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Donald Trump should veto the new sanctions bill

Donald Trump is damned to lose allies in the US and beyond if he does not veto the sanctions bill and he is damned to that which already plagues him if he uses his veto. A simply cost-benefit analysis would indicate he would be better off using his veto.

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On the evening of 25 July, 2017, the US House of Representitives which is dominated by ‘Trump’s Republican party’, passed a bill which will cause POTUS a great deal of headache irrespective of his final decision in respect of signing or vetoing the legislation.

Passed with a majority of 419-3, the new law would tie the hands of not only Trump but future Presidents.  Beyond this, the bill’s content was opposed by America’s most influential companies as well as the European Union. Normally, such an ill-thought out bill which did not account for the views of the business sector, America’s European partners and the US Constitution would be an easy veto for a President trying to build bridges, but due to the atmosphere which the mainstream media as well as Trump’s political opponents have created, Trump now faces a difficult decision that will earn him criticism no matter what he does.

READ MORE: Ron Paul, US businesses and European states all oppose new sanctions on Russia

That being said, it is still in Trump’s long term interests to veto the legislation. Here are the key points.

1. The legislation interferes with Constitutionally derived executive power 

The current legislation seeks not only to impose sanctions that have been proposed by Congress rather than the Executive, but the bill would force Trump and ostensibly any successor in the White House to go through Congress in order to repeal the sanctions.

As The Duran’s Alexander Mercouris wrote,

“Whilst the US constitution does not define the President’s power to conduct foreign policy precisely (a good discussion of the issue can be found here) I personally have no doubt this law crosses the line, and infringes on the President’s constitutional right to conduct foreign policy in the best interests as he judges it of the United States.  Indeed, as I have said, that is the actual intention of the law”.

In this sense, the legislation grants the Legislature powers which are generally a prerogative of the Executive branch. Indeed, Barack Obama’s endless stream of sanctions did not derive from Capitol Hill but from his Oval Office.

One thing that both Trump and Obama have in common is a penchant for using executive orders to accomplish key elements of policy making. In this sense, it would be entirely reasonable to surmise that on this basis, Obama would have vetoed similar legislation on these technical grounds. Trump ought to say this and say it publicly.

Because the bill involves Russian sanctions, of course any veto Trump employs whether a full-veto or a line item veto, will result in the mainstream media and political opponents in Washington criticising Trump as some sort of ‘Russian puppet’, but the msm and his opponents are largely doing this anyway.

By not vetoing the legislation, he will not win new friends but he will make new enemies and important once at that.

2. Losing Europe 

Under Barack Obama, the US lost a great deal of global influence in The Middle East, Eurasia, Latin America and South East Asia. The one place where America still has friends after the Obama years is in Europe. Unlike Obama who always remained popular in major EU states and in Brussels itself, for mainly stylistic reasons, Trump has often had a shaky relationship with key European leaders like Angela Merkel.

But as his recent trip to Poland demonstrated, the Poles who are among the most Russophobic nation in the world, welcomed Trump as one of their own. Clearly, a country that is irrational enough to believe Russia might invade Europe is still sensible enough to realise that Donald Trump isn’t a secret Russian in any case.

Likewise, even though Merkel and Trump didn’t start off on the best foot, it seems that French President Emmanuel Macron has become keen to cultivate a good relationship with Trump. Trump attended Bastille Day celebrations in Paris at Macron’s invitation during which both men agreed that trying to remove the legitimate government of Syria should not be a political or military goal of France or the US and by extrapolation, all of NATO.

Just about every EU nation, including France opposes the new sanctions. Europe hasn’t suddenly become ‘pro-Russia’ but Europe does business with Russia in spite of previous sanctions, this is particularly true in the energy sector.

The current crop of sanctions effectively disallow European companies from doing the business they have done for years with Russian conglomerates. Europe has voiced its opposition to the US moves in the strongest possible manner, ranging from written condemnation deriving from individual nation states, to a strongly worded pledge to retaliate against the US from the European Union should the sanctions become US law.

Furthermore, many companies in Europe and indeed some European states, do not harbour the same paranoia about Iran that the US does. The sanctions which would target Russia as well as Iran and North Korea may prove harmful to EU countries that do not share US zeal when it comes to Iran or North Korea.

The French energy giant Total just signed a $4.9 billion deal with Iran for gas cultivation in the Persian Gulf. Should the anti-Iran sanctions which are in the bill interfere with this, many in France would be deeply angry.

If the US and Europe have this kind of unnecessary schism, America’s close allies might be reduced to Japan, an increasingly anti-militant South Korea, an increasingly dysfunctional Saudi Arabia and an increasingly aggressive Israel. Can America really afford to lose Europe over a domestic crusade against anything Russian? The clear answer is no.

3. Bad for US business

America’s leading companies have come out strongly condemning the new legislation for many of the same reasons European companies have. These companies include, BP, ExxonMobil, General Electric, Boeing and Citigroup, MasterCard, Visa, Ford, Dow Chemical, Procter & Gamble, International Paper, Caterpillar, and Cummins.

Donald Trump campaigned saying he would be the friend of both the American worker and American businesses. With America’s biggest companies who are also major employers coming out against the sanctions, many people from the factory floor to the boardroom will feel deeply betrayed by a man whose own career was in the private sector for most of his life. In this sense Trump owes more to the wider business community than to the Republican party with whom he hasn’t been long associated with.

If the Republican party which is ostensibly pro-business cannot listen to the interests of major US companies, Donald Trump ought to do so.

4. The decision for Trump 

If Donald Trump vetoes the bill, of course he will be accused of being ‘pro-Russia’, though he will hardly be accused of being pro-Iran or pro-North Korea, even though the legislation targets all three countries.

The fact is that the Trump-Russia narrative is not going to be dropped by the Democrats, neo-cons or MSM in any case. There is little else Trump can do to fight the ‘Russia myth’ apart from surrounding himself with an apt legal team to pick apart the ugly rumours as well as to continue to fight the MSM and his opponents on Twitter in a manner that exposes their pomposity to the general public.

The passage of this kind of bill so early into Trump’s Presidency is proof positive that Trump does not have many allies in the Republican party. The fact that on the same day, a Senate with a slim Republican majority needed to reply on the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Mike Pence, on top of the vote of an ailing John McCain (who on foreign policy matters is no friend of Trump in any case) in order to begin the debate to repeal and replace Obamacare, is further proof that Donald Trump is in many respects an independent President who is merely associated with the Republican party out of what was thought to be a relationship of convenience. This is hardly the case any more, the Republicans are publicly ungrateful for their Congressional victories achieved largely because of their association with a popular and charismatic Presidential candidate and Donald Trump is still Donald Trump, the outsider who doesn’t seem to want to ‘join the club’, certainly not in terms of style and in many ways, also in terms of substance.

The Republican party is no more Trump’s than the Democratic party is in many ways. He ought to realise this and use his veto not to please Russia but to please his own supporters. The fact that Russia has condemned the move, at a time when the US and Russia are at long last cooperating in south western Syria. ought to simply add one more layer of motivation for Trump to do the only thing that makes sense in terms of the wider world beyond the D.C. bubble:  Trump should veto the bill with the same tenacity with which he used to say “you’re fired” on The Apprentice.

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Social media purge continues, as platforms operate as publishers (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 80.

Alex Christoforou

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Following the suspension of Alex Jones, Twitter has also moved to restrict Jones’ Infowars account.

BuzzFeed News is reporting that the Infowars account will be restricted from tweeting, but will still be able to browse Twitter and send direct messages to other users, while users will still be able to view the account.

The move, which essentially puts the account in read-only mode, comes less than a day after Twitter temporarily limited Infowars proprietor Alex Jones for a week after he tweeted a link to a video in which he called on his supporters to get their “battle rifles” ready. That video, which was shared on Twitter-owned live streaming service Periscope, was also shared by Infowars earlier on Wednesday.

A Twitter spokesperson confirmed that Infowars’ account, which has more than 430,000 followers, will be prevented from tweeting, retweeting, liking or following other users during a seven-day window. The account will stay online, allowing users to view it during that period.

Via Zerohedge

On Tuesday, Twitter suspended the conspiracy theorist and blogger for violating the social media company’s policies, in a stark reversal for Jack Dorsey who previously bucked the trend by other tech giants to muzzle the Infowars creator.

As CNET first reported, Jones’ account was put in “read only” mode and will be blocked from posting on Twitter for seven days because of an offending tweet, the company said. While Twitter declined to comment on the content that violated its policies, a Twitter spokesperson told CNN the content which prompted the suspension was a video published Tuesday in which he said, “now is time to act on the enemy before they do a false flag.”

A Twitter spokesperson wouldn’t say what would get Jones or Infowars permanently suspended, however they noted “We look at [the] volume and nature of violations before suspending an account,” according to Buzzfeed.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the latest twists and turns in the vicious social media purge of conservative right and libertarian accounts. Platforms are acting like publishers and this may mean the end of monopoly social media services.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Meanwhile, in a censorship move against Libertarian commentary, Ron Paul Institute director Daniel McAdams and Antiwar editor Scott Horton were suspended by Twitter for simply retweeting. Justin Raimondo informs…

Target Liberty reports

Update from Justin:

Neither @scotthortonshow nor @DanielLMcAdams have been reinstated. You can see their tweets: they can’t tweet.

RW

Daniel McAdams explain what happened…

Robert I can give you an update from my perspective regarding what happened:

Yesterday on Twitter, former US diplomat Peter Van Buren (@WeMeantWell) took members of the mainstream media to task for swallowing and printing government lies without even bothering to check them out. He said as a former US government official (turned whistleblower) he also lied to the press on behalf of the government and was astonished that the press swallowed each one, hook, line and sinker.

Several corporate media hacks and in particular one employee of an NGO funded by George Soros — a fellow called Jonathan Katz — piled on Peter, accusing him of all manner of treachery. When Peter ended one response with a sarcastic reference to zombie attacks – “I hope a MAGA guy eats your face” — which is obviously a joke, Katz replied that he is reporting Peter for promoting violence.

So he and his buddies ganged up on Peter and got him banned. Scott Horton and I were incensed over the ban, which seemed to us totally arbitrary. There was no threat of violence and it was no different than millions of Tweets all the time. So Scott and I both joined in and criticized Katz for running off to the authorities in attempt to get someone banned rather than just walk away from the debate.

Katz then did his usual routine and ran to the authorities and had Scott and me banned. Mine was for, as Twitter informed me, because “you may not promote violence against, threaten, or harass other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease.” There is no way at all that my Tweet violated the above rule. In no way did I harass or threaten based on those criteria. I merely strongly criticized Katz for running to the authorities to get Peter banned.

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“I’m Not A Racist, But I’m A Nationalist”: Why Sweden Faces A Historic Election Upset

Sweden is set to have a political earthquake in September.

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Via Zerohedge


“Trains and hospitals don’t work, but immigration continues,” Roger Mathson, a retired vegetable oil factory worker in Sweden, told Bloomberg on the same day as the violent, coordinated rampage by masked gangs of youths across five Swedish cities.

We noted earlier that Swedish politicians were quick to react with anti-immigrant party ‘Sweden Democrats’ seeing a surge in the polls ahead of the September 9th election.

“I’m not a racist, but I’m a nationalist,” Mathson said. “I don’t like seeing the town square full of Niqab-clad ladies and people fighting with each other.”

Is Sweden set to have its own political earthquake in September, where general elections could end a century of Social Democratic dominance and bring to power a little known (on the world stage), but the now hugely popular nationalist party often dubbed far-right and right-wing populist, called Sweden Democrats?

Sweden, a historically largely homogeneous population of 10 million, took in an astounding 600,000 refugees over the past five years, and after Swedes across various cities looked out their windows Tuesday to see cars exploding, smoke filling the skies, and possibly armed masked men hurling explosives around busy parking lots, it appears they’ve had enough.

Over the past years of their rise as a political force in Swedish politics, the country’s media have routinely labelled the Sweden Democrats as “racists” and “Nazis” due to their seemingly single issue focus of anti-immigration and strong Euroscepticism.

A poll at the start of this week indicated the Sweden Democrats slid back to third place after topping three previous polls as the September election nears; however, Tuesday’s national crisis and what could legitimately be dubbed a serious domestic terror threat is likely to boost their popularity.

Bloomberg’s profile of their leader, Jimmie Akesson, echoes the tone of establishment Swedish media in the way they commonly cast the movement, beginning as follows:

Viking rock music and whole pigs roasting on spits drew thousands of Swedes to a festival hosted by nationalists poised to deliver their country’s biggest political upheaval in a century.

The Sweden Democrats have been led since 2005 by a clean-cut and bespectacled man, Jimmie Akesson. He’s gentrified a party that traces its roots back to the country’s neo-Nazi, white supremacist fringe. Some polls now show the group may become the biggest in Sweden’s parliament after general elections on Sept. 9. Such an outcome would end 100 years of Social Democratic dominance.

The group’s popularity began surging after the 2015 immigration crisis began, which first hit Europe’s southern Mediterranean shores and quickly moved northward as shocking wave after wave of migrants came.

Jimmie Akesson (right). Image source: Getty via Daily Express

Akesson emphasizes something akin to a “Sweden-first” platform which European media often compares to Trump’s “America First”; and the party has long been accused of preaching forced assimilation into Swedish culture to be become a citizen.

Bloomberg’s report surveys opinions at a large political rally held in Akkeson’s hometown of Solvesborg, and some of the statements are sure to be increasingly common sentiment after this week’s coordinated multi-city attack:

At his party’s festival, Akesson revved up the crowd by slamming the establishment’s failures, calling the last two governments the worst in Swedish history. T-shirts calling for a Swexit, or an exit from the EU, were exchanged as bands played nationalist tunes.

Ted Lorentsson, a retiree from the island of Tjorn, said he’s an enthusiastic backer of the Sweden Democrats. “I think they want to improve elderly care, health care, child care,” he said. “Bring back the old Sweden.” But he also acknowledges his view has led to disagreement within his family as his daughter recoils at what she feels is the “Hitler”-like rhetoric.

No doubt, the media and Eurocrats in Brussels will take simple, innocent statements from elderly retirees like “bring back the old Sweden” as nothing short of declaration of a race war, but such views will only solidify after this week.

Another Sweden Democrat supporter, a 60-year old woman who works at a distillery, told Bloomberg, “I think you need to start seeing the whole picture in Sweden and save the original Swedish population,” she said. “I’m not racist, because I’m a realist.”

Sweden’s two biggest parties, the Social Democrats and Moderates, are now feeling the pressure as Swedes increasingly worry about key issues preached by Akesson like immigration, law and order, and health care – seen as under threat by a mass influx of immigrants that the system can’t handle.

Bloomberg explains further:

But even young voters are turning their backs on the establishment. One potential SD supporter is law student Oscar Persson. Though he hasn’t yet decided how he’ll vote, he says it’s time for the mainstream parties to stop treating the Sweden Democrats like a pariah. “This game they are playing now, where the other parties don’t want to talk to them but still want their support, is something I don’t really understand,” he said.

Akesson has managed to entice voters from both sides of the political spectrum with a message of more welfare, lower taxes and savings based on immigration cuts.

With many Swedes now saying immigration has “gone too far” and as this week’s events have once again thrust the issue before both a national and global audience, the next round of polling will mostly like put Sweden’s conservative-right movements on top

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The Turkish Emerging Market Timebomb

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s populist economic policies have finally caught up to him.

The Duran

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Authored by Jim O’Neill, originally on Project Syndicate:


As the Turkish lira continues to depreciate against the dollar, fears of a classic emerging-market crisis have come to the fore. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s populist economic policies have finally caught up to him, and sooner or later, he will have to make nice with his country’s traditional Western allies.

Turkey’s falling currency and deteriorating financial conditions lend credence, at least for some people, to the notion that “a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.” I suspect that many Western policymakers, in particular, are not entirely unhappy about Turkey’s plight.

To veteran economic observers, Turkey’s troubles are almost a textbook case of an emerging-market flop. It is August, after all, and back in the 1990s, one could barely go a single year without some kind of financial crisis striking in the dog days of summer.

But more to the point, Turkey has a large, persistent current-account deficit, and a belligerent leader who does not realize – or refuses to acknowledge – that his populist economic policies are unsustainable. Moreover, Turkey has become increasingly dependent on overseas investors (and probably some wealthy domestic investors, too).

Given these slowly gestating factors, markets have long assumed that Turkey was headed for a currency crisis. In fact, such worries were widespread as far back as the fall of 2013, when I was in Istanbul interviewing business and financial leaders for a BBC Radio series on emerging economies. At that time, markets were beginning to fear that monetary-policy normalization and an end to quantitative easing in the United States would have dire consequences globally. The Turkish lira has been flirting with disaster ever since.

Now that the crisis has finally come to pass, it is Turkey’s population that will bear the brunt of it. The country must drastically tighten its domestic monetary policy, curtail foreign borrowing, and prepare for the likelihood of a full-blown economic recession, during which time domestic saving will slowly have to be rebuilt.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s leadership will both complicate matters and give Turkey some leverage. Erdoğan has  constitutional powers, reducing those of the parliament, and undercutting the independence of monetary and fiscal policymaking. And to top it off, he seems to be reveling in an escalating feud with US President Donald Trump’s administration over Turkey’s imprisonment of an American pastor and purchase of a Russian S-400 missile-defense system.

This is a dangerous brew for the leader of an emerging economy to imbibe, particularly when the United States itself has embarked on a Ronald Reagan-style fiscal expansion that has pushed the US Federal Reserve to raise interest rates faster than it would have otherwise. Given the unlikelihood of some external source of funding emerging, Erdoğan will eventually have to back down on some of his unorthodox policies. My guess is that we’ll see a return to a more conventional monetary policy, and possibly a new fiscal-policy framework.

As for Turkey’s leverage in the current crisis, it is worth remembering that the country has a large and youthful population, and thus the potential to grow into a much larger economy in the future. It also enjoys a privileged geographic position at the crossroads of Europe, the Middle East, and Central Asia, which means that many major players have a stake in ensuring its stability. Indeed, many Europeans still hold out hope that Turkey will embrace Western-style capitalism, despite the damage that Erdoğan has done to the country’s European Union accession bid.

Among the regional powers, Russia is sometimes mentioned as a potential savior for Turkey. There is no doubt that Russian President Vladimir Putin would love to use Turkey’s crisis to pull it even further away from its NATO allies. But Erdoğan and his advisers would be deeply mistaken to think that Russia can fill Turkey’s financial void. A Kremlin intervention would do little for Turkey, and would likely exacerbate Russia’s own .

The other two potential patrons are Qatar and, of course, China. But while Qatar, one of Turkey’s closest Gulf allies, could provide financial aid, it does not ultimately have the wherewithal to pull Turkey out of its crisis singlehandedly.

As for China, though it will not want to waste the opportunity to increase its influence vis-à-vis Turkey, it is not the country’s style to step into such a volatile situation, much less assume responsibility for solving the problem. The more likely outcome – as we are seeing in Greece – is that China will unleash its companies to pursue investment opportunities after the dust settles.

That means that Turkey’s economic salvation lies with its conventional Western allies: the US and the EU (particularly France and Germany). On August 13, a White House spokesperson confirmed that the Trump administration is watching the financial-market response to Turkey’s crisis “very closely.” The last thing that Trump wants is a crumbling world economy and a massive dollar rally, which could derail his domestic economic ambitions. So a classic Trump “trade” is probably there for Erdoğan, if he is willing to come to the negotiating table.

Likewise, some of Europe’s biggest and most fragile banks have significant exposure to Turkey. Combine that with the ongoing political crisis over migration, and you have a recipe for deeper destabilization within the EU. I, for one, cannot imagine that European leaders will sit by and do nothing while Turkey implodes on their border.

Despite his escalating rhetoric, Erdoğan may soon find that he has little choice but to abandon his isolationist and antagonistic policies of the last few years. If he does, many investors may look back next year and wish that they had snapped up a few lira when they had the chance.

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