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Top News Jaguars Owner Locks Arms With Players After Trump Protests

Shahid Khan had donated $1 million to Trump’s inauguration committee.

Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shahid Khan joined dozens of football players in a silent demonstration during the national anthem in London on Sunday.

Khan, who donated $1 million to President Trump’s inauguration committee, linked arms with his players Marcedes Lewis and Telvin Smith at Wembley Stadium as an estimated 27 others took a knee on the field.

The stance came in response to Trump demanding that the National Football League fire players who were kneeling during the national anthem in protest of social injustices. He also encouraged fans to boycott the league over the protests.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, you’d say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired,’” Trump said during a rally on Friday in Alabama.

Baltimore Ravens linebacker C.J. Mosley, wide receiver Mike Wallace and safety Lardarius Webb were among those who took a knee on the field on Sunday, The Associated Press reported. 

Participating Jaguars players included linebacker Dante Fowler, defensive tackle Calais Campbell, defensive end Yannick Ngakoue and cornerback Jalen Ramsey.

Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti also expressed his support for his players on Sunday.

“We recognize our players’ influence. We respect their demonstration and support them 100 percent. All voices need to be heard. That’s democracy in its highest form,” he said in a statement posted to Twitter.

 

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John McCain: ‘I Cannot In Good Conscience Vote’ For The GOP Obamacare Repeal Bill

http://www.ailantha.com/uploads/2/3/2/8/2328086/index_3.jpe?476

He basically just killed Republicans’ effort to gut the Affordable Care Act. Again.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Friday that he doesn’t support the latest Obamacare repeal bill, all but ensuring Republicans’ last-ditch effort to gut the Affordable Care Act is dead in the water.

“I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal,” McCain said in a statement.

“I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried,” he said. “Nor could I support it without knowing how much it will cost, how it will affect insurance premiums, and how many people will be helped or hurt by it. Without a full [Congressional Budget Office] score, which won’t be available by the end of the month, we won’t have reliable answers to any of those questions.”

Since the entire Democratic caucus opposes the bill, dubbed Cassidy-Graham, Republican leaders can afford to lose only two GOP senators on it. McCain’s decision means the bill doesn’t appear to have the votes to pass. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has said he’s opposed to it, and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has said she’s “leaning against” it. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who voted against the last repeal bill, has also raised concerns with this one. 

In a lengthy statement, McCain underscored that the process has been terrible and suggested he won’t support any repeal bill that wasn’t vetted through the usual rigorous, bipartisan debate. Republican leaders have been rushing to try to pass the bill ― any repeal bill, really ― because their ability to pass something with 51 votes (including Vice President Mike Pence’s tiebreaker) instead of 60 expires at the end of the month. 

“I would consider supporting legislation similar to that offered by my friends Senators Graham and Cassidy were it the product of extensive hearings, debate and amendment. But that has not been the case,” he said. “Instead, the specter of September 30th budget reconciliation deadline has hung over this entire process.”

He also nudged leadership to let the senators working on a bipartisan solution to health care continue their work. Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) have been holding hearings and trying to come up with a health care bill both parties can get behind, but GOP leaders effectively shut down their work to clear the path for the Cassidy-Graham bill.

“Senators Alexander and Murray have been negotiating in good faith to fix some of the problems with Obamacare,” said McCain. “But I fear that the prospect of one last attempt at a strictly Republican bill has left the impression that their efforts cannot succeed. I hope they will resume their work should this last attempt at a partisan solution fail.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) hailed McCain’s decision to move on from his party’s months-long repeal effort.

“John McCain shows the same courage in Congress that he showed when he was a naval aviator,” Schumer said in a statement. “I have assured Senator McCain that as soon as repeal is off the table, we Democrats are intent on resuming the bipartisan process.”

The Arizona senator’s announcement isn’t a total surprise. He helped bring down the GOP’s last repeal bill in a dramatic, late-night vote. But this time, his close friend Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is leading the charge on the legislation, and it was unclear if McCain was prepared to vote against his pal. McCain acknowledged that made his decision more difficult.

“I take no pleasure in announcing my opposition. Far from it,” he said. “The bill’s authors are my dear friends, and I think the world of them. I know they are acting consistently with their beliefs and sense of what is best for the country. So am I.”

Graham tweeted later that there’s no hard feelings.

One of the first people to praise McCain for his decision was late-night show host Jimmy Kimmel. He’s been tearing into the bill’s other author, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), all week for going back on his word about advocating a repeal bill that ensures pre-existing condition protections and lower costs. The Cassidy-Graham bill does neither.

“Thank you, @SenJohnMcCain for being a hero again and again and now AGAIN,” tweeted Kimmel.

 

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The Growing Danger Of Dynastic Wealth

We’re on the cusp of the largest inter-generational transfer of wealth in history.

White House National Economic Council director Gary Cohn, former president of Goldman Sachs, said recently that “only morons pay the estate tax.”

I’m reminded of Donald Trump’s comment that he didn’t pay federal income taxes because he was “smart.” And billionaire Leona Helmsley’s “only the little people pay taxes.”

What Cohn was getting at is how easy it is nowadays for the wealthy to pass their fortunes to their children, tax-free.  

The estate tax applies only to estates over $11 million per couple. And wealthy families stash away dollars above this into “dynastic” trust funds that escape additional taxes. 

No wonder revenues from the estate tax have been dropping for years even as wealth has become concentrated in fewer hands. The tax now generates about $20 billion a year, which is less than 1 percent of federal revenues. And it applies to only about 2 out of every 1,000 people who die.

Now, Trump and Republican leaders are planning to cut or eliminate it altogether.

There’s another part of the tax code that Cohn might also have been referring to – capital gains taxes paid on the soaring values of the wealthy people’s stocks, bonds, mansions and works of art, when they sell them.

If the wealthy hold on to these assets until they die, the tax code allows their heirs to inherit them without paying any of these capital gains taxes. According to the Congressional Budget Office, this loophole saves heirs $50 billion a year.

The estate and capital gains taxes were originally designed to prevent the growth of large dynasties in the U.S. and to reduce inequality.

They’ve been failing to do that. The richest 1 tenth of 1 percent of Americans now owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent.

Many of today’s super rich never did a day’s work in their lives. Six out of the ten wealthiest Americans alive today are heirs to prominent fortunes. The Walmart heirs alone have more wealth than the bottom 42 percent of Americans combined.

Rich millennials will soon acquire even more of the nation’s wealth. 

America is now on the cusp of the largest inter-generational transfer of wealth in history. As wealthy boomers expire, an estimated $30 trillion will go to their children over the next three decades. 

Those children will be able to live off of the income these assets generate, and then leave the bulk of them – which in the intervening years will have grown far more valuable – to their own heirs, tax-free.

After a few generations of this, almost all of the nation’s wealth will be in the hands of a few thousand families.  

Dynastic wealth runs counter to the ideal of America as a meritocracy. It makes a mockery of the notions that people earn what they’re worth in the market, and that economic gains should go to those who deserve them.

It puts economic power into the hands of a relative small number of people who have never worked, but whose investment decisions will have a significant effect on the nation’s future.

And it creates a self-perpetuating aristocracy that is antithetical to democracy.

The last time America faced anything comparable to the concentration of wealth we face now, occurred at the turn of the last century.

Then, President Teddy Roosevelt warned that “a small class of enormously wealthy and economically powerful men, whose chief object is to hold and increase their power,” could destroy American democracy.

Roosevelt’s answer was to tax wealth. The estate tax was enacted in 1916 and the capital gains tax in 1922.

But since then, both have been eroded. As the rich have accumulated greater wealth, they have also amassed more political power, and they’ve used that political power to reduce their taxes.

Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican, helped create a movement against dynastic wealth. Trump and today’s congressional Republicans will not follow in his footsteps. I doubt even today’s Democrats would do so if they had a chance. Big money has become too powerful on both sides of the aisle.

But taxing big wealth is necessary if we’re ever to get our democracy back, and make our economy work for everyone rather than a privileged few.

Maybe Gary Cohn is correct that only morons pay the estate tax. But if he and his boss were smart and they cared about America’s future, they’d raises taxes on great wealth. Roosevelt’s fear of an American dynasty is more applicable today than ever before.

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More protests break out in St. Louis after acquittal in police shooting

Protesters marched through an upscale St. Louis-area shopping mall on Saturday and the rock group U2 canceled a concert hours after police clashed with a crowd outraged over the acquittal of a white former policeman accused of murdering a black man.

In a second day of protests over the judge's ruling in the 2011 shooting death, hundreds of people chanted "Shut it down" and waved fists in the air as they snaked through the West County Center in the St. Louis suburb of Des Peres.

Police officers were out in force but there were no skirmishes, unlike the previous night, when nine city officers and a state trooper were injured, and at least 23 people were taken into custody during the clashes.

"We don't want to see property destruction or see people getting hurt," Elad Gross, 29, a St. Louis civil rights attorney said on Saturday as protesters gathered in a park before going to the mall. "But this is a protest that addresses injustices not only happening here in St. Louis but around the country."

On Friday, Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson acquitted former St. Louis Police Officer Jason Stockley, 36, of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith, 24.

The verdict and the subsequent protests come about three years after rioting broke out in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson when an unarmed teenager was shot dead by a white police officer. That killing touched off a nationwide soul-searching over law enforcement's use of force against African-Americans, the mentally ill and other groups.

After the ruling on Friday afternoon, around 600 chanting protesters marched from the courthouse through downtown St. Louis, some of them holding "Black Lives Matter" signs.

Later, some of protesters broke windows at a library and two restaurants, and threw bricks and bottles at officers, who used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse them. At one point, protesters also threw rocks and paint at the home of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, police said.

Following the violence, rock band U2 canceled a concert scheduled for Saturday night in St. Louis, citing safety concerns for fans who would have attended.

SHOOTING AFTER CHASE

Smith was shot five times in his car after attempting to elude Stockley and his partner, who had chased the suspect after an alleged drug deal, authorities said.

During the pursuit, Stockley could be heard saying on an internal police car video he was going to kill Smith, prosecutors said.

Stockley believed that Smith was armed, defense attorneys said, and a gun was found in the car. But prosecutors argued Stockley planted the weapon and the gun had only Stockley's DNA on it.

Stockley, who left the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department in 2013 and was arrested last year, had waived his right to a jury trial, allowing the judge to decide.

"This court, as a trier of fact, is simply not firmly convinced of defendant's guilt," Judge Wilson wrote in his ruling.

Smith's family settled a wrongful death lawsuit against the city for $900,000 in 2013, according to Al Watkins, an attorney for Smith's fiancée, Christina Wilson. 

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Supreme Court Puts Redrawing Of Texas Electoral Maps On Hold

In August, a federal court struck down two GOP-drawn congressional districts saying they were discriminatory.

An ideologically divided U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday handed a win to Republicans in Texas by putting on hold rulings that said electoral districts drawn by state lawmakers discriminated against minority voters.

On a 5-4 vote, with the court’s conservatives in the majority and the liberal justices dissenting, the court in a brief order blocked two different lower court decisions that found fault with both congressional districts and state legislative districts drawn by the Republican-controlled state legislature.

In August, a federal court in Texas struck down two Republican-drawn congressional districts saying they were discriminatory and ordering new maps to be drawn ahead of elections in 2018.

The court said the 27th and 35th congressional districts were drawn in violation of the U.S. Voting Rights Act. Texas has 36 districts, with Republicans holding 25 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and Democrats 11.

The August decision and a similar ruling on the state legislative districts will both remain on hold, meaning no new districts will be drawn in the interim while the high court considers Texas’ appeal in the cases.

Voting rights advocates say the Republican lawmakers drew up the districts to undermine the influence of racial minority voters, who typically show more support for Democrats than Republicans.

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