❝ …Trump is betting the Democratic-led congressional impeachment inquiry, which entered a new phase on Wednesday with public hearings, could help him win the November 2020 election. Public opinion polls show support for impeachment is concentrated among Democrats…and a boatload of Independents.
Last Friday alone, the president sent out more than 400 Facebook ads asking for donations that would be rewarded with a personalized “Impeachment Defense Membership Card.”
Wonder how long before Trump chumps get armbands along with their membership cards.
Haven’t we been here before?
Under the pressure of financial crisis and with the euro currency at stake, the two key leaders of the euro zone said Monday that they would together push to remake the European Union into a more integrated political and economic federation, with tight legal restraints on how much debt national parliaments can issue.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, meeting here at the start of a crucial week that will end with a European Union summit meeting on Thursday and Friday, called for amendments to European treaties that would include centralized oversight over budgets and automatic sanctions against countries that violate firmer rules on deficits…
The automatic sanctions – or threat of – are the most Neverland part of the proposals, of course. Who expects a country unable to pay sufficient bills to pay a fine for not paying those bills?
“We want to make sure that the imbalances that led to the situation in the euro zone today cannot happen again,” Mr. Sarkozy told a joint news conference. “Therefore we want a new treaty, to make clear to the peoples of Europe that things cannot continue as they are.”
Mrs. Merkel, warmly embracing the French president despite their often testy relationship, insisted that the euro zone must be effectively reestablished under a different set of rules. “We want structural changes that go beyond agreements. We need binding debt brakes,” she said…
The two leaders are aiming to develop a clear consensus among the other members of the euro zone that they will push ahead with a new treaty. They appear to be calculating that such a signal of solidarity will be enough to persuade the European Central Bank, the only institution in Europe with enough financial firepower to defend the ability of member states to raise money on bond markets, that it has enough political cover to move more aggressively to protect vulnerable countries like Italy and Spain.
RTFA for the details, anecdotal hogwash, hopeful analysis – all of which ignores the fact that standards meant nothing for the several nations brought into the EU in the first place though they didn’t really meet standards. Creative analysis, voodoo economics were used to justify including countries like Greece into the club although they were miles and years away from realistic qualification.
UNESCO delegates stand and cheer after approving Palestinian membership
Daylife/AP Photo used by permission
Palestine has become a full member of the UN cultural and educational agency in a move that the United States and other opponents say could harm renewed Middle East peace efforts.
The US had threatened to withhold roughly $80 million in annual funding to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) if it approved Palestinian membership. The United States provides about 22% of Unesco’s funding.
Which is about how the average mafia functions. Extortion doesn’t make for lasting politics.
Huge cheers went up in Unesco after delegates approved the membership by 107 votes to 14 with 52 abstentions. Eighty-one votes were needed for approval in a hall with 173 Unesco member delegations present.
“Long live Palestine!” shouted one delegate, in French, at the unusually tense and dramatic meeting of Unesco’s general conference.
While the vote has large symbolic meaning, the issues of borders of an eventual Palestinian state, security troubles and other disputes that have thwarted Middle East peace for decades remain unresolved.
Palestinian officials are seeking full membership in the United Nations, but that effort is still under examination and the US has said it will veto it unless there is a peace deal with Israel. Given that, the Palestinians separately sought membership at Paris-based Unesco and other UN bodies…
The US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, last week called Unesco’s deliberation “inexplicable”, saying discussion of Palestinian membership of international organisations could not replace negotiations with Israel as a fast track towards Palestinian independence.
There is no “fast track” towards Palestinian independence if you think that honorable and ethical negotiations will be forthcoming from Israel’s ruling politicians. They hold power from a commitment to manifest destiny and lebensraum.
There is no “fast track” as long as the train dispatcher deals only in American dollars dedicated to short-term and long-term goals decided essentially by Israeli politicians. There is little or no attention paid to the needs of the displaced nation of Palestine.
History and historic decisions aren’t resolved in press releases from the State Department. Especially those offered in support of imperial occupying armies.
European Union leaders gave the go-ahead on Friday for Croatia to join the EU, after six years of preparations marred by slow democratic reforms in Zagreb and the EU’s reluctance to expand.
The former Yugoslav state of 4.4 million people should be able to wrap up accession negotiations next week, they said at a summit in Brussels, but warned the Zagreb government that it has to continue to fight widespread corruption with “vigor.”
The recommendation marks a turnaround for Croatia, which struggled for years to convince the EU’s 27 governments that its judiciary reforms would produce genuine results and prove it has recognized its role in the Balkan wars in the 1990s…
Several EU governments, led by Britain and the Netherlands, pushed for strict monitoring of Croatia during the ratification process and had insisted that the completion of talks remains open-ended.
But others wanted a more clear message. Many EU politicians are hopeful that rewarding Croatia for a last-minute reform push will persuade other governments in the western Balkans that the EU is willing to accept new members if they are ready…
EU enlargement is likely to remain on the backburner in the coming years, however, with voters around the continent wary of its cost at a time of economic austerity…
Croatia, the richest of EU hopefuls in the Balkans and which relies heavily on tourism, is hoping that accession will bolster its appeal to foreign funds at a time when Europe’s financial woes have slashed direct investment in the region.
Not until they change out the tablecloth-looking football kit.
Palm Beach Country Club – a Madoff hunting preserve
If something sounds too good to be true, I keep reading, that must be because it is too good to be true…
The point about Bernie Madoff was not so much what he was selling, it was how he sold it. For that he relied on a powerful but elementary piece of human psychology: the more someone tells you that you cannot have something, the more you want it.
Membership of the Madoff fund was very strictly by invitation only – merely being rich was not enough in itself.
Clients were recruited through the social networks of which Mr Madoff and his wife were themselves members – many were Jewish New Yorkers who spent part of the year in Florida.
Others came across the charming, wealthy, discreet giant of Wall Street at the golf club or the yachting marina.
They were mainly, in other words, people who should have known better and they fell for one of the oldest illusions in the book: that there is an inside track in the world of investment.
Mr Madoff fed that illusion, and offered himself as the man who could offer you access to that magic, secret circle.
Don’t forget P.T.Barnum’s favorite rule: There’s a sucker born every minute!
In a potentially significant swing of expert Western opinion, a leading British think tank has urged that Nato membership should not be granted to Georgia or Ukraine.
“The policy of Nato enlargement now would be a strategic error,” said Dr John Chipman, Director General of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). “There is no case for accelerating membership for Georgia and Ukraine. There is a strong case for a pause.”
The IISS intervention shows that following the war in Georgia, a debate is growing about whether a confrontational approach to Russia is the best one.
The IISS is highly critical of Georgian actions – in contrast to the support Georgia has received from the US and some European countries, notably Britain. Naturally, if Georgia is faulted, then less blame can be put on Russia, whatever its reaction or, as some hold, its over-reaction.
Dr Chipman said that the “balance of evidence suggests that Georgia started this war“.
“There have been major errors of presentation of policy towards Russia. The US and Nato have in the past told Russia to accept whatever was happening. There was no give and take. We are disappointed at the way some Western leaders pushed the Cold War button after Georgia,” said Dr Chipman. “We should not over-inflate the crisis.”
The British government, of course, will echo whatever the White House says.