As President Obama visits still-communist Vietnam, a former American rival, in his “pivot to Asia” to recruit more countries to shelter against a rising China, the trip only serves to illustrate the global American Empire’s overextension ... Recently, the British, French, and Russian Empires became financially overextended and all collapsed. The same could happen to the more informal American Empire of permanent and entangling alliances and overseas military bases — and the armed interventions and huge amounts of military and economic aid to foreign countries needed to maintain it. In other words, as the American Constitution stipulates, the U.S. military needs to defend the country, not maintain an overseas empire that causes global instability and undermines American security.
... Tension between Russia and the United States has suddenly become more intense than at any time in the last quarter-century. The two countries are fighting a virtual proxy war in Syria. In February they ceased cooperation over Afghanistan. Russia deployed ballistic missiles in Kaliningrad, its enclave between Poland and Lithuania; NATO responded by announcing a new anti-ballistic-missile program ... Most ominously, both sides are modernizing their nuclear arsenals. This escalating confrontation is not in America’s interest. It prevents US-Russian cooperation on urgent issues ranging from nuclear security to the fight against the Islamic State. It also pushes Russia toward China. Instead of challenging Russia in its own neighborhood, we should seek a global relationship that serves our security needs.
... Is Russia really a military threat to the United States and its neighbors? Is it seriously trying to “revenge” itself for the 1989 collapse of the Soviet Union? Is it actively trying to rebuild the old Soviet empire? The answers to these questions are critical, because, for the first time since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, several nuclear-armed powers are on the edge of a military conflict with fewer safeguards than existed 50 years ago ... Expansionist? Russia has two bases in the Middle East and a handful in Central Asia. The U.S. has 662 bases around the world and Special Forces (SOF) deployed in between 70 and 90 countries at any moment. Last year SOFs were active in 147 countries. The U.S. is actively engaged in five wars and is considering a sixth in Libya.
... Putin has seen NATO, despite solemn U.S. assurances given to Gorbachev, incorporate all of Eastern Europe that Russia had vacated, and three former republics of the USSR itself. He now hears a clamor from American hawks to bring three more former Soviet republics — Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine — into a NATO alliance directed against Russia. After persuading Kiev to join a Moscow-led economic union, Putin saw Ukraine’s pro-Russian government overthrown in a U.S.-backed coup. He has seen U.S.-funded “color-coded” revolutions try to dump over friendly regimes all across his “near abroad.” ... We are reaping the understandable rage and resentment of the Russian people over how we exploited Moscow’s retreat from empire.
... It’s time to recalibrate our relationships in the Middle East to take realistic account of the circumstances that three decades of policy error and failure have wrought. We need to focus on the protection of American interests rather than on support for the policies of partners who believe and act as though they owe us nothing and who have an appalling record of misjudging their own interests and the likely consequences of their actions. I have a few simple suggestions. First. Stop trying to put Humpty Dumpty back together again. The states and borders that have been shattered can’t now be restored. Attempts to reconstruct the arrangements imposed under Sykes-Picot don’t just waste American money and prestige, they cost American and Arab lives and rationalize terrorist reprisal against the United States.
In the late 1800s a small, fanatic movement called “political Zionism” began in Europe. Its goal was to create a Jewish state somewhere in the world. Its leaders settled on the ancient and long-inhabited land of Palestine for the location of this state. Palestine's population at this time was approximately 96 percent non-Jewish (primarily Muslim and Christian). Over the coming decades Zionist leaders used various strategies to accomplish their goal of taking over Palestine: ... Over the 60 years since Israel’s founding on May 14, 1948, this profound injustice has continued ... Because of Israel’s powerful US lobby, Congress gives far more money to Israel than to all of sub-Saharan Africa put together. In its 60 years of existence, Israel, the size of New Jersey, has received more U.S. tax money than any other nation.
When David Ben-Gurion read out Israel's declaration of independence (officially: "Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel") on May 14, 1948, I was in Kibbutz Hulda ... For this occasion I read the entire text of the declaration for the first time. I was not impressed. .. The introduction is a reiteration of Zionist slogans. It purports to set out the historical facts, and very dubious facts they are ... "Jews strove in every successive generation to reestablish themselves in their ancient homeland…" Nonsense. They most certainly did not ... One glaring omission is the stark fact that the declaration does not make one mention of the borders of the new state ... The Declaration mentions no borders, and up to now Israel remains the only state in the world which has no official borders.
... The evicted Palestinian Arabs have been forcibly deprived of their country, their homes, and their property without having been allowed to have a voice in the determination of their own destiny. Though the facts are public, there is a widespread ignorance of them in the Western World and, above all, in the United States, the Western country which has had, and is still having, the greatest say in deciding Palestine’s fate. The United States has the greatest say, but the United Kingdom bears the heaviest load of responsibility ... The tragedy in Palestine is not just a local one; it is a tragedy for the World, because it is an injustice that is a menace to the World’s peace.
The apparent ability of Israel, one of the world’s smallest countries, to shape the Middle East policies of the world’s remaining superpower has been a source of puzzlement, conjecture, and constant frustration on the part of those fighting for justice for the Palestinians and for the peoples of the region, as a whole ... In the arena of foreign policy, no lobby has proved more powerful than that of the organized American Jewish community in support of Israel; what is generally referred to as the Israel Lobby and in the halls of Congress, simply as “the lobby.” Its power is all the more impressive when one realizes the lobby represents no more than a third of America’s six million Jews.
When faced with the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency, some Americans have threatened to leave the country, but most of that grumbling is probably just talk. However, there is a small but growing number of Americans who are following through on a pledge to renounce their citizenship, but it’s likely for other reasons. While millions worldwide clamor for the opportunity to come to the United States to pursue the American dream, more U.S. citizens than ever are giving up their passports. In the first three months of 2016, 1,158 Americans dumped their passports. In 2015, there were about 4,300 expatriations, a 20 percent increase over the previous year, the third record-breaking year in a row.
... In the first Gallup poll from 1945 just after the bombings, a huge 85 percent of Americans approved the bombings. However, figures from 2005 show a significant decline to 57 percent ... When Pew followed up on that question in 2015, they found that the numbers of people who thought the bombings were justified had dropped in both America and Japan — to 56 percent among Americans and just 14 percent among Japanese. The total percentage of people who thought the bombings were unjustified stood at 79 percent in Japan, up from 64 percent in 1991. In America, those who thought they were unjustified rose to 34 percent, from 29 percent in 1991.
A long-suppressed report written in June 1945 by the US Army's Chemical Warfare Service shows that American military leaders made plans for a massive preemptive poison gas attack to accompany an invasion of Japan. The 30-page document designated "gas attack zones" on detailed maps of Tokyo and other major Japanese cities. Army planners selected 50 urban and industrial targets in Japan, with 25 cities, including Tokyo, Osaka, Yokohama, Kobe and Kyoto, listed as "especially suitable for gas attacks."
... What is undeniably happening, however, is that the continent’s traditional mainstream parties are in full retreat. Across Europe, the centre-left social democrats and centre-right Christian democrats who have dominated national politics for 60 years are in decline ... What is on the march across Europe may not be the far right, but distrust, disillusion, even full-scale rejection of the political establishment: in the first round of Austria’s presidential elections, the centre-right and centre-left parties barely polled ten percent each.
... In an echo of Donald Trump’s rise in the U.S., an increasing number of Europeans are rejecting basic principles shared by the center-left and center-right. These voters want things few mainstream parties offer: a tougher line on immigrants, weaker or no EU ties and, often, closer links with Russia. They have no confidence in ruling elites they see as aloof, corrupt and disconnected from their lives ... Among the factors, political scientists say, is a changing view of history. In Germany and Austria, the growing distance from the Nazi era is blunting the electorate’s knee-jerk rejection of xenophobic or nationalist rhetoric.
It looks simple - a pretty blue cornflower - but this plant is causing controversy in Austria. It's the chosen flower of the far-right Freedom Party, even though it was once associated with the Nazis ... “Then between 1934 and 1938, when the Nazis were a banned party in Austria, it was the secret symbol they used to wear in order to recognise each other.” Nowadays, it's traditional for Austrian MPs to wear a flower in their buttonholes at the opening of parliament, he explains. The colour of the Freedom Party is blue, so they wear a cornflower. “You are not a neo-Nazi if you wear a cornflower," he continues. "But it is fair to say that the Freedom Party cultivates a certain ambivalence when it comes to the past.” Their presidential hopeful, Norbert Hofer, continues to face sharp criticism about his occasional choice of floral decoration.
Bill Clinton upset NATO allies in a broadly unreported gaffe accusing Poland and Hungary of thinking “democracy is too much trouble” and wanting to have an “authoritarian dictatorship.” This is despite the fact that Poland recently held elections turfing out the establishment political parties in an election with a higher turnout than Mr. Clinton’s re-election in 1996. Poland’s newly elected Prime Minister Beata Szydlo called Clinton’s words “unjustified and simply unfair”, adding: “With all due respect, and without using coarse words, [Clinton] exaggerated and should apologize to us.”
President Barack Obama and the United States favor illegal migration in Europe because they want to fill it up with Muslims, the chief of staff of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Thursday. Janos Lazar also described Hungarian-born American financier George Soros as a standard-bearer for Obama's immigration policies for Europe and said "certain American groups" want Europe to be "diluted ... so Europe and America can cooperate without restraint." ... “Not so long ago while visiting Europe, President Obama clearly spoke out in favor of the importance of migration, settlement and even the forced settlement (of migrants)," Lazar said at a news conference. Obama and America "are following a very strong pro-migration, pro-illegal migration policy in the interests of having as many Muslims as possible in Europe."
... The controversy has focused too narrowly on historical questions. We might instead ask whether the U.S., in similar circumstances today, would drop the bomb again. Our own research found that the American public is surprisingly open to that prospect ... Would we drop the bomb again? Our surveys can’t say how future presidents and their top advisors would weigh their options. But they do reveal something unsettling about the instincts of the U.S. public: when provoked, we don’t seem to consider the use of nuclear weapons a taboo, and our commitment to the immunity of civilians from deliberate attack in wartime, even with vast casualties, is shallow. Today, as in 1945, the U.S. public is unlikely to hold back a president who might consider using nuclear weapons in the crucible of war.
... Even among those who experienced the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and lived through the hardship after the war, the majority are not asking for an apology. In a recent survey of survivors by Kyodo news agency, 78.3 percent said they saw no need for a US apology, especially if demanding one would prevent the president from coming. The Japanese public appears more concerned with current issues ... Then of course there is the simmering debate over whether modern Japan should have to apologise for its own atrocities committed during World War Two, as is often demanded by its neighbours. Journalist Nobuo Ikeda says Mr Obama shouldn't have to apologise "because he wasn't even born then and wasn't responsible".
... Since the last “good war,” a debate has ensued over the moral legitimacy of the use of nuclear weapons, particularly against civilians. The critics hold that it is a crime to incinerate civilians en masse; defenders commonly claim that the bombing was necessary to bring the war to a close, thereby saving countless American lives. Most of those who make this claim do so in earnest. The problem is that this defense is both historically false, and taken to its logical conclusion, extremely dangerous ... The U.S. War Department and related agencies that specialized in producing hate propaganda and lies developed specifically racialist attacks on the Japanese.
... With the dissolution of the USSR at the end of 1991, and the disappearance of even an arguable existential threat to America’s security, maintaining close relationships with corrupt, murderous autocrats became harder and harder to justify. Today, two such relationships should have especially become acute embarrassments for Washington. One is the decades-old strategic and economic partnership with Saudi Arabia (and indirectly with Riyadh’s smaller Gulf client states). The other is the multilayered partnership with fellow NATO member Turkey. From both the standpoint of American interests and American values, those associations cry out for termination ... Washington’s alliances with Ankara and Riyadh were questionable even during earlier eras. They have long outlived whatever usefulness they may once have had.
... The Saudis, who are also petrified of Iran, threw a fit, threatening to pull $750 billion of investments from the US. Other leaders of the Gulf sheikdoms sided with the Saudis but rather more discreetly. Ignoring the stinging snub he had just suffered, Obama assured the Saudis and Gulf monarchs that the US would defend them against all military threats – in effect, reasserting their role as western protectorates. So much for promoting democracy ... The US-backed and supplied Saudi war against dirt-poor Yemen has shown its military to be incompetent and heedless of civilian casualties. The Saudis run the risk of becoming stuck in a protracted guerilla war in Yemen’s wild mountains. The US, Britain and France maintain discreet military bases in the kingdom and Gulf coast.
A Chinese laundry detergent advertisement is causing widespread outrage online and is being dubbed the most racist commercial to be screened. But racist advertising has form, and not just in China ... It has appalled many on Facebook and other forums over the last 24 hours. But the ad itself is about a month old, having appeared on television and been shown at cinemas in China. At that time it didn't cause much of a furore with cinema-goers. But then it was shared by US expat Christopher Powell, a musician with the Guiyang Symphony Orchestra, and by DJ Spencer Tarring. Although the story was not covered widely by Chinese media, there were hundreds of comments on Chinese social media, with some calling the advert "awkward".
Taylor Swift may look every bit the all-American girl-next-door, but according to white supremacists, she’s actually a Nazi at heart, feeding her legions of followers racist messages coated in the saccharine lyrics and sick beats of Grammy-winning songs ... Swift’s lawyers were not amused, demanding Pinterest remove the posts ... But neo-Nazis embraced the idea, writing about Swift regularly on the Daily Stormer with the unabashed enthusiasm of high school fanboys, calling her the “Nazi avatar of the white European people” ...
The United Nations nuclear agency reports Iran is complying with a milestone agreement to limit stockpiles of key ingredients that can be used to produce nuclear weapons. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Iran's stockpiles of heavy water and uranium are within the limits that were agreed upon last year ... In July 2015, a deal for Iran to limit stockpiles of the materials was reached with Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States. In exchange for the agreement, U.N. and Western sanctions on Iran were lifted, including the country's valuable oil exports. But the U.S. has maintained its sanctions on Iran due to the Persian Gulf country's alleged sponsorship of arms shipments in the Middle East and its ballistic missile program.
President Obama came into office seven years ago pledging to end the wars of his predecessor, George W. Bush. On May 6, with eight months left before he vacates the White House, Mr. Obama passed a somber, little-noticed milestone: He has now been at war longer than Mr. Bush, or any other American president ... Mr. Obama, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009 and spent his years in the White House trying to fulfill the promises he made as an antiwar candidate, would have a longer tour of duty as a wartime president than Franklin D. Roosevelt, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon or his hero Abraham Lincoln.
... Obama, supposedly the antiwar president, has failed to recognize that Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria are unwinnable nation-building quagmires. The war in Afghanistan – of which the assassination of Taliban leader Mansour in Pakistan is a part – has surpassed the Vietnam War as the longest war in American history ... During the 1960s and early 1970s, US leaders somehow thought the backwater country of Vietnam was strategic and became embroiled in a tar pit. The same is true today in the Middle East. As time passes, however, perhaps the United States will again realize that trying to change foreign cultures at gunpoint doesn’t usually work, and deal with the imperfect situations that exist in other countries in more constructive ways.
How can anyone in his right mind still be an interventionist? Look at Iraq. The U.S. invasion and multi-year occupation of that country was supposed to bring a paradise of peace, prosperity, and harmony to the country. That’s what killing all those Iraqis was about — sacrificing them for the greater good of a beautiful society. Wasn’t it called Operation Iraqi Freedom? ... Rather than acknowledging that foreign interventionism is a disaster and getting out of Iraq, the advocates of this disastrous philosophy instead insist on doubling down ... What do interventionists say about all these disasters? They say: Don’t forget the “good war.” They’re referring to World War II, which brought (1) Eastern Europe and East Germany under communist control, (2) the Cold War against America’s World War II partner and ally, the Soviet Union ...
A prominent British historian has rejected an Israeli academic prize worth hundreds of thousands of pounds after engaging in “many discussions” about the Israel-Palestine conflict. Professor Catherine Hall from University College London turned down the 225,000 pound [more than $320,000] research award, describing her decision as “an independent political choice”. Professor Hall, who specialises in colonial history, was due to be presented with the prize from the Dan David Foundation during a ceremony in Tel Aviv on Sunday night but, declined to attend. It is believed she was motivated to reject the award after talking with the Palestinian boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, which several prominent British academics have become involved in since its launch in 2005.
Anti-Semitism is “deeply embedded” in British culture, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said. “We’ve seen a very sharp rise over the last year or so in anti-Semitic expression. It is absolutely intolerable,” Welby told a gathering of Jewish, Hindu, Sikh and Muslim leaders at his Lambeth Palace residence in London on Thursday (May 19). “It’s deeply imbedded in so much of our culture in this country, as is racism,” added the archbishop, who is the spiritual leader of the world’s 75 million Anglicans ... He warned Christians not to be judgmental when it comes to dealing with members of other religions ... Christianity is the main religion in Britain. Out of a total population of 64 million, there are around 3 million Muslims, 900,000 Hindus, 700,000 Sikhs and 300,000 Jews.
Shimon Peres said England was "deeply pro-Arab ... and anti-Israeli", adding: "They always worked against us." He added: "There is in England a saying that an anti-Semite is someone who hates the Jews more than is necessary." His remarks, made in an interview on a Jewish website, provoked anger from senior MPs and Jewish leaders who said the 87-year-old president had "got it wrong". But other groups backed the former Israeli prime minister and said the number of anti-semitic incidents had risen dramatically in the UK in recent years ... Mr Peres ... said that England's attitude towards Jews was Israel's "next big problem" ... “They abstained in the [pro-Zionist] 1947 UN partition resolution ... They maintained an arms embargo against us in the 1950s ... They always worked against us. They think the Arabs are the underdogs."
... One of the most widely respected Italian political theorists and sociologists in this [twentieth] century is Vilfredo Pareto. Indeed, so influential are his writings that "it is not possible to write the history of sociology without referring to Pareto." Throughout all of the vicissitudes and convulsions of twentieth-century political life, Pareto remains "a scholar of universal reputation." Pareto is additionally important for us today because he is a towering figure in one of Europe's most distinguished, and yet widely suppressed, intellectual currents. This broad school of thought ... stands in staunch opposition to rationalism, liberalism, egalitarianism, Marxism ...
... Harald Sandner got so annoyed by seeing the wrong dates being thrown around in historic works that he decided to take on the task of reconstructing each day of Hitler's life. Sandner, who makes his living being a salesman and IT expert in a logistics company, spent 25 years collecting pictures, documents and archival materials and traveling across Europe on his own expense. The result of all this is Das Itinerar (The Itinerary) – a 2400–page book that doesn't only list where the Führer spent each day of his life, it also documents the means of transportation he used to get there and what he did in each place – down to the number of audience members at speeches and events.
More than 2,000 documents and sketches have been released by the Munich authorities dating from the days of Nazism which detail Adolf Hitler's plans to build a colossal new metropolis on the site of the city. Munich always held a special place in Hitler's dark heart. It was where he joined the Germany army to fight in World War One and where he founded the Nazi Party after it ended. Hitler proposed a City Of The Movement with gargantuan buildings and roads destined to last 1,000 years. The newly released documents show that he expected the major construction projects to be completed by August 1, 1948, with the new underground railway station servicing colonies to the south and east to be up and running the following year.
A German paper has published an e-mail from a far-right group claiming it will publish a version of Hitler's book free of "tedious" scholarly commentary. This could possibly violate laws against spreading Nazi ideology. The fears many voiced about the republishing of Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf," namely that neo-Nazi groups would use it as propaganda, may indeed come to pass ... For seven decades, Hitler's two-volume treatise of militaristic anti-Semitism was available in print in Germany only for research purposes. But the copyright, held by the state of Bavaria, expired in 2016, which prompted a fierce debate over the book's future. Some argued "Mein Kampf" was still dangerous and that the government should find a way to fight its publication.
Less than a decade after out-of-control mortgage debt nearly dragged down the entire U.S. economy, the Wall Street Journal reports that by the end of 2016, Americans will collectively hold $1 trillion in credit card debt. The all-time peak for national credit card debt was $1.02 trillion in July 2008, indicating that many Americans have already forgotten the lessons of the Great Recession. The scenario of increasing debt complacency among borrowers and ever-loosening credit standards among lenders is chillingly familiar. Cumulative U.S. auto debt also eclipsed $1 trillion for the first time earlier this year.
In the battle over image, the two likely presidential nominees face a challenge not seen in modern history. No modern candidate has entered the fray at this point of the race with deeper negatives than either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. And if history is any guide, their room for improvement is scant, especially because of their nearly 100 percent name recognition ... Since 1992, the only soon-to-be nominee who went into May with even faintly similar numbers was Bill Clinton, who registered eleven points under water in that year. His next closest competitor on the negative index: Mitt Romney in 2012, who came in at three points below water. So is there precedent for any sharp reversal of fortune on the image front? Yes, but it doesn’t bode well for either Mr. Trump or Mrs. Clinton.
Last week, just a few minutes before the House Foreign Affairs Committee met for a hearing, one of the Israel lobby’s most dependable members of Congress, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen huddled with twenty supporters of AIPAC, the lobby’s front line organization in Washington ... The witness told me that Ros-Lehtinen vowed to destroy the mounting grassroots BDS campaign to boycott, divest from and sanction Israel. To do so, she pledged to weaken the First Amendment. “Free speech is being used in our country to denigrate Israel and we need to actively fight against that,” Ros-Lehtinen declared, according to the source ... Today, Israel is projecting this regime outward, recruiting operatives across the West to eradicate all resistance, even attacking constitutionally protected forms of protest.
Israel’s ex-prime minister has warned that his country is “infected by the seeds of fascism.” Ehud Barak, the former Israeli prime minister and defense minister, said in an interview on Israeli TV on Friday night that fascistic, extreme right-wing politics are on the rise in his country, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported. “What has happened is a hostile takeover of the Israeli government by dangerous elements,” he cautioned. “And it’s just the beginning.” Barak’s comments come just weeks after Israeli Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan compared Israel to Nazi Germany in the 1930s, in a Holocaust Remembrance Day speech ... “There are no serious leaders left in the world who believe the Israeli government,” the former Israeli prime minister said.
“It’s scary to see horrifying developments that took place in Europe begin to unfold here,” said Israeli Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan in a Holocaust Remembrance Day speech in Tel Yitzhak, Israel on Wednesday. The prominent Israeli military official made parallels between Israel today and Nazi Germany in the 1930s, the Israeli media reported. “The Holocaust should bring us to ponder our public lives and, furthermore, it must lead anyone who is capable of taking public responsibility to do so,” Golan said. “Because if there is one thing that is scary in remembering the Holocaust, it is noticing horrific processes which developed in Europe – particularly in Germany – 70, 80 and 90 years ago, and finding remnants of that here among us in the year 2016,” he added.
The death penalty for murder in a terror act that incoming Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman seeks will only apply to military courts, said a Likud source involved in the talks to bring Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party into the governing coalition. Such a move, which Lieberman demands if his party is to join the government, would effectively exclude its application against Jews. A senior official in Kulanu, which is a member of the coalition, said his party would oppose any form of legislation that would enable courts, military or civilian, to hand out a death sentence. Palestinians accused of terror offenses are prosecuted in Israeli military courts, while Jews charged with similar crimes against Palestinians are usually tried in Israeli civilian courts, noted the source ...
... There is a strict moral commandment in Israel: nothing can be compared to the Holocaust. The Holocaust is unique. It happened to us, the Jews, because we are unique. (Religious Jews would add: "Because God has chosen us".) ... Israelis have a self-protective habit: when confronted with inconvenient truths, they evade its essence and deal with a secondary, unimportant aspect. Of all the dozens and dozens of reactions in the written press, on TV and on political platforms, almost none confronted the general's painful contention.
President Barack Obama signed legislation blocking the use of the words “negro” and “oriental” in federal laws. The Commander in Chief signed the bill Friday without much fanfare, The Hill reported. He also signed six other pieces of legislation into law. The move, sponsored by Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., ran through Congress unopposed in a rare testament of bipartisan cooperation. The new bill will replace the offensive words with “African American” and “Asian American” in federal law books. Meng’s effort was meant to “modernize terms relating to minorities,” she said. It was first passed by the House in early December as an amendment to the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act. It passed through the House after unanimous vote in late February. On May 9, the bill was passed, again unanimously, by the Senate.
... Every Republican platform from 1884 to 1944 professed the party’s faith in protection. Free trade was introduced by the party of Woodrow Wilson and FDR. Our modern free-trade era began with the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 ... What, then, does history teach? The economic nationalism and protectionism of Hamilton, Madison, Jackson, and Henry Clay, and the Party of Lincoln, McKinley, Teddy Roosevelt, and Coolidge, of all four presidents on Mount Rushmore, made America the greatest and most self-sufficient republic in history ... Where in the history of great nations — Britain before 1850, the USA, Bismarck’s Germany, postwar Japan and China today — has nationalism not been the determinant factor in economic policy?
White women in the United States are dying too soon. That is the simplest way of stating a problem that has become apparent over the past year through statistical analysis. Studies of death rates around the country carried out by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics show that life expectancy for every demographic group has either gone up or remained stable — except for that of white women, for whom life expectancy has gone down ... Hispanics have higher life expectancies than blacks or whites, even though a large percentage of that group earn low incomes and lack health insurance. Researchers think that may be due to strong community support, close families and a much lower rate of smoking among Hispanics.
... Trump’s triumph is a sweeping repudiation of Bush Republicanism by the same party that nominated them four times for the presidency. Not only was son and brother, Jeb, humiliated and chased out of the race early, but Trump won his nomination by denouncing as rotten to the core the primary fruits of signature Bush policies. Twelve million aliens are here illegally, said Trump, because the Bushes failed to secure America’s borders ... The greatest strategic blunder in U.S. history, said Trump, was the Bush II decision to invade Iraq to disarm it of nonexistent weapons of mass destruction ... That is a savage indictment of the Bush legacy. And a Republican electorate, in the largest turnout in primary history, nodded, “Amen to that, brother!” No matter who wins in November, there is no going back for the GOP.
It’s been a treat watching the arrogant, Masters of the Universe Republicans wring their hands and ululate over the terror that is Donald Trump ... No wonder his candidacy has produced so much fierce opposition and cries of anguish. Trump is remarkably brave, or incredibly foolish, to gore all these sacred cows at the same time. Still, Trump is answering a deep current in American politics, dating from the Founding Fathers, that wants to avoid foreign entanglements and wars ... Now, it appears Trump has met his match. Pro-Israel billionaire Sheldon Adelson has just made peace with Trump and announced he will support the Republican candidate. This sends an important message out to Israel’s supporters to lay off the Donald. In return, Trump just announced he actually favors more Israeli settlements on the Occupied West Bank.
A Harvard Law professor is telling his fellow liberals that the culture wars are over and the victorious Left should treat conservative Christians the way the allies treated Germany and Japan after World War II, offering no quarter or clemency. In an online post, the 70-year-old professor Mark Tushnet, a surviving member of the old guard of 1960s liberal elites, advises his like-minded minions to unabashedly take up “aggressively liberal positions,” because they will no longer meet resistance ... “For liberals,” Tushnet writes, “the question now is how to deal with the losers in the culture wars ... Trying to be nice to the losers didn’t work well after the Civil War, nor after Brown,” he notes, whereas “taking a hard line seemed to work reasonably well in Germany and Japan after 1945.”
Germany is condemning a contest in Iran for cartoons depicting the Holocaust, saying it sows hatred and deepens divisions in the Middle East. The event was organized by non-governmental bodies with support from Iran's hard-liners. A previous contest in 2006 got a boost from then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who referred to the Holocaust as a “myth.” German Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer said Wednesday that “the murder of six million men, women and children during the Holocaust, for which we Germans bear guilt and responsibility, must not be abandoned to ridicule.”
American military service personnel are now being told that skepticism toward the official history of Europe's Jews during World War II is not permissible. A Department of Defense booklet tells armed forces members that revisionist criticism of the Six Million extermination story is nothing less than a threat to national security. Entitled Holocaust Revisionism, the booklet instructs military personnel: "A successful fighting force is a cohesive one, one where all members have respect for each other's diversity and dignity. Holocaust revisionism has the potential to destroy that respect.” ... In essence, this booklet is an arrogant effort to persuade non-Jewish Americans to regard parochial Jewish-Zionist concerns as their own. That such pernicious nonsense is published with official sanction makes it all the more reprehensible.
... The two men live on in the secret agreement they were assigned to draft, during the First World War, to divide the Ottoman Empire’s vast land mass into British and French spheres of influence. The Sykes-Picot Agreement launched a nine-year process — and other deals, declarations, and treaties — that created the modern Middle East states out of the Ottoman carcass ... May 16th will mark the agreement’s hundredth anniversary, amid questions over whether its borders can survive the region’s current furies ... Yet the premise of American policy (and of every other outside power) today — in stabilizing fractious Iraq, ending Syria’s gruesome civil war, and confronting the Islamic State — is to preserve the borders associated with Sykes-Picot.
May 2016 marks the centenary of the Sykes-Picot Agreement. The pact has haunted the region ever since, from crushed aspirations and civil wars, to the Arab-Israeli conflict and the rise of the Islamic State. This two minute graphic presentation briefly explains the secret deal that changed the course of the Middle East.
Pope Francis criticized Western powers for trying to export their own brand of democracy to countries such as Iraq and Libya without respecting indigenous political cultures, according to an interview published on Monday. Speaking to France's Roman Catholic newspaper, La Croix, Francis also said Europe should better integrate migrants and praised the election of the new Muslim mayor of London as an example of where this had been successful. "Faced with current Islamist terrorism, we should question the way a model of democracy that was too Western was exported to countries where there was a strong power, as in Iraq, or Libya, where there was a tribal structure," he said. "We cannot advance without taking these cultures into account," the pope said.
A vast majority of white Americans say there should not be reparations for African-American descendants of slaves, but more than half of blacks say it's a good idea and Hispanics are almost evenly split, according to a new poll. Time may bring about a shift in those numbers: More than half of millennials questioned say they are willing to at least consider the idea of paying reparations to the descendants of slaves ... Overall, 68 percent of Americans say that reparations should not be paid to descendants of slaves, according to the poll ... The numbers start changing when it comes to Generation Xers, with Americans between the ages of 35-50 breaking 73 percent to 25 percent against reparations.
Billionaire casino executive Sheldon Adelson is already at work on behalf of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. “I’m asking for your support” for Trump, Adelson wrote in an email Monday to more than 50 Republican Jewish leaders. Adelson told them he had met with Trump recently and is “specifically convinced he will be a tremendous president when it comes to the safety and security of Israel.” Trump has work to do in winning over the Republican Jewish Coalition, which includes many top party fundraisers — and Adelson’s note may help smooth the way. He’s a major funder of the group and an influential part of its board of directors ... Adelson was the top donor of the 2012 presidential race, with his family putting almost $90 million into it, and he has signaled he is willing to be a financial driver again.
The casino magnate Sheldon G. Adelson told Donald J. Trump in a private meeting last week that he was willing to contribute more to help elect him than he has to any previous campaign, a sum that could exceed $100 million, according to two Republicans with direct knowledge of Mr. Adelson’s commitment ... Mr. Adelson, 82, the chief executive of Las Vegas Sands, is among the world’s wealthiest individuals, and has given hundreds of millions of dollars to Republican candidates and causes over the years ... Mr. Trump assured the Adelsons that he was dedicated to protecting Israel’s security, an issue about which the couple are passionate.
“Yes. I will be coming (to Israel) soon,” said Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump told Israeli daily Israel Hayom. In an interview with the paper in honor of Israel’s 68th Independence Day, Trump confirmed a report that he will be coming after formally accepting the Republican. presidential nomination at the party’s national convention in July ... “I just want to say that my support for Israel is great and strong, and I have always loved the Israeli nation,” Trump said in the interview with Israel Hayom. “We are going to protect Israel. Don't forget, Israel is our great bastion of hope in that region so Israel is very important." “I have many friends in Israel. We will ensure that the situation in Israel will be very good, and will remain that way forever.”
In the past week, there has been much discussion about the allegation that Facebook is censoring its “trending” news stories based on political ideology. However, advocates for curbing immigration into the United States say that this is just the tip of the iceberg. The advocates claim that Facebook suppresses users who promote material which could undermine Facebook’s lobbying efforts for expanding the admission of foreign labor. They say that Facebook has ceased to be an impartial communications facilitator, but is now a “political combatant.”
The U.S. Embassy in Romania on Friday criticized the country's central bank for releasing a coin bearing the image of a former bank governor who it said actively promoted anti-Semitism. The embassy called the bank's decision to honor Mihail Manoilescu, the former governor of the National Bank of Romania, "disappointing." In a statement, it said he was "an active promoter of and contributor to fascist ideology and anti-Semitic sentiment." Manoilescu was foreign minister in 1940, when Romania was allied with Nazi Germany.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lashed out at Iran Sunday for staging a Holocaust-themed cartoon contest that mocked the Nazi genocide of six million Jews during World War II, and said the Islamic Republic was busy planning for another one. Iran has long backed armed groups committed to Israel's destruction and its leaders have called for it to be wiped off the map. Israel fears that Iran's nuclear program is designed to threaten its very existence. But Netanyahu said that it not just Iran's belligerent policies that Israel opposed, but its values. "It denies the Holocaust, it mocks the Holocaust and it is also preparing another Holocaust," Netanyahu said at his weekly Cabinet meeting.
As Israel and the United States condemn Iran for allowing a Holocaust-themed cartoon festival to go on display in Tehran, the Iranian regime says it won't censor what it says is free speech ... Regardless, Israeli and American criticism and Zarif's reply raise what many see as double standards on each side when it comes to minimizing the Holocaust and drawing Muhammad, as the festival's origins trace back to Jyllands-Posten and Charlie Hebdo's Muhammad cartoons. ... “We do not mean to approve or deny the Holocaust," Masud Shojaei-Tabatabai, the event organizer, told the Tehran Times. "The main question is why is there no permission to talk about the Holocaust," adding their intention is to criticize Israel's treatment of Palestinians.
The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has called on the Iranian government to disavow a Holocaust cartoon contest that is due to kick off next week. Iran's foreign minister has denied any affiliation with the event, which begins on May 14 and features prizes ranging from $5,000 to $12,000 for the top three entries. But the Washington-based museum, which is funded by U.S. government and private donations, has suggested the event has government links, and ought to be canceled or condemned ... Contest organizers have said that they're testing the West's commitment to free speech. "If freedom of expression knows no boundary, the issue of the Holocaust must also be critically and freely reviewed," the Sarcheshmeh Center said in its announcement of the contest last year.
... One has just to mention the Holocaust (or Shoah in Hebrew) and fear oozes from every pore of the national body. Stoking Holocaust memories is a national industry. Children are sent to visit Auschwitz, their first trip abroad. The last Minister of Education decreed the introduction of Holocaust studies in kindergarten (seriously). There is a Holocaust Day – in addition to many other Jewish holidays, most of which commemorate some past conspiracy to kill the Jews. The historical picture created in the mind of every Jewish child, in Israel as well as abroad, is, in the words of the Passover prayer read aloud every year in every Jewish family: "In every generation they arise against us to annihilate us, but God saves us from their hands!"
The great shrinking of the middle class that has captured the attention of the nation is not only playing out in troubled regions like the Rust Belt, Appalachia and the Deep South, but in just about every metropolitan area in America, according to a major new analysis by the Pew Research Center. Pew reported in December that a clear majority of American adults no longer live in the middle class, a demographic reality shaped by decades of widening inequality, declining industry, and the erosion of financial stability and family-wage jobs ... And as the middle class has been shrinking, median incomes have fallen, too. In 190 of these 229 metros, the median income dropped over this same time.
In cities across America, the middle class is hollowing out. A widening wealth gap is moving more households into either higher- or lower-income groups in major metro areas, with fewer remaining in the middle, according to a report released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center. In nearly one-quarter of metro areas, middle-class adults no longer make up a majority, the Pew analysis found. That's up from fewer than ten percent of metro areas in 2000. That sharp shift reflects a broader erosion that occurred from 2000 through 2014. Over that time, the middle class shrank in nine of every ten metro areas, Pew found. The squeezing of the middle class has animated this year's presidential campaign, lifting the insurgent candidacies of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.
Chicago’s gang violence is usually quite bloody during summer weekends, but this year’s Mother’s Day weekend was particularly bloody with 43 wounded and nine killed between Friday afternoon and Sunday night ... The massive number of shootings and deaths for the weekend is added to a year already superseding historical records. The same weekend in 2015, for instance, saw 25 wounded and three killed, and in 2014, the toll came to 19 wounded and five killed. The numbers thus far this year are alarming. Year to date, the Windy City has suffered 1,236 shootings, with 185 shot and killed.
Boris Johnson has defended comments made over the weekend in which he likened the aims of the European Union to those of Adolf Hitler. The former mayor of London had told the Sunday Telegraph newspaper that the EU was an attempt to recreate the Roman Empire’s united Europe. “Napoleon, Hitler, various people tried this out, and it ends tragically,” he told the paper. “The EU is an attempt to do this by different methods.” Mr Johnson’s comparison with Nazi Germany attracted criticism, coming just weeks after Ken Livingstone was suspended from the Labour party for bring Adolf Hitler into a discussion about Zionism and antisemitism. But Mr Johnson on Monday morning robustly defended his comments, repeating his overall hypothesis.
If you’re on a popular Reddit comment thread, there’s a good chance you’ll come across at least one mention of Hitler or Nazi Germany. A data scientist who blogs with the pen name Curious Gnu analyzed 4.6 million publicly available Reddit comments. He found that 78 percent of subreddits with more than 1,000 comments have at least one mention of Hitler or Nazis ... That Hitler references are pervasive on Reddit shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has ever, you know, used the Internet. Comment threads have a way of getting seriously off topic and devolving into tirades about politics, race and, eventually, Nazi Germany.
Facebook workers routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers from the social network's influential "trending" news section, according to a former journalist who worked on the project. This individual says that workers prevented stories about the right-wing CPAC gathering, Mitt Romney, Rand Paul, and other conservative topics from appearing in the highly-influential section, even though they were organically trending among the site's users. Several former Facebook "news curators," as they were known internally, also told Gizmodo that they were instructed to artificially "inject" selected stories into the trending news module, even if they weren't popular enough to warrant inclusion -- or in some cases weren't trending at all.
Revelations that Facebook may have regularly "blacklisted" conservative stories from the platform's "trending" news section was met with outrage on Monday from journalists across the political spectrum who found the company's alleged abuse of power "disturbing" and potentially dangerous ... This practice of "imposing human editorial values," as Nunez put it, flies in the face of the company's claim that the section is simply displaying "topics that have recently become popular on Facebook."
The Iranian parliament wants the U.S. to compensate the country for damages from a series of events dating to the 1953 coup that increased the power of the pro-American shah. The parliament on Tuesday passed a bill requiring its government to demand compensation from the United States for "spiritual and material" damages. Also Tuesday, Iran’s Supreme National Security Council voted to file a complaint with the International Court of Justice against the U.S. over last month's Supreme Court ruling that approved confiscation of Iranian assets ... The CIA has acknowledged directing the 1953 coup, which drove out Iran's democratically elected prime minister during a bitter dispute over control of oil.
Border services agents in Montreal sent convicted anti-Semitic comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala back to France on Tuesday after he landed in the city for a series of ten sold-out shows in Canada. Hours earlier, Dieudonne had been convicted again in France for breaking hate speech laws, for which he was fined $11,400. Jewish groups had pressured Ottawa for two weeks to keep Dieudonne from entering Canada based on his numerous convictions in Europe over the last decade for hate speech and Holocaust denial. “It would seem that the [Canadian Border Services Agency] made the right decision today,” said David Ouellette of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.
... What better testament to the philosophy of foreign interventionism than Iraq? Here was their chance — the great opportunity for the Pentagon, the CIA, the entire national-security establishment, the neocon movement, and the interventionist movement to show what they could do if given carte blanche over a country, a country that had never attacked the United States or even threatened to do so. All that needed to be done was to kill a few hundreds of thousands of people, incarcerate and torture tens of thousands of others, reeducate millions who would survive the onslaught, and bring into existence a new government — one that might be a bit brutal, corrupt, and tyrannical but at least would be pro-U.S.A. Iraq was to be the showcase for foreign interventionism.
... Trump’s views suggest the good, the bad and the ugly. Thankfully not as ugly as the positions taken by most of the Republican Party presidential contenders and congressional leaders as well as Democrat Hillary Clinton. Nor as bad as policies implemented by President Barack Obama over the last seven years. But not as good as the provocative thinking of Rand and especially Ron Paul ... No one knows how President Trump would actually govern. But his foreign policy sounds a lot like his domestic policy: inconsistent, contradictory, ill-formed, incomplete. But still far better than those of his main rivals. If he wins the GOP nomination, for the first time in years the presidential race might yield a genuine debate over foreign policy.
It’s now evident, fifteen years after the 9/11 attacks, that Obama’s foreign policy has maintained many of the core elements of the global war on terror initiated by his predecessor — assassinations, drone attacks, heavy reliance on special forces, covert operations, and, in the case of Afghanistan, the continued use of American ground forces in combat. And, as in the years of Bush and Cheney, there has been no progress, let alone victory, in the fight against terrorism ... I learned early in the Obama presidency that he was prepared to walk away from first principles ... But Obama, whatever his private thoughts, still speaks of American exceptionalism and still believes, or acts as if he does, that the war on terror, a war against an ideology, can be won with American bombers, drone attacks, and special forces.
The US-led coalition's actions in Syria are illegal, and entering the country without consent from its legitimate authorities was a "big mistake," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said. In an interview with Sweden's Dagens Nyheter newspaper, Lavrov stated that Russia is "the only country engaged in anti-terrorism activities in Syria legally" and that "the US coalition's work there is illegal." "I've told our American partners repeatedly that this is a big mistake. Just like they received approval from the Iraqi government, they should have obtained approval from Damascus or come to the UN Security Council. If that happened, I have no doubt that we would have worked out a UNSC resolution that would have been acceptable both to the US-led coalition and the Syrian government, because this is our common problem."
The belief that America went to war with Iraq for oil and that the war was promoted by the oil companies never seems to die even though it lacks much in the way of empirical evidence ... There is considerable counter-evidence, which I have provided in The Transparent Cabal: The Neoconservative Agenda, War in the Middle East, and the National Interest of Israel and elsewhere to show that oil companies were not only not involved in driving the United States into war but actually opposed this undertaking. The oil companies certainly wanted to have access to Iraqi oil but they wanted to do this in peaceful ways. Thus the oil companies were pushing for an end to sanctions against Iraq ... Also, blaming the oil companies as the driving force for the war on Iraq is much safer than the neoconservative explanation.
An interview-debate on the motives and forces behind the US invasion of Iraq. Opposing views are presented by Mark Weber, director of the IHR, and by Stephen Zunes, professor at the University of San Francisco. Brother Nathanael Kapner arranged the exchange.
... One of the consequences of the destruction of Mussolini and his regime was a prodigious rise in criminal activities in Italy ... Dominating this development was the revivified Mafia, effectively subdued for over a decade before the arrival in 1943-44 of the Anglo-American armies, and suddenly back in business everywhere with the achievement of "liberation." ... Allied military and occupation leaders were soon emptying the prisons and labor camps of the Mussolini regime, eventually turning loose upon Sicily and southern Italy a legion of convicted murderers, robbers and extortionists, as well as setting them up in business as the mayors of a long string of Sicilian communities – "Mafiosi to a man” ...
A scholarly study has found that the U.S. public believes that whenever the U.S. government proposes a war, it has already exhausted all other possibilities. When a sample group was asked if they supported a particular war, and a second group was asked if they supported that particular war after being told that all alternatives were no good, and a third group was asked if they supported that war even though there were good alternatives, the first two groups registered the same level of support, while support for war dropped off significantly in the third group. This led the researchers to the conclusion that if alternatives are not mentioned, people don’t assume they exist — rather, people assume they’ve already been tried ... But the lesson learned never seems to be that the government wants war and will lie to get it.
Evidence continues to mount on how lopsided has been the implementation so far of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, a.k.a. the Iran nuclear agreement, with Iran's rigorous carrying out of its obligations regarding its nuclear program being unmatched by the sort of financial and commercial opening to Iran that was a fundamental part of the bargain that was struck. The extensive and complicated U.S.-imposed sanctions are still the chief impediment to implementation, thus continuing to demonstrate how U.S. sanctions can actually reduce U.S. influence. A feature of the latest reporting on the subject is that it is not just the Iranians but also Europeans who are crying foul with good reason. Too often forgotten by American opponents of the JCPOA is that it is a multilateral agreement, involving five other states besides the United States and Iran.
During an era of headline-grabbing advances in medicine, the United States is experiencing a health cataclysm. The latest straw in the wind is last week’s report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing that life expectancy for white women declined slightly from 2013 to 2014. Other studies indicate rising death rates for a white working class that is in a slow-motion economic and social meltdown. Self-destructive behaviors are outpacing medical advances against killers like heart disease and cancer. Hopelessness may not be a condition studied by epidemiologists, but it is cutting a swath through a segment of white America ... If there is such a thing as white privilege, no one has told less-educated whites.
Donald Trump has famously declared that the American Dream is dead, but the majority of middle class Americans seem to disagree with the Republican presidential frontrunner. Sixty-three percent of people surveyed earlier this year believe they are living the American Dream. That finding suggests American optimism hasn’t been a casualty of the recession, despite a report that says 90 percent of Americans are worse off today than they were in the 1970s ... That’s quite a change from the period beginning in the 1940s leading up to 1970s. During that time, real income — the goods and services people can afford today compared to the price of the same goods and services they could have bought in another time period — went up steadily for all Americans.
The pattern of illegal immigration appears to be shifting yet again as families traveling together — usually mothers and their children — surge across the southwestern border at a record pace, posing more challenges for an Obama administration still struggling to figure out how to handle them. They are increasingly coming into remote areas of Texas and Arizona where Border Patrol officials thought they had licked the problem. Analysts say it signals that new cartels are involved in trafficking ... The fact that families have surged ahead of unaccompanied children suggests Central Americans, who make up most of the new crossers, have learned to game the U.S. immigration system.
Germans are becoming increasingly sceptical of mass immigration, with large numbers refusing to approve of their country accepting refugees and a record number putting national identity before being “global citizens”. According to a survey by GlobeScan for BBC World Service, a record number now define their primary identity as “German”, with only a minority approving of immigration from other countries ... A curiously large number of people also decline to give opinions on immigration, inter-racial marriages and accepting refugees, suggesting a trend away from supporting these things but a lingering refusal to openly oppose them.
... Today, no great Western nation has a birthrate that will prevent the extinction of its native-born. By century's end, other peoples and other cultures will have largely repopulated the Old Continent. European Man seems destined to end like the ten lost tribes of Israel — overrun, assimilated and disappeared. And while the European peoples — Russians, Germans, Brits, Balts — shrink in number, the U.N. estimates that the population of Africa will double in 34 years to well over two billion people. What happened to the West? ... Forty percent of U.S. births are out of wedlock. For Hispanics, the illegitimacy rate is over 50 percent; for African-Americans, it's over 70 percent. Test scores of U.S. high school students fall annually and approach parity with Third World countries. Suicide is a rising cause of death for middle-aged whites.
Former presidential candidate and conservative author Pat Buchanan feels his views have been vindicated this election cycle, but his next prediction, if proven right, won’t be a celebratory matter as he sees the death of the western civilization on the horizon ... “The West is disintegrating. Its faith is dead. When the cult dies, the culture dies and when the culture dies the civilization dies, and when the civilization dies the people die, and that’s what’s happening to western civilization.” The conservative commentator was especially grim about Europe, Buchanan said, “It’s hard for me to see how the Europeans survive, whether they have the will, just given the trend-lines in terms of population and in terms of immigrants pouring in.” He told TheDC, “I’m not a great optimist about the western civilization.”
The world is fascinated by Donald Trump, just as blindsided as many Americans are about his rise, and nearly at a loss to understand what he would do as president. Foreign policy elites around the globe speak of Trump as a loose cannon, a “roller coaster,” ”unpredictable,” ”dangerous” and, perhaps above all, a “mystery.” But they can’t avert their gaze from a Republican presidential race that turns on the billionaire’s every word ... “With Trump," said Danish Foreign Minister Kristian Jensen, "it is really like drawing a ticket in the lottery." ... Nicolas Bouchet, who researches Europe at the German Marshall Fund, was blunt: "A President Trump would ignite anti-Americanism across Europe."
On the eastern slopes of the Andes Mountains, in the remote San Martin Province of Peru, lie the abandoned ruins of a mysterious civilization. Modern Peruvians tell us that a people whom they call the Chachapoya, “the cloud people,” built these structures. The most notable of these is the massive Kuelap Fortress, which contains more stone than even the pyramid of Cheops in Egypt ... The Chachapoyan ruins give evidence of an advanced civilization that must have required centuries to develop. Yet none of this development appears to have taken place in South America ... The Chachapoyan civilization, therefore, most likely arose in ancient times somewhere outside of South America, and then, still in ancient times, dropped down out of nowhere in Peru.
Which is the world’s most innovative country? Answering this question is the aim of the annual Global Innovation Index and a related report, which were published this morning by Cornell University, INSEAD, a business school, and the World Intellectual Property Organisation. The ranking of 140 countries and economies around the world, which are scored using 79 indicators, is not surprising: Switzerland, Britain, Sweden, the Netherlands and America lead the pack .... The chart above shows that in innovation many countries in Africa punch above their economic weight. And the chart below indicates that, even though China is now churning out a lot of patents, it is still way behind America and other rich countries when it comes to innovation quality.
President Obama reportedly “cleared the air” with Saudi officials during his visit to the Kingdom earlier this week. We should all ask when he’ll do the same with the American people. I’m speaking, of course, about the Obama administration’s refusal to declassify the infamous 28 pages from a 2002 joint congressional inquiry into intelligence failures surrounding the September 11 attacks ... The 28 pages seem emblematic of a broader problem in U.S. foreign policy: namely, the inability and/or unwillingness of U.S. government officials to speak honestly with the American people about the nature of the governments and individuals with whom they choose to cooperate. There is a rather long-running tradition of U.S. presidents engaging in subterfuge, misdirection and/or outright deception about such matters.
… Roosevelt was not the first or the last American president to lie to the people. But rarely has a major American political figure given a speech as loaded with brazen falsehood as Franklin Roosevelt did in his Navy Day address of October 27, 1941 … Roosevelt went on to reveal that he also had in his possession "another document made in Germany by Hitler's government. It is a detailed plan to abolish all existing religions -- Catholic, Protestant, Mohammedan, Hindu, Buddhist, and Jewish alike" which Germany will impose "on a dominated world, if Hitler wins."
In 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt faced an excruciatingly delicate task. Although he had promised — and campaigned on — a policy of American neutrality in World War II the year before, Roosevelt ached to help the Allies ... How, exactly, could he about-face and sell the war to his people? In October of that year, he masterfully managed the feat. In his nationally-broadcast Navy Day address, Roosevelt made an extraordinary claim ... The map — presented as clear evidence of the Nazis' hostile aspirations in what was (under the century old Monroe doctrine) still considered "America’s backyard" — had its intended effect. Although the Germans vehemently denied the map’s existence, the American people largely rallied behind what could now be pitched as a preemptive war of self-defense.
Which presidents and political parties were responsible for America's deadliest wars? . This silent 90-second video of map graphics reviews the 231-year history of American war, from 1775 to 2006.
War defines the United States. Domestically, it is the country’s greatest budgetary priority: $598 billion, 54 per cent of discretionary spending, in fiscal year 2015. Globally, we have more than 800 bases in some 80 countries, and spend more than the next nine nations combined. Yet academic historians, especially those at the nation’s most richly endowed research universities, largely ignore the history of the US military ... “I think the biggest problem we’ve got in the country is people don’t study history anymore,” said Donald Rumsfeld in 2006. Academia abhors a vacuum, and political science has attempted to fill this one. As Andrew Bacevich at Boston University observed of the consequences: ‘I tend to see that resulting in war being sanitised, robbed of context, and simplified to suit the needs of some particular model.’
Only 37 percent of American 12th-graders were academically prepared for college math and reading in 2015, a slight dip from two years earlier, according to test scores released Wednesday. The National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the “Nation’s Report Card,” said that share was down from an estimated 39 percent in math and 38 percent in reading in 2013. Educators and policy makers have long lamented that many seniors get diplomas even though they aren’t ready for college, careers or the military ... In reading, 49 percent of Asian students performed at or above proficiency last year. So did 46 percent of white students, 25 percent of Hispanic students and 17 percent of black students.
... The notion that the second world war was finer and nobler than the first is highly dubious in itself, since it sanitises so much, from the slaughter of civilians by Allied bombing to the gang rape of millions of women by our Russian allies at the moment of victory ... The glorification of the second world war has had practical and baleful consequences. It has led us to an easier acceptance of “liberal interventionism”, founded on the assumption that we in the west are alone virtuous and qualified to distinguish political right from wrong – and the conviction that our self-evidently virtuous ends must justify whatever means we employ ...
Ever since it began, World War II has been seen as “the good war” ... World War II is remembered as the defeat of dictatorship by democracy, racism by tolerance, nationalism by internationalism, extremism by moderation, evil by good. It is a memory that is buried deep in the political consciousness and identity of the modern world and in particular Britain and America, where it has sustained a positive self-image ever since 1945 and underpinned the two countries’ global ambitions and roles. Yet in recent years this positive memory has come increasingly into question.
The dominant view of World War II is that it was the “good war.” Hitler bears exclusive responsibility for the onset of war, because he aimed to conquer Europe, if not the entire world. The United States tried to avoid entering the war but was forced into the fight by the surprise Japanese attack on the American fleet at Pearl Harbor. The authors on this list dissent. Responsibility for the war was mixed, and Roosevelt provoked Japan’s attack. Allied conduct of the war, furthermore, was characterized by grave ethical misconduct.
... In recent years, though, I have grown increasingly dispirited at the way certain historical references continue to dominate American political discourse, particularly on foreign affairs. The problem is not that the people who invoke these references get the history wrong (although they often do). It is that they get the present wrong, seeing it insistently through the prism of a history that has less and less relevance to the early twenty-first century ... Neoconservative commentators like Charles Krauthammer and Norman Podhoretz deploy Munich analogies in virtually everything they write about foreign policy ... Erase the word “Munich” once and for all from our political vocabularies. Remember, always, that the year is not 1938.
In Wiesel’s uncensored Hebrew 'Night' manuscript, unveiled here for the first time, the author expresses desire to take revenge on the Hungarians, lashes out at fellow Jews and describes sexual scenes from the train to Auschwitz. / ... The archived version of “Night” is hugely different to the published one. It contains entire sections that don’t appear in the finished book, as well as different versions of pieces that were included. As well as the sharp criticism of God, the archived version also included harsh criticism of many Jews who either yielded to temptation or were tempted to believe that nothing bad would befall them ... He also describes at length his Christian-Hungarian neighbors, who joyously watched the Jews of his hometown being deported ... Wiesel also discusses the desire for revenge that arose in 1945.
Elie Wiesel passes for one of the most celebrated eyewitnesses to the alleged Holocaust. Yet in his supposedly autobiographical book Night, he makes no mention of gas chambers. He claims instead to have witnessed Jews being burned alive, a story now dismissed by all historians. Wiesel gives credence to the most absurd stories of other "eyewitnesses." He spreads fantastic tales of 10,000 persons sent to their deaths each day in Buchenwald. When Elie Wiesel and his father, as Auschwitz prisoners, had the choice of either leaving with their retreating German "executioners," or remaining behind in the camp to await the Soviet "liberators," the two decided to leave with their German captors.
For the first time, an international poll has found a majority of respondents seeing themselves more as global citizens than as citizens of their country, possibly presaging major shifts in world affairs. Polling organization Globescan reported Thursday that 51 percent of people in 18 countries worldwide lean toward a global view of themselves, against 43 percent who identify nationally. The polling group has been tracking the issue for 15 years. The study, carried out for the BBC World Service, found that the trend was largely driven by big developing countries. In wealthier countries, such as Germany and Britain, people seem less globally minded.
... Any true understanding of this election requires an appreciation of the one huge political fault line that is driving America into a period of serious political tremors, certain to jolt the political Richter scale. It is nationalists vs. globalists. Globalists captured much of American society long ago by capturing the bulk of the nation’s elite institutions — the media, academia, big corporations, big finance, Hollywood, think tanks, NGOs, charitable foundations ... Then along comes Donald Trump and upends the whole thing. Just about every major issue that this super-rich political neophyte has thrown at the elites turns out to be anti-globalist and pro-nationalist. And that is the single most significant factor in his unprecedented and totally unanticipated rise ... Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, is the personification of the globalist elite ...
... Globalization is dying, as far as the political base of America is concerned. The only politician in 2016 who crafted a message based on that profound truth was Donald Trump, and he forced the Republicans to confront it ... Democrats such as Hillary Clinton refused to relinquish their Wilsonian, feel-good impulse to use American force to salve the wounds and hurts of humanity in distant precincts of the globe (globalization again). And Republicans were captive to the neoconservative notion that America could stand tall upon the globe by flexing its muscles everywhere (with a little Wilsonian, do-good nation-building along the way). Neither party could bring itself to accept the reality that the Cold War was over, and the post-Cold War effort to run the world as in the Cold War days has failed.
When it comes to Syria, “no boots on the ground” was something of a mantra for Barack Obama. He has repeated it dozens of times, but not anymore. On Monday, he told the world at least 250 US troops would soon be fighting inside the country. With American military members now slowly streaming into multiple countries in the Middle East, we’re entrenched in yet another war and it’s unclear how we’ll get out of it ... No one doubts that the destructive and complex situation in Syria is certainly a tragedy, but there’s no proof that adding more US guns and troops to the situation will make it any better, and history tells us it will only make it worse. Unfortunately, recent history seems to be the last thing our leaders take heed of in times like these.
Israel on Tuesday night took another important step toward becoming a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance. The organization announced that it will allow Israel to open an office at NATO headquarters in Brussels to push forward a process that could ultimately lead to full-fledged membership for Israel. NATO’s 28 members include the United States, Canada, European Union member states and other European countries. The alliance obligates all member states to aid a fellow member if it comes under attack ... Israeli officials noted that NATO's announcement came on the heels of a concerted diplomatic effort, with the help of the United States, Canada, Germany and other European countries. Along with Israel, Jordan and Bahrain also received a green light to open offices at NATO headquarters.
... After the 1967 war, Israel ethnically cleansed Golan, leveling the capital, Kuneitra, with bulldozers and expelled almost all Golan’s 130,000 Druze and Arab inhabitants. Jewish settlers were brought in to replace them. The US shielded Israel from UN action and world-wide protests ... But once the Syrian civil war conveniently began, there was no more talk of Golan. In fact, it’s pretty much clear that Israel has been quietly fueling the Syrian conflict by discreet arms and logistics support to so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels and lobbying for the war in Washington and with the US media ... The words of Israel’s founding father, David Ben-Gurion, still resonate: the state of Israel is a work in progress and its borders should not be fixed or even defined. Notably the borders with Syria and Jordan.
The Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902 was more than the first major military clash of the 20th century. Pitting as it did the might of the globe-girdling British Empire, backed by international finance, against a small pioneering nation of independent-minded farmers, ranchers and merchants in southern Africa who lived by the Bible and the rifle, its legacy continues to resonate today. The Boers' recourse to irregular warfare, and Britain's response in herding a hundred thousand women and children into concentration camps foreshadowed the horrors of guerilla warfare and mass detention of innocents that have become emblematic of the 20th century.
Administrators have ordered the removal of swastikas from a high school production of The Producers, the famous Mel Brooks film that makes fun of Nazism. The New York school district that oversees Tappan Zee High School considers the inclusion of a swastika to be offensive and, possibly, a hate crime — regardless of the context. “There is no context in a public high school where a swastika is appropriate,” South Orangetown Superintendent Bob Pritchard told the local CBS station. The kids in the play had a different reaction. "It's satire, not supposed to be taken seriously," said Tyler Lowe, a student performer. CBS notes that Lowe is himself Jewish. It's not surprising that the teens understand the play better than the district does.
On Monday, Puerto Rico missed a $422 million payment to its debtors. It’s not the first time that the island will default on a payment, but it is so far the largest, most notable, and most concerning development since a dismal report last summer about the territory’s economic standing ... The island has long struggled with unemployment and poverty, but the financial situation on the island has gotten continually worse over the past ten months; in order to pay out the debts owed on Puerto Rican bonds, the territory has reduced funding to schools and health-care programs and raised its sales tax ... In the interim, Puerto Ricans continue to head to the mainland in search of work and stability. In fact, the number of residents leaving the island is at a record high — around 84,000 departed in 2014 alone, according to the island’s Institute of Statistics.
Labour has secretly suspended 50 of its members over antisemitic and racist comments as officials struggle to cope with the crisis engulfing the party. Senior sources reveal that Labour's compliance unit has been swamped by the influx of hard-left supporters following Jeremy Corbyn's election. The suspensions that have been made public so far are said to be just the tip of the iceberg. On Monday night Mr Corbyn appeared to acknowledge there was a problem for the first time, while insisting it was "not huge" ... There is growing pressure on the Labour leader ahead of the local elections on Thursday, in which his party is forecast to lose more than 100 seats. Senior figures are now so concerned about the row that they are openly discussing the possibility of an attempted coup following the EU referendum.
What was once furious Republican opposition to Donald Trump’s proposal to temporarily ban foreign Muslims from entering the U.S. has turned to virtual silence in the face of widespread GOP voter approval. Exit polls from the nation’s biggest Republican primaries show impressive majority support for Trump’s proposal. In the latest example, in Pennsylvania Tuesday, 69 percent of GOP voters said they support “temporarily banning Muslims who are not U.S. citizens from entering the U.S.” In New York last week, the number was 68 percent ... If those exit polls, measuring the opinions of tens of thousands of people, are correct, the temporary foreign Muslim ban has become a Republican staple.
A letter written by former President William Howard Taft opposing the nomination of Louis Brandeis to become a Supreme Court justice and called anti-Semitic is on the auction block. The four-page letter, which Taft wrote to the Washington-based Jewish journalist Gus Karger and making reference to Brandeis’ Jewishness, is part of an online auction Thursday by Nate D. Sanders Auctions in Los Angeles ... Brandeis, who would go on to be the first Jewish justice on the high court, was nominated by Taft’s successor, President Woodrow Wilson ... In the letter, Taft rips Wilson’s ”Machiavellian” and ”satanic skill” in his selection of Brandeis, whom he calls ”cunning,” a ”hypocrite” and a ”power for evil.” ... Taft said “Brandeis has adopted Zionism, favors the new Jerusalem, and has metaphorically been re-circumcised ...”
…. Those who maintain that there is nothing in the character, habits, or disposition of the Jew to provoke antipathy have to bring the charge of fanatical prejudice not only against the Russians or against Christendom, but against mankind … Critics of Judaism are accused of bigotry of race, as well as of bigotry of religion. The accusation comes strangely from those who style themselves the Chosen People, make race a religion, and treat all races except their own as Gentiles and unclean … We have given up the fancy that the Jew is accursed. We must cease to believe that he is sacred.
What a California lawmaker intended as a benign resolution honoring a late, world-renowned movie icon exploded into an emotional debate over decades-old racist comments Thursday. The state Assembly defeated the official ode to John Wayne after several legislators described statements he made about racial minorities and his support for the anti-communist House Un-American Activities Committee and the John Birch Society. Known as "Duke," a nickname he picked up as a boy in Glendale, California, Wayne grew into the star of movies including "The Alamo," ''The Green Beret," and "True Grit," for which he won an Academy Award, while portraying the gruff, rugged cowboys and brave soldiers who were his stock in trade.
B’nai Brith in Montreal is trying to block the entry into Canada of French comedian Dieudonne, who has multiple convictions and fines for making antisemitic statements against Jews in France and Belgium. Dieudonne, whose full name is Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, is slated to appear May 11-16 at ten sold-out shows in a 200-seat art gallery theater in Montreal’s east end. B’nai Brith Canada is filing a complaint with the Canada Border Services Agency ... Montreal mayor Denis Coderre made it clear that the comedian is not welcome ... Dieudonne, 50, is infamous for using his act to make outrageous comments about Jews, Israel, and terrorism, including Holocaust denial.
The World Jewish Congress on Monday accused the German unit of YouTube of failing to stop neo-Nazis from using the online video channel to distribute thousands of anti-Semitic tracks. The WJC sent Philipp Justus, the managing director of the German unit of YouTube parent company Google, a letter demanding more decisive action to take down illegal material praising the Holocaust and Adolf Hitler ... Singer highlighted one song in particular, "In Belsen" by far-right group Kommando Freisler, which he said was "widely available" on YouTube despite the fact that it had been banned in Germany and the band members behind it given suspended jail terms in 2009 for inciting racial hatred ... By Monday afternoon, all of the offending videos cited in an email from the WJC had been removed from YouTube.