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Fri, 24th February 2017

Anirudh Sethi Report

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Archives of “democratic party” Tag

Russia: “The New American Leaders Are Repeating Obama’s Mistakes”

The Trump-Putin honeymoon continues to chill… that is if Trump’s top foreign policy advisors speak for the president, which remains very much unclear.

As discussed yesterday, in the clearest sign yet that when it comes to diplomacy with Russia, there are two clear axes developing within the Trump administration: a Pence/Mattis/Haley foreign policy and a Trump/Bannon/Miller foreign policy, Vice President Mike Pence told the crowd at the Munich Security Conference that he would “hold Russia accountable” even as he vowed “unwavering support” for NATO. This prompted the following interesting scene moments later, as recounted by Bloomberg.

 Shortly after Vice President Mike Pence pledged to “hold Russia to account” while looking for common ground in a speech to European allies, a hawkish Russian legislator reached out to shake his hand as he passed through a crowded hotel corridor.

“Mr. Vice President, I am from Moscow and we hope we will reach those arrangements you were talking about,” said Alexei Pushkov, a member of the defense committee in the upper chamber of the Russian parliament. He enthusiastically told reporters afterward that he saw the Vice President’s smile as a good sign.

US Historian Predicts Trump’s Presidency Will Be Second Shortest in History

trump donald trump donald blinking blinkyTrump’s presidency might be second shortest in US history, says Ronald Feinman of Florida Atlantic University. William Henry Harrison holds the record for the shortest administration at 31 days. Trump looks set to beat that in just a couple of days; however, he has yet to outrule James A. Garfield, who was president for 199 days in 1881, but died “after terrible suffering and medical malpractice” when he was shot by an assassin. 

If Trump manages to eclipse Garfield, the next contender to beat is Zachary Taylor, who served 16 months and five days for the third  shortest presidential term in US history.

According to Feinman, who insisted that Hillary Clinton would win November’s presidential election with a 49 to 44 percent electoral majority, Trump will be either impeached or forced to resign in a matter of weeks. After that, Vice President Mike Pence will take the reins, according to US law.

So why would that happen, one might ask? According to Feinman’s blog post, the greatest sin of Donald Trump is failing to continue acting as US presidents did before him. Feinman cites the “abrupt ending of a phone call to the Australian Prime Minister, [US’s] loyal ally in four wars in the past;” Trump’s “seeming lack of respect for Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel;” and “lack of strong support for NATO” as reasons for a possible premature ending to his administration. Feinman does not trouble himself to speculate as to whether the aforementioned respect and support are justified, though. He also names Trump’s puzzling attitude towards the longstanding One-China Policy as another reason he won’t be around long.

Obama Makes First Statement Since Leaving White House, Supports Protests Against Trump Policy

It took Obama ten days since he departed the White House one final time to break his promise that he would “stay on the sidelines” regarding Trump’s policies…

… and in his first public statement, the former president the charge that the Trump administration had based his immigration executive order on a policy adopted by his own administration, and endorsed the protests that have been taking place across the country in response to the new restrictions.

Kevin Lewis, Obama’s spokesman, said rejected Trump’s insistence that the decision to temporarily halt refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries and stop all Syrian refugee resettlement in America is similar to a 2011 decision by Obama. “With regard to comparisons to President Obama’s foreign policy decisions, as we’ve heard before, the President fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion.”

As a reminder, over the past 24 hours, Trump has compared his actions to Obama’s 2011 moves to restrict entries from Iraq after two Iraqis were arrested in Kentucky on terrorism charges.

Former Obama administration officials have denied that there was ever a halt to the awarding of visas to Iraqis, though the processing of these applications slowed after they were subject to more intense scrutiny.

Obama’s decision to step back into the public light comes just 10 days after he left office. He joins the chorus of Democrats and mostly tech CEOs criticizing Trump for his decision to temporarily halt refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries and stop all Syrian refugee resettlement in America.

12 major executive orders signed by Donald Trump

In less than two weeks as president, Donald Trump has signed several executive orders and presidential memoranda, but with the maelstrom that has followed some of them, it is easy to forget the range of them.

  1. Executive order against Obamacare: Throughout the presidential campaign, Mr Trump promised that if elected, he would repeal and replace former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act dubbed Obamacare. Within hours of being sworn in, Mr Trump signed an executive order that said agencies should exercise all their authority to “waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation” of any provision of Obamacare that would impose a cost or burden on states, individuals, insurers or healthcare companies.
  2. Memorandum regarding Mexico City Policy: This move saw Mr Trump reviving a ban on foreign aid to overseas aid organisations that provide or promote abortions.
  3. Presidential Memorandum on government hiring: Mr Trump last Monday ordered a freeze on hiring federal civilian employees but said the order did not apply to military personnel.
  4. Presidential memorandum on the TPP: Withdrawing from the Trans Pacific Partnership and renegotiation other trade deals that he deemed unfair were also part of Mr Trump’s campaign promises. And just days after taking office, he withdrew America from the 12-nation TPP, which had been a signature trade deal for President Obama and part of his pivot to Asia. The move was in keeping with Mr Trump’s promises of “America first”.
  5. Executive order expediting environmental reviews: He also signed an order aimed at speeding up environmental reviews and approvals for high priority infrastructure projects.
  6. Presidential memoranda on pipelines: Last Tuesday, Mr Trump also took steps to advance construction of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, that had been rejected by the previous president. Mr Trump said the pipelines would help his campaign promises of creating blue-collar jobs at home and added that portions built in the US would have to use domestically produced steel.
  7. Executive order ‘enhancing public safety in the Interior of the US: The purpose of the order is to enforce immigration laws domestically, giving immigration agencies authority to remove ‘aliens’ they believe could pose a risk to public safety or national security.
  8. Executive order on border security and immigration enforcement: With this order, Mr Trump acted on his campaign promise of a physical wall on the border between Mexico and the US, including all points of entry. Mr Trump also took to Twitter to argue once again the Mexico would pay for the wall, a move that prompted Mexico president Enrique Pena Nieto to call off a planned meeting.
  9. Executive order protecting the nation from foreign terrorist entry: It is Mr Trump’s order to severely restrict immigration from seven predominantly Muslim nations that stirred up rousing protests over the weekend.
  10. Executive order on reducing regulation: The order that has been billed as a move to support local businesses requires that “whenever an executive department or agency (agency) publicly proposes for notice and comment or otherwise promulgates a new regulation, it shall identify at least two existing regulations to be repealed”.
  11. Executive order on ethics commitments: The order signed on Saturday places a five-year lobbying ban on the executive branch of employees.
  12. Presidential Memorandum plan to defeat Isis: On Saturday, Mr Trump also signed a plan to that would require the Secretary of Defense to, within 30 days submit a preliminary plan to defeat Isis.

First Big Shock For Wall Street: Republicans Warn No Trump Tax Reform Until Spring 2018

When it comes to Wall Street, Trump can launch martial law, suspend habeas corpus and/or use the Constitution for kindling and the market could care less as stocks will still go up. However, threaten some of Trump’s core economic stimulus projects like infrastructure spending (i.e., more public debt to fund corporate bottom lines) or tax reform (even more public debt flowing through to EPS), and suddenly stocks will pay very close attention.

It now appears that this particular “worst case” for stocks may be playing out. As we cautioned in our previous post looking at the impact of Trump tax reform on corporate earnings, the biggest risk for the controversial president is that “at this rate Trump may spend much of his first year dealing with immigration reform and Obamacare.”

However, as Paul Ryan warned last week during the Republicans’ outing in Philadelphia, Trump’s “#1 priority”, repealing and replacing Obamacare may not take place for several months. To wit: 

House Speaker Paul Ryan told House and Senate Republicans that lawmakers likely won’t repeal and replace Obamacare until March or April. Speaking in the first major session of GOP lawmakers’ joint retreat in the City of Brotherly Love, Ryan said Wednesday that the health care law wouldn’t be repealed and subsequently replaced until spring.

“What we heard today was Obamacare is front and center,” Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., told reporters, referring to the first session of the retreat, which outlined President Donald Trump’s first 200 days in office, or the “200 Day Plan.”  “Repeal and replace,” Collins added. “The word was by the springtime.”

Priebus: Trump “Accepts” That Russia Played A Role In Election Hacking

In a surprising twist, incoming White House chief of staff Reince Priebus said Sunday on Fox News that President-elect Donald Trump accepts that Russia played a role in hacking the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta.

Priebus, the former RNC chairman, said Trump understands that Moscow was behind the intrusions into the Democratic Party organizations. “He accepts the fact that this particular case was entities in Russia so that’s not the issue” and added that Trump “is not denying that entities in Russia were behind this particular hacking campaign.”

“But here’s the thing that I think everyone needs to understand — when this whole thing started, it started from the Russians 50 years ago … This is something that’s been going on in our elections for many, many years.” Priebus said it “happens every election period.”

“In this particular case, it started way back in 2015 before either nominee of either party was chosen,” Priebus said. “And it started … as a spearfishing expedition over many different institutions.”

Additionaly, Priebus blasted the Democratic National Committee (DNC) for its lack of IT defenses. The DNC was warned multiple times by the FBI before being hacked, Priebus added, and officials didn’t respond. “So yes, we have bad actors around the world,” Priebus said.”But we also have a problem when we have a major political institution that allows foreign governments into their system with hardly any defenses or training.”

As Reuters notes, Priebus’ comments marked a major shift in the official Trump narrative: the president elect has repeatedly dismissed claims that the Russians were trying to help him, arguing that those charges are the product of his political opponents trying to undermine his victory. 

So far, Trump has only indirectly acknowledged the intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia interfered in the election and has consistently downplayed its significance — and the president-elect has a history of later contradicting what his surrogates tell the media.

On Friday morning, shortly before being briefed by US intelligence, Trump tweeted that “Gross negligence by the Democratic National Committee allowed hacking to take place.The Republican National Committee had strong defense!” He then tweeted two follow-up comments, first that “Intelligence stated very strongly there was absolutely no evidence that hacking affected the election results. Voting machines not touched!” followed by “Only reason the hacking of the poorly defended DNC is discussed is that the loss by the Dems was so big that they are totally embarrassed!”

After the briefing, Trump stated, “While Russia, China, other countries, outside groups and people are consistently trying to break through the cyber infrastructure of our governmental institutions, businesses and organizations including the Democrat National Committee, there was absolutely no effect on the outcome of the election including the fact that there was no tampering whatsoever with voting machines.”

China will give back seized drone, criticises U.S. “hyping up” the issue

China’s Defence Ministry said on Saturday it had been in talks with the United States about returning an underwater drone taken by a Chinese naval vessel in the South China Sea, but the U.S. was not helping by “hyping up” the issue.

The drone was taken on Thursday, the first seizure of its kind in recent memory, about 50 nautical miles northwest of Subic Bay off the Philippines, just as the USNS Bowditch was about to retrieve the unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV), U.S. officials said.

The Defence Ministry said a Chinese naval vessel discovered a piece of “unidentified equipment” and checked it to prevent any navigational safety issues, before discovering it was a U.S. drone.

“China decided to return it to the U.S. side in an appropriate manner, and China and the U.S. have all along been in communication about it,” the ministry said on its website.

“During this process, the U.S. side’s unilateral and open hyping up is inappropriate, and is not beneficial to the smooth resolution of this issue. We express regret at this,” it added.

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump weighed in to the row on Saturday, tweeting: “China steals United States Navy research drone in international waters – rips it out of water and takes it to China in unprecedented act.”

Without directly saying whether the drone was operating in waters China considers its own, the ministry said U.S. ships and aircraft have for a long period been carrying out surveillance and surveys in “the presence” of Chinese waters.

“China is resolutely opposed to this, and demands the U.S. stops this kind of activity,” it said.

China will remain on alert for these sorts of activities and take necessary steps to deal with them, the ministry said without elaborating.

Earlier, the Global Times, published by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, cited an unidentified Chinese source as saying they believed the issue would be resolved smoothly.

The United States says the drone was operating lawfully.

Italy’s Approval of Constitutional Reform to Put EU Integration Back on Track

In case Italian voters approve constitutional changes in a referendum, it will stimulate the European integration process as a “yes” vote will boost positions of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s center-left government in Europe against the Italian populists and right-wing parties, Alessandro Maran, a lawmaker from Renzi’s Democratic Party (PD), told Sputnik on Saturday.

On Sunday, Italy is due to hold the referendum on constitutional changes primarily aimed at eliminating equal powers of two parliament’s chambers and thus avoiding political instability and frequent fall of governments. As far as Renzi staked his future on the outcome of the referendum, the opposition tried to use a vote on reforms as a tool to express overall dissatisfaction with PD policies and the prime minister’s record in office. “If, as I hope, the Yes camp prevails, Renzi’s government and PD will play a vital role in Europe. It would be a great opportunity for our country and could bring the European integration process back on track,” Maran, the Senate’s Constitutional Affairs Committee member, said. Polls cannot be published in the last two weeks of campaigning, but most polls before this time limit predicted that Renzi-lobbied reforms were unlikely to pass. A poll conducted by Ixe for Agora-Rai3 TV station showed that 42 percent of voters did not want constitutional changes, 37 percent are in favor of them, and over 20 percent of respondents remained undecided.

Brahma Chellaney — Trump could ‘pivot’ to Asia like Obama never did

U.S. President Barack Obama’s strategic “pivot” toward Asia, unveiled in 2012, attracted much international attention but did little to tame China’s muscular approach to territorial, maritime and trade disputes. Indeed, with the United States focused on the Islamic world, Obama’s much-touted Asian pivot seemed to lose its way somewhere in the arc between Iraq and Libya. Will President-elect Donald Trump’s approach to Asia be different?

In his first meeting with a foreign leader since his surprise Nov. 8 election triumph, Trump delivered a reassuring message to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who, in turn, described him as a “trustworthy leader.” In a smart diplomatic move, Abe made a special stop in New York on Nov. 17, en route to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Peru, to meet face-to-face with Trump, who shares his conservative, nationalistic outlook.

 Today, Asia faces the specter of power disequilibrium. Concern that Trump could undo Obama’s pivot to Asia by exhibiting an isolationist streak ignores the fact that the pivot has remained more rhetorical than real. Even as Obama prepares to leave office, the pivot — rebranded as “rebalancing” — has not acquired any concrete strategic content.
 If anything, the coining of a catchy term, “pivot,” has helped obscure the key challenge confronting the U.S.: To remain the principal security anchor in Asia in the face of a relentless push by a revisionist China to expand its frontiers and sphere of influence.

Trump indeed could face an early test of will from a China determined to pursue its “salami slicing” approach to gaining regional dominance. In contrast to Russia’s preference for full-fledged invasion, China has perfected the art of creeping, covert warfare through which it seeks to take one “slice” of territory at a time, by force.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe meets with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, right, at Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York, on Nov. 17. © Reuters

With Obama having increasingly ceded ground to China in Asia during his tenure, Beijing feels emboldened, as evident in its incremental expansionism in the South China Sea and its dual Silk Road projects under the “One Belt, One Road” initiative. The Maritime Silk Road is just a new name for Beijing’s “string of pearls” strategy, aimed at increasing its influence in the Indian Ocean. Meanwhile, without incurring any international costs, China aggressively continues to push its borders far out into international waters in a way that no other power has done.

Indeed, boosting naval prowess and projecting power far from its shores are at the center of China’s ambition to fashion a strongly Sino-centric Asia. Boasting one of the world’s fastest-growing undersea fleets, China announced earlier in November that its first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, is ready for combat. Such revanchist moves will inevitably test the new U.S. administration’s limits.

Over 2 Million Hillary Supporters Sign Petition To Overturn Election Results

results of the Nov. 8 election if he were to be unsuccessful in gaining 270 electoral votes. “I will look at it at the time…. I’ll keep you in suspense,” Trump told moderator Chris Wallace. His rival at the time, Hillary Clinton, called the now president-elect’s response “horrifying,” and throughout the accusation of “talking down our democracy.”

 Clinton would run as long as she could with accusing Trump of undermining the democratic process by refusing to accepted the election results, making it a solid part of her attack platform from the third debate forward. During rallies, her supporters would boo Trump whenever Clinton mentioned the fact he refused to say he’d accepted.
 Well, now it turns out that Clinton’s supporters are the ones who are refusing to accept the election results as they were announced in the early morning of Nov. 9.

A Change.org petition started by a man in North Carolina to persuade the Electoral College to elect Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump has 2,170,188 signatures since its creation on Wednesday night.

The petition reads:

On December 19, the Electors of the Electoral College will cast their ballots. If they all vote the way their states voted, Donald Trump will win. However, they can vote for Hillary Clinton if they choose. Even in states where that is not allowed, their vote would still be counted, they would simply pay a small fine — which we can be sure Clinton supporters will be glad to pay!

We are calling on the Electors to ignore their states’ votes and cast their ballots for Secretary Clinton. Why?

Mr. Trump is unfit to serve. His scapegoating of so many Americans, and his impulsivity, bullying, lying, admitted history of sexual assault, and utter lack of experience make him a danger to the Republic.

Secretary Clinton WON THE POPULAR VOTE and should be President.

Hillary won the popular vote. The only reason Trump “won” is because of the Electoral College.