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Sorry, Howard Schultz, you’re a billionaire

(CNN)Howard Schultz, former Starbucks CEO, billionaire and possible presidential candidate, doesn’t want to be called a billionaire. He wants you to call him a “person of means.” “The moniker ‘billionaire’ now has become the catchphrase,” said Schultz, who has an estimated net worth of $3.5 billion. “I would rephrase that and say that people of means have been able to leverage their wealth and their interest in ways that are unfair. And I think that speaks to the inequality, but it also speaks to the special interests that are paid…

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Historian: The case for Howard Schultz

(CNN)In the fall of 2016 Hillary Clinton called on Americans to unite behind her and defeat Donald Trump. It did not work. Similarly, in 1972 George McGovern asked Americans to come together and defeat Richard Nixon. That did not work either. But this historical accounting misses the point. Third-party figures did not play spoiler to particular candidates; they were reflections of the weaknesses of the main-party candidates from the start. In each of these elections the presumptive favorite benefited from incumbency as a sitting president (William Howard Taft and George…

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Trump’s unhappy anniversary

(CNN)Year Two of Donald Trump’s presidency ended Sunday, and a happy anniversary it was not. The President had the Clemson Tigers over for Big Macs at the White House (“massive amounts of Fast Food (I paid) … Great guys and big eaters”) and as the midpoint of his term approached, he remained there, grousing on Twitter. Meanwhile, at week’s end, 800,000 federal employees were still without paychecks in the longest government shutdown ever. ‘Please, please, please, put your differences aside’ “Everything about this is ridiculous,” wrote Andrew Robinson, a military…

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Cracks emerging in GOP ranks over shutdown’s toll

(CNN)Something has gone wrong in the past 48 hours with Mitch McConnell’s well-oiled Senate machine. Though the GOP majority leader eventually prevailed, 11 of his Republican colleagues stood on the Senate floor this week and voted to maintain sanctions on companies tied to Russian oligarch and President Vladimir Putin ally Oleg Deripaska, despite direct requests from the White House and McConnell. McConnell is a wily, unflappable, and determined Senate leader, and Democrats who underestimate him do so at their constant political peril, which is why the nervous muttering inside the…

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Karen and Mike Pence’s astonishing moral hypocrisy

(CNN)Karen Pence, the wife of America’s vice president, Mike Pence will be teaching art at a Christian school in Virginia that bans LGBTQ children and requires employees to declare their religious beliefs. Like a real-life setting for “The Handmaid’s Tale,” Immanuel Christian School insists applicants initial a pledge to “live a personal life of moral purity.” This language is disgusting and insults millions of taxpaying American citizens, many who have served their country. That it is acceptable to the wife of the man who is a heartbeat away from the…

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More populism, growing rifts and further instability ahead in 2019

(CNN)2019 will be the year of growing rifts. But be sure of one thing: Our old, comfortable order is going to change — and not in an incremental way that we can more or less handle. Stocks plunge on US-China trade tension 2018 has revealed his foreign policy to be a sham. Ahead of his meeting with Putin over the summer, Trump declared himself “a very stable genius.” But next to the Russian President, he looked like a serial loser. He failed to hold Putin to account in the attack…

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Flynn mystery: Sometimes the quiet one has the most to say

(CNN)When Michael Flynn goes into federal court on Tuesday to be sentenced, there will be little suspense but much mystery. It is all but certain that Judge Emmet Sullivan will not sentence Flynn to prison. But weighty questions — about Flynn’s motivation for lying to the FBI and his usefulness as a cooperating witness to special counsel Robert Mueller — will hang over the proceeding. In addition to the lenient sentencing guideline, Flynn’s attorneys argue in their sentencing memo for a no-jail sentence based primarily on Flynn’s lifetime of military…

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In Taiwan, the DPP’s loss is China’s gain and a setback for the US

Hong Kong (CNN)The major defeat for Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) in Saturday’s local elections has profound consequences for regional stability and great power politics. The defeat in Kaohsiung is particularly traumatizing for many DPP supporters, as it has been a DPP stronghold for over two decades. Indeed, the main support base for the DPP traditionally lies in southern Taiwan. Due to magnitude of the defeat, President Tsai Ing-wen resigned as chairwoman of the DPP. The DPP defeat reveals widespread dissatisfaction with the ruling party, and a major cause…

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Mohammed bin Salman’s global rehabilitation is underway

First, with baby steps as he visits the United Arab Emirates, his closest allies in the Gulf region. But his ambition, as ever, is huge and impetuous. His current tour is expected to take him to the G20 summit of the world’s most powerful leaders in Buenos Aires next week. President Donald Trump will also be there. Bin Salman’s strategy isn’t just about rehabilitating himself so he can one day be King; it is also about ensuring that his ambitious Vision 2030 to modernize Saudi Arabia can be fully realized.…

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Michelle Obama reveals key difference between her husband and Trump

(CNN)You could write an encyclopedia about the ways in which Barack Obama is different from his successor, Donald Trump. On Saturday, Michelle Obama provided a more concise explanation for what distinguishes the two presidents from one another: Obama put country first; Trump puts himself first. Then she shared two key lines that summed up her husband’s guiding philosophy on why he avoided going “low” in response to his critics: “The president isn’t the president for his own ego. The president is the president for the entire country.” That, my friends,…

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‘Who are those guys?’ The artistry of William Goldman

(CNN)When we watch movies, we’re tempted to take what they say in one ear and out the other because we’re there to look more than listen. When in “Butch Cassidy,” Sundance (Robert Redford) confesses that he can’t leap into a river from a high cavern because he can’t swim, Butch (Paul Newman) laughs and says, “Are you crazy? The fall will probably kill ya!” (Of course, they jump.) And whatever else you want to say about “Butch/Sundance” (that year’s highest-grossing film despite mixed reviews), you have to believe that a…

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Melania Trump’s dangerous move

(CNN)By all accounts, Mira Ricardel has not made a lot of friends in the Trump administration. A key member of national security adviser John Bolton’s team, she was brought in in April to help him shake up the national security staff. In the past, she had butted heads with Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, and chief of staff John Kelly is reportedly not a fan, two former White House officials told the Washington Post. WH aide to exit after Melania pushed for ouster The once private dispute between the first…

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Praying for peace at 16: It will be 2 years till I’m heard at the ballot box

(CNN)What is peace? And I pray when I’m hiding in a closet during a school lockdown. The lights are shut off, and the room is silenced, and 4,000 thoughts are spinning through my head — and I’m sitting there, praying that my parents will not have to bury me. I pray for peace. But I’ve been here before and I’ve prayed. When praying didn’t work, I walked out of school. When walking out didn’t work, I spoke up. When speaking up didn’t work, I sang. When singing didn’t work, I…

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Donald Trump forfeited the moral authority of his presidency from day one

(CNN)President Donald Trump forfeited the moral authority of the presidency from his first day in office. The issue has not been that Trump doesn’t know about this important presidential role — for our commander in chief to stand as a guide during times of crisis — but rather it has never been of interest to him. For Trump, the presidency is a raw tool he has used to achieve political power, and the office is a partisan bludgeon to keep the other side on the defense. The presidency is about…

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Trump, the Saudis, and America’s disastrous ‘enemy of my enemy is my friend’ strategy

(CNN)“He’s a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch.” President Franklin Delano Roosevelt is said to have been talking about Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza. It was 1939, and you can imagine him, cigarette and martini in hand, making the case for realpolitik in a world hurtling toward world war. The alliance worked when it came to killing Hitler and his Third Reich. But then came the Yalta Conference and a too-casual carving up of the continent, which left Eastern Europe under Soviet-controlled tyranny for the next…

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