For news of the trade war with our allies, announced on Thursday, see item 9 below
1. We begin with a follow-up to last week’s discussion of racism in Trump’s America. So: did Donald Trump really and truly call some immigrants “Animals”? According to The New York Times on May 16 he did, and with brio. “President Trump lashed out at undocumented immigrants during a White House meeting on Wednesday, warning in front of news cameras that dangerous people were clamoring to breach the country’s borders and branding such people ‘animals.’
“Mr. Trump’s comments came during a round-table discussion with state and local leaders on California’s so-called sanctuary laws, which strictly limit communication between local law enforcement and federal immigration officers, and which the Trump administration is suing to invalidate. It was hardly the first time the president has spoken in racially fraught terms about immigrants, but it underscored his anger about unchecked immigration — the animating issue of his campaign and his tenure so far — and his frustration that he has not been able to do more to seal the nation’s borders….’We have people coming into the country, or trying to come in — we’re stopping a lot of them,’ Mr. Trump said in the Cabinet Room during an hourlong meeting that reporters were allowed to document. ‘You wouldn’t believe how bad these people are. These aren’t people, these are animals, and we’re taking them out of the country at a level and at a rate that’s never happened before.’”
We can only think here of Joseph Conrad’s Kurtz, who wrote a plan for bringing civilization to the “savages” of the Congo. But across the page, in his frustration, he gave us all the key meme of white rage: “Exterminate all the brutes.”
2. Set the mob on all the brutes! As has been widely reported, Trump mocked Hispanic names in an Oval Office meeting. As Charles Blow of The New York Times says, “Assuming that you have maintained the ability to be astonished by Donald Trump’s antics and insolence, The Washington Post reported last week that in 2017, before Trump was to deliver a speech to Congress, he ‘huddled with senior adviser Jared Kushner and [Stephen] Miller in the Oval Office to talk immigration.’
As The Post reported: “Trump reminded them the crowds loved his rhetoric on immigrants along the campaign trail. Acting as if he were at a rally, he recited a few made-up Hispanic names and described potential crimes they could have committed, such as rape or murder. Then, he said, the crowds would roar when the criminals were thrown out of the country — as they did when he highlighted crimes by illegal immigrants at his rallies, according to a person present for the exchange and another briefed on it later. Miller and Kushner laughed.’ [emphasis added]
“That Trump is a racist and white supremacist is settled fact at this point.” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/
And at a Tennessee rally on Tuesday, Trump blamed Democrats for siding with brutal gang member immigrants: “During a raucous rally in Nashville, Mr. Trump invoked fears of crimes committed by illegal immigrants, particularly by the transnational gang MS-13, to argue for stricter border policies, including his long-promised wall, and charged that Democrats were standing in the way….
“He worked his audience of about 1,000 into a frenzy by recalling the term he used this month during a discussion of how difficult it was to target suspected undocumented immigrants, including criminal gang members, for deportation.
‘What was the name?’ Mr. Trump asked. ‘Animals!’ his cheering supporters screamed back.” Read the disturbing account of his rambling attacks on the likes of “the MS-13 lover Nancy Pelosi,” [emphasis added] here: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/
3. Steal all the brutes’ children! As our readers know, the Trump administration has adopted a policy of arresting immigrants at the border and putting them in jail. (Crossing the border illegally is technically a misdemeanor for a first offense; it would not be normal to put children in foster homes if you or I were briefly jailed for a misdemeanor. Moreover, it is not criminal to cross and request asylum, as many do; they have been jailed anyway.) In the process HHS takes any children brought in and separates them, putting them in foster homes. Thus, some children have apparently been lost to the government, though the exact number is unclear. To make matter worse, Trump bizarrely blamed Democrats for a “law” (there is none) that he must enforce; he expects them to build his wall to prevent this action.
As The New York Times reported on Monday, it is not clear that the lost children are all part of this roundup. They appear to be children who had crossed the border unaccompanied and been sent to foster care. What really is happening?
“President Trump over the weekend falsely blamed Democrats for a ‘horrible law’ separating immigrant children from their parents. In fact, his own administration had just announced this policy earlier this month.
“His comments followed days of growing alarm that federal authorities have lost track of more than 1,000 immigrant children, mostly from Central America, giving rise to hashtags like #WhereAreTheChildren and claims that children are being ripped from their parents’ arms at the border and then being lost.
“But the president is not the only one spreading wrong information. Across social media, there have been confusing reports of what happened to these immigrant children. Here are some answers.”
It appears that “The government did realize last year that it lost track of 1,475 migrant children it had placed with sponsors in the United States, according to testimony before a Senate subcommittee last month. But those children had arrived alone at the Southwest border — without their parents. Most of them are from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, and were fleeing drug cartels, gang violence and domestic abuse, according to government data.”
The Times continues, “Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a new “zero tolerance” policy earlier this month that included imposing criminal penalties meant to deter Central American families from trying to cross the border illegally.
If a mother or father is with a child when apprehended for the crime of illegal entry, the minor must be taken from the parent. Hundreds of immigrant children have already been separated from their parents at the border since October, and the new policy will result in a steep increase. ‘If you don’t want your child separated, then don’t bring them across the border illegally,’ Mr. Sessions said.
It’s not clear what has happened to the children that have been separated from their parents since October. This is a deeper explanation on the practice of separating families.”
For more details, see the article here: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/
Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that “The number of migrant children held in U.S. government custody without their parents has surged 21 percent in the past month, according to the latest figures, an increase driven by the Trump administration’s ‘zero tolerance’ crackdown on families who cross the border illegally… [HHS] shelters are at 95 percent capacity, an HHS official said Tuesday, and the agency is preparing to add potentially thousands of new bed spaces in the coming weeks.” https://www.washingtonpost.
Whatever the numbers, the policy—and the blaming of Democrats—tears away the last shreds of human decency, showing the Heart of Darkness beneath: “The horror! The horror!”
4. Let all the brutes drown! In a shocking report, Harvard researchers reported in The New England Journal of Medicine that the initial government reports of 64 dead in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria was hugely understated. “The landfall of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico last September led to the death of thousands on the island, according to a new study – in sharp conflict with the official government death toll of 64….[The Report] concludes that as many as 4,600 ‘excess deaths’ occurred in the aftermath of the storm due to failures of medical and other critical infrastructure, and described the official number as ‘a substantial underestimate.’ Researchers said their fresh evaluation was probably an underestimate, too, owing to problems with communications that persist in the storm’s aftermath. In an enormous range of calculations, they said there is a 95% likelihood the death toll was somewhere between approximately 800 and 8,500 people.” So summarizes The Guardian on May 29: https://www.theguardian.com/
The Guardian also reports, “Hurricane Maria lifted a ‘veil from our eyes,’ said Carmen Yulín Cruz, her broad smile and warm manner belying the steely edge to her voice. ‘We are awake to our inequity – and our inequality,’ the mayor of Puerto Rico’s capital city of San Juan told the Guardian on a recent visit to a political summit in Baltimore….She lashed out again at Trump for the ‘unfathomable action of throwing paper towels at us’ and for ‘tweeting from a golf course in Mar-a-Lago’ while Puerto Ricans suffered. But the message she wanted to impart to the room: ‘We are still dying. Not in the great numbers like they were before, but we are dying. Those deaths cannot be forgotten. Those lives cannot just flicker and not be remembered. So help us.’” Read the full interview, on May 21, here: https://www.theguardian.com/
5. We shift now to a global perspective. The unrest over globalization and the rise of right-wing populism, even fascism, is happening beyond the US, and the recent turmoil in Italy is just the latest example. World and US markets were roiled on Wednesday as it appeared that Italy had no working government, and as pressures rise on its president to accommodate calls from the majority parties to leave the Eurozone. (For a quick summary, see the New York Times summary here.)
“The political crisis that has engulfed Rome threatens to bring about another bitter battle over the future of the EU, two years after the UK voted for Brexit. The uncertainty prompted a selloff on Italian markets on Monday.” So reported The Guardian.
“Mattarella, who as president has the power to nominate the head of government and ministers, asked Carlo Cottarelli, a former International Monetary Fund official, to become interim PM after refusing to accept the nomination of Paolo Savona, a Eurosceptic, for the role of finance minister. [emphasis added]
“Mattarella said appointing Savona, 81, who has called Italy’s entry into the euro a ‘historic mistake,’ would have risked the confidence of foreign investors and destabilising the country. Savona had been put forward for the role by the Five Star Movement (M5S) and the League, which had been attempting to form a government. The rejection on Sunday night prompted the resignation of Giuseppe Conte, the two parties’ choice to serve as prime minister.” [emphasis added] https://www.theguardian.com/
But Cotarelli would have been ousted by the populist majority, which could call a no-confidence vote, which would lead to early elections. These populist / fascist (or perhaps “nihilist”: labels are difficult here) parties could then increase their majority.
However, on Thursday, a “populist” government was sworn in, after Mattarella allowed the parties to form a government. “Populist leaders in Europe and across the Atlantic looked on with delight as they gained a powerful ally in the heart of Western Europe. European leaders in Brussels, already worried about Poland and Hungary, now fear a threat to European unity from within its core.” [emphasis added] So reported The New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/
This spasm of populism has global implications. Remember that the EU has been criticized by both the left and the right. But the left’s critique is far different. It sees the EU as an attack on well-regulated capitalism and banking. The right sees the elites as attacking national sovereignty and as exporting jobs to cheap labor (which the left also criticizes, while recognizing that labor agreements are key to domestic and global trade fairness). Of course, the EU does attempt, with some success, to enforce labor standards within its borders, as well as promoting liberal social policies. This, and the free flow of labor across borders, infuriates nationalists. Unfortunately, in the crisis of 2008 the EU demanded austerity from poorer nations, like Ireland and Greece, and the crisis only deepened. (With no power to devalue their currencies—having to stick to the euro—poorer nations could not increase their exports.)
Former Greek finance minister and leftist economist Yanis Varoufakis explains, “Italy should be doing well. Unlike Britain, it exports considerably moreto the rest of the world than it imports, while its government spends less (excluding interest payments) than the taxes it receives. And yet Italy is stagnating, its population in a state of revolt following two lost decades. While it is true that Italy is in serious need of reforms, those who blame the stagnation on domestic inefficiencies and corruption must explain why Italy grew so fast throughout the postwar period until it entered the eurozone. Was its government and polity more efficient and virtuous in the 1970s and 1980s? Hardly. [emphasis added]
“The singular reason for Italy’s woes is its membership of a terribly designed monetary union, the eurozone, in which the Italian economy cannot breathe and which consecutive German governments refuse to reform.” Varofakis sees danger in not urging reform on the EU, since the populists will seem to be acting as true democrats: “Matteo Salvini is secretly salivating at the thought of another election – one that he will fight not as the misanthropic, divisive populist that he is, but as the defender of democracy against the Deep Establishment.” Salvink had “promise[d] to expel 500,000 migrants from Italy.” https://www.theguardian.com/
Another point is made by scholar of populism and researcher in the Center for Research on Extremism at the University of Oslo, Cass Mudde. “Once again, the European Union is facing a mortal threat – the status quo is under siege from the unstoppable rise of populism, and shadows of Europe’s darkest past are looming over the continent….the Italian elections were predominantly about immigration, and anti-immigration sentiments coupled with anti-EU sentiments. Like Greece before it, Italy changed from a very pro-EU country to a strongly Eurosceptic country within a few years. There are many internal reasons for the political and social malaises in both countries, but the EU’s lack of solidarity with a weaker member state that pays the brunt of the price of a European problem, has at the very least worsened the situation.” [emphasis added] His warnings and historical perspective appear in The Guardian on Wednesday: https://www.theguardian.com/
Another Guardian commentator, Kenin Malik, blames the absence of a progressive alternative to channel popular anger. “The election marked a rejection of the austerity policies of the past decade, anger over the migration crisis and hostility towards the EU. …As in much of Europe, the left has self-destructed by abandoning its traditional working-class constituency….For all the talk of an ‘anti-establishment’ coalition, at the heart of the new government squat some of the more unpleasant sections of the establishment. The League has long had a close relationship with Berlusconi, had ministers in both Berlusconi governments of a decade ago and, in the election, was part of the coalition of the right, which included Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and the neo-fascist FdI.” [emphasis added] https://www.theguardian.com/
Sound familiar? The point of following this story is that a fascist / nationalist revolt is sweeping the West, and the appeal of a Trump is becoming clearer from this global perspective.
6. Which brings us to the shrewd and compelling analysis by Robert Kuttner, co-editor of The American Prospect and a professor of social policy at Brandeis University’s Heller School. Kuttner’s recent book is “Can Democracy Survive Global Capitalism?” In a summary of his views in The Huffington Post, he remarks, “Two subjects that dominated the news this past week ― the continued ascendance of neo-fascist ultra-nationalism in Europe and the United States’ escalating trade war with China ― seem unrelated. In fact, they share a common genesis. Both calamities ― and they are calamities ― are the byproducts of a naïve faith that a push for free-market global capitalism would somehow increase the appeal of liberal democracy. [emphasis added]
“In this super-global era, living standards for most working people in the West have stagnated and most gains have gone to the top. Establishment politicians have few answers except to blame the people themselves for having insufficient skills. People not only lost jobs; they lost respect. Those left behind were losers ― except that losers voted. Into this vacuum marched Donald Trump, and ultra-nationalist figures like him all over Europe. [emphasis added]
“These movements did not come out of nowhere. Rather, they were a reaction against the destruction of a social contract that once regulated capitalism and delivered broadly shared opportunity and prosperity. Ultra-globalization was the instrument of this destruction, as global corporations and their political allies devised ‘trade’ deals that were really deregulation deals. The idea was to make it harder for national governments to housebreak capitalism.” https://www.huffingtonpost.
To underscore the point, the global backdrop to our recent elections, Kuttner remarks elsewhere that “Today’s globalist class blends self-enrichment, and disdain for regular working people as globalism’s losers, with compassionate outreach to new claimants for social justice. It is folly to extend a hand of welcome to refugees at a time when the local unemployment rate is north of 10 percent.” This infuriated nationalists, at a time when an economic crisis loomed.
“Here in the United States, Hillary Clinton supported a Wall Street brand of globalism, offered little to a stressed working class, took a lot of money from Goldman Sachs, and added a bold embrace of identity politics. It took a lot of courage to reach out to marginalized groups, but at a time when ordinary Americans are hurting economically, the risk is that they harden their hearts and opt for a figure like Donald Trump.
“And before you blame the anti-Clinton vote on simple sexism or racism, consider that Barack Obama won a larger share of the white working class vote and that Clinton lost the white female vote by ten points.” https://www.commondreams.org/
Kuttner in the above article remarks on the folly of our trade policy with China, and calls for more democratic control over capitalism, and more pressure on China to adhere to international labor standards. “When politics fails to serve working people, the far right fills the vacuum.” [emphasis added]
8. A new memoir by longtime Obama advisor Benjamin Rhodes reports on Obama’s reaction to the Trump victory. It is instructive. Here is how The New York Times reported on the book on Thursday: “Riding in a motorcade in Lima, Peru, shortly after the 2016 election, President Barack Obama was struggling to understand Donald J. Trump’s victory.
“’What if we were wrong?’ he asked aides riding with him in the armored presidential limousine.
“He had read a column asserting that liberals had forgotten how important identity was to people and had promoted an empty cosmopolitan globalism that made many feel left behind. ‘Maybe we pushed too far,’ Mr. Obama said. ‘Maybe people just want to fall back into their tribe.’” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/
9. A. On the issue of trade, it is notable that Trump has used a “national security” loophole to threaten tariffs on goods like imported autos. How odd. As economist Paul Krugman points out in a searing attack on Trump’s China trade policies, “The idea that imported cars pose a national security threat is absurd. We’re not about to refight World War II, converting auto plants over to the production of Sherman tanks. And almost all the cars we import come from U.S. allies. Clearly, Trump’s invocation of national security is a pretext, a way to bypass the rules that are supposed to limit arbitrary executive action.” Moreover, as many critics have pointed out, we are not about to retool American manufacturing to produce cars solely in this country: the supply chain for auto parts is now global.
Krugman is among many critics who point to Trump’s help to ZTE, the Chinese company sanctioned by the Commerce Department for violating technology transfer rules, a clear national security issue. As Krugman points out, “the Pentagon has banned sales of ZTE phones on U.S. military bases, warning that the phones could be used to conduct espionage.”
So why did Trump try to help the company? Krugman—and others—suspect that it may be about personal gain: “China approved a huge loan to a Trump-related project in Indonesia just before rushing to ZTE’s defense; at the same time, China granted valuable trademarks to Ivanka Trump. And don’t say that it’s ridiculous to suggest that Trump can be bribed; everything we know about him says that yes, he can…. Of course, there might be other explanations. Maybe President Xi Jinping told Trump that he needed to abase himself on this issue to get a trade deal he can call a ‘win.’ Somehow this doesn’t sound much better.” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/
B. However, on Tuesday, Trump seemed to turn around, announcing a round of punitive tariffs on China, which may spark a trade war, if China retaliates by hurting American agriculture. The Washington Post reported that, “The Trump administration has renewed its threat to place 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese goods in retaliation for what it says are China’s unfair trade practices. The White House also said Tuesday that it would place new restrictions on Chinese investment into the United States and limit U.S. exports of high-tech goods to China….
“[Some] analysts, however, say the newly confrontational stance may be intended to appease congressional critics of a deal the Trump administration made Friday that allowed Chinese telecom giant ZTE Corp. to stay in business.” https://www.washingtonpost.
The Washington Post’s business reporter David Lynch reports that US industry does not support a trade war: “[B]usiness groups criticized Trump’s move. Many U.S. industries support confronting China over a number of trade practices, including what they see as unfair licensing terms and compulsory technology transfer in return for access to the Chinese market. But they fear that the president’s focus on tariffs will hurt them as much as China by disrupting supply chains, depressing demand for their products and sparking retaliation by Beijing.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue called the proposed tariffs ‘a tax on American consumers’ that would erode the competitiveness of U.S. businesses. The National Retail Federation also came out in opposition to the president’s move.” https://www.washingtonpost.
Metal tariffs, which will affect Europe, Canada, and China, were officially announced on Thursday. Read details here: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/
Retaliation from our allies was swift. Read the details here: https://www.washingtonpost.
10. A senior GOP congressman has actually contested the unhinged Trump fantasy that an FBI “spy” was sent to infiltrate his campaign.
According to an article in Politico, “A senior House Republican who was part of a highly classified Justice Department briefing last week said on Tuesdaythat the FBI acted properly when it deployed an informant to gather information from advisers to President Donald Trump’s campaign in 2016. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) said last week’s briefing, convened by the Justice Department under pressure from Trump, convinced him even further that the FBI’s information-gathering steps were appropriate.
“’I am even more convinced that the FBI did exactly what my fellow citizens would want them to do when they got the information they got’ he said in an interview on Fox News. He added that the information also suggested that the effort had ‘nothing to do with Donald Trump.’
“Gowdy’s comments are a significant pushback against Trump and his allies who have contended that the FBI’s use of an informant amounted to explosive political proof that the Obama administration embedded a spy in his campaign — an accusation that hasn’t been backed up by any available evidence.
According to Gowdy, the classified details also cut against the theory. In fact, he said, the FBI’s actions appeared to support what Trump himself has at times demanded: that investigators pursue any attempts by Russia to infiltrate his campaign and efforts by the Kremlin to interfere in the election.” https://www.politico.com/
11. On Wednesday, Trump doubled down on his belief that Jeff Sessions essentially betrayed him by not recusing himself from the Russia investigation. As The Times reported, “In a Twitter post early on Wednesday, Mr. Trump said he wished he had picked another lawyer to be his attorney general.” The paper had earlier broken the story that Trump had called Sessions on the carpet last year and asked (ordered?) him to rescind his recusal: “By the time Attorney General Jeff Sessions arrived at President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort for dinner one Saturday evening in March 2017, he had been receiving the presidential silent treatment for two days. Mr. Sessions had flown to Florida because Mr. Trump was refusing to take his calls about a pressing decision on his travel ban.
When they met, Mr. Trump was ready to talk — but not about the travel ban. His grievance was with Mr. Sessions: The president objected to his decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. Mr. Trump, who had told aides that he needed a loyalist overseeing the inquiry, berated Mr. Sessions and told him he should reverse his decision, an unusual and potentially inappropriate request.
“Mr. Sessions refused.
“The confrontation, which has not been previously reported, is being investigated by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.” Read the whole story here: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/
The implications of this revelation are covered by Washington Post columnist Aaron Blake on Wednesday, who headlines, “The Trump obstruction of justice probe is bigger than we realized.” https://www.washingtonpost.
12. Stormy Daniels’s attorney, Michael Avenatti, has been the subject of intense media scrutiny about his personal and professional life. But it is clear he has rankled Donald Trump and proved to be a real threat to the president. In a wide-ranging interview with The Guardian published on Wednesday, “Avenatti issued one of his characteristic, tantalisingly apocalyptic predictions: that Rudy Giuliani and other members of Trump’s legal team should look for cover. ‘There will be a series of bombshells in connection with this case.’ The evidence will shift public opinion despite Trump’s campaign boast that he could shoot someone and still retain support, said Avenatti. ‘It reflects an over-confidence that is very dangerous. Nothing lasts forever. History teaches us that.’ The decision of Evgeny Freidman, a Cohen business partner, to cooperate with prosecutors as a potential witness was highly significant, he said. ‘It further tightens the noose on Michael Cohen which in turn further tightens the noose on Mr Trump.’
“Avenatti said he had been trying to convince two more women who signed non-disclosure agreements in relation to Trump to come forward. One said no, the other is ‘on the fence.’” Read the interesting profile and interview [did you know Avenatti worked on opposition political research for Rahm Emmanuel’s law firm?] here: https://www.theguardian.com/
13. In a related development, in the investigation of Trump fixer Michael Cohen, The New York Times reports that, “On Tuesday, the special master, Barbara S. Jones, reported to the judge that more than one million items from three of Mr. Cohen’s cellphones would be turned over to the government on Wednesday after lawyers for Mr. Cohen and Mr. Trump determined that they contained no privileged information. About 300,000 additional files were turned over to prosecutors last week…. For months now, the authorities have been investigating whether Mr. Cohen violated the law in his wide-ranging business deals, including hush-money payments that he made to women who claimed they had affairs with Mr. Trump — among them Stephanie Clifford, a former pornographic film star better known as Stormy Daniels. No criminal charges have been filed.” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/
14. There is developing evidence that not only Russia but also Saudi Arabia may have attempted to influence the 2016 election. On May 19, The New York Times reported that “Three months before the 2016 election, a small group gathered at Trump Tower to meet with Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son. One was an Israeli specialist in social media manipulation. Another was an emissary for two wealthy Arab princes. The third was a Republican donor with a controversial past in the Middle East as a private security contractor. The meeting was convened primarily to offer help to the Trump team…The emissary, George Nader, told Donald Trump Jr. that the princes who led Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were eager to help his father win election as president.” [emphasis added] While these details have not been verified, The Times reported that this is a subject of Mueller’s investigation. George Nader is cooperating with Mueller. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/
For some background: In March, The New York Times published a long investigative report on attempts by the Saudis and the UAE to influence President Trump through a GOP National Committee official (now resigned from that post) and George Nader, a political advisor to the ruler of the UAE. “A cooperating witness in the special counsel investigation worked for more than a year to turn a top Trump fund-raiser into an instrument of influence at the White House for the rulers of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, according to interviews and previously undisclosed documents. Hundreds of pages of correspondence between the two men reveal an active effort to cultivate President Trump on behalf of the two oil-rich Arab monarchies, both close American allies.
“High on the agenda of the two men — George Nader, a political adviser to the de facto ruler of the U.A.E., and Elliott Broidy, the deputy finance chairman of the Republican National Committee — was pushing the White House to remove Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson, backing confrontational approaches to Iran and Qatar and repeatedly pressing the president to meet privately outside the White House with the leader of the U.A.E.
“Mr. Nader tempted the fund-raiser, Mr. Broidy, with the prospect of more than $1 billion in contracts for his private security company, Circinus, and he helped deliver deals worth more than $200 million with the United Arab Emirates.
“Mr. Mueller’s investigators have already asked witnesses about Mr. Nader’s contacts with top Trump administration officials and about his possible role in funneling Emirati money to Mr. Trump’s political efforts, a sign that the investigation has broadened to examine the role of foreign money in the Trump administration.” Nader is cooperating with the Mueller investigation. For more on this example of influence peddling, see https://www.nytimes.com/2018/
Last week Broidy sued the government of Qatar, claiming that they leaked his private emails to The Times to discredit him: the UAE was trying to push the US to condemn Quatar: “Broidy’s efforts included promoting accusations that Qatar was destabilizing the region while he was landing a contract for hundreds of millions of dollars with its rival, the United Arab Emirates.” See the update to the story in The New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/
Surveillance: Two articles you will want to read
15. Warning: your cell phone not only tells where you are; your calls and data can also be monitored by governments and private firms. So reports Washington Post tech columnist Craig Timberg, in a detailed report on May 30. “Surveillance systems that track the locations of cellphone users and spy on their calls, texts and data streams are being turned against Americans as they roam the country and the world, say security experts and U.S. officials. [emphasis added]
“Federal officials acknowledged the privacy risk to Americans in a previously undisclosed letter from the Department of Homeland Security to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) last week, saying they had received reports that ‘nefarious actors may have exploited’ global cellular networks ‘to target the communications of American citizens.’ The letter, dated May 22 and obtained by The Washington Post, described surveillance systems that tap into a global messaging system that allows cellular customers to move from network to network as they travel. The decades-old messaging system, called SS7, has little security, allowing intelligence agencies and some criminal gangs to spy on unwitting targets — based on nothing more than their cellphone numbers.” [emphasis added] https://www.washingtonpost.
16. In another detailed report, National Geographic for February examines the millions of surveillance cameras used to spy on citizens all around the world. “Today more than 2.5 trillion images are shared or stored on the Internet annually—to say nothing of the billions more photographs and videos people keep to themselves. By 2020, one telecommunications company estimates, 6.1 billion people will have phones with picture-taking capabilities. Meanwhile, in a single year an estimated 106 million new surveillance cameras are sold. More than three million ATMs around the planet stare back at their customers. Tens of thousands of cameras known as automatic number plate recognition devices, or ANPRs, hover over roadways—to catch speeding motorists or parking violators but also, in the case of the United Kingdom, to track the comings and goings of suspected criminals. The untallied but growing number of people wearing body cameras now includes not just police but also hospital workers and others who aren’t law enforcement officers. Proliferating as well are personal monitoring devices—dash cams, cyclist helmet cameras to record collisions, doorbells equipped with lenses to catch package thieves—that are fast becoming a part of many a city dweller’s everyday arsenal. Even less quantifiable, but far more vexing, are the billions of images of unsuspecting citizens captured by facial-recognition technology and stored in law enforcement and private-sector databases over which our control is practically nonexistent.” This is one you won’t want to miss: https://www.
17. Locally: in April, Democratic 6th District Congressional candidate Sean Casten attended a town hall organized by high school students to discuss gun violence. Congressman Peter Roskam did not attend. In early May, students at three area high schools invited Roskam to attend a closed-door meeting on the issue. But, as The Chicago Tribune reported, “One month after declining to participate in a 6th Congressional district town hall on gun violence prevention organized by area high school students, Republican U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam met with a group of teens to discuss the topic in a closed-door session Saturday in Wheaton.
“In addition to the six students from Glenbard North, South and West high schools, five of whom originally requested the meeting after the town hall, Roskam added three pro-gun rights students from Wheaton Academy to the closed meeting — something the town hall students said they did not expect.
Elisabeth Shanks, a sophomore at Glenbard West High School and one of the students who helped set up the 6th District meeting, said they are pushing for stronger gun rules and restrictions….
“During the conversation, the three Wheaton Academy students said they did not agree with the March student walkouts against gun violence, and spoke in favor of Second Amendment rights and arming teachers, according to Elisabeth and [teacher Erica] Bray-Parker.
“Elisabeth said the group now will work on holding Roskam accountable for topics discussed in the meeting, and will continue pushing for a public meeting with the congressman.” http://www.chicagotribune.com/
18. In the race for the 14th District, The Chicago Tribune reports that “Democrat Lauren Underwood called out U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren, who she is challenging for his 14th Congressional district seat in November, for his lack of meetings with the public and his support of President Donald Trump’s American Health Care Act.
“Underwood, a registered nurse from Naperville, was flanked by Democratic governor candidate J.B. Pritzker, chairman of the Democratic National Committee Tom Perez and Mark Guethle, chairman of Kane County Democrats, as she rallied support from more than 300 people who gathered Wednesday afternoon under a gazebo in St. Charles. ‘We haven’t seen this much excitement out here since Barack Obama was here in Kane County’ Guethle said.”http://www.chicagotribune.com/