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Sunday, March 31, 2019
A pilot on the Ethiopian Airlines flight which crashed three weeks ago was heard saying “pitch up, pitch up” just moments before the disaster, the Wall St Journal has reported. The conversation happened when the plane was just 450ft (137m) off the ground as the aircraft begun to point downwards, according to the paper. The plane's radio reportedly died moments after the comment was captured. All 157 people on board were killed when the Boeing 737 Max crashed. The plane’s anti-stalling system, which sees its direction automatically righted if a sensor picks up the aircraft is tilting up too far, has been blamed for the disaster. The investigation is on-going and no official cause for the crash has been made public. Forensic experts work at the crash site of an Ethiopian airways operated by a Boeing 737 MAX aircraft Credit: TONY KARUMBA / AFP The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that investigators have determined that the flight-control system on an Ethiopian Airlines jet automatically activated before the aircraft plunged into the ground on March 10. The preliminary conclusion was based on information from the aircraft's data and voice recorders and indicates a link between that accident and an earlier Lion Air crash in Indonesia, the newspaper said. Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration declined to comment on the report. Also on Friday, The New York Times reported that the Ethiopian jet's data recorder yielded evidence that a sensor incorrectly triggered the anti-stall system, called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS. Once activated, the MCAS forced the plane into a dive and ultimately a crash that killed everyone on board, the newspaper said. Boeing is facing mounting pressure to roll out a software update on its best-selling plane in time for airlines to use the jets during the peak summer travel season. Kebebew Legesse, the mother of Ethiopian Airlines cabin crew Ayantu Girmay mourns at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash Credit: REUTERS/Baz Ratner Company engineers and test pilots are working to fix anti-stall technology on the Boeing 737 Max that is suspected to have played a role in two deadly crashes in the last six months. Boeing is also seeing its own expenses rise, although it would not disclose how much it is costing the company to make the software fix and also train pilots how to use it. Cowen Research analysts say a "very rough guess" is that Boeing will pay about $2 billion after insurance to fix the plane, pay crash victims' families and compensate airlines that had to cancel flights. Most Wall Street analysts are betting that the planes will be flying again in less than three months, while noting that it could take longer in countries that plan to conduct their own reviews of Boeing's upgrade instead of taking the word of the U.S. regulator, the Federal Aviation Administration.
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British MPs on Friday rejected Prime Minister Theresa May's EU divorce deal for a third time, opening the way for a long delay to Brexit -- or a chaotic "no deal" withdrawal in two weeks. The pound slipped as lawmakers defied May's plea to end the deadlock that has plunged Britain into a deep political crisis, defeating her withdrawal agreement by 344 votes to 286. The EU has set a deadline of April 12 for a decision, with two likely options: Britain leaves with no deal at all, or agrees a lengthy extension to allow time for a new approach.
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What’s in the attorney general’s summary of the Trump-Russia investigation? And will the report be made public? Full four-page letter of Barr’s summaryFollow the latest US politics news William Barr sent his summary of the Muller report to Congress on Sunday Photograph: Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images Barr is still reviewing Muller’s report William Barr: Although my review is ongoing, I believe that it is in the public interest to describe the report and to summarize the principal conclusions reached by the Special Counsel and the results of his investigation. Barr immediately makes clear that his letter will only be a summary of the top-line conclusions from Robert Mueller’s 22-month investigation. At just four pages long, the letter makes no claim to outline the full substance of the special counsel’s findings, nor does it detail the evidence Mueller has amassed or the legal reasoning behind his decision making. Instead, we have the bare bones. Mueller had handed the full report to the attorney general less than 48 hours earlier, and Barr makes clear he is still reviewing its contents. On the size of the investigation In the report, the Special Counsel noted that, in completing his investigation, he employed 19 lawyers who were assisted by a team of approximately 40 FBI agents, intelligence analysts, forensic accountants, and other professional staff. The Special Counsel issued more than 2,800 subpoenas, executed nearly 500 search warrants, obtained more than 230 orders for communication records, issued almost 50 orders authorizing use of pen registers, made 13 requests to foreign governments for evidence, and interviewed approximately 500 witnesses. Here, the sheer size of the Mueller investigation is laid bare for the first time. Although the cost of the Russia investigation has been public for some time, along with the 37 public indictments issued by Mueller, the scale of the evidence he has amassed has not been known. Barr is clearly alluding to how comprehensive the special counsel’s investigation has been. While the length of Mueller’s final report is not known, it is likely to be based on hundreds of thousands of pages of evidence. Democrats have made clear they want access to as much of the report and its underlying evidence as possible. No new indictments The report does not recommend any further indictments, nor did the Special Counsel obtain any sealed indictments yet to be made public. This is the first of Barr’s major announcements: Mueller will issue no fresh charges as the investigation wraps up. This is clearly good news for members of Donald Trump’s inner circle, including his son Donald Trump Jr, his son-in-law Jared Kushner and, indeed, for Trump himself. There had been speculation that a number of sealed indictments in the same district court handling the Mueller prosecution could relate to further indictments from the special counsel. This is now clearly not the case. However, other criminal investigations involving the president and members of his inner circle are ongoing, most notably in the southern district of New York. Barr makes no comment on the status of these proceedings. On collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia The Special Counsel’s investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election. As the report states: “[T]he investigation did not establish that members of the Trump Campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.” This is undoubtedly a pivotal conclusion of the investigation. Following almost two years of investigation Barr says that Mueller has found no evidence to prove that any member of the Trump campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 election. He quotes only a partial sentence from the report to substantiate this. Also of note here is Barr’s supplying a short definition of how Mueller defined collusion. Quoting directly from Mueller’s report in a short footnote, Barr says the special counsel counted collusion as an “agreement – tacit or express – between the Trump campaign and the Russian government on election interference”. This means that for any member of the campaign to be accused of colluding with Russia they would have had to have done so knowingly. Barr says that Mueller found two ways in which Russians interfered during 2016: a coordinated internet disinformation campaign and direct computer hacking. He provides no further details on the crimes themselves but further information on at least some of these actions has already been made public by Mueller through criminal indictments. On obstruction of justice The Special Counsel therefore did not draw a conclusion – one way or the other – as to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction. Instead, for each of the relevant actions investigated, the report sets out evidence on both sides of the question and leaves unresolved what the Special Counsel views as “difficult issues” of law and fact concerning whether the President’s actions and intent could be viewed as obstruction. The Special Counsel states that “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.” Barr briskly moves on to the last major revelation from Mueller: the special counsel was unable to decide whether Donald Trump obstructed justice during the investigation. Barr once again hangs a partial sentence quoted from the report making clear that Mueller did not completely clear Trump of obstruction. But the scant details make it impossible to understand the legal reasoning behind Mueller’s decision nor all the evidence taken into account to make it. Conclusion on obstruction of justice After reviewing the Special Counsel’s final report on these issues; consulting with Department officials, including the Office of Legal Counsel; and applying the principles of federal prosecution that guide our charging decisions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and I have concluded that the evidence developed during the Special Counsel’s investigation is not sufficient to establish that the President committed an obstruction-of-justice offense. This revelation is likely to be the most controversial, at least until more of Mueller’s report is released. It was Barr and his deputy Rod Rosenstein, both appointed to their positions by Trump himself, that decided the president should face no prosecution over obstruction of justice. Although Barr displays those he consulted with to make that decision and cites justice department guidelines governing the process, there is no escaping that the decision not to prosecute the president was made by one of his own cabinet members who has already privately described Mueller’s investigation of obstruction of justice as “fatally misconceived”. Barr explains his decision not to charge Trump with obstruction Generally speaking, to obtain and sustain an obstruction conviction, the government would need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person, acting with corrupt intent, engaged in obstructive conduct with a a sufficient nexus to a pending or contemplated proceeding. In cataloguing the President’s actions, many of which took place in public view, the report identifies no actions that, in our judgement, constitute obstructive conduct, had a nexus to a pending or contemplated proceeding, and were done with corrupt intent, each of which, under the Department’s principles of federal prosecution guiding charging decisions, would need to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt to establish an obstruction-of-justice offense. Barr provides a little elaboration on his decision not to charge Trump with obstruction. Critically, Barr makes the point that at least part of the reason Trump is not being charged is due to the lack of an underlying crime. That while there may be sound arguments for Trump obstructing justice, it was not itself a criminal act because there had been no crime in the first place. There is also a suggestion from Barr here that while many of these potentially obstructive actions took place in public – it seems likely he is partially referring to Trump’s public comments on his decision to fire FBI director James Comey – there are others the public may not yet know about. Will the public see the Mueller report? As I have previously stated, however, I am mindful of the public interest in this matter. For that reason, my goal and intent is to release as much of the Special Counsel’s report as I can consistent with applicable law, regulations, and Departmental policies. The attorney general concludes by making a commitment to making parts of Mueller’s report available to the public. In a letter to lawmakers on 29 March, Barr said a redacted version of the report would be delivered to Congress by mid-April, possibly before. Senior Democrats have indicated they will issue a subpoena for the full report if they are not satisfied with what Barr provides.
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The C2 generation of the 1960s Chevrolet Corvette has to be one of the most charismatic incarnations of America’s favorite sports car. This custom 1967 model heading to auction with Barrett-Jackson blends old and new together.
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From themes like Brexit to the Mueller report and Medicare, and places like Japan, Kosovo and Gaza, our reporters looked deep into successes, failures and cases that still have a long way to go to be figured out. Joe Mayes, Irene Garcia Perez, and Aine Quinn tell the story of businesses that are now spending millions for naught. There’s also this piece from Alan Crawford that explains how Britain’s tortured relationship with Europe just got worse.One Week Into the Mueller Report Fight, Battle Lines Are DrawnWhile Attorney General William Barr determined that the findings in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report into the 2016 election didn’t warrant an obstruction charge, there may still be plenty that the White House wants to keep secret and that Democrats want to see.
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French President Emmanuel Macron's office said on Friday the risk of Britain leaving the European Union without a deal had risen "very sharply" following parliament's rejection of Prime Minister Theresa May's withdrawal agreement for a third time. "France is well prepared (for no deal) and will accelerate its preparations for such a scenario," the Elysee said in a statement. It said it was now up to Britain to present an alternative plan in the coming days -- whether new elections, a second referendum, or a proposal for a customs union -- otherwise the country would leave the EU with no deal.
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May’s team says she’s going to keep fighting to get a deal done quickly enough to avoid a long extension that would require the U.K. to take part in European elections -- but it’s far from clear the EU will agree. April 1: Lawmakers to vote on alternatives to May’s Brexit deal. By now the U.K. has to decide if it’s holding European Parliament elections.
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Investigators probing the fatal crash of a Boeing 737 Max in Ethiopia have reached a preliminary conclusion that a suspect anti-stall system activated shortly before it nose-dived to the ground, the WSJ reported Friday citing people familiar with the matter. The findings were based on flight recorder data and represented the strongest indication yet that the system, known as MCAS, malfunctioned in both the Ethiopian Airlines crash on March 10 and the Lion Air crash in Indonesia last year, the Wall Street Journal said. US government experts have been analyzing details gathered by their Ethiopian counterparts for the past few days, the newspaper added, and the emerging consensus was relayed at a high-level briefing of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Thursday.
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Five rockets were launched from the Gaza Strip into Israel, prompting Israeli tanks to respond by firing on Hamas military posts early Sunday, hours after a massive Palestinian protest along the border between Israel and Gaza. The rocket attack and Israeli response did not cause any casualties, according to the Israeli army and witnesses in Gaza.
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In a preliminary finding, officials investigating the crash of an Ethiopian airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 believe that a flight control feature designed to prevent a stall was activated before the plane nose-dived and crashed, The Wall Street Journal reports.
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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Presenting himself as both vindicated and vindictive, a fired-up President Donald Trump turned the findings of the Russia investigation into a political weapon at a Michigan rally that was part victory lap, part 2020 campaign push.
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It seems that “13 hardened Democrats” or “angry Democrats” did not deliver a politically motivated, illegitimate hit job after all. Based on what we know so far, the special counsel’s office reported that it did not find evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. This is a fabulous vindication of the integrity of the system.No one is noticing that. Instead, the Trump team is gorging on schadenfreude, and the anti-Trump team is choking on bile.It’s fair to say that those who spent hour upon cable-TV hour lovingly anticipating that President Trump would be frog-marched from the White House in handcuffs after the delivery of this report have egg on their faces. It isn’t clear which hurts more, the disappointment about being wrong or the worry about drooping ratings.But there’s plenty of egg to go around. Team Trump spent nearly two years denouncing the Mueller investigation as a “rigged witch hunt.” By one count, the president used the term “witch hunt” more than 1,100 times. He mercilessly eviscerated his own attorney general, Jeff Sessions, for the sin of following Justice Department guidelines instead of corruptly abusing his office to shield Mr. Trump from scrutiny. At various times, the president has also suggested that the inquiry was a sinister plot of the “deep state”; a ploy by supporters of “crooked” Hillary Clinton to extract revenge (while also suggesting that the real collusion was between Democrats and the Russians); and an “illegal hoax” perpetrated by the “fake news” media. President Trump claimed that the Mueller probe was staffed by “very bad and conflicted people” and that the investigation was a “disgrace to our nation.”The battle space was thus prepared for a Mueller report that would be devastating to the president. His supporters would disbelieve anything that reflected badly on Trump because the investigation itself, along with the law-enforcement bodies tasked with carrying out their responsibilities in an impartial fashion, had been discredited.Yet, when it turned out that the investigators did not invent or plant evidence, did not default to process crimes such as lying to investigators, did not spring a perjury trap, and, above all, did not permit their own feelings or political preferences to taint the administration of justice, there has been no embarrassment from Team Trump. On a dime, they have reversed themselves completely. A totally corrupt witch hunt has become a total vindication. (It wasn’t that. Even Attorney General William Barr’s letter acknowledged that the report did not “exonerate” the president on the charge of obstruction of justice.) But even if it had been a clean bill of health, how can they trust the Mueller people? Weren’t they thoroughly corrupt? A disgrace?President Trump has a long history of impugning anyone or anything he perceives as a threat to his own interests and flattering anyone he thinks can help him. When he feared he would lose an election, he denounced the voting as “rigged.” Judge Curiel became a “Mexican” judge when Trump feared he might rule against him in the Trump University case. Gold-star parents, deceased heroic senators, Charles Krauthammer, S. E. Cupp, Jeff Bezos, and an endless list of others have joined the ranks of the slighted. On the other hand, if you repent and join the Trump fan club -- as pretty much the entire invertebrate Republican party has done -- then you are swiftly forgiven and elevated. Lindsey Graham went from “nasty” and “dumb mouthpiece” to favorite golfing buddy in a trice.This transparently solipsistic approach to the world would be of little interest if it were just a quirk of a New York businessman. But when Trump employs the tactic to undermine confidence in institutions such as the justice system, he does lasting damage.The “witch hunt” was nothing of the kind. Honorable people did the right thing. Politics did not taint a criminal investigation. But that reality is buried under an avalanche of bad faith.© 2019 Creators.com
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The failure of May’s last-ditch effort to get her deal through Parliament leaves the U.K. with the choice between crashing out of the European Union without a deal in two weeks and seeking a long extension of its departure date. The British parliament will vote Monday on various alternatives to May’s agreement. Implied volatility on two-week pound-dollar options, which cover the current April 12 deadline for the U.K.’s exit, have surged to the highest level since the immediate aftermath of the 2016 Brexit referendum amid increased anxiety about a no-deal outcome.
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Palestinians in Gaza are expected to gather in huge numbers along the barrier separating them from Israel on Saturday, testing a fragile ceasefire only days after a major flareup. The demonstrations mark the first anniversary of deadly protests on the border with Israel. Days of negotiations have raised hopes that the bloodshed seen in previous mass protests, particularly those against the transfer of the US embassy to Jerusalem last May, can be avoided.
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AG William Barr plans to release Mueller report by mid-April. 'Everyone will soon be able to read it.'
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Thousands of angry Brexit supporters gathered outside UK parliament on Friday after lawmakers rejected Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal for a third time, sounding its probable death knell and leaving Britain's withdrawal from the European Union in turmoil on the very day it was supposed to quit the bloc. Rough cut (no reporter narration)
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Final moments of Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max revealed: Pilot recorded saying 'pitch up, pitch up'
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"Everyone will soon be able to read it on their own," Barr wrote in the letter to the top Democrats and Republicans on the Senate and House Judiciary committees. On March 22, Mueller completed his 22-month probe and Barr on Sunday sent a four-page letter to Congress that outlined the main findings. Barr told lawmakers that the investigation did not establish that members of the election campaign of President Donald Trump conspired with Russia.
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HOUSTON (AP) — A 7-year-old girl from Guatemala died of a bacterial infection while detained by the U.S. Border Patrol, according to an autopsy released Friday, in a case that drew worldwide attention to the plight of migrant families at the southern U.S. border.
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“We will continue to hit the streets,” Juan Guaido, head of the National Assembly recognized as interim president by some 50 nations, told protesters Saturday in San Antonio de Los Altos. Unlike other protests since January, Guaido did not call for huge rallies in the capital of Caracas but rather urged Venezuelans to protest at key locations or in their own neighborhoods. “My food is rotting and my appliances are going haywire,¨ said Yolanda Bellorin, a retired lawyer protesting among her neighbors in Caracas’ Colinas de la California neighborhood.
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Pope Francis issued stringent child abuse legislation for Vatican City employees on Friday, as part of the Church's bid to address a wave of sex abuse allegations against priests. The legislation requires officials and employees in the Vatican City State as well the Roman Curia, the central administration of the Catholic Church, to immediately report any abuse against minors and vulnerable people or face fines or a prison sentence. Francis said in a letter released with his "motu proprio" decree that it was the duty of everyone "to generously welcome children and vulnerable persons, and to create a safe environment for them".
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From Boeing to Monsanto and beyond: this week has revealed the tip of the iceberg of regulatory neglect ‘Trump and his appointees have unambiguously signaled to corporations they can now do as they please.’ Photograph: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images Why didn’t Boeing do it right? Why isn’t Facebook protecting user passwords? Why is Phillip Morris allowed to promote vaping? Why hasn’t Wells Fargo reformed itself? Why hasn’t Monsanto (now owned by Bayer) recalled its Roundup weedkiller? Answer: corporate greed coupled with inept and corrupt regulators. These are just a few of the examples in the news these days of corporate harms inflicted on innocent people. To be sure, some began before the Trump administration. But Trump and his appointees have unambiguously signaled to corporations they can now do as they please. Boeing wanted to get its 737 Max 8 out quickly because airlines want to pack in more passengers at lower fuel costs (hence the “max”). But neither Boeing nor the airlines shelled out money to adequately train pilots on the new software made necessary by the new design. Nonetheless, Trump’s FAA certified the plane in March 2017. And after two subsequent deadly crashes, the US was slower to ground them than other countries. Last week Facebook admitted to storing hundreds of millions of Facebook users’ passwords in plain text that could be searched by more than 20,000 Facebook employees. The admission came just a year after the Cambridge Analytica scandal revealed that Facebook shared the personal data of as many as 87 million users with a political data firm. In reality, Facebook’s business model is based on giving personal data to advertisers so they can tailor their pitches precisely to potential customers. So despite repeated reassurances by Mark Zuckerberg, the firm will continue to do what it wants with personal information. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has the power to force Facebook to better guard users’ privacy. But so far Trump’s FTC has done nothing – not even to enforce a 2011 agreement in which Facebook promised to do just that. Altria (Phillip Morris) was losing ground on its sales of cigarettes, but the firm has recently found a future in vaping. Because inhaling nicotine in any form poses a health hazard, the FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb wanted to curb advertising of vaping products to teenagers. Gottlieb thought he had Altria’s agreement, but then the firm bought the vaping company Juul. Its stock has already gained 14% this year. What happened to Gottlieb? He’s out at the FDA, after barely a year on the job. Wells Fargo has publicly apologized for having deceived customers with fake bank accounts, unwarranted fees and unwanted products. Its top executives say they have eliminated the aggressive sales targets that were responsible for the fraud. But Wells Fargo employees told the New York Times recently that they’re still under heavy pressure to squeeze extra money out of customers. Some have witnessed colleagues bending or breaking internal rules to meet ambitious performance goals. What has Trump’s Consumer Financial Protection Agency done about this? Nothing. It’s been defanged. This week, a federal jury awarded $80m in damages to a California man who blamed Monsanto’s (now Bayer’s) Roundup weedkiller for his cancer, after finding that Roundup was defectively designed, that Monsanto failed to warn of the herbicide’s cancer risk, and that the company acted negligently. It was the second jury in eight months to reach the same conclusion about Roundup. Roundup contains glyphosate, a suspected carcinogen. Cases from more than 1,000 farmers and other agricultural workers stricken with non-Hodgkin lymphoma are already pending in federal and state courts. What has Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency done about glyphosate? In December 2017 its office of pesticide programs concluded that glyphosate wasn’t likely to cause cancer – although eight of the 15 experts on whom the agency relied expressed significant concerns about that conclusion, and three more expressed concerns about the data. These are just tips of a vast iceberg of regulatory neglect, frozen into place by Trump’s appointees, of which at least 187 were lobbyists before they joined the administration. This is trickle-down economics of a different sort than Trump’s corporate tax cuts. The major beneficiaries of this are the same big corporations, including their top executives and major investors. But these burdens are trickling down as unsafe products, fraudulent services, loss of privacy, even loss of life. Big money has had an inhibiting effect on regulators in several previous administrations. What’s unique under Trump is the blatancy of it all, and the shameless willingness of Trump appointees to turn a blind eye to corporate wrongdoing. Trump and his Republican enablers in Congress yell “socialism!” at proposals for better balancing private greed with the common good. Yet unless a better balance is achieved, capitalism as we know it is in deep trouble. Robert Reich, a former US secretary of labor, is professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley and the author of Saving Capitalism: For the Many, Not the Few and The Common Good. He is also a columnist for Guardian US
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