Sanders Wins Sixth Straight State With Wisconsin Victory While Trump Shows He Can’t Close the Deal

Sanders’ and Cruz’s victories set up a big New York showdown.

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Wisconsin voters said no way to the Democratic and Republican parties’ presidential frontrunners Tuesday, giving big wins to Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz and injecting frustration and uncertainty into the campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.  

For Sanders, it was his sixth straight victory since March 22’s problem-plagued Arizona primary, where Clinton was deemed the winner but voters faced so many impediments that the Justice Department is investigating. His victory in Wisconsin, beating Clinton 56.4 percent to 43.4 percent with 97 percent of precincts reporting, comes after winning Washington, Hawaii, Alaska, Utah and Idaho.

“Moments ago the news networks called another state for our political revolution, and it’s a big one: Wisconsin,” Sanders wrote in an e-mail to supporters, with less than one-quarter of the votes tallied. “The corporate media and political establishment keep counting us out, but we keep winning states and doing so by large margins. If we can keep this up, we’re going to shock them all and win this nomination.”

A little later, he told supporters in Wyoming, which will caucus on Saturday, “We will win in November if there is a large voter turnout. This campaign is giving energy and enthusiasm to millions of Ameicans… I think the people of this country are ready for a political revolution, and if you ignore what you hear in the corporate media, the facts are pretty clear: we have a path to victory and to the White House.”   

Earlier Tuesday, Hillary Clinton’s campaign was telling supporters that Sanders was expected to win and started attacking him on several fronts, with a spokeswoman saying his visit with the New York Daily News editorial board this week showed he had no idea how to accomplish his lofty goals. Campaign manager Robby Mook said the Sanders campaign knew it was losing where it counted—accumulating delegates—and was starting to sound like Trump, posturing the delegate math doesn’t matter.

“It seems the Sanders campaign is finally seeing the writing on the wall: Hillary has won more votes AND more pledged delegates in this election—her lead in both is nearly insurmountable,” Mook said in an e-mail blast. “So this morning, Bernie’s campaign manager claimed the convention could be an ‘open convention,’ and declared they’re going to try and flip delegates’ votes, overturning the will of the voters.”

As the 2016 nominating season lurches from state to state, you can expect hyperbole from all sides. Sanders obviously has been gaining momentum. But number-crunchers like Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight.com who are postulating pathways to the nomination are saying Sanders will not beat Clinton unless he wins at least 57 percent of the delegates in the remaining contests.

It appears Sanders hovered a sliver under that threshold Tuesday, winning 56.4 percent of the vote based on 97 percent of precincts  reporting, and showing deeper and wider appeal than many Clinton backers care to acknowledge, such as almost tying her in Milwaukee, a city with a large non-white population, and continuing to win among young voters in university towns like Madison.

The next Democratic state to vote is Wyoming, which will caucus this Saturday, April 9, a format where Sanders more often than not has beaten Clinton. But then the race jumps to a major new orbit, with New York holding its delegate-rich primary on April 19. Two-hundred and ninety-one delegates are at stake, compared to 72 in Wisconsin and 18 in Wyoming. A week later, more mid-Atlantic states vote, including Pennsylvania with 210 delegates, Maryland with 118 and Connecticut with 70.

But all eyes will be on New York, which has become a must-win state for Clinton. If she loses the state where she was a U.S. senator and now calls home, it will be a devastating symbolic blow to her campaign by underscoring her weakness as a national candidate.

After Tuesday’s vote, the New York Times estimated that Clinton had 1,271 pledged delegates, compared to 1,024 for Sanders, a difference of 247 delegates. That does not include the party’s so-called superdelegates, which accounts for one-sixth of all the delegates and are its top officeholders and state party officials across the country.

Republican Results

On the GOP side, Ted Cruz won a decisive victory, gathering 50 percent of the vote compared to 33 percent for Donald Trump and 15 percent for John Kasich. Trump was not favored to win Wisconsin, where he was viciously attacked by the state’s right-wing establishment, from Gov. Scott Walker who dropped out of the presidential race months ago and backed Cruz, to many AM talk radio hosts, to various super PACs fueled by top mainstream donors.

Trump did not speak Tuesday, but in a written statement he attacked Republican Party bosses and the anti-Trump super PACs, and called Cruz “worse than a puppet” for being used to steal the nomination from him. While Trump is leading on the GOP side with delegates, the presence of Cruz and Kasich is increasingly raising the prospect that he won’t cross the nominating threshold of 1,237 delegates and the party will have a contested national nominating convention—the first since 1948.

Trump may be blaming the GOP establishment and his competition for an increasingly frustrating campaign, but according to Wisconsin exit poll results broadcast on CNN, an astounding 38 percent of Republicans said they were worried about a Trump presidency. They also noted how exit polls said the Clinton campaign has still not managed to excite growing numbers of Democratic voters. But if these presumed frontrunners win their party’s nomination, or Sanders manages to take it, fear of Trump may provoke many Americans to vote Democratic.

Steven Rosenfeld covers national political issues for AlterNet, including America’s retirement crisis, democracy and voting rights, and campaigns and elections. He is the author of “Count My Vote: A Citizen’s Guide to Voting” (AlterNet Books, 2008).

Sanders foresaw #PanamaPapers fraud while Clinton backed 2011 trade deal

“Panama is a world leader when it comes to allowing wealthy Americans and large corporations to evade US taxes,” Bernie Sanders told Congress in 2011. Lauren McCauley from Common Dreams reports.

WHO COULD have predicted that the global tax evasion by the world’s ultra-rich, made public this week with the release of the Panama Papers, was ushered in with the help of a free trade agreement?

Turns out, Sen. Bernie Sanders – who in the Wisconsin primary today (Australian time) continued his momentum building run of victories against Democrat presidential opponent Hillary Clinton – did.

In fiery speech before the U.S. Senate in 2011, Bernie Sanders declared his “strong opposition” to the “unfettered free trade agreements” with Korea, Columbia, and Panama — agreements that were being pushed for by both President Barack Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Sanders’ current rival for the Democratic nomination.

Sanders stated:

Panama is a world leader when it comes to allowing wealthy Americans and large corporations to evade U.S. taxes by stashing their cash in off-shore tax havens. And, the Panama Free Trade Agreement would make this bad situation much worse.

Watch Sanders’ entire speech below:

Sanders continued:

Each and every year, the wealthy and large corporations evade $100 billion in U.S. taxes through abusive and illegal offshore tax havens in Panama and other countries.

According to Citizens for Tax Justice, a “tax haven . . . has one of three characteristics: It has no income tax or a very low-rate income tax; it has bank secrecy laws; and it has a history of non-cooperation with other countries on exchanging information about tax matters. Panama has all three of those. … They’re probably the worst.”

Mr President, the trade agreement with Panama would effectively bar the U.S. from cracking down on illegal and abusive offshore tax havens in Panama. In fact, combating tax haven abuse in Panama would be a violation of this free trade agreement, exposing the U.S. to fines from international authorities.

In 2008, the Government Accountability Office said that 17 of the 100 largest American companies were operating a total of 42 subsidiaries in Panama. This free trade agreement would make it easier for the wealthy and large corporations to avoid paying U.S. taxes and it must be defeated. At a time when we have a record-breaking $14.7 trillion national debt and an unsustainable federal deficit, the last thing that we should be doing is making it easier for the wealthiest people and most profitable corporations in this country to avoid paying their fair share in taxes by setting-up offshore tax havens in Panama.

Sanders was in the minority with that view and shortly thereafter the Panama-U.S. Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA) was passed and signed into law, a move that was lauded by Secretary Clinton as an example of the Obama Administration’s commitment to

“… deepen our economic engagement throughout the world.”

What’s more, as International Business Times senior editor David Sirota and others have pointed out, the Obama administration even included a loophole in the deal ‘that allows Panama to sidestep new tax transparency provisions’ included in the trade pact.

Though the world was stunned by the leak of 11.5 million documents from the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, which detailed how government and corporate officials around the world erected shell companies to stash billions of dollars in to avoid tax liability, much of those activities were not necessarily illegal — thanks to agreements such as the Panama TPA.

As Vox’s Matthew Yglesias wrote Sunday: 

Tax avoidance is an inevitable feature of any tax system, but the reason this particular form of avoidance grows and grows without bounds is that powerful politicians in powerful countries have chosen to let it happen. As the global economy has become more and more deeply integrated, powerful countries have created economic ‘rules of the road’ that foreign countries and multinational corporations must follow in order to gain lucrative market access.

Indeed, reclaiming an economy that has been “rigged” for the one per cent is the hallmark of Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, and it is a theme that has galvanized voters and fueled primary upsets across the United States.

On Monday, 22,000 people demonstrated outside the Parliament building in Reykjavik, Iceland calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, who is just one of the world leaders implicated in the leak. Observers speculate that is just the beginning of the popular backlash to the revelations.

Though there has been little reporting on what Americans have been exposed in the Mossack Fonseca data dump, there are already murmurs that the Panama Papers can provide the necessary boost for Sanders to overtake Clinton.

Columnist Matthew Turner wrote at the Independent on Tuesday:

All of the presidential candidates will be questioned about the scandal. And nobody is going to be under more pressure than Hillary Clinton. For some Americans, she is the embodiment of a ‘global elite,’ while Bernie Sanders is its antithesis.

Turner continues:

But this more than a battle of candidates, it is a battle of ideas. Globalization, heralded by the likes of Hillary Clinton, has enabled the richest in society to exploit the system while ordinary working people pick up the tab. This has been going on for decades; as a political family, the Clintons have done nothing about it. Hillary continues to describe her opponent’s policy platform as ‘pie in the sky’, yet corporations paying their fair share of taxes could easily fund many of Sanders’ proposals.  The longer this scandal this kept alive the more beneficial will be for Sanders. And if any more skeletons in the Clinton closet see the light, it will parachute Bernie Sanders into the White House.

Sanders has not yet released a statement on the Panama Papers, but in an interview on Monday he sharpened his attack on “greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street,” telling the New York Daily News:

A rigged economy is when you have corporations making billions of dollars a year in taxes, billions of dollars a year in profit, and not paying a nickel in taxes. A rigged economy is where you have companies able to shut down as a result of trade agreements that they have written, and move abroad and pay people pennies an hour. That is a rigged economy. A rigged economy is when, in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, the top one-tenth of 1% now owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90%.

Sanders added:

“If that’s not a rigged economy. I don’t know what a rigged economy is.”

This story was originally published by Common Dreams on 4 April 2016 under the heading ‘While Clinton Backed 2011 Trade Deal, Sanders Foresaw Panama Papers Fiasco’ and has been republished under a Creative Commons licence.

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Republican Collins urges Senate hearings on high court pick

A moderate Republican senator heaped praise on President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee on Tuesday, bucking Senate Republican leaders in calling for confirmation hearings but saying she was not optimistic enough others in her party would agree.

Susan Collins of Maine became only the second Republican senator to meet with Merrick Garland since Obama nominated the centrist appellate judge last month to fill the court’s vacancy left by the Feb. 13 death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

The hourlong meeting came at a time when Republican senators are facing mounting pressure from conservative activists to go along with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s plan to block any nominee chosen by Obama.

“The meeting left me more convinced than ever that the process should proceed. The next step, in my view, should be public hearings before the Judiciary Committee,” Collins told reporters.

Collins called Garland “well-informed, thoughtful, impressive, extraordinarily bright and with a sensitivity” toward the roles assigned under the U.S. Constitution to the government’s executive, legislative and judicial branches.

Garland met last week with Illinois Senator Mark Kirk, who called fellow Republicans “closed-minded” for refusing to consider the nomination.

McConnell and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley have shut the door on hearings or a vote to confirm Garland. They have said Obama’s successor, who will be elected on Nov. 8 and take office on Jan. 20, should fill the vacancy.

Grassley has invited Garland to a breakfast meeting to explain in person why he will not hold hearings, a Grassley spokeswoman said on Monday.

Collins said she was not optimistic she would be able to sway enough of her fellow Republicans to begin a formal confirmation process during this volatile and unpredictable presidential and congressional election year.

The court is evenly split 4-4 between conservatives and liberals following Scalia’s death, meaning his successor could influence its ideological direction for years to come.

Republican Arizona Senator Jeff Flake, set to meet next week with Garland, said if a Democrat wins the presidential election, Garland should be confirmed by the Senate “in a heartbeat” during a post-election legislative session.

Some Republicans are concerned that Hillary Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, would select a more liberal nominee than Garland.

Flake’s fellow Judiciary Committee member Lindsey Graham dismissed the idea of such a “lame-duck” session to confirm Garland.

“Absolutely not,” the South Carolina Republican said, adding, “I don’t think that’s fair to the (presidential election) winner. Let’s see what the Democrats say if Hillary Clinton wins.”

(Reporting by Richard Cowan; Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Will Dunham)

Sydney FC on verge of Asian Champions League top 16 after Pohang win

Sydney FC are on the verge of making the last 16 of the Asian Champions League for the first time in club history, with Milos Ninkovic inflicting a 1-0 defeat on South Korean side Pohang Steelers.

As they fizzle to the end of an underwhelming A-League season, having surrendered a finals spot via 11 straight winless games, the Sky Blues have been desperate to make amends in the Asian tournament.

Although the football did not reach great heights, the result lifts Graham Arnold’s side five points clear at the top of Group H, but that gap could shorten slightly depending on how the Urawa Red Diamonds fare against Guangzhou Evergrande in Japan.

Should Urawa win, Sydney will need possibly just one more point with two group games remaining against the Japanese heavyweights at home in two weeks and then struggling reigning Asian champions Evergrande away early next month.

At Allianz Stadium on Tuesday night, neither side was convincing in front of a sparse crowd.

Even with Sydney’s defence seemingly on holiday for periods, the visitors never looked like threatening.

There was not a shot on target from either team in a bland first half, more defined by physical encounters than it was quality football.

Andrew Hoole copped his second yellow card of the tournament, meaning he will be suspended for the next match.

Sydney’s best chance came in the 45th minute, when Ninkovic threaded a ball through to Carney, who spooned it over the top of the crossbar.

But whatever Arnold said to his players during the break gave them the kick they needed.

Just over five minutes into the second stanza, Brandon O’Neill took possession at the halfway mark and embarked in a clever one-two with Hoole, who flicked a pass inside to Ninkovic — undoubtedly the standout of Sydney’s five foreigners this season.

With three Pohang defenders advancing, albeit unconvincingly, the Serbian playmaker managed to thread the ball through a glimmer of space and past goalkeeper Kim Jin-young into the far corner of the net.

Late on, as the South Koreans embarked on a small attacking surge, in-form defender Matt Jurman even took a rare shot on goal with a rocket that flew straight into Kim’s face.

The shocked gloveman regained enough composure to make two fine reflex saves in injury time when Sydney substitute George Blackwood struck from point blank and O’Neill had another go with the scraps.

AAP

Why Trump’s Retraction Is Even Worse Than ‘Punishing Women’

By rejecting taking pro-life to its logical conclusion of treating women seeking abortions like criminals, Republicans are instead treating women like feeble-minded children.

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If Donald Trump’s comment about punishing women for abortions exposed the bloated belly of the Pro-Life Priesthood, his retraction exposed its sulfur-spewing rear end.

In his inimitable drumpf-ish way, Trump managed to follow conservative rhetoric to its logical conclusion. If abortion is murder and murderers deserve to be punished, then almost a third of American women should be treated like felons. When Trump said as much, Ted Cruz and likeminded Bible-quoting fetus fetishists freaked out for a very good reason: The Cruzes and the Rubios of the world don’t want Americans to think about where their talking points and policies ultimately lead. Most people, including Republicans, don’t think their daughter or sister or mother is a murderer; and they don’t really want her treated like one. Most Americans, including Christians, can tell the difference between an embryo and a child. They are capable of grasping both biological evolution and moral nuance. Punishing women does not resonate.

But to say that women are victims of abortion, implies an even uglier attitude toward females, one with implications that go far, far beyond abortion.

The Christian Right wants to thread a bent needle. They want to argue that if a woman goes to a doctor to get an abortion, the doctor is a criminal and the woman is not—even after signing informed consent paperwork, being subjected to a forced vaginal ultrasound, and returning to the clinic two or three times to get the procedure done. What does that say about us?

What They’re Really Saying

Let me put on my Trump voice and spell it out: Women are like little children or people who are mentally impaired and can’t legally be held responsible for their “decisions” or actions.

  • Women are dumb. They don’t know what they are doing.
  • Women are gullible. They are easily duped by tricksters who just want to make money off of medical procedures and pills.
  • Women are incapable of managing their own lives. Left on their own they will make bad decisions that they regret.
  • Women are weak. They need to be protected by big strong men with lots of money and political power—men like Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.

If you feel yourself bristling, Don’t you worry your pretty little head about this. Daddy knows best. Let go and let God. (Man is made in the image of God.) He will provide. A woman’s place is in the home; Barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. Come on, even the Bible says that God put men in charge, that a woman’s glory is her hair—Muhammad got that one right—and women will be saved by childbearing! No sense of humor? You’re so cute when you’re angry.

Banking on Disloyalty

Since the whole rhetorical game depends on people not thinking about what’s being implied, let me spell out another way that Trump’s retraction and the whole woman-as-victim thing stinks like a sulfur vent.

Woman-as-victim rhetoric proclaims the innocence of women seeking abortions while portraying abortion providers as predators. It denies the huge heart of compassion and moral determination that leads a person like doctor Willie Parker or clinic owner Amy Hagstrom Miller or counselor Charlotte Taft to get up in the morning and walk a gauntlet of protestors who are waving rosaries and dead baby pictures and yelling about hell, despite lies and denigration and bogus regulations and death threats and colleagues slain.

When Trump, Rubio, Cruz, Kasich and other self-described Pro-Lifers call women victims, they invite us to turn on people who have been there for us, people who recognize the depth and power of our moral agency, strength and intelligence. They invite us to turn on people who have supported us to make the best decisions we can and then live with the decisions we make. They invite us to trade in our gratitude and loyalty for a cheap get-out-of-jail-free card.

In extending this offer, they are betting on another bundle of stereotypes: women are fickle, women are faithless, women can be bought with cheap baubles.

Too Dumb to Notice the Fake?

And adding injury to insult, “Pro-Lifers” are letting women know that whether we are white or brown or “exotic,” with kinky hair or curly or straight, to them we’re all dumb blondes who won’t notice a rather important sleight of hand: the get-out-of-jail card is fake.  If our doctors and nurses are murderers we are at minimum accomplices, and so are the partners who make the abortion decision with us, and so are all of the family members and friends who provide wise counsel instead of calling the police.

So, to Trump and company, I say this: Call us murderers if you want, but you’ll have to call us all murderers. Don’t think you can divide Americans by painting women as victims. You may believe your own insipid stereotypes, but we know better. We know our own minds and hearts and dreams and goals and loves and loyalties. And they are formidable.

Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington, and the founder of Wisdom Commons. She is the author of “Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light” and “Deas and Other Imaginings.” Her articles can be found at valerietarico.com.