Showing posts with label USA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label USA. Show all posts

Friday, 18 August 2017

The Charlottesville incidents to which US President Donald J. Trump gives tacit support - WARNING: violent and disturbing images




The Sydney Morning Herald, 16 August 2017:

He [President Trump] argued that both sides had been guilty of violence, he noted that the white supremacists indeed had a permit to protest, but the "other group" did not. He insisted that both sides had "bad people" and "very fine people" and he drew an equivalency between George Washington, who help create the United States after the American Revolutionary War that ended in 1783, and General Robert E. Lee, who led the secessionist armies that killed more American troops than any other foe in the defence of slavery nearly a century later.

The political and media response afterwards was immediate and shocked. Again Republican leaders were forced to come out to rebuke and distance themselves from their ostensible leader. In a long Twitter statement Marco Rubio declared, "Mr President, you can't allow #WhiteSupremacists to share only part of blame. They support idea which cost nation & world so much pain."


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I suspect that the reaction to "Unite The Right Rally" marches in Charlottesville is not what Neo-Nazi, Klu Klux Klan and other hate groups were expecting

From 11 to 12 August 2017 extreme right wing groups gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia USA to participate in a two-day rally. Counter protesters also gathered over that same time period.

By the evening of 12 August two police officers and one counter protester were dead and at least twenty counter protesters were wounded.

Unite The Right march participant……

"We are stepping off the Internet in a big way. For instance last night at the Torch Log there were hundreds and hundreds of us. People realised they are not atomised individuals, they are part of a larger whole. Because we have been spreading our memes, we have been organising on the Internet and now they are coming out and now as you can see today we greatly outnumbered the anti-white, anti-American filth and at some point we will have enough power that we will clear them from the streets forever. That which is degenerate in white countries will be removed. We are starting to slowly unveil a little bit of our power level – you ain't seen nothin yet." [Robert "Azzmador" Ray, feature writer at The Daily Stormer, video, 12 August 2017]

Reaction to the white supremacist violence……
Facebook has banned the Facebook and Instagram accounts of a white nationalist who attended the rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that ended in deadly violence.
Facebook spokeswoman Ruchika Budhraja told the Associated Press on Wednesday that the profile pages of Christopher Cantwell have been removed as well as a page connected to his podcast..

As of 14 August 2017, Daily Caller —  a conservative web site with a twin nonprofit organization — has scrubbed its site of articles by Jason Kessler, the white supremacist who was an organizer of a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia the weekend before. 

GoDaddy – the internet domain registrar and web hosting service – and Google cancelled the Daily Stormer's domain name registration on Sunday, saying they prohibit clients from using their sites to incite violence. The Daily Stormer helped organise the violent neo-Nazi gathering in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday at which a civil rights activist died.

On Twitter, the Daily Stormer's feed is no longer visible; instead, the page on Wednesday afternoon reflects its account has been "suspended." A spokesperson for Twitter said the company could not comment on individual users, but added: "The Twitter Rules prohibit violent threats, harassment, hateful conduct, and multiple account abuse, and we will take action on accounts violating those policies."

Earlier today, Cloudflare terminated the account of the Daily Stormer. We've stopped proxying their traffic and stopped answering DNS requests for their sites. We've taken measures to ensure that they cannot sign up for Cloudflare's services ever again.

US companies are blocking hate groups from key services such as payments, cyber security defences and social media sites after the violence in Charlottesville, despite questions over the consequences for freedom of speech. Leading payment and credit card groups MasterCard, American Express, Discover Financial Services and Visa have joined Silicon Valley companies Twitter and Cloudflare to become the latest corporations to try to block neo-Nazis' access to funds and the internet. Several of the payments companies added they did not ban the use of their services because the customers expressed offensive views — but because they violated their terms of service or incited violence.

Most leaders on the councils thought Trump's statement on Monday, in which he condemned the hate groups by name, was sufficient. But they were furious and disgusted with Trump's follow-up remarks on Tuesday, according to the offices of two CEOs.
By Tuesday night, at least nine members decided to drop out individually, and reached out to Schwarzman, who then proposed dismantling the council entirely.
A dozen members of that strategy and policy council participated in a conference call Wednesday, during which they all agreed to dissolve the group, the people close to the decision said. Schwarzman then notified the White House. And after that, Trump tweeted that he was "ending both" advisory councils. The business leaders had expected that Trump would portray the developments as his own decision, the sources said

#BREAKING: #Cville car suspect, #UniteTheRight rally organizer, & alt-right leaders face $3M lawsuit from 2 ppl injured in car attack

RELATED POST


Sunday, 13 August 2017

The United States of America under Trump - the ugly picture. Part Two


The Time

The 203rd to 206th day of the Trump Regime

The Place

Charlottesville, Virginia, USA

The Events

White supremacists rallies with unarmed counter protesters on the sidelines

The Images




Charlottesville, Virginia (CNN) One person was killed and 19 were hurt when a speeding car slammed into a throng of counterprotesters in Charlottesville, where a "Unite the Right" rally of white nationalist and other right-wing groups had been scheduled take place, the city tweeted on its verified account.

Note: All images found on Twitter

The United States of America under Trump - the ugly picture in two tweets



NOTE

Depending on the source the number of people shot and killed by U.S. police range between 575 and 700 in 2017.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

The American Resistance has many faces and this is just one of them (13)



Wednesday, 19 July 2017

The American Resistance has many faces and tweeters are just some of them (11)


In the matter of KNIGHT FIRST AMENDMENT INSTITUTE AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY; REBECCA BUCKWALTER; PHILIP COHEN; HOLLY FIGUEROA; EUGENE GU; BRANDON NEELY; JOSEPH PAPP; and NICHOLAS PAPPAS, Plaintiffs, v DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States; SEAN M. SPICER, White House Press Secretary; and DANIEL SCAVINO, White House Director of Social Media and Assistant to the President, Defendants, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK. Filed 11 July 2017.

The New York Times, 11 July 2017:

WASHINGTON — A group of Twitter users blocked by President Trump sued him and two top White House aides on Tuesday, arguing that his account amounts to a public forum that he, as a government official, cannot bar people from.

The blocked Twitter users, represented by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, raised cutting-edge issues about how the Constitution applies to the social media era. They say Mr. Trump cannot bar people from engaging with his account because they expressed opinions he did not like, such as mocking or criticizing him.

“The @realDonaldTrump account is a kind of digital town hall in which the president and his aides use the tweet function to communicate news and information to the public, and members of the public use the reply function to respond to the president and his aides and exchange views with one another,” the lawsuit said.

By blocking people from reading his tweets, or from viewing and replying to message chains based on them, Mr. Trump is violating their First Amendment rights because they expressed views he did not like, the lawsuit argued.

It offered several theories to back that notion. They included arguments that Mr. Trump was imposing an unconstitutional restriction on the plaintiffs’ ability to participate in a designated public forum, get access to statements the government had otherwise made available to the public and petition the government for “redress of grievances.”

Filed in Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York, the lawsuit also names Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, and Dan Scavino, Mr. Trump’s director of social media, as defendants. It seeks a declaration that Mr. Trump’s blocking of the plaintiffs was unconstitutional, an injunction requiring him to unblock them and prohibiting him from blocking others for the views they express, and legal fees.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

PEOPLE POWER: gas pipeline resistance in the corn


HuffPost, 9 July 2017:

If the management team at Williams Partners was having flashbacks on Sunday, it was by design. The Oklahoma-based pipeline company has met stiff resistance to its proposed Atlantic Sunrise pipeline since it was first announced in 2014. On Sunday, hundreds of opponents of the project congregated in an outdoor chapel in Columbia, Pennsylvania on property owned by the Adorers of the Blood of Christ, an order of Catholic nuns. Among those in attendance were representatives from another order, the Sisters of Loretto, from Kentucky who helped defeat Williams’ Bluegrass pipeline in 2014….

Lancaster Against Pipelines, a grassroots group dedicated to stopping the nearly 200-mile natural gas transmission pipeline, constructed the chapel on a grove just feet from where the pipeline would cut through a corn field. The field and nearly cloudless blue sky above provided the backdrop for the simple wooden altar facing a few rows of wooden benches.

Williams Partners tried to stop the dedication. Last Thursday, the company submitted a 45-page emergency motion to a federal district judge in an attempt to take immediate possession of the property and get permission to deploy U.S. Marshals on the nuns and “any third parties authorized by the sisters to be on the property.”

It was a particularly brazen attempt on Williams’ part to get ahead of the legal process. The company was already scheduled to take the nuns to court later this month when it filed its emergency motion. The regulatory process is not complete yet either. The project has not yet received the permits from the state’s Department of Environmental Protection necessary to proceed with the pipeline.

Mark Clatterbuck, one of the group’s board members who helped construct the chapel, told the crowd that he thinks the company is getting nervous. He believes it understands that the chapel “is not sort of symbolic resistance, that it’s real and we’re not going away.”

Lancaster Against Pipelines website:

“'If completed, it will go through more than 350 waterways, 220 wetlands and would permanently fragment over 44 interior forests,' said Malinda Harnish Clatterbuck, a local Mennonite pastor and cofounder of Lancaster Against Pipelines. '… We believe the collective damage to the Susquehanna watershed (and therefore the Chesapeake Bay) is irreparable, and that the state needs to intervene for the future of clean water and clean waterways in Pennsylvania.'”

Lancaster Against Pipelines Facebook page:


* Images taken form Lancaster Against Pipelines posts

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

The American Resistance has many faces and this is just one of them (10)


New York Magazine, 3 July 2017:

Until late last month, former federal prosecutor Hui Chen worked in the Justice Department’s fraud section, ensuring that corporations followed federal ethics laws. She started the job in the fall 2015, but in the last six months it became impossible to conduct her duties without feeling as if she was “shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic,” she recently wrote on LinkedIn. So she quit, and she blames the White House:

First, trying to hold companies to standards that our current administration is not living up to was creating a cognitive dissonance that I could not overcome. To sit across the table from companies and question how committed they were to ethics and compliance felt not only hypocritical, but very much like shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic. Even as I engaged in those questioning and evaluations, on my mind were the numerous lawsuits pending against the President of the United States for everything from violations of the Constitution to conflict of interest, the ongoing investigations of potentially treasonous conducts, and the investigators and prosecutors fired for their pursuits of principles and facts. Those are conducts I would not tolerate seeing in a company, yet I worked under an administration that engaged in exactly those conduct. I wanted no more part in it.

As a compliance expert in DOJ’s fraud section, Chen essentially served as a corporate crime watchdog. She helped ensure that companies made changes to the policies that resulted in their prosecution and then monitored the effectiveness of those changes.

Little surprise, then, that the Trump’s administration lax approach to ethics rules rankled Chen. In the months after Trump’s inauguration, she began to attend protests during her lunch hour, among other subtle acts of defiance, the International Business Times notes.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Trump's America reaches dangerous toxicity levels


The United States of America is becoming a nation to fear.

If the checks and balances within its political structure continue to fracture and the propaganda narrative that those who oppose the Trump Regime are 'evil' grows in volume and intensity, then a destabilised, disintegrating America gone rogue lurching across the international stage is likely to injure us all.

US President Donald J. Trump at a Washington faith rally on Saturday, 1 July 2017

National Rifle Association of America call to arms against citizens who oppose Trump

Somehow this scenario doesn’t seem so farfetched anymore:


Business Insider, 3 May 2017:

TIMOTHY SNYDER: So, it’s really important, I think, to accept the logic of our constitutional structure. The logic of our constitutional structure is not that Americans are great. The logic of our constitutional structure is that Americans are people and people have weaknesses.

When the framers of the Constitution were setting up our system, they weren’t thinking about how wonderful we were gonna turn out to be, which is a good thing because we’re not always so wonderful. They were thinking about the structures that would be needed to preserve a Democratic Republic overtime. So the right mood is always scepticism. The framers of the Constitution were worried that someone might come along at some point who could be elected president. This was precisely their worry, who didn’t have concern about the rule of law or about democracy. We are now in that situation.

Up until now, there is nothing in Mr. Trump’s words or in his actions which would convince us or which would even suggest that he cares even a little bit about democracy or about the rule of law. On the contrary, there are plenty of things he said like referring to judges as “so-called” judges, referring to journalists as enemies of the people, talking about “America First” and indulging other kinds of nostalgia for the 1930’s, which suggests he doesn’t like democracy at all. His admiration tends to be limited to foreign tyrants.

So we need to be sceptical about ourselves and we need more than sceptical about him. What I would say is that our institutions were set up for a moment just like this one but they will only protect us if we enliven them and if we support them.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Quotes of the Week


If you want to build a new coal plant you have to think about what is going to happen to electricity prices over the next 20 or 30 years, because that is the time frame that you have to sell over to make back the cost of building the plant. The reality is that renewables and storage is going to be much cheaper than coal in far less than 20 years, so anyone building a coal plant today is never going to make back their money. [Senior economist at The Australia Institute Matt Grudnoff writing in The Guardian, 14 June 2017]

“Keep him away from Twitter, dear God, keep him away from Twitter”  [anonymous quote alleged to come from White House sraffer concerning US President Donald J. Trump]

“Advisers to the President describe Mr Trump as increasingly angry over the investigation, yelling at television sets carrying coverage and insisting he is the target of a conspiracy.” [ABC News, 18 June 2017]

"At what point does America get demeaned? At what point do they start laughing at us, as a country?" [President Donald J. Trump, 1 June 2017]

Monday, 29 May 2017

Pictures that tell a 1,000 words - Part Two


Left to Right: 
Ivanka Marie Trump, Melania Trump (née Melanija Knavs), 45th U.S. President Donald John Trump with 266th Catholic Pope His Holiness Francis (born Jorge Mario Bergoglio), Apostolic Palace, Vatican City, 24 May 2017

The Pope's enthusiasm for this official visit is apparently underwhelming.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Trump supporter's call to "kill the globalists" at CNN


Wednesday, 1 March 2017

The American Resistance has many faces and this is just one of them (4)



Ellen L. Weintraub took office as a Member of the United States Federal Election Commission (FEC) on December 9, 2002.  After an initial recess appointment, her nomination was confirmed by unanimous consent of the United States Senate on March 18, 2003.  Commissioner Weintraub has twice served as Chair of the Commission, for calendar years 2003 and 2013.  

Prior to her appointment, Ms. Weintraub was Of Counsel to Perkins Coie LLP and a member of its Political Law Group. There, she counseled clients on federal and state campaign finance and election laws, political ethics, nonprofit law, recounts, and lobbying regulation. During the election contest arising out of the 1996 election of Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Ms. Weintraub served on the legal team that advised the Senate Rules Committee. Her tenure with Perkins Coie represented Ms. Weintraub’s second stint in private practice, having previously practiced as a litigator with the New York law firm of Cahill Gordon & Reindel.

Before joining Perkins Coie, Ms. Weintraub was Counsel to the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct for the U.S. House of Representatives (the House Ethics Committee). Like the Commission, the Committee on Standards is a bipartisan body, evenly divided between Democratic and Republican members. Ms. Weintraub’s work focused on implementing the Ethics Reform Act of 1989 and subsequent changes to the House Code of Official Conduct. She also served as editor in chief of the House Ethics Manual and as a principal contributor to the Senate Ethics Manual. While at the Committee, Ms. Weintraub counseled Members on investigations and often had lead responsibility for the Committee’s public education and compliance initiatives.

Ms. Weintraub received her B.A., cum laude, from Yale College and her J.D. from Harvard Law School. A native New Yorker, she is a member of the New York and District of Columbia bars and the Supreme Court bar.



The statement was in response to this document (filed by the right-wing Cause of Action Institute rumoured to be partly funded by the Koch Brothers) which stated in part:

CoA Institute requests that you open an investigation2 to determine whether Ellen Weintraub, a Commissioner of the Federal Election Commission (“FEC”), violated applicable ethics regulations when she used government property and official time to call on President Trump to provide evidence of his claims of voter fraud in New Hampshire and then continued to promote her statement after it was issued. We also urge you to determine whether it is appropriate for the FEC website to continue to host Commissioner Weintraub’s statement.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Former national security, foreign policy, and intelligence officials politely tell U.S. federal court that Trump is undermining national security


STATE OF WASHINGTON, et al.  v  DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the States, et al., Response to Emergency Motion Exhibit A:
We, Madeleine K. Albright, Avril D. Haines, Michael V. Hayden, John F. Kerry, John E. McLaughlin, Lisa O. Monaco, Michael J. Morell, Janet A. Napolitano, Leon E. Panetta, and Susan E. Rice declare as follows:
1. We are former national security, foreign policy, and intelligence officials in the United States Government:
a. Madeleine K. Albright served as Secretary of State from 1997 to 2001. A refugee and naturalized American citizen, she served as U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations from 1993 to 1997 and has been a member of the Central Intelligence Agency External Advisory Board since 2009 and the Defense Policy Board since 2011, in which capacities she has received assessments of threats facing the United States.
b. Avril D. Haines served as Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 2013 to 2015, and as Deputy National Security Advisor from 2015 to January 20, 2017.
c. Michael V. Hayden served as Director of the National Security Agency from 1999 to 2005, and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 2006 to 2009.
d. John F. Kerry served as Secretary of State from 2013 to January 20, 2017.
2. We have collectively devoted decades to combatting the various terrorist threats that the United States faces in a dynamic and dangerous world. We have all held the highest security clearances. A number of us have worked at senior levels in administrations of both political parties. Four of us (Haines, Kerry, Monaco and Rice) were current on active intelligence regarding all credible terrorist threat streams directed against the U.S. as recently as one week before the issuance of the Jan. 27, 2017 Executive Order on “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” (“Order”).
3. We all agree that the United States faces real threats from terrorist networks and must take all prudent and effective steps to combat them, including the appropriate vetting of travelers to the United States. We all are nevertheless unaware of any specific threat that would justify the travel ban established by the Executive Order issued on January 27, 2017. We view the Order as one that ultimately undermines the national security of the United States, rather than making us safer. In our professional opinion, this Order cannot be justified on national security or foreign policy grounds. It does not perform its declared task of “protecting the nation from foreign terrorist entry into the United States.” To the contrary, the Order disrupts thousands of lives, including those of refugees and visa holders all previously vetted by standing procedures that the Administration has not shown to be inadequate. It could do long-term damage to our national security and foreign policy interests, endangering U.S. troops in the field and disrupting counterterrorism and national security partnerships. It will aid ISIL’s propaganda effort and serve its recruitment message by feeding into the narrative that the United States is at war with Islam. It will hinder relationships with the very communities that law enforcement professionals need to address the threat. It will have a damaging humanitarian and economic impact on the lives and jobs of American citizens and residents. And apart from all of these concerns, the Order offends our nation’s laws and values.
4. There is no national security purpose for a total bar on entry for aliens from the seven named countries. Since September 11, 2001, not a single terrorist attack in the United States has been perpetrated by aliens from the countries named in the Order. Very few attacks on U.S. soil since September 11, 2001 have been traced to foreign nationals at all. The overwhelming majority of attacks have been committed by U.S. citizens. The Administration has identified no information or basis for believing there is now a heightened or particularized future threat from the seven named countries. Nor is there any rational basis for exempting from the ban particular religious minorities (e.g., Christians), suggesting that the real target of the ban remains one religious group (Muslims). In short, the Administration offers no reason why it abruptly shifted to group-based bans when we have a tested individualized vetting system developed and implemented by national security professionals across the government to guard the homeland, which is continually re-evaluated to ensure that it is effective.
5. In our professional opinion, the Order will harm the interests of the United States in many respects:
a. The Order will endanger U.S. troops in the field. Every day, American soldiers work and fight alongside allies in some of the named countries who put their lives on the line to protect Americans. For example, allies who would be barred by the Order work alongside our men and women in Iraq fighting against ISIL. To the extent that the Order bans travel by individuals cooperating against ISIL, we risk placing our military efforts at risk by sending an insulting message to those citizens and all Muslims.
b. The Order will disrupt key counterterrorism, foreign policy, and national security partnerships that are critical to our obtaining the necessary information sharing and collaboration in intelligence, law enforcement, military, and diplomatic channels to address the threat posed by terrorist groups such as ISIL. The international criticism of the Order has been intense, and it has alienated U.S. allies. It will strain our relationships with partner countries in Europe and the Middle East, on whom we rely for vital counterterrorism cooperation, undermining years of effort to bring them closer. By alienating these partners, we could lose access to the intelligence and resources necessary to fight the root causes of terror or disrupt attacks launched from abroad, before an attack occurs within our borders.
c. The Order will endanger intelligence sources in the field. For current information, our intelligence officers may rely on human sources in some of the countries listed. The Order breaches faith with those very sources, who have risked much or all to keep Americans safe – and whom our officers had promised always to protect with the full might of our government and our people.
d. Left in place, the Executive Order will likely feed the recruitment narrative of ISIL and other extremists that portray the United States as at war with Islam. As government officials, we took every step we could to counter violent extremism. Because of the Order’s disparate impact against Muslim travelers and immigrants, it feeds ISIL’s narrative and sends the wrong message to the Muslim community here at home and all over the world: the U.S. government is at war with them based on their religion. The Order may even endanger Christian communities, by handing ISIL a recruiting tool and propaganda victory that spreads their message that the United States is engaged in a religious war. e. The Order will disrupt ongoing law enforcement efforts. By alienating Muslim-American communities in the United States, it will harm our efforts to enlist their aid in identifying radicalized individuals who might launch attacks of the kind recently seen in San Bernardino and Orlando.
f. The Order will have a devastating humanitarian impact. When the Order issued, those disrupted included women and children who had been victimized by actual terrorists. Tens of thousands of travelers today face deep uncertainty about whether they may travel to or from the United States: for medical treatment, study or scholarly exchange, funerals or other pressing family reasons. While the Order allows for the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security to agree to admit travelers from these countries on a case-by-case basis, in our experience it would be unrealistic for these overburdened agencies to apply such procedures to every one of the thousands of affected individuals with urgent and compelling needs to travel.
g. The Order will cause economic damage to American citizens and residents. The Order will affect many foreign travelers, particularly students, who annually inject hundreds of billions into the U.S. economy, supporting well over a million U.S. jobs. Since the Order issued, affected companies have noted its adverse impacts on many strategic economic sectors, including defense, technology, medicine, culture and others…….

File this official U.S. presidential proclamation under WTF! for future reference


Executive Office of the President, Document Number: 2017-01798**:

Proclamation 9570 of January 20, 2017

National Day of Patriotic Devotion

A Proclamation
A new national pride stirs the American soul and inspires the American heart. We are one people, united by a common destiny and a shared purpose.

Freedom is the birthright of all Americans, and to preserve that freedom we must maintain faith in our sacred values and heritage.

Our Constitution is written on parchment, but it lives in the hearts of the American people. There is no freedom where the people do not believe in it; no law where the people do not follow it; and no peace where the people do not pray for it.

There are no greater people than the American citizenry, and as long as we believe in ourselves, and our country, there is nothing we cannot accomplish.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 20, 2017, as National Day of Patriotic Devotion, in order to strengthen our bonds to each other and to our country—and to renew the duties of Government to the people.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twentieth day of January, in the year of our Lord two thousand seventeen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-first.
  Filed 1-23-17; 2:00 pm]
[FR Doc. 2017-01798
Billing code 3295-F7-P

As CNBC News pointed out; by the time this proclamation was announced on 21 January the national day had passed because it referred to one specific day, Donald Trump's inauguration day of 20 January 2017 and therefore was a one-off national day.

** This proclamation is not found to date on the Proclamations webpage at www.whitehouse.gov, although it continues to be displayed at the U.S. Office of the Federal Register.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Make no mistake - Trump is placing all national economies in jeopardy once more


In the midst of The Great Depression (a decade long severe global economic downturn triggered by the 1929 Wall Street stock market crash) the U.S. Government enacted the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act which tightened banking and financial sector regulations.

At the urging of the same financial and banking sector in 1999 a bipartisan agreement saw the introduction of the Financial Services Modernization Act which repealed large parts of the Glass-Stegall Act and the Bank Holding Company Act.

In the wake of another crisis generated by the American sub-prime mortgage melt-down, aptly titled The Global Financial Crisis, the U.S. Government in July 2010 enacted the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act to reimpose stricter regulations.

Now we hear that Donald Trump is moving to roll back the Dodd-Frank reforms. In particular the Volker Rule against banks using depositor funds for speculative bets on their own account and from acquiring or retaining ownership interests in, sponsoring, or having certain relationships with a hedge fund or private equity fund - practices thought to have exacerbated The Global Financial Crisis.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 4 February 2017:

US President Donald Trump moved to chisel away at the Obama administration's legacy on financial reform, announcing a series of steps to revisit the rules enacted after the 2008 financial crisis and setting the stage for a showdown with Democrats over the future of Wall Street regulation.
After a White House meeting with the executives, Mr Trump signed a directive calling for his administration to identify potential changes to provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act, crafted by the Obama administration and passed by Congress in response to the 2008 meltdown….


Most Australian families have memories of The Great Depression which hit this country hard and all will be able to recall the ripple effects from The Global Financial Crisis, so it is not unreasonable to fear that what this erratic and ignorant American president does in relation to U.S. banking and financial sector legislation has the potential to send the world spinning into yet another American-generated global economic crisis.

Forewarned is forearmed and this time around everyone would be wise to closely follow reputable newspapers and economic commentators to see which way the wind blows as the United States once more enters dangerous waters.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

February 2017: can you hear the warning sirens?

Image via @SeanKing

De Spiegel
, 5 February 2017:

There are times in life that really do count. Times when a person's character is revealed, when the important is separated from the unimportant. Soon decisions are taken that will determine the further path a person takes. With some, this can be tragic, and the moment comes too soon in their youth at a time when they aren't mature enough yet to foresee all the potential consequences. They make the decisions cheerfully and they lead to either luck or bad luck. But countries and governments are seldom as innocent when it comes to their decisions.
That's the kind of situation now approaching. The people who will soon have to decide are already grown up. They now have to start preparing, even if it will be painful.
Germany must stand up in opposition to the 45th president of the United States and his government. That's difficult enough already for two reasons: Because it is from the Americans that we obtained our liberal democracy in the first place; and because it is unclear how the brute and choleric man on the other side will react to diplomatic pressure. The fact that opposition to the American government can only succeed when mounted together with Asian and African partners -- and no doubt with our partners in Europe, with the EU -- doesn't make the situation any easier.
So far, Germany has viewed its leadership role -- at least the leadership understanding of Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble -- as one that is by all means in opposition to the interests of other European countries. Whether Schäuble's austerity policies or Merkel's migration policies, it all happened without much co-coordination and with considerable force. It is thus somewhat ironical that it is Germany, the country that is politically and economically dominant in Europe, that will now have to fill in many of the gaps created by America's withdrawal from the old world order, the one referred to by former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer as "Pax Americana." At the same time, Germany must build an alliance against Donald Trump, because it otherwise won't take shape. It is, however, absolutely necessary.
It is literally painful to write this sentence, but the president of the United States is a pathological liar. The president of the U.S. is a racist (it also hurts to write this). He is attempting a coup from the top; he wants to establish an illiberal democracy, or worse; he wants to undermine the balance of power. He fired an acting attorney general who held a differing opinion from his own and accused her of "betrayal." This is the vocabulary used by Nero, the emperor and destroyer of Rome. It is the way tyrants think.
A Serious Threat
Donald Trump and his fire-starter Stephen Bannon discriminate against certain people by decree, but not against those from countries in which Trump does business. The contempt the president of the United States and his most important adviser have for science and education is so blatant that it's almost difficult to write. But their disdain for climate and environmental policies has to be stated, because four or eight years of it could become a serious threat.
Among the things that counted as true progress during the 20th century were multilateralism and free trade. The world has become so complex that no single country can solve the major problems on its own -- that was our recognition. Organizations like the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, NATO and the EU were all created for this reason. None of these organizations is perfect, but they are what we launched -- and we do need them. Bannon now wants to wipe them away, and either Trump is executing Bannon's intentions or he shares them......
Klaus Brinkbäumer is the editor-in-chief of DER SPIEGEL.
Read the full article here.
The Australian, 8 February 2017:
In the weeks since Donald Trump’s inauguration as US President, it has become clear that he intends to roll back to the starting block the progressive egalitarian agenda that is commonly associated with political correctness — not just in the US, but globally.
Stephen Bannon, Trump’s White House Svengali and former CEO of the extreme-right Breitbart News, has long pursued this ideological project, and we now know that what he or Trump says must be taken both seriously and literally.
Trump’s transition was initially reassuring, because he nominated many undeniably serious (if also seriously well-heeled) people to his cabinet. But after the inauguration all hell broke loose as Trump and Bannon began to implement their project in earnest.
First, Trump appointed Bannon to the National Security Council’s highest body, the principals committee. Then he nominated Ted Malloch, an obscure business studies professor at the University of Reading, in England, as US ambassador to the EU. Malloch recently expressed a desire to “short the euro”, and predicted that the currency would not survive another 18 months. Trump has also increased the likelihood of a trade war with Mexico, and he has been willing to confront major US corporations over his executive order banning travellers from seven Muslim-majority countries.
The ideological project that Trump and Bannon will seek to carry out could have far-reaching geopolitical and economic implications that should worry not only progressives, but also dyed-in-the-wool conservatives like me. To understand how far they are willing to go, one must understand their ultimate aims.
Most disturbingly, Trump and Bannon’s agenda seems likely to entail policies to weaken, destabilise, or even ultimately dismantle the EU. No motive other than ideology can explain Trump’s open hostility to the bloc, his bizarre ambassadorial appointment, or his question to EU president Donald Tusk: “What country is next to leave?”
In conventional geostrategic terms, the EU is almost a costless extension of US political and military power. Owing to NATO’s significant military superiority, and the EU’s role as a barrier to Russian expansion, the US can avoid becoming entangled in a “hot war” with Russia. Meanwhile, the EU — together with Japan — is a dependable economic and military ally, whose friendship allows the US to speak for the “international community”.
There are no circumstances in which dismantling the Western international order is in America’s national interest — even when perceived through a nationalist lens. A truly “America first” administration would rightly expect its allies to pull their weight in NATO, and to defer to US foreign policies on non-European issues. But it would never gratuitously dismantle an essentially free multiplier of US power, as Trump’s foreign policy threatens to do.
If I am right about Trump and Bannon’s ideological agenda, we can expect them to find a way to support far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen in the French presidential election this year, and to encourage a “hard Brexit” for Britain (only to leave it in the lurch afterwards). Trump is likely to lift the sanctions the US imposed on Russia after its 2014 annexation of Crimea. After all, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Bannon are ideological twins.
We should not put much stock in any security assurances Secretary of Defence James Mattis may have offered to South Korea and Japan last week. Such promises are worth as little as Trump’s pledge to Polish President Andrzej Duda that “Poland can count on America”.
Americans should be prepared to watch the administration dismiss officials who do not defend its agenda, and disregard court orders that inhibit its actions. We have already seen signs of this when complaints emerged that immigration agents in New York were ignoring a federal judge’s emergency stay on Trump’s travel ban.
The prospects for business are just as sobering. Sooner or later, Trump’s destabilising foreign policy will lead to global economic turbulence, uncertainty, and reduced investment — even barring trade wars. And domestically, his weakening of the rule of law will negate any economic benefits from tax cuts and deregulation.
Implementing this project is undoubtedly a dangerous strategy for Trump. By polarising the US public to such an extent, he and the Republicans could suffer defeat in the 2018 midterm elections or in the 2020 presidential election; and he could even expose himself to the risk of impeachment.
There are two possible explanations for why Trump would take these risks. The first is that divisiveness has worked for him. Politicians tend to stick with what works — until it fails.
The second explanation is that Bannon is calling the political shots, and is more interested in building a permanent populist “movement” than he is in getting Trump re-elected. If Bannon wants to transform the US political landscape, an impeached or defeated Trump could become an ideal martyr for his movement.
That may not bode well for Trump himself, but, in this scenario, Trump’s fate will not weigh heavily on Bannon, who has set his sights on achieving goals that will leave the US and the world very different from how he and his putative boss found them.
Jack Rostowski was Poland’s finance minister and deputy prime minister from 2007 to 2013.