Trump Is a Racist. Period.

Charles M. Blow – The New York Times

I find nothing more useless than debating the existence of racism, particularly when you are surrounded by evidence of its existence. It feels to me like a way to keep you fighting against the water until you drown.

The debates themselves, I believe, render a simple concept impossibly complex, making the very meaning of “racism” frustratingly murky.

So, let’s strip that away here. Let’s be honest and forthright.

Racism is simply the belief that race is an inherent and determining factor in a person’s or a people’s character and capabilities, rendering some inferior and others superior. These beliefs are racial prejudices.

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“MONEY IS NOT WEALTH: Cryptos v. Fiats!“

By Hazel Henderson*                                         

Most bankers, economists and investors after a couple of drinks, will admit that money is not wealth. Money is a metric, like inches and centimeters, for tracking real wealth: human ingenuity and technological productivity interacting with natural resources and biodiversity undergirding all human societies along with the daily free photons from our Sun, as described in “Valuing Today’s Circular Services Information Economies”.

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Ethiopia Is Falling Apart

BY MOHAMMED ADEMO, JEFFREY SMITH  (*)  – Foreign Policy

Tepid reforms and halfhearted concessions won’t save the country’s authoritarian government from its existential crisis

For a brief moment last week, Ethiopia seemed poised to shed its reputation as Africa’s Stasi state. At a press conference on Jan. 3, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn vowed to free political prisoners and shutter the notorious Maekelawi prison, which has long served as a torture chamber for government critics, opposition leaders, journalists, and activists.

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To Liberate Cambodia

Robert J. Burrowes*

A long-standing French protectorate briefly occupied by Japan during World War II, Cambodia became independent in 1953 as the French finally withdrew from Indochina. Under the leadership of Prince Norodom Sihanouk, Cambodia remained officially neutral, including during the subsequent US war on Indochina. However, by the mid-1960s, parts of the eastern provinces of Cambodia were bases for North Vietnamese Army and National Liberation Front (NVA/NLF) forces operating against South Vietnam and this resulted in nearly a decade of bombing by the United States from 4 October 1965. See ‘Bombs Over Cambodia: New Light on US Air War’.

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Celebrity politicians are a sign of our political decline

Cas Mudde* – The Guardian

Oprah Winfrey isn’t the first celebrity to be floated as a presidential candidate. And she won’t be the last

When Oprah Winfrey gave a blistering speech of women’s empowerment at the Golden Globes, pundits went into overdrive speculating that she might run for office. Media networks are now dreaming of a 2020 presidential race between Donald Trump and Oprah.

Although Oprah has not confirmed anything, US media are brimming with op-eds for and against her candidacy and debates around the broader issue of “celebrity politics”.

Celebrity politicians are not something new, neither are they uniquely American.

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The Voters Abandoning Donald Trump

Ronald Brownstein * – The Atlantic

According to previously unpublished findings, the blue-collar whites at the core of his coalition have lost faith over his first year in office.

A massive new source of public-opinion research offers fresh insights into the fault lines emerging in Donald Trump’s foundation of support.

Previously unpublished results from the nonpartisan online-polling firm SurveyMonkey show Trump losing ground over his tumultuous first year not only with the younger voters and white-collar whites who have always been skeptical of him, but also with the blue-collar whites central to his coalition.

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International Trade and Globalization: Are Benefits Truly Mutual?

Posted by Yves Smith – Naked Capitalism

Yves here. To add to the points made in this post: The naive economic view that “more open trade is every and always better” is unsound. It’s based on the faulty premise that moving closer to an unattainable ideal state of frictionless, unrestricted trade is preferable.

But that notion was debunked over 60 years ago, in the Lipsey-Lancaser theorem, in their paper, “The Theory of the Second Best”. It found that moving closer to that unachievable position could make matters worse, not better, and (gasp!) economist and policymakers needed to assess tradeoffs, and not rely on simple-minded beliefs. And the example Lipsey and Lancaster used was in trade, a specific example where the country liberalizing trade would wind up worse off.

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To Bee or Not to Bee… Again!

By Baher Kamal – Wall Street International

At risk, over 20,000 species of bees in charge of pollination

The title is that of the song To bee or not to bee, which was composed by the Greek band “Locomondo” to support Greenpeace’s campaign Global Day of Action – Save the Bees!

In fact, in May 2014 around 1.000 Greenpeace volunteers and activists in 110 cities across Europe participated in the European day of action to spotlight the crucial role of bees and other pollinators for our food and agriculture.

Honeybees and wild pollinators play a crucial role in agriculture and food production… however, the current chemical-intensive agriculture model is threatening both, and thereby putting food supply at risk, Greenpeace has already warned a year earlier to the European Day.

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Tourism Should Be Regulated, Before It Is Too Late…

By Roberto Savio*

ROME, Jan 2018  - This year, we will have 3 million tourists each day wandering the world. This massive phenomenon is without precedent in human history and is happening (as usual), with only one consideration in mind: money. We should pause and take a look at its social, cultural and environmental impact and take remedial measures, because they are becoming seriously negative if things are left as they are.

Sameer Kapoor listed for Triphobo Trip Planner a list of 20 places that have been ruined, due to excess of tourism. Antarctica is getting an alarming level of pollution. The famous Taj Mahal, a monument of love from the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to the memory of his wife, Mumtaz, has changed its shining milky white marble into a yellow shade. Mount Everest is strewn with trash from invading visitors.

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How to Break Up Europe’s Axis of Illiberalism

By Slawomir Sierakowski* -  Foreign Policy

If the EU really wants to punish Poland, it should turn up the pressure on Hungary.

Kaczynski has long promised the advent of “Budapest in Warsaw,” an allusion to Orban’s model of “illiberal democracy” that the Hungarian leader unapologetically touted in a 2014 speech. And in 2016, both leaders proudly announced a “cultural counterrevolution” within the European Union.

So when the EU turned up the heat on Warsaw in late December, Orban unsurprisingly pledged to “defend Poland,” implying that he would veto the threatened introduction of EU sanctions against the Polish government. But that outcome is far from certain.

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The End of the US-Pakistan Alliance

By George Friedman – Geopolitical Futures.

The U.S.-Pakistan alliance is over. The Pakistani prime minister said as much during a recent interview with The Wall Street Journal, a statement made in response to the announcement that the U.S. would cut off all aid to Pakistan for its failure to suppress jihadists in Afghanistan and, according to some, for its role in aiding them. There is reason to believe the statement is not just politics as usual. The interests of Pakistan and the U.S. are profoundly different, and though it is possible for them to reconcile them, it is unlikely.

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Who are you going to believe, Michael Wolff or your own eyes?

Scarce impact of Wolf’s book among Republicans

By DAVID P. GOLDMAN*- Asia Times

Hatchet job should be seen for what it was from its inception: an attempt to show Trump couldn’t win office and that, if he did, it could only have been due to some awful accident

I read as much of Michael Wolff’s ‘Fire and Fury’ as my stomach lining could stand, and then I watched Donald Trump’s last rally of the 2016 presidential election. Groucho Marx’s old line came to mind — “Who are you going to believe; me, or your own eyes?”

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Why is Trump’s man in Iran, Michael D’Andrea, missing from conversations about the protests?

By Robert Fisk* – The Independent

Isn’t the man in charge of the CIA’s Iran operations taking a serious interest in the latest events in Iran? Surely he is. That’s his job, isn’t it? But why this silence?

Most of us know the extremely rare but slightly creepy feeling of driving down a road or seeing a hill or listening to a conversation and being overcome by the absolute conviction that we’ve seen it or heard it before. Perhaps in an earlier incarnation. Or maybe just a few years ago, though we may not be able to place the experience in a time frame. It took me quite a while before a trusted friend was able to pinpoint why I found Iran’s latest miniature street revolution so weird. And so familiar. And so chilling.

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Authenticity, Fighting Back and the Fall of Social Media False Idols

By Antonio P. Contreras* – The Manila Times, Philippines

Too much of anything can be harmful, and something good that happens too soon may be short-lived.

There is a term for this. It is called hubris.

Some people thought that they could turn social media into a platform for their political maneuvers and ambitions. They thought this new platform for political participation could be gamed forever, and that they could command their purchased, paid or programmed minions to do anything at their bidding.

They forgot one important feature that characterizes this new technology. It cannot be monopolized and controlled. And it cannot be gamed forever.

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Donald Trump Lies About Everything, Including Steve Bannon

By John Nichols* – The Nation

It is absurd for the president to claim: “Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency.”

President Trump wants Americans to believe that “Steve Bannon has nothing to do with me or my presidency.”

That is a lie.

Trump’s rapidly degenerating presidency is the refuse of his sordid partnership with Bannon—a partnership that continued until the night, just weeks ago, when their campaign to make Roy Moore a US senator crashed and burned.

After virtually every prominent Republican in Washington and across the country had abandoned Moore, the disgraced Alabama jurist who stood accused of preying on teenage girls, Steve Bannon continued to back his Senate run. Then, as the December 12 election approached, something remarkable happened: Trump, the leader of the Republican Party, did the same.

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Turkey: Learning From the Ottomans’ Mistakes

By Xander Snyder* – Geopolitical Futures

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s decision to move Turkey’s military procurement process under his direct authority – mandated in an emergency decree passed on Dec. 24 – indicates two things. First, that he knows that for Turkey to rise, it needs a stronger military. Second, that he’s mindful of past mistakes made by the Ottoman Empire. For Turkey to project power, it needs the ability to intervene unilaterally, independent of foreign military purchases. It also needs its strategic planners to be on the same page with those who procure the weapons that support its military strategy. In other words, Erdogan is aware of the risk of the disconnect between perception and reality.

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The ‘Nuclear Button’ Explained: For Starters, There’s No Button

By RUSSELL GOLDMAN* – The New York Times

HONG KONG — President Trump and Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea, traded threats this week about the size, location and potency of their “nuclear buttons.”

The image of a leader with a finger on a button — a trigger capable of launching a world-ending strike — has for decades symbolized the speed with which a nuclear weapon could be launched, and the unchecked power of the person doing the pushing.

There is only one problem: There is no button.

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10 Conflicts to Watch in 2018

BY ROBERT MALLEY* – Foreign Policy

From North Korea to Venezuela, here are the conflicts to watch in 2018.

It’s not all about Donald Trump.

That’s a statement more easily written than believed, given the U.S. president’s erratic comportment on the world stage — his tweets and taunts, his cavalier disregard of international accords, his readiness to undercut his own diplomats, his odd choice of foes, and his even odder choice of friends. And yet, a more inward-looking United States and a greater international diffusion of power, increasingly militarized foreign policy, and shrinking space for multilateralism and diplomacy are features of the international order that predate the current occupant of the White House and look set to outlast him.

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Billionaires, Fiscal Paradise, the World’s Debt, and the Victims

By Roberto Savio*

ROME, Jan 2,  2018 (Other News / IPS) - Among Bloomberg’s many profitable activities is a convenient Bloomberg Billionaires Index that has just published its findings for 2017. It covers only the 500 richest people, and it proudly announces that they have increased their wealth by 1 trillion dollars in just one year. Their fortunes went up by 23% to top comfortable 5 trillion dollars (to put this in perspective, the US budget is now at 3.7 trillion). That obviously means an equivalent reduction for the rest of the population, which lost those trillion dollars. What is not widely known is that the amount of the circulation of money stays the same; no new money is printed to accommodate the 500 richest billionaires!

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Europe’s unprecedented challenge from the authoritarians in the east

Jon Henley* – The Guardian

How the EU deals with members flouting core western liberal norms and values could overshadow Brexit wrangling in 2018

In 2017, Europe survived the crunch Dutch, French and German elections that – after Brexit and Trump – many predicted would mark the beginning of its end. In 2018, the biggest threats could come from the east.

When Poland and Hungary joined the EU in 2004, the integration of the former communist bloc countries was seen as critical to the bloc’s post-cold war advance. Barely a decade later, they risk becoming its first rogue states.

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