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‘The United States in decline’: Trump’s attack on democracy sets off alarm bells in new report on global freedom

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A new report from Freedom House, an independent watchdog that monitors freedom and democracy across the world, contains some disturbing information about the status of democracy in America under President Donald Trump.

The organization’s 2019 “Freedom in the World” report claims that freedom in the United States has continued to backslide under President Donald Trump and his brash challenges to democratic norms and American traditions.

In fact, the trends in America are so disturbing that Freedom House has dedicated an entire section in its press release that details “the United States in decline.”

Even though Freedom House believes that democracy in the U.S. is still “robust,” it warns that American institutions are no longer as strong as many observers once believed.

“Having observed similar patterns in other nations where democracy was ultimately overtaken by authoritarianism, Freedom House warns that the resilience of US democratic institutions in the face of such an assault cannot be taken for granted,” the organization writes.

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Among other things, Freedom House says that America’s score has been hurt over the last year by “policies and actions that improperly restricted the legal rights of asylum seekers, signs of discrimination in the acceptance of refugees for resettlement, and excessively harsh or haphazard immigration enforcement policies that resulted in the separation of children from adult family members, among other problematic outcomes.”

Read the whole report here.

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2020 Election

Democrats are on the verge of setting a ‘time bomb’ for any candidate who can defeat Trump

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If a new president takes over the White House in January 2021, he or she may quickly find that the Democratic Party that just won control of the executive branch left a loaded gun in the hands of the Republicans, who are all too eager to use it.

That should be the takeaway from reports about the budget negotiations between the House Democrats and the Trump administration. According to Bloomberg reporter Sahil Kapur, the parties are coalescing around an agreement to raise spending by $350 billion, offset that increase somewhat with about $75 billion, and extend the debt ceiling — now set to expire in the fall — to July 31, 2021.

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Trump’s USDA plans to take 3 million Americans off of food stamps

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The US Department of Agriculture will propose a rule on Tuesday that would strengthen restrictions on food stamp recipients -- cutting approximately 3.1 million Americans from the program, according to Reuters.

Currently, 43 U.S. states allow residents to automatically become eligible for food stamps through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as SNAP, if they receive benefits from another federal program known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF, according to the USDA.

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Teeth ‘time capsule’ reveals that 2 million years ago, early humans breastfed for up to 6 years

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Humans’ distant ancestor Australopithecus africanus had a unique approach to raising their young, as shown in our new research published today in Nature.

Geochemical analysis of four teeth shows they exclusively breastfed infants for about 6-9 months, before supplementing breast milk with varying amounts of solid food until they were 5-6 years old. The balance between milk and solid food in this period varied cyclically, probably in response to seasonal changes in food availability.

Read more: How we calculated the age of caves in the Cradle of Humankind -- and why it matters

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