Nel's New Day

June 18, 2022

Russian Invasion of Ukraine – Day 118

Russian President Vladimir Putin has finally admitted that he invaded Ukraine to expand Russian territory, a belief that the West and Ukraine have held since Putin began his brutal devastation of a foreign country at the end of February. Formerly, he falsely claimed he was preventing Ukraine’s neo-Nazi government from genocide against ethnic Russians and protecting Russian security from NATO’s encroaching expansion.

This past week he compared himself to the 18th-century Peter the Great in their desire to expand Russia. Peter took land from Sweden, Estonia, Latvia, and Finland on the Baltic Sea as well as stealing countries from Turkey that he had to return after 15 years. Putin invaded Georgia in 2008 and promoted pro-Russian factions there. In 2014, he annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine and invaded the eastern Ukrainian Donbas region. Putin claimed Peter’s invasions had only “returned” the territory to Russia, the way that Putin plans to do—by invading not only Ukraine, but also  the Baltic States, Belarus, all the former Soviet republics in Central Asia like Kazakhstan and Armenia. and parts of Poland and Romania.

Putin is also threatening attacks on countries that send more weapons to Ukraine, but the UK still plans to send Ukraine to long-range rocket artillery with a 50-mile range.

Ordinary Ukrainian citizens are fighting back in their own way, for example poisoning cherries that Russians steal, causing “mass illness” among Russian soldiers. In another example of the Ukrainian civilian resistance, a self-identified soldier in the Kherson region said on an intercepted call:

“No one is sure about the locals: who they are, what they’re doing. Maybe they are fucking with us at night, while they’re peaceful people during the day. No one can be trusted. An old woman walking around with pies might be a fucking colonel acting as an artillery spotter at night.”

Guerilla attacks there include two tractors and three large truck trailers parked outside the Russian Emergency Ministry’s headquarters “suddenly” going up in flames from an arson attack. On the eve of the city’s “Day of Russia” celebrations, a staffer for the same ministry was fatally stabbed in the back while standing in a crowd.

For the start of his goal to take over much of Europe, Putin is destroying the eastern city of Sievierdonetsk (southwest of Luhansk), just as he did in Mariupol. He demolished the third and last bridge between the city and its twin, Lysychanensk, severing Ukrainian supply lines to the west necessary for food, weapons, ammunition, and reserve troops. About 538 civilians are hiding in the Azot chemical plant. Russian’s action hurts itself because their forces cannot cross the river either. Russian has still not taken over Sievierdonetsk.

Ukrainian southern counteroffensive forces are seeing success in advancing toward Kherson using their accuracy with shelling Russian equipment and ammunition.

The Russian economy won’t return to 2021 levels for another decade because of Western sanctions, according to Herman Gref, CEO of the Russian largest lender Sberbank. He forecasts the 2022 GDP will fall 7 percent, followed by 10.3 percent the next year after growing by 4.7 percent in 2021. Gref said 56 percent of Russian exports and 51 percent of imports were tied to countries sanctioning Russia. The bank, holding one-third of Russia’s banking sector assets, left the European market after EU sanctions. About 15 percent of Russian millionaires are leaving the country this year. Russians can’t afford to pay Italy for its fine fashions, and shipments are sitting in Italy’s warehouses.

The European Central Bank will increase interest rates a quarter point for the first time in 11 years in both July and September to improve prospects for economic growth. With the problem of inflation, consumer prices rose a record high of 8.1 percent in May. The ECB are currently zero lending rate to banks and minus 0.5% on overnight deposits from banks.

The U.S. oil industry company Baker Hughes has stopped servicing all of Russia’s liquefied natural gas projects, risking any new plants and existing operations. Engineers have been recalled along with shipments of equipment to Gazprom and Novate projects. Russia’s oil and gas industry is highly dependent on foreign technology because of the country’s inability to build its own services sector, and repairs will no longer have spare parts.

President Xi Jinping assured Putin of China’s support on Russian “sovereignty and security.” China will not condemn Russia’s invasion and promised to “continue to offer mutual support (to Russia) on issues concerning core interests and major concerns such as sovereignty and security,” according to a Russian state broadcaster. Russia and China are now linked by a land bridge between Blagoveshchensk and Heihe. President Joe Biden indicated his ire at China’s declaration.

Officials in the Russian Republic of Chechnya are forcing men to join “volunteer” battalions to fight in the invasion. New soldiers report intimidation, blackmail, and threats of torture and kidnapping against their loved ones. Men are also imprisoned on fabricated criminal charges before offered release if they join the armed forces.

Putin has threatened direct strikes on the homes of Ukrainian soldiers if they don’t surrender, put down their weapons, or side with the Russians. Threats including the soldiers’ exact location are directly sent via SMS or mobile-messaging platforms such as Telegram or WhatsApp. About 3 million Ukrainians are living under Russian occupation.  

Russia’s invasion has led to a shortage of commercial drones. Since China’s DJI suspended business in Russia, 90 percent of Russia’s consumer drone market, prices for drones in the oil and gas industry as well as search and rescue operations skyrocketed by 200 percent. A drone cost went from $17,500 to $53,000. Ukraine is using 6,000 commercial drones, repurposed for military needs, on the battlefield. Russia’s commercial drones can be used only for surveillance because of their limited payload, battery, and flight range.

Further Russian crackdowns on dissemination of information about its invasion of Ukraine include the extension of a critic’s detention and charges against two others. Moscow’s chief rabbi has fled Russia to Israel after pressure on him to support Russian military operations in Ukraine.

To help the global food crisis, Ukraine established two routes through Poland and Romania to export grain and is negotiating with Baltic countries for a third route. The fourth largest exporter of grain in the world, Ukraine has been stymied by Russia’s blockage of the Black Sea ports and sea routes along with missile attacks on grain elevators and rail infrastructure. Russia wants to force migration to Europe becvause of African famine. Russian officials offered to release grain exports in exchange with lifting sanctions, but countries including the U.S. refused. Putin has falsely claimed there are “no problems with the export of grain from Ukraine” and that it can be exported in five different ways.

Putin has put himself in an impossible situation. He can keep bombing Ukraine, but he lacks the military troops to achieve a win without calling up large numbers of reservists. To do the latter will destabilize his regime because he calls his war in Ukraine a “special military operation” while potentially turning the population against him. For ten years, Putin has promised stability and relative prosperity if he’s left alone. That “peaceful” time ended in 2011 with his rigged parliamentary elections and his presidency that chipped away at Russian society’s rights and freedoms. The 2014 Ukrainian uprising made Putin feel he was losing control. He controlled protests, and his participation in the Syrian civil war seems far from Russia. 

Even the protests fomented by Alexei Navalny’s videos about top-ranking elites’ corruption didn’t disturb the illusion of stability in 2020 and 2021, but Putin shattered all illusions in February 2022 with his invasion of Ukraine. Sanctions, travel restrictions, Western boycotts, and Ukraine’s victories—all came as a complete surprise to Putin and the Russians. Mobilizing for war requires strong justifications. He can use the war as opposition to the West, but Ukrainians are considered “brothers” or “the same people.”

Putin tries to keep his people at a distance from any invasion news—no words of casualties or shortages. Shifting to war mode would turn that situation 180 degrees. Outside Russia, however, hundreds of thousands of highly educated Russians live across Europe, Central Asia, Turkey, and in the South Caucuses, some leaving the home country for economic or anti-war reasons. Their knowledge will trickle into Russia through family, friends, and social media showing life without Putin.

Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, the head of UK’s armed forces, said that Russia, now a “more diminished power,” already “strategically lost” the war in Ukraine. Putin has lost 25 percent of Russia’s land power and “50,000 people either dead or injured” for only “tiny” gains and is strengthening NATO with Finland and Sweden are “looking to join.”

Putin has lost not only the Baltic countries to NATO but also Ukraine and Moldova to the European Union. The process is not instant, but EU officials demonstrated a positive attitude about the move after four EU leaders met with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky this week.

The good news from Ukraine is that Russia released Yuliia “Taira” Paievska, the Ukrainian medic who provided two-weeks footage of her team’s efforts to save the wounded to an AP team that smuggled out of the besieged city of Mariupol through an AP team. Three months ago, she was taken captive in the city after she treated Russians and Ukrainians alike.

December 30, 2020

UK Secedes from EU with ‘Brexit’

Filed under: Foreign policy — trp2011 @ 11:54 PM
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The holiday week between Christmas and New Year’s Day continued the U.S. angst. Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is still looking for scams to stay in the Oval Office, he’s growing more and more angry spouting more and more lies, and his attempts to get the courts to rule in his favor still fail. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is still declaring people in the U.S. don’t need any money when more and more of them are dropping below the poverty line, and he’s still blocking Democratic bills.

Across the pond, however, the United Kingdom is settling its divorce with the European Union after 47 years. That separation is relevant to people in the U.S., however, because it affects world trade—and southern states occasionally threaten to secede from the Union.

The UK’s problem started a few months before the U.S. problems started with the 2016 election of DDT. The cause was the same—dissatisfied conservatives, largely white and many rural, who just wanted a change and wanted to make the nation white. Some people voted for “Brexit,” the British exit from the EU, as a joke. Others didn’t bother to vote because they figured it wouldn’t pass. While the U.S. has spent the past four years suffering agonies DDT inflicted on the nation, the UK lost world status, and political careers tanked, including two prime ministers.

In 1,317 days, the UK failed two exit deadlines through dozens of Parliament votes until a flat finish line forced by the EU at midnight, December 31, 2020, pushed the Brits into a negotiation to avoid a complete and disastrous “no-deal” break with the 27 EU country coalition. As with the minority U.S. support of DDT, only the UK minority supported Brexit In both countries, the more vocal minority disagrees that opening borders and greater global relationships strengthen countries and give a better path to peace and prosperity.

A 14-hour parliamentary process culminated in an approval vote by MPs of 521 to 73 for the agreement, and the House of Lords was unopposed. The Queen also signed an approval, putting the UK-EU agreement into British law. The deal has one more hurdle, passing the EU parliament, but the EU already removed all evidence—chairs, post office boxes, etc.—of any UK presence. 

Most people may not feel the impact of the agreement during the transition period for the next year. The EU wouldn’t negotiate new arrangements with the UK while it was still a member; the year-long transition allows for working out details. Problems still exist with lack of access to security databases, broken promises over fishing rights in UK water, and unanswered border questions for Gibraltar and Northern Ireland, both having no land access to the UK. Trade will be a problem for the UK because it has a goods deficit with EU despite a surplus in service industries such as finance.

The UK remains part of the EU’s economic institutions and security co-operation arrangements until the end of the transition period. The EU will treat the UK as a member of the single market and customs union and asked its trade partners to do the same. People from the UK can move freely among the 27 EU countries during the transition, and the UK will be subject to EU law and rulings of the European Court of Justice. Although the UK has access to EU databases such as Europol, some EU countries such as Germany cannot extradite citizens with the European Arrest Warrant to non-members.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson made his reputation by putting together an agreement. A summary of the deal. A few highlights of the 1,000+ page deal:

Fishing: The value of fish caught by the EU in UK waters will be cut by 25 percent, less than the UK wanted. At the end of five and a half years, the UK will control access to its waters and might make deeper cuts, possibly even excluding EU fishing boats. This area was the hardest to negotiate, and people in the industry aren’t satisfied

Trade: With no tariffs between the EU and UK, the UK has to meet EU standards, a positive result for labor rights activists because the EU is traditionally more worker-friendly than the UK. “Leavers” are the losers because they wanted to move EU companies to the UK with promises of fewer worker protections.

“Level playing field’: Measures commit both the UK and the EU to common standards on workers’ rights and many social and environmental regulations, an EU demand. UK doesn’t have to follow EU law but must protect fair competition.

Dispute resolution: If either UK or EU moves from current standards with a negative impact on the other side, a dispute mechanism could trigger tariffs. These can be targeted in one sector from a dispute in another. Binding arbitration involves both sides. Tariffs may be an ongoing threat.

European Court of Justice (ECJ): EU remains arbiter of European law, but the ECI doesn’t play a role in policing the agreement except in Northern Ireland which has a special status. Northern Ireland, part of the UK separated by land from both UK and EU, remains subject to EU single market and customs union rules, making ECI the highest legal authority there.

Travel: UK nationals will need a visa to stay in the EU more than 90 days in a 180-day period. They can use their health cards (EHICs) until they expire when they will be replaced a new UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC). EU pet passports will no longer be valid although people can travel with pets under a more complicated process. The International mobile roaming remains, but UK travelers could be charged for using phones in EU and vice versa. UK citizens can use their licenses to drive in EU but need a Green Card as proof for vehicle insurance.

Financial services: The UK hopes for “equivalence” decisions, but the EU needs “further clarifications.”

Data: A concern about protection rules for UK companies dealing with EU data wants easy communication as well as protection of personal data and privacy. EU agrees to four months, extendable by two more months, to exchange data, the same as current rules if the UK doesn’t change its data protection rules.

Product standards: The “mutual recognition of conformity assessment” means less intrusive checks than otherwise. Thus far, there is no agreement on conformity assessment that UK wanted. New barriers to trade, however, may require checking products twice to seek them in both UK and EU. Exporting food of animal origin may be very intrusive and costly going into EU.

Professional qualifications: UK citizens from doctors to chefs lose the ease of being licensed throughout the EU if licensed in the UK, creating greater difficulties for them to seek employment in the EU. They may need to apply in each of EU’s 27 countries.

Education: UK students can no longer participate in the Erasmus education-exchange program where they could study in any EU university.

Security: The UK loses automatic and immediate access to some EU databases used by police for criminal records, wanted persons, etc. Gone is “real time” access, and others, such as access of names of people taking flights, will be much more restrictive than currently. It keeps access to other databases such as the system which cross-checks fingerprints across the continent. The UK can sit in on Europol meetings but have no direct say in decisions. A new committee will settle disagreements over data instead of the European Court of Justice.

Current advantages of the agreement:

  • Zero tariffs and quotas on goods.
  • No hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
  • A shared commitment to protecting the environment, to fight against climate change and carbon pricing.
  • A shared commitment to protecting social and labor rights.
  • Keeping standards on tax transparency.
  • The UK’s continued participation in a number of EU programs until 2027 such as Horizon Europe, subject to a UK financial contribution.

Sasha Abramsky writes:

“Brits have, as a culmination of a nearly five-year fit of national orneriness, finally traded away the right to live and work and study in 27 other countries in exchange for a series of platitudes about ‘reclaiming sovereignty’ and ‘controlling our destiny’ and protecting from greedy continental fishermen a fishing catch that makes up a smaller percentage of the national economy than does the single department store of Harrods.”

In November, 51 percent of people thought Brexit is wrong compared with 38 percent who approve. Of the respondents to the poll, 59 percent of respondents believe Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government handled the exit badly with only 28 percent believing the process went well.

Meanwhile, back in the U.S., daily COVID-19 statistics on December 30, 2020: 234,550 new cases and 3,880 deaths.

December 1, 2020

Biden/Harris Close in on Leadership

Arizona’s and Wisconsin’s certification of their votes for President-elect Joe Biden and VP-elect Kamala Harris completes the six states where Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) fights to get a majority by overturning the legal counts. The electoral votes are still at 306 (Biden) to 232 (DDT). In Wisconsin, DDT paid $3 million a hand count in two Democratic counties so that Biden could pick up 87 votes. Biden is ahead in that state by over 20,000 votes. DDT would need to force at least three of these states to reverse the popular vote for him to have enough electoral votes. He’s also behind Biden by over six million votes. Four more steps for Biden:

  • December 8, 2020: Deadline for states to settle disputes about awarding electors.
  • December 14, 2020: Votes by the electoral college.
  • January 6, 2021: Congressional certification of electoral votes.
  • January 20, 2021. Biden’s inauguration.

Furious with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, DDT called him “hapless,” because Kemp said he would follow the law in certifying votes. When DDT asked Kemp to use “his emergency powers” to overrule his secretary of state and give DDT the electoral votes, Kemp’s spokesperson said:

“Georgia law prohibits the governor from interfering in elections. The Secretary of State, who is an elected constitutional officer, has oversight over elections that cannot be overridden by executive order.”

DDT wants Kemp to match ballot signatures with the ballots during the election recount, impossible and illegal because the two pieces are separated for privacy. He also said he was ashamed to endorse Kemp for governor in 2018. In a Fox interview, DDT claims the January 5 election for two senators will be fraudulent. A judge issued a restraining order preventing Georgia from wiping Dominion voting machines. Paperless voting machines were mysteriously wiped during a research before the 2018 election of Kemp over Stacey Abrams.

Like most of 2020, Biden just calmly proceeds, now setting up his inauguration committee. CEO Tony Allen, president of Delaware State University, will work with Executive Director Maju Varghese, COO and senior adviser of Biden’s 2020 campaign. The event of fewer than 1,600 people will require masks and social distancing within ticketed parameters. COVID-19 testing is also being considered. The committee, accepting corporate donations up to $1 million, bans funding from registered lobbyists and fossil fuels companies, executives and PACs. Individuals can donate up to $500,000. With unlimited—and sometimes illegal—donations from anyone both domestic and foreign, DDT raised $107 million. Washington, D.C. AG Karl Racine is suing the committee for misusing funds in violation of D.C. law.

Biden and Harris received their first daily briefing today, three weeks late. Ironically, Harris, as U.S. senator, had more access to classified information than Biden since he was declared president-elect.

Topping off Thanksgiving week by twisting his ankle, Biden’s moving forward with appointments for his new administration.

Economic Team:

Office of Management and Budget: Neera Tanden, CEO of Center for American Progress.

Deputy Treasury Secretary: “Adewale ‘Wally’ Adeyemo, Nigerian-born attorney and former senior international economic adviser.

Chair, Council of Economic Advisers: Cecilia Rouse. The other two members are expected to be economists Jared Berstein and Heather Boushey. Rouse is the first woman of color to chair the council.

Director, White House National Economic Council: Brian Deese, recently managing director at Blackrock, one of the world’s largest investment firms.

Communications Team (seven women):

White House Press Secretary: Jennifer Psaki, former political adviser.

Team leader: Kate Bedingfield, Biden’s campaign communications director.

Deputy Press Secretary: Karine Jean-Pierre, former top official of MoveOn and Sen. Kamala Harris’ chief of staff during the campaign.

Principal Deputy Press Secretary: Pili Tobar, formerly with immigration reform group America’s Voice.

VP-elect Kamala Harris’ communications director: Ashley Etienne.

Harris’ chief spokeswoman: Symone Sanders.

Communications Director for Jill Biden: Elizabeth Alexander, former federal prosecutor and Jill Biden’s spokeswoman when her husband was VP. 

Current White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany cried foul with the news about Biden having the first all-female communications team, tweeting DDT already has one. Her umbrage raises questions about whether Judd Deere and Brian Morgenstern, both deputy press secretaries, have had gender transitions. Morgenstern is also deputy communications director. At this time, the VP top spokesperson is Devin O’Malley. Biden appointment women for these three jobs. She classified the statement about an all-women team it as “fake news” to discredit the Washington Post. McEnany might want to focus on more serious problems in the White House than parsing “female” and “top.”

The award for GOP rational thought comes from Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-VA) who called Republicans’ refusal to recognize Biden’s win a “massive grift” that’s “just money-making for the 2024 election.” Riggleman added, “I’m so damn sick of it. I’m sick of it.” He blamed Emily Murphy’s “fear of losing your tribe” for her illegally holding up Biden’s transition. About the belief in DDT’s evidence-free claims of widespread voter fraud, Riggleman said, “Really speaks to where your intelligence level is… to believe in that type of operation.” Referring to DDT’s actions, Riggleman said, “[DDT] got so desperate to retain power that he forgot he was serving people and not himself.” Unfortunately, DDT may never had understood “he was serving people,” but it’s a grand start for the “Grand Old Party.”

Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-MI) called on DDT to stop repeating his election hoaxes “for the sake of our Nation” with hashtag #stop the stupid. Tired to his party’s disgusting political moves, Mitchell didn’t run for re-election this year, and Riggleman lost his primary to Bob Good. DDT’s denial is comparable to the 1918 strategy of Imperial Germany when it denied the country had lost World War I.

In an amazing move, Dr. Scott Atlas resigned from DDT’s coronavirus task force 51 days before Biden’s inauguration, 50 days counting the resignation from its date on December 1. Atlas’ strategy of herd immunity was for everyone to get infected by behaving normally–going to work and school with no masks and social distancing. Hypothesizing a large number of people then being infected would stop problems with COVID-19 and return the economy to the past. He ignored the massive death rate and the inability of hospitals to handle the ensuing disaster. A neuroradiologist, Atlas has no infectious-disease or public health background but was the only medical adviser meeting DDT for the past several months. DDT’s son-in-law Jared Kushner brought Atlas to DDT; Atlas’ 130 days ended this week although DDT could have extended the tenure. 

Since Atlas began his influence with DDT, the U.S. has added ten million cases and almost doubled its number of deaths to 274, 332. Today, before the U.S. begins its Thanksgiving surge, the nation had 161,568 new cases and 1,238 deaths. With no evidence, Atlas cut out real experts, advanced fringe theories, opposed testing, and argued people already are protected from COVID-19 by the common cold. Condoleezza Rice, Director of the Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, criticized Atlas but has left him there as a fellow–for now.    [visual covid cases]

Ajit Pai, the man in charge of Federal Communications Commission who led the rollback of net neutrality rules and merger of T-Mobile and Sprint, is leaving the commission on January 20, 2021. His resignation may open the opportunity for two Biden nominations because DDT withdrew his renomination of Michael O’Rielly at the end of 2020. The two departures leave FCC with a 2-1 Democratic majority unless the Senate creates a deadlock by confirming Nathan Simington, DDT’s appointee for O’Rielly’s replacement. Even with one GOP and one Democratic nomination, the FCC would have a Democratic majority to work on restoring net neutrality rules. That majority may not follow DDT’s desired crackdown on social-media companies such as Twitter and Facebook for its attempts to stop DDT’s misinformation on these platforms.  Before the election, Pai, a Verizon lawyer from 2001 to 2003, announced his plan to limit legal protections for these websites blocking or modifying content from users. In court, Pai lost his attempt to remove broadband subsidies from tribal residents and to kill environmental and historic-preservation reviews of 5G small cells. Judges also permitted states to establish net neutrality laws after he dropped rules for the nation.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and DDT may not have recognized Biden as the next president, but the European Union is delighted. Their Commission and Council have already prepared policy papers delineating ways the EU can coordinate with the new U.S. administration, especially for the pandemic and economic fallout. Another point is renewed cooperation on climate change.

Since the election, DDT’s approval rating from the conservative Gallup poll has dropped three points to 42 percent, and Biden’s approval rose six points to 55 percent. Ratings by Democrats for Biden were already in the mid-90s so the increase for him came from Republicans and independents who also dropped their ratings for DDT. In the polls, DDT stayed more stable than any other man in the Oval Office although his average approval never achieved 50 percent.  stable for his entire term, never reaching as high as 50 percent in approval.

June 9, 2019

Some World Elections Pointing to Nationalism

In talking about the rise of fascism across the world during the early 20th century, Noam Chomsky cited an article that he wrote soon after the fall of Barcelona in February 1939, ending the Spanish Republic. The year before, Nazi Germany annexed Austria and then gained Czechoslovakia at the Munich Conference. Revolution against fascist control had lost since 1936. At that time, many in the United States, including parts of the government, supported the Nazi rise before deciding that its spread might be unstoppable. The State Department and Council on Foreign Relations decided that the world be divided into Nazis controlling most of Eurasia and the U.S. controlling the Western Hemisphere, the former British Empire, and the Far East. At least until Russia drove back Nazis in 1942, the world was on the brink of being totally fascist.

The 21st century sees the spread of ultranationalists, early represented by Steve Bannon who has moved on to push his movement in Europe. The U.S. under the guidance of State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo, national security adviser John Bolton, and Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) is helping Israel, now led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, solidify the reactionary nationalist movement. Threats of right-wing ultranationalists in Latin America are led by Brazil’s election of Jair Bolsonaro.

With the U.S. media largely focused on DDT, watching the rest of the world has been difficult. Yet after the re-election of far-right Netanyahu, other huge countries have moved to right-wing anti-immigration control. After Narendra Modi’s re-election for another five years, citizenship in India will be redefined with the publication of an updated National Registry of Citizens, a 1951 census to search for migrants from the neighboring, Muslim-majority East Pakistan and now Bangladesh. Conducted only in the northeastern state of Assam, the census requires proof that people were residents of India before 3/24/71, the day before Bangladesh declared its independence, to be considered citizens. Without documentation of lineage, people are declared illegal. Yet obtaining these documents is difficult because of poor record-keeping, illiteracy, or insufficient funds for the $750 to file a legal claim. Four million people believing themselves to be Indian are missing from the Registry. Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) makes the Registry a priority and will deport all illegal immigrants.

Modi’s first five years was notable for lynchings and other violence, and 1,000 Muslims were killed in anti-Islam riots under his leadership. In his victory speech, he announced that his 2019 election marked the official death of secularism in India. He claims to support the poor, but nine people in India have the combined assets of 500 million Indian residents. Like DDT, Modi is not only highly conservative but also has deep business interests and demonstrates hostility to journalistic media while embracing social media.

India’s re-election was disturbing but not the surprise about conservatives keeping control in Australia. Preventing climate change cost liberals votes from those dependent on mining and forestry. The liberal Labor Party also proposed income tax increase on households making more than $180,000 Australian ($124,000 in the U.S.) and hikes in capital gains tax while eliminating writing off investment property losses. Like the United States, Christian conservatives exploited liberal positions on secularism, anti-abortion, and homosexuality. https://www.devex.com/news/australia-s-election-and-its-impact-on-the-pacific-views-from-the-us-94970  It’s expected that the new leader, Scott Morrison, will likely take a hard line against China, affecting its relationship with Australia. Because of Morrison’s hard-line approach toward immigration, some asylum seekers are attempting suicide.

Although he was elected Israeli prime minister in April, Benjamin Netanyahu has been unable to form a governing right-wing coalition in the parliament, and his conservative Likud party succeeded in passing a bill that dissolves parliament and calls for a new election on September 17. A prime minister-designate has never before been able to get selected by the parliament. Netanyahu stays in power until the election while facing accusations of fraud, bribery, and breach of trust charges for taking gifts and giving favors for better press coverage. He wants a coalition of right-wing, ultranationalist and religious parties to change laws to override the Supreme Court and protect him from prosecution.  A demonstration of approximately 80,000 people protested his changing the law to grant himself immunity.

Elections for European Union representatives from 28 countries resulted in a more ambiguous conclusion than either India or Australia. Both conservatives and liberals are claiming some victory. One obvious outcome is that the center, losing over 80 seats, moved to either the left or the right. Liberal Democrats are up 40, Greens 20, and Nationalists 30. Marine Le Pen, who tried to take over France, is working with nationalist parties with Italy’s Matteo Salvini to get a majority from Germany, Austria, Denmark, and Finland. Far-right reps from Poland and Sweden are avoiding Salvini because of his support for Vladimir Putin; free-marketers from Germany and Denmark disagree with Le Pen’s opposition to “uncontrolled globalization.” Country by country results.

Instead of taking over Europe, hard right parties won where they already had support and kept their minority positions in other countries. Their numbers are still too small to be spoilers or kingmakers. France helped achieve the coalition of pro-EU, pro-market liberals—the parliament’s third-largest force. Social democrats and allies still thrive in Spain and Portugal where they lead the country’s governments. DDT and Brexit may have created enough fear to keep nationalists from taking over with the biggest turnout for the vote since 1994.

Some EU election results are positive. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and his ministers before he could call an election to strengthen his party, after the scandal in which a minister offered election favors to a Russian investor. The center right Austrian People’s party won over one-third of the EU representatives; Social Democrats got 23.6 percent, and the neo-Nazi Freedom Party took 18.1 percent.

The Green Party placed second in Germany with almost 21 percent of the vote and gained in Finland, France, and Ireland, possibly because of the youth activists trying to slow climate change. The 71 seats in the EU Parliament are up almost 40 percent from the 52 Green seats five years ago.

The Scottish National party, with its position of staying in the EU, wiped out the progressive Labour Party and has three seats, half Scotland’s representatives.   

UK followed the polarization pattern in the EU elections: Conservatives moved to the Brexit party looking for a no-deal separation from the EU while Labour voters picked the Liberal Democrats. Most of the Brexit gains were in rural areas but made some progress in a few cities where Tories left for the Lib Dems. Brexit gained 28 seats with 15 more for the Lib Dems. Labour lost seven, Greens won seven (a gain of four), and Tories had only three seats.

Prime Minister Theresa May is due to leave her position on June 7 with her replacement determined in late July. With the EU elections finished, the British parliament will return to the torment of a Brexit approach.

With many other countries, except for Israel, settled in for at least a short while, the campaign for the 2020 presidential election continues with DDT ramping up his dishonest and vicious approach. His ruthless comments make the lying ads about John Kerry and Michael Dukakis look like a walk in the park. DDT came back from Japan where he tweeted negative agreements about former vice-president Joe Biden with dictator Kim Jong-Un of North Korea, and the first Democratic debate is in four weeks on June 26. For a sample of what’s ahead, check out Corey Lewandowski’s threatening strategy on the Fox network. As former GOP presidential candidate Evan McMullin, tweeted:

“This is truly a dangerous abuse of power. [AG Bill] Barr will selectively release sensitive information, as he did with Mueller’s report, to shape a favorable narrative for Trump and impede the intelligence community’s ability to collect intel on foreign threats that assist the president.”

DDT’s personal television network, Fox, will control the message for its watchers, and congressional Republicans are terrified of DDT. There will be no accountability for DDT. He has already accused a large number of people of “treason” for investigating a presidential campaign, a charge punishable by death. With DDT, anything goes.

February 10, 2017

DDT: Week Three – Part 1

Dictator Donald Trump’s (DDT) third week was rougher than the first two. His declaring moral equivalence between the United States and Russia called out condemnation from both conservatives and progressives. General Barry McCaffrey, now retired, said his statement was “the most anti-American statement ever made by the president of the United States.”

The UK’s House of Commons Speaker said that he didn’t want DDT to speak before Parliament because of its opposition to racism and sexism and support for equality and an independent judiciary. One of three people to make the decision about DDT’s speaking in Westminster Hall, John Bercow said to applause, “An address by a foreign leader to both houses of Parliament is not an automatic right. It is an earned honor.”

Dissatisfaction with the government—now entirely Republican—is the most important issue facing the nation. DDT, in his continued war against the press, tweeted, “Any negative polls are fake news,” and deputy assistant Sebastian Gorka added that the White House will use the phrase “fake media” to attack journalists “until the media understands how wrong that [anti-Trump] attitude is.” In DDT-World, all protesters are also paid; his counselor Kellyanne Conway told GOP legislative staffers that the constituents calling their bosses don’t represent “real people.”

Other DDT disasters in the past week:

Russia & Michael Flynn: Nine intelligence officers have declared that DDT’s National Security Advisor discussed lifting sanctions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak last December, and two of them said that Flynn promised that the problem would be reviewed just immediately after DDT’s inauguration. Until two days ago, Michael Flynn denied doing this, but yesterday his spokesman said that Flynn couldn’t remember but maybe he did. Flynn’s behavior can be considered an illegal interference between the President Obama’s White House and Russia as well as continuing the conclusion that Russia had interfered in the recent presidential election. VP Mike Pence, who swore that Flynn never discussed sanctions with Russia, is disturbed about finding out the truth, according to his aides. DDT, who cannot be separated from his television watching, said that he is unaware of the controversy.

Judicial Review of White House Muslim Ban: A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled to continue blocking DDT’s travel ban because it violated the Fifth Amendment’s due process access to courts. Some of the findings:

The ruling applies nationwide even if no federal court blocks it.

Two states have standing to sue on behalf of thousands of foreign students, employees and residents with legal visas.

Courts can receive classified information to determine its findings—in answer to DDT’s statement about how the courts don’t know how scary the world it.

The court cannot rely upon the government’s contention that the Executive Order no longer applies to lawful permanent residents….

“Moreover, in light of the Government’s shifting interpretations of the Executive Order, we cannot say that the current interpretation by White House counsel, even if authoritative and binding, will persist past the immediate stage of these proceedings.”

Before the decision, DDT tweeted nine times criticizing and threatening the judges if they didn’t rule in his favor. He hasn’t decided whether he will appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court. My guess is that he’ll sign more executive orders to ban Muslims, ones written again by Steve Bannon, that DDT thinks will survive a court hearing.

Lies about Terrorist Attacks: DDT accused the press of “intentionally” covering up terrorist attacks and then issued a list of 78 “underreported” global attacks since 2014 to prove the statement. The list included the San Bernardino shooting, the nightclub massacre in Orlando last summer, and the terrorist attacks in Paris, all widely reported, but skipped any terrorist acts by white supremacists and Islamophobes, including the mass killing by a white French Canadian at a Quebec mosque.

Trouble with Obamacare?: DDT suggested that he might wait until 2018 to do anything about the Affordable Care Act. Protesters are inundating town hall meetings with members of Congress who are sneaking out of meetings, calling the police for protection, locking the door so people can’t get in, or just canceling scheduled sessions. Even the representative from the reddest district in the nation is afraid to hold  town hall meetings because of protesters supporting health care. It’s just like the Tea Party from 2010 but in reverse.

Keeping the health care plan doesn’t stop DDT from hurting the people who voted for him—and others who didn’t. Proposed new rules would increase premiums for older customers 3.49 times as for the young, people applying for coverage during the year would have to prove a qualifying life change, and insurance could cut off insurance if premiums are a month late.

What Voter Fraud?: Although Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) won’t spend federal money to investigate a non-existent 3 million illegal voters in last fall’s election, DDT has assigned VP Mike Pence to head up a commission for that purpose. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by over 3 million votes.

Revised Executive Orders: DDT has been given a new version of his torture order that retreats his decision to open “black site” prisons with “coercive interrogation methods.” Thus far, DDT has not signed the new order. Even John Yoo, the George W. Bush DOJ torture official, expressed concern about the White House’s alarming conception of executive power.

Ridicule for Hotelier in the Oval Office: DDT’s obsession with his décor leads him to schedule as many events in the room as possible. Although suffering from a lack of concentration on intelligence details, DDT dwells on the new opulent golden drapes as he gives tours to visitors as he pages “through a book showing 17 window covering options,” according to The New York Times Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman.

DDT’s Ownership of Business: Despite his claims that he has nothing to do with his businesses, DDT still retains ownership and personally benefits from the government’s decisions, and his sons, who now supposedly operate the business, also participate in governmental decisions. DDT may no longer be president of the multiple companies, but he still financially profits from its activities. Documents show that the trust does not do away with other conflicts, such as his being executive producer of Celebrity Apprentice, which DDT cited in his speech last week, asking his audience to pray for the program’s ratings. A question also exists about the legality of his continued lease of the Washington hotel, owned by the federal government which prevents any elected official from benefiting from the property.

Attack on Nordstrom: After the retail chain decided not to carry Ivanka Trump’s fashion line, her father launched official tweets about how the corporation had treated her “so unfairly.” Former Obama White House ethics expert Norm Eisen called Trump’s tweet “outrageous” and offered to help Nordstrom sue the president. Two more retailers downgraded publicity on Ivanka’s “made in Asia” clothing line, eliciting a statement from Press Secretary Sean Spicer that the decision, based on the free market, was an attack on Ivanka.

Even “roll over and play dead” Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), chair of the Oversight Committee, chastised Kellyanne Conway for her blatant endorsement of Ivanka’s clothing line on Fox network. He found it “unacceptable” while ethics experts call it a definite violation of regulations banning executive branch employees from endorsing products and using their office for private gain of friends. Earlier Chaffetz had said that DDT’s attack on Nordstrom was not “a big deal” and that he was just acting like a doting father.  Thousands of people showed up at a Chaffetz town hall meeting, booing and chanting “do your job.”

Loss of Second DDT Legal Case in Two Weeks: South Carolina environmental regulators denied DDT’s request that he get state-paid pollution cleanup at his son’s company. Donald Trump, Jr. bought a company on possibly polluted land and named it Titan Atlas; when it failed, DDT bought out the debt, called the new company D B Pace, and then claimed he didn’t have to pay for the cleanup because he was a brand new owner. To qualify for state cleanup, the buyer can’t be related to the seller, and regulators stated that DDT didn’t give them enough financial information to rule in his favor. Last week, a judge ruled that DDT had to pay $6 million to members at the Trump National Jupiter Golf Course

Melania Trump’s Lawsuit against the UK Daily Mail: Four days ago, DDT’s wife announced in a defamation lawsuit that it would damage her ability to make new “licensing, branding, and endorsement” deals while she is the U.S. president’s wife. Her lawyer described this opportunity as a “once-in-a-lifetime” money making opportunity for clothing, cosmetics, fragrance, etc. She told the court she intended to pursue deals in “apparel, accessories, shoes, jewelry, cosmetics, hair care, skin care, and fragrance.” The publication retracted information from a Slovenian magazine that she had once been a paid escort. Like her husband, Melania Trump admits that she is illegally using her position to make “millions.”

In addition to selecting a “security advisor” who sides with Russia, losing lawsuits, and finding himself involved in conflicts of interest, DDT’s popularity is dropping in Europe as well as in the United States. Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s foreign minister, listed the differences of opinion between EU and DDT, including refugees, migration, climate change, the Iran deal, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She said that putting “America First” can find Europe, vital to U.S. economy and security, to be equally self-interested. Donald Tusk, EU Council president, has put DDT on a list of threats with radical Islam.

And that’s just part of DDT’s week—more tomorrow!

June 22, 2016

BRexit Vote Scheduled Tomorrow

BRexit—the vote is tomorrow. Most people in the United States aren’t aware of it, and even more may not care about it. Yet it may be the reason that the stock market is going nowhere and could guide financial markets for the world—including those in the U.S.–as they head down. I pretty much ignored the whole situation until I watched The John Oliver Show last Sunday. Because comedians such as Oliver and Samantha Bee on Full Frontal probably give more information than anyone other than Rachel Maddow on MSNBC, I started searching for more information.

BRexit is short for “Britain Exit,” the question of whether Great Britain will leave the European Union. All British eligible voters can help make this decision, and voting will be done by 2:00 PST tomorrow. Up to 80 percent of the people may vote, and the polls are too close to guess the outcome. As a Britisher, Oliver urged the people of the UK to maintain its EU relationship, but his program won’t be televised in the UK until after the vote. He’s in accord with most experts in saying that the EU can be awful but the ensuing instability would be disastrous if the UK tried to go it on its own.

Many British citizens are suffering from the same opinions as Donald Trump followers—dissatisfaction and distrust of all establishment including the political parties and the media. The “leave” people are also highly conservative, opposed to immigrants, labor, and environmental protection. They think that austerity will save them although it never has in the past. Like Trump, the pro-BRexit people reject any positions of experts—economists, scientists, military commanders, business leaders, etc. It’s the portion of the population who might think that an auto mechanic is a good choice to take out their appendix.

No other country has ever left the EU although Greece considered doing that. If this first-of-its-kind vote succeeds, Britain would spend at least two years to negotiate its departure from the remaining 27 countries which will not give Britain its current privileged access to member countries’ customers or financial markets. More years will be consumed while the UK works to find and negotiate trade deals for other export markets at a time of spreading deflation and rising protectionism throughout the globe. Adding the politics of disengaging British business regulations from those of the EU, and the process might last at least a decade.

Another problem with leaving the EU is the common fisheries policy and agriculture. “Leave” people complain about the fishing quotas set by EU to manage fish stocks and protect marine environments. Voting to leave, however, does not mean that the UK won’t have to deal with the EU. With the separation, the UK couldn’t change EU policy but would still be subject to its restrictions. The UK also receives a larger fishing area than it controls; renegotiating fishing territories gives no guarantee of a better deal for the UK.

EU membership provides some protection against unregulated global markets, and losing that will sacrifice the UK social safety nets in desperate searches for new trade and investment deals to compensate for the loss of markets on the continent. The UK is composed of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Scotland is pro-EU and may decide to issue a new vote on separating from the UK in order to join the EU. Welsh ministers have also indicated their desire to remain in the EU.

A decision to separate from the EU could be disastrous for the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, an area of bitter bloodshed since the 1920s. Ireland would still be a part of the EU, and Northern Ireland would be forced out. The resulting dividing line between the two countries could eradicate the uneasy 18-year-long peace that belonging to the EU has assisted since 1998. Customs checks that disappeared in 1993 when EU membership caused free movement of goods and services could return. Cross-border trade in manufactured products on the island was worth an estimated 3 billion euros in 2014.

At this time, Protestants in Northern Ireland want to stay with the UK, and the Catholic minority wants to join Ireland. The UK leaving the EU could end up in an armed conflict between these two factions regarding whether Ireland subsumes Northern Ireland. If both Irelands, Scotland, and Wales stay with the EU, the United Kingdom would revert to being just England–and the only part of the island that isn’t part of the European Union.

Those who want to leave the EU also support the new Deregulation Act, slipped through Parliament last year with little debate and less information to the public. According to the new law, all regulators must now “have regard to the desirability of promoting economic growth.” Any laws dealing with endangered species, speed limits, children’s health, wheelchair ramps, etc. must successfully show how they contribute to the GDP before being passed. As a result, Britain is becoming a place that launders money for drug cartels and terrorists who can keep their money there beyond police and tax inspectors. The “get-rich-quick” philosophy leads to problems that are then blamed on immigrants. Without votes, the prime minister made deals with the EU commission.

The current government has rejected science regarding insecticides, slashed renewable energy, and fights wildlife protection, but it can be worse. The EU has restricted UK policies to some extent. Without the EU, the UK would have carte blanche to destroy the environment. Leaving the EU would dismantle human rights protections, lead to a smaller labor and talent pool with tightening of borders for migrants, and lead to environmentally hazardous activities. The “Leave” backers also want to privatize and dismantle the National Health Service, leaving the country with uninsured people.

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron, right, listens as current Mayor of London Boris Johnson speaks at a mayoral election campaign rally for Britain's Conservative party candidate for Mayor of London Zac Goldsmith at a school in Ham, a suburb in south west London, Tuesday, May 3, 2016.   The Mayor of London election takes place on Thursday. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

boris johnson 2The face of the “Leave” campaign is former Mayor of London Boris Johnson (above left) who both behaves and looks like Donald Trump. If the UK leaves the EU, Johnson could become a leader in the right-of-center Conservative Party and perhaps even prime minister. Johnson even sounds like Trump, for example saying that this “part-Kenyan” had an “ancestral dislike of the British empire.” Although he’s fairly sure that leaving the EU would not cause problems, he said he would apologize publicly if Brexit caused a recession. [Above: Boris Johnson was invited to take part in a tug of war with the armed forces to launch Poppy Day.]

Clashes between the two sides in BRexit were largely verbal, but pro-EU Jo Cox of the Labor Party was shot and stabbed last Thursday. In the United States, killings with guns are an everyday matter, but this event shocked people on both sides of British politics. The tragedy was the first killing of a sitting British MP since the death of Ian Gow in 1990. The man charged with her murder said, “Death to traitors, freedom for Britain.” He had bought a manual on how to build homemade guns and explosives from the National Alliance, a U.S.-based neo-Nazi group.

Brogan Morris wrote a comparison between the upcoming elections in the US and the UK, between Johnson and Trump. He holds the media largely responsible for allowing these no-nothing hate-mongers to build their popularity. Imagine a world in which Trump is president of the most affluent country in the world and Trump 2—Boris Johnson—is prime minister of one of this nation’s closest allies.

Once again, I highly recommend watching the segment from The John Oliver Show about the negative affect of UK leaving the EU.

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