May Ends In June

Authored by W Stephen Gilbert via Off-Guardian.org,

History will not be kind to Theresa May. By the standards she forthrightly set herself at the outset of her premiership, she has been a dismal failure. She proposed that, contrary to most impartial expectation, she would be a socially liberal prime minister who would strive to relieve the economic pressure on the poorest members of British society (the briefly famous “just about managing”), but the only small concessions towards the relief of poverty that have been wrung from her government have done nothing to reduce the incidence of homelessness, food banks and wage rates that undershoot the demands made by private landlords, services starved of funds and price rises.

And that’s without even mentioning Brexit.

Following the self-inflicted disaster of the 2017 general election, in which May utterly failed to project herself with any conviction as “strong and stable”, she became, in George Osborne’s devastating phrase, “a dead woman walking”.

That campaign was the most complacent, least effective ever fought by a major political party in Britain, and the only explanation for the media’s astonishment at the result can be that editors and columnists had so convinced themselves that they had rendered Jeremy Corbyn, in their description of choice, “unelectable” that they could see no outcome other than a thumping Tory victory. What they could not see was that Corbyn is an inspired and inspiring campaigner, while May is as dull as ditchwater.

The social media commentator Aidan Daley summed her up admirably: “Mayvis: a political nonentity of such crushing mediocrity and insignificance that even when standing in direct sunlight she casts no shadow. A third-rate office manager elevated light years beyond her intellectual capacity, professional capabilities and pay grade. A national embarrassment and global laughing stock”.

This unsparing but unarguable buttonholing raises a historical problem for the Conservative Party that shows no sign of quick resolution. When May was elected Tory leader and hence prime minister, the field of choice was notable for its lightweight uniformity. Given the length of her cabinet experience, May clearly outshone her rivals, if not in charisma (a quality conspicuously lacking from the field). But the quality of leadership of the party has been modest at best for years. Among Tory leaders since the war, only Margaret Thatcher has managed to catch the climate of her time and impose her personality on a discernible period, however much one may deplore that climate and that period.

What is striking about Conservative politics is that those who wish to hold onto power and wealth for their own class and who have the ambition and talent and imagination to make a difference do not go into politics. They become entrepreneurs, traders, speculators. There is too much regulation and self-abnegation in politics for such people. Look back over the leadership of the Tory party and you get to Harold Macmillan before you encounter anyone who came from a (brief) career in business.

Comparing May with Thatcher and Macmillan is instructive.

May has failed to create any sort of arresting public persona for herself. Aside from the tiresome bromide “Brexit means Brexit”, she has turned no phrase that immediately summons her to mind. Who could essay her political philosophy, other than hanging on grimly against insuperable odds and paying heed to no advice?

She has no imagination, no resourcefulness, no wit and no management skills. When pressed, she retreats to prepared responses, regardless of their irrelevance to the question in hand. We are now told that she is “a patriot” – the last refuge of a political scoundrel – and that she has “tried her best”, which was clearly grossly inadequate to the task.

The mainstream media will be eternally grateful to her for betraying emotion at the end of her resignation statement, thereby providing the “human interest” angle that cements the moment in history and will be trotted out in every story about the May premiership for ever after, much like Thatcher’s tear-stained face in the back of the limo as it pulled away from Downing Street for the last time. Whether this emotion sits appropriately with the “dignity” that her admirers are rushing to credit to her is a question for others to ponder.

Attention now turns to her successor. Vast though the field is, it is again notable for its lightweight nature. Smart money will be on Rory Stewart, already a media darling and a politician unusually capable of sounding thoughtful and candid. He also has the advantage of having led a colourful pre-politics life, thereby bringing instincts to his politics from beyond the confines of career consultants and spads. But most speculation centres on Boris Johnson, despite the high level of suspicion that he generates among Tory MPs. He is said to be enthusiastically supported at the grassroots.

In this as in other aspects, he brings to mind Donald Trump. If Rory Stewart would offer a safe pair of hands, Johnson would suggest a Trump-like level of gaffes and embarrassments, thrills and spills.

That would certainly draw a line under the dead hand of the May era, but is there really an appetite for it on the Tory benches? Had Trump required the support of the senate to become the Republican candidate in 2016, he would not now be president. But Johnson will require the support of the Commons to become prime minister, and we may already be sure that his elevation would provoke some party resignations.

Moreover, while a Trump-Johnson alliance looks more promising of mutual support than any other possible combo, it may well only have eighteen months in which to flourish.

A Johnson premiership would represent an uncharacteristic rush of blood to the collective Tory head, comparable to Quentin Hailsham Hogg being preferred as prime minister to Macmillan or Home. After the long drawn-out death rattle of May’s period in office, the inevitable being postponed day by day until it became unbearable to everyone, politics now reverts to its proper and characteristic rhythm of utter unpredictability.

The old saw that the frontrunner never wins a leadership race may just be confounded on this occasion. Who can say? All supporters of other parties can do is to wait and see and remain ready for any eventuality.

via ZeroHedge News http://bit.ly/2ExtwZ6 Tyler Durden

London Plans 15mph Speed Limit To “Cut Air Pollution”

In what is a solid contender for this year’s Darwin Awards for environmental virtue signalling, the City of London has proposed a 15mph speed limit and the closure of some streets at lunchtime as part of a “radical plan” to reduce air pollution, cut traffic, and promote walking.

With more than half a million people commuting into the City of London each day, the authorities have been working to reduce air pollution in the area which contains several of the most polluted spots in the capital, the FT reported quoting Alastair Moss, chair of transport and planning committee at the City of London Corporation, who said the “radical plans” would help Greater London maintain its competitive edge as a business destination. The new 15mph speed limit could go into effect as soon as 2021, pending further approval from the Department for Transport.

It was not immediately clear how or why the artificial ceiling of 15mph would help the environment, especially since the maximum emissions from a car engine peak at a low rate of speed, but we’ll leave that to the Darwin Award nominations committee to answer. There is another, more pertinent question: why impose a 15 mps limit when the average traffic speeds in the City of London are already roughly half that due to narrow streets and congestion.

While the number of vehicles driving in London’s “Square Mile” has halved in the last 20 years, the corporation aims to further reduce vehicle traffic by 25% by 2030, and by 50% by 2044. “We are working tirelessly to support the 513,000 workers that commute to the Square Mile every day,” said Mr Moss.

The current speed limit in the City is 20mph for roads controlled by the corporation, while some larger thoroughfares managed by Transport for London, such as Blackfriars Underpass and Upper Thames Street, have a 30mph limit that is scheduled to change to 20mph.

In addition to cutting top speed for internal combustion engines, the City of London is already piloting three “zero emissions zones”, or streets that only allow electric or hybrid vehicles.

Of course, the bigger issue as noted above, is that this is, above all, an exercise in environmental virtue signaling. Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, said: “Cutting the Square Mile speed limit won’t make much practical difference, as average traffic speeds in London are around 7 miles per hour. Reducing the excessive number of private hire vehicles is a better way to improve air quality.”

The efforts under way in the Square Mile dovetail with broader plans in Greater London to improve air pollution, which has been a priority of the city’s mayor, Sadiq Khan. As the FT notes, a new pollution charge for older vehicles driving in central London’s ultra-low emission zone (Ulez) went into effect last month, and is expected to cut pollution by encouraging drivers to upgrade to newer, cleaner cars.

Also on Friday, Heathrow airport announced it would implement the world’s first Ulez at an airport by 2022 and would begin charging all cars, taxis and private hire vehicles coming to car parks or drop-off areas, possibly from 2026.  The Heathrow Ulez would impose minimum vehicle emissions standards, matching those of the central London Ulez, to persuade more people to take public transport or use greener private vehicles. Heathrow, the UK’s busiest airport, said the charge would probably be between £10 and £15, similar to that for the central London Ulez.

Over the past three years Greater London has also doubled the length of its protected cycling lanes, which now stretch across 116km. Within the City of London, the number of daily cyclists has nearly quadrupled since 1999.

Ironically, with Heathrow in the planning process for a third runway which would allow it to grow from 480,000 flights a year to 740,000, the airports has faced concerns that the sharp increase in passengers traveling to and from the airport will have negative environmental consequences.

via ZeroHedge News http://bit.ly/2X6JCjz Tyler Durden

First Amendment Protections for Anonymous Speakers Apply to Foreign Speakers

In In re DMCA Subpoena to Reddit, Inc., 2019 WL 2222041 (N.D. Cal. May 17), the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society of Pennsylvania—the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization—claimed that a commenter on a Reddit forum for ex-Jehovah’s-Witnesses infringed Watch Tower’s copyrights in a couple of items. They sought a subpoena to discover the identity of the commenter (who had posted under the pseudonym Darkspilver); Darkspilver sought to block the subpoena, arguing that the First Amendment protected his anonymity, but Watch Tower argued that he lacked First Amendment rights because had had admitted that he lived from outside the U.S., and was presumably posting from outside the U.S. But the court rejected that argument:

For support, Watch Tower cites two cases evaluating different constitutional provisions – the Fourth and the Fifth Amendments. See Johnson v. Eistrager, 339 U.S. 763 (1950) (Fifth Amendment); United States v. Verdugo-Urquidez, 494 U.S. 259 (1990) (Fourth Amendment).

In Johnson, the Supreme Court held that military prisoners captured abroad were not entitled to protection under the Fifth Amendment because they were: (a) enemy aliens; (b) had never been or resided in the United States; (c) were captured outside of the United States and held in military custody as war prisoners; and (d) were tried and convicted by a Military Commission sitting outside the United States for war crimes committed abroad…. In United States v. Verdugo-Urquidez, … the Court rejected the exterritorial application of the Fourth Amendment to a search conducted in Mexico of a Mexican resident and citizen’s homes.

In contrast, here, the constitutional right at stake is a different constitutional amendment – the First Amendment – and the asserted violation does not concern merely extraterritorial conduct. The subpoena here was issued by a Court in the United States, on behalf of a United States company (Watch Tower) and was directed against another United States company (Reddit).

Moreover, the First Amendment protects the audience as well as the speaker…. Although the exact percentage of subscribers to Reddit forum who live in United States is unknown, the only data before the Court suggests that a substantial number are United States residents. Based on the involvement of the United States Court’s procedures by and against United States companies and the audience of United States residents, as well as the broad nature of the First Amendment’s protections, the Court finds that the First Amendment is applicable here.

The court went on to conclude that the proper First Amendment solution here was to allow disclosure of Darkspilver’s identity only to plaintiff’s lawyers, who would be obligated not to disclose to their client. Though Darkspilver might have a strong fair use defense,

Nevertheless, Watch Tower has not yet had a chance to conduct discovery on its copyright claim or to engage an expert to conduct a market analysis. Perhaps Watch Tower, if provided the opportunity, could demonstrate that fewer people visited its website after Darkspilver’s posting. The Court is hesitant to deprive Watch Tower of the opportunity to develop its claim and supporting evidence before it has even filed suit.

In balancing the harms, while considering the fair use defense, the Court finds that they tip sharply in Darkspilver’s favor. However, the Court notes that Darkspilver’s concerns stem largely out of his fear that those in his congregation will discover his identity and shun him. If Reddit reveals Darkspilver’s identity to Watch Tower’s counsel, under an “attorney’s eyes only” restriction, then any harm to Darkspilver would be alleviated. This restriction would enable Watch Tower to pursue its copyright claim without causing harm to Darkspilver.

Therefore, the Court hereby grants in part and denies in part Darkspilver’s motion to quash. Reddit shall respond to the subpoena and provide the requested information to Watch Tower’s counsel. However, only attorneys of record in this matter may obtain information about Darkspilver’s identity. Watch Tower’s attorneys of record shall not to disclose Darkspilver’s identity to anyone else without approval in a Court Order from this Court. For example, Watch Tower’s attorneys of record may not disclose Darkspilver’s identity even to its client, staff, or expert witnesses without approval in a Court Order from this Court.

[Footnote: Watch Tower claimed at the hearing that it plans to disclose Darkspilver’s identity to its forensic experts so that Watch Tower can determine how Darkspilver obtained confidential information in the chart and prevent further disclosure of that confidential information. This purpose is not related at all to a copyright issue, and for that reason, the Court rejects that form of disclosure.]

If Watch Tower elects to file a lawsuit against Darkspilver, the Court directs Watch Tower to seek to file the suit under his pseudonym and to keep his actual identity under seal, for attorney’s eyes only. Moreover, Watch Tower is admonished that any violation of this Order will be sanctioned and that this Court retains jurisdiction over any potential violation of this Order.

EFF (Alex Moss) has more on this, arguing that the order should have entirely rejected the subpoena:

While the court agreed that “Watch Tower has not demonstrated any actual harm or likelihood of future harm”—the fourth fair use factor—it gave undue credence [to] Watch Tower’s claim that “the harm it suffered from people infringing on its copyrights was directing others away from its website.” … Based on the court’s approach, the [First Amendment] standard offers weak protections for fair users. Even a far-fetched theory regarding a particular fair use factor, like the one posited here, might be enough to justify disclosure even if the rest of the fair use analysis clearly suggests the use was lawful.

from Latest – Reason.com http://bit.ly/2EB70hX
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Why Farage Wins The Country And Corbyn Wins Only A Party

Authored by GiladAtzom,

Nigel Farage, Britain’s Donald Trump character, is by far the most significant man in British politics. In just a few weeks he has gathered huge political momentum. In tomorrow’s European Parliament elections he appears likely to score more votes than Labour and the Conservatives combined. Farage stood up against the entire political establishment, including the media and the commercial elites and has promised to change British politics once and for all. So far, it seems he is winning  on all fronts.

How it is that once again a Right wing populist has won the minds and hearts of working people? How is it possible that Jeremy Corbyn, who was perceived by many of us as the greatest hope in Western politics, has managed, in less than three years, to make himself an irrelevant passing phase?  How is it possible that the Right consistently wins when the conditions exist for a textbook socialist revolution?

Unlike political commentators, my explanation for this reoccurring political phenomenon is of a metaphysical nature.

The Left’s vision of temporality is a linear structure of historical progress that proceeds from ‘a past’ to ‘a future.’ Left ideology is structured around an ever progressing time line. The Left always promises to make things better in the future, to fight austerity, to care for the many not the few, to bring about equality and tolerance, etc. None of this is happening at present.  This leaves the Left as a promise that is supposed to fulfill itself in an imaginary ‘tomorrow.’

But this is not how the Right’s political argument is structured. In fact the Right and Fascist argument is far more sophisticated from a metaphysical perspective.  In my recent book, Being in Time, I contend that the Right ideologist understands that for the working class, utopia is ‘nostalgia.’

Trump won his voters’ trust by promising to make America great again. He vowed to plant the past in the future, reversing the time line. He promised to march America backward. Nigel Farage is using the same tactic, appealing to the same sentiments. He promises to make Britain a kingdom again not just a corner island in a dysfunctional globalist setting, a.k.a the EU. Farage is riding on the longing for a better past.  Corbyn was a political star only because he is a nostalgic character, an old lefty. For a time, he also reversed the time line, but neither he nor any of his advisers were clever enough to grasp the secret behind the ‘Corbyn revolution’. They let a magical moment of popularity  evaporate. Corbyn has become a cliché. His approval rating is 25%, not exactly promising for a candidate for prime minister.  

Within the context of Left thinking, past, present and future are chronological, set to follow each other in consecutive order. Within Right wing philosophy, time’s tenses change positions irregularly. Trump and  Farage put the ‘past’ in the future. They promise to march us back. They appeal to the masses because the human spirit, in its search for unity, transcends linear chronology. The Right wing ideologist capitalises on the human search for essence, for a logos and for transparency. In this regard, humans are historical creatures. They are capable of seeing the future in the past and vice versa.

Can the Left, in its current from, win the trust of the people? I think it is unlikely. The Left, as I describe it above, is removed from the human spirit. It is in a state of detachment. For ethics, equality and tolerance to prevail, we need a profound study of the human spirit not lame discussions of dialectical materialism.

*  *  *

To learn more about the Post Political condition read Being in Time-a post political manifesto

 

via ZeroHedge News http://bit.ly/2WtwB6s Tyler Durden

First Amendment Protections for Anonymous Speakers Apply to Foreign Speakers

In In re DMCA Subpoena to Reddit, Inc., 2019 WL 2222041 (N.D. Cal. May 17), the Watch Tower Bible & Tract Society of Pennsylvania—the Jehovah’s Witnesses organization—claimed that a commenter on a Reddit forum for ex-Jehovah’s-Witnesses infringed Watch Tower’s copyrights in a couple of items. They sought a subpoena to discover the identity of the commenter (who had posted under the pseudonym Darkspilver); Darkspilver sought to block the subpoena, arguing that the First Amendment protected his anonymity, but Watch Tower argued that he lacked First Amendment rights because had had admitted that he lived from outside the U.S., and was presumably posting from outside the U.S. But the court rejected that argument:

For support, Watch Tower cites two cases evaluating different constitutional provisions – the Fourth and the Fifth Amendments. See Johnson v. Eistrager, 339 U.S. 763 (1950) (Fifth Amendment); United States v. Verdugo-Urquidez, 494 U.S. 259 (1990) (Fourth Amendment).

In Johnson, the Supreme Court held that military prisoners captured abroad were not entitled to protection under the Fifth Amendment because they were: (a) enemy aliens; (b) had never been or resided in the United States; (c) were captured outside of the United States and held in military custody as war prisoners; and (d) were tried and convicted by a Military Commission sitting outside the United States for war crimes committed abroad…. In United States v. Verdugo-Urquidez, … the Court rejected the exterritorial application of the Fourth Amendment to a search conducted in Mexico of a Mexican resident and citizen’s homes.

In contrast, here, the constitutional right at stake is a different constitutional amendment – the First Amendment – and the asserted violation does not concern merely extraterritorial conduct. The subpoena here was issued by a Court in the United States, on behalf of a United States company (Watch Tower) and was directed against another United States company (Reddit).

Moreover, the First Amendment protects the audience as well as the speaker…. Although the exact percentage of subscribers to Reddit forum who live in United States is unknown, the only data before the Court suggests that a substantial number are United States residents. Based on the involvement of the United States Court’s procedures by and against United States companies and the audience of United States residents, as well as the broad nature of the First Amendment’s protections, the Court finds that the First Amendment is applicable here.

The court went on to conclude that the proper First Amendment solution here was to allow disclosure of Darkspilver’s identity only to plaintiff’s lawyers, who would be obligated not to disclose to their client. Though Darkspilver might have a strong fair use defense,

Nevertheless, Watch Tower has not yet had a chance to conduct discovery on its copyright claim or to engage an expert to conduct a market analysis. Perhaps Watch Tower, if provided the opportunity, could demonstrate that fewer people visited its website after Darkspilver’s posting. The Court is hesitant to deprive Watch Tower of the opportunity to develop its claim and supporting evidence before it has even filed suit.

In balancing the harms, while considering the fair use defense, the Court finds that they tip sharply in Darkspilver’s favor. However, the Court notes that Darkspilver’s concerns stem largely out of his fear that those in his congregation will discover his identity and shun him. If Reddit reveals Darkspilver’s identity to Watch Tower’s counsel, under an “attorney’s eyes only” restriction, then any harm to Darkspilver would be alleviated. This restriction would enable Watch Tower to pursue its copyright claim without causing harm to Darkspilver.

Therefore, the Court hereby grants in part and denies in part Darkspilver’s motion to quash. Reddit shall respond to the subpoena and provide the requested information to Watch Tower’s counsel. However, only attorneys of record in this matter may obtain information about Darkspilver’s identity. Watch Tower’s attorneys of record shall not to disclose Darkspilver’s identity to anyone else without approval in a Court Order from this Court. For example, Watch Tower’s attorneys of record may not disclose Darkspilver’s identity even to its client, staff, or expert witnesses without approval in a Court Order from this Court.

[Footnote: Watch Tower claimed at the hearing that it plans to disclose Darkspilver’s identity to its forensic experts so that Watch Tower can determine how Darkspilver obtained confidential information in the chart and prevent further disclosure of that confidential information. This purpose is not related at all to a copyright issue, and for that reason, the Court rejects that form of disclosure.]

If Watch Tower elects to file a lawsuit against Darkspilver, the Court directs Watch Tower to seek to file the suit under his pseudonym and to keep his actual identity under seal, for attorney’s eyes only. Moreover, Watch Tower is admonished that any violation of this Order will be sanctioned and that this Court retains jurisdiction over any potential violation of this Order.

EFF (Alex Moss) has more on this, arguing that the order should have entirely rejected the subpoena:

While the court agreed that “Watch Tower has not demonstrated any actual harm or likelihood of future harm”—the fourth fair use factor—it gave undue credence [to] Watch Tower’s claim that “the harm it suffered from people infringing on its copyrights was directing others away from its website.” … Based on the court’s approach, the [First Amendment] standard offers weak protections for fair users. Even a far-fetched theory regarding a particular fair use factor, like the one posited here, might be enough to justify disclosure even if the rest of the fair use analysis clearly suggests the use was lawful.

from Latest – Reason.com http://bit.ly/2EB70hX
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New Satellite Photos Reveal “Iran’s Land Bridge” Linking Tehran To The Mediterranean

Both Washington and Tel Aviv’s past decade of Syria policy has been driven largely by fears of a so-called “Shia crescent” or Iranian land bridge which would conceivably connect Tehran with the Mediterranean via pro-Shia Baghdad and Damascus in a continuous arch of influence. A 2007 article in The New Yorker by famed investigative journalist Seymour Hersh even predicted that a major proxy war fueled by the West and Saudi Arabia, and centered in Syria would soon erupt in order to prevent this so-called Iranian and pro-Shia expansion to the Mediterranean. Hersh presciently wrote at the time:

To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.

Fast-forward more than a decade after Hersh’s predictions, and a bloody proxy war for Syria that has tragically taken half-a-million lives out of which Assad and his Hezbollah and Iranian allies have emerged victorious, the Washington neocons’ worst nightmare has come true. A literal new land bridge establishing an international highway that runs all the way from Tehran to Beirut is now under construction, just released satellite images reveal.

At the end of a month that’s nearly witnessed directly military confrontation between the US and Iran, with a continuous war of words and American military build-up in the Persian Gulf, the White House has ordered a fresh deployment of 1,500 troops to the Middle East to monitor Iran’s actions, according to Pentagon statements. 

No doubt these new ground forces will take note of any potential Iranian troop or proxy militia movements through Iran into Syria. Beirut-based Al-Masdar News provides the following details of the newly released satellite images as follows:

The Israel-based Image Satellite International company released a new satellite image showing the construction of a land bridge between Syria and Iraq.

Based on the image, the construction is taking place between the Syrian border city of Albukamal and the Iraqi border city of Al-Qa’im. This border is controlled by Hashd Al-Sha’abi (Popular Mobilization Units) on the Iraqi side, and the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on the Syrian side.

The report notes that this is part of a broader effort “to link Tehran to the Mediterranean via an international highway and railway.” 

Ultimately the new transportation corridors will end in the Lebanese capital of Beirut. US and Israeli defense officials have long worried this will be a huge boon to Hezbollah. Israel has over the past two years launched hundreds of airstrikes inside Syria ostensibly to disrupt Hezbollah and Iran-linked weapons shipments. 

The Al-Masdar report continues:

For Israel and the United States, Iran’s ability to transport oil, supplies, and weapons from their capital to Syria and Lebanon will be a major issue. Israel has already targeted several Iranian arms convoys in Syria over the last five years. With the opening of the international highway, Iran will be able to bypass the sanctions imposed on their country and Syria.

The reopening of this highway is incredibly important to the Syrian government, as the Western sanctions have prevented foreign oil shipments from reaching their port cities. The oil shipments, which are mostly Iranian, have been a rarity since the Trump administration intensified their blockade in the eastern Mediterranean.



Image Sat International theoretical path of Iran’s “land bridge”: It’s widely believed that US forces have stayed at Al Tanf border crossing in order to thwart a planned highway. 

Hawks in Washington have long argued for greater US engagement in Syria precisely so that the so-called “Shia crescent” of influence running from Tehran, through Baghdad and Damascus, and into Lebanese Hezbollah territory, can be thwarted. 

However, with the Syrian Army now back in control of the majority of the country, including the most populous cities, it looks like US and Israel’s “redirection” policy that Hersh previously described has been dashed. 

But this also could be reason to believe that the war in Syria won’t quiet down anytime soon, but could actually be fast ramping up again.

via ZeroHedge News http://bit.ly/2Wo2v4j Tyler Durden

The Road To Modern Wars

Via Gefira,

President Trump pursues a policy combining military threat with economic warfare and his aim is to restore American hegemony especially in view of the rising contender: China. Beijing has been acquiring technological knowledge and started expanding beyond the borders, having easier access to Central Asia and the Pacific than Americans.

In 2015, when Trump stood for election, we wrote:

Trump’s war rhetoric is very popular with his audiences and is a step beyond Obama’s statement about American exceptionalism. In New Hampshire, Trump nearly declared war on China as he stated: ‘Take a look at China what they have done, they have taken our money, our jobs, our base, our manufacturing, and we owe them 1.5 trillion dollars that’s like a magic act, they have taken everything, and we owe them money.’

Mr Trump did not tell his audience that bringing back jobs comes at a cost. China’s GDP per capita is around 7,500 dollars, while the GDP per capita of the US is about 55,000 dollars. The China rhetoric is unambiguous; China stole what belongs to the US, and there is no need to repay US debt owed to China. The world should brace for Mr Trump as the 45th president of the USA.

President Trump wants to dictate to the whole world, but, taking into account the fact that the United States is now in conflict with Cuba, Venezuela, Iran, Syria, Russia, China and North Korea, a big war is not to be expected any time soon, so much so that the military interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen and Libya appear to be inconclusive. Washington has an arsenal of other measures and these include:

  1. fighting a war by proxy like the financing Afghan resistance to Russians in the eighties of the previous century.

  2. imposing economic sanctions and blocking bank accounts. This has worked very well against small countries. It seems to be less effective in the case of Iran and almost ineffective in the case of Russia. China and Russia are accelerating their efforts to set up alternative payment systems and Europeans – recall Germany’s adherence to the Nord Stream 2 project in defiance of American pressure – are not willing to cooperate with the United States in this respect.

  3. sparking coloured revolutions like the 2004 Orange Revolution in Ukraine or the 2009 Green Revolution in Iran. The strategy has not always worked as expected: the attempt to overthrow the Venezuelan government has failed.

As an aside we might notice that these revolutions might also be used the the West’s enemies. They can only occur in politically and economically unstable societies and that is – increasingly – the plight of the United States and Europe, both riven with ethnic and religious divides. Iran, Turkey, Russia and China can arm factions within Europe and thus destabilize these countries from the inside, as the Americans have done in Syria. The Turkish government has an extensive network of Diyanet mosques that can distribute weapons in the suburbs of Paris, Lyon and Marseilles.

Washington is in two minds about its foreign policy. The Democrats wanted to continue the interference in the Middle East and especially in Syria, where during President Barack Obama’s tenure the Jihadists of almost every political hue were armed to expel President Bashar al-Assad. The Jewish lobby in Washington is striving for a confrontation with Iran, which may prove to be costly, though. The coalition forged by Tehran with Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq is viewed as a direct threat to Israel, which means that Tel Aviv will sooner or later have President Trump bomb Iran. Recall the 1981 Israeli raid on the Iraqi nuclear reactor.

Source: AIPAC pro-Israel Lobby

Though most of Trump’s supporters are not interested in a war with Iran, the tensions are likely to escalate. The Turks have already indicated that they are not prepared to pay a higher price for oil and may try to circumvent sanctions. Rumour has it that the Chinese have stopped buying Iranian oil. Probably the Chinese brought this news to deceive the American administration.

The world economy cannot afford a high price for energy. If the American voter sees the oil price rise at the pump as a result of another useless war, this will not help President Trump in the elections on November 3, 2020.

Alas! Read more in Gefira 34

via ZeroHedge News http://bit.ly/2X76z6l Tyler Durden

Make School Hard Again

On March 12, news of a massive admission scandal broke in the world of higher education. At least 50 people, including several celebrities, stand accused of paying a consultant named William Rick Singer to get their children into particular colleges by any means necessary. His alleged tactics included falsifying standardized test results and bribing coaches to fraudulently nominate students for athletic scholarships, sometimes in sports they didn’t even play in high school.

The revelations have understandably provoked much wailing about the corruption of the university admissions process. But much less notice has been paid to another sea change that enabled this scandal to occur: It is still very hard to get into elite schools, but it’s not at all difficult to graduate.

In a different era, obtaining a diploma from an Ivy League school required hard work and real educational attainment for almost any major. The kinds of students admitted through money or connections would often struggle to make it through—hence the so-called “gentleman’s C.” But the vast majority of those who completed a degree could take pride in their accomplishments and rest easy knowing they were well-prepared to succeed in life.

Not so anymore. Since the late 1960s, universities have increasingly suffered from grade inflation and an emphasis on ensuring that all admitted students graduate. At the same time, schools have become more liberal about accepting applicants based on unorthodox qualifications, from athletic ability to nonacademic accomplishments, disadvantageous backgrounds, and demonstrated social “awareness.”

If these changes were simply used to admit a wider range of individuals who in the past would likely have been overlooked but who, given the opportunity, were capable of meeting the strict existing standards, this would be a laudable development. But that is not what has happened.

The old academic criteria, imperfect as they were, were in fact doing a reasonable job of selecting individuals able and willing to handle the rigors of traditional college. The blunt fact is that the majority of people who scored below a 1200 on the verbal and math sections of the SAT would have found it difficult or impossible to handle a curriculum like that required to earn a state-school engineering degree or comparable certification. Today, thanks to grade inflation, such students can and do pass through top schools with top honors, especially in the liberal arts.

There are many ways to achieve success and fulfillment that do not involve attending an elite college. Instead of encouraging people to pursue options well-matched to their abilities, however, we tell young people that their self-worth hinges entirely on the brand name on their college diploma. This creates a perverse incentive to do whatever it takes to get into their dream school, to amass tens of thousands of dollars in student loans, and to select a major based not on the professional opportunities it will open to them but on the ease of the program’s academic requirements. Small wonder we now have a generation drowning in debt and struggling to meet the traditional benchmarks of adulthood.

Who Is Losing?

Though grades have always been lower in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subjects than in the arts and humanities, graduating from a good school with a degree in any major did not use to be a cakewalk. Average GPAs have risen by a full point or more since the late 1960s. Collegeinflation.com shows that at Michigan State, for example, the percentage of As doubled to about 30 percent of all grades from 1963 to 1973 and then rose again by about 50 percent from 1983 to 2013. This is consistent with other research on the widespread change in grading standards nationwide.

As the conversation around higher ed has increasingly come to focus on inclusivity and maximizing graduation rates, elite universities have reacted by eliminating their core curricula, dumbing down the requirements that remain, or providing so many degree options that a student of average ability at an average school could be placed in most top liberal arts colleges and still survive (albeit, perhaps, in the lowest quartile of his class).

A rule of thumb is, the more math, the harder to graduate. Today, a student who gets into an Ivy intending to major in computer science and finds himself in over his head can easily migrate to an easier subject and still walk away with a prestigious diploma come graduation. This is damaging not only to the quality of universities but to poorer students of genuine ability.

Imagine that a striver from a lower-class background, by dint of hard work, manages to attain an A at a college that, as in times past, demands high standards of all its students. In contrast, the rich ne’er-do-well, buoyed by a family trust fund and prone to overindulging on the weekend, either does not graduate from said college or ends her tenure with a C. The wealthy kid will still have all the pull and privilege that family connections can bring, but the smart, diligent student will have her A to show for her efforts.

Now consider the modern alternative: The poorer student, having gotten an A in a difficult major, finds herself competing with a rich classmate who mostly spent her four years partying. Yet aided by tutors and a judicious selection of easy subjects, the wealthy kid graduates from the same prestigious college with what seems to be an equally distinguished A. Who is losing in this new system?

Standardized tests are frequently derided for advantaging the rich. But in fact, they are often the primary way for those without money and connections to make their case. Just imagine if the SAT were so easy that everyone got the same score. Who would more likely win admission to a top school: the wealthy world-traveler with prestigious extracurriculars (and a parent willing to donate a tidy sum to the university’s endowment), or the scrappy straight-A student who spends his summers working for minimum wage to help cover his tuition?

Punishing Rigor

Because college rankings penalize schools with low graduation rates, the current system actually harms the schools that dare to buck the trend.

My own alma mater, the California Institute of Technology, is notorious for not having legacy admissions and for being intensely focused on making sure that all its admits are academically qualified. Why? Because someone without the capability to do well in STEM subjects will not make it through Caltech’s rigorous core curriculum. All students—even those in economics or history—must pass basic courses in calculus, physics, chemistry, and biology that are shared with students in those majors.

Thirty or 40 years ago, as much as a third of a Caltech entering class of approximately 230 would not finish. Today—since low graduation rates can hurt a school’s reputation—dropouts are much rarer. But it is still difficult to complete a degree, especially if you do not have the diligence and skills that tend to be associated with strong science backgrounds and high test scores.

Ironically, these tough standards make rigorous schools less attractive to many good students. I have spoken to admits who chose an elite university because they knew that there, they were unlikely to earn less than a B, while at Caltech they would have to work hard just to graduate.

There have been years in which every single student admitted by Caltech scored an 800 on the Math 2 achievement exam. The combined SAT verbal and math result for the lowest-scoring student is often comparable to that of the average score at an elite school. Just try to find information about the lowest-scoring students at most top institutions: Those colleges don’t report the full range of admitted test scores, even anonymously. They want to hide the fact that the bottom 10 percent or so of their classes are substantially less academically qualified than their median admits.

The Envy of the World

This nonsense should cease. Schools are not here to certify the life achievements of the 1 percent, nor does it disparage the value of either sports or more vocationally oriented jobs that universities are not meant to serve those who excel at those activities. They are places for learning and scholarship.

Those who are less academically qualified should not, because of some essay they wrote for a specialized pool of admissions officers, buoyed by a donation from their parents, be granted admission to a top school over a middle- or lower-class child so naive as to think that strong test scores and grades would be enough. Outside the United States, such a system would be rightly filed under corruption and malfeasance—with or without the addition of phony claims to athletic prowess.

Many will chide me and say that the U.S. system of higher education is the envy of the world. As an academic, I answer that this is only half-right. The U.S. higher education system is admired for its faculty research and the products of its graduate programs, not for its level of basic teaching—and the former areas, lucky for all of us, remain overwhelmingly meritocratic. Students at the doctoral level are selected with minimal regard for the “holistic” considerations so prevalent at the undergraduate level. They’re generally drawn from around the world without attempts to represent different groups equally. If you doubt this, see how far your lacrosse championship or volunteer experience will go in compensating for low GRE math scores when applying to a Ph.D. program in economics or physics at a top-20 university.

The corrupt undergraduate admissions process at most schools today can flourish because the higher branches of the American academic tree are so good. But the lower branches are rotten with grade inflation and social promotion. The move away from an emphasis on genuine academic achievement and meritocratic promotion has done a disservice to the least well-off while offering more opportunities for the rich and connected to buy the trappings of success for their offspring.

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Make School Hard Again

On March 12, news of a massive admission scandal broke in the world of higher education. At least 50 people, including several celebrities, stand accused of paying a consultant named William Rick Singer to get their children into particular colleges by any means necessary. His alleged tactics included falsifying standardized test results and bribing coaches to fraudulently nominate students for athletic scholarships, sometimes in sports they didn’t even play in high school.

The revelations have understandably provoked much wailing about the corruption of the university admissions process. But much less notice has been paid to another sea change that enabled this scandal to occur: It is still very hard to get into elite schools, but it’s not at all difficult to graduate.

In a different era, obtaining a diploma from an Ivy League school required hard work and real educational attainment for almost any major. The kinds of students admitted through money or connections would often struggle to make it through—hence the so-called “gentleman’s C.” But the vast majority of those who completed a degree could take pride in their accomplishments and rest easy knowing they were well-prepared to succeed in life.

Not so anymore. Since the late 1960s, universities have increasingly suffered from grade inflation and an emphasis on ensuring that all admitted students graduate. At the same time, schools have become more liberal about accepting applicants based on unorthodox qualifications, from athletic ability to nonacademic accomplishments, disadvantageous backgrounds, and demonstrated social “awareness.”

If these changes were simply used to admit a wider range of individuals who in the past would likely have been overlooked but who, given the opportunity, were capable of meeting the strict existing standards, this would be a laudable development. But that is not what has happened.

The old academic criteria, imperfect as they were, were in fact doing a reasonable job of selecting individuals able and willing to handle the rigors of traditional college. The blunt fact is that the majority of people who scored below a 1200 on the verbal and math sections of the SAT would have found it difficult or impossible to handle a curriculum like that required to earn a state-school engineering degree or comparable certification. Today, thanks to grade inflation, such students can and do pass through top schools with top honors, especially in the liberal arts.

There are many ways to achieve success and fulfillment that do not involve attending an elite college. Instead of encouraging people to pursue options well-matched to their abilities, however, we tell young people that their self-worth hinges entirely on the brand name on their college diploma. This creates a perverse incentive to do whatever it takes to get into their dream school, to amass tens of thousands of dollars in student loans, and to select a major based not on the professional opportunities it will open to them but on the ease of the program’s academic requirements. Small wonder we now have a generation drowning in debt and struggling to meet the traditional benchmarks of adulthood.

Who Is Losing?

Though grades have always been lower in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subjects than in the arts and humanities, graduating from a good school with a degree in any major did not use to be a cakewalk. Average GPAs have risen by a full point or more since the late 1960s. Collegeinflation.com shows that at Michigan State, for example, the percentage of As doubled to about 30 percent of all grades from 1963 to 1973 and then rose again by about 50 percent from 1983 to 2013. This is consistent with other research on the widespread change in grading standards nationwide.

As the conversation around higher ed has increasingly come to focus on inclusivity and maximizing graduation rates, elite universities have reacted by eliminating their core curricula, dumbing down the requirements that remain, or providing so many degree options that a student of average ability at an average school could be placed in most top liberal arts colleges and still survive (albeit, perhaps, in the lowest quartile of his class).

A rule of thumb is, the more math, the harder to graduate. Today, a student who gets into an Ivy intending to major in computer science and finds himself in over his head can easily migrate to an easier subject and still walk away with a prestigious diploma come graduation. This is damaging not only to the quality of universities but to poorer students of genuine ability.

Imagine that a striver from a lower-class background, by dint of hard work, manages to attain an A at a college that, as in times past, demands high standards of all its students. In contrast, the rich ne’er-do-well, buoyed by a family trust fund and prone to overindulging on the weekend, either does not graduate from said college or ends her tenure with a C. The wealthy kid will still have all the pull and privilege that family connections can bring, but the smart, diligent student will have her A to show for her efforts.

Now consider the modern alternative: The poorer student, having gotten an A in a difficult major, finds herself competing with a rich classmate who mostly spent her four years partying. Yet aided by tutors and a judicious selection of easy subjects, the wealthy kid graduates from the same prestigious college with what seems to be an equally distinguished A. Who is losing in this new system?

Standardized tests are frequently derided for advantaging the rich. But in fact, they are often the primary way for those without money and connections to make their case. Just imagine if the SAT were so easy that everyone got the same score. Who would more likely win admission to a top school: the wealthy world-traveler with prestigious extracurriculars (and a parent willing to donate a tidy sum to the university’s endowment), or the scrappy straight-A student who spends his summers working for minimum wage to help cover his tuition?

Punishing Rigor

Because college rankings penalize schools with low graduation rates, the current system actually harms the schools that dare to buck the trend.

My own alma mater, the California Institute of Technology, is notorious for not having legacy admissions and for being intensely focused on making sure that all its admits are academically qualified. Why? Because someone without the capability to do well in STEM subjects will not make it through Caltech’s rigorous core curriculum. All students—even those in economics or history—must pass basic courses in calculus, physics, chemistry, and biology that are shared with students in those majors.

Thirty or 40 years ago, as much as a third of a Caltech entering class of approximately 230 would not finish. Today—since low graduation rates can hurt a school’s reputation—dropouts are much rarer. But it is still difficult to complete a degree, especially if you do not have the diligence and skills that tend to be associated with strong science backgrounds and high test scores.

Ironically, these tough standards make rigorous schools less attractive to many good students. I have spoken to admits who chose an elite university because they knew that there, they were unlikely to earn less than a B, while at Caltech they would have to work hard just to graduate.

There have been years in which every single student admitted by Caltech scored an 800 on the Math 2 achievement exam. The combined SAT verbal and math result for the lowest-scoring student is often comparable to that of the average score at an elite school. Just try to find information about the lowest-scoring students at most top institutions: Those colleges don’t report the full range of admitted test scores, even anonymously. They want to hide the fact that the bottom 10 percent or so of their classes are substantially less academically qualified than their median admits.

The Envy of the World

This nonsense should cease. Schools are not here to certify the life achievements of the 1 percent, nor does it disparage the value of either sports or more vocationally oriented jobs that universities are not meant to serve those who excel at those activities. They are places for learning and scholarship.

Those who are less academically qualified should not, because of some essay they wrote for a specialized pool of admissions officers, buoyed by a donation from their parents, be granted admission to a top school over a middle- or lower-class child so naive as to think that strong test scores and grades would be enough. Outside the United States, such a system would be rightly filed under corruption and malfeasance—with or without the addition of phony claims to athletic prowess.

Many will chide me and say that the U.S. system of higher education is the envy of the world. As an academic, I answer that this is only half-right. The U.S. higher education system is admired for its faculty research and the products of its graduate programs, not for its level of basic teaching—and the former areas, lucky for all of us, remain overwhelmingly meritocratic. Students at the doctoral level are selected with minimal regard for the “holistic” considerations so prevalent at the undergraduate level. They’re generally drawn from around the world without attempts to represent different groups equally. If you doubt this, see how far your lacrosse championship or volunteer experience will go in compensating for low GRE math scores when applying to a Ph.D. program in economics or physics at a top-20 university.

The corrupt undergraduate admissions process at most schools today can flourish because the higher branches of the American academic tree are so good. But the lower branches are rotten with grade inflation and social promotion. The move away from an emphasis on genuine academic achievement and meritocratic promotion has done a disservice to the least well-off while offering more opportunities for the rich and connected to buy the trappings of success for their offspring.

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Shielding The World From US Chaos Is No Easy Task

Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

Donald Trump’s foreign policy relies heavily on putting to use to the tools available to the Empire: economic terrorismthreats of wardiplomatic pressuretrade wars, etc. But in resorting to tried-and-true imperialism, it is isolating itself internationally from traditional allies and raising tensions on the global chessboard to an unprecedented level.

Threats of war against Venezuela, North Korea, Syria and Iran are now repeated on a daily basis. Economic measures involving tariffs or duties, in many ways comparable to declarations of war, are now habitual, whether directed at friends or allies. Iran and Syria are under sanctions, while Pyongyang is even prevented from dockingone of its ships in its ports, thereby finding itself de facto placed under US embargo, such as was threatened against Venezuela.

China and Russia are daily fighting to support the multipolar world through diplomatic, economic and sometimes military means, offering to Washington’s enemies some kind of shield with which to withstand the outrageous slings and arrows of the Trump administration. Beijing and Moscow carry out their resistance with an eye to their long-term objectives, given that in the short term their actions will inevitably invite the implacable hostility of Washington and her lackeys.

The fate of the new multipolar world order essentially depends on how well China and Russia will be able weather Washington’s storm. It is naturally in the interests of the rest of the world that the chaos of Washington’s unipolarity will be brought to a close in the least chaotic and destructive manner.

Washington’s European allies are sanctioned for Iranian oil imports, are unable to participate in the reconstruction of Syria, are asked to abandon joint projects with Russia (Nord Stream II), are asked to cut technological imports from China, are requested not to become involved in the largest project the world has ever known, known as the Belt And Road Initiative (BRI) – all these requests come at a time when Donald Trump keeps undermining the international globalist order on which US allies have come to rely on to maintain the status quo. US allies are obliged to comply with Washington’s requests even as it hurts their business interests and poses grave consequences in the medium to long term. This is essentially the motivation behind European countries seeking to diversify their international trade and exchanges through a currency not controlled by Washington, thereby effectively de-dollarizing their economies. It will be quite some time before such an ideal can be realized, demonstrated by the failure of the efforts to import Iranian oil by circumventing the US embargo through such mechanisms as Instex.

Recent weeks have seen international affairs swing from one worrying scenario to another, from the failed summitbetween Trump and Kim, to the support for Guaido’s attempted coup in Venezuela, culminating in the continuous threats directed towards Iran after designating the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization.

With little rhyme or reason, with an administration divided among several factions, we see constant changes in strategy and approach that only end up weakening Washington’s international stature.

Military planners at the Pentagon fear an open conflict with Iran or Venezuela, but only for purely propagandistic reasons. Washington’s formidable firepower would probably be able to overwhelm whatever defenses Tehran or Caracas would be able to offer, but at what price? The site of Washington’s latest-generation aircraft falling from the sky at the hands of air-defense systems from the Soviet period would have a devastating effect on the image America’s military-industrial complex likes to project of itself.

It would damage the prestige of American systems, which cost considerably more than their Russian counterparts. (An American F-22 Raptor, for example, costs about $150 million, whereas a Russian Su-35 only costs about $55 million.)

This embarrassing reality is currently being highlighted in Syria to some degree, where the anti-aircraft defenses of Damascus, combined with Russian capabilities, have foiled dozens of Israeli, US and Saudi attacks. The hitherto venerable US cruise missiles have had to genuflect before the legendary S-300/S-400 systems that have now become (as a defensive and not offensive weapon) a symbol of peace.

The myth of the invincibility of US weapons is being challenged by Moscow’s defensive capabilities deployed in Syria and Venezuela. These same capabilities are readily available to Tehran in the event that Washington decides to attack the Persian country. But the likelihood of such a war becomes less and less likely with every passing day, with Pentagon military planners fearing a far worse scenario for the United States than Iraq. Iran is three times the size of Iraq and would require about 1.2 million US troops to occupy the country on a permanent basis.

Iran, moreover, is one of the top 15 world powers and Washington would be confronted for the first time with an opponent of high capabilities, something that Americans have been trying to avoid for decades, fearful of revealing the vulnerability of their weapons systems as a result of corruption and wrong strategic decisions. Hollywood movies have served to build up in the public mind the myth of US military prowess, being a form of extreme propaganda for the purposes of disguising the reality of military ineffectiveness.

Pentagon planners have no intention of revealing their military vulnerabilities in a war with Iran. The loss of US military prestige would also show to countries hitherto under Washington’s thumb that this dog has more bark than bite, making it all the more difficult for the US to browbeat countries with the threat of military force in the future.

What Trump seems to find difficult to understand is that his foreign policy is slowly eroding the superpower status of the US. The free pass Trump has given to the neocons and the pro-Israel and pro-Saudi lobbies have only served to bring the US the the brink of a new war with Venezuela, the DPRK, Iran or Syria. With Trump not really committed to any war himself, this will only lead to a humiliating backdown.

A commitment to no further wars seems to be one of the last election promises Trump wants to remain faithful to.

These continuous threats, never followed up by real actions, are a very short-lived tactic, given that they do not bear any strategic result. The DPRK did not get rid of its nukes, Venezuela still has Maduro as president, and Iran will never sit down with the US to discuss a new nuclear deal.

International attitudes are cooling towards the US, even among allies, who are subjected to absurd impositions on imported goods and punitive measures resulting from industrial cooperation with Russia, China and Iran (the three main opponents of the Israeli-Neocon-Saudi triad). Threats to Germany for the Russian Nord Stream 2 pipeline are not dissimilar to the threats to Turkey for seeking to acquire the S-400, or to Italy for accepting Huawei 5Gtechnology, or to India for importing Iranian oil.

Opponents of Washington share a lot in common and are increasingly coordinating their efforts economically, diplomatically and militarily to limit the chaos and damage brought on by the Trump administration’s rampage on the global stage.

The doctrine of America First, combined with the need to grant a free hand to the Israeli-Saudi neocons, has been disastrous, particularly to the US. The rest of the world watches with mounting amazement and wonder how Washington, Riyadh and Tel Aviv are determined to paint themselves into a corner, just so that they can satisfy particular lobbies, powerful factions and warmongers like Bolton, Netanyahu, Mohammed bin Salman and Pompeo.

Trump is able to deceive his base due to their lack of interest in international affairs, the failing Democratic party, and Fox News’ tricky propaganda. But internationally, the role of Washington is becoming less and less relevant, with the figure of Trump serving to unite both friends and enemies of the US alike in a type of temporary pact as they wait out the Trump presidency. Once Trump is out of the way, then issues of fundamental importance for world trade (the Belt and Road Initiative) and the stability of crucial areas like the Middle East and North Africa can be dealt with, even though US adversaries are fully aware that US foreign policy isn’t decided by the President of the United States, rather from the ‘Washington consensus’ driven by ‘US Exceptionalism’.

via ZeroHedge News http://bit.ly/30LNrwY Tyler Durden