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Sam Pizzigati

Inequality And The Iron Law Of Decaying Public Services

Fires are raging everywhere in California these days, and firefighters are having enormous trouble keeping up. Chronically understaffed local fire departments simply don’t have the resources to handle act one of what climate change has in store for us. California’s wealthy aren’t particularly worrying about that lack of resources — because they have more than enough of their own. They can afford to shell out up to $25,000 per day for one of the private firefighting services that are popping up in California wherever the rich call home. In a deeply unequal America, none of this should surprise us. Public services almost always take it on the chin in societies where wealth starts furiously concentrating. Why should inequality have this impact? A little incendiary parable — on tennis — might help us understand. The commons in our imaginary county — the public space with access and services for all — has, in effect, been downsized. Where wealth concentrates, our commons will always downsize. At some point, in every community becoming more unequal, affluent people will come to feel they’ll be better off going life alone, on their own nickel — better off installing their own private courts, better off sending their kids to private schools, better off living in a privately guarded gated development. And the greater the numbers of affluent who forsake the commons, the greater the danger the commons will face.

Public Impeachment Hearings Start Next Week

Top diplomat's testimony offers preview of public hearings. CBS: "The House Intelligence Committee announced the first public hearings in the impeachment inquiry will take place next week, featuring testimony from three witnesses. The committees released a transcript of closed-door testimony by one of those witnesses on Wednesday. Bill Taylor, the top American diplomat in Ukraine, repeatedly raised concerns about linking U.S. military aid to investigations into the president's rivals. 'That was my clear understanding: security assistance money would not come until the president [of Ukraine] committed to pursue the investigation,"' Taylor said under questioning, according to the transcript. The committee will hear from Taylor and Deputy Assistant Secretary George Kent next Wednesday, November 13. Former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch will testify before the committee two days later. 'Those open hearings will be an opportunity for the American people to evaluate the witnesses themselves,' House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff told reporters at the Capitol."

Pence Staffer To Testify Privately

House investigators plan to hear first from Pence staffer in accelerating Trump impeachment inquiry. WaPo: "House investigators planned to hear testimony Thursday from Jennifer Williams, the first person from Vice President Pence’s staff to appear for a closed-door deposition in an accelerating presidential impeachment inquiry that will shift to public hearings next week. Williams, a special adviser on Europe and Russia, is appearing as House Democrats prepare to release more transcripts from previous depositions ahead of public testimony next week from William B. Taylor Jr., the acting ambassador to Ukraine. In closed-door testimony released Wednesday, Taylor said associates of President Trump tried to pressure Ukraine to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter, as well as a conspiracy theory about Ukraine’s role in the 2016 U.S. election. Trump, meanwhile, lashed out at the media early Thursday morning following a Washington Post report that he wanted Attorney General William P. Barr to hold a news conference declaring that Trump broke no laws during a July phone call in which he pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for the investigations. Trump wanted Barr to hold news conference saying the president broke no laws in call with Ukrainian leader."

Sanders Would Break Up ICE And BCP

Sanders becomes only candidate to call for breakup of ICE and BCP. The Intercept: "Sen. Bernie Sanders dropped his long-anticipated immigration platform. Arguably the most ambitious of any Democratic presidential candidate’s so far, the plan goes beyond a general call for a path to legal status for immigrants and takes full aim at President Donald Trump’s racist policies at the southern border. Unlike any other Democrat, Sanders calls for the break up of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and to improve working conditions and labor protections for industries that rely on an immigrant workforce. One piece of this is Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, which would 'provide domestic workers with at least a $15 minimum wage, strong protections for collective bargaining, workers’ rights, workplace safety, and fair scheduling,' regardless of immigration status. The release of Sanders’s plan comes after months of scrutiny from leftists and liberals over his immigration policy — long considered to be one of his primary weaknesses. And his plan follows the common left positions on immigration, including ones to reinstate and expand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program, end for-profit detention, and overturn the Muslim ban. Notably, he also goes further than even his fellow progressive hopeful, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, in calling for a full demilitarization of the border. Notably, he also goes further than even his fellow progressive hopeful, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, in calling for a full demilitarization of the border. To break up ICE and CBP, under Sanders’s platform, their functions would be redistributed to other federal agencies. Under a Sanders administration, 'deportation, enforcement, border and investigatory authority would return to the Department of Justice,' naturalization and citizenship authority would go to the State Department, and customs authority would return to the Treasury Department."

Sen. Rand Paul Blocks Whistleblower Shields

Thanks to Rand Paul, Russian media are naming the alleged whistleblower. The Daily Beast: "Standing beside an approving Donald Trump at a rally in Kentucky on Monday night, Republican Sen. Rand Paul demanded the media unmask the whistleblower whose report about the president’s alleged abuse of power dealing with Ukraine sparked impeachment proceedings. American news organizations resisted the pressure, but—in a 2019 re-play of 'Russia, if you’re listening'—Kremlin-controlled state media promptly jumped on it. Shortly after Sen. Paul tweeted out an article that speculated in considerable detail about the identity of the whistleblower—with a photograph, a name, and details about the purported political history of a CIA professional—Russian state media followed suit. As if on cue, the Kremlin-controlled heavy hitters—TASS, RT, Rossiya-1—disseminated the same information. But unlike Rand Paul, one of the Russian state media outlets didn’t seem to find the source—Real Clear Investigations—to be particularly impressive, and claimed falsely that the material was published originally by The Washington Post. This was the most egregious, but certainly not the only example of Kremlin-funded media cheerleading for Trump’s fight against impeachment as proceedings against him unfold with growing speed. As a chorus of talking heads on Fox News have picked up on Trump’s talking points, which is predictable—they’ve also been echoed across the pond, albeit with a tinge of irony."

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