Trump, EU's Juncker Face Off On Trade
Trump set for tense trade talks with top EU chief Juncker. CNBC: "The White House will open its doors for the president of the European Commission Wednesday, with relations looking strained amid tariffs and the possibility of an all-out trade war. Jean-Claude Juncker, who heads the EU’s executive arm, will meet President Donald Trump in an attempt to overcome their differences, specifically on car tariffs. Trump wants to increase tariffs on European cars exported to the U.S. to reduce the trade imbalance with the continent. But the EU sees these tariffs as an economic threat and is preparing retaliatory measures. Just hours prior to the meeting, the EU's trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom told Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter that the EU will put tariffs worth $20 billion on U.S. goods if Trump goes ahead with car tariffs. Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the White House said it is preparing a $12 billion aid package for U.S. farmers hit by trade tensions."
Farmers Prefer Trade To Aid
Illinois farmers welcome $12 billion in aid, but prefer trade: 'There’s no magic crop out there'. Chicago Tribune: "Illinois soybean farmers caught in the middle of President Donald Trump’s trade war with China might see some short-term relief from $12 billion in aid announced Tuesday, but they’re still worried about losing their best customer. Illinois was the largest soybean-producing state last year, with more than $3 billion in exports, shipping more to China than any other state. But that relationship, which benefits farmers and rural communities throughout Illinois, hangs in the balance after China imposed tariffs earlier this month on $34 billion worth of U.S. imports — a retaliation to Trump’s tariffs on an equivalent amount of Chinese goods. On Tuesday, the Agriculture Department said it would make available up to $12 billion of short-term aid, a one-time 'bridge' for farmers as Trump attempts to negotiate new trade agreements. In addition to making direct payments to corn and soybean farmers, the administration says it will buy surpluses of crops like fruits and nuts and distribute them to food assistance programs. It will also direct funds toward building trade in other countries, officials said. The announcement came a few hours after Trump, in an early morning tweet, said 'tariffs are the greatest!'"
Transgender Ban Architect Named New VA Chief
Wilkie overwhelmingly confirmed as VA Secretary. Politico: "The Senate voted Monday evening to confirm Robert Wilkie as VA secretary in an 86-9 vote, filling the vacancy left when David Shulkin was fired in March after a struggle with political appointees whom he accused of plotting to privatize the VA's health system. Wilkie’s confirmation drew criticism from elsewhere on the Hill. House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Ranking Member Tim Walz said in a release that he was 'deeply skeptical of Robert Wilkie’s leadership experience and ability to lead VA successfully.' Walz called Wilkie the “chief architect of President Trump’s ban on transgender individuals serving in the military, 'demonstrating “that he was capable of carrying out controversial and partisan policy directives. It is fair to say VA privatization is next on his list.' During his confirmation hearing, Wilkie promised not to privatize VA health services, but many former officials worry about a 'death spiral' as the agency, which has thousands of vacancies in its medical staff, puts a growing share of resources into private care."
Carter: U.S. Has Lost Its Commitment To Human Rights
President Carter says U.S. has lost its commitment to human rights. The Hill: 'Former President Jimmy Carter said Tuesday that the U.S. has lost its position as a global leader for human rights. 'We should be the champion of human rights. We're a superpower, not based solely on military power; part of that definition should be a commitment to human rights,' Carter said at an event at The Carter Center in Atlanta, according to CNN. 'We have lost the long-term commitment to human rights,' Carter added. Carter, who served as president from 1977-1981, made the comments as part of an annual forum that brings 'activists, peacemakers and community leaders' together to address human rights, CNN noted. In addition to his broad comments on human rights, Carter specifically addressed U.S. immigration law, reportedly saying that immigrants should have a 'clear picture' on what happens when they cross into the country. 'We need a comprehensive bill that has bipartisan support,' Carter said. 'Immigrants need to have a clear picture of what will happen to them when they come here. Clarification of U.S. law is most important.'"
We're Living In A Constitutional Crisis
Robert Reich: We're living in a Constitutional crisis. Alternet: "the Constitution is a tiny document. It requires that presidents and others in positions of power be bound by norms, unwritten rules, and long-established understandings of their constitutional responsibilities. A malignant megalomaniac facing no countervailing power will continue to expand his terrain until he is stopped. The best response is to vote for a Congress this November that will constrain him. And then, in November 2020, vote him and his regime out of office. If he refuses to accept the results of that election – as he threatened to do if he lost the 2016 election – he must be removed from office."