Fake president wasted everyone’s time this weekend in Canada


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❝ Just when it seemed that the G7 leaders had eked out a joint communique and avoided an open rift, Donald Trump in a stunning Twitter turnaround, retracted his endorsement. It’s probably better that way

❝ Sometimes it is good to rip off the band-aid. And by backing out of an apparently agreed upon joint G7 communique at the last minute via Twitter and on a plane en route to Singapore President Trump has done just that.

In his tweet he accused Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau of making false statements at his press conference and said he had “instructed our US Reps not to endorse the Communique…If he really does pull out of the agreement it would not be his first withdrawal. In fact, Trump is a master withdrawer. He pulled the US out of the Paris climate accord, the Iran nuclear deal, the Trans Pacific Partnership, and UNESCO, to name just a few…

But it is probably better that way than trying to paper over a fundamental rift that really can’t be papered over…Because President Trump’s appearance here in Quebec made clear one more time how he feels about America’s closest allies and the post-war international order that Washington was instrumental in building: he could not care less. More than that, he is actively trying to disrupt and undermine it.

With or without the encouragement of rightwing scumbags like Bolton, Miller and Navarro, I was confident Trump would back out of anything positive or constructive he pretended to agree to during the day-and-a-half he spent in Charlevoix. Look at Chancellor Merkel in the photo up top. She looks like she trusts Trump as far as she can throw him uphill into a heavy wind.

RTFA for the gruesome – predictable – results.

Report Card for 10 top world leaders

In a rare poll, citizens on five continents and in 30 countries, including China, were asked to identify and evaluate the job performance of 10 of the most widely recognized global leaders, including Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and U.S. President Barack Obama…

Respondents in India (87.8 percent), Russia (79.6 percent), and China (78.6 percent) overwhelmingly said that their home country was moving in the right direction, while only a minority in the United States (44.8 percent), Japan (30.4 percent), and South Africa (29.3 percent) felt their nation was making progress.

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The results also offer a glimpse into what kinds of information about other nations filter down to the average citizen, Anthony Saich said, “so you can begin to ask questions about how both geopolitics and about how national presses begin to report activities and behavior of other countries and how that reflects onto particular leaders.”

“Two things did surprise me — how well Modi came out. I just put that down to the fact that he’d only just been elected and so I suspect that a lot of people didn’t really know very much about him, and his own nationals were probably still in the phase of him having won the election,” said Saich. “I thought what was interesting, though, was how well Merkel came out across the board. From the surveys, she really emerges as a leader of international respect.”

Saich, who serves as faculty chair of HKS’s China program, said granular data about how Chinese citizens viewed other world leaders was groundbreaking and supports what was generally known already. Their positive assessment of Xi’s performance both at home and abroad is explained by a multitude of factors…

“For a large number of people, life has generally gotten better year by year — more freedom of choice, probably more income, better living conditions, better material conditions, a lot more to watch on the television,” Saich added. “I think that also plays into it.”

Saich doesn’t try to draw too much from the results of this initial survey. It can and will serve as a baseline for returning efforts in the future.

That doesn’t mean that TV talking heads and directly-employed government PR-types won’t try for a special spin. Not that I expect much of that in a nation as parochial as the United States.

Germany 1 – 0 Argentina

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Mario Goetze scores the winning goal, 111th minute, 2nd of double overtime

I’m exhausted. The end of one of the best World Cups I’ve watched since [I’d say] 1982. Plenty of real sports columnists, proper football fans will write pages of stuff I’ll appreciate as much as you may.

Let me congratulate the German team, their coach, the national coaching scheme that brought them to this victory.

Political animal I am, let me note in passing a completely unremarkable moment in the stands photographed at the beginning of the match. Vladimir Putin sits next to Sep Blatter, Dilma Rousseff next to Angela Merkel. With the exception of Blatter all leaders in their own nations, all preparing for the BRICS Summit which starts tomorrow morning in Brazil.

The agenda ranges from trade to the establishment of a $100 billion commercial bank for the BRICS nations. Xi Jinping will probably kick in the lion’s share from China.

The folks in the photo below realize they all have something to gain in sorting economic and political futures together. Most educated adults in the world outside the United States are aware of the same. Our government, our nation continues down the primrose path of a dying imperial nation, a standard we took up from the Brits after World War 2. Our nation, our people, the TweedleDee and TweedleDumb parties that represent our wishes, our “style”, haven’t any more clue about what’s going on in this crowd than Fox & Friends or some Tea Party candidate in Texas. Football, economics or foreign policy.

The folks in the photo – know that.

Apologists say NSA spying won’t harm US business — Germany cancels Verizon!

Germany favors Deutsche Telekom AG to replace Verizon Communications as a network provider after deciding to end the American company’s contract in the wake of reports about spy surveillance by the U.S…

Germany is using an option in the current Verizon contract to end the arrangement next year, Tobias Plate said, declining to confirm whether the government had any evidence that the provider handed information from the network to the U.S. National Security Agency.

The move is the clearest sign yet that concerns in Europe about spying by the U.S. may harm the business of American companies in the region. The decision doesn’t bode well for communications providers such as Verizon and Dallas-based AT&T which have sunk billions of dollars into winning large clients outside the U.S., said Roger Entner…at Recon Analytics…

“Verizon is the victim here — they tend to be faster, more flexible and cheaper than local providers,” Entner said. “But now security is the trump card in the deck and that’s why Deutsche Telekom wins…”

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government plans to combine three separate networks under one service provider, Plate said. A proposal to award the contracts to Deutsche Telekom has already been discussed in the parliament’s budget committee, though no contract has been signed yet, he said…

German prosecutors and lawmakers have begun investigating allegations that U.S. intelligence agents tapped Merkel’s phone, underscoring the effect on U.S.-German relations of documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Merkel and President Barack Obama failed to end the dispute during talks at the White House in May, with Merkel saying “differences of opinion” persist and require further discussion.

It has pained me to see the degree to which the Snowden disclosures have created strains in the relationship” with Germany, Obama said…

It pains me to see how frequently our elected officials lie to the whole world, lie to our allies, lie to us. Yes, I know that’s nothing new; but, part of how Barack Obama was elected derived from his promises of change. Foreign policy and deceit worthy of a John Foster Dulles is not change. Protecting scum ranging from Countrywide Mortgage lenders to CIA torture specialists worthy of a Joe McCarthy is not change.

RTFA for a more expansive treatment. The fact remains that our liberal president is whining about the truth coming out, our corrupt practices exposed. That’s not progressive leadership. That’s business as usual in the White House.

U.S. won’t agree to a deal with Germany to end spying


The effort to remake the intelligence relationship between the United States and Germany after it was disclosed last year that the National Security Agency was tapping Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone has collapsed, according to German officials, who say there will be no broad intelligence sharing or “no-spy” agreement between the two countries when Ms. Merkel visits the White House on Friday.

The failure to reach a broader accord has led to some bitter recriminations on both sides, with sharply diverging accounts from officials in Berlin and Washington about who was responsible for what was supposed to be a political solution to an embarrassing disclosure. But it also raises broader questions at a moment that President Obama and Ms. Merkel will attempt to show that they are in general accord on a strategy for both punishing Russia for its actions in Ukraine and containing President Vladimir V. Putin in the years ahead…

While the disclosure that the N.S.A. had listened to Ms. Merkel’s conversations for more than a decade was a passing story in the United States — one of many from the files that Edward J. Snowden took with him when he left Hawaii with the agency’s crown jewels — it has remained an issue in Germany. After the disclosure, Mr. Obama said the United States would not monitor Ms. Merkel’s communications, but he made no such commitment for any other German officials. And he said nothing about the future of the N.S.A.’s operations in Germany, including whether a listening station based in the American Embassy in Berlin, would stay intact.

For a number of months, German officials said the chancellor could not visit Washington until there was a resolution, including what they called a “restoration of trust” between the allies.

But the talks hit the rocks as soon as they began. Germany demanded a no-spy agreement that would ban the United States from conducting espionage activities on its soil. That led to a series of tough exchanges between the president’s national security adviser, Susan E. Rice, and her German counterpart, Christoph Heusgen.

Ms. Rice, according to American officials, said that the United States did not have no-spy agreements with any of its close allies, even with the other members of the so-called Five Eyes — the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand — which share virtually all of their intelligence. She said any such agreement with Germany would set a precedent that every other major European ally, along with the Japanese, the South Koreans and others, would soon demand to replicate.

American officials said that in January, the Germans terminated…talks, saying that if an accord could not include a no-spy agreement — a political necessity for Ms. Merkel — it was not worth signing.

Democracy, transparency, constitutional freedoms. Big words used so often by our politicians – who haven’t the slightest inclination to honor them other than by deceit and arrogance – rejecting their meaning.

German cabinet agrees on $11.75/hr minimum wage


Demonstration by Confederation of German Trade Unions for minimum wage

Germany’s cabinet agreed on Wednesday to a national minimum wage of 8.50 euros ($11.75) per hour – a flagship project for the Social Democrats who share power with Angela Merkel’s conservatives.

The minimum wage will take effect in Europe’s biggest economy from 2015 but will not cover minors, trainees and some interns. Some employers can continue to pay their workers less until the end of 2016 if they are covered by certain collective agreements…

The Bundestag lower house of parliament is due to debate the law in June before passing it in July. The Bundesrat upper house is expected to wave it through after the summer break.

Employer lobbies say blah, blah, blah.

Of the 28 states in the European Union, 21 have minimum wages. EU states without minimum wages tend to have smaller low-wage sectors than Germany and a bigger proportion of their workers are covered by collective wage deals between unions and employers.

Then, we have the United States where our courageous Democrats are considered too radical for Republicans and the rest of the right-wing crowd for offering a proposal that wouldn’t match inflation since the last update years ago – by the time the change took place. Assuming it ever gets past the Party of No in Congress.

Just one more moment to look back over the half-century or so since the end of WW2 and consider our victory in the War in Europe and what the losers have achieved compared to the winners.

Germany, Brazil offer anti-spying resolution at U.N.

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Germany and Brazil are drafting a U.N. General Assembly resolution that would demand an end to excessive spying and invasion of privacy after a former U.S. intelligence contractor revealed massive international surveillance programs, U.N. diplomats said on Friday.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have both condemned the widespread snooping by the U.S. National Security Agency.

“This resolution will probably have enormous support in the GA (General Assembly), since no one likes the NSA spying on them,” a Western U.N. diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

General Assembly resolutions are non-binding, unlike resolutions of the 15-nation Security Council. But assembly resolutions that enjoy broad international support can carry significant moral and political weight.

Merkel demanded on Thursday that Washington strike a “no-spying” agreement with Berlin and Paris by the end of the year, adding she wanted action from President Barack Obama, not just apologetic words.

Last month, Rousseff used her position as the opening speaker at the General Assembly’s annual gathering of world leaders to yaccuse the United States of violating human rights and international law through espionage that included spying on her email.

Rousseff also expressed her displeasure by calling off a high-profile state visit to the United States scheduled for this month over reports that the NSA had been spying on Brazil.

The arrogant Ugly American never really left the White House. The military-industrial complex achieved all its Cold War goals early on. Almost every president after Eisenhower was able to try his hand at a large or small war, keeping death and destruction hardware up-to-date. As often as our government lectured about peace, taxpayers ponied up for undeclared and unfunded wars, have continued to pick up the tab for 750+ military bases around the world. We are more of a danger to peace than any imperial force before us. We make the British Empire look like a traveling sewing circle.

From Congress to local polling places, there is damned little challenge to any executive mission termed necessary to national security. The War Department became the Department of Defense. God joined our pledge to the flag and our currency – and there must be a joke somewhere in that one. The sum of the four most recent presidential terms is complete agreement on our natural right to spy on everyone from laborers to prime ministers, home and away. The only difference being which mealy-mouthed interpretation of the Constitution is relied on.

Merkel wins 3rd term – her rightwing allies crash

Official results confirm that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives have won Germany’s election, but indicate that they have finished short of an absolute majority.

Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party together won 41.5 percent of the vote, while its junior coalition allies the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) for the first time in over half a century missed out on any seats in parliament, garnering only 4.8 percent.

Challenger Peer Steinbrueck’s Social Democrats won 25.7 percent, their Green allies 8.4 percent and the hard-line Left Party 8.6 percent.

Election officials didn’t immediately provide a seat tally, but Merkel’s conservatives are 1.2 percentage points behind the other parties combined.

“I see the next four years in front of me and I can promise that we will face many tasks, at home, in Europe and in the world,” Merkel said during a television appearance with other party leaders.

Despite the scale of her win, governing isn’t likely to get easier for Merkel over the next four years.

Her partners of choice, the pro-business Free Democrats, fell short of the 5 percent needed to win seats in parliament for the first time in Germany’s post-World War II history…

Although anecdotal evidence suggested strong voter participation – officials at two polling stations said turnout was higher than in 2009 – Sunday’s election seemed to be a low-energy affair. Aside from the ubiquitous election posters, few visual cues suggested that this was a special day.

I wonder how independent and young voters went. Germany appears to be following the American model of TweedleDeeDum political parties. A couple of wings of the same boring, timid corporate flunkies.

It’s useful to see the dregs of Germany’s post-War right wing floundering; but, again, I look forward to detailed analysis of campaigns waged – and how successfully – by the minor parties with a commitment to workingclass voters.

Germany cancels pact with US, Britain – Obama/NSA gets the credit


Deny or lie – your choice

Germany canceled a Cold War-era surveillance pact with the United States and Britain on Friday, the first concrete action taken by Berlin in response to revelations by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden about those countries’ alleged electronic eavesdropping operations.

Chancellor Angela Merkel had raised the issue of alleged National Security Agency spying with President Barack Obama when he visited Berlin in June. But with weeks to go before national elections, opposition parties had demanded clarity about the extent to which her government knew of the intelligence gathering operations directed at Germany and German citizens.

Government officials have insisted that U.S. and British intelligence were never given permission to break Germany’s strict privacy laws. But they conceded that an agreement dating back to the late 1960s gave the U.S., Britain and France the right to request German authorities to conduct surveillance operations within Germany to protect their troops stationed there.

“The cancellation of the administrative agreements, which we have pushed for in recent weeks, is a necessary and proper consequence of the recent debate about protecting personal privacy,” Germany’s Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in a statement…

The official said Germany was currently in talks with France to cancel its part of the agreement as well…

A natural – and principled – result of the strategy which seems to be the style of the lawyer in the White House. If you can claim a distorted “legal” basis for corruption it’s OK. The flunkeys around you will agree. Congress won’t ask any questions – even if the German Parliament will.

Act surprised when others disagree.