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Wilbur Ross sees ‘genuine’ national security concern on steel

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U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on Thursday that a national security review of the U.S. steel industry will be completed “very shortly” and will seek to protect the interests of both domestic steel producers and consumers.

Ross told a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing that he believes there is “a genuine national security issue that must be considered in this case,” the second major signal in two days that the Trump administration is preparing new steel import restrictions.

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In a speech in Cincinnati on Wednesday, Trump said: “Wait until you see what I’m going to do for steel and for your steel companies. We’re going to stop the dumping, and stop all of these wonderful other countries from coming in and killing our companies and our workers. You’ll be seeing that very soon.”

The steel review under a Cold War-era trade law would result in a “thoughtful” set of recommendations for Trump to consider for action, Ross said. He has previously said he expected to complete the study by the end of June.

Ross identified three kinds of actions that could be recommended: imposing tariffs above the current, country-specific anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties on steel products; imposing quotas limiting the volume of steel imports; and a hybrid “tariff-rate quota” option that would include quotas on specific products with new tariffs for imports above those levels.

Choosing the latter option would help mitigate concerns over steel price inflation from tariffs, Ross said. Some steel users have voiced concerns that import limits would cause price increases that would make them more vulnerable to foreign competitors.

“The overall impact on inflation, were that to be the route, should be relatively modest,” Ross said. “So we’re very mindful of the need both to protect the domestic steel producers from inappropriate behavior on the part of foreign dumpers, but also to protect the steel consumers, the steel fabricators, the auto companies and everybody else who uses steel.”

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(Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Dan Grebler)


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A historian explains why Robert E. Lee wasn’t a hero — he was a traitor

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There’s a fabled moment from the Battle of Fredericksburg, a gruesome Civil War battle that extinguished several thousand lives, when the commander of a rebel army looked down upon the carnage and said, “It is well that war is so terrible, or we should grow too fond of it.” That commander, of course, was Robert Lee.

The moment is the stuff of legend. It captures Lee’s humility (he won the battle), compassion, and thoughtfulness. It casts Lee as a reluctant leader who had no choice but to serve his people, and who might have had second thoughts about doing so given the conflict’s tremendous amount of violence and bloodshed. The quote, however, is misleading. Lee was no hero. He was neither noble nor wise. Lee was a traitor who killed United States soldiers, fought for human enslavement, vastly increased the bloodshed of the Civil War, and made embarrassing tactical mistakes.

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Adam Schiff moves to implicate Pence in the Ukraine scandal as Republicans go off the rails

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In the panoply of contradictory and incoherent defenses of Donald Trump, a favorite of Republicans has been to harp on the claim that witnesses to Trump's extortion scheme against Ukraine were all "second-hand" or "third-hand." This has always been confounding, as the official summary readout of the famous phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky shows Trump clearly conditioning military aid and U.S. support on Zelensky giving a public boost to Trump's conspiracy theories about former Vice President Joe Biden and other Democratic leaders. The witnesses so far have simply affirmed what the written record demonstrates amply.

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2020 Election

Warren criticized for conciliatory remarks on post-coup Bolivia

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Top-tier 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren is under fire from progressives and Indigenous activists for her comments Monday about the recent coup in Bolivia—remarks her critics called too conciliatory to the right-wing un-elected government that seized power after President Evo Morales was forced to resign and flee the country.

"The Bolivian people deserve free and fair elections, as soon as possible," Warren tweeted Monday afternoon. "Bolivia's interim leadership must limit itself to preparing for an early, legitimate election. Bolivia's security forces must protect demonstrators, not commit violence against them."

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