June 27, 2020

Posted by orrinj at 10:36 AM


Posted by orrinj at 8:14 AM


Tzipi Livni: Annexation of West Bank a 'historic mistake' (MEMO, June 27, 2020)

Former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni asserted on Friday that Israeli annexation of large parts of the occupied West Bank is a "huge historic mistake", CNN reported.

Several days ago, Livni told The Washington Post that: "Israel is about to make one of the most fateful decisions in its modern history -- a decision that will have a profound impact on its future as a Jewish democratic state and on the prospect for peace."

She added: "The Israeli cabinet is on the verge of unilaterally annexing territories in the West Bank."

"This is not a technical issue. It is a question that has a direct bearing on the very nature of the state of Israel -- its identity, its values and its future."


Posted by orrinj at 8:08 AM


Child-Sex Trafficker From Trump Tower Meeting Gets 10-Year Sentence (BRANDI BUCHMAN, June 26, 2020, Courthouse News)

Posted by orrinj at 7:43 AM


Trump Has Dismantled More Monuments Than Any Protest (CHRIS D'ANGELO, 6/27/20, New Republic)

But it is Trump who has done the most damage to national monuments, dismantling or desecrating four federally protected land and water sites with significant cultural, archeological and natural resources. 

Those rollbacks include carving more than 2 million acres from a pair of protected national monuments in Utah--Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante―in December 2017. The boundary of Bears Ears, a 1.35 million-acre landscape that several tribes consider sacred, was cut by 85 percent. Nearby 1.87 million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante, the largest land national monument in the country and rich in both archeological and paleontological resources, was cut roughly in half. This month, Trump signed a proclamation to greenlight commercial fishing within Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, a vast protected site off the East Coast―a move that goes against the very purpose of designating a marine sanctuary.

The administration has also bulldozed and blown up Indigenous cultural and burial sites within Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, a UNESCO biosphere reserve that is also home to endangered species, to make way for Trump's wall along the US-Mexico border. Ned Norris Jr., the chairman of the Tohono O'odham Nation, has compared construction of the wall on sacred burial sites to desecrating Arlington National Cemetery.

The Interior Department has floated additional cuts at several other protected national monuments. 

Posted by orrinj at 7:34 AM


The Media's Role in Concealing Stalin's Evils Exposed in Mr. Jones: Walter Duranty and The New York Times have blood on their hands in this historical re-enactment. (GLENN GARVIN, 6.27.2020, reason)

At the forefront of Mr. Jones are two reporters. One, Gareth Jones (British television actor James Norton), an ambitious rookie freelancer for what was then called the Manchester Guardian, is so inexperienced he forgot to bring his typewriter on the trip. The other, Walter Duranty (Peter Sarsgaard, Wormwood), The New York Times' Moscow bureau chief, is fresh off a Pulitzer prize for his fawning coverage of Stalin's command-and-control economic policies.

Jones has been told Duranty is the man to see to arrange an interview with Stalin. He explains what he wants to ask: "So how are the Soviets suddenly on a spending spree? Who's providing the finance?" Duranty is noncommittal about the interview, but does have an answer about where the money is coming from: agricultural exports. "Grain is Stalin's gold." He also offers some bad news--a German reporter who's a friend of Jones and had promised to show him around Moscow has been murdered, apparently during a mugging--almost unknown in the stringently locked-down Moscow of the 1930s, particularly in the area where journalists and other necessary foreign evils lived.

Nosing around while he waits to see what will happen with his Stalin interview, Jones learns that his German friend thought something fishy was going on in the Ukraine, the Soviet Union's breadbasket region, which had recently been placed off-limits to foreigners, and was planning to sneak in. Jones decides to do the same, arranging a tour of a German-built factory on the other side of the Ukraine from Moscow, then ditching his Soviet minder to spend a couple of days wandering alone on foot.

Even before he leaves the train, Jones has clues that something has gone deeply wrong. When he offers to buy an overcoat from a Ukrainian passenger, the man begs to be paid in bread rather than currency. When Jones pitches a gnawed apple core into a wastebasket, another man dives into the trash to retrieve it.

But nothing can prepare him for what he sees when he gets off: Stiffened corpses scattered around the train station. Corpses in empty, deserted farmhouses. Corpses stacked on carts moving along village streets. Corpses being chewed on by starving children, who afterward trill a mournful ballad: "Hunger and cold are in our house, nothing to eat, nowhere to sleep and our neighbor has lost his mind and eaten his children... ."

Jones is eventually picked up by Soviet security forces and returned to Moscow, where he's warned never to tell anybody what he's seen. The "or else" will be the life imprisonment of half-a-dozen British phone company engineers who've been arrested on trumped-up spying charges. As he prepares to leave, he's ostracized by other reporters, including the sneering Duranty. "There comes a time in every man's life when he must choose a cause greater than himself," Duranty lectures him with, yes, moral clarity.

Back in London, Jones discovers Duranty has filed a New York Times story dismissing him as a credulous amateur. There may be a bit of hunger in the Ukraine, Duranty writes, but absolutely no famine. And anyway, what if there was? "You can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs."

One great moral crime we never reckon with is anti-anti-Communism.
Posted by orrinj at 7:21 AM


China and the Trans-Pacific Partnership: In or out? (Gary Clyde Hufbauer (PIIE), Jeffrey J. Schott (PIIE) and Zhiyao (Lucy) Lu, June 23, 2020, Peterson Institute)

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was designed in 2016 to be almost China-proof, with stringent obligations requiring transparency and trade liberalization. As former US Trade Representative Michael Froman put it, Chinese participation would be welcomed only when China could meet TPP's terms, which it was far from doing. The United States was not keeping China out; China was just not ready to come in.

President Donald Trump then pulled the United States out of the TPP in January 2017. The remaining 11 TPP countries suspended some of the controversial terms favored by the United States and implemented the pact, renamed the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), in late December 2018. Membership was open to all countries, including China. Has the US departure opened the door for China to join sooner rather than later?

The answer depends on the terms that China would agree to if it signed up to the club. The original vision of the Obama trade team in launching the TPP was that it would have sufficient clout to rival China's extensive trade relations across the Pacific. They also hoped that it would pressure Beijing to adopt bolder economic reforms to sign up. But without US officials screening new applicants, China could now seek to negotiate accession under revised and more flexible terms and enhance its regional economic influence. This would be bad news for the United States, both in economic and geopolitical terms. If elected president, Joe Biden should figure out a way to persuade Congress that joining the CPTPP best serves US interests.

Chinese participation in the US-designed TPP was always considered a long shot. TPP requirements conflict with current Chinese practice; China would have to embrace unprecedented domestic reforms to meet disciplines on state-owned enterprises, data flows and localization restrictions, labor obligations, and subsidies. Yet when President Trump closed the door on US participation in the TPP in January 2017, he opened an opportunity for China to enter and reshape Asian economic integration by modifying the terms of the CPTPP. 

Posted by orrinj at 7:10 AM


Violence by far-right is among US's most dangerous terrorist threats, study finds (Jason Wilson, 27 Jun 2020, The Guardian)

Violence by far-right groups and individuals has emerged as one of the most dangerous terrorist threats faced by US law enforcement and triggered a wave of warnings and arrests of people associated with those extremist movements.

The most recent in-depth analysis of far-right terrorism comes from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

In a report released last week, the Escalating Terrorism Problem in the United States, CSIS analyses 25 years of domestic terrorism incidents and finds that the majority of attacks and plots have come from the far right.

The report says "the majority of all terrorist incidents in the United States since 1994, and the total number of rightwing attacks and plots has grown significantly during the past six years", with the far right launching two-thirds of attacks and plots in 2019, and 90% of those in 2020.

The report adds: "Far-right terrorism has significantly outpaced terrorism from other types of perpetrators." The second most significant source of attacks and plots in the US has been "religious extremists", almost all "Salafi jihadists inspired by the Islamic State and al-Qaida".

The report shows the far left has been an increasingly negligible source of attacks since the mid 2000s.