The very logical question that will not be answered is asked on Washington Post – “Did we really elect Donald Trump?” What was the role of FBI’s Comey and of US opponent Putin? Civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis says he will not attend the inauguration.
Washington Post – Opinions
By Kathleen Parker – Opinion writer – January 13 at 7:45 PM
Republicans can argue until their last breath that Trump objectors are sore losers, but isn’t more at stake than “mere politics”? This phrase has been rendered quaint by such serious issues as Russian hackers apparently trying to tilt the election toward Donald Trump; the FBI’s possibly politically motivated practices; Trump’s initial resistance to the conclusions of the U.S. intelligence community; Trump’s refusal to release tax records, which might mollify concerns about his relationship with Russia.
These aren’t partisan issues, or shouldn’t be, as evidenced by the Justice Department inspector general’s decision to investigate how FBI Director James B. Comey handled the probe of Hillary Clinton’s email and private server. The focus will be on Comey’s statement in July that Clinton and her colleagues were “extremely careless” with classified information but that he wasn’t recommending criminal charges — as well as his announcement to Congress just a week and a half before Election Day that, because of new information, he was reopening the investigation.
This fresh look pertained to new emails found on the laptop of Carlos Danger, a.k.a. Anthony Weiner (but, really, why the name change?), estranged husband of top Clinton adviser Huma Abedin. The emails subsequently were found to be inconsequential, but if there were any fence-sitters left at that point, at least many of them probably toppled into Trump’s camp, from sheer exhaustion if not outright disgust.
Let me help you: Eleven days to go and the man who had said there’s nothing to see here suddenly says, Hey, there might be something after all! And no one’s supposed to think this affected the election?
How could it not have? Anecdotally, I can report at least a dozen friends who say, “That was it for me.” But polling, too, suggests a consequential voter shift in the final days of the campaign.
FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver’s polling/analysis group, reported that Clinton had an 81 percent chance of winning in mid-October. About a week after Comey’s announcement, that number dropped to 65 percent. This rapid shift didn’t occur because people suddenly recognized that Trump is a brilliant foreign policy strategist. It’s true that undecided people often return to their party at the last minute, but this may not account for Clinton’s sudden drop.
While it’s impossible to prove that Comey had any impact, there’s enough reason for dissatisfied Americans to continue to protest the results — even on Inauguration Day. For certain, Comey acted against bureau policy never to interfere politically or discuss investigations so close to an election. If there’s any justification, Comey may have felt that the information would be leaked anyway.
Adding suspicion to skepticism, the hacking and release of Democratic National Committee emails also may have affected election results, though, again, it’s impossible to know how much, since, as far as I’m aware, we can’t read people’s minds (yet). Thus, we’re left to draw inferences from suppositions from what little else we know.
We do know that our intelligence community concluded that Russia hacked the DNC, and Trump finally accepted this last week. To concede that Russia was behind the hacking (rather than a 400-pound person sitting on a bed somewhere, as Trump at one point theorized) was, presumably, to admit that Russia helped him win. Well, didn’t it? Didn’t Trump loudly call upon Russia to hack Clinton’s emails?
For the undecided (or the unpersuadable), let’s pose a hypothetical: What if Clinton had publicly asked Russia to hack Trump’s records and release his tax returns — and Russia did? And what if the FBI announced less than two weeks before Election Day that it was going to investigate fraudulent practices at Trump University? Let’s say that Trump’s number dipped dramatically and he lost.
Do you reckon Republicans would be a tad upset?
The inspector general’s investigation into Comey’s conduct, as well as Congress’s investigation into Russia’s apparent interference in the election, are urgent, overdue and probably useless. Mostly, Comey is guilty of poor judgment. And Russia is being Russia — a fact best quickly absorbed by the soon-to-be president.
Yes, democracy needs saving and the republic’s foundation is showing wear. But isn’t the crucial question the very one that can’t be answered: Did we really elect Donald Trump to be president of the United States?
We may never know precisely who sowed the wind, but to be sure, we’re all going to reap the whirlwind.
Read more from Kathleen Parker’s archive, follow her on Twitter or find her on Facebook.
Read more here:
The Post’s View: Stop trying to hush up the truth about election hacking
Adam Schiff and Jane Harman: Russia attacked our democracy. That demands intense review by Congress.
John Podesta: Something is deeply broken at the FBI
Eric Chenoweth: Americans keep looking away from the election’s most alarming story
Washington (CNN) January 14, 2017 Civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis says he doesn’t see President-elect Donald Trump as a “legitimate” commander in chief following Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
“I don’t see this President-elect as a legitimate president,” Lewis, a Georgia Democrat, told NBC News’ Chuck Todd in a clip released Friday. “I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected. And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.”
Other Congressmen Joined the John Lewis protest. So far we have the names of:
Raul Grijalva of Arizona,
Nydia Velasquez, Jose Serrano, Yvette Clarke of New York
Luis Gutierrez of Illinois
Katherine Clark of Massachusetts
William Lacy of Missouri
John Conyers of Michigan
Kurt Schrader, Earl Blumenauer of Oregon
Mark Takano, Mark DeSaulnier, Jared Huffman of California
Further 12 Representatives – all Democrats – announced they will skip the inauguration.
Jerry Nadler, Adriano Espaillat of New York
Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey
Marcia Fudge of Ohio
Mark Pocan of Wisconsin
Pramila Jayapal of Washington
Ted Lieu, Judy Chu, Joe Lofgren, Maxine Waters, Lucille Raybal-Allard, Karen Bass of California.
Our count as of today is thus 28 “refusniks”
“Birtherism” – or the false claim that Obama was an illegitimate President – launched Trump, but now it will be Trump who is a really illegitimate President. Will he get the US in a war in order to draw attention away from his opponents?
Who’s the Illegitimate President Now, Mr. Birtherism?
BY BRIAN BEUTLER, The New Republic
Trump Is Exactly the Monster We Feared, and Republicans Are Enabling Him
He assumed leadership of the birther movement in March 2011 when he first expressed public doubts about whether President Barack Obama was born in the U.S. The next month, Obama put an end to the farce by producing his Hawaiian birth certificate at a White House press conference, and days later humiliated Trump during the White House Correspondents Dinner. But Trump kept expressing doubts about Obama’s country of origin until late in the 2016 presidential campaign, when he shamelessly attempted to blame the entire crusade on Hillary Clinton. Eventually he had the last laugh.
Birtherism was a huge plot line of his presidency, one generally pushed by elements of the conservative fringe. Though these conspiracy theorists were egged on by Republicans, birtherism never became a mainstream Republican rallying cry because it is racist and fabricated. But the propulsive force behind birtherism, if not the theory itself, was a widely shared right-wing desire to void Obama’s presidency. Racism led elements of the far right to adopt birtherism specifically, but their quest was for any revelation that could prevent Obama from running the country. Only a few criteria govern who can become president; one of them is that the president must be a natural-born citizen; birtherism thus emerges from circular reasoning and wishful thinking. It is a tool that allows political nemeses to trump all politics, which is why white candidates like John McCain and Ted Cruz have also found themselves at the center of less obviously racist birther inquests.
But if it’s ironic that Trump rose to the pinnacle of global power on the strength of a failed campaign to delegitimize Obama, it’s also fitting that his own presidency will begin under a mix of suspicions and legitimacy questions that are very real and that Trump brought upon himself.
Nobody who’s reasonable questions Trump’s eligibility for the presidency, but questions surrounding his entitlement to keep the job are widespread, and not just on the left-wing fringe. Birtherism may have been Trump’s accidental springboard to the presidency, but the next four years are set to express themselves as a continuous fight over the legitimacy of his presidency in ways that will make birtherism seem like a footnote.
The fact that Trump’s weak lock on the presidency isn’t more widely discussed is attributable almost entirely to Republicans in Congress who, for now and for the foreseeable future, have resolved to foreclose inquiries into Trump’s conduct that may yield impeachable offenses.
Democrats can’t force investigations, and they can’t issue subpoenas, so they can’t isolate the source of all the smoke. But it’s everywhere.
Consider the following:
It is very likely that the FBI is investigating links between Trump’s campaign aides and Russian actors who allegedly conducted a sabotage campaign against the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton, and into whether Russian officials have the capacity to blackmail Trump.
Trump has forced the director of the Office of Government Ethics, Walter Shaub, Jr., to take the unprecedented step of upbraiding the president-elect for freezing out ethics officers, and for making financial decisions that leave him highly conflicted between his business and the public interest. Shaub called Trump’s decision to hand executive control over his business to his sons “wholly inadequate” and urged him to fully divest from the Trump organization.
These decisions, and the pall they cast over his administration-in-waiting, likely explain why he will enter the White House with the lowest favorability rating of any incoming president in modern history, and why he’ll likely have a harder time capitalizing on good political and economic fortunes than presidents normally do. His antic campaign to bully manufacturers into keeping jobs in the U.S. was widely heralded as a public-relations coup, and yet, “voters disapprove 51 – 37 percent of the way Donald Trump is handling his job as president-elect.”
There are glimmers of hope in this state of affairs for Trump foes—dim flashes of accountability in the few institutions (the media, the intelligence community) that haven’t completely submitted to Trumpism, and a source of enduring opposition to Trump’s gross behavior and the GOP’s unpopular policy agenda.
But there are dangers, too. Being unpopular and under a cloud of suspicion makes Trump more prone to lash out. He baselessly dismissed the record size of his popular vote deficit as an artifact of millions of people voting illegally. When he’s in power, that scapegoating tendency could easily turn into a crackdown on voting that will dwarf Obama-era voter suppression. Before becoming their first customer, Trump compared the intelligence community to Nazi Germany. He likewise refers to news outlets who write stories about intelligence findings as “fake news.”
Saturday, January 14, 2017
By John de Graaf, Truthout | News Analysis
If early developments are any indication, science will not fare well in the Trump administration. In addition to calling for reduced funding of scientific research for proclaimed budgetary reasons and asking for the names of all energy department scientists who have attended climate change conferences, Trump has appointed Scott Pruitt, a climate-change denier, to lead the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), while choosing another denier, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry to lead the US Department of Energy. Trump himself has labeled global warming a hoax created by the Chinese to damage the US economy, despite climate change being almost universally acknowledged by scientists.
Trump’s actions reflect his intention to make more room for the expanded exploitation of fossil fuels, the leading sources of climate-warming greenhouse gases, and to scuttle international agreements that would reduce fossil fuel use in favor of solar, wind and geothermal alternatives. In this endeavor, he can count on widespread support from fellow Republicans.
One recent study found that 182 members of the current House and Senate, virtually all of them Republicans, deny the reality of anthropogenic climate change. Together, these members represent about 60 percent of all Americans. Most of them received campaign funding support from the fossil fuel industry.
Sen. James Inhofe, the most visible of the group and chair of the powerful Senate Environment Committee, calls climate change “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.” In an absurd attempt to prove his point that the Earth is not warming, he brought a snowball into the US Senate after a winter snowstorm. Recently reelected Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson echoed Inhofe’s remarks: “I absolutely do not believe in the science of man-caused climate change…. It’s not proven by any stretch of the imagination.” His views run counter to almost universal acceptance of anthropogenic climate change by atmospheric scientists.
Several of their counterparts from the House Science and Environment Committees are equally blunt. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican, calls global warming “a total fraud.” Rep. Joe Barton of Texas challenges climate change from the standpoint of fundamentalist Christianity. “I would point out if you’re a believer in the Bible, one would have to say the Great Flood is an example of climate change,” Barton says. “And that certainly wasn’t because mankind overdeveloped hydrocarbon energy.”
As many as half of the GOP congressional delegation supports a literal Biblical interpretation of Genesis, denying Darwin’s theory of evolution, another universally accepted concept among scientists. In some states, such as Texas, textbooks give as much or greater credence to creationism.
Meanwhile, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz has described global warming as the doctrine of a modern secular church (academic science), arguing that he, a skeptic, is a modern-day Galileo. During the Republican presidential primary, Cruz told a crowd of supporters that “it used to be accepted scientific wisdom that the earth is flat, and this heretic named Galileo was branded a denier.” Not surprisingly, Cruz was not challenged by his audience, which seemed unaware that Cruz had his history as wrong as his science.
In the early 1600s, when Galileo was considered a heretic by the Catholic Church, everyone knew the Earth was round; Columbus had sailed around it more than a century earlier. What Galileo challenged was the idea that the sun revolved around the Earth, still a popular belief in his day. Here also, it was not science, but ideology — in this case, a Biblical literalism — that stood against the truth.
The current GOP dismissal of accepted science, either for reasons of religious belief or a desire to “drill baby, drill,” must be challenged. To allow ideology to trump peer-reviewed research would mean repeating one of the most troubling episodes in the history of science. It happened in the Soviet Union.
Nikolai Ivanovich Vavilov, a Russian, was perhaps the greatest geneticist of the 20th century and the most famous scientist who ever lived that you’ve never heard of. In 1993, while making a film called Genetic Time Bomb, about the loss of genetic diversity in world agriculture, my colleague Vivia Boe and I created a short segment about Vavilov’s amazing but tragic story:
Nikolai Vavilov, the greatest plant geneticist of his time, was imprisoned by Stalin.
Nikolai Vavilov, the greatest plant geneticist of his time, was imprisoned by Stalin.
Vavilov’s work was universally acclaimed, especially his groundbreaking 1926 volume, Studies on the Origin of Cultivated Plants, in which he developed his theory that all modern food crops, no matter how widely they are now grown, were initially cultivated in eight “centers of origin.”
For example, the center of origin for wheat was the Middle East; for corn, Mexico; for potatoes, the Peruvian Andes; and for rice, Southeast Asia. If you wanted to find the greatest variety of species for a crop, Vavilov argued, you should look to its center of origin, because that was the place where the crop had coexisted for the longest time with its enemies and developed its defenses, and where humans had cultivated the most diversity for that crop — Peru, for instance, had hundreds, perhaps thousands of potato varieties.
Though modified by more recent research, Vavilov’s theory of centers of origin was immensely valuable to crop scientists as they looked for varieties containing characteristics that might be useful to breeding programs. In the face of terrible travel hardships, Vavilov himself collected more than 100,000 different types of seeds and took them back to Leningrad (as St. Petersburg was then called), where he established a seed bank to preserve them and grow them out. The crop-breeding work carried out at the institute that now bears Vavilov’s name has made important contributions toward feeding a growing world population.
Researching Vavilov’s story took Vivia and me first to the UK, where we met Jack Hawkes, a legendary British crop scientist who, as a young man in the 1930s, had met Vavilov. “He was a larger-than-life character,” Hawkes told us, adding with a characteristic dry British wit that, “He treated me, a lowly graduate student, as if I was an esteemed colleague of many years’ standing, which, of course, impressed me immensely. His ideas of centers of origin were immensely influential.”
From the UK, we flew on to St. Petersburg to visit the seed bank Vavilov created, and meet elderly scientists who had worked with him. The seed bank and today’s Vavilov Institute can be found in an aging building on St. Isaac’s Square. The walls are adorned with photos of the handsome Vavilov and his world travels. His office has been kept just as he left it in 1940.
By the early 1930s, Vavilov had become the world’s most famous geneticist. At a Cornell University genetics conference in 1932, he was the most acclaimed participant. Dozens of foreign visitors made the trip to Leningrad to meet him and learn about his work in seed collecting and crop breeding. But for all his international fame, Vavilov ran into trouble at home. Trofim Lysenko, a Soviet biologist, rejected what he considered the slow pace of conventional crop breeding. His view was that crops could be improved by such manipulation as soaking wheat seeds in cold water to enable them to adapt to colder weather. He had some early limited success with these ideas, even winning praise for his work from Vavilov himself. But Lysenko went further, arguing that these adaptations would then be genetically transferred to succeeding generations. For Vavilov, such ideas were not credible, and he began to criticize Lysenko’s claims.
Trofim Lysenko’s anti-scientific theories won favor from Stalin because Lysenko promised agricultural miracles. (Credit: Public Domain)
Vavilov, the Mendelian, ran afoul of Russian dictator Joseph Stalin — in suggesting that Lysenko’s Lamarckian ideas were nonsense. Stalin liked Lysenko’s promises of rapid agricultural improvement and Lysenko’s proletarian background. He had come from peasant stock, while Vavilov was the son of a middle-class businessman. “Lysenko was a charlatan,” one of Vavilov’s biographers, Semyon Resnick, told Vivia and me. “He stood for fictions. But fictions that were beloved by Stalin because Lysenko promised him miracles in agriculture.”
Stalin began to restrict Vavilov’s travel and he cracked down on the research conducted by Vavilov and his vibrant team of scientists in Leningrad. “Every day, we came to work and we learned that someone had been arrested,” one of them told us in 1993. Half a century after the events had occurred, he cried visibly as he described the events. Finally, in August 1940 Vavilov himself was arrested while collecting seeds in the Ukraine. Resnick told us that Vavilov was interviewed and tortured for 1,700 hours after having been found guilty as an “enemy of the state” in a show trial. Eventually, in January 1943 Vavilov, a man whose contributions toward feeding the world were among the greatest ever, died in a small grim cell in one of Stalin’s prisons — ironically, of malnutrition.
There is a remarkable postscript to Vavilov’s tragic story. In St. Petersburg, the scientists at the Vavilov Institute told us his fight for scientific integrity had inspired heroic, selfless behavior from many of his colleagues.
In June 1941 while Vavilov was in prison, the German Army invaded the Soviet Union and soon after, surrounded Leningrad, allowing very little food to reach the beleaguered city. Nina Kamchatkina, a college professor, told us what happened then, when she was a little girl. “German planes came over and bombed us,” she said. “In one case, they blew up a sugar factory, scattering the sugar, which melted into the dirt. But we had no food, so we ate the dirt.” In time, the food ration in Leningrad was reduced to four ounces of bread a day. People began to starve to death. The winter of 1941-42 was one of the coldest in the city’s history, with temperatures plunging to 40 degrees below zero. Hungry and freezing, 600,000 residents of the city perished in a few months.
St. Petersburg’s public television station provided Vivia and me with archival footage of that horrible winter. It cut at my heart: women sobbing over the bodies of family members, sleds carrying shrouded bodies through the icy streets, people staggering through the snow, tiny bits of bread being sliced, planes, bombs, people digging through the hard-frozen Neva River to obtain a little drinking water. Through a strange twist of fate, Vavilov’s institute was spared from German bombing because it stood across the street from the opulent Astoria Hotel, where Hitler hoped to hold his victory celebration when Leningrad fell to the Germans. It never did, but the heroic defense of Leningrad lasted 900 days and took the lives of a million civilians, a million Soviet soldiers and half a million Germans.
In the atmosphere of hunger and death that existed during the siege, starving people knew that Vavilov’s institute contained mountains of seeds that could be cooked and eaten. The scientists who worked there knew it as well. They had to defend Vavilov’s collection against attacks by both humans and rats. And of course, they were also desperately hungry and tempted by the seeds. “You have to imagine this situation,” explained Resnick. “War, Germans, a million people dying in the streets in Leningrad. These scientists, they too were starving. But they knew, these seeds, they were priceless.”
They knew what it had taken for Vavilov to obtain the seeds and how important they might eventually prove to be in feeding people the world over. Their idealism prevailed. One by one, scientists perished, surrounded by mountains of seeds, saving the collections that could have saved them. At least nine of them died at their desks: directors of the rice collection, the potato collection and others, men and women, young and old. Many more came close to perishing before the German siege finally ended. Years later, some of the seeds they saved were used in the United States to breed resistance to a disease that threatened American wheat.
Just as Stalin embraced Lysenko’s pseudo-science for its utility within his authoritarian political plan for the rapid expansion of centralized agricultural production, Trump has embraced the pseudo-science of climate denial for its utility within his own authoritarian plan for unfettered, free-market-based industrial production. Both men stand within a long history of leaders espousing widely varying ideologies who have tried to suppress scientific findings when they ran counter to political or economic or religious dogma.
In our own time, it has been the far right that has ignored scientific findings. The Christian Right holds up an unscientific Biblical literalism about a 6,000-year-old Earth where humans shared space with dinosaurs, while the Economic Right has suppressed and ignored the overwhelming scientific consensus about human-caused climate change because doing something about the problem might cost money and threaten the profits of fossil fuel corporations. When dogma trumps science, we are all the losers. As I write these words, the dangers are even more evident. We now have a president-elect who is dismissive of science and appears willing to suppress it if necessary to carry out his pro-fossil-fuel agenda.
The Russians, at least, learned an important lesson from the “Vavilov affair.” It took many years, and Vavilov’s “rehabilitation” did not begin until 1955, when Stalin was already dead. Still, Lysenko, who in later years denied his role in Vavilov’s persecution, carried the day politically until he was denounced in the Soviet Academy of Sciences by the famous physicist Andrei Sakharov in 1967. Lysenko, the Stalinist ideologue, was interestingly more like the religious right than the economic rightists in our country whose position on climate change is shaped by the largesse of the fossil fuel industry. Lysenko was never interested in money, only power and Stalinist ideology. He lived simply but used his power to destroy others. In the end, it was all in vain. He died scorned and hated in his country in 1976.
I hope the Vavilov story will be shared widely, lest history repeat itself, this time in a tragedy of climate change that threatens all generations to come.
JOHN DE GRAAF
John de Graaf is the executive director of Take Back Your Time and coauthor of What’s the Economy for Anyway? and the best-seller Affluenza. He has produced more than a dozen national PBS documentaries and can be reached at jodg at comcast.net.
Climate Deniers Exposed: Top Scientist Got Funding From ExxonMobil, Koch Brothers, Big Coal
Anthropocene Boosters and the Attack on Wilderness Conservation
The Koch Brothers, on Trump and Tillerson wavelength, out to convince black people that dirty fossil fuels are good for them because those fuels are cheaper then replacement clean energy. And yes – black people are poor.
The Kochs Launch Campaign to Convince Black People That Dirty Fuel Is Good for Them
The Kochs launch campaign to convince black people that dirty fuel is good for them.
Fueling U.S. Forward, a public relations operation funded by the Koch brothers, is trying to spread the message that black people benefit the most from cheap fossil fuels, according to a story in The New York Times. Clean energy, they say, is a threat.
Last month, the group sponsored a toy drive and gospel concert in Richmond, Virginia. The event included a panel discussion on how the holidays were only possible thanks to oil and gas.
What went unsaid, of course, was that people of color are far more likely to be harmed by the fossil fuel industry than helped. They’re more at risk from climate change and pollution and more likely to suffer health problems tied to burning fossil fuels.
Asthma is more common among black people than white people, partially because they’re more likely to live near coal-fired power plants and other fossil-fuel infrastructure. That’s not exactly because they want those plants in their neighborhoods; it’s because they have less power to fight them.
This is far from the first attempt to turn people of color against renewable energy and, as Fueling U.S. Forward has made clear, it won’t be the last.
Unprofessional Trump team members called EU institutions to ask which States will follow the Brexit example and outgoing US Ambassador Anthony L. Gardner is fuming. Brexit proponent Nigel Farage seems to stir Trump to push for the breakup of the EU. Chancellor Angela Merkel has sounded the EU alarm calling, already before the start of the Trump presidency, for the strengthening of the Union because the Member States cannot bank anymore on the US help in conflicts with other States of the neighborhood.
By NIKOLAJ NIELSEN
EUOBSERVER, BRUSSELS, 13. JAN, 17:40
Donald Trump’s transitional team phoned officials at the EU institutions asking which member state will follow the UK in leaving the EU.
In a candid last farewell interview with reporters ahead of his departure on 20 January, the diplomat described the Trump call as a “misperception” of the Union’s future, disseminated by former Ukip leader Nigel Farage.
He now wants to meet with Gardner but the outgoing ambassador, a self-described defender of the EU, remains ambivalent.
“I got a letter from Nigel Farage, which is rather interesting. He knows I’m leaving and he knows my views are the absolute polar opposite of everything he has said.”
Gardner said Farage had referred to him in the letter as “your excellency” a half dozen times.
“I take huge exceptions to some things he’s done and I will tell him,” said Gardner.
The American ambassador said he would soon be “unshackled” from the “bureaucratic restrictions of the job” and aims to speak out in defence of the US and EU relations.
The two men have never met.
But the mood at the US embassy appears wary ahead of Gardner’s future replacement. Speculation is rife on who will take on the job.
Staff working at the mission, non-career diplomats, have all been unceremoniously told to vacate the premises by 20 January.
Gardner described the Trump demand as a “breach of precedent” because missions are usually allowed to take weeks or even months to clear out. He was given notice on 23 December.
Some have struggled to find new housing after receiving notice of their imminent departure via a telegram.
“I didn’t particularly want to stay any more than necessary because my views are not the views of those coming in. But for some, it has had a real human impact,” he said.
He also warned against his future replacement of becoming the “cheerleader” for Brexit and noted that access to Europe’s single market was strategically vital to both US and EU business interests.
He said any move by Trump or his team to support the break up of the Union would be “shear folly”.
“It’s lunacy and I would think it would be a widely shared view.”
He also advised Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel to warn the incoming US embassy replacement team in Brussels against “splitting the EU, one member state to another.”
He said Germany, along with the EU institutions, are now shouldering the “weight of history” to defend democracy, human rights, and “values that guided a transatlantic partnership for decades.”
In terms of policy work, Gardner said his biggest regret was not being able to finalise the TTIP, the US and EU free trade agreement.
But he noted significant improvements have been made on policies dealing with data and that trust, broadly lost following the US snooping revelations of Europeans, has improved between the two sides.
“It’s been great, it’s been great. Best job,” he said.
Mrs. Merkel called also on the EU States to take on more “international responsibility”
At their presentations before the US Senate, Trump’s Nominees continue to run for cover and distance themselves from their boss. Other’s see a future solution in the First couple – Daughter Ivanka and her Husband Jared Kushner.
Washington Post – Politics
By Karen Tumulty January 13 at 7:25 AM
A fresh set of examples came Thursday, the third day of hearings.
Retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis, Trump’s nominee to be defense secretary, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the United States must honor the “imperfect arms-control agreement” with Iran that Trump has vowed to dismantle because “when America gives her word, we have to live up to it and work with our allies.”
He also took a more adversarial stance than Trump has toward Russian President Vladimir Putin and cited Moscow as one of the nation’s top threats.
“I’ve never found a better guide for the way ahead than studying the histories. Since [the 1945 meeting of world powers at] Yalta, we have a long list of times we’ve tried to engage positively with Russia. We have a relatively short list of successes in that regard,” Mattis said. “I think right now, the most important thing is that we recognize the reality of what we deal with [in] Mr. Putin and we recognize that he is trying to break the North Atlantic alliance.”
At a witness table in another Senate hearing room, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.), whom Trump picked to head the CIA, assured the Intelligence Committee that he would “absolutely not” use brutal interrogation tactics on terrorism suspects in contravention of the law, even if ordered to do so by a president who campaigned on a promise to reinstate the use of such measures.
Trump indicated in a tweet Friday morning that he is unconcerned about the contradictions. “All of my Cabinet nominee are looking good and doing a great job,” Trump wrote. “I want them to be themselves and express their own thoughts, not mine!”
The discordant notes that Cabinet nominees have struck as they have been questioned by senators suggest that a reality check may lie ahead for Trump.
It may be that the grandiosity and disregard for convention that got Trump elected were inevitably bound for a collision with the practical and legal limitations of governing.
“His rhetoric was so far outside the boundaries — in some instances of reality, and in some instances, of the laws of the nation, and in other issues, outside the boundaries of pass-fail issues for some of these nominees,” said Republican strategist Steve Schmidt, who as an aide to President George W. Bush oversaw the confirmation process for the Supreme Court nominations of Samuel A. Alito Jr. and John G. Roberts Jr.
The American system of government places “extraordinary constraints” on even a president’s power, Schmidt said. “You’re seeing the reality-show aspects of campaigning bending to the reality of governance.”
But others say that Trump is such a singular figure, whose fervent supporters are convinced that he can topple the established order in Washington, that it is impossible to predict how things will play out once he has been inaugurated.
“We are in such uncharted territory with this guy,” said Elaine Kamarck, director of the Brookings Institution’s Center for Effective Public Management. “The interesting thing will be, does Trump pay attention to what his government does?”
The comments by Mattis and Pompeo on Thursday continued a pattern set in the first two days of hearings.
On Tuesday, retired Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly, nominated to head the Department of Homeland Security, played down the significance of Trump’s promise to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, saying that “a physical barrier in and of itself will not do the job.”
And Kelly, too, disavowed torture, saying, “I don’t think we should ever come close to crossing a line that is beyond what we as Americans would expect to follow in terms of interrogation techniques.”
In 2009, President Obama signed an executive order that bars the CIA from using interrogation methods beyond those permitted by the U.S. Army Field Manual. That excludes such measures as waterboarding. In 2015, that policy was written into law.
Trump, on the other hand, argued during his campaign that “torture works.” He vowed to resume it “immediately” and to come up with “much worse.”
On Wednesday, secretary of state-designate Rex Tillerson contradicted the president-elect’s repeated suggestions that climate change is a hoax and said it is important for this country to “maintain its seat at the table on the conversations around how to address the threats of climate change, which do require a global response.”
[Tillerson doesn’t deny climate change – but dodges questions about Exxon’s role in sowing doubt]
As a candidate, Trump had said he would withdraw the United States from a 2015 international accord to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, although he has since softened that stance and said he is keeping “an open mind to it.”
That Trump’s nominees would air their disagreements with the president-elect at their confirmation hearings is “extraordinarily unusual,” Kamarck said. “The first thing a president and a transition team does is make sure the president and his Cabinet are on the same page.”
But it may be that they have not yet even discussed their differences.
Among the startling turns in the confirmation hearings has been the revelation by some of Trump’s nominees that they have not had detailed conversations with the president-elect about critical issues that will fall within their portfolios.
Tillerson, for example, told the Foreign Relations Committee that he and Trump had discussed foreign policy “in a broad construct and in terms of the principles that are going to guide that.”
“I would have thought that Russia would be at the very top of that, considering all the actions that have taken place,” Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said. “Did that not happen?”
“That has not occurred yet, Senator,” Tillerson replied.
Kelly made a similar comment when he was asked about the fate of hundreds of thousands of undocumented immigrants who have applied for protection from deportation under the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals executive action. In his campaign, Trump vowed to “immediately terminate” the program.
“The entire development of immigration policy is ongoing right now in terms of the upcoming administration. I have not been involved in those discussions,” said Kelly, who is slated to head a sprawling department that includes U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
One question is whether his appointees will persuade Trump to moderate some of the strident positions that he took during his presidential campaign.
He has already indicated that they have influenced his thinking in some areas.
During an interview with the New York Times shortly after his election, for instance, Trump said that Mattis had made the case that “a pack of cigarettes and a couple of beers” were more effective in getting information from terrorism suspects than waterboarding and similarly controversial techniques.
“I was very impressed by that answer,” Trump said.
Tillerson, for example, said under questioning by the Foreign Relations Committee that supporting human rights globally is “without question” in the long-term national security interests of the United States.
But at a forum a day earlier at the United States Institute of Peace, K.T. McFarland, who will be Trump’s deputy national security adviser, contended that Trump will take foreign policy in a less-idealistic direction.
“The mistake that we make is that we constantly tell other countries how they should think,” McFarland said. “What I’m hoping is that we can start seeing things through their eyes.”
As a general, Mattis urged action against Iran. As a defense secretary, he may be a voice of caution.
Placing Russia first among threats, Defense nominee warns of Kremlin attempts to ‘break’ NATO
Tillerson calls U.S. intelligence findings on Russian interference in election ‘troubling’
ON THE OTHER HAND: Articles are suggesting that the real power at Trump’s Washington House will be in te hands of his daughter Ivanka Trump and the First Son-In-Law Jared Kushner who seem to be ready to deal with the need for reason in policy making. the forecast is that they will be the real politicians behind the father with a large ego and a thin skin given to burst any moment.
From Trump’s first Press Conference: PEOTUS thinks the Presidency is a part-time job that entitles him to continue to manage the Trump Organization and the Trump Company. If he distances himself somewhat from his business interests this is just to decrease the perception that it looks bad. But what about the question of being beholden to Putin’s installed Washington Red House?
From Trump’s first Press Conference: PEOTUS thinks the Presidency is a part-time job that entitles him to continue to manage the Trump Organization and the Trump Company. If he distances himself somewhat from his business interests this is just to decrease the perception that it looks bad. But what about the question of being beholden to Putin’s installed Washington Red House?
On the very simple level, as Salon published WSJ’s look at business aspects of the conundrum
The worst thing will turn out not the hacking of the Hillary Clinton and her staff’s e-mail accounts – but in effect the much juicier Trump e-mail accounts. It seems that Putin knew well, unsurprisingly, exactly what he was doing when getting very meager news from the Clinton and John Podesta’s mail, while mining the wast global business Trump information.
Trying to get the large picture of the USA as projected by the unfolding events we start with a recollection of the way US Democracy is framed. We find there four Estates in this Democracy – The three supposedly independent institutions of the Presidency (the White House), The Legislative (the Congress) and the Judiciary (the Supreme Court). Then we have the Fourth Estate – The Media. Albeit, we are not naive to see the three independent institutions as truly independent – we know that all three are dependent on the same large business and Corporate interests. That is why the Media is so important. The role of the media is to insure that the three institutions stay honest. Not an easy task if the media is not allowed to operate freely – If those that own it fall also under the domination of those same large interests. We saw it during the elections how FOX, led by a Trump friendly billionaire was nothing more then an echo-chamber of Trump. This will not change meaningfully now after Trump won, but some of the others are still ready to do your job, but are now in danger of being thrown out from those very infrequent press conferences, that Trump has in mind. This may be the last blow to US democracy and in Trump’s treatment of the CNN correspondent last night is the beacon of the Trump intentions. Trump at minimum – promises to turn the historic White House into Washington’s Red House with Putin holding the reins of the Trump coffin carriage.
Is Trump Close to $2 Billion in Debt?
Concerns about Trump’s numerous conflicts of interest have dogged the president-elect since his election on Nov. 8. Despite having businesses and debts spread throughout the world due to his business empire, Trump has only taken minimal steps to address these concerns.
There are even reports that he has used his political power to bring profit to businesses like his hotel in Washington DC.
Matthew Rozsa’s editorials have been published on Salon, the Good Men Project, Mic, MSNBC and other publications. To read more of his work, visit matthewrozsa.com.
DEMOCRACY AND GOVERNMENT
Rex Tillerson Represents All That is Wrong with Trump’s Incoming Administration
By Danielle Root Posted on January 10, 2017
In the weeks leading up to the U.S. presidential election, President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign touted a common theme: the need to “drain the swamp” and rid Washington of wealthy elites and pay-to-play politics.1 Trump’s campaign lambasted Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and her husband President Bill Clinton for their wealth and supposed status as Washington insiders. In contrast, Trump presented himself as a man of the people, the “blue-collar billionaire,” who shared ordinary American’s frustration with the country’s ever-increasing wealth inequality.2 Furthermore, Trump sought to establish himself as the candidate who would pursue strong-armed tactics against foreign threats.3
So imagine the surprise when, less than one month after being elected to the highest office in the land, Trump began to assemble a cabinet filled with individuals who, together, are worth more than one-third of all U.S. households combined.4 Trump’s cabinet, if confirmed, will make up the richest administration in modern U.S. history.5 Furthermore, several members of Trump’s inner circle, including Trump’s pick for National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, and his transition team advisor, Paul Manafort, have close ties with Russia, whose government waged a covert attack on our electoral system in order to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.6 The Russian hacking has been called “an act of war” and the “political equivalent of 9/11.”7
No cabinet nominee better embodies all that is wrong with the incoming administration than Trump’s choice for U.S. secretary of state, former Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson.8 To protect America’s interests in the world, Congress should deny Tillerson’s confirmation as secretary of state.
His excessive wealth represents the hypocrisy of Trump’s promise to “drain the swamp”
As a result, Tillerson was able to donate more than $76,000 to candidates, outside groups and super political action committees, or super PACs, in the 2016 elections, and more than $480,000 in total to politicians and advocacy groups since 1992.12 Under Tillerson’s leadership, Exxon Mobil donated more than $2 million to political campaigns and groups in the 2016 election cycle, and spent more than $8.8 million lobbying the federal government last year.13 Exxon and Exxon Mobil have given more than $19 million to candidates, super PACs, and outside groups since 1990.14 Among those who have benefitted from Tillerson and Exxon Mobil’s giving are Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL), John Barrasso (R-WY), and Cory Gardner (R-CO), all of whom sit on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee responsible for confirming his appointment.15 Exxon Mobil has donated nearly $29,000 to Rubio, more than $20,000 to Barrasso, and an excess of $25,000 to Gardner over the course of these politicians’ respective careers.16
Like Trump himself, Tillerson has demonstrated an unusually close relationship with Russia and its leader, President Vladimir Putin. Their relationship spans almost 20 years and has proven extremely lucrative for both men.19 During his many trips to Russia, Tillerson has orchestrated billion-dollar deals between Exxon Mobil and Rosneft, the Russian government-owned oil giant.20 In 2013, Putin presented Tillerson with Russia’s “order of friendship award,” one of the highest honors the Russian government can bestow upon a foreigner.21 In December, Putin praised Trump’s decision to nominate Tillerson as secretary of state, citing Tillerson’s longtime dealings with the country.22 Putin is more than just Tillerson’s business ally: Tillerson and Putin have been described as “personal friends.”23 Indeed, Tillerson “has had more interactive time with Vladimir Putin than probably any other American with the exception of Henry Kissinger.”24
It is perhaps not surprising then that Tillerson has been a vocal critic of the Russian sanctions that President Barack Obama imposed in the aftermath of Russia’s annexation of Crimea and invasion of Eastern Ukraine in 2014. To date, Russia’s invasion of Eastern Ukraine is estimated to have claimed the lives of more than 9,000 people.25 Tillerson claims, for example, that the sanctions cause “broad collateral damage,” which for him, means lost profits.26 Exxon Mobil is estimated to have lost close to $1 billion on account of the sanctions. If they were lifted under the Trump administration, the value of Exxon Mobil stock would increase dramatically.27
In January 2017, Tillerson promised to divest his personal funds from Exxon Mobil. He announced that, if confirmed, he would receive an advanced payout of his more than 2 million company shares, paid to an independent trust barred from investing in the company.28 Tillerson has also promised to sell an additional 611,000 shares he already owns, worth more than $54 million.29 Still, Tillerson’s receipt of a $180 million retirement package from Exxon Mobil—just weeks before his confirmation hearing—raises serious questions over whether, as secretary of state, Tillerson would put the country first over the interests of the company to which he not only owes his immense personal wealth, but also his entire career.30
Tillerson’s lack of civil service or foreign policy experience make him unfit to serve as America’s top diplomat
In the past, Trump has cited Tillerson’s years of business dealings with foreign governments in making the case that he is uniquely qualified to fill the position of U.S. secretary of state.31 But experience in foreign business dealings does not a diplomat make. Being secretary of state is more than just negotiating with foreign governments. The nation’s top diplomat also “delivers and defines the aid, the resources that the United States provides in that country, whether it’s support for local human rights groups or democracy organizers or whether it’s through USAID, new technologies to help free speech and free organizing in authoritarian countries.”32 Tillerson has no experience in this area; rather, he has never pursued anything other than the bottom line. A civil servant must be focused on pursing the best policies for the American public, not profit yielding. Of course, there are instances where the policy that is the most profitable or economical, also proves to be the most beneficial to the public interest. At other times, however, they are in direct opposition.
Those knowledgeable in foreign relations matters remain doubtful that Tillerson can break away from his business-centered mentality to pursue diplomatic solutions that are in the best interest of the American people. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) for example, has voiced “concerns” over Tillerson’s nomination, due to Tillerson’s business interests and ties to Russia.36
The only way to ensure that Tillerson’s background receives the proper level of scrutiny is for members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee—including those who have received political funds from either Tillerson or his company—to step up, do their jobs, and ask the tough questions. They must require Tillerson to describe in great detail his ties to Russia, and provide clear assurances that his past business dealings with foreign nations will not cloud his judgement in making the difficult choices as secretary of state.
Danielle Root is the Voting Rights Manager at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.
Jill Colvin, “Donald Trump a ‘blue-collar billionaire’ with a lot of money,” U.S. News & World Report, July 18, 2016, available at www.usnews.com/news/politics/arti…. ?
Tim Lister, “Is bombing the s*** out of ISIS a strategy?” CNN, November 15, 2016, available at www.cnn.com/2016/11/15/middleeast…. ?
Lucy Pasha-Robinson, “Donald Trump’s Cabinet are richer than a third of US households combined,” The Independent, December 16, 2016, available at www.independent.co.uk/news/world/…. ?
Jim Tankersley and Ana Swanson, “Donald Trump is assembling the richest administration in modern American history,” The Washington Post, November 30, 2016, available at www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk…. ?
AM Joy, “Trump Advisors with Russian Ties,” MSNBC, December 11, 2016, available at www.msnbc.com/am-joy/watch/trump-…; Olivia Nuzzi and Asawin Suebsaeng, “Paul Manafort is Back and Advising Donald Trump on Cabinet Picks,” The Daily Beast, November 30, 2016, available at www.thedailybeast.com/articles/20…. ?
Dan Bloom, “Senator John McCain brands Russia’s US election ‘hack’ ‘an act of war,’” Mirror, December 30, 2016, available at www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/…. Politico Staff, “Morell calls Russia’s meddling in U.S. elections ‘political equivalent of 9/11,’” Politico, December 12, 2016, available at www.politico.com/story/2016/12/mi…. ?
Steven Mufson, “Trump picks ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson to be secretary of state,” The Washington Post, December 13, 2016, available at www.washingtonpost.com/world/nat…. ?
The Today Show, “Rex Tillerson could face rocky confirmation due to ties with Russia,” December 13, 2016, available at www.today.com/video/rex-tillerson…. ?
Based on 2015 median household income of $56,516. Tami Luhby, “The middle class gets a big raise … finally!” CNN Money, September 13, 2016, available at money.cnn.com/2016/09/13/news/eco…. Equilar, “The New York Times 200 Highest Paid CEOs,” available at www.equilar.com/reports/38-2-new-… (last accessed January 2017). ?
Stephen Gandel, “3 Things That Could Happen to Rex Tillerson’s $245 Million Exxon Windfall,” Fortune, December 14, 2016, available at fortune.com/2016/12/14/rex-tiller…. ?
Open Secrets, “Trump Administration: Appointee Giving,” available at www.opensecrets.org/trump/appoin… (last accessed January 2017). ?
Open Secrets, “Exxon Mobil: Profile for 2016 Election Cycle,” available at www.opensecrets.org/orgs/summary… (last accessed December 2016); Open Secrets, “Exxon Mobil: Client Profile: Summary, 2016,” available at www.opensecrets.org/lobby/client… (last accessed January 2017). ?
United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, “Committee Members,” available at www.foreign.senate.gov/about/comm… (last accessed December 2016). ?
Open Secrets, “Exxon Mobil: Among Federal Candidates, 2016 Cycle,” available at www.opensecrets.org/orgs/recips…. (last accessed January 2017). ?
Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 310 (2010). ?
Domenico Montanaro, Rachel Wellford, and Simone Pathe, “Money is pretty good predictor of who will win elections,” PBS Newshour, November 11, 2014, available at www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/mone…. Bob Biersack, “The Big Spender Always Wins?,” Open Secrets, available at www.opensecrets.org/news/2012/01… (last accessed January 2017). See also, Fredreka Schouten, “How Trump won by spending half as much money as Clinton,” USA Today, November 10, 2016, available at www.usatoday.com/story/news/polit…. ?
Matt Egan, Julia Horowitz, and Chris Isidore, “Behind the deep ties between Exxon’s Rex Tillerson and Russia,” CNN Money, December 11, 2016, available at money.cnn.com/2016/12/11/investin…; Rebecca Shabad, “Why Russia honored Trump’s secretary of state pick,” CBS News, December 13, 2016, available at www.cbsnews.com/news/what-did-rus…. ?
Alec Luhn, “Russia praises possible Trump pick Rex Tillerson’s ‘highly professional manner,’” The Guardian, December 12, 2016, available at www.theguardian.com/world/2016/d…. ?
CNN Newsroom, “Transcripts: Trump to Pick ExxonMobil CEO as Secretary of State; Battle for Aleppo; VOA Board to Be Replaced by President-Appointed CEO; Deadly Crackdown in the Philippines. Aired 12-1a ET,” CNN, December 13, 2016, available at www.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1612/13/c…. ?
CBS News, “Who is Rex Tillerson, Exxon chief and Donald Trump’s top secretary of state candidate?,” December 10, 2016, available at www.cbsnews.com/news/who-is-rex-t…. ?
Nick Cumming-Bruce, “Death Toll in Ukraine Conflict Hits 9,160, U.N. Says,” The New York Times, March 3, 2016, available at www.nytimes.com/2016/03/04/world/…. ?
Henry C. Jackson, Josh Dawsey, and Eliana Johnson, “ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson emerging as frontrunner for secretary of state,” Politico, December 9, 2016, available at www.politico.com/blogs/donald-tru…. ?
Matt Egan, “Exxon would win if Tillerson works to lift Russian sanctions,” CNN Money, December 13, 2016, available at money.cnn.com/2016/12/13/investin…. ?
Bernard Condon and David Koenig, “Tillerson Leaving Exxon with $180 Million Retirement Package,” ABC News, January 4, 2017, available at abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory…; Jethro Mullen, “Rex Tillerson to put Exxon nest egg in a trust over conflict of interest concerns,” CNN Money, January 4, 2017, available at money.cnn.com/2017/01/04/investin…. ?
Condon and Koenig, “Tillerson Leaving Exxon with $180 Million Retirement Package.” Tillerson has worked for Exxon his entire career. Fresh Air, “How Running ExxonMobil Did (And Didn’t) Prepare Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State,” NPR, December 20, 2016, available at www.npr.org/2016/12/20/506286977/…. ?
Peter Nicholas and Carol E. Lee, “Donald Trump Chooses Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State,” The Wall Street Journal, December 13, 2016, available at www.wsj.com/articles/donald-trump…. ?
Fresh Air, “How Running ExxonMobil Did (And Didn’t) Prepare Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State.” ?
Justin Gillis and Clifford Krauss, “Exxon Mobil Investigated for Possible Climate Change Lies by New York Attorney General,” The New York Times, November 5, 2015, available at www.nytimes.com/2015/11/06/scienc…. Attorney General Maura Healey, “AGO’s Exxon Investigation,” available at www.mass.gov/ago/bureaus/eeb/the-… (last accessed January 2017); Kiah Collier and Jim Malewitz, “Everything you need to know about Exxon Mobil climate change probes,” The Texas Tribune, December 11, 2016, available at www.texastribune.org/2016/12/11/…. ?
Mark Hensch, “McCain raises ‘concerns’ on Tillerson’s Russia links,” The Hill, December 29, 2016, available at thehill.com/homenews/senate/31207…. ?
Fresh Air, “How Running ExxonMobil Did (And Didn’t) Prepare Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State.” ?
ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT
16 Election By Jenny Rowland, Myriam Alexander-Kearns, Erin Auel, Matt Lee-Ashley, and Howard Marano Posted on January 10, 2017, 12:01 am
Obama is optimistic on Clean Energy’s Future and in SCIENCE Magazine reassures environmentalists and others that the business community also wants to fight climate change, and will continue to do so after he leaves office in less than two weeks.
BY TIMOTHY CAMA – 01/09/17 01:07 PM EST – THE HILL
The opinion piece in the academic journal Science, complete with references end notes, serves in part as a celebration of Obama’s legacy on clean energy and climate change, and a call to action for future policymakers, including President-elect Donald Trump.
“The United States is showing that GHG [greenhouse gas] mitigation need not conflict with economic growth. Rather, it can boost efficiency, productivity, and innovation,” he wrote.
But the piece is also a reassurance to environmentalists and others that the business community also wants to fight climate change, and will continue to do so after he leaves office in less than two weeks.
“Businesses are coming to the conclusion that reducing emissions is not just good for the environment — it can also boost bottom lines, cut costs for consumers, and deliver returns for shareholders,” Obama wrote.
“Despite the policy uncertainty that we face, I remain convinced that no country is better suited to confront the climate challenge and reap the economic benefits of a low-carbon future than the United States.”
Trump said on the campaign trail that he plans to quickly start undoing Obama’s climate change legacy, which was largely built on executive actions.
The president-elect has pledged to unleash an energy revolution, centered on fossil fuels like oil and coal.
Nonetheless, Obama prodded Trump in the piece, saying that “the latest science and economics provide a helpful guide for what the future may bring” in terms of energy policy.
This is not the first time Obama has been published in an academic journal. He wrote a piece on criminal justice last week in the Harvard Law Review, and in July, he wrote on healthcare reform in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the first time a sitting president wrote for an academic journal.
“The past few years have brought tremendous gains in the global effort to mitigate climate change, and Jonathan has been a critical part of that,” Larry Kramer, the foundation’s president, said in a statement.
“That’s hardly surprising, as few people working on this all-important problem have his unique combination of experience, expertise, and vision. We are both delighted and fortunate that, in joining the Hewlett Foundation, Jonathan can continue his efforts, now by enhancing the role of civil society and philanthropy in protecting our planet and its inhabitants from the potentially devastating effects of global warming.”
Pershing took over last year as climate envoy and led the United States’ efforts in starting to implement the Paris agreement.
He has previously worked at the Department of Energy and the World Resources Institute, among other positions.
The Democrats’ advantage were the young people fired up by Bernie Sanders to speak up for honest change. Bill McKibben calls on the Democrats not to squander this main advantage they have. Going back to old formulas loses these young questioning minds.
Democrats Shouldn’t Squander Their One Advantage.
he Democrats were given one great gift last year. Even as they lost state legislatures and control of the Senate, even as they surrendered governors’ mansions and somehow turned over the White House to a moral midget, one thing broke their way. And if they squander it now, as their establishment leadership seems inclined to do, then shame on them.
That one great gift was the cascade of young voters that poured out in support of Bernie Sanders. Early in the primary campaign, I introduced the Vermont senator to a crowd of nearly 30,000 people in a big-city convention hall. They were almost all millennials, and they were roaring — any fear I had about the supposed apathy of youth vanished that night. That scene repeated itself across America. By the time primary season was over, Sanders hadn’t just swamped Clinton among young voters — he’d gotten 35 percent more young voters than Clinton and Trump combined. Nothing like that has happened in my political lifetime.
It demonstrates that an honest, bold message, paired with a leader who passes the authenticity test, can move young people into political action. And that should thrill Democrats. Broken as the party is at the moment, demographics means that, indeed, young people are the future. And cynical as they are about politics, they are not lost to the party.
Which is why it was exciting to watch Keith Ellison’s candidacy for party leader take off this fall. Not only did he work closely with Sanders (who remains America’s most popular politician) but he’s cut of the same cloth. Not literally — he’s short, black, and Muslim, instead of tall, white (and white-haired), and Jewish. But he speaks the same language and with the same urgency — he understands the depth of the problems faced by young and working people.
I got to watch him up close during the marathon hearings and negotiations over the Democratic platform last spring. Some of the participants in that process were, to put it politely, veterans of Democratic politics, repeating bromides that had perhaps worked once but no longer do. (Having watched that process, I was not surprised by the lackluster presidential campaign.) Ellison — a sitting member of Congress — was polite, respectful, and attentive. But he was also firm and urgent. He wasn’t going through the motions.
Which is, I think, why the most ingrained parts of the party establishment are now trying to break his momentum. They’ve put forward Thomas Perez, a perfectly good man but from the ruling wing, not the organizing wing, of the party (he’s never been elected to anything above a county council). And, sadly, they’re playing dirty, or at least cynical, digging up “controversies” like ancient parking tickets from Ellison’s past, or a newspaper column he wrote in college defending the Nation of Islam’s Louis Farrakahn. Voters in his congressional district have thoroughly rejected such nonsense, and so should the DNC members, but the same party machinery that clearly disliked the Sanders challenge (remember those e-mails showing senior officials debating whether it would be more effective to smear him as a Jew or an atheist?) is now trying to derail Ellison.
These insiders view the Democratic party as a club or an institution, not as an organizing platform. And we’re not in an age when institutions are particularly useful — we’re in an era when institutions, without an infusion of new blood and ideas, simply fade away. I know this in part because I’m a Methodist, once perhaps America’s most vital Christian denomination. But over time its energy bled away — despite plenty of vibrant local congregations, and despite sporadic attempts at top-down rejuvenation, it has steadily ebbed. The average age of a Methodist is now 57.
One way to imagine the Sanders campaign, then, is as a series of revival meetings, conducted in every corner of the country. There was nothing shallow about them — Sanders’ unique form of charisma stemmed from his slightly grumpy seriousness. And so the support he received demonstrated a fervent desire to participate, especially among young Americans. They were serious about change.
That energy won’t disappear — it’s already powering the new civil rights movement and the fight for climate justice. But it will disappear from the Democratic Party if the party doesn’t seize the opportunity that Ellison offers. It won’t be the fault of the Russians or the FBI. And it may not come again.
Foreign Policy EDITORS’ PICKS – Sponsored Daily by The German Embassy in Washington.
Friday, January 6
Welcome to Editors’ Picks, FP’s round-up of the day’s best articles.
1. KEYS TO THE CASTLE: Donald Trump has access to the most invasive surveillance state in history. Will he use it to impose absolute power? James Bamford writes … Read more by going to foreignpolicy.com/2017/01/06/don…
Similarly you can find the links to the other items as well.
2. SPY WARS: Donald Trump still refuses to believe Moscow tipped the scales, despite growing evidence of a multi-faceted campaign, FP’s Elias Groll reports … Read more
3. FREE TRADE SAMURAI: Tokyo is ready to pick up the banner of the Trans-Pacific Partnership abandoned by Donald Trump – if China lets it, William Sposato writes … Read more
4. GERMANY’S AFRICAN SHAME: A new lawsuit brings Germany’s forgotten genocide in Namibia back into the spotlight, FP’s Robbie Gramer writes … Read more
5. SMOOTH MOVES: Ghana silenced the haters and losers by holding free, fair elections and transitioning power peacefully, FP’s Emily Tamkin writes … Read more
Foreign Policy Magazine
In Break With Precedent, Trump orders all US Envoys to leave their positions on Inauguration Day. Considering the time needed to get Congressional approval for new ambassadors this might mean even a lack of US presence in Berlin in the run-up to the G20 meeting.
In Break With Precedent, Obama Envoys Are Denied Extensions Past Inauguration Dayy
By JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS JANuary 5, 2017 – The New York Times.
Leading photo: John B. Emerson, the United States ambassador to Germany, greeted President Obama in Berlin in November.
Mr. Trump, by contrast, has taken a hard line against leaving any of President Obama’s political appointees in place as he prepares to take office on Jan. 20 with a mission of dismantling many of his predecessor’s signature foreign and domestic policy achievements. “Political” ambassadors, many of them major donors who are nominated by virtue of close ties with the president, almost always leave at the end of his term; ambassadors who are career diplomats often remain in their posts.
A senior Trump transition official said there was no ill will in the move, describing it as a simple matter of ensuring that Mr. Obama’s overseas appointees leave the government on schedule, just as thousands of political aides at the White House and in federal agencies must do. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity about internal deliberations, said the ambassadors should not be surprised about being held to a hard end date.
The directive has upended the personal lives of many ambassadors, who are scrambling to secure living arrangements and acquire visas allowing them to remain in their countries so their children can remain in school, the diplomats said. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly on the matter.
In Costa Rica, Ambassador Stafford Fitzgerald Haney is hunting for a house or an apartment as his family — which includes four school-age children and his wife, who has been battling breast cancer — struggles to figure out how to avoid a move back to the United States with five months left in the school year, according to the diplomats.
In the Czech Republic, they said, Ambassador Andrew H. Schapiro is seeking housing in Prague as well as lobbying his children’s Chicago-based school to break with policy and accept them back midyear. In Brussels and Geneva, Denise Bauer, the United States ambassador to Belgium, and Pamela Hamamoto, the permanent representative to the United Nations, are both trying to find a way to keep daughters from having to move just months before their high school graduation.
Ronald E. Neumann, the president of the American Academy of Diplomacy, a Washington-based nonprofit association for former ambassadors and senior diplomats, said it was reasonable to expect ambassadors to return at the end of a term, given that they are direct representatives of the president with broad grants of authority. But he could not recall an occasion on which such a strict timeline had been applied.
“When you have people out there whose only reason for being an ambassador is their political connection to the outgoing president of a different party, it’s pretty logical to say they should leave,” said Mr. Neumann, a career Foreign Service officer who held ambassadorships in Algeria, Bahrain and Afghanistan. “But I don’t recollect there was ever a guillotine in January where it was just, ‘Everybody out of the pool immediately.’”
Ambassador Denise Bauer with Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo of Belgium in Brussels in 2013. Ms. Bauer is trying to stay in the country until her daughter finishes high school.
W. Robert Pearson, a former ambassador to Turkey and a scholar at the Middle East Institute in Washington, said the rule was “quite extraordinary,” adding that it could undermine American interests and signal a hasty change in direction that exacerbates jitters among allies about their relationships with the new administration.
At a White House farewell reception that Mr. Obama held on Wednesday night for noncareer ambassadors, many of them commiserated, attendees said, comparing notes about how to handle the situation.
Derek Shearer, a professor of diplomacy at Occidental College who is a former United States ambassador to Finland, said it was difficult to see a rationale for the decision. “It feels like there’s an element just of spite and payback in it,” he said. “I don’t see a higher policy motive.”
The State Department informed all politically appointed ambassadors in a letter the day after the election that they were to submit letters of resignation effective Jan. 20. It instructed those who wanted to seek extensions to submit formal requests explaining their justifications.
Incoming presidents of both parties have often made exceptions to allow ambassadors to wrap up personal affairs and important diplomatic business while their successors were in the confirmation process, which can take months. Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Mr. Obama all granted extensions for a few politically appointed ambassadors.
Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell offered particularly wide latitude to ambassadors facing family issues, said Marc Grossman, a longtime diplomat and former top State Department official who is vice chairman of the Cohen Group, a Washington consultancy.
“This was something that was important to Secretary Powell because of his own experience living and serving all over the world, so when people asked him, ‘Could I stay another couple of weeks, couple of months; my kids are finishing school,’ he was very accommodating,” Mr. Grossman said, adding that his flexibility was an “exception” to the general practice. “He was trying to, I think, send a message that family was important.”
Oh well! Menschlichkeit is not part of the Art of the Deal.
AMAZING! FOREIGN POLICY – foreignpolicy.com – is a Magazine of global politics, economics and ideas. Published bimonthly in print and daily online by the Slate Group, a division of the Washington Post Company. (See also an attachement at the end of this posting.)
Starting January 2017 we started receiving the daily FP e-mail saying it was sponsored by Germany — Sponsored Content — “SHAPING AN INTERCONNECTED WORLD”: That is the motto of Germany’s G20 Presidency in 2017. The stability of the global economy will be a top issue. The highlight of the Presidency will be the leaders’ summit on July 7 and 8 in Hamburg. Learn more. (This from the Wednesday, January 4th mailing)
The highlight of the Presidency will be the leaders’ summit on July 7 and 8, 2017, in Hamburg.
Germany would like to use its G20 Presidency to intensify international cooperation. It is the G20’s job to ensure that globalisation benefits everyone. The aim is to strengthen the benefits of globalisation and worldwide interconnectedness, and to ensure that more people reap benefits. The German government is thus setting a course diametrically opposed to isolationism and any return to nationalism.
Germany is happy to assume the G20 Presidency as of December 1, 2016, and to host the G20 summit July 7-8, 2017, Chancellor Angela Merkel declared in a video podcast on the German G20 Presidency. She cited the stability of the global economy as the “top issue.” The G20 finance ministers will be focusing on achieving progress on the stricter regulation of financial markets, especially in the field of shadow banking.
Germany attaches a great deal of importance to continuing with the major issues of its G7 Presidency, Angela Merkel continued. And a number of issues “related to development” will be given a very high profile, in particular fighting pandemics.
The German G20 agenda rests on three main pillars:
The G20 is the main forum for international cooperation among the 20 leading industrialized nations and emerging economies in the fields of finance and economics. The G20 nations are together home to almost two thirds of the world’s population, as well as generating more than four fifths of global GDP, and accounting for three quarters of global trade.
The first pillar involves strengthening stable environments for the global economy and the financial system, but also promoting dynamic economic growth. Structural reforms are the lynchpin here.
Over and above this, Germany’s G20 Presidency will continue cooperation on international financial and fiscal issues, employment, and trade and investment. The aim is to strengthen free and fair trade around the globe. The German government will also be working for sustainable global supply chains.
And last but not least, empowering women in the economy, in particular improving the quality of women’s jobs, is on the agenda. Chancellor Merkel will be working to give women in developing countries easier access to information and communication technologies.
The German G20 Presidency aims to take concrete steps to improve people’s living conditions in the long term and to put in place a stable environment for investment. And it aims to promote infrastructure development on the African continent. In June a separate conference, entitled “Partnership with Africa,” will be held in Berlin.
But the G20 also aims to accept responsibility in other fields. Migration and refugee movements, the fight against terrorism, money laundering and corruption will also be addressed during Germany’s G20 Presidency.
Meetings of G20 ministers and dialogue with civil society
In the run up to the G20 summit, numerous line minister meetings will be held, in order to explore individual G20 issues in greater depth. Between January and May 2017, ministers responsible for finance, foreign affairs, labour affairs, health, agriculture and digital policy will be meeting.
The civil society organizations themselves are responsible for these meetings, which will pick up on relevant G20 issues. With international partners they will be producing recommendations for the German G20 Presidency.
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