of its products. His comment on Twitter came after sharp criticism of Mr Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminium from the French president and the Canadian prime minister, who is hosting the G7 summit.

Underscoring the animus heading into the meetings in Quebec, Mr Macron used Twitter on Thursday afternoon to warn the president that the US’s G7 allies were willing to isolate Mr Trump because of their disagreements.

The personalised skirmishing marks a bitter turn for relations among three leaders who have until recently made conspicuous efforts to get along.

But as the US and its G7 partners converge on Charlevoix, Canada, for two days of meetings, relations within the grouping are being defined by a profound rift over Mr Trump’s decision to hit key allies with tariffs justified on national security grounds. The stage was set last week when finance ministers from the six G7 nations — Japan, Germany, France, the UK, Italy and Canada — issued an extraordinary public rebuke of the US.

Minister Trudeau is being so indignant, bringing up the relationship that the US and Canada had over the many years . . . but he doesn’t bring up the fact that they charge us up to 300% on dairy — hurting our Farmers, killing our Agriculture!

US President Donald Trump on Twitter

It is highly unusual to see such a public battle raging within the G7, a group of democracies that traces its roots back to the 1970s — especially given the central and leading role the US has traditionally played in the grouping. But Mr Trump’s moves towards protectionism and the president’s scepticism about a host of international bodies are contributing to an atmosphere of open mistrust within the western alliance.

Mr Macron did nothing to disguise the philosophical differences emerging between the US and France, saying in his tweet: “The American President may not mind being isolated, but neither do we mind signing a 6 country agreement if need be.” Those six countries, he added, “represent values, they represent an economic market which has the weight of history behind it and which is now a true international force”.

Standing alongside Mr Macron earlier in Ottawa, Mr Trudeau joined his French counterpart in warning Mr Trump that his tariffs will backfire and hurt US workers. “American jobs are on the line because of his actions,” he said. “When we can underscore this, and we see there’s a lot of pressure within the US, perhaps he will revise his position.”

Mr Trump used Twitter to hit back at the two leaders, accusing them of pursuing unfair policies of their own. “Please tell Prime Minister Trudeau and President Macron that they are charging the U.S. massive tariffs and create non-monetary barriers,” he said. “The EU trade surplus with the U.S. is $151 Billion, and Canada keeps our farmers and others out. Look forward to seeing them tomorrow.”

Mr Trump later added a further message to Mr Trudeau, his G7 host.

“Minister Trudeau is being so indignant, bringing up the relationship that the US and Canada had over the many years and all sorts of other things . . . but he doesn’t bring up the fact that they charge us up to 300% on dairy — hurting our Farmers, killing our Agriculture!”

US farmers have long complained about Canada’s agricultural sector and particularly its “supply management” system that protects domestic industries such as dairy and maple syrup from foreign competition.

The US and Canada also have a longstanding dispute over Canadian softwood lumber, which has intensified since the Trump administration put into place tariffs aimed at what it claims are illegal subsidies given to Canadian timber growers via the cheap access they have to state land.

At the same time, the EU and its $151bn annual trade surplus with the US have been a regular target of Mr Trump’s ire with the president blaming higher EU car tariffs and other non-tariff trade barriers for keeping out US exports. The EU has for decades imposed limits on agricultural imports from the US via the use of regulatory barriers such as a de facto ban on genetically modified US grains and beef injected with hormones. The US argues that those agricultural barriers are unfair and not based on any scientific evidence.

Mr Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on metals imports has prompted a markedly colder tone from his key allies in recent days, some of which are preparing retaliatory measures of their own.

Officials going into the G7 meetings have been hoping leaders will find sufficient common ground to formulate a unified statement after the meetings, but the dispute on display has damped those expectations.


Are there any taboos in modern American society? — Is this how we want our kids to grow up?

June 7, 2018

A friend called me the other day upset that someone had parked in front of a “No Parking” sign.

We have daily name calling and rude behavior on Twitter and other social media.  Roseanne Barr and Samantha Bee come to mind — not to mention some disturbing and unnecessary tweets from the White House.

Drug addiction and opioids are more problematic than ever. Suicides are up.

It seems America has become the land of “anything goes” — as if life without rules was a good thing in a society.

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Several years ago, an immigrant to America told me, “The only thing wrong with America is TOO MUCH FREEDOM.”

It seems we are becoming a little too selfishly unaware of how our own permissiveness may harm the community as a whole.

Isn’t “Ordered liberty” one of the foundations of any good democracy?

From chapter 5 of Russell Kirk’s The American Cause, aptly titled “Ordered Liberty”:

Now in the political beliefs of what we call “Christian civilization” or “Western civilization”—of which American civilization is a part—there are three cardinal ideas: the idea of justice, the idea of order, and the idea of freedom. These three great concepts are the cement of American society.


“Justice” is the principle and the process by which each man is accorded the things that are his own—the things that belong to his nature. This concept the old Greeks and Romans expressed in the phrase “to each his own.”1 It is the principle and the process that protects a man’s life, his property, his proven rights, his station in life, his dignity. It also is the principle and the process that metes out punishment to the evildoer, which enforces penalties against violence and fraud. The allegorical figure of Justice always holds a sword. Justice is the cornerstone of the world—divine justice and human justice. It is the first necessity of any decent society.

“Order” is the principle and the process by which the peace and harmony of society are maintained. It is the arrangement of rights and duties in a state to ensure that a people will have just leaders, loyal citizens, and public tranquility. It implies the obedience of a nation to the laws of God, and the obedience of individuals to just authority. Without order, justice rarely can be enforced, and freedom cannot be maintained.

“Freedom” is the principle and the process by which a man is made master of his own life. It implies the right of all members of adult society to make their own choices in most matters. A slave is a person whose actions, in all important respects, are directed by others; a free man is a person who has the right—and the responsibility—of deciding how he is to live with himself and his neighbors.


Some nations have order without justice or freedom; these we usually call tyrannies. Other nations have freedom—for a while—without justice or order; such conditions we call anarchy. The founders of the American Republic, equally detesting tyranny and anarchy, determined to establish an enduring political constitution that would recognize the claims of justice, order, and freedom, and that would allow no excessive demands upon the part of any one of these three principles. Such a state, in which interests are balanced and harmonized by good laws, Aristotle had called a “polity.” Our American polity is a regime of ordered liberty, designed to give justice and order and freedom all their due recognition and part.

There is also this bit from the Acton Institute in Illinois:

It was outrageous enough, to contemporary sensibilities, for [Pope] John Paul [II] to connect self-government to the notion of eternal human attributes implanted by God. But he then went further, suggesting that self-government did not imply simply freedom to live as one wishes but, rather, the capacity to fulfill one’s duties and responsibilities toward family and toward the common good of the community. The Founding Fathers, he noted, “clearly understood that there could be no true freedom without moral responsibility and accountability, and no happiness without respect and support for the natural units or groupings through which people exist, develop, and seek the higher purposes of life in concert with others.”

Pardon us for suggesting that Natural Order is part of all this.


Western Europe and much of the United States seems to have thrown God out of society. The notion of some high power than man is more than unpopular: it is practically taboo on Facebook and other social media. Before we get too far further down this road we might consider where our culture and society is going. Because when man is responsible to God, and knows he must make an accounting to God, the gain to society can be more order.

But right now, America, as a society, seems headed toward more God-less disorder.

And that’s not great for raising children.

See also:

Are there any taboos in modern American society?


From United Liberty: What is “Ordered Liberty”?


See also:

The Founding Fathers Never Intended To Create A Direct Democracy


Facebook, Google, Amazon, Twitter use left-wing group to help determine “hate groups”

June 7, 2018
  • The Southern Poverty Law Center helps Facebook, Amazon, Google and Twitter determine what organizations are “hate groups”
  • Amazon gave the SPLC the most direct authority while pretending to remain unbiased
  • The SPLC has been plagued by inaccuracies
  • Policing their platforms for “hate speech” based on left wing ideology

Four of the world’s biggest tech platforms have working partnerships with a left-wing nonprofit that has a track record of inaccuracies and routinely labels conservative organizations as “hate groups.”

Facebook, Amazon, Google and Twitter all work with or consult the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) in policing their platforms for “hate speech” or “hate groups,” a Daily Caller News Foundation investigation found.

The SPLC is on a list of “external experts and organizations” that Facebook works with “to inform our hate speech policies,” Facebook spokeswoman Ruchika Budhraja told TheDCNF in an interview.

Facebook consults the outside organizations when developing changes to hate speech policies, Budhraja said, noting that Facebook representatives will typically hold between one and three meetings with the groups.

Citing privacy concerns, the Facebook spokeswoman declined to name all the outside groups working with Facebook, but confirmed the SPLC’s participation.

Budhraja emphasized that Facebook’s definition of “hate group” is distinct from the SPLC’s definition and said that Facebook consults with groups across the political spectrum.

The SPLC accused Facebook in a May 8 article of not doing enough to censor “anti-Muslim hate” on the platform. That article did not disclose the SPLC’s working partnership with Facebook.

“We have our own process and our processes are different and I think that’s why we get the criticism [from the SPLC], because organizations that are hate organizations by their standards don’t match ours,” Budhraja said.

“That doesn’t mean that we don’t have a process in place, and that definitely doesn’t mean we want the platform to be a place for hate but we aren’t going to map to the SPLC’s list or process,” she said.

Of the four companies, Amazon gives the SPLC the most direct authority over its platform, TheDCNF found.

While Facebook emphasizes its independence from the SPLC, Amazon does the opposite: Jeff Bezos’ company grants the SPLC broad policing power over the Amazon Smile charitable program, while claiming to remain unbiased.

“We remove organizations that the SPLC deems as ineligible,” an Amazon spokeswoman told TheDCNF.

Amazon grants the SPLC that power “because we don’t want to be biased whatsoever,” said the spokeswoman, who could not say whether Amazon considers the SPLC to be unbiased.

The Smile program allows customers to identify a charity to receive 0.5 percent of the proceeds from their purchases on Amazon. Customers have given more than $8 million to charities through the program since 2013, according to Amazon.

Only one participant in the program, the SPLC, gets to determine which other groups are allowed to join it.

Christian legal groups like the Alliance Defending Freedom — which recently successfully represented a Christian baker at the Supreme Court — are barred from the Amazon Smile program, while openly anti-Semitic groups remain, TheDCNF found in May.

One month later, the anti-Semitic groups — but not the Alliance Defending Freedom — are still able to participate in the program.

Twitter lists the SPLC as a “safety partner” working with Twitter to combat “hateful conduct and harassment.”

The platform also includes the Trust and Safety Council, which “provides input on our safety products, policies, and programs,” according to Twitter. Free speech advocates have criticized it as Orwellian.

A Twitter spokeswoman declined to comment on the SPLC specifically, but said the company is “in regular contact with a wide range of civil society organizations and [nongovernmental organizations].”

Google uses the SPLC to help police hate speech on YouTube as part of YouTube’s “Trusted Flagger” program, The Daily Caller reported in February, citing a source with knowledge of the agreement. Following that report, the SPLC confirmed they’re policing hate speech on YouTube.

The SPLC and other third-party groups in the “Trusted Flagger” program work closely with YouTube’s employees to crack down on extremist content in two ways, according to YouTube.

First, the flaggers are equipped with digital tools allowing them to mass flag content for review by YouTube personnel. Second, the groups act as guides to YouTube’s content monitors and engineers who design the algorithms policing the video platform, but may lack the expertise needed to tackle a given subject.

The SPLC is one of over 300 government agencies and nongovernmental organizations in the YouTube program, the vast majority of which remain hidden behind confidentiality agreements.

The SPLC has consistently courted controversy in publishing lists of “extremists” and “hate groups.” The nonprofit has been plagued by inaccuracies this year, retracting four articles in March and April alone.

The well-funded nonprofit, which did not return a request for comment, deleted three Russia-related articles in March after challenges to their accuracy followed by legal threats.

All three articles focused on drawing conspiratorial connections between anti-establishment American political figures and Russian influence operations in the United States.

The SPLC removed a controversial “anti-Muslim extremist” list in April, after British Muslim reformer Maajid Nawaz threatened to sue over his inclusion on the list. The SPLC had accused the supposed-extremists of inciting anti-Muslim hate crimes.

Somali-born women’s rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali also made the list.

Ali, a victim of female genital mutilation who now advocates against the practice, is an award-winning human rights activist. But according to the SPLC’s since-deleted list, she was an “anti-Muslim extremist.”

Ali criticized Apple CEO Tim Cook in August 2017 for donating to the SPLC, which she described as “an organization that has lost its way, smearing people who are fighting for liberty and turning a blind eye to an ideology and political movement that has much in common with Nazism.”

Dr. Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon who is now the secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, was surprised to find out in February 2015 that the SPLC had placed him on an “extremist watch list” for his conservative beliefs.

“When embracing traditional Christian values is equated to hatred, we are approaching the stage where wrong is called right and right is called wrong. It is important for us to once again advocate true tolerance,” Carson said in response.

“That means being respectful of those with whom we disagree and allowing people to live according to their values without harassment,” he continued. “It is nothing but projectionism when some groups label those who disagree with them as haters.”

Following a backlash, the SPLC apologized and removed him from their list. Carson was on the list for four months before the SPLC removed the “extremist” label.

Floyd Lee Corkins, who attempted a mass shooting at the conservative Family Research Center in 2012, said he chose the organization for his act of violence because the SPLC listed them as a “hate group.”

The SPLC has faced tough criticisms not just from conservatives, but from establishment publications, as well.

“At a time when the line between ‘hate group’ and mainstream politics is getting thinner and the need for productive civil discourse is growing more serious, fanning liberal fears, while a great opportunity for the SPLC, might be a problem for the nation,” Ben Schreckinger, now with GQ, wrote in a June 2017 piece for Politico.

Washington Post Reporter Megan McArdle, while still reporting for Bloomberg, similarly criticized the SPLC’s flimsy definition of “hate group” in  September 2017. Media outlets who trust the SPLC’s labels, McArdle warned, “will discredit themselves with conservative readers and donors.”

Follow Hasson on Twitter @PeterJHasson

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