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Trump Says US Will Declare North Korea a State Sponsor of Terror

The Stream - 1 hour 34 min ago

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Donald Trump announced Monday that the U.S. will designate North Korea as a state sponsor of terror amid heightened nuclear tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Trump said the designation will impose further penalties on the country. He called it a long overdue step and part of the U.S. “maximum pressure campaign” against the North. North Korea would join Iran, Sudan and Syria on the list of state sponsors of terror.

“In addition to threatening the world by nuclear devastation, North Korea has repeatedly supported acts of international terrorism including assassinations on foreign soil,” Trump said during a Cabinet meeting.

U.S. officials cited the killing of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s estranged half brother in a Malaysian airport earlier this year as an act of terrorism.

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The designation had been debated for months inside the administration, with some officials at the State Department arguing that North Korea did not meet the legal standard to be relisted as a state sponsor of terrorism.

U.S. officials involved in the internal deliberations said there was no debate over whether the slaying of half-brother Kim Jong Nam was a terrorist act. However, lawyers said there had to be more than one incident, and there was disagreement over whether the treatment of American student Otto Warmbier, who died of injuries suffered in North Korean custody, constituted terrorism.

The officials were not authorized to speak publicly about the deliberations and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

The move returns North Korea to the ignominious list for the first time since 2008, when the North was removed in a bid to salvage a deal to halt its nuclear development. In the years since, the North has made advanced leaps in both its nuclear and missile programs, proving the capacity to reach U.S. territories with the devastating weapons earlier this year.

Trump has faced pressure from congressional lawmakers to relist the country amid its advancing nuclear missile program, though some fear it could increase already heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula.


Associated Press writer Matthew Lee contributed to this report from Washington.

Copyright 2017 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

After Death of Border Patrol Agent, ABC Dismisses Wall as ‘Political Theater’

NewsBusters - 1 hour 38 min ago
<p>Reporting on Border Patrol Agent Rogelio Martinez being killed in the line of duty over the weekend, on ABC’s <em>Good Morning America</em> on Monday, co-host George Stephanopoulos and correspondent Tom Llamas criticized President Trump for renewing his calls for a border wall in the wake of the death, dismissing it as “political theater.”</p>

Vox: NYT’s Thrush Suspended Amid Investigation of Inappropriate Sexual Advances

NewsBusters - 1 hour 59 min ago
<p>On Monday morning, published an extensive, heartbreaking, and upsetting story revealing four women have come forward to Laura McGann about unwanted sexual encounters with<em> New York Times</em> reporter Glenn Thrush that’s now resulted in his suspension from the newspaper. McGann detailed experiences (including her own) that largely revolved around trips to a bar near <em>Politico </em>and ended with Thrush attempted to kiss and fondle women who were in their 20's. </p>

Murder Cult Leader Charles Manson Dead at 83

The Stream - 2 hours 48 min ago

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Charles Manson, the hippie cult leader who became the hypnotic-eyed face of evil across America after masterminding the gruesome murders of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and six others in Los Angeles during the summer of 1969, died Sunday night after nearly a half-century in prison. He was 83.

Manson died of natural causes at a California hospital while serving a life sentence, his name synonymous to this day with unspeakable violence and depravity.

Michele Hanisee, president of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys for Los Angeles County, reacted to the death by quoting the late Vincent Bugliosi, the prosecutor who put Manson behind bars. Bugliosi said: “Manson was an evil, sophisticated con man with twisted and warped moral values.”

“Today, Manson’s victims are the ones who should be remembered and mourned on the occasion of his death,” Hanisee said.

A petty criminal who had been in and out of jail since childhood, the charismatic, guru-like Manson surrounded himself in the 1960s with runaways and other lost souls and then sent his disciples to butcher some of L.A.’s rich and famous in what prosecutors said was a bid to trigger a race war -- an idea he got from a twisted reading of the Beatles song “Helter Skelter.”

The slayings horrified the world and, together with the deadly violence that erupted later in 1969 during a Rolling Stones concert at California’s Altamont Speedway, exposed the dangerous, drugged-out underside of the counterculture movement and seemed to mark the death of the era of peace and love.

Despite the overwhelming evidence against him, Manson maintained during his tumultuous trial in 1970 that he was innocent and that society itself was guilty.

“These children that come at you with knives, they are your children. You taught them; I didn’t teach them. I just tried to help them stand up,” he said in a courtroom soliloquy.

Linda Deutsch, the longtime courts reporter for The Associated Press who covered the Manson case, said he “left a legacy of evil and hate and murder.”

“He was able to take young people who were impressionable and convince them he had the answer to everything and he turned them into killers,” she said. “It was beyond anything we had ever seen before in this country.”

California Corrections Department spokeswoman Vicky Waters said it has yet to be determined what happens to Manson’s body. It was also unclear if Manson requested funeral services of any sort.

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Prison officials previously said Manson had no known next of kin, and state law says that if no relative or legal representative surfaces within 10 days, then it’s up to the department to determine whether the body is cremated or buried.

The Manson Family, as his followers were called, slaughtered five of its victims on Aug. 9, 1969, at Tate’s home: the actress, who was 8 1/2 months pregnant, coffee heiress Abigail Folger, celebrity hairdresser Jay Sebring, Polish movie director Voityck Frykowski and Steven Parent, a friend of the estate’s caretaker. Tate’s husband, “Rosemary’s Baby” director Roman Polanski, was out of the country at the time.

The next night, a wealthy grocer and his wife, Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, were stabbed to death in their home across town.

The killers scrawled such phrases as “Pigs” and a misspelled “Healter Skelter” in blood at the crime scenes.

Manson was arrested three months later. In the annals of American crime, he became the personification of evil, a short, shaggy-haired, bearded figure with a demonic stare and an “X” -- later turned into a swastika -- carved into his forehead.

“Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969,” author Joan Didion wrote in her 1979 book “The White Album.”

After a trial that lasted nearly a year, Manson and three followers -- Susan Atkins, Patricia Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten -- were found guilty of murder and sentenced to death. Another defendant, Charles “Tex” Watson, was convicted later. All were spared execution and given life sentences after the California Supreme Court struck down the death penalty in 1972.

Atkins died behind bars in 2009. Krenwinkel, Van Houten and Watson remain in prison.

Another Manson devotee, Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, tried to assassinate President Gerald Ford in 1975, but her gun jammed. She served 34 years in prison.

Manson was born in Cincinnati on Nov. 12, 1934, to a teenager, possibly a prostitute, and was in reform school by the time he was 8. After serving a 10-year sentence for check forgery in the 1960s, Manson was said to have pleaded with authorities not to release him because he considered prison home.

“My father is the jailhouse. My father is your system,” he would later say in a monologue on the witness stand. “I am only what you made me. I am only a reflection of you.”

He was set free in San Francisco during the heyday of the hippie movement in the city’s Haight-Ashbury section, and though he was in his mid-30s by then, he began collecting followers -- mostly women -- who likened him to Jesus Christ. Most were teenagers; many came from good homes but were at odds with their parents.

The “family” eventually established a commune-like base at the Spahn Ranch, a ramshackle former movie location outside Los Angeles, where Manson manipulated his followers with drugs, oversaw orgies and subjected them to bizarre lectures.

He had musical ambitions and befriended rock stars, including Beach Boy Dennis Wilson. He also met Terry Melcher, a music producer who had lived in the same house that Polanski and Tate later rented.

By the summer of 1969, Manson had failed to sell his songs, and the rejection was later seen as a trigger for the violence. He complained that Wilson took a Manson song called “Cease to Exist,” revised it into “Never Learn Not to Love” and recorded it with the Beach Boys without giving Manson credit.

Manson was obsessed with Beatles music, particularly “Piggies” and “Helter Skelter,” a hard-rocking song that he interpreted as forecasting the end of the world. He told his followers that “Helter Skelter is coming down” and predicted a race war would destroy the planet.

“Everybody attached themselves to us, whether it was our fault or not,” the Beatles’ George Harrison, who wrote “Piggies,” later said of the murders. “It was upsetting to be associated with something so sleazy as Charles Manson.”

According to testimony, Manson sent his devotees out on the night of Tate’s murder with instructions to “do something witchy.” The state’s star witness, Linda Kasabian, who was granted immunity, testified that Manson tied up the LaBiancas, then ordered his followers to kill. But Manson insisted: “I have killed no one, and I have ordered no one to be killed.”

His trial was nearly scuttled when President Richard Nixon said Manson was “guilty, directly or indirectly.” Manson grabbed a newspaper and held up the front-page headline for jurors to read: “Manson Guilty, Nixon Declares.” Attorneys demanded a mistrial but were turned down.

From then on, jurors, sequestered at a hotel for 10 months, traveled to and from the courtroom in buses with blacked-out windows so they could not read the headlines on newsstands.

Manson was also later convicted of the slayings of a musician and a stuntman.

Over the decades, Manson and his followers appeared sporadically at parole hearings, where their bids for freedom were repeatedly rejected. The women suggested they had been rehabilitated, but Manson himself stopped attending, saying prison had become his home.

The killings inspired movies and TV shows, and Bugliosi, the prosecutor, wrote a best-selling book about the murders, “Helter Skelter.” The macabre rock star Marilyn Manson borrowed part of his stage name from the killer.

“The Manson case, to this day, remains one of the most chilling in crime history,” veteran crime reporter Theo Wilson wrote in her 1998 memoir, “Headline Justice: Inside the Courtroom -- The Country’s Most Controversial Trials.” ”Even people who were not yet born when the murders took place know the name Charles Manson, and shudder.”


AP writer Michelle A. Monroe contributed to this report. This story contains biographical information compiled by former AP Special Correspondent Linda Deutsch. Deutsch covered the Tate-La Bianca killings and the Manson trial for The Associated Press and has written about the Manson family for four decades.

Copyright 2017 Associated Press. All rights reserved. That material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Chris Matthews Repents: ‘I'm Trying to Make Up For the Fact I Think I Was Too Tough on Clinton'

NewsBusters - 3 hours 14 min ago
<p>While a number of liberal journalists and politicians have had the sudden revelation that they supported a “sexual predator” in the White House twenty plus years ago, some liberals are having the exact opposite reaction to the anti-sexual harassment wave that has swept the culture.</p> <div> </div>

Big Bang Theory Star: ‘I Don’t Like Thanksgiving’ Because of ‘Genocide’

NewsBusters - 4 hours 3 min ago
<p>It’s that time of year again; one can smell the pumpkin pies, the turkeys, and the celebrities signaling their virtue at the expense of American traditions.</p> <p> </p>

Trump’s Iran strategy needs much improvement - AEI - American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

American Enterprise Institute - 4 hours 32 min ago

From Saad Hariri’s resignation as Lebanon’s prime minister to the Houthi missile attack on Saudi Arabia, the Middle East is again in uproar, thanks to the acute Iranian threat America’s regional partners perceive. Without a U.S.-led initiative to limit Iran’s regional sway, U.S. allies will act on their own and escalate regional crises.

That’s why the Iran policy the Trump administration rolled out last month is important. It’s an effort to forge a comprehensive strategy. Its smartest aspect is that it recognizes that merely curbing Tehran’s nuclear ambitions won’t end its aggressive behavior across the region. But there are good and bad ways to push back against Iran, and the administration so far seems focused on the bad. Syria and Iraq are the places to execute an Iran strategy effectively—not Yemen or Lebanon, and certainly not over the nuclear deal.

Iran has gone all-in on Syria, and while it is winning, it is also badly overexposed. It cannot afford to let the Assad regime sink, risking the demise of Hezbollah and the dissolution of Tehran’s hard-won position in the northern Levant.

Full content is available to Wall Street Journal Subscribers here.

No, the House tax bill won’t destroy graduate education - AEI - American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

American Enterprise Institute - 4 hours 35 min ago

The tax reform bill passed by Republicans in the House of Representatives on Thursday contains a provision that would, according to various news outlets and op-ed writers, “bankrupt graduate students,” “be a disaster for PhD students,” and “hit grad students with a massive tax hike.” To modify a saying dubiously attributed to Mark Twain, predictions of the death of graduate education have been greatly exaggerated.

On the chopping block in House Republicans’ bill is section 117(d) of the Internal Revenue Code, which exempts qualified tuition waivers from taxation. Many graduate students work as teaching or research assistance while completing their studies; universities often waive their tuition and provide a small living stipend as compensation. The House plan would treat these tuition waivers as taxable income, which graduate students fear could lead to annual tax hikes of several thousand dollars.

Anxiety among graduate students and those considering graduate education is understandable. But what the narrative around this provision has missed is that the House bill does not touch another provision of the tax code: section 117(a).

This section provides that scholarships used to pay tuition and fees are not considered taxable income. The catch is that universities which provide these scholarships cannot stipulate that students work as teaching or research assistants as a condition of receiving them. This is the main difference between scholarships and qualified tuition waivers: universities can require students to work as a condition of receiving the latter, but not the former.

Under current law, both scholarships and tuition waivers are not taxable. But the House bill draws a distinction between the two. Under the proposal, universities can still reduce their students’ tuition bills without incurring tax consequences. However, if graduate students work as teaching or research assistants as a condition of getting that tuition help, then the amount of tuition reduction would be considered taxable income.

Universities that wish to avoid saddling their graduate students with large tax bills therefore have an easy way out. They can reclassify their qualified tuition waivers as scholarships, and avoid incurring any tax consequences. Because schools have this alternative method of providing tuition help, it is unlikely that many graduate students will see tax hikes if the House bill becomes law.

To be sure, universities could no longer force graduate students to work as teaching or research assistants in order to receive the scholarships. But many graduate students would work in these positions anyways in order to receive a living stipend. (Those stipends are already taxable under current law.) Universities, wanting to attract talented graduate students, will structure their aid packages in such a way as to minimize the tax consequences for students.

True, this could alter the current model of graduate education. But it would not destroy it.

All this raises the question of why, if universities and graduate students can so easily avoid the tuition waiver tax, House Republicans decided to include it in their bill at all. At some level, the provision makes sense: since graduate students receive tuition waivers as a condition of work, the waivers should be considered income for tax purposes. Since scholarships are not conditioned on work, they are more analogous to buying a product at a discount and thus should not be taxed.

The problem with that justification, though, is that the tax reform bill ignores other untaxed benefits that employers provide their workers, such as health insurance. It’s logically inconsistent to tax small, niche benefits such as tuition waivers, but ignore massive, widespread benefits such as employer-provided health insurance. If Republicans want to treat fringe benefits as taxable income, fine—but they should be consistent about it.

House Republicans have yet to offer a convincing justification for their proposal to tax tuition waivers. On the other hand, though, critics of that proposal are vastly exaggerating its consequences. The House proposal to tax tuition waivers won’t destroy graduate education. That doesn’t mean there’s a good reason for it.

Why won’t the Trump administration do anything about dodgy Indian drugs? - AEI - American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

American Enterprise Institute - 4 hours 41 min ago

It is somewhat surprising to see that the Trump administration can be strategic, given the almost daily knee-jerk responses of the commander-in-chief.  But when it comes to geopolitics in Asia it knows what it wants — kind of.

US President Donald Trump holds a bilateral meeting with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi alongside the ASEAN Summit in Manila, Philippines November 13, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

While North Korea is volatile, China is the real challenge, some would say threat, from intellectual property (IP) theft and economic fights to saber-rattling over Asian security. So while India strains corporate relations due to IP theft and risks health due to dodgy quality medicines (see my latest paper out today), it is increasingly the strategic partner of choice in the region. After all, it’s hard to sustain tension with the two most populous countries in the world at the same time.

Prime Minister Modi may be a bully, who uses criminal defamation to silence opponents, but he talks a good game when it comes to the partnership with the US. In fact, he echoes our own president in prioritizing rhetoric over reality. He has many supporters within the White House and in Congress who overlook the relatively minor issues the US has with India, at least as far as they are concerned, defending such actions as strategic thinking.

This week we’ll see whether the Trump administration can publicly combat bad Indian policy. The Indian Government and the World Health Organization are cosponsoring an event on medicines and IP. This event timed over Thanksgiving is designed to beat up on innovator drug companies and their expensive medicines. Most of the research and development for these medicines is done in the US, and the best defenders of them will not be in attendance due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

Even more than India’s Government, the WHO is a truly socialist organization. And like many socialists it is hypocritical. The first to demand taxpayer-funded health care for all and high taxes, many of its staff avoid paying any federal taxes. But the WHO’s largest funder is the US taxpayer. The new head of the WHO, Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, has backtracked on one policy (of making despotic Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe an ambassador) due to donor pressure and could possibly do so again. The White House should complain about the content and timing of this major conference and stress that funding for its socialist agenda will be stopped immediately.

Learn More:

America’s national debt will never, ever go down - AEI - American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

American Enterprise Institute - 4 hours 44 min ago

Democrats think they have the GOP’s big plan all figured out. First, Republicans pass a big, fat tax cut that worsens budget deficits. Then, expressing alarm about worsening budget deficits, Republicans try to slash entitlements. Fiendishly clever, yes?

“This is a nasty two-step strategy that has long been the Holy Grail for hard-right Republicans,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told The New York Times.

It isn’t crazy conjecture. If made law, the new Senate Republican tax bill could boost the national debt to nearly the size of the entire U.S. economy by 2027, with levels heading even higher if expiring individual tax cuts get made permanent. And top Republicans such as House Speaker Paul Ryan and House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady are already saying entitlement reform is next. As an influential GOP economist recently wrote in The Wall Street Journal, “The challenge for the Congress after the next election will be to start reversing the rise in the debt.”

But they are not going to reverse the rise in America’s national debt. No one is.

If Republicans really cared about deficits and debt — during the Obama years they claimed the big federal budget gap could spark another financial crisis — they could have flatly rejected any tax plan that reduced government revenue. To now count on entitlement reform to make up the difference is hardly a second-best solution. Messing with Medicare and Social Security is even more politically treacherous than the failed attempt to repeal ObamaCare, given the GOP’s dependence on older voters.

Moreover, President Trump has repeatedly put those programs off limits. Sure, White House economic adviser Gary Cohn recently said that reforming “welfare” could be on the agenda — but only after fixing regulation, taxes, and infrastructure. So more of a tomorrow thing, if ever, because nothing will likely happen without strong presidential leadership. And Donald “I’m the king of debt, I love debt” Trump has given little indication that he has evolved into a budget hawk. Finally, it is hardly likely that congressional Republicans will have more political power after the 2018 midterm elections than they do right now.

Now consider this: It’s a realistic possibility that after eight years of Trump — more often than not, presidents win re-election — a Democrat takes office in 2025 at a time of trillion-dollar budget deficits and a historically high national debt. What would that Democratic president do? Show the fiscal rectitude Republicans didn’t and reduce the debt? Of course not. Unless financial markets force them, Democrats will likely make up for lost time and spend big on their priorities, whether free college tuition or a universal basic income or high speed rail. They might tax the rich a lot more, but that probably won’t be enough to reverse that rising tide of red ink. What’s more, a growing number of progressive wonks really don’t think high debt levels are much of a problem as long as that borrowed money is being spent on programs they think effective. So don’t fixate on debt-GDP ratios.

In other words, Washington simply doesn’t care about cutting the debt burden. Did it ever? Sure. Back in the 1990s, both parties saw slashing debt as a fiscal imperative. Today, though, both parties are preparing to run an economic experiment on the world’s largest and most advanced economy. Most economists, however, would say this is an unnecessary gamble that will likely end in tears — and much higher taxes.

Why the Mike Pence Rule is as Christian as it is Wise

The Stream - 4 hours 49 min ago

In a New York Times op-ed piece titled "A Christian Case Against the Pence Rule," Katelyn Beaty argued that, "It's time for men in power to believe their female peers when they say that the rule hurts more than helps." Based on my own experience, scriptural principles, human nature, and the unanimous testimony of all my female peers, I would argue strongly that the Pence rule (or, in the past, the Billy Graham rule) is both Christian and wise.

Beaty is correct in noting that the Pence rule does not directly relate to the conduct of alleged sexual predators like Harvey Weinstein. No one is assuming that most men try to rape and abuse the women they meet.

Still, she writes:

The Pence rule arises from a broken view of the sexes: Men are lustful beasts that must be contained, while women are objects of desire that must be hidden away. Offering the Pence rule as a solution to male predation is like saying, “I can't meet with you one on one, otherwise I might eventually assault you.” If that's the case, we have far deeper problems around men and power than any personal conduct rule can solve.

But this is a complete misunderstanding of the Pence Rule.

Being Mindful of Appearances

First, there is the issue of appearance.

Let's say you're a married man in your 50s. Your executive assistant is an attractive woman in her 30s. On a regular basis, you're doing work together over meals, sometimes over lunch and sometimes over dinner.

Do you think it might look a little suspicious to see the two of you together in restaurants day after day? Not just talking but also laughing and appearing to enjoy your time together? Do you think it would be unnatural for people to notice and wonder, "Are they getting a little too close? And isn't he married?"

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And what if you had to dismiss this woman from her job because of incompetence, embittering her towards you? If she launched an accusation against you years later, claiming you had a clandestine sexual relationship with her, many might say, "Well, they did seem a little too close. In fact, he seemed to spend more time with her than with his wife. Maybe something was going on."

Beaty cites a situation that baffled her:

A former colleague at a Christian nonprofit threw her back out while on a business trip. Lying in pain in her hotel room, she asked her co-worker to carry her suitcase from her room. He refused to enter the room. One wonders what he thought was going to happen. In this and other cases, personal purity seems to take precedence over the command to love your neighbor.

But she's missing the point entirely. The reason I wouldn't go into a woman's hotel room alone is primarily because of appearance (with awareness of the potential of a false accusation). Second, because of precedent (if I did it in this case, why not in another case?). The simple solution is that the door is open at all times and that the two people aren't left alone in the room together. This way, the man can carry the woman's suitcase without making anyone uncomfortable.

These days, with new scandals hitting the Internet every day, is this too much to ask? Is this really a hardship and burden?

And what about the idea of setting an example for others? Perhaps you are totally disciplined. In 100 years, you would never be unfaithful to your spouse. The fact is that plenty of others aren't that strong. They might be emboldened by your example, thereby opening the door to their own downfall.

Christian leaders are called to be above reproach. With rampant sexual immorality everywhere to be found, both inside and outside the Church, you really can't be too careful.

Acknowledging Attraction

Second, there is the issue of attraction.

Males and females are naturally attracted to each other, both physically and romantically. And while men might be drawn more to outward appearances than women -- or, more moved by sexual lusts -- emotional attraction comes to all.

These days, we can be in almost constant communication with co-workers and employees via email and text. So there's already a steady flow of interaction taking place. Add to that spending time alone together -- working in a building late at night (which also raises the question of bad appearance), having meals together, driving in a car together -- and you're almost guaranteed to spend more time with that opposite-sex co-worker or employee than with your own spouse.

Christian leaders are called to be above reproach. With rampant sexual immorality both inside and outside the Church, you really can't be too careful.

And what if you're going through a rough stretch at home? What if your wife is stressed out, caring for yet another child while finances are limited. You are consumed with your job. What if you and your spouse have lost the romantic spark? But that co-worker or employee of yours find your jokes funny and your stories interesting?

To deny the possibility of emotional or romantic attraction is to deny reality. That's why Beaty completely missed the point when she explained the Pence Rule as saying, "Men are lustful beasts that must be contained, while women are objects of desire that must be hidden away."

Guarding Against Adultery

Third, there is the issue of adultery.

There's a reason "Do not commit adultery" is included as one of the Ten Commandments. There's a reason some of the great leaders in the Bible fell into sexual sin. There's a reason Paul constantly warned against sexual immorality. And there's a reason that the porn industry is so pervasive and powerful to the point that many Christians struggle with addiction to porn.

There is a strong sex drive in human beings, especially men. Women feel pressure to make themselves sexually attractive. (And yes, some women struggle with porn and sexual addiction as well.)

The Bible addresses this time and time again. Not because it is a sterile rule-book designed to take away our fun. But because it is a user's manual drafted by our Creator. And if we play with fire, we will be burned.

In years past, I watched some of my colleagues (or leaders) destroy their lives and ministries through sexual sin, and I'm aware of my own human weakness. That's why I wholeheartedly affirm the Pence Rule. And that's why I've sought to live by it for decades as well. Better safe than sorry.

WH: Trump Not Stumping for Moore Due to Discomfort With Bid

The Stream - 4 hours 59 min ago

WASHINGTON (AP) -- President Donald Trump isn’t campaigning for Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore because of “discomfort” with the sexual misconduct allegations made by several women but isn’t calling on the controversial judge to drop out of the race because the state’s voters should decide, the White House says.

Ultimately, Trump doesn’t know who to believe following decades-old allegations made one month before the Dec. 12 election, according to his aides.

One Republican senator urged Alabama voters to reject Moore in the special election even if that could mean ceding the seat to a Democrat and narrowing the GOP’s 52-48 Senate edge. A second GOP lawmaker suggested there was “a strong possibility” that a write-in candidate -- “a proven conservative” -- could win, though no name was mentioned.

“We are uncomfortable with the explanations that Roy Moore has given to date,” said White House legislative director Marc Short. Speaking of Trump’s position, Short said: “Obviously if he did not believe that the women’s accusations were credible, he would be down campaigning for Roy Moore.”

Still, Short added the “38-year-old allegations” were virtually unprovable. “At this point, we think he has been a public figure in Alabama for decades, and the people of Alabama will make the decision, not the president, not the leader of the Senate, not members in Congress.”

Moore, a former state Supreme Court justice twice removed from office, has denied the accusations that have surfaced only recently, and pledged to remain in the race. The special election will determine who fills the remainder of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ term, until January 2020.

Before the allegations emerged, Trump had backed current GOP Sen. Luther Strange in the Sept. 26 primary to determine Sessions’ successor and campaigned in the state, a Republican stronghold.

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After Moore’s victory, Trump made clear he would back the anti-establishment candidate enthusiastically promoted by former White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon. But since the allegations aired, the White House has said Moore should drop out if they were true. Moore faces Democrat Doug Jones, a former prosecutor, in the Dec 12 race.

Budget director Mick Mulvaney said while the White House had “serious concerns,” it was hard to weigh in against Moore. Moore’s name cannot be removed from the ballot before the special election even if he withdraws from the race, though a write-in campaign remains possible.

Trump “doesn’t know who to believe. I think a lot of folks don’t,” Mulvaney said.

Short, pressed repeatedly about whether Trump still supported Moore, said: “I don’t think you have seen him issue an endorsement. You have not seen him issue robocalls.” Short added, “I think you can infer by the fact that he has not gone down to support Roy Moore his discomfort in doing so.”

Moore has forcefully denied the charges as “unsubstantiated” and “fake” even as more women have come forward to make complaints of sexual improprieties. Two women by name have said Moore molested them in the 1970s when one was 14 and the other 16 and he was a local district attorney in his 30s, and three others said he pursued romantic relationships with them around the same time.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., are among the many national Republicans who have urged Moore to step aside. Sessions told Congress last week he has “no reason to doubt” the women.

“I hope that the voters of Alabama choose not to elect him,” said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. “I don’t know Doug Jones at all, but I’ve never supported Roy Moore. And I hope that he does not end up being in the United States Senate.”

Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., said “it is in the best interest of the country, as well as the state of Alabama, from my perspective, for Roy Moore to find something else to do.” Scott said he thinks there was “a strong possibility with a new candidate, a new Republican candidate, a proven conservative, that we can win that race.”

Moore’s candidacy has left GOP officials in a bind, especially after GOP Gov. Kay Ivey said she will not postpone the election and will vote for Moore. The Alabama Republican Party has also thrown its support behind Moore.

A Moore victory would saddle GOP senators with a colleague accused of abusing and harassing teenagers, a troubling liability heading into the 2018 congressional elections.

McConnell has said Moore would almost certainly face a formal ethics complaint in the Senate if he were elected. Such an ethics complaint could lead to a Senate vote on expelling him.

Short appeared on ABC’s This Week, Mulvaney spoke on NBC’s Meet the Press, Collins was on ABC and CNN’s State of the Union and Scott spoke on Fox News Sunday.


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Copyright 2017 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

White House Open to Striking Health Provision From Tax Bill

The Stream - 5 hours 23 min ago

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The White House says it’s willing to strike a health-care provision from Senate legislation to cut taxes and overhaul the tax code if the provision becomes an impediment to passing one of President Donald Trump’s top legislative priorities.

The provision would repeal a requirement that everyone in the U.S. have health insurance or pay a fine, but has emerged as a major sticking point for Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, whose vote the White House needs. Collins said Sunday that the issue should be dealt with separately.

Trump’s budget director, Mick Mulvaney, said the White House is open to scrapping the provision, which would repeal a key component of the Affordable Care Act health law enacted by President Barack Obama. Trump had pressed for the provision to be added to the bill, partly to show progress on the GOP goal of undoing the health care law following Congress’ failed attempts to repeal it earlier this year.

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“I don’t think anybody doubts where the White House is on repealing and replacing Obamacare. We absolutely want to do it,” Mulvaney said Sunday. “If we can repeal part of Obamacare as part of a tax bill and have a tax bill that is still a good tax bill that can pass, that’s great.

“If it becomes an impediment to getting the best tax bill we can, then we’re OK with taking it out,” Mulvaney added.

Legislative director Marc Short said Sunday that the White House “is very comfortable with the House bill,” which does not include the so-called individual mandate. But Short also said the White House views the mandate as a tax and “we like the fact that the Senate has included it in its bill.”

At issue is a provision to repeal the requirement that everyone in the U.S. have health insurance or pay a fine. Eliminating the individual mandate would add an estimated $338 billion in revenue over 10 years that Senate tax-writers used for additional tax cuts.

Collins said Sunday that the tax advantage that some middle-income consumers would reap under the tax bill could be wiped out by repealing the mandate. She said they would face higher insurance premiums coupled with the loss of federal subsidies to help them afford coverage.

“The fact is that if you do pull this piece of the Affordable Care Act out, for some middle-income families, the increased premium is going to cancel out the tax cut that they would get,” Collins said.

Collins said she hasn’t decided how to vote on the bill because it will be amended before it reaches the Senate floor. But her vote is crucial in a chamber where Republicans hold a slim 52-48 advantage.

Last week, Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin became the first Republican to declare opposition, saying the plan wouldn’t cut business taxes enough for partnerships and corporations. GOP Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee, John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona, and Rand Paul of Kentucky have also expressed concerns.

Republicans can lose just two senators on the final vote, which would allow Vice President Mike Pence to cast a tie-breaking 51st vote in his capacity as president of the Senate. Democrats are not expected to support the bill, as was the case when the House passed its version last week.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the mandate amounts to “an unfair tax on poor people.”

“The president thinks we should get rid of it. I think we should get rid of it,” he said, but added: “We’re going to work with the Senate as we go through this.”

Mulvaney and Collins were interviewed on CNN’s State of the Union. Mnuchin spoke on Fox News Sunday. Collins also appeared on ABC’s This Week, as did Short.


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France Seeks to Ban Muslim Street Prayers in Paris After Clashes

The Stream - 5 hours 25 min ago

Muslims won't be allowed to hold mass prayers on the streets of a Paris suburb where protesters and worshipers have clashed in recent weeks, French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said Sunday.

Weekly street prayers have taken place in the suburb of Clichy-la-Garenne every Friday since the local mosque was shut down by authorities in the spring. Local politicians and protesters have tried to stop the street prayers and the national government is ready to take action.

"They will not have prayers on the street, we will prevent street praying," Collomb told Franceinfo in an interview published Sunday. "We will make sure we resolve this conflict in the next few weeks."

Collomb emphasized that "Muslims must have a place of worship to pray" while acknowledging that the current solution doesn't work.

Dozens of French politicians sang the national anthem Nov. 11 as they marched into a gathering of around 200 Muslims in the area. A mayor, members of parliament, local councilors and civilians walked under a banner reading "Stop Illegal Street Prayers"as they tried to push worshipers out of the town's market square.

Riot police had to separate the groups to avoid a potentially violent confrontation.

#Clichy Toujours plus loin dans le surrealiste : ce sont bien des elus avec leurs echarpes qui ont tente d'aller bousculer les fideles. Mouvement de foule, bousculade, chutes… Les gendarmes s'interposent.

— Theo Maneval (@TheoManeval) November 10, 2017

Populist leader Marine Le Pen also weighed-in and showed support for the protests.

"The Republic must go on the offensive in the face of Islamist provocations," Le Pen said in a tweet. "What is the Minister of the Interior waiting for to restore public order and secularism? Laxity is not an option."

Laxity, or lacite, is the French tradition of keeping religion out of public activity.


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Press Mostly Indulges UCLA Player's Dad Who Denies Trump Helped Free His Son

NewsBusters - 5 hours 45 min ago
<p>The 2017 competition for Ingrate of the Year is now closed; the disgraceful distinction belongs to LaVar Ball. Rather than thank President Donald Trump for his part in keeping his son and two other UCLA basketball players from rotting in a Chinese prison for several years, Ball, when asked by ESPN about Trump's role, shot back "Who?" — and <em>complained</em> that "Everybody wants to make it seem like he helped me out." Well sir, that's because he did.</p>

The GOP is right to ignore pay-as-you-go - AEI - American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

American Enterprise Institute - 6 hours 14 min ago

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reported last week that the GOP plan to cut taxes by $1.5 trillion over 10 years would trigger automatic spending cuts under the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act. This includes a $25 billion reduction of what Medicare pays providers for medical services. Republicans are right to ignore, for now, this potential effect of their tax legislation, as they had no role in the enactment of the pay-as-you-go law in the first place and can fix the problem later. It was House and Senate Democrats who rammed the pay-as-you-go legislation through Congress in 2010 just as they were about to lose their supermajority.

Democrats today complain about the partisan approach Republicans have taken on health care and taxes. They seem to have forgotten how they ran Congress in 2009 and 2010.

During the first months of the Obama administration, the Democrats had a supermajority of 60 votes in the Senate. That sizeable majority allowed them to pass legislation, including the Affordable Care Act (ACA), without any Republican votes. But then the unthinkable occurred. On January 19, 2010, Republican Scott Brown stunned the political world by winning a special election to serve out the remainder of Sen. Ted Kennedy’s Senate term. Kennedy, who passed away in August 2009, had been replaced on a temporary basis in September 2009 by Paul Kirk, who was appointed by then-Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, also a Democrat.

After Brown’s victory, the Obama administration and congressional Democrats knew they would soon lose their supermajority in the Senate. That would mean they could no longer pass legislation under regular order without securing some Republican support. With 41 votes, Republicans would be able to filibuster bills they disliked, except for legislation passed using budget reconciliation legislation, which requires only a simple majority.

Although Brown was elected on January 19, he wasn’t sworn in and seated until February 4. In the interim, Sen. Kirk continued to serve in the Senate. This delay wasn’t unusual, but it proved to be important.

On January 20, just one day after Brown’s victory, then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called up legislation to increase the federal debt limit by $1.9 trillion.  That legislation was then amended to include the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go legislation before it passed in the Senate on January 28. The legislation was considered under “regular order,” meaning it was not a budget reconciliation bill. (Budget process changes cannot be passed easily through reconciliation because they generally do not directly affect federal spending or revenue, which means they are vulnerable to removal from those bills under the Byrd Rule.) Statutory Pay-As-You-Go passed in the Senate on January 28 with all 60 Democratic Senators, including Sen. Kirk, voting in favor of it. All Senate Republicans voted against the legislation. The House took up the bill a few days later and passed it, again without any Republican support.

The pay-as-you-go legislation of 2010 put into statute a budget process rule that has been operating off and on since 1990. The premise of the law is that Congress should be precluded from passing legislation that increases federal budget deficits above the levels that would otherwise occur. So, for example, if members of the House and Senate want to pass a bill increasing spending by $100 billion over 10 years, they must include offsetting spending cuts or tax increases equal to or exceeding $100 billion.

In 1990, Congress put the first pay-as-you-go rule in place as part of a five-year budget agreementstruck between President George H.W. Bush and the Democratic majorities in the House and Senate. The rule was enforced with a “sequester.” The way the sequester works is that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) assesses the budgetary effects of all legislation passed each year in Congress. If Congress passes bills during the year that, in total, increase the deficit, then the OMB is required to impose an across-the-board spending cut on unprotected programs to generate savings sufficient to cover the breach.

Unlike earlier versions of statutory pay-as-you-go, the 2010 legislation was permanent and was not put in place to enforce a budget framework. In 1990, President Bush and Congress created the pay-as-you-go concept to lock in place a mix of spending cuts and tax increases intended to reduce the budget deficit. Initially, pay-as-you-go was limited to the five-year period of that budget agreement (1991–1995). The 2010 law, by contrast, was enacted by Democrats to preclude a future GOP-controlled Congress from passing an unfinanced tax cut. In other words, that law was aimed squarely at trying to prevent Republicans from passing a tax cut just like the one that is now moving through Congress.

Democrats sometimes argue that pay-as-you-go is nonpartisan because it is equally tough on unfinanced spending and tax cutsBut that is not quite right. Pay-as-you-go is fine if there is an agreement between the parties on the overall level of taxes and spending. But sometimes there is a legitimate disagreement about the size of government. Democrats often want to increase the size of government, and they are happy to do that by increasing both taxes and spending, which is consistent with pay-as-you-go. Republicans believe a more circumscribed government is better for economic growth over the long-run, and sometimes the best approach to limiting the reach of government is by lowering the overall level of taxation, accompanied by spending restraint. (Although that spending restraint may be less than the tax cut and may come in appropriation bills that are not counted under pay-as-you-go.) President Reagan’s tax cut in 1981 was aimed at promoting economic growth and restraining government. If the Democratic party had its way, statutory pay-as-you-go would preclude future congresses from ever again passing a Reagan-style tax cut. Republicans will never agree to that — and shouldn’t.

The irony is that the pay-as-you-go law passed by Democrats in 2010 might give the GOP new leverage in the budget process over the coming months. If Republicans succeed in passing a 10-year, $1.5 trillion tax cut, the enforcement of pay-as-you-go will require across-the-board spending cuts to eliminate the added annual deficits from lower federal revenue, starting with cuts in funding in 2018. (The GOP cannot undo the pay-as-you-go implications of the tax bill with a simple waiver provision, because under reconciliation rules, the waiver would be subject to the Byrd Rule and would thus need 60 votes to survive.) These spending cuts will hit Medicare and other unprotected programs, including the operating budgets of many federal agencies. Congressional Democrats will not want these cuts to go into effect. But they can’t stop them without Republican cooperation.

The net effect, then, of passing an unfinanced tax cut in the era of pay-as-you-go may be to create added pressure for bipartisan spending restraint to partially offset a Republican-inspired tax cut. That is surely not what Democrats had in mind when they rushed the pay-as-you-go law through the Senate in the early days of 2010.

The impact of legislative change on reported domestic violence against women in India - AEI - American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

American Enterprise Institute - 6 hours 34 min ago

Abstract: This paper investigates whether two legislative changes aimed at empowering women did in fact lower the risk of domestic violence for women in India. We use the National Family Health Survey, a nationally representative household dataset to explore this issue. We exploit a legislative change geared at improving the political representation of women by reserving at least one-third of seats in the local Panchayats for women. The change to representation was implemented at different dates depending on the timing of elections. The second change is a natural experiment wherein five states made amendments to their inheritance laws allowing daughters equal status as sons in the right to inherit the joint property of the father. We use this arguably exogenous variation to study whether the improvement in women’s autonomy in these states as a result of the passage of this law had any impact on the likelihood that they report being victims of domestic abuse. Our results suggest that improved representation increased the reported probability of violence. There are two competing explanations for these results. First, women may have experienced retaliation by men who feared the erosion of their power and opposed the policy change. Second, the policy change may have made women more willing to report violence to interviewers.


Read the full article.

Netflix's 'The Punisher' A Bloody, Brutal Depiction of Veterans

NewsBusters - 7 hours 6 min ago
<p>Marvel's The Punisher originally appeared as a supporting character from Netflix’s <em>Daredevil </em>where he stood out as a character with a particularly violent way of dealing with criminals. His solo season in Netflix’s <em>The Punisher</em>, which premiered on November 17 after being delayed following the Vegas shooting<em>, </em>is no different as it glorifies in blood, beatings, and even a couple of beheadings. To add insult to very violent injury, the series also manages to squeeze in a less than admirable depiction of veterans as nothing more than killer time bombs.</p>

The Hope of Women

The Stream - 7 hours 13 min ago

“It seems undeniable at this point that Hugh Hefner’s death broke open some sort of seal.” My former colleague at National Review magazine, Ian Tuttle, tweeted this the other day, referring to the avalanche of accusations and confessions of men behaving badly in some of the highest echelons of power that has occurred since the death of the Playboy founder. A reckoning appears to be occurring in Hollywood, accompanied by a widespread acknowledgment that something has gone very wrong when it comes to men in power and sex.

Powerful Men and Sex

Why is it that men would ever presume to take what is not theirs? Why is it that women have been too afraid to speak up? Could it be that the expectations of the culture have forced both men and women into untenable positions? Could it be that we’ve been breathing an air that has us believing the other gender exists for gratification rather than awe and reverence?

There was something in that Donald Trump infamous hot-mic incident -- where he described this profane mindset of men in power -- that was clarifying and almost set the stage for all these recent stories. The now-first lady dismissed it all as “what boys do.” One gets the impression that she’s trying to raise her son otherwise. So why would Melania Trump or anyone else tolerate it or otherwise explain it away?

The Catholic Church’s Prediction

When the U.S. Catholic bishops gathered in Baltimore for their annual meeting this past week, there was a presentation noting, among other things, the upcoming 50th anniversary of “Humanae Vitae,” a document that in 1968 seemed to do what my own magazine’s founder was inspired to do vis-a-vis the Cold War, among other things: “Stand athwart history, yelling ‘Stop,'” as it says in the 1955 National Review mission statement. Paul VI, the author of “Humanae,” saw a radical revolution afoot that was going to make the world worse, for women in particular.

Speaking before his brother bishops, New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan highlighted prophetic passages from Paul VI’s letter, including: “(A) man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.”

And so it happened. And so we live among the ruins.

The Value of Women

While there are men who have come out to accuse prominent actors of assault and other boorish behavior, the majority of the #MeToo movement testifying to abuse of power has been women, talking about men. Some 30 or so years ago, Pope John Paul II wrote about the role of women in changing the world. He focused on two things in particular, as Mary Rice Hasson, founding director of the Catholic Women’s Forum at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, put it in a talk:

“The first is to bring ‘full dignity’ to the ‘conjugal life and to motherhood.’ The second and related task is that women are called to ‘assure the moral dimension of culture … a culture worthy of the person.'”

Hasson issued a challenge to her sisters in the faith:

Women must be front and center in evangelizing the culture because, as a Church, we must live that truth of complementarity. We believe that there’s something of value created when men and women work together, and we know that the Church needs us -- men and women -- to witness to the love of God in a powerful way, together. And the world needs that witness from us as much, if not more, than it needs the actual work that we do.”

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I’ll add this: Everyone is welcome to join in leading a way out of the misery of seeing others merely as means to instant pleasure or another selfish gain.

Besides “Humanae Vitae,” Paul VI also issued this message that has resurfaced in recent years:

Women, you do know how to make truth sweet, tender and accessible, make it your task to bring the spirit of this council into institutions, schools, homes and daily life. Women of the entire universe, whether Christian or non-believing, you to whom life is entrusted at this grave moment in history, it is for you to save the peace of the world.

With this light shining on the darkest places in Hollywood and elsewhere, there’s a tremendous opportunity to turn the ship around. Women can save the peace of the world, by expecting better for themselves, their sisters, their daughters -- and the men who ought to love them (thank you, those who do!) for all the beauty they bring to existence.


Kathryn Jean Lopez is senior fellow at the National Review Institute, editor-at-large of National Review Online and founding director of Catholic Voices USA. She can be contacted at


Should Washington break up Big Tech? - AEI - American Enterprise Institute: Freedom, Opportunity, Enterprise

American Enterprise Institute - 8 hours 6 min ago

The past year has seen a strange convergence of left and right on one topic: growing fear of Silicon Valley’s leading firms. A few headlines will tell the tale. From Axios: “Tech’s new Washington problem: Democrats.” From The Intercept: “Steve Bannon Wants Facebook and Google Regulated Like Utilities.” Vox: “Elizabeth Warren wants the government to crack down on technology giants.” Breitbart: “Tucker Carlson: Google should be regulated like the public utility it is.”

Twitter Acting General Counsel Sean Edgett, Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch and Google Senior Vice President and General Counsel Kent Walker are sworn in before the House Intelligence Committee to answer questions related to Russian use of social media to influence U.S. elections, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., November 1, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

I could go on. The point is the momentum behind those calling for government to take some sort of action against Big Tech is palpable, which is odd when you consider public opinion on this issue. As I wrote in a recent column in The Week, most Americans remain pretty friendly toward the tech titans.

As noted by Wired, Amazon, Facebook, and Google continue to have high favorability ratings, according to public opinion surveys. Research firm Morning Consult finds Google with an 82 percent net favorability rating, Amazon 77 percent, and Facebook 60 percent. That’s not even frenemy territory. Those companies are also among the most widely admired by Americans aged 18-34. What’s more, there’s been no apparent change in the “brand health” of Big Tech over the past year, as measured by the YouGov BrandIndex. All that despite a year of terrible headlines, whether it’s Russians using Facebook to influence the US presidential election, sexism at Uber, free speech issues at Google, or more existential concerns that artificial intelligence and robots will destroy the human job market.

In other words, the fervor for targeting these companies remains mostly an elite-level phenomenon, at least for now.

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Which isn’t to say it’s unwarranted. The most common objections to these tech titans have some prima facie appeal: Critics may argue that the sheer size of these firms harkens back to the robber barons of the last century, or that their market dominance may be stifling innovation, or that Google’s and Facebook’s ubiquitous presence in our lives suppresses free speech. And then of course there are the worries about Russia: Maybe these firms are a danger to something more fundamental than just innovation or a more equal income distribution. Perhaps they’re a threat to American democracy itself.

Those are some of the prominent gripes against Big Tech, anyway. But I’m not necessarily sold yet. As I’ve argued elsewhere, looking at the past decade, about the only thing that seems to have really gone right in the US economy is what’s happening in Silicon Valley. The success of these big companies has brought amazing products and services to consumers, and we’ll want further innovations from them in the future. So maybe the government should hold their fire. Better to tread carefully than have politicians mucking about highly innovative and evolving business models they don’t fully understand.

This debate is the topic of an upcoming event here at AEI on November 27, beginning at 1:30 PM. Joining me for a panel conversation will be MIT’s Andrew McAfee, research scientist and co-author of Machine, Platform, Crowd; Luigi Zingales, director of the Stigler Center at the University of Chicago; Ryan Hagemann, Director of Technology Policy at the Niskanen Center; and Michael Strain, John G. Searle Scholar and Director of Economic Policy Studies here at AEI. You can find more details and RSVP at this link, here. We hope you can join us.

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