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House overwhelmingly passes farm bill, without tighter work requirements favored by Trump

Fox News (Politics) - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 17:34
In a sign that bipartisan agreement remains possible in Washington as Congress barrels towards a possible government shutdown over border wall funding, the House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a farm bill -- a massive legislative package that reauthorizes agriculture programs and food aid -- by a comfortable 369-47 margin.

Meadows out of running for White House chief of staff; Trump wants him to stay in Congress

Fox News (Politics) - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 17:07
Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., is no longer a contender to replace the departing John Kelly as White House chief of staff, the Trump administration announced Wednesday.

Deal struck on Capitol Hill sexual-harassment reform legislation

Fox News (Politics) - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 16:19
Congress reached an agreement Wednesday over a new sexual harassment policy aimed at holding lawmakers personally responsible for harassment and retaliation.

Pelosi, Democratic critics discuss term limits on party leaders

Fox News (Politics) - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 16:12
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and House Democrats who oppose her bid to become speaker next month are discussing the possibility of imposing term limits on party leaders, a Pelosi aide confirmed to Fox News.

Google Is a Tricky Case but Conservatives Please Stay Strong -- Reject the Temptation to Regulate the Internet

Cato Recent Op Eds - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 15:40

John Samples

Everyone involved in politics has bad days, when one’s interests conflict with one’s ideals. Some conservatives had a bad day on Tuesday when Google CEO Sundar Pachai appeared before Congress to respond to allegations of anti-conservative bias at Google.

Since at least the presidency of Ronald Reagan, conservatives have stood for limited, constitutional government. That commitment has not always been easy. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia voted to protect flag burning as free speech even though he hated the desecration of the flag. If conservatives don’t stand strong — even in tough cases — for limited government, who will?

Content moderation at big tech companies certainly looks like a tough case. On the one hand, conservatives have long supported a free market where entrepreneurs and CEOs, not politicians, decide how to run businesses.

If conservatives don’t stand strong - even in tough cases - for limited government, who will?

On the other hand, Mark Zuckerberg, noted earlier this year that the people who work in Silicon Valley generally lean to the left. So do university employees, and conservatives are well aware of the problems posed by the left’s dominance on campuses.

So conservatives are tempted to use the tools of big government to make sure Google and Facebook don’t restrict speech that their employees do not like. We saw some conservatives giving in to temptation during the Pachai hearings.

Rep. Mike Johnson, R-La., said Congress should make sure Google’s search “is never used to unfairly censor conservative viewpoints or suppress political views.” I thought the Fairness Doctrine was done away with during the Reagan administration because that conservative president believed in free speech! The conservative ideal of the free market in searches and speech means Mr. Pachai is accountable to his customers — not to Congress.

Rep. Steve King, R.-Iowa, demanded that Congress have access to the social media history of content moderators at Google. He continued, “If that doesn’t solve this problem, the next step then is to publish the algorithms. If that doesn’t happen, then the next step down the line is Section 230.” (Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act provides liability protections which prevent social media firms from being held legally responsible for user-generated content.)

Let’s be clear here. Rep. King is saying the federal government should force private individuals to disclose their life online to achieve “fairness.” If that fails, the federal government should take control of private property (the code for Google’s search function) and make it public, thereby destroying much of its value. Finally, if all else fails, Rep. King wants to end that part of current law (Section 230) which experts say has protected speech from suppression by big tech.

No doubt Reps. King and Johnson give voice to conservatives’ fears. Having been excluded from the mainstream media and university campuses, conservatives now see a future of being forced off the online platforms where most political speech takes place.

But big government is not the answer. As early as 2021, liberals may control both houses of Congress and the presidency. Are they likely to use the federal government to make sure companies are fair to conservatives? Of course not. So why give the federal government such new power over private companies?

Conservative ideals can still protect conservative interests. At least half of America leans right, a market that Mr. Pachai and other Silicon Valley CEOs will not ignore, whatever their own political commitments. And if some Google employees decide that politics matter more than profits, it is Mr. Pachai’s responsibility, not Congress’, to set matters right on behalf of his shareholders.

Humans are often tempted to sacrifice their ideals for good reasons and bad. But a market free of government control was a worthy ideal long before Google arose. Indeed, that ideal made Silicon Valley possible.

Conservatives need to stay the course and reject the temptation of big government regulation of the internet — a temptation that in the end will serve neither their ideals nor their interests.

John Samples is a vice president at the Cato Institute.

Pompeo calls for international coalition against Iran, as Europe ramps up pressure

Fox News (Politics) - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 15:37
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday he wants to build a “coalition of responsible nations” to push back against malign Iranian actions -- as European countries took to the U.N. Security Council to ramp up pressure on the regime. 

Christine Blasey Ford presents award to Larry Nassar victim in first appearance since Kavanaugh hearing

Fox News (Politics) - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 15:34
For her first public appearance since she accused Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexual misconduct, Christine Blasey Ford presented an award to the first woman who publicly accused former gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar of sexual assault.

Prosecutors cut deal with Enquirer parent company over hush $$ to model claiming Trump affair

Fox News (Politics) - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 15:18
Federal prosecutors announced Wednesday they will not pursue charges against the parent company of the National Enquirer for spending $150,000 during the 2016 election to buy, then conceal, ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal’s story claiming a past affair with Donald Trump.

Mueller probe twists revive Dem talk of possible Trump impeachment, future prosecution

Fox News (Politics) - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 15:13
Developments in the Robert Mueller probe – which hit a milestone Wednesday with the sentencing of former Trump fixer Michael Cohen – have congressional Democrats openly revisiting the possibility of impeachment or even future prosecution of the president.

If You Thought Scrooge Was Bad, Consider the Victorian Home

Cato Recent Op Eds - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 15:02

Chelsea Follett

We owe many popular Christmas traditions to Victorian England, from carols and decorated trees to gift-giving. These cheerful traditions stand in stark contrast with our recognition of the nightmarish working conditions at the time. In Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, for example, the miserly businessman Ebenezer Scrooge exemplifies the alleged spirit of the Victorian age: heartlessness, he maintains, is good for business.

Underneath the veneer of destitution and exploitation of the era, however, things were changing for the better. The unlikely and seldom acknowledged benefactor of the poor in 19th century Britain was the factory.

When asked to picture a scene of horrifying working conditions during the Victorian era, most people conjure up the image of a 19th century factory. Yet the life of a housemaid was, at that time, far bleaker than that of most “factory girls.” That is one of many surprising insights that can be found in Judith Flanders’ fascinating book, Inside the Victorian Home: factories helped improve working conditions, especially for women.

Why, for young women especially, factory work was preferable to domestic labor in Dickensian times.

In 1851, one in three women between the ages of 15 and 24 in London worked as a domestic servant. Their work was often excruciating, and it is no wonder that many of them rushed at the opportunity to join factories and leave domestic service.

First, consider how health conditions differed for factory and domestic workers. An average housemaid “had less fresh air than a factory worker,” according to Flanders. The kitchens and sculleries of well-to-do Victorian homes, where the servants spent much of their time, were particularly unhygienic. Rats were tolerated, as servants focused their efforts on the more numerous threat: bugs. The typical “kitchen floor at night palpitate[d] with a living carpet” of cockroaches, and the typical kitchen ceiling was crawling with beetles. When the author Beatrix Potter visited her grandparents’ home in the summer of 1886, her servants “had to sit on the kitchen table [while working], as the floor heaved with cockroaches.”

As if the health hazards weren’t bad enough, consider the exhausting working hours. A typical housemaid “did at least twelve hours of heavy physical labor every day, which was two hours more than a factory worker (four hours more on Saturdays).” Also, unlike most factory workers, house servants rarely had Sundays off. A typical servant’s workday began at six o’clock in the morning at the latest, no later than five-thirty in the summer, and didn’t end until ten at night — at the earliest. Working from five in the morning until midnight was not unheard of. Servants faced an almost impossible-to-complete list of daily tasks that left practically no time to eat, rest, or clean their own quarters, let alone engage in leisure activities.

A “maid-of-all-work” or “general servant” might begin the day by drawing the home’s curtains and opening the shutters, cleaning the household’s grate, fire irons and fender, and then lighting the hearth fire. She might then dust the furniture and strew used tea leaves over the carpets to collect dust, then sweep them up again. She might sweep the hall, front steps and entrance, shaking out the rugs, and scrubbing and washing the floor — which was a laborious process before the invention of modern cleaning products. She would empty the fireplaces of cinders, ending up covered in soot. And that was just the early morning work! A moment’s idleness was not tolerated. While cruel factory foremen may loom large in the public imagination, physical punishment of servants was common.

But contra Scrooge, cruelty was often bad business — and certainly bad for employee retention. As factory work became more widespread, it improved working conditions for house servants too, as employers competed for women’s labor. Employers were “forced to slowly improve servants’ working conditions” or risk losing all their servants to the factories. In 1872, one Victorian complained “that it was now necessary… to allow their maids to go to bed at ten o’clock every night, and to give them an afternoon out every other Sunday, or no servant would stay.”

Today as well, in industrializing countries, the same story of improving working conditions is repeating. Social economist Naila Kabeer of the London School of Economics has found that for women in Bangladesh, “factory work [has] offered higher returns, better working conditions and greater dignity than they had obtained from personalized, isolated and menial forms of labor previously available to them” such as domestic service.

A Christmas Carol ends with a newly reformed Scrooge raising an employee’s salary as an act of kindness. Historically, the higher salaries and improved conditions of Victorian workers were largely driven by industrialization. Those who imagine that poor working conditions originated with the Industrial Revolution should consider the difficulties faced by many house servants. While 19th century factory work was harsh compared to the post-industrial prosperity enjoyed by many today, factories ultimately helped to improve working conditions for Victorian women — and continue to do so for many women today.

Chelsea Follett works at the Cato Institute as a Researcher and Managing Editor of HumanProgress.org.

Did Missionary Die from Arrogance or from Altruism?

TownHall Latest columns - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 14:18
Since last months killing of 26-year-old missionary, John Allen Chau, a lot of ink has been spilled.

Government Indicts Ham Sandwich: Michael Cohen Pleads Guilty

TownHall Latest columns - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 14:08
This is how they lure you into arguing about something that doesn't matter.

Clinton, Kerry filmed dancing to Bollywood hits at lavish India wedding

Fox News (Politics) - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 13:51
Fellow former secretaries of state Hillary Clinton and John Kerry were filmed dancing to Bollywood hits during the lavish and star-studded wedding in India hosted this week by the country’s richest family.

CIA's Haspel briefs House leaders on Khashoggi killing as Senate prepares to vote on Saudi rebuke

Fox News (Politics) - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 13:41
CIA Director Gina Haspel briefed House leaders on Wednesday about the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey, as the Senate prepares for a possible vote on two measures that would admonish Saudi Arabia for its role in the slaying.

ObamaCare enrollment drops amid Trump attacks – but future of program unclear

Fox News (Politics) - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 12:43
President Trump has said he “essentially” ended Obamacare with the end of the individual. Experts said the preliminary numbers do show a drop in enrollment but disagree about whether the president’s actions are directly responsible.

Michael Cohen's case, from standing by Trump to implicating him in plea deal: A timeline

Fox News (Politics) - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 12:19
Prior to taking a plea deal regarding campaign finance violations as well as bank and tax fraud, Michael Cohen was a trusted member of the Trump Organization and personal attorney and “fixer” to the president.

Georgia's Stacey Abrams plans to run for office again: 'Stay tuned'

Fox News (Politics) - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 12:08
Stacey Abrams, the Democrat who unsuccessfully ran for governor of Georgia this year, says she plans to run for office again in the future. 

Michael Cohen, former Trump attorney, gets 3 years in prison for tax fraud, campaign finance violations, lying

Fox News (Politics) - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 12:07
Michael Cohen, the president’s former fixer who once famously claimed he was willing to "take a bullet" for Donald Trump before later turning against his boss, was sentenced to three years in prison Wednesday by a federal judge in New York after pleading guilty to numerous crimes while cooperating with prosecutors.

Julian Castro, former Obama official, forms 2020 presidential exploratory committee

Fox News (Politics) - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 11:29
Julian Castro, former President Barack Obama’s housing chief, has launched a 2020 presidential exploratory committee.

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